Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
This is volume 2 of my practice log. Volume 1 is here:  https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22843214#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_8496517

In various posts on these forums I have mentioned a kind of "transition" I experience when doing relaxation exercises and I think it may be of interest to other members of the forums so this post will be about how to experience it and what I think it is. I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it. (UPDATE, I should add that the transition effectively relieves unpleasant emotions that arise due to cognition. Some emotions might be due to purely biological factors such as some forms of anxiety and depressions and I would not expect mental techniques like meditaiton or relaxation exercises to be able to relieve them.)

At one time I asked if what I called the "transition" could actually be cessation. After considering this for some time, I am pretty sure that it is. In my experience it is fairly easy to produce through the process I will explain below. It doesn't take much concentration. The relaxation exercises quiet mental turbulence and that produces the necessary focus.

When I experience what I call the transition, I sometimes hear a tone, my mind then becomes very clear, it seemed like I lost focus for a moment, any unpleasant emotions I may have been having disappear, I am in a pleasant mood, and I can easily enter the jhanas.

The two sources that have led me to think this is cessation are MTCB2
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/30-the-progress-of-insight/15-fruition/
and Ron Crouch's web site (which seems to have been deleted but continues to exist on the internet archive):
https://web.archive.org/web/20150315043206/http://alohadharma.com/2011/06/29/cessation/
  • Ron says that "What it feels like is that there is “click”, “blip”, or “pop” that occurs for an instant." This is similar to what I experience. I often hear a tone.
  • When I say any unpleasant emotions disappear and I am in a pleasant mood, this seems like what Ron calls the "bliss wave" and Daniel calls an afterglow.
  • When I say I lost focus for a moment, I think this is what Ron is describing when he says that "In that instant everything disappeared, including you". At first I couldn't understand why it only happened when I "lost focus" but if this is cessation then it actually makes perfect sense.
  • Daniel also says:
    All that said, there are those who won’t recognize it, particularly those who chance upon it outside of a meditative tradition that can recognize it. There will also be those for whom it happens within the context of their practice tradition, who can recognize it, but who fail to identify it as being what it is.
    Which I think accounts for my delay in recognizing this is cessation. I have no tradition telling me about cessation I only learned of it from this forum. Another factor may be that I am experiencing this without strong concentration, not even access concentration.
  • UPDATE 11/28/21: I also have a vibratory type experience before the transition. According to Ron Crouch perceiving vibrations is a characteristic of high equanimity which precedes cessation. 

    https://web.archive.org/web/20141019102026/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
    In high equanimity the meditator moves from “just sitting” to noticing a subtle and pervasive sense that the objects of meditation are vibrating.
    Below where I describe how to produce the transition I mention a feeling of tingling in the body which could also be described as vibrations in the object of meditation.
    Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.
    ...
    ​​​​​​​I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 
    ...

Here is how I produce the "transition":

First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.

Next I do mental relaxation exercises, either lying down or sitting in a chair. First I visualize colors of the spectrum where I name each color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet) and at the same time visualize either just the color or something (or several things) of that color (fruits, flowers, and vegetables work well but it can be anything).

While visualizing colors, if you name each color (and or object) as you visualize it, you might notice a feeling of relaxation as you name each color. This can happen if your breathing becomes synchronized with your heartbeat and you exhale as you name each color (even though you are just thinking the name not saying it aloud). As you do this you may notice a feeling of relaxation in your body pulsing along with your heartbeat and/or exhalations.

Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.

I repeat these two exercises, visualization and induction, alternately until I reach a state of deep relaxation where I feel like I am floating. Then, very often the transition will occur.

I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 

There are links on my blog post to more information on the relaxation techniques:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

I am pretty sure I am experiencing what other people call cessation. However I am not saying anything about the significance or meaning of it. It seems to me like it should be relatively easy for others to do what I do and have the same experience since it does not involve deep meditation or strong concentration. However I had been meditating regularly for a long time before I stumbled onto this so I can't say for sure if it will work for others the way it does for me.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2279 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
That sounds more like either Access Concentration or A&P. 

However it's less important if this was or wasn't THE cessation and what could benefit you more is to use that calm relaxed state you have mastered and is the base of your sits and build a noting practice on top of it. Plug the attention into the fast mind stream with applied effort based on that relaxing calmness you already have. 

Best wishes to you Jim! May all beings be free from suffering, may all awaken, may all be happy. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Papa Che Dusko That sounds more like either Access Concentration or A&P.  However it's less important if this was or wasn't THE cessation and what could benefit you more is to use that calm relaxed state you have mastered and is the base of your sits and build a noting practice on top of it. Plug the attention into the fast mind stream with applied effort based on that relaxing calmness you already have.  Best wishes to you Jim! May all beings be free from suffering, may all awaken, may all be happy. 


If I remember correctly Daniel describes access concentration as being with the breath for an hour without interruption. I never had that, never even came close.

I have A&P type experiences very frequently. The transition is not in that class.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Ok. Maybe it indeed was THE cessation. In that case what next? Is there anything else "there" to be observed? 

Do I want to have more experiences "by the book" or can I look at all "this" in a more intimate way? 

What else is going on? Any urges, any desires, any aversions, any ill will there ? ...  
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Papa Che Dusko
Ok. Maybe it indeed was THE cessation. In that case what next? Is there anything else "there" to be observed? 

Do I want to have more experiences "by the book" or can I look at all "this" in a more intimate way? 

What else is going on? Any urges, any desires, any aversions, any ill will there ? ...  



The transition eliminates craving, ill will, anxiety, pride, greed, anger, etc while the "afterglow" lasts - until my mind gets distracted and tricked by the koan that is ordinary householder life. When I've tested the transition on strong emotions it worked well - better than expected. 

So my strategy for practice continues to be the same strategy I had before I knew the label other people put on the experience: Continue to practice the way I do because the practice produces a continual gradual reduction in suffering that I experience. Mainly that means using meditation and relaxation exercises to produce a pleasant relaxed state of mind and then watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises and then try to train the mind not to do that. Before I started recognizing the transition I used the jhanas. Now I have something better, this transition, so I use that. (Before I learned to enter the jhanas I used samatha meditation. Metta works too.) If I had to summarize my practice I would say using samatha in sitting meditation and vipassana in daily life. I think this works well for a householder.

And by "training the mind not to produce dukkha" I don't mean suppressing emotions. I mean being open to myself about thoughts, emotions, and impulses, and letting go of them. Not suppressing, not obsessing. It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.

(According to Shinzen Young, suppressing (rejecting thoughts and emotions emotions - sensory experience) causes the sense of a separate self (separation) and getting pulled into them generates a sense of solid self. So there is some mainstream support for my approach. Also Bhante Vimalaramsi uses relaxation in the way he teaches meditation). 

I am interested in "books" because I want to communicate with others to share information about practice so I need to know what they are thinking and what terms they use.  That's why I'm posting here about this, in case others might want to try the way I practice. I haven't seen it in any books.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Ok I see. Thank you for such detailed reply Jim. I will move out of the way now in case others might want to ask more about this kind of practicing. 

Best wishes! 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2197 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Jim,

Interesting practice update. A couple of things I noticed:

'I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it.'

'It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.'

A couple of ideas you could explore, if it seems helpful:

- Are certain emotions actually "unpleasant", or is that a reaction to the emotion?

- Can emotions actually get "out of control", or is that again a reaction to the emotion? (Maybe a fear of loss of control and a consequent attempt to control)

An interesting experiment you can do in meditation is to take an emotion which is generally considered unpleasant like anger say. Think of something which makes you feel angry! Set the intention to have a completely open experience of the emotion - let go of the judgement of unpleasant and the fear of losing control. You can think of allowing the emotion to do whatever it "needs" or "wants" to do, and just observe with curiosity what's actually going on in the body with the physical sensations of the emotion. Are they unpleasant? Are they out of control?
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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George S
Hi Jim,

Interesting practice update. A couple of things I noticed:

'I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it.'

'It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.'

A couple of ideas you could explore, if it seems helpful:

- Are certain emotions actually "unpleasant", or is that a reaction to the emotion?

- Can emotions actually get "out of control", or is that again a reaction to the emotion? (Maybe a fear of loss of control and a consequent attempt to control)

An interesting experiment you can do in meditation is to take an emotion which is generally considered unpleasant like anger say. Think of something which makes you feel angry! Set the intention to have a completely open experience of the emotion - let go of the judgement of unpleasant and the fear of losing control. You can think of allowing the emotion to do whatever it "needs" or "wants" to do, and just observe with curiosity what's actually going on in the body with the physical sensations of the emotion. Are they unpleasant? Are they out of control?


I'm just trying to explain things concisely in a way most people can relate to.

When people read the anapanasati sutta and the Buddha says "I am breathing in a long breath". No one asks him "who" is breathing. No one objects to the inventor of the doctrine of no-self for using the word "I".
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I posted the reply quoted below on another thread. I'm crossposting here because it relates to my way of practicing.

When I say "watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises" I am talking about a practical method of studying dependent origination. My feeling is that the full doctrine of dependent origination is somewhat overly technical and for practical use you only need to try to develop the habit of noticing (#6 ) sensations that arise in the body (through the sense organs or those that accompany emotions including tensing or tensions), notice if they are (#7) pleasant unpleasant or neutral, notice if you react by (8) liking or disliking (try to notice the similarities in all liking and in all disliking no matter what the cause - it helps to show you the problem is not the situation outside you, the problem is how you react to the situation and it helps you cultivate detatchment), (9) notice if your thoughts begin to run away from you, and (#10) Do you react or have the impulse to react in certain ways. As you make these observations over and over you begin to see that thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations are the result of unconscious processes. They are not objective reality. "You" don't produce them, you observe them. They are not about "you". You have the option of being detatched, non-attached.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23409503
Jim Smith
[Ian Pitchford]
Coincidentally, I recently discovered a really delightful and practical exposition of paticcasamuppāda by Sister Khema on YouTube, which you can find here: https://youtu.be/FN1vhgGpfDY



57:18
She learned this process. She began to see a man who was in pain, who saw something, read it, and was in pain. So his eye[5=sense doors] met something with color and form. Eye consciousness arose[6=contact]. He made contact with the information on the report. It went into his mind and what happened was he had a painful feeling [7=feeling]. And when the painful feeling came up, he didn't personally like it [8=craving]. She could see him change with the tension and tightness in his body and knew that he was about to ... he didn't like it because of some reason and he pulled out the reactive habitual tendency[10=habitual tendencies] where he was going to yell at her and walk out of the room[11=birth of action]. And she said "well wait a minute". And he said "what"? [And she said] "Why don't we go get some coffee and talk about this report because honestly you don't like it and I don't like it the point is we could change it so we both like it and you don't get upset on Monday morning anymore." So it gave her the courage to see him without reacting to him and getting mad back at him at all as more compassion it opens the doorway by understanding how this works is how the Buddha was opening up the doorway so that compassion can begin to operate.

She practiced by watching dukkha arise in her own mind and she learned to let go of it and it allowed her to respond to problems with compassion and reason instead of out of control emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
This is volume 2 of my practice log.

...

Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.
...
​​​​​​​I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 

...

Tingling =  vibrating. A characteristic of high equanimity which preceeds cessation.

https://web.archive.org/web/20141019102026/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
In high equanimity the meditator moves from “just sitting” to noticing a subtle and pervasive sense that the objects of meditation are vibrating.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I have been reading "ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING" by BUDDHADASA BHIKKHU.
http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm

I think it is very good.

In the book, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu describes how to meditate in accordance with anapanasati sutta.

He explains that in the first 12 steps you prepare the mind, and in the last four steps you put the mind to work by observing impermanence (and since the three characteristics are interrelated this is equivalent to observing the three characteristics) which leads to letting go of attachments and (by interrupting the sequence of dependent origination) ending dukkha.

He also says ordinary people can practice just the first four steps and the last four steps. (Every meditation session should start at the first step and the following steps should be practiced in order.)

And he says awakening this way is a gradual process.
Coolness also can be the nibbana that happens due to "that factor." In Pali it is called "that factor," which means something like "coincidental." For example, when there is sati on the breath, the citta is cool. Anapanasati is "that factor," the agent, the cause, that affects the coolness here. This is tadanga-nibbana, coincidental nibbana. This coolness occurs because when there is no defilement the citta is cool. When there is no fire, there is coolness. Here, Anapanasati gets rid of the fires, the defilements. Although it is only temporary, the fire goes away and there is coolness for a while. There is nibbana for a while, due to "that factor," that tool, namely Anapanasati. Although momentary, not yet perfect and perpetual, the flavor of nibbana is savored as a sample or taste. Anapanasati helps us to sample nibbana little by little, moment by moment, dur­ing this very life. And nothing has to die. Then, coolness's duration is lengthened, its extent is broadened, and the frequency is increased until there is perfect nibbana. This is the benefit which I consider most satisfying or most positive. If you can do it. (182)
...
​​​​​​​The Lord Buddha himself declared that he realized Perfect Self-Awakening (anuttara sammasambodhi) through practicing Anapanasati. Consequently, we are pleased to recommend it to you, and to people everywhere, so that all human beings will know of it and be able to practice it. The Lord Buddha became a Buddha while practicing Anapanasati. Thus, he offered it to us as the best system of all to practice. He advised us all to use this practice for our own welfare, for the welfare of others, for the welfare of everyone. There is no better way to practice Dhamma than mindfulness with breathing. May you all give careful attention to it. 


In another work, "Nibbana for Everyone", Buddhadasa explains Nibbana is an ordinary state that everyone experiences from time to time whenever they are not experiencing an attachment or aversion.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Articles/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_NIBBANA_FOR_EVERYONE.htm
The word "Nibbana" means "coolness." Back when it was just an ordinary word that people used in their homes it also meant "coolness." When it is used as Dhamma language, in a religious context, it still means "coolness," but refers to the cooling or going out of the fires of defilement (kilesa, reactive emotions), while in the common people's usage it means the cooling of physical fires.
...
Any reactive emotion that arises ceases when its causes and conditions are finished. Although it may be a temporary quenching, merely a temporary coolness, it still means Nibbana, even if only temporarily. Thus, there's a temporary Nibbana for those who still can't avoid some defilements.

Kilesa or reactive emotion is an attachment or aversion.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/glossary.html#k
kilesa:
Defilement — lobha (passion), dosa (aversion), and moha (delusion) in their various forms, which include such things as greed, malevolence, anger, rancor, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty, boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and complacency.


According to Buddhadasa when you are not in the grip of an attachment or aversion you are experiencing nibbana. Anapanasati helps you let go of attachments and aversions which ends dukkha, and you can gradually perfect letting go.


In "ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING", Buddhadasa also discusses how studying the three characteristerics breaks the sequence of dependent origination:
In practice, it all boils down to having sati [mindfulness] in the moment of phassa (sense contact) and that is all. Phassa is the meeting of an internal sense organ, a corresponding external sense object, and the appropriate type of sense consciousness (vinnana). Merely having sati in the moment of phassa solves all the possible problems of paticca-samuppada [dependent origination] completely. That is, before condi­tioned arising can develop have sati right there at contact. Do not let it be ignorant phassa. Then that contact will not lead to ignorant feeling and ignorant feeling will not lead to foolish craving (tanha). It all stops there. This is another advantage of training in Anapanasati. It makes sati sufficiently abundant and fast, qualified enough, to perform its duty in the moment of phassa and stop the stream of paticca-samuppada just then and there. This is an enormous benefit of practicing Anapanasati.
A convenient reference on dependent origination can be found in this .doc file:
https://web.archive.org/web/20151129101834/https://www.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/107b-jul-2013-_dependent_origination_chart_in_color.doc

When the mind is prepared through meditation it is capable of being mindful and noticing sense perceptions that could cause attachments and aversions. If the mind is sufficiently aware of the three characteristics it will not form attachments and aversions and the steps of dependent origination that might otherwise produce dukkha will not occur.

Buddhadasa describes a way of practicing that is very similar to the way I practice.
I wrote:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23409011
So my strategy for practice continues to be the same strategy I had before I knew the label other people put on the experience: Continue to practice the way I do because the practice produces a continual gradual reduction in suffering that I experience. Mainly that means using meditation and relaxation exercises to produce a pleasant relaxed state of mind and then watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises and then try to train the mind not to do that. 


Letting go is still something of a skill you need to devleop even if you understand the three characteristics. Some of the techniques I find helpful for letting go are:
Relaxation Exercises (turning off the sympathetic nervous system)
Samatha Meditation 
Piti, Sukha Meditation
Metta Meditation
Surrendering
Quieting mental chatter with meditation - turning off the default network in the brain
Digging through layers of emotions
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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In my previous post I wrote:

Letting go is still something of a skill you need to develop even if you understand the three characteristics.


I should have mentioned that Buddhadasa instructs one to look at the 3 characteristics in the context of anapanasati, that is, in the breath, body, feelings and mind.

When you do that, you weaken your attachments to body, feelings, and mind so the attachments and aversions you are dissolving are not attachments and aversions to external things. The attachments and aversions you are dissolving are attachments and aversions to internal things like the body, sensations, emotions like craving, hating, fear, liking, and disliking, thoughts, and impulses etc. So you end craving to external things by seeing that craving is pointless (empty), you end aversion to external things by seeing that aversion is pointless (empty). It is pointless to take your cravings and aversions seriously when they are impermanent, uncontrollable (not self), cause you such suffering (dukkha). When you weaken your attachments and aversion to internal things, you also weaken the attachments and aversions to the objects or events outside you which your attachments and aversions are directed to.

There are a few subtle consequences to this way of using the 3 characteristics:

It is much more effective (practical) to convince myself that my craving for ice cream, chocolate, money, or status is the problem than it is to convince myself that those things are not actually very nice.  Ice cream is melts (impermanent), makes me fat (dukkha), etc, but it stillt tastes good and gives me a sugar high. This contradiction weakens the force of the argument (makes it ambiguous). However, my craving for ice cream and the enjoyment I get from it however are also impermanent, unsatisfiable, and arise from unconscious biological processes. No contradiction there, deliciousness is an integral part of the argument so craving is weakened more effectively. 

External things are not the problem, the are what they are (thusness) the problem is internal things.

It also explains how anatta helps to end suffering, as you weaken attachments to internal things you strengthen your sense of anatta and that coincides with weakening attachments to external things.

You can watch the activity of the mind and see that thoughts, emotions and impulses arise from unconscious processes and that produces a sense of detachment, but consciously recognizing mental formations are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self gets right to the point and is very effective in producing that sense of detachment.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Buddhadasa taught a form of visualization to help the meditator relax:

http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm#APPENDIX%20D

In practicing step four, we have various methods or skillful means - we could even call them tricks - to use in calming the breath. Whether we call them techniques or tricks, these are a higher order of things which we use over things that are more crude and foolish. We call them "skillful means." We have some tricks to use on the breath and these tricks come in five stages. These five tricks or skillful means are:

1. following the breath;

2. guarding the breath at a certain point;

3. giving rise to an imaginary image at that guarding point;

4. manipulating those images in any ways that we want in order to gain power over them;

5. selecting one of these images and contemplating it in a most concentrated way until the breath becomes truly calm and peaceful.

Step 4 in the anapanasati sutta is:
(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18
...
18. As the breath is calmed and refined, the conditioning of the body is calmed, and the mind becomes calm and concentrated to the extent, finally, of jhana.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406645#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_23406442

First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.


I want to reemphasize the importance of physical relaxation exercises. Today I was stressed out about something and I thought I would try Shinzen Young's strategy of sensory clarity. I tried to analyze exactly what I was feeling. When I tried to understand the physical sensations of being stressed I noticed the feelings of muscle tension.

If an emotion changes your facial expression you will have muscle tension in your face in the muscles producing that facial expression.

If an emotion changes your posture, you will have muscle tension in your spine (neck and back) in the muscles producing that posture.

If an emotion changes your tone of voice, you will have muscle tension in your throat in the muscles that control speech.

If an emotion changes your breathing making it shallower or faster you will have muscle tension in your chest and or diaphragm in the muscles that control your breathing.

I tried to relax the muscles in my face, my back and neck and my chest and diaphragm.

When I did that the emotion went away. I was still in the situation and I still needed to do something about it, but I wasn't suffering.

I am not claiming this is panacea for all suffering, but it might help in some situations.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I think you're right, that's a huge component of reducing suffering - seeing the difference beteeen the emotion (physical sensations) and the reaction (feeling compelled to do something about it, or obsessing over it). And maybe something does need to be done, or maybe it doesn't, or maybe the situation is not quite what you thought it was, but yeah creating that sense of space around emotions and allowing them to have their natural expression ... HUGE emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The reason physical movements can help dissipate emotions, I think, is that when you bend a joint, the muscles used to straighten it receive a nerve impulse to relax, and when you straighten a joint, the muscles that are used to bend it receive a nerve impulse to relax. Since emotions often express themselves through muscle tension (changes in posture, facial expression, tone of voice, rate of breathing, etc.), movements can relax muscle tension and that can help dissipate emotions.

Jim Smith https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406645#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_23406442
First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.
I want to reemphasize the importance of physical relaxation exercises. Today I was stressed out about something and I thought I would try Shinzen Young's strategy of sensory clarity. I tried to analyze exactly what I was feeling. When I tried to understand the physical sensations of being stressed I noticed the feelings of muscle tension. If an emotion changes your facial expression you will have muscle tension in your face in the muscles producing that facial expression. If an emotion changes your posture, you will have muscle tension in your spine (neck and back) in the muscles producing that posture. If an emotion changes your tone of voice, you will have muscle tension in your throat in the muscles that control speech. If an emotion changes your breathing making it shallower or faster you will have muscle tension in your chest and or diaphragm in the muscles that control your breathing. I tried to relax the muscles in my face, my back and neck and my chest and diaphragm. When I did that the emotion went away. I was still in the situation and I still needed to do something about it, but I wasn't suffering. I am not claiming this is panacea for all suffering, but it might help in some situations.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I posted this somewhere else but it was a bit off topic so I moved it here with a few changes ...

I think it is best to focus your attention on the origin of dukkha and the ending of dukkha. Let the stages and milestones worry about themselves - they are just bait for the ego. Let the busybodies worry about who has attained what. Calm yourself with meditation, then watch what happens in that instant when dukkha arises. The problem is not things outside your mind, the problem is things inside your mind. The problem is not the thing you are attached or averse to (they are what they are), the attachment or aversion itself is the problem. The three characteristics apply to ice cream and head aches but you will profit more by looking for the 3 characteristics in your attachments and aversions (thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations) to ice cream and headaches. How are attachments and aversions triggered? Where do thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations come from? What happens in that instant when they are triggered? The answer is not a true or false fact you can tell someone, don't try to figure it out, the answer is an observation, an experience. The more you bring the light of consciousness to an unconscious process the more freedom you gain to indulge or abstain from it. If life is too quiet and peaceful on retreat or the mind is too quiet in meditation, and you can't find dukkha arising, look for dukkha in daily life, that's where the dukkha is.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1089 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have been noticing how emotions influence one's attitude. What is interesting is that attitude is an aspect that is possible to let go of. Emotions can change the "color" of reality. If you can let go of the changed attitude it helps to remove the influence on your mind. It's possible to let go of an attitude if you want to. If you have not been carried away by the emotion bur remain mindful, and have not bought into the new perspective as real or justified or "right". You can change your attitude without ignoring the situation or the thoughts and emotions produced. You can be aware of all that but with a more neutral attitude. We intentionally change attitudes naturally during daily life. If you are introduced to someone new, you might put on a friendly welcoming attitude. If you have to deal with someone you expect to get an argument from, you might put on a stren attitude. If you are meeting an old friend or a romatic partner you might take on different attitudes for those situations too.  In a way, these different attidutes are different selves. They are impermanent and not the real "you".

Noticing and letting go of attitudes combined with what I wrote above about relaxing muscle tension seems to be a good combination for letting go of attachemnts and aversions that arise.
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Jim Smith, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When you study your experience of consciousness closely, in time you learn to perceive through your nervous system at deeper levels, closer to raw unprocessed data, below the solid continuous reality the brain normally serves to the conscous mind.

​​​​​​​At that lower level of awareness, self doesn't make sense.

It's like if you thought Atlas supports the world on his shoulders, and then you left the earth on a spacecraft and looked out at the earth through viewport while experiencing zero gravity. You would see there is no up or down, there is no place to stand, there is no gravity to press the earth down on Atlas' shoulders. The idea of Atlas holding up the earth wouldn't make any sense.

Even if you only spent a few seconds in space, you would probably be permanently affected by your experience, you can't unsee what you saw. But with only a short glimpse, when you came back to earth the old habitual ways of thinking might come back to you after a little while. So the more time you could spend in space, the more the new worldview would become integrated into your thinking and the better you would understand Copernican cosmology.

When your awareness gets closer to the raw data coming into the brain, self doesn't make sense. You see that self is a qualia. It's like the color blue. In the brain there is nothing blue, there are only nerve cells and nerve impulses, yet we see blue and think it is a real property of the sky. There is no self in the nerve cells, there is no self in the nerve impulses, there is only a self in the virtual reality the brain serves to our conscious mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
When you study your experience of consciousness closely, in time you learn to perceive through your nervous system at deeper levels, closer to raw unprocessed data, below the solid continuous reality the brain normally serves to the conscious mind.
...


This could also explain why meditating can produce siddhis. The brain filters consciousness. That explains why we can be spiritual beings but not realize it while incarnated. If meditation allows one to perceive below the level of filtering, closer to the raw data coming from the senses, that is like poking holes in the filter. In addition to the perception that self and separation are not in the data but created by the filter, those holes might also let our spiritual capabilities like clairvoyance through the filter.

The connection between meditation and psychic experiences seems to support the belief that meditation is giving people access to consciousness with less filtering by the brain. Models of awakening and teaching and practice methods should take this into account.

It also could explain why some people develop psychiatric disorders from meditation. Poking holes in the filter is literally a form of brain damage.
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Jim Smith, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When your instincts and habitual behaviors are urging you to raise barriers and reinforce your boundaries to awareness of sensory input and mental activity, you should do the opposite, lower your barriers, open youself to and welcome awareness of sensory input and of mental activity. Don't separate your self from what you don't like. Rejection of reality (cognitive dissonance) is suffering.
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Jim Smith, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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It is interesting to watch the mind and notice sense perceptions arise into consciousness and consider that consciousness (of the thing) arises because of the thing perceived.  That mind is a mirror.  Musical sounds work well for this exercise.

There seems to be a kind of disconnect when we are suffering.

What we think is happening is not what is really happening. 

We think "something bad/wrong is happening to 'me' or 'mine'"

What is really happening is we (consciousness) come into existence because of sensory perceptions.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The mind is really quick at writing fictions but slow to recognise reality. But reality is peaceful, regardless of how it feels. 
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Jim Smith, modified 11 Days ago.

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I find I get a lot of benefit from examining resistance. 

What I mean by resistance is that If some unpleasant emotion arises one might notice a feeling that they don't want to think about it or look at it too deeply.

It might seem like the way to deal with unpleasant thoughts and emotions it is to force one's self to to think of the situation and look at the feelings that come out despite the feelings of reluctance to do so.

What I find is that it is very useful to look at the feeling of resistance, let that come fully into consciousness. Let it sit there and see what associations pop up. I am not saying not to look at the situation and feelings, I just mean I find it useful to look at that resistance, being clear about the resistance can have a large effect on how I feel about the situation. Being clear about the resistance seems to help to let go of the other stuff. 

The resistance is the obstacle to letting go, it is what needs to be dealt with. But it's easy to over look when thoughts of the situation is what comes to the forefront of your mind.

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