Practice

m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/22/11 4:20 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/22/11 4:15 PM

Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
Here's the first of my notes after a sit.

sit, get comfortable focus on the breath
note distractions, give them a category, note building awareness on mild light show going on behind closed eyes
note mind-swimming-feeling, loss of sense of solidness, space of awareness becomes formless and big
start mahasi noting - most notes are bodily sensations, a little awareness of pleasant, unpleasant,
start to get a handle on noting, speed builds
almost 3rd-person thoughts, a narration of whats happening now, how i would explain this to someone else
ping pong awareness of different parts of body
occasional notes of unpleasant sensations
always coming back to intensifying light show, pressure in temples seems to sync with light show/sense of swirling space/
noting becomes far too slow for how quickly things are popping up
for a split second, feel like i have caught up to the high speed, everything is happening all at once, everything syncs up, and immediately there's some kind of big shudder and then... a big nothing? hard to express
big silence follows, acutely aware of a sharply present yet distant ringing in ears, things feel very still
a few moments after, i must have stood up, my next memory is of walking off VERY asleep feet, doesnt feel unpleasant though
10 minutes left - go back to sit down - mental images become very predominant and very random and confusing, lots of zooming around in awareness, things dont have a solid feel, feels totally different than mahasi noting at the beginning of the sit
abandon attempts to focus, sit in quiet awareness


Nexs go to computer to type, but of course its all quite ineffable and muffled. Perhaps if i keep this up, it will be easier to recall things and express myself.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 11/22/11 4:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/22/11 4:56 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
sit, get comfortable focus on the breath

Nice.

note distractions, give them a category, note building awareness on mild light show going on behind closed eyes
note mind-swimming-feeling, loss of sense of solidness, space of awareness becomes formless and big

Good. 1st jhana. Nice descriptions.

start mahasi noting - most notes are bodily sensations, a little awareness of pleasant, unpleasant,
start to get a handle on noting, speed builds

Sounds like you're already noting before you're even noting! Also sounds like moving into early 2nd vipassana jhana.

almost 3rd-person thoughts, a narration of whats happening now, how i would explain this to someone else

If they're almost 3rd-person thoughts, who's noting them?!
Note "narration" or whatever, but don't stress too much about specific labels.
Note "planning thought" or "questioning thought", the content of it doesn't matter, stick to noting the object itself.

ping pong awareness of different parts of body

See if you can catch when the attention lands on one part, when it leaves it, and when it lands on the next part. Repeat until enlightened.

occasional notes of unpleasant sensations

Late 1st jhana, most likely 3rd ñana, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics.

always coming back to intensifying light show, pressure in temples seems to sync with light show/sense of swirling space/
noting becomes far too slow for how quickly things are popping up
for a split second, feel like i have caught up to the high speed, everything is happening all at once, everything syncs up, and immediately there's some kind of big shudder and then... a big nothing? hard to express

Mid → late 2nd jhana, given what's happened prior to it and a few other points you mention you've probably crossed the A&P.

big silence follows, acutely aware of a sharply present yet distant ringing in ears, things feel very still
a few moments after, i must have stood up, my next memory is of walking off VERY asleep feet, doesnt feel unpleasant though
10 minutes left - go back to sit down - mental images become very predominant and very random and confusing, lots of zooming around in awareness, things dont have a solid feel, feels totally different than mahasi noting at the beginning of the sit
abandon attempts to focus, sit in quiet awareness

[My emphasis added]
Early 3rd jhana, 5th ñana, Knowledge of Dissolution. That last sentence you've written is exactly what you want to do, abandon attempts to focus but don't get complacent, stay alert and maintain attention to sensations. What you may notice is that attention is drawn towards the periphery of the sense field, you might miss the beginning of sensations and just find yourself with some weird train of thought running about some random nonsense but don't be discouraged. Use the way the attention sits to your advantage, just note what's there and don't fight with it or try to pull it to the center 'cause it'll just lead to unnecessary tension. 3rd jhana, for all you may have heard a lot of stuff about Dark Night, can actually be incredibly cool and there's so much insight to be had if you're willing to explore what it's got to teach you. Don't expect it to be difficult 'cause it doesn't need to be if you can just surrender to it.

Another thing worth trying is examining the sensations of your feet being asleep; what is it about those sensations that makes them seem unpleasant or distracting? (I'm not looking for an answer, just pointing out a way to incorporate stuff like this into your practice rather than allowing it to disrupt it). You mention having to get up and walk around, I would advise against this unless you feel it absolutely necessary as getting to 1st path, which I'm assuming is what you're aiming for, requires momentum and every moment counts. Once you've set your alarm, resolve to sit for the entire duration you've set yourself and do not deviate from that unless you really, really need to.

All in all, sounds like a good sit. How long do you usually sit for?

Perhaps if i keep this up, it will be easier to recall things and express myself.

Undoubtedly! If you keep it phenomenological and just describe what's going on during your practice, as best you can but without turning the process of keeping a practice thread into something which ends up occupying your mind during a sit, and in words that make sense to you. It gets easier, definitely.

Nice one!
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/23/11 2:24 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/23/11 2:24 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the support tommy

I think some of your dharma diagnosis might be a bit hasty, but the overall advice seems good

These sits are for 50 +/- 20 minutes... I used to sit for longer doing concentration but I'm trying to ease into mahasi noting as I am told it is a 'more energetic' practice and I have already been finding that one hour of noting is very hard work.



sit, get comfortable
focus on breath
note expecting awareness of brightness behind eyelids
maintain focus, start mahasi noting in earnest
noting is quite quick immediately, starts at .5 hz, goes to ~3 hz
every 3rd or so note is noting brightness
most notes are bodily sensations
a few mental images
a few notes of daydreaming
notes of 'scanning', a feeling of the mind frantically bouncing around waiting for the next thing in awareness
about halfway through, a feeling that notes are happening at the same time as the object of awareness, or even possibly note is happening first
about 2/3 of the way through, noting speed slows way down
noting a feeling of forcing notes - nothing seems to be in the forefront of awareness
lights behind eyes diminish
when something is noted, focus tends to stay with object for a while
start to feel a bit sluggish in noting
note frustration that objects are not revealing themselves to awareness, but rather awareness is searching for objects and finding not much
one long daydream episode (20 seconds?); feelings of drowsiness
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Andrew , modified 10 Years ago at 11/23/11 5:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/23/11 5:44 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi m m a,

i'm a beinner at noting, but at the point that things slow down, I generally start noting the awareness, the noting itself, the sense of being, generally start hacking away at that persistant knot of 'i'ness centred in the head. either that or go for a centre of the chest slow burn!

Have you read Mahasi's notes?

Incase you haven't this chapter is great;
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/24/11 3:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/24/11 3:43 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
Thanks andrew, interesting stuff to read


sit today

same beginning with anapanasati
begin noting
occasional bright spot at center of vison
lots of bodily sensations
speed builds, as usual, then drops off
left noting 'rising, falling' as not much is very present in awareness
rising, falling, waiting/expecting is a common pattern as well.
some solid/lingering sensations that have 3-5 notes before fading
some notes that feel like they come before the event
some meta-notes of 'guessing' - a feeling where the note is uncertain; somehow awareness is unsure of what it is seeing.

I haven't been able to maintain a high speed of noting (>1hz) for more than 10-20 minutes so far - not sure if this due to mastering a new method or falling back into placid states of mind, or something else

overall, less 'energetic' sit today, fewer tingles/brightness/other stuff often associated with A+P
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 11/24/11 4:42 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/24/11 4:42 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I think some of your dharma diagnosis might be a bit hasty

Which parts? You'd be surprised!

sit, get comfortable
focus on breath
note expecting awareness of brightness behind eyelids
maintain focus, start mahasi noting in earnest
noting is quite quick immediately, starts at .5 hz, goes to ~3 hz
every 3rd or so note is noting brightness
most notes are bodily sensations
a few mental images
a few notes of daydreaming
notes of 'scanning', a feeling of the mind frantically bouncing around waiting for the next thing in awareness
about halfway through, a feeling that notes are happening at the same time as the object of awareness, or even possibly note is happening first
about 2/3 of the way through, noting speed slows way down
noting a feeling of forcing notes - nothing seems to be in the forefront of awareness
lights behind eyes diminish
when something is noted, focus tends to stay with object for a while
start to feel a bit sluggish in noting
note frustration that objects are not revealing themselves to awareness, but rather awareness is searching for objects and finding not much
one long daydream episode (20 seconds?); feelings of drowsiness

When you're noting frustration because you're not seeing objects revealing themselves, try relaxing thing a bit and allow attention to just go where it goes and note it. Remember what I said about how the ends of sensations may seem clearer as you move into early 3rd vipassana jhana? This is what's happening here, look at how "the focus tends to stay with objects for a while" and how the focus moves to the next object without having to fight to see it.

What you've described here, if it's of use to you, could be mapped to A&P into Dark Night as far as I can tell from the descriptions you're giving. Perhaps I am being hasty, but everything looks pretty clear to me from here. What matters is strong, precise practice and it certainly looks like you're well on your way.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/28/11 12:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/28/11 12:53 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
Tommy, looking back at your first post, I wasn't sure if you were talking about vipassana jhanas or the concentration jhanas.

sit today

focus on breath
start noting
bodily sensations mostly, tingles, aches, awareness of touching
a few 'thinking' notes, not many
eventually a bright white star at center of vision

a different lead up into the same, recurring event that happens about 20-30 minutes into almost every sit:
noting speed picks up
feels like noting and objects are asynchronous, sometimes note is first,
sometimes note soldifies object ( i know its a 'mental image' but not what the image is until another moment passes)
sometimes i note something from several moments of awareness ago,

one note, don't remember which one, started to skip like a record player, my mind repeated the note for a few ticks and then what immediately following there was a brightness, surge and intense building of something ineffable yet encompassing everything in awareness followed an instant later by whatever the opposite of that is.. an event that forces complete surrender of awareness to a single moment, but does not offer any feeling of continuity into the next one.

i was left afterwards feeling slightly lightheaded...This 'shudder' as i called it a few posts above happens virtually every sit, and its quite hard to note afterwards, things don't really have weight include the desire to follow the instruction 'note everything' and the notes themselves.


additionally, its like waking up from a dream in that as I try to piece it all together, knowing that it didn't quite make sense and each effort that I put into reconstructing it deforms the conception of it further. sometimes, right after one of these, i'll get up from the meditation and only realize a minute or two later that i don't remember making the decision to get off the cushion... in a way it feels like part of my brain falls asleep, as in sleep paralysis or strange consciousness when falling asleep, but only for an instant.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/29/11 3:44 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/29/11 3:44 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
today's sit was of an entirely different nature than any I've had before.

I sat - resolving to watching M+B, C+E, 3C pass by on the way to AP, but as soon as I changed from the tight focus of anapana, I started to get lost in something like daydreams, almost one after the other. I'm used to noting more than once a second, but this sit i was definitely caught up in non-nonsensical visual and auditory hallucinations for the majority of the time; I was watching characters in a play who talked to each other, and to me... but I had no control over their actions and a sort of dream-logic bizarreness prevailed, leaving me with no memories of the actual content of the 'dreams' Every 20 seconds or so, I'd 'wake up' from a daydream and note for a bit, only to drift again.

I attribute the whole experience to hypnogagia, and I'm concluding that I somehow managed to stay more alert than usual while falling asleep, and the sit was doubly confusing as fatigue is not usually a problem for me while sitting and I was unable to recognize it in the present.

I'm feeling more awake now, I'm going to go sit again.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/29/11 10:15 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/29/11 10:15 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
I'm staying at parents place, visiting friends in my hometown for a few days and I'm feeling anxieties and disturbances on and off the cushion that I'd thought I'd long forgotten. Seeing as how the DHO has such a strong relationship with the DN, i cant help but see the DN patterns exact themselves in my experience.

I also am aware of something that I called 'astrology effect', in that the descriptions are vague enough that a multitude of experiences match up, plus the power of suggestion. I find myself telling stories about how my experiences could be this stage or that cycle, and I could put weight behind any story.

onto more practice specific stuff

practice in a new place
start with focusing on visual field behind closed eyes
note rising falling of tanden
then, rising falling that, rising, this that falling,
trying to see pre-AP insight stages
MB is EZ mode
noting no cause and effect... what is this insight stage really
noting 'anything could be 3C'
a bit of expecting something like a big energetic experience followed by an 1 second nap and snap back awake (hard to believe that was just one note)
no build up of speed or energy
When i have noted on the concept of 'mahasi note' itself, these notes also carry 'unpleasant, distracting'
a few dream like distractions (mentioned in an earlier sit today, too - perhaps because I'm meditating in a new environment?)
no real strong AP like stuff

next, i suppose the MCTB interpretation is that i slide back down insight stages and end the sit, but i didn't quite note that slide in the present.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 11/29/11 10:50 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/29/11 10:31 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
smoked a bit of pot earlier, wrote a journal entry:

without going into much detail,

one story is that of a very young A+P dream experience, followed by a trying DN in late high school/college, with building practice into a very dedicated summer where a few fruitions happened but weren't understood and were glossed over, causing confusion/declination to practice, followed by re-acclimation to the path

this is a good story, but it feels somehow less statistically probable than....

after 2 years of practice, a diligent yogi trained with primarily concentration practice experiences AP, and subsequently the dark night while getting a hold on mahasi noting. doesn't make a big deal out of anything, takes DN bumps in stride, following his own modern interpretation of an n-fold path, feels generally well-read in the area of buddhism/meditation, lots to learn.


trying to figure out the relationship between chronic medical conditions, insight, dukkha, and pain.
everytime i ache, is that a flare up or the dark night? Both, neither, indeterminable? there somehow also exists knowledge of 'no answer' being 'the answer' and paradoxes are somehow not paradoxes at all and somehow i understand this through counting my breath for hours...btw, understand that there is nothing to understand
having a spiritual bullshit detector that works on self and other alike ^^ tt
also trying to sort out the role weed plays in all this, and wondering if people who drink have sorted out the role for themselves.
trying to walk the middle path - be skillfull... sometimes nobody else exists,sometimes nobody exists at all. fine line between equanimity and nihilism.

all the time more 'mystical' stuff has been making sense to me in... unexpected ways.

today I dwelled a bit on
'i vow to attain enlightenment and save all beings from suffering'
and
'there is no spoon'
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 12/1/11 8:30 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/1/11 8:30 AM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
havent been posting after every sit - but they've all been like this for the last 3 days:


start
build focus, very similar to posts as above

about the same spot in the posts above where I'm experiencing a 'shudder', i'm having a really tough time with sleepiness, and hypnagogia. I dont get but 1-10 notes in between non-sensical daydream episodes, and I experience that feeling of a 'head jolt' associated with falling asleep/snapping back awake. Not sure if I'm physically moving or its just the feeling of falling associated with abrupt wakefulness.
This hasn't been a problem for me in the past at all.

The content of the daydreams is totally un-rememberable.
I enter into a sit with good energy, but 15-30 minutes in it seems like a nap is imminent and important.

I've thought about switching to eyes-open, but I'm so used to eyes-closed that I'd rather not switch it up.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 12/1/11 11:27 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/1/11 11:27 AM

RE: Practice

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Have you tried just making sure you're a bit cooler? Has worked for me in the past. Just wear a tshirt or make sure the window's open etc.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 12/1/11 11:42 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/1/11 11:42 AM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
Wow, that's simple and excellent advice. I'm at my parents house, and perhaps its the temperature difference that is throwing me off a bit. I'll give that a shot right wow.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 5:40 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 5:37 PM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
Okay, i have about 5-6 sits over the last few days that all fit the same pattern

for the first part of the sit, anapana, then noting
noting starts to become consistent, 2-3 sec for a minute or too, mostly bodily sensations
still having trouble really identifying things as a particular stage of insight, (is it 3C, or just an ache?)
then, noting becomes sporadic
balancing torpor (hypnic jerks, hypnogagia, drowsiness) and energy (AP stuff, 'energetic surges', brightness dancing around)
balance acheived? starting to let go..
when balance is just so, there is nothing at all! neither notes, nor distractions. Its as if i am both awake and asleep
eventually, i realize that there's 'nothing', and that is something again!
this whole process takes 14 minutes with a std dev of 1 minute (6 data points)

after conversation with ron crouch, i went back to an old blog post i wrote after a retreat, and there are definitely hints of ALL the DN stages in there, with some EQN at the end. If i did enter the stream, it was in the days following this retreat.... this was at the time direct pointing was hot shit on DHO... at first I was all 'wtf are they on about' but after that i DO remember a particular feeling of 'OH! no big deal!' while participating in some of the shenanigans, accompanied by a feeling of satisfaction. (my name is blue on the ruthless truth forums, lol!) After that my practice declined for a while... sitting seemed sorta... unimportant. I had been practcing 2+ hrs a day before this and went down to just a few sits a week.... it just felt right.

Still not ready to call it one way or the other, just adding fuel to the stories.

also, i've been thinking about the all the talk of vibrations in MCTB... i dont think i have any experiences i would consider 'vibrating'. That being said, i studied physics in college so it could be that my interpreation of 'vibration' vastly different.
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 7:41 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/4/11 7:45 AM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
only thing to add from todays sit is one for a brief moment, there was a 10hz bright light flickering.

still trying to discern the 'attention wave'
m m a, modified 10 Years ago at 12/9/11 10:23 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/5/11 7:24 AM

RE: Practice

Posts: 153 Join Date: 6/9/11 Recent Posts
noting still feels sorta clumsy and cumbersome somehow 'unliberating'....

more work to do emoticon

other stuff im thinking/doing:

puzzzling cessation?
energetic stuff