RE: AKD Practice Log

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AK D, modified 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 12:44 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 12:44 PM

AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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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AK D, modified 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 12:59 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 12:59 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 1:54 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 1:54 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2404 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Why do you meditate?
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AK D, modified 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 4:26 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 4:18 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 4:40 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 4:40 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2404 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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AK D, modified 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 5:16 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 4:53 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 9:41 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/13/22 9:41 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 586 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 4 Months ago at 1/14/22 12:54 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/14/22 12:54 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2404 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 1:42 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/17/22 7:18 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 4 Months ago at 1/18/22 12:52 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/18/22 12:52 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2402 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 4 Months ago at 1/19/22 12:28 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/19/22 12:28 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2402 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 1:42 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 1:42 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 1:43 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 1:43 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 2:11 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 2:11 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2404 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 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 8:11 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 8:10 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2402 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 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 8:18 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/30/22 8:17 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2402 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 2/2/22 9:44 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/2/22 9:44 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 3 Months ago at 2/6/22 9:35 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/4/22 3:17 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 423 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 2/6/22 8:29 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/6/22 8:29 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 2/6/22 9:54 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/6/22 9:49 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 2/17/22 9:23 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/17/22 9:23 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 3 Months ago at 2/17/22 10:28 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/17/22 10:28 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 4356 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 3 Months ago at 2/17/22 4:35 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/17/22 4:35 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2404 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 2/18/22 5:21 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/18/22 5:15 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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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AK D, modified 3 Months ago at 2/18/22 5:27 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/18/22 5:27 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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 3 Months ago at 2/18/22 4:10 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/18/22 4:08 PM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 2404 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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AK D, modified 2 Months ago at 3/15/22 9:25 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 3/15/22 9:25 AM

RE: AKD Practice Log

Posts: 179 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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