Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/13/22 8:35 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/15/22 10:12 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Smiling Stone 6/18/22 2:24 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/20/22 7:10 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/20/22 8:12 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Chris M 6/20/22 1:31 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/20/22 7:10 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/20/22 8:04 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? George S 6/21/22 9:51 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/23/22 7:03 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/21/22 9:21 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/23/22 7:00 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/7/22 12:38 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/7/22 1:28 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/13/22 9:33 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/19/22 11:07 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/30/22 12:14 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/2/22 9:41 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/9/22 10:40 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Martin 8/10/22 12:19 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/12/22 10:30 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/15/22 9:44 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/25/22 10:10 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? George S 8/26/22 7:09 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/31/22 10:13 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/31/22 11:09 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 9/15/22 10:36 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 9/30/22 12:41 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Chris M 9/30/22 3:43 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/10/22 12:19 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/30/22 10:40 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 12/8/22 4:08 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? shargrol 12/8/22 7:40 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Martin 12/8/22 11:30 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 1/14/23 12:30 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 1/17/23 2:26 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 1/24/23 2:16 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 1/31/23 9:21 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 2/3/23 3:09 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 2/5/23 1:20 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 2/19/23 7:58 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Martin 2/19/23 8:49 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 3/4/23 9:56 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 3/4/23 10:32 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Martin 3/4/23 3:00 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 3/31/23 11:13 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 3/31/23 11:12 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 4/19/23 1:14 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 5/2/23 9:36 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 5/13/23 10:39 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Dream Walker 5/14/23 7:13 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 5/15/23 10:03 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Dream Walker 5/19/23 2:08 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 5/16/23 8:57 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/18/23 11:07 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/19/23 11:34 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/26/23 12:20 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Martin 6/26/23 3:02 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 6/27/23 12:34 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/15/23 9:16 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 7/30/23 10:39 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 9/4/23 4:12 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 8/26/23 12:59 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 9/4/23 4:12 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 9/21/23 9:01 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/9/23 11:42 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/10/23 7:11 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/15/23 1:48 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/21/23 12:43 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Chris M 10/22/23 8:59 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 10/24/23 5:47 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 11/7/23 7:22 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 11/11/23 10:59 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? shargrol 11/13/23 6:37 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 12/23/23 9:33 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 12/25/23 11:40 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? thierry raunet 12/28/23 12:36 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 1/30/24 8:24 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 1/30/24 8:28 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 2/8/24 10:53 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Chris M 2/9/24 8:19 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 2/16/24 10:13 AM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 3/17/24 4:04 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 3/26/24 9:59 PM
RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log? Kevin Andrew 4/9/24 10:42 AM
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/13/22 8:35 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/13/22 8:33 PM

Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
A place to record what I think about before, during or after a sit. 
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/15/22 10:12 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/15/22 10:12 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I practise Goenka-style Vipassana. 6 years, last 2 years seriously. I've struggled with expressing my thoughts to my family so I thought this would be a good place to organize my thoughts before compiling them and 'laying it on them' so to speak.

Part of why I'm doing this is for anyone who is looking for a personal account of a Goenka student. I see a lot of new-age-y stuff from dilettantes and hostility from others who think it's too doctrinaire or severe. Not necessarily here but around. I found the first 10-day tough; I tell others it's the toughest thing I've ever done besides dealing with the death of my parents. Your mileage may vary. There will be more about this over time I think...

The first observation I want to make is the most valuable thing I got from the first course. I paraphrase "If there is anything you've heard here that you have trouble with, leave it aside and remember the technique". I am a firm believer that Buddhism has a ton of cultural accretion obscuring what Gotama was about. I spent years reading about Buddhism and not practising because I was raised Irish-Catholic (if you don't get what that means read 'Trinity' by Leon Uris) and had a very hard time putting down a lot of my core suppositions. It made me suspicious. I wasn't about to take on new ones in the guise of eastern mysticism.

Finally the day came when it became clear that I had to take the leap, because death by a thousand cuts still gets you dead it just takes longer than you'd like. I think I was lucky because the technique appears to have been made for me. Almost everything I experienced on my first course I was familiar with, in a range of different contexts. More on that later...

My understanding of the Path comes from some suttas, the Dhammapada and 3 or 4 books on neuroscience, all the other reading being a bit of a waste of time (ahem... Allan Watts...). I found MCTB a dozen years ago on-line and read it 3 times, back to back. It also has a lot to do with my views. However, I am not a big fan of the maps other than knowing they exist and as for claiming attainments... well... I believe whole-heartedly that scripting experiences is a thing, is hard to avoid and leads to much disputation etc. Not generally conducive to practise.

Having said that, at one point I finally realized that all that I thought I knew about Buddhism was wrong. The only good way to describe it is as if metaphor, or the ability to be metaphorical, had been deleted from the world. I believe I had not been putting enough concreteness in the words written by those who were describing the Path. I now think that what was being described was very very simple but the writers only had their personal internal experiences and an ancient vernacular with which describe them, a vernacular which tended to the mystical. Again, more on that later...

As for practise; 2 hours a day, morning and evening for the last year. I struggled getting up and running the first year with 1 hour a day but got that down by the 3rd course. It was hard. After serving a course I found the motivation to make room for 2 hours and now I only miss a sit for a specific good reason. Life sometimes trumps Path. No truck with laziness!!

Rapid progress (or change) began with the added hour. The morning sit usually introduces new territory and the evening sit develops on that base. Or not, but definitely there are fewer sticking points with a 2 hour per day regimen.

What I describe here will sound clinical. I try to avoid religious/spiritual/nebulous phraseology. If things change and the touchy-feely becomes necessary then I guess I'll adapt but until then I will be trying to avoid the words I see in various translated texts from days gone by. No-self will be a challenge. I'm not saying I'm special just that if I were to describe my experience right now it would be 'pressure in the temples, radiating over and behind the eyes, with waves of tingling through-out the body into the extremities', 'random thoughts about sexual urges manifesting physically in places other than the genitals' 'nerve nexus in the centre of the chest snapping' etc. I may refer to sankhara as short-hand for... more on that later.

Feel free to comment or ask questions, I will read them. I may not respond other than 'Hi. Thanks', don't be offended. If I see something that makes me go 'hmmm...' I'll acknowledge it. I'm not really here to discuss or argue, I get enough of that irl. I'm just thinking out loud.
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Smiling Stone, modified 1 Year ago at 6/18/22 2:24 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/17/22 4:17 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 341 Join Date: 5/10/16 Recent Posts
Hi Kevin,
Welcome on the forum! (edit : I see that you were active on Dho more than ten years ago, on  a thread with a few ex-Goenkaites, so pardon me for assuming you were new here ...)
Looking forward to reading your log.
Coming from this tradition as well ...
with metta
smiling stone
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 8:12 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 1:08 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
So the format will be, for now, Practise update, History, Random Thoughts. I expect it will change, as all things do.

Practise: General deepening of concentration as has been the norm for about the last 2 - 2 1/2 years. Accompanied by ongoing exploration of my crop of sankhara. The bodily split is getting slightly less pronounced in the last 2 months. The 'thing on the side of my head' as I like to call it is still changing. Awareness of sensations is pretty continuous. Unless I am concentrating on a task requiring high precision or one that presents some amount of hazard I am aware of sensations on almost the entire body. Surface and a significant volume of the interior as well. Strangely this experience of sensations becomes quite intense when I am driving, an activity you would think requires significant concentration. Hmmm...
I have a sibling on the same path. I stopped giving them updates because the updates became pretty repetitive 'deepening concentration... intensifying sensations'. Today (20th) is a fine example. Sweeping is becoming more refined, sensations more intense. Based on this mornings activities I don't think they will be fading into the background at all going forward. Annica...
​​​​​​​
History: My first course was hard. The first sit in the morning is 2 hours and generally optional at the centre I attend. I sat in a chair due to a knee injury that makes cross-legged sitting impossible. After less than an hour I would be crippled for days. As it turned out the chair almost had the same effect. My entire body was screaming for relief by the time the chanting started. It was a unique experience of pain I have never encountered before nor care to again. Not the greatest start to day 1! I adapted by using cushions which I believe helped me, over the course, to achieve a deeper state of concentration than I otherwise could have. Learning to balance on a pillar of pillows while keeping your back straight is hard. While learning anapana as well is hard, on stilts.
A very definite moment occurred on day 2 when I knew I could complete the course. During the post-breakfast sit, just before the chant began, a voice in my head (more on that later...) said quite loudly and firmly "Loser! Loser!! LOSER!!!" It was very upsetting. For a few moments all I felt was defeat. Then I thought to myself 'fuck that...' and started over, concentrating on the feeling of breath on my upper lip. The chanting began. I left the dhamma hall still quite upset. I quickly calmed myself down and upon returning for the next sit I found that I could in fact focus my attention if I tried.

​​​​​​​Random Thoughts: The first course is indeed difficult. You are told this in the information provided and on my first course they took the trouble to actually ask 'Are you ready to do 100 hours of meditation, in silence?' On one course I attended, a new student quit on the afternoon of day 9, straight off the cushion and out to their room. I heard part of the discussion between them and the AT a bit later. The student was distraught, who knows why. Literally hours before Noble Silence ended, they left. My advice to anyone reading this who may consider doing a course: Be ready to face questions you never knew you had. Don't expect answers. If you are under care for personal issues this is probably not for you. Even if you are not under care for personal issues, you will face challenges you never knew you had. If you do go, follow the instructions, do not ad-lib. Also consider that by being accepted for the course someone else may not have been. Honor the opportunity.
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 1:31 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 1:31 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 5175 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Hello, Kevin. I'm looking forward to reading your comments!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 7:10 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 7:10 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi Smiling Stone
​​​​​​​Thanks!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 7:10 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 7:10 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi Chris
Thanks!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 8:04 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/20/22 7:55 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
So, start a log and things happen that beg to be recorded. Who knew? Well then, to work...

Practise: Same as ever, deeper concentration...deeper sensation... however this afternoon's sit again went much deeper, such that at the moment my awareness of sensations is about where it would have been on the cushion a few months ago. My head is a balloon, I feel I am radiating heat like a light-bulb and as I type I feel the 'pressure' in my head slowly moving down my body. Trunk, arms, legs. On course they talk about vibrations but I describe them as pressure, tingling, heat or a few other things. Anyway, it continues. A side effect of progress like this is I sometimes pause what I'm doing and just spend a few moments being equanimous, wherever I am. It must seem strange to bystanders seeing my best imitation of a pylon. Practise never stops!

History: Day 3 of the first course we left anapana and began vipassana. Marathon sit of 2 hours while we followed the instruction. Not knowing what to expect I was surprised when I immediately recognized the sensations that came up during this sit. Finding that I could control the focus of my attention to such a fine degree was a small revelation. There were some blank areas and I struggled to flow smoothly but by the end of the instruction I was eager to return to the hall and begin again, butt complaints notwithstanding. This is where the real work began, anapana being merely a preliminary tool to get to the main event.

​​​​​​​Random Thoughts: Over the years I have wondered about various strange experiences that hinted at bodily processes that were opaque to my everyday attention. When one of my parents died I experienced grief, of course. Unfortunately I got the news from a several hour old answering machine message after a night out with some friends. In an almost out-of-body experience I simultaneously slumped to my knees, began weeping and watched myself react in a very detached frame of mind. It occurred to me that my reaction was not due to remembrance of things past or of a feeling of great loss; I was not particularly close to my parent. It seemed that my reaction was a program response, one that happens quite normally at times like this, one that will proceed according to plan and then resolve. This feeling stayed with me until after the funeral. The experience of being somewhat disconnected from my reactions did not seem at all abnormal.  My reactions did not seem at all abnormal. Another time, long after and unrelated, I was out in my new minimalist sandals. It had rained earlier and I was walking by a park where they had not yet cut the grass, so it was almost up to my knees. I decided to walk through the grass just to see how it would feel on my legs. I shuffled into the field with the wet grass brushing my legs and by the time I had taken a dozen broad steps I broke down and began weeping uncontrollably. To this day I have no idea why. We embody our entire lives and are only aware of a tiny fraction of the experiences that go into making us what we are. Thinking this is one thing, feeling it is another.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/21/22 9:21 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/21/22 9:00 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Of course things change, of course...

Practise: Both sits today were quite intense. Free flowing attention and major reactions throughout the body. The pressure is climbing up the back of my head, into the center and settling there for a moment then pushing out into the body. It generally follows the sweeping. Concentration is increasing as well. A 'big one' is coming somewhere down the road. The 'thing on the side of my head' is getting really intense, even when not sitting. I'm beginning to wonder if this will be a gentle release or a major explosion. The map of sankharas is getting a bit more refined but still follows the pattern of injuries. My right leg tingles at random constantly (oxymoron?) as does the orbit of my right eye and my right wrist, these occasionally.

History: Day 4 and 5 of the first course were uneventful. Practising sweeping and trying to eliminate blank areas, trying to figure out how to get through stickiness, struggling with up vs. down. From the beginning down was much harder than up! It was slow and stalled frequently. I also struggled with extending the sweep out the arms to the fingertips. In general slow progress was being made. Then came Day 6.
The morning of Day 6 was unremarkable. The afternoon sit was something else. I was doing my best, content that I had made progress with my arms when I took a break, just sitting without any effort. I noticed a tingle on the top of my left thigh and began to pay attention to it. It began to grow of it's own volition and I remember thinking 'ok, take me there...' and in a flash the tingle covered my entire body, pushed up into my head and ka-BAM! Everything changed. It was like a breaker blew and I vanished, the world vanished, experience became a null. It still puzzles me. I've been knocked unconscious, had my bell rung as well. This was unique. There was a pulse in my head, then there was nothing, then there was me again. Then there was sorrow. I doubled over and wept for about 10 minutes, barely managing to keep from balling and disturbing those around me. At one point I remember one AT whispered to the other '...a big one'. When I regained my composure I started practising again and in a short while the sit ended. I went to my room and let out what was left of the event. After this, I learned to carry tissue in my pockets to keep myself from leaking all over myself as emotion would swell up again and again over the remainder of the course. There was a similar reaction on the morning of Day 10 just before Noble Silence ended that began as I was walking around outside. No blankness this time just a rush of sensation then emotion. For weeks after this course I felt good. Not amazing, not joyful, nothing very intense but a deep 'good'-ness. It eventually faded, as did the proficiency with the technique that I had developed. Big mistake not following the recommended 2 hours per day. It wasn't until the 3rd course I got my groove back on the cushion. Hindsight is 20/20.

Random Thoughts: In 2010 I found a book by Thomas Metzinger titled 'The Ego Tunnel: The science of the mind and the myth of the self'. He is a philosopher. The book talks about advances in our understanding of how the brain works and how our minds manifest. The book is very interesting, outlining the history of neuroscience through stories of medical investigations and experiments carried out by researchers. The two things about this book that stayed with me most were his mentioning Antonio Damasio and his works and the implications of creating artificial consciousness. The 3 latest works by Damasio are well worth reading for anyone who wonders what consciousness is from a scientific viewpoint, and the question raised by artificial consciousness is one of morality:
"...The phenomenal property of selfhood will be exemplified in the artifical system, and it will appear to itself not only as being someone but also as being there. It will believe in itself.
   Note that this transition turns the artificial system into an object of moral concern. It is now potentially able to suffer. Pain, negative emotions , and other internal states portraying parts of reality as undesirable can act as causes of suffering only if they are consciously owned..." The italics are the author's.
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 6/21/22 9:51 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/21/22 9:40 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Maybe walking in the long grass subconsciously reminded you of being a child?
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/23/22 7:00 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/23/22 7:00 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Well, that was interesting...

Practise: Using the adjectives 'intense' and 'deeper' would be redundant, true but redundant. I'm loathe to use metaphor but there is one I think is apt. We have all at one time or another slept wrong and put our arm or leg 'to sleep'. We also have experienced the discomfort occurring as it 'wakes up', so to speak. That is what this feels like, on a more or less global scale. (Note: next time your arm goes to sleep on you try raising it as it comes back. The discomfort will be greatly reduced or eliminated. Same goes for your leg, but that looks strange in a public place.) Also accompanying these sensations is a definite buzz (vibration??) at times and a lot of heat. Twice, an area behind my eyes snapped with a not quite sharpness, violent enough to make me start. The 'thing on the side of my head' is now a constant companion.

History: Near the end of the course you are instructed to go inside with your attention. I was lucky. Almost immediately I was able to pass throught my body in any direction. At least for a while. As I said I got out of practise pretty quickly once I returned home. I asked the AT two questions on the first course. I paraphrase: 'Is this really what I am feeling?' and 'What the hell was that?!'. The first answer was basically 'You are not imagining this, if it feels like something it is. Keep practising' and the second answer was 'That was sankhara. Sometimes there is emotional content, sometimes not. Keep practising'. I have found that the ATs tend toward concision. This was a bit frustrating for me at first but now I think I understand why and find I appreciate it.

Random Thoughts: Oobleck is a thing, a very strange thing. It is the colloquial name for a certain colloidal solution made from cornstarch and water that demonstrates the properties of a non-newtonian fluid. Google it. Slowly push your fist into a bucket of the stuff and your fist sinks. Punch into it quickly and it stops on the surface. That is what attention feels like when sweeping. Try forcing what you feel and the 'feels' push back. Be gentle and you go deeper. Easy to say, hard to do. Like consoling a distraught child...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 6/23/22 7:03 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/23/22 7:03 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi George

The 'why' is unimportant
​​​​​​​Thanks
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 7/7/22 12:38 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/29/22 4:32 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Let's get this party started...

Practise: Many days away but practise continues. As the intensity of sensation grows I've found that achieving the needed subtlety to sweep/sense the sensations is getting easier. Maybe it is actually staying the same but feels more subtle in contrast to the sensations? More questions... Globally I have the feelings of pressure and tingling in increasing and varying degrees. This is not always simultaneously constant over the whole body but does occur on all areas, including internally, or at least 95%(?). Hard to really say as I try not to concentrate too much on examining it closely. The somewhat freaky part is what is going on inside my head. There are definite locations I would associate with internal brain structures having what appear to be vibratory sensations and these are concurrent with perceptual anomalies. These began 2 days ago and have been increasing in intensity and regularity, such that I am thinking about the impact on my ability to control vehicles. A time may come...

History: The second course was a challenge and in hindsight a valuable lesson. From the start I had real trouble concentrating. This was due to my lack of consistent practise and another student (but really it's all on me!). The other student had a habit of swallowing air and belching softly for minutes at a time. Lacking sufficient discipline I could not ignore his sounds. Around day 6 he finally stopped but by then I was almost ready to leave. My attempt to avoid using the chairs at the center resulted in a strained muscle in my hip from sitting on a cushion on a box I had brought with me. All in all it became a trial of patience that motivated me to commit to a more consistent practice. The only real event of note was a couple of short interactions with what I fear was a sociopath. The way they acted with me and a few others I overheard, after Noble Silence ended, set off alarm bells with me immediately. At one point this student was speaking with another, a 'life coach', about the course and content and it seemed like a jousting match between two confidence men. Perhaps I'm wrong, better cautious...

​​​​​​​Random Thoughts: In 'The Strange Order of Things' Antonio Damasio proposes that feelings precede and are an integral part of the process of consciousness. He makes a good argument. Feelings reveal inner states that need to be attended to and the integration of those feelings with the stream of sensory data allows appropriate responses to those feelings. My explanation pales, you need to read the book. Also related is 'The Hidden Spring' by Mark Solms. It seems to me that the concept of sankhara pretty much agrees with the ideas these scientists present. Modern neuroscience catching up to ancient wisdom.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 7/7/22 1:28 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/7/22 1:28 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Back from a big break...

Practise: Progress continues. Today I found myself wondering about jhana as things changed yet again in my experience during the sit, then I let it go as it was unimportant. Some random tingling in areas not unexpected and a few sharp pains that made me jump. Other than that just what I call progress, things changing, the 'thing on the side of my head' changing, my observation changing. The pressure I feel in response to observation does appear to be increasing in intensity and taking on a quality I'll call smoothness. The border between it and non-pressure becoming less distinct, and of course moving all the time. Like a flow. Interesting as always.

History: The third course was quite productive. It turned out I was the most experienced student! The center is not very old so... On the first morning I sat for the full 2 hours and by the end entered a state of bliss I had never achieved before. I half-assumed this was due to endorphins as at the end it was quite a chore to stand up. Three events of note occurred. First, I asked the AT about anapana at home and he said 'no need unless you have trouble focusing, continue with vipassana'. Second, on the fourth(?) day I achieved what I call clearness over my entire body. This being that the flow of observation was completely unobstructed on one full sweep, then the sensations changed to various pressure, tingling etc. gradually to cover the entire body again. The third was the next day as during a sit an energetic activation of my entire body occurred accompanied by what appeared to be a bright light in my perception, which imagination turned into a shaft running up my spine from my hara to the top of my head. My body felt hardened and sweeping revealed nothing, as in no change in feeling or sensation anywhere. I swept for some time but nothing changed, I remained energized and hard. The bell for the end of the session sounded and it dissipated as I began moving around. This continued to happen for the next day or so until by doing patient sweeping it gradually dissipated and sensations returned. Whatever was opening up was complete I guess. At the end of the course the student who sat beside me paid me a compliment saying I had inspired him to try harder. Apparently I sat like a stone for the entire course. Adhitthana has been very important to me since that course.

Random Thoughts: The thought about jhana brought to mind an attitude I've tried to cultivate since I began sitting seriously. When I find myself struggling I remember two things Goenka keeps repeating after the chant that begins the sessions: 'just observe' and 'keep moving'. This is an interesting dynamic. Observe would seem to imply that you let your attention rest on some object of interest. Move implies just what it says, movement; in this case movement of your attention. This sounds just like a flow state:
"In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity", from Wikipedia.
The enjoyment part may be subjective. There is no woo in what we do, we just don't understand it fully. I do however trust that those who came before aren't kidding when they say it's worth the effort.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 7/13/22 9:33 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/13/22 9:33 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Of solo cups, ice cream headaches and enlightenment...

Practise: I struggle with describing what is going on during sits and by extension in the mundane world. I hesitate to use the common descriptions I see on DhO because for me they don't really correlate with my experiences, in that they seem more nebulous signpost than description. So, how to describe what I feel besides the tingling, pressure and heat/cold I've mentioned before? Try common experience, like an ice cream headache. That is very similar to my mind what I feel while scanning without the feeling of overwhelming pain that can accompany a overly large swallow of ice cream or very cold water. Another example is this: imagine you are holding a solo cup full of water in your dominant hand. You are carrying a heavy suitcase in the other hand. Now, you must open a swinging door with a pull-handle. There is no table nearby on which to place the cup. So... you hold the cup with 2 fingers while trying to pull the door with the other fingers of the same hand. Very possible, not the best solution but I've done it without spilling the water or crushing the cup. That combination of tension and relaxed control is very much what scanning can be like. A third example: I play guitar. Learning guitar means moving your chording fingers very precisely from one shape to another. To really establish the muscle memory I repeat the change(s) very slowly 10... 15... 20 times then take a break. Repeat several times. I can feel the effect in my hand, my arm, my body... my brain! Frustration is not just an emotional response, there is a real physical component. There you have reactivity. That's just part of what is going on.

History: My 4th retreat was suppose to be the Satipatthanna course. It was cancelled by COVID. Well pooh, now what? I had taken 3 weeks vacation and that was to be my start. So I decided that I would try and sit twice a day for the duration since I had the time. My practise began to change quite quickly. The ease and touch of scanning became more subtle and I began to notice two things which for me turned out to be of great importance. First I began to recall the repetition of experiences I had started seeing while on the third course. There was a cycle to what was happening. Second, I noticed that the sensations that were changing as I scanned were not what I was first observing! My observation was as a gentle touch, like a faint breath on skin, to the area being examined while the actual gross sensation (pressure, heat etc.) came immediately afterward. The gap was virtually imperceptible but becoming apparent. This combined with the ooblek principle changed how I practised. I was too lazy at that time to continue the 2 sit per day practise once back to work but it let me know that insight isn't necessarily a nebulous concept, difficult to grasp. A great bit of motivation.

Random Thoughts: What is enlightenment? An overused term in the west. The connotations often assigned render it almost meaningless to me. Am I enlightened? I am on the Path. I see it's affects and have no doubt that it is good. My life is better than before. My first exposure to Buddhism talked about the 4 path model. When I read the description now I could say I fit the requirements: Sotopanna Kevin! HAha... Who cares. I'm not knocking anyones claims here but when that thought occurs to me I remember that in the end we're all space dust. Is my life improving? Am I improving the lives of those around me? Is my ability to distinguish between the two improving? Is my definition of improving improving? I practise because I will probably never get it right and practise makes perfect. Yoda almost got it right. There is only try.../data/user/0/com.samsung.android.app.notes/files/clipdata/clipdata_bodytext_220713_202910_006.sdocx
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 7/19/22 11:07 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/19/22 11:07 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Again, with feeling...

Practise: It's been an intense week. Several release events that sent waves of intense sensation throughout the body. Some ping-ponging of sensations, like ripples caroming off the interior of a vessel (except in 3D) begins most sits now, then things settle down to regular sweeping. The sweeping gets subtler still, almost to the point that there is no sense of contact between the sensor and the point of contact. The 'thing on the side of my head' is still resisting. It changes sometimes from solid to void to very faint tingle to sharp pain or some such but always returns to solid. The split between left and right side of the body is more pronounced but more due to dissimilar change in sensation than actual quality, for instance left will feel light and airy with easy sweep while right will be lumpy, easy here hard there. When a release happens it tends to be more focused in the middle and spreads out from there than before when a release would be quite localized. All in all the experience during a sit is of progress into the body, a bit deeper with each sit. Much easier to see than even 3 weeks ago.

History: The 4th course actually came after COVID restrictions were relaxed. I went to serve. It was pretty stressful because I did not receive any real instruction on what to do, other than a loose-leaf binder containing some rules and general expectations. The first few days were a grind with little sleep. Luckily there were only 14 male students. On day 2 I had a release in the left chest area that resulted in a feeling of joy so profound I wept. Quietly of course, I was sitting at the front of the hall. How lucky these students are to find the dhamma so early in life! I spoke to the AT about this because it felt like I was using the students I was responsible for as a way to boost my ego. The AT said 'Some ATs have trouble with this as well. Don't dwell on it.' The next day I had another release, purely emotional not physical, related to the thing on the side of my head, that really rocked me. Two realizations came from this: The little voice inside my head tells some hard truths and generational trauma goes deep into the past. Later that day during an optional sit I was in the hall feeling restless and gave up, just sitting on my stool. Sorrow rose up and I had to leave for the washroom as I was losing it again. I came to realize then that the chain of pain is breathtakingly long and trying to assign responsibility is futile. The rest of the retreat was good and productive. It was after this that I began sitting twice a day.

Random Thoughts: Sankhara (however you spell it) seems to have so many meanings it's hard to pin it down. Like dukkha. There must be a good reason for that. I think the meaning changes as you progress. Such a compound phenomenon into one word is tough but you have to say something. So this sensation here is sankhara... why is it here? From experience... What experience? Who knows, it doesn't really matter, it's just there... Now it's gone... Here comes another... It's different... Really?... Doesn't matter it's gone... Here comes another... and another... Boring? Hardly/data/user/0/com.samsung.android.app.notes/files/clipdata/clipdata_bodytext_220719_220244_703.sdocx
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 7/30/22 12:14 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/30/22 12:14 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I wrote this several days ago, things have progressed... Annica

Practise: The blurred edges of the pressure have over the last few days become more indistinct, to the point that there are no definite boundaries anymore. There is a continuum of sensation that varies in intensity from almost nothing to something that feels a bit like a fold being pressed into the skin, itself varying in intensity. Keep in mind that this is not just surface sensation but 3 dimensional. The sweep is still being refined. Observation seems most efficient went it is maintained on the border of volition, if that makes sense. I feel I make the most progress when I try to approach the boundary of voluntary control of the observation. I would characterize this as trying to keep the act of observation underneath the sensation itself. The amount of effort required to be conscious of the progress of observation passing any given point is generally inversely proportional to the intensity of the experience observed, depending on where I am in a cycle. The cycling that is occurring is from fine sensation to intense sensation then an event, then restarting. 

History: The chronological progress of my practise is about done now. There are stories that will need to be told that don’t need to be placed into a temporal pattern to make sense so from here on it’s just Practise and Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts:

What is vipassana? Insight
What is insight? (from Dictionary.com)
Definition of insight
Noun
-    an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding
-    penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth

So, apprehending the true nature of what? Generally speaking, Reality™. From here it is usual to segue into the 3 Characteristics. Well, what about taking a half-step back and asking how the actual act of apprehension takes place?

In my practise I am seeing my sensation(s) from my perspective with my senses. It started with developing concentration by focussing on the breath sensations externally. This proceeded to the discovery that there were sensations on my skin that occur continuously and that I was not consciously aware of them before. At first I was suspicious that I was somehow fooling myself by generating these sensations but as I progressed it became clear that what I was observing was a previously unnoticed process occurring without my intention. Perhaps like breathing(!). Being a rationalist I pondered what this could be and naturally thought of the electrochemical activity of the nervous system. Goenka alludes to this in his discourses but does not develop it much. This notion stayed with me and developed further as my practise progressed. To be brief, what I think am doing is becoming aware of the processes that generate subjective experience by developing my ability to observe what is happening in my physical systems as consciousness manifests. The end result of becoming completely aware of this process is the act of enlightenment in that once one sees the process in action one can no longer support the position that ‘I’ exist outside the process. 

Start with a process that is autonomic and yet voluntary (limited to the needs of life of course); breathing. This is the gateway to perceiving other autonomic functions. Describing them is going to be difficult because it is not common to be able to observe internal processes outside of the conscious external experience of pain, nausea, joy, euphoria etc. Work your way up the chain to see how system activity generates all experience. Part of that chain is the interface between the external environment and the processing systems wet-ware, so to speak. Eventually you will be able to observe mind itself being generated as an experience. To be plain: we are meat-machines. I am starting from the periphery and moving into the core, the brain. I assume that something like noting is moving from the brain and the higher function realm out to the periphery. This makes sense to me. I'm sure someone somewhere, even here, has said this before. Daniel Ingram mentions in passing some physical phenomenon in MCTB that correlate somewhat to what I see in my practise. 

Annica – processes/experiences continuously instantiate and terminate out of physical systems in order to maintain homeostasis: impermanence/change

Dukkha – processes/experiences do not last nor permanently resolve that which is required to maintain homeostasis: unsatisfactoriness/suffering

Anatta – processes/experiences instantiate or terminate a 'doer' to facilitate homeostasis: non-self 

As I mentioned in my first post, part of the problem I see with Buddhism as presented by some is that it comes from a primitive context that took certain spiritual precepts as self-evident and it has not shed the mystical trappings of the many environments in which it developed. These trappings are what I found and to some extent still find in most writing and conversation on Buddhism. In the Goenka course I still see some of these trappings but the emphasis in practise is on the technique so I can ignore most of these issues. Kalapa? Re-incarnation? Rebirth in realms? These are not the contents of my experience so I rarely give them any thought. Pondering is unproductive.

'But is that not what this whole discourse is?!' you may say.
Sure. I may also be completely wrong.
​​​​​​​I'm ok with that...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/2/22 9:41 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/2/22 9:41 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
You can't always get what you want...
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Practise: Late sit today was interesting in that on occasion the sweep just swept, all by itself. I'm not sure if I was expecting this or not. I must say it took me a bit by surprise so I will assume I was not expecting it. Sensation is still pretty much constant every waking moment and changing subtley in each area. The sensations that I have become familiar with like the thing on the side of my head have taken on new characteristics, the most noticeable of which is how they vary as I try to relax while observing them. Recently I have been able to dial down the intensity at will. This is quite welcome because at times it feels like someone is trying to push a blunt object through my skull at the level of the temples. The bodily left/right split is doing strange things too. Whereas before the 'feel' of the sensations on either side would kinda swap around now they stay pretty much as they are but as the overall system level of excitation (I'll call it) increases they are coming closer together in 'feel'. The top of the chain in my head is also starting to expand and connect more readily to the base of the spine/genital area, the hara. I've started getting little flashes of light and shooting pains here and there a bit more often as well. Not unexpected.

Random Thoughts: On my first course I overheard a comment by one of the students which made me so sad. They were in discussion with the AT about taking part in the vipassana instruction, which was about to begin. They were being given the player that some used to hear discourses, apparently the AT thought they were not ready for vipassana yet. The student said, with some distress "... but I want it so bad!" Hard to hear. It ended well though, they we all smiles by the end of the course so I assume they made sufficient progress to get the hang of the technique. This came to mind during my sit today when the sweep did it's own thing. "Don't want this..." It helped, a bit.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/9/22 10:40 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/9/22 10:38 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Practise: Over the past few days I have been struggling with ooblek. Reactivity. It is again becoming apparent that the harder I try the harder things get. Strangely easy to intellectualize but difficult to be mindfull of in practise. As I stated before, progress seems to occur when my sweep is on the edge of volition. I am slowly approaching the edge, like a dust mote approaching a black hole, orbiting asymptotically, and it is tough going. One thing that helps is the idea that this is a type of healing and it must be done gently, like a mother caressing a distressed child; she may not know what the problem is, she just knows that comfort is needed while her child works out whatever is causing the upset. It's hard because I am the mother and child. The thing on the side of my head has started to change remarkably. For the longest time I was afraid that it would become something I had to live with, like hemorroids or a bad back. Now it appears to be changing into something I feel could be manageable. There are shooting pains around my eye, jaw and cheek. The feeling of the right side being crushed in a vise while I am reading can become spectacular and hard to be with but that appears to be what is required. This is again obviously the result of progress in my sitting manifesting while off the cushion.

As for off the cushion... There is no 'off the cushion' anymore. The process continues every waking moment. It has happened so slowly I cannot say when it became continuous. Just before COVID started I began trying to concentrate whenever I had an idle moment. Soon I became aware of sensations while driving, then while on transit, then while reading, then during idle conversation... Slowly it became always. The cushion is for new territory and the rest of my time is for practise. So many stories talk about continuous practise and now I have an idea what they were getting at.
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Random Thoughts: On the course you are advised to seek advice if you are not seeing progress. What that progress is you are not told explicitly. One person I know is very frustrated by this and I see why. It is easy to stall at any point during this process and struggle mightily. I have been stalled at times. I don't really know if what I am doing is 'correct' however it seems to me that my temperment is suited to this situation. I once had a discussion with a friend about politics where they decried the lack of critical thinking in the general public. I have heard this before and found it to be their passive way of stating "I'm right and they're wrong". So this time I offered my view of what critical thinking was, in a nut-shell: I can always be wrong, and the work that that mindset implies. My friend seemed a bit confused. Our relationship is long but it wasn't until a few years ago I began to realize how much my friend sees the world with blinders. Their life is a game that they must win, even in the inconsequential details. This insight is one of those hidden things that once you see you cannot un-see, like the arrow in the FedEx logo. This and other small things have turned my friend into whole new person to me, while at the same time the same old person. It took a while before I got my head around the idea that they were always like this and the only thing that has changed is my view. I can see what they struggle with daily and some measure of the upset it causes them. I can see it in me. It engenders my compassion. To me that is progress. Having said that, I may also be wrong...
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 8/10/22 12:19 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/10/22 12:19 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 802 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Your practice sounds really good.

I was also touched by your description of the difference in perspective that has grown between you and your friend. I have had similar experiences recently, accompanied by the odd sensation of knowing that my current perspective cannot be explained over a beer, or an evening, because it is not a verbally explainable difference. I think your instinct for compassion is what is needed. But, as you say, I could be wrong... :-)
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/12/22 10:30 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/12/22 10:30 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi Martin
​​​​​​​Thanks!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/15/22 9:44 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/15/22 9:44 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Everything is practise...
Sensation is a continuum from head to toe varying in intensity from vanishingly light to oppressively hard; from dull 'there-ness', to ache, to sharp sting. In general physical terms it is a map of my lifetime of major and not so major injuries. I can label each area with the incident that gave rise to its sensation and in some cases with the emotional valence associated to it. I feel that the emotional content of most of these has been integrated to a large extent with some exceptions, primarily 'the thing on the side of my head', but that process is ongoing and my view may need to be amended in the future. 

The Thing On The Side Of My Head
At the end of the first course the right side of my face burned on and off for days. Eventually the sensation faded away. For the next couple of years it would make occasional appearances but with my level of practise being so low and the fact that I had not given up my bad habits this wasn't surprising. When I finally stopped drinking and smoking dope, and got serious about sitting every day, the burning started making more regular appearances. Over time I began sitting every day and twice a day on weekends. When COVID lock-downs were introduced I happened to be scheduled for a retreat but with the retreat cancelled I figured I might as well sit twice a day for the time I had booked off. By the end of that 3 week period TTOTSOMH was a permanent fixture. It started with a burning itch over the tear duct of my right eye, then spread over my cheek bone, down the back of my jaw, up into my temple. Eventually I felt a nexus behind my right eye just in from the cheekbone, literally inside my skull. Over time TTOTSOMH began to take on a life of its own. I could not sit and read without it being present and it gradually became more intense. Sometimes it would move like a living thing inside me. Sometimes it rendered most of my right cheek numb. Sometimes it felt like doom... You get the picture.

I am interested in almost everything science so I have a dilettante's knowledge in a very wide range of subjects. Naturally I looked to the human nervous system to see what was behind the eye, in from the cheekbone, inside the skull and found the trigeminal nerve. The illustration in Wikipedia of the nerve and its network over the face is a map I am intimately familiar with. The first time I had heard about this nerve was in the context of 'the suicide disease' - trigeminal neuralgia. Disturbing to say the least.

I know when this started. In my adolescence in what I will call a tense situation I received a slap to the face; I remember it vividly. It is the only slap I have ever received. Over the years the memory has come back from time to time but I never dwelt on it, it was just one of those things. Looking back now I can't help but feel that the slap changed the course of my life. Now you could say the same about any given event for anybody I guess. However, once the memory of this event came to the forefront of my thoughts, things started to happen in my practise that I was not expecting. Apparently I had unresolved issues whose consequences had to be dealt with to make any more progress. I do not dwell on 'issues' when I sit. Thoughts arise and pass away and I observe them, with equanimity, just as I do sensations. When TTOTSOMH was ready, it bore fruit. I received an education in human nature that cannot be fully put into words. It hurt for days. I wept because I hurt, I wept for the person who hit me and their hurt, I wept for humanity and its hurt. Even now I weep occasionally but it's gotten much better. Definite progress.

It is still there now along with all the other sensations. Sankhara being peeled away and it is a big one. Slowly it is being subsumed into whatever this process is working toward. Looking at this from a purely clinical POV, the trigeminal nerve terminates in the pons, just below the midbrain, at the top of the spinal cord. This general area is where some current neuroscientists theorize that the seat of consciousness resides. Receiving a gross stimulation directly into this area accompanied by high emotional content cannot help but influence one's development in profound ways. Having said that, I can also imagine the myriad little stimulations anywhere on the body, with or without emotional valence, that we unceasingly process over the course of our lives, that influence our consciousness. Our concepts of self and reality are built around these external influences. Yet there is one other factor to consider: mind. What influence does it have? At this point mine boggles…
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/25/22 10:10 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/25/22 10:10 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
So what has been happening? The 'pressure' is settled into the shape of my body, varying in intensity based on location. TTOTSOMH is getting more intense and changeable. The idea of being able to get underneath the sensations being observed, while scanning, has proven useful in keeping the process going. At the times where the pressure seems like a bit too much I recognize that I am pushing and remember to relax into the sweep where progress continues. It has become so reliable that I'm beginning to feel it is the answer to some unknown question.

A few days ago during a sit I almost fell off my stool but managed to catch myself before it was too late. Immediately afterward I experienced an event, I saw some flashes of light that gradually faded, the sweep felt like it was going to a deeper level, the pressure in my head spread from the hardness on the right side into the softness on the left and down the left side of my body. This is only remarkable because I have had similar occurrences, minus the flashing lights, that felt like succumbing to fatigue while still alert. I've wondered if it was really my 'me' just relaxing a bit. Weirdness...

While off the cushion, at rest, the pressure in my head will build and dissipate repeatedly. Tingles will occur, usually on my legs, some goose-flesh occasionally on my arms. I've begun to notice that my face will flush from time to time. My vision is affected, or so it seems. It's hard to tell if it's what I see or how I'm seeing it that I'm noticing. It's not constant, usually when I'm relaxed. I feel that there will come a time when these strange phenomenon will no longer be the exception but the usual. This causes a bit of apprehension at times when I wonder how these experiences will change and what other unknowns are coming. I try to remember to remain equanimous...
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 8/26/22 7:09 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/26/22 4:59 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
FWIW, my sense is that many of the "strange effects" of meditation are simply the result of developing a finer awareness and becoming aware of stuff that is already happening.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/31/22 10:13 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/31/22 10:13 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi George

Yes. Fewer unknown unknowns.

​​​​​​​Thanks
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 8/31/22 11:09 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/31/22 11:09 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I used to send semi-regular updates to a friend and fellow traveller until I realized that it had become a litany of '...this strange thing happened today...'. I'd rather avoid that here. Otherwise it becomes a field of weeds in later reference.

So. Over the last 5 days insight has progressed from semi-unfocused sweeping that generates a field of sensations, through sweeping that defines very specific pathways through the body, and back to a more generalized focus with much greater penetration and intensity. When I first began it was basically the surface of the skin, progressing to general sensation external with some internal, next a very interesting period of sensing specific sensations in specific areas, for instance over the course of one sit examining my internal organs; heart, lungs, intestine, genitals, kidney. The kidney was special due to the fact that I have only one, the other being removed for reasons I won't go into. I was able to 'see' the void of the missing organ althought that may be primarily due to the nerve damage done by the operation to remove it.

Speaking of nerves... At one point this week I was tracing the major branches of my nervous system for several minutes. This was most interesting while it lasted, until progressing to today's sit where the sensing moved from the trunks so to speak out onto the branches. A nice metaphor I think I'll use some more. As I type the twigs and leaves are doing various things: sizzling, itching, humming, tingling. This has been coming and going at various intensities for the last 3 or 4 days and I expect it will become persistent over the next few. On my first course I was less than strict with my attention and noticed one woman who was going through something, after about day 3. By day 6 or 7 it was obvious she was in something like distress, but she was persevering. Perhaps a glimpse of the future? Well, by day 9 she had a smile that could light the dhamma hall!

My sweeping up into the head has gotten very intense. I've been pretty good at keeping the balance between head and body thus far I think. As the head ramps up so does the body. The real challenge has become balancing left and right. There are different areas of sensation but there is also a definite split side to side. I believe this is due to my history of injury. My missing kidney is on the right. I have multiple injuries on the right side: ankle, knee, hip, ribs, shoulder, ear (infection/rupture). I have suffered a fractured liver, broken several ribs on the right, fractured my right shoulder-blade, suffered hyper-elevation of my right shoulder, injured my right wrist (left as well). I'm a mess! I mention this because it feeds into my partial interpretation of sankhara. There is a difference in how the body reacts to observation of the, say, right leg vs. left leg. My ankle and knee injuries were not insignificant and they have left their imprint on my nervous system. There is a phenomenon called guarding or muscle guarding which I believe is a flavour of sankhara. In peeling away this (these) sankhara I am slowly regaining normal function of my leg. I can feel my gait change, partially in reaction to exercise. I have been a runner, biker, casual athlete all my life. I recognize exercise modified performance. Sankhara is something else related to deeper function. Another for instance: my sense of smell, which was almost non-existent, is now capable of grabbing my attention, something which happened extremely rarely in the past. So rarely that I recollect specific instances, like the first time I smelled an orange, at 23 yo. It's like a pathway that was dormant has been pried open a bit.

Every day is something new, in small increments. Sometimes a big blast goes through. My steady-state experience is no longer what it was when I began but I struggle to describe it. It is however good.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 9/15/22 10:36 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 9/15/22 10:36 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
It has been a while since my last update. Primarily because any changes that have occurred were more in magnitude than novelty. That ended this morning when something new happened. The right/left split of the body that has been the norm for many months has gone and is now a unity of left and right that has a gradient in sensation. It is strange in that what I am feeling has remained very similar to before but there is now no need to try and focus on experiencing both sides simultaneously, it just occurs naturally. At the time, it felt like something just slid into place. TTOTSOMH is also beginning to integrate into the field of experience and rather than feeling like a separate part of what is happening, it is becoming just another aspect of it. 

Other than the new development things remain largely the same. Constant experiencing of sensations over the body. A great deal of sensation in the head and face accompanied by a sort of movement. Crescendos of sensation followed by slow dissipation. Sometimes nothing at all. At times, I remind myself of the refuge taken in the Triple Gem that is part of the retreat. This helps a great deal when the pressure in my head is peaking and fear begins to creep in. This too will change. 

The above was written several days ago. Today my sit was intense, most of the day was intense, I expect tomorrow will be intense. Whatever change is occurring is doing so largely on its own. My head is a balloon with pressure points near my right cheekbone and behind my eyes. The cheekbone fairly sizzles sometimes and the pressure behind the eyes sometimes moves up into my forehead and back. My experience of the world is shifting in ways hard to discern so describing them would be pointless. Sometimes my thoughts are things to be examined as if in a movie. Otherwise my mind is remarkably quiet as compared to say, last week. I get sharp pains in areas not usually sore but these fade. I am sometimes vividly aware of the sensations of just moving through the world. 

At the end of todays sit I was one big bag of 'energy'. My right side still felt different than the left but it was part of a field of experience, not separate in any way. I imagine this is activation of most of the nervous pathways in my body. As I write I can feel it. Not as intense as this AM but there. It will fade if I get up to do the dishes but if I try to relax into it, it will come back even stronger. At times it will come back on its own. Equaniminty is the act of trying not to interfere with it in any way; my level of proficiency varies. There is a tinge of fear in the background of my curiousity because of the unknown here but I just look at my little Buddha on the shelf and remind myself that someone has been here before. 
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 9/30/22 12:41 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 9/30/22 12:41 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I do not remember where or when I first heard ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. In the back of my mind I always wondered when my teacher would show up. I recently finished listening to ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction’ by Gabor Mate, M.D. A book that I cannot recommend highly enough, everyone should read it. At one point he writes (I paraphrase) ‘when the student is ready, teachers will appear’. A subtle difference but very important I think.

No longer do I really practise vipassana. I used to practise on the cushion, then on the bus, on the train, waiting in line, reading, listening etc. Now, there are no longer any pauses between these sessions. I am ‘vipassana-ing’ continuously, unless I am asleep and I suspect it is occurring even then. I now recall my dreams far more often and in more detail than what was normal even, say, 6 months ago. What has this got to do with a teacher? While it is good, indeed necessary, to have an experienced guide to consult when things get sideways, the opportunity to develop is always there. Each experience is a teacher. It has taken years to get to this point and somewhat humbling to have this realization. I’m still really a novice, beginning again each moment.

Once I got out of my own way many things came up that I thought were long in the past. I am grateful that they have because now I can see how they were not dealt with appropriately. Not to say that I have resolved them completely but now I can work on them with a bit more skill and maybe some day they will no longer cause me to do what I did in the past; the victim of my own reactivity.

On course, at the end, we are taught metta. At the end of each remaining sit we did 5 minutes of metta. At home I was somewhat lackadaisical but slowly I have learned that it is just as important as anything else. Do your metta and remember to include yourself!
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 9/30/22 3:43 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 9/30/22 3:43 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 5175 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Nice! Congratulations on this amazing insight.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 10/10/22 12:19 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 10/10/22 12:19 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Thanks Chris!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 10/30/22 10:40 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 10/30/22 10:40 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Yay!
My motivation has come back. In bits and pieces, but over the past 2 weeks I've gotten off my butt enough to make progress on chores and projects that have languished for varying lengths of time ranging from weeks to over a year. Nothing life changing, but doing the bare minimum each day then zoning out was getting oppressive.

My head is always pulsing. Tendrils of the pulses range down into the extremities. Bouts of tingling come and go. Discursive thought is generally less and tends to focus on whatever I am currently involved in. Day-dreaming has decreased too, unless I'm in the part of the cycle where sexual impulses dominate but even that has become easier to choose to deal with. My ears are starting to burn more. During metta things go deep into my chest. It feels correct. Progress is comfortable and constant.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 12/8/22 4:08 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/8/22 4:08 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
A large shift occurred yesterday. It's difficult to characterize, as are all internal phenomenon. Since the last update things were going along as always, getting sensations from deeper and deeper down the chain. Yesterday I 'broke through' whatever the resistance was and now I feel like I am investigating at a whole new level. Both into the extremities and up into by head. Blockages fall and new ones are revealed. TTOTSOMH is still there as part of the whole; the sensations it produces get pretty knarly when I'm not sitting but they kind of smooth out on the cushion and each sit produces some progress in breaking down whatever is causing it. The sweep is becoming so natural I can choose how to apply it, hard or soft, fast or slow, focused or diffused. As the passage of each point of wholesale resistance occurs I discover I need to again find out how to properly apply the sweep to effectively observe and begin progressing again.

All this practise is having an effect on my behaviour. I went to my first course because of rage. It's been quite some time since I have raged, long enough that just typing that makes me feel... I am very grateful. I see things differently most of the time now, I am less judgemental and more accepting of what goes on around me. I have begun to accept my own behaviour and see it in a more constructive manner. This is enabling me to do the same for others. I am still learning the power of metta.

If I had not begun and sustained my twice a day practise I don't think any of this would be happening. One hour a day is maintenance level practise I think. The lesson in discipline is also valuable. In a psych lecture I once saw the prof said 'the things you do every day, those are the most important things you do', meaning the maintenance of life, but also the habits and thoughts. Do the things that help you thrive not those that hinder and the rest will fall into place.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 12/8/22 7:40 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/8/22 7:40 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 2410 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Kevin Andrew
Do the things that help you thrive not those that hinder and the rest will fall into place.

Amen!
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 12/8/22 11:30 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/8/22 11:30 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 802 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
This is the best kind of report that can be read. Thanks for making the world a better place!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 1/14/23 12:30 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/14/23 12:29 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Copied here from a reply to another post by Nikolai:
"...there is a pressure in my head. What I have been refering to as 'the thing on the side of my head' has been joined by a pervasive 'potential' throughout my body that has lately taken up residence in the centre of my head as well. In fact this was part of what I was going to update. Your statement about inclination is also interesting as I noticed early on when beginning serious practise I would drop into what I believe was the precursor of my current state of experience, usually while driving or waiting in line.

I generally try to avoid giving too much attention to what others say about their experiences but it is encouraging to hear you associate it with cessation. I'll take it as a sign of progress..."

Also to add, while sitting this AM and working on TTOTSOMH there was a sharp 'snap' and a distinct releasing sensation in the area just above my temple and in slightly. Something similar has occurred before. Well over a year ago while practising before sleep I was working on scanning my chest when a large knot manifested in the centre. I decided to focus on it and just as I was having doubts that focusing on it was a good idea it snapped; almost audibly (maybe an afterthought) and hard enough that my body jumped! Immediately after my chest and lower shoulder area was filled with a vibratory sensation that lasted for several minutes and eventually settled down. Since that time I have been unable to find that knot. Something was released, no emotional content that I could discern at the time, but my chest has generally felt less constricted in stressful situations since.

One thing I've realized is it is possible to literally side-step fear, at least in relation to what is going on in my practise. I wouldn't call it courage but I seem to have found a way to kinda 'move to the left' when doubt or dread comes up with regard to TTOTSOMH and the spectacular effects it generates. A deepening of equanimity no doubt. That is how the snap was able to manifest; I got out of my own way. Hmmm...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 1/17/23 2:26 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/17/23 2:24 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Last night's sit was different. A lot of chaotic movement and thought, some very strange ideas popping into my head. Exercising equanimity was difficult but the effort seems to be bearing fruit today. TTOTSOMH was very active when I settled down for the night and it took some effort to just accept it and finally drop off to sleep. This morning it started up again immediately upon waking. During my sit the 'ice-cream headache' sensation that seems to indicate a blockage or focal point was occurring in multiple locations and quite intensely, threating to de-rail the scan altogether and draw me into the trap of focussing on one location for far longer than necessary. This battle went back and forth the entire sit until just before it ended. Two or 3 minutes before the chant began I dropped into the trunk and branch perception of my body/nervous system and this quickly went from faint, to intense but difficult, to intense but easy, to almost imperceptible; but with the added feeling of pressure at the base of the skull ascending in to the head. This held as excitement built in my extremities and my mind's eye was slowly filling with brightness. Then the chant began. Metta was easy but the sensation came back and started building on it's own until I got up to begin my morning routine.

On the bus into work the sensations again began building on their own and the pressure at the base of my skull began to leak upward, until I got up to walk to the office.

Today during work the feeling of what I'll call active relaxation begins whenever I stand still for a moment or just let my mind rest on nothing in particular. Eventually a tingling suffuses me and my head begins to expand. The effect wanes as I draw my attention to something but never really goes away. TTOTSOMH is slowly being buried or subsumed in whatever began last night and is continuing today!

Right now I feel great, my accumulated injuries feel OK, I feel a bit jazzed; there is always movement inside. I perceive it always there, always changing, nothing else to be done. Is equanimity becoming the default? Is this the reconfiguration of the neural default mode network? Was Gotama a neuroscientist 2500 years ahead of his time?

I can't help but wonder about the mystics of the Middle Ages who stumbled upon these experiences. Not the ones who were bipolar or schizoid or self-serving power seekers but those who felt that tingle when they sat alone in their room and thought 'what was that?' and continued to watch, for hours if necessary. Then went back the next day, and the next day, and the next...
They could only describe what they felt in the terms of their times and available language. This internal movement became the Holy Spirit, the light in the head became immanence, awakening became...

Pick a revelation. The mundane world co-opted it and it was lost again. I used to get angry when people talked about how their or someone else's faith gave them strength. I wanted to scream 'YOU are the source!' but I realized they wouldn't hear me whatever I said. Now I realize that was just me, now I realize it doesn't matter as long as they try carefully to improve their lives or the lives of those around them. That's a form of awakening in itself.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 1/24/23 2:16 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/24/23 2:16 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
TTOTSOMH has toned down considerably this week. The left/right bodily split is reappearing more noticably now, even during the day. An image that comes to mind, as I write, is of clogged pipes running both out of and into a reservoir so to speak, from brain to body and back. Each day the crud in the pipes gets thinner and thinner and the flow becomes smoother. The pressure / focal points are eddys of turbulent flow formed around accretions on the pipe walls. Crude analogy but apt I think. I am much more aware of my moment to moment movements, my internal states and the emotions that arise because of them. I am aware of sensations at all times. At times I can't distinguish what I call Path-effects from actual bodily complaint. For example heart-burn. Nothing is ever at rest.

One interesting thing occurred during this morning's sit. An image of a suburban yard with trees, hedges, grass etc appeared. It was as if I was looking toward the house from off to one side, the sun shining onto the house and yard from my right; me standing in shade on the street. It was like being there. It is not a place I recognized, perhaps an image from my past. I noticed how real it seemed, noticed I couldn't place it, and let it be what it was. It persisted for a while then passed away, into what I don't recall, probably the general background of my normal sitting environment.

My hypothesis regarding nervous system activity and insight continues to entertain. I appear to be becoming aware of the activity of the trigeminal nerve on the left side of my head. In deep concentration the sensations on left and right are quite comparable and when not sitting and relaxed I feel the presence of both in generally unequal amounts. This suggests to me that the insult received by the right side is causing some activity not currently experienced on the left. Sensations on the lower portions of the body also seem to follow this pattern. As mentioned before most of my major injuries are on the right side. These patterns suggest to me that the pressure I feel at the back of my head is indeed overt awareness of the activity in the region of the pons / midbrain etc. This may explain the occasional pulse of sensation into the deep skull/brain. Conjecture for off the cushion. It will be interesting to see what science reveals of the affects of these practises in the future.

One more thing to mention is my old friends are changing. I know I don't really see things like I used to in subtle ways, and I am acting different because of this. For instance my anger, which used to be hard to control, now rarely gets to the point of outburst if it appears at all. My old friends (childhood/siblings) seem to be adapting to this. Or maybe I'm just noticing their behavour more accurately. Either way it seems to me they are at times a bit off-balance around me. I get the impression they are trying to adjust to something; maybe that I am not reacting how they expect me to? It is interesting to watch in any case. I am unattached so maybe this is only really new to me...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 9:21 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 9:21 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Feels like a significant change occurred this morning. Lots of new sensation in the right side, especially my foot. Recollection of an injury on the sole, from around age 6. Lots of energy, so to speak, all over the body and an evening out of the experience of myself bilaterally. By the end of the sit it felt like there was potential for the 'energy' to take on a life of it's own and keep building once I got up to start my day. I still feel like it could begin to ramp up even as I write this. Could be an interesting day. Thankfully work is slow.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 3:09 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 3:09 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I think I am beginning to understand how bacon feels. My whole body is starting to sizzle, it started during the AM sit and subsided on the way into work but over the course of the day has begun to make itself more known and may be constant by the time I get home. TTOTSOMH has become a pillar of pressure from the base of my jawbone to the area over my right eyebrow, pulsing occasionally with my heartbeat. My tinnitus is becoming more noticeable but nothing I can't deal with. My right leg from groin to toes... no most of my right side is a mix of pressure and sizzle. My vision is strange. Clearer? My head becomes a ballon then subsides, from time to time. Aside from the novelty of the experience I feel great. My mood is a bit manic but my co-workers are used to that so no big deal. I have a solo work journey next week that could be interesting, if this keeps progressing the way I think it will. Not that I expect anything in particular but I have some feelings of apprehension, travelling alone away from home while this gains steam. Ah well, Annica...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 2/5/23 1:20 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/5/23 1:20 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
A few physical observations. My sinuses are clearer than they have been in decades. I have over the years suffered bouts of illness requiring some pretty hefty antibiotics, for both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, that I thought would have completely cleared my sinuses, but once treatment was complete they went back to normal: congestion on the left and heavier congestion, nearing complete blockage, on the right. This has cleared up now, for the past few months. I've also noticed that I tend to salivate on the right side much more when in deep concentration. Beginning back on my first retreat I noticed that my eyes appear brighter when I look in a mirror and they now do not dry out in the winter as easily. In fact they are more prone to weeping when irritated. As mentioned before my right side is more sensational(?) and has become a bit of a tool to deepen this process of observing by providing a contrast to the left. The moments when a unity of exprience is near appears to be when breakthroughs occur. The head pressure is changing too often or continuously to really be specific, it just keeps changing. One thing to note however is how it pushes downward as well as up, depending on my general mood and overall level of relaxation. Being equanimous is not just a state of mind anymore but an embodied way of being that requires constant practise and careful observation, which results in what I feel is progress, even off the cushion.

A Record of Awakening
Practise and Insight on the Buddhist Path
David Smith

"The Analogy of the Diving Pool
Two people are at a diving pool. One stands on the edge of the pool while the other stands on a diving board high above. The one on the board dives off and plummets to a great depth in the water. The other person's turn comes and he gently steps off the edge of the pool and, without even a splash, goes under the water.
 To me this displays two different approaches to the practise. ..."

​​​​​​​Great book.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 7:58 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 7:58 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
It seems a bit strange the way my context is changing. I've noted before that things in my past keep coming up and appearing different to me. This results in my wondering how I thought of them otherwise; it seems plain that the new insight is more correct. Recently it occurred to me that a woman I was involved with long ago was not being kind. I won't go into detail but I now realize she was motivated by a need to feed her own sense of worth in a way that was highly detrimental to my mental health, and yet I cannot feel any animosity toward her because I believe I know why she was doing it. Details matter and I am quite good at collecting them. Often they are fit together incorrectly but this reconfiguration seems more natural.  Whichever is correct, unfortunately, it to a lot of suffering on my part. 

I do not act the same. I've also mentioned this before. My interactions with others have changed, I believe they are more skillful on the whole. I still talk more than necessary but I am getting better at editing myself. I think this is due to a developing faculty of present moment awareness. This makes sense. I practise this very skill for two hours a day every day. A byproduct of this new mode of awareness is that the things I need to know bubble up to the surface of my mind from time to time. This is not limited to need to know things only, but I could be wrong about that. Time will tell. 

The practise seems so simple yet the consequences appear so tremendous. There are times when what is going on inside threatens to shred my developing equanimity. It's like growing up all over again. 

Like growing up I am aware of some of the changes that may/will/should take place (depending on your source) but do not really know how they will manifest. That is the danger of intellectual knowledge versus lived knowledge. My anchor is the senses: what are they actually telling me? Sure there is pain but what does it tell me? I got heartburn once during a sit. It became obvious that it was heartburn. I've had very similar sensations at other times and with examination found it was not heartburn. Trivial maybe but when your skull feels the jaws of the vise do you think aneurysm or path? When your bowels jump do you think insight or gas? Many times I've reminded myself 'you are looking inside, physically at rest. What is really going on...' and suspended judgment until I rose and went on with my day. An adolescent hasn't the experience to see how valuable that can be unless they are very fortunate. I've been fortunate. 

For the last few days my bodily sensations have been what may be called an object lesson in anicca. As I've written before, moment to moment sensations change and vary in intensity. They are becoming more intense every day and during every sit they go to new places. TTOTSOMH is back with a vengance but that's OK. Way off in the distance I can hear someone shouting and they are not happy. If they start getting close I'll start asking for advice from the ATs. Until then I'll trust that Gotama wasn't kidding.
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 8:49 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 8:49 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 802 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
"It's like growing up all over again. "

I think that is a very good way to put it. We are lucky to be able to grow up twice!

​​​​​​​
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 9:56 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 9:56 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi Martin

Yes. I sometimes think that youngsters miss the opportunity by trying to be too old before their time. Or having to deal with life before they are adequately equipped. One of my happiest moments on retreat was when I realized the head-start the younger students were getting. I can't imagine having found the right technique when I was 22 and beginning to practise seriously. How different things may have been...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 10:32 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 10:32 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Big openings. Areas of the body that were closed are beginning to open up, and I didn't even know they were closed. Insights keep popping out at random times. Personal knots dissolve and it feels like 'well, why was that an issue deserving of so much effort?' On the cushion the same challenges appear over and over as I go 'deeper'. I can see that reactivity is the reason for the challenges in all cases. If I embody every experience and I react to each one, no matter how subtle, then the only barrier to real progress is due to not understanding the nature of this reactivity. So the workman must discern the tool needed for the repair by watching the machine in front of him and then working on it while it runs. No problem...

It is fair to say that I haven't felt this good in so long I can't remember, maybe childhood. Not manic-Christmas-morning good or safe-with-my-people-after-a-long-trip good or showered-after-a-run good. Something is calming down inside and it is having consequences in every aspect of my biological and psychological experience. TTOTSOMH used to worry me and that is gone now; not that it doesn't matter or doesn't feel like a living thing shuffling around on my cheek, just that it doesn't seem to cause tension off the cushion anymore. My aches and pains are just the way they are. The same effect is taking place for everything external. Things are just the way they are, people are the way they are, etc. It isn't perfect yet but it becomes more global each day.
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 3:00 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 3:00 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 802 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
That also sounds so good! The equanimity that comes through feels good, even just to read.

"So the workman must discern the tool needed for the repair by watching the machine in front of him and then working on it while it runs. " Wonderfully put, again. And workman, of course, is a hologram produced by the running of the machine.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 3/31/23 11:12 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/31/23 11:12 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Somewhere on DhO I read a reply to a question about how a person's experience changed after they attained some goal. The response was basically 'well, I can't really remember cuz I'm not that anymore...' I can relate on some level. Some less than skillful habits that I seem to have attenuated now feel a bit like some kind of echo; not the actual thing but a fading reproduction of the thing, rattling around inside. One in particular manifests as an image in my mind but lacks much of the sensation that used to accompany it and because that is missing it is less likely to pull me into it's story.

While on retreat recently I went through some more emotional processing, I think related to TTOTSOMH. Since then the already steady progress has made a few jumps, notably a big one this evening. It seems that the practise at being open to new sensations has been effective, these jumps are more interesting than they are cause for concern. I think this will go on for some time. The emotional arousal pops out, allows the system to relax and the tension resolves, allowing movement to a new depth. Given that we are emotional beings, just how far does this go?

One other thing I noticed recently is the river of thought is... smoother? Less turbulent? As well it is easier to pull myself out of the stream if I do get pulled into an eddy. I still recall a space of maybe 1 - 2 minutes when I was dipping in and out of the flow while meditating. It felt like I was watching the thoughts and myself interacting from a separate perspective. Interesting stuff, all of it.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 3/31/23 11:13 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/31/23 11:13 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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Thanks Martin
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 4/19/23 1:14 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/19/23 1:14 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
More of the same like the last update. Going deeper...
The act of observing causes a reaction. By accepting the reaction and moving on the experience of annica is made more concrete. Rinse, repeat... TTOTSOMH has become almost the entirety of my right side. This indicates to me that it is indeed the result of physical trauma, along with other ingredients that are being teased out by the technique.

Most sits now start with a period of chaotic movement of sensation throughout the body. My attention is moving as before but the reactions are jumping around everywhere. Initially they start in the belly then spread to the extremities and ping-pong around until they come into sync with my moving attention. At this point the sensations begin a slow building of intensity until the point of resolution occurs. This seems to occur without any particular change in effort, although I'm beginning to suspect that there is a correlation with how narrow or diffuse the focus of my attention is. A delicate balance that I'm only now starting to get a view of, just in wisps.

The pressure in my head is getting intense but is more or less bilaterally equal. It feels like it is branching inward, hard to discern with the overall feeling being so great. The rest of the body is similar.

Everyday sensation changes, moving through what I recall to be the sensations on sits from previous weeks. A gradual ramping up of the resting state of the system I guess. It is not unpleasant, just different.

The monkey mind is now more like a dog in obedience training. It still wants to do what it wants but can be brought to heel with some effort. It gets better every day but the progress is slow.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 11 Months ago at 5/2/23 9:36 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 5/2/23 9:36 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
If a frog had a neocortex what would it think of the apologue of the boiled frog?
This comes to mind as the effects of practise become more pronounced. I find myself actively observing myself more often over the course of the day, there are sensations that occur seemingly without pause, my vision changes randomly without impairment, what I call Insights occur spontaneously off the cushion. The changes have come gradually but I feel that they were recognizable going back to my first big event on my first retreat. I keep coming to the same realization: none of this is new. I feel it in my bones.

During a sit the intensity of the physical sensations I have mentioned previously just keep increasing. In the beginning here is a brief period of almost random internal movement of attention before things get rolling and a more organized period of observation begins. Phases of intense focus are interspersed with those of a more diffuse nature. If the moving attention stops in an area it can stall, like it has run into quick-sand. Brief periods of special attention to an area are OK, but not too long. Areas of great tension like TTOTSOMH manifest along with areas that are almost completely blank. Both of these vary in intensity (blankness has intensity? Who knew?!) and it all keeps endlessly ramping up. Occasionally when conditions are just so there is a tingling of my vision field, something most easily called a flash of light but isn't really, then one of the notable areas of intensity will experience a change that actually feels like something being released. For a brief time the flow of observation becomes very free and effortless before everything gradually settles down to a slightly modified map of the aforementioned areas and the process begins again. It requires a great amount of effort, effortlessness, focus, indifference and time. It is endlessly fascinating and that scares me a bit at times.

I believe I am waking up from self-imposed isolation. From the moment I became, I learned to shut down or filter whatever was too big to deal with, with the resources I had at my disposal at the time, for the sake of survival. As time went on I began to learn from others and use that knowledge to filter experience, in much the same way as before. Over time my resources and resourcefulness grew and the filter became more and more sophisticated until I no longer could appreciate or even see the complexity of the filter. The filter became a factor that was too big to deal with so I had to begin to filter the filter, so to speak. Life as rabbit-hole. A confusing, dark, ominous and chaotic rabbit-hole. Then I heard about the Dhamma. I learned it incorrectly; for what else can happen while the filter exists? Luckily the Dhamma is persistent. Somehow the Dhamma tore a corner of the filter and a bit of reality got through, like the metaphorical Light. Walk toward the light, right? Maybe that is what I see in the flashes...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 11 Months ago at 5/13/23 10:39 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 5/13/23 10:39 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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Things just keep getting more intense.
The upper right quadrant of my head is trying to open a branch office. Or something I can't see is trying to get in. Or it is on fire. Or it is melting... Occasionally it itches or spreads to the left side. I take the itching as a sign that something is healing. I have a couple of ideas about why this is happening, all irrelevant. At times sensation draws a line from the top of my forehead down through TTOTSOMH, my shoulder, my ribs, my groin or glute, down my right leg and fades into my right shin. At times it makes my right foot tingle. This all lines up with my history of injury/trauma. My left side is pretty consistently tingly. Over the last few sits my entire body tends toward a smooth vibratory or sizzling sensation, internal and external. The flashing lights have faded for now but there is still the occasional release, however these are much less intense. The 'ahhh...' feeling is not really present like before. I suspect that from outside it may seem that my affect in public is a bit flat but other than dealing with the physical manifestations things are really nice.

I have noticed that when TTOTSOMH gets very intense I can sort of disengage from the sensation. I'm not sure what to make of this yet but it does come in handy when the niggling doubt sets in. The little bits of itching help too. I recall the blast I received in my chest when that sankhara released, I wonder if that will happen here as well?  Strange to kinda look forward to a kick in the head...
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Dream Walker, modified 11 Months ago at 5/14/23 7:13 AM
Created 11 Months ago at 5/14/23 7:13 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 1692 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Could you give a brief explanation of what sensations you are investigating?
Touch?
Sight?
Sounds?
Taste/Smell?
Thoughts?
Other?
I guess I'm asking what sensations are worthy or unworthy of noticing/investigating.
Thanks,
Good Luck,
​​​​​​​~D
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Kevin Andrew, modified 11 Months ago at 5/15/23 10:03 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 5/15/23 10:01 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hello D

"I guess I'm asking what sensations are worthy or unworthy of noticing/investigating."

The instruction is to just observe. Nothing is categorized by sight, smell etc. Occasionally 2 concurrent or sequential sensations may provoke an insight or event as I call them but they are not made special.

The instruction is to keep moving. Attention keeps moving and sensation is observed in an continuous sequence, like the sweep second hand touching all of the markings on a clock's face. I try to not dwell on any particular sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, including thoughts or blank/numb areas.

The instruction is to remain equanimous. There is an attempt to not evaluate or judge any given sensation, unless the flow needs to be directed, like working on a blank/numb area if the map of sensation is missing a piece of the body.

My level of success in all these points varies. The technique is deceptively simple. I keep encountering new aspects of it every day.

Be Well
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Dream Walker, modified 11 Months ago at 5/19/23 2:08 AM
Created 11 Months ago at 5/16/23 7:24 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 1692 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
If I may be so bold, ​​​​​​​ I would observe a sensation and if it seemed - Permanent You Satisfying Then I would focus all my attention upon that sensation until it just fades into.....whatever it does. The go back to just observing again. Good Luck, ~D

Sorry, for my boldness.
Be Well to you too!
​​​​​​​~D
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Kevin Andrew, modified 11 Months ago at 5/16/23 8:57 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 5/16/23 8:57 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
D

This is my practise log. I am not looking for a teacher.

​​​​​​​Be Well
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Kevin Andrew, modified 10 Months ago at 6/18/23 11:07 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 6/18/23 11:07 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Every day, every sit, there is a subtle change in how I experience reality. While that may sound like a big statement it really isn't. The individual changes are tiny. Whether I am conscious of the change depends on what I am doing. Tasks requiring above average attention tend to push the novelties to the background. Standing waiting, general movement from A to B or driving (but not motorcycling) have become adventures in sensation. TTOTSOMH has become just another sensation in the overall tapestry that is the experience of my body. There is a 'space' in my skull filled with sensation that fluctuates wildly in intensity and geometry. I recently bought a lava-lamp and was suprised to discover that the shapes of the sensations generated in my head and body are similar to what I see in the lamp. They rise and fall, drifting around up and down, side to side. They slowly build, sometimes coming to a pointedness that then casts off a bubble of sensation to wander around on it's own. I'm pretty sure I know where some of them come from, other's origins are lost to memory and time. It seems obvious to me that they are all due to experiences and the impact they have had on me (I fight the urge to go into the 3rd person 'this body...', it's just too precious). In the course talks they classify sankhara in 3 ways: fleeting (inscribed in water), transitory (inscribed in sand on a beach), persistent (inscribed in rock). These are my paraphrasing. After 2 years (really, 7...) of constant effort TTOTSOMH is being worn down; it is obviously rock. It also modifies and is modified by other sankhara. There is a connection from my head to my right foot that is very noticeable. Along the way it has tendrils into other areas I recognize from an active life. There are also some emotional nodes and interconnections. The whole complex is fascinating and deep and on some level absurdly obvious. At times I actually have to laugh at the connections that are revealed. There are also tears. Sometimes understanding is tough.

It is sometimes difficult to deal with the drives, or maybe a better way to put that is the range of "excitatory state(s) produced by a homeostatic disturbance". It has gotten to the point that I can see some of them as they arise, as a feeling coming from the depths of my head or body. I can also see the urge to avoid them or attach to them arise, and I sometimes see them pass away on their own or with some assistance. This facility seems to have developed as a consequence of learning to not avoid and or fret over the experience of TTOTSOMH. It has a texture to it that I can't describe. It is equanimity.

06/17

What happened this morning? The distinction between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system seems to be becoming apparent in experience. Or perhaps access to the outer areas, the extremities, became unblocked? Over the last few days I have noticed my right leg and foot becoming more sensitive, maybe this is just an expansion of that process.


06/18

Big changes each sit now. It feels like trying to drink from a firehose, everything is more vivid. My head is a balloon, there are voids and masses inside, TTOTSOMH has been joined by similar sensations on the other side of my skull, not as intense but it is still increasing so perhaps they will match later this week. I wonder about what caused this sankhara; the fact that it appears to run so deep, what influence it has had on me. It has been there for most of my life, forming just as I was supposed to be developing into an adult. I did not notice it until I stepped onto the Path so it has been there silently doing… what? Anything?

At times it feels like a copy of me is trying to exit my body through expansion. Or maybe this is how a lobster feels when it molts. I’m outgrowing my old way of being and expanding into the new mode. I’ve been off work and will be going back very soon. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I know I’ve changed over the last month, I’m curious how that will show in the office.

During sits it has become a matter of refining my equanimity to process each wave of change that the bodily sweep encounters. The process remains the same I just get more proficient, leading to deeper access which promotes more change. Or reveals change, kinda the same thing. My thought processes are slowly changing too. They are calmer, I am less attracted to the thoughts that entangle me and draw me away from the present. The things I used to ponder have lost some of their attraction. Dissolving sankhara.

I have been lurking, watching the noobs posting about their physical manifestations and see them in myself. I resist the urge to reply. They seem to want it easy. I feel for them, because it isn’t, not as far as I can see.

I remember learning how to ride a bike "no hands". I can picture the ride from my local school-yard back home and the feeling of exultation. I can see in my minds eye the damage done to the grips on the monkey-bars! from the repeated crashing into gravel and asphalt that were the tax I paid for the skill. No one could have described to me with any success how to accomplish the task. What does a six year old understand about balance and center-of-gravity or how to balance a bicycle in the first place, let alone hands-off. You just try and try and try and fail and fail and fail until BANG! you get it... and probably fall down a few more times before you get it right enough that you can recover your balance before you crash and then a few more times until it gets easy then a few more times until you no longer even think about it, you just do it.

The technique works, of that I have no doubt. I am at the point that it happens most of my waking hours whether I try or not. It is getting more uncomfortable as it progresses but that is the price I pay for the benefits I am seeing. I assume that the discomfort will increase. I have no idea how much. I know I will develop my equanimity as needed. It isn’t a choice.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 10 Months ago at 6/19/23 11:34 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 6/19/23 11:34 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
The firehose has been overwhelmed. This morning I was carried away and dropped into the ocean without any land in sight. I am bathed in experience that varies in intensity. At this moment it is threatening to overwhelm me, which is not a nice feeling as I have a meeting to discuss money in the next hour. In an earlier post I described how mundane experience is ramping up in tandem with that found on the cushion. I feel as though the distinction is about to evaporate. They say you need to bring your practise on the cushion into the mundane world as if it is just a good idea. I'm beginning to think it may be more than a good idea, but a foregone conclusion. Strange days ahead…
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Kevin Andrew, modified 10 Months ago at 6/26/23 12:20 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 6/26/23 12:20 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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The last week has been what I generally call productive. The sense of weirdness I was experiencing last Monday I have come to recognize as the beginning of a new round of deepening insight. It seems obvious now that this has been occurring all along but I was unable to recognize it due to being too involved or attached to the experience of each sit to see the thread linking one to another. I feel that most progress is made in the last 10 - 15 minutes of a sit. It takes this long to accept and move through the feelings of dread and doubt that often accompany the deepening sensations. There are few moments of relief, more a feeling of reaching the next plateau from which to begin the next investigation into the nature of pleasant and unpleasant. There have also been a few moments of outright pain, in the upper right quadrant of my head, and itching, tingling and a strange feeling of physical relief in various locations along my right side. There are insights too that boogle me with their basic simplicity. These aren't secrets I'm digging around for they are truths that others have spoken of, I've just not been able to understand them viscerally. Nice word that 'viscerally'. That is where truth is grasped, lately. It feels good.

I vibrate all the time now, over my entire body. The tension or pressure in my head expands and contracts in step with my activities. It seems that the things that I have a good grasp of allow whatever it is to expand into the space of my level of relaxation. Those activities that require a greater amount of concentration shrink it, unless it is a situation that still produces a stress-type response. In that case things get novel, the spaces in my head move and resize, my awareness of other bodily sensations moves around both internally and externally and I feel the need to embody the equanimity I experience on the cushion. I become the practise, in a way. I am hooked into the monitoring of homeostasis and I think able to self-regulate at some level, to some degree. The self-regulation is equanimity. A view of the first steps of dependent origination? Hmmm...
Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 6/26/23 3:02 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 6/26/23 3:02 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 802 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
"There are insights too that boogle me with their basic simplicity. "

​​​​​​​Very well put!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 10 Months ago at 6/27/23 12:34 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 6/27/23 12:34 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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I had to write this before the feeling completely dissipated. At work today upgrading a piece of hardware, the sw transfer failed. No big deal right? Well,  one of the reasons I began walking the Path was incoherent rage and this type of situation had become a big trigger. I didn't notice until I resolved the issue that instead of flying off in all directions I simply applied myself to the problem at hand and quickly, painlessly resolved it. When I finally realized what had happened I was filled with gratitude! Then I felt the feelings begin to arise that I would associate with weeping and having noticed what they are and just watched them pass too. Kinda peacedul this.

Then I had to speak to a colleague and the feeling disappeared phfft... still work to do. 
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Kevin Andrew, modified 9 Months ago at 7/15/23 9:16 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 7/15/23 9:16 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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When TTOTSOMH first popped up I tried to ignore it as if it would go away on it's own, given time. Then I asked an AT about it and they advised me to see if it changed during the course. At the time it seemed to me that nothing was happening but like everything else in this process the issue was the glacially slow pace of change, up to that point. Now there is a subtle change from sit to sit. This sankhara has very deep roots. I sometimes wonder if it is generational, based on photos of my parents and siblings. I've also remembered an event from early childhood that may be a factor in it's nature. All very puzzling and of no consequence, just amusement. It does however seem to serve as a fair indication of progress, along with other factors. 

Some unusual phenomenon have appeared over the last 10 days or so. Little blips signalling transitions from one perceptual state to another maybe, subtle, flickering of internal thought-flow like a film running a bit slower than normal. Concentration is getting much deeper as always, to the point that describing it as deeper seems a bit cliche. It just changes and with it how sensation gets sensed.

Much later (today):
Thoughts on Vipassana. I chose that for a reason at the start of this. I don't know that 'thought' ever really stops but the stuff that occurs to me during a sit seems to repeat, as if there is a pattern to it. Probably there is, I'm just not fully aware of it yet. There is a connection between sensation and thoughts that is kinda bubbling up but it's still too frothy to discern anything meaningful to me so I just let it be and observe. 

The mundane world isn't what it used to be. I feel situated somewhere between it and the place I am as I sit. They are not really separate but it sometimes feels like the correspondences between the two are in a different sphere. I understand the mundane using the point of view revealed on the cushion but the affect on my emotional state varies. I think this is because, like book learning vs. experience learning, the way of being is building slower than the changing of my perception in the new mode. Take driving. I drop into a state similar to my sits very easily, especially on long distance drives. I am much less reactive behind the wheel than I used to be. This has not affected my ability in any way; I am still in my estimation an above average motorist even granting that some of this is due to taking up motorcycling. My situational awareness has always been very high and my reaction to adverse events has always been marked by reasonable judgement and a lack of hesitation... but I still get pissed off at poor drivers on occasion, even if much less than before. So disembodied agents in metal boxes changing lanes inappropriately can still get under my skin even if I am 'in the zone'. There is still much work to do. 

Today marks the first sit in about a week. Half our staff has left, I was on-call and had night work to do along with call-outs and had to deal with the crappy attitude of pissed off co-workers while planning a trip out of town to work on equipment I am not really comfortable with. Lack of sleep meant I chose to skip sitting to get physical rest. I think that may have been a mistake... or not... I woke this morning after getting effectively 12h of shut-eye and still felt bad. Then I sat and now am in a place I have not been before. All week I was dealing with TTOTSOMH constantly asking for attention as well as a feeling of urgency rising from the depths. Time will tell if not sitting was instructive. By not having the cushion to decompress and being constantly aware that I needed to be constantly aware of my sensations or I was going to crash into something, I may have prepared myself for what is happening today. On the cushion (chair) I once again learned that sensations are only that. I feel that someone prone to panic attacks would be a basket-case if they were to experience what I am feeling as I write this. Internal chaos. Annica. Existential exhilaration. Nothing is wrong, it's just the way it is, everywhere... and the work is far from done! 

I can't help but think a lot about the physical correlations to sankhara. I feel the connection between my head and my right side. The particular place my right foot 'feels' in my head, same for my right shoulder, my right rib-cage. I feel the connection between my genitals/hara and my head, it is very deep. Between my heart/chest and my head. Between the two sides of my head. Between everything internal physically and my emotions to a lesser extent. Attention moves seemingly at random around the body as I move about during the day. As before, it only subsides when I have to focus externally with more than average effort. I can feel why some call it Waking Up. 

There is a cartoon of a man experiencing back pain. It consists of two panels, both with the same illustration of the man bent over holding his back and little lightning bolts radiating out to express pain. The caption on one panel is 'Pain' the other is 'Suffering'. Often it is accompanied by the statement 'Everyone experiences pain, not everyone suffers'. Pop psychology but true. Remember the burning monk. The power of the mind is immense. It's inputs are constant and widely varied. If the mind has constructed an idea that a set of inputs is unpleasant then it will react negatively. Imagine burning alive. Thich Quang Duc didn't move a muscle nor make a sound as he passed away.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 8 Months ago at 7/30/23 10:39 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 7/30/23 10:39 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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There is no denying that the changes taking place appear permanent. Still in the back of my mind is an apprehension about whether this is the right thing to do, out of fear that I am doing it wrong. Faith is a powerful tool. It's all I have I guess. Funny because for most of my life I looked unkindly on the faith of others. There is still the internal debate about whether mine and theirs' is the same thing. My position is that it is not, but the debate continues. 

On the cushion amazing permutations of my previous experiences keep occurring. Just this morning I was highly aware of the chaotic movement taking place as my attention covered my body; then my body for lack of a better word began to dissolve leaving only the movement of awareness in it's place, not confined to a sensible volume but self-limiting in extent, illuminating the give and take of experience in each spaciotemporal location. (did I just type that... ;) The sensation in my head also changed at the same moment. TTOTSOMH smeared out over the base of my skull and was joined by a largely similar sensation from the other side meeting in the middle and extending down my spine to become just a marginally more noticeable aspect of the experience. Maintaining equanimity was a challenge because this was the first real hint that TTOTSOMH is going to be gone some day, replaced by who can say what. 

The experience lasted for maybe 3 minutes then the chant ending the sit began. My mind was very quiet for a few minutes as I made breakfast. The quiet mind after a sit has become a frequent visitor in the last few weeks, to the point that I have begun to see the restarting of the endless reel of the monkey-mind soundtrack, pulling me into the whirlpool of mundane life once again. 

Neuroplasticity. Indeed. My brain is changing because of what I am doing. I move my attention over my body, perceive sensations akin to the sympathetic vibration of a guitar string to music and by body/mind reacts to those sensations. I watch the reaction equanimously and my body/mind learns that the sensations it has previously experienced do not have to lead to the same reactions that were learned by repetition or trauma. Eventually the potentialities that were ingrained into the nervous system/mind that led to unskilled reaction are dissipated leaving... what? Our DNA developed over billions of years of evolution to allow survival in our environment. By trial and error we learned what success feels like. Our bodies know what is right, it leads to survival, but our mind can be warped by experience. If we misinterpret experience we react unskillfully, not just externally but internally. We warp our ability to see clearly and so hurt ourselves. Each time I gain an insight I feel it's correctness. The awareness of this correctness is inate, we just have to reconnect with it. That is my faith.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 7 Months ago at 9/4/23 4:12 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 8/13/23 3:59 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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Joscha Bach (born 1973 in Weimar, Germany) is a German artificial intelligence researcher and cognitive scientist focusing on cognitive architectures, mental representation, emotion, social modeling, and multi-agent systems. (Wp)

Josch Bach on Lex Fridman #3
Do yourself a favour and give this a listen. He is so articulate that in order to disagree with what he says you are compelled to examine with brutal honesty what you believe. All three of the talks he has with Lex are fascinating.

The smearing of TTOTSOMH has continued and now involves almost my entire body. The hands and feet are still somewhat separate and TTOTSOMH is still a special case within the phenomenon; I have ideas as to why that is but like most everything they are unimportant. This sensation resembles the 'learning feeling' I associated with learning guitar. It is different in that it involves the whole body not just the head. Others would probably describe it as energy flowing, tension or some such. It is accompanied by other sensations such as tingling, itching, dull aching, and situationally inappropriate emotions like dread, frustration (at nothing...), sexual excitement, joy. It's not debilitating but it can sometimes make focusing on the task at hand a bit more challenging. Imagine becoming aware of lust while discussing work with a colleague of the same sex. A challenging juxtapositon.

There is a thought that occurs to me regularly now with regard to the experience of these sensations in/on my head. If these sensations had begun to be apparent before I began my practise would I now be experiencing them as pain? Having suffered on separate occasions several broken bones and a major surgery I am very familiar with deep pain. Unfortunately I am also familiar with poorly timed pain medication. What I feel on my head has echoes of some of those experiences but never tips over into actual 'oh my god make it stop' pain. I wonder if this is where the free-floating dread or apprehension comes from.

Today (13th):
Another serious transition today. As I type my body is tingling everywhere, inside and out. TTOTSOMH is there, there is a varying pressure across the mid-section of my head as well as a pressure behind my eyes that comes and goes.

Toward the end of the morning sit the smearing effect manifested as a blossom of sensation pouring from one side of my body to the other. I attempted to even out the sensations laterally but it seemed as though they were somewhat compartmentalized. After some time I tried focusing on the center of my body from head to pelvis and then splitting for the legs and arms. This felt a bit more natural than trying to separate them, even thought left and right still were not experienced the same way. Regions of different sensations have since become apparent, not just left and right. They seem to transition smoothly from one to the other but have distinctly different feels. I attribute this to the uneven development of my body and the accumulated trauma / experience of a lifetime. If I de-focus, for instance while gazing at the garden taking note of a butterfly moving among the plants, the experience of my body slowly begins to intensify, a bit like being blown up like a ballon.

My vision sometimes takes on a dazzle effect, very subtly. There is sometimes a faint roar behind my normal level of tinnitus. My thoughts are pretty quiet, more so than usual. Several insights occurred earlier today that I believe I will have to process at some point, but maybe they will be superceded by whatever this becomes. I have little doubt that this will become something else, just can't say when. It all seems to be taking on a life of its' own and in a way accelerating. Work over the next week should be fun!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 8 Months ago at 8/26/23 12:59 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 8/26/23 12:59 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Random thoughts on technique
Does a newborn have a sense of self that is reacting or, is crying a member of a suite of organically inate reactions like voiding the bowel? Is crying out a response to shocking external stimuli where the only option is to move everything as much as possible to try and 'fix' the alien situation and resolve/relieve the stimuli it now finds itself having to deal with or a primitive equivalent of shouting 'leave me alone!'?

Sankhara are the complexes of experience. They are rooted in physical processes. The processes can form loops and self-referent loops, and the loops can become semi-autonomous (they must be grounded in physical structures), can aggregate and form more complex loops which in turn can become semi-autonomous. These loops can include complexes that develop a form of self-sensing. The self-sensing loops can (quickly) become so complex as to lose reference to the physical grounding of the being, thus developing an internal sense(?) of autonomy. At the point of becoming self-sensing these loops can become aware of other loops operating in the same environment, reinforcing the apprehension that they are separate autonomous things independent of one another. They have lost touch with the substrate that they and all other loops operate in and the possibility of interaction at levels that they may no longer be equipped to sense.

Technique' is recovering the acute awareness of the internal sense from under the layers of inherent or learned and internalized responses to life. It is a method to reveal the loops and thus begin to open them to examination and understanding. This opening is insight. The loops can no longer operate normally if their internal structure is subject to non-judgemental examination because the internal logic cannot be held valid if viewed in the context of every other loop in the system. If all men suck but your brother is nice then your logic fails and you must re-evaluate your opinion of men. Every process not grounded in physicality must be re-examined and dealt with in an open-ended continuous manner; the flow of experience does not stop, is ever-changing, indifferent to your needs or wants and demands skillful action.

On the cushion there feels like there are two modes to observing, as I have written about before. The correct way (and I keep chiding myself for forgetting this, but it is called practise isn't it?) is the lightest. Awareness passes over everthing, not sticking. The not-so correct mode finds me pausing here, there, at points like TTOTSOMH, comparing one shoulder to the other, wondering why this feels like that etc. Progress is slow and more difficult in this mode.

Every day uncovers new territory. Every day feels different on and off the cushion. I am slowly learning how to lose the apprehension that has tended to grow between sits. At the same time my bodily experience between sits feels different every day. I'll call it neural agitation. This NA includes TTOTSOMH. It runs in a line from my head down the right side of my body to my foot. I've written of this before. It is changing and getting deeper with each sit. This line appears as the most significant NA but based on how my senses are changing it seems obvious that the changes are global. A simple example: for many years the outside of my right foot has felt 'different'. I can't really explain how but it seems to experience the world different than the outside of my left foot. Over the last few days it has begun to change such that if feels as if it is waking up, as if from anesthetic. I've also written about this before. This is a loop being opened.

This week...
The idea of kundalini keeps coming up. I guess a lot of what is going on inside would be considered part of that idea. I don't dwell on it too much, it's just part of the process.

There is the sensation, then there is the perception of the sensation, then there is the reaction to the perception of the sensation. Something like that. TTOTSOMH has caused me to be mindful of the reaction, to see it as a reaction and to not invest unnecessary attention in that reaction. There is a genuine difference in the experience of each of these phases. They are all separate processes and I am continually reminded throughout the day of this reality. Like everyone I am subject to dwelling on pleasant or unpleasant experiences or dwelling in near stupor. The Technique' is like an unmooring of my mind from the the process of dwelling. How far does this need to go before the act of dwelling that we experience as the sense of self becomes unmoored?

During a sit the experience of sensation ramps up and up until an event signals the breakthrough to something new-ish. Sensation changes in some region, breaks through to a heretofore unknown unknown area of sensation or repeats some previous cycle of experience but at a new intensity, complexity or profundity. My physical functioning is changing day to day. The most noticeable way is my gait. I walk a lot every day, I always have, I walk for recreation as well as work. I notice when things change in my legs, back, arms that affect how I walk. Lately I can't really tell why the way I walk is changing but I almost feel clumsy. Perhaps I'm becoming aware of the unconscious coordination of the processes required to move effectively and by being so aware I am inadvertantly interfering with them...?

I buzz constantly. There is constant internal movement. My head expands and subsides, side to side, up and down, in out... I sense flows between head and extremities out and back, eddies throughout the body. I am no longer surprised by the emotions that spontaneously erupt, I just try to observe them. I am more successful than not lately but sometimes they are a challenge. Many are seemly unrelated to the situation where they arise. I feel for those with compromised emotional regulation whether through trauma or disease; sometimes it is truly challenging to keep my shit together. The adventure continues.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 7 Months ago at 9/4/23 4:12 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 9/4/23 4:11 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Sept 2
The events that seem to signal a change have become more subtle. Fewer flashes of light and more ripples in the flow of experience signified by a gentle pull to the visual field, blank as it is. It definitely interrupts whatever thought may be passing through and leads to more intense experience of sensations.

Several times this week I have been assaulted by smells, something that rarely happens because of issues I've mentioned before. They were a bit confusing because I could not identify the source, at one point wondering if I was the source, a disconcerting thought indeed. My co-workers showed no signs of discomfort so I assumed I wasn't offensive ;)

The sensation in my head, various parts of my body, moving around as I practise brings to mind a clenched fist. Not the tension in the muscles but the impulse to clench, so to speak. The act of clenching is subverted by perceiving the impulse with equanimity, a non-reactive response, at it's finest a continuously instantaneous response.

In woodwork there is a technique for smoothing a dent. A damp cloth is run over the dent to get the wood to swell, sometimes an iron is run over the cloth to encourage the swelling, then it is left alone to dry. The process is repeated if necessary and finally any imperfections are sanded out. Technique' is the cloth and iron, metta is the sanding.

Human contact is necessary for the healthy development of infants. Parents need to touch their children, lovingly. Emotional stability, or lack, in caregivers is modelled by children learning to regulate their behaviour. Parents need to demonstrate appropriate responses to novel situations. The absence or misapplication of these inputs can derail a child into behaviours that are self-defeating and these can become self-perpetuating. Dependant origination. Technique' is a way to treat these deficits. Awareness is contact, equanimity is emotional regulation. The Eight-fold Path provides a model, sila teaches moderation. Enlightenment is an outcome, not a goal. Is there really an end-point? Hmm...

Today
This morning there was a big change, of course, always... The same patterns emerge but more intense. My current obsession whirls around in my head but my reactions seem different, less urgent, more obviously unnecessary, not that they are any more comfortable. I doubt they ever will be. The desire to be free of it is less urgent as well but it feels a bit more tiresome as if something is prepared to move on... ' just be done with it already!' TTOTSOMH is dull today, much more present. My sinuses feel like they are going to explode out of my cheekbone. I am regularly re-living the genesis of this and it is so frustrating to realize that I can never be really sure of how it started. It is so difficult to be ready to be wrong all the time and the feeling that this idea is also part of it, in a never-ending regression off into screaming despair, is never far away. It is far easier to deal with those sankhara whose origin I can be more sure of, related for instance to my knee injuries or plantar fasciitis. The events leading to those injuries are very emotionally neutral so the consequences of unravelling those, though they may be just as physically distressing, do not prey on the psyche. Pain seems easier to deal with than suffering. Well d'uh...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 7 Months ago at 9/21/23 9:01 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 9/21/23 9:01 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
TTOTSOMH is never not there now. It changes constantly. Sometimes it is focused on the ridge over my right eye flowing into the top of my right cheek-bone. Sometimes it radiates down the back of my head and into my neck, only on the right side. It is joined occasionally by a complimentary sensation on the left side of my head. During sits it does not feel so distinct as by now my entire body activates to a level that is quite amazing, what I have referred to as NA. There is still a divide between left and right but like a tide raising all boats the experience of sensations is elevating inexcorably, globally, internally and externally. There are very few acutely painful episodes and those that occur are short sharp shocks.

Everything I've described before on this log just continues. It is like watching grass grow: you don't really see anything by watching for a few minutes but day by day it gets longer. Same with the affects of practise. Some things like the flashing lights and grasping of insight are reduced but they still occur, probably the seeming reduction is because of familiarity and expanding knowledge rather than attenuation. There is still anger. It is dee-ee-eep, but it's grip is slowly loosening. I can see it, I can watch it happening and be curious about how each episode looks so much like any other. It's so unnecessary, almost comical. It starts so quick and ends just as quickly, most of the time. 

We can practise while typing. Or walking. Or driving...  living. I recall the woman on retreat being held back... 'but I want it sooo much'. Cognitive dissonance given voice? Do you know what you want? Do you know what is want?

Is endless novelty the same as chaos? How do they feel? Are they so uncomfortable that we have to construct a reality to avoid them? Do we need to? Or do we just want to? 

I am subject to infatuations. I noticed today a connection between the current episode and my internal milieu. I have noticed connections before that were more rationally based, knowing my history etc. Today there was a short pulse of visceral sensation that produced the image of the subject and the sensations that the image produced and the reverberations... on and on it goes, but today I 'saw' it. This will take some time to process.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 6 Months ago at 10/9/23 11:42 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 10/9/23 11:41 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
For several years I was very big into radio-controlled helicopters. At the start I bought the small department store toys that everyone knows, but quickly I graduated to the hobby-store specialized, and expensive, variety. Learning to fly them correctly became very expensive to the point that I decided that a simulator was cheaper than replacement parts in the long run.

So I got a simulator package for RC aircraft and focused on helicopters. Hovering a helicopter is as difficult as it sounds. There were many crashes. Many crashes, many late nights spent practising. Then came the moment when the practise gelled and I was able to hover, however clumsily. It was fantastic. So much so that I still remember the physical reaction: elation, relief, joy, triumph, satisfaction, fatigue... and then craving. To do it again, get that feeling again, have it all repeat. The ability to hover was still there but it went from top of the list to just below the gestalt of all the other emotions and sensations engendered in the accomplishment.

The deeper this gets the more I begin to see this as a constant in everything. I'm pretty sure it is something being revealed and not something produced by the constant evaluation being done by a mind concerned with survival. I'm understanding it as a matter of apparent reality rather than sussing it out of experience. I'm really not sure how to express it. Like revelation.

Why would anyone choose to orgasm? Enormous swathes of culture developed to serve this idea, arguably all culture. As biological systems we accept that it is axiomatically good, at least from a male perspective, because by design and correct function it signals the possibility of propagating our genes. The sensations and emotions that signify possible success in this most ultimate goal of survival are what are used by, for and against us to achieve any goal you can think of in the temporal world. Sex sells.

Why do we do anything? Remove the most imperative goal, survival of our gene line, the goal that is the ultimate function of genes, then what is the point to any of our behaviour? This is not nihilistic navel-gazing. If you were to spend your life without the desire to procreate I think this question and others similar are unavoidable. "What is the meaning of life?" Question what anyone is saying when they use the word 'meaning' and you will probably get that look that says ...'this one is barmy'... This universe peoples. I'll leave the thought at that point for now, that's about as far as I've gotten.

The pressure in my head and body is spreading and increasing in intensity, on and off the cushion. I call it pressure but my view is slowly turning to the perspective of flow or restricted flow. The restriction is what manifests as pressure. If the flow were completely free then there would be no pressure. The sweep flows freely over everything. At this point in my practise there is no area of my body where I cannot experience the flow as tactile, a breathy caress passing over. Perhaps that is where all sensation is ultimately heading, at least until the next phase of the investigation. At the beginning of a sit the pressure ramps up quickly until I spin-up my equanimity to match it, and ultimately surpass it. That is the marker of progress. Chipping away at the stone. A better metaphor would be water wearing away the stone. "The sculptor arrives at his end by taking away what is superfluous..." Michelangelo.
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TTOTSOMH is like a vise around my cheekbone. It is not exactly painful but it.is.always.there. It seem to be the new normal.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 6 Months ago at 10/10/23 7:11 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 10/10/23 7:11 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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Something significant opened in my chest this morning. There was the build-up of pressure around my heart and spine, not a lot compared to some regions, then it just spread out like a bag of warm gravy being ruptured. The sensations filled my chest and hara, spread into my extremities and have waxed and waned repeatedly. The tide is rising quickly today...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 6 Months ago at 10/15/23 1:48 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 10/15/23 1:48 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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Global ice-cream headache

TTOTSOMH is dull now, ever-present, constantly moving like a gelatinous stress-ball being squeezed. It intensifies during sits becoming an anchor for the flexing river of sensation that flows through my right side from scalp to sole and to a far lesser extent throughout my body.

Yesterday morning a new phase started by the river of sensation solidifying and a constellation of lights beginning to flash in my visual field. As this went on there were two short but powerful pulses of sorrow for the plight of all beings, trapped in this universe of dukkha. They hit, my tears welled, equanimity soothed, it repeated then was gone.

Work has been incredibly difficult this week. At the best of times it is a chore, dealing with the confusion, apathy and negligence of the average corporation. However because of the recent down-sizing it has gotten comically worse. There are too few people and the work just keeps inexorably rolling in. For the first time in my working life I called out my supervisors on their incompetence. Their response was pretty much what I expected: 'yup, but what ya gonna do, business needs... '. Keeping desperation is check has been a challenge. Trying to stay organized as other groups make conflicting requests for time is near impossible. Work is actually getting lost in the shuffle and found only when a PM asks why it was not done. Add to this one colleague who vocalizes his anger all day and another who cannot hear any statement without either repeating it or cracking a bad joke and the work environment has become sick. Doing this while my entire body is writhing with sensation, emotion rising and flowing, has lead to a few episodes of what I'll call brain-lock. It isn't particularly distressing. I'm washed in apathy and just stop thinking about anything 'work' for a few moments. However it eventually leads to the thought 'why am I doing this anymore?'. I wonder if my compulsion to question everything, solve puzzles, fix stuff, is keeping me here. I could have left, I didn't, I'm no longer sure why.

The sankhara in my head is special somehow. As I go deeper it changes but it is never not there. Lately I've been preoccupied with pondering the affect this has had on me and my life. Academics study chronic pain and it's affects on mind and body, but how do you study learning as related to the nervous system without knowing how it feels? Maybe this thing in my head could be seen on an fMRI but so what? How could anyone know the affect it has had over the course of a life? It has been there for decades but I was unaware of it until I began my practise. Thinking back it would be easy to say that it has been the source of my dysfunctions in life, if I wanted to play victim. It's genesis was during my puberty. I matured (?) with it there, doing whatever it was doing, hidden from view or willfully ignored, who knows. This is why I have likened this process to growing up again, facing this thing and it's affects head-on. 

There are other sankhara. Minor ones I've felt arise and dissolve seemingly never to arise again. Major ones that are still being dealt with that produce discomfort, even pain, without a shred of emotional content. A few of the major ones have flared and dissolved like the others. They have impacted function, like modifying my gait. A few of the minor ones resolving have lead to a greater appreciation of the emotional difficulties we all face. These are all in a different class than TTOTSOMH. It has tendrils into all the others and I feel it flexing night and day. I'm beginning to think that it won't be done until I am done with this journey.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 6 Months ago at 10/21/23 12:43 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 10/21/23 12:43 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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Annica, annica, annica, everything annica. No point in trying to keep track of everything, it's no use, it all changes all the time, it's here it's gone, along comes the next then the next then the next... 

It took a couple of days to figure out that apathy and lack of attachment are not the same thing. The name of the thing is not the thing... 

There are habits of behaviour inside me that I am not consciously aware of. There are fewer now than before I began my practise (I think). There is always a delay between allowing myself to admit to being aware of the pattern and beginning to attempt to change the pattern. The delay is due in part to evaluating whether it needs to change. One of these patterns has to be the compulsion to understand everything, including that compulsion, in infinite regression. Where does one pop out of the hamster-wheel? 

I can't remember the last time I did anapana but I thought about it during my sit this morning. I've been struggling with TTOTSOMH for a few days both on and off the cushion as it has been ramping up and becoming physically uncomfortable. When I read it grows until my head starts to swim and my vision begins to blur a bit. It settles down if I move at all, small comfort. I sometimes have thoughts of 'what if this just keeps getting worse instead of going away?' but those I chase away as weak, easy whinging, a remnant of past behaviour to be observed with equanimity. This morning I found a new level of EQ and that is when the thought of anapana arose, in the context of learning how to concentrate in the first place. I was told that anapana was unnecessary unless I was having trouble getting into the 'mode' (my term), so I haven't for years. Not sure why the thought came up today. 

My concentration locked into the new level, slipped out, repeated a couple of times and steadied. Then sensation started in the back of my head, my neck, the base of my skull and I began to move it around, or perhaps my newer level of perception was moving. Whatever... The tide rising again, to new heights. I continued to work on my whole body as a space opened up in my head. I was able to sense in areas that were not perceptable before, in my head and down my right side, throughout my trunk. My right foot tingled, my ribs. My right cheek was electric. Hints of burning arose in various areas, all on the right side. As I write this my right side is coming to life, so to speak. It has been like this since my sit. While sitting there was a burst of elation. My body celebrating no doubt. 

My anger subsided yesterday and the day before. No doubt it will return. For those two days it was as though a piece was missing. I felt the same but anger didn't arise? apply? Maybe it was cordoned off, still there but not able to capture my instantaneous state? Is that non-attachment? 

Wow, I didn't expect to get here when I started to type...
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Chris M, modified 6 Months ago at 10/22/23 8:59 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 10/22/23 8:59 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

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One of these patterns has to be the compulsion to understand everything, including that compulsion, in infinite regression. Where does one pop out of the hamster-wheel? 

Kevin, this is an important realization. I naturally have the same inclination and if I believe I understand something my mind will usually stop worrying over that thing. But the truth is, we really never understand things as well as we'd like, if at all. The world is made up of a crapload of randomness and uncertainty. Gettiong comfortable with the uncertainty is a great skill, and seeing it at play within one's self is the first step!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 6 Months ago at 10/24/23 5:47 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 10/24/23 5:47 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
The last 2 days have been very intense. The sweep feels as if it has penetrated the entire volume of my head and has become incredibly subtle, compared to last week. My concentration, which I thought was very good, has reached another level altogether. I have been able to passively observe the rising and falling of intrusive(ish) thoughts without becoming engaged with them, with much greater ease. The desire to allow them to take me away feels attenuated. 

The separation of TTOTSOMH and all other sensation has been reduced a great amount. At the same time, where before it was ever-present and mildly annoying it is now no longer adversely intrusive. It no longer causes concern. It is changing. I can't help but think whatever it is, is healing. When at rest and relaxing I can feel the activation of the nerves around my cheek; it slowly works it's way into the back of my head then begins to burrow into the inner volume and to a lesser extent down my neck. It is dull, intense and tingly. Occasionally I hear pops and crackling sounds. These are not new, I've had them in my sinuses before, but this is a first for the back of my neck. As I type this the sensations are achieving new levels of intensity... 

My right ear burns from time to time. Over the course of the last 2 sits various portions of my right side have taken to burning for brief periods. My right cheek crawls, my foot and hand tingle, my viscera are experiencing similar sensations. At times I am having trouble focusing due to the increased level of sensory input. Once the sensations back off a bit it feels so much like relief! 

Off the cushion there have been periods where my lower right leg and right forearm feel 'fresh'. That's about the best way I can explain it. Perhaps similar to the sensation of eating a York peppermint patty. 

In general my body is experiencing tingling everywhere. This has happened before for brief periods but now it seems more or less constant, just varying in intensity. There is also a heightened sensitivity in my skin. When I rub my hands together or over another area it feels different. I can't really say how though. Like it's a new experience, every time. I dunno, maybe my circulation is improving...? 

So, more of the same, just MORE. 

I seem to be using 'intense' a lot...
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Kevin Andrew, modified 5 Months ago at 11/7/23 7:22 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 11/7/23 7:19 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Halloween
The pressure in my head has outgrown my head, opening branch offices in my arms and legs (the branches!). It moves around all the time, flowing here and there. It feels different in different areas, it feels different in different directions. The bodily sensation is approaching or catching up to the intensity of TTOTSOMH. As for my old friend, there are ocassional bursts of ... the pain?/effect? behind the eyes during an ice-cream headache. It can occur anywhere it seems but what I remember most are the sensations in my head. Openings are being made, releases, relievings. My body burns anywhere now, sometimes everywhere, sometimes so faint it's almost unnoticeable, sometimes so fierce I wonder if those around me can feel the heat. After my morning sit my face is usually flushed. It is not just on the surface. I feel things in places that are almost unfamiliar, but the body remembers. The soles of my feet regularly burn but not like the burning of my old plantar fasciitis, not the burn of injury but more the burning of vitality. My skin tingles all the time. Sometimes like I am bathing in seltzer water, at times progressing to the burn. I get random points of pain. My joints ache in unfamiliar ways. My walk has changed to a gait so smooth I sometimes feel like I am floating. My vision has episodes of vividness similar to being on mushrooms. I have these strange periods of detachment, like observing from 'just outside'. My mind has become significantly quieter. I construct fantasies far less now than even 2 weeks ago. I am much slower to anger; like I've said before it's almost like it has no grip. Anger is there, I can choose to watch it or be it, and it's easier to choose to watch. Oddly enough the same goes for affection. It's there but I can choose to watch it rather than be it. The process has definitely gotten to the stage where it progresses without much effort on my part. During the day all it takes is a moment of relaxation and the process, whatever change is taking place, begins to move; all I have to do is observe. Observe, keep the attention moving, remain equanimous. So much of what we do is to distract ourselves from ourselves. We want things to stay the same even if that sameness is a familiar novelty. We feel compelled to evaluate everything, all the time. Just let it be... Present moment awareness is hard. It requires a calm mind. I believe my mind is calm enough at this time to really see some of the damage I have experienced. By this I mean real physical damage, muscle and joint, viscera, nerve. Perhaps even faint intimations of mind. TTOTSOMH no longer scares me, it has become a measuring post against which progress can be compared. It changes constantly but slowly, slowly it is being mirrored by the things on the other side of my head. This suggests that the change that vipassana is (I am) making in me is progressing deep enough into my physical (therefore mental?) being that whatever affect TTOTSOMH has had on me over the years is being resolved. Every release I feel is just that, a release, a letting go of something; I can't always say what, can rarely say what, but I feel the change and the accumulation of those changes is resulting in a new moment to moment feeling of living.  My limited knowledge of biology extends to 2 types of nerves: efferent and afferent. Away from and toward the central nervous system. Sensory input, action impulse. The sweep is from the top of the head to the tips of the toes, the tips of the toes to the top of the head. Gotama was a neurologist, a brain surgeon, an explorer.

Nov 1
The last 2 days have been very intense. The sweep feels as if it has penetrated the entire volume of my head and has become incredibly subtle, compared to last week. My concentration, which I thought was very good, has reached another level altogether. I have been able to passively observe the rising and falling of intrusive(ish) thoughts without becoming engaged with them, with much greater ease. The desire to allow them to take me away feels attenuated. The separation of TTOTSOMH and all other sensation has been reduced a great amount. At the same time, where before it was ever-present and mildly annoying it is now no longer adversely intrusive. It no longer causes concern. It is changing. I can't help but think whatever it is, is healing. When at rest and relaxing I can feel the activation of the nerves around my cheek; it slowly works it's way into the back of my head then begins to burrow into the inner volume and to a lesser extent down my neck. It is dull, intense and tingly. Occasionally I hear pops and crackling sounds. These are not new, I've had them in my sinuses before, but this is a first for the back of my neck. As I type this the sensations are achieving new levels of intensity... My ear burns from time to time. Over the course of the last 2 sits various portions of my right side have taken to burning for brief periods. My right cheek crawls, my foot and hand tingle, my viscera are experiencing similar sensations. At times I am having trouble focusing due to the increased level of sensory input, not because it is uncomfortable but because once the sensations back off a bit it feels so much like relief! Off the cushion there have been periods where my lower right leg and right forearm feel 'fresh'. That's about the best way I can explain it. Or perhaps similar to the sensation of eating a York peppermint patty. In general my body is experiencing tingling everywhere. This has happened before for brief periods but now it seems more or less constant, just varying in intensity. There is also a heightened sensitivity in my skin. When I rub my hands together or over another area it feels different. I can't really say how though. Like it's a new experience, every time. I dunno, maybe my circulation is improving...? So, more of the same, just MORE. I seem to be using 'intense' a lot...

NOV 2
​​​​​​​Two big releases, yesterday and today in the morning. I feel that TTOTSOMH is being altered. It gets very pronounced if I pay any attention to it at all but there is no feeling of negativity. As the sensation grows in my cheek it also begins to grow in my right foot, right hand, right ribcage. Since the release this morning it has become very noticeable. My moment to moment experience has also been altered. There is a slight instability in perception that I can counter with attentiveness. My task focus seems to jump from time to time such that I need to mindfully pull back to what I am doing. This unfortunately has happened while driving which is a bit concerning but hasn't led to any mishap. I have been feeling very fatigued lately, more than seems normal, but that may just be due to the chaos of my job wearing me down. Or age. It is the 'clench' I feel. It occurs at the right temple, radiating over the eye, back into the area inside and slightly above the cheekbone. There is some faint snapping or popping that occurs when it builds to a higher level. If I focus on it and watch it usually begins to move around and spread. It often provokes tingling and itching. Any kind of distraction causes it to fade away. As I progress, the things that seemed new or different before become nothing special. What may come just comes and I see it. There is no anticipation, no surprise or disappointment, something else will be here in the next moment, it just goes on. Nov 4 More 'release' on the right side this morning. I could sit for another hour but there are always things to get done. No work No eat. I can't tell if this is accelerating or my perception is tuning in at a level closer to 'the bone' so to speak. My moment to moment experience is tending to a flow state today. I feel like I am on the verge of sweating all the time. I just received my seasonal flu shot and things are ramping up even higher, probably because of the immune reaction. I've noticed for some time that I am very aware of the effects of caffeine but less influenced by them. I get the energy boost but the nervy-ness is almost gone. As I type my body feels like it is moving to an explosive state, but very slowly. A million ways to describe the same thing. There was a brief episode of bliss last night during my sit; the little voice said 'nope, this will pass...'; the sensation of blockage returned and the cycle started again; sweep, sweep, gently, gentler, notice, just watch, feel ... I see these teens and feel for them, trying to figure themselves out. So much more experience and I still have no answers. Nothing satisfies. Nothing lasts. So much pain.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 5 Months ago at 11/11/23 10:59 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 11/11/23 10:45 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Two big transitions today.
Awareness has reached further into experience. It feels like pressure moving around inside; my head, my bowels, my legs, hands, genitals... everywhere. TTOTSOMH is enormously present, sometimes spreading behind my eyes, right to left. It burns or itches or throbs or pulses or just glowers at me, daring me to take it serious, wish it away, flinch...

Sweep, observe, repeat. Attention moves and reaction follows and equanimity abides. My body learns to accept what is experienced. It's only uncomfortable when you cannot accept it as it is. It is what it is. I yam what I yam...

The pressure spread in the back of my head this morning. It slowly moved up into the space in my skull. It burrowed into the center of my brain, or so it seemed. Over the course of the sit it began to move down as well, into my torso, arms and legs. Sensation blossomed in my genitals and rose up through my guts and into my chest then spread into my arms. The opening rebounded around my body until just before the sit ended when a shaft of sensation developed, quickly, along the course of my spine between head and gonads. It built in intensity as it spread into my extremities, first my head then the rest of me began to expand, the final chant began...

All through the day the new awareness has been present. My nervous system is humming to me, softly in parts loudly in others, reminding me of what I am. A being trying to figure out what the truth is, what all this input is.

I see the pattern. It began as tingling on a small patch of scalp. Amazing. Now it's comprized of sensations that I know I knew but wasn't aware of. Every day I become aware of more and, it has been there all the time. Every sit I access more, inside and out; between sits I experience the sensations of the new awareness but without the focus afforded me by sitting concentration. Every day I must learn how to deal with what is revealed while doing my life. Every sit, every sweep, newness is observed, feels chaotic and is accepted with practised equanimity. Between sits the new awareness must be integrated into my mundane experience. It has an effect. Detached calmness, observant forebearance, but still I am liable to being captured by emotion. Observing that capture, struggling to escape or subdue or accept it. The anger hasn't gone away, it's just lost some of it's power. Not it's ferocity but it's clingingness. I have to be careful not to crave it's absence.

There are currents running through me that blur my vision, set my head to swimming, smells that assault me. Flashes of thought out of nowhere, a propos of nothing. A heart that grows like the Grinch's. Compassion that embraces anyone nearby, everyone. Chaos and equanimity. And fatigue; this is hard!

I have a retreat coming. The timing feels excellent. I have an idea of how to do it now, how to follow instruction correctly. This will be interesting.
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 11/13/23 6:37 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 11/13/23 6:37 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 2410 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I know you've probably had this thought, but seems like you are both on the verge of a new meditation experience AND you're getting enthusiastic/excited. No big deal, but it's fairly common for people to get a bit manic at this stage and in the worst situations, they will meditate too intensely and kinda burn out or even have psychotic breaks. Not saying that this is going to happen for you, but it is definitely a real risk.

Especially as you go into retreat, it can be good to play with slowing things down and finding a kind of groove, in addition to speeding things up and trying to "penetrate" into the fast momentary nature of sensations. This will be a good skill to have when you are on retreat. It's important to know how to balance the energy of investigation -- sometimes adding energy, sometimes softening energy, depending on the situation.

Even if you have been through the A&P before, it's very common to have a strong A&P-like experience with the continuity of practice on retreat. It's good to remember that this is always going to feel exciting and pleasurable and attractive. It can even be a bit of a temptation to push hard to get more of this good stuff (which can lead to burn out). Also remember that post-A&P there will be a crash that is just part of the progress of insight. If you know this is coming, you'll be less tempted to push too hard into the A&P and you'll be less likely to feel like something is wrong when the precise and fast sensations fall away into a soft blur of mellow sensations.

Definitely review the progress of insight before going on retreat!

Hope this is helpful. 
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Kevin Andrew, modified 4 Months ago at 12/23/23 9:33 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 12/23/23 9:33 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Plantar fasciitis hurts, a lot. It reminds you of your training mistakes from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning, every time you rise from your chair, while you stand, god forbid when you start running. It is relentless and works it's way into everything you do, like other chronic conditions. I got lucky with mine and was able to rehabilitate my feet to the point that it has not been an issue in years. I know how it happened and how to avoid it and what I will need to do if I repeat the injury. Plantar fasciitis is caused by micro-tears in the tissue that connects your heel to your fore-foot. When these tears try to heal they form scar tissue. This scarring does not necessarily follow the natural 'grain' of the tissue and creates what I'll call knots, like the knots massage-therapists find and grind in your legs, neck, back etc. If you've ever had a theraputic massage you know what I mean. To fix these knots they need to be broken up and smoothed out; encouraged to heal in a more organized manner so that they do not introduce adverse stress into the tissue under normal loading. This is a painful process. I eventually figured out (the interwebs are amazing!) that I needed to break up this scar tissue and re-hab my feet with stretching while they re-heal. I sat down one evening and tortured myself. It felt like knives being pushed through the soles of my feet! From the front of my heel-bone to the first joints of my toes I dug in with my thumbs, at one point using the blunt end of a dinner knife. It was excruciating! Both feet. It made me sweat. The next day I had to force myself to do it again... OMG! The pain was so greatly reduced I thought I was mis-remembering the experience from the night before. It seemed like a miracle and in a way it was. Instead of fighting the pain I embraced it because the only way to heal was to realize that the pain was a symptom and not something permanent, a thing to be avoided. That too is my experience of vipassana.

For the first two and a half days of the retreat we did anapana. This was the first time I did anapana for at least a year. The last time was to gain focus during a particularly difficult sit. At that time once I attained the 'zone' I moved on to vipassana. This time however we were sharpening our concentration so anapana was practised every sit. Toward the end of day 2 I was feeling very uncomfortable physically. My concentration was very sharp and my body was starting to light-up in a way that was new and unusual. I asked about this and was told 'you must be doing too well', with a grin. I continued to make an effort and not draw back. When I later described it to a fellow-traveler it was like the object of concentration, the sensation of breath at the junction of nostrils and upper lip, had become a point and all other experience was like a kaleidoscope flashing around it in a radial pattern which somehow corresponded to the sensations of my body. It was as always... very intense! In the afternoon of day 3 we began vipassana, just like in the 10-day. Starting at the top of the head and moving down, then again at the feet and back up. This time it felt much deeper and penetrating. Regions that I assumed had been fully explored revealed themselves to have more depth. I discovered yet again that the layers reveal themselves at the pace I am able to achieve and no more.

During the discourse that evening, a sizzling began at the juncture of my skull and spine. It slowly grew as I wondered what the heck is happening. TTOTSOMH had been very vocal during the almost 3 days of anapana and now it was attaining new heights. The sizzle started to spread into the right side of my head and took the familiar route to my cheekbone and I began to get a bit panicky. I had no control of this! It came out of nowhere and was crawling along a major fault-line that I could not reduce nor ignore, its inexorable progress causing in me a feeling of helplessness. "I'm not special, this is what happens, this is similar to the experience of others, this is OK..." Equanimity on stilts.

It passed. It did show me exactly where the nerves of the face and head were buried under my skin and skull. It was the first time on this retreat that this path would be traced, it wouldn't be the last. I would become very familiar with it by the end, and glad to.

Over the next 2 days I discovered that I could meditate laying down. This was a great help as my shoulder was trying to become a distraction by aching in a way I had not experienced before. It has been injured several times and I am not in as good a shape as I'd like to be. Take note for next time! The two hour sit that begins the day was becoming difficult until I tried laying down, and finding that I could rest it for a few hours a day was welcome. A side benefit of this position is it allowed me to completely relax. Or so I thought. It turns out what I thought of as relaxed and what could be attained were not the same thing.

As well over those 2 days I found myself fighting fear of TTOTSOMH. I was treading lightly. At the start of the retreat I had decided to follow instructions, in particular how to sweep. Head to feet in one breath, feet to head in one breath. This is a bit of a challenge for me as I had the habit of a more free-flow sweep but over day 4 and 5 it became easier as all things do with practise. One of the results of this effort was that my body was becoming highly reactive. On one sit I felt like a hot-water radiator and could have kept the room comfortable without central heating. Pins and needles, itching, pressure, the entire range of sensations with which I was familiar were appearing every sit... but I was afraid of my head. It felt like something horrible would happen if I let the reactivity increase too much, spread out too far, into my cheek and face. Sharp sensations came and went as I cautiously tried to allow as much freedom in observing my head as I did the rest of my body. By day 6 I was tired of fighting. Changing the pace of the sweep, the focus, the emphasis did not seem to allow me to relax completely into the work. It was exhausting holding back. Finally I decided if I could not get the sweep just right well then don't do it. In the afternoon I layed down after lunch and just watched. My observation settled into my solar plexus and the awareness slowly grew, became the pressure, slowly began to spread. First my viscera were engaged, then in moved to my chest, then down into the pelvis. It paused as the sensation grew, dully, just a heavy awareness. It then began to move down my legs and as it approached my feet they began to twitch. Is anyone alive not familiar with cramps? The worst I've had to this point were in my hamstrings. Fighting them only seems to make them worse. The only relief comes from unclenching, straightening the cramping muscles. That however is reaction. So when both feet curled into claws of pain I practised my equanimity. The only muscles at work (or so I hoped) were my heart, diaphragm and every muscle in my feet. The pain reached a crescendo and then I just thought 'nope' and it backed off. Just a bit, maybe. It didn't end but I no longer cared enough to be completely focused on it and instead was able to observe how the sensation that accompanied it's genesis was still there and slowly spreading into the areas of my body it did not already have an apparent presence in. This continued for I don't know how long until the gong for the next group sit sounded. I barely made it to the dhamma hall on time; I could barely walk my feet hurt so much. They were sore for another day. The cramping hasn't happened since. At least not in this way.

From that time until the end of the retreat I changed my practise to this uber-relax mode. By day 8 I found I could also sweep in this mode and with that discovery found my access to deeper levels open up. Each sit on the last day was more different than each sit before and it has continued until today. I will not describe the stuff that happened that is now gone because it was not exceptional enough for me to be sure I can remember it accurately enough to describe. One exception is, I think, becoming aware of the carrier wave of activity in the nervous system. I think I may have seen it in action, in contrast to the signal of some or other sankhara riding on it. I'm still trying to process that one. Today however I passed through something worthy of remark.

Today TTOTSOMH had a bunch of edges,protrusions,sharp angles,sticking points, worn away. It is going to be resolved. I believe that now. I can see that it is no different than all the other sankhara up and down my right side, in fact it is linked to all of them. I know this by mundane knowledge and by feel now. It only feels like it is going to explode because I haven't the skill to fully undermine it's presence yet. That is causing me to in effect 'bang my head against it'. Today I stopped that, for a while, long enough to burrow into and through it. Maybe at an oblique, cutting through a small piece, enough to allow just a bit more flow, freedom of flow.

Everything I feel is a reaction to everything I sense, including myself. This particular reaction, this sankhara in my head, is large in comparison to say the star-burst I felt in my chest 2 retreats back. It is also in a place that is hard to ignore. A living thing in my head, moving, pulsing, always changing, always asking for attention, always asking me something, I know not what, maybe 'why'. Again I wonder what has this done to me over the years?

Concentration sharpens observation. Observation produces reaction. Equanimity absorbs reaction. Pounding at a stone with your hand is likely to hurt your hand. Developing tools to break down the stone protects your hand but the tools require skill to operate. No matter what anyone tells you the only way to learn how to operate the tools is by using them. The path to mastery is perseverance, creativity and honesty. Like Yoda said 'Do, or do not. There is no try'.

Later today...
The sense of crushing pressure in my cheek has become somehow softer. It is also spreading throughout my head. The spreading began during the last retreat but it has been gaining in intensity. Now it's like a band around my head with it's anchor-point at the base of my skull. In the area of the pons I think. During tonight's sit the trunk and branch of pressure became very pronounced and toward the end of the sit it began to climb up from the base of my skull and into my head. As I type I feel the tension of my head sankhara slowly increasing. It relents when my focus shifts a bit, toward another task but it always comes back. It will be like this until tomorrow morning, starting again as I sit. This holiday season may be a special. 
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Kevin Andrew, modified 4 Months ago at 12/25/23 11:40 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 12/25/23 11:40 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Merry Christmas 
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"Who can know better than you or I do what sentience is for"
Nicholas Keynes Humphrey (born 27 March 1943) is an English neuropsychologist based in Cambridge, known for his work on evolution of primate intelligence and conconsciousness (Wp).

https://youtu.be/9QWaZp_2I1k?si=lz8lhdHBHvFQ9dbd
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thierry raunet, modified 3 Months ago at 12/28/23 12:36 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 12/28/23 12:36 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 9 Join Date: 11/26/09 Recent Posts
greetings...
so your last course in this tradition was a satipatthana course, it looks like. In this case you may qualify for longer courses, like 20-day. Do you feel like doing such a course?
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Kevin Andrew, modified 2 Months ago at 1/30/24 8:24 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/30/24 8:24 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Hello thierry

Someday perhaps. I am undecided at the moment.

Be Well!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 2 Months ago at 1/30/24 8:28 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/30/24 8:28 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
This was written some time in Jan:

The grass keeps growing. All the metaphors, all the descriptions still apply. The actual texture of events has changed. The weird spacey feeling that accompanied them before has changed to a more penetrating visceral change from one type of tension to another. For example the area under my left shoulder experiencing tension will smear out and coalesce in the centre of my chest becoming a ball of 'energy' between my heart and my spine, or so it seems. The variations are endless with some regular appearances by the areas I recognize as injuries. There are a lot of injuries. Occasionally these events are accompanied by thoughts,memories,dreams that just begin to play like a movie in my head. If I am successful in encountering them with proper equanimity they fade away as I feel myself move through another change. The better I am at this, the fewer details I remember later. I suspect something is being removed that didn't need to be there... 

The anger is still there. It flairs up and fades remarkably quickly. It follows well-worn patterns I am wearily familiar with. I have caught myself wondering at some of these patterns, how some of them actually have valid content, content that is buried by the emotionality, whose potential impact is diminished by its' presentation. I believe I occasionally see this in others. How what they say is really buried under a mountain of dross, a flood of words being pushed out by the pressure of affect they are subjected to when their mind is forced to vocalize what is to them a powerful idea. I am surprised by what I apprehend as the message being sent versus the message being said. 

I do not feel the same day to day. Not that it varies but more that it changes to something new, every day. My sits follow a pattern only in that there is a beginning phase, a deep work phase, a transition phase, a consolidation phase and then the chanting starts. I do not feel the urge to track time as the phases are regular enough that when consolidation begins I know I have about 3 - 5 minutes left. Until that time I only work. During the day the state I achieved that morning comes and goes depending on my mental workload. At home in the evening the state generally grows until I retire and I do some exploration before going to sleep. 

As I write my whole body hums. TTOTSOMH has changed significantly. From between my eyebrows to the tip of my nose, around the eye-socket, over the cheek-bone around the jaw going occasionally out to the mid-point of my lower lip, over my ear and sometimes down my neck there is usually a sensation of numbness. This of course varies over the course of the day. Areas will experience pressure, pin-pricks, itching, buzzing, you name it. It has been joined lately more and more by the other side of my head. The other side does not have the same qualities, I would characterize it as just 'present, maybe a bit numb'. The right side of my body is also coming alive. I feel similar sensations from head to foot, along the right side. On the left they come and go but far less intensely. Overall my body feels better and more vital and this increases every day. I am strangely curious about how this would play out if I caught a flu or cold. Omnicuriosity extends to everything in life although implementing it can be wildly uneven.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 2 Months ago at 2/8/24 10:53 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 2/8/24 10:51 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I have read that the goal is not to stop thinking but to exercise control over how one participates in the ever-present flow of mind moments, so to speak. The last few days have illustrated to me yet again the inaccuracy of my interpretation of what I have read, the misapprehension of meaning.

The pressure within has been building. At the same time my engagement in it is softening. The reaction is undercut by the gentle touch of attention on each sweeping pass. I control the intensity and focus of each pass, where it goes, how it lingers. The more, better, I stay with the attention the greater the reaction builds. At times it ping-pongs, at times it solidifies, at times it simply disappears as if it is blank. All this has happened before.

It seemed like a flash of light barely seen out of the corner of my left eye. I was somewhat engaged in thought about a person, an ongoing distraction I was clinging to. Then it was aborted. There was a slow chaotic dispersing of focus, like the eddies in a pan of water being heated, that slowly organized into purposeful observation of sensations. The thought train faded back in a bit and was again destroyed, replaced by my senses experiencing just sitting. Something else, a thought?,  occurred to me. I do not recall what it was clearly because as it was forming it was destroyed, leaving me observing my present sensations, alone, once again. This repeated several times and then the sit ended.

Everything else seems about the same, just more. I go deeper inside, deeper into my head, deeper into my extremities. The area around my eyes is almost always 'in' sensation today. TTOTSOMH is just the most 'more' of the intense sensations that express themselves throughout the volume of my body. While sitting I go further, develop deeper equanimity, experience more intense sensation but off the cushion the level of sensation is also ramping up in lock-step with the development of this thing, as mentioned before. I find myself engaging in less distraction, I do my chores in silence more often and with one exception I engage in less discursive thought. I seem to be gaining a deeper understanding of my motivations, but really it feels like I'm just getting more honest about everything. It's not all bad, nor good, just the way it is. 

The pressure I think is resistance to reality, ingrained in the system as a survival mechanism that is not really designed to run in reverse. Unlearning a defense mechanism is such a small part of the system that it only really engages in extremely adverse circumstances. Look at drug addicts for example. Otherwise, we only modify existing patterns to try and fit them to emerging circumstances, thus potentially leading to dysfunction. TTOTSOMH is tough and deep seated. It is the apex of my misapprehension of the world, I think. I cannot imagine it not being there. Maybe that's a good thing, the beginning of acceptance.

I met a woman who had recently developed tinnitus. I immediately told her my story as I have suffered from it since childhood. She almost literally began to cling to me, someone who she could relate to! I told her what I know about mine, what I'd learned about treatment and how I have approached mine over the years. It is incurable but she didn't want to accept that. She said it was driving her crazy. I told her it is hard but she can deal with it. I told her the best advice I could give was first, protect your hearing at all times. Then, learn to love the sound you hear in your head. Listen to it like it is the most important thing in your world, for short periods. That way you can come to realize that it's just a sound. A sound whose character you know and that rarely changes. A sound that becomes so familiar that you start to take it for granted. This will take time. Someday it will disappear because it is no longer any more special than anything else about your body. You can listen to it if you want but you can choose not to. Eventually even that choice becomes irrelevant. It becomes like the beating of your heart, it just happens. When she left that day she searched me out for a book title I had recommended and said just hearing someone else talk about the problem helped. That is what the sangha is for.
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 2/9/24 8:19 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 2/9/24 8:19 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 5175 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I have tinnitus and floaters in both eyes (age-related stuff). For both, it's been the case that my brain has accommodated these annoying symptoms, and they disappear 99% of the time. If I want to see the floaters or hear the hissing noise, I can. Otherwise, they're on deep background.

Brain elasticity FTW!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 2 Months ago at 2/16/24 10:13 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 2/16/24 10:13 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Sharp points joined by flashes of electric current lit up my right cheek, the orbit of my eye, quickly fading to a dull burning sensation down the jawline and into my neck and trapezius. The entire right side began waking up. Balance will be restored some day.

If one is aware of all of the random inputs and autonomous responses what need is there for a mediator to interpret and react? The very nature of the mediator would be to fix experience to something it is not. The skill in response and interpretation must be honed but can only develop in an environment where those very acts are seen as contingent on the present experience. Without that vision they become automatic and liable to errors, compounding over time, replacing reality with psychodrama. A play written by a child cannot satisfy an adolescent, nor an adolescent's an adult. Meanings change and are all unsatisfactory. Stop writing them.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Month ago at 3/17/24 4:04 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 3/17/24 4:03 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
How difficult is it to just watch? Turns out that it is surprisingly difficult, at least for me, right now. Probably, I'll guess, for everyone. 

TTOTSOMH isn't really a separate thing anymore. It is now a nexus of activity, like a crossroad for the experiences of my right side. One interesting connection is to my right foot. Both exhibit heightened activity in synchrony. A strong link. 

My left side is definitely not experiencing/producing sensation as intensely as the right. I am mindful to not neglect one side for the other. It can be difficult. 

There is a link between the chaotic physical activity that goes on at times and the disjointed production of random thoughts. It seems to be a marker of transition. It also has begun to reveal, I feel, how thought and physical state are an inextricable consequence of each other. 

On the cushion today more progress. Once again a flash of light. This time very bright and almost dead center in the field of view, if you can call it that. This was followed by the chaotic stirring of the internal milieu and a deepening of perception into the flow of sensations. Some time afterward something unusual occurred. A negation of the experience of the flash of light! Hard to describe, I felt it to be the opposite somehow, and it too was followed by chaos. From that point on the deepening of experience occurred until the chanting began. 

Off the cushion the changes continue in lockstep with those on the cushion, but as I have described before they seem delayed. On occasion the 'clench' begins on it's own and I can choose to push it away to prevent confusion in the external world, or step aside and let it develop as far as it goes. Often I will abort this development too at some point because a lack of external focus will almost inevitably lead to foreseeable consequences, for instance missing my bus stop. But on the few occasions in the past week when I have allowed it to continue unchecked for more than a minute or two it has produced what I have been calling progress, noticable progress, on it's own, off the cushion! 

I'm beginning to think that the contrast between left and right is indicative of the lack of synchrony between the two, likely at all levels. This is a source of tension that feeds many of the imbalances we produce in our thoughts and actions. 

To indulge in a little armchair psychology: talking to oneself seems common when dealing with challenges in life. Children do it. I do it all the time, under my breath when in public, sometimes out loud when alone. Some people don't seem to have the filter of self-awareness, externalizing the tremendous pressure they are under inside, all the time, in private or public. Maybe that's the pressure in my head. Maybe I'm learning to see it closer to the source. Maybe someday I'll see the source!
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Kevin Andrew, modified 28 Days ago at 3/26/24 9:59 PM
Created 28 Days ago at 3/26/24 9:59 PM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Wow, what a big couple of days!
Broke through the pressure at the back of my head/neck and moved into my head-space a bit further. Points of pain similar to dental pain inside my head! Tread carefully for a while as they pulsed, ebbed and moved around an area I perceived to be about the size of my thumb. There was a substantial amount of fear hovering over this but with continued equanimity I was able to continue the slow steady work of observation. After the sit I had some pain in my teeth, both sides and low level that continued until this AM. During the morning sit I concentrated on moving down the body from the neck and just before the end the resistance to flow broke and my entire body was washed over with... relief? This faded as the day went on. The sit this evening continued where the morning sit left off. The dental pain faded, the points inside my head dulled out and the general sensation of pressure increased  and flowed about. Finally the sensation of pressure took on a more determined growth, activating along familiar channels of restriction on my right side, adding a few on the left that were new, grew to a point that nodes of almost solid tension formed at several places in my shoulder, neck, chest, head! then 'crack...Crack...CRACK' they audibly broke apart and the tension became flow. TTOTSOMH was left, pulsing on its own for a moment, then the pathways began to fill with the tension again but smoother, more free. I feel new stuff every day, throughout the day, it keeps changing. That's what they told me but I didn't get it. Maybe I'm starting to now.
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Kevin Andrew, modified 15 Days ago at 4/9/24 10:42 AM
Created 15 Days ago at 4/9/24 10:42 AM

RE: Thoughts on Vipassana: a practise log?

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
The deeper I get the more the metaphors appear. Maybe because I haven't come across any really good descriptions that fit with my experience. At the same time, over the course of my life I have been almost compulsively curious about how the world works, resulting in my metaphors taking on the shapes provided by our current scientific paradigm. Take chaos theory and fluid dynamics; mandelbrot sets and laminar flow. Fine structure on infinite scales and structure in the borders between chaos and order. Rough generalizations but after all I'm just some guy... 

All I have learned has been done by mere effort. I can describe in general how it feels after the fact but the actual insight in the moment is all internal, it feels like 'so'. It is sensation and when it changes it becomes knowledge and then it changes again and perhaps matures into insight and it changes again as sensation... It sounds step-wise, it isn't, it is more a permutating gestalt. There are definite repeating stages to it but the milestones are infinitely variable, so far. 

Again, how does an infant learn? No language, limited experience, just gobs and gobs of input. Fear? Hardwired. Hunger? Hardwired. Disgust? Hardwired. Pleasure? Hardwired. What about vision? Rabbit-hole. Hardware with ability but the interpreter is largely ignorant. My Mother told me how she watched me discover my hands. Learning that these things were somehow connected to me, that I could make them move. I spent hours looking at them. Climb out of that rabbit-hole if you can, while part of the machinery, while it's in use... 

How many different ways can I say 'my body is becoming alive!'? The pressure in the head is growing, is always there, is always moving. My limbs are becoming more 'there' every day. There are areas of my body that are coming alive whose numbness I was not even aware of. Injured areas yes but also areas whose history was until now unremarkable. This phenomenon is not fading between sits anymore. Tingling, ice-cream-ness (headache is in the head...) little jolts that sting, always the pressure, all moving around. It still feels a bit strange that being aware of these things but not being focussed on them helps them advance(?) a little further every moment. During a sit the ability to choose observation over mentation(hehe?) is itself observable (lol... insight at the mall!). Fractals everywhere... 

The pressure I feel is an expression of process in chaos. Observation exposes the chaos, repeated observation smooths it out. When it becomes smooth it results in a feeling of correctness, the sensational embodied expression of proper functioning. One step closer to an optimal state of homeostasis. Laminar flow of signal processing in a pattern recognition system, moment to moment apprehension of the collective of instantaneous qualia on which to base action. Blah blah blah... 

I have heard stories of, and statements by, people experiencing unusual physical reactions generated by deep samadhi. What I have been going through for the last 2 weeks reminds me of some of these reactions. Today it occurred to me that some of these reported physical states may feel similar to anxiety or excitement or fear in me. No telling how these would feel to someone else. I have said many times to fellow-travelers how amazed I am at the simplicity of the technique. Observe, with equanimity, and keep moving. No hoops to jump through, watch and learn. Sounds like an infant to me. 

Today my head is expanding. TTOTSOMH is very close to becoming just another thing inside. It has changed so much in the last few days, perhaps someday becoming unremarkable. Good-bye. I feel like I'm being made whole by reconnection. The parts are coming back into sync, like they should be. Hello.

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