Jared N's Practice Journal

Jared N, modified 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 10:42 AM
Created 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 10:42 AM

Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
I've posted a few times on here. I had a dissolution experience around the end of January 2022, and subsequently was hospitalized, dealt with a lot of DN stuff, and took a 4-month break from meditation. I have decided that I'm ready to come back to sitting practice. This time, it's my decision and commitment to go through these challenges and I'm looking forward to the joys and struggles that await.

I want to alleviate my own suffering, and hopefully become more of a joy and support for people around me as well. So at the forefront of my mind is the goal to become a better human being. As Daniel says in his book, morality is the first and last training, and for me, that seems like the only reason to do all of this stuff. Anyways, I'm sure a lot of these ideas will change as I progress, but I hope my commitment to doing good remains, so this journal will include reflections about morality as well as my meditation experiences/questions.

I think keeping a log will be helpful, so I'll be posting daily or semi-daily for the foreseeable future in order to track my experience and get help along the way.

To everyone who has helped me already in past posts, I'm really grateful to you. To everyone who will help in future posts, I'm grateful for you too. May we all be free from suffering, awaken, and be happy. emoticon

Tuesday, May 10:
Today, I did TMI-style breath-focused meditation for 30 minutes. My mind is struggling to remain on the object of the breath. When I was doing body scanning, it was easier for me to have a steady focus, but I think training on the object of the breath will be a good skill to learn. It's only my 3rd time meditating in over 3 months, so I'm a little rusty on concentration. But I'm not rushed, I think I'll just sit and see where it takes me. As of right now, the main difference is that I notice the sensations in the body a bit more clearly than before.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 11:00 AM
Created 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 11:00 AM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 283 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
I want to alleviate my own suffering, and hopefully become more of a joy and support for people around me as well. So at the forefront of my mind is the goal to become a better human being. As Daniel says in his book, morality is the first and last training, and for me, that seems like the only reason to do all of this stuff. Anyways, I'm sure a lot of these ideas will change as I progress, but I hope my commitment to doing good remains, so this journal will include reflections about morality as well as my meditation experiences/questions.
Very nice to see you starting a practice thread, Jared. I think you have a good goal here and a good View. At a certain point we learn that by dependent arising each and every moment and everything we do and experience is up to us. Therefore, I like your ground-up approach - good foundation.  
Jared N, modified 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 2:14 PM
Created 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 2:14 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thanks, Sigma!

I really appreciated your recent Lion's roar post. : )  It was one of the main reasons I returned to practice. It is helping me associate meditation with ultimate freedom rather than just the suffering and trauma that it was bringing up before. I'm happy to know this is a path that could lead me to that sort of freedom. I'm looking forward to digging into your practice logs and learning a little from you : )
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Sigma Tropic, modified 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 2:25 PM
Created 6 Days ago at 5/10/22 2:24 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 283 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
Thanks Jared, that was the intended purpose/effect, and it makes me very happy and humbled to hear that.
Jared N, modified 5 Days ago at 5/11/22 5:27 PM
Created 5 Days ago at 5/11/22 5:27 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Wednesday, May 11:
Today's sit was for 45 minutes. I felt yesterday that 30 minutes was barely enough to scratch the surface and settle in, so I lengthened a bit today. I started with a quick body scan for the first 5-10 minutes going slowly down the body, and then one sunlight visualization filling the body up on the way back up to my head. Then I resumed TMI breathing (centered on the feeling on the nostrils) for the remainder of the sit.

After the initial scan down the body, after taking time to observe emotions and tensions, the body relaxed and I was able to sit in the feeling of sunlight for the remainder of the 45 minutes. I think I was in dullness though because I don't remember parts of the sit and I may have even dozed off. Usually, I can't sleep during the day due to anxiety and agitation. So I was actually kind of grateful that I found rest during my normal waking hours. I've also noticed more apathy throughout the day, which I'm not loving. I feel a little more disconnected from the people around me, and I can tell the sensations and brain states that come through meditation are linked to some negative stuff under the surface. But I imagine with time that will be okay. For now, it's just something to notice and observe. I gardened for a few hours afterwards in an attempt to ground myself, and it was really nice to be outside in the sunshine.

In the future, I'd like my sits to be as focused as possible, so I'm going to try to find a way to be more alert, either through posture or better planning and motivation beforehand. Any tips on dealing with this are appreciated. 
Jared N, modified 4 Days ago at 5/12/22 12:48 PM
Created 4 Days ago at 5/12/22 12:48 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thursday, May 12:

I practiced again for 45 minutes this morning. I decided to focus on breath meditation rather than starting with the body scan like yesterday. I am probably at stage 3 in TMI in regards to the breath, though I definitely felt higher stages of insight in previous practice a few months ago. Currently, I'm noticing that I'm still experiencing a lot of sleepiness. I don't really forget the breath though for more than 10 seconds at a time, other than when I start to snooze.

Focusing on the beginning and end of the in-breath and out-breath has been helpful to keep my mind more engaged and not get as sleepy. I will be focusing more on noticing subtle nuances as I breathe in and out. I think I'm better at body scans because I generally feel much more interested in sensations in the body. However, I tend to not get as much Jhanic practice because body scan ends up being almost open introspective awareness rather than a concentration practice, and I'd definitely like to hone my concentration more. I'll be continuing in the same vein over the next week, just ironing out the fundamentals of breath-centered meditation, because I'm realizing I need a lot more practice. emoticon  

It has felt amazing to get back into meditation though. The world seems richer and I'm more in touch with my body than I have been for months. I'm also aware of more anxiety, and still scared of the "drop off" that might come with more insight, but for now, I'll keep noticing and observing. I'm feeling very committed to working through stuff, good and bad. ✌
Jared N, modified 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 11:37 AM
Created 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 11:37 AM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Friday, May 13:
Wow, I have been really impatient with my practice already. I'm noticing how many stories I have about my practice. It should be going faster, why do I feel like I can't concentrate. I must be bad at this. Lots of me, me, me. It's been frustrating, and I can see underneath it that there is a sense of disgust with myself that has to do with not living up to my self's narration of who I should be. I'm trying to let go and observe, not judge, and I'm feeling trapped by my sense of self. Logically I can understand that it's all just an illusion that would be very freeing to let go of.

I practiced for 1.5 hours today. The mind was all over. I tried grounding in the body, then switching back to the breath. I felt like I was unable to concentrate on the breath and kept getting bored with it. I don't know how to investigate it closer, and I'm struggling to find the minute nuances that make it interesting. I did notice today when looking that no two breaths are the same. Each one changes, so although you can observe trends, it's very difficult to find hard and fast patterns that hold true. The beginnings of the breath have the same type of feel, but they are each different. There's also a bittersweetness to it because my allergies have been making it painful to breathe. I feel a slight stinging sensation in my nostrils on each in-breath, and yet it fills my lungs with oxygen and helps me relax. Then there's an annoying whistle on the way out. The simultaneous frustration and calm was interesting to me.
George S, modified 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 4:22 PM
Created 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 4:22 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 2382 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Rather than trying to force yourself to stay on the breath and getting frustrated, look for some pleasurable sensations in the experience of breathing and focus on really *enjoying* those. Forget about concentration - your intention should be relaxation, pleasure and enjoyment. Once you start experiencing pleasure in the breath then it sets up a positive feedback loop - pleasure fuels more interest in the breath, which increases the pleasure ...  emoticon Let the breath do the work for you!
Jared N, modified 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 3:49 PM
Created 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 3:49 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
I'm not sure if the website is publishing these or not, so sorry if you get 3 messages. But thanks for the advice! I think that sounds like a better way of approaching it. I will make sure to focus on that pleasure and enjoyment of the breath in future sits. Thanks, George!
Jared N, modified 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 2:08 PM
Created 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 2:08 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Today's practice was interesting. I scanned through the body and kind of found some emotional blocks or visualizations of emotions or tightness. Then I sat with them and observed. On each one they seemed to dissolve or change until I was left with a rather empty spacious body. Then I began my breath meditation and found it easy to focus for the remainder of the sit. Very little trying.

​​​​​​​After the sit I went for a walk and it was like someone put a really colorful contact lens in my eyes. It was bright and vibrant and I could see every single detail. Each leaf, color change, blade of grass, and patch of dirt was known in my visual field. Even while being focused on the beautiful visuals and sounds of nature, I was very aware of my feet and hands. As I walked the awareness seemed to fade until at the end I was caught in thoughts and plans for the day.
Jared N, modified 1 Day ago at 5/15/22 11:47 AM
Created 1 Day ago at 5/15/22 11:47 AM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Sunday, May 15:
Quick Post today! 
-1 hour this morning--planning on adding another hour of sitting this evening before dinner.
-Much more relaxed after George's suggestion to focus on pleasure and relaxed sensations of the breath. The focus was about the same, maybe better.
-A big shift happened when I thought: "focus on the process, not the result." Instantly the meditation felt more skillful and less "efforting"
-Will be continuing mostly with breath practice since it seems like a big weakness of mine, and I'd love to learn how to do it properly. 

Appreciate you guys!
Jared N, modified 13 Hours ago at 5/16/22 2:03 PM
Created 14 Hours ago at 5/16/22 12:20 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Monday, May 16,
Couple of realizations/thoughts:
-There has been a bodily fear/anger/disgust sensation that's been present over the last few months. I finally put a finger on what it is: It's dissatisfaction and self-directed anger and loathing. It seems to be pervasive despite the realization.
-There was a momentary sensation that there was no one to be angry at. The angry/judging sensation still remained, but it changed slightly.
-"Nothing to do, nothing to be"--sensations or thoughts, I couldn't tell, but they kept arising

Overall, my practice seems to be 90% judging and 10% concentration. It is a self-fulfilling loop. I also understand it's all built around a narrative of where I "should" be. I guess I had this idea that my practice would pick up where it left off, but I feel like I'm back to square one.  The breath remains a difficult meditation object because I can't seem to observe it nonjudgmentally.  My allergies make it somewhat painful/stinging to breathe, as well as having an annoying whistle to it. It's almost humorous to me that my mind is so averse to it, because it seems so insignificant, and yet, it's disturbing my practice quite a bit. Let me know if anyone has any skillful ways to work through this or any other advice.

Edit: also, I'm continuing to do twice a day practice, because I'm impatient and also because I don't have anything better to do.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 12 Hours ago at 5/16/22 2:46 PM
Created 12 Hours ago at 5/16/22 2:46 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 283 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
Jarad, the displeasure you desribe in relatin to the breath- it's natural and it's your mind on a basic level learning how to properly center itself. It's restlessness/aversion. This is insight developing. In the beginning it is a strange thing to ask of the mind and there are lots of weird energetic things that unwrap themselves in time. Your mind is trying to grapple with the non-self aspect and trying to focus on an object gets at the root of that. It's not that you're not practicing well, it's that your metric for success is off.

Here, success means diligently, cheerfully, sternly, persistently antidoting the hindrances until they don't arise. When you do work with an antidote, you want to be aware of the effect it has on your mind moment-by-moment, and whether your attitude is sustaining the hindrances or introducing any new hindrances. Sometimes you won't defeat the hindrances in one sitting, but my students can attest that persistence pays off. Sometimes there is a delayed response and you have to be persistent.  But in working with the hindrances and directly, clearly, in the moment, perceiving the varying states of mind and how we can introduce intention, simple mental and physical actions, and begin to get some skill at excercising influence over the mind, we can see that certain things are predicatable about the way the mind behaves and we can use that knowledge to make our subjective experience rich and lively and pleasurable. 

You have basic hindrances showing up, so what I would suggest is the following format 

1)Attempt breath concentration
2) Notice hindrance 
3) keep hindrance in awareness while applying antidote
4) Maintain state of freedom 

Follow up post to come on the hindrances and working with them/ antidoting them. 
Jared N, modified 8 Hours ago at 5/16/22 6:19 PM
Created 8 Hours ago at 5/16/22 6:19 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thanks, Sigma! This is very helpful stuff. Weirdly, this is what happened somewhat naturally when I let go of "trying so hard" this afternoon.

1. Object of concentration. (in this case body scan)
2. Obvious hindrance blocking my concentration
3. Focus on the next hindrance as it arose (what does it feel like in the body, where is it, is it changing, heavy, dull, pounding, buzzing etc...)
4. Eventually, it would leave, and then a new hindrance would come.  

The part I'm confused about is maintaining a state of freedom. What does that mean?
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Sigma Tropic, modified 6 Hours ago at 5/16/22 8:41 PM
Created 6 Hours ago at 5/16/22 8:41 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 283 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
Here maintaining freedom is being in a state free of the hindrances but also maintaining that state, so you master the conditions to get into that state (this depends on circumstances and requires practice), and you can go further into the jhanas or do any other type of practice. And you guard against hindrances arising by maintaining mindfulness. 
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Chris M, modified 14 Hours ago at 5/16/22 12:31 PM
Created 14 Hours ago at 5/16/22 12:31 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 4325 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Jared, have you tried accepting your present circumstances? If you sit with the intention of just noticing what you perceive to be negative aspects of you and your practice, what happens? Give your jusgement a rest and try it.
Jared N, modified 13 Hours ago at 5/16/22 2:01 PM
Created 13 Hours ago at 5/16/22 2:01 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Okay, I'll give that a shot. It would be nice to have a break from the judging since it's really tiring me out and making me irritable.
Jared N, modified 9 Hours ago at 5/16/22 6:10 PM
Created 9 Hours ago at 5/16/22 6:10 PM

RE: Jared N's Practice Journal

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Quick notes on this afternoons session:
-1.5 hours
-I tried what Chris said and tried to radically accept anything as it arose. I didn't even try to change my mind's direction back to the breath. I simply let it do what it was going to do. Amazingly concentration just happened. I was sitting with a heavy thudding for about 45 minutes, just trying to watch it. It was a little overwhelming, but it seemed to shift and change gradually until it thinned and now I feel transparent.
-I feel sort of buzzing, my body is pulsing and I started to sense a thinning of my being (I don't know how else to describe it). Now I feel a little bit "zenned out" (for lack of a better term). I'm just chilling and very calm. It feels kind of like I'm high, but minus the dullness. Very strange, but I'll enjoy it while it's here.

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