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Jason's Practice Journal

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Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/16/12 4:14 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/17/12 9:12 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 2/17/12 4:20 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/17/12 4:45 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/18/12 6:32 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 2/18/12 7:13 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/19/12 11:48 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 2/20/12 9:16 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/20/12 3:56 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/21/12 2:35 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 2/23/12 3:17 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/23/12 5:14 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/27/12 10:18 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/29/12 4:17 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 3/2/12 9:48 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 3/3/12 10:27 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Yadid dee 3/4/12 10:56 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 3/5/12 12:32 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Bagpuss The Gnome 3/5/12 1:37 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 3/16/12 1:03 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 4/17/12 7:03 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 4/22/12 9:01 AM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 4/24/12 5:28 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Bagpuss The Gnome 5/9/12 3:55 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Tommy M 5/15/12 8:11 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Russell . 6/14/12 1:32 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 6/14/12 3:25 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Russell . 6/14/12 3:44 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 6/19/12 8:55 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 6/23/12 5:33 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 7/27/12 9:26 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 8/21/12 4:49 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 9/18/12 5:53 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 10/1/12 10:09 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 10/3/12 7:35 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 10/4/12 8:18 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 11/11/12 9:48 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Fitter Stoke 11/11/12 11:37 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 12/10/12 9:07 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Fitter Stoke 12/11/12 10:32 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 12/19/12 8:07 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Russell . 12/19/12 8:50 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 12/19/12 8:59 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 12/26/12 9:52 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/6/13 10:10 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 4/17/13 10:09 AM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 2/18/13 5:54 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 3/31/13 7:21 PM
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RE: Jason's Practice Journal Seamus O 9/19/13 7:20 PM
RE: Jason's Practice Journal Some Guy 9/25/13 11:24 AM
Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/16/12 4:14 PM
Hello,

I've been keeping a thread at KFD which kind of ran aground because I felt I was just recording the same experiences over and over again. Thought I might get a fresh perspective here.

A very brief background: My A+P experiences mostly came about 15 years ago. Still haven't figured out which was the first. I can remember a near-death experience, some psychedelics, lucid dreams that were more real than real life, a shaktipat initiation... various experiences seemed to meet the criteria. Certainly, the aftereffects could be described as a dark night, although I really wasn't practicing much at the time. There was plenty of misery, feelings of futility, hyperawareness of mortality; fear and anxiety. For a long time. You know the drill.

About ten years ago, I did a couple of Goenka retreats, in which I can remember having a lot of body pains, raptures, feeling of everything dissolving into energy. But I still didn't manage to establish a practice.

Then I read MCTB and found these forums. Seeing that there was an actual goal in sight gave me the impetus I needed to really engage with a meditation practice. Also, it has become increasingly clear that I can't quite function without it.

So, last summer I started noting. After a short start-up period, I seemed to enter into long, placid, pain-free sits, with little to no emotional content. I generally experience strong energetic sensations at the forehead and crown. This has been pretty consistent for about 6 months. I usually sit 1-3 hours per day. This has been discussed recently here: Stagnating in EQ?

All insights welcome and appreciated. emoticon

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/17/12 9:12 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Just a short sit this morning. Took a while to get concentrated, knowing I was pressed for time. Noted tingling sensations, thoughts and images for about ten minutes. Then I settled into a relatively quiet, spacious mind state, very comfortable, but was still prone to distraction. After a few minutes of that, somewhat deeper concentration kicked in, seemingly of its own accord, and the meditation became more effortless. More quiet, more spaciousness, more tingling at forehead and crown (and for a minute at the root chakra). Warmth at the heart center. I sought to objectify the watcher, not finding it per se, settled on the sensations at the back of the head, and, for lack of a better word, a sense of centerlessness. (I find that if I really root around for the self, I just tense up.)

I don't feel like I quite got to the edge of my practice in this sit, although it's more or less representative.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/17/12 4:20 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Good to see you're getting a practice thread going, hopefully you'll find what you're looking for.

Well, going by your descriptions of your previous practice and your current sits it's safe to say that you're not in Equanimity. You're getting into A&P territory but not crossing it yet, as far as I can tell, but you can change the way you practice and get back on track. This might be why you've been "stagnating" for the last while, there are elements of the A&P that are similar to Equanimity which can cause you to misjudge where you're at and if you've been getting advice based on that then you're going to go 'round in circles. It's not a problem, mistakes happen but you'll learn from it and it'll prevent you from doing the same thing again.

The description of your sit today sounds like 1st to 4th ñana, you seem to be hitting access concentration then getting into a light 1st jhana but all the energetic stuff/warmth in the heart area is definitely A&P related. That would tie in with the more effortless meditation as you're in 2nd jhana territory at that point but, going by what you're actually doing in your practice, you're not doing insight practice properly. Definitely go back to noting, go for consistency and accuracy over speed at first and try to experience the entire sensation as clearly as possible.

A few tips for your sits...

- Set a timer and then forget it until it goes off. You're sitting down to practice, not to think about what you need to do once you get back up. Don't waste time, use every second to your advantage when you've got the chance to sit.

- Try bringing noting into everyday life, use it when you're feeling pressed for time, look at what sensations come up when you answer the phone, just investigate the normal stuff and see what you can learn. As Kenneth says, it's all just grist for the mill.

- Try using a candle or another kasina object if you're not confident in your ability to get into access concentration quickly, failing that just do breath counting as that's a great practice to work with.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/17/12 4:45 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
OK, great. Thanks for the redirect. I figured something was wrong if I wasn't seeing progress. I will change tactics and report back. Thanks again for your help.

Jason

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/18/12 6:32 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Sat for an hour this evening. Started with 4 counts of 10 breaths. Quickly entered into a comfortable, placid state. Physically, it's hard to find much to note other than fine tingling sensations everywhere, particularly the head. Not finding much emotional content either. Once or twice, I noted intrusive noises, and there was just a slight hint of annoyance, but my conditioned response to that by now is to refocus more. I noted some future thoughts and images. Also, getting back to noting seems to trigger an involuntary narrative of the meditation, which is separate from the noting. I noted this. For just a moment, there was slight neck tension, which quickly dissolved into a sense of energy flowing to the head. Almost all sensations noted were mildly pleasant.

Early in the sit, I felt an urge to just do concentration, but ignored it. Later, this urge returned so I followed for a bit. The sense of space became more contracted as my focus shifted to the area behind my eyes, and the visual field seemed to darken.

All in all, another mild, comfortable, buzzy sit.

As an aside, after initially taking this new understanding in my practice in stride, I found I was quite deflated, even depressed by it. Apparently, things are soon to get more difficult, not less. And I've wasted 6 months of diligent work. OK. But if it's correct that I haven't even crossed the A+P, then I'm just an inherently miserable SOB prone to hallucinations. Oh well! I persevere. emoticon

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/18/12 7:13 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
As an aside, after initially taking this new understanding in my practice in stride, I found I was quite deflated, even depressed by it. Apparently, things are soon to get more difficult, not less. And I've wasted 6 months of diligent work. OK. But if it's correct that I haven't even crossed the A+P, then I'm just an inherently miserable SOB prone to hallucinations. Oh well! I persevere.

I know that feeling horribly well, from thinking I'd gotten 4th path to thinking I'd gotten "AF" only to find myself going back to scratch and starting again. I always tell people that what I say shouldn't be taken as fact without rigorously testing it for yourself, but one thing I can tell you for certain is that these times when you've overestimated things, or have just made an arse of diagnosing your current level of attainment, teach you so much more in the long run than speeding ahead and missing out on the fine details of the scenery. Yeah, it sucks for a while but, like everything else, it'll pass and it's worth looking at those sensations too.

It's not uncommon for 3rd ñana to be fairly difficult in itself which may explain your being "miserable", and given that you've spent six months working with concentration it's not unlikely that you'd experience hallucinatory stuff when hitting the A&P. It sounds like you might just need to refine your approach a bit, you seem to be able to observe things quite well and at a subtle enough level to move on. What is it that you're doing when you're noting? How do you go about it? Do you note aloud or silently? What are you noting?

Remember that anything you can observe is notable, everything from hearing a noise to the tension in your calf muscle to the mental aversion arising when you get distracted, just note it.

Edited to add: When it comes to Dark Night, it doesn't necessarily need to be as unpleasant and crippling as you might think. Approach it in the right way, see things clearly and learn to accept things as they are while getting your concentration chops together and it's likely to be much easier, don't fight with it and don't try to change things 'cause that kicks up more tension and unpleasantness that's really not required. Take it easy and keep us updated.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/19/12 11:48 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
What is it that you're doing when you're noting? How do you go about it? Do you note aloud or silently? What are you noting?


I note silently whatever is most prominent in my awareness. That may include physical sensations, pleasantness or unpleasantness, thoughts and emotions. I try to use labels that are most fundamental, basic, accurate, and preferably a noun form. More than that though, I try not to get too distracted by noting, and just use it as a reminder to apprehend the sensation.

Thanks again for following and for the feedback.

Today's sit was a little different. I counted 10 breaths 7 times before feeling concentrated. Then, buzzing at root, heart, 3rd eye, and crown, but with a little bit harsher edge. Still comfortable, but not so placid. More thoughts intruding: I noted anger, argument, loneliness, disappointment. I noted some faint impressions of light, like afterimages fading and appearing. For a minute, there was an energetic sensation of gyroscopic movement. I noted my pulse in my whole body. All of which sounds more dramatic than it was. Still a pretty comfortable sit.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/20/12 9:16 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
I note silently whatever is most prominent in my awareness. That may include physical sensations, pleasantness or unpleasantness, thoughts and emotions. I try to use labels that are most fundamental, basic, accurate, and preferably a noun form. More than that though, I try not to get too distracted by noting, and just use it as a reminder to apprehend the sensation.

Trying noting things using adjectives too, still keeping it simple but paying closer attention to what those sensations are like as they change in real-time. You already know what your breath is so look a bit deeper and examine the individual patterns of sensation that make it up e.g. shallow, deep, shaky, staggered, warm, cool, get right into the details of the sensations themselves. If noting is done properly then there shouldn't be any room for distraction, it's a case of constantly bringing the attention back to what's going on right now. If you're not able to come up with a suitable word to note with then just acknowledge the sensation as it is, don't get caught up in trying to find the perfect word but always, always, always stay present and attentive.

Thanks again for following and for the feedback.

You're welcome. Anytime. Remember though that the best you're likely to get is an educated opinion, it's difficult to say specifically where someone is based on forum posts so take my advice with reasonable skepticism until you've verified it for yourself.

Today's sit was a little different. I counted 10 breaths 7 times before feeling concentrated. Then, buzzing at root, heart, 3rd eye, and crown, but with a little bit harsher edge. Still comfortable, but not so placid. More thoughts intruding: I noted anger, argument, loneliness, disappointment. I noted some faint impressions of light, like afterimages fading and appearing. For a minute, there was an energetic sensation of gyroscopic movement. I noted my pulse in my whole body. All of which sounds more dramatic than it was. Still a pretty comfortable sit
.
The feeling of a "gyroscopic movement", would it be accurate to describe it as being like a shifting sensation? Subtle but noticeable? See if you can catch what happens or what changes after you notice that sort of sensation, some things might be easier or more difficult to perceive depending on where you're at.

It sounds like you're moving through from 1st to 2nd vipassana jhana; thought patterns I'd associate with 2nd and 3rd ñana in particular, with the lightness and pulsation being more early 4th ñana. See what happens if you look more closely at the arising and passing of those afterimages, and mental phenomena in general as you may just be missing something by not investigating things closely enough. Try to stay with an object from the moment it arises until it's replaced by something else, really get in to it and catch as much of it as you can.

Another thing is to use the breath as your anchor, regardless of how concentrated you think you are. Note, come back to the breath, note, back to the breath, just keep everything engaged in your practice and go at it as if your life depended on it. Noting will become faster and more fluid to the point where it's impossible to come up with a verbal tag for each thing, at that point just stay attentive and acknowledge things as they happen.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/20/12 3:56 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
I tried to note more quickly today. I found more buzzing, tingling, flowing type sensations. I looked into the afterimages more. At one point it seemed to turn into a brighter light. At the time, I was feeling pretty drowsy, and felt I might be falling into a dream. Felt a slight floating sensation at one point, then expanding. Lots of buzzing all over. Less distracting thoughts today.

The feeling of a "gyroscopic movement", would it be accurate to describe it as being like a shifting sensation?


It was almost like a searchlight, like they use when promoting big concerts, swinging around in the sky. But not bright at all. I did have some shifting sensations today. If anything, what I found connected to that was the drowsiness trap. Almost like I just didn't have the juice to go there. Or, it may have been incidental. Dunno.

Thanks!

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/21/12 12:04 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Last night, lots of itching, sadness and related feelings.

This morning, still some itching, though less. More prominent visual impressions, like inkblots of light. Whole body energetic movement, mostly in an upward direction, leading to strong buzzing and pressure at the crown. At one point had a sensation of energy circulating, up on the right, down on the left, head to toe. Some moderate neck pain and stiffness.

Glad to no longer be mired in placidity. emoticon

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/21/12 2:35 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I'm adding this just for my own accountability: I'm going to maintain a concentration practice at least 10 minutes a day, and it will be in the form of standing meditation. Sitting for sanity, standing for health. That is all.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/23/12 1:39 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Yesterday, I practiced noting while walking and rushing around doing errands. Didn't get to the cushion, but daily noting is a weak point for me so it was a good opportunity.

Today I sat one hour, noted some sadness and related mind states, some anxiety, tightness, constriction in chest and throat. Noted "butterflies" in stomach and chest, warmth in chest. Much less buzzy in the head today. Much less awareness of light and after images. Noted an uncomfortable sinking sensation (like sadness), but also an uncomfortable rising sensation (like anxiety).

I didn't notice any particular body pains today, other than numbness in my foot from sitting cross-legged.

Hmmm... it didn't seem like much at the time, but writing this out it does seem to have a different character than the last few sits. Or am I over-eager for progress? (Note: compulsion to make up for lost time!)

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/23/12 3:17 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Hmmm... it didn't seem like much at the time, but writing this out it does seem to have a different character than the last few sits. Or am I over-eager for progress?

It's the subtle stuff that's interesting, sometimes you don't think you've gotten any further ahead and then, all of a sudden, you'll notice that things feel quite different from before.

Your sit sounds like mid to late Dark Night, stay with it and relax the focus so that you can see what's going on around the edges and out at the periphery of the sense field.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/23/12 5:14 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Am I right in thinking that the relative mildness of my experiences of these nanas may be due to having gone through them before? Or is it a sign of less effective practice? But progress is progress, no?

Part of the reason I got confused before was that I was pretty confident I'd been through A+P in the deep, dark past (actually there was a dream that qualified a couple months ago), and believed that made it unlikely I would get stuck in the early stages.

I know there probably is not a definitive answer to these questions, but it would be nice to understand my history. If today's session was indeed in the dukkha nanas - that has been the prevailing influence in my life for many years. Or, was it just a weak sit on a bad day?

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/24/12 10:22 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
So, last night I noticed the background field of awareness start to vibrate a little. I thought I might be scripting.

This morning, I started out with lots of buzzing, some strobing... then things got darker, visually, the buzzing went down by about half, and my field of awareness began almost bouncing. It wasn't uncomfortable at all. I didn't notice any particular emotions... although my mind wandered into arguments a couple times. So, I did note anger. After a while of that and the bouncing, things calmed down. I felt very peaceful and comfortable. I was having some difficulty noting. Just, space... pleasant mild vibrations everywhere.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/27/12 10:18 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I practiced minimally over the week end, mostly just to de-stress from a family visit. Tonight, it took a full half hour just to settle in and get concentrated and motivated. Actually, it was the first time in a long time that I really didn't want to meditate. Eventually, I tuned in, and found all sorts of unpleasantness, mostly of an emotional nature. It was challenging to break it down phenomenologically. There was anxiety, sadness, despair, loneliness. It was not overwhelming, but strong enough to dominate my attention.

I do have a sense of having been carrying it around the last few days. A lasting sensation like what you might have after being yelled at. Also, I've had some genuinely paranoid thoughts (doesn't mean they're *not* out to get me :b).

Oh, yeah. I had quite a bit of tension and aching in my mid-back, neck, and shoulders. Moderate head tingling. Minimal strobing. So, I'm taking this all as progress.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/28/12 12:50 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Today I set my timer for 90 minutes, but really struggled to go on the whole time. I used to sit effortlessly for hours, so this seems to be stage-dependent. Initially, I took a long time getting concentrated. Then I had some strobing, some buzzing, felt good mentally, although I also had a stiff neck. Eventually it got darker, visually and mentally. I was irritated, agitated, having some thoughts of despair. Again, nothing I was overly averse to, but something just made it hard to stick with it. I became very drowsy, and actually dozed a bit. Then I sat a while longer but really couldn't concentrate. That is very unlike me. Weird.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
2/29/12 4:17 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I really didn't want to meditate today, so just set the timer for 30 minutes and noted aloud. I noted gentle tingling through the whole body, some cold and numbness in the fingers. I noted dryness, itching, moisture (eyes), contact, pressure, rising, falling. I noted a couple of times the sense of space changing, expanding. I noted a pulling sensation as if from in front of me, and in urge to relax and "be absorbed," but I stuck with the noting for the duration. When the timer went off, I decided to just sit awhile since it really felt good. I felt like I could observe sensations in my whole body at once. I felt drawn to observe the observer and quickly found a sense of centerlessness that was new to me. I felt like I was watching "it," this body, just do its thing. This sense flickered out a couple times, but was pretty steady over 20-25 minutes. Other than that, I just felt peaceful, calm, not buzzy per se, but pleasantly tingly.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
3/2/12 9:48 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Noted aloud for 45 minutes. Lots of pinpoint itching, mostly at different points on the head. Noted boredom, agitation, thoughts and images. Noted vague impressions of light, that came and went. Noted some tingling in the head. Noted pressure, contact, numbness. Noted mental dullness. Noted searching for things to note.

One area where I have not managed to develop any skill is in noting off the cushion. I'll work on that today. emoticon

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
3/3/12 10:27 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
This morning I had a lot of itching again to begin with. Noted gross sensations such as pressure, cold, contact, numbness, dryness; as well as light tingling in the head. After a while, I entered a very, very peaceful state, with no prominent gross sensations. That sense of centerlessness returned, and I welled up with gratitude and, for a moment, tears. It was difficult to note in this state, as nothing particular seemed to arise. But I continued to note about once every 3-5 seconds. I thought to look for the sense of self, but it seemed like I would have to generate it to find it, so I let it go. Toward the end I was slipping in and out of this state, reverting to itching, boredom, slight restlessness.

Maybe it was a jhana state, although I was noting, definitely not making an effort to concentrate much, investigating different areas of body and mind. Maybe it is EQ after all?

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
3/4/12 10:56 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
J B:
This morning I had a lot of itching again to begin with. Noted gross sensations such as pressure, cold, contact, numbness, dryness; as well as light tingling in the head. After a while, I entered a very, very peaceful state, with no prominent gross sensations. That sense of centerlessness returned, and I welled up with gratitude and, for a moment, tears. It was difficult to note in this state, as nothing particular seemed to arise. But I continued to note about once every 3-5 seconds. I thought to look for the sense of self, but it seemed like I would have to generate it to find it, so I let it go. Toward the end I was slipping in and out of this state, reverting to itching, boredom, slight restlessness.

Maybe it was a jhana state, although I was noting, definitely not making an effort to concentrate much, investigating different areas of body and mind. Maybe it is EQ after all?


Hi Jason,

That sounds like A&P - specifically the welling up of gratitude, tears, peaceful yet with a WOW factor, moving into DN territory with restlessness, boredom, and so on

Its very easy to mistake A&P for the Equanimity Nyana, since the mental factor of Equanimity is present in the A&P as well.
The way to distinguish between them, for me, is the Wow factor, and the fading into DN with restlessness, agitation, and so on.
When I notice that I recognize the DN, and know that Equanimity is just around the corner if I just embrace, dig deeper and accept whatever is coming up in that moment.

Good work!
How long was this sit?

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
3/5/12 12:32 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
That one was about an hour.

Not sure about the wow factor, but you may be right. It did seem distinct from previous sits that involved equanimity. Dunno.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
3/5/12 1:37 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Yadid:
The way to distinguish between them, for me, is the Wow factor, and the fading into DN with restlessness, agitation, and so on.
When I notice that I recognize the DN, and know that Equanimity is just around the corner


Likewise. I generally find myself in and around EQ but every now and again what I think is EQ dissolves into unpleasantness and I realise I've slipped back down to A&P. It no longer worries me. Next sit it'll be EQ again. Often it's easiest to work out where you are by examining where you've been.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
3/16/12 1:03 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Today I switched from "choiceless" noting, to systematically working through the 4 foundations: 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4. That seemed to help a lot. Thoughts seem to be very faint and distant. Just fragments emerging. Physical sensations were very strong and gross today.

Later in the sit I did definitely note some disgusting thoughts, so that's encouraging.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
Answer
4/17/12 7:03 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
So, for the last month I've been working my way through several stages characterized by a sense of chaos, confusion, and crowdedness. I didn't note much unpleasantness per se in response to it, until the very end of the sequence which was more of the same but more so. I took these all to be the dark night, and it came with a dramatically decreased interest in meditation. I mustered about 30 minutes per day.

Then, a few days ago, all that chaos just stopped. It's funny, I really didn't understand what people were talking about when describing the difference between A+P and EQ. I didn't notice a wow factor. My A+P was pretty mellow. I guess that's why it took so long! emoticon The main distinction I notice is the absence of "pleasantness." Also, I am noticing that the thing to watch is the sense of becoming as it relates to the arisal of thoughts and other sensations. But mostly thoughts. It seems as if the purpose of all those involuntary thoughts is to create the sense of self. And the thoughts are very persistent. So, I've been slipping a lot, becoming embedded and distracted.

It takes me about a half hour to get to this stage. For the first time I can really see the different stages in sequence. Not all of them are distinct, but there is a clear and predictable arc.

I've seen a lot of differing advice about how to approach equanimity. Right now, I'm just feeling my way. I think I need to develop better concentration.

Thoughts?

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
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4/19/12 2:44 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I've noticed that the 3C's are pretty self-evident in general, except for no-self. I've been very carefully looking at the closest, most personal sensations. Rather than tacitly noting not-self - I'm inclined to ask, is it self? Really pondering this question in respect to the sensations of my face and head, as well as random thoughts and memories. It seems that working through the insight stages, my mind has been producing older and older memories. Now I'm seeing how they really appear as essentially me, as they progress - or regress - into childhood. I find myself wondering/half-realizing: even that isn't really me??

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
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4/22/12 9:01 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Hey JB, I had meant to reply to your thread earlier but forgot all about it!

So, for the last month I've been working my way through several stages characterized by a sense of chaos, confusion, and crowdedness. I didn't note much unpleasantness per se in response to it, until the very end of the sequence which was more of the same but more so. I took these all to be the dark night, and it came with a dramatically decreased interest in meditation. I mustered about 30 minutes per day.

Aye, that sounds like late-Dark Night territory; Re-Observation to be specific, particular the sense of crowdedness and confusion. What you've said about how "until the very end of the sequence which was more of the same but more so" is a nice insight which can help as you cycle through this stuff, Re-Observation can be like a high-speed, high-intensity re-run of the previous ñanas but recognizing this makes it easier to just let it happen. Acceptance and equanimity, what's happening is what's happening.

Then, a few days ago, all that chaos just stopped. It's funny, I really didn't understand what people were talking about when describing the difference between A+P and EQ. I didn't notice a wow factor. My A+P was pretty mellow. I guess that's why it took so long! The main distinction I notice is the absence of "pleasantness." Also, I am noticing that the thing to watch is the sense of becoming as it relates to the arisal of thoughts and other sensations. But mostly thoughts. It seems as if the purpose of all those involuntary thoughts is to create the sense of self. And the thoughts are very persistent. So, I've been slipping a lot, becoming embedded and distracted.

Nice. The process of becoming is easier to observe while in Equanimity because it's so refined, the spacious, open quality of attention means you don't even need to try because it's all just happening right there 'in front' of you.

This line in particular brings a big grin to my face..."It seems as if the purpose of all those involuntary thoughts is to create the sense of self." Now, look at who or what it is that seems to be the "thinker" of those thoughts as they appear; try to follow a thought from it's inception to it's cessation, see where it comes from and where it goes; if a sense of self is being created by a stream of "involuntary thoughts", which are also seen to be subject to the Three Characteristics, as you mention in the following post, then how can "I" possibly have any objective existence?; what is this sense of an observer?

Also, when you mentioned "I've been slipping a lot...", don't worry about it. Every time you notice you've become distracted or caught up in some thought-loop or another, you're immediately back to being mindful. You don't need to look at these slip ups as some negative, use them to investigate why you got distracted in the first place so that you're not likely to do so again!

I've noticed that the 3C's are pretty self-evident in general, except for no-self. I've been very carefully looking at the closest, most personal sensations. Rather than tacitly noting not-self - I'm inclined to ask, is it self? Really pondering this question in respect to the sensations of my face and head, as well as random thoughts and memories. It seems that working through the insight stages, my mind has been producing older and older memories. Now I'm seeing how they really appear as essentially me, as they progress - or regress - into childhood. I find myself wondering/half-realizing: even that isn't really me??

Good work, particularly further investigating what is, or what leads to, this sense of self. A few pointers:

- Anything that can be observed cannot be that which is observing. If this is the case, and I suggest you investigate this thoroughly, then see if you can find the sensations which imply an observer in the first place.

- If the sense of self comes about as the result of a transient stream of ownerless thoughts, what does that say about the sense of self as a whole?

- While in Equanimity, turn the lens of attention back on the observer and watch it; slowly, carefully, but with precision and care.

The recall of previously forgotten memories seems to be typical to most people, it's interesting to look at the ways these mental images present themselves and examine the cause and effect involved. Don't get caught up in the emotional content, just investigate them in the same way you would with any other sensations, mental or otherwise, 'cause it all jam-packed with insights.

Everything sounds pretty good so far, going by your notes here at least, so stick with it and maybe try a longer sit, even alternating days until you're in the groove with it. One way or another, you can get this done if you practice well.

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4/22/12 8:38 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hi Tommy. Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. It's nice to have the confirmation.

The recall of previously forgotten memories seems to be typical to most people, it's interesting to look at the ways these mental images present themselves and examine the cause and effect involved.


Yes. In the middle of the day today I suddenly realized out of the blue that all those memories are clearly and overtly devoid of self. They are in fact very much like snap shots. I can go back and review all the content of a memory, but it may as well belong to someone else - when I really look at it - or be a movie. Of course, thinking about it, the self is very much there... but beginning to flicker. Or, maybe I'm imagining it's flickering.

I tried employing some of your pointers today, especially watching for the beginning and end of thoughts. It was like trying to fill a champagne glass from a raging river. The more I looked at the process of thoughts arising, the harder and faster they came. I've never experienced anything quite like it. Although that baseline sensation of unflappable almost indifference remained, the thought stream was on FIRE. Eventually, I gave up trying to note or investigate anything. I just tried to anchor in the breath and hang on for the ride. I don't remember reading about anything like this in EQ, and it didn't have the qualities of the Dark Night. In fact, I seemed to rocket through the A+P and dark night in about ten minutes. Then 50 minutes straight of thought storm. I didn't get absorbed in it much though, except for some casting around, wondering, "what the hell...?"

Curioser, and curioser!

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4/23/12 9:53 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Sat about 90 mins. tonight. Again, very easily ascended to the state of calm indifference. The 'equanimity' however is like a container for tumultuous thoughts. The flow was not as violent as last night, but still strong. Eventually, I hit on the strategy of focusing on sensory areas that seemed connected with the arising of thoughts. This gave me a way to stay present while the thoughts went by. First it was the eyes. They seemed to be moving rapidly with each thought fragment. After ten or 15 minutes, they just calmed down, and the thoughts stream diminished by about half. Then I naturally focused on the ears, and thoughts of an auditory nature. Again, ten minutes or so, and then they diminished. The ears and eyes then felt quiet. Thoughts continued, and I followed them around my head, to the center, the crown, the back of the head.

I also felt some stiffness in the neck during this sit, even a little opisthotonos. And I had some energetic sensations... so maybe I took another wrong turn. But the absence of any affect is constant, and these physical symptoms were not dominant. I dunno.

Persevering....

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4/24/12 9:25 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
My inspiration for practice today came from a link on my Twitter feed to this article: http://www.tricycle.com/-cushion/myth-experienced-meditator

It reminded me how fortunate I am to have found this practice. I could be mired in riddles and trying to choke down the notion that enlightenment is really just like resignation. "Nothing to attain..." etc. Sad.

Thanks to Daniel, ultimately, for opening the door from the mushroom factory.

(Lest anyone think I'm disparaging Zen, I'm really just responding to this blogger's description of his own practice.)

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4/24/12 11:05 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Sat 90 minutes. Getting better at drinking from the fire hose of becoming. I.e., thoughts continue to flow, but I'm less and less overwhelmed by them, focusing a bit better, seeing more the beginning, middle, and end of them, though not at all times. This gives me confidence again that it is in fact EQ.

Reading MCTB last night, something about certain similarities between Mind and Body and EQ. That makes sense to me. Mind and Body is about the connection between thoughts and sensations. EQ seems to be at least partly about the connection between thoughts and self.

RE: Jason's Practice Journal
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4/24/12 5:28 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I tried employing some of your pointers today, especially watching for the beginning and end of thoughts.It was like trying to fill a champagne glass from a raging river. The more I looked at the process of thoughts arising, the harder and faster they came. I've never experienced anything quite like it. Although that baseline sensation of unflappable almost indifference remained, the thought stream was on FIRE. Eventually, I gave up trying to note or investigate anything. I just tried to anchor in the breath and hang on for the ride. I don't remember reading about anything like this in EQ, and it didn't have the qualities of the Dark Night. In fact, I seemed to rocket through the A+P and dark night in about ten minutes. Then 50 minutes straight of thought storm. I didn't get absorbed in it much though, except for some casting around, wondering, "what the hell...?"

Lovin' that description.

Sounds to me like you're hitting Re-Observation and edging into early Equanimity, which can actually be quite tumultuous before things open out fully. There's a sort of sub-jhanic thing, almost like a ramp or a step-up into 11th ñana proper; allow your focus to naturally expand outwards towards the periphery as if you're trying to see everything at once, those thought streams will continue but just observe them and see how they continue happening without "you" actually paying any attention to them. Watch how things begin to quieten and how objects will present themselves to you, don't go looking for anything, just gently and naturally notice (thanks to Stian for pointing out how useful a word this is to convey the sort of attention we're talking about here) what's happening right now. From there, begin to investigate what seems to be observing these objects as they arise and pass away. Notice how even the sensations of an observer are arising and passing...what happens then?!

One more thing, don't get complacent. Equanimity is incredibly restful and it's easy to drift off into a reverie, just keep on coming back to the breath if you notice you're distracted 'cause the turning point is literally right there.

Make it happen!

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4/25/12 10:56 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks, Tommy. That makes sense.

I sat another hour and a half last night, and again this morning. The cascade of thoughts has slowed considerably. The arising of thoughts is still the main event, but it's much easier to stay with it and observe. I had a few breaks from it where I was able to investigate the sense of an observer. This led to something like chasing my own tail, which I did for 15 or 20 minutes. I think you know what I mean. Then I had the thought: it's like push hands! And that seemed to help, although I didn't win every round of push hands. Still looking for that sweet spot between effort and complacence.

I'm off work today, so planning to put in a few more hours. Get 'er done! emoticon

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4/26/12 10:07 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
I spent most of the day meditating yesterday, and will likely put in substantial time today. Still having a lot of thoughts come up. I can't say they have a particular flavor, feeling, or theme. I'm using a reduced noting scheme: rising, falling, thought, no-self. These are the primary notes. It's helping to keep from becoming embedded, without increasing effort which seems to lead to falling back. It's still far from effortless, but getting better by increments.

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5/8/12 1:45 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Passing through the initial stages very quickly now in each sit. It almost seems I'm watching the stages pass from the perspective of EQ. That part is effortless. Struggling less with distracting thoughts, with occasional jags of relative ease. I wouldn't use the word effortless yet. I've been reaching that state of relative ease, hanging there for 10 or 15 minutes, then seem to start falling back. At that point I usually quit. Sometimes I note, sometimes stay in panoramic awareness, sometimes search for self sensations, or use a direct pointing question. Whatever comes up. I have the sense of making very gradual progress, taking another step into the quietness each day.

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5/9/12 3:01 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
With every thought comes a little urge to follow it. Watching that little urge.

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5/9/12 3:55 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
J B:
Passing through the initial stages very quickly now in each sit. It almost seems I'm watching the stages pass from the perspective of EQ. That part is effortless. Struggling less with distracting thoughts, with occasional jags of relative ease. I wouldn't use the word effortless yet. I've been reaching that state of relative ease, hanging there for 10 or 15 minutes, then seem to start falling back. At that point I usually quit. Sometimes I note, sometimes stay in panoramic awareness, sometimes search for self sensations, or use a direct pointing question. Whatever comes up. I have the sense of making very gradual progress, taking another step into the quietness each day.


I applaud the attitude Jason. And I know what you mean about edging forward into quietness!

Two steps forward one step back. Keep up the good work.

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5/9/12 10:11 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Thank you Bagpuss (may I call you Bagpuss?).

Tonight was a little different. Hard to describe. There was an experience akin to the sense of the body dissolving as in A+P, but it was the body as well as thoughts and self. Not disappearing, but appearing as if in solution. Thoughts were very wispy. I had that sense of which I've read, of the mind "inclining towards emptiness," along with a darkening of the visual field, and a column of energy from the crown to the center of the head. Very much the sense of a near miss. Like a dream I once had of trying to fly, but not quite getting off the ground.

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5/10/12 10:48 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
I was not aware of passing through any stages today. Before my sit, I watched a short video of Adyashanti. At the end, I felt like I was in low EQ. I sat more than 90 minutes, but I don't think I got much beyond where I started. Didn't get to that edge I found last night.

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5/10/12 6:23 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I've had that feeling of being in an EQ-like state all day. For the first half of the day, I was feeling pretty blissful, but spacier for the last few hours. In either case, a clear absence of reactivity.

When I woke up this morning I noticed the absence of a perpetual anxiety of which I'm not sure I'd previously been aware.

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5/13/12 9:20 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Since my post on the 9th, things are very clearly different. Although the initial elation has faded, the sense of reduced reactivity is clearly sustained. When I think of things that were strong triggers last week, I almost can't even call them to mind, much less spin off into resentment-filled fantasies.

One moment from Friday seemed illustrative: driving through my neighborhood, my girlfriend made a comment about how lifeless and depressing the environment is. I live in a hastily built suburb with a lot of identical houses painted in dull colors. I'd made the same comment a thousand times. But suddenly, I just can't relate to seeing it as depressing anymore. It's like all the interest in that subject, including thoughts about better places one could live, are just not there.

Maybe the most pervasive change has been in how I experience looking out of my own eyes. Just that is a pleasure and a privilege. When driving I feel a little like a kid, or a dog. Engaged.

Also, that initial drop in adrenaline seems to have held. That is a big change for me. There was a level of constant anxiety that I basically ignored, and which I can now see was affecting all of my interactions. This should improve my life in a lot of ways. Related to the adrenaline drop, my "pulses" -as in Chinese pulse diagnosis - which I've studied the last 15 years, are completely different than they've ever been.

I have noticed improved concentration, although I haven't explored it much. I've been busy, and the drive to practice is less. When I do Vipassana now, I can go from A+P to EQ pretty much at will. The DN stages are so subtle and quick, I'm not sure I can say I even pass through them.

I have not had any fruitions of which I'm aware, although I've attempted it. That first day - actually, the first night and the following night until waking in the morning - seemed like a continual opening.

Driving through town yesterday, I passed a motel where I was living this time last year. I was a decidedly unhappy camper. It was June or July when I found this community and KFD. I could not have been more fortunate. I'm very, very grateful to all the yogi's here and at KFD for their teaching, support, and tolerance.

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5/14/12 4:58 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Today I sat 25 minutes. There were a couple of differences from the last few days. I felt a little less high, and had a little more will to put effort into the practice.

I started out with mildly pleasant vibrations throughout about my body. After about two minutes, I felt a gaentle sinking sensation, followed by a few seconds of a faint memory of something like fear. Then, the penetrating indifference of EQ came on. I resolved to really try. The appearance of a persistent thought stream gave me the clue to how to do it: The thought stream is the self. Merging with it, dissolving into it, the self dissolves. I shook just a little, blacked out for a millisecond -hardly interrupting some distracting thought - and then bliss wave. The bliss wave lasted about 30 seconds, and I got up.

Is this the annatta door?

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5/14/12 7:38 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
That sounds like you may well have made it to fruition!

Try just sitting without any intention and witness what happens. If you made stream entry you should enter straight into A&P, through to EQ and fruition...back to A&P, EQ fruition..over and over quite quickly. Fruitions are not always easy to see, but keep watching and check for the bliss wave and feeling of the mind resetting.

While you're at it, try resolving to have a fruition and try calling up jhanas at will.

Well done if you made it, if not, you're close, keep going!

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5/14/12 8:14 PM as a reply to Dodge E Knees.
Thanks, Dodge. I believe the path moment was on the 9th in what I thought then was a near miss, although I was not able to identify a fruition until today. I've been getting into A+P right off the bat since Wednesday though, and the personality changes I outlined above were unmistakable. It's been quite a honeymoon this past week.

I didn't realize I should cycle back again after fruition. I will try that now!

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5/15/12 1:28 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I'm definitely experiencing several different concentrations states, although I'm pretty lost in them. I can see that some have more of a physical, tingly element than others.

I did not succeed in reaching another fruition. I get to EQ pretty quickly, but then just feel stuck. I've read that not everyone can have fruitions at will after 1st path, so I'm not too worried about it.

In general, I still don't feel a strong imperative to practice, and have a tendency to just bliss out lately.

I have noticed my memory behaves very differently. I can recall everything, but the images and feelings just don't have the same impact. I don't feel identified with my past. It's a very liberating feeling. emoticon

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5/15/12 8:11 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
This all sounds very promising, sit with things as they are and enjoy it for what it is; you've worked hard to get to this point, if indeed this is Path, so chill out, play around with the jhanas, enjoy life but don't get too complacent. Your descriptions are clear and I've taken a few lines from the last few threads to comment on specifically, although I don't know that you actually need much more in the way of advice since you seem to be getting along quite nicely by yourself!

Jason B:
I started out with mildly pleasant vibrations throughout about my body. After about two minutes, I felt a gaentle sinking sensation, followed by a few seconds of a faint memory of something like fear. Then, the penetrating indifference of EQ came on. I resolved to really try. The appearance of a persistent thought stream gave me the clue to how to do it: The thought stream is the self. Merging with it, dissolving into it, the self dissolves. I shook just a little, blacked out for a millisecond -hardly interrupting some distracting thought - and then bliss wave. The bliss wave lasted about 30 seconds, and I got up.

Is this the annatta door?

A&P → Dissolution → Dark Night → Equanimity → Fruition → A&P. I stand to be corrected but it all sounds pretty good to me.

The line in bold sounds very much like the lead-up and entry into frution (with a small 'f', as in non-Path moment); however, when you say "blacked out for a millisecond -hardly interrupting some distracting thought - and then bliss wave.", would you mind explaining how it was that you noticed that discontinuity? If it hardly interrupted a distracting thought then I wouldn't be confident in saying that it was definitely fruition, purely opinion of course, and I only mention this as a minor point worth looking into: what is and what isn't fruition since there are a perceptual 'glitches', particularly in Equanimity and when you're getting into the arupa jhanas, which can seem very similar. I don't doubt that you've gotten Path as I've followed your practice since you came on and know you're a sincere and committed practitioner; if you've landed Path then you are an inspiration to all 'DIY'-yogis who might come across this site and should be happy with having, at the very least, put a real good dent in fundamental suffering.

I'm using a reduced noting scheme: rising, falling, thought, no-self. These are the primary notes.

I know you're no longer 'here' in terms of practice, but here's a technical point for future reference: you don't need to note no-self. It's like a filter you view reality 'through', the recognition that there is no "I" or "me" to be found in any sensation or independent from any sensation.

Struggling less with distracting thoughts, with occasional jags of relative ease. I wouldn't use the word effortless yet. I've been reaching that state of relative ease, hanging there for 10 or 15 minutes, then seem to start falling back. At that point I usually quit.

This territory, when you come to encounter it again, is late-Re-observation moving into early (Low) Equanimity; don't quit, just do what you've been doing so far but relax your attention to take in more of what's happening. Notice the spaciousness and sense of things being in 3D then break down those sensations too.

5/9/12 10:11 PM
Tonight was a little different. Hard to describe. There was an experience akin to the sense of the body dissolving as in A+P, but it was the body as well as thoughts and self. Not disappearing, but appearing as if in solution. Thoughts were very wispy. I had that sense of which I've read, of the mind "inclining towards emptiness," along with a darkening of the visual field, and a column of energy from the crown to the center of the head. Very much the sense of a near miss. Like a dream I once had of trying to fly, but not quite getting off the ground.

This may have been A&P-related, but the mind is so incredibly powerful post-Path that your concentration and ability to investigate these things more closely will be through the roof. I don't think, based on this description, that it was related to Equanimity but is a good example of how, if this was A&P and not Equanimity, this stuff can get confused as you go.

Those are just a few bits and pieces which may be of use to you, but I think it looks likely that you've gotten stream entry. It's definitely worth continuing to examine your experience and subject these changes to reality-testing; see how you fare in everyday situations which would otherwise cause you to act or feel a certain way; see if you can access jhanas at will; learn to call up fruitions; basically familiarize yourself with your new perceptual toys.

Congratulations mate, I'm really happy that you did it.

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5/16/12 7:04 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Congratulations mate, I'm really happy that you did it.


Thank you, sir. If you and Daniel hadn't intervened I'd still be lost. I'm grateful for the time you put into following and posting on this journal. It has made a great deal of difference.

when you say "blacked out for a millisecond -hardly interrupting some distracting thought - and then bliss wave.", would you mind explaining how it was that you noticed that discontinuity?


I don't know. There was thought going on. Then there was this little shaking, darkening, bliss wave. If I hadn't read about the cessation, I probably would never have identified it as such. In fact, the first night I didn't identify it. It wasn't until about 18 hours later - after a night of sleep - and half of a day at work - that a started to think, "wait a minute..."

I don't doubt that you've gotten Path as I've followed your practice since you came on and know you're a sincere and committed practitioner


I appreciate that. I could see how there would be room for doubt. Personality changes are not a good basis for diagnosing anything. I struggle to describe events in my practice. But from this end... everything is different.

I'm off work today, so I'll work on Jhana and see if I can't come up with some of the phenomenological 'red meat' that the community rightfully demands. I'm going to commit some cross-forum piracy here, and post a quote from Betawave at KFD about Jhana that is helping to pique my interest in concentration practce:

"I think jhana can be so healing that it's good to spend time in when we feel that pull. The lack of ill will leaves a deep impression that helps neutralize the tendency to create problems, dramas, etc. ---- because some of the jhana feeling starts becoming our base condition."

Thanks, Betawave! I didn't know that.

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5/16/12 1:26 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I think I'm getting the hang of it. I looked over Ron Crouch's old journal http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/3696375/Ron%27s+Practice+Journal?offset=120&maxResults=20 . The part where he's in review clarified things for me. I was looking for more of an event, then getting confused when I hit A+P again, not realizing what happened and being frustrated eventually hitting dukkha nanas thinking I was falling back.

So, I did a few cycles. Started out in A+P, zipped through the dukkha nanas, hit EQ. I tried going through different doors. The dukkha door seemed to work best for me today. I passed it twice. Focusing on the unsatisfactoriness, felt a strong pulling downward from the crown, and darkening. Once, the pulling down seemed to last for almost a minute. Then it released and I was back in EQ. I also tried the anicca door. That time came with a stronger bliss wave, but I found it harder to repeat.

Golly, this is fun.

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5/17/12 8:14 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
After just a half hour of jhana practice, I felt incredibly spacey and a little anxious.

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5/21/12 12:04 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I did some cycling while driving, and yesterday had a session of very fast cycling - maybe 30 seconds per cycle or less. It's been fun, but is starting to seem a bit trivial. I decided to make a resolution to begin the next path. Today when I sat, it seemed as if I had a choice, although I'm not sure I'm not imagining it. It seemed that by focusing on the lower part of the body, and on grosser more unpleasant sensations, a different process was underway. At the same time I was able to revert to the fine enjoyable vibrations of A+P at will. Sticking with the gross sensations took some determination and caused a little tension, so maybe I'm forcing it too much. We'll see.

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5/27/12 10:21 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Recent sits have been characterized noting continuously pleasant, fine vibrations, with little variation. I do note thoughts occasionally. Occasionally, the pleasantness drops out and I feel a slight pulling at the crown. Not much happens. The pulling stops, eventually the fine pleasant vibrations return.

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5/28/12 9:04 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Noting irritation, itching, bumpy vibrations.

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5/29/12 10:26 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Started out tense and a little angry today. After a few minutes, focused on subtle sensations in the body and felt relaxed and happy. Then thoughts became more prominent. In the midst of one distracting train of thought, I caught the causal connection between an arising opinion and a constriction in the throat. This led me to both ruminate and contemplate the sensation of an opinion arising, the force of it, the powerful sense of self within it, and all the physical tension and mental conflict connected to it. Holding all these thoughts and sensations in my awareness, I observed that the sense of self there was false. Soon after, my body was filled with fine, pleasant vibrations which continued until the end of the sit.

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6/6/12 2:52 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
My impression of 2nd path so far is like trying to track a change-up pitch.

Following Nikolai's post of Tarin's post-path suggestion (here), I began to practice yesterday as I did in EQ. This came very easily, and did seem to speed things up. Just the other day, I'd noticed some fearful sensations and unpleasantness in my sits. By yesterday afternoon I was dragging around a mild case of the blues. It was significant though in its apparent concreteness. Very much a pre-path kind of feeling. Then, last night and this morning (again following Nikolai's suggestions from his recent blog posts about Dzogchen and Tommy's post on apperception) I found I was able to really sink my teeth into practicing off the cushion in a way that had eluded me before. A little paradoxical, that: with a mild depression going on, a little breakthrough and sense of liberation. Anyway, I sat a good 90 minutes this morning, and seemed to blast right through the unpleasantness into a very familiar sense of clarity and equanimity. Maybe too familiar? Maybe it's still review? I dunno.

I've also experimented a bit with employing sigils through jhana practice. Not sure of the result. I focused on things I could draw from within myself, which seemed to elicit at least one direct answer in a dream. (Remembering dreams a lot more in general....)

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6/9/12 8:46 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I think I sat about 3 hours today. Initially topped out in a thought-fraught EQ-like state. After a break, I did some concentration practice, maybe ten minutes. I began investigating what I think is 4th Jhana, and got to a much more quiet, concentrated state. I tried different 'lenses' of 3 characteristics. First noticing dukkha, then impermanence, then no-self. I did have some anticipation (something is about to happen), and strong pulling at the crown.

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6/14/12 1:20 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Since the last post, I'm finding a lot of mental dullness, muzzy-headed sensations. Not sure if it's practice-related or lifestyle related. Of course, I just try to investigate it. Also, continuing to joust with heavy thought streams and being susceptible to distraction. Although I can focus in jhana ok - not amazing - in Vipassana practice I find my focus just isn't strong enough to really hone in on that sense of self. In general, that sense of self seems a little more elusive than the first time around.

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6/14/12 1:32 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Just a quick note on feeling like you are in Equanimity after 1st path. I thought I shot right up to EQ within a week or 2 (I have to look at my log) of coming out of review after SE. However, in retrospect, it was my new A&P and I hung out there for longer than I thought I would. Shockingly similar than Equanimity for me. I think what was going on was when I was close to SE, I would hardly notice the Dark Night stuff when I sat. I would sit, get some mild itching then be in EQ very quickly. So once I finished Review after 1st path my sits had this same pattern but it was really just 3C's -> A&P (mistaken for EQ) I figured this out later when I started to nod off and have decaying type imagery in my sits (Dissolution for me) then got the facial grimaces etc all over again. 2nd path did seem to go alot faster though for sure.

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6/14/12 3:25 PM as a reply to Russell ..
You could very well be right Russell. I think I can still distinguish A+P by the pleasant body sensations, but it's been a pretty brief stage lately. What's happening now seems similar to 1st path experiences of falling back to reobservation, and I definitely had a few days of dark night about a week ago. That is one thing that is much clearer post-path. The distinction between dark night and just a bad mood is more... well, distinct. (Guess I should have journaled that, but I tend to avoid communicating when I feel that way.) But I dunno.

I've been practicing according to Tarin's advice via Nikolai to you, to practice as if you're in EQ anyway, so I'm not paying as close attention to it. When I'm really having trouble with distraction I return to noting.

Do you think I should approach it differently? Thanks for you input.

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6/14/12 3:44 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
No more advice here. I do think Nick and Tarin's advice is good especially if you are in EQ. After 1st path it felt as though, while things may be more muddled as far as where you are on the path, it was kind of like just a repeat of 1st path and it flowed on its own as long as you practice. Sometimes there is something that just feels right about different type of practice after SE too. You can sit one day and it feels right to just sit in open awareness, some days just just start noting automatically. So, I think you are cruising along just fine.

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6/19/12 8:55 AM as a reply to Russell ..
I returned to mostly noting to see if I could sort out the confusion about mapping. A typical sit goes like this:

A few minutes to settle in, followed by a moment of pleasant relaxation which quickly yields to a stiff neck and slight itching. The latter part lasts a few minutes. Then more relaxation, with a "body high," and a gentle zooming sensation. Maybe ten minutes of that. After that, my thoughts tend to run away a bit, often becoming unpleasant, argumentative usually. I do notice some lip curling going on (thanks, Russell). After about ten minutes of that, a sense of clarity and detachment takes hold, although thoughts become more distracting. I think that tendency to become distracted at this stage is more about complacence than "falling back," as it doesn't have the negative connotation, and that almost physical sense of clarity remains. The lack of a body high is the key here.

So, I think my edge is low EQ, although it still takes about 30 minutes to get to it.

One thing I'm noticing now that reminds me of 1st path EQ: cathartic dreams. Also, a familiar generalized sense that whatever I'm doing, I'd rather be meditating. Like right now!

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6/23/12 5:33 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Insight of the day: every single sensation has a magnet-like attraction to mind. Every moment is an opportunity for comment, which quickly becomes an endless narrative. I can remember having almost the same realization - oh, about six weeks ago, I guess. Note to self: Drop everything every moment.

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6/27/12 7:00 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
A few minor shifts: I'm getting to EQ much faster now, in less than 10 minutes. And I think it's "higher," which to me means quieter. But paradoxically, my drive to practice seems to be diminishing. That may be due to unpleasant life factors. Also, I am making gradual progress in off-the-cushion mindfulness. More anon.

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7/27/12 9:40 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Just a quick technical note: After missing a day of practice, I'm still getting to eq almost immediately now, but I had significantly more difficulty getting over the hump to high eq. The attachment to distraction is much stronger. Like prying a dead man's fingers from his gun. Always, behind it is the sense that this thought train is about to get me what I want. This seems important.

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7/27/12 9:26 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Seems like I've tumbled back a bit, slipping over and over again on those slippery thoughts. There must be something about this transition from Reobservation to EQ that I have to learn. Meanwhile, I'm reviewing this advice from a similar stage in round 1:

Tommy M:
Sounds to me like you're hitting Re-Observation and edging into early Equanimity, which can actually be quite tumultuous before things open out fully. There's a sort of sub-jhanic thing, almost like a ramp or a step-up into 11th ñana proper; allow your focus to naturally expand outwards towards the periphery as if you're trying to see everything at once, those thought streams will continue but just observe them and see how they continue happening without "you" actually paying any attention to them. Watch how things begin to quieten and how objects will present themselves to you, don't go looking for anything, just gently and naturally notice (thanks to Stian for pointing out how useful a word this is to convey the sort of attention we're talking about here) what's happening right now. From there, begin to investigate what seems to be observing these objects as they arise and pass away. Notice how even the sensations of an observer are arising and passing...what happens then?!


Maybe it's that compulsive sense of looking for something that I'm tripping over....

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8/21/12 4:49 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I have a little more equilibrium in the face of the onslaught of thoughts, maybe scraping equanimity for a few minutes each sit. I'm really surprised to see how strong the identification with thoughts is. It really takes a lot of focus and will to objectify them. This is bleeding over a bit into daily life, where I am also making excruciatingly gradual progress - but progress! - in off-the-cushion mindfulness.

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9/18/12 5:53 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Thought sensations and bodily sensations dissolve and mix together, and seem to fall into a sense of a gravitational pull. The sense of control or choosing or doing something is objectified, but sporadically, and gets sucked along with the rest. But the pull comes and goes, like circling the outer edge of a black hole.

With thoughts and self sensations, I try to dive way in to them, way down, to the common substrate (where all mixed metaphors are born :b) of thoughts and self and effort and sensations.

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10/1/12 10:09 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Priapism of the crown chakra.

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10/3/12 7:35 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I sat about 7 hours today. I was watching carefully for any desire for path and it diminished a lot throughout the day. I also had a prolonged period of distress this morning for about two hours, complete with harsh vibrations and unpleasant thoughts. That hasn't happened in a couple of months.

This evening, I came to focus on a few areas of the body that seemed to tense or generate sensations that precipitated thinking. From my gut, perineum, and the upper palate which feels like it has an internal connection to the crown. Also, I noticed that my eyes tend to fixate just before I become identified with a thought stream. I found that by paying attention to these I could watch the cycle of thoughts being born without them coming into existence fully. From there, my awareness became very open and steady.

Just before the final bell I really tried to give up. I felt that I stopped wanting it just a bit more than I had up until then. I felt a pulling inward and down from the center of my head. I felt absorbed in darkness momentarily - maybe 3 seconds. A little bouncy sensation to it. I thought, "this is it." It lingered a little. Followed by a kind of body high and feeling of satisfaction.

I know this doesn't match the description people often give of their path moment, as an indescribable cessation of all senses and thoughts. But it very much resembles my first path experience. We'll see how it shakes out.

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10/4/12 8:18 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Definitely cycling....

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11/11/12 9:48 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
So I've been practicing, or trying to practice, according to Daniel's guidelines in Fitter's 3rd path thread. It feels on the one hand very natural and inviting, but also close to impossible to view that boundary of self and not self - like chasing a dollar bill that's being pulled on a thread. Also, finding off-the-cushion practice to be very accessible and closer in quality to on-the-cushion practice than before.

My insight of the day was noticing the relentlessness of feeling tone. I think I've neglected this foundation of mindfulness in the past. Today I just noticed the compulsive, insidious quality of it. The unpleasantness of pleasantness, I suppose. Does this cease after 4th?

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11/11/12 11:37 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
So I've been practicing, or trying to practice, according to Daniel's guidelines in Fitter's 3rd path thread. It feels on the one hand very natural and inviting, but also close to impossible to view that boundary of self and not self - like chasing a dollar bill that's being pulled on a thread.


I found it difficult, too, but it's a good challenge. I would sometimes do it just by trying to figure out how I knew some experience was happening to me. How does "me" enter into the equation when there's just sensations? Nothing terribly weird came up from those kinds of investigations - just occasional mental images of myself or quick snaps between some sensation and the visual field or skull sensations giving the illusion of a center. But I've found that by repeating those investigations over and over again, no matter how slippery they can be, one gets insight out of it.

My insight of the day was noticing the relentlessness of feeling tone. I think I've neglected this foundation of mindfulness in the past.


I started bringing this into my practice recently, too. Sometimes I'll just focus on one area of sensation - like a part of my hand or the sense of smell - and carefully watch the vedana change over the course of 15 or 20 minutes.

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12/10/12 9:07 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Here's my monthly update: The practice of examining the self and its boundaries has become more of a background thing, more or less present throughout the day. This goes on pretty effortlessly. I haven't really thought about how cool that is until just now as I wrote it.

My sitting practice has been more influenced by Kenneth's 'riding the jhanic arc,' and the 3rd path thread over there at KFD. When I started doing it 3 or 4 weeks ago, I was getting very distinct jhanas and going up and down smoothly. Now when I sit, they all blur together. It seems like I jump from one jhana to the next in the space of a breath or two. Then I tend to linger somewhere around the top - 7th? 8th? PL1? - while my eyes roll back into my head. It's a little uncomfortable actually. Occasionally, maybe 1-3 times per sit - I get a pulling, darkening thing. My head nods forward, there's a sense of the mind, or the brain, or the whole body, really straining for a fruition. The darkening lasts, I don't know, 10 or 20 seconds, then just fades. Anti-climactic.

Fitter (if you're following), it's interesting to note that we were discussing feeling tone a month ago, and now again talking about hacking vedana. In that connection, I also have added this short little practice to the end of my sits for the last couple of days. No miracles yet (that I'm aware of), but it is an interesting twist on cultivating feelings.

Also, I think my body is experiencing some degree of seasonal depression. It lacks the despair, anger, and acute fear that it carried in the past. It's more like lack of joy. It threw me initially, and I was doubting the validity of my practice. Now I'm seeing it more clearly and tracking the emptiness of self.

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12/11/12 10:32 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
The darkening lasts, I don't know, 10 or 20 seconds, then just fades. Anti-climactic.


I've experienced that. It's annoying.

Also, I think my body is experiencing some degree of seasonal depression. It lacks the despair, anger, and acute fear that it carried in the past. It's more like lack of joy. It threw me initially, and I was doubting the validity of my practice. Now I'm seeing it more clearly and tracking the emptiness of self.


That's interesting. I haven't had any seasonal thing yet this year. I didn't notice it's absence until you mentioned it.

When I go out in the morning, it's gray, but that makes colors jump out more than they usually do, so I just relish that, along with the reflections of things off shiny surfaces like cars. It's kind of amazing if you look into it. I'm usually in a great mood by the time I get to work, regardless of what the weather's like.

Fake it til you make it!

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12/19/12 8:07 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I've been researching Nirodha a bit and wanted to repost this quote from Chris Marti on KFD, circa 2010:

"I liken going there to falling backwards into a deep, dark well. After following the jhanic arc and after accessing the 8th jhana I focus on the area just behind my eyes and sort of "push" downward. What I see in my mind's eye is a deepening blackness, like a tunnel or a well, that seems to deepen with every breath. (In my experience all jhanic phenomena follow the breath and each has its own "handle" that one can grab with the breath and hold onto in order to deepen the state. NS is no different.) So I just keep the pressure on (pushing down behind my eyes) and the state just keeps deepening until I lose contact with all external phenomena. Ultimately, if I stay with it, everything just fades away and... poof! It's not a sharp, fast blip like a cessation. I can also control the experience, stopping and restarting it at just about any point."

That's the most concise instruction I've found, other than to make a resolution in 8th jhana.

I thought I experienced a darkness that seemed to come up from below, but none of the other features of NS that are described. I will try this.

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12/19/12 8:50 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Don't get too wrapped up or cling to trying this too much. 1) you will get a headache 2) these things tend to show up on their own. Sometimes if you try too hard you will get frustrated with it. Keep making that resolution in 8th jhana or you can even make the resolution at the beginning of your sit to ride up the arc and experience NS, then just leave it alone.

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12/19/12 8:59 PM as a reply to Russell ..
Thanks for the reminder, Russell. I'm trying to approach it with a sense of curiosity to keep my interest fresh. I'll just 'press down' now and then and keep 'no dog' as my main tool (although I'm still a long way from mastering that.)

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12/26/12 9:52 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
So, I guess it was four or five days ago that I listened to the jhanic arc podcast at the Hamilton Project. Following along, I easily accessed the 5 PL jhanas as they were described, and some kind of half-assed Nirodha. I've repeated the experience a few times. It's definitely easier with the instructions playing. I can get that halfway NS pretty easily, but haven't improved on it.

Researching the journals at KFD this would seem to be ample evidence of 3rd path by Mr. Folk's criteria. I will say something is different, but it is pretty subtle. There really is less of a self moment to moment. There is a subtle sense of clarity, cognitively and visually. There is also a reduced interest in practice, which reminds me of other post-path moments. But I can see how there is a difference in opinion over how to diagnose this path. It's not that it's anti-climactic. But it's very, very quiet.

I've also noticed a feeling akin to what 4th pathers describe as feeling done, but not quite. It's like, I don't have to make this happen anymore. I don't know what comes next, but I know I'm going to find out. I know I'm not in control, and feel no tension about that.

Another interesting development: my fiancee started meditating recently, and seems to be careening toward the A+P event. She refuses to read anything about it. Just wants me to tell her everything. So, with a lot of disclaimers about what I don't know, and warnings about what I do, I've been ushering her through the early stages. She makes it look so easy. She's a much, much better and happier person than I am, in the conventional sense, so it will be interesting to see what changes.

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2/6/13 10:10 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
I consistently notice that I have the most craving/becoming in relation to my work, specifically the search for knowledge. There's an asthetic beauty and pragmatic necessity for it that arouses excitement, confusion, desire, frustration, and finally a kind of dissolution. Maybe dissolution is the right word afterall. This kind of intellectual passion does go back to early A+P experiences and wanting to ride the ragged edge of perception and all that. So, one interesting aspect of my off-cushion practice lately has been just studying, and interrupting studying to watch this becoming process it triggers for me.

If I understand correctly, Mr. Buddha taught that there is *only one* desire that does not ultimately lead to dukkha - the desire for liberation. And I can clearly see that this particular desire for knowledge just leads me to shoot myself in the foot: it's counterproductive. And yet renunciation is clearly not the answer in this case. There seems to be a natural inclination for this kind of work, and the self just jumps on it and takes over, hampering progress. It's a very knotty little problem that really surprises me because I've always considered it one of my favorite things to do.

In addition, this all ties into my sense of self-importance, self-aggrandizing altruism, and a sense of urgency about accomplishment that is closely tied to aversion to death. So, lots of me and mine in this "wholesome" pursuit.

The possibility of just being able to do something without all the noise is one expectation that I attach to the attainment of enlightenment. Another knotty little problem.

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2/18/13 5:54 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I'm beginning to understand the concern about "attachment to emptiness." Life generally seems so fine and dandy, so easy, when a touch of dukkha arises there is a real instinct to smother it somehow. Also, there is some subtle fear that arises momentarily here and there that I'll become complacent and fail to get more of this good ol' emptiness stuff. Want... MORE!

Still sitting regularly, with no real plan. I like to notice how the urge to control arises. I did a wee bit of Tummo recently and had a glimpse of ego death - more related to oxygen deprivation than "cessation", methinks (but I dunno) - that was indescribably cool. There was a lot less fear and resistance so I may be able to make more progress in that practice. I guess I really don't know what I'm doing now, but I can't get worked up about it.

My apparent 3rd path moment was over 2 months ago. Things changed dramatically then, but only now am I gradually noticing the word emptiness applies. What else to call this no-big-deal absence of nothing real that is so liberating yet simple. It's like... the asshole roommate has moved out. I has this place all to my self.

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2/18/13 5:56 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Comparing the last two posts I have to conclude this process really is happening by itself. Another aside: lately I've had hints of an unfamiliar spontaneous emotion, gratitude.

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3/31/13 7:21 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I've been working a bit with a teacher lately, following the instruction to pursue "3rd gear" practice. I find the transition from second to third gear comes quickly and easily now, but the passivity of the 3rd gear state gives way to self-talk after a few minutes - at least in the beginning of the sit. Today I was able to sit a bit longer, and the 3rd gear state seemed more stable. After about an hour though my meditation was taken over by some energetic activity, including fruition-like darkening and nodding along with contracting of awareness and a sense of being taken on a ride. I just hung on and watched it happen. A sense of wanting something to happen arose repeatedly. I tried to let it go. A few times my eyes popped open and my mind became very quiet.

A lot of anxiety this week and a general sense of the egoic mind being as strong as ever. I've also been noting off the cushion - a new practice for me - which may reinforce this malaise? I dunno. At times it's hard to imagine the little self is ever going to get off its throne. Then again, with a little concentration it fades like a friendly ghost.

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4/10/13 10:48 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Gradually it becomes more natural to rest in the state of 'just being' to some degree. Still the self persists and creates tension and distraction, though less and less. Sitting for more than an hour, I find the mind "inclining to nibbana" so to speak. That pulling, darkening tension gathers. I notice the clinging that arises with it and the simple beingness collapses into harried awareness. It feels very much like the near-misses prior to first path.

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4/10/13 10:47 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Also today, these two vivid reflections on death:

From Beckett's Dante and the Lobster:
His aunt was in the garden, tending whatever flowers die at that time of year. She embraced him and together they went down into the bowels of the earth, into the kitchen in the basement. She took the parcel and undid it and abruptly the lobster was on the table, on the oilcloth, discovered.

“They assured me it was fresh” said Belacqua.

Suddenly he saw the creature move, this neuter creature. Definitely it changed its position. His hand flew to his mouth.

“Christ!” he said “it's alive.”

His aunt looked at the lobster. It moved again. It made a faint nervous act of life on the oilcloth. They stood above it, looking down on it, exposed cruciform on the oilcloth. It shuddered again. Belacqua felt he would be sick.

“My God” he whined “it's alive, what'll we do?” The aunt simply had to laugh. She bustled off to the pantry to fetch her smart apron, leaving him goggling down at the lobster, and came back with it on and her sleeves rolled up, all business.

“Well” she said “it is to be hoped so, indeed.”

“All this time” muttered Belacqua. Then, suddenly aware of her hideous equipment: “What are you going to do?” he cried.

“Boil the beast” she said, “what else?”

“But it's not dead” protested Belacqua “you can't boil it like that.”

She looked at him in astonishment. Had he taken leave of his senses?

“Have sense” she said sharply, “lobsters are always boiled alive. They must be.” She caught up the lobster and laid it on its back. It trembled. “They feel nothing” she said.

In the depths of the sea it had crept into the cruel pot. For hours, in the midst of its enemies, it had breathed secretly. It had survived the Frenchwoman's cat and his witless clutch. Now it was going alive into scalding water. It had to. Take into the air my quiet breath.

Belacqua looked at the old parchment of her face, grey in the dim kitchen.

“You make a fuss” she said angrily “and upset me and then lash into it for your dinner.”

She lifted the lobster clear of the table. It had about thirty seconds to live.

Well, thought Belacqua, it's a quick death, God help us all.

It is not.


And this, AN 6.19, which I found in thanissaro's Beyond Coping:

The Blessed One said, "Mindfulness of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death."

When this was said, a certain monk addressed the Blessed One, "I already develop mindfulness of death."

"And how do you develop mindfulness of death?"

"I think, 'O, that I might live for a day & night, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' This is how I develop mindfulness of death."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, already develop mindfulness of death."

"And how do you develop mindfulness of death?"

"I think, 'O, that I might live for a day, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' This is how I develop mindfulness of death."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death." ... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to eat a meal, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' ..."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death." ... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' ..."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death." ... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' ..."

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, "I, too, develop mindfulness of death." ... "I think, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal.' This is how I develop mindfulness of death."

When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. "Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for a day & night... for a day... for the interval that it takes to eat a meal... for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

"But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food... for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.

"Therefore you should train yourselves: 'We will dwell heedfully. We will develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.' That is how you should train yourselves."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.

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4/17/13 10:09 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
I've had a few dreams featuring Tibetan Lamas lately. In the last one, I was given a white and yellow lotus during an informal ritual in a small apartment. I found myself lying under the kitchen table half-undressed. I had the most powerful full-body blackout rapture ever. Feeling empty and free today.

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9/19/13 7:20 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Hey Jason,

I just wanted to drop you a note thanking you for keeping this detailed journal. I just hit what I'm taking to be stream entry last week, and I've been using your journal as a guide along the way. Hope things are continuing to be awesome for you.

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9/25/13 11:24 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Thanks, Seamus. I'm glad the trail of my fumbling led somewhere good for you. emoticon

After that last big fruition dream experience, my relationship to my practice really changed. I could see how some might interpret something like that as being "done," in the sense that the approach, technique, goals and motivations that had served me until then suddenly all seemed irrelevant and even counterproductive. Also, there was no sign of the insight stages. Very briefly, that felt liberating, but quickly turned to disappointment and a lot of skepticism of dry vipassana and the teachings and teachers I had considered authoritative. Vipassana had greatly reduced reactivity, but so what? Maybe enlightenment is just wholesome boredom afterall. Ho hum....

I floundered like that for awhile. I started doing some samatha practices which led to some very enjoyable but usually short-lived effects. I was very confused about how I should practice, and who really knew what they were talking about. Eventually, I hit on the Mahamudra audio program by Reggie Ray (thanks, Antero!). It's about 38 hours of him talking and guided meditations. I took a couple of months working through it. Here are some outcomes so far:

Whereas dry vipassana seemed to subtract, mahamudra practice adds. Specifically, joy, gratitude, love, contentment, creative impulses. It's almost spooky how these feelings appear, totally unrelated to "me." There is a sense that as the paramitas grow with more practice, they bring blessings into my life. That sounds crazy, but whether you call it magic or karma... nothing specifically miraculous except an easy sense of things taking care of themselves, and that I'm incredibly fortunate to be afforded, for example, sunshine, or... airport cuisine! Just talking about paramitas brings them up.

On the cushion, I'm mostly examining the thought stream and the sense of self invested in it. That's not new, except that the perspective endowed by the mahamudra training is that everything arises out of the Ultimate Honky Dory, or the natural mind, mind minus time. That little tweak just changes everything, although the thought stream is as persistent as ever. Also, I notice attachment to the wonderfulness of it all. At this - seemingly intermediate - stage, that could set me up for a fall. Par for the course, I assume.