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Richard's insight practice

Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/15/12 12:10 AM
Just organizing what I've done so far and creating a practice thread.

Okay I've been doing many different practices: Noting "arising of thoughts", "gone", staying as "shinkantanza" (do nothing), "viewing all senses at the same time", "jhana jogging", "no-self" 2nd gear KFD concentration practices. They all work in their own way.

I started off with horrible concentration and after months of practice with audiodharma.org audio streams and in 2008 I got a first jhana. I started insight practice after that but it was weak and more like concentration instead. I started noticing that 2nd and 3rd jhanas with piti and sukkha while I was attempting vipassana. Once I got to noting more consistently (after being recommended to this site:grinemoticon, I could just let go of the noting in the later part of the mediation sittings and hook up with the vibrations of the senses. Once that happened there was a shift where I thought my head would explode (probably A & P). Continuing to note I still didn't feel any dark night symptoms until I noted more accurately the 3 characteristics. The noting was too much focused on impermanence and ignoring not-self, and especially dissatisfaction. Once I started noting dissatisfaction after every mental striving a lot of my habitual enjoyments and negative mental habits were appearing obsolete due to the obvious dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction lasted at least 3 weeks earlier this year. Once I started noting at work more, shifts happened and there was a gradual feeling that I could get relief while noting the most unpleasant emotional arisings. This became more confident even when dealing with difficult people (Cluster B typesemoticon ).

This site helped with understanding no-self along with 2nd gear practices:

Anatta

Once equanimity started appearing it was like bursting for air in a sunny ocean after being down in the murky depths. The feeling of sanity was very encouraging. It was so encouraging that I started getting lazy. The equanimity was literally vibrating in my skull and the reactive part of the mind loved to go dormant giving the senses more vibrancy. The equanimity left me satisfied before, during and after fun activities. Yet this equanimity fades and has to be regenerated. I fell into reobservation which was 10 times worse than the dark-night experiences I had before. Thankfully they only lasted a couple of nights and equanimity would return again and again feeling more natural. Reobservation still happens but it's more like a vague unease or restlessness that reappears but with less force than before.

Now more recently looking at Nick's blog and some of his comments plus Tommy's experiment and I was getting a little confused while using Shinzen Young's instructions for Shinkantanza "just sitting" (which are similar but slightly different in approach) to just staying with all your senses at the same time. Both of these practices have been a help. With Shinkantanza I can let habitual thoughts go where they please and I ended up concentrating up to equanimity instead. I knew that wasn't really the practice because there's still too much habitual concentration intention. Now with applying the same practice but allowing all the senses to appear as they are at the same time it's easier to see the meditative striving for meditative states being similarly stressful as any other mental striving.

So yesterday I decided to return to basic noting (despite wanting to avoid it as too much striving) with the knowledge in the prior paragraph. Before I noted I just easily let go of any striving and stayed with all the senses (including taste) and then started noting. As I started noting I could tell when a new thought was arising but as the thought started it was very weak and then I noticed that the senses were still clear in awareness during this arising. When the thoughts made more thoughts and got more intense then they would start obscuring some of the senses. While noting the arising and the passing away a sense of elation started coming back again. So my practice now will be focused on staying with the senses first and then noting cessations or allowing shinkantanza. The noting nudges me in the right direction despite some interference with awareness.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/15/12 1:57 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:

Now more recently looking at Nick's blog and some of his comments plus Tommy's experiment and I was getting a little confused while using Shinzen Young's instructions for Shinkantanza "just sitting" (which are similar but slightly different in approach) to just staying with all your senses at the same time. Both of these practices have been a help. With Shinkantanza I can let habitual thoughts go where they please and I ended up concentrating up to equanimity instead. I knew that wasn't really the practice because there's still too much habitual concentration intention. Now with applying the same practice but allowing all the senses to appear as they are at the same time it's easier to see the meditative striving for meditative states being similarly stressful as any other mental striving.



Nice insight.

Just a clarification. I may have talked using those words before : "staying with the senses'. Although helpful to see it as action of forced 'staying' in the beginning to a degree, but ultimately there may be a linguistic trap here. The word 'staying' can subtly manifest into 'trying' to stay with the senses and that is actually the opposite of what one does when triggering recognition of apperception in my experience. With 'trying', the mind then selectively segregates the field of experience into 'parts' to pay attention to, when apperception has no segregating going on at all. The 'trying' aspect is the mind trying to grasp at some aspect /part of experience. Aaaaaah, apperception, I want to perceive you!

Apperception does not have that grasping quality, so to cultivate recognition of it, pure sense contact as it arises should be simply 'recognised' as it arises, rather than 'stayed' with. This word is less likely to lead the mind into 'trying', although it could....'trying to recognise' may occur. Being aware of the 'trying' overlay is useful as it arises.

Nick

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/15/12 12:09 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
I agree. "Stay" would be the wrong word. After last night it's clearer to me that what we normally look at as the self is like you say: a zooming in on phenomena to look for what is to like or dislike. All thoughts feel like they have a wanting behind them and it's clear how pervasive habituation really is and how impersonal many decisions are and how foreign some reactivity is when you're clearly looking at it. emoticon Just allowing the reactivity to subside and let the senses (which are already working) come to the foreground on their own illuminates the remaining tension that's there. That remaining tension just feels like wanting without any particular object which is quite dangerous in the wrong environment. I have more respect for how much of a dark veil strong emotions are. Just thinking about a hateful person in my past and exacting revenge is a perfect way to blow mindfulness out of the water. That book by Thich Nhat Hanh "Understanding our mind" and how he uses gardening as a metaphor for developing new habits is the key. Developing a habit of a peaceful mind and making choices and actions based on a clear mind over and over again will atrophy the old habits (probably not completely) and strengthen the new habits. There are only two ways I can see now. You have to either develop a strong desire to change habits (which is exhausting mentally) or conserve energy from wasted mental movements and use them towards those same worthwhile goals.

There's still enjoyment in noting and it's important to note with more subtlety so one is not in a "meditation practice" but just getting on with life. Relax the body fabrications and then relax the mind fabrications to allow the clear seeing. At this point I don't see wanting disappearing so it makes sense to then find something that's worth wanting:

Yogi toolbox Good Practice

* Noticing the difference between superficial feelings and core drives.


Venerable Ayya Khema

Since each one (feelings-pleasant, painful and neutral) disappears to give room to another one, could we then say that each time one disappears and gives rise to another one that the “me” has disappeared as certain entity and arises as new one? It never occurs to us to say a thing like that but that would be logical, wouldn't it?


Yogi toolbox Lifestyle Approach

"This is where the Buddha ran into the central paradox of becoming, because the craving and clinging that provide the moisture do not have to delight in the field or the resultant becoming in order to bear fruit. If the mind fastens on a particular set of possibilities with the aim of changing or obliterating them, that acts as moisture for a state of becoming as well. Thus the desire to put an end to becoming produces a new state of becoming. Because any desire that produces becoming also produces suffering, the Buddha was faced with a strategic challenge: how to put an end to suffering when the desire to put an end to suffering would lead to renewed suffering.
His solution to this problem involved a paradoxical strategy, creating a state of becoming in the mind from which he could watch the potentials of kamma as they come into being, but without fueling the desire to do anything with regard to those potentials at all. In the terms of the field analogy, this solution would deprive the seed of moisture. Eventually, when all other states of becoming had been allowed to pass away, the state of becoming that had acted as the strategic vantage point would have to be deprived of moisture as well. Because the moisture of craving and clinging would have seeped into the seed even of this strategic becoming, this would eventually mean the destruction of the seed, as that moisture and any conditioned aspects of consciousness the seed might contain were allowed to pass away. But any unconditioned aspects of consciousness—if they existed—wouldn’t be touched at all." Thanissaro Bhikkhu: The Paradox Of Becoming.


Never mind! That answered my question. emoticon Wow what an embarrassment of riches.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/16/12 5:32 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Shinkantanza 1 hour: Allowed all the senses to be as they are. It seems to work in a reduction of mental stress. The trick is to avoid intending or trying to stop automatic thoughts. The only weird thing was that in a diffuse focus I couldn't feel my hands. Once you focus on them they come back. emoticon I'm noting all day. Noting is improving by staying with the vibrations of experience (95%) and then noting 1Hz (5%).

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/17/12 10:09 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Noting Vanishings 1 hour: Getting used to this is difficult but I can see the value of it. I used the breath as an anchor to note "gone" when the breath changes from in to the out breath and if sounds like traffic subside I note that as well. When thoughts pass away I note the vanishing. The challenge is not to note arisings and allow them to be in the background. I find this practice is better at showing no-self vs self for me. When a thought arises or a scenario is imagined (like conversations with others) the sense of self is quite strong. When thoughts are gone it's back to the senses. There's a sense of clinging to thoughts when focusing on noting vanishings. It's like I'm impatient to wait for the thoughts to vanish but the Papanca is addictive and forceful. As I got used to it there was a powerful jhana and plenty of tranquilizing restfulness. The thought interruptions still had a agitated quality like they were interfering with the pleasing restfulness. With more practice this will get smoother.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/18/12 5:53 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Noting Vanishings 1.5 hours: Trying to note "vanishings" from fine vibrations in the body and vision. Had to note "frustration", and "dissatisfaction" along the way. The thoughts intervened regularly but were noted and abandoned. There were some drop outs 1/2 an hour into the meditation. That was rough. The vibrations were so fast I tried too hard. The face was tense and had to be relaxed a couple of times to reduce strain.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/19/12 12:31 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Did a little bit of retooling.

1 hour Great perfection (let senses appear in foreground)/Shinkantanza (let go of intentional noting)/HAIETMOBA (only note total experience):

Big relief. As I started with the above instructions in order the jhanas started appearing on their own with no object other than awareness. My brain likes to talk about the dharma and describe the experience so mental noting was replaced with HAIETMOBA which is like noting all sensations at the same time and that pure equanimity that first blew my mind a month ago came again except with little effort necessary and a feeling of normality like I'm getting used to it. The only concentration necessary is to ask "How Am I Experiencing This Moment Of Being Alive?" when the mind wants to describe the experience. The beauty of HAIETMOBA is the computation power needed to do it is less than basic noting. Of course when noting is done properly then I expect all the practices lead to the same result. My vision was a little distorted like having doors warp and melt. I was blinking but it happened even then because the concentration was so spot on. Once attention is allowed to include all senses the vision returned to normal. HAIETMOBA sends you into the senses much like quick noting so the brain feels a little bit of concentration tension but much less than with individual noting. The sense of self is still there but it feels like it's erroding. I'm just going to do this all day and as much as possible to see if there is any tiredness.

EDIT: This was a help also:


RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/20/12 4:21 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Yesterday the HAIETMOBA practice worked well but it must be constantly applied to keep the relief going. Anger disappears faster than when using mindfulness but it can also return fairly quick when the practice stops. There isn't much tiredness in this practice but when returning to conceptualization for conversations one has to remember to recultivate the practice to avoid more papanca.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/23/12 11:53 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
1 hour cessation noting practice: Just allowed the natural senses to be in the foreground. I inclined the mind towards all vibrations and inclined the mind towards the gaps between vibrations and felt very restful throughout the day. There's still a little bit of addictiveness to the waves which may have to do with dopamine. The withdrawal symptoms are still less than in the past and despite feeling a little like...



...the mind lets go into tranquillity.emoticon

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
5/28/12 12:18 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
HAIETMOBA during hiking: I'm starting to understand how to equate thoughts as automatic along with the 5 senses. When thoughts and emotions arise there's less of a sense of trying to stop them. Once I'm rooted in the present moment the question HAIETMOBA isn't needed but just the answer. As emotions and thoughts happen automatically they quickly vanish and I don't identify with them as a self. Sometimes it's funny when an old mental habit or rumination appears. By feeling like those automatic thoughts are just fine there's no need manipulate anything. You don't add fuel but you don't stop thoughts.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/1/12 5:17 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Noting cessation practice this past week: The only difference now is that I can notice strong waves all over my body and especially in my head. They are pleasant but one almost feels like one's face is warping in and out.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/11/12 2:56 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Great perfection/Shikantaza/HAIETMOBA daily practice:

I find I get tired of this mindfulness a little less now and I can see the value of continuing to plow through the tired parts of the day with the same acceptance. It makes you reverent towards the power of habitual tendencies and to develop more dispassion for them. When doing this as a sitting practice I find that sitting with the vibrations as they get thicker and thicker the hindrances pull me in physical tension but let go almost like some external force is nudging me one way or another and I'm just looking at it instead of reacting to it. The labeling part of the noting is feeling more coarse now and I just want to drop it now and just see clearly with the senses what's there. I suppose "riding the wave" is a good metaphor.

When looking at thoughts it's like investigating the automatic senses and looking from that vantage point at thought habit tendencies. The feeling of "I" is very related to the thoughts for me. The practice relieves the stress via acceptance over anything that is there but the dispassion comes from finding the repetitive tensions annoying. If I eat enough but still get some cravings to eat more than I need to, I can also enjoy the pleasantness of feeling lighter and knowing that more fat will be burnt over night because I didn't indulge. I will notice at any uncomfortable sensations when I do fall off the wagon which is much better than judgment and guilt. It's always good to look at the pleasant ignored from the unpleasant and unpleasant ignored in the pleasant. There's more to the reality and desire and aversion is just zooming in on aspects and ignoring others.

I'm also losing a little weight because drinking water in place of just eating is often enough to kill the craving. When you're thirsty sometimes you can think you're hungry as well. This tactic is similar to the book The Power of Habit involving the habit cue. I learned to control nail biting by simply clipping my nails as soon as possible before I start gnawing on them. The habit tendency isn't gone but a healthy replacement ends the problem. If I drink water before I eat more carbs then the need to consume more carbs is greatly reduced.

There's also a subtle stress when the mindfulness lapses so getting in touch with the senses ASAP ends any papanca tendencies with mapping and meditation striving.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/15/12 6:44 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Shikantanza "do nothing" 1 hour: This is the practice I needed now. I think I have been repressing the thought process still too much with noting. By allowing all automatic thoughts and all natural senses without trying to add or subtract from anything from the experience was greatest relief for me so far. It was like watching a a kaleidescope of phenomena arise and passaway on its own. There is still a little bit of clinging left but that's because I haven't mastered this practice yet. The sense of self is retreating from the whole back of my head to just my top of the spine connected to my head.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/16/12 9:03 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Feeling great all day to day. The entire Shikantanza process is pervading my life. Aversion is down. Sanity is up. Thoughts (even bad ones) are okay. Everything seems okay. Tonight did another 1 hour of it. There was a pop in the back of the top part of my skull where time very briefly disappeared but I didn't get any bliss wave and I feel pretty good just like yesterday and today. My brain revved up some major 3rd eye pressure without any attempt to concentrate. Otherwise just more of the same which is just fine by me.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/22/12 11:12 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Shikantanza "Do nothing" practice: Allowing thoughts to naturally pass away along with everything else has been very powerful for me. I was house sitting recently and had nothing to do so I played a video game. You know when you suck at a level and you have to redo the entire level again and again? Normally that would cause agitation but by not repressing any thoughts (negative or positive) I could feel the tension like a muscle start to tense up but then I found it easy to get out of the way and let it let go automatically. There's nothing that needs to be "done". I've been allowing this to happen all day everyday and it feels like there's nothing for "me" to do. Desire seems so obvious now. I can just bring up images of something desirable and thinking about desirable details just creates increased desire. Then I think of some responsibility I'm procrastinating on and bring the desirable details of positive benefits of dealing with this responsibility and a new healthy desire replaces it. All that's left of the dukkka nanas is some chest anxiety or fear but it's much more attenuated now. Much of it is from thinking if there is anything more I should be doing. It's just more stuff that arises and passes away naturally.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/24/12 11:26 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
2 hour vipassana noting: Trying to note and not stop thoughts was the goal for today. I got intermittent jhanas along with bright results in the retina, and the noting naturally dismantled the jhanas. The self definitely feels like thoughts. I will see an image of a future self and it feels totally fake. The self feels more like a dream than reality. I'm finding that gentler noting is the way to go and sometimes slower noting (like every 3-4 seconds) to really soak in the experience is helpful. I've also been doing some concentration practice on the sensations of the spine/neck/back of skull to zero in on the location of the self. It seems to loosen things up in that I'm able to notice my experience shake and vibrate with every heart beat, but I got strong 3rd eye pressures in the forehead that really distracted the practice. I need to relax the facial muscles a little more. Still the result is a nice warm vibrating feeling the mind with little stickiness.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/26/12 11:11 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I'm just walking around letting experience (including thoughts) arise and pass away. There's no real meditation. The only doing is making sure to pay attention to the senses while not stopping thoughts I'm also not allowing thoughts to proliferate so much that I check out of the present moment.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
6/27/12 11:23 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Just for fun I decided to do pure samadhi practice for an hour. I found that it was easy to stay with the breath and any cognitive interruptions didn't last long. It was like a teflon brain. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got no jhana factors at all and I could tell the brain felt like it didn't need the practice and it just hurt my head with large 3rd eye pressure in the forehead. Even relaxing the tension while still practicing was painful (hello 3 characteristics!). The closest thing to a "jhana" now is simply doing the Shikantanza/Great perfection/HAIETMOBA (whatever you want to call it) practice and enjoying the vibrations in the senses. I can get the same results with quick light noting practice. Even those nice feelings are not something to attach to. They are starting to feel a little crude. It's almost like your brain likes basic table wine, but then when you try above average wine the basic won't do. I'm assuming when I try outstanding wine then the above average won't do either. emoticon

The next step is to keep presence in the senses all day and especially when on the computer, reading, working, and talking to people. I can still "checkout" and attach to thoughts in those activities so more clear seeing is needed to get back to reality.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
7/1/12 10:14 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Reading test with Shikantanza: I had a novel that I started some time ago that I didn't get very far into. I decided to pick it up again. There was a little avoidance but I just remembered how the present moment is just that, whether I'm reading or doing anything else and the aversion naturally came and went. Then I started. In the past I would use concentration practice to repress thoughts and try and read but of course repressing thoughts makes the reading very sterile and lifeless. At the time it seemed necessary to block out thoughts because the mind could go on a tangent which would also reduce the quality of the reading.

This time I just allowed thoughts to gently arise and pass away. This allowed more depth of understanding and more patience to look up unheard of vocabulary (I was reading a Patrick O'Brian novel with lots of nautical terms). When I did get caught up in thoughts it was usually when I read something that reminded me of myself or people I know (self-referencing). I allowed those thoughts to come and go but I didn't add to them so I was able to get back to it pretty quickly. Some aversion sometimes comes in because the mind likes to start something but not to finish it. Just letting that aversion come and go on its own relieves it. After about 1 1/2 hours I could feel the tiredness coming in. The aversion picks up and here I can see taking a break makes sense and then returning replenished I'm able to continue. The aversion I think comes from not accepting limitations but also not testing the limitations to see how much further one can go before one is truly tired. If one is throughly engrossed in an easy reading novel I can see them go on for hours reading but at the same time some difficult books can reward patience if one is willing to stick with it.

Next I want to apply the Shikantanza practice to actual intense studying and memorizing. In the past I would probably have to syke myself up and power through it despite the reactivity (very painful). Or study with no breaks and bash the self-image if I didn't continue farther. It'll be fund to try/not try while studying. To study without a goal would be valuable.

RE: Richard's insight practice
Answer
7/5/12 9:34 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Note on old habits: I used feel sorry for myself a lot in the past and just recently I tried going in that same direction again. This time my tears were a lot less, the pain was less and the clouding of experience reduced. It lasted maybe 30 seconds and then I'm back to normal again. It seems freakish but at the same time quite healthy. This makes getting into a positive mood much easier. For those just starting on the practice after around 4-5 years (sooner if you do retreats) it really does get better. emoticon