Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Reminder to this mindstream: I love the silence that is at the core of everything. Distractions aren't needed. 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Reminder to this mindstream: I love the silence that is at the core of everything. Distractions aren't needed. 

By chance, have you heard the pointer "silence doesn't go away with sound?". Might be fun to explore this idea with distractions: "Silence doesn't go away with distractions."
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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I noticed that before hearing the pointer. Noticing it was what made me look into Dzogchen where I first heard the pointer. I thought there must be some dharma that adresses this, so I was searching for it, and then found the pointers to what I had experienced. I'm empirically driven. emoticon 

And I do practice noticing the silence in the midst of everything (I kind of include distractions in everything emoticon ). The reminder was because I need to let go of a habitual pattern of believing that I'm bored and need to engage with distractions when that's actually not true. I'm not looking to be a renounciate, just find a better balance. Due to living with this wiring in this society, I have developed so many coping strategies. Many of them are pretty good, but some really aren't. If you knew my bad habits, in one of those phases, I think you'd see what I mean. But thanks for believing that I'm as sane as you. emoticon 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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At the end of my last log, Papa Che asked about listening to one's thoughts (maybe specifically the storytelling? Not sure about the wording now and too lazy to check it). I answered very briefly with basically no nuances, and therefore maybe in a misleading way. This is mainly something I play with in daily life rather than systematically investigating on the cushion. I sort of approach them in their natural habitat, exploring the contextuality rather than trying to make them appear in a more experimental design. I'm going for ecological validity, as the trained ethnographer I am. 

Papa Che, if you wish to explore more for youself before reading other people's observations, you can stop reading here. Just know that there's more nuance to it than what I said earlier, so take that with a grain of salt. 

In my brief answer I said that the shyness is a temporary thing that falls away. That's true for thoughts, but if we are talking about the storytelling, that does fall away for me when I listen without engaging. It doesn't mean that thoughts go away as I go about my business in daily life, just that they don't latch on to each other in chains - except for when I do engage with them, such as in translating some insight into a text that an audience would understand, or in the ruminating that I still need to watch out for. Watching the play back and forth between engaging and not engaging in thoughts and emotions is something that I find helpful where I'm at. I'm assuming that the play back and forth will continue, but I'm looking for more liberated dynamics where I don't habitually get caught up in stuff that's not in line with the intent that resonates well with this mindstream and the world at large, for the benefit of all sentient beings. 

When I don't engage, the thoughts are often more or less pre-verbal, pre-visual, pre-tactile and so forth. They are like embryos, still containing all that is essential. 

As for "when I engage with them", that's misleading too. There isn't really a well demarcated I that can either engage or refrain from it. There are lots of different parts that can engage (or have the experience of doing it), to the extent that we can even talk about parts. I'll talk about parts now in order to simplify communication. An example: when I let go of some train of thought that I have been pursuing, such as forming sentences for a post, it's not uncommon for me to notice that other lines of thought were already being pursued in the background, or at least it seems like they were, because they sort of start in the middle with an instant recollection of having gone through the initial part already. That recollection comes in a flash. It's often something as habitual as an earworm, which is actually a whole train of thoughts because they don't pop up randomly. Something triggered it, or triggered a whole chain that eventually triggered it, and it often has something contextually relevant to tell me. For instance, I have noticed that when I hear my phone alarms as earworms, it means that I need to check the time and hurry up and stay in tune with that. Earworms may also involve a dharma diagnosis or some other intuitive observation.  

About the recollection coming in a flash: it's interesting that there's a sense of not having heard for instance the tune playing in my mind, and then suddenly have a knowing of how it has been playing. It's as if it isn't really one continuous mind stream, but different ones that suddenly come together, bringing their knowing. Like the I pursuing one line of thoughts is not the same I as the one pursuing another line of thoughts, until they come together and suddenly experience remembering both occurrings. Of course, this analogy is based on a construction of time passing by in a linear way, and on a subject-object duality. It might be more like all the manifestations just being aware, and the "recollection" of manifestations taking place parallelly just being yet another manifestation that is aware, and maybe the manifestations sort of have it in them to zoom in or zoom out, as they aren't really that separate to begin with. But it's a pretty funny effect, getting a sense of having been divided and coming together. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Gradually getting less and less caught up in identifying as a doer has some effects that I didn't really expect. Like suddenly being able to catch balls much better. Not that I'm any good at it now, but my ball control used to be disastrous. Today I explored what the difference is, when I have better ball control and when I don't. I noticed that when I throw and catch balls smoothly, there is no sense of separation between me and the ball, or me and the air, or the ball and the air. When the ball is in motion in the air, it's like I can still feel it. Or rather, the motion and the ball in motion are aware, just like the throwing and the catching are aware, and there's a fluency where those phenomena are more of a continuum than separate phenomena. I don't have to sense it. There's like a holistic awareness going on. I suspect that people who have great ball control aren't actually trying to control the ball. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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More about the recollection coming in a flash, instantly: it's possible that it's just being created in the moment, but the funny thing is that the flash does not have the duration that it's content has. It's just immediately there, including the knowing of the duration of the content. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Hey Shargrol, I appreciate it a lot that you are reading my log, but please watch out so that you don't accidently put it in the recycle bin. emoticon 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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 FYI - I think I understand why those logs were deleted. I thought I was deleting "subscriptions" from my subscriptions page... but instead I must have deleted the whole thread. It wasn't obvious to me at all, so that's kinda scary (!) 


Since you are able to notice the silence in the midst of sounds, it means that you are able to go to the hearing sense and understand it as a bandwidth of experience. It also means that your ability let experience simply be without manipulation, clinging, etc. is pretty good.

So now here is another idea for you: can you treat attention itself as another bandwidth of experience? So, in other words, in most experiences there will be part of reality which will be the center of attention and there will be the rest of reality which seems less important and is "around" the center of attention.

This is true for vision obviously, but it is also true of thought, for example. The mind is exuding thoughts and embryo-thoughts all the time, that's just what it does. It's like the skin which is always giving off moisture, it's just what skin does but it's not obvious until you put your hand in a plastic bag, for example. 

During a sitting practice, see if you can notice how the mind --- on it's own --- puts attention on a series of mind objects. Notice how no effort is needed as the mind switches from one object to another. The goal here is to hold the mind and attention loosesly enough that you allow it to do what it wants.

(Yes, this will feel "wrong" for a while because of a series of unconscious beliefs like "a meditator needs to control their attention" or "to be a smart person I need to direct my attention" or "if I'm not in control, I'll go insane" or "this isn't mediation, I'm not going to learn anything from this". Those are all thoughts and beliefs with an emotional reaction... no big deal. Don't try to ignore or fix it, just allow those experiences to happen and notice how attention is drawn to those thoughts. But again, hold the mind loosely enought that rather than being sucked into discursive thinking, you are mostly paying attention to how the attention moves. Yes, that previous sentence is paradoxical, but it is sort of like learning to balance: you learn to balance by paying attention to what it feels like to balance. At first it's short little moments, but over time it becomes more frequently and possible to do more easily...)

What this practice does is ultimately show you that attention isn't exactly the same as "you" but it is something that appears within experience and has always been assumed to be "me". "I'm aware" "I'm distracted" "I'm paying attention" "I'm noticing" We say those things all the time, but it begs the question: what knows awareness, distraction, attention, and noticing? All of those things are distinquishable as experiences _within_ the mind, so they cannot be what mind _is_.

As you notice how attention moves itself from mind object to mind object, you'll also pick up on the very subtle but hugely significant "urges" that seem to _cause_ attention to move. These urges are a subtle holding of something, a subtle avoiding of something, a subtle interest/emphasizing of something, a subtle distraction by a busy switching between objects, and a blanking out by holding but unfocusing from an object. Many times we _identify_ with these urges as self, but actually all of those things are distinquishable as experiences _within_ the mind, so they cannot be what mind _is_.

These practices aren't done with a lot of effort, but rather through many "glimpses" over time. Don't push hard, don't try too long, just slowly get used to noticing how attention moves itself.
 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Ah. Yes, that's scary indeed. This interface is not very userfriendly. 

Shargrol
Since you are able to notice the silence in the midst of sounds, it means that you are able to go to the hearing sense and understand it as a bandwidth of experience. It also means that your ability let experience simply be without manipulation, clinging, etc. is pretty good.

Interesting. That makes sense. Thanks for putting it into words!



So now here is another idea for you: can you treat attention itself as another bandwidth of experience? So, in other words, in most experiences there will be part of reality which will be the center of attention and there will be the rest of reality which seems less important and is "around" the center of attention.

Yes, but not as well as I hope, because I don’t always notice when I get caught up in being narrow, especially in daily life. I suppose my ADHD plays in here too. But I practice it a lot, and it gradually gets better.


This is true for vision obviously, but it is also true of thought, for example. The mind is exuding thoughts and embryo-thoughts all the time, that's just what it does. It's like the skin which is always giving off moisture, it's just what skin does but it's not obvious until you put your hand in a plastic bag, for example

Yes, I have noticed that, but it’s often something that I realize only after it has been going on for a while. I tried to describe the subjective experience of that above. It’s interesting! I’ll certainly explore it more.


During a sitting practice, see if you can notice how the mind --- on it's own --- puts attention on a series of mind objects. Notice how no effort is needed as the mind switches from one object to another. The goal here is to hold the mind and attention loosesly enough that you allow it to do what it wants.

This is one of my absolute favorite practices.


(Yes, this will feel "wrong" for a while because of a series of unconscious beliefs like "a meditator needs to control their attention" or "to be a smart person I need to direct my attention" or "if I'm not in control, I'll go insane" or "this isn't mediation, I'm not going to learn anything from this". Those are all thoughts and beliefs with an emotional reaction... no big deal. Don't try to ignore or fix it, just allow those experiences to happen and notice how attention is drawn to those thoughts. But again, hold the mind loosely enought that rather than being sucked into discursive thinking, you are mostly paying attention to how the attention moves. Yes, that previous sentence is paradoxical, but it is sort of like learning to balance: you learn to balance by paying attention to what it feels like to balance. At first it's short little moments, but over time it becomes more frequently and possible to do more easily...)

It doesn’t feel wrong at all. I love it. Depending on what people mean by sanity, I find that it’s often overrated anyway. For me, meditation started out as the haven where I wouldn’t need to be in control, so I have done much more of this loose kind of practice than controlled ones. The dog training approach always seemed to me like a recipe for developing shadow sides.


What this practice does is ultimately show you that attention isn't exactly the same as "you" but it is something that appears within experience and has always been assumed to be "me". "I'm aware" "I'm distracted" "I'm paying attention" "I'm noticing" We say those things all the time, but it begs the question: what knows awareness, distraction, attention, and noticing? All of those things are distinquishable as experiences _within_ the mind, so they cannot be what mind _is_.

Yeah. It’s all just aware. It’s aware before the echo of making it ”mine”, when that mode is on.


As you notice how attention moves itself from mind object to mind object, you'll also pick up on the very subtle but hugely significant "urges" that seem to _cause_ attention to move. These urges are a subtle holding of something, a subtle avoiding of something, a subtle interest/emphasizing of something, a subtle distraction by a busy switching between objects, and a blanking out by holding but unfocusing from an object. Many times we _identify_ with these urges as self, but actually all of those things are distinquishable as experiences _within_ the mind, so they cannot be what mind _is_.

Yes. This is where my edge is. Michael calls this ”dropping the ball”. I still have subtle clinging to movement, to embracing the flow, rather than just let it all go. I notice now how I’m more prone to use first person language here, not just to simplify communication, but because I identify with that subtle urge.


These practices aren't done with a lot of effort, but rather through many "glimpses" over time. Don't push hard, don't try too long, just slowly get used to noticing how attention moves itself.

I’m on it. emoticon

This is good. This is where the practice is already heading. Experience is pointing the same way as a number of teacher gestalts that I trust. I like the way you are framing this, Shargrol. Thanks!
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Pepe ·, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Now I know why it was so difficult to follow attention ... well above my paygrade emoticon . Just my 0,002 cents: (1) when the sight/awareness is expanded to the sides (180º degrees), the attention doesn't jump that much; (2) changes in attention sometimes feel as subtle tension and other times as subtle relief 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Yes, when the visual field widens, that's a sign that you are in a phase of wider awareness. I have had periods of 240 degrees vision. 

I wonder if that's the kind of relief that NiNurta always talks about. If that's what he refers to, I understand why is is so critical about it. I call that avoidance behavior. It doesn't feel like relief to me, because it's something that increases my suffering. Maybe it's different for you, I don't know if we are talking about the same thing. 
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Pepe ·, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Yep, that 180/240º vision is what Loch Kelly (Shift into Freedom) and Meido Moore (Hidden Zen Practices) teach as the foundation practice for awakening. Kelly in fact pushes you to a 360º vision, kind of a "visual koan". 

Haven't read what Ni Nurta says about "relief". I guess it's way past what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is that I have observed that phenomena usually have some kind of mental thought attached, and that when attention moves, sometimes there's a relief, that I associate with the release of that mental component of the phenomena observed.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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I can have mental images that merge with the ordinary vision a little bit, and I imagine that it's possible to make that more seamless so it's like 360 degrees vision, but I wonder if what is seen would then match with consensual reality. I know for a fact that I have been able to see things approach from behind when they were in a 240 degrees angle during a period when I enjoyed playing with this on a daily basis. I could tell the color of the clothes on people approaching from behind and notice a hare although I was listening to a dharma talk wearing headphones so I couldn't possibly have heard it. Hypothetically I see no reason why it wouldn't be possible to see stuff like that behind one's neck too if the body is just an avatar and awareness is everywhere, but it seems to be regarded as a siddhi that we shouldn't aim for. So I'm going to assume that what Kelly talks about is just a merging of mental image space and sight space. 

What NiNurta often says about relief is that it's something that people often seek when their neurons are tired, and if one refrains from doing so, eventually the brain will learn to use other pathways instead of always using the same ones for that task. So attention goes away to keep the habitual pathways intact, and relief is then not liberation. That's not how I use the word relief, because I don't usually experience that sort of shift as relief. I notice the aversion, and I see how systematic it is and how it hinders me. I use the word relief to describe when something selfliberates (probably just partly, though, and temporarily, as it's usually more entangled than I'm able to tease out, and when it's still deeply entangled, the liberation doesn't last). I believe that there are gentler ways of disentangling than frying one's brain, and I think it's limiting to see it as something that has to be resolved inside the brain, but I don't doubt that any rewirings that are made will manifest as changes in the brain at this plane of existence (the holographic one according to some physicists, right?). 

Maybe it would be relevant to apply NiNurta's general criticism of relief to the subtle preferences I have of flowing experiences over stillness at the edge of my practice. That seems to be in line with what Shargrol and Michael Taft and Lama Lena say, and in the Reversing the stack slack channel I wrote a long reflection that led me to hypothesize that this preference might be what keeps me from having clearer and more longlasting nondual absorptions. So that's something I'll explore further. That is, subtle clinging, subtle aversion, and subtle ignorance at play, creating identification with movement rather than stillness and thus a separation. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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I was supposed to be working this entire weekend but I caught some kind of stomach flue on my way to work this Wednesday, or maybe it was a stress reaction, I don't know. Anyway, I had to go home, and now I need to stay at home in case it's contagious. I feel fine now, though, and as luck would have it, the possibility of a Lama Lena retreat opened up. It's a speech rushen retreat. So that's what I'm practicing at the moment. It feels like it aims at collapsing duality between inner and outer by way of tuning into intent. It involves visualizations that need to be synched up with chanting and breathing in a way that's probably pretty much as straightforward as these kinds of practices come, but it takes a lot of concentration for me, especially since I also need to remember lots of specific details. I'm outside my comfort zone here, but I can feel that it does something. More than I expected, given my challenges with regard to rituals and visualizations. So I'll go all in, with some short bio breaks and yoga breaks to take care of my body. Maybe taking care of some practical issues that need to be done as well, and also resting at noon, sunset, midnight and sunrise according to instructions. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Im not sure if what Im about to say could help but in case you have some physical activity where you need really to be very still and very concentarted , like threding the needle hole, you could have that relaxed intent to do so and in that there can be collapsing of that duality. Maybe emoticon or not emoticon 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Probably. Intent seems to be some very powerful stuff. I should know that by now, having a history of embodying the expression "be careful what you wish for". I just wished for some Kundalini/Lung (actually it's prana rather than Kundalini if I am to believe the Kundalini Vidya) stuff to arise again, as I felt that I missed it. At least with that unstable force going heywire once in a while, it was superclear that things happened. And there it was! Oops. Actually not such a great idea. But then after a while I remembered that I can also intend for it to dissipate, and so I did. And just like that it was gone. Immediately! All the hot flushes gone. The feverish look gone. The weird heat in my chest gone. The pressure in the headspace gone. The buzzings are at a pleasant level - I can dial them up and down a bit. So did I just imagine all of it? I have no fucking clue. I should have checked my temperature or something. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Im not familair much with Intent, as in what it can do or not do. What Im looking at, at this stage, is that Intent depends on something previously arise-passed. One could easily think how intent is something "I choose to do" but really, it just was sparked/ignited by another experience/sensation prior to it and bundeled up with some karmic bundle from the memory in less than a second (likely faster) just to be born as "My independednt Intent, My freedom of choice" idea.

But I do see in Malcolms writings that there is some "choice" in all this, and how he plays with Intent to stay in this or that Realm etc ... Kenneth Folk talks about how one can commit or not, to any given Realm (again this seems like Choice/Intent). So I guess some sort of choice as part of DO is possible ... or not.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Yeah, I think that the intentions that people speak of in daily life are very often reactions based on habitual patterns and circumstances around them, all cause and effect, or dependent origination or karma if you will. But as we learn to let go of habitual patterns, I think we can tune into some higher level of intent. Not something that exists as an agenda, but maybe something that spontaneously arises without all the distortions that usually limit us. Still situated, but free from the restrictions of separation. Something like that. I don't know, but I'd love to find out. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I was supposed to be working this entire weekend but I caught some kind of stomach flue on my way to work this Wednesday, or maybe it was a stress reaction, I don't know. Anyway, I had to go home, and now I need to stay at home in case it's contagious. I feel fine now, though, and as luck would have it, the possibility of a Lama Lena retreat opened up. It's a speech rushen retreat. So that's what I'm practicing at the moment. It feels like it aims at collapsing duality between inner and outer by way of tuning into intent. It involves visualizations that need to be synched up with chanting and breathing in a way that's probably pretty much as straightforward as these kinds of practices come, but it takes a lot of concentration for me, especially since I also need to remember lots of specific details. I'm outside my comfort zone here, but I can feel that it does something. More than I expected, given my challenges with regard to rituals and visualizations. So I'll go all in, with some short bio breaks and yoga breaks to take care of my body. Maybe taking care of some practical issues that need to be done as well, and also resting at noon, sunset, midnight and sunrise according to instructions. 


Heh, the illness was an intolerance reaction to… high quality mineral water! The minerals in it! I think my metabolism is seriously screwed up.

As for the retreat, my speculations about its purpose were faulty, and I’m not allowed to reveal what it was really about. It’s the kind of practice that gets more effective the less you think about it.

Totally unrelated: I’m beginning to find nondual landmarks corresponding with the vipassana jhanas. There’s a very different taste to them compared to what arises with the more pointy focus in the vipassana jhanas, but hey, there are vipashyana jhanas! I like it.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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I have noticed that neglecting my yoga practice (since my beloved yoga studio had to shut down due to covid) has gradually taken its toll on my meditation practice. It's just not the same doing yoga at home alone. I get lazy with regard to the more physically challenging asanas (except for when I get the idea that I should be able to do them as easily as when I was doing them every day, and forget to listen to my body and get an injury),  and I also tend to do much shorter sessions, and fewer of them. So now I have taken up my old Kundalini yoga practice. That's easy to find motivation to do, because it instantly increases awareness and wellbeing and improves the quality of my meditation, as long as I do it right. And it's actually easier for me to do it right alone than in a group, as there's no peer pressure. I'm usually not that receptive to peer pressure, but even the slightest overdoing can have bad repercussions in Kundalini yoga, at least if one is energetically sensitive. It seems that thanks to developments on the path, it has become easier both to find the sweetspots and to deal with more energy without it getting stuck somewhere, or wired up. It feels amazing. So amazing. I can feel that it nourishes me, makes the life force flow, and yet it's peaceful. It's not the fireworks stuff that an immature Kundalini yoga practice can entail. 

I'm continuing with the speech rushen practice, to keep it fresh until I can do a more intense retreat, but it's not the only practice I do. It's not that suitable as a daily practice, as it's more of a powering through it thing. As my main practice I mainly just tune into whatever allows me to be more present to the fullness of the moment, without attaching labels to it. I find that when I try to do a specific practice with a name, ideas of what that practice should be like gets in the way. I think I need to let it be more fluid, with not only many different tools but also a flexible approach to the tools that allows them to transform and merge, whatever is needed in the moment. 

I love that I get a lovely forest walk to and from work. Today I worked a night shift, leading a group activity with our members, and I got to go home through the forest at dusk. I so love the smells of forest by night. I made a stop at a little hill that has great energies (it's rocky, so people haven't been able to ruin it by building stuff on it or otherwise taming it). It's one of my favorite spots for meditation, so I did a session there as the skye turned darker and the full moon rose, rich and red. It was magical. This can be the start of a great new habit. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Yesterday the practice gave me an aha-moment. I had noticed issues with motivation and both dullness and distraction for a few days. The dullness was at least partly due to intolerance reactions from foods (it's a flare of increased sensitivity after an allergy vaccination shot in the midst of a tough pollen season) but one explanation doesn't preclude other ones. I had also noticed a tendency to get occupied with stuff, nesting stuff, as if I were trying to fill a void, at the cost of time that could be spent practicing. I knew that it was some kind of defense mechanism operating but wasn't sure why. Then I did Michael Taft's latest youtube meditation based on sitting like the sky, and it nailed it for me. First I felt a vague sense of anxiety, and as I gently investigated that, a fear came to the surface that I haven't been able to feel before. Apparently there is fear there with regard to the boundarylessness and freefalling and unlimitedness. I really thought that was long gone. How refreshing to feel it! There's an energy in it when it shows up unmasked like that. It has a flow to it. It's impermanence and no self become apparent. No need to go into flight or freeze (fight hasn't been an issue here, but no need for that either). In a flash I realized how several of my patterns have been tied into this knot, and how unnecessary that was. Like my writer's block. It's actually the open potential of it that has been scaring me, not the tedious work. It's liberating to see this. This I can work with. The scary part is the fun part! Ha! There's energy there to set free. 
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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You can have as much fun with emotions as you did with the body! emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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This might be the least cryptical pointer you have ever given me. emoticon Thankyou! It opens up to a lightness that I tend to neglect more often when it comes to emotions. 
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
This might be the least cryptical pointer you have ever given me. emoticon Thankyou! It opens up to a lightness that I tend to neglect more often when it comes to emotions. 
Oh, sorry about that!  I meant to say ... deep within the facbrication of emotion lies the second key to awakening, if you have the courage to search.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Haha, too late to be obscure, yoda, now that I already get it. 

But seriously, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I was missing the fun so much and had just come up from an abyss of depressive pms of the kind that makes "the view" seem like a cruel joke. It was exactly the right timing to bring up the notion of experimenting with feelings, and having fun with it, without triggering resistance. Coming out of that kind of abyss makes it very clear that a narrow tunnelvision set of feelings is not what I am - thankfully. I had also just re-realized how much my practice needs the joyful curiosity of experimenting, and I was a bit worried that the fun part was over. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I'm sorry that I have neglected my moderator role lately. I have been somewhat overwhelmed by adjusting to a new job (again, as the job I had during the summer was only temporary, albeit with some commonalities to what I do now). A year of being unemployed during a pandemic has made me unlearn some coping skills. Not all of them were healthy, so it's not necessarily a bad thing, but it will probably take some time to learn how to navigate the balance of things in my daily life. 

Right now I'm in a cycle of frequently darknighting, which isn't as bad as it might sound. It's gradually shifting to a more vibrational level, and I really enjoy the vibrational level of it. The days when health issues or hormones or both take the experience back to the emotional baggage level really suck, though. I had a few days with some nasty bleedthrough, which kind of took me by surprise. There had been much less of that for quite some time so I wasn't prepared. At the time I was experimenting with energy-raising aspects of the practice, and I think I fell into the trap of letting the rising energy feed old reactive patterns instead of going into the practice. One of my partners came to stay with me and that made me cut down on my practice time in the midst of energy rising. That partner is the kind of person that it's almost impossible to get annoyed with, and he is so non-reactive that even if someone does get annoyed with him, it very rarely triggers him. Yet during a few days there, now and then I managed to get so annoyed with him that he almost took it personally for a brief moment. Thankfully we could talk about it, and it didn't last long. It would probably have been much worse with someone who isn't super-calm and confident. Gosh, how draining it is to be so reactive! I had forgotten how intense it can be. Sort of interesting to watch it unfold, though. I can't really say that I'm having super fun with emotions yet, as Malcolm suggested above, but there are certainly interesting aspects of it to explore. I'm beginning to see how the emotional baggage level and the vibrational level aren't quite as different as I have experienced them to be, and what makes experience manifest one way or another. That's kind of cool.

I have also been finding ways to call up emotions that are sort of lurking under the surface, to work with them. I'm encouraging the different parts/processes of me to feel safe letting uncomfortable feelings come to the surface, and they respond. That feels good. 

The shift into less and less daylight does not work in favor of this development, unfortunately. I'm seeing early signs of winter depression already, so I try not to fall into the same traps as last year. I know how those depressive patterns feed themselves. If I forget, which may very well happen, please remind me (it's enough to remind me that they do, as I know how they do it: they undermine all my wellfunctioning coping skills). The emotions as experienced during depression are not in their authentic forms, but entangled with long chains of automatic thinking that distort them, and they passivate rather than set free. So - as much daylight as I can get, regular yoga, going outside both in the nature and among people, taking vitamine D, connecting with people more than I think that I need, and taking initiatives while I can, to prevent sliding into not being able to. 

In spite of the loss of daylight and some physical health issues that have flared up, I can sense that there's an opening to approaching concentration territory. Pure shamatha isn't really my thing, but there's a sweetspot where insight and concentration meet that I'm very fond of. I think I need the element of curiosity to maintain interest. I have also found that tuning into more flowy vibrational aspects of experience generally resonates with me more than tuning into stillness. I find that stillness appears to me most clearly right at the core of the movement, and silence appears most clearly right at the core of the vibrational music that is the movement of the mind. 

I took part in a short Reversing the Stack online retreat recently, during which I learned a few things about what pointers work for me and which ones do not. Subtle changes in nuances make huge differences. Right now I seem to be in a phase where I'd rather not do too many guided meditations, because even great teachers very rarely get the nuances just right specifically for me. Hence I'm not doing Michael Taft's 100 day challenge (doing his guided meditations 100 days in a row). I'm pretty sure it would piss me off at the moment, and that seems unnecessary. Not that there aren't valuable lessons to learn from being with those emotional patterns. I'm sure there are. However, there are enough patterns to work with without intentionally provoking them, and right now I need to focus on igniting more joyful sparks in my practice and learning how to find my own balances, as they are different from before and thus recalibration is called for. 

Today I was playing with the thought of finding a way to express how the mind works in art. I was thinking of ways to write in nonlinear ways, with sentences leading to more than one trail and sort of bouncing back and forth between them and sometimes coming together again. I thought it could be a new genre of poetry. Then I thought about how one would go about reciting it. It would require several voices partly overlapping each other. Not all of it would be discernable words. Some of it would be more like vibrations and sort of nebulous. Some of it would be some repetetive tunes that keep going in the background and sometimes shift into the foreground annoyingly loud. Light could be used too. Maybe some enacted movements, illustrating impulses and daydreams. I think it would be possible to do something really cool with it. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
The taste sense gate seems to have become more prominent in my experience, both as taste itself and as a synesthetic add-on. Lots of facets to experience over-all. Sometimes it's a bit confusing and hard to navigate, but I look forward to letting it explore itself. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
The taste sense gate seems to have become more prominent in my experience, both as taste itself and as a synesthetic add-on. Lots of facets to experience over-all. Sometimes it's a bit confusing and hard to navigate, but I look forward to letting it explore itself. 
What kind of synesthesia do you have?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I probably need to investigate this more closely. It often happens so fast that it's hard to remember (except for the grosser ones that are what people usually talk about as synesthesia). I think that all or most sensory experience from one sense gate has an immediate resonance in other sense gates, possibly all of them. Sometimes that resonance leaves a stronger impression than the sense gate that "should" be the prominent one for a specific "external stimulus". Touch and smell used to be the strongest ones, but now it's all over the chart. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Lately I have been doubting myself a lot because there is so much less fireworksy stuff nowadays. I know that's not the point, but at least it was a sign that something happened. Today I got some reassurance. I had to do some technical stuff of the kind that used to make me Donald Duck angry, and I remained super-calm. No cursing, just a lot of hmmmmms. I wasn't even the slightest irritable even though the whole thing was due to a mistake on my part to begin with. I took it as an opportunity to learn. That's thanks to the practice. It has to be. And before that I was definitely darknighting. I got through several different kinds of vibrations, shaking visibly. I noticed some challenging emotions lurking under the surface and dealt with them constructively. Now there's calm and peace in my body and lots of space. 
shargrol, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 1620 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Yeah, the nature of progress changes as we become more "advanced". I remember remarking, my insights are progressing because they are so small, nearly trival, but SO pervasive. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Hmmmm. Maybe I'll try cross country skis this winter. That used to make me Donald Duck angry too, when I accidently crossed the skis and fell to the ground and got snow in my neck and then got overheated as I pushed myself up again (not to mention going uphills...). 

Two of my exes were flabbergasted to hear that I no longer get annoyed with my mum on the phone (it takes about 30-60 minutes for her just to say goodbye and she always calls when I need to pee or something). 

Getting reactive just messes things up. It's a waste of energy. Yeah, that's trivial. The former me would be pissed off because I thought I knew that and it didn't change anything. I guess I didn't really know it viscerally before. 

​​​​​​​Edited to add: a very recent trivial change is that I seem to have suddenly stopped fearing mirrors in the dark. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I'll admit that I still have a foolish attachment to the "special effects" in meditative experiences, although I know that they are not what it's about. I just had one, a typical A&P event, or maybe I finally became batshit crazy after all. It caught me by surprise. I was just walking home from work late in the evening, through a pitch dark little forest. I enjoy watching the flickerings in the visual field in the dark. They sometimes get very psychedelic. This time it was so vivid that I was amazed. It looked like there was some kind of force field / portal in front of me or around me, and it was like I could see all the particles/waves of it very clearly. They moved so fast and in perfect patterns. It was fascinating. I just had to touch it. It was warm! I kept moving my hand through it. I could still see it. Putting my hand there didn't break the spell. It felt like the air was thicker there, somewhat creamy. Then suddenly there was a sense of ringing in my ears or sudden loss of blood pressure but without any actual physical effects from it, and reality as I knew it was being radically thinned out. At the same time, something else was starting to appear. I vaguely remember a sense of a meeting. Then there was a flash going through my body, but only on the left side of it. It left a strong buzzing in my left foot afterwards, like I'd had an electric shock. For the fraction of a second I was terrified. Then I was mostly surprised for a moment. However, that brief fear brought me back to consensual reality. The thinning out reappeared later but there were no more flashes and no more tangible force fields.

I remember thoughts popping up during the moment of surprise. They weren't verbalized but popped up fully comprehensive in no time. One was something along the line, translated to words, that if I had really wanted to play it safe I wouldn't be on the path in the first place. Another one was the advice from my psychic yoga teacher that I can always evoke my free will and say no, so there's no need to be afraid. Then I recited blessings out loud. 

Maybe this is the kind of experience that usually makes people believe that they have encountered aliens. I don't believe that. Not the UFO kind anyway. I'm sure it was an A&P experience. That doesn't really say anything about ontology, though. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 13 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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In a dream I practiced focusing on visuals to stabilize them and make them really detailed and sharp. It was a balancing act to do this without making it all fall away or change into something else. I was able to stabilize a sharp resolution for a while. The textures were amazing. Then I probably went back to non-lucid dreaming.  
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
There has been another instance indicating awareness of dreaming some night ago, but as is so often the case, I didn't grab the opportunity to turn it into practice this time. I just edited out anachronistic elements from the historically themed dream because they were annoying, which is totally in line with my autistic conditioning and thus habitual. 

---

I'm grappling a bit with practice pointers that are off the mark (not from any teacher I have mentioned by name but from a group practice leader). The pointers are probably great if one is coming from the assumed direction, but I'm not. It's not the kind of group where one is supposed to be outspoken about phenomenology, so the skillful way to deal with it would probably be to just smile and say thankyou and discretely do some cherrypicking, but I appreciate the group for the vulnerability and authenticity of people there, and if I have to put up a facade, that sort of takes away the whole point of it. That's frustrating. On the other hand, it would only be momentary. There are plenty of newborn moments where I can be vulnerable and authentic. I guess that actually solves it, or that particular part of it. 

Related to that, I find that coming from a Theravadan-inspired background, or more specifically a MCTB2-based practice, I have drilled myself into observing impermanence at a microlevel in a way that makes a lot of Tibetan Buddhist practice instructions seem reifying. It also seems that some results I get from the practice differ from the expected outcome, and I suspect that it's because I can't unsee what I have already seen and you are supposed to do their practices in a specific order. Now I don't doubt that there's a point to that order, or that the expected results are significant, but since I haven't followed that order, those checklists just don't  seem to fit. I don't know exactly what the implications are for my practice. I just know that pretending that I don't see the total lack of duration of anything is not my path. On the contrary, really embracing that flow and fully experiencing the present moment is at the core of my path. I guess I can't quite tell what is just a different use of language and what is a real difference in the approach. Regardless, I'm going with the flow of experience, whether or not that means going with the flow in the figurative sense. 

Actually, I think I really do need to find a way to communicate that, and I think I might be able to. Just not in a moment of frustration. 

---

I'm keeping my practice fairly simple right now. I find that the combination of yoga and pranayama helps a lot with the equanimity and motivation, and that it balances relaxation and alertness, but/and the main point is to just be fully present to the flow of experience without narrowing it down to personal storylines. Simple but not easy. 

I have noticed that a lot of the energy drainage comes from turning spontaneous skillful responses into tasks according to a script, as the script comes with reactive baggage. Sometimes I manage to refrain from being The Doer and just let the spontaneity run freely. It's such a subtle difference in one sense and such a huge difference in another sense. I get so much more done by not doing it, but it's still fragile, so thinking about it as getting things done ruins it. I think just being open to the flow of experience is key here, because spontaneous skillful responses actually arise naturally - even for me, in areas where I didn't think I had any, and even with regard to "tasks" that I habitually tend to find extremely draining. And I'm only beginning to see it. 
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Not two, not one, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

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Lately I've been thinking about how different practices relate to the 16 stages of anapansati, particularly the third and fourth tetrad. Different practices seem to focus on or even start at different stages.  For example,

Mindfulness of the five aggregates is Stage 9 Experiencing the mind
Tonglen and Body Scans are Stage 10 Gladdening the mind (purifying sankharas)
TMI meditation on the tip of the nose is Stage 11 Unifying the mind
Thai Forest letting go is Stage 12 Liberating the mind
Mahasi style noting is Stage 13 Focussing on impermanence. 
Non-dual practices are Stage 14 Focussing on dispassion (fading of lust or subject/object distinction) 
Emptiness pratices are Stage 15 Focussing on cessation (no birth no death nature of phenomena)
Attaining to Anatta is Stage 16 Letting Go

All the practices are interlinked and all have an introductory, medium, and deep level - a Taftesque Stack.  So maybe some of your dissonance comes from having attained a deep level in some of the 'earlier' stages, and then being only offered the introductory level of the stack in some of the 'later' stages. Must feel like a breach of promise, because you know there is more. But of course the instructor won't know what you are ready for, unless you tell them, and even then you may find your metaphor systems are different so restricting communication. But if you share some of your lived phenomenology with a Rinpoche or Geshe before asking for practice instrucctions, they are bound to give you great advice.

Alternatively, if you treat the basic instructions you are receiving as a concentration object, or even as a vipasanna object, some interesting things might happen.

Love
Malcolm
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
That's interesting. Thankyou! 

That specific sangha doesn't really follow the Anapanasati curriculum. It seems that impermanence at a microlevel comes somewhere at the end, if at all, whereas there's a lot of focus on 14-16 (but definitely not on cessation as we tend to talk about it here; they had never heard of it). The Rinpoche has passed away and is hopefully having a great time in his preferred pureland. The group leader doesn't have any title at all, as far as I know. She is volunteering. She also does some administration for the Lama. The Lama doesn't want to hear about people's specific "nyams". I take my phenomenology to Michael instead, but there isn't much time for individual consultations in the class, so I do most of the figuring out on my own and together with my little pod (two of my classmates). I can't afford to pay for teachings so I don't have any one-on-one sessions except for ten minutes here and there when it's offered. I'm trusting that the process itself knows the way; I'm pretty much screwed if it doesn't. 

​​​​​​​Love right back at ya!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
During the class early this morning I was reminded that I do recognize awake awareness when I "see" it. I don't actually need more pointers as to what it is. That reminder cut through an intensely and chaotically buzzing and defiant reobservation - combined with severe pms, sleep deprivation and inflammatory pain - and it did it instantly. I think I'm starting to get how to drop into it on a dime. It's really very simple - which, again, is not the same thing as easy... until it is, I guess. 

Things that makes it easier (for me, right now) to drop into awake awareness:
- pausing to breathe
- yoga and pranayama
- taking enough care of my mammalian body 
- keeping things simple 
- embracing the flow of sensory experience (especially out in the nature)
- confidence (vicarious confidence works too, that is, when somebody else believes that I can "do it" - do the not-doing)

When there is enough of instances with helpful conditions, it builds momentum so that it happens more easily in challenging situations as well. 

Critical remarks, warnings about traps and so forth are usually not what I need. When it comes to that sort of thing, I have plenty of imagination of my own. Seeing lots of possible traps is something I generally do in all situations, and the same goes for realizing where there is room for improvement. I just don't talk about it that much, because for me it is taken for granted and doesn't need to be spelled out, and deinitely not emphasized. I know when I'm off the mark in my practice. I need to remind myself of what actually works, and that it's possible, and that I'm able to discern this for myself. Michael has always been supportive in that way. 

At long last I have started to listen to Eckhart Tolle. I have avoided him for a long time because I have seen too many really enjoying memes based on his quotes in social media. Gosh, people can really turn anything into a disaster by putting it into the wrong context and getting the implications all wrong. I had a feeling that his teachings might be helpful for me where I'm at right now, and they sure are. They provide exactly the kind of reminders that I need. 

I also treat myself to feelgood (feelgood for me, because they really make me feel good) guided meditations by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar. Some soft Indian music in the background and a calm voice with that soothing Indian English accent (probably soothing to me because I associate it with yoga, which I love). Very confidence-inspiring. Some simple but great pointers. Fairly brief sessions, well suited for a break inbetween tasks. It feels luxurious, like a beautifully wrapped present or a delicious cake on a regular Tuesday afternoon, but with a taste that lasts longer and stays fresher. Not bad. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 12 Hours ago.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 13

Posts: 5922 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
This has been a great practice day with three formal sessions, the first one starting with yoga and pranayama and then some effortless sitting with intervals of different focuses alternated with just sitting. The middle session was reclining and about 90 minutes long and allowed me to go fairly deep. It had some formless qualities to it, although I wouldn't count it as visiting the formless realms, or at least not the Theravadan versions. The last session was an old RtS class recording. There were jhanic factors but too compelling thoughts for any jhana to develop. It was enthusiasm about work. I guess there are worse distracting thoughts than that, so it would be foolish to complain. I can definitively see the dukkha in that kind of wired up enthusiasm, though. The dualistic enthusiasm was interspersed with spacious stillness. Outside the formal sessions, the day has in large parts been fairly effortless, although it started out sluggish for a while. 

I very clearly cycle between A&P and equanimity in some part of the many full cycles leading up to third. 

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