Polly Ester’s practice log 18

Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/25/23 10:19 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/25/23 11:39 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/31/23 5:11 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/2/23 6:09 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/2/23 6:37 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Smiling Stone 8/3/23 3:56 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/3/23 5:15 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Dream Walker 8/5/23 12:06 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/3/23 8:51 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/3/23 7:23 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/3/23 7:30 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/3/23 7:39 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/3/23 7:56 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/3/23 8:27 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/4/23 10:29 AM
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/23 10:19 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/23/23 6:26 AM

Polly Ester’s practice log 18

Posts: 7119 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Previous logs in chronological order:



July 25th, 2023

For this log I’m taking two different courses with Michael Taft: Reversing the Stack (137 classes so far, number 138 coming up early in the morning) and Tantra 1 (3 classes). My pawo is staying with me here in Sweden, and apart from my taking the classes, he and I practice together.

In the tantra class we learn basic techs and how to use them as building stones to set up a more complex practice. We have tried out some different mantras and some pranayama and some basic visualizations. We are approaching it from a nondual view to the best of our abilities.

In the RtS class we are working with the Recognition Sutras. Right now we are going through different specific techs in chapter 18, some ”gnostic” ones and some yogic ones. Since Christopher Wallis (who translated the text and added his own commentary) is into the more yogic practices, even the gnostic ones are often presented through an energetic lens, so it feels like home territory. There is a lot about both getting centered in the central channel and expanding the center.

Since my last logging, I have been playing with the tech from the courses. I have also done inward-listening. On occasion I have even done some noting, mainly for the purpose of allowing the duality between noter and noted (anside and outside, here and there) to break down along with the distinctions between sense doors.

I have also done some investigation of the vague lingering sense that there is still something in the headspace that thinks it is a subjective point. That sense is not as seemingly solid as it was before stream entry, but more subtle. Upon investigation I cannot find it. It tends to feel like it’s somewhere ”behind” where thoughts occur, but I can sort of move backwards without ever finding it, and instead there’s a sense of there being a hole in the back of my head or something.

I have done lots of ”disentangling” — basically reclining and fully surrendering while energy tentacles are allowed to sort themselves out and energy knots dissolve themselves. During that practice, my body falls asleep but I remain aware (at times the sense of being a person at all falls away, though).

This morning on the verge of sleep I saw a thought with a number of different tags attached to it.

First sit today, 45+ minutes. Started with nadi shodana (alternate nostril breathing). Both nostrils were fully open, so the shifts back and forth between the nostrils were easy. Then subtle ujjayi breath (generating vibrations in the sinuses all the way up to behind the forehead) while gradually building up to one visualization on the inbreath, located in my belly and accompanied with a mantra, and another visualization on the outbreath located in the third eye and accompanied with a different mantra. I spent some time establishing one visualization first, without locating it, and then locating it, and eventually adding the mantra. Then I let it dissolve and stayed present with the space that was made free. Then I did the same thing with the other visualization. Then I let that dissolve. Finally I combined the two sets. It took up a lot of mindspace and left no room for distraction. There were a couple of brief distracting thoughts appearing, but they didn’t go undetected but were quickly let go of. Also, they were practice-related. Lots of energy built up. Everything became bright. I took a couple of breaks from the complex visualization-pranayama-mantra practice and tuned into the brightness of awareness before getting back to it again. At times it all synched up so well that I was the visualization, just appearing on its own. There were instances of heart pounding from a slight jolt of fear. I could feel subtle energy moving upward through the crown on the outbreaths.

After the sit my pawo and I did our defication together, as usual. and then just held each other for a while, looking into each others eyes, before talking about our respective sits. We had both had good sits after a couple of days with food sensitivities causing dullness (it turns out that he seems to be histamine intolerant as well — what are the odds?) so we were in awe.

I’m freakishly happy. Conditions are involved in that, though.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/23 11:39 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/25/23 11:39 AM

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Second sit today, 45+ minutes. Builded up the practice as above. Visualizations were somewhat less accessible and out of phase. I entered a bit of dreamlike territory. There was a sudden jerky kriya. I took a break from the visualization and did nadi shodana again and then a version of Bastrika pranayam, bellows breath, to energize. Then I continued with the visualization. 

​​​​​​​I feel somewhat unsolid. My breath is subtle. There is spaciousness.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/31/23 5:11 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/31/23 4:48 PM

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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July 31st, 2023

Daily life:

Right now I’m doing some shadowwork in the sense of working through stuff that I struggle with in daily life, such as writing anxiety, e-mail phobia, procrastination and anxiety around tasks that require executive functioning. It has been clear to me for a long time that these difficulties not only impact my quality of life, but also hold me back in my practice. Yet, the thought of dealing with them has been overwhelming and the whole thing has been entangled with feelings of guilt and shame. Now it’s going unusually well, thanks to emotional and practical support from my pawo. It turns out that we are both very well suited for supporting the other party with our respective difficulties, as we have what seems to be the perfect combination of similarities and complementary traits, and since our communication is so smooth. Living together makes my life so much easier, and I both wake up and fall asleep profoundly happy. So - if anyone knows about a remote job offer suitable for a scientific writer specialized in organic chemistry, please let me know! When my partner has to go back to the US, we will both be devastated, and we are looking into ways for him to come here again and preferable move here. 

Trip report, LSD:

For the first time in my life, I have tried psychedelics, specifically LSD. Now, before anyone draws any conclusions about my partner being a bad influence on me, I’d like to clarify that the initiative was mine and that I was the one who acquired the drugs. I have come to know quite a number of practicioners who have experimented with psychedelics as part of their practice, and it has made me more and more curious. One of those dharma friends offered to give me some, for free, as he finds that I’m stable enough to deal with it skillfully and have a solid practice. I was grateful for the opportunity. 

My pawo and I did the trip together, last Wednesday (July 26th). We had received 6 gel tabs of ”some strong shit”, exact dosage unknown but supposedly on the strong side. For our first trip we took one tab each. I’m on SSRI but I skipped it that day, along with my ADHD medication. I had read up on possible interactions and prepared for the eventuality of a medical emergency. I know my body very well and know the early signs of excess serotonine. When the LSD kicked in I didn’t notice anything that would indicate such issues. 

It was an interesting experience - confusing, lots of fun, deeply loving. I wouldn’t say that it did much for the spiritual path, though. My pawo and I shared some telepathic moments, or so we think, and time stopped being linear, and experience warped in on itself in fractals, with frames around frames and pockets within pockets, but referential points kept reappearing and anchor to consensus reality. 

I found it confusing to have one foot in reality and one… not there. There were moments of everything feeling normal and then it warped and folded in on itself more and more, then it would unfold again, back and forth like that. There were cycles to it.

At one point I grabbed as many nectarines as I could carry and washed them and brought them to my bedside table so that I would have them ready the next time I knew what they were. I was hungry! We had only eaten breakfast (well, brunch) and it was evening. It seemed like the wise thing to do, making sure that there would be some nourishment. I also made myself some sandwiches and tea when I could. Interesting to note that I grabbed on to the consensus reality like that, even though at the same time I was also disappointed that it was still there. 

I did a lot of introspective observations about what my mind was doing. 

There were some visuals, but not the full-on kind. Faint rainbow colors coming from music. Some snakiness of the leaves of a tree outside. But most of all it was a warping of experience, with those frames around frames and pockets inside pockets. Hard at times to distinguish what actually happened from imagination. In trying to talk I would have the entire conversation in my head before getting out the words. Inside and outside was blurred. There were times when I knew the difference, according to consensus reality, and times when I definitely didn’t know, and times when I was somewhere between. Almost all the time I knew where I was on that spectrum. There was however one moment when I only knew one single thing, on a very primordial level. It was unity of my pawo and me. 

My pawo described it like this elsewhere:

”OK so it was super cool ..

First of all it was a low dose trip but for the amount we took I thought it was awesome. Also with Linda, no particular new spiritual insight or anything, but there was a few very cool aspects to it
Firstly, there was an automatic blending of sense doors similar to what happens in Equanimity regarding formations

We shared music and didn't talk too much but there was a sort of fractal like- communication thing going on where it was clear that each micromoment was like a crossroads that led to different micromoments and I got the sense that there was much more rapid and fractal-like communication thing going on that felt like telekenisis that would not have been possible with verbal words. The music was extremely multidimensional and colorful, seeming to hit all sense door's. I played some stuff and she played some stuff and we made tea and hung out with the cats and at one point I made tea, and completely forgot about the tea, an entire nonverbal conversation happened that was like spending an entire day with someone, then I remembered the tea and it was like 5 minutes had passed but it was like a time warp. It was really like the boundaries between, thoughts, intentions, and events sort of lost their conceptual boundaries

((me: Indeed! I freaked out a bit when the tea was still super hot, because after all there are physical laws to how fast or slowly tea cools down, so it was a relatively objective measurement of time, and the communication we’d had during that time period was epic! There were so many levels to it! I laughed and cried at the same time when I realized that only a few minutes could have passed, objectively speeking. Time really is extremely relative.))

And I could tell that the placemarkers delineating conceptual boundaries and holding the sense of space and time and self and other together were simply perceptual add-ons that organize reality”

The next day I had a dip in serotonine levels, I think, and for hours I was in a bit of a hell hole of apathy. I took care of myself (and was taken care of by my partner) and the nuances of reality came back. I have previous experiences of running out of neurotransmitters, even just from highs from touch exercises, so I knew intellectually what it was and (of course) that it would pass. 

I plan to have another trip, with two tabs, and meditate while it kicks in and then lie down in darkness and continue with visualizations. We will be doing that together as well. 

Formal practice:

As for practice since the last log entry, I have been doing more of what I reported there. Focus and clarity have varied a great deal, and I have adjusted accordingly.

In my last log entry I forgot to mention that I fried myself energetically a bit when I was playing with mantras and pranayama together with spontaneous movement that turned into extatic dancing. I think maybe the part with a wrathful deity may have been especially over the top. It felt amazing, but it backfired with a few days of brainfog and bodily pain. Let’s just say that next time my partner says that maybe I should calm it down a bit and not overexert myself, I will listen.

The other day I had an interesting exchange with dharma friends about jhanas. It made me realize that I have over time come to raise my standards for what I regard as jhanas, to the extent that I have neglected to explore subtler versions and learn how to navigate them. In talking further about this with my pawo, with lots of calibrating of language, I was reminded of what to look for in the lite versions (hey, the body can actually be recognizable as a body, ar least to begin with!). I came to the conclusion that it’s unrealistic for me to cling so much to harder versions that it seems impossible to get into jhana when conditions aren’t optimal. There is much to learn from the subtle balancing, and it may very well be exactly what I need, as it has been a bit too much ”all or nothing”. A dharma friend explained that he prioritized stability over intensity. That’s an approach I hadn’t thought of, and I now intend to cultivate the skill of stabilizing jhana also when the intensity is lower.

Practice today: 

Playing with several different tools to balance energy and relaxation and call up factors of lite 1st jhana over and over again to practice stabilizing it. That jhanas volitile features make it an excellent practice object for the purpose of really learning how to balance energy and relaxation and find just the right kind of drive. 

I did a few different pranayamas and practiced a short while with the visualizations from Tantra 1 class 3. Then I integrated some of the mantra practice and played a little with some tech from the Recognition Sutras, breathing in focusing on the hert chakra and breathing out focusing on the crown chakra and feeling the energy move between those points and how the movement of subtle energy leads the way, before the breath. Then I switched to visualizations taught by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in the dream and sleep yoga book, specifically the three kinds aiming at remedying hindrances. For getting focused when being restless, visualizing (and feeling) the central channel. For sluggishness, visualizing blue smoke whirling up through the central channel. For agitation, visualizing the Tibetan syllables of RA (yellow), LA (green), SHA (red) and SA (blue) on the four petaled red lotus in the throat chakra. I don’t know the exact shape of those four Tibetan syllables by heart, but I can manage to get relatively accurate glimpses of them, enough for me to believe that I have seen them. It’s a work in progress. Using visualizations and pranayamas for specific purposes to get the balance act right feels more interesting than following a predetermined routine. It keeps me on my toes, engaged and curious.  

As the default focus object I used the central channel and the overall sense of energy in the physical body and the subtle body.
In the Tantra 1 course today, class 4, we learned some more pranayama and practiced it together. I was already familiar with the tech, but it was slightly different versions, and it was all put into context. It was good stuff. I’m looking forward to encorporating them into my balancing practice. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/23 6:09 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/23 6:09 AM

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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This is gonna be a sloppy post. Just wanted to jot down something for my own memory. Appologies!

Yesterday morning (Aug 1st, 2023): woke up in the morning with clear jhanic features available, so I take that as a sign that easing up on my expectations of what constitutes a jhana and learn to recognize and stabilize it even when it's subtle is a good approach for me at this time. 

Practiced as before, balancing and playing with different tech to find a balance between focus, relaxation and Bodhicitta. My concentration is definitely not at its best, but I'm having fun and I see a way forward with this.

This night (inbetween late writing and RtS class) I received a thorough more than one hour full body massage that made me see sacred geometry (or at least some kind of intricately woven fractal thing) made up of light tentacles that were swirling around in 3D. It wasn't the brightest version of light, but the resolution of the imagery was distinct and clear. 

This morning/day when I woke up after the class in the arms of my lover I had a set of whole body kriyas that were very tangibly releasing some old stuff. Not sure what was released, or what made it release, but it made me lighter and brighter, and the heaviness from the jetlag went away instantly. It felt healing. 

I'm really looking forward to practicing today. And to writing, actually! Imagine that! No writing anxiety, where there previously was an incapacitating mess! 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/23 6:37 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/23 6:37 AM

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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I think maybe the combination of dealing with the writing (both writing per se and the specific topic which is very personal) and releasing tensions in my body through a deep massage (after also doing yoga), while being contained in a safe space, helped me let go of something. 
Smiling Stone, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/23 3:56 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/3/23 3:56 PM

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Hey Linda,
I enjoyed your trip report (same same but different)! 
I still follow your log with interest even when I don't say anything, which has been the case lately...
And I sent you a pm tonight...
much metta your way
​​​​​​​smiling stone
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/3/23 5:15 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/3/23 5:15 PM

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Thanks! <3

Another one is coming up. 

​​​​​​​Metta right back at ya!
Dream Walker, modified 4 Months ago at 8/5/23 12:06 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 8:51 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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No time no logging. I had to leave my ipad for repair and sort of got out of habit, especially since I had started on a log post in the notes function that I suddenly couldn't access. 

I'll paste in some fragments, cutted and pasted from different other sources, starting with the file accessed on my ipad after getting it back. The trip report starting it is in turn cutted and pasted from chat in a discord server, so the prose is awful.


Log DhO August 2023

Trip report from Wednesday August 2nd and 3rd:

So my pawo and I had our second LSD trip yesterday evening and the entire night and a large part of the morning. It was pretty intense, at least for me, as we took a higher dosage. I *loved* the ride while coming up. It was frickin hillarious. My body kept falling away. I could call it back by anchoring myself to my singing bowls, but it would fall away again unless I maintained the effort. Still I felt completely safe and blissed out. 

Somewhere in the middle to later part of the trip, I freaked out a bit because I had a hard time believing in reality at all. I was afraid I would never be able to believe in it again. And I feared that if it were to turn out that consensus reality is just something we make up and choose, I wouldn’t know whether or not to choose it, and I was worried about what that was saying about me.But then after quite some time the default reality started to feel stable enough so that I could relax and just enjoy the visuals. And then I discovered that different points of my lover’s body had smells that made different beautiful mandalas to manifest. And after we had gone outside (after making sure that we wouldn’t disturb anyone), we laid down on the grass and looked at the stars that we probably hallucinated (although my pawo was pretty sure there was a real one there).

It all made me come to the conclusion that I actually prefer for there to be a consensus reality after all. I did sort of think that I wanted to get rid of that. And I think I may have lost my clinging to full absorption in fourth jhana. Not that the trip was actually that, but there were some (far-fetched) commonalities. Many hours of that and then I was happy to get back to intimacy with the world and its sensory pleasures.

It’s really fuckin absurd when you manage to take a shower while not believing in your bathroom.
My pawo was more grounded than I was. He was trying to argue that people who are afraid of going crazy usually don’t. I was like ”Dude, I’m not worried about going crazy. If reality doesn’t exist, it doesn’t really matter whether or not I’m crazy. That’s sheer logic!”Then I noted that apparently I do believe in logic, so that’s something.

Two gel tabs of LSD, dosage unknown but on the strong side. I hallucinated heavily I knew that I was hallucinating. And eventually I started to suspect that *everything* was just a hallucination, for quite some time.I think the emptiness of LSD is more dissociated than emptiness from meditative practice. It took away a lot of the intimacy with the world. During part of the comedown I had annoying sensory distortions. I recognized them from my practice as signs of a glitch between two different modes of perception. I knew that letting go of subject-object duality would solve it but I also knew that everything would dissolve again if I let go. But eventually I decided to just trust that it would be there anyway, and so I did let go. It was after that I could relax and enjoy the visuals again as I had done on the coming up.

But I feel very sane and stable today (written the day after the grip), having gone through that and decided that samsara is indeed nirvana. I ate potato chips to try to ground myself but I sort of kept forgetting whether I was the one who was eating or the chips or both. Then I had a bit of an allergic reaction to beetroot chips and decided that regardless, it would probably be a good idea to take the medz. I’m inherently constructive even when I’m insane.

The rest of that week:

Nadi shodana, kaphalabatti, some mantra, and then mainly tuning into the central channel. Focusing on the central channel is basically the same thing as listening to the awakening process or to the awake awareness. It’s different ways of pointing to the same thing. It’s like something comes online when the tuning works, which is still a bit wobbly.

In the Recognition Sutras, chapter 19 (RtS), there are pointers to letting the ending of formal meditation take its due time, as a way of bringing the emptiness back into the form. We (my pawo and I) have started doing that together after our sits, deliberatly, my pawo and I. I had been neglecting that lately, and reading it in the Recognition Sutras and talking about it in class was a good reminder. It really does make a difference. It opens up for luminosity, a sense of exquisite taste to experience, and a sense of sacredness. It is also a very tender moment, as we take the time to really see each other while resting in a meditative state. It feels divine. We have also started doing yoga together, hatha sun salutations.


Monday, August 7th, 2023

50 min sit (starting with more than 5 min of pranayama: nadi shodana and kaphalabatti as taught by Michael Taft for the Tantra 1 class).Some internal mantra to generate energy. Focused on the central channel. Noticed resistance to being with it which may have been related to how the balance between emptiness and compassion/liveliness was skewed. It wasn’t dissociation but somewhat distorted in that direction. As a reaction to that, or so it seemed, selfing arose. So I brought gratefulness, compassion and awe into it, sort of let the emptiness soak in that. That made a whole lot of difference. Now the space was blissful, and it made it easier to see the selfing as it arose (or mainly slightly after) and investigate it. I could see that there wasn’t any entity there doing the selfing. Rather, the selfing was doing the idea of an entity by coming into being from habituation. It was so clear! Seeing that, the selfing thought patterns dissolved, again and again, and sort of went POOF. A lot of piti was released as tactile energy bursts flowing upward and as light. As selfing arose around having succeeded with that, I recycled it and let that selfing dissolve as well. It made me feel lighter.

Yoga 50-55 min together with my pawo:

Warm-ups, Hatha sun salutations with integrated mantra chanting, reclining meditation.

Tantra 1, class 5

We learned about seed syllables (Bija) and how to integrate them into our practice.I got into a very sweet meditative state from the class. 

50 min sit (5 min of which consisted of nadi shodana)Played with the instructions for the Tantra class. Worked with seed syllables, the Bija Om and the Bija Shreem, one at a time. Chanted them out loud for a while while visualizing them, then let the mantra run internally while visualizing. Then combined them both, one on the inbreath in the 3rd eye and one on the outbreath in the heart chakra. They were in different colors and had different disks (sun and moon) as their background. Then I let it all dissolve and rested as awake awareness, or my closest approximation of it. 

Jotting down a prelimary version of practice reports, before going to bed, got me into a spacious and sweet meditative state again. -Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

Short meditation in the early evening, then a 50 min one before going to bed. Had the Shreem Bija mantra going on in my head large parts of the day and chanted it out loud at times because I really enjoy the vibrations of it. In the sits I did nadi shodana and then visualized the Bija while letting it run mentally. In the main sit I added the complexity of switching back and forth between two seed syllables, located in two different chakras on a moon disk and a sun disk and associated with different qualities (the clarity of wisdom and the joy of compassion). Eventually I let them dissolve to be there with the space. 

After going to bed, as I lay down still awake, I had a possible cessation, impermanence door. I didn’t catch the door moment going into it, though, just the coming back online which was extremely vivid. It was loud when everything came back online, sort of like when you switch on a huge loudspeaker and for a moment there is a feedback noice. 


Wednesday, August 9th:

at 2:30-4:00 am Reversing the Stack meditation class with Michael Taft. There were check-ins, an AMA and discussion of parts of chapter 19 of the Recognition Sutras. During the AMA, the subject of stuffed nose came up and so I asked about the fact that for a very long time now my nose is popped open most of the time and often my sinuses as well, and it seems like it is thanks to meditation. Michael said that within Kundalini traditions, that’s a thing. It has to do with the energy body as energy is raised. 

Early afternoon:

Chanting shreem while soaking in daylight on the porchThree rounds of KaphalabattiNadi shodana20 minutes of yoga10 minutes of HRV breathing 3.5 breaths per minute10 minutes of HRV breathing 3 breaths per minute — lite first jhanaTaking my time to soak in the meditation before getting on with my business 

I had planned to sit more but had a little laundry room accident and then things sort of got out of synch. Low blood sugar, had to go to the store, too crowded there. My body had a bit of a panic reaction even though mentally I didn’t buy into it. Weird how there can be spaciousness while at the same time the body goes into something reactive. So then I prioritized grounding. 


Thursday, August 10th:

​​​​​​​Yoga (hatha sun salutations) with my pawo

50 min formal meditation:

Nadi shodana Kaphalabatti

Nadi Shodana

Visualizing the seed syllable shreem in my heart while letting the mantra run mentally

Increasing the complexity with om/aum in 3rd eye

Letting them dissolve (They kept popping up so I dissolved them several times)

Resting in the space

Dedicating and taking the time to soak

The meditation got very energetic and boundless. Lots of piti and sukha. Good focus. I could feel warmth radiating from my heart. Groundlessness. Got so relaxed that I needed a blanket because my body got cold. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 7:23 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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October 4th, 2023

This night I had my weekly meditation class with one of Michael Taft’s courses. It’s 9 hours time difference, so for me it’s 2:30-4:00 am. After the class when I was going back to sleep, it got bright and energetic, and it stayed that way for a long time. Then eventually dreams occurred, but I kept realizing very quickly that it was just the mind making up stories, and I kept redirecting focus back to the peaceful brightness. The dream content would immediately dissolve into vibrations that turned into white light. After a long time there was a slip into less mindfulness, and I had a regular dream, albeit dharma related. My classmates from the meditation class were in it.

​​​​​​​I woke up earlier than I usually do after these jet lag nights, and I was quite rejuvinated.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 7:30 AM
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October 19th, 2023, written in the RtS slack channel:

"Wow. I just had a huge opening. There is no way to describe it that adds anything to what has already been talked about on this course, so I won’t even try right now, but wow. This fuckin’ works."

This was a contrast to a period of sluggishness. I remember seeing through the dullness and seeing the energy tied into creating the sense of dullness. I also remember thought trying to describe the experience sounding very meme-like and scripted, things that others have already said before, such as "I am that! That is me! and "It was already always here all along!"

Unfortunately it didn't stick.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 7:39 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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The following requires some context. I'll try to provide it in a reply. Sorry for this fragmentary report!

November 22nd, 2023, on conversation with Michael Taft:

I got to sleep in today and I also feel more energetically stable now. Right now I find it easier to empty things out when needed while staying with the experience. As for the mantra, it often comes up and stays with me but doesn’t overwhelm me. The quadrants feel more accessible. 

Decreasing emphasis on location changes in the sadhana helped, by the way. It doesn’t feel like it’s about resistance. I think it was more about executive function. I think having to use executive functioning is still one of the things that draw me out from awake awareness the most, and doing things in a number of steps in a specific order with a number or conceptual aspects to keep in mind in the right order seems to require lots of executive functioning. So it helped!

Also, since I started working with the 21 Taras in the protector quadrant/sextant, I have been receiving lots of very empowering feedback, especially in areas where I need it the most. It also seems like it helps me with my self care in ways that doesn’t get entangled with self pity, and helps me put things into perspective. 

It feels like I’m on a very healing journey.

I had a trauma reaction coming up yesterday related to a work thing that happened more than a year ago. I was dealing with some other stuff that I knew had been somewhat entangled with that by way of association. I was doing some healing communication to skillfully deal with that entanglement, and it went fine. However, my body did react as if there was an immenent threat. The first few moments I didn’t even realize that it was a psychological thing, but thought that I was sick or something, because I didn’t panic emotionally or in my conscious thinking. I was calm and collected. But soon I recognized the pattern and knew what it was. I stayed with it without freaking out. I had compassion for the bodily reaction and for the subconscious entanglements that were playing out and becoming conscious. The acute phase of the bodily reaction didn’t last long, but I knew that the biochemical process lingers a while because of the biochemical reactions it sets in play, so I was compassionate with it and made sure to get the rest that I needed. It went well. I could continue the communication again later without having another reaction. 

(Somewhat later the same date: )
Heh, actually, no, it’s not energetically stable. The slightest physical effort and I’m like a shaken can of soda or champagne. But it’s okay, I know how to deal with it. It’s gonna be fine. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 7:56 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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The context for the previous report is twofold. I'm going to start with the more technical thing that I mention by the way, as that happened first in chronology.

I'm taking the Tantra 2 course with Michael. We are working with a sadhana that among other things involves a personalized mandala practice where we relate to different energies/deities in six different directions. The sadhana also involves internalizing those energies/deities into specific spots in our central channel, and then having them merge into one spot before letting it go. I had asked Michael for advice with regard to some sluggishness that would happen as I dealt with the "relocations". I was unsure whether the sluggishness had to do with resistance with regard to stuff associated with the mandala or chakras or if it was more a matter of executive function exhaustion. 

The more immediate issue addressed in the posts was a period of energetic and sensory overwhelm that started on November 20th. Things had shifted into getting more energetic, which was very welcome at first. Then it got a bit too much. It was exercarbated when I did some gentle yoga that would normally not be too much at all, but for some reason it made me super nauseaus, and after that going out to the laundry room where there were too much and too strong olfactory and auditory sensory input. I had been running a mantra in my head basically non stop for a few days (nothing too wild, just the green Tara mantra), and the mental sound got so vivid that it contributed to the sensory overwhelm, and it just wouldn't stop. 

Anyway, after my posts on Nov 22nd, it gradually calmed down as I continued grounding myself.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 8:27 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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When I mentioned the sensory overwhelm to Michael, he thought it’s just another developmental step in the nervous system getting more refined and thus suddenly taking in more, which gets overwhelming at first but then leads to being able to tolerate more. Well, I hope he's right. 

What probably contributed to the energetic overwhelm was that I did a mushroom trip on November 18th. I had foraged the mushrooms myself, liberty caps, 3 g dried ones. Most of them I had found in a place where I had been doing metta on the land spirits. On the day of doing the tripping, I started out re-watching Lama Lena's teachings on the 21 Taras. At the end of that, I ate the mushrooms together with some honey and tulsi tea. I thought they tasted rich, with lots of subtle nuances of the earth where they had been growing and of the surrounding forest. Then I chanted the praise to the 21 Taras until the text stood out in 3D to the extent that I thought it was time to lie down and close my eyes. From there I chanted the Green Tara mantra out loud for a while, then switched to having it sound mentally. It stayed in the background throughout the trip, creating a sense of rhythm that I found grounding. 

I wrote this in private conversation at the end of the trip:

"Now that was utterly amazing! Instant jhana. Sacred geometry in color, 3D, moving and folding in on itself, and in fractals. Strong nada sound. Some voices, some instant knowing. Hard to remember what. 

All positive, nothing scary or jarring. Nothing dissociative whatsoever. Now I’m so relaxed that I have been drifting into sleep."

In retrospect as I talked about the trip and tried to put it into words I came to remember that for a while it seemed like I experienced more than 3D, like there was another category of directions there. Hard to say for sure if that was indeed what happened, but there was a subjective experience that approximated something like that. 

In the beginning when sacred geometry appeared as a flat disc, there was some voice or some "knowing" that proposed that it was only flat because I held on to it being flat. And so I let go of that. It seemed like there were more instances of such letting go:s which opened up to the experience folding in on itself and revealing further possible directions from which to experience things visually. 

Some experiences seemed to be state dependent. Outside that state, I can't access it. On a meta level, that seemed like a helpful insight addressing I delusion that I have been having, that "I" should be able to access knowledge that isn't limited to "me" if awakening properly. Actually, it's not the self that ever gets any knowledge. It's the perspective that allows for a self to manifest. I knew that intellectually and I (lol, not really the I) had had glimpses of it before, but this made the experiential knowing of it more tangible, or less fuzzy. Language fails here.

I don't think it really matters whether or not there was really an experience of four spatial dimensions. The point was that something was experienced that can't be accessed outside a state like that, and that state dependency is key. It's okay to not be all-knowing. In this body I experience what is supposed to be experienced in this body. That's not a flaw. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Day ago at 12/3/23 8:40 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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I still practice.

I take two different courses with Michael Taft.

My main practice right now is a rather pragmatic version of tantra, containing a mix of pranayama, visualization, mantra/bija practice, shadowwork, shamatha and vipashyana and just sitting. I also do yoga. On occasion I do reclining surrender practice letting stuff energetically disentangle, which sometimes leads to kriyas and the sense of very local tiny energetic explosions in my head, which doesn't feel bad or frightening. 

I play with letting things go back and forth between emptiness and form, and letting it manifest on the threshold between that as energetic vibrations. 

At times there is a strong sense of centerlessness which is not quite what I had expected it to be. I can't say that it's the default as of yet. There are so many layers to disentangle. There was a while when I thought that maybe it had shifted into being the default, but nah... 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 16 Hours ago at 12/4/23 7:13 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Today I had a morning meeting and I was slow getting out of bed (it's cold!) so I only did a short morning sit, 15-20 min. Pranayama, elemental cleansing (using bijas in the chakras while doing nadi shodana), mandala practice (around my body and in the central channel).

On my way to and from the meeting, I listened to Lama Lena's teaching on the dying process and the first bardos. Then I took a short nap, observing the dissolution of the elements as I fell asleep to the best of my ability. There is some clearity there but also room for improvement.

Midday I practiced with my pawo on video, I think it was 70 minutes. Pranayama, elemental cleansing, mandala (both ones), then shamatha with a wide focus on the sense of energy flow. I noticed the tendency to contract around thoughts that pop up and let go of that over and over, which made things energetic and bright and smooth, with a loud nada sound. It's really just that contracting impuls that gets in the way. I need to do less, not more, in that sense. 
J W, modified 16 Hours ago at 12/4/23 7:19 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Nice! Good to hear about your practice and thanks for sharing your trip experiences. I am always interested in hearing about that stuff especially from advanced meditation practitioners such as yourself. Sounds like it went well and you had a pretty good time overall so, congrats!

Btw - I would generally agree with you that for most people, in the majority of cases, psychedelic experiences do have more of an ‘edge’ and more dissociative qualities than sober “unassisted” meditative experiences. And I think there are a few reasons that I could name for this.

I would caveat that&nbsp;the range of psychedelic experience is vast, like the vast range of meditative experience, and it is also dependent on many factors, some experiences are more dissociative and some are the complete opposite and there's probably ways to encourage more connectedness during a trip ie through concentration meditation or other types ( you're way more adept and knowledgeable about that than myself)

FWIW in response to your energetic overwhelm, I’ve also had a few trips where there was noticeable instability/weirdness (like not my normal weirdness, but extra weirdness) for a couple days afterward, that can be a thing. For me at least, it sorted itself out naturally. 

Also, Michael Taft is your teacher? Lucky!</p><p>The good ones always have year-long wait lists… sigh&nbsp;</p>
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 13 Hours ago at 12/4/23 10:29 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Thanks JW! I'm not sure I count myself as an advanced practicioner. I still have plenty to learn. I guess it depends on what you compare with. My skills/graces are very uneven. Lots of peek experiences and lots of embarrassing newbie mistakes.

I did have a really good time. The mushroom trip was by far the most enjoyable kind of trip. I think foraging the mushrooms myself in nature and with a sense of sacredness contributed to making it feel like a shamanic journey. I did not experience that trip as dissociative at all. Then again, I don't have that many experiences for comparison. I may have lucked out that time. 

I'm used to periods of overwhelm, being autistic and all. I have had worse cases of that happen as a hungover from pleasant experiences of touch. I remember one time that I spent the next day lying down completely overwhelmed by motion sickness from my own heartbeat because I felt it in my entire body and it was out of synch (naturally, as the blood has a longer way to go in some places compared to others). Also, I tend to have phases like that after shifts in my practice. It totally makes sense that it could commonly happen after a trip as well. 

Yes, I got very lucky with Michael. I kind of snatched him before he got this popular and I'm on scholarship. I think he enjoys the challenge of working with someone who is differently wired and willing to explore that. It's very little one-on-one teachings nowadays, though. Just brief slots here and there, and then the group classes.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 11 Hours ago at 12/4/23 12:20 PM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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While cooking and eating lunch and while digesting it, I watched part 2 of Lama Lena's teachings on dying and the bardos. Then I lay down to surrender to whatever energy wanted to do in and around my body. I had a few of those little mini-explosions and at least one of the defibrillator type kriyas, but mostly it was very relaxed. I could feel blockages dissolve and the body dissolve into an energy field. I think my fascia softened in the process. 

Then it was time for the tantra class with Michael. Today we focused on balancing the elements as a playful intuitive practice. It wasn't really anything new, as this is already one of my very favorite practices since quite some time, and something that comes very naturally to me, but getting to have this as my main practice for a couple of weeks will do me good. It is such a nurturing practice while also bringing insight with regard to how experience depends on our lenses. It's like entering different realms. Reality shifts. 

Today has been one of those days with a strong pull towards the dharma and less of a pull to everything else. I will need to work my ass off in the evening instead and try to get up earlier tomorrow to catch up. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 6 Hours ago at 12/4/23 5:03 PM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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Before going to bed, one hour of yoga. First 30 minutes of gentle yoga, then a short break, and then 30 minutes of somewhat more challenging yoga. 
J W, modified 6 Hours ago at 12/4/23 5:24 PM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 18

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'I'm not sure I count myself as an advanced practicioner'

hah, and humble, too!

Perhaps we could agree on 'intermediate' then.

I'm not surprised it went well for you- I think generally as we progress along the path, the aversions and clingings and reactivity to our neuroses become less sticky and easier to see through, that would typically cause one to get stuck in a bad trip.

So, meditation and related insights can likely prepare one well for a psychedelic experience and mitigate some of the risks of taking those substances.