AKD Practice Log

AKD Practice Log A K D 1/13/22 12:44 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 1/13/22 12:59 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 1/13/22 1:54 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 1/13/22 4:26 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 1/13/22 4:40 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 1/13/22 5:16 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log J W 1/13/22 9:41 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 1/14/22 12:54 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 1/30/22 1:42 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log George S 1/18/22 12:52 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log George S 1/19/22 12:28 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 1/30/22 1:43 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 1/30/22 1:42 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 1/30/22 2:11 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/2/22 9:44 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log George S 1/30/22 8:11 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log George S 1/30/22 8:18 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Martin 2/6/22 9:35 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/6/22 8:29 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/6/22 9:54 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/17/22 9:23 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Chris M 2/17/22 10:28 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/18/22 5:21 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 2/17/22 4:35 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/18/22 5:27 AM
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RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/15/22 9:25 AM
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RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/15/23 2:52 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Hector L 2/15/23 2:41 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/15/23 2:55 PM
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RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/15/23 3:40 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/19/23 6:29 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Martin 2/15/23 3:28 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/15/23 3:42 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/15/23 5:29 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/18/23 7:11 AM
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RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/3/23 8:45 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/8/23 8:41 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log ‎ ‎Nihila 3/8/23 9:08 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/8/23 10:11 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log ‎ ‎Nihila 3/8/23 12:29 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/8/23 1:36 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/21/23 9:54 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 3/28/23 10:42 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 4/6/23 10:29 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 8/3/23 7:23 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Alexandra F. 8/4/23 7:57 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 8/12/23 6:13 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 8/12/23 5:59 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 9/13/23 10:41 AM
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RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 9/28/23 8:44 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 10/1/23 8:32 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 10/2/23 5:15 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Olivier S 10/2/23 5:49 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Chris M 10/2/23 7:11 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Jure K 10/2/23 12:05 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 10/2/23 9:52 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log A K D 2/1/24 10:50 AM
RE: AKD Practice Log Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 2/1/24 12:57 PM
RE: AKD Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 2/1/24 7:23 PM
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 12:44 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 12:44 PM

AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
I intend to use this log for minor updates or check ins from time to time, as well as any questions that I may have with regards to practice. I have kept daily practice logs in the past, but found it to be a lot of time & effort to post every day. This is a simple way to stay connected to the community and recieve feedback from folks. Thank you!
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 12:59 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 12:59 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
1/13/2022

Overall, practice has changed quite a bit in the last year. I switched from noting practice to awareness based practices. For some reason, noting just feels really cumbersome, contrived, and the act of noting sorta gets in the way of the experience and re-enforces some sense of noter.

During my sits these days, I practice shamatha without an object (open awareness) and do some self inquiry. Usually, instead of asking inquiry questions, I naturally get curious about aspects of experience and investigate.

Currently in a bit of a rut as of the last week or two. Been skipping practice lately or just sitting for a few moments here & there. I think doubt and expectations have me feeling a bit deflated and burned out. I think by posting here now and again, I will feel a bit of accountability to start sitting again. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 1:54 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 1:54 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Why do you meditate?
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 4:26 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 4:18 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Because life is somewhat unsatisfying and mundane. A lot of people in my age group seem to relish in the scheme of: get a degree, go to work, climb the career ladder, find a spouse, buy a house, get a dog, have a hobby or two, go on a vacation occasionally, have a few kids, save up for retirement, die. 

I wanted life to feel a bit more sacred, mysterious, and magical. It's sort of a miracle that we are here after all; we are the universe experiencing itself. I was looking for something that would help me transcend the monotony so I gravitated towards meditation after hearing about mystical states and stages of awakening. I figured it could be this fun little secret that after a day at the office I could come home and go into deep concentration and have some blissful, psychedelic experience that regular folks wouldn't understand. That's obviously not my path though.  

In the end, I haven't really had transcendent experiences on the cushion or shifts in understanding that have inspired faith. It's difficult to know if any positive changes in myself are infact due to meditation or just part of growing older. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 4:40 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 4:40 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Well there you go emoticon You want it to be misterious, magical, sacred! 
Where do you find all this?! 
If Concentration is your call then do it. Love being with that in breathing and that out breathing, this in breath and this out breath. Love soaking in those sensations associated with the in breathing and out breathing. Like a lovers dance. That's you home. No doubt, no wondering if this or that. You are in relationship with that breathing. This alone will create all other absorption stuff which are but a byproduct of this dancing with this in breathing and this out breathing. 

Try and practice as soon you get out of the bed. Don't even go to the toilet. 30 minutes of cuddling with the breathng in sitting position while still sleepy emoticon That feels really nice as the mind hasn't started with all the stories. And your day will be filled with tranquility too. 
Get a daily practice going. Then after a few months see if to add extra sits or longer sits etc ... 

Btw, nothing wrong with those folks wanting a job, kids, house etc ... Also ok if you feel to be a monk or a vagabond emoticon All is good. 

Best wishes! 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 5:16 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 4:53 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Yep, I know there is nothing wrong with people who want the house and the family, etc. I just feel like a bit of an outsider or that I am falling behind for not necessarily wanting to pursue the same milestones at this juncture. I am sure I will swing back and engage in these aspects of life at some point when I feel called to do so.

I believe that people who have felt this way jokingly refer to it as Insight Disease.
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J W, modified 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 9:41 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/13/22 9:41 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 687 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
have some blissful, psychedelic experience that regular folks wouldn't understand

Have you tried psychedelics for that? ha ha ha, just a little joke don't mind me emoticon
​​​​​​
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Years ago at 1/14/22 12:54 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/14/22 12:54 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
In a way wanting a house, kid, car is the same as wanting sacred, magic, mystical. 

However one thing is wanting and another actually applying oneself towards such goals. 

Walk the talk. 

Forget the books, what everyone thinks is right and just apply yourself to the sensations of in breathing and out breathing. Sense the whole body dynamics and "buy into it". As if it's the only thing there is in the entire world (for the duration of the sit). 

What do you think about that early morning meditation I suggested? Have you tried it? 

Best wishes KD! 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 1:42 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/17/22 7:18 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
1/17/2022

I went on a weekend ski trip with some friends in the Adirondacks in northern NY. I managed to do 1 or 2 brief meditation sessions a day for 20-40 minutes each. In this case, I simply tuned into open spacious awareness and explored contraction vs. non-contraction as well as seeing how spacious & relaxed I could be. I also enjoyed seeing how attentive I could be to noticing and then dropping conceptualization (Michael Taft's 'Dropping the Ball'). It just felt nice to be open and relaxed while maintaining clarity and the momentum would last off cushion for quite a while.

Spending time on the mountain slopes and in the forest trails during various outdoor activities was inspiring so tuning into open spaciousness was just natural. It was fun to see if I could maintain that sense of openess, ease, and presence when socializing or engaging in any activity really.

It was also interesting & useful to see areas where I was getting hung up or reactive with regards to certain activites that we planned as a group. I realized that I am not very spontaneous and when I have a plan or preference made up, deviating from that can cause some frustration. That said, overall, there was much much more love, appreciation, humor, and gratitude for having this experience with some close friends and the minor frustrations were helpful feedback for areas where I can grow.
One such example of frustration: the day that we went downhill skiing, we were gearing up in a parking lot far from the main lodge in -10 degree Fahrenheit weather (-23 degrees Celsius) and the plastic on my old ski boots shattered as I was tightening them down rendering them completely useless. I then had to board a shuttle to get to the lodge, navigate my way through the area and rent skis and such. This is obviously annoying because it's more effort/time to get to the lodge, it's more money out of pocket to rent the gear, and now I am separated from my friends who parked at a parking lot far away from the lodge. My intital reaction to it all was to laugh since it was sort of funny on some level. It was very frustrating on one hand, but things worked out and my friends met me once I was all set so no big deal. The entire time this was going on, I was trying to notice my levels of impatience and frustration as it all played out. 

I very often get frustrated by a perceived lack of progress with regards to my meditation practice (I apologize for being such a downer on here oftentimes and venting), but I do notice how my reactions to certain people and situations have started to change as a result of having the capacity to be present in the face of reactivity. I can be responsive to circumstances instead of reactive. I can also just be simply attentive to the arising reactive patterns when a response isn't necessarily required in the moment. For that, I am grateful and in that same vein, I am grateful that I have more to learn. The hard part to tell though is, is this sense of development just part of normal adult maturity, or is it attributed to/or bolstered by the meditation practice?
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 1/18/22 12:52 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/18/22 12:52 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I think it's probably a bit of both. Reduced reactivity is one of the main signs of progress in meditation!
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 1/19/22 12:28 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/19/22 12:28 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Maybe it might help if you write down what progress in meditation looks like for you - to get clearer about what you expect/want/need - and then make an assessment of how effectively those goals can be achieved though meditation vs other channels.
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 1:42 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 1:42 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
1/30/2022

I spoke with my teacher this past week and explained how I've been swamped by doubts and resistance patterns related to spiritual practice. He really listened and offered up some advice and was able to relate to my situation. He recommended that I dedicate time to the heart practices during my sits as well as cultivate bodhichitta and offering the merit of my sits to others. In addition to that, he recommended that I engage in acts of generosity on a daily basis so I am finding small ways to help others which has pointed out some of my pettiness and self-cherishing attitudes. There is a sweetness in holding and following through on benevolent intention, but there is remorse related to contemplating how past actions were driven by immaturity and disregard for the well-being or feelings of others. 

One thing that my teacher mentioned off handedly, "If you were to meditate twice every day for 45 or 60 minutes, you'd look back in a year and have no regrets about how you spent your time." I suppose this advice rings true for all sorts of beneficial activities: exercise, better sleep, diet, etc. A wholesome routine could provide a solid foundation for a fulfilling life, yet I'd prefer to watch hours of Netflix, play video games or drink beer. It's a personal koan: why is there resistence to creating a more fulfilling life for myself? I can see how wasting hours on pointless entertainment or drinking daily can lead to regret down the line, but I don't see how I could possibly regret cutting out alcohol, gettting in better shape, sitting twice daily, and taking care of myself in other ways. It's sort of a no brainer... yet the resistance holds the floor.
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 1:43 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 1:43 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you George, that's a helpful way to go about clarifying my intentions. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 2:11 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 2:11 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Here is my view;

In the same way I don't regret all the hours put in the meditation practice, so I don't regret putting all the hours into drinking and partying for days on end emoticon Actually, now that I think back at my glorious days I have a huge smile on me face emoticon emoticon emoticon Shit, could I party! emoticon Ha! 

Anywho, now I'm becoming an old fart and can feel this body being stiffer as it's getting older. Party time is not for me anymore, at least not the kind called "pub crawling" emoticon 

And by the way, Im not going all Zen here at you with all the "chop wood, carry water, drink and party" mindfulness stuff but rather I really look back at my drinking-party days with a smile on my face. Great friendships, great memories, ... well, sore one's as well but hey, in the heat of the battle, right emoticon Ha! 

I think I told you this before but there is no reason not to be part of your generation and have good laugh with your mates emoticon Fuck it, life can be too serious at times anyway, and if we kind of make it more so by sticking a stick of "proper perfection" into our own ars then it will just lose all its fucking juice emoticon 

Maybe it doesn't have to be either-or! Maybe it can be both, the practice and the fun emoticon If you miss a party at times, fine. If you miss a sit at times, fine. emoticon No reason to go all military on this. 

I think you are already doing great by having teachers. What you might benefit from is exactly what your teacher lad suggested, to give all the merits to other beings and keep sitting and keep socializing/partying while you are young emoticon (not that you should stop later on but I feel ould age kind of takes away that sense of novelty young folks still can have).

Yes, indeed, Im blabbing too much again! Off I go! 

Best wishes to you AKD! 
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 8:11 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 8:10 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
My default assumption is that most of the time I am actually doing what I want in some sense. If (as often happens) I find myself doing something I "don't want" to do, or avoiding something I "do want" to do, then it's an opportunity to find out what it is that I really want!
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 8:18 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/30/22 8:17 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I should add - once you know what it is you really want, it's easier to find more skillful ways to go about getting it ...
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 2/2/22 9:44 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/2/22 9:44 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you Papa Che for your thoughts. I have had many great times when I was back in college and I don't regret the partying & drinking that I did then.
At this point though, I am a bit older, the context & amount of my consumption has changed and so I find myself questioning my relationship to alcohol. I am not trying to demonize it, but leaving my habits unquestioned doesn't seem wise either.
I think every person has to decide for themselves what is appropriate or healthy so that's one aspect of my life I decided to bring up here when discussing overall health. 
Thank you for your feedback!
Martin, modified 2 Years ago at 2/6/22 9:35 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/4/22 3:17 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 907 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
AKD
1/30/2022

One thing that my teacher mentioned off handedly, "If you were to meditate twice every day for 45 or 60 minutes, you'd look back in a year and have no regrets about how you spent your time." I suppose this advice rings true for all sorts of beneficial activities: exercise, better sleep, diet, etc. A wholesome routine could provide a solid foundation for a fulfilling life, yet I'd prefer to watch hours of Netflix, play video games or drink beer. It's a personal koan: why is there resistence to creating a more fulfilling life for myself? I can see how wasting hours on pointless entertainment or drinking daily can lead to regret down the line, but I don't see how I could possibly regret cutting out alcohol, gettting in better shape, sitting twice daily, and taking care of myself in other ways. It's sort of a no brainer... yet the resistance holds the floor.


You are spot on here. Knowing that changing a habit is a no-brainer today is not enough to overcome resistance tomorrow. The problem is that the sum total of causes and conditions that make it appear a no-brainer now will not be present at some future time when there is a new series on Netflix and beer in the fridge. At that point, whatever you do will be a result of a new set of causes and conditions, and the memory of any decision you made in the recent past, including memories bout the no-brainer-ness of the decision, will just be one part of what will be going on in your mind. Resistance = Conditions. 

A trick that worked for me (I went from years of daily drinking and other habits to permanent abstinence) is to think short-term. Ask yourself what you can do today to make the conditions in the immediate future conducive to the behavior you want. Don't want to drink? Pour out the beer. Don't want to watch Netflix? Cancel your subscription. Want to get in shape? Join a running club. And so on. There is no need to evaluate the long-term viability of these decisions. You don't need to consider that you can always buy more beer, reactivate your subscription, and quit the running club. You only need to focus on what happens today and tomorrow, and you can give that time frame 100% effort. (After a period of time that depends on the strength of the habit, you won't have to give it any effort. It will just be normal. But pretend that you did not even read this parenthetical comment. If you want to change a strong habit, treat the distant future as none of your business.)

This approach is really nothing more than planning while keeping in mind anatta and anicca. I had never heard of these things when I wanted to quit but I discovered that there was no permanent self as part of quitting, then googled it and found out that there was a whole religion that recognized it. You have a great advantage in knowing these things before you start. 

BTW, alcohol is particularly tricky as it has massive short- and medium-term impacts on the body and mind. It's definitely harder to quit than Netflix. As a guy who has quit, I'm happy to chat about it one-to-one if you want to. 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 2/6/22 8:29 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/6/22 8:29 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you Martin - I have written down your contact info and will be sure to reach out if I feel that I could use advice! I appreciate the open offer emoticon
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 2/6/22 9:54 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/6/22 9:49 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
2/6/2022

Yesterday I got together with a friend and I had an experience that could maybe be analogous to what some folks mean by experiencing emotions/sensations/reactions with full clarity. I could be missing the mark, but I would like to apply this to practice:

Before dinner, he and I smoked a bit of pot. We had ordered take out chinese food and I was tasting the soy sauce in the single serve packets that come with the food. My friend has a bottle of high-end soy sauce that has been fermented in traditional wooden barrels in Japan (from this particular brewery: https://youtu.be/yT6MDZQUGt4). He poured out a small sip of the quality sauce for each of us so we could compare the two. Later on, we also tried two samples of miso paste that he has been fermenting and then we had a sip of nice sake. 

Obviously being stoned, food tastes amazing. However, I recognized something in the way that flavor was received and experienced. Soy sauce and miso are extremely salty: the salt totally overshadows and dominates everything else that is going on on the palate. Usually when trying these sorts of foods, I wince: my facial muscles tighten, I swallow quickly, and I tune out and try to get through it which causes me to ignore the full spectrum of taste and flavor.
Last night, the salt was still intense, but it couldn't dominate the experience - it became one aspect of a larger picture. This meant that all the other lovely flavors could be part of the experience and it felt fuller, more complete, more satisfying.
The barrel aged soy sauce had notes of sweet caramel and it would coat the tongue like a glossy syrup. It had a depth which was savory, warm, and comforting. The aeromatics reminded me of leaves composting on the forest floor and made me nostalgic for autumn. The tastes and flavors would play out at different moments so that each one had an opportunity to take center stage. 
The same experience was had when tasting the miso and the sake. Instead of being dominated by saltiness or the burning sensation of alcohol, these foods had depth and nuance in ways that I have never appreciated. Instead of dread at the prospect of salt or burning alcohol, there was an enthusiasm and excitement to taste something fully.

No contraction; no aversion, no desire, no tuning-out. Just open, relaxed receptivity and full engagement with what is. 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 2/17/22 9:23 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/17/22 9:23 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
2/17/2022 

After speaking with my teacher a few weeks back about how I was in a rut, he had asked me how I had dealt with this sort of thing in the past so I reflected: A few years ago I had attended a Mahasi Vipassana retreat which threw me into some of the most difficult emotional and mental territory I have experienced. After the retreat ended, things started to dissolve between me and my S.O. at the time. Between the break up and all the muck churned up by the retreat, I found myself in a phase of heavy depression which lasted many months. At the time I was really focused on just keeping a good foundation going: healthy diet, exercise, socialization, sleep, meditation, etc. just to cope.
I did this by keeping a bullet journal and writing down what tasks or activities I wanted to accomplish each day. The one rule was that I had to complete everything on the list for that day - it was non-negotiable. This was great as it made me prioritize my time and I'd follow through day after day which kept me going through it all.

I decided to pick up my bullet journal again and I have been using it to prioritize meditation and exercise. These two activities in particular are becoming keystone habits: if I want to meditate and exercise before going to work, I have to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning. In order to wake up early, I have to go to bed earlier in order to get enough sleep. This means less time spent watching Netflix or drinking, and more time spent prepping for the next day by packing my work gear, food, and clothes. Adding in an evening meditation session leaves less time to fritter away. Daily exercise also requires a healthy diet and plenty of sleep to keep the body functional. It all ties together. 

It's a very full schedule and it can be a bit daunting, but it's nice to wake up early with some sense of purpose and to accomplish a few things before starting work for the day. 


I have been working with my attitude and doubts towards practice. I often look at other practitioners or read about folks such as Dipa Ma and feel both inspired and intimidated. There can often be feelings of inferiority & fear when I consider that I may never wake up to the degree that some people have or feelings of frustration when my path doesn't line up with the descriptions of others. Unfortunately, I cannot look into future timelines to see where this will all lead, so I just have to trust that I will be better off for having engaged in the practice than if I decided to spend my time doing something else. It's similar to acknowledging that I may never be a great marathon runner, but just by training daily I will improve my overall well-being. It's a bit more modest, realistic, and actionable. 


With regards to sitting practice itself, I typically sit between 45 and 60 minutes in the morning and 30 and 45 minutes in the evening since I am aiming to practice 90 minutes a day. I have been incorporating Metta and Tonglen into my sits before switching to open awareness and inquiry type practices. I have also been trying a few of Michael Taft's guided meditations here and there to see what other aspects of experience are worth investigating/inquiring into when in open awareness. Off cushion, I try to cultivate open awareness whenever I remember to. I've been experimenting with shifting into open awareness when reactivity or contraction arises just to see how it all plays out. Currently many instances of openess, ease, gratitude and appreciation mixed in with life frustrations & contraction.
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Chris M, modified 2 Years ago at 2/17/22 10:28 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/17/22 10:28 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 5331 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I like your balanced, real-life affirming approach. Also, in regard to comparing yourself to others - please stop! Everyone starts from the same place, you know. At the end of the day, this practice has to lead to basic sanity and that's why your balanced, real-life affirming approach bodes well. Stay with, be consistent, and be kind to yourself.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Years ago at 2/17/22 4:35 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/17/22 4:35 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I might borrow that bullet journal idea if yours! 
I'm totally stuck in procrastinating for a while now and even avoiding social interactions. 

Maybe time to write down the daily to-do list! 

Thank you and best wishes! 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 2/18/22 5:21 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/18/22 5:15 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Chris, thank you for the encouragement - your recent mentions about the role that consistency & quality played in your daily sitting practice have been helpful for me to keep in mind as I continue with my own practice. 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 2/18/22 5:27 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/18/22 5:27 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
It might be helpful for you! Just make sure that you write down a manageable list for the day and really follow through with it - it has to be non-negotiable. As silly as it is, there is something supremely satisfying about crossing out a task once it is complete - and that sense of satisfaction can help foster momentum in your day and over time as you look back at what you've been accomplishing. Of course if you aren't able to complete everything on your list for that day, just be kind to yourself and move on. Good luck!   
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Years ago at 2/18/22 4:10 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 2/18/22 4:08 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Thank you! Will do! 

I have already geared myself towards starting certain things! I haven't been painting since 2008 and I did paint for 12 years. Oil on canvas. I stopped painting after a very important person in my life died. Now I'm considering to just paint again but it's emotional and causing procrastination. 
Now have new canvases and new colours and brushes. 
It's just about squeezing some paint out and dip the brush into them and scar the white canvas with a few strokes. That's how it starts! emoticon 

And yes, some household chores are also waiting to be done! 

​​​​​​​To-do list, daily! 
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A K D, modified 2 Years ago at 3/15/22 9:25 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/15/22 9:25 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
3/15/2022

Fell off the wagon a bit these last few weeks. I think it was related to a terrible bout of sciatica which made any physical movement quite painful. As a result I wasn't able to exercise and I lost motivation to do anything constructive so meditation took a hit. Back at it with renewed interest and inspiration. 

I have been getting more in touch with the sense of doer/critic during meditation. When I rest back into awareness or ask an inquiry question, a voice comes up that starts trying to manage things: I should do a different technique, I should concentrate harder, I should try to deconstruct this sensation, I should try to find vibrations I've read about in MCTB, I need to focus on the breath, I should do a body scan, I should look for something I am avoiding, I should drop the conceptual mind, what nana is this?, why can't I figure out what these other people have realised? etc.

It's funny, but also quite annoying - on one hand all of these are useful techniques and they help cultivate and strengthen the faculties of mind, but on the flip side, if awareness is present, what else is there to do? Either awareness is present or it isn't, but it doesn't help to somehow force something that is already occuring. It makes meditation quite heavy and I needlessly beat myself up. I have been exploring the idea that practice can be done with a gentler touch, a lite touch, with the simple intentions to cultivate ease, stability, curiosity, clarity, and honesty. 

Something that has been inspiring me lately: the thought that life could be like summer vacation. I have a memory of riding on the bus home from school on the last day of 5th grade. There was no sense that I had anything to do and I could just enjoy the time off so I felt free. It would be really amazing to live from that place - to take care of life specifics and continue to develop as a person without everything feeling heavy, like some monumental effort, like drudgery. Life as play. I notice just how much ill will there is in my lived experience in terms of aversion, desire, craving, tuning out, contraction, anxiety, worry, stress, emotional reactivity, etc. As beautiful as the sentiment is, I somehow don't trust that it is possible to feel that at ease when still out in the world. 

Beyond that, I am inspired by the possibility of reducing needless suffering, of seeing through the illusion of separation, to understand intimacy & effortlessness, to live spontaneously, and to love more deeply. I notice that my attitude towards practice - using so much force - is at odds with a lot of these ideals so I am also exploring the idea that simple mindfulness/presence is inherently pleasurable. Some days mindfulness feels nice, most days it feels like work and I feel guilty when I lose presence. 

I plan on continuing with daily sits, listening to talks or reading for inspiration/interest, and seeing if I can cultivate mindfulness/presence throughout my day in a gentle, pleasurable way.
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 10:37 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 10:37 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
1/31/2023

It's been almost a year since I have posted here. I am still practicing, but haven't felt compelled to post about practice until now since there isn't much that changes day to day. Most of the changes that occur seem to happen in the background... if there is progress, it's hard to pick out what is a result of meditation or just normal human development/aging. That said, there are some updates I'd like to share:

I started working with a new teacher early last summer. They are authorized to teach within a Soto Zen lineage as they are currently wrapping up their priest ordination, but they also have decades of experience with Tibetan Buddhism having practiced extensively with a handful of Lamas. Based on what resonates with me in terms of aesthetics and the way meditation is nowadays, this has been a perfect match for me. I really feel like I finally found my teacher. They are open & honest, pragmatic, and we keep in close touch via Zoom calls and over email. A big aspect of the teaching is that my teacher points out areas of obscuration based on our interactions - always pointing back to this moment and what reactive pattern or belief structures might be obscuring 'this'. It's been so helpful.

My attitude towards practice has changed quite a bit as well - I chant the Bodhisattva vow before my sits, do a bit of praying, meditate, and wrap up the session by dedicating the merit to all sentient beings. There is much less striving/desperation than there used to be. Practice is less self centered (I want to achieve enlightenment vs. may this practice benefit all), and, although there is a yearning for enlightenment, I also recognize that this can be a trap if not held lightly as an overall aspiration. These are all topics that I have been working with and through with my teacher. They have been really patient in gently pointing out self interest and reenforcing that this practice is for the benefit of all. Their gentle encouragement has been a blessing and I am really grateful for this connection.

With regards to actual practice, I am sitting in open awareness, typically with eyes open. My teacher is of the opinion that the Soto Zen practice of Shikantaza is akin to Tibetan Dzogchen - or the recognition of & basking in Rigpa - which is parallel to sitting in enlightened mind. My teacher has also been pointing out Rigpa to me in different ways during our meetings. We also talk about different ways to investigate and deconstruct time, space, and self, but the main practice is to rest in open awareness both on cushion and off cushion. Off cushion practice is also highly emphasized - recognizing any obscurations or physical/mental tension/contraction, returning and resting in open awareness throughout the day for a few minutes here or there. I'm still a fan of open awareness practice as it is gently relaxing, spacious, and blissful. It's just sorta nice. Sometimes, there is some inquiry mixed in at points, or investigation depending on what arises in the moment.

As a whole, I wouldn't say I have had any major shifts in perspective or that anything has radically changed. Occasionally I drop into and recognize nondual states or aspects of reality are momentarily seen to be empty in a way that is a tad trippy, but otherwise I still feel like my regular self. There is a bit less reactivity (and more room for compassion), but I am also paying attention to reactive patterns more. It reminds me of the Bill Hamilton quote: "Suffering less; noticing it more." I am also drawn to the Zen idea that progress is much like walking in the fog where one's clothing slowly becomes wet, but it may not be evident at all.  

Anyway, I sorta miss the motivation that I used to have - the burning desire to wake up, although painful, also had me sitting a bit more. I am going to try to share a bit more here from time to time so as to re-connect with the DhO community. I think that it will help me to be a bit more inspired and bring some energy to the process.

Thank you for reading - I hope that you're all doing well, that you're all healthy, happy, and enjoying the path emoticon Looking forward to hearing from you!
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 10:15 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 10:15 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
2/8/2023

Slowly ramping up sitting times/frequencies and exploring sitting at different times of day. I notice that I have more motivation to sit in the morning, so I will make that my main sit for the day, but sometimes I get in 20-30 minutes during my lunch break or a session in the evening as well.

In the evenings, motivation to sit is much lower and the prospect of watching hours of Netflix or Hulu is often overpowering. Last night I sat without a timer, just exploring what it's like to sit in gentle, open awareness with all of this craving running through me. Without an agenda or the added stress of trying to make this a good sit or to last until a bell, things gently became relaxed, settled, clear, open. It was just sorta nice. I ended up sitting for 45ish minutes and then got ready for bed. Usually there is so much aversion to evening sits - I guess this can be a koan from now on. Why am I adverse to this? What, exactly, is adverse to this? 

Besides that, small situations have come up in the last few weeks which have been helpful. My teacher likes to say that the universe/life reflect your clinging and aversion back at you in the most useful ways if you pay attention and know how to work with it. It's a helpful reminder anytime the feeling of inconvenience arises and difficult emotions and narratives well up. Instead of allowing the mental and emotional proliferation to continue, I can ground myself in the awareness of the moment, build the the capacity to be present to this turmoil, to go empty and directly experience it for what it is. In the grand scheme of things, these inconveniences are minor so the stakes are pretty low - yet they reveal some strong emotional content that I find to be quite surprising. Lots of gratitude for having these inconveniences well up from time to time - they are the path forward emoticon
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 2:52 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 1:52 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
2/15/2023

There is currently an interest to incorporate some more Western magickal thinking & practices into my practice. My interest was especially peaked by an episodes of Midnight Gospel on Netflix (S1 E3 "Hunters Without a Home") which contains part of an interview with Damien Echols from the Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast. Damien was one of the West Memphis Three - he was falsely convicted of three brutal murders and spent almost 2 decades on death row as a result. In that time, he practiced hours of High Magick every day. He is also an ordained Rinzai Zen Priest, but he said that he got more out of Western schools of High Magick than out of Eastern meditative traditions due to certain philosophical and aesthetic qualities of the Western Magick traditions that resonated deeply with him.

In the full podcast interview linked above (actual interview starts at 11:00), Damien discusses a few of his awakening experiences and it seems he has a deep understanding of no-self. Also, interestingly enough, Tibetan Bön and Western Magick traditions may have originated in a similar corner of the Middle East, and the Tibetan "Phowa" & "Rainbow Body" attainments sound very similar to the Ceremonial Magick attainment of the "Solar Body". There is this Bodhisattva motivation behind the attainment of the Solar Body or the Rainbow Body: to be able to come back and free other sentient beings after death.

There are some simple practices and frameworks I am exploring through Damien's book High Magick and I think they can be useful for both spiritual practice and life in general. It starts off with simple thought reframing, meditation, visualization, and energy work. 


Unrelated to what I've written above, but maybe worth noting? I usually don't have much in the way of fireworks and my spiritual path thus far has been relatively quiet and unremarkable. Lately, during naps or when clicking the snooze button in the mornings, I have been have more lucid dreams than usual as well as really bizarre energetic experiences. I sometimes fall into these weird states when dozing or napping where I find myself in a rapidly strobing blackness and there are these bewildering surges of energy in the body as if I am having a heart attack or being torn apart. It's interesting because some of these experiences have frightened me to the point where I wake up and I'm just laying in bed all chilled out when moments before there was this chaotic state.
During a dream I had this morning, I realized I was dreaming so I started to watch how the objects around me would dissolve or reappear based on my intention. It was interesting. I then started flipping through random dreams as if flipping TV channels and seeing how intention affected the dream state. Anyway, just an interesting tidbit I felt like sharing.  
Hector L, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 2:41 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 2:41 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 141 Join Date: 5/9/20 Recent Posts
Curious if you use a map system like Tarot or Kaballah to navigate?
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 2:55 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 2:54 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Hello Hector, yeah I am not quite sure about cermeonial magick maps as my main practice is really more of a Zen approach and I haven't been as mappy in general lately. I just thought it would be cool to incorporate some ceremonial magick flavored items to keep things interesting and augment the main practice. 
Hector L, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:02 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:02 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 141 Join Date: 5/9/20 Recent Posts
For me at least it's both map and a means of transport / directional propulsion and I wanted to see if that was the same for you.
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:28 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:28 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 907 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I used to get a lot of "rapidly strobing blackness and there are these bewildering surges of energy in the body as if I am having a heart attack or being torn apart" between waking and sleeping. Both scary and cool.
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:40 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:40 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Ahhh okay - so do you use Tarot or some other path/map(s)? 
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:42 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 3:42 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Yes, scary and cool. I've been quite curious about these states and I have noticed that I don't get kicked out of them so quickly anymore which gives me a few extra moments to investigate & take stock of what is going on. Although it feels ominous & powerful, I don't think it's necessarily dangerous. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 5:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 5:29 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 7134 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I'm happy to see you posting again! Wohoo! 

Sounds like interesting territory. Those energy surges and rapid heart beats can be the onset of OBE:s, especially since you also have lucid dreams. 
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 6:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/18/23 7:08 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Sounds good Hector - I am glad you have found what is useful for you! I'll have to check out your log at some point emoticon
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/18/23 7:11 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/18/23 7:11 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you for the warmth and welcome Linda! emoticon

I still visit this site almost daily, but I've noticed in myself that there was less motivation to share and there didn't seem much worth noting. I do miss the connection here though. I am glad that you're still maintaining practice as well - very inspiring! Metta!
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 2/23/23 10:17 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/23/23 10:11 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
2/23/2023

I have been sitting more lately - trying to get in about 2 or 3 hours a day via sessions of various lengths (30-90 minutes). All in all, I've been enjoying the simplicity of resting in open awareness.

My overarching experience of the last week or two, in terms of the PoI, resonates with Desire for Deliverance: I am noticing how certain facets of life related to career, relationships, hobbies, etc. are getting in the way of formal practice and I feel less engaged with those other areas of my life currently. It's leading to feelings of frustration & impatience and I know one person that I am close with has sensed that I am a bit more emotionally distant. I realize that my internal world has led me to wield this orientation towards the outer world wherein I become stingy with my time, energy, attention, and affection since it feels that these other areas of my life take away from this central aspiration. There is also a feeling of fear related to not actualizing this aspiration and being absolutely bummed about it - like I have no say or sense of agency in the matter so I am trying to protect the few resources that I do have.  

If I were to describe it in terms of the Realms, I'd maybe say that there are flavors of the Titan realm. Wouldn't necessarily describe myself as jealous, but there is definitely this sense of trying to cut off anything that feels like a waste of time because I am focused on stories of "bigger and better things". There is time, attention, energy, interest flowing into practice, albeit, it feels constricted and it causes dukkha. The story is that there is a self that wants to awaken and therefore needs all of the time & energy available to work for it.

It's hard to ascribe all of this to just meditation though since there are outside factors and on some days this feeling is stronger than on other days.

Besides that, I have been enjoying bringing my cushion with me as I explore this beautiful hiking trail near my house. The trail winds through a forest along a brook at the bottom of a cliff. There are large boulders that form small caves along the foot of the cliff and everything is a vibrant green covered in dense mosses and ferns. I like hiking up to these boulders and finding perches to set up my cushion and sit with the sounds of the babbling brook and nature. Truly, these sits out in the fresh air are the highlight of my week.

Last night I had a dream where a Tibetan Rinpoche/Master had written a footnote in an old dharma book along the lines of, "Recognizing and resting in the nature of mind is a simple sort of pleasure." which is poignant for me. For years I was, and I still am, one of those people that believe that enlightenment is clearly a better way of existing - a complete and total upgrade. This has caused me some sense of confusion because Buddha Nature, Nature of Mind, the Natural State (whatever you want to call it) is *right here* and we constantly overlook it (I think of Kalu Rinpoche's Four Faults of Natural Awareness). If it's so good, shouldn't we all be plugged into it once it's recognized? Wouldn't enlightenment happen quickly and effortlessly? Wouldn't more people be enlightened? On the other hand, we have Suzuki Roshi who said, "Enlightenment was my biggest disappointment." or Chögyam Trungpa who said, "Enlightenment is ego's ultimate disappointment." Other posters on here have stated that Awakening/Enlightenment is really about basic sanity which sounds anticlimactic when we consider the thousands upon thousands of pages written throughout the centuries on how to practice and achieve this lauded attainment, not to mention all of the rights, rituals, monastic/traditional lineages, funny hats, robes, artworks, monasteries, temples, absolutely massive statues of Buddhas or Boddhisatvas (many of the tallest statues in the world are Buddhist), etc. There is part of me that has been grappling with that contrast: is simply resting in this Natural Awareness, which IS nice, all there is to it? And although it IS nice, is this really the huge "Enlightenment" that people have been striving for for the last few millenia? The dream is a good pointer back to this moment, just to rest here in this simple, nice awareness. That said, I have trouble trusting the dream since it's merely a dream! 

I have meeting with my teacher tonight so I'd like to discuss the various topics I have written about above. 
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/3/23 8:45 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/3/23 8:38 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
3/3/2023

Still practicing as much as I am able to which amount to anywhere from 30 minutes to almost 3 hours a day - averaging about 1.5 to 2 hours a day at the moment. Sitting lately can be nice and relaxing, but since I am running around so much these days, I tend to be very drowsy. 

Some life changes have happened in the last few months which means I have less alone time for myself and that has, in some sense, caused a low level of desparation related to getting formal practice in. As a result, I've had to take a closer look at my attitudes and thought patterns in order to build some resilience and resourcefulness.

Instead of saying, "I don't have enough time to practice" I will look at opportunities throughout my day to steal away and get a sit in. If I am able to get to bed on time, for instance, I can get up around 5:00 AM or earlier to get 60-90 minutes of practice in before work. During the work day, I will now often take a break during lunch to sit for 30 minutes. The evenings are a bit harder since I am typically worn out after working/commuting, or I have plans so I may veg out even if I have the time to practice. If I go to the office, I take my cushion and sweat pants with me to get my morning and noon time sessions in since we have a private 'wellness room'. If I work from home, I may log off early while there is still daylight outside, and bring my cushion into nature for a nice sit. 

In addition to countering thoughts of "I don't have enough time to practice" or "I will never understand this stuff" I will also use such thoughts to ground myself here and now, questioning "For whom does that thought arise?" It's become a mindfulness bell of sorts. Come back to open awareness, again and again, rinse and repeat. 

Otherwise, I have noticed that I feel sorta out of it this week - just all around exhausted and out of my element. There is an underlying stress/fear/frustration that entangles itself in stories related to work projects that are behind or upsetting people in my life who I value. Heavy emotions have been bubbling up lately and the stories attached to them are all very self centered. I notice these stories and release them, again and again, as much as I am able to. Sometimes there is a small release, sometimes there is just sitting in the mess.

Along with this, I have been getting pangs of emotional overwhlem in ways that arise and pass really quickly leaving me with teary eyes. I might see a beautiful sunrise or listen to a really amazing dharma talk and something touches me deeply. I may be emotionally constricted, frustrated, angry, scared, stressed, yet there is a small part of me that can acknowledge that there is beauty and that I am laboring under so much self created suffering - something reaches through the mental armor, the self protecting defense mechanisms and hints at the fact that there is a better, looser way to be in the world. 
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 8:41 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 8:41 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
3/8/2023

I have not been sitting quite as much this last week, but still making some time to sit a bit each day. Open awareness has been really nice, relaxing, nourishing.

Off cushion, I still feel out of it and my mood has been quite sour - I have been getting a tour of the warmer hell realms this last week. I feel like I am carrying around an angry, crying toddler with me everywhere I go. Little situations bubble up and my internal reactions to them have been a bit over the top. I recognize the emotions, body sensations, mental stories and just try to ride these waves with mindfulness and release them in the moment by opening up awareness.

It's interesting how there is a part of me that truly wants to hold on to these stories (the hot coal), to be a self that is a victim of circumstances, but releasing these reactions into open awareness feels really anticlimactic and even disappointing. It's the opposite of catharsis and the self that wants a cathartic resolution feels a bit cheated. Part of me seems to complain "Can't I just have this story???" when opening back into awareness and letting the thoughts/patterns dissolve. I cycle back and forth between these two modes.

I recently decided to come off of an SSRI I have been taking after discussing it with my doctor. This emotional reactivity from the last two weeks might just be the result of the system stabilizing again. I notice, too, that I haven't been getting as much sleep as I probably should, which can factor into my crankiness. Just been trying to adjust by getting some exercise and alotting more time for sleep. 



On a lighter note, this past weekend I went to the Yale University Art Gallery and got to spend some time with a few ancient pieces of Buddhist art. It was deeply meaningful to be in the presence of these various buddhas and bodhisattvas that were carved or sculpted by people hundreds of years ago in far corners of the world. I felt a resonance with these various works and tears of gratitude welled up. This internal work is challenging, but I am very grateful for the countless people who have transmitted these teachings throughout the millenia and those living folks who practice and teach today. The dharma has brought purpose to my life. 
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 9:08 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 9:08 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 351 Join Date: 1/19/23 Recent Posts
Coming off SSRI can definitely make you cranky. I remember coming off a few years back, I was irritated and frustrated at just about anything and everything. It wears off in time. Also if you're not already, tapering is definitely worth considering with psych meds.
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 10:11 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 10:11 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you for sharing your experience Nihila and helping to normalize what is currently coming up for me. It's been about a month since I have quit taking the medication entirely, but I am not quite sure what the timeline looks like for the return to normalcy.  
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 12:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 12:28 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 351 Join Date: 1/19/23 Recent Posts
I'm not entirely sure how long it took for me, it's been a minute (2017), but a quick google showed that
40% of people had symptoms for 6 weeks, while 25% experienced symptoms for 12 weeks or more.
So it seems pretty normal to have effects for a little while.

Hope things return to normal soon.
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 1:36 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 1:36 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you Nihila - It seems I have a few more weeks of this potentially, but I am in a good place as of yesterday so I am confident it will run its course soon emoticon
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/21/23 9:54 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/21/23 9:54 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
3/21/2023

Not much to report. 

Still sitting regularly, some days more than others. Main practice is still resting in open awareness with eyes open. Some days I sit for a few hours, other days not at all since life can be busy. Sometimes sits are quite distracted and the intent is just to return and rest repeatedly. Other sits are a bit more stable, open, clear, and magnetic in a way. The body will feel rooted to the cushion and upright, stable, yet there is an energetic feeling of groundedness and tranquility. These states come and go sometimes repeatedly during a sit. 

There is some desperation and frustration surrounding the story about 'having enough time & energy' for formal practice. Certain life factors get in the way and that can create resentment. Overall, feeling a bit better emotionally than I was these last few weeks, but still feeling a tad less patient than usual. It's all good. 

​​​​​​​As spring is slowly dawning, I look forward to sitting outside in nature more often. 
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/28/23 10:42 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/28/23 10:42 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
3/28/2023

Still sitting almost daily and averaging about 1 to 2 hours of formal practice. Practice lately has been enjoyable: when sitting in open awareness, the coarser energies in the body seem to sink to the navel. The body viscerally feels like the glass of water that gradually becomes clearer as the sediment settles at the bottom. The feeling of general wellbeing that arises during formal practice often draws me to the cushion.  

I still harbor feelings that I am too distracted or that I am a "bad meditator", but I am trying to soften up around these beliefs and return to open awareness whenever I remember to both during formal practice & in life.

I've also started to read "Seeing That Frees". I tried to read it a few years ago, but it was lost on me and I put it down. Now that small tastes of emptiness have been bubbling up, I've decided to revisit it and the first introductory chapters make a lot of sense. It's a bit of a tome, so I am going to take small bites here & there and work through it slowly as long as the interest is present. 

With regards to the heavy emotions of the last few weeks, those are also starting to settle.
Last week, I was facing an overblown emotional reaction to an annoying work topic that popped up late in the evening. After laboring under such emotions for the last few weeks, I turned to prayer and tearfully asked Amitabha to help me untangle these knots. I am still a bit of a skeptic regarding the efficacy of prayer, however, if I am being honest, I do ackowledge that I believe it works on some level. It's part of my world view and I behave as if it has real world repercussions. In this case, it seems to have made a difference. 

I feel called to go on retreat this year. I haven't gone on a retreat in almost 4 years. I am trying to figure out where to go and how I can rustle up the vacation time. I will see if it pans out. For now, it's a possibility that I am toying with and it keeps me inspired to sit daily. 
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 4/6/23 10:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/6/23 9:42 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
4/6/2023

Meditation is somewhat interesting at the moment.

For a long time now, I have noticed that when practicing open awareness, it feels like the intention is to hold the mind in a certain position that is different from what I experienced through breath meditation or noting.
If I were to make analogies, concentration meditation involving an object is a lot like that carnival game where an individual shoots a stream of water at a clown's mouth like that scene in James Bond. With noting, I'd say Daniel Ingram's "Shootin' Aliens" analogy is pretty spot on (not too far off the previous analogy honestly except the water stream isn't fixed on a single target). With open awareness, the effort feels different: it is akin to tent poles both straining against while also supporting the fabric of a tent (as an example). 

However, when there are experiences of nonduality (the linked article is what I base my personal experience on) then the analogies above sort of fall apart since the idea of effort or intention doesn't really make sense. There is this curious feeling like the things I am experiencing are also experiencing 'me' however the 'me' in this scenario is sorta hard to define. There is a weird familiarity to it (since it's been there since the beginning of time) and yet it feels somewhat creepy. It's as if there is a ghost/God/Universe looking through my eyes at an appearance and the appearance, which is also the ghost/God/Universe, is aware that it is being looked at and is somehow reflecting the same awareness back at me. Absolutely bizarre. Subtle, but weird and confusing sometimes. Has this been anyone else's experience? Has anyone else had flavors or tastes of this? Do I sound somewhat crazy when I describe experience in this manner? Or am I heading in a direction that is essentially a divergence? Or is this a good path to head down?

As an example of what I mean by ghost-like being in the world, here is a food blogger in Japan getting ramen: there is no internal monologe (no voice-over/dub) and it's simply just sights/sounds. Really wish I could experience the textures, flavors, and aromas too however emoticon

Also, there is this sense that sights/sounds/sensations are slightly more hi-def. Not sure if that means anything, but sights at the moment, especially, seem really detailed. I am often amazed and somewhat overwhelmed at the way light touches things. It's just so beautiful honestly. Appearances (in any sense door) are just so amazing.

Okay, that's all for now. Just some thoughts that have been sorta mulling over these last few weeks/months/years as practice has unfolded.
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A K D, modified 11 Months ago at 8/3/23 7:23 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/3/23 7:20 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
I've been MIA these last few months. I have not been sitting as much lately due to a number of factors, but I'd like to re-dedicate myself to a modest daily sitting practice and record my notes here from time to time as life allows. Thank you for reading - as always, feedback or comments of any kind are always welcome emoticon

July 28, 2023
Evening sit - 60ish minutes
Did a guided meditation by Michael Taft that started with being basically present (how does it feel to be you right now?) followed by letting go of personality, letting go of attempts to concentrate, letting go of meditator, etc. until a gentle, open awareness was cultivated. Further instruction was given on noticing the energetic aspects underlying both the breath and thinking, but that seemed a bit abstract or too subtle for me so I just went back to open awareness.
I was sitting outside in the sun and noticed a lot of squirming and discomfort related to beads of sweat rolling down my skin as it caused an itchy/tickling sensation.
Besides that, it was generally nice to sit outside and light absorption states would roll through causing pleasure to arise in the body. After the sit, I laid in the grass and did some sky gazing.

July 29, 2023
Afternoon sit - 30 minutes
I didn’t sleep so well last night so this sit was pretty drowsy.
I practiced with eyes open for a while and awareness was open and spacious. There were light sensations of anxiety in the body and exhaustion around the eyes due to being tired and having had a lot of coffee earlier in the day. I gently explored the sensations, contacting them  with friendly curiosity.
Half way into the sit, I let my eyes close and let myself sink into the drowsy dullness. There was a gentle bodily absorption of sorts which was pleasurable. It also caused my body to gently sway back and forth. The mental imagery became more vivid and pronounced as the sit became dream-like. It was quite pleasant and restful.

July 30, 2023
Morning sit - 30 minutes
I’m writing this a few days after the fact so I don’t have a ton of detail. Sat outside again. Eyes open as well as opening of the auditory field to take in the wind through the trees, birds, a tenacious hawk, a lawn mower, etc. I would get distracted by the hawk flying overhead and look for it as it made its rounds. Impermanence was very apparent with the fluxing of the surrounding noises, the various flora waving in the wind, and various body sensations.Something I’ve noticed lately is a gentle pliancy with regards to the body when sitting in relaxing, open awareness: I sat on my cushion, but my legs were folded on the stone surface of a patio. I noted that there was little discomfort on my legs/sides of my feet - in fact, as the sit progressed and a pleasurable relaxation set in, there was no discomfort at all related to the hard surface.Also, as the relaxation set in, the body started to sway slowly again - this is a current norm for my sits.

July 31, 2023
Afternoon sit - 30 minutesI sat outside after work. Again opened my visual and auditory fields, sitting in open awareness. There was a certain quality of feeling ‘on the ball’ or maybe some sense of gentle effort/tenacity. There was also guilt related to not helping my parents who were doing yard work. There was some physical constriction/contraction.One of the “issues” I have dealt with for years, even now, is a lump/tightening in the throat when sitting in the evenings. I attribute it to all the caffeine from the day, but it only seems to pop up when I start to meditate. It’s a pretty common occurrence. I also notice my reaction to the throat tightening: often an aversion since it seems related to the effort to stay present/mindful/aware, even if that effort is really gentle and I set intentions to relax into experience. Tightness just seems to take hold and aversion follows right behind it.

August 1, 2023
Evening sit - 15ish minutes
I sat outside again, but could barely bring myself to sit. It felt as if I was going through the motions. I set the timer for 30 minutes, but I knew from the start that I had no intention of following through. I was just so impatient. I kept coming back to the stories and the physical sensations associated with this impatience when I remembered to, but before I knew it, I was standing up and walking back inside.

August 2, 2023
Between commuting and working a long day, I was away from home for 11ish hours and just felt really exhausted/uninspired when I got home. Decided to skip my sitting for the day… I know that there is no secret formula or hack for getting sits in at these times and it really just comes down to being disciplined (although gently).
Either way, I wish meditation didn’t feel like a chore. Even when it’s peaceful and relaxing and there is pleasure in the body or curiosity related to the nature of mind/experience/observer, etc. it still feels like a chore. The other thing is, unlike a physical workout, I usually don’t really feel better for having done a sit. It’s sorta like I pick up and move on to the next thing. Anyway, yeah, that’s it for today.

August 3, 2023
Evening sit - 30 minutes
Sat outside enjoy the cool breeze and sitting in open awareness. Awareness/knowing was spacious and panoramic. The visual field was wide open and so was the auditory field taking in all sorts of sounds: lawn mowers, cars, birds, crickets, the wind, etc. There was a gentle curiosity inquiring into just what was aware in the moment.
Again there was a gentle physical pleasure and pliancy as the sit progressed. Thoughts would bubble up, I’d fall into them, and then remember to open up and let them dissolve again and again.
Towards the last 10 minutes, there was a sense of impatience: tightness in the throat and upper chest, an urge to jump up off the cushion. I fluctuated between this sense of contraction and expansive awareness as I gentle rested and opened up to the field of experience again and again. I also checked what the sense of effort was like given the tightness and experimented with letting effort go.
Alexandra F, modified 11 Months ago at 8/4/23 7:57 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/4/23 7:56 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

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Hi AKD! I just wanted to say, I have experienced painful tightness in the throat connected with aversion to meditation (or possibly even just Efforting emotionally) as well. I used to tell myself a story about how it was connected with grief and loneliness and fear from being a kid, and maybe it was. These days when it comes up I feel like I just stare directly at it, I take it really seriously, I don't impose any story on it, I just focus on it seriously and intently. It's painful! It's like a tiger has me in its jaws and there's nothing I can do. I look the tiger in the eyes and suspend everything else until it's gone.

Thanks for sharing your experience! I know it can be uncomfortable so I'm curious to know how this tension evolves.
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A K D, modified 11 Months ago at 8/12/23 5:59 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/12/23 5:56 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

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August 4, 2023
Morning sit - 30 minutes
Had a pretty drowsy sit. Sat with eyes closed, but was mostly pulled into dreamy mental imagery. There was a pleasurable quality to the hypnagogic relaxation. I fluctuated between dozing off and dull wakefulness. There was some disappointment when the bell rang like a morning alarm. 

Afternoon sit - 20ish minutes
Just sat for a bit outside in open awareness. Not much to mention about this sit except that there was some impatience.

August 5, 2023
Afternoon sit - 45 minutes
Sat outside in open awareness. Eyes were open & the visual screen was wide and the auditory field was also open. My attention was drawn to the neighbors who were in the backyard having a loud conversation. Contraction into mental imagery and judgements arose as a result of their discussion. Gently returning again and again to open awareness. 
Again there was a tightness in the throat/upper chest area probably related to some sense of impatience or strain. I did recognize for most of the sit that there was a sense of holding awareness open. I gently tried to let that effort go and played with different levels of effort to see how it felt. 
There were subtle moments of non-dual experiencing as the framing between observer and observed became porous. 

August 6, 2023
Afternoon sit - 30 minutes
Sat outside  in open awareness with eyes open. I was sitting in the hot sun which gradually became more uncomfortable as the sit wore on. Not much to say about this sit except that there was general discomfort from the heat and impatience since I had to do some work around the house after the sit. Again, just returned and rested again and again in open awareness and settled into the discomfort. 

August 7, 2023
Morning sit - 30 minutes
Sat in open awareness with eyes open. The window was open so sounds of the rain and the birds filtered in. There was also quite a bit of noise downstairs as the kitchen is currently being renovated, however, there was no sense of being disturbed by the noise which were little reminders to come back to the moment again and again. 
As the sit progressed, a light pleasure and relaxation took hold. I’ve been noticing lately that the breath slows down naturally and there is often a pause before the in-breath that is quite pleasurable as the diaphragm relaxes. As the breath slows down, the body starts to sway slightly, gently of its own accord which is also pleasurable in its own way.
Stressful thoughts related to work and planning thoughts and other miscellaneous distractions bubbled up, but I’d release the contraction and come back to the open stillness in the room. Besides that, there is not a whole lot to report. 

Evening sit - 2 hours
Felt called to sit a bit longer than usual. I sat without a real agenda other than to just enjoy simply ‘being’. I didn’t set a timer and was really just seeing what a longer sit would feel like. I did not treat it like a ‘strong determination’ sit and allowed myself to stretch my legs & back when they started to get reasonably stiff & sore from being on the cushion for so long.
The sit was pretty straightforward: there were periods of relaxation and openness, periods of contraction into thoughts/fantasy/stories/worries, a little bit of craving or aversion, some impatience, some physical discomfort, etc. All of this stuff felt manageable, like it wasn’t that big of a deal. The gentle intention was there to return and rest in the body, breath, in whatever was arising in awareness.
Overall, quite a restful sit and it felt genuinely healing or maybe wholesome/nourishing? I enjoy the simplicity of open awareness and it would be nice if this sort of calling bubbled up more regularly (sans striving for results). I’ve been noticing that the usual distractions (YouTube, Reddit, Hulu, Netflix, etc.) have been a tad less enthralling lately and today I explored how it might feel to divert some of that restless energy into sitting in open awareness instead of looking for a distraction that’s ultimately unsatisfying. 

August 8, 2023
Afternoon sit - 2 hours
Decided to try the same experiment as yesterday again. Again, the basic intention was to sit in gentle, open awareness and return to presence. This sit was a lot drowsier than yesterday so after 20-30 minutes, I closed my eyes and let the dreamy, hypnagogic state take over. I tipped into light sleep here and there, but never more than a few seconds here and there. 
Again, the breaking slowed down and there was the really comfortable pause before the in breaths. The body gently swayed and there was a low level pleasure. 
Most of the sit was drowsy up until the last 25-30% where I started to wake up and feel more clear again. At that point, I was still getting caught up in a lot of thinking and fantasy, etc. so I just gently returned to open awareness again and again. 
Again, any craving/aversion, impatience, distraction was manageable and the sit was reasonably straightforward. No drama albeit a tad spacey/distracted.

August 9, 2023
Evening sit - 30 minutes
I somewhat wanted to sit based on the last two days of longer sits, but it was already sorta late in the day so I felt really impatient and truly wasn’t motivated. That was basically the theme of the sit: playing around with motivation, impatience, aversion, mind wandering, etc. 
It occurred to me that I could get more out of this sit than the last two days since the level of impatience was so high. So I ‘applied’ equanimity to the difficult moments and found some genuine peace/pleasure/relaxation/spaciousness akin to what I’ve been experiencing lately. 
Very interesting: meditation is subtly pleasurable and wholesome, yet, part of me wants to get up and do literally anything else. Oh well. 

August 10 & 11, 2023
Didn’t really sit much these two days… maybe a combined total of 5 minutes? I tend to have the most motivation in the early mornings or early afternoon, but I can’t really bring myself to sit late in the evening or at night. If I don’t get a morning sit in and my afternoon is booked, there is a good chance I won’t sit even if I have an hour or two before bed. 

​​​​​​​August 12, 2023
Morning sit - 30 minutes
Sat outside again. I wasn’t really in the mood to sit as there is a lot I have to get done today. The first 5 minutes were really distracted as things settled down. Once again, I sat in open awareness and as the sit progressed, awareness/knowing became vast, spacious, and relaxing. Again, the visual and auditory fields were wide open, and the body was nice and relaxed. A light pleasure arose. This is all familiar territory.
From this basis, there was some curiosity and inquiry bubbling up: What experiences this? What knows? Who do these thoughts belong to? 
There was also some investigation into the sense of boundaries - scanning back and forth between inside and outside, questioning what this apartment split/filter actually is in experience. It was hard to locate or really pin down: it's both an assumption and a way of perceiving experience. 
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A K D, modified 11 Months ago at 8/12/23 6:13 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/12/23 6:08 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Hello Alexandra - I am glad that my experience resonates with yours and helps to normalize some of the uncomfortable moments!

Your tiger analogy is a good one, although I admit to approaching the discomfort with some sense of gentle openess. I think it's because I enjoy Ajahn Chah's "Still Forest Pool" analogy so much:

Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still.
So in this sense, the tightness (or tiger) is free to come, have a drink, and then continue on their way emoticon 

I hope that your practice is going well and continues to unfold smoothly! 
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A K D, modified 10 Months ago at 9/13/23 10:41 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 9/6/23 1:12 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
9/6/2023

I had planned to keep notes of my daily sits, but that intention didn't last very long. I suppose life has been very busy so sitting has been more sporadic. When I do sit, I don't feel that there is a whole lot to report and it can take a while to jot down notes.

Lately, I'd say there is very little interest in engaging with dharma besides the formal sitting: less time spent on meditation forums, little interest in listening to dharma talks or reading dharma books, less interest in engaging in dharma speculation or trying to figure things out (what is centerlessness, what is emptiness, when will I wake up, etc.). 

Right now the most enticing aspect of practice is meditation itself. It feels good to sit in open awareness: the body relaxes, the mind sometimes quiets down a bit, experience/awareness becomes wondrous in this curious/compelling way. It's also been nice to give myself permission to let go of all the dharma tech/mapping I've been rather invested in for years and to just sit. Really simple sitting without much of a goal other than the intention to return and rest in presence whenever distraction occurs.

I suppose my one short term goal at the moment is just to make it to the cushion more consistently. 

That's all for now emoticon
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A K D, modified 10 Months ago at 9/13/23 10:41 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 9/13/23 10:41 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
9/13/2023

Been carving out more time to sit consistently this past week. 

Most of the sits are really relaxing: awareness is open, the breath slows down, there is a pleasurable feeling in the body as the energetics settle down, there is relaxation and comfort, spaciousness, clarity, etc. There have been many dips into what I would consider non dual experiencing where sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, etc. arise & pass, but they don't feel so split off from a provisional, central observer - experience feels very intimate and 'close' during these instances. 

Some sits can be quite challenging when I am distracted or not motivated to practice. There can be an overarching feeling of restlessness which I have gently been exploring and sitting with/through during such sessions. 

Overall, the process of sitting has been rather enjoyable whether the meditation is 'good' or 'bad'. There is a meta-okayness with what arises during formal practice periods and the reactivity that bubbles up in response to that. There is no burning need to have meditation go one way or the other. All that matters is to return and rest in experience, again and again. There is something really satisfying about contacting experience and just being plugged into the flow of it all. 

I've also been practicing Fire Kasina in the evenings now that the sun is setting sooner. I don't time these sessions and just let my interest guide the sitting so I may only do 5 minutes, or I may do 20-30 minutes if I am having fun. It's a nice change to practice another technique in addition to the open awareness that is currently my bread and butter. 
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A K D, modified 9 Months ago at 9/21/23 12:17 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 9/21/23 10:07 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
9/21/2023

Still aiming to sit consistently. At the moment, sits have been very sleepy and dreamy because I haven't been sleeping so well.

I've also been dealing with some emotional turbulence in life which carries over into some of the sits. There is this sense that I don't have enough time & energy to pursue my interests, that I am trapped/limited by everything (job, relationships, other goals), and that everything is pointless anyway because I'm going to die some day. The main emotions surrounding this story are those of frustration, anger, and hopelessness. During the sits where this content arises, I notice the tenacity of the thought loops, the uncomfortable bodily manifestations of these emotions, and I gently try to release back into awareness. During these sits, I also notice a lot of problem solving or re-framing of the stories in an effort to reduce the struggle, but I also try to gently let go of that and just be present, to be with the discomfort.
There is a bit of irony here as well: sitting these last few weeks has been relatively relaxed and drama free. Sometimes during quiet, unremarkable stretches of practice, it can seem like not much is happening and I may wish that some sort of material would bubble up so that it can be purified. The moment this stuff is dredged up, I shrink away and want to avoid sitting with the mess, the struggle, and the suffering. These obscurations are the path though so I will have to resolve to be more gently, tenaciously present when they do arise in the future.

There is also a general melancholia as the days get shorter, the leaves start to change, the air gets cooler, etc. It's profoundly beautiful, but fleeting. I find this sort of emotional cocktail to be inspiring for practice since there is an intimacy, a rawness to it.

Besides that, I had a video call with my teacher for the first time in about 5 months. I've been sorta delinquent as my interest in practice has fluctuated due to some really heavy emotional content that arose in April/May which continued for a while. It was helpful and inspiring and just all around nice to talk to someone who has this interest in awakening and can normalize some of the monotony that comes along with longer periods of unremarkable practice.

Okay, that's all for now. 
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A K D, modified 9 Months ago at 9/28/23 8:44 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 9/28/23 8:44 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
9/28/2023

Motivation to sit is coming back - I have been sitting at least 30 minutes a day if not more when I have the opportunity. I've been exploring the possibility of opportunistic sitting anytime I don't have something going on. If I have an afternoon free, can I gently put down my phone or close my laptop and do some sitting instead? If this practice is so important to me, can I bring myself into alignment with that aspiration in a really gentle way?

Sitting has been quite nice for the most part as well. Open awareness is generally clear, relaxing, panoramic. If some disruptive thought or emotion arises, then I gently rest into it and make sure there is a gentle investigation into it. There is a natural curiosity there: why is this unpleasant? Why do I want to turn away from this experience? Why can't I simply rest in presence and enjoy just being? 

Evening fire kasina sits are also really relaxing. The dot/after image of the candle flame is a really fun object and I often get into lite states of absorption where the body feels heavy and relaxed. A 30 minute fire kasina sit typically feels pretty engaging and goes rather quickly. Definitely a nice change of pace.

This past Sunday I attended a dharma talk at a local Dzogchen center that I have frequented twice before. I am glad I went since it's nice to interface with other practitioners although I am not formally part of their sangha. Since I appreciate the teacher I have at the moment, I'd prefer to show up to their public/open teachings and be a fly on the wall. We chanted many mantras and prayers before the dharma talk, which, all told, took over two hours, but it didn't feel that long at all. It can be pretty neat/inspiring to be surrounded by the Tibetan aesthetics. The dharma talk was somewhat wide ranging, but the main crux was similar to the talks I heard last year: practice off the cushion, in daily life, is of utmost importance. Using our daily life to cultivate mindfulness/presence in whatever task we may be engaged with in the moment is the path. Not radically new information by any means, but it's inspiring/motivating to hear and it definitely has been helping me approach daily practice with a bit more gumption. 

Besides that, I have been exposed to little issues in daily life which have required me to rely on the cultivation of self awareness, equanimity, and compassion. I notice myself getting dragged into my perspectives and viewpoints which are reenforced by self preservation/protective mechanisms. Although I am having difficulty stepping outside of these perspectives completely, I can at least take a step back and acknowledge what emotion/reaction is arising in the moment and why it is coming up. I still buy-in to the stories though. I suppose this is some sort of informal Lojong practice as I come to terms with my self-cherishing and try to mitigate it a bit. 

​​​​​​​May we all practice well. 
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A K D, modified 9 Months ago at 10/1/23 8:32 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 10/1/23 8:32 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
10/1/2023

I am feeling very discouraged at the moment.

It's Sunday evening and I barely meditated since Thursday - I think I got about 25 minutes of formal practice in in the last 3 days. Between chores, social engagements, last minute tasks popping up, and my girlfriend spending the weekend with me, I've had no time. This happens almost every weekend.

Between working full 40-45 hours a week, trying to exercise a bit daily, spending time with friends, spending time with my girlfriend, and helping my parents putting our house together during a kitchen remodel, I am having trouble finding the time, energy, and inspiration to sit in general. I wanted to go on retreat earlier this year, but that plan fell apart and now it feels too late. 

All of this "life stuff" which is supposed to be a marker of being an adult is just getting in the way. I am so annoyed and resentful. I don't feel that I am actually in control of my life because it feels as if my time is already spoken for. I want everyone in my life to leave me alone and give me space.

I am never going to figure this out. Seven years of practice with different teachers, a few retreats, many books read, many hours of practice, and I still don't have anything to show for it. I am as reactive as ever and there have been no shifts or realizations or understandings. My practice nowadays is too sporadic and, even on good days, I maybe sit 60-90 minutes. I see that people who really get this (I'll call it MCTB 4th Path) get it on relatively high doses of daily, formal practice (2-3 hours) and yearly retreat(s). 

I'm supremely interested in realizing this, and yet, everything internally and externally feels as if it is getting in the way. 
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Jure K, modified 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 12:05 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 12:05 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 461 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
The frustration is usually a sign of resisting present moment experience. This is the prime time to sit and note out sensations/emotions etc.  opportunities for stuff to open up and come out including spiritual insight. This is usually when I just put my head down and practice. You can do it, you're as capable as anyone else, Go for it!!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 5:15 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 5:15 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

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Hey Kid good to see you! emoticon 

Same over here no inspiration and sense that I have no time due to family stress! And according to some folks who "made it" I'm 2nd Path and plowing towards the 3rd (re-learning meditation). 

It's a long journey for some (many). Karma is unfolding weather we like it or not. Resist it and shit rains on me. Go with it and shit rains on me. Lovingly accept it and curiously investigate it and it kind of becomes shitty-sweet. 

Anyway, don't worry. I first discovered this path thing in my 30-es. It just came up out of nowhere it seems. Stress and anxiety was fueling  the seeking. 

We never know when our energy and resolve will be in balance to just do this practice. I remember time was not an issue in past for me. I've had enough energy and resolve to sit once just out of bed and once just before bed time. 
These days I just can't do it! Kill me! emoticon 

Stuff goes up and down. I'm sure at some stage energy and resolve will meet in good balance for you and stuff will just sit with it ... because it just does. 

Best wishes and enjoy your relationships and your job and your work and growing up as you say emoticon You will not awaken to any other life but the one you live in. Karma is Nirvana. Nirvana is Karma. 

​​​​​​​Sending you best wishes mate! 
Olivier S, modified 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 5:49 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 5:47 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 969 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
 Hi,

On top of the good advice given here, I'll also go ahead and make the point that some people do chose to prioritize their spiritual practice either for some time or forever. 

As a personal example, when I was meditating very diligently and got some of the fruits I was looking for, I had decided that practice was more important than the rest. My reasoning was sort of: "One can die at any moment, in the midst of building a great adult life, for example. So, might as well do what seems really, really important in the face of this knowing."

I was finishing my master's and working only a little bit, quite isolated socially, and on social welfare for some time. Little responsibilities or commitments, but also very inspired to practice — and with enough time, definitely, to be able to do it.

I don't regret doing this in the least, on the contrary, I think it was a grand idea. My life has been so much simpler ever since. And diving in this way led me to a sort of dream job related to the competencies I developed during this time.

Of course now things are different and the priority just organically doesn't feel like it is meditation anymore. And that may change, as Papa said.

But sometimes — especially if working 45–50 hours a week ! — one's energies are simply all taken up by other commitments. I think americans work way too much. It is draining ! Here in france, the legal work week is 35h.

So, of course you may use your frustration as fuel for practice, but there is also this possibility of changing external circumstance so that you can get to do what you really want to do if something like this is what you really want to do. Not saying if that is the right thing to do for you, of course, as I don't know that, but just wanted to remind you gently that this is possible. Many — great — figures throughout history have chose to forsake the usual lifestyle of their day and time.

Hopefully helpful,

Best,

​​​​​​​Olivier


 
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Chris M, modified 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 7:11 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 7:11 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 5331 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I'm supremely interested in realizing this, and yet, everything internally and externally feels as if it is getting in the way. 

Maybe your quest for a meditation practice is getting in the way of just being where and what you are right now. In my personal experience, the desire to meditate regularly, to be fully dedicated to it, is positively correlated with the level of perceived need. Maybe you don't need a meditation practice as much as you think you do. I would closely examine this because agonizing over something you aren't motivated enough to find the time for is not a great place to be.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 9:52 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 10/2/23 9:50 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

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I think it can be of benefit to assume that we are not all the same. A bit like a comet passing by very fast and intense and then there is Pluto, slow, steady, takes ages to complete a cycle. 

For some the energy and resolve can come in form of a hot burning fast comet while other personalities might be steady like the slow cycling Pluto. 

Forcing the comet to do it when it's not "there" is pointless. It will come when it comes. Then it will be impressive and will do a lot. Until it passes away again ... 

Pluto personality will be steady but not necessary do so much. Or it could. 

There are also those who practice like Mars, or like Mercury. And sometimes they are more like Uranus or Saturn just to turn back to Mercury at times. 

We are not all the same. 

I see myself more like a Comet. Intense. But then it passes away and is gone for a while (once it went away for 7 years for me). 

We are not all the same even though all mind seems to work in the same way. The content/karma is different. Or it seems that way. Until it doesn't. 

​​​​​​​Not sure if I said anything useful here. emoticon 
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A K D, modified 5 Months ago at 2/1/24 10:50 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 2/1/24 10:48 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
2/1/2024

I'm going to start with an apology for venting on here: I am sorry for airing out my negativity in a public form like this. I'd also like to thank those of you who provided encouragement and wisdom and advice. Although I am not going to address each individual post here, I have read all of them repeatedly and contemplated the content to varying degrees. 

Update: I'm no longer together with my significant other which means I have more time to practice, and I have been more consistent about sitting formally on a near daily basis.

In addition to that, I have been taking part in Michael Taft's 12 week "Vast Sky Mind 1" (VSM) workshop since October. The course has missed a few sessions due to the holiday season, etc. so it's been closer to 15 weeks. I had two reasons for signing up: 1. to check my intellectual understanding of emptiness/nonduality, and 2. to be more accountable with regards to sitting practice since I'd be paying quite a bit of money for it and I'd be meeting with a meditation pod on a weekly basis to discuss practice. It's been nice to connect with other meditators and make some new friends in that space. I'll say the course is a decent primer for people who are new to emptiness/nondual practices, but I don't think I've really learned anything new since I've already been doing a lot of reading/listening/research on the topic these last few years. It was important to me to figure out if my intellectual understanding was correct as that indicates the direction in which I should walk. Now, it's more of a matter of walking. 

I have been dealing with a lot of emotional upheaval these last few months so practice has often been just about settling down on the cushion and letting all of the pressure/muck release. I've been finding myself doing simple shamatha with breath as an object, swinging back around to noting with mental labels, or just sitting in simple open awareness without any particular intention or structure.

On certain days, if I feel inspired, I'll do either the VSM meditations or a Michael Taft guided youtube video which are basically the same thing. 



I suppose there is still some frustration surrounding practice and the rest of life with respect to expectations. I have imagined life and practice to be a certain way, to have a certain feel. I was listening to a podcast where Daniel Ingram was being interviewed and he spoke about expectations related to practice and how we should write down our expectations and basically allow ourselves to mourn them since, oftentimes, our expectations do not match reality. I think this is something I'll be doing soon as I have been mulling it over a bit. 

I think that I am at the root of all of this frustration if I am being honest with myself. I want X, but then my words, deeds, and actions don't align with actualizing that possibility. I tell myself stories about why it won't work out, or I default to laziness and diversion. There is the saying that enlightenment is an accident, but practice makes us accident prone. From a certain perspective, everything in life is an accident, and that success isn't guaranteed even if we put in consistent, dedicated effort. There is no way to 100% actualize what we are hoping for, and so, I feel discouraged before actually starting or I allow that story to subvert taking action at all. I defer my ideal self/life for another day.

​​​​​​​I've always been impressed by people who seemingly approach whatever it is they want with a single minded approach. They want to get fit? They exercise every day and eat correctly. They want to get enlightened? They sit every day for a few hours, go on retreats, and seek support where required. They want to advance their career? They further their education while working hard at their day job. They want to quit their job and backpack for a year? Have at it. These people always seem to approach life with zest & determination and they don't complain like I have done and continue to do. They don't seem ruffled and they seem to just trust that the goal & life will work out. If they want X, they go and get X, no drama required. It's very matter-of-fact. I aspire to that ideal. I am sure they face frustrations or hurdles along the way (we are all human), but some folks just don't seem as discouraged, can just brush themselves off, and keep going. They are fundamentally okay and from that foundation they flourish in life. 
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 5 Months ago at 2/1/24 12:57 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 2/1/24 12:57 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 415 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
It's all good. If you go read my practice log from the past few days you will see quite a bit of frustration in there and some f bombs thrown in for good measure!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago at 2/1/24 7:23 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 2/1/24 7:23 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2926 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"I'm going to start with an apology for venting on here: I am sorry for airing out my negativity in a public form like this"

emoticon Ah Kid its always good to hear from you! Let it all out!

" I'm no longer together with my significant other " 

I didn't like her anyway! emoticon Sorry just being silly! Break up sucks big time! Just now I separated from my wife, the mother of my two boys! Its never easy! 
You get more time to practice and I get more time to drink wine! Its a win-win! emoticon 

"They are fundamentally okay and from that foundation they flourish in life. "

Ah yes emoticon "the grass is always greener on the other side"

​​​​​​​Best wishes KD! 

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