Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
 Hi y'all,

Thought I'd share my log from a 9 day solo retreat I've just finished.
This is all a bit messy, and I haven't gone through it to polish it off.

It could be interesting to look at for some of you, maybe, I thought, because it shows how I have learned to keep track of stages in my own slightly weird way.
I log after every session, which in this retreat was typically 2-3 hours. And at least it would be interesting for me to look at, back when I had no idea how progression through the stages might look like. 

I meditated for 10 hours (give or take) every day. My schedule was typically like this:
- 6:00-7.30
   Walk the dog, drink coffee, POOOP!
- Sitting 7.30-10.00
- 10.00-11.00
   Eating and logging
- Sitting11.00-14.00
- 14.00-15.00
   Eating and logging
- Sitting15.00-18.00
- 18.00-19.00
   Eating and logging
- Sitting 19/20-20/22 (very flexible. Sometimes I trained on the bike and with the heavy bag at this time)
- 22.00 ish: Bed!

My technique has become sort of my own. I have a basis in Mahasi style noting, but drop off this technique when highly focused and when in equanimity. Then I practice what I guess could be called 'do nothing'.
I also used 'counting breaths' quite a bit, especially in the first days, to build concentration and have a straightforward way to stay present.


My take-away key points of the retrat was this:
  • I gained greater understanding and therefore compassion of the minds in DN. I understand better what Daniels’ warnings and urges to resolve not to have DN bleed-throughs, are about. In my re-obs stage this time around I could have killed someone, despite not wanting to, and despite knowing sort of what the stage was about. This makes it easer for me to understand when others in this stage would be acting out, or feeling horrible.
  • I learned that I CAN go through the stages up until EQ with some sort of idea what I am doing. I did that in my retreat last year as well, where I also got stuck at EQ and started to go backwards.
  • I learned that I can’t ‘force’ my way through EQ, as one sort of can with the earlier stages.
    • I have yet to learn how to get well through EQ. 
  • I gained new insights into how ‘suffering’ really works. It has something to do with reactionary habit patterns of the mind, creating these states of struggle with what is, in the body and the mind.
  • I learned that I can make bigger poops than I previously thought possible.

In the following posts, I'll post one day at a time, since I think too long text won't all fit in one.

 
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 1, friday September 10th, 2021
7:30-10:00Sat in two positions and lay down for at least the last hour-hour and a half.It was easy to sit once I got a comfortable posture out of the new setup. But my knees hurt after probably 1-1.5 hours.I struggle a bit with concentration. I definitely go into a lot of day dreams and my mind tends strongly towards the sexual.I counted breath most of the time because I found that I wanted to focus and the noting technique didn’t feel right.I get only a very weak sense of dissolving my center and irritation from not having an absolutely insane start with lots of interesting shit happening. Haha. It’s alright.I do feel the determination to make good use of my time here.I resolve to get better and better and better.. emoticon
Assuming I am coming from the arising and passing, characterized by strong sexual desire, vivid dreams and some odd half-asleep experiences, I should be experiencing dissolution soon enough, followed by the rest of the dukkha nanas.
11:00-14:00Sexual urges are very strong to begin with..After that I was more relaxed but urges still came up. Wow, it is strong.I still counted breaths a lot and fell into some absorptive layers.At one point it was quite visual. A dot I had been staring at in the ceiling started turning into things. When I closed my eyes I saw mushroom-y patterns and some of that spacey technology-stuff..I lay down for the last 1.5 hours (out of 3:12 total) and did doze off quite a bit. I kept on coming back to counting breaths, alternating with noting here and there.I suppose perhaps I do start to feel a bit drifty/dreamy, which could be the beginning of the DN nanas…
15:00-18:00The other two sessions I had earlier went quicker. This time I was feeling a longing for it to end when there was less than half an hour left.Sexual urges still show up with force.This time I sat a little better, lay down a bit better.I transitioned from being strictly dependent on counting breaths, to being able to ‘do nothing’ with good awareness of arising phenomena.I tapped more into the decentering of self than I have any other time today.In the end I was losing focus a bit and went back to counting breaths. I got quite heavily absorbed with a visual effect of watching the room as being only in faded gray tones.
18:40-21:00No more sexual urges. It’s gone!In stead I feel more uncomfortable and its harder to sit.I could only sit for about 30 minutes at a time, had to lay down the rest of the time because my body started hurting and I just felt..icky.I also notice that the body is felt more in general.I see less visuals and barely hear my thoughts. The DN is here, I suppose haha.
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 2, September 11th
07:30-10:00Initially focus was good and I could very clearly observe subtle mental phenomena.I go back and forth between counting breaths, noting and just being aware, depending on how I feel.When counting, I got to a point of quite intense absorption.After that the absorption faded and I felt hazy for the rest of the sit, difficult to stay alert.I also observed when lying down, that I was intending to get up, but nothing happened.
11:00-14:00Now it ain’t fun no more!This sit I really started DN’ing. I go semi unconscious often, hard to stay present and not get lost deeply and realistically in day-dreams.I started feeling a bit more icky, and had periods where my spine felt like it was sorta wrenching itself, making just being uncomfortable.I had a few laughs which sporadically came out. I think there’s some satisfaction in facing these fundamental pains of dis-ease.I had a lot of trouble now sitting. My body has started aching and my limbs can’t be put in a comfortable position. As a good example, I remember my last 50 minutes being broken up into three different postures because I just couldn’t stay put in one place for longer. It felt like forever, but it was just 50 minutes.
In my break between 14 and 15 I ate a heavy, greasy meal to comfort myself. I also went outside and did some flips on the trampoline and went to the boxing heavy bag and did some kicks and punches too. It felt good getting some food and exercise.
15:00-18:00Still can’t get comfortable. Now I’m also tired AF! I wonder if it was too much food..probably was!I spent the first 2 hours trying to stay conscious basically. Not much luck, it felt like it was impossible to investigate with such a dull mind.In the last hour I got some clarity. For the entire last hour I didn’t move! It was hard, but somehow staying with the pain and just seeing it, helped free it up and become somewhat equanimous-feeling.In this last hour, the clarity helped me just stay present without noting/labelling. I felt I could start to see the dynamics of Self once again, giving me a bit of this decentered-self feeling.
Had a break until 19:30. It’s fine, I needed to walk and feed the dog, cook some food, soothe my aching soul a little bit. Oh, and write the log for the entire day which I forgot to do after 11.
19:30-21:30For the first hour I was sleepy AF! I actually did fall asleep for like 10-15 minutes I think..I decided I would go on the last walk with the dog and go to bed.Sitting on the bed I meditated for another ~40 minutes. I had stopped being tired and could actually have sat longer was it not for the pain in my knees and lack of motivation.
I seem to be able to focus quite well now without necessarily noting/labelling. In fact, noting is very hard to do because everything is super blurry and all over the place. What to note.. It all happens in one big muffled, noisy, mess!But then again, I can note that...


The night was insane! I had the creepies as the darkness came. As I walked up the stairs to my bedroom I certainly heard sounds coming from someone else in the house. Looking down the dark hallway upstairs outside the bedroom, I could see a head peeking out from behind the wall. So.. am I ridiculous to now assume the state is now: Fear! ? 
I had to get up to yell out the window to tell the dog to shut up several times during the whole night. Fucking dog... This probably helped keep my mind dreamy and semi-awake. But also it started mind-stories about what the dog might be barking at…
At one point during the night, I could not only hear the dog barking, but the sound of an angle grinder or some tool like that. As I opened my eyes I could also see flickering lights outside. I got up and rushed to the window, quietly. The yard outside was full of sparks from someone using the angle grinder to cut open a door leading into the yard. The sparks were so bright and so much everywhere that I could not see what or who made them. They were red/yellow, just like molten metal is. They flew all over the yard and slowly dimmed as they landed on the ground.Next moment I was in my bed again, super confused! How’d I get there?!I tried opening my eyes and focus and it took me a while to realize where I was. I thought I was a lot closer to the window, so it literally took me at least 10 seconds just to see where I was. Hah!I was in sleep paralysis and spent the next while trying to prepare for whenever the intruders would come inside the house. My plan was to just rest until that happened (so tired!), and be ready to get up and fight when the moment came. Haha! What a plan…  So I just took my time getting the body back up and running, just wiggling a finger and a toe here and there. At some point I was convinced that I could jump up on my legs and fight, so I went back to sleep.Only as I write this do I realize how stupid this whole scenario was. I mean, I certainly did believe that it was ‘real’ when it happened. Damn.(I might need to reconsider what to do if the house was actually invaded some time during the night...but then again, I was never in a real fight before…)
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Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 3, September 12th
07:30-10:00Almost feelin equanimous this morning… At least I could sit for very long (about 1:10 hrs)  in an otherwise semi-uncomfortable position before going to the bathroom and switching it up.I started by counting breaths, only ‘counting’ to aid staying focused on the feeling of the rising and falling abdomen.This grounded me and stabilized my focus quite well. I got to 300 without losing count. The attention is back on!Makes me wonder what’s going on.. Is this still a part of the DN nanas? Or did I fall back to have a more thorough AP? Is that what happened during the night?Anywho, after counting my focus was strong so I ‘did nothing’ and simply observed the bodymind do its thing. I naturally got drawn into observing aversion arising and passing. I could see the aversion or the unpleasantness of sensations with great clarity. And as I watched each pulsation of aversion arise, I could see it fade again, usually within a few seconds.I spent the remaining ~1 hour just observing this. And good that I did because looking at it with this much clarity helped overcome the struggle that has otherwise been there. 

11:00-14:00The first hour went pretty well. It was comfortable, it was easy. I slowly noted or counted breaths and worked around staying present and aware. The body felt ok, not too achy or icky.Then, about an hour in, I had to lay down. But the sleepiness took over so I sat back up again and spent about half an hour trying to stay awake and present with the body/breathing.Last hour was tough. I had started getting images of disease, getting old, dying and felt some of the meaninglessness of life. The misery soon started flooding in. It wasn’t as tough on the body as on the mind, although the body was still a bit achy. The mind, however, was just really giving me a hard time! It was as if there was an aching, although not exactly painful, from within. I didn’t even want to stop meditating, I could see that the problem wasn’t the meditation, but existence! Ugh!!When the time was up I went and ate a meaty meal again to comfort myself. I now dread a bit for the next three hours..which are up in just about 10 minutes. Ugh! Why the fuck am I doing this again? Oh yah, that’s right: Bliss, booze and cheap highs! Woop woop here we go! Be back in three of the big clocky ones!
15:00-18:00Now it’s getting easier to sit for longer. I sat for the first two hours without moving my arms or my arse. Only shifted my legs a few times. Then had a pee break and sat for the last hour in the same way.I am finding it difficult to be enthusiastic about observing. Although it’s no longer as much of a blur to me with all the senses, they are a bit boring… As if I don’t want to have any sensations. Can’t they just go away?Haha, funny to write this.. As it’s true of course, but also because the next stage on the list is disgust. I did feel disgusted during my sit actually. I remember this feeling from the first time I consciously was moving through the dukkha nanas and I felt nauseous. I did today too. It’s odd, kinda like I have food poisoning, that kind of nauseous. It didn’t last for long, but came up a few times in waves.During this sit I did find myself smiling a bit, seeing a bit of light through the misery that’s been prevalent up until this point today.

19:00-20:00 and 21:30-22:00I broke my time into an hour sit, then went to do some exercise (I’m done with retreats that leave me completely broken from not moving for 10 days!) and it was great to sweat a bit. I then came in, showered and went to bed, meditating for about 30 minutes before crashing.
I noticed that my fear had gone away completely. Usually when I go use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’m always skeptically looking down that long dark hall way in front of the bedroom, fearfully expecting to see some ghost or some shit in this old creepy farm house. But tonight I didn’t even think to look. Zero fear. And we’re talking 20 years of always having a bit of fear being in this house at night… so that’s cool! Also, good to see that I’ve progressed from the night before which was full of fear.
The sitting was easier and I could relax, finally. Misery gone, nausea gone. For the first hour, before exercising, I relaxed into a state of rapture which came and went, mildly, on and off.
The same happened for the final 30 minutes before going to bed.
For both sits this evening I was able to observe mind states, which has been completely off limits for the past couple of days. But with fine detail I could label states such as intrigue, relaxation, irritation, attraction, attention, and more.
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 4, September 13th
07:30-10:00I made the biggest poop man has ever seen this morning. That kind of info doesn’t really belong in a retreat log I suppose, but if I didn’t write it here I’m afraid the world would never know…
The sitting was for the first hour-hour and a half comfortable! I counted breaths and used that as a way of really tuning in to the body. I got absorbed on and off into a state of bodily rapture and focusing specifically on the abdomen felt very piti-ful.
For the latter half of the sit I started feeling un-comfortable. I felt strong desire to have sex, go out and party, take drugs, fight, fuck..anything that would allow me to spend this excited energy that is surging through me.I really tried to continue to pay attention to whatever came up, as accurately and non-reactively as I could. I was quite successful, me thinks. And I’m able to observe more parts to the mind, and therefore I see how intentions to react in some responsive ways to these desires showed themselves, and how I immediately broke them down into their bodily components and watched them fade again.Every now and then I spasm involuntarily and suddenly, and it feels like its a release of energy which normally is used to react (involuntarily) to desires and urges that show up in the mind. (spasms have in the past been very associated with breaking new grounds on the cushion and it makes a lot of sense to me, intuitively, even supported by my understanding of neuronal pathways and particularly the forming of new ones)
11:00-14:00Am about to go on this sit now.. And I must say WOW! How I would really like to not meditate. Honestly?! Can’t I just go have a bunch of sex, work and live my life now that I’m so energized and excited?!?! ARRGHHHHHSo, the sit was interesting. For the first hour or hour and a half I struggled with discomfort. My senses seem to blend into a whirl of overwhelming stuff, and urges to get up and start doing something.
This somewhat lasted throughout the whole 3 hour session, but died out a little in the last hour or so.
For the last hour I started ‘doing nothing’ which seemed to fit quite well to my state of mind. Somehow the other techniques I’ve been using (noting and breath-counting) didn’t seem to serve me right.
So, in ‘doing nothing’, I was able to observe urges and impulses come op, move around and then pass again. I suppose we are getting into some re-observation of the three characteristics? I am making more spasms involuntarily when I recognize an urge to react, see it fall to the ground. Again, as if the energy that was building up in order to automatically react in whatever way was about to happen, gets released since it’s not happening after all…
I’m at my parents house and they were supposed to leave for a vacation with me taking care of the dog, but have come back because the summer house they booked was disgusting. Now that they’re here I can’t have these breaks in quiet and I found that I’m really fucking irritable. Again: ARGGHGHGH! Fortunately they booked another place they wanna go and will probably leave in a few hours.
Reading Daniel Ingrams description of re-observation right now. I think it fits nicely. Good, a psychotic breakdown is appropriate. I feel one is right on the verge.. :’)

14:30-17:30I rushed back to the cushion in absolute frustration/anger for no reason other than my mom was in the kitchen and asked me about how to cook some tofu.. HAH! (They did leave, and I just now sent her a text apologizing for my high state of irritability…)
For the first hour meditating I was still furious. Breathing deeply and on/off laughing at my own dramatic reactions. Also, the laughing definitely was some sort of release, a by product of gradually allowing these insanely strong feelings to surge through my body. The laughs came out sudden and actually often started with a burst of sadness turning into hysterical lughter. Man.. this sheet weird!
Halfway into the 3 hours I started feeling a bit more relaxed. I changed positions a couple of times and finally got comfy in the chair for the remaining time.
It was a lot about staying present, not letting the overwhelming feeling come up and overwhelm me. I wanted to see as many of them arise and pass as possible.
I can recognize the value in Daniel Ingram’s words: “The best thing about reality, particularly in the Dark Night, is that you only have to deal with one little flickering sensation at a time. Staying on that level when doing insight practices is an unusually good idea. Pay attention to what is right in front of you, but keep your attention open.” This is what I did, even before reading this, and I feel like it’s definitely moving along in the right direction.
Aversion to going back sitting now is still super strong! I don’t want to, but I have to...

19:00-20:00Almost immediately after sitting I get struck with the overwhelming sense of aversion that’s been the key theme of today. But it’s nowhere near as strong as earlier and I allow it fully - this causes another series of spontaneous laughs and a relaxing into the sensations. All of a sudden they ain’t that bad anymore!I get absorbed in a rapturous state with a smile on my face. I think this marks the end of this DN journey!The rapture wears off and there’s probably about 30 minutes left of the sit. I relax a lot, but I’m also feeling quite a bit of pain in my legs and my throat is full of slimy snot-gew from eating spicy food earlier. So a lot of irritating sensations...but I remain pretty damn calm underneath it all.Even with all this irritation stuff going on I fall into some day dreaming. My knees hurt so bad when there’s 13 minutes left of the 1 hour sit so I lay down. It’s kinda nice...you know, just lying here, feeling my breath going in and out.
What a day…

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Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 5, September 14th
07:45-10:10(Just a regular size poop today.. Oh well, you can’t win every time).Meditation is pleasantly easy, especially since yesterday was so damn hard. What a contrast.The greatest challenge right now is that I don’t really think meditation is necessary. I feel fine!
In my sits I find it boring to count breaths. I’m looking for something a little out of the ordinary for me (which I make note of too, as “anticipation”). I am seeing the ability to investigate space and the subtle mental inclinations. 
Also, I spent at least 40 minutes or so focusing on sounds far away. This brought me into a very absorbed state where the ringing in the ears was super loud.
I notice a tendency to want to do things different now. I want to get right to the observation of NotSelf, of non-duality between mind, body and the observer. Patience, I guess..gotta just stick to a gentle effort and continued curiosity...
11:15-14:15Me thinks I have underestimated this stage of equanimity. Yes, it’s not painful and awful anymore, but still requires diligent practice! Duh.. But anywho, I spent the first hour or more of this session being tired and thinking I should basically just sit and relax. I noticed, however, that there was a nagging sense of dis-ease in the back, growing more and more obvious.Yesterday and the day before it was all about staying present with the difficult bodily sensations, not to worry to much of the mind. Simple, and easy to do in a way, just awfully painful. Today, being new in EQ, I need to start perceiving those subtle mental phenomena and I think it took me a while to start doing that.As I did, I realized that there was a sense of dis-satisfaction which I couldn’t really perceive well. Perhaps something pertaining to expectations of awesome fruitions and pleasant/blissful sits that just didn’t happen.... So I started just looking at what was obviously present: Sight, sound, bodily feelings. Turned out there was hiding some dis-ease in the bodily feelings that I perceived as mental before.. Seeing it clearly, and breaking it down into simpler form, made all the difference. It made me present with what was, and changed my practice.After this I kept on seeing dis-ease arise and then seeing it as its physical components. So a repetitive pattern of feeling the bad stuff, seeing it clearly, watching it evaporate.Somehow this had the effect of also absorbing me into a bit of a rapture-like state where NotSelf was pervading.
15:00-18:00Continued from where I left off. I still notice dis-ease arise all the time, then try to break it down into components that I can clearly see.I do still have the nagging expectations that I should be this and that..idk, like something more pleasant and interesting should be happening - like cool formations and deep insights and orgasmic bliss. Ridiculous, I know..but I think these kinds of expectations are what causes the stress.So I again just continue to see it for what it is: A thought, a feeling, a sense of dis-ease, some bodily feelings...etc…I think it’s going well. Towards the end of this session, I felt as if something had definitely changed since earlier. As if it’s a bit easier again, and simpler to move forward without a feeling that something isn’t right.
19:00-20:00Now there’s my interesting experiences! FInally! Haha..Ironically it comes when one lets go of those kinds of expectations.What happened was that I was still tuning into these little dis-ease’s and breaking them down into what they were made of. It’s getting smoother and the practice now is more like sensing when there’s a resistance to something.In this sit, there was plenty to feel resistance for. I still get this throat-snot which makes me want to clear my throat all the time and swallow - only to be super bothered by the fact that the feeling persist, the snot doesn’t move. It really generates a lot of dis-ease. So I used that, as well as some pain in the knees, to tune into the resistance and: ACCEPT, accept, accept..When I did this I got into a state of rapture. Kinda pleasant, but also just a lot of pain in the knees and in the way that snot in my throat was bugging me.I lay down when there was 16 minutes left of this hour, due to my painful knees, and then I went into a bit of a daze, day dreaming about something I don’t even remember. When I became present again my heart started racing, I felt as if I really saw my self as Not Self and it definitely ‘chilled me out’ (to use the expression Daniel uses in his description of EQ - which follows me and makes me have these expectations that I was talking about. And I did expect a fruition here, so that’s why my heart raced, I think...excitement!).For the rest of the session I couldn’t find any more resistance. It was just presence with the same dis-eases in the throat and body, but without it being a problem at all. I had a vague smile on my lips…
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 6, September 15th
07:40-10:10Wow.. equanimity has struck! I sit so much more easily than before and I’m calm, I’m undisturbed by all that goes on in the mind and body. At least to a much greater extend than before. Very cool.I feel like now is the time that I actually make insight! Insight into how suffering arises. This sit was basically about sitting, relaxed, very present, just observing whatever moved and especially whatever caused resistance, aversion/attraction and then noticing the equanimity about it. Challenges do come up, but they are manageable to see through, to see that all there is, is the resistance and the present mind. The power of these challenges falls off when shining this bright light of awareness on it...Also, the sense doors are definitely merging. The difference between sight, sound, felt, mental or physical, starts to come together. In doing so, NotSelf become more obvious.
I wonder if I need to keep on just looking at this reactivity in fine detail...I mean.. Is this the ‘final challenge’? Or does it change later today when I realize that I had to start doing something else.. Idk..for now I’ll just keep being ultra aware, which happens effortlessly. That should be a good enough thing..
11:20-14:20Damn, that’s even more equanimous! :pMy sit earlier was largely about watching those subtle aversions and resistances, looking at them clearly and thereby eradicating/neutralizing them.Now it’s as if there’s almost no aversion left. Well some is there, but there are long periods where there isn’t really any.What discomfort does show up, relates to worries about perhaps just falling into a pleasant state from which I won’t progress. But I see these as worries and I dissolve it into the bodily components and then that goes away too.
Pleasantness increases. I feel good, free from any bothers..I think the ‘danger’ now is to stay aware, present, not fall into a pleasant slumber.
I do have ‘issues’ seeing Not Self aspects as I sit, but I think everything is as it should be.
For this 3 hour sit I only moved once, halfway into the sit, to go to the bathroom. When I got back there was still just under 1.5 hours left and I barely moved for the entire time, and I barely thought any time had gone by. Meditation is easier than it’s been now, compared to any other time these days!
What I’m learning about suffering is also worthwhile - even if I didn’t get a fruition, it would still be a highly valuable practice: To watch the resistances towards sensations drop away like this. It’s probably pretty much what it’s all about...
14:45-17:15Well, now I am bothered.. Ha! What do you know…It’s not that I am back into pain and misery, it’s not bothered in that way. It’s just that things do seem to get easier and have a very good flow...until…!Now, I feel like the subtle nuances that I’m tracking are getting even subtler. There is still no “pain” per se, but there is an underlying frustration about something. And this frustration is actually quite bothersome.
I think what I have to do now, is to ease a little on the expectations again. (fucking duh, isn’t that always the case!?) And just sit, pay attention to what is, and just let whatever needs to unfold, unfold.
About expectations, I have definitely been feeling that I “should be getting that fruition now”. Clearly, that’s not how it works.
But getting a fruition while being aware where I am, is the only part of the path I have yet to observe. The other fruitions I’ve had have been while asleep, and have gone by un-noticed other than the whole sequence of things - and always off retreat. So I am a little anxious to get this, so see it actually happening, to feel sure that I’m not just fooling myself about how it’s going.
I quit this sit a bit early, by about 30 minutes, and also had a short break halfway in. Maybe all I need is to ease up a bit and just chill with it... 

Exercised and had some food and chilled out a bit. I needed that, to get my mind a little straight about what’s going on. Why is EQ causing me so much ‘trouble’? Likely due to my expectations that it would be a blissful breeze straight to nirvana.Thinking about this I’ve realized that these expectations, although I have been somewhat aware of them since several days ago, have been interfering with my seeing directly what is, here, now. Instead, I’ve been seeing “problems in the way of how it should be”...you know, according to my stupid mind. And that has caused frustration and maybe not so much a halt of my progress yet, but a blow to my good spirit! (I definitely have been making good progress and luckily there’s still time to correct mistakes).I’ve resolved, and going forward I’ll accept the present moment as it is, with or without anything in it that I believe shouldn’t be so. That’s probably for the better.This is already quite a relief. Instead of fighting to ‘get somewhere’, I just observe what is.. Hah! Easy peasy! :p Lol…
I mediated for 1 hr 19:30-20:30The sit was much the same as earlier. It’s easy to sit and I can do it for a long time without any real problems.My mind can feel the resolve to pay attention to what is. It sure is relieving.I now don’t have any pains or real issues per se, but tensions here and there around in the body which causes mild “suffering”. Especially in this sit, the inside of my face was super tense and just did not want to relax at all. I was OK with this and continued to stay with basic, obviously present sensations, such as sight, feelings, sounds.
Btw, it became more clear to me what I was “missing” earlier.. It’s the sense that my center of Self broadens out and de-centers. It’s been there so much leading up to the retreat, and I’ve been correlating it with “where I ought to be”: Centerless! Now it’s not happening too much, although a bit here and there in every sit. ​​​​​​​
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 7, September 16th
07:40-10:10With my new mind of surrender to the process, I have further resolved to focus on learning what I can in these next 3 days, from being at the stage of EQ. This resolve does wonders for the quality of my sitting, which is now more embedded with acceptance and curiosity about what actually does go on in this stage, including the subtle frustrations.
The stage does allow me to ‘do nothing’ very well. I start out with noting, but I don’t have to, as my mind is sharp and present automatically. In fact, it can’t not be present right now, it seems.
I utilize this quality by letting go as much as I can and just observe whatever the mind/body is doing. Being set free like this, it does some crazy things. At one point the music was playing loudly in my mind (Smells like teen spirit by “Nirvana”, funny enough) and I could feel my body, listen to the music, and see the visual effects all at once.
My mind has been racing quite a bit now that it’s been let go. It doesn’t bother me and it’s not tiring. In fact, it’s kind of amusing to just be on the ride.
I have noticed another thing that I was struggling with yesterday and the day before: I also expect/want formations to occur, so I’ve been pretending like they were there, just trying to see them. Or I’ve been trying to sort of force them to occur, which obviously isn’t the way to go.
In this sit I did notice formations naturally occurring, as described above with the teen spirit incidence. I see, feel and hear simultaneously without any effort.
And ironically, when this is all going on, I have moments where my sense of self decenters, just like I’ve been wanting it to all along. It’s almost as if my mind creates a lot of noise as to say “look at this “me” in it’s full blown form! Notice how it works! Pay attention to this exaggerated scenario of me, me, ME, doing whatever I like”. The harder the “me” feeling is present, the more I see it and the more it seems to dissolve. Cool.
11:00-14:00A pretty easy sit. I still benefit greatly from having left some of those expectations and as a result feel that I go into new territory.I experience more time with formations, just observing the movement of the senses all at once.
I also had moments of strong absorption into a state of No Self.In these moments I tend to get very excited, believing that a fruition is about to come rushing in like an explosion of bliss. Fuck I just don’t get it..do I?!But I do get better at just observing the excitement and breaking it down into its components. So that’s fine. 
Still there’s very little struggle and difficult emotions or feelings. The practice seems to be about being present and just watching… it does get a little boring most of the time tbh.
Seeing the senses come and go like this, made me, towards the end, see the unsatisfactoriness to a high degree, in both pleasant and unpleasant sensations.
Here and there, worries come up about progress in my practice. I have learned to just observe it and go like “hey, there’s worries...aaaaand now it’s gone”.
I also worry that there’s so little time left. Where did this whole time go? I regret not practicing a bit more diligently...
15:00-18:00Most equanimity based sit so far.I sat in a chair for 2.5 hours before getting up for a bathroom break and sitting cross legged for the remaining 30 minutes.My whole sit was based in an effortless awareness of primarily the felt, but also the seen and the heard. There was pretty much no difference in perceiving mental/physical phenomena. A tree outside the window I looked at turned into a face, not just in my mind imagining it, but for reals, as seen with ma awn tow ays!
So the awareness of sensations was effortless. What did require a slight effort tho, was remaining neutrally observant of the reactions patterns of aversion, craving, clinging.In this sit, no aversion was so strong that it dictated my actions. I remained still and observant of it until it faded and turned to nothing.
It’s weird, it’s almost as if I can’t make sense of noting. Why would one ever note?! What is there to note, which can’t just be perceived directly without being dumb enough to have to say “arhdhg derp derp, I spy with my little eye”. Wtf is this consciousness kindergarten? Haha...so many ups and downs :p
Anyway, back to the noting practice...

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19:00-21:00That. was. Cool!I lay down on my bed for two hours straight.So.. all day I’ve been watching these resistances/aversion/craving/wanting/dis-wanting…- anything that has caused suffering.That’s what I did just now as well. But…! The suffering stopped! I couldn’t find anything wrong with anything. I could feel that all the underlying mechanisms still worked, like irritation, pain and such.. But the struggle-aspect, or the suffering part of it, just didn’t happen anymore.I realized I could just lay and be aware of breathing and body feelings with zero effort. And since nothing was causing any struggle, it was getting pretty pleasant.After about an hour I could feel some pleasant energy centered in my lower back, or the bottom chakra or whatever it’s called, wanting to be released. It felt natural to start circling my pelvic bone to start and squeeze out some of the energy. It felt good, almost in a sexual kind of way, or in a mild orgasm kinda way. But it never climaxed, it just remained at a level similar to when one has to sneeze...almost...there..almost...there.. Haha, so after about 10 minutes I just stopped trying and relaxed. The pleasant energy kept on being released in little portions.
Towards the end, probably just like the last 10 minutes or so, I started feeling some struggle again. I don’t remember anymore exactly what it was, but I think some frustration over...hmm..perhaps some mental images playing that asked for my involvement.
Anyway, I think this is very cool. I’ve learned to zoom in on the suffering aspect of it all, and work in direct contact with that. It seems very right, that that’s where the practice sort of culminates. After all, the only “goal” with this practice is to end suffering.. It seems very much like hitting the nail on the head.
Will look forward to see what happens tomorrow. Gotta resolve to keep attention on whatever arises in the present. I’m done with expecting shit. I’ll stick to what is, not what I want to be a is. (YES! That is grammatically correct and I care about that because I’m...tired. I should go to bed). (Yes, yes, yes. Words. Yes, yes, yes) Brakkk. Bed Sheran. Bre-lokkfal-najs. Oup!! Oup! Oup! Bed! Bed! Bed! I go to bed, yes? Is ok? Ah, is a ok! Bed is a ok! OK! OK!OK ! What? So a meditator can’t write words when tired any more? Well, good sir! Don’t be such a bore! The empire shalleth sooneth striketh! Balaraj!
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 8, September 17th
07:40-10:10The first two and a half hours of the sit were broken only by a very brief bathroom break. The scene is pretty much the same as yesterday: Easy, quiet, all sense doors are seen and tend to merge together, no effort is required to stay present with the sensations, and I am able to observe the things which give rise to suffering: Frustration, urges, tensions, impulses, pain, etc.Expectations were almost gonna screw me over tho! I started seeing more and more of what the “self” was doing, and so thought that my focus should change to observing only that. This didn’t happen tho, so I found myself trying and trying, without seeing clearly what was in the present moment - which most of the time was the seen, the heard, the felt and not decisionmaking, considering, attention, focus, aversion, etc.
But I’m so glad I made it my goal to stay with whatever is present. This makes for an “easy” fixing point in my sits: I can always “go back” to just observing breathing, bodily feelings, sight, etc.
In this sit, I was challenged, in terms of the suffering that came up, in a way where I had to look at a yet subtler level to find where it was nagging. The suffering is now so little that I really have to focus in order to make out that something is even a “problem”.
Towards the end of the sit, for the last 30 minutes or so, I was experiencing drifting a little bit. I think this is expected in higher equanimity, so I’ll have to try and not expect too much..again!What I’ll do in my next sit, is the same thing. Gotta stick to the basic principle of observing what is. I will say, tho, that it does seem like a natural thing to start to let go a bit more. After all, sensations are just sensations, and they come up without anything special, without any satisfactory qualities. The clearer this becomes, the easier it is to let go of those little urges that pull me in whatever direction. It only makes sense if that should continue.
We’ll see..

11:20-14:20Funny sit. I started trying to meditate like normal. But I got ridiculously tired. Too much food perhaps?Anyway, I drifted very easily. There was no suffering that I could notice. No issues, no conflict, no anything. I basically just sat and loosely on/off paid attention to sensations. When I needed to move a little I saw that an hour and 15 minutes had passed, to my surprise. Felt not that long at all.I then changed it up, straightened out my legs, and sat another hour and 15 minutes without any movement, before having a bathroom break before the final ~30 minutes.After I first changed it up, I was still meditating with a tired mind, although I could feel it waking up, slowly. The only “struggles” I had from then on out, was being concerned with not meditating “right”, and being excited. I kept on bringing my awareness back to “whatever is present”, to avoid falling into the trap of wishing for something else..again.

15:00-17:00Another bit of a “difficult” sit. I guess I’m, despite resolving not to, expecting something else. It’s so subtle that I can’t really pinpoint it in the meditation itself, but I can sense some frustration there.I went back to strict noting in this sit, for at least half of the time. It helped a bit with grounding myself in the present sensations. For the last hour, out of the two, I didn’t note but just stayed aware, especially of the body breathing.The ‘challenges’ that showed up consisted mostly of excitement and a sense of frustration like “this isn’t right”. Hehe.. just noticing it makes it go away. But it comes back, and back, and back...
17:00-19:00 training and food!Was really nice to ground with the body a bit. And sweat.. It does wonders to the wellbeing of the body.
I also spent 30 minutes on the bike, reading most of the chapter in MCTB about EQ. It really hit hard, as the mistakes he talks about, were the ones I was making, i.e. going back to concentration practices and noting!
I’m confused, and don’t really know what to do then. “Investigate space”?! What? Why? How?... To become more broadly aware? Or to actually see something in space?

19:00-21:30I relaaaaxed as much as I could and tried to just be aware in a broad way. It seems to work fine, as it is after all how my mind does it at the moment.
Had lots of giggling in the beginning, as if I was releasing some of the tension I had about practice.
After my sit I was very happy and couldn’t stop smiling.
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Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 9, September 18th
07:30-10:00I had a bit of a rough morning. Went out with the dog… He’s super blood thirsty and once he gets a sniff of something he can be hard to control. He went flying across the field with no intention of stopping and disappeared over the hill. I went after him and after 5 minutes or so he came back. I grabbed him and threw myself on top of him, held him by the neck, yelling “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?!?!!” over and over for about 10 seconds. I was absolutely absorbed in a state of animalistic fury.
The feeling of anger lingered (and still does when writing this) throughout most of my sit. It almost had a PTSD kind of vibe to it, as I would go back to the moment again and again, actually being there, feeling the feelings, being absorbed in the state of panicky rage. 
My reactions were pretty drawn towards being sad and frustrated that my meditation was “ruined” because of this. But I chose to see it as a great opportunity to investigate some very powerful and potentially dominating mental/physical mechanisms.
Having read in MCTB, I know now to include all of my broad awareness in my meditation. I had moments of piti, and moments of frustration. Whatever came up, I chose to be with it.But lots of frustration were in some of those present moments…I think I must have forgotten to investigate that directly, and focused more on trying to the the “me” as a part of it.
I was trying to look for the “me”, even amplifying this feeling. I let my minds voice run freely, which started talking about what “I was”. I just listened to it.
I also started swinging swords, like Daniel suggests in the EQ chapter, through the places of my body which I saw as “me”. I took this a bit further and started taking out the pieces of my body perceived as “me”, ripping them out and squeezing them. Mostly this “me” is located between my eyes, in my head and in the upper part of the spine/neck.While doing all of this, I tried to keep a broad awareness to just see everything as one.
The sense that my sense of self was dissolving, did start to occur. I felt happy and accomplishment about it. Weird… I’m not even sure I should have a dissolving sense of self.
I am left still feeling a bit raw, edgy and frustrated. I’ll do whatever I can to accept these feelings as what is.
11:20-14:20This time around, I feel I’m letting go of something, which has been holding me back.I was feeling some doubt that I may have dropped down from EQ. I thought so during the sit because my mind was racing, full of aggression, and quite uncomfortable. Reminded me a bit of re-observation, since it was kind of like a big fuzz in my head.However, I did remain ‘cool’ and well observant of all of this, with a broad sense of awareness, so perhaps EQ is still it.
Great sadness and despair showed up for a short period when I was thinking this. But I observed this quite well and didn’t fall into the temptation to just grieve.
So, I basically feel like my mind took me on a roller coaster ride. It wanted me to react in some way, I think.I went on all kinds of day-dream journeys, through scenario after scenario, urging me to react.Towards the end, I was feeling a bit like “yeah mind, so what are you up to now?” with a feeling of being a bit bored of it, careless of whatever dramatic scenario was about to be played out now.
I think I may have found my groove a little bit.Swinging around light sabers or swords, like Daniel suggests in his EQ chapter, didn’t really catch on with me. Neither did something Abre said about trying to hear sounds 100 miles away.But just sitting there, essentially ‘doing nothing’, seems to be a bit more up my alley. Letting myself get carried away..but aware of it.

15:00-18:00A sit that made me quite sure EQ is definitely not the stage anymore.I’m not sure tho. I feel that I’ve been pretty aware of where I’ve been and what to do. But I’ve really had to humble the fuck up. I don’t know shit!!
I had a pretty hard time sitting the hours in this session. I felt a very bodily tension which was relieved a bit by noting old school, pre-EQ style.I felt like I was in Re-Obs again, by the way I had to just stay present with the body.This time around, in a more inclusive way, though! Perhaps I’ve learned a little bit from EQ, or some just still hangs on..? Maybe I’m sorta in between the two?
Loots and lots of turmoil in these three hours. “Triggered” (at least sort of) by this mornings rage attack (which I have building up to for a while because I was always scared of that dog) I have continued to feel rage throughout the day. It’s not unpleasant, really. It’s very energizing and almost intoxicating. Also fascinating to meditate through, as one can experience being completely swallowed up by the rage in the split seconds where it peaks.
Before the sit I was also hitting and kicking the heavy bag harder than I ever have before. I was surprised to see how hard I could kick, actually! Nice..gotta rely on that primal frustration if I ever get in a fight haha.
In the sit, I kept on living through scenarios with fights, both imaginary scenes (with people) as well as the memory of the scene this morning with the dog. I also felt anger at my progress (hah!) and the fact that I was so excited to get back to work with all those equanimity super powers. And now I have to go back possibly being in re-observation. Ugh!
So I’ve decided to take a chill pill with practice until tomorrow morning when my solo-retreat ends. I normally meditate two hours in the evening, but think I’ll just do one tonight.Also, I played some piano and sung and cried (haha) which made me come back to real life a little bit.
Wow, what a 9 days...
Spend the rest of the evening relaxing and being on the phone!
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Day 10, September 19th
Final sit: 09-10:00:Probably the “best” sit I’ve had in a while.I felt at ease, even with shit in the mind still going on, such as rage (tho milder today), and wishes to get back to the “real world”.
I was able to sit for 1:10 hrs without any agitation in the body. It was neutral and perhaps mildly pleasant.
Makes me think that either I’m just very equanimousl in Re-Obs, or not in Re-Obs anyway. But fuck trying to map this shit out. It don’t make sense anymore and that’s fine too.
I noted a little bit, but didn’t have to note little details to body or mind - I was able to stay with more subtle levels of mind, such as investigation, sense of observing, effort, that kind of stuff.
For the first time ever! I noticed something interesting about the sense of being the observer/doer behind my thoughts. I did this interesting thing where I let the self ‘take full control’ by letting the mind speak as “me”, saying “I” all the time. I really felt into the feeling of “me”, not trying to “see through the illusion”, but just try to understand the “me” that was indeed there!
As the mind was speaking, as “I” was speaking, I noticed that there was a back and forth action between ‘hearing’ the thoughts, and ‘speaking’ the thoughts. This is a shift I’ve known for a long time, but what new happened today, was this: The split merged into one; I could ‘hear’ the thoughts that ‘I spoke’. The observer became the observed and the observed became the observer. This is obviously the truer way of seeing it, the non-dual way.
I’m quite excited that I can see my mind loosening up, now that my retreat is over, and it’s clear I wouldn’t make it past EQ and onto a fruition. I can accept where I’m at, and want to work on that level.
Also, taking some time off since last night had a very positive effect on my mind. I obviously was able to stay “gently” with sensations, rather than forcefully try to make insight progress happen before the end of the retreat. So that’s good.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 2173 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
The Dhamma Badars is back emoticon emoticon Plowing gently through the fields of samsara emoticon Good man for planting those fine seeds!

p.s. is it a Pitbull? Somehow I imagine you with a pitbull, not sure why! emoticon It could as well be a Mops or a Chihuahua right? emoticon 
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Hah, but I never left Samsara! Been here the whole time, along with you bunch of agglomerated hydrogen.

The dog is a german shepherd, which was discarded as a guard dog early on because it was too psycho. It was trained to attack too young, fucking up its mind, making it a bit of a ferosious killer...although it's very sweet now a days.
But... not sure everyone would wanna fight it. It has bit people before haha.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 2064 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Interesting retreat! What's your non-retreat practice like?
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 176 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
 Makes me think that either I’m just very equanimousl in Re-Obs, or not in Re-Obs anyway. But fuck trying to map this shit out. It don’t make sense anymore and that’s fine too.


Sounds like you've progressed through the Mapping Ñānas successfully and learned the lesson it was trying to teach ;-)
Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Notes from a 9 day solo retreat

Posts: 306 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Interesting indeed, George. 
off retreat I sit just an hour every morning. And always log it after as to keep track of what happens over the weeks and months. So far I've been able to take one round of the insight cycle since I got 2nd path. I think.. 

Stefan, yes emoticon lots of lessons learned about navigating this territory. 

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