Niels's practice log #4

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Niels Lyngsø, modified 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 3:31 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 1:39 PM

Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
This log is a continuation of my first, second, and third log.


Update April 16th 2022

Lots of things has happened since my last update more than three months ago, so this will be a very long post. First a brief summary, then I’ll go through it in detail.

Summary: After almost two years in the Equanimity nana pre Stream Entry, I got a teacher in early January. With her help I found my way up through the last part of High Equanimity and – this is my hypothesis (supported by my teacher) – got Stream Entry at the end of an eight day home retreat in late March.


The longer story


From early January to the middle of March
As of late December 2021, having spent almost two years in the Equanimity nana, my main challenge seemed to be a certain flatness to my joy (cf. the last part of my third log). I decided to get at teacher, got in touch with Abre Fournier and began working with her from early January.

We spent more than three hours going through my practice story from when I began meditating in the fall of 2017 on a Goenka retreat, through 2018-2021, each year consisting of roughly two hours of daily meditation and an accumulated month of retreat time. We were especially thorough with what has happened since my eight day December retreat 2020 all the way up until my sixteen day December retreat 2021. We talked about my work with self therapy, using a version of Internal Family System. And we talked about the inexplicable flatness to my joy.

Abre then placed me on the map: I had fallen back from High Equanimity and was somewhere in the borderland between late Re-observation and early Equanimity (but there was twist, that I will get back to at the end of this post). She thought that I had done enough self therapy and should focus on the insight practice it self: getting to High EQ and having a cessation.

During the next couple of months we adjusted my practice several times, based on systematic logging in a form where I, for each sitting, would rate such things as the seven factors of awakening and the five hindrances on a scale from 1 to 5.

For a very long time before I began working with Abre, my technique had been Do Nothing/ Open Awareness. Now I began noting again, and I began doing 20 minutes of samatha and 40 minutes of vipassana in each sit. It was a quite strict samatha practice, using six notes per breath cycle (beginning, middle and end of both in breath and out breath). For some weeks, I worked my way through some massive dullness that Abre ascribed to my being in the third vipassana jhana, so a form of Dark Night, but very much on the jhanic side of the road. Then things began clearing up. Energy came back. Abre had me read Joseph Goldstein’s fine take on the Seven factors of awakening, his explanation of how they built on each other: Mindfulness, Investigation, Energy, Rapture … Already after 5-6 weeks, things had begun moving quite a lot.

In my vipassana practice I began freestyle noting, and later got a tailor made drill, a kind of double noting, adding the vedana for each freestyle note. So for instance: hearing-pleasant, thinking-neutral, calm-pleasant, feeling-unpleasant, spaciousness-pleasant … Much to my surprise, around 80 percent of the vedana was pleasant. Before this drill, I had not been sufficiently mindful of how pleasurable my meditation actually was. Now discerning this pleasure, the joy increased. I also began noticing joy and pleasure more in my off-cushion life. The discovering of joy made me joyful: A positive feedback loop had been set in motion. There were some other adjustments of the noting technique, drills for discerning mind states etc.

During the first two weeks of March, I came back into High Equanimity, now with more joy than before in my practice. From around 15th of March, I upped my daily sitting to 3-4 hours, and from the 21st until the 28th of March, I did my …


Eight Days Spring Time Retreat 2022

For all my home retreats since December 2020, I have had the same daily schedule, but Abre suggested that I disrupted it a bit to get out of my habitual patterns. So instead of my old Do Nothing technique, I would continue to do samatha for the first third of each and every sitting, and then, in the remaining vipassana part of the sit, do freestyle noting until I felt that things were stable and clear enough to let go of the notes, and only then switch to Do Nothing. Also Abre had me put in some walking meditation, and she suggested that I meditated a little less than the usual twelve hours a day and got some more sleep than the usual planned six hours. So I did nine hours of sitting and ninety minutes of walking per day + some excercise and mindful gardening.

Abre offered me the opportunity of getting feedback from her halfway through the retreat. Here is some of what I wrote to her in the evening after day 4:

”If I had written you 24 hours ago, my report would have been very different. The first three days were difficult, with back pain, frustration, negative self evaluation thoughts etc. It was all detected immediatetly, so I never got lost in any of it, but yesterday evening I felt discouraged, and that I wasn’t really getting anywhere. Day 3 was not much different from day 2 and 1, so I didn’t see any progress.

Today the progress came, it unfoldede little by little, sitting after sitting. The three first sittings all began with aversion and negative thoughts but ended with calm and peace, and the calm and peace came sooner and sooner. 5th and 6th sitting were even better, now concentration got quite strong and there was genuine absorption. 7th sitting, a little less concentration because I was a little tired, but still quite strong, and absolutely no aversion to this little change.

I has turned out to be a brilliant idead to do 30 minutes of concentration at the beginning of each sitting, so thank you very much for that! Today I really feel the momentum building, and that would probably not have happened if I had just improvised: Improvising, I would have jumped from concentration to vipassana too early, being eager and perhaps a bit striving (this was probably what happend during my sixteen day long December 2021 retreat where I never really got tracking). This is much, much better.

As you can probably sense from this long e-mail, I am quite happy and excited with how things are going right now, and as mentioned, I think the systematic concentration practice is a key reason why it is going well. So my hunch is to continue with that at least for one day more, maybe even for the rest of the retreat.”

Abre’s answer was basically that I should just continue like this, and so I did. Here are some excerpts from my report to her about day 5, 6, 7, and 8:

Day 5
Didn’t sleep enough, woke up a couple of times after bizarre dreams and could not fall asleep again (normal for me when on retreat).

First three sittings had some uncomfortable chi that prevented me from getting into "Do nothing". Sitting four and five had more momentum, and when it peaked, I sat for about 30 minutes with the ”Do Nothing”-technique and was almost as high up i High EQ as yesterday. Sixth and seventh sittings were characterized by tiredness and so I didn’t really get traction. But equanimity (the quality) was good: There was no frustration. And mindfulness was good.

Day 6
Best day so far. Again dreams waking me up, preventing from getting enough sleep. Had an emotionally strong dream with a lot of misery, sadness.

First sitting, strong concentration, I did ”Do Nothing” for almost the entire 30 minutes before the walking part. Second and third sittings, again good strong concentration, did the ”Do Nothing” most of the time. Joy and happiness during the mindful gardening hour. Fourth sitting, a little less energy, but still enjoying it. Fifth sitting, strong concentration, deep absorption, a sense of a good balance between the seven factors. Sixth sitting continued in this track until 20-30 minutes before the bell rang, then a tiredness came. In the 15 minutes break I fell asleep on my bed. Seventh sitting, energy up again in the beginning of the sitting, then dropping towards the end. Very happy with this day!

Day 7
Again a night with vivid dreams waking me up (it occurs to me that these sleep disturbances did NOT occur on my 16 day retreat back in December 2021 – I assume they are a product not just of meditation, but specifically of strong concentration, and this tells me that perhaps my concentration was not strong enough back then). I began the day an hour earlier because of the switch to summer time, shortly considered trying to sleep an hour more, but decided not to, since I felt kind of wired up.

First two sittings, I didn’t get any tracking due to unpleasant chi and weak concentration. Third sitting was really difficult, uncomfortable and unpleasant chi in combination with dullness. This was the two hour sitting, and when the bell for 90 minutes rang, I did something wild! I disrupted my time schedule. In the middle of a sitting! On all my retreats I have never done that before. But after 90 minutes of never getting beyond meditating on the breath, I decided my time was better spent if I saved the half hour for a later sitting, and then also added in an extra hour of sleep after lunch. I adjusted the time table accordingly.

Fourth sitting, after the nap, there was, much to my surprise, extremely heavy chi in the entire body, soft and evenly distributed, like a sand bag waying 200 kilos. I sat with that, just doing breath meditation all 90 minutes, tried to gear up to freestyle noting a couple of times, but that was not possible.

Fifth sitting: Still a lot of active chi, but now it had gathered in a column, a clearly perceived, soft heavy columne in the middle of the torso. It slowly evaporated during the sitting, and then the tiredness was gone, and I began getting good traction and strong concentration again.

Sixth sitting, concentration very strong, went almost directly to ”Do Nothing” when the vipassana phase began and easily stayed there for the rest of the sitting. The chi was still there, but neutral, not taking up that much band width. There was a very deep, abstract absorption, high up i High EQ: Everything was very very quiet, very very clear, and very very fast. Rich and detailed, and yet cohesive. A calm chaos. Verbal thoughts came only far apart, very shortly, fell silent (or got silenced by being noticed) in less than a second, or turned weird (stuttering, looping, changing sound, morphing into noise). And at a certain point, there was one of these micro-events, a stereo-ZAP!, first left, then right ear very very fast, less than one tenth of a second apart. There was no muting of sound, no absence of sound, just this ZAP! or CHUCK!

Seventh sitting, still strong concentration and easy chi, but after 45-50 minutes, the meditation system ran out of steam, and the last 30 walking minutes, I was extremely tired.

Day 8
A good nights uninterrupted sleep (seven hours or so), but I felt tired anyway when I woke up.

Three first sittings were characterized by unpleasant chi and low energy, but good equanimity (the quality). During the entire two hour sit, I did not get beyond breath meditation, but there was (almost) no frustration.

Fourth and fifth sittings, slowly the energy came up, and concentration improved, and the energy level peaked in the sixth sitting, where I sat in ”Do Nothing” for around 45 minutes, spending my time in High EQ, as described above. Then some tiredness came, and around that time, there were a sort of culmination of the chi, taking the form of two quite powerfull pulsations in the back of my head, with 5-8 seconds between them. They were painful enough to make me react with facial contractions, even though my equanimity was quite strong.

In the 15 minutes pause following this sit, there was another micro-event: I was resting on my bed, and there was a short (1/10th of a second) clear cut hole in the sound (no ZAP or CHUCK this time). I then fell deeply asleep and was confused when my alarm clock rang a few minutes later.

I felt completely exhausted, but still gave the seventh and last sitting my best shot. There was absolutely no energy left, I constantly drifted into sleep, so after the first half hour, I decided to stop (thereby ending the retreat). I felt disappointed.


First two days after the retreat

I went to bed on the last night of the retreat thinking that I had had some near-misses, but not an actual cessation – hence the disappointment.

But the next morning, much to my surprise, I was really happy and joyful. I did four sittings that day (29th of March). Here are my brief notes to them: First sitting (early morning): Very tender and gentle chi, mostly pleasant. Calm, balance, spaciousness, relaxation, peace. Emotional release when the bell rang: A few sobs and the thought ”it’s just this simple thing [meaning the peaceful feeling] I want.” Second sitting: Tender chi, then more energy, curiousity, enthusiasm. Third sitting: Spiraling chi up along the sushumna, all the way to the head (no blockages). Enthusiasm, rapture. Fourth sitting: Soft, wobly chi, some tiredness (no aversion to it), enjoyment. Off-cushion throughout the day: Happy, cheerful, singing and smiling for no apparent reason.

The joy continued the next day, on and off cushion. At the end of the day, I had a Skype call with Abre. Her interpretation of the events was that I had had a cessation and a path moment. The ”hole in the sound” micro-event in the last break of the last evening was probably the cessation. The joy and rapture the next two days was the bliss wave often following a path moment. I was very surprised by this interpretation. And somewhat sceptical. But I had no other explanation for the joy. Where did the disappointment go? Why was I suddenly so happy? Abre said she had no intention of convincing me about anything. I had to see for my self, draw my own conclusions. And we decided to talk again two weeks later.


First two weeks after the retreat

Two weeks later, there was no real doubt left in my mind: Some transformation had taken place. I felt this mostly from my off-cushion experience of life. The sittings seemed to be all over the place and had me confused until I talked with Abre again.

To take the off-cushion stuff first: My level of joy has been significantly higher than ever before, higher than before the retreat, where it was already higher than three months ago. These last two weeks there has been so much joy, enthusiasm, energy (meaning the awakening factor), courage, trust. And, connected to this: A (so far) persistent sense of relief, lightness, ease – like I have put down a heavy rucksack that I had been carrying all my life. A deeply unworried attitude to everything. And, also: A significant change in my attitude to practice: the urge to sit has vanished. There is still motivation, but it is weaker than it has ever been since I began meditating. Still easily strong enough to keep me sitting two times sixty minutes per day, though. But the urge, the drive to get somewhere, is not there anymore. I am fine where I am. The mind no longer have thoughts about Stream Entry, how to attain it, what it will be like, etc. And, lastly, there have been some social interactions, that would take too long to explain here, but that have showed me that some of my very old conditioning regarding (social) anxiety and negative self evaluation seems to have disappeared. Deeply engraved behavioral patterns seem to have vanished.

As to the meditations, the reason I was confused at first, was that there did not seem to be any recognizable pattern. I ended the retreat with High Equanimity as my cutting edge, but as of the very next day (actually as of the last sit of the retreat, after the possible cessation), I was no longer in High Equanimity. Most of the sittings have begun with immediate absorption (two-three breaths in to the sit) with playful and pleasant chi swirling upwards along the sushumna. In other words: A&P. Often this A&P-like beginning is followed by dullness and/or chi-related tensions along the spine: Dissolution and futher Dark Night stages. The rest of the sittings have been unusually sloppy and messy, with no concentration, no mindfulness, getting distracted for 30-40 seconds at a time like a complete beginner – with the important difference that there is absolutely no frustration about this, only amusement. In Abre’s interpretation, which makes sense to me, the first type of sit is part of the Review-phase of the finished path. The second, sloppy type is the early beginning of a new path. So I am currently in a transitional phase with both Review and new path taking place.


The twist

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, there is a little twist to this: Already when Abre and I went through my practice history, she said she thought I might already have had had Stream Entry back in December 2020 (a micro-event that I at that point interpreted as a near-miss), and that I was working my way towards Second Path. The events of 2021 could fit that pattern. Even after my latest retreat, where she and I agree there most probably was a path moment, she says that she is still not ruling out that I am one Path further into the landscape than I think. Although she of course has much more experience, I still intuitively feel that what happened on this new retreat was the first, not the second, major upgrade.

​​​​​​​
Final remark

I don’t yet claim any attainment, but I set forth the hypothesis that I had Stream Entry on March 28th 2022. Following a well-known tradition (the source of which I would like to know!), I will wait one year and one day before I draw any final conclusion.

 Joyful greetings from a happy yogi!
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 4:30 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 4:30 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The mind no longer have thoughts about Stream Entry, how to attain it, what it will be like, etc.

​​​​​​​I am happy for you Niels emoticon
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Pepe ·, modified 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 8:32 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 8:32 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 573 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
I'm very happy for you Niels! Looks like SE, in my unqualified opinion! Though the cessation description could easily be interpreted as a near-miss, the after effect looks pretty similar to other SE reports. As you say, time will tell. What are your next plans? Cool off? Master jhanas? Master Micro-Cosmic Orbit? Go for 2nd Path?
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 10:43 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 10:43 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 56 Join Date: 1/11/22 Recent Posts
Fuck yeah man! 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 4/18/22 12:48 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/18/22 12:48 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 2436 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Congrats and well fucking done Niels! emoticon May it be of benefit to many! 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 4/18/22 6:28 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/18/22 6:28 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1760 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Very nice. Definitely promising, definitely worth hypothesizing... and definitely worth continuing to collect data.

Keep up the gentle daily practice and allow your body/mind to assimilate this newfound access to ease and joy. If/as you feel any tension/doubt, apply the attitude you have learned - allowing and amusment.

Looking forward to future reports!
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AK D, modified 2 Months ago at 4/18/22 11:53 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/18/22 11:53 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 179 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
This is great news Niels - your dedication to practice is very inspiring and your participation here has been a boon for the community! Looking forward to seeing how things continue to unfold for you!
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/19/22 6:33 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/19/22 6:33 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1760 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I know asking a question like this after a statement of attainment can be edgy, but hopefully it can be heard as a  neutral/objective question: Any new/additional data worth sharing? How is life going? How is practice going? How is insight going? How is jhana going? All honest answers are totally appropriate including uncertainty or "I don't want to talk about it."



 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 4:12 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/19/22 6:23 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Thank you for asking, shargrol! It’s kind of you to keep an eye on me. I’ve been thinking about updating for a couple of weeks, just been to busy with work and spring time gardening, but now you gave me the needed last push. emoticon

Update May 19th 2022

As usual, before the long and detailed version, I begin with a short summary: Things are going very well, both with life and with practice. In my off-cushion life, the experience of enhanced wellbeing on several parameters has endured. In my practice, I have had one possible extra cessation and otherwise seem to be in new territory. Nothing to report on jhanas, I haven’t worked intentionally on them (yet) and no new experiences have shown up.


Off-cushion life

I still have this sustained feeling of ease, lightness, relaxation – a deep unworriedness that I have not known before and which (so far!) seems to be so unshakeable that I might call it ”faith” or, as the French would say, ”courage” – ”my spirits are high” might be the American idiom that comes closest to describing this new baseline feeling: a deep trust in life. There is still an enhanced joy, spontaneous singing aloud several times a day, for instance, which I have never really done before. The extatic tone of the joy is no longer there, though, (and not missed), perhaps it had to do with the newness of it the first two or three weeks, and I have gotten used to a new normal. I feel energetic, vigorous, creative – not in a manic way, but calmly. I have, in short, never felt better in my entire life.

Part of the unworriedness is that I virtually never think about practice, mapping, attainments etc., when I go about my day. Several days can go by without the phrase ”Stream Entry” entering my mind at all. This was never the case the last two years before the hypothesized shift. Basically, it is not that important to me anymore where I might be on the map, because … I feel very good where I am. emoticon So whether we term it ”1. Path”, ”2. Path” or ”Equanimity” doesn’t matter that much.

I spend most of my life alone (except for non-human animals), but my sparse social life has changed to the better as well. I am much more at ease around other people. To mention just one example: I went to the movies, and shortly before the film was finished, I had to pee. Had this been ten years ago, I would have just squeezed my buttocks and waited, feeling that it would be wrong of me to disturb other people by getting up and going to the bathroom (subconsciouly fearing their disapproval). Had this been five years ago (shortly before I began meditating), I would have gotten up, and then have had a nervous internal dialogue about how inconsiderate it was of me to disturb, and how much people must feel annoyed by me, and there would have been tensions in the body, confusion in the mind: a light anxiety. Had this been three months ago, I would have gotten up, having no confusion, almost no tensions, and an immediate awareness of the internal dialogue, an instant recognition of the old pattern, and an ability to calm myself. Now, a couple of weeks ago, when the need to pee appeared, I just got up and went to the bathroom. Only when I was back in my seat, and the film had finished, did I realize that there had been absolutely no trace of the old pattern. And I could mention many other similar examples. My social anxiety seems to have disappeared. And I enjoy other people’s company much more, be it friends or just random people that I happen upon.


Practice

It is really hard to summarize my practice the last month or so, because it is hard for me to recognize what is going on. [EDIT, to add: Practice seems to be all over the place, pleasant chi one day, very painful chi the next, dullness that is not really dullness, a strange distractability like a complete beginner, getting on trains of thoughts for 30-40 seconds at a time etc. It does not resemble any nanas I know]

It is easier to say what is not happening. I have not been in High Equanimity the last month, at least not in the way I have been used to High EQ: This exquisite, abstract state of mind where everything is very clear, very fast, and very quiet; detailed and panoramic at the same time; rich and cohesive. I have not been in that territory. So either I have fallen way below EQ, or my hypothesis holds up.

Although I don't think I have been in High EQ, the quality of equanimity is quite consistent throughout almost all sits. In other words, there is very little reactivity, very little craving and aversion, even when there has been quite strong and consistent painful chi throughout a sit.

I have had one unknowing event. It happened on April 16th, so a little more than two weeks after the hypothesized shift. The sitting was like this: Calm and pleasant absorption from the get go. No tensions, only few thoughts. Around 35 minutes in, some dullness came, and so I opened my eyes to maintain mindfulness. The dullness wasn’t massive, I didn’t struggle to keep my eyes open, and there were no head nods, no yawning. As I was sitting with open eyes, it was as if the visual field ”froze” for a split second, follow by a slight ”jump cut”. Shortly after, the dullness was gone, and some tense chi began rising along the spine, and then the bell rang. Abre (my teacher) interpreted this as a cessation. I am open for that interpretation, but don’t really feel qualified to judge about it.

As for the jhanas, there is nothing much to report. I don’t experience any change in the way absorptions present themselves. And I haven’t worked intentionally on cultivating the jhanas, since Abre has recommened that I wait until I am ”well on my way” on the new path. I am, according to her, still to some extend in a transitional phase, with review of the old path and first steps of the new path happening at the same time, which is why things seem to be confusing. Her advice to me is to ”let the wave roll through”, let the system adjust to the new normal, work with minimal effort. Last time we spoke (a week ago), she said that her hunch was that I was going up and down the first three nanas of the new path, thus approaching a new A&P. I am uncertain whether she is right about this, but I have no better or other interpretation my self. To be honest, I don’t really have a clue where I am at emoticon

As mentioned, I find it hard to summarize the last month, so these few paragraphs were my best shot. For those interested going into the details, I have decided to copy-paste the summaries that I have sent to Abre this last month, even though it is quite long:


April 15th
Two sittings, notes made the day after, due to travelling: They were quite similar – began with absorption straight ahead, the chi was first lively, later on more calm, bodily sensations mostly neutral and slightly pleasant, thinking mind active.

April 16th
First sitting. Pleasant or neutral chi, body holding itself. Began with good energy, but after around 20 minutes, some dullness came, and the last half hour I sat with open eyes struggling not to fall asleep. The mind fell down into dream-like thoughts, then fought its way up to the surface again. This happened again and again. No aversion to any of this, only a tiny bit of impatience the last couple of minutes.
          Second sitting. (This is the sitting with the unknowing event, cf. above).

April 17th
First sitting. Again, straight into absorption. Some soreness in the upper back. Around 30 minutes in, some dullness came – and stayed. A little aversion, boredom, impatience.
          Second sitting. Stronger absorption than I’ve had since the retreat. Pretty quiet, only few thoughts. Concentration and mindfulness seemed strong. Chi was very active, mostly neutral and pleasant, only a little tension at the spine (heart level), no aversion to it. Lively and dynamic chi for quite long, around 40 minutes in things became more calm, and then dullness came the last ten minutes or so.

April 18th
First sitting (conditions not optimal, I had to sit just after breakfest and workout). Body holding itself, calm, a bit heavy. Mentally there was restlessness, thinking mind active all the way. Around 30 minutes in, more calm, breaths became shorter, slower. Boredom and impatience several times.
          Second sitting. Felt like experimenting with a more structured meditation [Abre has advised me to ”do nothing” as technique, for the time being, so that's what I practice, unless otherwise stated]. Did six point breath meditation the first 15 minutes or so. Absorption from the get go, strong, stable energy, lively and painfree chi, few thoughts. Switched to free style noting, quite quickly distractions came, after maybe five minutes it was difficult to maintain the flow of the noting, since mind kept dropping down into dream-like thoughts. Around 30 minutes in, stronger dullness, and some chi tension, so I opened my eyes. Around 40-45 minutes in, energy was back up, tensions losening, so I closed my eyes again. Last 15 minutes, chi more neutral, fewer thoughts.

April 19th
First sitting. Again I did a more structured meditation. Absorption from the get go, sluggishly wobbling chi, thoughts coming and going in a calm way. Around 25 minutes in, more quiet mind, and more tense chi. Around 40 minutes in: Breath and thinking mind getting more quiet. Mood all the way: content, calm, lightness, unworriedness, perhaps mild joy. No aversion.
          Second sitting. Again structured meditation. Absorption from the get go, and to get a little phenomenologically precise, by absorption I mean: The body holds itself effortlessly, there is like a ”body suit” of mild tension in the surface of the torso, there is calm, contentment, clarity, pleasantness – and usually not that many thoughts, although there can be even lots of thoughts going on in this state. So, the chi was kind, light, lively while I did the six point breath meditation. When I switched to free style noting, I quite quickly got completely lost in dream-like thoughts. It was surprising, since I didn’t sense any dullness, maybe energy was a little low, but normally that would not at all be enough to lose mindfulness so completely. And this happened again and again the next 20-30 minutes: I forgot to note, or the noting voice stopped without me noticing it, mind fell down into dream-like dialogues and narratives, it could be 30-40 seconds before I detected what had happened. And at the same time, there was this seemingly quite stable absorption, concentration and clarity seemed okay, but it was as if that didn’t help, the mind was sort of split in two parts: In one ”room”, there was absorption, approaching Low EQ, that is: calm, equanimity, stability, well-being, but also a little tense chi (last remnants of RE-Obs?). In the ”other room”, there were these dreamlike thoughts and this very weak mindfulness that had a hard time detecting them. It felt quite unusual.

April 20th
First sitting. Structured meditation. Absorption from the get go, calm chi, few thoughts. Had the experience that although I could do the six point breath notes, concentration did not increase. And when I switched to freestyle noting, doing cirka one note every three-four seconds, it happened again and again that the noting stopped. Some times there were thoughts, some times not, the noting had just stopped. The weird thing is that I did not detect dullness, energy felt okay, I would say between 3 and 4 out of 5. Normally that would mean concentration and mindfulness were also quite strong, but they were not. All in all, it was a bit like EQ, but without the clarity and speed.
          Second sitting: Much like the first, although this time there were chi tensions all the way, and some detectable dullness. Mindfulness and concentration were suprisingly weak, and it was completely impossible to do noting.

April 21th
First sitting. Structured meditation again. Absorption from the get go. Some firmness, stiffness, heavyness in the chi, no tensions, but also no liveliness, playfulness. Again concentration and mindfulness seemed weak and unstable. Tried to go from free style noting to open awareness, but things became unclear. Didn’t get near High EQ. But general mood: calm, contentment, acceptance, only a little aversion towards some chi tensions at the end
          Second sitting. Again structured meditation. Strong absorption from the get go: Body sat VERY still, sort of wrapped in a lead body suit, breath was very quiet – this is what I mean by strong absorption, and usually the mind is also rather quiet in this state, which is was here, BUT: Once again I had the this really curious experience that in spite of this strong absorption, mindfulness and/or concentration were very weak: It was impossible to do noting, and I did not detect any dullness worth mentioning. I have not been this unable to note since I begain working with notes again back in January. The few times I have been close, there was massive dullness, but I did not detect any dullness here. I am puzzled by this.

April 22th
First sitting. Roughly the same experience as yesterday, a lack of clarity or energy, lack of ability to note, and yet no experience of significant dullness. No frustration about this, just amusement, calm, contentment, and stability, balance, grounding.
          Second sitting. Structured meditation. More of the same. Plus some tightness in the chest and around solar plexus, nota bene not at the spine, but at the front of the torso, which is unusual. Again it quite quickly became impossible to note. At one point I opened my eyes to see if there was dullness (if I would be struggling to keep them open), and there was a tiny bit, but not at all enough to explain the lack of mindfulness. Again just amusement, accept, mild joy, stability, calm.

April 23th
First sitting. This time, no structure, just sitting. Still the same experience as these last days: Absorption from the get go, pleasant, no pain, body holding it self, thoughts come and go. After 30 minutes, more calm, a little dullness, long, often dream-like trains of thought. Around 35 minutes in I tried noting, just to test. As expected noting kept falling apart. Calm, a bit boredom.
          Second sitting. More of the same. This time recognizable dullness, though. A head nod. Opened eyes that could not keep themselves open. No frustration about the dullness, no specific emotional tone, joy was not detectable, all was very neutral, pleasantly neutral, mindfulness extremely weak.

April 24th
First sitting. Absorption from the get go. Pleasant, calm, eventless, only few thoughts. No real sense of progression through the sit. And a little aversion to this fact. Even though there was calm and quiet and even peacefull at times, it did not become High EQ/ 4th jhana, it lacked the clarity and speed, the cohesiveness, and the (almost) total absence of verbal thought. I noted a couple of times, just to test it, and it was possible, but difficult to maintain the noting flow. It occured to me during the sitting, that the little aversion was due to the fact that I felt uncertain about where I am, and what I should do, and when this aversion was recognized, there immediately was amusement about it.
          Second sitting. Surprisingly, there was not this lack of clarity, and also no dullness this time. Absorption from the get go, strong and lively chi, a little tension, pulsations in the back of the head and around solar plexus. Few thoughts. Twenty minutes in, things got calmer, and during the rest of the sit, things changed back and forth between periods with quiet breathing and few thoughts, and periods with faster breathing and more thoughts. Those shifts had nothing to do with the content of the thoughts, emotionally everything was very neutral. There was contentment, mild joy, curiousity, and also contentment with the sitting itself (unlike the first sitting today).

April 25th
First sitting. Deep absorption from beginning to end, meaning: body was very still and held it self, erect and relaxed, with a pleasant sense of suppleness or elasticity in the sushumna; there were thoughts now and then, rarely quiet for more than 10-15 seconds, but also nothing chaotic about it; metally there was calm, stability, deep unworriedness. All this was more or less stable throughout. There was a development in chi: The last twenty minutes, tensions increased. All the way through, chi was mostly active in the head, but the tension was between the shoulder blades. No aversion to this at all. Again, I tested the noting, and twice within less than five minutes, noting fell apart, it just stopped without me noticing it, so again this surprising lack of clarity, mindfulness and/or concentration. No experience of dullness. This still puzzles me.
        Second sitting. More of the same. Although unpleasant chi this time. Again I tested the noting some 30 minutes in, again it kept falling apart. A little impatience towards the end, otherwise accept, calm, unworriedness and a lack of clarity, a feeling that I was a bit distant from everything, including the thoughts, most of them seemed far away, unclear, preverbal.

April 26th
First sitting. Pleasant and eventless. Absorption from the get go (same type as yesterday). Unworried, content. Tried noting, and with a strong effort, I might have been able to maintain it, but I dropped it again after testing it. No aversion, not even impatience. Acceptance, mild amusement now and then.
          Second sitting. Low energy, strong chi, mostly in the head, pulsations in the back of the head and under the crown. Tried to note twice, it was impossible. The last twenty minutes, there was clearly detectable dullness, I more or less fell asleep, with only a little pilot light of mindfulness. No aversion. Acceptance, contentment, wonder.

April 27th
First sitting. Absorption from the get go, chi this time only mildly pleasant and neutral, but very active, mostly in the back of the head, the neck and the top of the back. Thoughts happening regularly throughout. More clarity this time, I test-noted twice, and it went fine.
          Second sitting. Dullness and strong chi, pleasant and neutral at the beginnning, but from around 30-40 minutes in it became increasingly unpleasant. Increasing dullness throughout. Impossible to note. No aversion.

April 28th
First sitting. Same ”double experience” of strong absorption (very still body, strong chi) and lack of concentration/ minfulness (lots of thoughts throughout). In the forefront of experience was a consistent unpleasant, even painful chi, tensions in the chest, violent chi-activity in the head. All of this met with acceptance, amusement. I test-noted: It was possible, but barely so.
          Second sitting: Hard and tight ”body suit” of chi, the body was completely locked, wrapped in lead. It hurt, but in a good way, like a hard massage. Allowance, amusement, equanimity. Hints of dullness. Calm. No sense of progression from beginning to end, more like a homogenous space I entered and exited.

April 29th
First sitting. Absorption from the get go. An unpleasant, some times painful knot of chi at the spine, heart level. Most of the time no aversion to it, but 50 minutes in, I changed posture. Thoughts at an easy pace throughout the sitting, now and then maybe 30 seconds of more quiet. Halfway through, I tried noting and could free style without problems. In general: calm, contentment, stability, equanimity, allowance.
          Second sitting. Very similar, although there was a little restlessness. Which turned into dullness towards the end. Calm, acceptance, amusement.

April 30th
First sitting. Similar to the sits yesterday. Again an experience of extreme distractability, and even though there was a little dullness, that did not seem to explain it entirely. I could only note for a minute or two before it fell apart or I forgot.
          Second sitting. Similar. Although this time, the chi was mostly neutral and/or slightly pleasant at the beginning, turning in to an unpleasant knot around half way through. In spite of the pain and the distractability: calm, contentment, peace.

May 1st
First sitting. Similar. This time no pleasant chi, though. Quite persistent pain. Only little aversion to it. Not quite so distractable: Was able to freestyle note. Calm, stability, acceptance.
          Second sitting: Similar.

May 2nd
First sitting. Very pleasant. Absorption all the way through. Body sat very still, chi was slow, sluggish, wobbly, mainly present in the chest and head. Thoughts at an easy pace (including image thoughts, which I haven’t had for a long time), sometimes dreamlike. Light dullness, lack of clarity. Tried noting twice, that was completely impossible, lasted less than 30 seconds. Several times some small series of ”warm chills” in the surface of most of the torso. Contentment, calm, peace, pleasantness.
          Second sitting. Again very pleasant. Deep, painfree absorption, chi was calm and homogenous with some movement in the head, and some heaviness in the pelvic region. Light dullness. Few thoughts. Very low energy. Awareness of the room I was sitting in disappeared, external sounds disappeared. A very introvert experience, kind of ”lucid sleep” (sleep with a pilot light of mindfulness). No yawning, head nods etc., a light, fine sleep-like consciousness, very pleasant, peacefull, eventless.

May 3rd
First sitting. Pleasant and peacefull. And at the same time: Powerfull, tense chi from the top of the back across the nape to the back of the head, mostly neutral or slightly pleasant, although towards the end uncomfortable, even painful now and then. Body sat very still. There seemed to be more clarity and concentration than there has been lately: Noting was easy. Thoughts now and then, also some periods with quiet. In general: contentment, peace, stability, equanimity, some times mild joy. I found it remarkable that the general experience could stay this pleasant, even when there was relatively unpleasant, painful chi AND a (seeming) lack of concentration – usually strong concentration feeds the equanimity, thus keeping the pains at bay.
          Second sitting. Somewhat similar: Pleasant, peaceful, eventless. Absorption and powerful chi, going from pleasant towards unpleasant at the end. Body very still. Few thoughts. 30-40 minutes in, it became very calm, and there was dullness, but not sleepiness. Tried noting a couple of times, but that was impossible. Again this ”lucid sleep”, now and then with distant, dreamlike thoughts. And some ”warm chills” in the surface of the torso. Contentment, accept, calm.

May 4th
First sitting. There was unpleasant chi and dullness, this combo usually leads to aversion, but there wasn’t much aversion. Chi was quite active, a knot at the spine, moving a little up and down around heart level and neck. Also active chi in the head. Lots of thoughts. Dullness slowly rolling in, almost from the beginning, I test-noted twice, the first time I was able to freestyle, although with difficulty, second time I could not note, too much dullness. Unclear, dream-like thoughts, a persistent earworm. Accept, allowance, contentment, not really joy. Strong equanimity.
          Second sitting. Similar to the previous.

May 5th
First sitting. Dullness and distractions (dream-like thoughts), powerful chi, lot of activity in the sushumna, neutral and then more and more unpleasant, painful. In general calm, contentment, some times mild joy or amusement. Some impatience towards the end due to pain. Otherwise strong equanimity, unworriedness.
          Second sitting. Quite similar. A really painful knot of chi this time. Dullness was strong, thoughts were dream-like. This ”lucid sleep” thing where the awareness of the room and of the external sounds completely disappears, and where even to some extent the sense of the body disappears into the background (except the pain, but that seems disconnected from the anatomical body).

May 6th
Off-cushion remark: I had a lucid dream this night. And: Since yesterday afternoon and all the way through this day, I have had some difficulty focusing and being mindfull. I felt this in the company of my girlfriend. I have been procrastinating and have found it hard to focus on my translation work.
          First sitting. This strange dullness, that doesn’t quite feel like dullness, since there is no sleepiness. Absorption, very powerfull chi, but (almost) not painful this time. Test-noted twice, noting fell apart within one or two minutes. Even the six point breath notes I couldn’t do (usually easier than free style), it fell apart – in a strange and new way: The mind wandered off in dreamlike thoughts for a minute or more, and then suddenly I realized that the noting-voice was faithfully and automatically going along (”beginning-mid-end”), so the noting voice and the breath had contact, but ”I” was elsewhere for a while. It felt almost like two minds, two places. In general it was pleasant, eventless, calm.
          Second sitting. Similar to the previous. I have not logged this detail before, but today I remember it: Through almost all these strangely dull sittings there have been phases of what I call ”disturbances of the centerpoint” – what I mean is this: Disturbances of the experience of there being a ”me”, a point of reference, somewhere in the middle of the head. The disturbance can be for instance experiencing myself from a point behind my back or head, or the experience that the body is changing size or posture or doing weird, impossible things. Before, it used to be something that only happened when I was in High EQ, that is, in a state of mind with a lot of clarity. But it happens now, even though the clarity seems very poor.

May 7th
Off-cushion remark: I had very vivid and partly lucid dreams this night. They seemed significant and were marked by positive emotions such as joy, faith, confirmation (of the recent transformation), warmth.
          First sitting. Absorption more shallow than usual these days. Painful chi all the way through, not a knot this time, but tensions and soreness all the way up through the sushumna, especially at the very top of the back. In the beginning, a tightness in the chest, a bit difficult to breathe. After 2-3 minutes the breath rate went up, the body was agitated, physically it felt like a fear or anger reaction, but mentally, emotionally, it was completely neutral, there was even a little amusement. During most of the sit there was restlessness due to the pain, lots of adjustments of posture. Not much aversion, though. Thoughts at an easy pace (not about the pain, not about practice, just chitchat). I tested my noting abilities twice, and it was easy to freestyle. So clarity was okay, I guess. Some 45 minutes in, I collapsed the spine to ease the pain (so, some aversion at this point). It helped. Breath became slow and short. Ten minutes later I sat up straight again, and the system was still calm when the bell rang five minutes later.
          Second sitting. At first a restless mind, but a body that quickly calmed down with neutral and/or pleasant chi. Then the mind chatter faded, but at the same time the chi became more and more tense and unpleasant, painful. Still some thoughts, but no mental restlessness. Clarity seemed okay, I could easily freestyle note. Then the chi became a little more calm and friendly. There was a craving for more calm, less pain, fewer thoughts. I collapsed the spine (this was around 35 minutes in), and things became calm, peaceful, breath became slow and short with pauses after the outbreath. I test-noted to see if clarity was still there, it was, it was still easy to freestyle. Ten minutes later I sat up straight, and the calm remained, both physically and mentally. 5-10 minutes later, the chi started getting tense again, and then the bell rang. There was both craving and aversion during this sit, but both were clearly seen and accepted, so there was a feeling of strong equanimity.

May 8th
Off-cushion remark: From last night and throught most of this day, I have felt a lack of energy and courage.
          First sitting. As an experiment, I did 15 minutes of ”coherent breathing” (manipulating the breath rate down to five cycles per minute) before the usual 60 minutes sit. The breathing excercise calmed the system down, and the chi was not very strong. When I switched to meditation, the breath rate went up, and the chi became more powerful, though not painful this time. Thoughts now and then, in some showers, but also periods of almost quiet. There was calm throughout, but also some slight sadness or despondency (?) or ”discouragement”. Lack of energy. Laziness.
          Second sitting. Intense but not uncomfortable chi, pulsating from a point at the back of the neck, down through the upper back and further down through the sushumna, and upwards over the back of the head. Only few thoughts. Some 25-30 minutes in, there came a quite sudden strong dullness, and for the rest of the sitting, I was in this state of mind I call ”lucid sleep”. Very pleasant experience.

May 9th
First sitting. Again I did some ”coherent breathing” before the actual sit. It had a calming effect. The sitting was a mixed bag: pulsating and tensing chi, also some pleasant tingling in the scalp now and then. Thoughts most of the time, but also some periods (half a minute or so) with almost quiet. No perceived dullness, but a lack of clarity: At three different times I tried to freestyle note, but it lasted less than a minute, then it fell apart or I simply forgot about it. A couple of times there was an impulse to stay more consistently with the breath, but also this I quickly forgot. In spite of the pleasantness, no real joy, which seemed strange. But there was contentment, calm, stability, equanimity, unworriedness. Almost no experience of development/ progression/ change through the 60 minutes: They were all more or less the same.
          Second sitting. The first 15 minutes a lot of things were going on at the same time: high-pitched notes in the ears, a persistent earworm, mind chitchatting, sometimes in two tracks simultaneously, external sound plus some powerful and very active chi. All was observed, and what was foreground and background changed, but it was all co-existing, and this seems a bit unusual, for instance I don’t usually have loud high-pitched notes AND chitchatting mind at the same time, but now they coexisted. Around 25 minutes in, there came a quite sudden dullness or vagueness, dimness, haziness (lack of clarity). I wasn’t really aware of it, only retrospectively I see it. Not tiredness, sleepiness, but chi got less active, breath got very quiet, and it was completely impossible to freestyle note. Again: ”lucid sleep”. Combined with contentment, sometimes even mild joy, courage, stability, equanimity, calm.

May 10th
Off-cushion remark: I woke up with this slight sadness or feeling discouraged, feeling ”off” in some unclear way. Also through my translation work the entire morning, I had very low energy, even yawned a couple of times (highly unusual), felt lazy, flat. Around 1:30 PM I went to my meditation hut to do my usual first sitting, but on the way down there, I decided to take a nap in stead. And so I lay down, and dozed for what seemed around half an hour. It turned out to be an hour. I felt rested, and went directly to the cushion for this day’s …
          First sitting. This entire sit was characterized by extreme heaviness, the body felt like a 200 kilo sand bag. A very evenly distributed, extremely heavy, almost stagnant chi. Only some slight tensions and wobbliness now and then, slight pain in the back of the head. Body was exceptionally still. There were thoughts all the way, but very distant. I tried to note, that was not at all possible. I was just this very very heavy body. This reminds me of the heaviness I experienced on my last retreat – also after having ”broken” a rule: Then I got up from the cushion before time, now I took an unscheduled nap.
          After this sitting, the sadness, discouragement or whatever it was, seemed to have disappeared, and I was more joyfull again, more energetic.
          Second sitting. Still powerfull chi, still some heaviness, although not as massive as in the previous sitting. Chi more dynamic, pulsations, especially in the head. Pains now and then. And some pleasant tingling now and then. Not many thoughts, but almost all of them distant and dreamlike and strange. Test-noted twice: It was possible to freestyle, although it took some effort. In general: calm, contentment. Some aversion towards the end, where there was some quite painful tension in the right thigh (unusual).

May 11th
First sitting. Heaviness and pain. Powerful chi from the get go, painful tensions at the top of the back, also uncomfortable and painful chi elsewhere. Chi (neutral) in the face was so powerful that it felt like my lips were being squeezed out of form, in a way that I think would have been visible from the outside. The first ten minutes, there were a lot of thoughts, but then the mind calmed down. I had the experience that mind and body were separate: The body was in absorption, sat quite still, was tense and in pain, but at the same time equanimous. The mind, on the other hand, didn’t even seem to meditate: No focus, no direction, no mindfulness. I tried freestyle noting twice, first time it was bumpy and took a lot of effort, second time it wasn’t possible at all. Around 35-40 minutes in, I rotated the spine a couple of times to ease the pain. This, to my surprise, moved the chi downwards, and there was more heaviness in the lower torso, pelvic region. I repeated the rotation ten minutes later, more heaviness in the pelvic region, pains subsiding. Still no sense of mindfulness or concentration. The last five minutes I collapsed the spine since there was no more equanimity to bear the pain.
          Second sitting. Dullness which some 20-30 minutes in turned into ”lucid sleeping”. Some impatience and aversion the last 15 minutes or so.

This last week nothing much new has happened, so I will stop the summary here.


To conclude:
My off-cushion life seems to me to confirm that a shift has taken place, and even though I find it difficult to understand what’s going on in my practice, I don’t see any clear signs that a shift has not taken place. So, so far I will stick with my hypothesis that Stream Entry happened at the end of March this year.
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 6:44 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 6:43 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1760 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Very nice. Yes, certainly the April 15 event was a classic cessation, so that at least is a very clear signpost. 

And it sounds like you are entering classic working on 2nd path territory. The classic signs are a lot of puzzlement. Concentration yet not concentration. Not suffering yet suffering. Mindfulness yet not mindfulness. Etc. 

It can often feel disorienting like riding a roller coaster but facing backwards. 

Body/chi rewiring is also classic. Boardering on painful and at times painful. 

It all sounds good. Much of the next part of the path simply happens by following along where it goes. Well, not simply in term of "easy or pleasurable" but simply in terms of "you're on the ride". 

best wishes!!
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 7:57 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 7:56 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
During second path you may feel lost, incompetent (as a meditator), confused, and it may feel as if you're living in a hall of mirrors. While this sounds horrible, it's not. Not at all! Just stick with it and these symptoms will resolve themselves.

Forwarned is forarmed!
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 7:32 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/20/22 7:32 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
That sounds so nice, Neils. It makes me happy to read it!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 5/23/22 10:20 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/23/22 10:20 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
@ Chris and shargrol: Thank you for the heads up. Backwards rollercoaster through a steep hall of mirrors, that sounds kind of fun. emoticon

No, seriously, I am really grateful that very experienced yogis like the two of you (and I'll include my teacher Abre in the bunch of "very experienced yogis") give feedback like this. Because in some sittings, it does seem like I have completely lost the ability to concentrate and be mindful. Some times I can't even tell if I'm concentrated or not, mindful or not, dull or not. It's really bizarre. And if I imagine how that would have been without feedback from experienced yogis, I might have gotten quite frustrated and worried. But so far, I am just amused about the changes. And curious: Will A&P show up in a new disguise (I had quite a few cycles from A&P to DN and back to more and more weird A&P before getting to EQ)? And will I be able to recognize it? So far I am just enjoying it, and in no hurry at all.

@ Martin: Thank you! I just realized that I have never commented in your log, even though I follow it. The reason I found out, was that for once, I actually think I have a little something to say. So I'll post there shortly emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 5/24/22 2:52 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/24/22 2:52 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 2436 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"And curious: Will A&P show up in a new disguise (I had quite a few cycles from A&P to DN and back to more and more weird A&P before getting to EQ)? And will I be able to recognize it?"

Yeah ...  emoticon that's the thing about that confusing part emoticon 
THOSE very thoughts about practice and cycles and how I the experienced yogi will do this and that to get here and there and attain this or that, are the very aspect to observe. 

Im not an experienced yogi so take my words with a grain of salt. 

Best wishes Niels! 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 5/25/22 1:39 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/25/22 1:39 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Thank you, Papa! You are absolutely right: Those kind of thoughts are to be observed. emoticon

Best wishes to you as well! emoticon 

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