Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 7:51 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 7:51 AM

Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Migrating my notes here.

First day: Noting body sensations.

I will not be using my phone as a timer again. I was interrupted at around 37 minutes. I will complete my 45 minutes tomorrow. I might even do another sitting today.

I had some trouble finding a stable position. I had to sort out my cushion setup twice in the session. I found a spot that I could stay in the Burmese pose without issue.

in the first half, or so, of my session I frequently noted tension It almost bordered on burning, but it did not quite reach any definable sensation other than tension. I had a few notes of itching, especially in my throat (my body does not appreciate cold weather or my smoking habit). I had a few early notes on pulsing (heartbeat). I noted hearing a few times, as well as seeing (computer light through my eyelids. I noted pressure quite few times. I also noted warmth and coolness. Somewhere along the way, I began to take note of slight rocking in my body. It started as a gentle back and forth sway. After my final pose adjustment to a solid position, the "wobbling" as I named it, became increasingly pervasive. It progressed through different stages. At some times it came as a circular sway of my torso, other times it seemed almost as though my abdomen was trying to rotate on it's own, independent of the rest of my body. It became so intense that it felt as though my upper half was moving through at least a 3 or 4 inch arc. As the "wobble"/"sway" reached it's highest intensity ( began focusing on it, it was too strange to let go of, as my focus resolved, the more intense it became) waves of sensation began to slowly creep through my body, starting at my waist and fingertips, moving up to my neck. They seemed to dissipate before they hit my face. Only a few waves came through before the phone rang. It was a terribly jarring experience. When I snapped back into the world I was confused, as though I had taken a long nap, and was abruptly woken up. I was somewhat dazed through the phone call. Once the call was finished, I felt so disturbed that I decided to come document the session, instead of finishing the final few minutes. Even as I sit here writing, if I focus on my body, the sway begins to return slowly. Being brought out of my focus so swiftly was incredibly disconcerting. I'm still a little confused. I think it might be time for a coffee.

Aside from the odd movement, that I was not in control of, I did note some numbness and associated warmth. A few times I almost became aware of objects, but they were gone before I noted them.

Any insight into what I just experienced would be greatly appreciated. Thank for being here everyone.


Just finished a second session of body sensation notation. I went for a full hour this time, although I got a bit antsy at 45 minutes and looked at the clock.. Guess that impulse was a bit to strong to note away. This sitting was similar to earlier, with less pronounced kriyas in the upper body. I lost track of my notations quite a few times. I just zoned out past most sensation. Some numbness, warmth coolness, shaking trembling wobbling. Hearing came up a few times. Lot's of tension. I think the spontaneous movement focused in my legs more this time, so they felt tense and shaky quite often. I found an alarm for my laptop, that pulls it out of sleep mode when it goes off. That way I had less light, and no risk of phone calls. The alarm sound was an Asian flute with birds. The transition back was much better like that. Actually, I'm not really sure I actually left. I am still zoning out and getting the kriyas again when I do. I'm very calm now. Kind of detached. It's very neutral mood. I don't think much would bother me. Even my nicotine cravings are rather subtle.

I have a few things to add from the last 24 hours.

Last night, after my last report, I went to pick up a friend from work. It was about 15 minutes after I posted last, and I had to sit and wait in the car for them to get ready to leave. I dropped back into my practice, very close to where I left off. There were things happening around the car, but I didn't really put any significance to them. Mostly sounds. I was very comfortable. It was difficult to note anything other than warmth from my heater.

After that I went and hung out with friends, had a meal, played some games. When that was done, I hopped in the shower and sat down under the water I went into practice there, hoping maybe I could note better with heavy stimulus on my body. The sensation from the water didn't really "come home." I was lying down at first, I still didn't really feel attached to any of the sensations enough to bother noting them, other than when I forced myself to pay attention to sensations. I sat up sideways, and then the water was directly on my head, then I stared being somewhat overloaded by the water in my face, so I moved to where the water didn't directly beat down on my head at the strongest points of the stream. I had quite a few good notes on the feel of the water while sitting up. At that point thoughts started interfering with my focus on sensation, so I tried to note them as "thinking" but one of them was a thought concerning my recent situation that took my entire idea of my life and identity I thought I had, which motivated my "hopeful search". I became overwhelmed by fear and emotional pain. This provided some physical anxiety to note, as well as physical depression. The emotional aspect gave away to just the physical sensations associated with it as I noted. I was so overcome by the feeling in my body that I could not concentrate on noting, and I stopped, finished my shower, and went to bed. Cont.

***This is where I break apart the 2 days. Day 2 is noting body sensations as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral***

After church (Unitarian Universalist, in case you wondered what a Buddhist was doing in church) I came home and started watching and listening to Dharma talks on Buddhist geeks, etc. (I'm really drawn to the pragmatic Dharma)

During a rather long video about the progress of insight, presented at the Cheetah house by Daniel Ingram. I found myself going into a state, just while watching. I've been doing that recently, noting at random times, even before I came here. This time was different though. I was actually having the involuntary movements while just sitting, watching a video. The experience of the movement has never been as intense as the first time. I has slowed to a minor wobble. I was in a rather tense state, I was just feeling unpleasant. It got more intense through the video. In the video, Ingram mentioned that movements like that could be indicative of A and P. He also mentioned that people could actually reach that state and the following Dark Night without ever hitting a cushion. Recent radical alterations in my mental state (in the last couple of months the life I thought I had was upended. I realized that everything I thought was just me was a sham, and I went within a 2 week span from a firm subscriber to Richard Dawkins' brand of militant atheism, to an intrinsic knowledge that there was something more to reality than could be seen. This was after a long period of said atheism, and sensory indulgence, but at the same time, I knew that things were not permanent, except for the things I clung to like a vice. I was not a difficult admission that the noble truths were true, when I finally found them) led me to wonder if I had been in this "dark night" for (10-15?) years. I was rather spiritual back in my late teens, and even before. I had 2 periods of disconnection from that. One before when I was in high school, and then again after a brief reconnection with my spiritual side, the last disconnect lasting until about the beginning of December just passed. The idea that a radical alteration of self-perception could be the end of a cycle of non-practiced induced DN, would actually make some sort of odd sense. I just don't know. I'm trying to not read anything into it, but after the things I've been through, it's hard to dismiss the idea... I could use some feedback from someone who knows this subject very well.

Alright, after that aside, I'll get back to practice notes.

Throughout this unintentional meditation I was in (I could tell because of the way I was dropping into body view mode, and the slight sway in my body) I became very dissatisfied with just about everything. I was hungry, but nothing sounded good. I ate, the food was unpleasant, and my hunger was still not sated. I was thirsty, but water didn't really help. My cigarettes tasted like hell, but I still wanted them, one after another. No matter what I did, nothing was right. I decided to go to the cushion for my new exercise, noting body sensations as pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. For about 20 minutes I noted everything as unpleasant. It got to the point where I could not even sit, so I decided to lie down. Shortly after The change of scenery, all of the unpleasantness subsided. I stayed there for a while. It seemed like an hour, but it was just 30 minutes. I had to force myself to note anything that wasn't extremely overt. I had some thoughts, but they were elusive, at best. Finally, I felt strange energy crawling very slowly up my back. one side then the other, rinse, repeat. They were not anything but neutral. In fact, everything after the "all unpleasant" state was neutral. Even loud-ish sounds from the other room were neutral. Nothing was bad, but nothing was good either. At that point I decided to sit back up. Back in Burmese pose, I continued to note pretty much everything as neutral. After 30 minutes of that, I just decided I was done with the sitting. I just could not seem to note much of anything. There were sensations, but they held no real bearing on my situation. I figured it was possible that I had psyched myself into an unproductive state after watching that video. I am feeling skeptical that I would have actually progressed through some of the path after having never practiced. At the same time I felt like I was in the places that I saw on the video. I really just don't know what is going on. It doesn't really bother me right now though. I feel kind of ambivalent about the whole thing.

I would like to know if I'm really where it looks like, or if I could have just psyched myself into the whole thing.

If it helps, when I had the profound spontaneous movement yesterday, I felt rather pleased by it. It was strange, but I liked the whole thing. I neglected to report how I felt afterward, because I was too busy thinking about the body sensation notes, since that was what I was supposed to be doing. It's been easy to dismiss the thoughts and emotions that go with the sensations. They just come and go, just as the body sensations I note do. Very unlike the following states of mind, wherein the only echo of the movement and "energy" remained. I am calm after this session, but it is not the same kind of calm I reported after the sittings yesterday. I just kind of exist.

With any luck, I have been thorough enough over the past couple of days.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Here are the notes for the sitting I just finished(?) I am still in the state. I am just not on the cushion.

"I sit. My body is uncomfortable. It exerts power on my thoughts. My thoughts respond with new stimuli. The mind allows the body to make adjustments until it is satisfied with it's position. There is discontentment in the thoughts. There is confusion in the thoughts. The thoughts try to explain everything. The thoughts try to explain me. The thoughts watch the way the body moves. The thoughts watch the sensations. The thoughts make value judgments. I see them. I do not care about them. I am not part of this process. I just see the process unfolding. The thoughts note things. I see it try to explain. I do not care. I am allowing it to do what it wants. The body and mind do not like sitting. I don't care. I watch them fight amongst themselves. The thoughts try to control me. I have no reason to listen. They just do what they do. The body tries to exert control over me. I don't care. I just let it. I accept. I cause the thoughts to accept on occasion. The body is too restless to be controlled. I don't care. It doesn't really do anything but complain anyway. The thoughts are concerned for it. I know they are fine I see them as children, struggling to understand the world. I am calm. The thoughts and body try to control me. I watch them. I am not concerned. I just observe. I make the thoughts obey me, but the body is distant. I make the thoughts obey me when I can. They exert will on the body.. I watch. I do not care much what they have to say. They don't mind me very well. I accept that. I do not care. I am calm. They can do as they please. After an hour the leg is very numb. The mind does not like this. I tell it it's being silly. It finds humor in this. It makes the body feel humor. the body and mind laugh. The mind is pleased by this. I think they are quite a pair. I feel the thoughts liking the body and the mind. I don't care. I just watch. I do not care. I am calm. I am here. They are there. Nothing phases me. I just look. After an hour hour the body is displeased. The mind says I should allow the leg to get blood. I acquiesce. I do not care where the body is. The mind wants it to be quiet. It is irritated at the body. I allow them to stand up, and come to the computer. I I have the ming tell the hand to type. I have them report. My body and thoughts have left the cushion. I am still there. No in body. I just do not care. Nothing bothers me. I am reporting. The thoughts want me to report. I don't really care. I let the mind have it's way. It is the one who complains about things. The body and mind are slaves to each other. The mind wants something, the body gets negative sensations. The Body wants something, it tells the mind that it has a bad emotion, which reinforces the body's need. . I am along for the ride. They do not concern me. The mind thinks they should. The mind says I am silly. The mind threatens to embarrass me for speaking like this. I do not care. That does not concern me. The emotions are just interactions between thought and body. I see them as things that are happening around me. They are just objects. I am not concerned by them. The mind does not like this. I observe this. I do not care. I let them have their way. What they do is not my concern. I am not even sure If I have any concern. I am just here. I just exist. I am along for the ride. This is the way it is. I do not have a judgment. I only observe. I do not care. I am just here.


Day 4: Objectifying thoughts, categorizing
A lot of apathy surrounding these thoughts. It was a second layer of thought I was in yesterday. There was a realization that the thoughts that saw thoughts yesterday were still thoughts. Observing thoughts came up frequently. Critical thoughts, planning thoughts,searching thoughts (searching for thoughts, ironically enough). The thoughts were searching for themselves. That was the main theme of this session. They wondered who I was. That lasted briefly, they started stacking up from there. They became very discouraging. There were a lot of expecting thoughts, The planning thoughts mostly centered around reporting themselves. A lot of this probably came from the fact that the thoughts were trying to find who was thinking them. These were difficult to disembed from. The thoughts at the surface were easy enough to let pass, but the fact searching for the thoughts were thoughts themselves, made a lot of discouraging thoughts come up. The chain would be something like this: There's a sensation (observing thought), That was a thought, (observing thought), of course it was a thought (admonishing thought). There were a few times when one note would lead to noting the note as a thought, which would note that not as a thought, and so on until there was another admonishing thought. There were a lot of times The thoughts would say I was doing something wrong, until the thought that it was false, because the thoughts were being observed came up, showing that it couldn't be wrong if the thoughts were being observed. That was functional for a while, but the admonishing thoughts eventually started leaking back in. At that point, the time was up. Over all there was wide open space, with nothing, and a small but loud series of thoughts that were difficult to chase down. That would imply (it just occurred) that this is part of the chicken herding process. Yesterday, I was watching the chickens, today, I tried to chase them.
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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 7:54 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 7:54 AM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
5th day (1-18-12). No further instruction, I noted anything that came up.

Thoughts were narrow in this sitting. They were sill right on top of my awareness They were mostly complaints about the body. It was very cold, in spite of the fact that it's rather warm in my apartment. After a ton of body notes, my focus shifted to thoughts I started questioning them I told them they were not me, and the body was not me. I started making thoughts that the thoughts were not there, as they kept going away. I noticed periods of no thought more today. I saw them pass. This motivated the question of who was watching the thoughts. At the point where the query as to who was thinking was the most intense(?, I'm not sure what quality to describe it as) , something switched. This shift sort of flickered into existence. A bubble formed around the bodily awareness. I still perceived the loudest parts of the body, breath, itching, and heartbeat. The sensations would phase in and out. The itching was the most compelling sensation. It would dissolve. If an itch could be compared to a freckle (the mental image that got associated with it), then you could imagine the freckle slowly fizzling away. Since it was a sensation, not a visible type of object, it was almost like a small field of shocks that would replace the solid point of sensation. After it had faded and my attention went elsewhere, the itch would reassert itself very powerfully, so I saw it disappear multiple times. The main characteristic of this "switch", was a sensation similar to a blanket over the scalp, most of my body felt distant, and hearing became distant. Any sound that came through had a broken quality, The normally solid sound sound of the furnace (it's just on the other side of the wall from my head) took on a vibratory quality, like an engine running in the distance. I say "in the distance" because it sounded like it was muffled, as though another wall had been placed between me and the furnace. I kept questioning the origin of observation but the progress of that line of observation had mostly run its course for this session. The most that happened from it at any point after the shift was a sort of ripple in the visual field, like a sort of luminous quality that I compared to a force field, in a sci-fi movie, that would brighten at points of impact.
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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 9:33 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 9:33 AM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
I just sat for an hour.

My noting is still difficult. Once again, for the first half hour or so, the body was restless. I don't think it ever stops, it just fades out of importance, and I find my self in a place where thought is the only kind of object that catches my attention. Even here things are hard to see. The thoughts a very subtle. I see them and they pass. At one point. I actively tried to see where they were coming from. They are so small. I don't feel any kind of infinite expanse or anything. I feel like I'm in a small space, like a dark room. It's not tight, but not large either. Thoughts form somewhere behind awareness, and drift into view. They are rather inconsequential. The only feeling I seem to be able to note are very mild, confusion and frustration. I say they are mild because, like all of the thoughts they start as a small patch of mist, that becomes a small bubble when I look at it. The only kind of importance they hold is in trying to find their source. Intellectually I know there is no self, but I feel self. I try to find the spot in the room where self (I know it's not there) is, but all I see is the thought of finding self. It's like I'm at the edge of no self but the idea just hasn't been fully realized. Outside of the thoughts are just some vague body awareness, except for the occasional gross sensation that quickly vanishes. Other than that is this "room." It has no walls, just an indiscernible end. Occasionally I feel myself slip, but I'm caught by the recognition of the slipping.

Basically, limited space, only the largest gross sensations come into view, thoughts a re subtle. These thoughts can be looked at as objects. They come from nowhere. I feel like I should be in that nowhere (or more accurately, should not be). What is the goal? Note the desire to find the nothing. Then it just becomes more something.
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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/20/12 11:03 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/20/12 11:03 AM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
After yesterday's practice I began building tension. Throughout the day my neck became so tense that I started getting a mild headache. I never have headaches. I became very anxious while I was in class. I began dwelling on the troubles in my life uncontrollably. My heart would race at the slightest provocation. I thought I may be having nicotine withdrawal symptoms, as it had been 4 hours since I had smoked a cigarette. After class, I smoked 2 in a row, they did nothing. I began to suspect I was in knowledge of fear. I started clinging to the negative habits that I've recently used to escape. I played a video game, I drove friends places in exchange for dinner, at a Chinese buffet. I rolled up a character for a pen and paper RPG, I drank a beer. I stayed up until 3:30 am, I forgot to go to my counselor's appointment because I was up all night. I woke up this morning, and The anxiety got so intense that nothing could hold my attention. I looked at internet porn. I have the strong desire to skip class today. I finally motivated myself to sit, but I could only handle 15 minutes. In that 15 minutes, my notes went the full spectrum of the 4 foundations of the 1st gear. I became very unsettled. Every sensation was terrible. The anxiety passed into misery. That very rapidly shifted to disgust. Every thing became unsettling. The taste in my mouth from coffee and cigarettes were bitter and intense, like the other day. Waves of settling energy coursed through my body, radiating from a line that ran from the middle of my head to my heart. The waves would pour off of that line about 4 inches before dissipating into the next wave. I could not pin down a thought hardly. They would vanish as I saw them. The mental image that would stay were visual images of pornography. They disgusted me. I noted them with disdain, and they would fade out. The 15 minutes felt like aeons. I just couldn't stay there any longer. I had to get away, even though I recognized the fact that feeling would stay with me. I came to report, as if that was the answer to relief. I smoked a cigarette as I typed. I still want one. They do nothing but make me feel ill. I just want it to stop. So yeah, this is the second time in a week I've gone through this If it's anything like the last run, It'll be over by the end of the day. I'm already feeling a desire to note as I sit and type, and the negative feelings are starting to fade. I can feel calm starting to come in on the edges of mind space. If I had any doubt about where I was before, I don't now. This is DN. The fact that I'm burning through all of the stages withing 48 hours,, and then coming back in another 72 hours lends credence to the idea that I've been here for a very long time. It occurs to me that I'm seeing it arise and pass away. Over the last few days I have doubted. I thought maybe I was attributing DN like phenomena to a lower jhana. I had trouble accepting the fact that I could possibly have been in EQ over the last couple of days. There is very little doubt left in my mind, just a small nagging at the back (where all of my thoughts seem to originate, except for visible phenomena which appear in my eyelids) of my mind. The sense of unease and tension are starting to pass. And a warm pulsing is beginning to appear in my my core, that has been absent through this ordeal. The "evil " crawling waves of disgust are reversing, to a warm energy traveling back into my body along the same path. Calm is starting to wash over me. The negativity is becoming an unpleasant memory. I love the fact that I don't seem to stop meditating when I type my reports. I really love giving real time status updates as I medi-type. A typo I kept trying to correct in the last sentence, but screwed up 3 or 4 times made me laugh. The tension in my head and neck are giving way to the feel of a soft blanket.
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josh r s, modified 10 Years ago at 1/20/12 11:24 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/20/12 11:09 AM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 337 Join Date: 9/16/11 Recent Posts
Sounds like you are dealing with the DN very well, not getting caught up with any crazy lines of thought or with the narratives that the fear/anxiety tell, but simply being aware of the fear and anxiety keep doing that, think of it as resolving itself as long as you stay aware and don't mess with it

edit: the doing very well part was referring mostly to the way you handled it mentally, you might want to impose some restrictions on how you allow yourself to act
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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/20/12 2:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/20/12 2:16 PM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
josh r s:
you might want to impose some restrictions on how you allow yourself to act


Yeah, I'm new to actually seeing the phenomena through meditation. Previously I've been drifting through life, knowing nothing about it. I think I may have identified an experience with hallucinogens, 11 years ago, as A&P. It seems like a likely turning point. Since I got a really good look at the DN cycle this time, I actually saw some of the behavior issues as the lesson in this re-observation. I had commited myself to going to class, no matter what I felt like. I have the things I've seen and read from Daniel Ingram to thank for the level of resolve I'm starting to build, as well as being able to recognize the fact that I need to accept the situation when a DN cycle hits. Now I just need to figure out EQ...
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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/21/12 5:55 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/21/12 5:55 PM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Very similar report to yesterday, I think I've confirmed that I need to practice more regularly. It took me a while, almost my full hour, to accept and watch all of the tension and negativity, without fully owning it. I wish life could be put on pause, so I could run off to a retreat, assuming there were one any time soon anyway. I'm going to try to get in another sitting this evening.
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C T W, modified 10 Years ago at 1/22/12 9:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/22/12 9:43 PM

RE: Practice of the Hopeful Seeker

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Practice has been easy today. The past couple of days convincing myself to sit was like wrestling a bear. Not so for today. I practiced in the shower earlier, and I just sat for an hour and fifteen minutes without a timer. I seem to be back in the place where objects pass easily and thoughts are few and far between. The only things that really stick around are my pulse and breath. I feel like I've been asleep, but I was awake the whole time. My body is not really all that insistent on anything. My mind is very calm. I noted a lot of space and peace. Near the end my mind began to wander a lot. Mostly about meditating. When my thoughts don't drift, they don't do much of anything. I ended up focusing on my pulse a lot. My breathing seemed unnatural today, like I had to think to do it.. I've had very little attachment to thoughts that have been causing a lot of negative emotion lately. I experimented a lot with trying to widen my focus, but mostly that just led to me raising my eyebrows. I still have some muscle tension, but it isn't really affecting my mental state.

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