Sunny's Practice Log

Sunny S, modified 10 Months ago at 9/6/23 5:48 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/11/23 3:00 PM

Sunny's Practice Log

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/11/23 Recent Posts
Greetings Dho Community,

I am going to be starting this practice log as a way to keep my practice from existing in a vacuum. Otherwise, I think I may get sucked into overthinking and overcalling what is happening in practice.

​​​​​​​Some history about my practice. I started doing heavy practice in 2020 April. I started with a 'Do-Nothing' practice, sitting for 1 hour, sometimes multiple sits. I picked up noting practice and started combining it with the Do-Nothing practice (bad idea, I know now). And my noting practice was not really proper practice, as it was a lot of fabrication and noting things that weren't actually arising. But I think combined with the Do-Nothing practice, this recklessness got me into A&P. What followed was a period of bliss, rapture, feeling awesome about everything, and thinking I had attained stream entry. I struggled a lot after this. Dealing with OCD and anxiety a ton (still am), and depressive bouts as well. So the dark night stuff probably interplayed with my pre-existing mental stuff. I kept on with the practice of sitting there and doing nothing. I thought "Hey that worked for me to cross the A&P, I should keep doing it!". Finally, I stopped meditating after a year in 2021. I got on meds, and got a job after graduating Uni, trying to make things stable in other ways, such as doing therapy. 
I won't go into detail about what happened between then and now, but long story short: quit work, quit meds, and dabbled in meditation and Buddhism again in various forms. Finally, settled into a consistent noting practice a couple of months back and did a retreat as well. For this journal, I will try to post every week or so.
Thank you for reading.

One Hour Sit Today: As I note various tensions, pains and quick feelings that arise, it is sometimes followed by doubt about whether I am noting correctly. Of course, I note this doubt as well. Several times, a thought will arise, it will pass and I will feel a strong wanting alongside fear/anxiety to think that thought again, I will try my best to note this wanting and fear. I will also note what it feels like to not want this feeling to be there.

It sometimes seemed that the mind and other mental states were just this mental image, so I noted that as seeing. Later, it seemed like mental states and emotions like wanting, disliking, and doubt were not lasting very long, ceasing very quickly after being noted. A few times, thinking was noted as hearing a few times. There was a sense of "Huh, that's interesting" which I forgot to actually note but just realized that I do that. 

​​​​​​​I noted that my mind felt slow, and I started to note faster as if the stuff I was noting ended before I could even finish the noting. I noted any doubt about whether noting this fast is correct. Sometimes, there is nothing much going on, which I will note as nothing. And sometimes my mind feels compelled to go out and note something, so it will go out and note that "nothing-happening" state as "knowing". I also use "knowing" to note general mental states, urges, and mental perspectives on how this meditation is going.
Sunny S, modified 11 Months ago at 8/14/23 12:32 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/14/23 12:32 PM

RE: Sunny's Practice Log

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/11/23 Recent Posts
Today, I broke up my one-hour sit into two different techniques. For the first 30 minutes, just resting in the sensations of the breath. (Which I got from Ken Mcleod's book "Wake up to Your Life". And the next 30 minutes, just freestyle noting whatever comes up, and sometimes using the abdomen's rising and falling as an anchor.

30-minute resting in breath:

As soon as I sit, there is this sort of current-like pain in my right foot and lower leg, which happens every time at the start of my sits but goes away after a minute. At first, there was some pain and tension in my head as I was trying to rest my attention on my breath. And whenever distractions came up, I didn't force myself to return, just gently return to the breathing or the distraction would just end up and attention would automatically return to rest on the breath. What stands out most to me is the sound of breathing, knowing of the bodily movements as I breathe in and out, and just this general mental idea that I am breathing. So sometimes I think "Hmm, I am not in enough contact with the bodily sensations themselves", and I try to lean more into the bodily sensations. And either those bodily sensations just begin to disappear quickly or I just create more tension, so I stop trying to overthink it and just rest my attention on the breath in the way that makes most sense to me. Overtime, the gaps between each breathing cycle increase as such:
In/out-----In/out-----In/out. Rather than In/out-In/out-In/out
And it feels like the mind is becoming more still. Distractions still occur, but the mind is able to rest on breathing for longer, maybe 10-15 seconds now compared to 5-10 seconds before.

30-minute noting:
I switch to noting right after 30 minutes are up. Noting practice is always hard for me to describe because so many objects come up but I will try my best to describe recurring objects. Also, I am trying to gently note nowadays. I realized that I was being greedy about noting, wanting to note as much as possible to avoid failure and make progress. I used to "Do-Nothing" practice and because of my eventual roadblocks with that practice, I think I developed an attitude that I needed to do the complete opposite and just keep noting as much as possible, and as a result, the noting labels became more important than noticing. So in today's session, I allowed myself to notice more and kept up a slow and gentle noting process going. Emotions such as anxiety were felt more as feelings in the body. I could notice the tension arising from fighting distractions and thinking. A lot of the time, my mind comes to the visual field and just kind of rests there, with the sense that a watcher or knower is up in the head somewhere or looking out of the eyes. I just note how stable this feels. 
Towards the end, very strong pain arose in my thigh alongside unpleasant thoughts causing restlessness and fear. I did end up kind of moving in response as I was overwhelmed by it. That's okay. Another thing I have noticed is the mental state or thought of wanting to be immovable in regard to unpleasant stuff. I also noticed a little bit of spaciousness, wideness and some relaxation at the end, even though some anxious feelings were arising. I tried to notice the wideness and spaciousness, but it felt like I was just creating tension and more contraction in the head, so I just tried to be relaxed and feel what was happening.
Sunny S, modified 11 Months ago at 8/19/23 2:10 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 8/19/23 2:10 PM

RE: Sunny's Practice Log

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/11/23 Recent Posts
Sat twice today. One 30-minute session and one 45-minute session. Both times, freestyle noting and sometimes using the abdomen and sitting posture as an anchor.

Noticing a lot of wanting come up whenever things get stable or chill, it's sort of like I want to investigate and note as much as possible. I try to trust my intuition and allow the experience to just unfold, and the noting slowly carries on by itself. Feeling an unpleasant sensation in my belly a lot or my entire body, I feel anxious when this happens. And along with this feeling, there is this mental worry or thought that keeps on sticking. Trying to be with and gently note these challenging groups of sensations, feelings and mental states.
Sometimes it is like the sticky thoughts turn into sticky tension and pain in the head.
Started getting slightly sleepy in the last few minutes.

After 40 minutes, I left the remaining 5 minutes to just sit and do nothing, and give up noting. The sleepiness went away and I became more alert. The mind was just noticing the posture, stability, wanting, sights, just the flow of feelings, pain, and tensions. I got distracted and lost into thought a few times but the mind would come back to what was happening.
I also began to notice how the unpleasant feeling in the belly very quickly led to mental anxiety, stress and tension in the head. The mental and physical process of anxiety really stood out as separate, distinct phenomena.
Sunny S, modified 10 Months ago at 8/31/23 7:20 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/31/23 7:15 PM

RE: Sunny's Practice Log

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/11/23 Recent Posts
I have been trying a new meditation practice called "Recollective Awareness Meditation". I was reading "Unlearning Meditation: What to do when the instructions get in the way". Decided to pick up this practice, since I was discovering how there was always a trying and wanting to be perfect with noting. Yes, it was gentle noting that helped me see this and I could go on noting as I still do think it is useful, but for now, I think I am going to play around.

In brief, recollective awareness reframes meditation so one does not work rigidly with a set of instructions. If the mind goes to thoughts, feelings, or emotions, no need to apply an instruction to it, like note it or bring back the mind to the breath. But allowing it to go to those experiences, or if one wishes to, they can bring their attention to an object like the touch of the hands (I use the body). The book covers this in more detail.

Here is what happened in my 40-minute sit today (not in chronological order):

- Many times, after some experience would happen, thinking would begin on writing it down in this journal.
- When I bring attention to body, attention and body feel airy and like a small bubble of space and light.
- Towards the end, lots of different tracks of restless thinking going on, physical pain arose, and agitation regarding all of this quickly built up. I ended up shifting my posture, looking at the timer with 2 minutes left.
- Got interested in how experience seems to be arising in a linear fashion.
- There is this subtle lingering restlessness and wanting that seems to be at times guiding my meditation, looking for some "big new insight"
- A Sense that I am going through the same loop of noticing the same old series and sets of experiences and discontent that there is nothing good or new emerging. And feeling that I am stuck in this narrow scope of attention looking at things in the same old way. Aka, wanting something more.
​​​​​​​- In the beginning, dealing with tension and pain. Decided to investigate attitudes and reactions to experiences. And at some point, the pain evaporated.
Sunny S, modified 10 Months ago at 9/6/23 5:46 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 9/6/23 5:46 PM

RE: Sunny's Practice Log

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/11/23 Recent Posts
I went back to my old practice of noting and/or resting in breath. Nowadays I do a daily practice of 35 minutes. I realized when I was doing 40, it felt too much, it's interesting how just 5 minutes can make a difference. I am planning on slowly working up my sitting time in the coming weeks or months.

Today's practice started with 15 minutes of gently resting the attention on breathing. Within 10 minutes, my mind started to quieten and become stable, and awareness of bodily sensations became more prominent so I started to rest in the wider attention on breath and body. Noticed a resistance to becoming open to unpleasant bodily sensations, like a split between the body and mind, and the mind doesn't want to feel the body. I was able to rest attention on the breath whilst also including any unpleasant sensations, not going "This shouldn't be happening and only the breath sensations should be exclusively in attention" Practise kind of felt restful and nice, despite some pain.

I switched to noting after 15 minutes. Noting pain a lot, disliking, wanting, views, thinking and anxiety. Noting practice kind of feels dull and routine to me, the same old patterns show up, going in the same direction, sometimes it's slow and sometimes I note fast. It also tends to exacerbate my OCD thought patterns, of repeating certain thoughts and images in my head. Anywho, just going to stick to daily practice and let it unfold.