Bill H Practice Log

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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Sweet - Thanks for the new category Daniel! one place for all my twisty path stuff.

'practicing' every day for 5 years (6?) - two hours a day is the norm for the last year. Pre - SE, Crossed A&P in a clear way a year ago but suspect it was probably quite a bit before that, perhaps when I was a teenager. (Currently 37). I put practicing in quotes because my mind was so all-over-the-place the first four years that most of the time I wasn't really doing the practice! Heh.

Currently working on samatha, as insight seems to happen on its own and I usually get so unstable up in the DN somewhere that noting loses its effectiveness, and the mind takes me for quite a ride when that happens. Have seen how important relaxation is in concentration practice, so at minimum I would say using a recognize-relax-return '3R' is the pattern I will try to stick to, whatever object I choose, even if the object is everything, or nothing.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
7+ hours yesterday of anapana, lots of stuff learned, pretty rough in spots. I will say that I am now of the opinion that even though it seems like I cannot yet always do the 6R/Metta practice that it seems to be more powerful than anapana (even with a relaxation step). One thing I did learn yesterday is there are all sorts of underlying beliefs that prevent me from settling into meditation. One of these is this idea that somehow I have to 'do something' about distractions when they come up, or take attention off the object to 'work on them' in some way. This, of course, only serves to make them more of a distraction next time they arise.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
2+ hours 6Rmetta this morning to finish off our 'sitting in the new year'. Yes there is a big difference between the way focusing on the breath works and this practice. experientially when I focus on the breath long enough I get to a point where there is more freedom because I see that there is no need to do anything about thoughts and feelings that arise, so I become more free that way - whereas the 6Rmetta, though it seems harder initially, provides a freedom of a different sort - it actually peels off layers preventing freedom - I'm not sitting there not caring what outside of my focus arises, its more like I'm free to do the concentration because the stuff preventing it stops arising, and there is a much more satisfying lessening of tension in the body and head than I ever get with focusing on the breath. Very different end result.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Finding nuances - the 'release' step is a twofold process, the first is to let the distraction be, the second is to stop giving it your attention and then go on the the relax phase of the 6R process. I was finding that I was adding aversion to the dropping process (I used to do the same thing with noting - deja vu)
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Still on 6R/Metta - had some rough days tues/wed which is normal for me after I sit for an extended period of time. Metta was amazingly strong today for most of the day, a sort of 'heat joy' radiating outward, wanting to give itself away to anyone around. Felt like concentration is getting easier on the cushion, and off the cushion the loving/content feeling was immediately available for most of the day when I went to it, although I did go through what felt like a cycle of re-ob (who knows, I've been through it a jillion times, I can just say it was suddenly nasty and went through multiple flavors) - but I did notice that I am learning how to take the DN-like stuff and release my grasp of it, so to speak, it becomes OK to be there, and somehow the painful energy and vibrations resolved themselves fairly quickly and there is some sort of joy in seeing this process. I am also noticing that the heat energy of the metta/LK seems to work its way through the body and head - it *feels* as if there is some sort of energetic development taking place, as if there is something pushing its way around into spots that aren't used to it.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Continuing the pattern of practice strength alternating between weak and strong every other day - pretty odd, although today it was obvious that I was stuck in a nana on the second sit, its hard to tell which, probably third, mind was unstable and wouldn't do anything asked, wild tensions and kriyas in neck/head, some moments of clarity every now and then where I felt I could do the practice but for the most part it wasn't happening at all.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Much stronger LK feelings today, and I am learning how to best generate the object. i just did a 30 minute sit where I felt I had to stop because the happiness was so intense, so penetrating, like I wanted to jump up off the cushion for joy and tell anyone around...lol. Choose your concentration object!

Two fold process:

I repeat internally 'I sincerely wish myself to be happy and peaceful' and *mean* it, and quickly relax the body,smiling, in the process taking hold of the object of the happy feeling itself, which is somewhere in the center of the chest and will only arise if the wish is sincere. I hold onto the object until:

a) it starts to fade in which case I repeat the step to generate it again above

b) I get distracted and I am not holding it anymore, in which case I relax the body esp. the tensions in the head if possible, smile, and return to the object of the feeling - if it has faded by then I regenerate it.

c) if after the ten minute mark the recipient is changed to my dharma buddy instead of myself and stays with him as recipient the rest of the sit.

I was literally awash in the stuff - I dont think I have felt anything quite like that before, and I don't think I was even close to jhana. I did notice little spots of very hot sensation popping up here and there in the head and body. The mind was quite content to settle down and get more quiet than usual - it didn't feel like complaining as much. Thats a heck of a drug right there. lol. Supposed to be the fastest way to increase concentration.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Still strong this morning, although it was difficult to generate the object during the first half hour sit - A few notes about last night. The happiness was there for about a half hour in an extremely strong form after the sit, and it was a vibrant, aware happiness, it was easy to be present in an extremely satisfying way. It was also instructive as my dukkha habits of mind started to creep back in to see how I was creating my own suffering. Its easier to see how something arises when coming from being not caught in it emoticon - I suspect that this practice if done over a long period of time should actually shift one's emotional set point. The fact that one can get into jhana and path this way is.. emoticon - It will be interesting to eventually do this and compare notes with the other yogis to see what kind of shift results... Feels like cheating though, always stuck on to the idea that practice had to be difficult, not enjoyable.
Will be interesting to see if the stong/weak every other day thing evens out and how long it takes.
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 196 Join Date: 12/29/10 Recent Posts
Good for you, Bill; glad to see you getting some real joy from this practice. I've been using it at night to counteract DN nightmare type stuff, but I haven't had anything like your experiences.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
its an interesting practice I notice in that it builds on itself - biggest thing I found was that I just wasn't properly following instructions from the dammasukha site, small things seem to make a difference, and I couldn't seem to do it at first but the ability to do the practice seems to quickly improve so far.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
This is a great quote - from Bhante V:

You know, I have this one student, and he’s in Australia, and he was writing to me and he was really having a tough time with his meditation, ROUGH time. So, I told him to change his meditation and practice the loving kindness meditation. Oh, he had a really rough time. So finally, I kind of got fed up with him and I said "OK, I don’t want you to sit and meditate at all. What I want you to do is: I want you to smile as often as you can remember - with your daily activities, when you are walking one place to another, I want you to smile. And any time you see your mind getting serious about anything, you have to laugh. Can’t take anything seriously. I want you to do this for one week." Now, this is the guy that had been practicing every day for six years. And he had some resistance to this. But finally he said: "OK, will try it." I didn’t hear from him for a week. And he writes back and he said: "You know, I want to give you some of the interesting things that happened this week. Even though I didn’t feel like it was a genuine smile, I found out that when I smiled, my mind got lighter anyway, even if it wasn’t genuine. And after a while, it started to get genuine! And I used to walk around in a funk being depressed all the time, and I had my head down, and I just walked wherever I was going to, thinking this and that, depressed thoughts. And I started noticing that I started standing a little bit straighter, and I was smiling, and I’d smile to people as I saw them – and they smiled back. That NEVER happens to me! And I’d be waiting in line and I’d be smiling, and somebody would come up and they would start talking to me. THAT never happened to me! And I started noticing how my mind was uplifted all the time. And, this is great practice. It’s fun!" And that was a shock to him, because he’d been told that this is serious stuff and you have to do it seriously. Well, I say: "Yeah, it’s serious stuff, and you have to do it seriously, so be seriously happy!"


odd but it seems to make a big difference.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Still going, dropped to about 1.5 hr per day... Was fairly strong and mostly happy since Saturday's feedback loop, finally wednesday got into some rough stuff, sadness, tensions, etc, kept at it. Mostly unable off the cushion to generate the object, on and off OK though, on the cushion seemed ok. Today was sort of lazy, object easy to generate, got really radiant but fuzzy after a bit, along with the body and made me wonder if I was floating through a slow 5th nana, eh who knows. Then this evening did an extra half hour and immediately got into jackhammering, shaking observer and vibrating intense tensions - normally would have been *impossible* to generate the object of loving kindness but after listening to this earlier http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/Talks/audio/METTA-AUG00.mp3

- decided to play with this state as I have seen it come up so many times and usually even noting wouldn't help me see it more clearly/with dispassion, decided to force myself to smile, a huge smile, the *entire* sit, and attempt to do the normal 6Rmetta practice. Amazingly - even though the 'relax' portion of the 6R wasn't available at all, it was fairly easy to generate the object of loving kindness, somewhat difficult to stay on it, but the whole time the aversion looping and tensions were flying around the head, shaking the internal parts of the head almost to pieces, but interestingly I was able to spend more time on the object, and the vedana in the head was upshifted from extremely negative to somewhat negative, some neutral, and even a bit of it at times positive - tension felt like it was forcing its way up to the top of the head, but instead of destabilizing I was able to keep the mind more stable, and there was a short time in there where something unified in the head for a bit, and I felt more at ease with the aversion, at ease with the tension, at ease with the instability, some small amount of joy arose, then the tension started again and crept back down the head a bit and I stopped at that point.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
quoting myself as I am sending updates to the yahoo group:

Just an update, still doing the 6R/Metta method, starting to add in some of the forgiveness circle practice, noticing how on some level I really do blame myself for things outside of my control, still haven't forgiven people from my childhood, and the tensions that are held in place from this process. I have had rough days where emotions were all over the place and the mind seemed unwilling to do anything asked of it, but the number of those days seems to be lessening, and the other days are becoming happier, the sitting happier, more smiling and giving loving kindness away off the cushion, noticing more the judgmental or angry mind that tries to interject from habit. Sometimes the metta feelings generated are weak, and surrounded by anxious tension and racing thoughts, but I seem to be slowly learning that these don't need anything done to them, I just need to relax the mind, smile, and rest on the object instead of chasing after this stuff I don't like and trying to fix it (sounds easy but at times it is very difficult). Sometimes I get a happy feeling that grows very strong in the sits and it can seem to last in a small way for hours afterwards, like a residual glow in the chest that it still there to wish upon people as I remember to do so when I am not overly busy at work. One thing I notice is that this practice seems to be wearing down the habitual judgements and negative reactions I have for certain people, at least a little bit. I have had a few experiences where the feeling in the chest grows very strong and I can actually feel it flow out of me like a river, or like a tentacle coming out of the chest touching the world out there, and I'm not sure of course but it really seems to effect people around me sometimes as well. The 6R process itself still seems a bit difficult, mechanical at times, and the relaxing part seems to be hard to do, but I am learning how to generate happiness and send it out to others, and doing my best to follow the relaxing step as I do so. I am surprised that there is still some resistance to doing this practice, as I would think that being happy would be reward enough to overcome any resistance! I notice this and keep practicing. I cut back a bit recently, so I have been at about 1.5 hours per day instead of 2, a few days only 1 hour. I am still noticing some fidgeting going on and am working on that.

After doing noting and other practices, this practice is a welcome relief, and it makes me happy to know that it is possible to follow the full path using this practice along with the brahmaviharas while actually making a difference to the world around me - its not just all about *me* getting something anymore.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Still chugging away, lots to learn. Seems to me that cycling stopped for a while but lately have been having lots of difficulty on and off, much of it very very 'dukkhaville' like. Vibratory, harsh, etc.
when in this mode all attempts to do metta/lovingkindness seem to fail

EXCEPT for this one:

"may my heart be accepting of all phenomena"

Just passing this on to anyone else out there who might find it useful.

off for now, not really checking this very often at all.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
OK - Experiment over.

switching back to KFD, cut and paste what I wrote over there.

"OK - this is not saying it cannot be done, but I think I finally have the results of my personal experiment.

I decided to attempt to go in the direction of the jhanas and more mental stability before continuing (with anything else), and it turns out to simply not be very doable for me at the moment. Initially it felt like I was getting some progress in staying on an object but over time stability and the ability to see the mind clearly has gotten worse, not better, even with some very good teachers leading the way.

I have however gotten much more accepting of the dark night, and the perpetual cycle I seem to be in.

Last straw was today again trying a samatha sit, which I have been doing 1+ hr per day for 4 months or so, finding the mind getting less and less stable, and finally giving up in disgust, switching on some easy, relaxed noting and finding a wide open awareness and stable mind where before there was none. Ahh well, its funny how I don't even seem to have control over what practice path I can take or what works. Amusement.

Seems to me my weak spot is still the thinking mind, not being able to even tell when it is active, so I will be trying to accentuate thought noting as I can."

"doesn't feel like conditioning so much as the way awareness wants to work due to what energetic stuff in the body has been activated due to insights - its nearly impossible for me to do a concentration practice without the energy flying up to the head causing all sorts of instability. Its like where I am at the mind wants to be wide, and if I try to get it to do anything else its like trying to get a horse to drink water..."
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
I retract my last post. Jumped some sort of shark there... back to what I was doing.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
An interesting discovery with Metta practice, still my main practice for 1-2 hours a day, usually 1.5hr.

Its pretty obvious Im still going up and down the arc or the nanas. Switching to samatha makes no difference (yet - I assume at some point I might be able to decide where to be in the arc so I can work on one thing or the other) Makes sense to me that the sit will change as I go up and down and so should the practice... Im not in 'jhana' territory really but its much more solid than it was 6-8 months ago I suppose.

Im not sure how you would do this adjustment with non-metta practices but here goes..

My main wish nowdays is for the entire universe to be well, happy, feel loving. The idea is to find the sensation of loving kindness itself and make that sensation the object, while every so often gently wishing the sensation on everyone else.

What I find is that the area where the LK originates wants to move as I am sitting - so if I allow it to move I can follow it and basically have a love-filled meditation. What is interesting though is that if I keep awareness in one spot and the LK wants to move away, it will fade and suddenly be replaced by really rough and painful contractions, vibrations and energies, and if I am not careful I will get sucked into that stuff and lose the ability to stay on an object. So somehow adjusting to what the object wants to do and allowing this makes a huge difference..So far it seems to reduce the aftereffects of sitting but I need more data to know for sure.

Not sure how this might be applied to any other type of sit but I hope it will be useful for anyone like myself who seems to cycle endlessly regardless of practice.

I will also say that samatha seems to have its own set of insights, lots of seeing the self as either being impersonal or having short stretches of seeing all thinking as thinking, not believing it to be real in any way somehow. Also many cause and effect insights, like seeing exactly what makes the mind move, the whole process, and similar things. Learning a bit better how things are 'let go' of and exactly what craving is. Quite interesting.

more to come I'm sure...
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
For anyone interested - I did *finally* discover how to gain some stability in samatha practice so I am doing a bit more of that right now (have been noting for the last 6 mo or more) - I appear to have some sort of PTSD type stuff going on which comes up when I get more concentrated and tends to cause(or be involved with?) intense pain and blockages/etc when/if I go up into the dukkha nanas. It also seems to create so much instability that it derails insight(and concentration of course). I was able to get beyond it temporarily somehow on retreat at the first of the year and have a fairly stable half hour in EQ but since then have only seen that place once for a minute at best.

So I am going back to work on this 'stuff' and have been using some somatic experiencing (I will go find a practitioner soon for this) and am trying out some of the Byron Katie stuff... But thats not what I am here to add today, just background.

I found that if I use the rising/falling note of Mahasi almost as a mantra that takes up 2/3 of attention it can help wipe the mind of the repeating PTSD stuff that I normally cannot see, and seems to be deepening concentration in a way I haven't been able to get until now. It is also opening up awareness of painful areas in the head that I have a hard time with so it feels important to do this right now. It seems so far that I am also able to do this type of practice without moving up the maps as long as I don't look too carefully at the details of either the breath or the note. Not sure where I am getting up to but it feels like close to access or 1st VJ as things start to stabilize and I am floating with the breath 'way down there' and a sense of being immersed in stillness and space (pretty sure I am not up to 5th, so not sure why space is so obvious).. Think I will deepen this for a bit and then see what happens when I investigate it.

So the method is a continous riiiiising and faaaaling note the ENTIRE time the breath is watched for direction and that mental activity seems to help gel the mind on the task better than just looking at the breath would. Its like giving the mind a continuous task so it can settle down (applied thought?)

Hopefully if anyone else out there has been having similar issues with concentration or 'stuff' causing instability this will help them too.

EDIT - FWIW I meant not moving up the maps 'on the cushion' as I still dont seem to have any control of it occuring off-cushion, but Im used to it by now.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
that didn't work either. Things tend to behave for a day and nobt the next, in a repeatable cycle. NO stability, no ability to see three C's or get anything but torn up by harsh stuff. Going back to metta but I am going to try a few things out like practicing every other day only for a bit. So far the only repeatable result I get from ANY practice is that the more I do it the more pain I am in until it becomes debilitating. That seems to hold true for the noting as well and its starting to cause problems with my life and relationships. Going to try to stick with tranquility practices and not overdo it for a bit.
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
putting this post here because I think it has some relevance to my situation:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3631675
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Bill H Practice Log

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Switching back to TWIM metta - any sort of 'concentration' has severe after effects right now it seems, whether noting or breathing. It is important I think to see clearly how I am causing this suffering. The metta seems to be better for the cycling - reason being is that when I make a wish the LK appears where it needs to be and I can adjust the wish accordingly from one person to all beings.. If I use the breath then often what happens is I put my attention on a place in the body where my current state doesn't want it to be. If I am below A&P the LK appears in the chest, if I am above it appears in the head, and then on occasion on its own may even shift up to second Brahmavihara out the top of the head (really seems to happen by itself). I was worried that my circuits would get fried by the metta since it is strong at times but the opposite seems to be the case, like thats what they needed.

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