Ashley's Practice Log

Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/18/23 3:40 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/19/23 1:36 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/20/23 7:14 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/22/23 6:45 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/23/23 7:27 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/27/23 10:06 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 1/28/23 7:38 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 2/4/23 7:43 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 2/7/23 7:42 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 2/8/23 6:32 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 2/8/23 7:35 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 2/15/23 8:45 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 2/21/23 7:30 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 2/24/23 8:13 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/2/23 10:12 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/9/23 9:01 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/14/23 5:04 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/18/23 7:41 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/23/23 9:14 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 3/24/23 11:53 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/27/23 5:50 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/29/23 6:58 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 3/30/23 5:34 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 3/31/23 7:27 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 4/4/23 9:11 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 4/19/23 9:16 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 4/26/23 9:36 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 4/26/23 1:14 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 4/28/23 6:31 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 4/29/23 5:35 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 4/29/23 6:09 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/5/23 9:18 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/10/23 8:53 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Martin 5/10/23 11:50 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 5/10/23 12:40 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/11/23 5:39 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/16/23 4:35 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/24/23 8:02 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/30/23 8:30 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 5/30/23 10:56 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 5/30/23 3:01 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 6/7/23 8:49 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 6/11/23 7:17 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 6/12/23 5:31 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 6/12/23 3:55 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Niklas - 6/13/23 5:09 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 6/13/23 9:18 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 6/23/23 5:50 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Stranger_Loop Stranger_Loop 6/23/23 7:35 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 6/29/23 6:24 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/4/23 12:15 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/8/23 10:58 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 7/8/23 2:52 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/9/23 8:24 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 7/9/23 12:52 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/10/23 6:08 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 7/10/23 12:22 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/18/23 10:52 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Chris M 7/18/23 11:15 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/18/23 6:50 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/28/23 6:56 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 7/29/23 6:01 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 7/30/23 7:31 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Stranger_Loop Stranger_Loop 8/3/23 10:56 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 8/8/23 3:38 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 8/15/23 7:19 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Papa Che Dusko 8/15/23 9:44 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 8/15/23 7:51 PM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log shargrol 8/20/23 6:49 AM
RE: Ashley's Practice Log Ashley K 8/20/23 7:22 PM
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/18/23 3:40 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/18/23 3:33 PM

Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I wrote a whole long post here, just for myself, thinking back on my life and how I ended up here, so interested in enlightenment. That post was accidentally deleted, but here's the gist (this summary is better than the previous word vomit anyway, lol).

The post went over my experiences with lucid dreaming as a kid, which may or may not have been A&P related; the time at age 12 that I first heard about the concept of "dying to self", and being captivated by this idea without knowing why, just wanting to experience it for myself, but not understanding it at the time; my journey in personal development in my 20s, constantly searching for ways to improve my life, change my negative qualities, and feel better but never being totally satisfied; the day I first discovered that enlightenment was actually, truly possible (a shocking realization! in 2015); the ensuing seven year journey of searching out all the information I could find online or in books from awakened people, learning and reading and listening, wanting it for myself; making a lot of valuable "psychotherapy" type progress during that time but not much "enlightenment" progress; and finally, the most recent part of my journey about a month ago when I first found out about Daniel Ingram, MCTB2, Manual of Insight, and dry insight practice.

MCTB2 and MoI really laid things out in a practical way that spoke to me in a way that nothing had since first learning that enlightenment was possible. Although much of the information was familiar after my years of reading and learning, there was enough new stuff, or things said in a new way, that really lit a fire under my butt. The map, the stages, and the progress of insight was something I had never come across before, at least not so directly in that way, and it was laid out so clearly that it has inspired me to go forth with my own noting practice.

I don't know where I'm at on the path, although I have had a couple A&P-like experiences - the first shortly after I first learned of enlightenment, and the second shortly after I started reading MCTB2 and MoI. Both were fairly tame, occurring in dreams, but involving intense, exhilarating energy flowing upward through my spine, lifting me up, with bright, golden light and showering sparks within and all around me. I'm not really sure if those were A&P crossings, but, they did seem very A&P-like.

My next entry will be my first actual practice log. I have a family and children and typical daily life responsibilities that come with that, and essentially no opportunity at all for a retreat, perhaps not for a very long time. I do have some brief periods throughout each day that I can sit formally for meditation in my own home. But I don't consider off-cushion time to be off-practice time. Meditation, noting, seeing sensations clearly, perceiving sensations arising and passing away - this can be done any time, anywhere. So I plan to note as much as possible off-cushion, too. I will just see where it all goes.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/19/23 1:36 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/19/23 1:36 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I had a strange dream that someone said they were going to test my ability to read a message. I thought okay, well that's easy! I can read fine. The message was not words, though, it was pictures or symbols, I just had to know the word that went with the picture. And the pictures would pop up one at a time, so I just had to keep up with reading them as they came up. So at first it was easy, but then at some point, I noticed they were playing an audio track in the background that was saying the same words that I was, but on a slight delay, which was so distracting that it slowed down my ability to concentrate. I had to focus very hard on each picture so I could say the word correctly. Then, I began having a difficult time interpreting each image. There was just an unusually long delay between looking at the image, and the word actually coming to me, so that I could say it. Everything just slowed waaaaayyyy down. Honestly I don't really know why I mention this dream here, it may not mean anything at all, it's just that it stuck with me because the effects on my concentration and perception abilities were just so strange.

Today it's taking more of an effort to "get going" as it were and get myself to actually go and start a formal sit.

I did finally go and sit, though, for a very short time. I don't know really how to describe today's sit. It just felt generally calm and peaceful, quiet, not much going on. I was just noting my breath, and sensations in the body. In previous sits, the sensations in the body would appear in very specific spots, scattered about all over in different places, popping up one after another, and my mind would seem to jump from spot to spot as I noted each new sensation that came up, before going back to the breath. Today, it felt like there was just a pervasive, light and very subtle buzzy feeling throughout the body, not confined to different spots.

Off-cushion, I noticed I still get irritated/annoyed at little things from time to time, and then very quickly after the irritation comes the thought/feeling of being frustrated or disappointed that I was affected in that way, and then finally a judging thought that the initial irration shouldn't have happened in the first place... But, I was able to see all this when it happened, so I suppose that's what counts. Just noting it and letting it pass on its own. Instead of getting stuck in any of those feelings or thoughts.

Off-cushion I've also been noting off and on, but in a very shallow manner, today, unlike in previous days. Like I'm just having trouble sticking with it today. It feels lazy. It feels like I'm distracted, but not by anything specific - so it's not that I'm lost in a specific thought or thinking that I can clearly point to, it just seems like I drifted off somehow. When I do notice it I just note it as "distracted" and continue on.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/20/23 7:14 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/20/23 7:14 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
What to say about today?

Noting was difficult. I felt a lot of difficulty getting past this aversion to doing it. When I did note there was just apathy, boredom. Difficulty mustering much energy to do much throughout the day. Some periods I just felt like sitting and doing as little as possible - I don't even mean sitting as in a formal meditation sit, I mean just sitting on the couch or the floor and doing the bare minimum for a time.

And then at some point some kind of general malaise set in. I couldn't help but think of the Misery stage though I don't know if that is it or not. I did my very, very best to just allow this malaise, as difficult as it was. I wanted it to go away, but I tried to just note thoughts about it and just be clear about sensations as best I could. It was rough and I felt I was doing poorly at it but stuck with it anyway.

Then in the evening at some point, noting felt smoother again. Certainly not continuous or perfect, I'm still working on lengthening the time I can note before I get distracted, but still easier than the rest of the day had been. The malaise faded a little.

I'm getting better at just allowing and noting when something happens that makes me angry or frustrated. It's unbelievably difficult at times not to go into thinking about these things and spinning up a story. But I just did my damnedest to just note sensations, but still getting caught up a little bit.

After the angry/frustrated feelings and thoughts faded - assuming I'm able to refrain from getting lost in them - I noticed today that for a brief time after, things feel more open, like there is just a quiet space left there that I didn't notice before. I guess normally I would be getting lost in whatever angry or sad story I drummed up and be stuck in that, so I can see how I've always missed that quiet space before.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/22/23 6:45 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/22/23 6:45 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I worried that I would accidentally deceive myself at some point about my progress. That through a combination of wishful thinking, hoping, anticipating, even expecting, etc. my subconscious mind might come up with experiences that seem noteworthy or signs of progress, but are really not.

So I'm reminding myself of some core things - do not cling to any experiences, good or bad. Let them go, just note them. Be clear about all sensations. Clearly perceive all sensations arise and vanish.

I was able to sit for about 30 minutes this morning. It seemed to go well in that I did not get distracted too often and my concentration seemed to stabilize and get stronger by the end of the sit.

Is Mahasi noting meant to be done all day long (I mean, as much as one is able) throughout daily life? It still seems exceptionally difficult to continue what I had during my formal sit, while doing daily activities. But I guess I'm still building up my noting and concentration skills, and being able to get fairly stable during a sit with minimal distractions is a good start.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/23/23 7:27 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/23/23 7:27 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Here are some scattered writings collected from throughout the day.

I had an interesting dream last night that included a meeting with Sharon Salzberg and a group of dharma students discussing my "case" and diagnosing me (when I asked where they thought I was they decided on "dissolution of self", haha). I'm not reading much into the dream, but when I woke up from it, I felt a strong sense of encouragement to keep going with my practice, particularly based on what my dream version of Sharon had to say to me. So, I'll take that!

I also had a weird experience today where I just put my hand down on my leg and for some reason it didn't feel like my hand on my leg, it was just the sensation of "hand on leg." Then looking at my bowl of food, I was obviously looking out from these eyes but they didn't feel like "my" eyes, it was like seeing was just seeing. Then I was chewing food, but it was like just a mouth chewing, not "me" chewing. It was very subtle and just lasted those few moments, but it felt significant. Maybe my practice will make perceiving that way happen more often? I didn't really notice that the rest of the day.

I still resist fully allowing some feelings when they come up. I think because they feel more intense when I first note them and they sometimes grow and conjure up more feelings and more thoughts with them, and it's hard not to pick any of that up and start spinning up the same old story and getting stuck in it yet again. I think I'm afraid I won't be able to get out of it and then I'll be stuck feeling angry or resentful or whatever the situation was making me feel. Plus I just don't want to feel it because well, it's painful! When it's too painful I resist it and suppress it but I know by doing that it's still going to be there and come up again sooner or later.

Why, WHY, do I feel that gaining a certain skill, having a certain experience, getting a certain item, gaining the approval and love of a specific person... is going to somehow unlock some special happiness that can only be found after doing or getting that specific thing? And for some dumb reason, it feels like it's going to be such a special happiness, that it will have some "happily ever after" effect on my life. Ugh! It's never been true, it's never going to be true, I'm sick of feeling that way.

On a better note. Noting is feeling good this evening! But when I say that noting is "feeling good", well, that's just another feeling to be noted, right? And not clung to in any way. That is the way it seems to be going, it's like, there is nothing left there if it all gets noted - can't cling to that, or that, or that or that or that... it all just slips through my fingers, nothing left to cling to.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/27/23 10:06 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/27/23 10:06 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
From yesterday:

I've been dealing with some mild sleep deprivation and aches and pains the last few days, mostly some headaches and soreness in my right shoulder. It seems to just be a combination of the effects of missing some sleep, sleeping in a bad position, and maybe getting a bit dehydrated, or who knows what. I just felt unwell on and off the past few days. I don't feel sick with anything in particular, I am just not feeling my usual "normal."

I know I've only been at this about 5 weeks (I started before starting this log), but I still had a feeling this week of being stuck and feeling uncertain that I was doing anything correctly or precisely enough to actually count as insight practice. So, I re-read some parts of MCTB2 as well as some other insight meditation resources and it helped me a lot to make sure I'm staying on the right track and not veering towards practice that's weak or not really looking in the right direction or whatever.

I feel I want my concentration sharp and precise, yet broad at the same time? Sharp and precise in order to be able to pinpoint each tiniest, individual sensation, but broad so as to capture these pinpoint sensations happening anywhere across the whole field of perception, as rapidly as I can. When I stop for a moment and just let myself be aware of as many sensations as I can it's like a cacophony of sensations! Even if there is nothing visually moving, and it's relatively quiet, there's still all kinds of stuff going on all the time! Even my vision has this kind of "TV snow" pattern. Like when I stare at a blank white wall, it's anything but blank, it's actually filled with what looks like teeny tiny microscopic points of varying color/intensity shimmering constantly (though this effect is extremely subtle, it's not like I look at the wall and see something like Starry Night by Van Gogh lol). So like TV snow, except extremely, extremely fine and subtle. I guess it's probably like that for everyone but we don't pay attention to it. Every single feeling in my entire body, from head to toe, inside and out, also breaks down to extremely fine individual tingles or vibrations. Like down to a pinprick size, it feels like. Other times it can be like it's made up of waves or pulses (the feeling of pressure is often like that).

This evening I had another experience that triggered some anger that I almost got swept up in. Eventually, the feelings and thoughts faded and I was left feeling... kind of down and numb, in a way. Because I was not totally successful in not getting swept up in it. Getting swept up in that stuff just leaves me in a darker place. I don't want to be dragged down into that dark place anymore.


From today:

Today it feels like it takes significant energy to speak and respond to people. All I want is to just sit quietly.

Because of this, the call to meditate was very strong. It's like whatever energy I do have is being drawn completely within and so having to send any energy "out" (like responding to someone speaking to me) takes a lot more effort than usual.

Today I just suddenly wanted to move more slowly and pay extremely close attention to everything. Like wanting to be aware of every last micro-movement within each larger movement.

Something I have not mentiond here before is that in previous days, on and off while doing noting, I have noticed that I'm moving pretty fast, rushing through things, and I KNOW that I'm rushing as I'm doing them, but somehow I was not able or willing to slow myself down. Even though I would think of Mahasi Sayadaw in Manual of Insight saying how the meditator should move very slowly and deliberately and sense every movement, and even the intention prior to each movement. So, I knew I was rushing, knew I should slow down, but just, couldn't get myself to do that.

Well today is the very first time that not only did I slow way down, I actually WANTED to go slowly. I don't know why I'm always in a hurry doing things, even if I don't need to be somewhere and something doesn't need to get done quickly, I'd be rushing to do it and get to the next thing anyway. Today I feel much more relaxed and willing to go slowly.

If I had the opportunity to go on retreat, I imagine right now would be the perfect time to do so. With my daily life and responsibilities I need to stay at home. I don't mind. I feel like I've got the "retreat attitude" as it were and can still bring that into my formal sits and daily life anyway.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 1/28/23 7:38 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 1/28/23 7:38 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Today I worked on being mindful as much as I could throughout the day, and relaxing and allowing any type of thought or feeling that comes up. I did my best to just observe and let it be without going into further thinking or reflection.

Today I have felt less agitated and more relaxed. I've been maybe applying too much effort to noting and mindfulness previously, so today was more about relaxing and letting things be.

A few times today when I had a desire for something or an aversion to something, I tried to look at that. Just see what it feels like to have that desire or that aversion. Without going into thinking about it. Just feeling/sensing into it.

I feel calmer overall. In this state I feel I can respond to situations less selfishly and respond to people in a kinder or more loving way. I'm not at all perfect, though! Still have times of getting lost in thought or caught up in something, but really, it seems to be happening a lot less often - or if it does happen, I'm more able to be aware of it.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 2/4/23 7:43 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/4/23 7:43 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
 So I guess a recap on the past week.

I found MIDL meditation a week ago and have decided to try that because it has a LOT of structure and guidance and a very clear progression that tells me exactly when to move on to the next step. It's just working so much better for me by taking all the thinking and uncertainty out of my meditation practice. I'm going with the insight first path.

3 or 4 nights ago, I had a weird experience waking up in the middle of the night, of being fully awake and aware from the very instant I woke up, and therefore feeling like my body moved all by itself for a few moments. Like my "self" didn't start up yet, thinking had not even started up yet, so for those few moments it was like a bizarre no self experience. I was not in control at all those few moments, actually it was more like there was no one even there to be in control!

And for the last couple of days, I've had some longer periods of feeling calm and stable. But when emotional reactions came up in daily life, they stood out in very stark contrast to that calm.

Last night and today - I have too much excess energy in me last night and today. Didn't sleep well, anxious and restless. Restless today too. It's not a pleasant energy. It's a bit intense and feels anxiety-like. It seemed to be triggered by a specific situation that left me feeling intense negative feelings, very miserable and feeling intense emotional pain at not being able to prevent an anxiety-filled experience that my loved one had to go through. I hated to see them feeling that. All these feelings were very difficult for me to just allow and let be and so they stuck around quite a while. Even though the other person recovered okay.

During meditation in the last week I've felt some subtle pleasant energy during meditation, but this energy now is not like that, it has me a bit on edge today. I'm not feeling great about myself and feel like my mind is going a mile a minute.

During meditation I'm able to get to a place of relatively stable concentration, I wouldn't say it's that deep yet, but I'm able to stay with the full length of the breath, although sprinkled in are plenty of distracting thoughts. External sounds also pull me away a bit, I'm generally still very aware of noises. I'm able to notice almost all of these without straying too far from the breath, though. So it is rare that I get totally lost and completely forget I'm meditating. But still I feel pulled away from the breath briefly, every few breaths.

So what I'm doing today is just relaxing and allowing these agitated feelings and energies even though they are unpleasant. I'm approaching them in daily life with curiosity, gentleness, and calm.

I'm annoying my own self today and pretty sure I'm annoying others around me, and then I'm judging myself for being so annoying. A little self-hate today trying not to spiral down into it. I feel like I've forgotten how to interact with people in a normal way or something,I just feel drawn to looking at this energy and all the agitated thoughts and feelings associated with it.

It's just like my most annoying qualities are coming out on top of this agitated energy.

On top of all this I have a stronger than ever urge to meditate. In the past I always had to force myself to meditate and could barely stand to do it for 10 minutes without extreme boredom. Now, sitting for an hour is easy! Even a few days ago I didn't have this strong of an urge to meditate.

I really did have a ton of "desire for deliverance" feelings today. I'm not saying that's what stage I'm at or think I'm at, I don't have any idea, I'm just saying, that what's happening today is a ton of desire to be rid of the suffering and a desire to be rid of the pain of this life already, once and for all. Why do things still upset me so deeply and why can I not see clearly how to stop the suffering?

This coming after a week of seemingly good meditation sessions. Today I'm feeling bad indeed.

This too shall pass and who knows what feelings will come tomorrow? Every day is bringing new and interesting things to note. It is so hard not to get caught up. I will keep going, though, with noting, and with MIDL meditation training. 
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 2/7/23 7:42 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/7/23 7:42 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
2 days ago - 

I felt more peace today. I felt some equanimity, maybe? I don't mean the stage, I mean I think I was just experiencing more equanimity today. I don't know how to describe it... It's almost like a "lofty" feeling. Like it feels airy and spacious. It feels like there's this big, wide open space everywhere, in everything. It's very subtle, though. And hard to describe.

I think there was some equanimity, at least at certain times and in the face of certain things, that I would expect to bother me more. The equanimity was not that strong and not necessarily steady, but it was there at times.

I almost feel like I can tune into this airy spaciousness, or maybe I'm just remembering it or imagining it, it's hard to tell.

I wish that I had the opportunity to sit for several hours, which I've never done before. But I will take whatever I can, even if it's only 10 minutes. But I aim for 30 minutes minimum daily. And noting whenever else I can. I guess since I've been more focused on doing the MIDL guided meditations, I have not focused so much on noting in daily life. I just do it on and off when I think of it, but, I'm not sure 5 minutes of noting here or there is any good, or if it really needs to be a longer period of sustained noting with strong (momentary) concentration to make any sort of progress.


Yesterday -

There was total aversion to meditating and noting. I had ample opportunity to sit and meditate, and I didn't. I don't know why I avoided it, but I did. It just felt easier not to do it. Later in the afternoon though I just went for it and ended up noting for 30 straight minutes with little to no getting distracted or drawn away from it. That might be the longest straight block that I've done noting outside of a formal sit.

When I do a formal meditation (usually concentrating on the breath, at least to start with) - within 1-2 minutes of sitting I feel a pleasurable feeling rise up through my torso into my chest. It just comes all by itself. All I have to do is fully relax my body into my sitting position, bring awareness into the body, follow three or four breaths for their full length, and then that pleasurable feeling is just there. So then I relax into the feeling, let the relaxation come into my mind, and continue to follow the breath. After another 10-15 minutes my mind is quieter and it becomes fairly easy to follow the breath. That's about as far as I've gotten with concentration. I'd like to do longer sits and build the factors of enlightenment. Or it's more, letting them build themselves up while I get out of the way, that really is what it feels like. Meditation is literally getting "me" out of the way lol.

Meditation really does seem easier the less I try.


Today - well, I struggled with some personal issues today. I KNEW right in the middle of it all that I was getting worked up and wrapped up in it, but it seemed impossible NOT to, at the time. It also felt impossible to just let it be, to just note them, to just sit there with these terrible feelings in me without DOING something about them (even if that doing was just spinning up stories). My heart felt like a stone, unmovable, and this story just felt unbreakable, it was staying and I couldn't do anything about it. I hated the feeling of being wrapped up in it and even now I feel like all that is still stuck "inside" me somehow. It's gonna rear its ugly head again, I wonder how I'll handle it then?
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago at 2/8/23 6:32 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/8/23 6:32 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
One thing that can help in the midst of a can't-be-stopped mental drama is just raise a finger of one hand. Basically, you let the whole thing play out but you remember that it's a mental drama... and if you forget, you look down at your hand and you see the finger raised. "Oh yeah..." 

In many cases there is simply old memories or mental habits that just have to happen, but that doesn't mean you need to go completely into that trance. You can let it happen as it needs to but also stay aware of the sensations of breathing or, if you need to, just raise a finger and notice it from time to time to break the hardness of the trance. That way you are bring mindfulness into the experience. And in time, you can just be mindful of it without requiring supports. These dramas arise and pass like everything else.
Ashley K, modified 10 Months ago at 2/8/23 7:35 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/8/23 7:35 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts

One thing that can help in the midst of a can't-be-stopped mental drama is just raise a finger of one hand. Basically, you let the whole thing play out but you remember that it's a mental drama... and if you forget, you look down at your hand and you see the finger raised. "Oh yeah..." 

In many cases there is simply old memories or mental habits that just have to happen, but that doesn't mean you need to go completely into that trance. You can let it happen as it needs to but also stay aware of the sensations of breathing or, if you need to, just raise a finger and notice it from time to time to break the hardness of the trance. That way you are bring mindfulness into the experience. And in time, you can just be mindful of it without requiring supports. These dramas arise and pass like everything else.

Thank you, shargrol! Thankfully the really heavy mental drama doesn't strike too often, but I did try out your technique today on something minor, when I had a thought that was remembering a past conflict. It really helped! Holding up my finger just helped me stay "with it" and kept me from sinking into it. I could see how I might've gone into further thinking about the conflict and visualizing it and bringing up the feelings, etc. When instead, my finger was a reminder to label it, "remembering, remembering" and then it just faded. I'm looking forward to trying this when the heavy stuff comes up.
Ashley K, modified 9 Months ago at 2/15/23 8:45 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/15/23 8:45 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I have a few different things I want to write down from this past week.

Content - I finally realized that when it comes to noting, the content of the thoughts and feelings does not matter at all, I just need to see it arise and pass. I know that's like, basic stuff. But, it's just where I'm at. I've been getting stuck in content, even when I thought I was noting well I would kind of stop to look at the content of things however briefly, before moving on. Not to mention obviously the times I've been stuck or lost in stories, particularly negative ones. I have ups, I have downs, I feel pleasant, I feel blah... it can all be noted in the same way, regardless of content. Once I don't get lost in or stuck in stuff, I can stay at the level of noting through good and bad. And I know it's also possible to get stuck or lost in positive stories and experiences, so I need to watch out for that. The less interested in the content I am, the better noting goes.

How I relate to memories has changed some.

Okay I will try to describe this, but I think I'm not so good at describing things or finding the right words, it's hard. My childhood memories and to some extent many past memories – my relationship to these has changed this past week. They feel more and more like just images, snippets of movies playing in my mind superimposed on the present moment. It's like previously my childhood felt like a “real thing” that really exists somehow, it had a weight to it. It had a big meaningful existence, at least in my mind, like it's a real “thing” even though it's not happening right now. But after seeing a memory in my mind as just an image superimposed on the present, nothing more, that “weight” to it was gone. Then I thought of some childhood memories on purpose to see how they felt, and they didn't feel so “real” anymore, that weight to them was gone. At first it felt like I'd lost something, it didn't feel so good. Like what I thought of as "my childhood" is not really real and the weight and "thingness" of it is disappearing now. But I guess feeling bad about it was momentary and I don't feel that way now.

When I think back on old memories that used to trigger a strong sense of self, or that triggered emotion, they really don't so much, anymore. Even remembering good times and positive memories doesn't have quite the same punch as it used to.

It's not an “all the way through” thing, sometimes there is still a tug in my heart when a happy memory comes up and I notice it as the clinging to the positive, missing it, not wanting to lose that, wishing I had it now or could have that good thing permanently, feeling sad it was many years in the past and long gone, etc. etc... I can now see and feel what that clinging is in terms of strictly sensations in the present. Feelings in the body, images and thoughts in the mind. I can note it like some sort of objective observer, as the supposedly "subjective" thoughts and feelings are still occurring.

Just something interesting from this week.

Labeling - I thought about trying to get better with using “labels” when I note. I feel like instead of my focus being 5% on the label and 95% on the sensation, I'm like, 50/50, or worse, more focus is on the label than on the sensation. Which is why I generally do not label at all, I just note. When I label I feel like the labeling is covering over a bunch of other stuff that I'm missing and then not noting. But when I don't label at all, that brings a higher risk of forgetting I'm noting and getting lost in stuff. So, I am going to work on getting better at labeling as well as finding the right balance of labeling that helps keep me noting well and noting longer.

How I am feeling this week - Though I had some down periods, overall this past week, I've been feeling generally pretty good, with many periods of just pleasantness, and feeling a little extra energy inside. There is nothing in particular to explain the feeling of pleasantness and feeling good. But I try to note it and not get lost in it! I'm not trying to figure out why I feel that way and I'm not trying to cling to it or make it last. The pleasant and good feelings arise and pass too like anything else, I've also had some periods of feeling down or "blah", though it's the pleasant/good feelings that have been around most this week.
Ashley K, modified 9 Months ago at 2/21/23 7:30 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/21/23 7:30 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Lots of ups and downs in the past week.

Last Wednesday, so almost a week ago, I was feeling really good. Really good! Calm, peaceful, with a feeling of lightness throughout the day. I was still coming off that week of mostly feeling good and pleasant.

That same evening though I had a fear again that I will somehow trick myself into thinking I'm further along than I really am. Also fear that I'm spinning my wheels and not sitting for meditation long enough or without enough concentration to actually make progress. I also had a feeling like meditation and the path is separating me from everyone else, nobody else in my life is doing this stuff, so I felt cut off, in a way.

On Friday, I started to feel angry! Because just two days previously I felt on top of the world, now I was down from that high. Even though at the same time I knew that these things pass.

Saturday I spent more time noting than usual. I felt better than I had the last few days, and it felt more like it was the absence of being stuck in thought/negative feelings that felt good. It feels good NOT to stew in stuff. Duh, right? But that's hard to see while you're actively stewing in it. I am able now to remain mindful during drama that's relatively mild. But the more intense, deep-seated stuff still gets me. But I do see that during the milder dramas I can note it and not be drawn in.

Just generally lots of ups and downs this past week. Sometimes, meditation felt very easy. Minimal getting lost in anything, relatively easy time staying mindful. Other times, not so easy.

It's still very tough to sit with aversion or hate and fully allow it, very unpleasant. But a couple days ago during my sit I heard a repetitive sound and immediately felt anoyance building up. So I continually noted each sound as hearing, hearing, and noted any sensations in the body related to feeling annoyed by the sound. I then had this distinct thought, “This aversion is not mine, it's the mind's” and then it felt like it couldn't touch me, like I was disconnected from the process somehow – the process of the sound leading to annoyance leading to feelings/emotion sensations in the body, etc etc – that process was continuing on as before, but I wasn't “in it” anymore and it couldn't touch me.

I also had another experience of actually not being drawn into something POSITIVE. Listening to one of my favorite songs I noticed, while listening, it was as though getting sucked into the song and fixating on it and trying to prolong the pleasure of listening to it felt like I was narrowing myself down somehow, narrowing into the body and the mind and the experience of the song. It actually felt much better NOT to do that. It was the first time I noticed that a positive experience did not draw me in, and the absence of that being drawn in actually felt better than the way I would normally react to listening to the song. I could watch the process and not be a part of it.

Even after these interesting experiences in meditation, later in the day I felt off-kilter and then I got completely stuck in anger again, even though I knew I was doing it. But after the situation that made me angry replayed in my head for about the 50th time, when the emotions came up yet again, this time finally I just noted them purely as sensations in the body. And what do you know? They faded away, almost immediately, totally gone, no more thoughts or feelings about the situation arose, it was just all gone. I went from feeling “no way can I do this” (as in no way can I just note this and not get drawn into it again) to “Oh, it was that easy?!” yep... Noting is so easy, if I JUST DO THAT and nothing more.

I guess now I'm going back and forth between meditation being easy and feeling like I could sit for hours if I had the opportunity (which unfortunately I do not have), to feeling an aversion to noting. And sometimes it still feels like there's something more I'm supposed to be doing when I'm noting, like I'm not doing enough.
Ashley K, modified 9 Months ago at 2/24/23 8:13 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/24/23 8:13 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Yesterday - sensations just seemed to be grating on me. Irritating. I was irritated beyond belief!
Lots of irritation and feeling restless, so I did more walking meditation. My concentration felt like crap, though. So it was maybe more just pacing around feeling restless while attempting to note.

Noting thoughts up to this point had been tricky. I'm usually halfway into a thought (or onto the third or fourth thought!) before I notice it and then I'm there to see the middle and end of it. But it bugs me that I can't seem to catch thoughts when they first start. Those pesky trains of thought derail my mindful noting.

Today, lots of thoughts about practice and lots of "wondering" type thoughts. Wondering about this and that, usually related to practice or the path and wondering how exactly things work and how things are done if there really is no self.

Also today, beginning this morning - strong feelings of irritation again. I did not have much opportunity for formal sits, but I noted a lot today throughout daily life, with some of these periods were just sitting on the sofa while my family was busy doing other things, so kind of a semi-formal sit, I guess. This afternoon though - I began to feel pleasant energy through my body. Noting became very enjoyable. Thoughts were suddenly very clear, like I was finally able to see the beginning of them, through the middle, to the end. Whereas like I said before I could never really catch the beginning, I'd be already lost in the thought first, before I noticed.

While washing my hands at the sink today, I had the distinct sensation that the hands were not mine, I was just watching hands. They were somehow not mine and my mind felt super clear during this period when it felt like the hands were not mine. Interesting.

Then after feeling pleasant most of the afternoon with noting feeling enjoyable and at worst neutral, I had frustation and irritation again. It's hard to tell whether this is just irritation from my ordinary life and I'm bringing that into my noting, or if the irritation has anything to do with where I'm at with my practice. But it was just harsh, grating, irritation, like I wanted all the sensations to just STOP, I was tired of hearing sounds and feeling body sensations and all that, "just give me a break" was the feeling I had.

Then later this evening, feeling just excellent. Feeling pleasant energy all the way up through my head.

Some mind wandering did return when I got lax again with noting. So, following trains of thought rather than clearly seeing them. But overall, I'm feeling okay. I feel incredibly comfortable in my own skin right now, calm and relaxed, and when I return to noting/meditation, even if it's for just a minute or two, thoughts are more clearly seen again.

I'm not sure what to make of it all, if the feeling pleasant parts are just A&P, or if it's even possible for me to be cycling up to equanimity at this point, or something else entirely. I'm just not confident in knowing which moods and experiences are just ordinary life stuff, vs stuff related to progress of insight. But, I'm just getting it down here in my log, I figure time will tell what it's all about.
Ashley K, modified 9 Months ago at 3/2/23 10:12 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 3/2/23 8:45 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
2/25 - The day after my last post there was a strong feeling of energy in my chest (off-cushion). Uncomfortable even, I felt hyped up by it but not in a good way. Later on it settled into feeling more pleasant. After this, I had this feeling like, the way you feel on vacation. Mildly exhilarating, but also relaxing. Or like the feeling when you are falling in love. I had this weird feeling also of being "done" even though I know I am most definitely not done! Also similar to what I wrote on 2/15 - when I wrote about how my relatioship to the past has changed, I started to feel that way about the future, too. The "weight" to the future is gone (or lessened) in the same way as happened with past memories. The 25th was just a lovely day, I had the most serene feeling sitting outside while noting, very pleasant energy building up into my head.

That night, I slept well, but each time I woke up I felt strong energy in my chest again. The feeling was similar to the feeling I get if I am anticipating something very big and exciting (though in this case I wasn't actually anticipating anything, it was just that strong energy by itself).

2/26 - This day the energy began to fade. When trying to note I felt I had strong concentration at first but as soon as I turn to noting I had tons of mind wandering and getting lost in trains of thought. In spite of efforts to be mindful using noting. Even tried counting breaths just to try and stabilize my concentration first, which worked okay actually, but once I switched to noting practice it was not long before my mind wandered again. Therefore, not much mindful practice this day. Lots of getting lost in trains of thought. Scattered mind, couldn't keep it focused clearly on anything.

2/27 - A lot this day it felt like nothing much was going on in the way of noting practice. It felt almost like I had totally forgotten how to note properly, like I just couldn't seem to do it? I felt like I wasn't able to get enough concentration and couldn't get any clarity on any sensations I was noting (to clarify this was when noting off-cushion in daily life). When I'm noting it just feels like - nothing's happening. I think because all that energy, the serene and pleasant feelings, have faded. So back to just neutral noting without that enjoyment factor driving me to note a lot.

2/28 - So, all the energy and high feelings are gone, have been feeling a little aimless and almost like I'm not sure what to do, or like I've lost some of my ability to note well.

If what I had was a crossing (or re-crossing) of A&P, then I would assume dukkha nanas are next? Seems like I'm already dipping into something like that. Is it weird though that I feel excited? Like, who knows what's going to happen or come up during meditation, but I've been through my fair share of feeling despair and feeling miserable and feeling fed up, and I made it through all that just fine, so, if dukkha nanas is just more of the same, but with even better stuff on the other side, then, I'm actually looking forward to it, weirdly.

This past week, I finally tried to see if I could notice any patterns with phenomology during my sits that would indicate moving through nanas, I noticed the following (I came back here later to edit this section because I got a few more sits in and noticed some additional things):
As usual can take several minutes to feel settled and get into a groove with noting. Always within 5-10 minutes, pleasurable feeling or energy rising in my body (sometimes the whole body feels that way, sometimes it's just in my chest, sometimes it's up through my head). And always 10 minutes into an eyes-closed meditation, patterns of light show up on the back of my eyelids and slowly move around. It's like bluish blobby wavy lines and circles that slowly move around in a repeating pattern. All this time I'm continuing to note any sensations that come up. I usually start to feel a lot of tension, a little pain in my upper back, maybe from the way I'm sitting, or maybe it's something to do with 3rd nana? I reach a point where noting gets easy, feels like it's just flowing and is "doing itself" and my posture feels rock solid and stable and I don't move at all, it feels like I could sit for hours without moving an inch. This usually occurs after the "light show" on my eyelids begins. Usually by this point all sensations in my hands go numb. The tension in my upper back does seem to go away during this period when noting is flowing easily.

Most commonly, I get interrupted and have to stop my sit during the period when noting is flowing easily. Usually the kids interrupting and needing something, or the baby woke up from his nap, or whatever.

But if I keep sitting, then my mind starts wandering more again and my meditation seems to fizzle out. It's hard to really tell what's happening at this point. The blobby "light show" on my eyelids sort of comes to an end, or fades into something less noticeable. I continue to note, and there is a bit more mind wandering. I notice that more images and thoughts are coming up than before, even if I note them and don't get lost in them. I thought in some recent sits that I felt some coolness on my legs at this point, and I'm aware that dissolution can sometimes have sensations of coolness, but at the same time I'm very wary of reading into stuff too much (maybe it was just a draft?? haha). Anyway. I felt a tiny bit more startled at this point when unexpected sounds occurred, but not sure if that's just a result of strong concentration. Compared to the period where I feel noting is flowing easily and my posture feels rock solid and stable, this period following after did have a different "feel" to it but I'm having a hard time really describing it because it seems any differences were subtle.

Okay, that's as far as I've gotten in terms of what's going on during formal meditation sits. I do still note sometimes off-cushion, and a lot of what I share in these logs includes how I'm feeling off-cushion and what happens when I try to note off-cushion. I'm not really sure how noting off-cushion affects how formal sits go. Maybe I'll try to pay more attnetion to whether formal sits seem any different on days I do a lot of off-cushion noting vs very little off-cushion noting.
Ashley K, modified 9 Months ago at 3/9/23 9:01 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 3/9/23 9:01 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I take way too many practice notes thorughout each day. I end up wading back through them after a week to put something together for this practice log. I suppose all this time I'm spending going through and editing my notes about practice could be time spent practicing. Oh well!

Maybe still riding the highs of A&P a little bit this day because I got really excited at the idea of all my crap coming up so that I can finally be free of it! In that moment I was genuinely looking forward to the terribleness of it to appear so I can note it away and see/move through it. I even kind of started to see why people going through A&P want to proselytize so much...

On this day I resolved to keep practicing through WHATEVER comes up. Good, bad, BORING!

"It's objects all the way down" has been a really useful pointer for me.

Having way too many reflecting and analyzing thoughts, thoughts that are telling a story to myself about my meditation practice and experiences. I note/label these for the most part, but they come up, all the time.

In the moment a thought like this happens it feels like it's me thinking it, then the moment I note the thought it feels like it's not me - I'm the one watching it and noting it. Then there is this odd feeling like I've "stepped back" from being inside the thought, to being outside it viewing it objectively. That's how it feels I guess, I'm either "inside" the stream of thoughts, therefore not able to see them and I'm lost in them, or I'm "outside" them, able to see them as an object, as not me.

I'm also going from the feeling of "it's wrong to feel annoyed and frustrated and angry and irritated by things, I shouldn't feel this way, I don't want to feel this way" to, it's fine, it's just more stuff to note.

I'm getting the sense also that I don't have any control over what comes next. Things happen, good, bad, neutral, fun, boring, annoying, pleasant, and I don't control what it is. I can either get lost in it, or I can note it.


I had two ~40 minute sits today. The 2nd sit was 20 minutes walking and then 20 minutes sitting. I didn't really notice anything new that stood out, except near the end of my second sit, a feeling of pressure building up in my head.

I've noticed the last several nights that it's so much more difficult to get out of bed in the morning. It feels like no matter how early I go to bed, how much sleep I get, how good that sleep is, it doesn't matter, I'm so tired at my usual wakeup time.

Though I'm more tired in the morning, a few nights a week I tack on a 30 minute sit right before going to sleep. My sleep tracker counts that 30 minute meditation as part of my sleep, but I guess that makes sense with how still and calm the body gets.

I had the image last night that I'm turning from glue to rubber. Stuff doesn't stick with me the way it used to. Stuff that I'd get stuck in even not that long ago, seems to bounce off me more with noting.

I haven't been noticing much that stands out. No more of that energy and feeling high on serenity/pleasant feelings (off-cushion), also no more of that irritating/grating stuff while noting I had previously either, though. Sitting so far is generally uneventful and going smoothly along with daily life noting, when I do that.

Today's sit, the usual, it took a few minutes to sort of settle in, very subtle feeling of pleasure, feeling like I hit my stride with noting and it became easy, saw that light show on my eyelids I sometimes get, a feeling like a pool of cool air is settling down around me (though honestly still not totally sure this sense of "coolness" isn't some self-fulfilling prophecy, like I've come to expect that feeling and so seem to feel it), and just continuing to note. I did sense a change in how noting felt after a while. It went from feeling like I was noticing individual sensations, to feeling like I was more broadly aware of the space around me and continuing to note sensations within that space. Maybe a way to put it is it shifted from feeling like it's my noting mind going out to each sensation out there in a more tight focus on each sensation, to feeling like my noting mind stays "here" and I continue to notice individual sensations within this broader space/background. So that tight focus relaxed and things were more open. That's my best shot at describing this sit. Lots of "wondering" and "uncertainty" thoughts coming up at the end of the sit.

There was a moment today while driving that I felt a little creeped out at the thought that meditation/practice is actually having effects on me. Guess I was thinking back on the energy and bliss I was feeling last week like, whoa, that was pretty powerful stuff, so, a little creeped out at the power of the practice.

Also today had a feeling of determination to continue to sit consistently each day, day in and day out, and just see what happens.

Some mornings (this one in particular) my mind just starts off like a firecracker, first thing. Like my mind just can't wait to tell NOBODY about EVERYTHING! Why the nonstop chatter?

Lots of mind wandering this morning, I slept better than ever, but felt so tired anyway. Feelings of being discouraged because staying mindful feels so difficult.

Still a part of me that feels like it should be able to control mindfulness and prevent mind wandering. A part of me that thinks in shoulds and shouldn'ts like, I should be able to stay mindful, I shouldn't be lost in thought so much after all this time. All this gets noted - in between all the mind wandering, at least.

And another feeling I had today was like - well whoop de do, so I got A&P, well now the real work begins. Probably prompted by the feelings of discouragement and hoping I have enough concentration/sitting time to continue to make progress.

Sitting this morning it felt like there's something getting in the way of me clearly noticing sensations. Like I'm noticing them as before, but through a fog, they feel more vague. I wasn't becoming lost in thought or mind wandering, I was staying with things, but just couldn't see clearly through this sort of fog or barrier. But, maybe this is only because I was meditating very soon after waking up. My body was still tired even with motivation to meditate.

Not much else to say about practice. All the stuff I mentiond above gets noted whenever I indeed notice it, including confusion, uncertainty, analyzing, 'cause I always have plenty of that stuff too, haha. Feeling a general uncertainty today about both short-term and long-term practice.

I did another sit later in the morning, but after 30-40 minutes was losing steam. Just wanted to move around more, look around more, disrupt my own practice for some reason.

There's a visual effect I had experienced a little bit before that period of high energy and bliss and serenity I wrote about in previous posts, that I didn't describe because I wasn't sure if I was actually seeing a real effect or not. But I'm getting that visual effect again after longer periods of noting, so I'll describe it here. Like when looking at things and walking past them, it feels like I'm watching a high frame rate 3D movie. Like my usual seeing is normal frame rate, but I get this "higher frame rate" effect after a longer period of being concentrated and noting. It's very subtle, not sure if it means anything or just a side effect of paying more attention to the visual field after a period of practice.

Sat at least 40 minutes this morning, plus another 15-20 minutes of walking meditation, all noting. I noticed that throughout some sits, including this one, it was like my spine wants to align itself or re-align itself to be straighter and straighter. Meaning I get the urge from time to time to sit up straighter, or to lift my chin and move my head back so it's sitting more in alignment, things like that. I always try to sit with good posture from the start, but some sits it's like my posture improves itself bit by bit during the sit.

Also during my sit today. Sometimes when I would hear sounds outside there was this odd feeling like I was "feeling" the sound inside my head, too. Not hearing the sound inside my head, and not feeling vibrations or anything like that, it was more like when I would hear and be fully mindful with a sound, there was simultaneously a pleasant feeling occurring inside my head, coinciding with the length of the sound. I don't know what that's about.

Laying down in bed before going to sleep this night, I had a very weird feeling where I was clearly seeing thoughts, felt like they would end very abruptly and then there was just nothing for a short while. Then another thought, it would end abruptly, and I would just sort of enjoy this feeling of nothingness that came after. Like it felt good to be nothing and nobody between thoughts.

On- and off-cushion, things just feel very smooth right now, for lack of a better term.
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 3/14/23 5:04 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/14/23 5:04 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
My tiredness improved sometime last week. No more excessive tiredness trying to get out of bed in the morning regardless of amount/quality of sleep.

It felt scary for a bit to think that I don't have any control over anything, including how I am, what I'm like, how I act... I had a clear seeing at some point of how a series of thoughts, images, and sounds in my mind unfolded completely by itself with no input or control from me, whatsoever. I realized that it's pointless to think "I don't want to think that thought" because too late, you already did! And it's pointless to think, "I don't want" about literally anything that happens because, too late, it already happened!

I got this weird, stupid "content FOMO." I felt an aversion to noting in daily life, because I felt like I was somehow going to miss out on great "content" or great thinking or something... But then realized, if I want to go and intentionally be lost in content, then I'd be missing out on what's here and now.

One thing I noticed during off-cushion noting was a mind state that I was completely missing before - impatience. I noted the thoughts and sensations related to impatience waiting for the water from the faucet to heat up... and noticed how stupid it was to feel irritated and get tense and think "hurry up" when literally none of that will make the water heat up any faster, all I'm doing is causing myself to suffer for no reason.

There is still the worry that I will be totally overwhelmed by any negative stuff that comes up. I can recall in my mind past painful emotional experiences and there is an IMMEDIATE feeling of "ugh" and wanting to run away from it, not wanting to go through any of it again.

And I even briefly worried about getting lost in positive stuff, and stalling progress that way. In this case I was hearing beautiful birdsong outside that brought up this worry. So screw it, I said, I'll enjoy it, and note the sounds and note the enjoyment and note the pleasantness of the experience.

During meditation I've been having more bad memories come up, memories of sadness and hurt. But I'm not sure how much is me going searching for that stuff subconsciously because "dark night" is supposed to be next, or what. I've also been feeling more guilt during the day when it becomes clear how something I did or said caused someone else to feel upset. In the past (like years ago) I've had times of deep sadness, despair, guilt, numbness, depression, and even disgust and intense desire for deliverance from suffering, before I ever knew about awakening/enlightenment. Which I mention because, I don't feel I can point at any particular thing and say, yeah that's definitely dark night stuff, except that now I am regularly meditating/noting every day, and so could possibly expect this. But I also can't say for sure those past experiences weren't some kind of dark night thing.

Feeling better today.

My formal sit today went well. I felt able to stay mindful for the most part, noting with occasional labeling, and sat very still. I reached a point where I felt like I was closer than I'd ever been to the feeling of there being no separate self anywhere - along with a strong sense of impermanence of all sensations occurring. As this experience began I started to feel my hands and my head buzz, my hands went numb instantly (that usually happens gradually) and this very subtle energy seemed to build up in my body along with a feeling of excitement and anticipation - it just felt like something new and different was happening. The "light show" on my closed eyelids really came to life and danced around as if it drew from that energy.

It faded after maybe, 5 seconds? Not sure, I just know it was a very short duration.

After this, I tried to fall back into that sense of no separate self and impermanence by just... Well honestly I'm not sure what I did, but I knew effort was not going to do it, I just relaxed and tried to note anything that felt like "me". It sort of came back, but less intensely this time, and still a very short duration. I was 30 minutes into noting at the time. I mean... looking back, maybe it was just A&P stuff again. I don't know.

I sat for a whole hour. The first time I looked at the clock, 45 minutes had already passed and I was surprised because it didn't feel that long.

I guess not much stood out. Today it seemed like I was less aware of body sensations than usual. There were a couple different points where I seemed to realize oh, I haven't been noticing any body sensations, and when I directed my attention there, I could feel the usual vibrations coming and going in different places. 

A few times I felt a sense of calm, peace, relaxation. A few times I felt almost like I might drift off to sleep, like I had that feeling where everything kinda fades slightly for a moment and then you become alert again. But I wasn't nodding off or anything. I noted feeling sleepy and wondered if it was just an imbalance between the factors of tranquility and energy. I opened my eyes now and then to try to counteract this sleepy feeling. Is this what "dullness" is?

I feel like I wasn't "properly" noticing the arising and vanishing of sensations. Just more of a, here's a sensation, here's a sensation, there's another sensation, but not exactly being clear about the arising or the ending of the sensations. So, maybe with the calm, peaceful, relaxed feelings, I sort of let up on investigation/energy.

I was awake in the middle of the night for almost three hours unable to fall back asleep. This is not necessarily out of the ordinary for me, but it hasn't happened to me in a long time. My mind kept itself occupied bringing up images of past memories and I was faced with a lot of those. I sort of attempted to be mindful but really didn't try because - I just wanted to go back to sleep!

When I finally fell asleep I fell into a mix of vivid dreams, lucid dreams, and some sleep paralysis. I actually expected the sleep paralysis, because sleep paralysis always happens if I've been awake in the middle of the night too long.

The first dream I had was basically the theme of "disgust". Very gross stuff. But, I was lucid, so I was not bothered at all even though in real life what was happening in the dream would have been incredibly, and literally, disgusting! I just patiently waited for the dream to change or to wake up.

When I did wake up it was a false awakening with sleep paralysis, but during the sleep paralysis, my body filled with the most intense and powerful feeling of rage that shook my whole body. This has never happened before. The rage just came up all by itself. I remained mindful and fully allowed this intense emotion to take over. I have experienced sleep paralysis many times before so I know very weird and intense sensations can happen and that it only lasts a minute or two. I also heard a girl's voice in my head saying something like "let me out of here, I want to go home!" Then I slowly came out of the rage and the paralysis. This "rage" sleep paralysis experiecne happened twice. I have zero idea where all that came from and it was not tied to any of my personal memories. Totally out of left field. I was just glad I could remain mindful during the entire process.

Maybe all this has nothing to do with anything, just weird brain stuff. But, I mention it here because this dream of "digust" stood out to me and this sleep paralysis experience was very out of the ordinary for me.
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 3/18/23 7:41 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/18/23 7:26 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I'm still sitting, every day. Ideally, one hour. But more often it's 30-45 minutes before I'm interrupted. I will sit 2-3 times a day when I can.

When heavy, negative emotions or thoughts arise, and I am specifically NOT trying to "work through it" or think about it on a mental level, not trying to fix it or improve how I feel - the lack of all that effort is such a relief because wow, how exhausting has it been doing all that in response to thoughts and emotions for years and years and years?

Overall I'm having ups and downs again, off-cushion I shift between things like: feeling beauty, openness, quiet, mild rapture... to feeling like everything is unpleasant, feeling disorientation, self-consciousness, uncertainty, desire for deliverance, desire for equanimity. During sits I shift from feeling good, high clarity, calm and still... to things feeling all muddled and uncertain. Of course there's plenty of just plain neutral stuff mixed in there, too.

I sat for 45 minutes. It took a few minutes to settle in, and I had some random pains that eventually resolved, and then I was just trucking along with noticing and being mindful of sensations as they occurred. There was a point where I started to lose track and mind wander and noticing sensations became more difficult. Clarity never really returned, but even without clarity I got into a sense of just feeling calm and still. A few periods of irritating sensations (like an itch here or a painful pricking feeling there), a few periods of feeling restless and bored, but I noted all of that as it came up and it always settled back into a period of calm and still. Tried to stay on my vipassana game today by keeping mindfulness going off-cushion.

I sat for an hour, 5:30-6:30am, but to be fair, probably only 30 minutes of just okay mindfulness. My mind wandered a lot the rest of the time. I am thinking first thing in the morning sits are not a great time for me. 

I tried noting off-cushion and experimented with relying pretty heavily on labeling to keep noting more continuous. I think I should do that more often - using labeling more off-cushion, I mean, when I'm busy with daily life stuff that requires little thinking but not interacting with anyone, that seems like a good time to note off-cushion.

Another 20 minutes sitting and 10 minutes walking later in the morning.

Before bed, I was tired, and noting sensations felt too harsh. I just went to sleep. I know now that it's better to just go to sleep and get extra sleep and forgo an extra nighttime sit, otherwise if I don't get enough sleep, the next day I spend half my sits dozing off...

I realized I've been sort of unknowingly struggling with thoughts. Just kind of too much effort when it came to trying to notice and be mindful with thoughts, and getting frustrated with myself and judging myself for getting lost in thinking again. In my attempts to better notice thoughts and thinking, I was apparently blind to this struggle and this frustration regarding the thinking. There's a definite lack of acceptance there. So I'm going to try to relax about thoughts and thinking, don't get frustrated with myself if I catch myself thinking. Just note thinking, don't worry about the content, and get back to mindfulness. Try to accept things just as they are. "Just now, I was lost in thinking." That's it. Get back to mindfulness. I think the "softening" skill from MIDL meditation will help here.

My sit today was very pleasant. A sort of mild pleasant feeling in my head. It felt like I was noticing more broadly the space of the room around me and sensations within that space rather than individual sensations more narrowly. I sure like sits like these, haha. But I do note the pleasantness, enjoyment, and try to see one or more of the three characteristics in these positive experiences, as well.

Before bed, I sat for an hour. I didn't write any notes after and I went to sleep right after so I don't remember a lot of details. I remember finding it easy to sit extremely still for most of the sit. At some point sensations sort of seemed to pick up pace, meaning noticing more per second, a peak in frequency of noticing, then things fell off a bit after that. Although any changes in frequency of noticing sensations were subtle. Sometime after that (maybe it was around 40 minutes in, just a guess) I started having thoughts like how much longer was it going to be (I set an alarm for one hour), feeling more restless. I open my eyes occasionally during meditation, and at 45 minutes in I happened to see my phone screen light up because it was notifying me that I had an alarm set to go off in 15 more minutes. So then I knew how much time was left. I was still feeling restless but I resolved to keep sitting the full hour. I noted all that I could, the restlessness, the wondering, desire to move or get up, the resolve, even the feeling of pride that I was sitting through the restlessness, lol. That's about it.

Sometimes sits just feel like, nothing much happens. I just try to note any feelings or thoughts that I'm missing something, that something more should happen, uncertainty, wanting something to happen, boredom, etc. These "uneventful" sits do not discourage me, though.
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 3/23/23 9:14 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/23/23 9:14 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Today I thought I was sensing somewhat the "emptiness" of things, including the "self" I thought I was. Or I was just imagining it...

Anyway, it wasn't on a cognitive level, it felt much deeper and much subtler than that. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it felt very good and right, in a way, and made everything feel like it was connected, like everything was of the same fabric and therefore one thing, somehow.

Overall I just felt really good today, off-cushion.

I am utterly fascinated today watching some of my usual reactive patterns come up and play out. It is a weird feeling to see they are playing out by themselves without me even doing anything. And then the delayed shame/guilt patterns. What a fascinating mess it is! I can't remember now if at the time I noted the "fascination" - but I should have!

There's a feeling or a sense like I'm owning up to it all - as in coming to a sort of acceptance of it, that this "stuff" is what I currently bring to the party when I interact with other people and the world - and yet even as I own up to it and accept it is happening, I somehow sense that I am not the "owner" of this stuff.

I also had a formal sit today after a light nap: I seemed to progress relatively quickly from just noticing sensations and a slow increase in frequency of noticing, to... strong imagery/feelings that spurred wondering about a&p because it seemed out of the ordinary for me and fitting for a&p, which shifted quickly to confusion as to why I was experiencing this because the specific imagery actually made me uncomfortable, to a total repulsion to seeing/feeling this, to wanting it to go away... And after those feelings and images faded, I moved into this weird feeling that the center of awareness was being literally pushed outward away from the center toward the periphery to the point that sensations on the periphery seemed clear and in focus around the edges, with a big dark "hole" in the center. At this point I wish I'd just let things continue to unfold, but I kinda got in the way... Out of curiosity I pulled back up the imagery from before just to see if it still felt the same and found it didn't affect me now so that seemed to have passed. After this there was a period of mind wandering and I stopped the sit shortly after that. This was all in about 20 minutes.

But after writing the above notes... I put down my phone and felt drawn back into meditation, so I sat again, very still. I had sort of a vague feeling come up like I was saying goodbye. To what, I don't know. Just had a feeling like something was changing or going away. Then I thought of an immediate family member who I'd held hate and judgment about for many years, and had thoughts about lost time, the thought that I killed the connection we had by creating distance between us, even if I felt I had very good reason to become distant with this person. Feeling that loss of what was once a close strong relationship, as well as mild grief over not being able to feel the same about this person as I did many years ago. Desire to fix, to mend, to repair, to retrieve past connection. Then I had images of hugging each of my immediate family members, including this person I used to feel hate for, but a real hug for each person, not just those cursory obligatory ones. A real hug so heartfelt that the other person would feel the difference and feel nothing but love from it.

I was done formally sitting at this point, but I continued to have these thoughts and feelings come up anyway: Desire to tell my ego to just shove it and fully open my heart to love, screw the ego and its stupid stories of being hurt and why it wants to hold a grudge and put up walls. Fuck all of that, a strong desire for all that to end. To be nothing but just whatever is real, no more of that fake shit in the way of reality. To be real with people, meaning get that little me out of the way and let something better come forth and fully be.

Real talk, now. I noted... Most of that stuff. To clarify I mean noticing without labeling, just occasional labels. But I'm no perfect meditator. The rest, I sort of... Noted after the fact? Is that even a thing? I was kind of looking back and reviewing what came up during meditation and saying ah well this thought and that feeling came up, but I didn't really properly notice/note it at the time; however, I can retroactively see that it was just another thought/feeling/sensation to note. I know this is not the same as actually noticing something in the moment it happens without being drawn in, and I know that continuous mindfulness is important! But, maybe better than leaving the stuff completely overlooked?

I decided I would just move on and do my best to have more and more continuous mindfulness each sit.

I had a very vague dream about entering the shamatha jhanas last night.

On the way to the museum with my family today, I felt like I've never been happier in my life. Just felt really good. Throughout the afternoon had a pleasant feeling in my head.

Did not really get to formally sit today, I was just busy with family activities all day. But from time to time I tried to be mindful if I was thinking of it and not busy with other things.

I desire to sit and meditate more than ever, although that may be because I didn't have any opportunity today to sit. Plus it's been feeling pretty enjoyable to sit recently.

Feeling lazy with noting. Why??

I dreamed about the shamatha jhanas again last night. I'm sure it's not like what the shamatha jhanas are really like, I've always just done noting/dry insight practice and not attempted developing shamatha jhanas, though I guess I must be experiencing vipassana jhanas if I'm having real progress. The dream was probably just a mix of stuff I've read about the shamatha jhanas, how to enter them, what they might be like. I dunno.

After my nice jhanas dream, the rest of the night was crummy due to baby going through a sleep regression... just regular life stuff!

A silly kids movie made me feel all the feels today.

But I was feeling the emotions in my head, somehow. Like a new way of experiencing emotions. I used to only feel emotions in my chest, so this felt different.

I sat this morning, I'm really not sure how long because I didn't check the time, but probably an hour, though with several interruptions. Of course my goal is at least one hour uninterrupted, but when I'm watching the kids I just sit on the couch while they play, and attend to whatever they need from time to time, and just continue sitting afterward.

It felt like I had good concentration and was just noticing whatever sensations happened to be there for the noticing (with infrequent labeling).
Mind seemed fairly quiet and calm, any thoughts or images were noted. I attempt to note/label things like "looking" or "searching" when I'm trying too hard to look for more sensations or "investigating" when it seems I'm using too much effort to see one of the three characteristics in something - and when I relax afterward I note "relaxing." A few times I got lost in some thinking, and when I noticed that I had gotten lost I just noted that and got back to noticing sensations.

Nothing in particular stood out.

I sat again later for maybe 20 minutes after a workout. I feel less pressure about meditating today. Just noticing sensations. Again nothing really stood out.

And later a reclining meditation for maybe another 20-30 minutes? Strong pleasant feeling in my chest, other than that, nothing much (aside from the usual noticing sensations that came up and doing my best to keep mindfulness continuous).
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago at 3/24/23 11:53 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/24/23 11:51 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Ashley K
... There's a feeling or a sense like I'm owning up to it all - as in coming to a sort of acceptance of it, that this "stuff" is what I currently bring to the party when I interact with other people and the world - and yet even as I own up to it and accept it is happening, I somehow sense that I am not the "owner" of this stuff.

...I had sort of a vague feeling come up like I was saying goodbye. To what, I don't know. Just had a feeling like something was changing or going away.

...To be nothing but just whatever is real, no more of that fake shit in the way of reality. To be real with people, meaning get that little me out of the way and let something better come forth and fully be.

That all sounds really good! Some people talk about these kinds of things as "discovering the aquired taste of purification". In other words, at some point we finally get that we're carrying a lot of ego/psychological baggage that we just need to let go of. But of course, it's not like we can simply let go... this stuff kinda needs to bubble up and burn off in our consciousness, so to speak. So we know that we're not going to instantly be perfect humans or perfect meditators -- but rather than making us sad, we feel ready for the challenge of purifying ourself. And so even when things get difficult in practice, we just know it's something that has to happen. And it's funny because it is kind of bitter at times, but like an aquired taste, we learn to kinda like this kind of _productive_ bitterness. emoticon

...Noted after the fact? Is that even a thing? I was kind of looking back and reviewing what came up during meditation and saying ah well this thought and that feeling came up, but I didn't really properly notice/note it at the time; however, I can retroactively see that it was just another thought/feeling/sensation to note. I know this is not the same as actually noticing something in the moment it happens without being drawn in, and I know that continuous mindfulness is important! But, maybe better than leaving the stuff completely overlooked?

This kind of reflection is very important and good stuff! It's definitely a good thing to assess the things that linger in the mind or that pop-up from a previous sit. It's a kind of "fully digesting" an experience. Sometimes in life or in practice the experience comes on so fast that it is hard to keep up. This leaves a lot of "partially digested" experiences. It's perfectly fine to spend time in the memory of things if it helps with "digestion". Of course, if it just needless worry and anxiety about the past, that sort of stuff will probably just cause indigestion. emoticon
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 3/27/23 5:50 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/27/23 5:50 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Thank you, shargrol! Your feedback is much appreciated. I still have a tough time sometimes when stuff bubbles up, but somehow, there is still faith and resolve underneath it all and they have only gotten stronger over time.

And I like the "digesting experiences" analogy, I've caused myself plenty of "indigestion" in the past! I have spent years with the idea that digesting an experience is about figuring it out or fixing it, which definitely involves a lot of indigestion... so I'm getting that in this process, it is not at all about figuring it out or fixing it, that gets set aside so we just let things be as they are, as the sensations that they are. The mind sure doesn't like setting it aside sometimes, though! 
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 3/29/23 6:58 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/29/23 6:57 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Sat for a short time this morning. I had a desire for meditation conditions to be perfect, desire to meditate as much as I could, and had a fear of losing progress or regressing on the path (due to lack of uninterrupted practice time). But after noting these thoughts they faded and I just continued to sit.

Boy is it sometimes hard to just accept what is happening here and now. But I'm filled with more resolve, determination, and faith than ever.

I have this desire that is a feeling best described as - feeling like I want to (figuratively) enter a cave and not come out until I've "done it" already (stream entry, I guess) or, until I've dropped the one that thinks it's going to do it. There's a feeling like I want to spend every waking moment in meditation.

Off-cushion today I just keep on looking for where is this "me" person and of course I can't find anything and then there is weirdness and confusion. Who is it that's... feeling frustrated, having fun, being mindful, etc.? Feeling like I'm running in circles trying to see anatta.

I apparently did not write any notes after my formal sits this day so unfortunately I don't recall how my sits went this day. Nothing must have stood out or I would have written it down.

Off-cushion, feeling confusion again in the morning. Thoughts like, what exactly do I do now, am I doing things right, am I doing too much, should I do less, or nothing at all...

Then later in the morning I felt good again, just calm, like I did not feel like doing anything in particular. I was content to do whatever, even just staring out the window.

But later in the day, doing walking meditation on the treadmill, I started having feelings of irritation. And total boredom. And my body just wanted to physically tense up, so I just let that happen. I was walking and wanting to stop. So then I sat still and just wanted to walk. I walked again and right away wanted to stop again. There was a tense kind of energy spurring me to move around and not stay still doing any one thing, but it was not necessarily bothering me.

The rest of the day was marked by total confusion, stress, pressure, effort.

It's like, I know I have no control over this stuff happening (meaning irritating or confusing thoughts and feelings), but I still am suffering when it does happen. It doesn't feel possible for this stuff not to cause suffering or pain. Meaning I don't understand how REAL equanimity works or is possible, but also I know I am not supposed to "solve" things and that I can't make equanimity happen - if I could I very obviously would have already done that! I can only do my best to practice enough and practice well and trust that it will unfold at some point.

I had a 30 minute sit before bed. It felt like I was just spinning my wheels not doing much of anything but going between noticing some sensations rather vaguely and getting briefly lost in a daydream and back again. Felt like I was drifting into sleep a few times, but maybe that was because I was a little tired and it was right before bed.

Off-cushion today, I felt agitated and confused a lot. And my mind couldn't stop obsessively looking at stuff and trying to work so hard at seeing the three c's in stuff. It was like I couldn't stop it! It was frustrating. But at least, I could see the effort and see my mind was trying too hard, so I wasn't lost in it. (Looking back, it honestly seems like something I had to just let happen and ride it out - the trying too hard and all the difficulties from this day. I did briefly forget about the seven factors, maybe it would have helped to ride out this storm if I'd tried to cultivate some tranquility.)

For some reason it felt harder than ever to see anatta in things. Which I think led to the trying too hard to see anatta. Lots of uncertainty and wondering related to practice and anatta. Wishing that seeing sensations just as sensations would become default or automatic. Tried to note what I could, even though this stuff was off-cushion.

I STILL feel afraid to feel heavy emotions, because of how I might be caught up in them and hinder progress. Then I felt sad about being so afraid of emotions. Then I laughed when I saw it was like following the dark night stages... So disgust is next right?? Haha. Well, I am sick of this stuff, but, I'm being very gentle about it now. Yes, I'm tired of getting caught up in emotions and want to be done with that, tired of the lack of equanimity, and want to be equanimous. But there is a steady resolve and determination here anyway.

Finally I got to sit for meditation, 50 minutes, and just felt like I was drifting and that nothing much was happening, not that anything in particular is *supposed* to happen. I felt jumpy, like sudden sounds would make my heart race. Then just felt kinda sad. I just tried to allow it and and note stuff but somehow noting felt difficult like my mind was trying to latch onto sensations to note and couldn't quite do it. Hence the drifting around feeling.

Off-cushion again afterward, I was just feeling more confusion and uncertainty. Super strong desire to analyze and "figure it out" but knowing that's not the thing to do. Mind getting stuck in loops. Like I have a thought and instead of just noting it and moving on, the mind wants to closely investigate and replay it and say okay now look for anatta in this... Like just STOP, mind, lol. I was aware of this happening though.

In spite of all this confusion and uncertainty and getting stuck in investigation loops today: while sitting later in the day (not meditating, just sitting at my computer) I started getting this sense: deep down there is something there that feels like the best thing ever, it's like it's there underneath this "storm" I'm currently going through. Like that "best thing ever" is actually already right here, I'm standing in it, I sense it sometimes, BUT! my head is stuck up in the storm clouds so I can't see it, I can't see anything.

And somehow in spite of all this I also still have so much faith in this process.

I had another formal sit late afternoon: Mild pains popping up around the body. And general feelings of stress, pressure, anxiety! Lemme throw out some analogies to try and get at the way I was feeling: The way you might feel when you're only halfway through an hour long essay test you didn't study for and you have only 5 minutes left to finish. The way you feel when you're trying to pack a bag for the airport and you're already late. The feeling like there is something extremely important and time sensitive you need to do but you cannot remember what it is! That was the feeling during the whole sit.

I sat for 50 minutes this morning. Just tried gentle noting, noticing with infrequent labeling to attempt to have mindfulness stay continuous. Excessive tingling in my legs, although they were not falling asleep. A vague sense of spinning or moving around with my eyes closed. Near the end of the sit it started to feel like my hands were in multiple places at once, like spread out in a continuum in front of me from left to right instead of just centered on my lap. Plenty of wondering, uncertainty, reflecting. Random images or memories. Noted all that I could. Lots of uncertainty about what I'm supposed to be doing! It used to seem so clear and obvious what to do with noting, it just isn't anymore.

My mind like *needs to know.* So I note this desire to understand and to "get it" on a cognitive level. There was this feeling like my brain/mind has reached the very edge of what it can do and so it just can't go any further, so not only do I not know what to do next, I CAN'T know what to do next! So....... I just sit. And I wait. For something to happen. I note the waiting and the wanting clarity and wanting to know even though in some sense I know I can't know. My mind goes in circles and gets dizzy and I note this. I note the confusion.

Later in the afternoon, off-cushion, listening to music was unusually pleasant, and I noted this and noted the sounds of the music. I noted the enjoyment and noticed how I can't find someone in here doing the enjoying when I look, even though it still *feels* like there is someone in here. There was music, there were pleasant feelings of enjoyment. And what felt like a brief period of awareness or the mind moving back and forth between the sensation of sound over there and observer over here.

Lots of calm again this evening. It's clear the "storm" of yesterday is over. When I sat with eyes open this evening (only 10 minutes, it's all my kids could give me LOL) there was a feeling like I am aware of the whole room at once, the whole space of it, not just the one thing I happen to be looking at.

I sat for 30 minutes before bed and tonight things feel open and calm. Simple and pleasant. It feels like I could sit here all night. Just existing feels like enough right now. But I need sleep so I'm going to sleep.

Today the feeling is: Calm and settled. A relaxing and a settling down. I can see how easy it is to stop practicing and just settle and relax into this. NO! I will keep practicing.

I sat 45 minutes, and to be honest, did not notice much in particular. By the end things just felt very "smooth". Like sensations and the noticing of them felt smooth. I'm not sure I really noticed any particular progression through the sit. Just noticed the breath got lighter and lighter, as it always does. Nothing strongly positive or negative, just the usual - plenty of sounds, images flashing up, typically memories or thinking of some recent conversation. I recall noting mapping, wondering type thoughts. A few times here and there that feeling of drifting into some sleepy feeling then returning a few moments later to more altertness. I attempted to see anatta asking, who is it that is noticing, hearing, etc. A couple of times I had very faint flickering of light through my closed eyelids, not constant, it would come and go (I know that it wasn't the light in the room or anything). I've seen that before in other sits though so it's not necessarily new. Mostly trying to just let sensations do what they do, trying to just be aware of whatever sound or feeling or image was currently the most obvious. Then near the end of the sit things seemed "smoothed out" or something.

Off-cushion, there is kind of a dreamy feeling this evening. I think just from all the calm I'm feeling. I want to say there is more of a feeling of emptiness, like where there used to be a lot of "something" in me there is more "nothing", but maybe it is just all the internal quiet and calm creating that sense. Also felt a fear of the unknown, worrying both about using too much effort AND too little effort. Feeling my way through. There's this feeling of stopping of some sort. It's pretty vague, sorry that I can't explain what this "stopping" feeling is exactly. Something is coming to a stop, I don't know how else to say it because, it's just a vague sense I have.

When something bothered me this evening I more clearly noticed the urge to control. The aversion to what I'm currently experiencing. The desire to change it, daydreaming about going back in time and choosing differently, etc etc. Same stuff that always went on, but I am able to be aware of it now.

Sat 20 minutes before bed, feels like I could sit forever, but, I need the sleep.

This morning posting this there is still the calm, and there is also a feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, or waiting for the next storm to start... So I note all that when I think it or feel it. Like? No way this is equanimity right? I don't know. Doubt and uncertainty, so I note the doubt and uncertainty. But it does feel different than my other periods of feeling "good" recently (those felt more like A&P-ish with pleasant energy in the body and a joyful sort of buzz). I felt pressure yesterday to keep this (EQ?) going, so I noted the pressure and it relaxed and I noted the relaxing. In the middle of the night last night, I was awake and my mind was getting antsy. But the calm is still here this morning. "Antsy" feels like DN or Re-obs bubbling up and the "calm" feels like maybe EQ. I am curious to see how meditation sits go today and where things go from here. I'm not really worried about it at the moment. But if I do worry, I note it ;)

P.S. I'm not a noting machine though, if it seems like I'm noting off-cushion 24/7 - there are still many hours a day I'm just living my ordinary life and hanging out with my family and I don't write about that stuff here.
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago at 3/30/23 5:34 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/30/23 5:28 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I totally get how the stages of insight are so compelling and how it seems like EQ would be the answer to everything... but I would say its not that helpful to be overly focused on stages/nanas or creating the expectation that you should be in EQ. Instead, just focus on using the sits you have to learn to settle in and be gently curious about your mind as it is. Like learning to listen to a friend. Just respect your situation and trust that what arises in practice and the pace of your progress is right for _you_.

No need to rush. There's a saying: "slow is smooth and smooth is fast".
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 3/31/23 7:27 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/31/23 7:27 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Instead, just focus on using the sits you have to learn to settle in and be gently curious about your mind as it is. Like learning to listen to a friend. Just respect your situation and trust that what arises in practice and the pace of your progress is right for _you_.

​​​​​​​Thank you! I got a little "mappy" this week... And overly excited about the very nice-feeling mind states that were definitely a relief after all the stress/pressure/anxiety. I'll take your suggestions into my practice this week.
Ashley K, modified 8 Months ago at 4/4/23 9:11 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 4/4/23 9:10 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I am very sleep deprived today. I had a few short sits, but I was falling asleep half the time. Surprisingly though in spite of sleep deprivation I'm doing things in daily life with little complaint, that I'd avoid even on my best days, let alone a day I'm so sleep deprived.

There is still this feeling like something is stopping or slowing down (I briefly mentioned this on 3/28) and like I'm just coasting along or something.

My drive to meditate has dropped way down. Feeling blah this morning with lots of mind wandering. Today I just feel like drifting along with whatever is happening.

I still have the sense of something stopping. It feels like if I sit or don't sit, things will be the same (not that I know that that is actually true or not, I'm just saying that's what it feels like right now).

I feel like I lost my meditation mojo a little bit, or maybe there is actually no problem at all. I did sit 40 minutes today. In the sit, I didn't want to do anything in particular, not even note. I would just sit and notice whatever is there to notice, then my mind wanders and I fail to "keep track" of it. So I return back to noticing sensations. Back to mind wandering. Repeat. I recall noticing a peaceful feeling, hearing birdsong, hearing the furnace running... and just nothing much more. Just noticing body sensations, sounds, seeing those random vague shapes on the back of my closed eyelids, the usual stuff.

Off-cushion I could see how different emotions, thoughts, etc become nothing more than "blips on the radar" when they are just noticed and left alone. They come and go and if I don't indulge them they just go on their way and something else comes next. But, just because I seem to know that, doesn't mean I don't still pick up passing thoughts/feelings and make them everything/all important, and get stuck in them. There are some thoughts/feelings that feel very "me" and because of that it's like I automatically just take them on without seeing them as sensations.

I sat for 20 minutes before bed, and almost fell asleep sitting up...

This morning I notice a lot of resistance, a lack of acceptance, regarding what my mind is doing (off-cushion). The drive to meditate is still diminished, though I still have this coasting feeling. I sit when I can, as always.

On-cushion - 40 minute sit this morning. I stayed alert the whole time, which normally doesn't happen with a first thing in the morning sit, especially considering I got less sleep last night thanks to thunderstorms and tornado sirens. Mostly just gentle noting. The mind started out very scattered, I waited for it to settle. Got into some stronger mindfulness and continued with gentle noting. I recall some period of mind wandering, then a period of more clarity. Then things got a little muddled again but near the end of the sit, things settled again and I had some sense of openness of awareness and noted peace. Sitting was easy and it felt like I could continue to sit for hours.

Off-cushion after the sit, things feel simple again. And there is that feeling again like something's going away and something is opening up in its place. Lots of openness. Just feels open and simple. There is some complexity that's temporarily not there. Things feel lighter and like a weight has lifted.

Later I noticed negative thoughts and feelings popping up again. That weird "stopping" feeling started feeling like I've come to a brick wall for some reason. For years I've had a strong desire to be "off this ride" (free of dukkha/samsara/whatever you want to call it), now there is a desire to be free of the desire to be off this ride. I'm tired of my mind thinking about the three characteristics, and want it to stop doing that (I mean, thinking about them isn't what I'm supposed to be doing, anyway). I had a desire to reach the top level of Daniel Ingram's hierarchy of vipassana. I felt tired of being drawn into thought narratives and emotions. I had another period of feeling confused about noting again and like I forgot how to note properly. I was aware of all of this, hence recording it here.

"Running up against the limitation of our doing/of the ego's doing" (quote from Adyashanti video I watched today) This resonated with me, it has felt at times recently like I'm running up against the limitation of the ego's doing and yet still having a hard time letting go of the ego's doing. My ego/mind is still trying to work hard to solve things. Too much effort and complexity, I think that needs to be let go of more now. Adyashanti even says, a lot of the spiritual techniques and whatnot really seem to work for a while, there is some progress, things are happening! And then, we reach this point of feeling stuck. I don't necessarily feel stuck, but I have that strange "stopping" feeling like things are slowing way down by themselves, a suddenly diminished drive to meditate, etc.

Looking back on today, it was good in that the bad feelings forced me to give up a little bit my attachment to feeling good and my aversion to suffering. If I'm just trying to run away from suffering, then how can I understand it, learn about it, see how it arises? I will have to turn around and look right at it to do that. I feel like some things I'm having to see again and again, learn and re-learn. So be it!

Today I noticed there is a very strong sense of self any time I'm noting with labeling. Because it's that noting/labeling self that's always there noting/labeling every sensation and since I don't want to get into a recursive loop, I don't note the noting.

When I drop the intentional noting or at least drop labeling and I'm just watching, the sense of self really decreases. I know, there is still this "observer" self in this scenario too, and I guess I could get in a recursive loop observing the observer etc, but, this way feels like going in the "right direction" in terms of cutting through sense of self, so I'm going with it.

I'm also kinda surprised I could stay *more* mindful after dropping noting/labeling. Previously trying something like this would have led to more mind wandering/getting lost in thought. And, I'm surprised how much more thoughts feel like just another sensation, like it's the same sense as just hearing any random sound - to use Shinzen Young's terminology, it's like "hear in" and "hear out" start to feel the same. And when that happens, I'm no more attached to the sound of a thought than I am attached to, say, the sound of my coffee cup hitting the counter when I set it down.

It's funny to me how just a day ago I was all confused about how to note, and today I'm like well, if I don't try to note at all (just notice), it's not a problem! Instead of freaking out about how to do noting and complicating things, I'll just not do it. Ha! That's a way to thwart the mind. Look at what it's having such a big problem with, and maybe there is something there to drop or let go of.

The problem is that I'm usually making something into more than it is. Things are so, so simple. The mind jumps in and complicates things. I really had an insight into this today.

When I'm so wanting to get away from the bad, to not get stuck in the bad and not get drawn into the bad, I end up running to the good, then get stuck in the good, drawn into the good. This is not equanimity. Seeing the bad, seeing the good, stuck in neither, drawn into neither, that is equanimity. Obvious yes, but I had to see how I was screwing it up to understand it. Had insight into that today too.

My sit today was 40 minutes. I felt very comfortable and like I could sit for a very long time just like that, if I could. Mostly quiet, calm. Just tried to notice sensations as they were. Things feel so simple, my mind is always adding so much unnecessary complexity.

Overall, much more mindfulness today, much less resistance to the mind and what it's doing. Much easier to be mindful of thoughts. It is surprising how much I can be mindful of with no special effort. I more easily could see a couple reactionary patterns just play out without buying into them. If I believe the story I suffer. If I react to the feelings I suffer. So, no thanks, I'd rather not suffer, I'll just watch it go on by.

This morning for the first time in three months, I wasn't immediately thinking about meditation and planning how to fit in a sit this morning. This planning and strategizing on how to fit in enough sits in a given day, has been going on in the background in the mornings all this time, but it doesn't seem to be here today. Looking back I guess I was, at times, mildly stressing about getting in a sit, and feeling disappointed if I couldn't sit when I wanted (there is so much that gets overlooked when it's happening!). To be clear I'm also not avoiding meditation or not wanting to do it. I will certainly sit if an opportunity arises to do so. Now, if I go long enough without a sit, then yeah, I'll probably need to do more planning. But there is planning, and then there is the kind of planning I was doing that is sort of driven along by subtle pressure and stress, even if I didn't really see this at the time.

My desire and drive and striving for stream entry feels at an all time low today... It is not that I do not want stream entry. I've been low-key desperate to wake up or experience awakening for many years now, now I still want to experience awakening, but that desperation part of it is not there today. Unexpected, but welcome! Seems in line with this feeling of slowing down, diminishing drive to meditate yet still coasting along, the lack of pressure to get sits in.

I didn't get much of a chance to formally sit today, but I did a little before bed. 25 minutes.

That feeling again like noting and labeling covers over experience too much, I want to more directly experience things, it's easier and simpler. So just noticing during my sit today. Letting things be as they are. Letting the mind narrate if it wants to narrate. Letting the heart feel heavy if that's what's happening. Letting a feeling of peace pervade. Focusing in on something if that's where my attention goes. Opening wide to everything if that's where it goes. There's all kinds of things going on and I just stay out of the way and it's very peaceful and relaxing.

Just a feeling of allowing. But who is it that's allowing? When I look at that, there is no allowing. Things happen whether you intend to allow them or not. I never could allow or not allow. I mean maybe I'm wrong, but how could I allow something that's already happening anyway? There's still a layer (or many layers for all I know??) of a self that thinks it's "doing" and controlling things, like allowing, observing, noticing, directing attention, whatever. If I'm noticing "observing" or "doing" type things I just try to ask, "who is it that's..." fill in the blank. I was saying yesterday that everything is just very simple and the mind comes in and complicates thing, or there is something complicating things, and there is still more "complicating" that needs to be dropped or seen through.

Anyway. Today's sit very much felt like staying with just the physical. Simple simple simple! Not making more of anything than just what it is. A sound, a sight, a feeling. And I am including thoughts and emotions in this. Thoughts are just more hearing or seeing. Emotions are just more body sensations. Lots of narrating thoughts, but minimal reflection during the sit. Sitting and just noticing whatever's there is nice. Literally anything can happen and the practice is the same.
Ashley K, modified 7 Months ago at 4/19/23 9:16 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/19/23 9:15 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
So, I am working behind-the-scenes to unlock my original account - oops! But in the meantime, I hope folks won't mind me temporarily using this other account to continue my practice log.

I meditated for almost an hour today, doing noting. Mid-sit it became very easy to sit extremely still. After the sit, things feel open and calm. Not much in the way of emotions came up that I was aware of. Lots of thoughts. Some mapping thoughts, wondering thoughts, narrating what's happening thoughts, remembering tasks I need to do tomorrow... Sometimes I felt like I was maybe falling asleep.

Off-cushion things feel like they've settled into a "new" normal as though I'm back to where I started pre-practice but in a much better place, mentally I guess (and still continuing to practice of course). A lot of (but not all) seeking energy seems like it really has dropped and has not come back yet (maybe it will again later). Seemed like all that efforting was going to leave me frazzled anyway, so, better to drop it.

Off-cushion I have also been having some bittersweet kind of feelings come up, to me it's like a wistful or nostalgic sadness, but not about anything in particular. Feels kind of like sadness but with a kernel of good in the center.

I'm understanding better on a deeper level that feelings and states are temporary. It is easier now to let certain states and emotions just be however they are.

"If you want to know your state, check yourself under adverse conditions. Measure your growth by the bottoms, not by the tops. You'll find that your growth goes in cycles, up and down, but that the bottoms keep rising." -Lester Levenson

I came across this quote that I had saved on my PC years ago, I like the "check yourself under adverse conditions" part. My mind does feel less reactive, overall.

I sat 50 minutes before bed. Easy to sit but sleepy at the end.

Strong desire today off-cushion to simplify, simplify, simplify. I get this desire from time to time, had it happen for years so it's not necessarily to do with my current practice. But I get the occasional urge to delete/purge everything old and unnecessary. Like physical stuff, digital files. Now, I feel like I'm doing it with myself! haha.

I sat for 35 minutes before bed today. My mind was busy with lots of thoughts coming and going. Sometimes got into some weird images and mental sounds that felt like someone else was speaking. Or sometimes it felt like I wasn't really hearing coherent words or sentences but just hearing sounds. Like someone is talking but you can't understand them very well like they're underwater or far away or something.

Mid-way through the sit, I noticed that even though my eyes were closed in a dark room at night, I was still seeing - seeing was just happening by itself. Then I felt the same way about hearing, and then feeling. After this everything seemed to grow very quiet and it felt like my whole body was going numb. Then it felt like whatever was "me" was shrinking down into this small space inside my head. My body reacted to this new experience with my heart rate increasing and my face going tingly. There was a feeling of fear maybe because of feeling like my body was disappearing. This experience then slowly faded and after that, I felt like I could sit still forever. It was actually somewhat difficult to get myself to stop meditating and move to get ready for bed.

I don't know how long my sit today was. Again, I was a little sleepy and thought I was dropping to sleep a few times, I seem to be having more sleepiness during sits lately. But during this sit at least, after the third time of dropping into sleep, I returned to alertness and remained alert the rest of the sit instead of just getting sleepier and sleepier, which surprised me. The main thing happening in this sit was hearing someone cough in the background, A LOT, and having mild feelings of annoyance that were felt as a tightness and warmth in my chest, so I just noted these sensations when they happened.

I feel simultaneously like I've never meditated so deeply before but also like on some level I'm less focused. Easy to sit unmoving the whole 50 minutes.

Off-cushion, there is some stuff happening that, in the past, would have just devastated me or left me feeling betrayed, that now is just a total non-problem. Cool.

Still finding myself much better able to experience emotions just as sensations. In fact, it's been more interesting/intriguing to watch the emotion as just its sensations than to get involved in any personal story about it. In one specific case today when experiencing emotions of disgust when remembering something that somebody I know did recently, upon reflection it seemed the personal story not only was unnecessary, but would have just created a bunch of suffering. I just let the disgust rise up and move through and that was that. No amount of story-making or thinking about it necessary.

I had a very short sit before bed. I was spacing out a little. But I can't tell if I'm just spacing out and not paying close enough attention to anything, or if it's more like a different mode of attention where I'm taking in a lot of stuff all at once. Still though it felt more vague than my usual noting.

Definitely a lot more tranquility and peace in recent sits lately, especially today. The tranquility and peace lasted for a while after I was done sitting today.

Well, I had several days where I have not really been able to sit. I did get my taxes done, though! lol... I will try harder to actually sit daily for at least one hour.

I sat for 30 minutes today. I was doing noting without labeling, any sensations I was aware of. I had feelings of what seemed like anger/annoyance/displeasure (in that ballpark at least) that involved tensing of the muscles in my abdomen, holding my breath, stiffness in my hands and arms, scrunching up my face and nose, tension around the mouth, and flashes of sharp feeling prickles and warmth through my chest any time there was a sound that I perceived as unpleasant or unwanted. I just sat with all that and the tension and scrunching eased up over time.

I sat one hour today. I felt sleepy during the first part of the sit. Kept kind of drifting off. At some point, the drifting off stopped and I stayed alert the rest of the sit. It always surprises me when that happens because I would normally expect to just get sleepier and sleepier.

I did noting, without labeling for the most part. Closer to the end of the sit, things were getting very relaxed and calm, so I actually brought labeling in for a little bit to ensure I stayed with things. I labeled along with noting maybe once every few seconds and then dropped labeling again.

At some point it just felt like the right time to get up again and when I checked this was at the one hour mark.

Off-cushion, there is a sense of peace and calm, but I can't pinpoint what it is exactly that makes it feel like there's peace and calm. How do I know there is peace and calm? I don't know, I just feel it. Everything also feels new and fresh, in a way. I don't know. Maybe just the continued effects of mindfulness and not being lost in thought.

I was feeling kind of lost and confused this morning, like just not knowing what to do now. I even felt like I was getting a taste of emptiness but in the bad way - like, everything being devoid of meaning kind of thing. But sitting seemed to make that better.

You know what is hard sometimes - investigating the three characteristics in the "good" stuff. Like sensations of peace, calm, openness, love, connection, tranquility. It is hard to just see them as sensations instead of just getting lost in the niceness of it.

Feeling right now some combination of - a feeling like heartbreak, mixed with some despair, and sadness, and disappointment. I feel like I'm being emptied out of old emotional crap. Feels like, there is a burning ball of energy inside my chest along with these feelings. It feels all tangled up. With bursts of sadness. There is no crying but the energy from this feels "pent up" the way it feels before you begin a cry.

So, "mourning" and "grief" are way too strong of words to use here, but it's like the sensations I am having have hints of that in it. It almost feels like I've "dug down" into the layer of my mind where all the heartbreak I've ever experienced has been stored up, it's all similar feelings so all stored in one place (or I might just be making that up as a result of feeling these feelings, like a story to explain why those feelings are here). Feeling into the sensations sometimes triggers memories of specific times I felt this way in my life. Like "emotional time travel."

I am okay with feelings like these coming up without meaning anything, per se. Meaning, I do not feel like I need to jump in there and make it into a big thing by figuring out, why do I feel this way, where is the problem, then how do I fix it. That really feels like, completely unnecessary.

Overall today I have a strong desire to sit and meditate. I no longer have that "wanting to go into a cave and get this thing done fast" feeling. Now the image that came to mind when I thought about how I feel in general about practice is, just walking slowly through a quiet forest, enjoying the journey, no end in mind." Probably have that image in mind due to the tranquility, peace, how the "drive" to make quick progress in meditation has slowed way down in my practice lately. I mean, the goal is still stream entry. 

Noting/meditating seems really difficult today.

With all this "slowing down" recently I've felt like I've hit a plateau where it SEEMS like not much is happening (whether that's true or not is another thing, this is just how it feels to me). Today for some reason though I sense a "light at the end of the tunnel" - not literally, it's just that somehow I just have this feeling that things will eventually "get moving" again if I just keep making time to sit. That I do not have to make this "plateau feeling" into a problem and I do not have to worry about it, that making it a problem and worrying about it just makes it stick around! It's just something happening and things always change so some time this will change too. 

I am pretty sure that knowing about all the classic meditation practice traps ahead of time does not help me avoid falling into them, lol! But I guess it helps me recognize them sooner and so get out of them sooner. Blind spots are the worst though because by definition you cannot see them no matter where you are looking. I had a fun three months of chasing the heck out of the map so, I'm getting used to this backing off from "mappiness".

As someone who had all but thrown labeling out the window, I have brought it back. I have had difficulty staying with things using noting the last several days, maybe longer. I have found it difficult to sit for very long, when not that long ago sitting for up to an hour was easy. Just noticing was no longer cutting it, noting wasn't even working, so labeling it is! I was better able to stay with things during my short sit today and note sensations using labeling. 

Since I'm not chasing the map and risking scripting myself into things, I don't know where I am progress-wise, lol. I still very much intend to be on the path to stream entry, whether it happens in 10 minutes or 10 years, so I'm continuing to practice daily using noting, adding in labeling or dropping it as needed.

I'm hoping I can get back to sitting at least an hour a day, I will try today even if it seems like a "bad" or unfocused sit.
Ashley K, modified 7 Months ago at 4/26/23 9:36 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/26/23 9:36 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I sat 3 times today, 45-50 minutes each time, noting practice.

It's still easy to sit very still. It was hard to get up from the third sit (inertia!) but I wanted to go to bed and get enough sleep.

I noticed thoughts near the end of my third sit like, why am I even doing this, spending so much time sitting when nothing at all seems to be happening. And strategizing thoughts wondering if I should note or investigate "differently" or if I'm spending too much time noting the wrong things as if there is some hierarchy of sensations and there are better sensations to note that I'm missing (which as I understand it is not true? or maybe I am missing something). It was very easy to slip into thinking, how is sitting here listening very intently to the sounds of the neighbor's lawn mower supposed to make enlightenment happen? lol.

I also noticed a lot of the urge to analyze and think. It still feels sometimes like I need to be using my mind to figure things out.

I tried to sit before bed, but I just ended up drifting in and out of that slightly "out of it" space between waking and sleeping. I'm not sure sitting like that is any good, aside from just keeping up the habit of sitting. Certainly I'm forgetting I'm meditating and not noting during those brief periods of drifting off and then returning to alertness.

Today there is a strong "over here" and "over there" feeling like I am very separate from everything that I'm looking at and experiencing.

Even if I can sense "not self" in the body itself and in the mind, I still feel like there's a "me" in here looking out from this vantage point inside the head or behind the eyes. I try to note whatever sensations seem like the "me" over here, but they seem very nebulous and hard to find. I wondered if the looking for it itself is reinforcing this sense of self and therefore not a useful thing to do. That maybe the "looking" and "searching" for the "me" should be noted as such without getting lost in it, nothing more.

Still sitting daily. A lot of sits lately don't have much that stands out.

I did note confusion in my mind the last few days during sits, plus analyzing the confusion. There is a strong desire to resolve the confusion instead of just letting it be. It feels wrong to just let it be, because confusion is uncomfortable and I'm just used to reflexively thinking and problem solving in the face of confusion. So I do my best to note the confusion, and also note analyzing or any attempts to resolve it through thinking.

What else? Off-cushion my mind feels more open like some old thinking patterns or beliefs went away without me really noticing specifically which ones went away or when. Once in a while I notice there is a lack of much emotional reaction or thinking in response to something that months or years ago would've triggered a lot of that. Oh, but there is certainly still plenty of emotional reaction and thinking that does get triggered. I do my best to just note it and let it be but it can be frustrating sometimes.

I resolved to myself this day to do noting practice off-cushion for the entire day, as much as I possibly could, getting back on track immediately after any period of mind wandering. I resolved to balance it to be sustainable, no over-efforting that would burn me out, no being intentionally lazy either. It worked well in that I spent more time noting off-cushion than usual.

In my evening sit, I definitely got into some kind of altered state. I felt deeply concentrated (I was doing noting, so, momentary concentration), thoughts were very much in the background and barely noticeable much of the time (though there were still thoughts that I noted when they showed up).

There were subtle, visual effects. With eyes closed, there was a very diffuse subtle light pervading. With eyes open, my vision felt like it slowly expanded from the typical feeling of looking at a single point, to opening up wide to the whole panoramic view of the room, like I could see the whole entire room as one thing all at once. It almost felt like things in the room were "flattening out" into one thing, like taking in a big photo of the room all at once. All sensations like sounds or body sensations were very clear and noticeable, so I was feeling very alert, relaxed, very still, calm. Sensations in the body turned into a feeling like champagne bubbles, like an effervescent feeling in the whole body. Nothing much more happened after this, I simple remaind in this concentrated state and continued slow noting of sensations. The meditation naturally ended around one hour, I just started moving a little here and there, which kind of "broke up" the feeling of deep concentration, and I ended the meditation there.

This entire meditation was marked as sleep by my Fitbit, which is maybe only interesting to me, but I'll write about it here anyway, lol. A brief portion in the middle the Fitbit decided was REM (there were heart rate increases plus anticipation and subtle fear when the altered state began showing up, maybe that was it), and the last 15 minutes were marked as deep sleep when I indeed felt very still and tranquil yet very alert and concentrated. I was definitely awake the entire sit.

I wondered if the extra off-cushion noting allowed me to get to deeper concentration more quickly in my sit. I plan to continue resolving to do off-cushion noting every day, as much as I can, and see how that goes.
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago at 4/26/23 1:14 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/26/23 1:14 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Your practice sounds really good.

Yeah, it's important to sit consistently even if it _seems_ like nothing much is happening or the sit borders on sit-sleeping emoticon    

But seriously, those sit-sleep sits can be very important. When the thinking mind gets very soft during these evening sits, when our daily discursive thinking mind drops away, that's when some interesting experiences/insights can pop up.

Keep doing what you're doing!
Ashley K, modified 7 Months ago at 4/28/23 6:31 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/28/23 6:31 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Thank you! Your feedback is appreciated. Off-cushion practice has seemed very difficult for some reason, but I'm about to do another evening sit now, so at least trying to keep that consistency. Hoping to increase off-cushion practice over time in a sustainable way.
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago at 4/29/23 5:35 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/29/23 5:33 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Probably the most important thing is to find a quantity of daily sitting practice that feels right. Some amount that is challenging but not overwhelming. It's sort of like physical exercise: the recovery from exercise is as important as the exercise itself. If you don't recover, then you don't really get the benefits. 

Off cushion practice can be helpful, but it can also sort of burn you out or make you feel like you are in a rut... so definitely be sensitive to what is really happening for you. It's okay to use off-cushion time to not-practice and recover.  For some people, off cushion practice is great and keeps mindfulness going, but for some other people there can be such a thing as too much practice. 

A lot of this stuff just takes trial and error to develop a good sense of balance. It's never going to be perfect, but on average, over time, you want a balance between practice and recovery. Best wishes!!
Ashley K, modified 7 Months ago at 4/29/23 6:09 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 4/29/23 6:09 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Thanks so much emoticon I am getting a feel for what times of day on-cushion and off-cushion practice work best, so I will try to focus more on using those windows to my advantage.
Ashley K, modified 7 Months ago at 5/5/23 9:18 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 5/5/23 9:18 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I had the same "altered state" in my sit this evening that I mentiond near the end of my last update. This time, it felt like it snapped into place suddenly. In a moment the room took on a flat, wide, panoramic view, and I felt mild effervescent tingles in my face and hands. Late into the sit it felt like any effort dropped and it felt more like passively noticing rather than actively noting. This sit also naturally ended at the one hour mark. Very easy to sit still.

I think I had some insight into anatta in other people. I also think that my mind took that and maybe did a little imagining based on that insight as a way to try and understand or describe it. So I'm not sure where insight ends and imagination begins, but - I could sense "emptiness" in other people (myself, too). I felt some interconnection between everything, feeling that things just happen as they happen, like it's this beautiful, predetermined dance, just unfolding moment to moment. My mind thought of the phrase "emptiness dancing" (taken from Adyashanti).

Today I had a fear of losing something, that in this process I will lose something tangible, like losing my "self" means losing something real that I have now and won't have later.

Today off-cushion I am experiencing the feeling of simultaneously 1) being so sick of everything, the pain and suffering of life, and 2) facing the fact that someday it all has to end. Like I'm experiencing clinging to this life and aversion to this life, both at the SAME TIME! It sucks.

Today was tough. Lots of lost in thought, stuck in negative stuff, ruminating. I sat 30 minutes before bed, but straight up fell asleep sitting up!

Going to sleep, will try again tomorrow.

I was feeling today like my morality training has been a bit too neglected lately. There's no big issues or problems in my life or anything like that, I just feel like there are small things I can do in my ordinary life to make things better or easier for myself and others.

Today I sat about 1 hour. I recall noticing that the usual feeling of "self" kind of faded into the background over time. I noted any time it seemed like I was using too much effort investigating the three C's, analyzing, etc. Otherwise I was just doing my best to notice details of whatever sensations presented themselves, wherever they were. Just pretty calm, overall no specific emotional quality. Body sensations felt more "flowy" near the end.

My mind narrates a whole lot, as usual, but noting off-cushion gives me some distance from the stream of thoughts. After some time they just sort of carry on on their own like someone left the TV on in the other room.

Very much enjoyed sitting today.

I'm noticing a pattern where I will have a few sits where I can easily sit still the whole hour, but every few sits, I will feel some irritation towards sensations or frustration come in and mess with my mind a little. It becomes harder to stay still and keep going, it makes me want to move around a little and give up on the sit early, usually 20-30 minutes in.

Since I'm better aware of this pattern, next time the irritation or frustration comes in, I'll just try to keep sitting and note and not get lost in it. It's funny how quickly things go from, "it's so easy to sit forever!" to, "it's impossible to keep sitting!"

Off-cushion I am having some bittersweet feelings again. Like a combo of appreciating the good of the now, and knowing that everything has to end, people will pass, it's inevitable.

Feeling tons of disgust and desire for deliverance type feelings today. I don't necessarily mean the stages, but the terms "disgust" and "desire for deliverance" very conveniently describe the types of feelings I am feeling today. Lots of intense rumination over one thing that happened this morning I didn't like that made me feel disgust and frustration and brought up all sorts of other thoughts and memories. So, it could just be me getting stuck in ordinary life drama that is bringing up disgust/desire for deliverance type of feelings. Still though, I feel extra disgust today, like kinda sick to my stomach almost when I stop and note the sensations involved. And of course there is aversion to all the negative stuff and wanting it to go away.

I feel uncomfortable sensations in the body, in my gut, tension, lots of tension and burning feeling in the chest. Lots of restlessness. Very irritable with people and about things. I found sounds themselves irritating (sounds that are usually just neutral). So this thing that happened this morning is an issue in my ordinary life, but the emotions and body sensations and mental activity that stemmed out of that really seemed heightened. Maybe I was focusing in on them too intensely and getting too sucked into all the drama going on inside over it. But I swear, 10 minutes of real dedicated meditating took the edge off. Maybe it's as simple as, I was just taking my mind off of that problem.

Yesterday was no fun, having the mind stuck all day on negative things, while struggling with KNOWING I was stuck in that, having a hard time remembering positive things and good things and being loving and forgiving and understanding with other people.

I feel like being very gentle today, especially with myself, others as well. I feel that feeling like, after a good cry. Had some hard times yesterday, today is like the aftermath, healing, recovering. Finding a way to get through it better next time.

More thoughts about morality practice today, thinking I want to do more with the morality side of things.

I sat just now, maybe only 30 minutes. But right near the end felt like I was reaching deeper concentration/tranquility/calm. That's about when my 4 year old came bounding into the room! haha. Also near the end, I was seeing the images of "the meditator", myself seated there, as though I myself became an object to observe, rather than being the one doing the observing of all the other stuff around. I also remember near the end of the sit, an effortless letting go of everything, each sensation as it happened, but I wasn't actively doing any letting go, it was just happening by itself.

I sat for 30 minutes. I'm definitely getting into nice pleasant-feeling states, eventually feel very still and tranquil, some periods that feel pretty vague, and there are definitely still thoughts popping up or the mind telling a story about what is happening, but the thoughts have a lot of space in between. Not much happening beyond just feeling still and tranquil, and I note these things and get a sense of one or more of the three C's in them. Things are flowing again today, like nothing gets stuck in the mind.

I sat another 50 minutes in the evening. It felt like I'm not really noting well or mindful enough by the end of the sit. I also had that sense again by the end like the thing watching, the observer, was not actually me. The watching, the observing, became just another thing happening, part of everything else happening, happening by itself. A feeling like I was going to merge with what I'm looking at. Just super still, super calm. It felt like the mind got quieter and quieter, and then even as my concentration was feeling more stable and strong, the mind got really noisy again. Then I started to feel less mindful and got a little sleepy.

I did wonder, though, if I am experiencing subtle dullness - when I feel like I'm not noting well, not mindful enough, getting too passive and tranquil. Feels nice, but is it too passive for insight meditation? So, there is uncertainty about if I'm doing what I'm supposed to, noticing what I'm supposed to, or getting too dull and missing stuff. Then there's this analyzing, analyzing too much. More things to note, I guess, in future sits.

Off-cushion I am feeling some kind of distance from, or space around, reactive patterns, which is interesting. Just the feeling like they are playing out on their own, even if it's a negative reaction, it's fine, they just happen and I continue on.

There is even a space around positive reactions to things. I guess I'm just not currently in a "contracted" mode of being where I feel stuck in thoughts or emotions or am ruminating. So, enjoying the peace and calm.

So, I started thinking more about morality practice yesterday, and just thinking of the most simple things I could do to just make life a little better, for myself and those around me. I really mean the most simple stuff, like, put dishes in the dishwasher right away, instead of letting them pile up in the sink. Do little chores around the house first, so my spouse won't have to. More quality time with the kids playing their way, even if I think it's a little boring... the kids love it. Taking better care of my diet, exercising more. 

I had a long sit today, maybe one hour and 15 minutes or a bit less. Trying to remember what stood out. It felt pretty similar to my recent sits. Nothing much seemed to be happening, just doing my best to note sensations. But, feeling like it gets vague after a while, and like maybe I'm being too passive, too dull, and just too relaxed and not enough noting or investigation.

Any shifts were very subtle, so, by the end of the sit, sitting there did feel different, but it was a very subtle difference and hard to put into words. It felt like things got kinda choppy in a way, but it was very very subtle. Meaning, all sensations had that very subtle choppy feel, like things coming in waves or pulses, but again very subtle, not obvious pulses. Attention too even. Whatever it was that was observing the sensations had that feel, too.

I mentioned on a previous day this pattern where 20-30 minutes into a sit I'll feel something negative like irritation, frustration, or something, and that happened again this sit, too. This sit it was more like feeling disappointment that nothing much seemed to be happening. I almost stopped sitting, I even checked the clock and saw I had sat for 30 minutes already. But, I kept going, and ended up sitting another 45 minutes.

I sat again for 30 minutes before bed, but there was lots of mind wandering, not feeling like I was doing a good job staying with things.
Ashley K, modified 7 Months ago at 5/10/23 8:53 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 5/10/23 8:53 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I sat for an hour and a half. Just 90 minutes of doing my best to notice sensations. Labeling was too much so I did noting without labeling. Some mind wandering here and there. Seeing some brightening on my closed eyelids over time. Some fear at one point. Feeling tired of meditation at one point. Never really felt the urge to stop, though. So, I just kept sitting. I felt a lot of effort even when I thought I wasn't using much effort. There was always some efforting felt somewhere in the body. Tension in the center of my body.

Not feeling great, feeling weird today, I did not sleep well. I was awake for two hours in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back asleep, I just kept listening to the stream of thoughts going through my mind on and off for the whole two hours. I don't even remember a single thought I had or topic that I thought about, at all. I wasn't interested in thinking for two hours instead of sleeping, but I didn't feel I could control it and waited until it kinda spun itself out with enough space between thoughts that I could relax and fall asleep.

I am catching myself this week sometimes seeing seated meditation as a form of escape. Escape from whatever it is in the current moment I have aversion to, and likely clinging to the calm and tranquility and quiet I often have in seated meditation.

It seems like there is something else to see that is not related at all to whether meditation or experience is judged as "good" or "bad". Like "good" and "bad" don't matter, but my mind doesn't know any other way to operate than to judge things good or bad, to compare, to measure progress.

I sat for 1 hour before bed today, took no notes! Same old kind of sit I guess.

Sat 40 minutes this morning. Not sure if I'm just wasting time or not. Feels almost like I'm just, hanging out for a while.

All I can really remember is that at some point I couldn't tell where my hands were. They were clasped together in my lap and never moved, but it felt like my hands were both way off to the left of me and off to the right. Mostly just hanging out. A worry that there is no progress happening and I'm just going to sit like this daily forever with nothing ever happening. Wondering if I have no idea how to tell the difference between a useful sit or useless sit. Thinking about subtle dullness again.

I sat for an hour in the afternoon. Very calm, very still. Any emotions were very subtle. Lots of thoughts, all the time. Mind wandering early on but established better mindfulness after that. Gentle noting. I guess a couple times had the sense that there was some subtle shift and things would become slightly more clear and I'd be more alert and my visual field would brighten slightly. But also felt like I was spacing out but still alert and aware. Slow noting, for the most part, no labeling. Some tension related to investigation. Maybe trying too hard to investigate the three c's at times.

Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time ruminating on something that bothered me today. Nothing but the negative story, negative beliefs about it, running through my mind, along with emotions and body sensations. But I was aware of all of these things, the beliefs and the story and how it's causing all this discomfort and suffering. Yet, I feel like I'm clinging to it anyway, out of habit. I couldn't shake it.

Was awake in the middle of the night last night. Thinking about purification. Thinking about the fruit of the Spirit from the Bible (love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). I had to memorize those years ago so I think of them once in a while. I felt uncomfortable thinking about any pain I may have caused other people during my life. Wanting to rectify that. Wondering about what I have left in my wake as I go through life? Wanting all my crappy conditioning to GO!

Had some thoughts about hurting others in the past, even inadvertently, and feeling so bad about that, wishing I could go back and apologize and say I know better now. Thinking about the hurt/guilt dynamic in relationships and how although I feel that's gotten a lot better for me over time, it can still be there and I'm tired of that.

More interested than ever in loving kindness, understanding, brahma viharas sort of thing. And not even forgiveness, but understanding that forgiveness is not even needed in the first place if you are not hurt and you don't victimize yourself. If you feel you need to forgive someone then you are still believing in the story that you were hurt by them. Without believing in that story, what forgiveness is needed?

Feeling again like I did that day where I was sick of being the way I am and wanting to be different and better. Get my stupid little self out of the way and stop acting from that conditioned crap and have something better and wiser and kinder to act from. Miserable about having no control and not wanting to be stuck the way I am - for the sake of other people!!! I want to be a beacon of light and love, as cheesy as that sounds lol. Not a beacon of whatever conditioned crap happens to be triggered at any given time.

I would like to get all that conditioned crap undone, please and thank you. But it's like as much as I feel has been undone or at least seen through, it feels like it just uncovers loads more.

I sat before bed for just over an hour. Gentle slow noting without labeling mostly.

I sat very very still, concentration deepened over time. Some diffuse lightening over time on my closed eyelids. Nothing strongly emotional came up. I just remember feeling a lot of pressure in my head in the last 20 minutes of the sit. First half of the sit had some sleepy drifting as I was tired but that went away for the second half of the sit. I also love sitting with eyes open so I did that for most of the last half of the sit.

I am noticing recently that the mind is sooo slippery. I feel sometimes like I can be watching for sensations (including mental sounds and images) SO closely and then after just a few seconds I realize, ah, I was thinking right then or picturing things in my mind without even realizing! So I note it and am back to mindfulness. Very slippery mind. I think that this slippery mind has been so slippery that I didn't even notice I was having so many gaps in noting/mindfulness. I think this has been happening in all my recent sits. Now I'm just getting a little better at noticing those gaps.

I remember reading tips from Kenneth Folk in Contemplative Fitness on how to deal with slippery mind, so I may look into that.
Martin, modified 6 Months ago at 5/10/23 11:50 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/10/23 11:50 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 647 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I think you are nailing it, including in the places where you wonder whether you are doing anything at all and keep going anyway. 
shargrol, modified 6 Months ago at 5/10/23 12:40 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/10/23 12:40 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts

​​​​​​​keep going straight ahead, even if you aren't really sure what direction that is! "not sure" is just another experience to note!
Ashley K, modified 6 Months ago at 5/11/23 5:39 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/11/23 5:39 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Thank you both, the feedback is helpful! I will keep on keepin' on.
Ashley K, modified 6 Months ago at 5/16/23 4:35 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/16/23 4:35 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I sat 45 minutes before bed, and became painfully sleepy by the end, or I would have sat longer. It seemed similar to recent sits. However, I stayed with stuff better, with fewer gaps in mindfulness, fewer experiences of "slippery mind". I remember getting the feeling at one point that the stages of practice are no big deal. I thought they were the BIGGEST deal when I started this practice months ago.

After my sit laying in bed waiting to fall asleep, I noticed confusion again, but this time, it was just something happening. Confusion did not feel uncomfortable, I wasn't in the midst of it, and there was no urge to try to solve it or figure anything out.

I sat for 40 minutes. I think I stayed with things better again. I just tried to "ride the wave" of sensations, or keep up with the stream of thoughts, mental images, sounds, etc. It's an ever-flowing stream of stuff. No sleepiness or drifting off during this sit. I walked around slowly another 10 minutes after the sit. For some reason walking meditation has never appealed to me much but I will do it occasionally.

I sat for an hour and 10 minutes before bed. It felt like much longer than that, though. About a minute into this sit, I realized that although I used to feel envy over the meditation experiences of others (which I hated to admit), that's not there now. I got the sense that no experience is more or less "valid" than any other experience. Including experiences of boring or nothing happening.

Maybe 2/3 through the sit I felt that no experience is special, with a feeling of sameness to everything. 50 minutes in it felt like the sit was gonna fizzle out or come to a stop, I even checked my phone to see the time so that's how I knew it was 50 minutes in. I didn't know if I should keep sitting, so, I did. I got really tired after another 20 minutes and wrapped it up.

It was easy to sit very still. In the latter half, there was more mind wandering and not staying with it or noticing it as much.

I sat for one hour and 15 minutes before bed. Nothing that different from recent sits. I remember lightening on my closed eyelids (very very subtle, diffuse), some very subtle/mild effervescent tingles at one point, no emotional anything whatsoever except feeling tired of meditating very briefly or feeling uncertainty. Sometimes I got a subtle warping or spinning sensation which felt like things were moving while staying completely still. Weird tingly pressure in the middle of my forehead near the end of the sit. Very still and calm, I thought of the word "even-keeled" to describe the overall sit. Very seldom labeling, I only labeled subtle emotional qualities or "thinking" or "reflecting" - there were a lot of reflecting thoughts, either about this sit or remembering past sits. Lots of just noticing. In particular, though, it became less of noticing specific sensations in and of themselves, and more noticing the transience of the sensations (anicca) and noticing how they are happening all by themselves (anatta) regardless of type of sensation.

Intended to meditate during a one hour window I had, ended up doing some other things at first, looked at the clock, saw it had been 20 minutes, and thought "it's been 20 minutes already! I could have been meditating for the last 20 minutes!" And at the same time I recognized that it was a total non-problem and that it didn't matter at all that I did not spend the last 20 minutes meditating. It was like there was a "me" in there watching this "other me" complain and have a problem, while the "me" was not perturbed at all and just watching it and noting that it was just more thoughts and that it was not any kind of problem at all.

Just under 1 hour sit before bed. Totally lost mindfulness by the end. I'm so tired I'm not sure I can even remember much to report. I wasn't tired during most of the sit, just near the end and now. It didn't feel as good of a sit in terms of mindfulness and staying with things. More mind wandering and lost in trains of thought and almost falling asleep several times. Ah well. But it still seemed easy to sit still and I'd surely keep sitting if I weren't so tired.

Sitting this morning (only 10 minutes, the kids woke up a little early today), I had the feeling of not being able to stay "on" any sensation because they were ending too quickly.

I had a 30 minute sit in the afternoon. I was very sleepy, complete with a full on falling asleep head drop near the end. Mind wandering thinking about a job interview I have coming up and just replaying the day in my mind, we had family over today.

I had another 30 minute sit before bed. I planned right before the sit to focus first on establishing mindfulness and investigation, such that energy would arise, so that maybe I wouldn't get sleepy. I don't know that this plan actually made any difference, lol, but I did not have any sleepiness during the sit. I had the feeling of drifting gently as though heading toward sleep almost, yet I did not feel sleepy; there were no head drops, and I would sort of drift back to more alertness gently, rather than feeling abruptly brought back to alertness the way I am when I really am drifting off to sleep.

I stayed with things better during this sit. The narrating mind was unusually quiet. I gradually shifted into something more equanimous - early on in the sit, I was having thoughts about two or three specific things that brought up sensations of feeling bothered, frustrated, worried... Later in the sit, there were more thoughts about those same things, only there were no accompanying sensations of feeling bothered, frustrated, or worried at all.

I sat 40 minutes in the afternoon. I stayed with things for the most part. What stood out near the end of the sit was seeing images in my mind of "the meditator" so, myself, sitting there on the pillow.

A couple of times today off-cushion I would watch how sensations were constantly changing and get a sense of not-self with anything that at first seemed like my self (in particular, with thoughts and images that flash up in the mind) and this would leave me feeling weird. A little discombobulated! lol.

I sat before bed but it was a short sit, only 25 minutes or so. I just got too tired.

I sat for 1 hour this afternoon. Still have the feeling of not being sure if I'm on the "right track"... but still sitting. And noting the uncertainty when I notice it. I did feel very relaxed and still and calm by the end. Same old same old, easy to sit still, breathing gets pretty light. Felt a very light and subtle buzzing in the body near the end. Just noticing sensations - sounds through the open window, hearing thoughts, seeing images in the mind, mostly eyes closed.

I ususally start with noting individual sensations, but my sits move toward a more open awareness of sensations where I get more of a sense of anicca, and anatta, although sometimes I feel like I have to apply a little effort to see anatta, which feels basically wrong (the effort part I mean). I can't say I was exactly noting the effort when it happened, but I'd let it go and go back to just noticing sensations/anicca. I feel progressively stiller and calmer, but it's not continuously more still and calm, it fluctuates, until in a longer sit the still and calm and relaxation deepen enough to be dominant in my experience. I note "waiting" or "anticipating" when it feels like I'm waiting around for something more to happen.
Ashley K, modified 6 Months ago at 5/24/23 8:02 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/24/23 8:02 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Had a job interview this day, so I was pretty much occupied with that...

I sat about 40 minutes. Got to a place where I was very very still, calm, peaceful. I recall feeling mostly neutral. Some mild joy which I noted. Kind of a spacey place. But, I wouldn't say I was spacing out. I just was letting things happen. Waiting to see where things would go. Noting or noticing whatever. Barely perceptible breath. Afterwards I experienced calm and ease off-cushion.

Another 50-ish minute sit, reclined, before bed. Lots of half sleepy bits but never fell asleep and didn't feel like I was going to fall asleep. Skin got a little tingly all over. It didn't even feel like I was noting at all. It felt like more just open to letting sensations happen whether I actually noticed them or not... Just hanging out. That's all it felt like, yet not exactly passive, it was never boring. There was some subtle fear at one point.

Another reclined sit about 45 minutes before bed. Except this time, basically a whole lot of almost falling asleep...

I sat for 30-ish minutes in the morning. My 4-year old was in the room so there was random stuff happening like getting poked in the arm by a fake chicken leg from his toy kitchen. Well, it gave me a lot of interesting stuff to notice, at least!

It did feel like I didn't get very deeply concentrated at all, the sit felt very casual where I wasn't trying that hard to meditate or do anything, I suppose because it's not my usual environment (quiet room by myself) and I didn't have high expectations for the sit.

Late in the sit I noticed a lot of tension, I think it was related to trying to actively do things - such as, focusing, listening, actively directing attention, looking/searching, and investigation. The tension seems to be with that. I can't seem to *stop* the efforting and the tension exactly, but I can notice it...

Before bed, I sat 30 minutes really feeling like I was forking it up the whole time. Mind wandering like crazy. Most of my mind wandering is all about job stuff, ordinary life stuff, mentally preparing for going from this sort of "mini-retirement" back to full-time work. During this sit I was straight up falling asleep so many times.

Two long busy days. Birthday party yesterday, people over today. Mind occupied with thoughts about job stuff. No real time for a sit except before bed and that usually means a short sit half falling asleep...

I did sit for almost an hour before bed but hardly remember much from the sit. The only thing I remember is bittersweet feelings early in the sit.

Had a sit this morning, don't remember how long (probably not that long), and it felt like a real slog. Can't stay on task with noting or even just noticing stuff. Slippery mind, but I get completely distracted for long periods of time, not just a few seconds. Feels like I can't stay focused. Oops, I guess I should have been noting these things. And noting my aversion to them. Didn't do it, on account of all the mind wandering I guess. But will try to keep it in mind for the future...

I sat 20 minutes before bed. Short sit! But felt like I stayed with things mostly and a couple of times felt a shift into some kind of altered state, or maybe a better way to phrase it is, a different state of awareness - more open with a "just sitting" feel. The breath got so still I barely noticed it at all. Stiller than still. Hardly any effort anywhere. Can't believe how quiet the mind got but thoughts did still come through and I could hear them clearly. At one point I was surprised at the ease and clarity of noting or noticing sensations. I think often times in meditation I have had the feeling like awareness (or maybe attention is a better term?) is trying to chase after a sensation, keep up with it, or follow after it... and during this sit, it was not like that, it was like awareness was right there with the sensation, no feeling of having to follow after it or chase it or keep up with it.

Sat for 30 minutes before bed last night. Sat for 20 minutes again this morning. I know those are short sits, but they were nice sits.

I'm really not meaning to slack off, I will try to get back to 1 hour sits when I can. When I get used to being back in job-mode, my schedule will adjust. Weirdly enough I anticipate MORE opportunity for a mid-morning or a mid-afternoon sit once I am working. It won't be part of my job hours, obviously, but starting work early in the day would easily open up a 1-hour partially paid/partially unpaid break for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon sit.
Ashley K, modified 6 Months ago at 5/30/23 8:30 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/30/23 8:30 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
I sat 25 minutes before bed, and got to that "stiller than still" place, also got to that "oh so very tired falling asleep" place, so I went to bed instead of doing a full hour sit.

I had a 25 minute mid-day sit, calm and peaceful. At the end of the sit, I remember going between "just seeing" what's in front of me, to a strong sense of being an observer inside my head looking out. And then back to "just seeing" again.

Also I did not really realize this until after the sit was done, but I'm pretty sure there were subtle thoughts like - feeling like I need to "get rid of" this sense of being an observer inside my head, that feeling like I'm an observer in my head is wrong, etc. etc. I know better than that. That I don't need to get rid of or stop or change anything - just notice, note the experience of whatever is going on. But, it's easier to remember this after the sit is already over, as though I'm good at noting in theory, but not in practice......... lol.

I sat for an hour before bed. It was a very nice and easy sit up to 30 minutes, then I wanted to quit. I kept sitting, but the next 15 minutes was tough. First I was getting overly sleepy, that's what first made me want to stop. But the excessive sleepiness let up a little after a few more minutes. I started to feel a little bit of fear. Overall I felt uncomfortable - not physically, but more emotionally and mentally. Then there was the thought, I don't want to experience the dukkha nanas. Right after this, I had mapping thoughts wondering if this was desire for deliverance. I noted all this and let go of the mapping. Among the general discomfort, I had some vague but unsettling visions. Things settled after that though and I felt like I was "back" again to how the sit felt before the 30 minute mark.

In the last 15 minutes of the sit I felt this strong feeling of love that felt like it was rising up in my chest and spilling out. It was mixed in with feelings of wistfulness like the way you might feel if you were fondly remembering a loved one who recently passed and was no longer in your life. It was mixed in also with images of a specific person who is still in my life. This feeling of love spilling over and of wistful remembrance faded on its own and it felt like a good time to stop. The last 15 minutes of the sit went quickly and smoothly.

I started this day with feeling tired of people - tired of their attitudes, moodiness, neediness.

I sat for about 50 minutes mid-afternoon. About 20 minutes in things got difficult. I was just feeling angry about stuff, had angry thoughts. Eventually things got more calm but also a little vague like everything lost its complexity and just kind of smoothed out. I noticed this weird thing happening in the last 5 or 10 minutes of the sit. My senses, mainly vision, would fade out a little, but I would not notice this fading while it was happening. Like someone was gradually turning down the lights in the room without me noticing. And then, it was like they turned the lights all the way back up, a little brighter than before, and this I would notice and be alert to. This would repeat, dim, bright, dim, brighter, etc. maybe every 30 seconds or so.

Off-cushion after the sit I had a feeling of laid-back ease. Much better than how I started the day. Instead of being tired of people... I wanted to be nice to everyone, and meet them where they are, and be understanding of their perceived needs, whether I actually fill those needs or not. My heart felt more open and less closed off.

I sat before bed, but only about 25 minutes, because I got to the very sleepy full on head dropping falling asleep place, and it was just too much, I went to sleep.

Real bad mood today. Agitated, irritated, annoyed, childishly upset with things this morning... Annoyed if I can't do what I want to do, if people interrupt, if things are not going how I want.

Feeling like such a child, like when it's time to experience something less than ideal, my response seems to be "But I don't WANNA!"

I had a 40 minute sit this afternoon.  Several actual head drops, falling asleep. Sits feel more vague now. I still got to a still calm place, but it didn't feel good, it felt like things are obscured a little bit and covered over somehow. Hence vagueness. Less clear in comparison to sits across the past month where I also reached a still, calm place, but those sits were very clear and generally felt good. Now it's less clear, not as good.

Sits just feel more messy lately.

Anyway. Though I felt childishly moody all day, I remembered at least that: even when I'm feeling like shit and sick of other people, it is not that hard to *just be nice to people*. I know that it is not about other people, it's about me.

How am I feeling now about practice? Just keep going, I say. I don't do mantras, but if I had one, it would be something like, "Steady as she goes." Steady, steady, steady. Keep a light touch. And just keep going.

Are the "lessons" or things that need to be seen during these difficult periods supposed to be clear and obvious, or is it sometimes something that's unconsciously seen or learned? Because I also don't want to just keep repeating the same difficult, moody periods without learning anything... I don't want to just be missing the same things over and over. But, there is another part of me that feels that it's completely unnecessary to think or worry about any of this, and I ought to just keep sitting... lol.
shargrol, modified 6 Months ago at 5/30/23 10:56 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/30/23 10:56 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
This is all sounding really good.

I can vividly remember my first experience of lights dimming and then bright and then dimming... I associate this with a mind that has mostly worked it's way through most of the dark night material and that is naturally rising to EQ but not quite fully established --- sort of flickering between dark night and EQ.

Sits that stay in dark night just have more lessons to teach (mostly lessons about letting go, not resisting)

When sits break into EQ, it can help to notice how the mind is naturally aware. Awareness takes no effort. Awareness is already aware.

(And keep sitting when tired and just notice how part of the mind "knows" despite the tiredness. This knowing might even continue as you nod off...  But if there are several nod offs, then definitely feel free to get up and go to bed. When your are in bed, you can continue to play with "knowing" as you fall asleep.)

Steady as she goes is exactly right emoticon
Ashley K, modified 6 Months ago at 5/30/23 3:01 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/30/23 3:01 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 32 Join Date: 1/18/23 Recent Posts
Thank you, as always, very helpful!

I will try to keep sitting through tiredness when I can. Especially if that's the only thing keeping me from sitting for longer.

I did sit for about an hour earlier today. Tried to notice what "knows". It is weird when these things are beyond thought or beyond thinking, so, I don't know how to describe it and there is no "understanding" it, it's just knowing... The knowing and the awareness are before thought, before anything else. Will keep trying (though trying implies effort, so... effortless effort, or whatever, haha).
Ashley K, modified 6 Months ago at 6/7/23 8:49 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 6/7/23 8:49 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
I sat for an hour although there was a 10 minute period in there where I chatted with someone who came into the room, and then I reheated my cup of coffee before settling into my sit again. I got sleepy again, happens just about every sit.

I sat 45 minutes during late afternoon. The last 10 or 15 minutes of the sit I started to feel a spinning sensation, kind of a dizzy spinning feeling. Sometimes it felt like I was still and the room itself was doing slow cartwheels around me. I also felt pressure in my head. There was a period of totally effortless awareness of thoughts. There was once or twice a feeling of "rising up" as though either the top of my head was rising up or my body felt as though it was rising up through my head, or something weird like that. My hands and my head got a little bit of that subtle champagne bubbly feeling, more neutral than outright pleasant. Mostly it was the spinning and pressure that stood out.

I sat another 45 minutes before bed. I did sit through some tiredness. Several different times I felt the intention or urge to end the sit but I kept sitting. I wasn't forcing myself to keep sitting, it was more like my body just did not move in response to these intentions/urges, so I kept on sitting. Then after a while I just started to move like my body decided it was time to be done and I just went with it. I don't recall a whole lot aside from just being very still and trying to notice everything/avoid slippery mind, but I remember my breath got so light that I had some silly fears come up, like fear that my breath would stop completely, or my heart would stop, or I wouldn't get enough oxygen.

I tried to stay with the "knowing" while falling asleep and I don't think I did at all, lol. But, I actually dreamed that I stayed aware while falling asleep. It was one of those dreams where it seemed very real and normal, it felt just like normal laying in bed falling asleep. Everything began fading into darkness and then I felt a kind of zappy feeling in my head as I went fully into sleep. There was no awareness of the body or anything else, just this blackness/void around me, that felt empty even of space. It was a little scary because I worried I could get "trapped" there until my body woke up. I don't remember anything more after that.

I meditated for 45 minutes before bed this evening, but I didn't take notes after and I just don't remember much from it that stood out.

My sit today was frustrating. I got totally blindsided by all the negativity coming up in this sit. Like if I had known that's how it would go, I would have geared up more for noting my way through it. I didn't get lost in the stuff, but it was unpleasant. I wanted it to be over - not just right now, but forever. Hateful thoughts, resentful thoughts, sensations of irritation, frustration, guilt. Not pretty at all, but that's what my mind gave me to note today. I just let my mind internally yell whatever angry thoughts it wanted, it was acting like a petulant child.

I only hope that I always remember to still be kind when I'm in the midst of these negative feelings. I always always always regret being snarky or otherwise unkind with people, once the negative moods have passed. Even if my meanness was veiled or indirect, or even just in my own mind. No more ill will, I want to root all that out.

I sat again before bed, maybe 45 minutes? Half falling asleep. Drifting in and out of sleep. A few head drops. It felt honestly like I was doing nothing and that I wasn't even meditating, just sitting up falling asleep. Sits like these feel like they don't "count" and don't make any progress (whether that's true or not, it's what it feels like). There was noting without labeling early in the sit, a little mind wandering, but when I got really sleepy I just kept being unaware of stuff. I don't remember being aware of much of anything except for those vague hypnagogic scenes that begin to play in the mind when you're drifting off to sleep, know what I mean? They were not clear though, just vague snippets of images or thoughts. Then I'd snap back to alertness, sometimes with a head drop. Only then realizing that I had been unaware for a few moments, yet I could remember what was going on when I was seemingly "unaware" so then it seemed like, well, SOMETHING knows what was going on, so... aware of having been unaware, after the fact?

I just realized that things are only confusing if I try to "figure them out" and if I don't try to figure anything out there is no confusion.

I sat for about 25 minutes this morning. The sit was not overloaded with negativity at least, but when there was something negative, discomfort or unpleasantness, I looked at it on purpose, the sensations of it. Thought maybe I had the dim/bright thing happening, but I was also sitting in a room with windows and it's a partly sunny day so, it could have been the sun peeking in and out from behind clouds, lol. I was interrupted 20 minutes in, sat for another 5 minutes afterward, and immediately had sensations of fear for some reason, mixed in with the usual sensations of sounds, thoughts, body sensations, etc.

I did do some reflecting during the sit which I noted as reflecting, but before I got around to noting it, I was reflecting on the (rather obvious) realization that clinging to something does not make it stay, and aversion to something does not make it go away. Things come and go on their own regardless of how I feel.

I sat before bed for about 40 minutes. Sensations were hard to follow, things just felt a little bit chaotic and overwhelming. A more muddled and messy sit.

Sitting this morning was difficult early on. There was a vague feeling of unhappiness and discontent underlying things. I never got to that "stiller than still" place and felt a stronger urge to think about stuff or to stop sitting early on. External sensations seemed like they were more difficult to pay attention to or note, and I felt drawn inward, so I just let internal sensations be prominent while external sensations were more in the background.

I did at a few different points try to feel into anicca and anatta of sensations. Eventually the underlying vague emotional discontent faded. On my closed eyelids there were a lot of big splotchy swirling colors swirling around in repeating patterns, which is not an unusual occurrence, but it was very prominent in this sit. By the end of the sit these swirling patterns faded away a few times, leaving a smooth, bright orangey-red visual field in its place. That's about it.

I sat for about 30 or so minutes in the late afternoon. Not much emotional stuff going on this time. I was better able to note external sensations compared to this morning. At the beginning of the sit I could feel my breath in my body. My body would pull inward when I inhaled and move outward when I exhaled. Later in the sit I kind of drifted between sleepiness and alertness.

I sat 40 minutes before bed. At some point I got to that place where the body feels extremely still. I did not get sleepy, at least not until the very end. I don't remember a lot, though, as I did not take notes right after the sit. The feeling of stillness stands out because that stillness had been missing from most recent sits.

I didn't get much chance to sit for meditation today. I sat for maybe 10-15 minutes while dinner was cooking. It was a very nice sit. I guess probably I didn't get very far with it. But still nice. Just noting sensations, relaxed, no negative emotional stuff I can remember.

My sit before bed tonight was mostly spent not meditating at all. First I spent 20 minutes thinking about some minor arguments with another person and some other things about them. Not even with much ill will, I intended to get settled in and note sensations but I just kept coming back to thinking, and so I just went with the flow of thinking rather than try to force the meditation. This was not the same as true mind wandering and getting lost in thinking, in fairness I would say I was at least "half" aware of what I was doing, I just waited for the thinking to "run its course" so I could settle in for my sit.

Then I felt ready to meditate, but I spent another 10 straight minutes adjusting my sitting position because I just could NOT get comfortable. As I was finally feeling ready to really sit still and actually practice, I had this very nonchalant feeling towards the sit. I just didn't care about what happens or doesn't happen during the sit. It wasn't a negative "not caring", just nonchalant. Finally I sat still and noted sensations for about 20 minutes.

I felt confronted today with some things I don't like about myself and my life. So I spent some time in the realm of morality training, considering how I could address these things in my daily life.

I sat for 25 minutes this afternoon. It was a pretty nice sit. Got still and relaxed. Maybe some subtle emotional stuff, but nothing overt.

I sat for almost an hour before bed. Mostly just still and calm, noting. Near the end of the sit I kept seeing some subtle brightening on my eyelids and to be honest I had to open my eyes a few different times to see that it really wasn't the lighting in the room changing, of course it never was the lighting in the room.

Some fear came up around this time as well. A generalized fear not about anything specific. It seemed like the fear was not wanting something unexpected to happen - clinging to the comfort of things continuing predictably. It was also fear of not being prepared for whatever might happen, not wanting to be unprepared. 

It is not uncommon for me to come across subtle fear like this when I'm well into a longer sit. It is too easy to try and avoid it or do something to relieve the feeling. When what I'd really like to do is be able to let it be, note it, investigate it. I think it really is about clinging to predictability and comfort, and wanting to feel prepared but not being able to prepare for the unknown. Maybe that is just what all fear boils down to.
So I know that when I get to this fear again, I can not only note the sensations of the fear itself, but I can note the urges to escape it or relieve the feeling, instead of giving in to them.
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 6/11/23 7:17 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/11/23 7:17 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
6/7 was a really bad day. Basically I just had so many underlying reactive patterns getting triggered. I did a sit that evening before bed, and had several bouts of crying, first time I cried in a LONG time. Somewhere in there I did attempt to note sensations. 6/8 was still kinda bad, but a lot better. Surprisingly better, really. I'm so much more resilient now, at least in terms of bouncing back. I really got sucked in again by these reactive patterns, but I did not stay in them for very long.

6/9, things felt just perfectly fine. On this day, I sat for one hour before bed, noting without labeling. Very easy to sit. No tiredness, no sleepiness. I sat still the entire time. Lots of moments of brightening on my closed eyelids. It was subtle, but it really seemed like someone was turning up extra lights in the room from time to time. There was fear again. It would come and go at varying intensities. I noted it same as any other sensation. There was feeling and noting body sensations, hearing and noting the fan and air running, hearing and noting what I've since learned is called the "nada sound", seeing and noting brightening on my closed eyelids. And feeling and noting fear sensations, without trying to figure them out or make them go away. Any time I felt tension anywhere in the body I'd just note it until either it faded or some other sensation came up to be noted. 

On 6/10, I sat for 20 minutes doing noting during the day, then later 30 minutes before bed, but this time I just got way too sleepy and had to stop sitting early.

Today, I have been feeling on and off this evening this general feeling of being tired of things, just wanting to be done with things. This underlying tension and irritation and discomfort with the particular experiences I am having, off-cushion in daily life.

So I tried to look at this feeling and investigate it, where is it located, where is it coming from, what makes it up. And? I felt like I couldn't really find it. Like when I tried to go looking for it, it dissipated, or it broke down into these component sensations that by themselves didn't feel like a "wanting to be done with things." Like I was combining these different sensations together, the bodily tension, irritation, and discomfort plus some thoughts, and decided it meant something - that things right now are not good, not enjoyable, I'm tired of them and they need to be over already or different than they are.

Looking at the sensations seemed to break down the "meaning" of it and that also seemed to take the power out of it. It went from "I am tired of all this, I'm done with it, I want to be free of it all" to, "there is tension here, discomfort there, a thought here, a thought there."

Is this what I do, I just grab onto the random assortment of sensations going on at any given time and make it into a thing, put some meaning onto it, make up a story and then live it like it's my whole world, the one and only truth of the moment? And this is happening automatically, so automatically that it seems to have real truth and meaning and power to it. I mean, I kind of get why this happens, it's a way to navigate and make sense of the world and my place in it. Nothing wrong with that... except for all the suffering! lol. Well, this is very interesting, nonetheless, and it makes me wanna investigate everything even more than ever before.
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 6/12/23 5:31 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/12/23 5:23 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
"Is this what I do, I just grab onto the random assortment of sensations going on at any given time and make it into a thing, put some meaning onto it, make up a story and then live it like it's my whole world, the one and only truth of the moment? "


This is what we _all_ do and that's why we all needlessly suffer. And that's why we all need to practice/investigate to discover how these over-simplified stories we tell ourselves might not be totally accurate. What you're doing now through daily practice is creating a new habit of seeing the sensations, emotions, and thoughts themselves, rather than "believing" the story and assuming it's true.

This is the heart of meditation. It's really the only way we can go beyond our current thinking/interpretation habits, because just spinning around in stories doesn't get us anywhere new. We just repeat all our old stories and counter stories and counter-counter stories... And this is why becoming clear about sensate reality is so important. If we don't notice how the big story we tell ourselves is made up of other little sensations/emotions and mini-thoughts, then we aren't able to tease apart the big story. Becoming great in meditation is simply getting good at these basic abilties.

A lot of the stories we tell ourself feel like "me" but actually they occur within our minds. They are something we can notice. This is basically what happens when we go through the "progress of insight". In the later stages, we notice dissolution, fear, misery (which can involve some weepy crying), disgust (which is being frustrated and just wanting to be done) , desire for deliverance (which the stage of making big strategies/plans), reobservation (which is the plans failing and freaking out stage), then equanimity (which is the stage of being amazed at how easy it is to just accept things, just as they are, sometimes after some stronger crying...) 

When we're practicing at home, it isn't as straightforward as just walking up through the stages one by one, instead we bounce around a lot. Sometimes getting all the way up to equanimity, but sometimes we face disgust, sometimes we wimper in misery. Sometimes we go up and down and all around multiple times in a sit. Don't worry about following an idealized map, just go where your mind takes you in a sit. It's like having a personal tour guide. It will show you the things you need to see/investigate. While there are some similarities to how people go through meditation, a vague map... from a day to day, moment to moment perspecitive, it really is true that everyone's path is uniquely their own.

So anyway, this all sounds good and congratulations on this important insight!
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 6/12/23 3:55 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/12/23 3:55 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Thank you, this insight seemed so obvious after the fact... I guess that's how a lot of insights feel. But this insight also makes me more interested in (or at least not so averse to) visiting so-called "negative" or frustrating territory, just to see what new things I can see there. Makes it more fun and fascinating!
Niklas -, modified 5 Months ago at 6/13/23 5:09 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/13/23 5:09 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 33 Join Date: 6/7/23 Recent Posts
Hi. Just wanted to pop-in and tell you that your log is very inspiring emoticon makes me believe that I too can do this in the midst of this ordinary life.
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 6/13/23 9:18 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/13/23 9:18 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Thank you! I really didn't know what would happen when I started this practice. This is the longest I've ever stuck with meditation and done any sort of formal practice. I'm not able/willing to go on any retreats at this time, due to my family/life obligations (which is okay by me) so, any progress I have for now will have to be without any retreat. I will say that keeping a log on here has helped keep my practice consistent. And there are, as you have already seen, plenty of people on here willing to help and provide advice and guidance along the way!

Best of luck to you!
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 6/23/23 5:50 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/23/23 5:50 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
I felt like my most recent insight (from 6/10) was a little destabilizing. Then I realized that the feeling of "destabilizing" is also a gathering of different thoughts and body sensations and that I didn't have to make up a whole story that I am destabilized either. What is being destabilized, I guess, is certain stories being made up to explain whatever sensations are currently going on.

I sat for maybe an hour and 15 minutes before bed. No tiredness, not really any sleepiness at all, no head drops at all. Just sat very still, very calm. Mostly just relaxed. Little bits of fear here and there, not much really going on yet really enjoyable sit. Easy to sit for a long, long time.

Feeling that bit of "destabilization" again today. There are thoughts like, well, what am I, what is my life, if everything boils down to just a made up story? Is it even that my "gaining insights" and having the experience/feeling/aha moment of an insight, itself is made up of different thoughts and sensations that I can group together, call an insight, and fit into the narrative of "me as a meditator on a path"? Even that is just another storyline playing out?

I sat for about 50 minutes before bed before I got too tired. I was just sitting there meditating, noting without labeling but kind of got into a "just sitting" mode. There was a sudden buzzy/zappy feeling in my forehead and simultaneously a flash of an image on my closed eyelids, too fast to see what it was but just this small oval shaped area in the middle of my vision flashed some intricate pattern. Then my whole body was buzzing with that champagne bubbly feeling and I felt pressure on my body and my body felt like it had locked into place or something. I just noted (without labeling) through all this. I don't really know what it was, but to me it seemed like shifting into an altered state or deeper level of concentration.

Later in the sit it felt like I had a sort of "drop out" feeling like rapidly dropping into unconsciousness and back again that's hard to describe (but to be clear I do not think it was an unknowing event). What I think happened is that I was just sort of drifting off into unconsciousness without realizing it due to getting a little sleepy and some noise brought me back to alertness very suddenly, making it feel like I had this rapid drop out.

I had a fairly calm and quiet sit before bed. Very distinct brief periods of subtle boredom, subtle disgust. Noticed subtle desire for something interesting to happen, as well as a desire for anything interesting to mean something (in terms of progress toward awakening).

I felt a couple of shifts in there where it felt like I shifted into an altered state or deeper level of concentration. My body would get a little buzzy each time that happened. Breath very light. Thoughts generally quiet and far away feeling. Mostly stayed with things except a few brief periods. A weird minute or two where it felt like space itself around me was moving around in weird ways.

I sat 30 minutes... Allowed any and all emotions to come up. Lots of subtle stuff. And not so subtlely, there was an underlying dissatisfaction with things - generally felt as wanting more control over how I had to spend my time this afternoon, and wanting more time available for meditation. So I let that dissatisfaction be. Feeling self-judgment, guilt, inadequacy, frustration. Feeling openness and emptiness. Just trying to stay with the flow of sensations.

I haven't been able to find much if any time to meditate the past few days. But today I was feeling beyond grateful that I need so little to feel fulfilled and content/happy with my life. Stream entry feels farther away than ever? The feeling is like I don't need it anymore, like I don't need it to happen in order to be happy? That's confusing because I'm definitely not awake lol. Not that I don't still want it, or think that it can't happen.

I did realize today, while walking around the grocery store, the massive amount of mental energy devoted to self-consciousness - constantly scanning my environment, thinking/worrying/wondering about how I look to other people, etc. So exhausting!

At some other point off-cushion I was overwhelmed with an incredible depth of sadness and incredible longing for no one on this earth to ever experience suffering, ever. Why CAN'T this be heaven on earth for people? WHY doesn't every human on earth want to work TOGETHER with everyone to make the world a better place?? How on earth can people choose to cause so much suffering and not feel like horrible horrible horrible human beings???

I sat 30 minutes before bed. Generally just very relaxing. Some mind wandering here and there, remembering and picturing stuff from the day, thinking about my new job (which I just started today), but it was all very relaxed, I wasn't bothered by mind wandering and would just sort of drift in and out of that. Kind of a "just sitting" mode tonight. Not trying to do anything in particular.

I've become so busy/focused on daily life stuff, with my new job starting, that the idea of stream entry took a backseat in my mind. It's no longer at the forefront of my mind. I'm just getting settled into a new routine that includes working 35-40 hours a week again.

Stream entry still feels like a "thing in the future", like it's way off in the distant future. I might read "this is it" and "here and now" and my intellectual mind says yeah, that seems right, but the *feeling* and experience of it is, "this is NOT it, yet" and "something needs to change or be different for 'it' to be 'here and now'". Just trying to be honest about the way things feel for me. There is something in me that sometimes doesn't WANT "this" to be it, I think especially when the "this" includes suffering or anything negative, anything I don't want to experience.

I did meditate before bed, and I kept having weird "insight" like thoughts, some of which were more "out there" than usual.

I realized that things CAN always be any way that I want - in my head!!! It is not the way things actually are - it is the way I imagine them to be. Then realizing that the world I've been living in is my very own imagined world. Some large percentage of my world, my life, and what I experience, is actually all inside of my head, not really out there, always has been!

I cannot actually ever "know" any of this stuff I think I've "known" about my life or about other people or about things in the world. I cannot actually know what people think of me, or what they think about anything. I cannot know how they really, truly feel about me, or about anything. I cannot possibly know all these things I thought I really knew, about other people and the world, that I was SO SURE about!

I also was thinking, and this kind of gets weird, that I can feel the body, and I cannot feel anything else around me that is outside the body. But, how do I think that what I can "feel" is the only thing that I actually "am"? I can feel, but also, I can see, and I can hear. So why do I not think that what I see and what I hear is as much what I am as what I feel?

And the realization that the narrator in the mind does its thing because it's been trained to do its thing, for decades. Anything and everything in the mind was trained to be there and do its thing. So they can be untrained. So I can see how this is all about untraining and unlearning and undoing. And I guess that makes sense, I'm trying to un-everything - I mean isn't that what "cessation" is, it's literally "un-everything", the ultimate undoing. Lol.

Sorry, I just got into these weird thoughts, these were the ideas my mind presented to me while meditating, lol.

Today, so far, only sat for 15 minutes! But it was so enjoyable and by the end of 15 minutes I was fully recovered from a day of work.

I can't remember when it was, but off-cushion I saw very clearly the way my mind will be so immediately stupid and cruel - when something happens that I find annoying or don't quite like, my mind will almost IMMEDIATELY move to blame somebody else for it or feel mad at them - even when it is NOT AT ALL that person's fault. Hence - stupid and cruel. Stupid to push blame on somebody when the issue is not actually stemming from that person, i'm just projecting the annoyance and frustration onto that person. And cruel to do that to someone, even if it's only in my own head! So, clearly seeing these dumb reactive patterns. My mind can no longer "get away with" these automatic things. It is hilarious and also frankly embarrassing how obvious some of these patterns are, once I see them.

50 minute sit before bed. Easy easy easy sit. In spite of being up since 4:30am and working a full day in the office plus more than an hour roundtrip commute, I never felt that tired or had any head drops - I haven't experienced head drops in quite a while. Those seemed to be a phase I went through. Didn't move at all except one time brief adjustment. There is always subtle fear coming and going, that's what I get most of. And I don't like it, it's very uncomfortable! But, it's there and I note it. It's like I'm afraid of cessation.
Stranger_Loop Stranger_Loop, modified 5 Months ago at 6/23/23 7:35 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/23/23 7:34 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 36 Join Date: 3/17/23 Recent Posts
Sorry, I just got into these weird thoughts, these were the ideas my mind presented to me while meditating, lol.

They are interesting und entertaining to read ^^.
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 6/29/23 6:24 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/29/23 6:24 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
35 minute sit before bed. Just calm noting without labeling but sort of more noticing or just sitting by the end. Feeling buzzy and a little out of it afterwards (probably just a bit sleepy). Not really sure what I'm doing here exactly, in meditation I mean. I mean yes, I'm intending to attain stream entry, awaken... but there is still confusion and uncertainty about what's the right way. I know these are just more things that can be noted, and not turned into a big thing. 

I am also learning more how to let go and let be in daily life, in terms of patterns of ego defenses, when hurt feelings arise, that sort of thing.

Today I just had a total and utter lack of desire to do anything requiring any amount of movement or energy, but not in a bad way, more like my body/mind just wanted to naturally be at rest, so the inertia was to just stay at rest. I did have an extreme longing for quiet in my currently constantly noisy house. Wanting to just sit and feeling very content and comfortable to do absolutely nothing.

I sat for about 40 minutes before bed, though with an interruption in the middle.

Two sits today. About an hour in the afternoon - more like 15 minutes, then an interruption, then another 40 minutes or so. And an hour before bed. Not much stood out. Both sits were easy and calm.

Sat for ~25 minutes in the afternoon. Very nice, easy sit. Mostly just gentle noting. Not much happening, other than just - sensations appear, I note them... that's about it. Didn't notice any emotions, just a pleasant, neutral sit.

Sat for about 1 hour before bed. Completely still. Calm. Mostly neutral, maybe mildly pleasant. Feeling buzzy and out of it a little bit again.

Today was in office day with long commute so much less opportunity for a sit. But I am sitting more consistently now at least.

Sat about 30 minutes before bed. Gentle noting but I had more mind wandering this time. Most sits I will at some point do some inquiry like, "what am I" or "what is it that knows". Not much happens though, which is probably why I haven't mentioned that I do the inquiry, because there doesn't seem to be anything to report. I'm just sitting still for a while and that's that. Very calm and relaxed, though, my sits the last week or so have been very pleasant, I think it's more the lack of uncomfortable/turbulent emotions or sensations that leaves it feeling so calm and pleasant.
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 7/4/23 12:15 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 7/4/23 12:15 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Meditated ~35 minutes in the late morning.
Same old kind of sit. Calm, peaceful, relaxing. I noted these feelings or what seemed to make them up.

Sat about 40 minutes before bed. Very calm and relaxed, easy sit. Buzzy and bright.

20 minute sit before bed.

Sat for about 30 minutes in the afternoon. Super easy sit. But maybe I am getting a little lazy about really noting. It is very very easy to sit and do nothing, just noticing whatever, really pleasant to just sit. So maybe I'll try gentle pace of noting/labeling in my sit tonight. I do still on occasion throw in some inquiry, mainly, what is it that knows. Then just see/feel what happens, if anything. I will also occasionally try to notice if there is anything I am missing or overlooking, any sensations going by I'm not properly noticing.
It is easy to just let things be though without making any effort to note/label.

45 minute sit tonight before bed, also. Very easy, relaxed, calm, peaceful sit. At one point I remember feeling that meditation practice is going very well. Just this quiet calm confidence. Then I felt a rush of buzzy energy through my head and hands. Later in the sit, it seemed kind of boring. But not negative at all. The feeling was, hmm, this is pretty boring, not much is happening, and that's okay, I can handle boredom, easy. Just sitting. Doing nothing. For 45 minutes.

Desire for stream entry seemed to come back and be back in the forefront of my mind. I want it to happen. Like a feeling of more urgency, yet patient about it. Is there a word for patient urgency? lol. Seems like an oxymoron.

I sat for 50 minutes before bed. Easiest sit ever. I sat completely still the entire time.

I feel like I'm suddenly bad at describing my sits, and bad at knowing what to say about them. I don't know why that is. I haven't had much to say about my sits recently, except, they're just easy, calm, relaxed, peaceful, just noticing whatever there is to notice. I feel all the same body sensations and hear all the same sounds etc that I always do, there's just no emotional turbulence at all. Thoughts and thinking happen and I just watch it come and go and do its thing.

So I guess then what stands out is the lack of emotional anything. No turbulence, no turmoil, no upset, no nothing. Just a pleasant sit. And I don't mind that there is not much happening.
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 7/8/23 10:58 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 7/8/23 10:58 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
I am still noticing my various negative patterns, but I notice them more clearly. Even if these patterns still occur and play out, I notice them and clearly see the ways in which it is maladaptive or dysfunctional. Even if it still feels like the pattern has such a strong hold, just to see these clearly feels like an immense blessing. 

I'm feeling so good and calm about things. Even the things about me that still royally suck. I don't know how I'm able to be so calm. And I'm just hoping I'm not suppressing something I should be seeing or feeling. I'm not at all intending to pretend at being all calm and feeling good.

I sat 35 minutes in the afternoon. Just gentle noticing, noting without labeling. On and off feeling a little bit drowsy, because of sitting so still and very relaxed and it's very warm in this room today, but no head drops and no real loss in concentration, no mind wandering, I stayed with things. A few times drifting into that sort of feeling when you are getting close to falling asleep and things get a little indistinct and thoughts are just brief flashes of unintelligible sounds rather than distinct words or thoughts. Like they just bubble up instead of feeling like they are being consciously thought or noticed. That's about it.

I sat 30 minutes before bed. Tried more intently to note, but at a gentle slow pace. No labeling, just noting whatever sensation seemed most prominent at any given time. Probably noting a new sensation like once every 5 seconds or something. Noting was easy and simple, then after a while it felt almost like each sensation was more obscure and harder to pinpoint and stay on, then more mind wandering. I started to feel like I was a little tired of just sitting and meditating every day, doing the same thing over and over. Yet also fine to just keep sitting.

Off cushion I also am finding it hard to stay in a bad mood. Stuff still happens that bothers me in one way or another, that touches on my usual reactionary patterns, but I can't "stay on" my usual reaction, it's there and I see it clearly but it doesn't stick, it slips away, and later I even have a hard time remembering and imagining how I felt when I was initially bothered.

I did a terrible job meditating this afternoon. I mean I felt fine and calm and it was relatively easy to sit still, I guess my mind wanted to wander and think about stuff and not stay focused on the sit.

Finding meditation a little boring I guess, or it's just hard to stay with sensations. So, I guess in this sit, at least, it was more tempting than usual to think about stuff.

I sat 1 hour before bed. So easy to sit. I had a timer going and the chime went off at 45 minutes, but I kept going 15 more minutes. Noting until it becomes just sitting.

I am happy to keep sitting like this. Don't know if there is something different or more to do. It feels wrong to put in any effort trying to do more; it feels better to just let things be however they are. And enjoy the buzzy calm in the body and just do nothing.

I'm very happy with my life right now. Could things go "wrong", yeah at any time. But for now things are good.

Life is a lot less painful if you just accept it as it is. I'm actually experiencing that more recently. I still see myself doing things like making mistakes, being socially awkward, and (fill in the blank with whatever negative things I feel about myself and my life) etc etc, but accepting makes a world of difference. I don't even feel I'm actively doing anything in this "accepting". I'm just not fighting against things anymore. It's more about what I've stopped doing that allows things to just be, however wonderful or shitty or neutral they may be. And I can FEEL the urge to fight against things, the "wanting" for things to not be a certain way. I am seeing it more clearly and then let that be, too. 

I sat for 45 or so minutes before bed, and it was the same calm sit like others I've had recently.

I haven't meditated yet today, probably will before bed like usual, but today I just feel like resting and doing a lot of nothing. But it's so enjoyable to do nothing! Just wander around the house, look out the window, listen to the rain or the birds or the breeze in the trees. And just respond to life as it comes, do nothing more.

Practice seems to be going well, it is at least consistent. I'm probably maxed out at a sustainable level of practice. 1 or 2 sits a day, 30-60 minutes each. Though I never really know how to feel about current practice, things always seem so much clearer in hindsight.
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 7/8/23 2:52 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 7/8/23 2:49 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Sounding really good. You've got the teflon non-stick mind of equanimity! emoticon

When things are chill and it gets boring to note sensations, feel free to gently ponder the big questions like "what is the mind?", "what controls what shows up in attention?" "who invented liquid soap and why?" "where does inside stop and outside begin?" "what is beyond my mind?"  -- if those questions seem interesting. Not as something to figure out and answer with words, but rather something to maybe-possibly directly experience. Equanimity can stand up to curiousity, investigation, exploration, etc.  And if not, just enjoy the chill!! emoticon  The peace of equanimity is a guilt free pleasure. 
Ashley K, modified 5 Months ago at 7/9/23 8:24 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 7/9/23 8:24 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
You've got the teflon non-stick mind of equanimity!
I have always been pretty easy to please, but being even more difficult to upset is very nice!

On pondering big questions/inquiry, is it normal for nothing at all to happen, for a while... I'm asking because I don't know whether I should stick with inquiry anyway, if nothing's happening (probably yes? haha), or move on to some other practice, that's all. Both during an individual sit and long-term.

I understand that I don't *have* to do inquiry. But I do appreciate the "yogi's toolbox" idea and having different things I could do in a sit.

As always, thank you for your input!
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/23 12:52 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/9/23 11:43 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
It's probably worth rereading: 11. Equanimity –

A few things that are possible at this stage:

1. Continue to gently note. You can't go wrong with staying with gentle noting. It's important to note things like "boring" or "nothing much" and fully experience that and see if those things are made up of even subtler sensations.. Remember to note the most obvious and overlooked stuff, the stuff that characterizes this nana: calm, ease, simplicity, directness, space, quiet, wondering, doubt, questioning, spacing out, drifting, daydreaming, etc.  
2. try inquiry, but inquiry done in a way that makes you go "into" this experience. This basically has the same result as noting, but it's a little more open and curious. "What is my mind?" is an example of something that makes you investigate (basically noticing without noting). 
3. focus on the state-like nature of it and dwell in it as a jhana-like experience. (The reason I say jhana-like is that the 4th jhana feels like a blend of jhana and vipassina. Even when grooving on the ease and space of it, the mind and body still seems very clear.) It is perfectly fine to simply soak in the experience. This has a way of "conditioning" the mind for subtler and subtler insights.
4. play with seen how little effort is required for awareness. This is the trick for moving from Low EQ to High EQ. Low EQ can be a little clunky or awkward. High EQ has a kind of easy and drifting feel, almost like a daydream except you know what's happening as it happens. Or it can feel oddly normal. Basically you play around with letting the mind do what it will do, even going into dreamy/drifty/normal states. 
5. play with swimming up the mindstream. this is often easier at night. as thoughts thin out and become a background babble, see if you can "hear" thoughts right at the point of arising. It will seem almost non-sensical, more sounds than words. Sometimes it might only feel like thoughts are tap tap tapping inside your head. Treat thoughts as objects and go into them, where they seem to arise, and see if you can get closer and closer to the actual point at which they arise. (Only do this if the mind is in a condusive state, it's impossible to force it to happen.)
Honestly, EQ can feel oddly difficult at first, especially for a dark night yogi. So it's normal to feel like "I'm not doing much, maybe my practice isn't working anymore." In general, it's best to note those feelings and thoughts and keep going straight ahead.

Hope this helps!
Ashley K, modified 4 Months ago at 7/10/23 6:08 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/10/23 6:08 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
keep going straight ahead.

Thank you, since I seem to have an affinity for noting, I will mostly continue with that for now, and if a sit goes in the directions of 2 through 5 that you listed, I can try those other things. I took some time yesterday to reread Equanimity in MCTB2 as well. Also very helpful!
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/10/23 12:22 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/10/23 12:22 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Good plan! emoticon
Ashley K, modified 4 Months ago at 7/18/23 10:52 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/18/23 10:52 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
40ish minute sit. When I do inquiry I notice when I start straining to see/sense/understand, like I'm just looking way too hard for the "answer" to my inquiry, not even a mental answer, just ANYTHING, an experience, something!

Tonight I am exhausted, so tired, and feeling kinda funny/weird. It felt like there is this other "thing" there that is aware of everything, including this little self I feel like is me (the body/mind and all its thoughts, feelings, experiences, stories, etc) and it feels like this other "thing" that is aware is going to totally dwarf me and whatever it is I thought I was is going to disappear and this thing will take its place! Just left me feeling very weird. I did wake up in the middle of the night and felt very weird still. My mind was spacey, but also my body was somehow, too. Like it felt more like a cloud of sensations than a physical thing. I also had dreams about death, rather disturbing! But with all this feeling weird there was still an "accepting okayness" about it all.

~35 minute sit before bed. Same sort of sit. I also took time today to reread the Equanimity section of MCTB2.

I sat ~40 minutes in the afternoon. 

Mostly gentle noting (without labeling), but tried out some inquiry on thoughts...

I indeed spaced out some but not really much mind wandering. I didn't necessarily note the spacing out so could do that better next time, but I did notice it.

I ended up doing some "just sitting" which I suppose may be dwelling in 4th vipassana jhana? shargrol's comment of "Even when grooving on the ease and space of it, the mind and body still seems very clear" really resonated with me, especially for my recent sits.

Before bed, I sat 50+ minutes. Felt like I was exploring new territory or just going deeper into whatever this is. Started with gentle noting, did a lot of just sitting/soaking in the sit. Tried to see how little effort was needed yet somehow there is still some efforting/tension that gets in there and seems to get in the way. I can't make it go away, just notice it.

That's about it. Drifting by the end but couldn't tell if that was just from becoming more and more sleepy. Doing less feels really good though. I get more of a sense of meditation doing itself.

Sat 55 minutes, may have done more but a bit of an interruption just made that a stopping point for me. I meant to do 45 but went past that. The sit got easier and easier so by the end I could've just kept sitting. Noting to start with, mostly without labeling. Just going with the flow. Nothing out of the ordinary. Very relaxing, calm, enjoyable, noted what I could until noting wasn't happening and it was more just being aware of attention calmly moving from sensation to sensation. At one point it was like attention was bouncing around different parts of the body at a faster rate, but still very calmly. Noticed things happening on their own, by themselves. 

Okay this is romanticizing a bit which is not really necessary but there is a feeling of breaking free. Free of some usual worries, concerns. But in no way do I feel aloof or disconnected from my life. I feel grounded, yet it's grounded in a different way entirely.

45 minute sit.

Only made it 35 minutes in my sit before bed, but was a good sit I think. I was tired from two nights of less sleep so I sat for a shorter time and didn't write anything down about it after.

I can see, I think, how I've been picking out certain sensations as being set apart from everything else and lumping them in as something that all other sensations are "happening to". Like this one subset of sensations (making up the body/mind) is experiencing all the other sensations. Easier to see in a sit than in daily life.

There's always this underlying tension that's been there, anytime I get quiet e.g. laying in bed or if I just take a moment in daily life to rest and my mind can wander and I seem to bump into this tension and discomfort. I haven't totally untangled what this tension and discomfort is but I think I can see how I don't properly investigate it maybe. On some level I haven't wanted to investigate it, or I have conveniently ignored it or looked elsewhere for other sensations to note. Maybe I unconsciously hoped it would just resolve itself or go away on its own. But not if I ignore it I feel. And also the wanting it to go away and not be there is some subtle aversion I hadn't been properly seeing or it was like I knew it was there but I wouldn't acknowledge it.

Ugh. Feel like I gotta go directly into this tension. Meaning not think about, but really taking a look and just letting it be there. Bring it into all the other sensations that I already note. I don't know why this seems like it will be so difficult.

I didn't end up sitting this evening, because the recent temporary sleep deprivation left me so tired that I went promptly to sleep! Lordy do I need my sleep! LOL.

I sat 45 minutes this afternoon (40 minutes sitting and tacked on 5 minutes walking to the end).

I sat 30 minutes before bed but it seemed like not a very good sit. I was drifting in and out of mindfulness, it would be 5-10 seconds of mindful noting, 5-10 seconds lost in something or other, coming back and then another 5-10 seconds mindful noting... Repeat! Really and truly I could not help drifting off and getting lost and losing track of noting over and over and over, it just happened by itself then I'd come back like steady waxing and waning of mindfulness. I got very very sleepy, very tired.

I did do my best to note all this stuff. Even thoughts of feeling disappointed, frustrated, anything like that, I'd just note as just things happening.

Well, maybe I still need to recover from my two nights of bad sleep.

I happened to see something today that called up an old hurt. It was interesting to see that old hurt pattern re-arise, move through and move around as thoughts and feelings, do its thing, then fade away again. It didn't stick around.

I sat 20 minutes only before bed, better than nothing, still so tired.

I sat 45 minutes before bed. Thought I could better pick out different "nanas" like I could more clearly notice moving up and down through them. I wasn't even trying to map, just happened to notice. Noticed a feeling of things closing in. Subtle fear, feeling sad, feeling tired of something (I can't remember what now it was just a feeling of "I'm so tired of (can't remember what!)". Then later on a feeling of things "opening up" and suddenly the breath was very clear. And right at the end more feelings of effortlessness and flowing.

Overall I've stuck with noting in my sits, but have started to do some more exploring of certain sensations. For example, the tension I always feel at the center of my chest. Going more deeply into that, and letting it be. Looking back at what I wrote on 7/14, I could maybe do more with noting or inquiring into the sensations that I seem to be splitting off from all other sensations.
Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/18/23 11:15 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/18/23 11:10 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 4923 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
This is a wonderful log, Ashley. Your reports are clear, direct, honest, objective, and you're in a great place in your investigation. This is how it's done, folks. Just straightforward reporting.
Ashley K, modified 4 Months ago at 7/18/23 6:50 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/18/23 6:50 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Chris, thank you... I do my best! lol. I'm very glad I found this place and can contribute in this little corner of DhO as I continue my practice. I appreciate all feedback and have found the gentle guidance (and re-direction when needed!) to be so helpful.
Ashley K, modified 4 Months ago at 7/28/23 6:56 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/28/23 6:56 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
I just tried to sit and see if I could NOT split off any sensation as something separate from the rest. And it felt like I was "disappearing" myself somehow. Not that anything actually disappears or goes away. Just that for a moment I can't point to anything and say yes, that's me, and everything took on a feeling of "being one thing" and this ineffable sense of, I don't really know, but the word "emptiness" came to mind. I felt very small again like that day I felt like I was going to be dwarfed by something much bigger.

I got my sleep all messed up again. Up until now I have always thought of sleep deprivation as being really detrimental to my practice, wrecking my meditation. Today I realized that I can't have a practice that only "works" when I've had a perfect amount of sleep and when things are all fine in daily life. My practice should be one that is there every day and can be practiced any time, whatever life brings. So I'm no longer going to think of anything in life as "wrecking" or ruining my meditation, and I will not think of anything in life as "getting in the way" of my practice. That just seems silly. I'm for once NOT telling life that IT is what is wrong, and that it's what needs to change or fix itself to solve all my problems.

I sat for 45 minutes before bed. I'm just noting/noticing what seems like everything, but must not be everything. I just keep trying to loop into my noticing any sensation at all that I come across, as well as any that seems to be "me" experiencing other sensations.

I sat for 35 minutes in the afternoon.

Out of curiosity, I started to wonder today about things like near misses, formless realms, what are those, what are they like, how would I even know I had a near miss or unknowing event, I even read about them and thought about them for a while, then finally decided, what does it matter what I know about these things, if I'm practicing well? Anyway. I've consulted with myself and decided the best thing to do is actually change nothing and keep going. LOL.

I sat another 35 minutes before bed. Trying to notice everything, especially anything that felt like it was "me". Trying to drop all effort. Less and less and less effort and see that awareness still happens without that effort.

The sit did feel really good. At one point I just wanted to relax and even felt as though the body could just go right to sleep and I'd go on and meditate. I just wanted to sink into the experience of the sit and dwell there and do absolutely nothing at all.

I feel like there is maybe some (or some more) "disembedding" happening, if I may borrow Kenneth Folk's term. All the same thoughts and emotions and actions occur as before but that sense of self "in" them is going away. It's WEIRD. I feel simultaneously like I always have - like oh yeah, this body/mind is definitely me and I'm the one doing all this and I'm in control and I have to put in the effort and do something to make things happen - AND I feel this new weird disembedding from stuff.

This whole process is so fun and fascinating! I am enjoying it very much.

Sat about 45 minutes. How do I know I'm not just falling asleep? lol when I space out or things seem like they are fading temporarily... good practice or bad?? I don't know.

Wondering today about scripting. Like sometimes I'm not trusting things I *may* be experiencing, because what if I'm just scripting.

But anyway, what I feel like right now is like I'm in some kind of "waiting mode". So, kind of like you might feel when you're sitting in a waiting room - there is not really much to do, so, you just twiddle your thumbs, hang out, let your mind wander, and just... wait. Waiting for something to happen, but you don't know when it will happen. Meditation just feels a little more passive like this, lately.

And I'm not even saying that it's because I am so sure that something is actually going to happen soon. Maybe nothing at all will happen any time soon. It's just the feeling of being in a "waiting mode". And I do note this "waiting mode" when it comes up during a sit. "Waiting" or "anticipating".

I also feel like my mind is really trying to stay busy/relevant/needed and wanting to work to understand and to figure this whole thing out. I also feel like I want to rest for a little bit and stop feeling like I'm dismantling myself. Which feels kind of like avoidance. Certainly I have no shortage of things to note!!! emoticon

It is very uncomfortable sometimes NOT to try to take charge, take control, and "drive" the meditation. Why is it so hard to NOT do that? Yet another thing to look at/notice.

Here's another experience I have this evening, the feeling of being "the watcher"- just a little bit. Like I feel still embodied in the body/mind, but also a little bit like I'm back here just the watcher watching it all happen. There is also a sense of spaciousness and a bit of a panoramic feel to it.

I know I'm using a lot of terminology clearly taken from what I've read before. But it's because these words seem to be the best way to describe the experience. The thesaurus is my best friend in these instances! I'm all about looking for the best possible word(s) to describe things.

I sat 35 minutes before bed, very tired again.

35 minute sit. Too sleepy to do more.


35 minute sit in the afternoon. Really really tired, low energy today.

And no sit before bed, I am feeling very nauseous.

No energy today. The nausea passed, but I'm so tired. Just wanting to do nothing this morning except yoga/stretches.

20 minute sit in the afternoon. I was feeling so so tired, drowsy, lack of energy. I was drifting, all right, but like, drifting off to sleep! Any time that I do meditate, though, even if I only manage a few minutes, it is calm, quiet, peaceful. 

40 minute sit before bed. Too sleepy to sit longer.

40 minute sit. When I have thoughts about feeling stuck, lost, not knowing what to do, etc etc, I will realize oh, these are just thoughts about practice, then suddenly the worry/concern is gone, it's no problem at all, just more thoughts to note. My mind wants to think about this stuff though. It doesn't like not having something to do.

After the sit I realized that I've been looking for something to happen in the future. Looking forward to that. Thinking it will happen sometime later. When I stop looking to the future for what I want, I feel very uncomfortable. I don't like the feeling of looking "away from" the future and looking here and now, because it feels like here and now doesn't have the thing I want. It feels like I'm giving up on getting what I wanted (stream entry, awakening, etc).

No sits today! I got only four hours of sleep last night... so too tired.

I still seem to be experiencing lots of equanimity, though, and there is no apathy or indifference whatsoever. I still feel everything. Fully. Emotions I mean. I also am feeling intuitively like I just gotta have faith and keep going.

It feels like I should be sitting way more than I do, or for longer. Maybe I'm underestimating the sits I do have, though.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/29/23 6:01 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/29/23 5:56 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nice Ashley! This is right on track.

Sorry about the tiredness. I just went through a round of sickness and yeah, it's hard to do anything when sleep deprived... hope you get some good rest soon. Of course, noting is our friend, especially when tired or sick, in the sense that if we can complain, we can note. emoticon

One of the things that shows up in this phase is the awareness of "trying to manipulate" or "trying to game" the meditation. It can seem frustrating -- why can I not just be aware??? or conversely, why won't fruition just happen? But as you described, all of this is even more stuff to be noted. The wanting more or less, the doubts of scripting or not, the figuring out how to improve, even the telling ourselves just to relax... that's our inner narrator and what we think/say really doesn't matter that much in meditation. What is arising and passing is what is arising and passing. If we believe our thoughts, we get embedded. If we note our thoughts, we can still evaluate the content of the thoughts but we aren't bound to them.

And as you point out, the witness position starts becoming more obvious. What is this thing that seems to sit back from experience and observe? How is it same/different from the arising of experience itself? How come the sense of "I am" seems to move around when I look for it? This is a good investigation, especially if done with curiousity rather than "I'm going to kill the I am and the watcher!!!" emoticon

There are a few games that can be played to keep meditation interesting... a classic is "I wonder what my narrator's next thought will be?"  This turns thoughts into an interesting meditation object instead of an adversary/distraction. It's always better to be playful than aversive when it comes to our own mind.

Another one is "following thoughts upstream". You've noticed that there is a sense of narration, which seems to be from a watcher, what does this watcher think or feel? In this realm, there are very subtle urges and pre-thoughts. Sort of the tiny pieces of experience (urges) that combine into a bigger feeling/judgements by the watcher or tiny pieces of experience (urges again, that's my best word) that solidify into the words that get formulated/said by the narration. This is a very strange world of subtle, almost physical, tiny pushes and pulls. It can also sound like pre-verbal babbling in the spot where the thinking mind is (somewhere in our head, where we hear our internal voice). Sometimes it just feels like litttle tap, tap, tap in our thought stream space. Sometimes it can seem like a helicopter is off in the distance of our mind. These meditations only occur when the body/mind is both relaxed and somewhat sensitive -- so not every sit. Sometimes evening sits are more condusive to this kind of work because we're more relaxed and that helps a lot.

(And of course, don't take the "truth" of the narration, watcher, etc. too seriously. It's just a way of framing things in order to explore it. It's not necessarily "really real". Don't turn it into a metaphysical belief system. emoticon )
Ashley K, modified 4 Months ago at 7/30/23 7:31 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/30/23 7:31 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Thanks for the info and advice emoticon

I think maybe I experience those "upstream" thoughts at times, but rarely, and it only lasts 1 or 2 seconds and then it's back to "downstream" thoughts, i.e. just hearing verbal spoken sentences. I understand not every sit has the right conditions to follow thoughts upstream, so maybe it's just that. But also when I think I am having a moment of experiencing "upstream" thoughts (or other things that I think will get me closer to awakening), I get excited or start trying to keep it going, and then I am no longer relaxed/just noticing. Just some of that manipulation/gaming you mention, I guess.

With the feelings of excitement or anticipation - when that repeats enough times across enough sits, my mind eventually settles down and that reaction stops happening. And, like you said, I can just note the attempts to control/manipulate the meditation.

Thanks again! I will just keep going and see what this week brings.
Stranger_Loop Stranger_Loop, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/23 10:56 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/3/23 10:55 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 36 Join Date: 3/17/23 Recent Posts
> There are a few games that can be played to keep meditation interesting... a classic is "I wonder what my narrator's next thought will be?"  This turns thoughts into an interesting meditation object instead of an adversary/distraction. It's always better to be playful than aversive when it comes to our own mind.

I tried this just a little bit and it's a great. When I do it for longer in a session, I will write some more details.
3) Another one is "following thoughts upstream". You've noticed that there is a sense of narration, which seems to be from a watcher, what does this watcher think or feel? In this realm, there are very subtle urges and pre-thoughts. Sort of the tiny pieces of experience (urges) that combine into a bigger feeling/judgements by the watcher or tiny pieces of experience (urges again, that's my best word) that solidify into the words that get formulated/said by the narration. This is a very strange world of subtle, almost physical, tiny pushes and pulls. It can also sound like pre-verbal babbling in the spot where the thinking mind is (somewhere in our head, where we hear our internal voice). Sometimes it just feels like litttle tap, tap, tap in our thought stream space. Sometimes it can seem like a helicopter is off in the distance of our mind. These meditations only occur when the body/mind is both relaxed and somewhat sensitive -- so not every sit. Sometimes evening sits are more condusive to this kind of work because we're more relaxed and that helps a lot.

This seems like something interesting to notice at all/in more details some time, just focus on it.

Thanks, for the info/advice.
Ashley K, modified 3 Months ago at 8/8/23 3:38 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/8/23 3:38 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Sat almost an hour. My day was exceedingly pleasant!

25 minute sit early evening. I thought I had an insight somewhere in there about how there could be something happening without it being me. For example, how there could be meditation occurring without me as the meditator. Maybe just a partial insight or something to see more deeply later.

Today I felt like I was remembering some "greatest hits" of stuff that used to bother me. Like my mind was going back to a few things and re-experiencing the negative thoughts and feelings. None of it stuck around.

I meditated about 40 minutes, before bed. I was laying down for this meditation, somehow I did NOT fall asleep or get sleepy. Near the end there was a moment where everything smoothly and quietly faded (though not completely) then a moment later came back along with a ringing sound in my right ear. Then my mind decided to start chattering and the meditation just ended. I had continuous mindfulness, as far as I could tell. Just sitting back, letting things happen, and I think being reclined and much more relaxed brought me more easily to a state where I could follow thoughts upstream, somewhat. Sort of in and out of that state that feels like you are between awake and asleep except I knew I was awake and not lost in anything.

45 minute sit. Lots of moments of fading but zero head drops, so did not seem like falling asleep.

I decided very early in the sit that I wasn't going to do ANYTHING. Nothing at all. I wasn't going to go out looking for anything, even just looking for things to note or notice. Nah, if something got noted or noticed, it was gonna be because that's just what unfolded, not because I decided to do that. And if noting didn't happen, it was gonna be because that's just what happened.

Somewhere in the sit I had this EXTREME desire for just what IS. Maybe strong EQ. Basically the feeling was - if amazing things happen, then that's what I want, because it's just what is, it's what's supposed to be. If terrible things happen, then that's what I want, because it's just what is. If boring things happen, then that's what I want, because it's just what is. So this was the feeling. Like this desire for things to just be what they are, whatever they are, exactly as they are. I guess akin to having no desire at all, or at least no desire for things to be other than what they are.

Very easy to sit and easy to sit still.

I guess there's a feeling of being "the witness" now, off-cushion, after the sit, but there's nothing there when I look for it. There is only whatever is seen, heard, felt, thought.

I feel like in a way I'm just playing at meditating. There's this pretending quality to it. Like there is a disconnect between the seeking meditator that I've "been" up to now and whatever it is that I feel I am now. The seeking meditator is seeming to be less "me", and more just another thing happening.

I sat for 30 minutes before bed, then just stopped the meditation without really deciding to, I laid down and went to sleep.

Hard to let go of control (or the feeling of being in control). Too scary!

30 minute sit. Moving between periods of less clarity/more clarity, narrow feel to panoramic feel, and deepening concentration. Also getting daydreamy while not being totally lost in it. Moments of fading that I still can't tell are not losing mindfulness or falling asleep, but it does not feel like falling asleep, no head drops. Oh and lots of random brightening on my closed eyelids, I guess I haven't mentioned that recently but I've had that the last few sits.

Not sure why, but my sits seem to only want to last 30 minutes.

Some other phenomenology - feeling lots of pressure in my head. During the last few sits. It has only been happening during meditation, never off-cushion. Usually within a few minutes of sitting. Sometimes tapers off.

My practice feels like it kinda fell off. But I'm sure just a temporary feeling. Just keep feeling tired and having short sits. In daily life I'm experiencing extreme procrastination and boredom. But I don't necessarily procrastinate on meditation and I don't feel bored when I meditate.

My plan to sit during the day time hasn't been working so well. I tried to sit now, before bed, and sat for 7 whole minutes. I'm having a fun time in my life right now, doing more social activities lately, enjoying my new job, so, I am wanting to indulge in thinking about all that and it's very pleasant. I mean, nothing wrong with enjoying life, am I right? Yeah, I could note, but... I just don't feel like it.

I am sure I will be back to sitting consistently very soon. I definitely don't plan on stopping my practice. I don't currently feel it is any kind of problem to be practicing less, and at the same time I know I'll want to get back to practicing more very soon.

I did have a dream reminiscent of A&P, where I dreamed of meditating and I had a build up of an extremely pleasant buzzy blissy energetic feeling in my head, that flashed through my head a few times.

Everything feels exceedingly normal in my life - but, with a significantly improved baseline than I had six months ago. Life is very satisfying right now. Guess I've just had an enjoyable few days.

I sat just now for 40 minutes, very easily, so at least I know I can still do that, after a few days "off".

Practice doesn't feel so urgent anymore, the way it used to. But I'll try to make sure I keep sitting and practicing even with the total lack of urgency. I still like to sit and feel it's brought lots of benefits. It's a curious thing, it feels like the urgency dropped all by itself, I'm just having to go with the flow of how my practice unfolds. Almost like I don't even know how I'm going to feel about my practice from day to day. 

If I sit long enough I can always pick out maybe 2 or 3 times during the sit where there is some subtle shift. Either, I shift into a deeper concentration (noticing is easier or effort drops), or the clarity changes (sensations go from vague to clear), or the scope of awareness changes (e.g. narrow to more broad). I do keep having fade outs and moments of spacing out but nothing ever feels different after so I chalk it up to it's either random meditation stuff or it could be PoI phenomenology stuff. I can usually tell when it's a real loss of mindfulness and I was just distracted.

I am having sleep problems again! So I am going to sit more again when I can to get sleep back on track, because I only sat for 15 minutes this evening.

I keep forgetting to post, just haven't been getting around to it, so posting now before this post gets too long!

I dreamed last night that I was gearing up to go through another dark night, where deeper still unresolved stuf was going to come up and I couldn't hide from it or pretend it didn't bother me anymore. The dream was about something specific - grieving the loss of an old friendship and accepting it was really gone.

I did sit 30 minutes yesterday evening, and there was some restlessness, and like, getting mad and being grumpy about stuff... I don't know why. By morning that was all gone and back to feeling like things are fine.

I sat 30 minutes this afternoon. Somewhere during the sit I remember I was trying to think of what technique/tool to use next during the sit, and I just couldn't think - nothing was even coming to mind. I am aware of all sorts of tools or techniques, but in the middle of the sit could think of absolutely nothing. I couldn't get my mind to move in any way whatsoever so I decided to just sit there and go with the flow then. I was not even really noting, just sitting quietly with mindfulness on whatever sensation happened to be noticed.

The drive to do some specific technique or meditate a certain way is just not there. I just close my eyes and stuff gets noticed and that's it... There is not really intention or effort to do ANYTHING specific. There is no feeling like I'm trying to note my way "to somewhere". I'm just sitting.

I don't know if I'm getting off track here, but I don't FEEL lost or like I need to fix or change anything, but also am not sure what "direction" I am headed, if any. I feel like the person who cares about any of that is not really here anymore? Where has she gone? Will she be back? I dunno lol. I DO want to continue to practice, and sit every day.
Ashley K, modified 3 Months ago at 8/15/23 7:19 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/15/23 7:14 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
35 minute sit before bed. Subtle fear is back. Something else that stands out is a few moments of very intense flickering. My eyes were closed, at the time I was noticing some thought about some random thing, then had this rapid intense flickering on my eyelids like someone was flipping the light switch off and on several times, it did freak me out a little. Then right after still some subtle flickering, including with sounds. Not sure if just weird side effects of more intense concentration while gently noticing. More subtle fear here and there, I had to open my eyes now and then if the fear felt overwhelming.

Just under 30 minute sit. Mind wandering at the start, actually getting lost in thinking. Then obsessing in my mind over something that happened while driving. Then after that, my usual noting (without labeling) and noticing. Spacing out some. No subtle fear this time.

35 minute sit before bed. Like a usual calm sit, no more fear this time either.

40 minute sit. Quite sleepy, sat still as a statue, calm, concentrated. Sorry sometimes I don't give much detail. Sometimes even after a sit where it seemed like a lot of different stuff was going on, I have a hard time recalling it all afterward.

I had a 20 minute sit before bed, but was very sleepy after a long day!

I used to get lost mostly in negative thinking, but recently I've been getting lost more in neutral and positive thinking. Neutral meaning just remembering and thinking of things that happened during the day, and positive because things have just been pretty good lately.

I understand that I having been enjoying life very much recently, which there is of course nothing wrong with, and during the day and even sometimes during my sits, I have indulged in thinking and remembering these good times - when during the sit I should be noting the thinking, noting the good feelings, noting all of that, and just continuing to note as usual. Otherwise it is not really good practice. As often as I may have thoughts or remember or picture stuff, I can note it rather than think and get lost in it. That's okay, I'm more used to getting lost and stuck in negative stuff, and getting lost and stuck in positive stuff is just the same, from the perspective of practice/noting. So during a sit I'll watch for that. I would like to be more diligent in my sits - not more effortful or trying to drive things really, but not getting wishy washy and forgetting to include the good and positive things in my noting. Today I think I'm beginning to feel ready to treat these good, pleasant feelings and thoughts the same as any other sensation during practice.

I also had the feeling like there is a lot in here still to "clean up". When I have these pockets or periods of difficult feelings and experiences. Even within the overall feeling good and having more equanimity.

I got triggered by some stuff this evening, actually, almost like that feeling that there is still a lot in here to "clean up" brought some more stuff up. So, the start of my evening sit was crying and seething with anger... eek! Well, I just let these really intense feelings be, they were bad, the worst I have experienced in a while, and eventually, things calmed a little and smoothed out a little and really I can't remember much from the sit after that. But afterward I thought that some of the stuff that needs to be "cleaned up" seems insurmountable - like fear of death, how could it ever be possible to get rid of a fear that huge? What about the deep despair I feel if I think about death and dying, all this ending, including for the people I know and love? How could that ever be "dealt with"? These are not really questions to be answered, I don't have any answer and assume the "answers" will be revealed through practice. But thinking about all this, I ended up contemplating more on death and dying while laying in bed waiting to fall asleep, and forced myself to face factual thoughts like, "Someday this person will die - some day it will be their last day." And just seeing, what does it feel like when I think of these things? And just letting those uncomfortable feelings be there and being willing to face them and experience them instead of ignoring or suppressing them.

I sat for an hour before bed. 

Started with feeling some pressure building in my head and forehead, on and off. During the sit, every time I ran into any sense of resistance or tension, I just noted (without labeling) and sat. I did not move, did not open my eyes. There was some more fear, discomfort, especially a few times feeling what was like a big ball of tightly wound tension and discomfort and mild anxiety in my chest. I would just note, note, note, intuitively sensing that if I'm looking at this, it isn't "me", and it would fade or something else would come up to note. Moments of tingly hands and face and forehead, and shifts from individual notings to feeling like noting was more flowing and broad. Lots of brightening on my closed eyelids on and off. Lots of daydreamy spacing out but not mind wandering, I stayed with things the whole of the hour... Maybe a few times here and there I got lost in some train of thought but only very briefly. Any time fear came up I would note and it would always fade into something else. Very easy to keep sitting even when it was uncomfortable. Easier to notice things going on by themselves and happening on their own.

Though, any time the the narrator starts talking, I am not able to notice or note it right away. When it starts it is almost as though it is invisible to the noting mind -  it feels like it's on "this side" and everything else is on "that side", that side being all the things I am noting/noticing... and only after a delay I notice the narrator and realize that it is also something else to note. Perhaps this is part of the whole, things getting "split off" from other sensations thing. I think I am seeing that "split" more clearly with the narrator. I feel like the narrator is one thing I am "slow" to note/notice. I wonder if I could spend my next sit trying to note the narrator right away, such that it no longer feels "invisible" or split off on "this side". 

I mentioned this the other day, but I'm ready to be more diligent again with noting practice. I have done a lot of coasting/enjoying lately, and enjoying is fine, but I am ready to stop the "indulging" part of it.
Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago at 8/15/23 9:44 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/15/23 9:44 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2579 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Best wishes for your practice Ashley! 
Ashley K, modified 3 Months ago at 8/15/23 7:51 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/15/23 7:51 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
Thank you!! Much appreciated. It certainly has made for interesting times. Progress seems fast and slow at the same time.
shargrol, modified 3 Months ago at 8/20/23 6:49 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/20/23 6:49 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 2182 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nice Ashley!

For what it's worth, I've notice a very common pattern that we momentarily get a strong experience of what's possible and then we fall back an need to clean up the "resistances" in order to regain that peak experience. Totally normal. Hopefully you can keep gentle and consistent practice. We're not really in control of "our path" -- the mind will take us to the experiences that need experiencing. We just need to show up each day and see what meets us on the cushion. Practice leads onward...
Ashley K, modified 3 Months ago at 8/20/23 7:22 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/20/23 7:22 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 41 Join Date: 4/14/23 Recent Posts
For sure there has been some kind of purification or revisiting "reobservation" or cleaning up resistances (or whatever you want to call it) going on recently... I'm just along for the ride! But it's been a gentle ride, like I'm bobbing up and down between DN-like experiences and more EQ-like experiences.

I'm hoping if my practice needs more time on the cushion that I'll be naturally inclined to sit more. I feel sometimes like I'm "getting away with" not really sitting that much, lol, it just seems like I should need to sit much more than I do. Though I know and appreciate that there are plenty of examples of people who do shorter or fewer sits and make plenty of progress. To me at least, it seems like I move pretty quickly to a stable place in my sits and so maybe it just doesn't take me too long to re-establish my practice before moving on to "new territory".

And, I know also that this "clean up" period just takes as long as it takes. I prefer not to rush it (as if that were even possible!).