Niels's practice log #4

Niels's practice log #4 Niels Lyngsø 4/17/22 3:31 PM
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 7 Months ago at 4/17/22 3:31 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/17/22 1:39 PM

Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 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 7 Months ago at 4/17/22 4:30 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/17/22 4:30 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

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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 7 Months ago at 4/17/22 8:32 PM
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RE: Niels's practice log #4

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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 7 Months ago at 4/17/22 10:43 PM
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RE: Niels's practice log #4

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Fuck yeah man! 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago at 4/18/22 12:48 AM
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RE: Niels's practice log #4

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Congrats and well fucking done Niels! emoticon May it be of benefit to many! 
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago at 4/18/22 6:28 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/18/22 6:28 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

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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 7 Months ago at 4/18/22 11:53 AM
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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 6 Months ago at 5/19/22 6:33 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/19/22 6:33 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

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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 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 4:12 AM
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RE: Niels's practice log #4

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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 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 6:44 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 6:43 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 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 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 7:57 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 7:56 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 4595 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 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 7:32 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/20/22 7:32 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 496 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 6 Months ago at 5/23/22 10:20 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/23/22 10:20 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 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 6 Months ago at 5/24/22 2:52 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/24/22 2:52 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 2459 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 6 Months ago at 5/25/22 1:39 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/25/22 1:39 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 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 
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/12/22 6:47 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/12/22 6:46 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
shargrol
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."



Just for fun I'll ask the same set of questions and even give you the option of not responding! 
 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 7/14/22 3:05 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/14/22 3:03 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Update July 14th 2022

Urged by shargrol (thank you, once again, for keeping an eye on me!), I write this new update. The reason that I have not been updating is simply that I am unusually busy workwise. But here goes:

There have been no new unknowing events since the last update. Which is not surprising, since I assume that the last 6-7 weeks, I have been beyond Review of 1st Path and steadily on the 2nd. Which so far seems to be dominated by lots of painful and uncomfortable chi. And by a quite steady equanimity. It is as if the equanimity from the EQ-nana pre-Stream Entry has installed itself as a new baseline. I have not really been knocked off course, neither on or off cushion, since the assumed shift in late March. The initial ecstatic joy has subsumed, but the sense of ease, lightness and unworriedness (I could also call it unshakable faith) is still here. It has become the new normal, so not as exciting anymore. But I am happy to be where I am.

I often find it hard to discern where I am at, nana-wise, mostly because things seem more complex. For instance, there can be pain and aversion, and at the same time calm and equanimity. Or there can be a strange form of mindfulness that is mindfull of what’s going on second to second, but unable to remember an intention I formed at the beginning of the sitting (to check mind states regularly, for instance). So I am not really sure if I am mindfull or not, dull or alert. There are other similar paradoxes.

Abre’s interpretation is that I am now in the Dark Night stages of 2nd Path, and it seems reasonable to me, since all this painful and uncomfortable chi really is dukkha, but I am not sure I would have guessed it without her guidance.

First of all because there has not been any clear-cut A&P – not an event nor a phase that I would clearly identify as A&P, based on my experience from 1st Path. I cycled through A&P several times for a couple of years and had all sorts of crazy stuff happening, electric phenomena, open eyed hallucinations off cushion, lucid dreams within lucid dreams at night etc. And this time around: Nothing like that at all. Apparently I have been cruising through A&P without really noticing it, which seems strange. It is striking that the mind was so volatile in the 1st Path cycling from A&P to Dark Night and back, struggling and floundering about, whereas now it seems much more stable and subtle, with fluctuations of a different nature.

Secondly, this Dark Night (if it is indeed Dark Night) does not seem dark nighty at all, because the strong emotions (fear, misery, disgust …) have been absent. There have been no Dark nighty thoughts, either. It is all in the chi, the bodily energy. Which has never been so consistently uncomfortable and painful as it is now (luckily only on cushion, though).

Last time I spoke with Abre, about a week ago, I reported how I, in several sits, had managed to move some of the uncomfortable chi from the head and chest downwards by collapsing the spine and doing some long out breaths through the mouth. Also, I reported that I have added some 20-30 daily minutes of pranayama to my usual 2 x 60 minutes of meditation practice in an attempt to stabilize and harmonize all this uncomfortable chi. She saw both these things as signs of Desire for Deliverance and Re-Observation: I was trying to manipulate my way out of the dukkha.

She said doing pranayama was okay. ”It doesn’t hurt,” were her words, which I understand as: Pranayama doesn’t really make a difference with regard to progress of insight. I’m curious what you guys think?

More importantly, she advised me to not try to move chi while meditating, but on the contrary form a strong intention to sit completely still. I have been doing that this last week, and now some strong aversion has come, much stronger than any aversion I’ve felt since the assumed shift. I suspect I have been kind of bypassing the aversion, leaning in to the equanimity and calm that is there, and not really seeing the aversion that is also there, and probably has been there alongside the pain all the way. I suspect that my inner ”Skillful Yogi” would like me/us to believe that we were way beyond such an unskillful thing as aversion. emoticon But these last few days, I have really seen and felt the aversion. So the emotional side is getting on board a little: Frustration, impatience, even a little panic, when I really feel the aversion. All this still observed from a very equanimous place. Detecting and discerning emotions was a big challenge for me during 1st Path (especially in the EQ nana). Perhaps it is still so.

My plan is to do an eight day home retreat somewhere in August. Hopefully that will bring me a little further along the path. I am in no hurry to get to the next cessation, though. I feel very content and grateful for where I am at now.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/14/22 2:49 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/14/22 2:49 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Yeah the physical stuff is cause and effect and 3 characteristics. The emotional stuff is going to be dark night. Seems like a retreat will support a very clear A&P and maybe some deeper shadow/dark night stuff bubbling up. 

Continued best wishes!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 2:45 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 2:45 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for the feedback!

I will do my retreat already in the last week of July, beginning Sunday the 24th. My usual 8 days of 8 ninety minutes sittings + some yoga and excercise.

The reason my long retreat back in December 2021 was so "flat", was probably insufficient concentration: I didn't have the mind power to get past a kind of samathaesque version of late Dark Night. At least that's my interpretation right now. So my hunch for this next retreat is to power up on concentration, doing only samatha (breath at the nostrils) the first three days, and then switch to a 50/50 ratio of samatha and vipassana (noting when necessary, otherwise just noticing). At the same time, I will keep the possibility open to adjust the ratio according to what's happening, the overall intention still being progress on the path of insight rather than going for deep concentration in itself.

​​​​​​​How does that sound?
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 6:10 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 6:04 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Well, it's tricky. Just some ideas for consideration, you are closer to this than I am...

I think your diagnosis of past retreat is probably correct, but I don't think of "flatness" as a problem with concentration necessarily... I usually attribute that to subtle avoidance and an unwillingness to go "into" experience. Even though it is tempting to think of flatness, confusion, dullness, vagueness, etc as "bad", to me it means that something is being hidden/avoided, mostly subconsciously, and that if I can uncover the reason why the mind is suppressing itself, I'll have unlocked another aspect of my psyche. So whenever my mind is less than ideal, I get interested and excited in that fact. I know that a good insight lies on the otherside of flatness, confusion, dullness, vagueness.

This is where I differ with people like Culadasa and approaches like TMI. If my mind is less than ideal, that's what it is. I don't want to change or fix it right away --- I want to <u>understand</u> it. I know that "mind" isn't anything, so when it solidifies into a state -- any state -- that means it struggling with something. There is probably a good reason why my mind is going flat. My job isn't to discipline myself and force my way past that state, it's basically my job to listen and love that state to death. emoticon I find that this is truly the fast path and the insightful path. The "forcing a fix" path is like doing battle with oneself, and I think it reinforces whatever subconsciousness avoidance/resistance is there.

It's sort of like doing physical training with a slight sprain that is throwing off your form. Lets say you're doing a backbend and there is a spasm in a small muscle along the spine. Sure you could force your external body into a backbend and someone outside looking at you would think "oh they can do camel pose"... but <em>internally</em> you know something isn't right with your body. Your spinal erector muscle might spasm further "hey dude, I told you I was tender and now you are forcing me into a strained position, you're an asshole and I'm going to spasm more!" It would be much better to massage, adjust, gently adjust the spinal erector muscle and get it to release and then do the camel pose. Then the muscle would be like "thanks dude for taking care of me, let's really explore this camel pose since I'm feeling much better" and maybe now you get a little deeper stretch/strengthening because you are doing the pose in a healthy way.

So you can see where my advice is heading... I think the number one thing on retreat is to honor the responsibility of the session (walking vs sitting) and then focus on exploring aversion, greed, and ignorance. Notice if there is the slightest element of ill will present and investigate: why do I have a problem with this experience? what is bothering me? what am I defending myself against? what am I avoiding? what am I fantasizing about, what do I wish was happening instead of what is happening now? (All of this is done more at the level of sensation/emotion --- feel the situation out in this way, don't think intellectually about the situation.) When there is a little ickyness noticed, then don't try to get rid of it. Feel the ickyness, feel the ill will. "Oh our poor ego, having a problem... Come here poor little ego, let me experience this problem with you, it will be okay..." You see what I mean? It's like a therapy session, but not at the level of verbal discourse. It's at the level of experiencing the moment.

In this way, you will be able to clean up your psyche... and almost as a bonus, your concentrating (relaxed and centering) of your mind will go very very deep --- because you are cleaning up the knots in your psyche. This is when the jhanas become formless, because the body and mind are comfortable enough to let go. When we're in "forcing and fixing mode", the body and mind are doing battle with each other and there isn't relaxation and centering.

I say all of this because second path has a way of really being a deep internal purification, mostly at the level of body/emotion. Third is more about clinging and emptiness and is more "open". The path to second is more about the eruptions of the sankaras, rollercoaster of vipassina-jhanas, and a visceral sense of losing control/letting go.

So when this messy stuff happens, it's important to know that nothing is wrong. Actually, this stuff is exactly what needs to happen. But without this kind of information, it's easy to think we're doing something wrong and it needs "forcing to fix it".

A last point: you need to start getting really really really used to the idea that you are not in control of what shows up during a sit. Your only job is to fully experience it. This is unsatisfying to the ego, but it is the heart of really mastering meditation. It might feel like "I'm powerless and this is hopeless" to the ego, but if you can stay on retreat and sit/walk in the midst of THAT experience it truly is mastery. Slowly the ego learns to let go of its problem orientation and then you wake up to the actual experience of the moment.

The ego is like a anxious child that is afraid of the monster under the bed. All the child needs to do is actually look under the bed, but that's the last thing it will do. It will pray, promise to be a good kid, throw food under the bed, etc. "Please don't eat me!" emoticon&nbsp; But when the child can feel its fear and look under the bed --- aha, the insight is there is nothing really there.

In the same way, a meditator will throw all sorts of techniquest to fix a mediation problem, but without actually getting curious about the problem itself. All problems are just constillations of sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts --- it's only our confusing all of those things, melting and fusing those things together, that creates "problems". It is much better to sit with the sense of problemness than to try to create some ideal state like concentration/jhana. But we must do it with a sense of faith that the natural intelligence of the mind will untangle the problem for us. If we try to step in and force an untangling, chances are it just tightens the knot even more.

The good news is this is the easy path to fast progress. The bad news is that it is also the difficult path -- because it is the direct path.

Hope this is helpful in some way, feel free to ignore if it doesn't seem applicable to your situation.

Best wishes for the retreat!
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 1:23 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 1:20 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Now that that has been said. When concentration states arise, soak in them. sooooaaaaaaak in them. Feel any arising of sweetness and just dwell in it and revel in it. There is nothing wrong with that, it makes the mind soft and pliable. 

If a little part of the body/mind has light jhana, put your mind into that part of experience. Cultivate that feeling-vibe. Only after it feels full and complete in that area, then start expanding a little, right at the boundary of that jhana feeling... Allow the feeling to expand at it's own rate. Like stretching a piece of dough. Dough has to rest after its been stretched, and after it's rested, it can be stretched even further. Fill your experience with the guilt-free feeling of jhana.


It might seem like my two posts are in contradiction --- but that's the balance involved with mastery.


It's like making a very wet dough. You have flour-salt and water-yeast and you try mixing it together. It's all soupy and powdery ---- no big deal. Don't try to fix it, just experience the actual nature of the mixture. Your own hand will know where to move, to slowly move more water into the flour and more flour into the water. All it takes is intention and time and then the dough starts to come together. But it's still a shaggy dough, over dry in some places over wet in others --- no big deal. Don't think that somethings wrong, this is how it is supposed to be. Keep gently working the dough. Don't worry if the ball of dough falls apart into little pieces, keep bringing it back together and apply gentle pressure. Soon the dough stays together as a ball. Now delight in the feeling of the dough and start kneading. Again, your hands seem to know what to do and the dough becomes fun to work. It becomes soft and elastic, nothing falling apart and it starts developing a skin and a fleshiness to it. Wow, it's fun to knead it now. But at a point the dough simply cannot be improved and your hands and eyes seem to know. Done. Stop working. Delight in what you have. Let it rest, let it rise on it's own...

The early stages of dough making are like starting retreat and doing vipassina. You have to follow the schedule, put in the hours, and do the work to soften the psyche's knots. Then once a critical mass is done, then jhana naturally starts happening, like the dough coming together. Then you knead jhana into your mind, until the entire mind is soft and piable. Then you rest and simply dwell -- this is like dzogchen or mahamudra.

Each phase of this work has their own style of insights that happen. On retreat, you need all three. But the trick is you let conditions determine what you do. You don't force practice into one particular mode or another. Your mind is smarter than the ego. It will show you what you need to do. It won't feel so linear as first path, it will feel more cyclical, more fractal. You might feel like dzogchening in the midst of a dark night experience... trust yourself. There are a lot less rules and a lot more intuition that comes into play now.

Hope this helps. Basically, for second path you follow where things take you and apply the techniques you already know, based on what is arising. 

The nanas are a little more confusing and fractal and they almost always show up more as vipassina-jhanas rather than plain nanas. But it's the same sort of progression from work to momentum to AP event (which might seem like path) to frustrations (which aren't really frustrations but opportunities to drop ill will - dark night ) to having a and fixing a big problem (desire for deliverance) to losing you composure (reobservation) to giving up (early EQ) to acceptance (early-mid EQ) to having odd dropout and perhaps repeats of first path fruition (which might seem like path) or AP again (which is all late-mid-EQ) to a kind of innocence and wonder at the simplicity of living and even vague daydreaming-ness and a curious kind of normalness (high EQ). EQ can once again have a path in a path feeling, with lots of near misses or cessation-like experiences that don't quite go deep enough to really do the trick. 

But most people don't report such clear maps, most people report a total fractal mess... and yet progression happens just as it should. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 7/18/22 2:50 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/18/22 2:50 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
@shargrol: Thank you so much for these excellent reflexions – pure gold! They make a lot of sense, and I will reread them several times before going into retreat.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 6:15 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 6:15 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Okay, get ready for what might be the longest retreat report ever on DhO. emoticon

For mapping and dharma understanding purposes, I wanted to track each of the 56 sittings very closely, so I used a dictaphone app and reported orally after each sit, then transcribed and translated the oral notes every evening. When I realized how long the report had gotten, I then, after the retreat, did summaries under EACH DAY, so that you don’t have to read it all, but can dive into the details of a sitting only where it seems relevant.

My own hunch is that especially Day 7, but also Day 6 & 8, is where the important stuff happened. I also have a hunch what it was that happened, but for the time being I don’t want to elevate the hunch to an actual hypothesis emoticon


S U M M E R   R E T R E A T   2 0 2 2

24th of July - 31st of July 2022


DAILY SCHEDULE
07:00 – Up, morning routine, brisk walk (20 minutes)
08:00 – 1. sitting (90 minutes)
09:30 – Breakfest, rest
10:15 – 2. sitting (60 minutes, in the hut)
11:15 – Mindful gardening
12:15 – Transitioning, rest
12:30 – 3. sitting (120 minutes, in the hut)
14:30 – Lunch, rest
15:15 – 4. sitting (20 min. walking, 70 minutes sitting)
16:45 – Work out or yoga, rest
17:45 – 5. sitting (90 minutes)
19:15 – Rest
19:30 – 6. sitting (20 min. walking, 70 minutes sitting)
21:00 – Rest
21:15 – 7. sitting (90 minutes)
22:45 – Logging, then bedtime


DAY ONE
1. Clarity, a little pain & aversion
2. Similar
3. Stronger, more consistent pain, lots of aversion
4. Similar
5. Very painful chi, very strong concentration
- In the break: an unknowing event
6. Deep absorption, neutral chi, stillness
7. Strong concentration, then drowsiness
- In bed before sleep: an unknowing event

First sitting. Chi under medium intensity. Clarity and continuity in mindfulness, full awakeness (no drowsiness). Thoughts now and then. Some pain at the lower back, most often met with clearly seen aversion to it, but nothing too bad. Second sitting. Similar. Third sitting. Difficult sit: From around twenty minutes in, there was more or less constantly pain, often at several places at the same time, upper back, lower back, right thigh. Lots of aversion, impatience, exhaustion, irritation. Not that many thoughts. Changed posture once and did a lot of minor corrections of posture due to pain. Full awakeness, no drowsiness. Fourth sitting. Similar, except there was a phase of around ten minutes where the aversion (but not the pain) was almost gone. Fifth sitting. Very strong and very painful chi. At the same time surprisingly strong concentration (more than I would expect on first day of a retreat), so a kind of pain absorption. Lots of aversion, very clearly seen. Again a phase with almost no aversion, this time also almost no thoughts, very still. Lots of corrections of posture. High pitched notes in the ears. Two minutes before the bell, I changed posture due to the pain. – In the break after this sitting, as I was resting on the bed (not sleeping, not sleepy), there was an unknowing event: a brief clear-cut muting of the sound. Sixth sitting. Quite quickly after I sat on the cushion, a deep absorption established itself, still this surprisingly high level of concentration. Chi was medium in intensity, maybe a little more, mostly neutral. A little bit of pain at the lower back, and between the shoulder blades now and then. Only aversion the last ten minutes or so. I sat quite still for around an hour. Very few thoughts. High pitched notes in the ears. Shortly before the bell, I collapsed the spine, I had run out of concentration steam. There was contentment, neutrality, pleasant neutrality, but rarely calm, and never peacefulness. Seventh sitting. Still strong concentration, although a bit weaker, absorption more shallow. Also a fair amount of pain, I worked with it, zoomed in on it, tried to listen to it and comfort it. There was tiredness, especially towards the end, no more energy to be mindful with the pain, so twenty minutes before the bell, I switched to squatting on the cushion to rest, got a little drowsy, had some drop outs in mindfulness (the first this day). High pitched notes in the ears. Still pain while I rested, though less, and still quite consistent aversion. – As I was laying in bed before sleep, not yet sleeping or sleepy, there was another unknowing event, similar to the previous one.

DAY 2
1. Weak concentration, not much pain, ill will
2. Similar
3. Weak concentration, moderate pain, extreme aversion
4. Similar
5. Weak concentration, not much pain, moderate aversion
- In the break: an unknowing event
6. Strong pain, strong concentration, low aversion
7. Similar, then drowsiness, then pain & aversion again

First sitting. Difficult sitting, most mentally. Chi way under medium in intensity, and at the beginning, the body was just soft and nice to be in, but in spite of that, there was some aversion, some ill will. I couldn’t find the reason for this. Eventually the physical pain came, in the usual places, and a sense that either there was a problem, or I created a problem. Now and then a sense, that the body was not sitting straight, but when I opened my eyes and checked, it actually sat pretty straight, but the inner body, so to speak, was twisting and turning to the left, as if there was something to the right it did not want to see. Aversion, powerlessness, irritation, but not that much physical pain, compared to yesterday. Rather weak concentration. Second sitting. Weak concentration, clarity, continuity in mindfulness, chi under medium in intensity, moderate pain in the lower back, lots of aversion, impatience, desire to change posture, a struggle not to. Small insects tingling in an unpleasant way, met with aversion. Discontentment. Third sitting. Extremely difficult sit: Lots and lots of aversion, irritation, impatience. Chi no more than moderate in intensity, and there was physical pain and/or discomfort all the way through, not super strong, but very persistent. Also, the insects were there again. Continuity in mindfulness, clarity, rather weak concentration. No drowsiness, but a sense that I did not have the energy or willpower necessary. Did all the wrong things: changed posture, scratched my phase, gazed at the clock before time. Completely unable to be calm. Fourth sitting. Similar. Weak concentration, pain, discomfort, restlessness, tingling insects, colossal aversion, felt like running away. Feelings of powerlessness, irritation, claustrophobia. General note: In the difficult sittings, both yesterday and today, there have been some memory glimpses (faces, places) connected to difficult situations where there were shame, fear, loneliness, powerlessness etc., the emotion is absent or weak, but the image thoughts show the situations that corresponded to the physical unpleasantness. Fifth sitting. Another difficult sit. First half hour a little better than previously today, not that much pain, and less aversion, some accept, had a feeling that things might be turning around, but no: Pain got worse and spread to almost all the body, aversion got worse. Not as bad as in the previous sitting, but in the same vein. – In the break after this sitting, as I was resting on the bed, not sleeping, not sleepy, there was an unknowing event: not  really a hole in the sound, but a kind of CHOOCK! or ZAP! Sixth sitting. Kind of a pain absorption. Pain came quickly, but there was strong concentration, quite stable and deep absorption, strong and continous mindfulness, almost no thoughts. This made it possible to be with the pain with only very little aversion now and then. Seventh sitting. Similar: More pain absorption, except there came some tiredness. Changed to squatting on the cushion and back twice in an attempt to rest my back after a long day of pain, the second time, mindfulness began breaking down, I slipped into a more pleasant almost-sleep (without yawning or head nods, a kind of lucid sleep), but then I changed back to my usual kneeling posture, and things got unpleasant again: pain and aversion.

DAY 3
1. Moderate concentration, quiet mind, workable pain
2. Similar
3. More accept, drowsiness, three unknowing events
4. Consistent pain, relative accept, drowsiness
5. Restlessness + absorption, some calm & drowsiness
6. Strong absorption, great clarity, high intensity chi
7. Calm & pleasant absorption, quiet, still, drowsy

First sitting. Chi under medium in intensity. Clarity, continuity in mindfulness. Good stable concentration, not strong, not really absorption, but stable. Very quiet, almost no thoughts. Pain and discomfort, first at the lower back, then also upper back, thighs, chest. Not that much aversion, phases with more accept where I could work with the pain, ”vippasanize” it, investigate it, breathe with it. Collapsed the spine twice for couple of minutes, but did not change posture. Second sitting. Very similar. Towards the end, the pain intensified, but at the same time I discovered a calm that was there in the background, with pain and aversion in the foreground, and I could to some extend rest in the background calm while pain and aversion remained in focus. Third sitting. A difficult sit. Clarity, continuity in mindfulness. Concentration a bit below medium, not absorption, but very stable. Pain and discomfort. Phases with aversion, other phases with more accept. Twice I was in squatting posture on the cushion to rest the back, first time 10 minutes, second time 20 minutes. The second time I got very relaxed, almost a little drowsy, and there were three unknowing events, this ”ZAP!” or ”CHOOCK!” in the sound, no hole in the sound, and the last time it only happened in the left ear. Fourth sitting. Consistent pain throughout, at different places, especially along the spine. I did freestyle noting all the way. There was a light absorption. Managed to sit without collapsing the spine, and without changing posture, this felt like a little victory. Mindfulness was not very strong and slightly discontinuous, there were a few drops into dreamlike thoughts. Fifth sitting. Pain absorption or perhaps restlessness absorption (if that’s a thing). The first half hour or so, slight absorption, pain, and a feeling that the body could not find the correct posture, got wry, asymmetrical, could not find rest: restlessness. Discomfort. Both got worse, and at the same time absorption got stronger. Clarity, continuity in mindfulness, strong concentration, very quiet, virtually no thoughts. Little by little a calm emerged, around the pain, discomfort, restlessness and aversion. Had to change to squatting position, concentration got a little weaker, a few drops into dreamlike thoughts, seen immediately, and so I changed back to my regular kneeling position. A minute or so without pain, then it began building again, and again strong absorption, clarity, and some calm. Sixth sitting. Quite quickly a strong absorption was established, strong stable concentration, almost no thoughts apart from the noting voice, great clarity, could sense very fleeting and feeble image thoughts and ditto pre verbal thoughts now and then. Also great tactile clarity. Chi high intensity, at first only neutral and slightly pleasant, later came some discomfort and pain. There was mainly accept, calm, only a little aversion now and then. A little boredom now and then. Some light in the visual field, nonfigurative transparent clouds of light, not powerful, but drew attention a couple of times. High pitched notes, but not very loud. Changed to squatting position five minutes before the bell due to discomfort and high intensity. Could have maintained posture, but it felt right to be nice to my self at this point. Seventh sitting. Primarily a very calm and pleasant strong absorption (got a little uncomfortable and painful towards the end, though, due to tiredness). Absorption was quickly established, even though there was tiredness (I yawned twice during the first ten minutes). So there was weak and discontinuous mindfulness, now and then drops into dreamlike thoughts, but these discontinuities and the tiredness were very clearly and consistently seen. Otherwise virtually no thoughts, very calm and eventless, chi not very active or intense. Now and then a little pain and discomfort came, and because I knew I was tired, I quite quickly changed (twice) to squatting position to rest rather than try to stay with the pain when I knew I didn’t have the energy. When energy got to low, and there were drops into dreamlike thoughts, I changed back. I kept a steady pace of freestyle notes to stay awake, so I did not go deep and nonverbally down to the absorption, there was not enough steam for that.

DAY 4
- Vivid dreams at night
1. Moderate concentration, accept, okayness
2. Great clarity, shallow absorption, okayness
3. Similar, and then some drowsiness
4. Chi transport, strong concentration, then drowsy & still
- In the break: spasm attack in the lips
5. Heaviness (pleasant), then pain & strong irritation
6. Tiredness, aversion, misery
7. Tiredness, deep & abstract absorption, peaceful

Had a night of very vivid dreams, woke up four or five times, fell asleep again, got another chapter from the same continuing story. It was a lot about sex, there were no sex scenes per se, but flirting, post coital conversations, mixing up of different partners et cetera. First sitting. Relatively easy. Pain and discomfort at a moderate level. There was a shallow absorption, moderate concentration, thoughts regularly, clearly seen and easily accepted. I freestyle noted most of the way. After twenty minutes I collapsed the spine due to soreness/pain, and then did a very very slow movement back to erect position, spending 25-30 minutes while noting. Good clarity, continuity in mindfulness, but at best moderate concentration. Some aversion, but also calm, no restlessness or panic. Middle of the road okayness. Second sitting. Great clarity, continuity in mindfulness, medium concentration, quite a lot of thoughts, all clearly seen. Shallow absorption. Chi under medium intensity, mostly neutral, the first twenty minutes no pain or discomfort at all, then it began, soon also aversion and towards the end impatience – but at the same time calm. Okayness, ordinariness. Third sitting. More or less similar: continuity in mindfulness, and weak to moderate concentration, shallow absorption, thoughts. Also restless, body couldn’t find the correct posture, lots of small adjustments. Pain and discomfort at a moderate level. Some aversion. Also phases with accept and calm. Changed to squatting position due to pain, the back got some rest, but mindfulness got weak, and there were dips into dreamlike thoughts, so I changed back. Pain and discomfort returned, but now there was enough mindfulness to bear it, although there was some aversion and impatience – and a background calm. Fourth sitting. Chi transport sitting: The first ten minutes, restlessness and a painful lump of tense chi at the spine, solar plexus level. Weak concentration, meaning not enough mental strength to stay with the pain, so I quite quickly chose to collapse the spine to rest and gather some concentration power. Then I sat up again, the painful lump came back, very painful, tense and a bit warm. It began moving upwards, not entirely along the spine, but slightly towards the left. It moved slowly, it took it around half an hour to reach the middle of the left shoulder blade. I noted and breathed with it or through it, comforting it. Concentration got very strong. There was complete accept. At some point I felt I was running out steam, a little aversion was surfacing, so I changed to squatting position to rest, focusing very narrowly on breath at the nostrils – this gave some new concentration, but mindfulness got weak, there were drops into dreamlike thoughts, so I sat up straight again. The pain was completely gone. I thought it would come back, but it didn’t, so the last ten minutes, I just sat very still, erect, very concentrated, no pain, chi at high intensity, but neutral. – After this sitting, I did my physical exercises, and in the break after that, while I was lying on my bed, and breath rate and heart rate were slowly returning no normal, suddenly I had an ”attack” of spasms in my lips: They twisted and contorted and trembled and quivered. I probably could have controlled, had I tried to, but I didn’t, I just observed it. It was not painful or uncomfortable at all, just a bit weird. It lasted 3-4 minutes. Emotionally it was completely neutral, and the rest of body was completely at ease. Just before this ”attack”, I had some thoughts about sex, no emotions were involved, I just thought back at a particular sexual situations many years back in a matter of fact way (I mention this for diagnostic reasons, it may relate to the dreams with the same theme, and as I understand it, sexuality can sometimes be linked to the A&P nana). Fifth sitting. Extreme heaviness from the get go. The body felt like a 200 kilo bag of sand, just sitting there, immoveable. The first twenty minutes, it was pleasant or neutrally pleasant, I just sat there, no pain, no discomfort, doing nothing, it felt as if I would not have been able to lift my hand, had I tried. Then a lump of pain came at the spine, solar plexus level. This produced aversion, since there was weak concentration, no much energy (virya). I collapsed the spine, tried to gather some energy and concentration. Sat up straight again. There was still both heaviness and the lump of pain. I tried to be with the pain, accepting it, but it only partly succeeded. Towards the end there was very strong aversion, impatience, irritation, anger, there came some tightness in the chest, and breath rate went up, physiologically it felt like a fear response, but the emotion was not there, part of me was very calmly observing this extremely aversive mind and body and noting at a steady pace, even had a meta thought, that this might be the Knowledge of Fear. Sixth sitting. Difficult to remember, since there was tiredness. Still some heaviness, though not as much as in the previous sitting. No pain to begin with. Chi a bit more dynamic. Then the pain came. I was in squatting position at some point trying to focus narrowly on breath at the nostrils to gain some concentration power (I strikes me as I write this, that I should have perhaps not done this, but in stead just sat with the tiredness and pain, but that felt very unpleasant). Lots of tiredness and aversion and impatience towards the end. Feeling of misery. A thought in a very offended tone (and with the emotion of offence): ”Why can’t I have just one goddamn pain free and pleasant sitting?” Seventh sitting. Tiredness, and a very deep absorption, quiet, abstract. Weird, formless, sort of negative light in the visual field, twice it evaporated for a couple of seconds and uncovered a pitch black starry night sky. Loud high pitched notes in the ears. Chi was calm, although a little tension in the surface of the body and some remains of pain at the spine, some times met with a little aversion or rather exhaustion, but still a very peaceful, still, quiet sit.

DAY 5
1. Calm absorption, then restless, pain, aversion
2. Similar, though less aversion
3. Clarity, sore chi, then calm, unworriedness, neutrality
4. Pain, moderate concentration, gradually more aversion
5. Heaviness, growing concentration, abstract absorption
6. Deep absorption, intense, still & stable, abstract
7. Similar. Neutrality, stillness

First sitting. Absorption, somewhere between light and medium depth, established itself in a couple of minutes. Chi under medium in intensity, rather static, soft, slow movements. Body a bit heavy, relaxed, very calm. Around 20 minutes in, a little pain in the lower back, and on and off there was some tightness in the right thigh. Otherwise the body felt pleasantly neutral. Concentration not very strong, a little restlessness in the mind, a steady stream of thoughts, most of them fully verbalized, all clearly seen, nothing I fell into at any point. I noted and investigated, especially the little restlessness: What was this about, things were quite pleasant, so what was is it that didn’t feel quite right? But all in all calm, stable mindfulness, clarity. The last twenty minutes, the restlessness got stronger, and there was aversion and impatience. Second sitting. Similar to the previous, though less aversion and impatience. Third sitting. At first, light to medium absorption, clarity and continuity in mindfulness, but not very strong concentration, and neutral chi. Then came some soreness, not the knots or lumps of tension or pain, but an equally distributed soreness or tenderness along the entire sushumna. And, a little later, equally spread horizontally along the entire breadth of the lower back: a field of tenderly bubbling soreness. Easy to be with, I could zoom in on it, be with it, investigate it. It got painful, and I changed to squatting position for some minutes, changed back, now the vertical axis of chi was gone, the sushumna completely neutral, but the horizontal belt of chi at the lower back was still there. I sat with that for quite a while. There was contentment, unworriedness, calm, clarity and thoughts quite often, met with total accept. And some point I got tired and changed into squatting again, and as I went into this resting position, I decided not to a narrow focus on breath at the nostrils as to ”pump” some more concentration into the system, as I had done previously, but just sit with tiredness, and even fall asleep if that should happen. I entered into a state at the edge of sleep, with only a pilot light of mindfulness, very pleasant, restful, calm, pain free, even peaceful, mild joy now and then, deep unworriedness. Then I sat up in straight position, no more unpleasant chi left, the body was entirely neutral, pleasantly neutral all over, and the second I got erect, there was awakeness and clarity again, the system re-energized itself by itself. Absorption still light or maybe medium, but still unworriedness, calm, faith. Fourth sitting. Pain was back. Mindfulness stable and continuous, concentration went up and down between weak and medium, so only moderate absorption. At first, neutral chi, clear perception of sushumna, and then, some ten minutes in, there formed a sort rotating or vibrating lump or ball of chi at the spine, solar plexus level, pingpong ball size. For quite a while I was able to sit with it, investigate it, breathed with it, soothed it. Then gradually, there was more and more impatience, twice I collapsed the spine for a couple of minutes and then sat back up, but the ball was still there, and impatience and aversion grew. The last ten minutes a lot of impatience, but at the same time a background of calm. Fifth sitting fell in three phases. In the first phase, there was heaviness. If the heaviness yesterday was a 200 kilo sand bag, then this was 150 kilo, but it was a different heaviness: The one yesterday was soft and pleasant, this one was hard, stiff, uncomfortable. There was clarity, continuity in mindfulness, good stable concentration, the situation was workable, so I just sat with it, investigating, breathing. Then some pain arrived. The heaviness in it self was demanding because of the intensity, so with the pain, things got too difficult, and after some twenty minutes, I changed to squatting position – second phase of the sitting: The pain disappeared in a couple of minutes, and the heaviness went from 150 to 100 kilo, and now it was soft, entirely pleasant, calm, peaceful, even some mild joy, unworriedness, relief. I sat like that some 30 minutes, the changed back to kneeling with erect spine – third phase: The heaviness remained at 100 kilo, but now got hard again, concentration got stronger, absorption got deeper and more abstract. Some pain arrived, and for a long while it was completely accepted since the concentration was so strong. The sense of the anatomical body disappeared into the background: Arms and legs could be found if I looked for them, but they were not really present in the immediate experience, where the sense of space (up and down) even got a bit blurry. The body was its own entity of gravity, heaviness, tension, floating somewhere, shapeless, abstract. Through or behind this, the anatomical body could be reconstructed with a little effort. Pain got worse, but I sat very still, the absorption was very deep. But at last, I ran out of steam, could not hold up, collapsed the spine, and a little later the bell rang. Sixth sitting. Deepest absorption so far on this retreat. Began with appr. 20 minutes of walking meditation, and after a couple of minutes on the cushion, an absorption was established that remained quite stable for the rest of the sit: I sat very very still, only very minor corrections of posture (lifting the top of the spine that had fallen a little forward). There was very intense but completely neutral chi, tension that felt somewhere between very pleasant and very unpleasant, like a deep massage of tender muscles: intense. In the entire body. Or maybe even a little out of the body: The chi was on the front of the torso, on the face, and on the top of the thighs (the spine, where the chi usually is, remained in darkness), as if the anatomical body was touching and halfway floating into a big ball of intense chi in front of it. The anatomical body was far away in the background, maybe entirely gone, there was just a field of tactile tensions/chi. Great clarity, continuity in mindfulness, very strong concentration, almost no thoughts, loud high pitched notes, especially in the left ear, and a sense of distant music in the right ear. And then this ”negative” light (like an inverted black and white movie), ghostlike formless formations, abstract veils – otherworldly beauty. A very neutral mood, complete contentment, but absolutely no joy, on the contrary, the mood was a bit ”dark” or gloomy (some distant thunder would have been perfect!). No fear, though. Just calm intensity. Seventh sitting. In many respects similar to the previous: This deep and very abstract absorption with intense chi, ghostly light etc. The difference was that there were a bit more thoughts this time. And the sitting fell in three phases. In the first phase the chi was wobbling in a hard way, and there was pulsating knot of pain at the spine (heart level). This was met with total accept. At the same time there was intense micro wobbling (neutral) at the ”anapana spot” below the nostrils. These to sets of sensations sort of overlapped for many seconds at a time, as if they were not in two different places. Then mind kind of drew them apart and placed them where they ”belonged” on the anatomical body, but when it let go, they slipped back together again. I enjoyed playing with this for some time. The whole thing was very demanding, though, and I was running out of energy (virya), so I changed to squatting – second phase: The pain disappeared, and the hard wobbling became soft, pleasant, quite still. After around twenty minutes, I changed into burmese position where I sat for rest of the sitting, around 40 minutes – third phase: Things were very stagnant, still, quiet, very clear. Hight pitched notes, a sense of music in the distance. Towards the end very few thoughts, as if things were approaching a standstill. Pleasantly neutral, contentment. The beautiful light was there, it even remained for half a minute after I opened my eyes when the bell rang: the entire, almost dark room was sparkling with it.

DAY 6
- Night of vivid dreams + stable open eyed hallucination
1. Low concentration, tiredness. Growing accept
2. Tiredness, accept, unworriedness, contentment
3. I. Restlessness. II. Sleepy + unknowing event. III Joy
4. Chi transportation upwards: Broadband installed!
5. Heaviness. Rest. Anatomical body fading away.
6. Extremely deep absorption. Abstract, neutral, peaceful
7. Similar but with less virya. Eventlessness.

A night of vivid dreams, that woke me up several times, especially a long terrible nightmare that seems important with regard to my (self) therapy work with Internal Family System. It had the following ending scene: I was physically attacked by a very angry boy around 8-9 years of age. He tried to head-butt me, hit me, pull my arms. I kept backing away from him, trying to avoid being hit, and I said several times: ”I don’t want to fight with you,” but he kept attacking me. At some point I pulled his clinging fist away from my arm more forcefully than necessary, my own aggression was triggered. Even though it couldn’t have hurt him much, he fell to the ground as if he was dead, and I felt terrible for having hurt him, and then I woke up, heart pounding, fast breathing. For some minutes I thought about the dream with open eyes in the semidarkness, while contemplating a vivid hallucination of a glowing pink wall with animated black hand writing on it (I briefly considered and then dismissed the option that this was another dream, now lucid). I regretted that I had been triggered by the boy’s anger. The dreaming me did not recognize his own fear, but the awake me did and wished that my dreaming me had been lucid/awake enough to not be afraid. I wished he/I had in stead asked the boy why he was angry, and tried helping him solve his problem in an Internal Family System-like way. I made a strong determination to return to the dream to do this. I did not dream about the boy again, though. When I began this days meditations, I made a determination to meet the angry boy again, in dream or in meditation, when he was ready to meet me. First sitting. Within ten minutes an absorption was established, at first light, since medium in depth. Clarity, continuity in mindfulness, a little weak concentration. Chi a little under medium in intensity, neutral, and to begin with only a little soreness at the lower back, easily accepted. It was like this for some twenty minutes: contentment, unworriedness, neutrality, nothing special-ness. The soreness slowly turned into pain. For at long time this was accepted. Then some aversion began growing. At some point, I yawned. Only then did I recognize that there was tiredness. The recognition produced a little joy reaction – and more accept. The general level of acceptance rose through this sitting, acceptance of the tiredness, of the pain, of the talkative mind. I was easily able to be with this ”bad”, ”sloppy” mind state, and that felt nice. Some 75 minutes in I collapsed the spine, gave the painful back a little rest, then sat back up, pain almost gone, still low concentration, talkative mind and accept. Second sitting. Much in continuation with the previous: Tiredness, clarity, accept, a little soreness, very talkative mind, it just blabbered on all the way through the sit, offering dharma talks, garden planning and other well known material. This was all accepted with a little amusement. Unworriedness, mild contentment. Toward the end a little more pain, and a little bit impatience. Third sitting (two hours) turned out to fall in three phases, appr. 50, 40 and 30 minutes respectively. First phase: Early in the sit, a question popped up: Can I talk to the angry boy from the dream? Hardly had the question been stated before the answer came: You are him. So there I was, inside anger: Chi under medium in intensity, unpleasant without really being painful, a little soreness here and there, restlessness. Weak concentration, discontinuous mindfulness, lack of clarity, aversion, impatience, a good deal of thoughts, not accepted, irritation, claustrophobia, strong restlessness, tiredness, general icky-ness. Second phase: When I could not stand it any more, I switched to squatting position, and quite quickly all the unpleasantness disappeared more or less, things got pleasantly foggy, forgetful, sleepy, and then there was an unknowing event, sort of a mix of the clean cut muting of sound and the ”CHOOCK!” I noticed it happened half way through an out breath (this is the first time I have noticed the breath in relation to an unknowing event). It didn’t have any immediate after effects. A little later, I sat up straight again to third phase: As soon as I got erect, energy (virya) returned to the system, tiredness almost disappeared, mindfulness and concentration got better, but at best only superficial absorption. The icky-ness did not return, things were fine, unworriedness, a little joy, even. Towards the end, tiredness returned and a little aversion. I was very surprised when the bell rang, I thought there remained around half an hour, so some time distortion at some point. Fourth sitting. Energy transportation sitting. Okay clarity and mindfulness. Ten minutes in a ball of chi began forming at the spine, solar plexus level, sore, a little painful, but most of all very intens. It sat there for a while spinning or pulsating. Then, quite suddenly, it began moving upwards, and within a minute it had passed heart level and stopped about a hand breadth from the neck and got tighter, as if it was trying to squeeze it self through, but couldn’t. It became painful and stayed there for 5-10 minutes. Then some of it streamed up into the head and spread out, not painful, but pulsating pleasantly in the back of the head. The better part of the ball was still painfully at the top of the back. I collapsed the spine, rested for 5-10 minutes, didn’t feel the chi in this position, then sat up straight again. The ball was back at its start position, solar plexus level, just like before. The same thing repeated it self: Up, burp of energy to the head, then stuck. It remained stuck for quite a while. I then asked with my inner voice: What do you want? Immediately there was a flash of an image thought of my self bending backwards. So I put my hands on the floor behind me and bend backwards, chin in the air, and sat like that for a minute or two, couldn’t really feel the chi in that position. Then I returned to erect posture, it was if everything had loosened up from solar plexus to the back of the head, a broad, soft channel of chi (”broadband installed!” my dad joking inner voice immediately said). A little later, there came some pleasant soreness at the lowest part of the lower back, and then the channel also formed on that stretch, so that the broadband connection now went from tail to, well not all the way to the crown, the last two or three finger breadths were missing. The experience was that the entire sushumna had gotten much broader. Before it was maybe 5 centimeter in diameter, now it was maybe 10 centimeter). It sat with this for quite a while. There were pleasant pulsations in the back of the head, at heart level and at the hara chakra level. A surprising and pleasant experience: It felt right. I opened my eyes, checked the timer. There was still six minutes left, but I decided that the sitting was over. In the break, I skipped my exercise and took a nap and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Fifth sitting. 90 minutes, felt like 180. Several phases. First phase: Extreme heaviness, at first 150 kilos, then maybe 180. It had a different shape this time, not a sand bag, roughly pear shaped, but a broad column of heaviness, as broad at the top as at the bottom. Quite dynamic with most of the activity in the head. Very intense, demanding to sit with, Some aversion came, so after twenty minutes, I switched to squatting – second phase: most of the heaviness disappeared, aversion disappeared. I switched back to erect posture – third phase: Heaviness was back, now only 120 kilo. The broad column with pulsating ”hot spots” at the back of the head, heart level and hara chakra level. Then the absorption began getting abstract, the anatomical body faded away, the different spots/ ”chakras” sort of fused in an abstract space, co-existed in the same ”place”. For several seconds it felt as if the head, with powerful vibrations at the anapana spot below the nostrils, was down in the chest, where the anapana spot coincided with the heart. This was extremely demanding to sit with, not painful, just very intense, demanding a lot of concentration, and there were still a few thoughts mumbling in the background, disturbing this more abstract space. After some twenty minutes, I ran out of steam (virya) and returned to squatting – fourth phase: I rested, the heaviness disappeared. Fifth phase: Sat up erect again. Heaviness more or less gone, some chi activity under the crown, and a few minutes later some very distinct pulsations (neutral) in the third eye, an area where I don’t recall having had chi activity before. Things got abstract again, anatomical body faded, and for a few seconds, the pulsations that had been identified/ experienced as being in the third eye were now in some abstract place not inside not outside the body, not in front of nor behind me. Then, finally, the bell rang. Sixth sitting. Extremely deep absorption. When I sat on the cushion, I felt my energy (virya) was very low, I was almost weeping from exhaustion and wondered how I would get through this sitting, and then, surprisingly, this deeeeep absorption slowly established it self. A little soreness and pain in the beginning, but strong concentration, so no aversion. And the absorption just kept getting deeper and deeper, all by it self. I sat like a mountain, did not budge for 90 minutes. Very abstract, neutral, a field of intense, very equally distributed chi, the anatomical body faded, maybe even disappeared entirely. Pulsations at different places in the body were at the same spot. Extremely peaceful. Beautiful in an otherworldly way. I discovered a little trick: When things had gotten very abstract, I noticed some tiny tiny micro-aversions, a tiny little itch or soreness, and in stead of ignoring them and ”zooming out” (or place attention elsewhere, on the breath, for instance, to enhance concentration), as I probably very often do, I made them my favourite object of the moment and zoomed in on this tiny little mini-dukkha, and kept experiencing time and time again that this slightly unpleasant tension wasn’t really a tension, but a form of movement or vibration; that this slightly unpleasant itch wasn’t really an itch, but a neutrally burning or prickling sensation in a very tiny point. No difference between pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. For quite a while I played this little game of ”Find the Worst Place”, meaning: Find the ’worst’ place in this exquisite experience, move close to it, watch it thoroughly, and see it dissolve into its component parts while the vedana dissolves into thin air. When the bell rang, I had an emotional reaction and cried a little, a mix of gratitude, awe and exhaustion, I think. Seventh sitting. Much in continuation of the previous. It took ten minutes to get back into the about the same depth. Much of the same. Less energy (virya) this time, tiredness. I was squatting at some point, mindfulness going down to only a pilot light. Extremely little happened. I sat up straight again, had a minute or two of a little frustration due to low energy, then the energy came back, the beautiful abstract light did its thing, and when then the bell rang, I was ready to sit longer, but didn’t.

DAY 7
- Didn’t get much sleep
1. Soft and very lovely absorption. Innocence
2. Hard and serious absorption. Chi transportation
3. Absorption, dreaminess, unknowing event, joy & gratitude
4. Similar progression through stages, but no unknowing event
5. Chi transportation, now downwards
6. Deep absorption, first joy, then contentment, then equanimity
7. Heaviness, tiredness

Probably only got around five hours of sleep, and woke up a couple of times, so entered First sitting with a sense of exhaustion, expecting difficulties. But no, on the contrary: From the first breath, the entire body was completely calm, relaxed and easily erect, and within ten minutes or so, a very lovely absorption established it self and just stayed there, the first half hour completely stable, then with a little variation. There was great clarity, continuity in mindfulness, stable concentration. The absorption was soft, ”round”, pleasant. There was a very deep sense of satisfaction, contentment, hard to say if there was a mild joy as well, or if it was just the pleasantness of the contentment that felt a bit like mild joy. There was an innocence to the state, like a new born baby’s calm sleep or like new-fallen snow. So nice and peaceful. Breath was more or less gone. I virtually did not move, only sank my saliva for the first time after maybe 25 minutes. After some 35 minutes, there came a sudden deep in breath, and the spine began collapsing. I did not feel any intention, it just happened, and for a split second I considered stopping the downward movement, keeping the spine erect (which would have been very easy), but decided to just follow the movement. As the spine began collapsing, there were two loud ”click” sounds from it. I then sat for some 15-20 minutes, slightly stooping, the absorption more or less unaltered. Then a new sudden deep in breath, and the body began returning to erect posture, and again there were two loud ”click” sounds from the spine. When I was back in upright position, there was a tiny bit of soreness at the lower back, a tiny bit of restlessness. No aversion at all to this little disturbance of the otherwise very stable state. Body began moving a little bit. All the way through the sit, there were thoughts now and then. At some point attention rested in a high pitched note, but most of the time, there did not seem to be an object for attention – other than the entire state. At some point I placed my hands on my thighs, pushed the pelvis forward to ease the soreness in the lower back, and for some reason held my breath. Then the out breath came, and in that same second, the bell rang. What a beautiful way to start the day! Second sitting. In a couple of minutes an absorption established it self, different from the previous one, more hard, more centered, sushumna was clearly perceived. Breath rate was higher, different patterns, sometimes short in breath, long out breaths, other times equally long in and out breaths quickly pumping. Thoughts now and then, but this time met with (micro) aversion. The ”mood” was serious now: No idle chatter, time to work! Chi transportation work, it turned out: After some ten minutes, a lump of chi formed it self at the spine, heart level. Sore, not painful. It just sat there for maybe ten minutes, then quite suddenly it began moving, and within 30-45 seconds, it moved one and half hand breath upwards. Then it sat there. I expected it would spit out energy to the head, but it didn’t. I had an impulse to collapse the spine, so I did, and the second I got down, I couldn’t feel the lump any more, and breath got very quiet. In a couple of minutes, slowly more and more heaviness entered the pelvis. 5-10 minutes later there was furthermore chi activity in the mouth, lips and the back of the head: pleasantly neutral wobbling. At some point I very slowly sat up in erect posture. Now there was an even distribution of chi along the entire spine, a heaviness or stiffness (pleasant). I sat with that for a while. Opened my eyes, felt that the sitting had ended, looked at the timer: less than two minutes left. Third sitting (two hours). A couple of minutes in, the same form of absorption as in the beginning of the previous sit formed: the serious, hard, centered, ”time to work!”-concentration. A tightness along the entire spine. Ten minutes later, a painful lump of chi formed at the spine, solar plexus level, no aversion at all to it. It stayed there a while, then suddenly moved maybe a hands breath upwards. Then a tightness in the right thigh, and an intuition to change from kneeling to burmese position, the legs or pelvis wanted an open passage. I followed the intuition, the tightness in the thigh immediately disappeared. The lump still sat at the spine. Then, around 40 minutes in, again following an intuition, I collapsed the spine, rested, the breath got very quiet (was more hectic before), a lot of calm in the body, energy level (virya) became very low, only a pilot light of mindfulness, things got peaceful, completely neutral, almost no thoughts, and the ones there were, were dreamlike, mind fell into these dreamy thought trains for 3-4-5 seconds at a time, then mindfulness pulled it back up again. Breath almost gone, complete balance, equanimity. And then an unknowing event happened, the usual kind: a ”CHOOCK!” and a tiny clearcut hole in the sound. It happened on an out breath. No immediate reaction to it (surprise, joy, fear etc.), I just remained there. Some 30-40 seconds later I noticed that mindfulness had gone up, there was more clarity. A couple of minutes later, I sat up in erect posture again. Mindfulness went further up, and there was contentment, mild joy, deep calm, unworriedness. After some ten minutes (now about one hour into the sit), a sudden fully verbalized thought said in the otherwise totally quiet mind: ”Just do what ever you feel like!” Immediate nonverbal answer: I want to recline. For a second or two another voice was protesting, but it was quickly convinced, and so I lay down on the floor. Body was extremely calm, soft, relaxed. Breath almost gone. No sleepiness, great clarity. Joy and gratitude came. And love. Not strong emotions, no fysiological reaction (tears, smile etc.), just very mild, very clear, very distinct emotions: Joy, gratitude, and love – for this sitting, for this retreat, for the people helping on the path, for my girl friend, for my life in general. I dwelled in these emotions for some ten minutes. Then my eyes opened by them selves, I felt refreshed like after the most perfect nap, I looked at the timer, still 20 minutes left, but I decided this sitting was over. The joy and gratitude and love remained as I walked back to the house. I had the thought that if the retreat were to end right now, that would be perfectly okay with me. Fourth sitting. Similar to the first part of previous sitting: Absorption literally from the first breath, after a couple of minutes it was quite deep, the serious, hard, neutral, centered ”time to work!”-absorption. Some 15 minutes in, the same thing happened: a ball of chi formed at the spine, sat there, suddenly moved upwards and then sat there for a while. Then I changed to squatting position, breath got very quiet, mindfulness down to a pilot light-level, dreamy thoughts. Pleasantly neutral, calm, clear. Then I changed to burmese position, still very calm, body unmovable, erect, breath very quiet, pleasantly hard chi along the spine. At some point, I felt it was done, grabbed the phone to see how much time was left, and as I grabbed it, the bell rang. – In the break between fourth and fifth sitting, I decided to drop my exercise and take a nap in stead, and it was the most lovely nap imaginable: Body was so calm and so heavy and so soft, and I had twenty minutes of deep dreamless sleep. Fifth sitting. Another chi transport, this time in the opposite direction: downwards. Same type of absorption. From the get go, chi was active only in the head, the rest of the body was neutral. Then after 15-20 minutes, the chi very very slowly began to float down the spine, like resin down a tree trunk. It was intense, i.e. pleasantly unpleasant or vice versa. At the very low end of the back, it kind of spread out to the sides. It had left a trail all the way down, so the sitting became more and more intense, very demanding to be with, I did not budge a bit. The entire transport took maybe 45-60 minutes. I remained sitting, nothing more happened. Then I sensed in the far distance that I was very exhausted, almost on the edge of weeping from exhaustion, but at the same time still perfectly equanimous, it was a glimpse of how I would feel if I turned my attention in that direction and felt into the exhaustion. I did not want to push my self further, so I changed to squatting, rested for some ten minutes. Still lots of chi along the spine and especially in the head, but things got softer. Then I sat back up erect, things seemed homogenous. After some minutes a new lump started forming at the spine, and I knew I could not take another transportation at this point, so I ended the sitting, around ten minutes before time. Sixth sitting. Very deep and intense and a little abstract absorption. To begin with a kind mood, joyful, then it deepened into contentment, and then neutral equanimity. At the same time chi was quite active. No transportation this time, just a lot of intense activity at different places, especially in the head: pulsations, wobblings, waves of tension. Thoughts now and then, mostly about the sitting it self. Around half way through, I felt quite exhausted. I then had the verbal thought: ”If you are exhausted, then stop doing what’s exhausting you.” And it was true, I didn’t have to do anything: Posture was keeping it self just as naturally as breath was breathing it self. I could rest, even go to sleep, there was nothing I had to do. So this became my ”technique” for the rest of the sitting: Every time I felt it was too demanding, I just reminded my self that no demands were laid on me, I didn’t have to do anything. Towards the end, the body was by it self collapsing the spine, I took good care not to participate in the movement, even though it felt as if I was tilting to the side (it was a bit difficult to tell, since the anatomical body had fallen to the background). ”Maybe I’ll fall over,” I thought, and then: ”Well, then I’ll fall over, so what?” I didn’t, though, the body corrected the imbalance. This time the bell rang much earlier than expected, so some time distortion, but not due to dullness or drowsiness, these were completely absent, there was much clarity throughout. And extremely strong concentration. Seventh sitting. Difficult to remember, since there was tiredness. Three phases, first phase: heaviness, let’s say 150-175 kilo of heaviness – with some dynamic and intense chi added on to it, all in all demanding a great deal of concentration to sit with. Second phase: due to tiredness, I changed to squatting, some of the heaviness disappeared, intensity went down, I got even more tired. Nothing really happened for quite a while, or rather: I can’t remember. Possibly I dozed off a bit. At some point I decided to sit up straight again – third phase: I woke up a little, heaviness and intensity came back. Some 10-20 minutes later, it suddenly occurred to me: I am completely wasted, no point in continuing. So I stopped. There were 2-3 minutes left.

DAY 8
1. Strange sit. Absorption crackled, turned to vipassana
2. I. Joy & ease. II Tensions & hardness. III Calm & neutrality
- In the break: joy and gratitude

3. I. Soft joy. II Hardness & aversion. III Calm & neutrality. IV Dreaminess and maybe two unknowing events
4. Fast chaotic trip through different absorptions
- In the break: little ”attack” of lips and mouth spasms
5. Chaotic, constantly changing sit, impossible to summarize
6. I. Clarity. II Tensions. III Calm, dreaminess
7. sitting was replaced by a short ”prayer”, ending the retreat

First sitting. Strange sitting, can’t figure out what happened. At first, a quite pleasant absorption established it self, it was akin to the one yesterday morning (cf. day 7, first sitting), but a more superficial version, body not quite as still, a bit more thoughts, a bit soreness at the lower back. It lasted for around half an hour. Slowly there came som restlessness, difficult to detect at first. I yawned, and only then did I discern tiredness, it was probably there earlier, creating the restlessness. Boredom, felt hungry, planning thoughts, restlessness, aversion. The absorption didn’t seem to ”work” (the way it ”used to” or was ”supposed to”), it crackled. At some point there was a mental shift, where I sort of let go of it, nonverbally thinking something like ”okay, the absorption is not here anymore, there are still things to be investigated, now I switch to vipassana mode.” I then began noting (didn’t do that till now in this sitting). This brought energy (virya) to the system, absorption got a bit deeper, and there was a joy in being ”back at work”. So I saw the same phenomena (boredom, hunger etc.), but now that they were seen, there was no aversion. There were pains, and they were asymmetric, what they have not been before on this retreat. Tics and spasms in the left arm, not the right, pain at the lower right side of the back, not the left etc. Second sitting. At first, a lovely feeling of ease, lightness, chi very very low in intensity, almost not there (it has been there in nearly every sitting on the retreat), body was soft, pleasant. There was mildness, mild joy, I enjoyed the birds singing, the wind in the trees and a little later even distant church bells, I found it all beautiful. Then some tensions came, first in the head, then down the back, stiffness, hardness. To begin with this was more or less accepted or rather ignored, since mind was clinging to the joy. More and more stiffness, soreness, bordering on pain at the spine, aversion came, itchiness, suddenly my shirt felt itchy on the back. Tiredness and restlessness, exhaustion. I then collapsed the spine in an attempt to calm things down. But as soon as I had done that, there was doubt: Was this the right thing to do? Shouldn’t I have stayed erect and faced the problems, been with the unpleasantness? Physically it was a bit better now, tension and pain almost gone, but mentally there was still restlessness, unease, doubt, very talkative mind, dharma analyzing. I sat like this for 5 or 10 minutes, then sat up straight again because I still had doubt what do to. The church bells came back (church service over), but this time there was no interest for them, they disappeared completely from awareness, and I rediscovered them about a minute later, noticing how completely I had ignored them. Slowly concentration increased, and with a lot of two steps forward one step back-movements, there came accept and calm. Still the same sensations, itchy shirt, sore spine, but no aversion any more. Restlessness disappeared. Calm, clarity, neutrality, and then the bell rang. - In the mindful gardering break before third sitting (where I cleaned the house in stead) I noticed a lot of joy, I was singing out loud while vacuum cleaning, what I normally never do (also this morning, making breakfest, I was singing very joyfully). Third sitting (two hours). Lots of analyzing thoughts. Earlier on retreat I had aversion towards them, wanted the mind to stay with the present moment. Now I saw that these thoughts were also part of what was happening (duh!), so only in this sitting, I began using ”analyzing” as a note. Also ”expectation”, as I now had a more clear expectation about what was going to happen, and it did happen more or less as expected: There was absorption almost from the get go, at first, there was mild joy, very low intensity neutral chi in the body, which was soft, pleasant, relaxed. Then things got more hard, both the chi and the general ”mood” of the absorption. Stiffness in the spine, concentration got stronger, mind turned more inward (less attention on external sound). Little by little some aversion came, restlessness, unease, doubt (once again collapsing the spine, sitting quite quickly up again due to doubt). It wasn’t too bad, but it was in general unpleasant. Then – this time with perhaps twenty minutes of back and forth movements – things little by little got more calm, concentration got stronger, more accept, less aversion, but still the same sensations, things got neutral, clinical, equanimous. Then a tiredness that was only discerned when I yawned. So now energy (virya) was low, but concentration still strong. Clarity dropped, there were fewer notes. Felt an impulse to collapse the spine, resisted it for quite a while, trying to stay erect. Got sleepy. Dreamy thoughts came, I really felt like resting and now allowed the spine to collapse. Energy dropped even more, and there were more dreamy thoughts, mind kept falling into them, then pulling it self up again. And then there were two, well, I hesitate to call them Unknowing events, because they were really not fully fledged, but sort very light or half way versions of the Unknowing Event I am most familiar with (hole in the sound). The first was a ”DOOP!”, only lowering (from 100 to maybe 75 % volume), not entirely muting the external sound. And some 10-15 minutes later, appr. one hour into the sit, another one came, similar to the first one. And then there was the feeling ”that’s it, now this sitting is over”. I sat up in erect posture, energy came back up, sleepiness gone, body was soft, light, no pain or unpleasantness, clarity, mild joy. I sat with that for a while. Then the thought again, ”yes, that’s it”, and I stopped the sitting. There was five minutes left of the two hours. – In the lunch break, I shed a little tear of joy and gratitude for this retreat and my life in general. Fourth sitting. Difficult to describe, chaotic, changing a lot, difficult also because I was noting as fast a possible all the way, staying as close as possible to each moment, at no point ”zooming out” to make a mental note and recapitulate. At first absorption, peaceful, mild joy, relaxed erect soft body. Then slowly some stiffness and hardness came, then tensions at the spine, heart level, turning into a knot of chi, sore, now and then painful. At first lots of accept of the unpleasant phenomena, but then slowly more aversion, pain got stronger. Noting got very fast, some of the notes were ”hectic”, ”panic”, and breath rate got up. Then both noting rate and breath rate fell again. Then a little bit drowsiness, a few dreamlike thoughts. Glimpses of a deep calm that had not stabilized when the bell rang. - The break after fourth sitting: I had another little ”attack” of lips and mouth spasms, very similar to the one in the break after fourth sitting on day four, also while resting on the bed after doing physical exercise. Fifth sitting. Difficult to describe, chaotic, constantly changing. Clarity went up and down, concentration went up and down, calm went up and down, all parameters just slid up and down in an asynchronic fashion, with no recognizable patterns. But here’s my best attempt at reporting: At first, relaxed, in good form (already surprising, since I had just felt completely exhausted, lying on the bed). Body was erect, at ease. Then swirling movement in or around the sushumna, especially in the head. This was pleasant. Then tensions, a knot of pain at the spine. Then, like in the previous sitting, a lot of back and forth between aversion and accept, pain and not pain, but with an important difference: This time I was not able to stay with it, I couldn’t note, I was too exhausted or too ”far away” from it or there was not enough clarity. I had the thought ”that shit show (meaning the back and forth mess between pain and no pain in the body), I just can’t deal with it, it’ll have to take care of its own business”. And then I dropped into long trains of random thoughts, losing mindfulness completely for ten-fifteen seconds. The thoughts seemed totally unrelated to what was going on in the body. Two parallel tracks: Mind, with long trains of thoughts, and body, with chi, pain, heaviness, tension etc. ”I” was identified with the mind, ”I” was the thoughts, then intentions and reflexions, the ”here”. The body was ”over there”. I changed posture a couple of times, can’t remember the details. At some point, it was as if I had a push in the chest, so the torso leaned backwards. Then came some thoughts, more or less: ”I can’t deal with that (meaning sitting awkwardly backwards leaned), it’s none of my business, if somebody wants to push me into this posture, I don’t care. It’s not my responsibility to sit up straight again. I’ll just sit like this.” The feeling was like that of a stubborn child being unreasonable, and another part of me was amused by this. I leaned more and more backwards, it was quite uncomfortable, but there was this stubbornness. At some point, I don’t quite remember how, I got back into erect posture, and then the painful knot was gone: While I was backward leaned, the chi had spread out in the entire breadth of the back. Energy (virya) was still very low, I was exhausted, I thought the sitting must be nearly over, checked the clock, and to my surprise, there was still half an hour left! Again came this stubborn, childish feeling, not totally verbalized but something like: ”Okay, I’ll just sit it out. I am not participating in anything, I’ll just wait for the bell and get it over with.” I changed into squatting position, expecting half an hour of restlessness and discomfort, but then things just got nice, calm, easy, relaxed, dreamy, a little distant, I sat very very still, mindfulness only a pilot light. Sixth sitting. At first relaxed body, clarity. Then tensions and pain, strong concentration, very quick and precise notes (don’t think I have ever been that good at noting before). Towards the end, some tiredness came, I changed to squatting, pain and tensions disappeared, things got calm and dreamy, I sat very still, peaceful, for a very long time. Then the bell rang. It felt like a good way to end the retreat, so I skipped the seventh sitting, or rather changed it into a short ”prayer” of gratitude for the retreat and dedicating merit.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 11:48 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 11:43 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Wow, in reading the details I felt like I was there with you. 

The summaries are actually the best for mapping, glad you thought about it at that level, too. A lot of people will focus in on the unknowning events but, as you know, I tend to look at the overall trends and I'm slow to judge. As Daniel said somewhere, paths should perform as paths if they are actually paths. Now you can definitely understand what this "post-SE confusing rewiring" idea is. emoticon It's super clear you are post SE, eh?

My sense is that I see a movement through second path cause/effect, three characteristics, A&P, and dissolution, for sure. I feel like you entered in second path dark night and broke into EQ a few times... but I'm not seeing an extended phase of early, middle, and late EQ. So at this moment, I'm not seeing 2nd Path and I suspect that flavors of concentrated-dark night and spaceous EQ will be the theme for your future sits.... but I'll ponder it some more, but that's only my first reaction. Hope it is helpful in some way, but disregard if it isn't!! And I reserve the right to modify this initial thinking! emoticon
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Sigma Tropic, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 8:59 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 7:45 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 370 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
RE: Niels's practice log #4
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Sigma Tropic, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 7:50 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 7:50 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 370 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
Maybe Tucker Peck or Shargrol stream entry. Definitely not SigmaTropic stream entry. 
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 8:06 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 8:06 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Agree, definitely not Sigma Tropic stream entry.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 5:41 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 5:41 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
@shargrol:

Thank you for your initial hunch and assessment. It is definitely worth considering, also because the ”purification” on the retreat was mainly energetic and not emotional. I feel I am still missing something there.

However, my hunch is still different than yours, and I might as well elevate it to an actual and clearly stated hypothesis, not to be concluded on before one year and one day. So just to spell it out: This is not a claim to attainment, but a hypothesis:

I hypothesize that I got 2nd Path on my summer retreat of 2022, more specifically probably in the third sitting on Day 7. I think I have good reasons for the hypothesis, but I won’t go into them right now, since I prefer to wait and see what the coming data will show.

So in other words, I will take our little disagreement as an opportunity to learn. You have stated your diagnosis and your prognosis. I have stated my diagnosis, and here is my prognosis:

I expect in the coming 2-4 weeks to be in Review, possibly (but not necessarily) with the new path beginning to show up. More specifically this means I expect to have most of my sittings begin at A&P and move through (or up and down) 2nd, 3rd and 4th Vipassana jhana, possibly but not necessarily with repeat fruitions. Furthermore I assume that the very painful chi I have been dealing with for several months will subside to some noticeable degree. And that my off cushion feelings of joy and gratitude will keep lingering (they are still here!) for some days or weeks and then slowly evolve into a new normal.

I am still sitting 2 x 60 minutes a day. And I have, for the time being, abandoned all pranayama and bhanda practices in order to give the energetic system some rest.

The two prognoses are different enough, I think, for future data to deliver an answer to whose initial post-retreat hunch was most accurate. I don’t mind being wrong, I want to learn. Perhaps data will show that we were both not quite precise in the diagnosis. emoticon So I will write a new post in 2-3-4 weeks from now, and then we’ll see.

Thank you once again for helping me sort things out, it’s very beneficial to my practice.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 6:48 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 6:06 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
In re-reading this again this morning, I feel fairly comfortable --- based on the words on the page --- in saying that it seems like your retreat was a confirmation of SE, showed some of the dynamics of how post SE that insight and concentration are usually co-occuring and how most sits take on the flavor of vipassina jhanas, that you quickly moved to a A&P center of gravity by day 4, dark nighting by 6, and then touched on EQ on days 7&8. 

EQ really is a stage that is underestimated by most people. When we reach it feels like what we had been searching for... and we forget to soak in it during practice. A lot of the time we want to stop practice and use the love and clarity and simplicity and return normal life "with it". It's not a bad instinct, and it's okay to do... but navigating EQ has an early clunky phase, a rich and lovely phase, an empty/vague phase, and a boredom/normal phase. Most people will end sits when EQ becomes vague or when boredom sets in. It's a big challenge in the road to Conformity/path. 

A good reference: http://static.squarespace.com/static/5037f52d84ae1e87f694cfda/t/5055922624acbaa64592c1c3/1347785254496/

The other thing to mention is your "Find your Worst Place" is a very important skill for advancing in meditation. Maybe another version of it would be "find the deepest clinging".  Many times we can get stuck, sort of rehashing old flavors of problems/clinging. What is typically happening there is that we're staying on a more surficial level of inquiry and while it seems to be the dharma, it doesn't quite work. Looking more closely at smaller and more subtle aspects of the knots. Our mind has a tendency to interpret problems in the way we have fixed them in the past. There is a whole level of subtly in the dark night on the road to second path. It's much less painful/challenging than the road to SE, but it is more nuanced. It's very common to have "my problem" show up in Dark Night and to vipassinize it in a way that leads to a sort of first path A&P or first path cessation -- almost as a relief valve. This can happen a lot. It requires a lot of personal integrity to truly assess whether the deep work is getting done or whether we're just skimming the surface. Regardless of what anybody says, what any teacher says, what any transendent being that appears before you says, what any person on the internet says --- don't lie to yourself.

It's also imporant to realize that the road to 3rd path is the road to the 20th path --- basically this looping and seeking of subtler knots (and thus deeper "emptiness") goes on and on, so much so that doing the extra loops on the way to 1st and 2nd seems like it served as a warm up. That said, when we really don't lie to ourselves, practice really can go quite deep quite completely... so don't let me script you. the road to 3rd path is sort of like the dark night of the paths, the more resistance and struggle there is, the longer it goes on.

And then it is tricky. Unfortunately, a lot of people think 3rd path is 4th path. Because the sensation of greed, aversion, and indifference is so clear, because emptiness is so obvious, imperminance so complete, because dependent origination explains the tautological nature of experience... it can be very easy to assume we've got it. But the road to 4th ---- or you could say the road to the insight of the 4th path, if you want to reserve 4th path for emotional and behavioral perfection ---- involves turning the insights of 3rd back upon the meditator itself. It quickly becomes obvious that there are egotistical aspects of "using" spirituality/dharma for proping up the sense of pride and identity. The road to 4th is humbling, you start realizing that you get nothing with great enlightenment. You'll still need to wipe you butt after you poop. You still might die in a car crash. You might get COVID and die choking. The full intangiblity of self, the lack of control over experience, and the tautological nature of views and opinions becomes very humbling. People who are stuck in 3rd have a very angsty and dark night vibe and a sense of spiritual pride that is very plain to see. So once again, it's important not to rest too comfortably on claims of attainment and make assumptions that everything gets "fixed" with each successive path. 

Well, I didn't plan to write all of that, and it goes beyond a discussion of where you currently are... but maybe a meteor will land on me in a few hours, so maybe I'll publish this post and if there is stuff that isn't relevant maybe it might be helpful in the future. As always, disregard anything that doesn't seem relevant or helpful!
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 6:43 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/3/22 6:13 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Looks like we were posting at the same time. Yeah, time will tell on the mapping. Ultimately, the practicing is more important than the mapping! emoticon​​​​​​​

One more thing, is that it is very easy to diagnose review... when in fact we never made it completely out of the dark night. Many people assume an unknowing event is path, but it is actually A&P event or formless realms, and then when they return to work through the remaining aspects of dark night, they call that review. This is very very classic mapping error. So once again, just be careful and don't fall prey to confirmation bias (only looking for confirming data, ignoring data that disconfirms). 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 3 Months ago at 8/17/22 3:18 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/17/22 3:18 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
August 17th, 2022

Here is a report, following the same format as the retreat report: A summary in italics, and then the details below, so that you can dive in where it seems relevant.

All sittings are 60 minutes unless otherwise stated.

I can add that my off cushion life has been marked by joy, calm and a deep unworriedness (which I now tentatively call: deep faith). I feel energetic, in flow, connected, enjoying both social life and solitude more than ever before.

FIRST 16 DAYS AFTER THE RETREAT

Week 31
08.01-1 Soft chi spreading. Ease, contentment. Dreaminess
08.01-2 Restless joy, then calm contentment. Shaking
08.02-1 Chi joyful, then hard, then calm. Jerk. Impatience
08.02-2 Moving between 1) Joy, 2) Contentment and 3) Calm
08.03-off cushion: speedy, happy, energetic
08.03-1 Bubbly joy, then drowsiness, dreaminess, calm
08.03-2 Similar: Joy, then neutrality, then dreaminess
08.04-off cushion: Normal sleep again. Dream about aggression
08.04-1 Irregular breath, restless mind. Practice thoughts. Then calm
08.04-2 Joy, ease, slight restlessness. Then calm, dreaminess
08.05-1 Slightly irregular breath, weak mindfulness. Then calm, dreaminess
08.05-2 1) Joy, playfulness; 2) Firmness, contentment; 3) Dreamy calm
08.06-1 Neutrality, calm. Sleepiness. Three possible unknowing events
08.06-2 Chi first swirling, then soft, static, calm. Dreamlike thoughts
08.07-off cushion: Vivid dreams
08.07-1 Gentle pulsations, then calm firmness. ”Center point” a bit disturbed
08.07-2 Similar + vagueness, dreaminess. Ease

Week 32
08.08-1 1) Wobbliness; 2) firmness; 3) calm. Contentment, mild joy
08.08-2 1) Joy; 2) firmness and slowing down; 3) vagueness, dreaminess
08.09-1 Similar
08.10-1 Similar
08.10-2 Similar + long drops into dreamlike thoughts
08.11-1 Calm, but with slight discomfort. Disturbances of the ”center point”
08.11-2 Neutrality, firmness, calm, faith. And a little impatience
08.12-1 From joy to contentment with calm and ease all the way
08.12-2 Neutrality, then uncomfortable tightness. Acceptance & amusement
08.13-1 Neutrality, calm. Rotor-like vibrations. Clear and steady mindfulness
08.13-2 Pulsations, then firmness, then vagueness & ”lucid sleeping”
08.14-1 Firmness, calm, contentment. A bit impatience towards the end
08.14-2 Neutrality, anatomical body fading. Some discomfort & aversion

Week 33
08.15-1 Distraction, vagueness, neutrality
08.15-2 Strange sit: Flying through space! Amusement, then tiredness
08.16-1 Calm and eventlessness. Vagueness, contentment
08.16-2 Neutrality, body extremely still. Ease, calm


Week 31
08.01. First sitting (90 minutes). Body soft, relaxed, at ease, in light absorption, mind at the same time pretty talkative. Chi very low in intensity, neutral, pleasantly neutral. After some minutes, a large area of slightly heavy and slowly pulsating chi formed at solar plexus level – not at the spine, but in the entire torso, back to front, side to side. For a good while things stayed like this. I tried to put the attention on the breath to deepen the absorption, but was constantly distracted by thoughts, and some 10-15 minutes in, I gave up and just let the talking mind talk, and the absorption remain light, superficial. A little later, this broad area of chi began – not moving, but spreading upwards through the chest, then then neck, then into the head, a broad, slow, smooth spreading, no tightness, chi still just pleasantly neutral. For a while chi stayed like this, mind still talking. I noticed a little impatience, and when I noticed it, my shoulders dropped a tiny bit. The chi then began spreading downwards trough the torso, pushing the slightly heavy, slightly wobbly stuff gently downwards to the bottom of the torso. Pelvis got heavy. I noticed I had stooped a bit. Didn’t sit up straight, didn’t collapse the spine entirely, just let it be. Things got calm, peaceful, neutral. Mind still talking, but not at all as much as before. A pleasant tiredness came. Once I dropped into dreamy thoughts for some seconds. This was around one hour in. Mind had recognized the pattern and began thinking about a possible unknowing event at this point. This of course energize the system, woke me a little up, and so the dreaminess disappeared. Everything was still calm and nice though. And there was contentment when the bell rang.
          Second sitting. Again this experience of a strong division between Mind (thoughts, intentions, ”me”) & Body (chi, tactile sensations). The body was concentrated and in absorption from a few breaths in, chi never got unpleasant, was mostly pleasantly neutral, some times neutral, some times a bit intense – at first, chi was very homogenously distributed, firm, elastic, even playfully dancing and swaying sidewards; later it got more firm, stiff. The mind was not at all concentrated, it was talkative, joyful in a bit restless way, bubbling with joy, though a bit more quiet and restful, content, towards the end. Around 45 minutes in, the torso was pushed or pulled backwards, quite suddenly. I did not feel any intention to do this movement, and did not want to interfer. I bent more and more backwards, the hands sliding upwards on my thighs (I was kneeling), belly muscles tensed to carry the weight and after a minute or two, the torso began shaking. Mind was enjoying the show from a distance, not interfering. At some point, I somehow flipped back up (not sure if I felt an intention as ”mine”). Chi was much less intense, more calm. So all in all I ended with a content mind and a calm body.

08.02. First sitting. Absorption from the get go, chi quite intense but at no point painful or uncomfortable. At first it was sort joyfully swirling along the sushumna, then got more hard, tight – in the entire breadth of the back. Again the experience that the mind was separate from this. It chattered along, completely detached from this quite intense chi. So the body seemed in quite deep absorption, and the mind not at all. Soon dharma analyzing thoughts came, expectations of going through 2nd, 3rd to 4th Vipassana Jhana, then possibly having a cessation. This did not, or only halfway, happened. Soft to hard chi was identified as 2nd to 3rd, and things got a little calm (4th), but not much, and there was one drop into dreamy thoughts, and the mind woke more up in expectation of the cessation, which then of course didn’t happen. At some point, I collapsed the spine, more calm came, chatting subsided, and then suddenly there was a gigantic jerk, almost lifting my bottom from the cushion. A bit like the jerks one can have just before sleep, but I was not sleepy, or a least not that sleepy, and the jerk was more violent, explosive. There was a lot of impatience the last 20-25 minutes.
          Second sitting. Body in pleasant absorption from the get go. Mind chatting and joyful. Chi quite intense, but at no point near getting uncomfortable. It was pleasantly neutral, sometimes (and some places) outright pleasant. At first playful swirly movements along the sushumna, soft wobbliness. Perhaps 15 minutes in a more hard or elastic wobbliness, activity subsiding a bit, especially below solar plexus, more activity in the head. Mind a bit less chatty, but not much. From then on going up and down through three general patterns, 1) the initial soft wobbliness with a lot of chatting and mild joy; 2) the harder and slower, elastic movements with less chatting, and just general contentment; and 3) a softening of the chi, that now got less dynamic, more calm, mind also more quiet. None of these three stabilized for more than a couple of minutes. A bit impatience towards the end, and the experience that it was a long 60 minutes. Joy and gratitude when the bell rang.

08.03. Off cushion: Still a bit post retreat ”speedy”, only slept five hours. Feeling happy, energetic.
          First sitting. Shallow absorption all the way, slightly changing character underway. Within a minute, there were swirling movements along the sushumna, a happily bubbly chi, and joyfully restless mind, chatting. Breath was quiet. Some 15 minutes in breath briefly (a minute or two) got a little faster, and the swirling movements subsided somewhat. Tiredness came, sleepiness. I changed into squatting around 45 minutes in, really drowsy (external conditions might have contributed: a warm summer afternoon of around 30 degrees Celcius). Drops into dreamlike thoughts. Then more quiet. Towards the end a bit of restlessness, some (muscular) back pain. All in all calm, contentment and joy was dominating.
          Second sitting. Similar, except absorption a bit deeper, and no restlessness at the end. Absorption from the get go. Within a minute, swirling movements along the sushumna, chi mostly active in the upper torso and head, at no point the slightest unpleasant, mostly pleasantly neutral. Mind happy, chatting. Breath quiet. 5-10 minutes long crossfade into next type of absorption: more firm, more hard, less dynamic, still pleasantly neutral. Mind more quiet. Then again a long crossfade into a new state, chi now even more relaxed, more static, homogenously distributed, a bit heavy, mind even more quiet, sleepy, falling into dreamlike thoughts. Could easily have sat longer when the bell rang.

08.04. Off cushion: for the first time in more than a week, I had almost eight hours of sleep, so: First normal night since the retreat. Had a dream about agression: The dreaming me was extremely angry, threatening and beating another man (a distant acquaintance of mine, the sweetest nonviolent man imaginable, who btw once saved me from getting beaten up by a drunk man, just by talking the drunk man’s anger down and then distracting his angry thought loops – very skillfully done).
          First sitting. Chi very low intensity and just neutral: Sometimes a little firmness in the chest, often some gently swaying movements in the head or in the lower torso. Mind seemed at bit detached, distracted, perhaps a bit restless. Not many thoughts, and they were mostly practice thoughts: Analyzing thoughts about the experience here and now, considerations on where I might be on the map, and on how to avoid scripting my self and having confirmation bias. Breath rate went up already about one minute into the sit, and nearly all the way, breath was a bit restricted, irregular, never found a calm rhythm. Not until some 45 minutes in, when I collapsed the spine. Then calm came, also to some extend in the mind. Then the thought: Am I now actively avoiding restlessness, or was the collapsing of the spine ”natural”? I sat up straight again, and breath rate went a little up, breathing felt perhaps a tiny bit restricted. Less disturbed now than then first 45 minutes, but more so than when I sat stooping. As I was wondering what to make of that, the bell rang.
          Second sitting. Light absorption all the way through, not much variation. Chi was low intensity, sushumna just perceptible, wobbly and swirling movements at first, later on less dynamic. Breath rate changing a bit up and down, never quite settling in real calm the first 35-40 minutes. Mind relatively quiet, interested in the breath and the chi. Around 35 minutes in, things got more calm, tiredness came, a dip into dreamlike thoughts, then the note ”dreamy” and dharma analyzing thoughts, which energized the system, disturbed the calm. No aversion, though. Mood was never less than content, most of the sit even joyful. 45 minutes in, I collapsed the spine, ten minutes later sat up again, this revitalised the chi that again began swirling a bit around sushumna. Could have sat another hour easily.

08.05. First sitting. Body seemed absorbed from the get to, pulsations or swirlings of chi in the chest. Chi was medium in intensity, at no point painful or uncomfortable. One minute in, breath rate went a bit up, and for the next 25 minutes or so, it went a bit up and down, without settling. At this time, there was a little tightness or firmness in the chest, neutral in vedana. Mind seemed quite distracted, mindfulness weak, mind dropping in to random thoughts for 5-10 seconds at a time. Then, 25 minutes in, both breath, chi, and thoughts calmed down, and some drowsiness or light sleepiness came. No yawning or restlessness, thought. It was slightly pleasant. There were a number of minor jerks in the body, although I wasn’t as sleepy as when these ”before sleep”-jerks normally appear. Also, mindfulness was clear before, during and after the jerks. Then it got weaker, and mind dropped into dreamy thoughts three or four times. Chi was gently wobbling, nothing much happened. Then the bell rang.
          Second sitting. Chi medium in intensity, dropping to low in the last half hour. Absorption from the get go, swirling and/or pulsating movements in the chest, and a little later also in the head, and some minutes later also in the lower torso. A playful, joyful feel to it. Mind also happy, playful, curious. Not that many thoughts. Some 20-25 minutes in, the chi becomes a little less dynamic, a bit more firm or hard, and mood goes to contentment. This was only a brief phase of maybe 5-10 minutes, then things became very calm, sleepy, dreamy, vague, very low mindfulness, quite static chi, now down at low intensity. Long drop outs of mindfulness, sort of dozing of but still there. Possibly time distortion as well. When the bell rang I could easily have sat much longer.

08.06. First sitting. Absorption from the get go. Thoughts now and then, around half the time. Chi low in intensity, neutral and neutrally pleasant. Half a minute in, some pulsations in the chest, a little later also in the head. Quite quickly this slightly lively chi subsided, and there was a brief phase of more firm chi. After that not really phases, chi was sometimes a little wobbly, some times more calm, but they were small and irregular changes. Twenty minutes in, some tiredness came. Around 35 minutes in, there was semi unknowing event, a ”DOOCK!” in the sound, possibly a bit asymmetric, more in the left than the right ear. It fell on an out breath. Some ten minutes later an event that was a sort of an internal freeze frame: There were more or less figurative animated imagery in the internal visual field, a ball in a chain, swinging. While swinging, not at a natural resting point, it suddenly froze for a split second, possibly the entire visual field froze. Nothing happening in the sound or body. And some five minutes later, another type of event: Sound being briefly halfway muted and then unmuted. There was a little bodily jerk at the exact same time: The otherwise straight spine collapsed slightly. This might have been a dip into sleep, I am not sure. Otherwise a very calm, sleepy, peaceful sit. Neutrally pleasant.
          Second sitting. Absorption from the get go, chi at medium intensity. In the beginning, swirling, pulsating movements in the chest, neck and head. After some ten minutes chi became a bit less dynamic, more firm, hard, but at no point the slightest unpleasant. It was neutral, neutrally pleasant or outright pleasant throughout. Around 25-30 minutes in, chi became more soft, even more static, lower intensity, and there was deep calm, slight sleepiness. Thoughts (that were there now and then throughout the sitting) became distant, some of them dreamlike. 5-7 minutes before the bell, I opened my eyes, and chi became more active, again a bit hard and firm, and in the very last minute a bit swirling again.

08.07. Off cushion: A long night (8 hours) of vivid dreams.
          First sitting. Chi at first a little under, since a little over medium in intensity. Nothing unpleasant or uncomfortable at any point. The first few minutes some gentle pulsations in the upper torso and the back of the head. Then less activity. Slowly a firmness grew forth, a homogenous distribution of the chi in the entire torso and head and (partly) arms. Thoughts were there now and then, distant, in the background, mind was not interested in them. For the last 35 minutes or so, there was very little variation, I just sat with this calm firmness in the body. Now and then the perspective of experience (the center point) seemed a bit disturbed, but mind wasn’t interested in that either. Clarity and continuity in mindfulness throughout. Collapsed the spine some five minutes before the bell rang, on an intuition. Opened my eyes at one point, feeling the sitting was over: There was less than one minute left.
          Second sitting. Similar. Absorption literally from the first breath, spine sort of locks in, chi bumps up, and we’re running! Chi at medium intensity, the first 10-20 minutes some gentle pulsations in the head and upper torso, very slowly subsiding while a firmness built, a homogenous, dense distribution of chi. Neutral and pleasantly neutral. Now and then slight soreness in the lower pack, bordering on pain (a question of definition, but if pain, then very weak pain). Also a few times a brief (1-2 seconds) burning feeling at the spine, solar plexus level, in a small quite precisely delineated area, the size of a fingertip. Very little progression or development in the sit. Thoughts in the distance. The last 15 minutes, slowly the general calm (there from the beginning) got deeper, things got more quiet, still, there was a vagueness, lack of clarity, but not sleepiness. The mind dropped into dreamlike thoughts, a few times maybe 10-15 seconds of absence. Easy and calm sit, could easily have sat longer.

Week 32

08.08. First sitting. Absorption from the first breath, chi at around medium level or lower, neutral and pleasantly neutral. With a lot of overlap and back and forth, three phases could be distinguished: A short first phase with liveliness, chi wobbling in the upper torso and head. A much longer second phase, the wobbliness slooowly subsiding, and some firmness or hardness, especially in the head (neutral vedana) growing forth. Then a third phase, around equal length as the second, where the firmness subsided, and things got even more calm. A sudden sound in the second phase caused a slight fear response, a sudden sound in the third phase did not. Overall calm, contentment, mild joy, nothing much happening.
          Second sitting. The sits are surprisingly similar. I really try to discern differences, but once again, the same pattern, three phases, shifting slowly and overlappingly with back and forth movements: 1) Cheerful chi and mind, bubbly or wobbly pulsations in upper torso and head, mind a bit active, mild joy, amusement. 2) Chi getting a tiny bit harder or firmer, some passing tightness in the chest, wobbly movements slower, mind less busy. 3) Tiredness and/or vagueness slowly growing, mind more quiet, most thoughts are the dreamlike type, mindfulness plunges, and drops out now and then. All this in a still more calm atmosphere, no pain, no discomfort worth mentioning, no aversion, mood no less than content.

08.09. First sitting (only one sitting today, but 90 minutes). Again very similar. No use repeating the same details. This time, the only variation was that I followed an intuition and collapsed the spine around 55 minutes in, then sat up straight again some 15 minutes later. While stooping, things got very calm. When again erect, it was as if the usual first phase might have returned: There was a little more liveliness in the chi, mind got a bit brighter. And then the second phase repeated: more firmness, elastic hardness, a little tightness in the chest. But the variations to the general sense of calm and ease are small. I could easily have sat much longer, even after 90 minutes.

08.10. First sitting. Similar to the many previous.
          Second sitting. Similar again, although this time, mind was quite busy with a more or less continuous stream of thoughts. Chi was over medium in intensity and quite dynamic the first 25 minutes or so, wobbling, pulsating, especially in the upper torso and head. At that point I followed an intuition and collapsed the spine. For some time still pulsations in the head, but slowly the chi relaxed. Some 15 minutes later, I sat up straight again, now chi was a bit less dynamic, and thoughts less frequent, than in the beginning. Then a sort of tiredness or vagueness or stillness came: No yawning or restlessness or jerks, wanting to lie down, just sort of an emptying of experience – very little happening, mindfulness only a pilot light. Some long (maybe up to a minute) drops into dreamlike thoughts. Several times through the sit, there was some moderate pain in the lower back (no aversion). Main mood: calm.

08.11. First sitting. Slightly different. Still absorption from the get go, but not as strong. Still a solid calm, unworriedness and contentment throughout, but a bit more physical discomfort than has been usual since the retreat. A little tightness or tension in the chest and the back of the head. Hard to say if it should be categorized as pain or discomfort – there was a little aversion to it, but immediate accept of the aversion. Thoughts pretty regularly. After maybe 30 minutes, the spine slowly began collapsing. I sat stooping for maybe ten minutes, now chi was sort of filling up in the lower torso and pelvic area, a slight heaviness. The activity in the upper torso and head diminished but didn’t disappear. Then a sudden long in breath came and at the same time an intention to sit up erect again, so I did. Now chi seemed more equally distributed. Still somewhat dynamic, but no discomfort anymore. Some disturbances of the perspective or central point, which sometimes seemed to have partly left its usual location in the middle of the head and placed it self behind the upper back or back of the head, somewhat to the right. While at the same time maintaining its old position.
          Second sitting. Not much development through the sit, all the way just this: medium absorption, chi at medium intensity, mostly neutral, and a little pleasantly neutral, firmness or tightness along the entire sushumna, wobbly movements in the chest and head, mind quite distracted, not very interested in what was going on. A lot of calm, faith. And a little impatience towards the end.

08.12. First sitting. Not much variation through the sit. Chi around medium in intensity, the first 10-15 minutes lively and joyous with pulsations in the upper torso and head. Then slowly there was less dynamic, a slight firmness came, chi now entered the lower torso as well. Joy evolved into contentment. All the way: very calm, unworried, sushumna clearly perceptible, ease, easy to sit, could easily have sat much longer.
          Second sitting (only 30 minutes – just before sitting, I found out that due to reasons beyond my control, I had to cut the sitting down to half an hour. This caused a slight irritation and stress, and perhaps this influenced the sitting). At first, the usual immediate absorption and neutral chi, then gradually more tightness and tension, especially in the chest and the back of the head. None of it was outright painful, but there was some discomfort. It kept building until the bell rang. Mind was not that busy, thoughts now and then, in the distance. There was a lot of accept and some amusement about the situation.

08.13. First sitting. Chi at medium intensity, mostly neutral, pleasantly neutral. The first ten minutes, slight tension along the sushumna, some wobbliness in the upper torso and head. After that very gentle dynamics, nothing much happening, except the breath now and then increasing a bit in speed for a minute or so. At some point, a visit from my old and for a long time not seen friend, the rotor vibration (chopper like, some undefinable place along the spine). Mind bright, clear, steady, thoughts in the background, mindfulness steady and continuous. General mood: calm, contentment, neutrality, nothing happening-ness.
          Second sitting. Chi high in intensity, mostly neutral. At first firmness and tightness along the sushumna, especially in the upper torso and the head, after some minutes spreading to the rest of the torso. Wobbly pulsations in the head, at some point a little pain at the lower back, and some restlessness, the body not quite able to find the right posture. Some ten minutes in the pulsations subsided, and there was just the tightness, firmness. All this met with acceptance. Some 25 minutes in, I collapsed the spine, this did not change much. 35 minutes in, I sat up straight again, now the pulsations returned for a couple of minutes. Then a tiredness or vagueness sneaked in on me. I didn’t really realize it before the bell rang, but there was this kind of ”lucid sleeping”: Mindfulness only a pilot light, the few remaining thoughts dreamlike and nonsensical, body now very still, no pulsations or restlessness any more. Calm.

08.14. First sitting. Firmness or tightness along the sushumna, some wobbliness in the head, a basic calm. Thoughts more or less all the time, but in the background. Mindfulness continous. Effortlessness. Contentment. Calm. A bit impatience towards the end.
          Second sitting. Similar, although with fewer thoughts, and the chi more intense and a little uncomfortable (tightness in the chest). Rest of the chi was neutral. Anatomical body fading a bit towards the end. A little aversion to the discomfort.

Week 33

08.15. First sitting. At first, chi at high intensity, quite dynamic (strong wobbling in upper torso and head), neutral in vedana. Mind quite distracted all the way, weak and discontinuous mindfulness, lots of vague and random thoughts that I got pulled into. A sense that there was no connection between mind and body. After some 35 minutes, chi got more calm, thoughts also more in the background and a vagueness or numbness, not really there-ness. Neutral, nothing uncomfortable or particularly pleasant this time.
          Second sitting. A strange sit! As usual, absorption established itself immediately. Chi was dynamic as in this day’s first sitting, but this time, there was also a distinct sensation of moving (flying) through space, forward. There was nothing in the visual field, the impression was created by bodily sensations. Chi was – which is unusual – very active also in the surface of the body and especially the head, so there was perhaps a sensation of wind passing and touching the body, as if was riding a bike or a flying carpet. It turned now left, now right. Mind was more or less quiet and quite curious about what was going on. There was also amusement. Around halfway through, the moving sensation slowly subsided. Then some tiredness came, vagueness, weak mindfulness. Calm, neutral, eventless. Then the bell rang.

08.16. First sitting. Calm and eventless sitting. At first chi at medium intensity, slightly lively, dynamic. Ten minutes in, it dropped below medium and became more static, just a firmness, denseness, quite neutral. There were thoughts regularly, but they didn’t really pull. Some 40 minutes in, there was a perhaps ten minute long phase of vagueness, dreaminess, weaker mindfulness. Then the system pulled itself up again, and there was just calm, contentment, eventlessness.
          Second sitting. Chi at high intensity, but strictly neutral and pleasantly neutral. Body sat very, very still. Continuity in mindfulness. Things got at little abstract (anatomical body fading away) the last 20 minutes. Firmness, denseness and tightness, especially in the chest. A bit surprised that it didn’t feel uncomfortable since it was quite intense and breathing was a bit restricted now and then. But there was totally accept, even amusement. And ease, calm. I could easily have sat much longer.
shargrol, modified 3 Months ago at 8/17/22 8:56 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/17/22 8:43 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Looks like my dog ate my homework (my computer lost a reply I was typing)...

Short version:

Good stuff. This kind of daily consistent practice has an odd way of creating a kind of deep foundation in the psyche, different than the highs of retreat intensity. Even though it might not be as cutting edge, it might even be more important in the long run.

I notice the preponderance of neutral/pleasant sits, but I also wonder if there is perhaps a bias toward seeking that kind of experience with the belief that more aborption/insight will occur through it? I just want to remind you that finding and going >into< dukka is still an important part of practice and leads to absorption/insight, but this can get very subtle in more advanced practice.  Dukka can be found by going micro (subtle sensations/feeling) or going macro (worldviews, mental framing). 

5 Elements is a good reminder to look out subtle feelings/urges/sensations: cling, avoid, emotionally intensify, intellectually be busy, or void-out.

6 Realms is a good reminder to look the emotional/intellectual "frame" for the present moment: confict, greed, enduring, desiring specialness, lacking and ambition, accomplishment and smug superiority.

It's okay to notice what still sucks and investigate the subtle dukka. Even though you and I already know that dukka is just a vivid display of mind nature, it can still trick us into believing that it is more than just sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Dukka is entangled or reinforced confusion. It can be rewarding to notice subtle dukka and pull on it's string. 

Worth what you paid for it! emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 3 Months ago at 8/20/22 5:25 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/20/22 5:25 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
@shargrol:

Thanks for the feedback! Very useful!

I have seen you recommend "Wake Up To Your Life" to others who were about where I am at now, so I have recently purchased the book (looks really interesting!) and will take your remarks about 5 elements and 6 realms as an occasion to read the relevant chapters on these practices.

You are right that there is a preponderance of nice sits these days and weeks, and that I should continue investigating dukkha. I will, before too long. Since the retreat, however, I have been very very gentle with practice: I sit without any intention, without any effort. I don't try to center the mind, I don't try to investigate anything. I just close my eyes and sit there. And my mind definitely seem to be more to the jhanic side than to the vipassana side of things right now, which is okay with me, for the time being.

I will probably spend another couple of weeks with this very gentle approach (also I have dropped all yoga, pranayama etc.) to let the system rest a bit. After that I will begin putting in intention and a bit effort, a bit direction again. One part of me want to work with elements and realms, like you suggest. That would turn things in the vipassana direction, I assume. Another part of me want to work with the samatha jhanas for a while. I have never worked specifically on jhanas, I still have a hard time discerning the different jhanas, and I am unable to move intentionally between them. I would like to acquire those skills, and part of me feel that now is a good time to do that. But I haven't made up my mind yet, so for the next couple of weeks, I think I will just continue the gentle "non-invasive" practice. emoticon
shargrol, modified 3 Months ago at 8/20/22 6:36 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/20/22 6:36 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
That makes a lot of sense. No hurry, no worry.

There are a lot of different practices in WUTYL and I'm sure one of them will seem to "fit". It's one of those books that almost makes more sense to not read in order, just let what captures your interest be your guide.

Jhanas are not covered in WUTYL, so maybe a companion book (like Leigh Brasington "Right Concentration: a practical guide to the jhanas") might be a good addition, too. Of course MCTB has a lot of detail, too.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 10/11/22 4:39 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 10/11/22 4:39 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
It’s been a while since I updated here, so I thought I’d let you know how things are going. In my formal practice, there is nothing much to report, but my off-cushion life has been hit by some serious turbulence that I suspect will influence (and probably already has influenced) my formal development.

In late August my quiet and very structured life (living alone and working from home at an old farm in the country side) got disrupted. A very close loved-one had a severe mental breakdown. This person, whom I will call Peter (not the real name), was located abroad and had to be taken home to Denmark more or less againt his will, while being extremely manic with psychotic episodes. Several dangerous situations occurred, police and airport security were involved, but due to a series of what I will almost call miracles, nobody died or got hurt. The drama continued when Peter arrived in Denmark: He fled the people waiting for him in the airport. Also I gradually found out that we, the friends and family around Peter, did not agree on what was best for him. Some wanted forced hospitalization, others, me included, wanted to wait and see if we could manage the situation our selves. The disagreement evolved into conflict.

After a couple of chaotic days with Peter more or less constantly on the run in Copenhagen, I managed to convince him to come and stay at my farm, two hours drive from the capital. And for two weeks, I shared a house with a severely manic and sometimes psychotic – and very loved! – person. No other human beings were around, so Peter was my sole responsibility. These were probably the two most demanding weeks of my life. There was an incredible amount of restlessness in Peter, and sometimes anger as well. I didn’t get much sleep and was constantly extremely alert, ultra mindful. Tried to maintain equanimity, but also, when appropriate, express my own feelings (saying ”stop” when then anger made Peter destroy things, for instance). Lots of things happened during those two weeks, Peter did get a little better, I think, but then one of the people from the group that believed in forced hospitalization showed up unannounced at my farm, and apparently they had talked with Peter on the phone, and so he went along. Later I learned that he was not forced but sort of tricked into hospitalization. I had and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I was relieved, since I was extremely exhausted after two weeks of solo care taking, on the other hand I was and am not so sure that psychiatric treatment (primarily medicine) is the best solution to Peter’s problems. Calming down the symptoms with meds is okay, but treating the trauma, which stems from a long term abusive relationship, takes therapy, in my opinion, and that’s hard to find in a (Danish) psychiatric ward. Peter is still committed there, I am still doing my best to help, and the conflict with the other friends & family is unsolved.

For the first time in five years, my formal practice got totally disrupted for two weeks. Some days I didn’t sit at all, some days I managed to find 20-30 minutes. When Peter had left, I spent three or four days just sleeping and resting, and then more or less returned to my old life, including my daily sitting practice (2 x 60 minutes). It felt like I had been doing not just off-cushion practice, but off road-practice: I had been far far away from the path (here meaning: formal meditation), but using the skills from the path in a lot of demanding and unforeseeable ways. I am pretty sure that I would not have been able to get through these two weeks without throwing in the towel, had it been five or ten years ago. No doubt my meditative skills helped me immensely – and probably evolved a bit too: In a way it was more intense training than a retreat.

Since then, my formal practice has been somewhat different, even though it is hard to say how. The first couple of weeks after Peter left, the sits were marked by lots of thoughts, replaying situations from the crisis, and a lot of painful chi: tensions in the chest and head, especially. Both these things have worn out now. A couple of weeks after Peter left, I suddenly had 2-3 days with feelings of misery, powerlessness, hopelessness etc. A sort of delayed reaction, I assume. Then, from one second to the next, these feelings just left the system: I was finishing my physical training one morning, and suddenly I began singing an old Danish song which is about hope, spring and new beginnings. I had not sung or thought about this song for years, I don’t know where it came from, but suddenly – this is my interpretation – I got out of the dark night into some more equanimous territory again.

Since that, I have had couple of unknowing events (the usual ”zap!” in the ears) during formal meditation in late September. The sits here in October have been marked by okayness, eventlessness, ordinariness, slight dukkha (craving for something else to happen, even though both body and mind are doing just fine). I have absolutely no idea where I am at with regard to Paths and nanas, and I have more or less lost interest in those questions. Since the crisis I have not worked very technically with my meditation, I have not tried to intentionally calm down the system (samatha) or investigate anything (vipassana). I have just sat. Not been very interested in logging or dharma reading either. But I have a feeling that I might want to something a bit more formal or technical with my sittings before too long. I am planning to do an 8 day retreat in the middle of November, and I would like to have a little more direction in my practice before that.

Thoughts, questions and comments are as usual very welcome.
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 10/11/22 5:46 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 10/11/22 5:46 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Now might be a good time to page through Wake Up to Your Life and see if one of the structured practices call to you. If so, then you could design a retreat around it.
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Helen Pohl, modified 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 9:02 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 9:02 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 100 Join Date: 8/10/20 Recent Posts
Niels-

Were those zaps you experienced sort of "electrical" in feel?
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 9:39 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 9:39 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hi Helen,

Yes, they had a sort of electrical feel to them.

I have experienced them several times before, although there is a little variation to them: Some times it's only zapping in one ear, some times in both; some times there is a clear-cut muting of sound just before or after the zap, some times not; and then they can have weaker or stronger "volume" or perhaps "current strength". Some of them might have been cessations, according to my teacher.

Have you had similar zaps?

emoticon
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Helen Pohl, modified 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 9:59 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 9:59 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 100 Join Date: 8/10/20 Recent Posts
On and off lately I've felt these things that were half auditory, half physical and somehow felt like electricity. A "SKRITCH" sound- in one ear or both. 
A little unpleasant, really. I'm a bit nervous around stuff regarding my ears, had many, many ear infections as a child.
No sense of anything preceding them, a long slow swell of piti/vibrations/tingling after. Wondered what they were, is all. =)
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 12:06 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 10/12/22 12:06 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 2596 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds like you handled the whole thing very well Niels. Good to see practice having real-life benefits.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 11/1/22 6:43 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 11/1/22 6:43 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Update, November 1st 2022

For one or two months I have had the feeling that my practice was plateauing a little, and so I have been searching for something that could refresh it and deal with what I call the micro-dukkha I am experiencing on the cushion: Everything is fine, but just not quite right, a little flatness, a little lack of joy and enthusiasm.

Just to sum up where I am at: I still maintain the hypothesis that I have passed Stream Entry, there really has not been any doubt in my mind about that. Possibly I am past Second Path as well, but of this I am less certain, and it doesn’t seem that important to me. My off cushion life is really good and has been remarkably better since SE, so there is a lot of stability and equanimity in the mind, a sense of deep unworriedness that I am getting more and more comfortable calling faith. Faith in life, and in practice.

But! There is this micro-dukkha, and I have decided what to do about it: For the time being I will work with samatha and jhana practice. I feel that the awakening factor that needs most strengthening in my system right now is joy.

For a couple of weeks, I just upped my regular concentration, doing 45 minutes in each sitting (and 15 minutes open awareness). For concentration I did simple focus on the breath at the nostrils. This created more clarity, more energy (here meaning: virya), and hence a little more joy. The chi is still quite active in my body when I meditate (but rarely shows up off cushion), usually most of it is neutral, but often there is an area of discomfort at the upper back. This discomfort didn’t change when I began doing more concentration, but it got more clear, and there was less aversion to it.

Then I began researching on samatha and jhana. I was already familiar with Culadasa and Leigh Brasington, both of whose books I have learned a lot from. Now I discovered Rob Burbea. I went through this series from a samatha retreat he did in 2008, following the guided meditations on cushion, and listening to the dharma talks afterwards, and that changed my concentration practice to the better. Not only does he recommend whole body breathing (akin to Culadasa), he also talks a lot about playing with the breath, manipulating it slightly, with the explicit intention to get comfortable: How would it be most comfortable to breathe right now? Long, short? With broad attention, or narrowing in somewhere, either on a pleasant area to strengthen the pleasure, or on an unpleasant area to soothe it, to bathe it in the breath? These instructions, especially the playfulness, really made sense to me, and they are, as I hoped for, beginning to refresh my practice, bringing more joy. The uncomfortable chi is still there, but it is much more malleable now, more workable, and there is almost no aversion to it, more curiousity and compassion.

I finished the last guided meditation of Burbea’s samatha retreat yesterday, and from now on I am going to follow this jhana retreat that I believe he did in 2019, shortly before his death. I can see that many people have praised this particular series of his – Michael Taft, for instance, calling it the best teachings on the jhanas he has come across. So I am looking forward to working with that.

From November 9th until November 16th, I will do a home retreat, continuing with Burbea’s jhana series (and possibly with a twist – I will get back to that in a later post).
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 11/1/22 11:46 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 11/1/22 11:46 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Just so folks are aware, you can also find transcriptions of Rob's retreats (including the 2019 jhana retreat) here: Rob Burbea Transcription Project : Flumflumeroo (reddit.com)
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Days ago at 11/22/22 4:27 PM
Created 11 Days ago at 11/22/22 3:54 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
A u t u m n   R e t r e a t   2 0 2 2 
* * * November 9th to 16th * * *


About a week ago I finished an eight day home retreat, and something happened that seemed and still seems very significant to my path. However, it is very difficult for me to describe what it was, and to fit it into the Progress of Insight Four Paths model. Perhaps it doesn’t fit in there.
     To provide some context, I’ll first sketch my practice the last week before the retreat and describe the set up, daily schedule and intentions of the retreat. Then follows the retreat report per se, and finally a little report on what has happened the first week after the retreat and some reflections.


PRACTICE BEFORE THE RETREAT

As mentioned in my post above, I am now working with Rob Burbea's jhana retreat recordings. I have been doing the guided meditations on cushion and listening to the dharma talks and Q&A’s afterwards. Luckily it is a long series, and I haven’t finished it yet. Here is a summary of my sittings the week before the retreat:
     2022.11.01First sitting: Tensions, stiffness, and moderate pain located at a diffuse and constantly changing part of the sushumna, mostly at the top of the back. In the rest of the body, the chi was above medium in intensity and mostly neutral. I was working with the breath, soothing the discomfort, breathing through it and also inevitably investigating it. There were lots of thoughts, practice thoughts mostly. Virtually no aversion, neither to the physical discomfort nor the many thoughts. There was virya, enthusiasm for practice, a basic calm and faith. – Second sitting: Similar, although a little less virya, hence less (almost no) joy, but still satisfaction with practice.
     2022.11.02 – First sitting: Did a guided meditation. Very stimulating. Chi quite active, alive, the area of discomfort malleable, moving. – Second sitting: Not guided, but playing around with the Burbea instructions. There was tiredness from the get go. Chi at medium intensity, mostly neutral or pleasantly neutral. The uncomfortable area at the top of the back again malleable, moveable, often neutral, never more than slightly uncomfortable. Some thoughts the first 20 minutes or so, after that more quiet. Some gaps in mindfulness. No aversion to this. And only the slightest aversion to the discomfort. Clarity and virya not optimal, but no aversion to that either. General satisfaction, a ”warm” mood of acceptance, okayness.
     2022.11.03First sitting: No guidance, worked with the techniques, improvising. It was fun and engaging. Chi pleasantly neutral, bubbly, wobbly, alive. The first 35-40 minutes no discomfort at all. Then a very slight discomfort came in the usual area at the top of the back. I breathed through it, which helped. Also a little pleasant tingling in the scalp now and then. There were thoughts pretty often. Both craving and aversion at a minimum, although not totally absent. In general: Pleasant, fun, calming. – Second sitting: Similar, except no discomfort at all at the upper back (first time in a long time). But a similar discomfort now at the lower back. And a little tiredness that created some small drop outs of mindfulness. A couple of times it happened that breathing stopped after an out breath and paused for six to eight, maybe ten seconds.
     2022.11.04First sitting: Followed Burbea’s instructions and guidance. Experience this time: no discomfort! The hard area at the top of the back was gone. Pleasantly neutral chi, very alive, bubbly, sometimes with a little pleasant tingling in the scalp. – Second sitting: No guidance, tried to work with all the instructions, improvising to create comfort, ease. Lots of details to hold in mind, so very engaged in practice. Some tiredness, and towards the end a little discomfort in the back (but the first 40 minutes or so only pleasantly neutral chi with a little outright pleasant tingling now and then). Not many thoughts, only when tiredness created a few minor drops in mindfulness.
     2022.11.05First sitting: Guidance 30 minutes, then 30 minutes without guidance. I worked with the energy body, tried to make it comfortable and cohesive, tried using the different tools and techniques. There was a slightly uncomfortable area at the top of the back. It was alive, moving, malleable, and I found a way to soothe it: I collapsed the spine, then did the ”breathe as long as you comfortably can”-technique for a few minutes with attention directed at the uncomfortable area. Then very slowly sat up straight again. There was still a little hardness, but it wasn’t uncomfortable any more. – Second sitting: 45 minutes guided meditation. Sore lower back after gardening, otherwise similar to the previous.
     2022.11.06 – No time for practice.
     2022.11.07First sitting: 90 minutes, no guidance, working with the different Burbea techniques. Virtually no uncomfortable chi, mostly pleasantly neutral, some ”warm chills” up the back, a little tinkling in the scalp. Satisfaction, curiousity, mild joy now and then, strong faith in practice, happiness with the new techniques – Second sitting: 90 minutes. Similar. – Third sitting: 30 minutes. Similar
     2022.11.08First sitting: 90 minutes. All the way, there was a hard and stiff area at the back of the neck stretching down to the top of the back and sometime up to the back of the head. It was moving, changing. I applied the Burbea techniques. No pleasant chi (= piti) this time. A little aversion, but mostly acceptance, patience. – Second sitting: Again a hard and stiff area. Similar.


SETTING UP THE RETREAT

When the retreat was about to begin, I had finished listening to all the Burbea recordings up to and including the material about First Jhana, so I decided not to listen to more during the retreat, but to spend the retreat working on the techniques Burbea had suggested for getting into the first jhana: Making what he calls the energy body (as I understand it: the chi as a whole) the object of meditation; breathing with this energy body, deliberately soothing any unpleasantness and encouraging any pleasantness; trying to generate and stabilize piti (as I understand it: pleasant chi) to such a degree that it could be used as a meditation object, and thus getting into the first jhana.
     I was also inspired by Burbea’s practical remarks about the retreat he was teaching: It turned out there was no fixed schedule! The dharma hall was open 24-7, and he encouraged the retreatants to just do sitting and standing and walking meditation as they pleased! And take a break when they needed it. Only meals, guided meditations, dharma talks and interviews were fixed, otherwise retreatants were encouraged to take responsibility for their own optimal meditation schedule. For a very structured (not to say rigid) personality type like me, this was excellent input. So instead of my usual 8 x 90 minutes sitting per day, I made a more flexible schedule with four large blocks of meditation per day (morning, noon, afternoon, evening), where ”meditation” could mean either sitting, standing or walking meditation, and where I could also take breaks if I felt like it. Meals and (not necessarily mindful) gardening were fixed. The schedule looked like his:

08:00 - Getting up, getting ready
08:30 - MORNING MEDITATION
10:30 - Breakfest, then rest
11:30 - NOON MEDITATION
13:30 - Gardening
15:00 - Lunch, then rest
16:00 - AFTERNOON MEDITATION
19:00 - Rest
19:30 - EVENING MEDITATION
22:30 - Bedtime, reclining meditation until sleep

So all was set up for me to go down the samatha path, cultivating calm, peace, joy etc.
     However, I had also put a twist into this retreat. At Day 5 I would do an experiment: I would take a high dose psilocybin trip to see how that would affect my practice.
     Now, I know that psychedelics can be a controversial topic, so I have decided to describe my research, reflections, preparations and evaluation of the experiment in a separate post. And I will ask that anything relating to that topic and that experiment be discussed in that separate post. The reason for this is twofold: 1) The issue of psychedelics and the use of them in meditation might be of interest to people who do not follow this log. 2) I don’t want this log to be sidetracked by such a debate, should it unfold. Therefore, in this retreat report, which is part of my general practice log, I will just report the things from Day 5 that seem relevant to my practice.
     So here is …


THE REPORT PER SE

Day 1
Mostly back pains, boredom, impatience etc. The MORNING MEDITATION was the most difficult, and then it got gradually a bit easier through the day. In the EVENING MEDITATION, half an hour in, the ”energy body” became stable in perception, and concentration seemed decent. So, in many ways similar to most other ”first day of a retreat” experiences, although definitely in the mild end of the spectrum, probably due to the fact that I was doing samatha all the time, which I have never done on retreat before.

Day 2
MORNING MEDITATION: Soreness, restlessness, shallow concentration. Only partly contact with the energy body, mostly the face and head were perceptible. Slight aversion, slight discouragement, nothing too bad. Okayness.
     NOON MEDITATION: Soreness, discomfort in the upper back, shallow concentration, changing posture a lot, not much joy, hardly contentment. Some aversion, but met with patience.
     AFTERNOON MEDITATION: First hour almost no discomfort, then the upper back got sore, concentration got shallow. Neutrality, moderate discomfort, some aversion. Joy seemed far away, but there was also patience: I knew the first days are usually difficult.
     EVENING MEDITATION: Had a lovely rest before this sitting and was reminded how important it is to rest on retreat: I managed to carry the wellbeing into the meditation, and the first 90 minutes or so I sat quite still. Clearly the deepest absorption so far. The anatomical body faded, energy body became clear, concentration was good. Chi was mostly neutral and a little bit uncomfortable. Not many thoughts. Seemed like a deeper meditation that I would expect on a ”day 2”. Stopped half an hour before the bell, I am trying to be softer on my self.

Day 3
OFF-CUSHION: A night of vivid dreams, many of them lucid, some of them with sexual components.
     MORNING MEDITATION: Clearly better than yesterday, fewer pains, less aversion. Mood also a bit better, something like neutral contentment. Sat for more than an hour before changing posture. Chi was surprisingly low in intensity, didn’t take up that much attentional bandwith, was quite static, not much movement, pulsations, wobbling etc. After an hour or so, some tension and denseness showed up.
     NOON MEDITATION: Not much pain or aversion, only changed posture twice during the two hours. The last 45 minutes or so, the energy body was very clear, I breathed with it, following Burbea’s instructions. Only few thoughts, dharma related. Okay mood, calm, stable concentration, could easily have sat longer.
     AFTERNOON MEDITATION: Lots of discomfort. I was doing both sitting, standing, and walking (to the bathroom and back) meditation, and even reclining for some 15 minutes. The last twenty minutes things stabilized, and there was no pain and good clear perception of the energy body. Chi at medium intensity, neutral in vedana. Some boredom, flatness, micro dukkha, mild discontentment.
    EVENING MEDITATION: Stopped ten minutes before the bell. No real pain, a little discomfort now and then, concentration stable and strong. Stayed in posture fairly long, but changed as soon as there was an impulse to do so, since this (I keep reminding myself) is supposed to be samatha, not vipassana. A little burst of piti while I was standing. Some disturbances of the ”center point” (perceived center of attention): I experienced the breath as taking place about a hands breath in front of the body. Visual field more active: a ghost like grey light, speedily morphing images of (human, animal and demonic) faces etc. (very well known stuff for this yogi).

Day 4
OFF-CUSHION: Lots of wild and vivid dreams waking me up. Many of them nightmarish, kind of: Scary things happened, but there was no fear, just calm. Had a purely physiological fear reaction at one point: warm chills up the spine, little hairs standing up, but no emotional or mental component, so nothing unpleasant, on the contrary, actually – it felt like pleasant chi, ie. pitti. In the last lucid dream I had more mindfulness than I have ever had before in a lucid dream. Usually when I’m lucid, I get so excited that I am in a lucid dream, and that anything is possible, that I want to either fly or have sex. J But in this dream, for the first time I behaved a bit more maturely and remembered my intentions about being kind and fearless while lucid. In the dream, I was attacked by a man, he sat on top of me, and I knew nothing dangerous could happen, so I let him punch me hard in the face, I didn’t feel a thing, and I said: ”I can see you are very angry. Do you want to tell me why?” And he fell down beside me, now he was a middleaged latina woman, I felt a sexual impulse, but managed to be mindful and repeat my question. And (s)he answered: ”Because I don’t have my breasts anymore.” But she clearly did have breasts, and I told her that, and then I woke up. This was at 05:45 AM and I couldn’t sleep anymore.
     MORNING MEDITATION: Not really that much pain or discomfort, but a pervasive misery, discouragement, discontent, lots of thoughts (most of them dharma diagnostic: Is this Dark Night after the A&P-like lucid dreams?). The thoughts were met with aversion. Quite a rotten sitting.
     NOON MEDITATION: Similar to the previous. Stopped 10-12 minutes before the bell rang.
     AFTERNOON MEDITATION: A lot of pain. Energy body clearly perceived: pain in a broad area at the upper back, I tried standing, walking etc., then sat down again. Then a lump of hard and painful energy gathered at the spine, solar plexus level or a bit lower. I changed posture several times, even took a short break a played the piano for a couple of minutes, hoping to ”break the spell”, but to no avail: The painful lump regenerated quickly. I realized that even though this is supposed to be a samatha retreat, then when these painful energy things happen, there is nothing pleasant to cultivate, and so I have to vipassanize my self through.
     EVENING MEDITATION: In the break before this sitting, I decided to soften up the schedule even more. The reason was that while I was resting, there was actually for once a really nice and restfull and heavy feeling in the body, and a calm mind (often during the scheduled rests, the mind is restless, and the body aching). The system was relaxing all by itself. And since the intention with this retreat is to cultivate enjoyment, restfullness etc., I decided to switch of the alarm that was supposed to signal the beginning of the evening meditation. And for around 90 minutes I lay in a delightfully restful reclining meditation, very pleasant, on the edge of sleep, possibly dozing of now and then. Sometimes I did a little noting on the breath to just stay minimally mindful. At some point I felt that I had rested enough, and then I carefully carried this lovely, heavy, calm restfullness to the cushion and sat down with it. The body was soft and calm and heavy, and the concentration strong and stable. Anatomical body really faded. Then a little soreness at the lower back, immediately I changed to standing meditation, later sat down again, managed to maintain the contentment and stable concentration. Mood much better now.

Day 5 – the special day of the retreat
OFF-CUSHION: Pleasant and clear dreams, none of them lucid. Then cleaning the house and preparing the experiment. Only time for one approximately 90 minutes meditation before the trip.
     MORNING MEDITATION: At first tensions in the upper back, but they disappeared as I worked with them with the Burbea techniques. Mood was fine, no misery or discontent at all. Lots of accept.
     PREPARATION: I had invited my girlfriend to be my trip sitter on this otherwise solitary home retreat, and at noon I ingested a high dosis of psilocybin. My intention, declared out loud as I ingested the substance, was “to experience what ever is most needed right now in my spiritual development”.
     MEDITATION UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF PSILOCYBIN (for further details about my research on psilocybin, about what psilocybin does to the brain, about the set & setting of the experiment, and about my thoughts on meditation and psilocybin, see the other post ): Approximately two and a half hours after ingesting the high dose of psilocybin, I sat down on my meditation cushion, took a deep in breath, closed my eyes and did a looong out breath. And before the out breath had finished, I knew something had radically shifted: The body felt more soft, pleasant, malleable, pliable etc. than ever before. Not strongly pleasant, like tingling, electric, orgasmic etc., but the most calm and awake and clearly perceived body you can imagine. Chi was totally homogenously distributed from head to toe, the sushumna barely perceptible, every kubik millimeter of the body was just there, with equal presence. This experience of the body continued for the next two hours, whether I was meditating or not. After the first out breath on the cushion, there was a very long pause, at least 30 seconds, perhaps much more. The other sense doors were just as clear as the body: visual field (lots of swiftly changing fractal patterns), hearing, verbal thoughts etc. Everything was totally clear and present. I realized I hadn’t breathed for quite a while, checked if I felt any lack of oxygen, dizziness or the like. I didn’t. So I kept sitting, just looking around, so to speak, in this exquisitely clear and richly detailed, but otherwise surprisingly normal consciousness (apart from the hectic visual field). At some point the thought about breathing returned, and I decided, just as a precaution, to breathe. Then I began laughing very heartily because I had forgotten whether the next breath was an in breath or an out breath and then immediately realized that that of course didn’t matter, since breathing would take care of it self. I also laughed because it was just so ridiculously easy to meditate: Literally after one breath, I had reached some kind of deep and unwavering concentration (?) state, completely unlike any state I have been in before.
     I quickly found out that it was just as ridiculously easy to exist in general, because my trip sitter asked me why I was laughing, and so in the next two hours or so, I rambled on about what I was experiencing, doing a live report from the peak of my trip (most of it was caught on my dictaphone app, and I have listened to it several times):
     Again and again I returned to the fact that everything was just so incredibly easy, simple, obvious. However, it was and is extremely difficult to communicate precisely how it felt to be in that state. One way of explaining it would be to say that there was zero aversion and zero craving, a radical acceptance unlike anything I have ever experienced before: Everything is per-fect-ly okay just as it is. ”There is just this,” I kept saying. ”It’s so simple, it’s so obvious!” But when I was asked what ”it” referred to, I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer: ”Life, everything … just this …” I was asked why everything was so simple and obvious. ”Well, because it can’t be any different. If it was any different, it wouldn’t be this, it would be something else,” I said, and again felt that my answer was not at all to the point. I kept trying to explain. The mere thought of worrying (putting any emotional energy into a future scenario) or regret/shame (putting any emotional energy into a past scenario) struck me as immensely comical – and tragic, of course, for those who were stuck in the loops of worrying or regret/shame.
     I said things like: ”Don’t worry, be happy – that’s the gospel! Believe me, it is really that simple!” But I kept feeling that I couldn’t communicate just how true, how deep and how important my insight was. Language seemed utterly useless in conveying it, and when I listen to the recording, my laughter and my tone of voice carry much more of the ineffable information than the words. When I tried to communicate my insight, the words either sounded extremely trivial, almost nonsensical, or got lost in a labyrinth of abstractions. I heard myself saying the usual stuff that all kinds of spiritual teachers have said: What you’re looking for is already here, the path is the goal, nowhere to go, etc. The mere thought of a goal, and of striving towards a goal, had me laughing so hard that tears were flowing. My trip sitter then asked how I felt about my meditation practice. I remember feeling that I wanted to defend it, and I tried to say the sentence ”I have made a lot of progress in meditation”, but I almost couldn’t because of laughter. It felt unspeakably hilarious that ”I” should be able to make any ”progress”. ”How can you find anything if it is not already here?” I said. ”I can’t explain it,” I repeated. ”And the reason is that there is nothing to explain! That’s what people fail to understand with all their questions. There is nothing to explain, just relax, it’s all fine!” Etc. etc. I realized that I was giving the same type of answers as the ”you are already awakened” people, and I even remembered how incredibly annoying I used to think these answers were before I ingested the psilocybin.
     Now and then I meditated, but half of the times I tried to, I had to stop after less than half a minute because I began laughing. I managed to do a few minutes now and then, though, and everything was just so incredibly clear and stable and calm – and otherwise quite normal: I would say that I have been in much more altered states of consciousness on retreat with deep absorption, sense of body disappearing etc. In fact, this psilocybin induced state didn’t feel altered at all, more like … finally 100 % normal! I even tried sitting in a very awkward and uncomfortable posture that would normally put the body into cramps within a minute or two. I sat like that for maybe 5-7 minutes with absolutely no tension, aversion, cramp or anything like that, it was exactly the same as sitting erect. There was this feeling of utter unworriedness, complete ease, total lack of any aversion to anything, any craving for anything, and the feeling was the same, whether I was meditating or not, whether I was talking or listening, whether I was again and again failing in communicating my experience: No frustration whatsoever about that, just laughter.
     Six to seven hours after ingestion, I slowly came down from the peak effect, and the rest of the day and evening, I just felt a deep sense of relief, ease, wellbeing, and a good amount of excitement and joy that came with some restlessness (that there was no aversion to). I played the piano for a couple of hours and had a feeling that I was much much better at it than usual.
     EVENING MEDITATION (sat around half an hour from 8 PM, eight hours after ingestion, so the psilocybin should be out of the system by now): Incredible ease and effortlessness, deep concentration, sat like a mountain. Energy body: a little soreness, intense (ie. pleasantly unpleasant or vice versa) chi, especially in the heart area. Energy body felt bigger than the anatomical body. Complete calm, zero aversion, extreme wellbeing.
     OFF-CUSHION: There was so much joy and excitement in the system that I had difficulties falling asleep. I thought a lot about what had happened, and about this retreat: I had if not lost interest in the jhanas, then at least suddenly felt that they were not that important. And so I decided to change my meditation the last three days from the technical and samatha oriented style of the first four days to ”just sitting”, in order to integrate the psilocybin experience and see what might have changed in the bodymind, if anything.

Day 6
OFF-CUSHION: Only got four hours of sleep. Lots of reflections about the experience yesterday, pondering whether the ineffable insight was still there in my system or not. I had a feeling that it was – although it might have faded a bit.
     MORNING MEDITATION: Didn’t change posture for the entire two hours. Body effortlessly erect. Clarity, calm, wellbeing. Some flickering in the visual field. Thoughts quite regularly. Energy body clearly perceived all the way through. The first 90 minutes or so, chi was mostly neutral and then there was an uncomfortable area of soreness and hardness at the top of the back. No aversion to it at all. Concentration not super sharp, but no aversion to that either. Virtually no hindrances at any point, except a few glimpses of what I call micro dukkha (the little pebble in your shoe, although everything is just fine). Usually micro dukkha lingers, often stays for minutes or even an entire sit, but in this sitting it was only there for a split second and disappeared as soon as it was seen. The last half hour no pain or discomfort, chi was dense, subtly moving, neutral, slightly pleasant. Lots of accept, patience, faith, joy.
     NOON MEDITATION: Again some tensions in the upper torso, moving about, uncomfortable. Thoughts (lots of self diagnostic dharma thoughts). More flickering in the visual field. Change to squatting to rest the upper back, the tensions disappeared, but reappeared when I sat wit erect spine again. No aversion, although there was discomfort most of the time and a lot of distracting thoughts that pulled attention away from the breath. Just lots of joy, calm, contentment, and also some tiredness towards the end.
     AFTERNOON MEDITATION: Stopped some twenty minutes before time, so sat for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Lots of tensions and pain all the way through, but at the same time deep calm and equanimity. Change posture a couple of times. Lots of thoughts, but they were not perceived as distractions. Difficult to say if there was any aversion at all: On the one hand it didn’t feel as if there was aversion, and yet I changed posture, so there must have been some aversion, or? The experience was that when I had sat for half an hour without moving, and the pain was growing, then at some point I felt an impulse to collapse the spine, and then the spine just collapsed, without there being any inner debate whether I should be ”persistent in practice” or ”kind to my self”. Before, there would almost always be a least a second of nonverbal inner conflict, but now the impulse just immediately let to the action: When the body felt like resting, it just rested – simple as that.
     OFF-CUSHION: In the break lots of thoughts (and laughter!) about the fact that this was planned as a jhana retreat, and it had not at all turned out as planned: All the bodily wellbeing – the piti that I was supposed to cultivate and take as an object to get to the first jhana – had just not showed up. Instead, there was now lots of bodily pain, which technically might be Dark Night, although there was also a lot of joy and rock steady equanimity. ”This retreat is vipassanizing me!” I said to my dictaphone app, laughingly. Although I found (and find) it impossible to place myself on the map. I seem to be all over the place.
     EVENING MEDITATION: After 45 minutes of sitting, I decided to stop, since I was completely exhausted. The sitting was not unpleasant, almost no pain, lots of calm, very few thoughts, and then just tiredness, dozing off.

Day 7
OFF-CUSHION: Slept for eleven hours, only woke up twice shortly. No special dreams or anything.
     MORNING MEDITATION: Began with some pranayama. This brought some tears of joy and laughter at the same time, since I not just remembered but relived the feeling of the psilocybin experience: Everything is perfectly fine just as it is, it is completely absurd to worry about a-ny-thing … In the sitting, the body was soft, malleable, chi at medium intensity, long soft wavy movements, mostly following the breath. Visual field not active. Thoughts now and then, no aversion to them. There was almost no pain or discomfort. I sat for two hours without changing posture, except I collapsed the spine due to a contraction in the energy body, rested, and sat up straight again. Again I could easily have sat with that contraction, but the spine collapsed by itself, the body wanted to rest a bit, and why shouldn’t it? So all in all: wellbeing, contentment, calm, peace, joy.
     NOON MEDITATION: Changed posture a couple of times, not much discomfort, mostly just wellbeing, calm, ease and lightness. In the beginning, pulsations around the top of the sushumna and flickering in the visual field. The pulsations subsided, and some tensions came, I then rested the spine and things eased off. Lots of accept. Some 90 minutes in virya dropped a bit, mindfulness got weaker and had some drop outs. No aversion to this. It was hard to keep the attention at a specific place, breath at the nostrils, for instance, it felt unnatural: When left alone, the attention was just more or less everywhere, panoramic. I noticed again that the aversion was almost absent (a little boredom and impatience was there), and self critical or self debatting thoughts were totally absent. A sense of ordinariness, eventlessness.
     OFF-CUSHION: Since the psilocybin trip, there has been nothing but lots of joy in my off-cushion life, even though there is pain in the meditation. I am singing when I make coffee etc. Also the experience of thoughts seem to have changed a bit: Thoughts seem more physical, more akin to the experience of chi/bodily energy. For instance, when I (on or off cushion) get pulled in by a thought and put on a train of thoughts for 10-15 seconds, it is very similar to a contraction in the energy body, this is just at contraction in the mind. And it comes and goes by it self. So a stronger anatta sense of thoughts: They are really not me, they are like subtle physical entities.
     AFTERNOON MEDITATION: In the beginning, lively pulsations along the sushumna. Some 15 minutes in, tensions came, and there was a crossfade: vibrations wore off, tensions got stronger – and painful. Lots of calm and clarity, no aversion at first. Then some 45-50 minutes in, a little aversion came, and I collapsed the spine for a while, resting. Then back with erect spine, and again pulsations came, this time a little higher up the sushumna, in the neck and head. Again tensions followed, not painful this time, but intense, more and more intense. Which made the concentration very strong, and the mind very quiet. I sad like that for about an hour, I think. Mindfulness very clear, lots of calm. Then some tiredness came, I changed to squatting and rested a bit, then back to kneeling with erect spine (now probably around 2 hours and 15 minutes in). Again pulsations in the top of the torso, the neck and the head, more powerful this time, almost like intense tensions pulsating. I sat with that until the bell rang.
     OFF-CUSHION: In the break: Still lots of joy, even tears of joy, and laughter.
     EVENING MEDITATION: Stopped the meditation around half an hour before the bell because of tiredness. In the beginning, the joy I felt in the break carried over, I was almost laughing on the cushion. There was again pulsations. Then the joy slowly evolved in to just contentment, then even more neutral equanimity, and at the same time, the pulsations subsided, some intense tensions came, and I sat with them for maybe half an hour. Then I changed to squatting and rested, did some long in and out breaths. After the last out breath there was a maybe 30 seconds pause. Then a few breaths and again a long pause. Then back in kneeling position, pulsations came back, but this time no tensions came, when the pulsations subsided, the body was just relaxed, chi was very static, just a buzz keeping the body erect. Very little going on in the mind, no thoughts, a kind of ”lucid sleep”, a pilot light of mindfulness with a few dreamy and bizarre thoughts, 5-10 seconds long. Then yawning, tiredness. A few seconds of stubbornness, wanting to keep sitting in spite of the tiredness, but quite quickly I decided to just stop.

Day 8
OFF-CUSHION: Got nine hours of sleep, only awake a few times. Still felt tired when I got up.
     MORNING MEDITATION: Began with low energy (virya), the body was soft, no tensions, chi not very active, body was easily erect, easy to sit, contentment, thoughts (still no aversion to them). Sat like this for around 45 minutes. Then some slight tension came, slightly uncomfortable (not at all as strong as yesterday), equally distributed along the sushumna. Some 75 minutes in, I collapsed the spine, just following an impulse (again, no internal debate at all). Rested for some 15 minutes, the tensions disappeared, some heaviness and denseness (slightly pleasant) came. Mood went from equanimity to contentment. I then sat up erect again, body still soft, dense, heavy, nice to be in, mood got up another notch now to joy. Towards the end of the sit, some wobbly pulsations along the sushumna, neutral or slightly pleasant. The last minutes a bit of impatience due to a desire to communicate, talk to the dictaphone app that I use for notes, and, when the retreat ends, to tell people about how simple things are when you first see it. Yawning as I opened the eyes, so still low virya, but lots of joy.
     NOON MEDITATION: The recognizable pattern again: First pulsations, then tensions. This time also an energy transportation: A knot of chi at the spine, heart level, lingering for along time, then quite suddenly traveling upwards. Then rested in the back of the neck (it was somehow bigger, broader, than the anatomical neck). After a good while, some of it spread into the head. Then I collapsed the spine, the chi spread out, body got a little heavy, dense, pleasant. I sat like this maybe ten minutes, then sat up straight again, pulsations came, I felt that I hadn’t finished resting, so I rested the spine some more, and sat up. Pulsations again (they are only there when the spine is erect). All this took place on a basis of calm and strong equanimity, sometimes contentment and even joy. A little impatience, due to the desire to communicate. Sat until the bell rang, though, and could have sat much longer.
     OFF-CUSHION: Lots of dharma diagnostic thoughts, impossible to place myself on the map: Since the psilocybin experience everything has taken place on a basis of deep calm and acceptance and faith and a general lightness of being, in short: the equanimity nana. BUT: At the same time, there is this unstoppable, energetic joy, the urge to communicate, the elevated mood, all of which just screams A&P! AND: There is quite a lot of physical pain in the sittings, which suggests: DN. It is all there almost at the same time. But then again, the following things have NOT been here: 1) any kind of mental dukkha (aversion, misery etc.); 2) a quiet mind for a longer period of time, deep and abstract absorption; 3) dreaminess & drowsiness (was there once, briefly); 4) bodily pleasure, strong physical bliss etc.; and 5) unknowing events.
     AFTERNOON MEDITATION: Pulsations, then tensions, the recognizable pattern. This time I chose to apply the Burbea technique of doing long comfortable breaths when the tensions came. This gave a lot of relief to the tension. When I also applied the technique of ”counting within the breath”, up on the in breath, down on the out breath, the very talkative mind got more quiet. So instead of doing nothing, as I have been doing since Day 5, I actively tried to cool down the body mind system. And it worked. Not sure how this choice came about, it seemed very natural, possibly because the retreat is almost finished, and there did not seem to be any reason to keep meditating very intensively. The last hour I did reclining meditation. This was very pleasant, the body was soft and heavy, breath very calm, no tension, no pulsation, and then, much to my surprise, some piti (the very pleasant tingling body sensations) came, for the first time on this retreat – this thing that I had planned to work on, but that had not shown up at all. I got sleepy, but began doing long in and out breaths, counting within the breaths, and this stabilized the virya, kept me awake. And there was this light piti in the body, a light buzz, especially in the face and hands. And towards the end, I decided to stop the retreat after this meditation. It seemed to be a good way to end what still as of writing this report seems like the best and most important retreat I have ever done.


AFTER THE RETREAT

First I’ll describe the sittings the first week after the retreat, then my off-cushion life, finally a diagnostic deliberation.

2022.11.16
LATE EVENING MEDITATION (Just before midnight, ie. only a few hours after finishing the retreat, and after getting back online, talking to friends etc., I decided to sit for just five or ten minutes before going to sleep, but it turned out to be 45 minutes): Again incredibly easy to sit, and this time also quite pleasant. At first powerfull wobblings and pulsations in most of the upper torso. Some 15 minutes later some tensions came, they were perceived as pleasant. Only few thoughts. Mood: Joy, calm, gratitude, deep contentment, peace, curiosity to see what was going on. The only reason I stopped after 45 minutes was that I thought it would be skillful to get some sleep, I wasn’t tired and could have sat much longer. – It took me long time to fall asleep, lots of pleasant feelings in the body, and joyful excitement in the mind.

2022.11.17
OFF-CUSHION: 4-5 hours of sleep, woke up twice because of dreams (not lucid), one of them technically a nightmare involving a dead woman coming back to live in the morgue, people were scared, but the dreamer was not. It woke me up, though. Tried to get back to sleep but gave up after 30-40 minutes and made an early rise at around 06 AM.
     FIRST SITTING (50 minutes, sat without a timer): Strong equanimity, and ditto clarity and mindfulness, and, I guess, concentration, although that’s harder to say, since I didn’t do anything to ”concentrate” and thoughts came and went without disturbing anything. No aversion, no craving. Most of the attention bandwith was occupied by the energy body: About 30 seconds in, some pulsation began at the spine, top of the back and back of the neck level. Neutral to pleasant vedana. The rest of the body still, calm, at ease, neutral (it stayed that way throughout). The pulsating lump of energy suddenly was down at the solar plexus level or heart level. I did not notice it slide or jump, suddenly it was just there (no apparent lapse in mindfulness). It stayed there for about ten minutes, then it began getting more and more tense, while the pulsations were getting weaker and slower. Vedana changed to slightly intense, perhaps a bit painful. This lasted maybe twenty minutes. Then, quite suddenly, this tense pulsating lump moved down to the bottom of the spine. It took maybe 2-3 seconds. There, it spread out a bit, but still formed a lump. A little later some tense energy traveled all the way up to the back of the neck. Again, it took only a couple of seconds. Now about two thirds of the energy was at the bottom, and one third at the top of the spine, and between them there was a string of light tension (neutral vedana). This seemed like the end of a process, and the situation remained like this for maybe five minutes, and I was ready to end the sit, but got curious to see if a new process would set in motion. And indeed it did, a few minutes later: Once again some pulsations (without tension, neutral to pleasant in vedana) began at the solar plexus level. I could have easily sat much longer, but ended the sit for practical reasons.
     SECOND SITTING (44 minutes without timer): At first quite violent swirly pulsations all along the sushumna from root to crown, most forcefull at heart level and the back of the head. Forcefull, a bit intense, not at all uncomfortable, rather weirdly nice. Then some 5-10 minutes in, tensions began while the pulsations got a little weaker. For some 30-35 minutes there was a cross fade (with lots of back and forth) from mostly vibrations with a little tension to mostly tension with a little vibrations. Some of the energy movements were new to me in that they seemed to take place outside of the anatomical body, for instance a ”pair of wings”-like movement swaying back and forth somewhere between my ears and shoulders and perhaps a hands breadth in front of the anatomical body. Some 40 minutes in, the vibrations had almost subsided, the tension was easing of, there was a more restful feel to it all, and I decided to stop. In the last few seconds I felt a new little vibration begin in the chest. So basically the same pattern (vibration, tension, rest) in basically the samme amount of time (some 45 minutes). Oh yeah, and no aversion or craving, the rest of the body still and at ease, thoughts now and then, calm, peace, ease, deep okayness.
     THIRD SITTING (47 minutes sat without a timer): The vibrations were there at the get go, but this time the tension followed almost immediately after, building and building, and some ten minutes in there was a strong and chaotically pulsating pain in the upper back. With a little variation now and then, this continued throughout the sitting. Few thoughts, strong concentration, rock solid equanimity, calm, faith, even some sort of well-being despite the strong pain.

2022.11.18
OFF-CUSHION: Slept nine hours almost straight (woke up once after about one hour with a sort of soft buzzing in the entire body). Woke up with a heavy, well-rested body and a bright and joyful mind.
         FIRST SITTING (62 minutes without a timer): A different pattern this time: A light to medium heaviness in the entire body, only very weak and gentle pulsations, stillness, a bit stiffness, comfortable, mildly pleasant. After ten minutes, a tightness started building at the spine, heart level. Some 15-20 minutes later, it had gotten uncomfortable, a tension or contraction. It kind of stabilized for quite a while. Then it slowly began moving upward, or rather: There was no sense of movement of chi, but a tightness arose in the neck, and the tightness at heart level subsided at the same pace. Later, some of the chi continued up into the back of the head. While all this was going on, some of it quite uncomfortable, the mind was just content, sometimes even happy, a bit restless, thoughts were there almost all the time, only when it for some ten minutes was particularly uncomfortable, did the mind quiet down, and concentration got stronger – all by it self. I had no experience of doing anything at all, I just sat there. All taking place in a general atmosphere of wellbeing, faith, calm etc.
     SECOND SITTING (39 minutes, no timer): Tension and vibration arose at the same time. Mostly it was a knot at the spine, solar plexus level, with a little activity elsewhere now and then. At some point I did some long in and out breaths to see if the somewhat static situation would change, and there was a hint of some of the energy moving upwards to the chest. Mindwise it was similar to the many previous. Thoughts about whether I should just do nothing and observe or do these Rob Burbea samatha breathing exercises. I concluded that it probably did not make that much of a difference in the long run whether I did them or not.

2022.11.19
FIRST SITTING (35 minutes): The frequent pattern: 1) Vibrations (this time swirly movements in the sushumna, heart level, pleasantly neutral). 2) Tensions arising 4-5 minutes in (same area: the chest), and from 15 minutes in clearly the most predominant feature. 3) Finally tensions easing off (around 30 minutes in). I sat with the ease a minute or so, then took some slightly deeper breaths to see if more ease and relaxation would come. In stead there were some small bursts of piti/pleasant chi, and a new pulsation began building in the chest. At that point I decided to stop. Again just calm, ease, faith etc.
     SECOND SITTING (60 minutes with a timer this time). The pattern described above went 1, 2, 3 in about 25 minutes. Then again 1, 2, 3 in maybe 20 minutes finishing in some tiredness, dreaminess. The tiredness continued while some tension and vague vibrations came again, not so clear a pattern this time. The last ten minutes also pain in the right thigh and aversion to it. Still overall really good mood.

2022.11.20
OFF-CUSHION: Slept for ten unbroken hours.
     FIRST SITTING (60 minutes): 10-20 seconds in, some swirly pulsations along or inside the sushumna. 5-7 minutes later, a slight tension along or inside the sushumna, especially the upper part, began building. The pulsations subsided, and from around 20 minutes in, they were gone. The slight tension spread out and thinned out, and the entire torso, head, and arms were sort of wrapped in a light stiffness or field of light tension which was neutral or pleasantly neutral. This continued until the bell rang, while the absorption slowly got deeper and deeper. A couple of times, there were little bursts of piti on the out breath, covering the surface of most of the torso, but quickly gone again. Through the sit there were lots of thoughts and what seemed like poor concentration: I halfheartedly tried a little technique now and then (noting the breath, for instance), but the mind quickly forgot. No aversion to anything, no craving for anything. Calm, content, mild joy.
     SECOND SITTING (60 minutes). A few seconds in, swirly movements in or along the sushumna in the chest, neck and back of the head. 5-7 minutes later, some tensions began fading in, in the same area. They were a bit intense, but never outright uncomfortable or painful. 15-20 minutes in, the pulsations were almost gone, and tensions the dominant feature. 30 minutes in, the tensions began relaxing, and from around 40 minutes in, a restful state with still a little tension dominated. Also a little tiredness came. Everything happened on a basis of strong equanimity, accept, contentment etc.

2022.11.21
FIRST SITTING (60 minutes). The usual pattern (1, 2, 3) unfolded within the first 20 minutes or so. After that, not so clear a pattern: The three ”stages” in the pattern (pulsations; tensions; restfulness) were now more like faders going up and down in an unstructured way. Could be that two, three or more ”cycles” were concluded, but it is difficult to say.
         SECOND SITTING (60 minutes). The usual pattern unfolded during the entire sitting: 1) swirly pulsations along the sushumna from the get go, 2) tension arriving a few minutes later, and after some back and forth the dominating feature from around 25-30 minutes in, 3) restfulness arriving a few minutes later, and dominating the last ten minutes or so.

2022.11.22
FIRST SITTING. The 1, 2, 3 pattern unfolded in about twenty minutes. While the restfulness remained, a new 1, 2, 3 unfolded, so to say within the the restfulness. Now a new layer of restfulness was added to the first, the body was very still, breath almost gone. And in this space, another 1, 2, 3, much more subtle, unfolded. And possibly one or two more, it got difficult to distinguish. The last 20 minutes I sat like a mountain. All the way through, just calm, contentment or straight up joy, amusement, ease, etc.
     SECOND SITTING: Similar to the previous the first twenty minutes: 1, 2, 3. Then things got more muddy, both 1, 2 and 3 were there at the same time, each fading a bit up and down, without there being a clear pattern. At times the chi was really intense, quite uncomfortable and even painful, and yet the mind didn’t mind at all. It wasn’t even very interested in all this energetic activity, I had to remind myself to observe it, so that I could log about how the sitting evolved. Concentration seemed weak, attention was a bit everywhere, difficult to focus and sustain on one object, and the mind wasn’t interested in that. There were thoughts quite regularly, and they were totally unrelated to the energy and to the vedana of the energy, no dharma thinking, just babbling a bit about things in my everyday life. And the mood was light, content if not joyful, very calm, easy, amused. No aversion to anything. It really feels as if my meditation has changed.

My off-cushion life after the retreat has been much like it was on the last days of the retreat: Joy, joy, joy, relief, ease, lightness, deep unworriedness, calm and yet energetic, very focused, efficient and creative on my work tasks, very enthusiastic and engaged in social situations. People reflect back to me that something in me has changed. All in all, it has been much like the first 8-10 days after Stream Entry: A wave rolling through, only stronger this time. It is slowly subsiding, but I definitely feel that I am at a ”new normal”. The basic quality of the experience or insight I had while on psilocybin is still here, although not with the same intensity and clarity. But there’s no craving for that intensity and clarity. Alan Watts said some wise words with regards to psychedelics: ”When you get the message, hang up the phone.” I feel no wish to dial up again.
     For 3-4 years I have been evaluating my meditation within the framework of the Four Path Model/Stages of Insight. Since my hypothesized Stream Entry in late March this year, this model has made less sense to me, and thus seems less important. My teacher think I got 2nd Path this summer, I am not so sure, although not ruling it out, but more importantly: It doesn’t matter that much. And I guess I feel the same about this new shift (it feels like a shift for the time being). It is not crucial how it is mapped, because it is what it is, no matter what we call it. Still, I am bit curious how a ”mystical experience” or ”spiritual opening” like this can fit into the Four Path Model/Stages of Insight. I can think of three ways of understanding it:
     a) It was (equivalent to) a path moment, and I am now one Path further than before the retreat, ie. either 2nd or 3rd.
     b) It was (equivalent to) an A&P event, either on the way to 2nd or 3rd Path. In that case a highly unusual A&P event, at least for me, since it was so normal and calm and funny/humorous. All earlier A&P’s for me have had strong perceptual changes, strong emotional instability, a sense of deep seriousness and lots of spiritual pride (”I am a fantastic yogi”, ”my mind is so special” etc.). None of that was or is present here.
     c) Finally it could be understood as ”just an experience”, which it is, of course, but I mean: nothing more than that, nothing that has any relevance with regard to the Four Path Model/Stages of Insight, or even my spiritual development as such.
     My own hunch is that c) is a unsatisfying answer, that b) sounds improbable but not impossible, and that a) seems to make most sense, even though there has not been any unknowing events during or after the retreat, but then again, psilocybin has an effect on the brain that might be similar to the effect of a cessation: some sort of sudden "rewiring", cf. the other post on psilocybin and meditation.
     There might of course be a d) and an e) etc. that I haven’t thought of.

Thanks for your patience if you made it this far! emoticon
shargrol, modified 11 Days ago at 11/22/22 5:26 PM
Created 11 Days ago at 11/22/22 5:26 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
With mapping, it's going to be hard to do with the trip occurring in the middle. 

My stupidly simple interpretation: it seems like everything in your reporting was about energy and fractals --- which is a very second path thing.

With third path, the main thing that shows up is emptiness, almost as an obsession --- which I'm not quite hearing yet.

My funny intuition: might be a good time to try inquiry. Who are you? >What< are you?
George S, modified 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 9:54 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 9:53 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 2596 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
In addition to what shargrol said, I would say that third path is where you lose attachment to the idea that meditative "path moments" represent progress towards some kind of imagined state which is not already in your direct experience. As your experience shows, life is very simple and enjoyable when you recognize that everything you need or want mentally is already here. So the remaining dukkha and investigation is all about the subtle ways we take ourselves out of our present moment experience when we start to imagine that there is some kind of "better experience" we could be having instead (how is that even possible?) In practice that comes down to self enquiry again, deconstructing the identity of being a "meditator" or "practitioner" on a "path of progress" towards something which is not already here. It's also bound up with the fabrication of time, the trick we play on ourselves when we imagine that there is such a thing as a "future experience" which is not already happening right now, so that's another aspect of selfing you can investigate.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 11:28 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 11:28 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
What you call your "stupidly simple interpretation" I call a "heroic act of boiling a much too long report down to the essence": You are spot on! In my sittings these days and weeks, before, during, and after the retreat, those two things are dominant: Bodily energy/chi (taking up 80 percent of attentional bandwith) and the experience of moving in spirals or spirals within spirals – fractals – when it comes to the nanas. So mapping wise I agree with you: I am probably post SE, and pre 2nd.

The next week or two, I think I will just continue to "do nothing" in the sittings. Let things settle. Not fuel "the meditator self" by doing samata or vipassana. Less doing, more being.

After that I don't know. Maybe I'll pick up the Burbea jhana stuff again, I really like his talks and his instructions. Or I'll go to the inquiry, as you suggest – it makes sense with regard to the mapping. How does that sound?

Oh, and another question – probably from "the meditator self" emoticon With all this rewiring and plumbing I have going on in the energy body, would it be (and has it been) a bad idea to do samatha? I mean: Samatha is actively soothing the unpleasant chi, and actively cultivating the pleasant, thus maybe hiding or surpressing a natural unfolding that the bodymind needs to see and see through? Should I just leave the energy body alone with my manipulative samatha and let it rewire at its own pace?
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Chris M, modified 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 11:42 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 11:40 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 4595 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Niels, based on my personal experience with where you seem to be on the path right now, you should probably be practicing jhanas. I was told this by my teacher many times before I took it to heart. I certainly understand the delay. Jhana practice is different. It might be harder at first because you'll be using different meditation "muscles." But try it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Also my experience - the rewiring will happen no matter what you do. It's off and running, and involuntary. You only think you can control any of it, anyway  emoticon
shargrol, modified 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 4:32 PM
Created 10 Days ago at 11/23/22 4:26 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
For what it's worth, my working through 2nd path was all about being on the roller coaster of energy, rewiring, trying to fruitlessly figure out fractal nanas, and unskillfully dropping into mostly vipassina-ish-jhanas. I was able to get good enough to practice "the jhanas", not in the way Chris and Ron and Kenneth and Daniel could,  but I would always allow myself to ssssooooaaaaakkkk, just soak, in any state that was jhana-ish. But so much of it was just happening on it's own, like sitting backwards on a roller coaster.

I never got great at intentional jhanas, but I would drop into non-body/energy body states pretty much anytime I did extended practice.

But one thing that got beat into my head was that <u>I wasn't in control at all</u>. Or maybe a better way to say it was the less I tried to direct my practice, the more I was taken on the ride that turned out to be exactly right.

Late in the road to 2nd Path moment, I was really struggling with trying to land a path moment. For context, I learned during the road to 1st Path that "really trying hard" just would send me back to A&amp;P and through the dark night again. So on the road to 2nd Path, I tried all sorts of more subtle and clever ways to make it happen... and mostly I would just have brownouts and blackouts and formless realms and repeat 1st path fruitions. There were cessation-like experiences but they didn't do the trick. I could tell, they didn't hit deep enough.

I was on a short 4 day retreat and if I remember right, by about day 3 I kinda tried everything including staying up late into the night and really soaking in formless jhanas. But I could tell I was working too hard. So once again, I had come to the conclusion that to get path <u>I wasn't in control at all</u>.

So on the last morning of this retreat, I just gave up. I decided that whatever showed up was what I was going to meditate with. There was no jhana happening, no nana happening. But there also wasn't any spritual ambition. And oddly enough, it seemed like part of the answer. Everything was markedly easier. It was like regaining a kind of meditation innocence, like the old me that back in the day was just excited to make it through an hour sit. Anyway, you can probably predict where this is going. I was just sitting and doing the most simple noting/noting practice and I got pulled into a jhana--- but before it became a jhana, it was a cessation. 2nd path done.

Wow. It was so simple.

(Ironically this is basically applying what you said during your trip to sitting practice itself!)

So anyway, hope this is helpful in some way. I suspect that for you, "trying" to do jhanas will result in more "meditator self", which is why I recommended inquiry. Because even if you hit jhana, who is the mind that experiences jhana? Who is the knowing mind?

But if you can go down the road of jhanas where the jhanas <u>do you</u> as much as you do them, then that's probably going to be good stuff. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Days ago at 11/24/22 7:07 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 11/24/22 5:54 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 402 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
@ shargrol and Christ: Thank you very much for your answers, they are very instructive!
     Yesterday I wrote: "I think I will just continue to 'do nothing' in the sittings. Let things settle. Not fuel 'the meditator self' by doing samata or vipassana. Less doing, more being."
     I am still listening to the Rob Burbea jhana retreat material, and in some sort of synchronicity, he is now chiming in, in our little discussion here (about whether jhana is right for me at this point). The context of the following quote is jhana versus vipassana, and the questioner is asking about the doing in jhana practice. Here is Burbea’s answer (in my slightly edited transcription) that I heard just this morning:

”Actually, it looks like you’re doing something extra, and people say ’I don’t like doing in meditation, I want to just be.’ Well, we’re doing plenty all the time with this unconscious ’me, mine’ or ’it’s real’. Most people don’t walk around thinking and obsessing ’it’s a real me,’ ’it’s a real pain,’ or whatever. There is just – automatically, subconsciously, nonverbally, woven into the way of looking 99.999 times out of 100.000 times – these views of ’me, mine,’ and also views of ’this is a real thing’. And of course, at first when you do these practices [meaning the jhana practices, I assume], it feels as if you are doing something: ’Oh, now I have to remember, me, mine, what a lot of work, I do this, over and over, etc.’ But actually what you are doing, is that you are taking away in that moment a doing that has just become so habitual and so unconscious that you don’t even recognize it as a doing.”

To summarize: When doing jhana, you are also indirectly undoing unseen elements of the self. So the difference between jhana (construction) and vipassana (deconstruction) is more subtle than I thought! There is an indirect deconstruction, an indirect vipassana effect in the construction of the jhana.
     And I think vipassana (at least as I have been practicing it, but I think it goes for a lot of other modern westerners) has a tendency to gravitate towards the ”negative”: The attention is drawn to unpleasant vedana, difficult emotions, painful thoughts, partly because of conditioning (protestant work ethics: no pain, no gain, etc.), partly because of wanting to fix the problem. And pleasant vedana, lovely emotions, beautiful thoughts, are not a problem. And so they get bypassed. Hence, by actively turning to them, cultivating them, I might hope to create a more ”even seeing” or ”equal seeing” (equanimity?) in the system. And possibly indirecly deconstruct some unseen habits?
    Do you agree with this way of understanding it?
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Chris M, modified 10 Days ago at 11/24/22 9:13 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 11/24/22 9:03 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 4595 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Neils --

And I think vipassana (at least as I have been practicing it, but I think it goes for a lot of other modern westerners) has a tendency to gravitate towards the ”negative”: The attention is drawn to unpleasant vedana, difficult emotions, painful thoughts, partly because of conditioning (protestant work ethics: no pain, no gain, etc.), partly because of wanting to fix the problem. And pleasant vedana, lovely emotions, beautiful thoughts, are not a problem. And so they get bypassed. Hence, by actively turning to them, cultivating them, I might hope to create a more ”even seeing” or ”equal seeing” (equanimity?) in the system. And possibly indirecly deconstruct some unseen habits?

You have a good objective in mind, but the process needs a tweak. Distinguishing between "good" and "bad" phenomena isn't quite what we want to do. The jhanas, like everything else in our experience, just are. It was always best for me to relax into them without carrying any expectations. The ultimate is to see everything with equanimity. Craving is just as unsatisfactory as aversion. The good and the bad are constructs that try to lead us to run away or run toward our experiences. We want to develop a way to be with every experience.

Hope this helps!
shargrol, modified 9 Days ago at 11/24/22 9:41 AM
Created 9 Days ago at 11/24/22 9:41 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 1872 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Yeah, good stuff.

Everything in meditation ultimately becomes paradoxical and a matter of mastering the extremes and finding a balance.
  • So yes being ambitious in meditation could be a way of reinforcing the sense of self... but actually getting good at meditation involves a lot of giving up selfing-habits.
  • So yes it's possible that jhanas feel like a lot of effort/work which is contrary to letting go... but actually getting good at jhanas develops a new comfort level with letting go even more.
  • So yes dwelling in sukka/jhanas supports a refined and flexible and insightful mind... but at sometime you need to use this insightful mind to understand dukka and the three poisons by directly experiencing them.
  • So yes it's is important to drop all spiritual ambition... but not too soon!

That's why personal intuition and owning your own practice is so important. Only the meditator can truly figure out their path. There's no magic formula or "right way" because everything is so paradoxical about meditation. All more experienced people can do is point out when someone is drifting a little too far to one side or the other of the path; it's basically impossible to point someone else down and along their path. That's the meditator's responsibility to figure out. 
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Chris M, modified 9 Days ago at 11/24/22 9:56 AM
Created 9 Days ago at 11/24/22 9:56 AM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 4595 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I found getting into jhana at will was a great lesson in letting go. It's like learning to ride a bicycle - you can't manage it consciously, or you'll fall over. You have to allow things to happen on their own. There is a balancing point to find that will eventually become second nature. A sort of muscle memory. It's very much worth doing for the lessons to learn, the bliss, and knowledge that comes with the various jhanas.
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Oatmilk, modified 9 Days ago at 11/24/22 1:52 PM
Created 9 Days ago at 11/24/22 1:52 PM

RE: Niels's practice log #4

Posts: 122 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
The letting go part mentioned here is a thing that has to be learnt over time, like an undoing of the mind. It's not us letting go, it's the mind gradually recognizing the suffering that creates the tension. After years of practice we think that we come to the point where we paid attention to every kind of formation and sensation. To cycles, to patterns, etc. and still nothing seems to happen? This can cause great suffering and in my experience backing off from practice and doing something for the behalf of the other can soften this tension and get us out of all the believes we have about how things have to be etc. Maybe this can be of help. 

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