Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/10/24 3:32 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D shargrol 5/10/24 6:04 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/11/24 12:51 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Todo 5/10/24 7:32 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/12/24 12:34 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/12/24 3:17 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D shargrol 5/12/24 5:55 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D shargrol 5/12/24 6:03 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/14/24 2:55 PM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/14/24 2:54 PM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Pawel K 5/14/24 3:31 PM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/15/24 1:27 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/16/24 1:03 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D kettu 5/16/24 1:16 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/16/24 2:20 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D shargrol 5/16/24 7:14 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/18/24 2:08 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/18/24 2:18 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Martin 5/20/24 11:13 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/18/24 2:38 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D kettu 5/21/24 1:03 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/20/24 3:36 AM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/20/24 11:09 PM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/20/24 11:07 PM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D Claire O 5/30/24 2:44 PM
RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D shargrol 5/30/24 3:08 PM
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 3:32 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 3:25 AM

Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Those of you who are no longer suffering, I'd love your guidance and feedback during my upcoming 10 day solo retreat. (Please help me avoid pitfalls!)

*If you ARE still suffering, I hope you find something helpful here & your encouragement and solidarity are always welcome!  <3

My 10 day self retreat starts this Monday, May 13th

I'll log it here daily. Please share any pointers and feedback that come to mind as you read the log.
So grateful for your help!

Rough history of practice Timeline:

(tldr: a year of 1-2hrs/day concentration practice, two 10 day silent solo retreats; a year mostly dark night of the soul, little to no practice; four months intensive dharma study & intermittent practice.)

Detailed version:

-Began 1-2hr/day meditation, began reading MCTB, four months.
-Yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, one month.
-A traditional Advaita Vedanta monk teacher suggested I do mantra and 30 min metta 2x/day plus dharma study. Ha! The suffering was too UNBEARABLE – illnesses & overwhelming emotions (I did manage to, “put the feeling in the room,” a few times).
-I knew I needed to do an intensive insight meditation self retreat so I went for it alone (the monk was unwilling to help unless I followed his plan).
-During this retreat I hit 2hrs of excruciating pain (which evaporated for the last 8 minutes of the 2hr sit) and felt unsafe proceeding without better moral support. Two months
-I found an awakened guide from Berlin – began momentary awareness practice, which I’ll use on retreat (keeps my ADHD brain at bay):

Labels I use for walking meditation:
“lifting,” “moving,” “placing,” then, “standing,” & “lifting,” “turning,” “placing,”

Labels for sitting:
1st breath cycle: “rising,” “falling” (awareness of the breath in the chest area)
2nd breath cycle: “sitting” (aware of body in the room or in the world), “touching” (awareness on one point inside the body, cycling thru a predetermined set of points around the body)

-Did 1-2hrs of this practice daily for about 9 months
.-10 days self retreat with some open awareness practice. At day 7 or 8 my guide told me to, “add more relaxation” This sent me into a bliss state during walking meditation, which maybe lasted 10 minutes. I didn’t know about the Jhanas at the time, but now I’d guess it was 1st or 2nd Jhana, as it was effortless, stable and with a spacious, still/slow mind; awareness of contraction & openness; and also wonderment of vibrant blissful dancing trees! HAHA!
-The rest of retreat was suddenly much more difficult, barely managed to finish. This mysterious barrier persisted after retreat; I could not resume formal practice. My guide advised me to try informal practice throughout the day: ie. noticing body posture regularly. This allowed me to practice a little while longer, but imperceptibly that dropped away to nothing. I felt my guide didn't have a solution so I stopped connecting with him.
-2months later... DARK NIGHT of the SOUL! Deepest depression of my life, mostly bedridden. Began therapy. Spectacular emotional anguish, frightening physical lethargy. 10 months.
-SAM-e supplement + self compassion therapy + Reiki Master’s + Buddha at the Gas Pump = mental health became more manageable. Intermittent meditating began again. Lots of dharma study: Jack Kornfield, Pema Chodren, Adyashanti, Rupert Spira, Tara Brach, Ekhart Tolle, Leigh Brasington, Rob Burbea, etc. Gained dharma knowledge which helps counter hopelessness/despair. Came to understand that enjoyment relaxation delight etc, are skillful practice tools that facilitate concentration and combat some of the hindrances. Committed to finding more Sangha/moral support on the path. 4 months
-And that’s where I’m at with practice! I need your help!!! <3

Retreat goals:

1. Awaken from unskillful suffering-inducing reifying by:
2. Practicing jhanas 1-4, training ENJOYABLE concentration
3. Contemplative insight practice – exercises from Rob Burbea’s book, “Seeing that Frees”
4. Avoid another burnout dark night by prioritize enjoyment, ease, curiosity, motivation, happiness etc, and by practicing self-compassion for overwhelming emotions – Tara Brach’s RAIN, Daniel Ingram’s “putting the feeling in the room” - as needed for nervous system regulation
5. Increase intuitive, “letting the meditation go where it wants to go”
6. Get plenty of feedback to avoid pitfalls and to feel I’m not alone
7. Holding all this lightly without attachment to outcome

I plan to do:
1hr sits, 2hr lying down, 2 hr walking (dropping to half time when tired)
(logging quickly after each meditation, or every other)
ashtanga (am) & yin yoga (pm)
mindful jogging labeling, “left,” “right”

I’ve added:3rd sitting meditation breath cycle with the labels: “enjoyment,” “relaxation,” if I’m too tense; OR “reward,” “motivation,” if I’m tired/bored.

*Exact (tentative) retreat schedule to follow (or I’ll just see what feels right in the moment)

Any preliminary advice or feedback? Questions?
Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks so much for being here with me!

All the best,

shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 6:04 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 5:57 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 2527 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
A few thoughts...

Given past experiences, does a shorter retreat make more sense? I would recommend doing a few shorter retreats until you really learn to develop a more comprehensive set of "notes" (see next item) and intuitively balance your intensity levels. Retreats can be helpful or they can set back a meditator even further -- they are like playing with fire. 

While you seem to have a good basic structure for practice... I have a feeling that the very neutral "notes" of lifting, moving, rising, falling, left, right, etc. are going to be unhelpful when things get challenging. In my own experience, if you are only making the neutral observations, then all of the other difficult sensations, emotions, and thoughts do not get the recognition they need. The "RAIN" idea is much better in these situations -- recognize it, fully allow it, fully investigate it, and then (interesting, it now says "nurture" but non-identification was the older approach, to let it be as it is but not necessarily as "self"). So I would recommend noting what you are feeling, what is giving you difficulty, what is challenging, what you would rather ignore. And if something seems very very sticky, then it's time to RAIN. Noting practice is very powerful when you own your own practice and make up your own notes for the things that show up for you. People get into trouble when use noting to  ignore/deny/repress what they are experiencing.

I'm a little worried that your notes: “relaxation,” if I’m too tense... “motivation,” if I’m tired/bored. This suggests to me that you are potentially unclear on noting. If you are too tense, you should objectively note all the aspects of the tenseness. Note things like the actual body sensations that indicate tension (soreness, warmth, tingling, tightness, aching, etc.), the emotions that are associated (aversion, comparing, disgust, sadness, worry, etc.) and the thoughts that are associated with tense (judging thoughts, fixing thoughts, practice planning thoughts, failure thoughts, achievement thoughts, etc.) What you want to do is fully explore the experience of being tense, notice how it shows up in sensations, emotions, and thoughts... and only by fully allowing and experiencing this will the clear seeing of vipassina happen. Vipassina means going into the experience and experiencing it completely in all of its parts. You don't want to use noting as an antidote to fix or fight against what is happening.

All of this sounds like too many techniques too many goals to me.

I would probably advise something almost completely different... something along the idea of 

#1 - on day one do your favorite easy meditation, emphasizing just sitting with good but relaxed posture and just walking with good but relaxed motion. Get used to just being a healthy relaxed body -- don't even worry about mind. Just try to get that good "yoga body" feeling as when you mindfully exercise, don't push or strain. Exercise too, but don't note, just become intimate with the experience, really feel what it's like to be a human jogging for example. Also give yourself a morning and afternoon of housework/"yogi jobs" and do this intimately and try to fully experience doing the laundry, washing dishes, cleaning the toilet. And same thing with brushing teeth, bathing, pooping and peeing, really get into the experience of being alive during these things. Get used to "being a body on retreat". Don't be a perfectionist, don't get manic or depressed.

Take the next day completely off, do fun things, let the lessons sink in.

2nd stage  - combine the Day 1 practice, but add in noting, especially note emotions and categories of thoughts. What keeps your mind busy? What do you really think about? Don't try to change anything, just notice and note. LOVE what is happening and note it to celebrate it. Don't use noting to diminish or push things away. If anything is sticky or strong or suffering, then RAIN that thing. Recognize, allow, investigate, nurture. Get used to having a mind on retreat. Don't be a perfectionist, don't get manic or depressed.

Take the next day completely off, do fun things, let the lessons sink in.

Do the 2nd stage for two days in a row. DO NOT try to make fast progress, achieve nanas. Just try to get good at the methods of being a relaxed body with healthy posture (not rigid, not sloppy, not fixed in position, but alive and healthy). Just try to get good at having an accepting and allowing mind that is generous enough to allow ANYTHING to show up, even the parts of our psyche, the emotions and thoughts, that we don't want to feel or have. RAIN when things get challenging or deep. Alternate sitting with walking and use walking to just off gas. Don't worry about making progress or doing vipassina. Walking is for re-relaxing the body, walking off stiffness, getting a bigger "view" of being alive. Jog if you have too much energy. Don't be a perfectionist, don't get manic or depressed. Work on balancing the energy of being on retreat.

Take the next day completely off, do fun things, let the lessons sink in.

Now consider what is next and be very attentive to your ambitions/worries. Are you hoping to achieve something big? Are you demoralized and don't want to go on? Do you feel like you are wasting your time? Are you comparing yourself with other people? Do you feel like you want to go on retreat forever? Really check in with yourself. Be very honest.

You now have three days or so left. Do what makes sense for you and only you. In general, it is 1000 times better to get good at basic techniques rather than try to do a lot of fancy stuff. The way retreats work best is by being a human who is intimate with the actual experiences that arise on retreat. What needs to be experience will bubble up into the mind and body, all you have to do is notice and occassionally note the actual lived experience of retreat. 

Maybe you should quit, maybe you should learn to be with some psychological stuff, maybe you want to go back to body stuff, maybe you realize you need some advice before proceeding, maybe you realize you need to get better at noting XYZ because you tend to avoid it, maybe you realize you need to get better at noting ABC because you tend to get overly fixated and identified with it, maybe you realize you have trouble noticing emotions and so need to give that a bit more emphasis... etc. etc. 

That's my advice for consideration. I'm not saying it's the "right" answer, but I feel like it's an approach that might be helpful and allow you to better establish a foundation for successful retreating both now and in the future.

​​​​​​​Definitely feel free to ignore what isn't helpful -- I'm just someone reacting to words on the page, I don't know your situation like you do! emoticon
Todo, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 7:32 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 7:32 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 189 Join Date: 8/20/18 Recent Posts
Clarita, Claire,

why do you want only the advice of non-sufferers ?

suffering is neither good nor bad,  it just simply "is". Experiencially, a night of toothache is exactly identical to a night of making love. But this is rather difficult to "realize", however once realized it's like the flipping of a light switch in a dark room. The big problem is that light switch is one of the wicked ones which have timers attached & it switches back to darkness on its own. And it does so rather quickly. You have to switch it back on again & again & again..

​​​​​​​I hope this light metaphor makes sense to someone named "Claire".
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/11/24 12:51 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/11/24 12:47 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Wow! Shargrol,
Reading your response feels so nourishing and enlivening! It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for this guidance.
Thank you for your time and attention in considering my situation and for giving such a thoughtful, compassionate, thorough response. Much of what you suggest feels intuitively “right,” a recognition of pieces that have been missing.

So many bits of what you said I just LOVE:
“Walking is for relaxing the body, for getting a bigger view of being alive”
“Don’t be manic or depressed” emoticon hahaa!
“LOVE what is happening; note to celebrate”
“if anything is sticky or strong or suffering, RAIN that thing”
“What needs to be experienced will bubble up into the mind and body, all you have to do is notice and occasionally note the actual lived experience...”

I appreciate the guidance around noting; would definitely love to note a wider variety of sensations including emotions and thoughts; can see that being very helpful. So grateful for the heads up that this can build resilience for more challenging situations.

There’s more coming up but I have to sleep; I’ll let things percolate, allow some space for understanding to deepen.

Much gratitude,
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 12:34 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 12:34 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Hi Todo,

Thanks for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. Nice to be in community with people who think about these things!
Why non-sufferers? Oh you know, if you want to learn something ask someone who knows, right? emoticon

Nice metaphor emoticon I'm not sure I have a reasonable metaphor for my (so far mostly intellectual) understanding (& feels kinda funny to spend time on it, especially right before retreat, haha!)
but the metaphor would have to honor the painful suffering & belief in death, prior to switching on the light...  and then after you switch on the light you realize that both the dark and the light are perfect, because you and they blend together as part of an infinitely new NOW...

phew! that was exhausting to try to put into words; hopefully I will KNOW this soon instead of just, "understanding," right?  retreat time! 

all the best emoticon
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 3:17 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 3:17 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts

I was so grateful for your guidance around how to do noting.
In hindsight, I suspect my teacher had me using noting more for concentration than for insight, because he said to only note things that drew the attention away from the meditation object; everything else was just "noticed." For this reason, I added the labels, "relaxation" and "motivation," to reflect that I had added those feelings as new meditation objects in my practice.
I added these feelings into the cycle of meditation objects because I suspected a lack of enjoyment was a contributing factor in my hitting a wall in practice. (I don't think it's a good idea for me to enter thru the "unsatisfactoriness" door! haha).
This also felt like a useful addition to my concentration practice as a lead-in to Jhana practice, making pleasant feelings more readily accessible once concentration is good and youre ready to shift towards piti or sukka.
The reason I feel drawn to Jhana practice is because I think my body is wired to feel emotions very strongly. I suspect that the ease and enjoyment of these concentration states would allow for a more fruitful insight practice, allowing me to move past the wall. I'm curious about how it feels to be very familiar with piti, sukka, contentment, equanimity, indistractability and quiet stillness. I would very much like to try insight practice from an indistractible mind!

I love the idea of noting in such detail outside of the main meditation object. I wonder how you choose what to look into more deeply. I look forward to playing with that. I feel like I'd need to start by building concentration first? I'm afraid I'd quickly, and frequently, become lost in thinking...

I decided to go ahead and start the retreat today(!) because you suggested such an inviting Day #1 and I was experiencing a lot of anxiousness around not having enough time to dig into everything that I'd hoped to due to days off*.  I started at noon, so I'll do another half day of Day #1 practice tomorrow morning.  I'll start Day #2 by taking the afternoon off for fun things.
(*One brilliant aspect of your retreat structure is that really confronts my tendency to orient toward the "future," to the detriment of present awareness. I know starting the retreat today, so I "have enough time," is kind of recreating that pattern, but I couldn't help it! A label/note for this? I guess, "anxiety" until I can investigate further)

Report from first half day of retreat:
(some uncertainty around what's important to include & how much is enough to convey)
(Also kinda dreading the inevitable misunderstandings because I'm not sentence crafting very carefully... How important is this, vs time spent logging...?)

-Walked with good, relaxed motion - 1hr sat to rest 2x as the body wanted, for feeling healthy and relaxed.
-Noticed thinking then had the thought, "I KNEW it would be hard to 'not even worry about the mind'" (haha)
-Noticed noting and stopped it (following Day #1 instructions)
-Was uncharacteristically motivated to clean the toilet and suprised to meet no resistence, even flowed into cleaning tub and sink. (This is a VERY significant shift attributable to practice or retreat mandate. I experienced significantly less suffering around this activity(and leading up to it; it could easily have been excruciating.)
-DID meet very characteristic resistance during meal prep, struggled to remember to allow the body to feel for a relaxed, healthy posture; exhaustion, impatience, pain around shoulder blades
-Over and over realizing how important it is to have a relaxed body - more ease and enjoyment seems to arise naturally (This is something NEW I'm LEARNING!)
-sat 30 minutes - thought: is this my 'favorite' meditation practice?; thought: I need a minimum of 6 monnths of practice and feedback on dharmaoverground; sitting was very enjoyable, comfortable, internal smile, sitting up even straighter, feeling lifted, light; some painful emotion followed by the realization of how the emotion came right out of a particular thought, acknowledged how emotions are so tightly wound with thought concepts; realized that resting & enjoying meditating revived me, felt more hope and motivation; realized that suffering is not dropped by forcing by enjoying, loving, healthiness & having fun, followed by doubt - could that really true?

Random from rest of the day:
-Not particularily intimate with experience for large parts of the evening - room for improvement
-Mood felt more stable and calm than I might have expected, given prepping to move to retreat location
-I wanted to reach a greater degree of intimacy with everything, and to better remember to orient in that direction
-Thought that if i built concentration before attempting intimacy this would be better
-Thought that I'd be betraying Shargrol's retreat plan if do noting practice for concentration
-Remembering that I'm allowed to allow all the thoughts and emotions
-Thought that "retreat is not long enough, hurry!"
-Thought I'm not supposed to be 'worrying about the mind' supposed to be just letting the body be, being in the body
-mindful to be easeful during yoga - successful, although lots of room for greater intimacy with experience
-Noticed energy differences throughout the day and played with feeling for skillful responses
-Had to RAIN once (even tho that's not on the Day 1 agenda!)

So that's it!  Immediate relief from Day #1 practices, when I managed to remember to do them! & learned a few things.

For tomorrow, I hope to instill more concentration first thing, so I can spend less time lost in thought.
I can feel what a relief it is each time I remember to let the body feel relaxed & vibrant, so I hope to remember more and more to do it. & I suspect so much opens up from there.

Thanks so much for any feedback!

shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 5:55 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 5:55 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 2527 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
In general a few thoughts...

Noting practice is particularly associated with Mahasi Sayadaw and other folks from the more recent Burmese (now Maynmar) tradition. In this tradition, noting is used as a way to maintain present mindfulness and interestingly something called "Momentary Concentration". This is different than the pure concentration practices in the sense that it produces a state of concentration with whatever experience is arising in the momement. It produces a flow state where concentration is maintained within the flow of experience. Concentration gets developed by watching the arising and passing away of experience like a movie. If a sensation or an emotion or a thought becomes enthralling, the moment you realize it you "note" the sensation or emotion or thought that had you in a trance and in that moment you are "free" again -- because you are not identified with the sensation or emotion or thought, but rather you are seeing it as an experience within your mind. 

This can be confusing and is one reason why I generally don't comment when people have a teacher they are working with -- much better to work with a teacher that you trust and experiment with their teaching to see how it works out. The funny thing about meditation is that it's more about balancing with the extremes, and so sometimes a teacher will say "relaxation is most important" and other times "practice like your hair is on fire" --- these contradictory statements are only relevant to the meditator at a particular time, there isn't one right direction that works all the time...

Dependable teachers/spiritual friends (rather than random message board people like myself!) are also important because meditation is serious stuff and some parts of it are inevitably difficult. So if you are trying to make progress and push your boundaries, it's important to have some kind of safety net.

It might be good to spend some of your free time doing more research on things like noting practice and the stages/progress of insight (not sure if you have read/learned about that)?

For example:

bp503s_Mahasi_Practical-Insight-Meditation.pdf (

30. The Progress of Insight –

Definitely ignore all of this if you are working with a teacher --- like I said, listening to multiple advisors gets confusing, like going to a half-dozen gyms with different personal trainers at the same time. emoticon
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 6:03 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/12/24 6:03 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 2527 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
p.s. yes having a relaxed body really is the key thing that gets learned. The mind IS the body in a lot of ways. 99% of retreat practice is learning how to de-escalate the anxiety spiral and how to inspire/motivate out of the depression spiral. There is lots of psychological urges and emotions and habitual thinking that gets cleaned up over time, which makes simply being mindful of the present experience possible. Ironically, all of the "problems" you might have are also your "path" --- we clean up our psyche by developing mindfulness and we develop mindfulness by cleaning up our pysche.  We make peace with ourself by making peace with what arises and we make peace with what arises by making peace with ourself. 

How it goes for any one person is impossible to know. Some people are fast some are slow some are easy some are difficult. Some are fast and difficult. Some are fast and easy. Some are slow and difficult. Some are slow and easy. It's impossible to know or control.

Definitely be aware of the really shitty stuff that can happen if meditation goes wrong. Many people can become unstablized, dissassociated, manic, depressive, etc. etc.  Don't underestimate this and think "nothing bad can happen, that only happens to other people who do things wrong". Many people have entered un-fun experiences even when following instructions. 

Practice can really take off when we develop a good foundation of understanding. My advice continues to be working on the foundation, the basic skills, the basic "views" that really simply and clarify practice and have a good support network for advise/consoling if things go wrong. 
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/14/24 2:55 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/14/24 12:58 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Mmm! Thank you so much for this advice. I don't have a teacher at the moment so I just read Mahasi Sayadaw’s Practical Insight Meditation (Thank you sooo much for the link!); I will revisit Daniel Ingram's writing on the subject when my next "Day off, do fun things" retreat day emoticon
-Also at your suggestion, I messaged the main local Buddhist community leader (I live in a small city) asking for connections to anyone who might have similar practice goals/methods (I didn't know how to explain what MINE are, so who knows how she might respond! hahaa).
-I don't have money (dark night after effects) so I assume that greatly limits my ability to connect with a teacher
-It feels like this retreat is happening TO me, so I'm not sure how much I can do about potential harm... I guess if my boundaries are being pushed, they must be pushing themselves? Everything you've shared is helpful so anything else that occurs to you around how to avoid destabillizing (I was already pretty low-functioning from dark night... so far this retreat feels like this is helping so much to reduce suffering, thanks to your guidance!)
-I can imagine that this time might help develop inner compass for this stuff, making it easier to stay safe under a teacher in the future emoticon
-"If no one comes to your call, go on alone." -Rick Archer of Buddha at the Gas Pump emoticon, quoting someone else, I believe

When you say I should have a "safety net" of spiritual friends/dependable teachers, what exactly do they need to be able to do for me...? Like, do I need to find friends who are experienced in dispelling visual hallucinations, in case I begin experiencing delusions of that nature? Do I need to know what I need in these situations, in order to ask for the appropriate help?
How can I recognize my "safety net" people, like, what's the resume of an ideal safety net friend, what really catches us/keeps us safe? ie. someone i can call at 3am to come over and give me a hug...? or someone who doesn't even meditate but enjoys sharing mental health updates...? someone further along the same path...?
What are the main needs to cover/how many people would be enough of a safety net?
-I don't know anyone else in-person doing this type of practice; the last posts on here for social connections, were from years ago...
-I'm aware of Cheetah house but didnt check in with them ($)

Obviously there's no single answer, but I'd love to hear anything you'd like to share about this!
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/14/24 2:54 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/14/24 2:42 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Retreat Log day 2 & 3

Day #2

AM: “Being a healthy relaxed body on retreat, intimate with the experiences” Part 2:

less mindfulness, poor recall of events, exhaustion, lower emotional tone than previous afternoon, plenty of variation of different experience happening throughout

PM “off, do fun things” Part 1

Some fun moments but in general very tired. Mild impatience with “days off,” and confusion & resistance around “doing fun things” (because no matter what I do, it’s still the same painful delusion till I hurry up and see thru it!) For these reasons, I’m pleased to squeeze these sessions in before I’d planned to start the retreat – maybe not the path of least suffering but its whats happening for me. haha


AM: “off, do fun things” Part 2

Moved to retreat location, did not manage to do fun things, more enjoyable moments than part 1 though! Less tired in general. Emotional tone was calm, mildly pleasant. A feeling of consistent gentle motivation.

PM: “Being a healthy relaxed body on retreat, intimate with the experiences, but now, ADD NOTING. Love what’s happening, note it to celebrate it.” Part 1

2hrs yoga flow - whatever the body wants, no forcing or straining. Felt peaceful emoticon Such a relief afterwards, released soreness & stiffness. This is a 180 switch in how yoga has felt for me the last several weeks; it had been a burden and felt confined (I'd only been teaching as opposed to doing my own practice). Thanks to the mandate to enjoy & nourish the body! I realize I'd been feeling like there was nothing worth doing, nothing to work towards (cause impermanence and unsatisfactoriness... plus ADHD brain haha) but suddenly I'm feeling motivated again! Dedicating this retreat time towards reducing my suffering feels like a good use of my time, actually the ONLY good use of my time. Feels so good to be able to move forward again... see how long the motivation lasts! emoticon
30min meal. not particularily mindful

1hr lying down - concentration pretty good initially: lost in thought only once; was practicing as I had prior to Shargrol's pointers, so if something prevented me from making my next note in the cycle only then did I note a new object. As I started to play with noting anything that comes into awareness, I got lost in thought more often but it definitely felt like a more helpful way of practicing, opening to more of what arises.
-Celebrating by noting felt AMAZING!!! more of this please!
-Some label/notes that came up "moving(awareness around the body" "thinking" seeing, hearing, itching, scratching, seeing, hearing, feeling, daydreaming, talking(in my mind), watching, intending, enjoying, reflecting, "noting"
-I found myself opening my eyes to take in the light of the room, then I noticed sleepiness disipating. I couldn't catch an intention to open my eyes. I couldn't even observe a conscious knowing that I was sleepy. So it didn't feel like "me" opening my eyes, felt like they did that on their own. This happened 3 times. I'm pleased my being seemed to move away from sleepiness without me having to be aware... I wonder if I'm just not seeing the 'notice sleepiness, open eyes,' so my attention is just not refined enough, or if sometimes things happen WITHOUT awareness of the problem to solve, followed by intention to solve it...? Anybody know?
-overall easeful do-able non-suffering
-moments of rapture & vibrant vision followed pretty quickly by enjoyment/contentment. wondered if it was jhana territory, sukka lessened immediately haha
-happy emoticon
-more focused on rise & fall of the belly than ever before after reading Practical Insight Meditation (had been in the chest area and more on the internal feel of the breath), belly felt a little more substantial but often gets too subtle so I'd fall back to chest rising falling (I know he says to fall back to "sitting" but that feels like it interrupts my noting rhythm...
-"itching" stayed with it longer than I would have prior to reading Practical insight MEditation to see if it would disolve... maybe I still had too much aversion? It did not resolve after like 7 notings so I scratched it, which he did say is what happens so I guess it's ok, maybe it really was a fruit fly? haha Next time I'll try to add curiosity see if more openness happens and it goes away. Maybe I'll look for who is knowing or do more observation of the pure sensations
1hr mindful dishwashing/'being a relaxed body on retreat, noting to celebrate'
-reflection: how'd I come to want to do the thing? where's the intention from?! Why am I REALLY doing things? good little retreater the mind is open and eager looking for 'good retreat' things to do & doing them with high motivation, satisfaction, no resistance, "everyone will be so impressed at my mindful stopping in all doorways activity, they'll be so excited to do it and get so much benefit" hahahaa wow
-SOoo pleased with my nesting touches to retreat room, had never taken the time to let colors & textures feel lovingly luxurious and engulfing and joyful and then funny with a memory, heart swelling feeling from nesting! hadnt realized nesting is self-care! Or mindfulness is self-care?
-what is tiredness? details unclear, tendency to automatically try to fix the tiredness. puffy heavy eyes furroughed brow, skin sluggish? on movement, heavy body, intention to move meets more resistance, mind is slow, resistance to tiredness? forcing?
-knowing vs. thoughts?
-flopped onto bed (following 'intuition'?) investigating seeing two fingers touching overhead, exploring moment of touching, then eyes closed feeling moment of touching - when do I KNOW it happened. Curiosity, engagement, interest, open, experimenting investigating
-felt a little refreshed but still tired
30min walking & noting to celebrate - Labeling/noting everthing is so helpful! "leaning" resting kissing listening watching, lookin for, squishing, opening closing reaching lowering, crouching crawling(doubt/shame: is this allowed in walking meditation? am I doing it right? but allowing bc it's closer to the variety of day to day life and so many juicy new labels!), pressing, adjusting(eyes to light) burping, remmebering talking, flipping hair in impatience due to an itch on face & scrunching nose, (startled to acknowledge that I did that same sequence twice in one 30min period!? how often do I subconsciously do that...?)
-is labeling happening AFTER the awareness of the object (& isn't it supposed to be DURING? doubt), it happens after when it's a new label, sometimes BEFORE when it's lifting moving placing the more familiar labels so less mindful then I guess
-Felt WAY more awake after
-Lots of curiosity during watchin a moth - tiredness dissolved so I can apply more curiosity when tired! tools!!
1hr30min getting ready for bed/being on retreat relaxed semi-mindfulness/noting thought categories
-Thought I was being mindful but forgot a basic important step in bedtime routine... caught up in interest in how to label, too much 'what's happening' not enough, 'what is supposed to be happening?'
-Thought categories(more hypothetical than observed in the moment, gearing up): "remembering" "responding" catastrophizing, contemplating, intrusive (even more "not me" than normal everything "not me") daydreaming, problem solving, responding/acting, planning, evaluating, analyzing, judging, learning(still vague: mulling & intending to remember in the future?)
-Unsure how to categorize - "selfing" thoughts could be a nice practice
-everything breaks down & blends together ie. sound - is it more FELT than HEARD? It's technically vibrating the ear bones... so why does the truck going by feel like a little snaking ripple in upper r. chest? that's not how a sound wave should feel! but it felt related... did I really feel that? Maybe a random body sensation that coincided... But these trucks do shake the whole room...
I can picture where the truck is in relation to me by the rumbling sound - so the mind has placed space and time around the sound based on what it knows about the behavior of trucks and my surroundings. If I didnt know what the sound was, would I perceive it less well oriented in space?
-I can see how vital basic practice is for reviving a better mood after contraction from 'lost in thought' - finding balance
-awareness of subtle hurried anxiety, subtle inscessant THINKING :/

that's that  emoticon
Pawel K, modified 1 Month ago at 5/14/24 3:31 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/14/24 3:31 PM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 1172 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Seeking hints from non-sufferer is clever. I like the attitude, its pragmatic! emoticon

I always looked at people who do not suffer to check how they do it.
Distraction always seemed to be good way. It causes however too much issues and can lead to more suffering.
Now distracting oneself with the same thing over and over again but still making it feel like being distracted - have change in mind - that would work much better and without issues.

So when you sit there and feel like you cannot take it no more and your mind is on brink of distracting itself. Point your distraction to doing the same thing you were doing but make it feel like distraction. Let it feel like whatever *you* was doing the practice lost it but new *you* is doing the same thing so its fine. Then you don't need to bring your previous tired mind to stay on object or noticing stuff because why even bother?

When mind learns this trick then over time because of how close its distractions are it will learn to distract itself with jhanic distractions. These are even better. In reality when you practice with method and try to keep mind on object the skill your mind will eventually develop is the same. Just then its less conscious, more confused and conceited.
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/15/24 1:27 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/15/24 1:27 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Hi Ni Nurta!

Ahhhh!!! I LOVE this!!! emoticon Thank you so much!

I can see this being useful for any time the mind wants to run away, like too much aversion/resistance/doubt (although doubt feels extra tricky to me!)/etc.
So I can just allow the weakening mind to go off "distracted," but then let "distracted" end up landing on a new energized clear mind continuing to do the same practice well.
I'll practice and then keep an eye out for how to steer the mind to be distracted by jhanic distractions, maybe like 3 characteristic contemplation, for example?
I can see how that could be slowly building consciousness and chipping away at confusion & conceit, while training concentration in seeing reality.

Feels like such a powerful tool and brilliant little tricksy trick! Funnn! haha!

So grateful for your help!  emoticon
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 1:03 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 12:58 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Meditation LogDay 4

AM “Being a healthy relaxed body on retreat, intimate with the experiences, loving what is happening, noting it to celebrate it” Part 2

Washing dishes, it suddenly became clear that subtle 'hurrying into the future' was happening and realized how illogical and unnecessary that is. This realization felt very important but it quickly dissipated; after a few seconds I couldn't quite remember it anymore. I figured an unhelpful pattern would continue to repeat if i didnt really internalize the realization, so I made an effort to remember again. It slowly started to come back and then bam! an image of me, cartoon-like, hurrying right past the very thing I was desperately looking for! I burst out laughing. suprised it came back & in such a comical way. The realization still felt incomplete especially around how exactly to be and STAY in the present, but also a vague feeling of "not too important, gradations of sameness..." Feelings of satisfaction and high interest from this learning. Reinforcing how valuable reflection can be, which is a shift away from previous practice for me, so releasing feelings of "I'm not allowed to/this is wrong/this isn't productive" High reward from realization experience reinforcing new practice emoticon
Yoga - thought: I've done enough feeling identified with the dark night; resolving to root out all identification with suffering, to see thru it quickly (so cultivate a clear calm mind & healthy relaxed body & give my being plenty of compassion to facilitate the process.) I realize I'm a little less confident about my ability to love everything that comes up; I'd like to bolster this capacity with increased No-self understanding.Reiki is a workable version of metta practice for me - started with reiki moved to RAIN for feeling of, "being a burden" Upon investigation, the pain stemmed from the experience of mutual disconnect/separateness/inability to connect. I realized there's always the possibility that someone out there wants to meet your need, where for this person, it's a burden. The feeling can just be a loving sign to move on. Felt "being a burden" inside the body and it slowly disipated as I observed the sensations.

Also RAINed for saddness about the fact of suffering: mine & the world's. the irony of suffering about suffering suddenly made me laugh out loud and then for a few seconds I experienced laughing and crying alternating back and forth quickly - all in the one laugh! Allowed the saddness about the fact of suffering, felt it as a swath from r shoulder to lower belly, added compassion and reiki love hands on heart and it slowly lifted, leaving clear spacious peace.

Attempted to RAIN for a more helpless, jaw/chest shuddering despair suffering; felt more intimidating. Started by touching loving reiki energy and then the despair and back and forth. Saw the shuddering helpless despair of humanity as an immense column extending into the future, infinitely, then back into the past, having always been with us, a part of life. Seeing it as a collumn away from 'self' felt safer, more acceptable. Not sure if it fully released, but the memory/conception of my own recent dark night, now feels less heavy and 'wrong' in hindsight. Tiredness arose so I relaxed the body, sensation of hangin out with my buddy, the column of helpless, shuddering human despair. emoticon

Thought, "Love what is happening" saw baby san pedro cactus in my room. Upwelling of delight, laughter, excitement; caressing cactus potter haha. gratitude crying for the honored plant teacher, then gratitude sobbing for all teachers on the way outta suffering. (I'm not taking plant medicine on this retreat - just hangin out with a growing baby teacher <3 )

Realized I'd forgotten to drink water for 26hrs just had a cup of tea at the 24hr mark... this is EXACTLY what us ADHD brains are up against!!! hadnt felt thirsty but did wonder why my lips were so dry. (unsettling!)Song lyrics by Mon Rovia, <3 Can you be still? Theres a void only silence can fill. Where you are is all that's real. When you're there remember how it feels. <3
Yoga - laughing out loud catching myself scratching a face itch & scrunching my nose, because the feeling was like repremanding the itch for itching, as if it could understand my expression of annoyance. haaa
Thought, "girrrl you did such good work" (self-congrats), reflecting. After all the waves of sobbing and giggling, gratitude that this is a solo retreat (amusement arising )

Investigated the feeling, "why bother finishing (this yoga session, or anything I set out to do)" May have played a role in the wall I hit in meditation? feeling involves disillusionment, disappointment, a wound. Also doubt: how can I know the thing is worthwhile? nothing CAN be because, impermanance & unsatisfactoriness, is it really even nourishing? These doubts were countered with thoughts of a few things that did feel worth having accomplished & the thought that follow-thru is perceived as a reasonable course of action a lot of the time.
So maybe "why bother finishing" can be translated to "find a more enjoyable way to do this." Maybe I'm selfing to hard-find perspective. The feeling is low, heavy, a little despondent, so maybe add enthusiasm, energy, curiosity? Definitely a sign post to keep going, NOT a sign to 'give up and stop here'

Observed that digust has judgement in it, and in this case, blame. then comic embarassment (chagrin, maybe?) when I realized I was actually the one to blame! Aware that there's selfing happening with noting; a subtle "me noting" vs just "noting"
Applied loving reiki feeling to various unskillful, painful feelings and felt some relief! self-consciousness, sexual prey feeling, fear of being perceived/judged, fear of failure, unworthiness, a burden, physical ailments

PM: “Day off, do fun things” Part 1

Felt compelled to 30min sit
noting strictly rising falling sitting touching – allowing these to be very engaging and only noting something that intrudes. noted “listening” did get lost in thought and had to restart the cycle bc I lost my place one time, then was able to complete one full cycle before timer, without missing a note/breath. Felt indecisive and low-level agitated prior; beautiful full calm smoothness after. Doubt prior, so grateful I did it after!

Studied Rob Burbea’s “The Impossible Self” chapter because I think seeing through more layers of self may liberate me from a lot of extremely dysfunctional, painful emotions and thought patterns:
“I am a burden if I ask for help” (I could retort, oh yeah??? Who is even is this, “I”? That’s right, not allowed to suffer about it if it’s not even you!)
Then consider the various ways there is no inherent existence of “self” emoticonThe ‘self’ think you are does not pop into existence when an I thought occurs but you have many thoughts that do not include a concept of “I” and you don’t cease to exist in those moments.
“I’m a burden if someone is spending their time listening to me” (Awww hell, no you don’t! What “I” are they listening to exactly?) you conceive of the “self that is a burden, solid thru time, weighing on another person” but each present moment of reality is just a flash before it’s gone. It’s impossible to ‘weigh on someone over time,’ because nothing is solid and nothing occurs ‘over time’
Tackle these next: “I don’t deserve to be helped”“I’m worthless”“I’m not worthy of anyone’s time/attention”“I will just let people down if they invest in me”“My wants and needs are not important and I don’t deserve to get them met”etc.

*I probably could have made these feel more like ‘day off, do fun things,’ but feeling too motivated, productive, future focused still!
kettu, modified 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 1:16 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 1:16 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 48 Join Date: 10/31/17 Recent Posts
I’m not a non-sufferer (don’t quite believe they exist) so i’m breaking your rules by writing this. 

But the interaction you had with the clarity about hurrying to future, forgetting the clarity, remembering it in an instant in a new form (visual), and the questions that arose in connection with all that - - that whole is your true guidance. 
All the best!
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 2:20 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 2:20 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Retreat Log Day 5

AM “Day off, do fun things” Part 2

Yoga - suprised body just wanted a short practice today. Thoughts, "will I be judged as a bad yoga teacher?" & body shaming. :/
Breakfast - "listening" pidgeon, "who are you? youu youu..."
observed a compulsive behavior
Thought: Retreat should feel relaxed, celbrating, loving! As should the rest of life!" follow-up intention: orient in that direction let whatever needs to, come up fully w/o resistance, with love
2hr walk intention to note more quietly & gently, relaxed mind. aversion & judgement to walking past 2 cops (memories), outpouring of love for a cat on a doorstep. Compassion scooping up 2 small crabs from the road & returning them to a stream- care concern love.
The question arose, "WHY celebrate thru noting? Paused to CELEBRATE! Noted "celebrating." noticed more awareness & appreciation for the trees.
"judging" car going too fast with all the vulnerable little lives around.
watched a big ant at close range; wasn't till I kissed the air above it with a mental "I love you," that he freaked  out and hid in a crevasse in the tree trunk. Didn't note but was aware of amusement and appreciation, engagement
More immersion in nature, no  longer noting but more aware, noticing.

meal: waves of poignancy sobbing, just as the rain started outside
30min lying down
subtle thinking... rumination or useful reflection?
I was neglecting a deeper connection to myself in my last relationship, thinking it would come with time, waiting for wholeness with myself...
Did I stop meditating due to subconscious fear from that bliss state that arose...?

30 min sit
Used Ni Nurta's switching to a new "you" if one gets distracted... used it twice and it worked great! At minute 28 the unbearableness snuck up... I was able to note stretching legs, putting on a sweater, reaching for chapstick, lounging back burping. the last 30sec were interminable haha

1hr walking
started with stricter noting practice to build concentration
used Ni Nurta's "you" switch 3x for dullness.
Labeled/noted apart from basics, "watching," coveting, judging, wanting, thinking, interest, exhuberance, perching, relaxing, pain, inhaling, bending over, reaching, lifting, balancing, remembering"
Noticed a very specific thought flow: looking at decor then imagining in detail, the process of sticking it to the wall or nailing it up... this occured 2x
Reflection: I have a lot of little memory gems that havn't been shared or heard. Feels like they want to be honored. Thought, "I will listen to myself when these memories come up." Observed a feeling of relief and affirmation. Time to hear myself!

1hr sit
At 15min in, startled to find myself taking log notes. noted "writing"
Thought category: story telling
Something like pride? around the turkey tail mushrooms from the walk, felt like a gift - honored? proud I know this mushroom and could enjoy it in a tea.
observing hair twirling stimming behavior
reflection: ekhart tolle's collective pain body concept, realizing parents couldn't have done anything differently due to their own pain bodies
Used Ni Nurta's 'you' switch technique 3x, very effective, nice proactive way to quickly let go of a hinderance
Mind feels much more settled, peaceful after the realization of "hurrying into the future & missing the present" and the intention to slow down & find stillness. This is truly wonderful.

20min walking
Noted "stepping back" after "standing" at the back door but was suprised how sudden and quick the movement was. Then realized I'd been lost in thought. It had an undercurrent of annoyance at a memory. It was as if the sharp movement echoed the emotion of frustration... let's see if that's happening
Aware of thinking WHILE noting, "stopping," "sliding," "moving" etc. Or is it quickly alternating between awareness of thinking and the noting...?
Noticed an alert, ALIVE presence and remembered it from traveling, when anything could happen and consequences could be serious... this is ideal for practice! Feels so good.

1hr lying down
presence deepening noticing peaceful contented stillness; ideal practice conditions
"rising" falling noting peacefully
Then suddenly remembering the little crabs from earlier, thought, "can crabs DROWN?!" feeling of restrained dread and powerful curiosity. "What if I killed them instead of saving them?" "They were so weak, what if they couldn't swim to shore?" Stopped myself 3x from asking google, then was overpowered. Aware of the feeling of compusion. Asked like 6 different questions. A whole research project during meditation!
Now I know I shouldve moistened their gills immediately, which are located behind their front legs, because they do breathe air but cannot when their gills are too dry, then let them down at the shoreline instead of right into the water. (Metta that those little guys are ok! emoticon)
Noticed guilt that this all was happening during practice; reminded myself that this is the way the movie goes, good to observe all the things it does.
Thinking turned to kinda daydreaming about solutions - an underpass for crabs and turtles. "if only I had the ecological knowledge and authority"
Suddenly, the tone of thought turned cold, "It's not like you'd ever do anything about it anyway." Like a dull steel blade... dead eyed... I almost didn't catch it because it didn't have an attention grabbing quality, mediumly subtle. but then I was shocked! I had no idea I'd ever be so ruthless. Just when Claire was thinking up these beautiful loving utopic ideas. Why shut her down so coldly? Wondering where that came from. Keeping an eye out for that nasty pattern!

& that's day 5, dunzo
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 7:14 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/16/24 7:14 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 2527 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Sounds like you definitely have energy and inspiration... but of course that's also something to look out for during retreat conditions, too. The extremes of mania and depression tend to become easier on retreat.

Maybe think about having a day of simplicity/renunciation as part of your retreat. Keep thing simple, do basic practices and notice how the mind/ego often wants to make things exciting and glorious... and also how this is a high energy state. See if you are able to say "no" to making things big and fast and grand for a day --- what would a simple day of being a body and mind on retreat look like?

(I say this from my own experience, it is very easy to become manic.)

I would also say that IF a cool-down and chill-out day is successful, then it might be worth considering doing a formal retreat schedule. This will give you a taste of what a retreat at IMS, for example, would involve. I would NOT do this if you were speedy.

The trick for these kind of formal retreats is to really really really dial down the enthusiasm and drive, and instead be as calm and peace and very gently loving instead. No greedy practice. No aversive practice. No indifferent practice. Just very simple and plain practice. Most people I know who try to go fast and achieve big things wind up getting co-opted by their ego and crash and burn. The same thing happens when people are grumpy and averse. The same thing happens when people are lazy and indifferent.

Instead it's simplicity that works: be a sitting body and notice-and-note the mind (note sensations, emotions, and categories of thinking) and then be a walking body and connect with the sensations of walking, and note emotions and categories of thinking as needed.

And at IMS, they encourage people not to meditate and instead go for a nature walk if things are too positive or too negative. Sometimes you just to need to give yourself some space and let things air out.

Their generic schedule is:5:30 am – Wake up
6:00 am – Sitting meditation… 6:30 am – Breakfast …7:15 am – Work-as-practice period
8:15 am – Sitting meditation with instructions
9:15 am – Walking meditation
10:00 am – Sitting meditation
10:45 am – Walking meditation or meetings with teachers
11:30 am – Sitting meditation… 12:00 noon – Lunch …1:45 pm – Walking meditation
2:15 pm – Sitting meditation
3:00 pm – Walking meditation
3:45 pm – Sitting meditation
4:30 pm – Walking meditation… 5:00 pm – Light Dinner …6:15 pm – Sitting meditation
7:00 pm – Walking meditation
7:30 pm – Dharma talk
8:30 pm – Walking meditation
9:00 pm – Sitting meditation
9:30 pm – Late tea, further practice or sleep
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/18/24 2:08 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/18/24 1:53 AM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/9/22 Recent Posts
Thanks so much for that incredible guidance, Shargrol!!! Day 6 is from before I read it. Day 7 has be so lovely.

Retreat Log Day 6
Thursday 16th

AM & PM “being a healthy relaxed body on retreat, loving everything that comes up, noting it to celebrate it”

Yoga – enjoyable nourishing (grateful, since it hadn’t been feeling that way before retreat). Noticed tension arose around making it to online therapy session, but I had space and clarity to see it and then know it wasn’t necessary, counterproductive even, and was able to let it go!!! *celebrating! Haha
Before letting that feeling go, the thoughts had been racing and coming up with not-very-good ideas for doing the things I wanted to do before the meeting. After I let go of the tension, there was some relative stillness and then thoughts came up about what to do to get ready, but now they were helpful thoughts, and my feeling towards them was of agreement, like, “yep! that’ll work. Great! I’ll do that!” A feeling of increased flow and ease, confidence and enjoyment. I’m grateful for this experience 'cause it reinforces the trust in the ‘letting go of anxiety’ and begins to address another area of uncertainty: How to organize your day, ‘get things done,’ without anxiety and stress. I struggle with this because I used to use high levels of anxiety to self-motivate, and the ability to do that seemed to have dropped away… part of my dark night was, “how does anyone DO anything?… haha. (and also why do anything? And then how do you choose WHAT to do? Haha)
Some takeaways for less suffering: I’m relearning how to motivate without anxiety and it may take time and that’s ok. I need more time than I gave myself, so give myself the time or expect to do less before a meeting and accept that. It may require some planning, from the evening before to get all your ducks in a row, maybe accepting that more fully that planning is actually necessary, will reduce anxiety… OR maybe racing around getting some of what you want done before a meeting is exactly right and how you want to operate - you prioritized sleep, I guess! So, great, maybe it’s just a matter of deciding that whatever you’re experiencing is perfect, not making it ‘wrong.’ *Science experiment in progress

Therapy – Used Ni Nurta new self technique to let one self continue to be anxious from getting to the meeting while choosing a new, calm & alert self to join the meeting. (the feeling of anxiety was like jumping out of my skin, desperate to mitigate my unworthiness). That worked pretty well! I shared the experience of the other day of RAIN for different levels of sadness suffering, acknowledging that the deepest layer had some distance to it but that I wasn’t sure it had fully released. We teased out that I wasn’t fully allowing the ‘column of human despair’ because I was stubbornly clinging to, “This despair is just not necessary. It shouldn’t be this way.’ (So NOT rAin, Allowing it!) We played with, “what would joy be if we had nothing to compare it to?” “Without pain to push us away from what’s not right for us, how would we know what to do?” “pain is our compass to wisdom.”
But what felt most helpful to me was the sudden realization that I’d been reifying the concept of human despair to a whole block of pure heavy unbearable despair over time and over a large area. But despair never really behaves that way. I can only exist in the present moment and then the mind uses thought-story to create the perception of despair continuing over time. In fact, you probably drank water during that time, and with awareness, you’d see that there were actually many moments of ‘not-despair’ within the despair. So despair is more a lack of detailed attention to awareness plus run-away thoughts. And it doesn’t affect the whole of humanity like some tragic black cloud. Humanity experiences little pinpricks of despair here and there but it’s pinpricked with experiences of every other emotion as well, not saturated and steeped, as I had been imagining. Rob Burbea’s emptiness for the win!!! (His book: Seeing that Frees)
And THEN! I realized that suffering loses it’s power, it’s painful bite, as soon as the momentary nature of it really sinks in. Then the mind shouldn’t kick in to extend it or catastrophize about it because it’d have to do it intentionally.

All our parts want to be seen, without judgment and, lucky for us, we don’t have to feel shame because none of it is ‘you.’ Can just let the judgments flow by, so instead of getting stuck on shame, see them as a signpost with valuable info about what’s going on & where you want to go; so take the info & keep going!

I need to take time to witness some travel memories; I finally have space to take in their juicy lessons (Now I know I can do that for myself vs. waiting for someone else to hold that space).

Brainstorm: how to “celebrate” judgment while noting... 'Yay for a pointer to a subconscious fearful belief?' 'Yay for being on the right path b/c you noticed the judgment?' 'Yay for a pointer to an underlying value'

Wanting to address a suffering thought of “there’s not enough time.” Reflection: Life is actually the same ‘stuff’ regardless of what you’re ‘doing.’ It’s the mind-body concocting and interpreting (and hopefully awareness of this). Anything can be blissful with enough awareness and the intention – or anything you want, at least with time and practice. It doesn’t matter what comes up if you know it’s not you, it cant hurt or change you and will pass in an instant. & if you’re not grasping onto it as if it’ll do something for you. Instead letting it flow by with kind interest, hopefully love, celebrating it.

Judging pattern: “I have an idea, now if I don’t bring it into being, I’ve failed. And I’m a failure.” = desperate grasping in present to ‘get it done’ in future, grimness, fearful striving, sometimes leading to overwhelm. (Signpost could be something like, “learn how to prioritize tasks in a non-suffering way”)
In the moment I tried a 2 step process: 1. Note what’s happening 2. LOVE what’s happening emoticon This worked!!! Solved the prioritizing distress spiral

Confusion about how things get done: thought I’d do yoga instead was surprised to be doing a bunch of self care stuff and cleaning. This felt at times incredibly sensuous & amazing, confusingly so; I sensed putting some breaks on the high, actually, which I wondered about too.
Reflection: we hold peace and joy, etc, for each other; it’s not just me/mine. A beautiful mandate to care for the body-mind, motivation to keep optimizingHow to remember lessons learned? Instinct says, increase concentration, also writing and sharing

Walk started with a lifted mood, enjoying, light, diffuse being. Until a guy in a car honked at me as he went by. I tried to resist the inevitable contraction of the body but the mood fell a notch and the being became more dense. In hindsight I guess the suffering was the clinging to the enjoyable way of being?, and not what I thought at the time, which was a storyline of anxiety about the safety of the physical body that spiraled into hyper-vigilance and a hardened, defensive feeling, some anger and annoyance, plus striving to move past it to a the lightness and enjoyment from before, all while maintaining a calm exterior demeanor. Studied a cedar tree, knowing it would revive me but reluctant to appear unhinged to passing cars.
Noticed with surprise and delight teeny tiny woody purple flowers that I’d never seen before! Appreciated the color and shape of the berries. Wanted to smush my face in, to smell the branches, but felt the weight of ‘being perceived’ and walked on. A little refreshed.

I suffer from extreme aversion to cooking. Haha! So it was relevant to notice a sense of ‘unappetizing’ towards the food I had planned to prepare. I remember I felt that the night before as well, and then when I started eating it felt soooo good and I felt reVIVED after. So I made the food, noticed, yes, “this feels amAZing!” haha. So hopefully I don’t have to entertain that mildly unpleasant feeling next time!

Prolonged, fairly unpleasant, anxiety/fear spiral due to a cop car with its lights on outside the house. Thoughts fueled the anxiety so quickly! Body tension, racing thoughts, catastrophizing, negotiating with the catastrophized future for a better outcome, paralyzed in that I couldn’t just go see what was going on to relieve the fear. Instead, “wash the dishes, so when they come for you, they won’t think you’re more criminal-y because your kitchen is messy.” Image of the house surrounded by cops with guns, sneaking up to the windows. “So don’t look outside. If you don’t look at them, they might just go away...” haha. The mind faltered a little there, struggling to sustain belief, but it recovered quickly with storylines it could believe better. “The neighbors called the cops because my light has been on so late into the night and they saw me bringing in water jugs that one night and think I’m building a meth lab & I am so suspicious looking (in my business casual skirt, little sandals & long hair… aka not at ALL). They saw me go in the back gate and just KNEW I was a ROBBER or a SQUATTER or manning the meth lab. *Hahaaa woww! The mind really ran wild here! It would be embarrassing, if I wanted to suffer additionally in that way emoticon

Since this was such a sticky one, RAIN didn't really work, after the anxiety spiral passed, I tried witnessing myself fully, pulling up all the memories around police brutality, cruelty, callousness, disgusting (judgment) displays of power-tripping (relishing in the abuse of power), lack of compassion, lack of kindness. There’s an intellectual understanding that I’m reifying the evil of some cops into all cops, and into all moments of time, but there’s sticky attachment to fear due to a belief that it will keep me safe from the instances of malicious cops… Hahaha there’s definitely some resistance to letting this go, hope to see thru it soon.
Maybe next time I could try feeling into it more, with curiosity. It felt hard in the moment, maybe cause I wanted to get rid of it. I noticed, but did not really note, sweaty palms, racing thoughts, high alert, wide dilated eyes.
Maybe next time it could help to intentionally look for other things that are likely there, which I remember in hindsight: panicky vulnerable defensive desperate & thoughts of planning, preparing, and negotiating, also “seeing” (in the mind’s eye).
Maybe somehow I could remember to love the experience as it’s happening. I CAN appreciate that it instills compassion and understanding around this particular flavor of suffering.

1hr lying down
Tried building concentration with my stricter noting practice, making everything else quiet; tried to consistently, and strongly, celebrate each noted object, loving them. It was difficult to pull up the feeling of “loving the rising,” etc, but I remembered the automatic outpouring of love for the cat on the doorstep, and my own cats, how effortless and strong it is. I overlayed that feeling of 'love towards cats' onto the objects of meditation. I could feel myself familiarizing with the feeling; hopefully it becomes more accessible, but for now it did take a lot of effort to stay with it.
Switched to playing with only using the note, “celebrating,” as I noticed things occurring with a celebratory feeling.

Resisted the urge to force a next meditation session. Permission NOT to? Permission granted! emoticon

Noticed luxuriating as I slid into bed, & cozied under covers... relaxation.
Hangin’ happily with Ekhart Tolle’s book, Stillness Speaks. Felt so nourishing. Delighted to find myself at his chapter “Suffering and the End of Suffering.” Thought of Kettu, who commented the other day, doubting if 'not suffering' is even possible. Very serendipitous timing! p. 118-119, & I’ll try to share emoticon

Observation of order-of-operations that made up a series of activities: Suddenly lots of clarity and recall after leaving the bathroom. Saw step by step the feelings and thoughts that went into deciding to make tea then choosing a tea... then a sudden inspiration to writing certain notes, something I’d meant to get back to… and continuing to make tea, all in much greater detail, which I don't feel like writing now, but I think it was the clarity that was important, and also just seeing it all started to give a little more faith/acceptance for how it works. If the clarity could remain over time, I bet things would become more efficient... hopefully.
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/18/24 2:18 AM
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Retreat Log Day 7
Friday 17th

*Read Shargrol’s guidance to watch out for mania/speediness last night.

Had a vague impression that I might be a little speedy but there was a sense that it was not a bad thing, maybe kinda productive. So in the morning checked it out. Yep definitely qualities of speediness, racing thoughts, anxiety. How did Shargrol know?! Haha
Didn’t know if it’d be possible to slow that ship down, or how, but was definitely gonna try!

Since I didn’t really know how to slow down, I just dropped EVERYTHING, laid in bed; watched racing anxious thoughts. I fell asleep. Woke up but didn’t move to DO anything just began an unofficial laying down practice (without even seeing it as a practice) of watching the breath, and any thoughts/emotions coming up. Now there was space to see when a thought tried to spiral with emotion and I was able to return to enjoying the peaceful breaths. This presence stayed close for the rest of the day. Continued to choose gentleness and calm when presented with the option to strive. The difference from yesterday is significant. I feel much better. It’s amazing to type up yesterday’s log and realize how uncomfortable I was and also somehow oblivious of that. I don’t think I could’ve intuited my way here from there… so grateful for your direction Shargrol!!!

Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth, invited me to presence with the breath and also by feeling the field of sensations in the body, and also by remembering to come back to NOW. These practices felt so good, so perfectly simple. Didn’t note, just watched for shifts towards greater relaxation, enjoyment, wellbeing and followed those.

I did experience heightened anxiety on a night walk. A man appeared a block ahead of me walking tensly, quicky and kind of hunched over. Weird vibes. Immediate anxiety, trying to disappear. Thoughts, “Did he see me?” “Let’s HIDE!” I crossed the street and made a quick turn, looking back anxiously while trying not to appear anxious HAHA… I don’t think he even saw me, but I did some suffering.
Is this type of fear really safe to let go of? (haha I know that sounds like fear talkin, right?) Maybe I wouldn’t have enough adrenaline at the ready to fight of an attacker, if I hadn’t prepared it in advance by getting anxious? Or is it possible to feel high adrenaline, even fear, but not the spiraling thoughts of anxiety…? I’d love to hear from a non-sufferer on that one! emoticon Can I be anxious and not suffer?

After returning home I was able to settle again into a present state fairly easily. I remembered to drink water, no problem, this afternoon.

Appreciating Eckhart Tolle’s, “Your Inner Purpose” chapter, a beautiful powerful mandate to continue to make space for awareness. Could see this being helpful to people stuck in indifference on retreat, or otherwise.

Another morning like this and then I'll see if formal retreat schedule wants to begin... hard to imagine, since this presence feels so good. let's see what happens!
I'll finish retreat the morning of Thursday the 23rd, 5days left.
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/18/24 2:38 AM
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I was so happy to receive your message! So nice to feel less alone on the path. & you're tone felt like moral support so we can call it that, to avoid a boundary violation emoticon 
Ran across this from Eckhart Tolle right after you mentioned being unsure 'not suffering' is really possible; thought it was serendipitous timing. It's such a good chapter!
Especially powerful when combined with the concept of time as Rob Burbea explains it in, Seeing that Frees.

-Eckhart Tolle's, Stillness Speaks
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/24 3:36 AM
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Retreat Log Day 8
Saturday 18th

woke up a little less present than yesterday pm. lying down feeling for stillness watching breath. uncomfortable compulsive thinking: future, judging, victim
1hr lying down: presence still slippery. reminders: this is important, nothing else brings peace, this moment is all there is, it's safe NOT to think, try to build curiosity about being awareness/presence, love the breath & again now again
Can I stay present DURING thinking?
Can I see the start of a thought? Even sound has thought overly "bird" "vehicle" spacial orientation
What is THERE without thought?
-Forgot to make coffee yesterday so that addiction never kicked in. & it was hard to drink the half-cup I made today with the mindfulness, I realized I enjoyed making it more than drinking it.
Noticed a thought, "fear of losing myself completely" So gave it some RAIN compassion
Remembering thought, "Vandana Shiva told me 'Don't be productive, be loving.'" Letting go of 'productivity'
Noted "wanting" to make space clean
Thought, "How do I get to pure BEing? You can't get there by thinking/thought."
Picture thoughts: "I'm going spelunking happily into the dark cave crevasse of pure uninterpreted sensation! Negativity/sticky thinking is my caution tape and enoyment means safe and good to go!" Even this feels too active, speedy. see if I can just... settle... inhale x2 x3... and let it show me in its own time, integrated, safe. Finding the way with the way. (PLEASE) haha
Walk. Someone yelled and threw a carbonated can of something out their car window as they drove by me. It hissed and exploded as it hit the pavement. I thought I was being targeted and body tensed whipped around to see. But the can had been thrown at the opposite sidewalk, otherside of the road, not at me. (Fear/anxiety response) Remember every experience is momentary, even abuse
obsessive personal safety thoughts, negotiating imaginary problems; remembering times when I felt very safe in objectively less safe places, unconditionally loving, just enjoying experiences due to awareness of temporary short stay in country
Presence with cat, snuggles communicating with body language <3 Presence with birds turtles a bunny. captivation curiosity wonder love enjoyment, absorbtion into wild trees
Avoided a cop

Feeling for presence but noticed subtle aversion instead... to starting retreat style structured meditations? to potentially feeling too much fear, like what keeps surfacing on walks (like what if it STAYS?) fear of fear
Cleaning felt eternal, why couldn't I let what I was doing just be? just be the right thing to do in that moment? & just do it? LOTS of thinking :/
Obsessive future cringe thought
subtle pushing to do more, criticizing how it's done, & hurrying myself up :/ Left me tired & forgot to feel accomplished, or celebrate, after cleaning, so went back and did that haha

Notes to ...(non)self
Awareness arises with thought; it's how you know you're thinking!
Remember: any moment is a flashing instant passing already, how could you be seriously upset by it? haha YOURE FREEeee!

Noticed thoughts around aversion to cooking, "you can never do it well enough to be satisfied & it can't feel light, free & enjoyable while you're doing it."

No need to 'get back' to yesterday's peaceful stillness! Cause other states will work too. I don't need to suffer about no longer being exactly where I was.
Everything wil always be different.

Noticed subtle grumpiness, no idea why. Remembered Shargrol flagged grumpiness as a no-go for retreat intensive so made a list of possibile source of grumpies and addressed each one. Possible loneliness was one, and this tarot card deck I brought (Shambala publishing!) claims to be your friend in the description. haha

Asked the tarot: How can I maintain presence?
Got Butterfly card: A pressing need for the psyche to break free from habitual identity & surrender to a process of radical growth. Leap into the unknown trust unseen forces will guide you. Only after near complete anihilation, can a new life begin. Shed your skin & liquify into the cosmic ozone. Remember, you hold in your spine the imprint of wings. Your emergence from the chrysalis is inevitable.
Thought: WOW! OK!!!  I KNOW the way! LET'S GO!

After that, meditating on Rob Burbea's the impossible self, presence arrived emoticon stronger than yesterday; very enjoyable/liberated:
Self dissolved. this is not self. body not a body or self. thoughts not self, cause which thoughts would be self? Selfing thoughts are also just thoughts, there and gone
Everything is awareness
aware of itself

Vibrational field, where my body concept used to be, is the same as the vibrational field of the bed under me
is there anything where that wash cloth is? molecules, space, thoughts, sensations, time snippets... no!

fear has a stiffness, inability to move freely relaxedly, it's a knotted place in the whatever-this-awareness-awareness is
tryna SLOW thoughts for more awareness of awareness using 4th jhana down the well technique, tired feels more dangerous, to who/what? haha
Movement & voice is an antidote to fear freeze
Fear is a physical sensation that comes up; it's not objectively anything
*this is a thought-story of 'me' 'writing' but nobody here nothing here all the same awareness of sensation field emoticon
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/24 11:13 AM
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Claire O
Retreat Log Day 7
Friday 17th

 Can I be anxious and not suffer?

Yes, absolutely. You don't even have to have reached the final end of suffering to experience being anxious or even afraid without suffering. It is different from ordinary anxiety, because it is missing that obsessive, inescapable feeling but it is still clearly recognizable and can still include the physiological stuff. 

Not that the two are the same, but just as reference, consider what it's like to be afraid on a roller coaster or watching a scary scene in a movie.
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/24 11:09 PM
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Oooh yay! I love that Martin, thank you!!! Yes, makes so much sense, fear/anxiety can be kind of delicious in the case of a roller coaster or a scary movie! More towards the excitement end of the spectrum. It'll be so nice to let go of that inescapable obsessive quality. sounds so good. emoticon
Claire O, modified 1 Month ago at 5/20/24 11:07 PM
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Retreat Day 9
Sunday 19th

After a few min of being awake I suddenly remembered all that's here is awareness, aware of itself... but it was more conceptual now, clouded by thinking.
Yoga - disappointed it didn't stop the onslaught of thinking (but WHO/What's disappointed?)

In a moment of aversion during a task, a little mantra song - Nothing has a beginning, nothing has a middle so there's no aversion (to tasks. each now is so small it basically doesn't exist.)

Noticed subtle depression as a lowish energy/mood, like a grey cloud *Shargrol said watch out for this! What does it need?* Witnessing? Has an emotional futility to it, tiredness

Noticed that doubt is kind of amusing because it seems to be a sudden refusal to keep observing what IS to actually see what might be there. It's a thought that says, "Could this really be..." Then just cuts off forward progress, a kind of paralysis. A little fear i guess. It's so funny tho! It's like, "oh no! don't LOOK, what if you look and are disappointed to find it's not true!" haha just look and see! haha

It's not what you do, it's how you do it, awareness integration can calmly be the main focus with other work also there. emoticon

Fear while sitting on porch - immediately a cop car followed by a sherriff go by. haha  Is this a cultural fear? Fear that when you become too happy/relaxed, that's when 'they' come for you, to tear you down. If you're too free/enjoy too much, you might become collectively powerful enough to shift the power out of current hands.
A young dog walks by staring at me with SUCH curiosity so I send lots of love and say hi, her tail perks up, tentatively waving. She lays in the grass, wanting to stay & hang out, curious, but owner pulls her up and away. In her wake, a perception of the whole energy field shimmer-vibrating & swirling - higher energetic love and connection, subsiding.
More cops suddenly speeding by with sirens and lights.

Eckhart Tolle:  "If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear."
"If uncertainty is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness alertness & creativity."

Accepting uncertainty means welcoming whatever the future might bring without trying to control for outcome

Why does seeing adults waking around outside their houses barefoot make me so happy? haha  Is that delight a little conspiratorial? emoticon
Or seeing the big bright almost full moon  <3  like a bolt of energizing love, connection, alertness, hmmm looks like presence!

Anxious thinking tone memory, disturbed, confused, disillusioned, horrified by what goes on in this society, how people treat each other
Gratitude for a new way to process this type of memory: those involved are suffering varying degrees of delusion & it doesn't have to affect me so painfully/deeply because I know the only relief is continuing to deepen awareness of awareness and knowing of no self here. If it's suffering, either the body needs something and the mind made up a story about it or the mind has created a painful story about an emotion/thought, & become confused/contracted.
Now I know I can just feel for stillness, NOTE the thinking & thought category, love & celebrate awareness of it! Revisit 3 beautiful breaths. Go outside. Move.

I want awareness without uncomfortable overbearing fear so I can be a healthy relaxed body, LIVING, trusting the compass of life.
What does fear really need? Connection?
It needs dissolution of self! (& dissilution of everything, & others) WHO is afraid? Of WHAT?

Question for you all:  What ARE good thought categories?
I feel like it'd be helpful to have some foundational ones to focus on to start, to get the idea, I feel a little vague...

Also, maybe certain ways of categorizing are particularily helpful for see thru "self," or for comprehending the void better, or highlighting how awareness works, etc.
I need to get deeper into the implications of the void - how/why do things HAPPEN?

Anyone have suggestions for me about some helpful foundational thought categories? Maybe, "remembering"
oooh! one I need to watch is "spending lots of time thinking about something I might do, that I quite possibly will never do, meanwhile not present with what I AM doing..." haha  don't know what to call this
And thought categories for solidifying no-self, possibly: "selfing" "forgetting I'm awareness" "present" "Doing" but following up with: "who/what is doing?" & maybe switching to "happening"? This is confusing! emoticon

More incredible help from Tolle. RE: the terrifying workings of compulsive thinking. Yikes.

Cleaning: Passed thru some doubt around tackling some seriously clogged drains. when ultimately it worked! They were unclogged, it felt like I'd unclogged myself. The sensation of free flowing clean water, seemed to flow thru me emoticon Starting to see how people don't mind cleaning. Song evolved: nothing has a beginning, nothing has a middle, so there's no aversion, there's no things! Or beings! to be averse to anything...

Felt subtle avoidance of meditation/looking, donno... fear of uncertainty? Thought was 'my food will run out' but there's plenty of food. And I could forage! It's the mind.

Tolle:  Inspiration = "in spirit;" enthusiasm = "in God." These are guiding emotions, giving an 'empowerment that goes far beyond what a mere person is capable of.' Inner purpose: awaken the formeless essence; outer purpose: create form, experience the interactions of forms, the play, the drama; reconciliation of inner & outer purposes: reconciliation of life force/source/presence/awareness with the "world"
*I apparently really needed to hear this, cathartic crying happening. Feeling embodied, finally came home to true self/awareness.

Realizations: I'm allowed to care for my body fully in this moment
I can never be NOT 'enough,' or not do 'enough' because I'M not doing it; there's no me here. It's awareness aware of dong & things are happening & there's awareness of their happening
*compulsive thinking problem*

Intention: notice beginning & ending of thoughts, how they always pass away (get still first)
Took a bunch of tries but went DOOoooown the well, as Leigh Brasington describes in Right Concentration, for 4th jhana. But instead 4th jhana, what happened when I went down 'just a little further' is Piti errupted haha flooding the body with waves of glee, also happiness/sukka too. Grin. felt it flowin around. Thought it might be tryna rise, kundalini, then i remembered I shouldn't try to help it, then i remembered I'M not doing it! emoticon

I ENJOYED cooking?!?!?! I didn't suffer even when the can opener failed to open two cans and I had to tackle 'em with a knife. No suffering! Whaaaa??? This is truly extraordinary! haha

A walk with no suffering, no fear, however it was daylight and very lightly raining so I feel like the surrounding human pain bodies were more subdued...

More help from Tolle (Stillness Speaks -sometimes paraphrasing): "Mastery of life is the opposite of control. You become aligned with the greater consciousness. It acts, speaks, does the work."
& "A moment of danger can bring about a temporary cessation of the stream of thinking & thus give a taste of what it means to be present aleart & aware."
"Effort implies stress or strain, NEEDing to reach a certain point in the future."
"Your form identity cannot survive surrendering to what IS. just say YES to what IS"
"No need to label every sense perception or experience. No need to have like/dislike relationship with life. No need for conflict with situations/ people
"If you can detect, "not wanting" it's a denial of life. & you can also drop it & be in total presence in what you do.
"Be at ease with not knowing. This takes you beyond the mind bc the mind is always trying to conclude Y interpret. It is afraid of not knowing. So when you can be at ease with not knowing, you've already gone beyond the mind. A deeper knowing that is nonconceptiual arises out of that state."
"The world cannot give you anything of lasting value. All experiences are fleeting in nature. Have no demands & every situation, person, place or event becomes not only satisfying but harmonious, more peaceful."
"When you completely accept this moment, when you no longer argue with what IS, the compulsion to think lessens & is replaced by an alert stillness."

Integrating no-self is apparently slow going haha emoticon
kettu, modified 29 Days ago at 5/21/24 1:03 AM
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Thank God you took my trespassing lightly!
Speaking of Eckhart and God, I prefer the older Eckhart, Meister, to the modern one.

Anyways you seem to be having good time, and I'm not eager to disturb your cooking more.
God prefers us cooked, sufis (might) say.
Claire O, modified 20 Days ago at 5/30/24 2:44 PM
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Final retreat post!
(Day 10, a few thougths from Days 11 & 12, goals & gratitute) *Sorry it took so long to post this! (ADHD brain)

Last night before bed, reviewing last two days, day 8: “Awareness is me & everything,” compared to day 9: struggling to maintain & deepen this experiential insight.
Noticed a grasping attitude looking back on day 9, a subtle judgment that it wasn’t a good enough day because it wasn’t spent in some constant blissful concentration state, realizing new depths of insight. Tapping back into the feeling of awareness meeting sensation is everything, it became clear that what’s happening now is just the natural unfolding of awareness knowing itself. It’s not “me,” being “not good enough.” Felt the pattern loosen, thought/feeling of, “let awareness of no self, and awareness is everything, come in & clean up.” emoticon
A sense of getting out of the way, allowing awareness to take over, trusting awareness to be the most ‘efficient’ way to move forward. This surrender, just as I was ready to sleep, led to the understanding that awareness would continue to be me, even in deep sleep. (a concept that, intellectually, I’d been unable to grasp prior!) “Self” is not the physical body while awake, and “self” is not the physical body while sleeping, whether in deep sleep or dreaming. Everything is awareness aware of itself, when you’re awake, including you.
At the level of thought/experience, while awake, you sometimes have “selfing” thoughts, and sometimes you have thoughts that DON’T involve a “self.” You don’t have selfing thoughts, or any thoughts, during deep sleep but you are not a self made of thoughts (selfing thoughts, or otherwise), you are awareness. You don’t remember the experience of deep sleep because that experience is not at the level of thought but it does not imply that you’re not awareness. Awareness would still be aware of the physical body and everything else, during deep sleep, just most sense doors are on very low alert. The experiential feeling was of awareness blanketing all arising objects, of being that awareness meeting a perception, and knowing that this is all that happens in ‘the world’ and the body in deep sleep is no exception.*This was end of Day 9*

Retreat Log Day 10
-slow down the thought-stream-notice any senses of ‘self’ anywhere
-make sure I’m investigating the void left by no self, that it is “pregnant with meaning,” (Rob Burbea)

Noticed: two strong, totally convincing thoughts, with diametrically opposed content. haha. Highlighting the pressing need for de-identification with thoughts, ASAP!

Yoga – noticed selfing when I observed “my legs.” Remembered it’s just a sight sensation + thought of “my legs,” amidst infinite moment to moment changing awareness of perceptions. The “my” dissolved, leaving, “legs.” Thought: “A leg would experience pain if stabbed, but it’s not necessary to reify a solid perception of legs over time in order to deny the reality of what’s actually happening.”
“Legs” dissolved into a perception of no body no room just a self-informing feedback loop of sight, thought, feel, all arising with awareness. Slight fear, doubt: “what if I’m handling this investigating ‘wrong’?” “Add LOVE. Loving whatever comes up.” tapped into cat teachers for the reminder of how to love BEing. Felt warmth in belly, energetic smile, a subtle ‘reaching towards’? Lovingly BEing with. Energetic expansion beyond the physical body.

2 times today felt the body fill with awareness. Being became alert & peaceful, vision cleared. A sense of balance, ‘rightness,’ knowing, ‘all is well.’ Sense of coming home.
1st time was accompanied by a subtle feeling… maybe something like, “it’s been too long, this was overdue,” and “such a relief”? Although the emotion/mind state was subtle and unclear, there was an accompanying strong physical response: kinda heavy (gravel-y?) exhales and passive tears, felt like a shrugging off/out.
Both awareness events occurred after the intention to slow down the thinking, and then consider, what’s here, if there’s no ‘self’ is here?

Questions that are percolating:
How does awareness function?
What is it doing, when not contorted around unskillful patterns?
Awareness meeting an object makes it ‘real;’ Why do things happen? (Why does awareness meet certain objects? How does it “choose” which objects to meet?) What doesn’t get chosen/met?
Do I REALLY not have to TRY anymore? (and by TRY, I mean, STRIVE uncomfortably) Let’s see if that uncomfortability knot can loosen. (Like, for example, will I suddenly overcome my ADHD brain’s need for urgency and manage to pack well in advance of travel, so I don’t stress-pack the night before? haha)
So this is all just awareness, checking things out... Can I FEEL how it wants to bring more awareness into, ‘conscious form,’ ‘relative reality’?
Why does awareness ‘do’ so much eating and drinking? Haha. Awareness likes taking care of this body!
What are common pitfalls in integrating no-self?
Do people really know what the void is...? why do I want to look at the moon at the beach (or do anything)? What is Awareness tryna do with everything?
What does it mean, experientially, that everything is ONE? What IS it all?
*Tolle: Get comfortable with not knowing. (Haha, can he hear me right now?) Let go of ‘wanting/resistance/impatience’ with the present moment. Accept uncertainty! Become comfortable with surrendering to not knowing.
“Even if you cannot accept and you’re solidly in resistance, accepting that you’re in resistance will take you to peace.”
“When you no longer argue with what IS, the compulsion to think lessens, and is replaced by an alert stillness.”

Noticed more peace in a recurring thought content theme that causes contraction: aversion to cops. So as I was compulsively counting the cops cars that passed during a short time sitting on the porch, I realized I had SOME space around the activity, a subtle stillness, even though the contraction was still compelling. (“outrageous! 11 cop cars in such a short time!? Wtf is going ON? Did something HAPPEN? Is it always like this? Such a police state! Makes me feel much LESS safe. etc.”) So, subtle progress with room for more space. Haha.

Realization that I have permission to be loving regularly throughout the day, whenever I want, with everything. It’s actually my mandate! <3 Subtle disbelief, but emotional upwelling (gratitude? relief? Beauty?), and a knowing of how much I’ve wanted to live so lovingly but had felt I wasn’t allowed to, that it wasn’t acceptable, responsible, respectable.

Noticed how effective it is, to give the being full permission to deeply, totally REST when it wants to. Went from totally exhausted to full energy in about 5 minutes!

Noticed a little selfing in my “arm.” De-reification of “arm:” it’s a sight + a thought (2 sensations) + awareness = “arm.” What’s here is a pulsating moving mass of molecules: O2, H2O, C, NaCl, bacteria, viruses, mitochondria, white & red blood cells, bone marrow, kin cells, space, electrons, light. External perceptions, thought stories, momentary, temporary. STEP 2: Bring love into it. Celebrate it. <3

Realization of the desperate need to de-identify with emotions, ASAP! (Haha. The to-do list grows.)
Woah!! Fear of walking to car at night, down the block where I’ve been cat-called everyday. Anticipatory fear on leaving the house, clouding memory of leaving the house procedural checklist. AMAZING the quality of believe-ability that fear has!!! Movements took on a shaky, desperate quality; it was hard to lock the door and zip my pocket zipper. Actions to prevent a future imagined terrible experience. I’m halfway down the block, body tense against an approaching car, *sips tea hopefully nonchalantly, looks up at moon hopefully looking unconcerned. Thoughts racing in desperate defense, “Should I pretend one of these cars is mine?! No, that’ll look MORE suspicious.” The car passes. I reach my car. The anxiety does not subside, instead finds new stories. Every other car on the road is a cop and theyre about to pull me over and falsely ticket or arrest me for something I haven’t done, or HAVE done but didn’t know was illegal.” “I’m going too slow. I’m going to fast. OMG I’m gonna hit the meridian, watch out!” Thought, “WAIT! This is CRAZY! I make this drive all the time, without a second thought, at all hours of the night! *Body mind relaxes. Suddenly, it’s easier to go the speed limit and take in a full picture of where the road is, and the flow of traffic, etc. When I DID pass two cop cars, lights flashing, having pulled someone over, I didn’t feel threatened or experience as much contraction as I did during the lonely walk to the car.
Mason Jennings was right, fear is a liar! emoticon
Unfortunately, the fear/anxiety vibe lingered on arrival to the beach. Regularly looking around to see if I was being approached or attacked from behind. (I have felt safe alone at the beach at night at other times)*Hoping for MUCH more mindfulness next time fear comes around, especially mindfulness of body sensations. I learned a lot regardless. For example, I had walked that very same ‘block of terror,’ at almost the same time of night after hanging out with a friend, but because I felt like a friend was in shouting distance, fear did not arise. Same block. Same time of night. Totally different experience. So I look forward to playing with tempering fear by tapping into the feeling of safe connection. Could be useful to cultivate “safe connection” in meditation, how it feels in the body, so it’s more readily accessible in the event of too much fear. (Also on the to-do list, of course: getting intimately familiar with fear itself, its sensations in the body. It just feels especially sticky, so more intimidating to observe without getting sucked in.)

Had an emotional conversation with the Ocean. emoticon Tried to feel into awareness of oneness with the ocean but didn’t fully grasp it, experientially. Got as far as realizing I could imagine I am the ocean, my body is the global oceans combined, hugging the continents, seeing the teeny tiny Claire on one minescule bit of my skin (shoreline). A feeling of you cannot NOT be the ocean, because you're awareness, which can go anywhere, is anywhere. & you can 'look around’ with thought/imagination.

New questions percolating:
-So the ‘self’ is not emotion, but what IS all this emotion about? What is its purpose? Seems to have locality in the body, but you also empathically feel your friend’s emotions, so often stimulated by stimuli outside of the body. How true is it that awareness is primarily traveling thru sense doors? Is that just habit, and it has access to much more when it isn’t habitually returned to these senses?
-What are the purpose of conversations? Just an interplay of awareness thinking things through with itself? Two sets of sense doors that are under the same awareness but that somehow are also appear differentiated... so then when ‘they’ converse, they’re awareness apparently differentiated, getting closer, but not quite merging with itself...?

Day 11 & 12
More space around thought-emotion vortexes of: panic, fury/rage, desperation, despair, dismay, disgust, horror (related to subtle nonacceptance of impermanence/unsatisfactoriness, disappointment & disillusionment). & physical illness(food poisoning) with SOME awareness of the degree to which I was in a state of acceptance vs resistance but with plenty of room for more acceptance and for reducing unnecessary suffering!

Goals/Next Steps
- noting practice of just emotions
- noting practice of just thought categories
- noting practice of "pleasant" "unpleasant" "neutral"
- deepening the awareness of body sensations aspect of noting emotions
- practice of noting all selfing thoughts
- intention to improve concentration throughtout; try a tap counting app to keep mind on task during the high doubt/uncertainty learning phase
- deepen impermanence investigations - try noting vanishings
(some of these practice suggestions come from Kenneth Folk youtube videos, which someone linked somewhere. I found them very helpful; I'll try to link here too)

So grateful for everyone reading & participating on this forum, making it a lively space, so those of us who don't have access to community or teachers, don't feel totally alone!
So grateful to Shargrol for such compassionate, wise direction!!! Thanks for catching me just when I needed it. I'm continuing to practice loving what comes up & noting it to celebrate it; feels very effective and nourishing.

I found that writing out these logs helped a lot in processing what I was learning, so I'll go start a regular practice log (more noting-based, unlike this retreat! lol); I hope anyone who wants to will weigh in with advice/thoughts/motivation/moral support - not just non-sufferers this time! :p

Love to everyone <3
shargrol, modified 20 Days ago at 5/30/24 3:08 PM
Created 20 Days ago at 5/30/24 3:08 PM

RE: Seeking guidance from non-sufferers: 10 day solo retreat :D

Posts: 2527 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Whew, I'm glad things went okay. These things can be really dangerous -- I'll say it again:&nbsp;Retreats can be helpful or they can set back a meditator even further -- they are like playing with fire.&nbsp;