RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Ashley K, modified 2 Months ago at 1/18/23 3:40 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/18/23 3:33 PM

Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 2 Months ago at 1/19/23 1:36 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/19/23 1:36 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 2 Months ago at 1/20/23 7:14 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/20/23 7:14 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 2 Months ago at 1/22/23 6:45 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/22/23 6:45 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 7:27 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 7:27 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 1/27/23 10:06 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 1/27/23 10:06 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 1/28/23 7:38 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 1/28/23 7:38 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 2/4/23 7:43 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 2/4/23 7:43 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 2/7/23 7:42 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 2/7/23 7:42 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 2/8/23 6:32 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 2/8/23 6:32 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 1926 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 1 Month ago at 2/8/23 7:35 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 2/8/23 7:35 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 2/15/23 8:45 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 2/15/23 8:45 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 1 Month ago at 2/21/23 7:30 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 2/21/23 7:30 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 29 Days ago at 2/24/23 8:13 PM
Created 29 Days ago at 2/24/23 8:13 PM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 24 Days ago at 3/2/23 10:12 AM
Created 24 Days ago at 3/2/23 8:45 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 17 Days ago at 3/9/23 9:01 AM
Created 17 Days ago at 3/9/23 9:01 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 12 Days ago at 3/14/23 5:04 AM
Created 12 Days ago at 3/14/23 5:04 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 Days ago at 3/18/23 7:41 AM
Created 8 Days ago at 3/18/23 7:26 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 3 Days ago at 3/23/23 9:14 AM
Created 3 Days ago at 3/23/23 9:14 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 18 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 2 Days ago at 3/24/23 11:53 AM
Created 2 Days ago at 3/24/23 11:51 AM

RE: Ashley's Practice Log

Posts: 1926 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