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Insight Practice Log

Insight Practice Log
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6/22/12 6:48 PM
Having undergone what i believe to be an A&P experience, followed by some symptoms stereotypical of dark night descriptions, i've decided to shift my focus from concentration to insight practices, hence the "new practice log". Doing primarily noting technique, here's my meditation experience for the day:

Practiced for about 4 hours so far today. 1hr sitting, 1hr walking, 30mins sitting ///break/// 1hr sitting, 30 minutes sitting. Woke up very early to be able to practice for this long already. Still have trouble with sitting still for much longer than an hour or so, and sometimes i feel burned out, which is why i only did a 30min sit after the two 1-hour sets. I'm sure i'll get used to this eventually, no big deal.

Went pretty well today, started off a little bit on the dark side, i was very raw feeling, especially doing the walking meditation. I'm pretty sure i'm cycling through the dark night stages a bit. I will go back and forth from feeling really down for basically no reason to feeling pretty normal, sometimes happy, but rarely haha. I almost feel empty inside alot of the times. I get that pressure in the front of my chest ive heard people describing, it often feels like what i call objectless emotional suffering, in that its just there and i cant exactly put my finger on why it is there. This is largely my symptoms of the dark night.Last night as i was dozing off and today for a short while in meditation i felt the fear of no self. Basically when i was dozing off for some reason i thought about dying and what it was to no longer exist, and that freaked me the fuck out, and then today just a weird sense of frustration and fear of the thought. I feel very alone sometimes, and often times frustrated with random things. Its difficult for me to concentrate on everyday tasks. Overall though, i can deal with it.

So like i said today was productive, but lacked a bit of clarity in my meditation. My mind wandered a good deal and it was difficult to look directly at anything. Another characteristic i've read of the dark night. When meditating nonself shows itself the most (paradoxical language...), possibly because i seek it out most. Impermanence is there too, sometimes very acutely, and unsatisfactoriness is kind of in the background lurking around somewhere. I can see how reality is so not permanent, its just a haphazard mix of perceptions from the six sense organs, its really hard to grasp onto one thing, and everytime i look at one the others often elude me. Here it is easy to see nonself from this point of view.

So my first 2 1/2 hours of meditation were a bit dark, and raw, but my 2nd two were pretty pleasant, actually. I began to be able to accept sensations more and had less weird, unsure resistance to them. Everytime i felt like getting up or this or that, i could kind of get with - "theres noone here that wants to get up, no one here that is suffering if they do not get up".. I got some bouts of rapture and pleasant feeling in both my body and mind, and a couple times felt i was on to something but then it leveled off and i returned to normal again, that happen about 3 times within a matter of a few minutes. Anyway, i dont really remember what else went on haha, sorry if this was kind of a stream-of-consciousness kind of post ive never been one to proof read. Will update later/tomorrow


(Also, have noticed a marked increase in mindfulness/investigating ability outside of formal meditation. There is some kind of subtle, cant-really-figure-it-out paradigm shift in my thinking/awareness/whatever, and i'm learning to treat any moment where im not fully engaged with something as context for investigation)

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
Answer
6/22/12 5:32 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Had 3 pretty damn good sits today. First 2 were very pleasant, then had to do things in between for a few hours, just got up from number three. Description of last sitting:

Sat down, was very unpleasant at first. Sad/heavy feeling in chest and under eyes. Felt like i wanted to cry, not sure why though. Kept investigating. Eventually it went away and pleasant feelings started to arise. I kept my distance and made sure to see the 3 characteristics in them and avoid clinging. Had periods of clarity followed by dullness, then clarity then dullness, (slight dullness) but just tried to note them all. At one point things felt very spacious and there didnt seem to be much to note. I had to put in extra effort. It was like my field of experience was like an empty house. Around this time i started getting a pressure in head, around the crown and sometimes forehead. It would change from pleasurable to unpleasant.Then came a vibration in the front of my head, i could see it and feel it. It went from my forehead to under my eyes. The perception of it kept changing and was somewhat elusive. At one point it felt like it was my identity or personality, shaking and uneven, but that perception of it only lasted a bit. A few times i started to feel a relief from the I, but it would come back after a fraction of a second. It feels like "almost getting it". The 'I' absence of 'I' i am looking for is very elusive and feels just out of reach. My head still hurts a bit. At this point theres alot of craving for release. Im able to recognize this craving or desire though moderately well and see that there is no one who is having this craving that i can find

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
Answer
6/23/12 9:38 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Only had 1 formal sit today. Sat for a couple minutes shy of 2 hrs. Really, really enjoyable sit. Very easy, calm, light feeling. I've had such a feeling for the past 2 days or so now, with varying consistency in meditation and in daily life. I assume i'm somewhere in equanimity. But it doesnt really matter all the much, does it? The only thing to do is to keep practicing regardless. Much of my day is layered with that cool, subtle easy feeling. I try not to get attached to any feelings of bliss but keep investigating. In my sit like i said i felt very open, concentration was strong, very strong. For the first hour pleasure kept building, coming and going in various cycles and would leave me the impression that i'm about to go somewhere. I realized that I was grasping stream entry, trying pretty hard to get it. After about an hour the feeling of grasping at it pretty much went away naturally and it was like ok, whatever I'm just going to keep practicing cuz it'll happen sooner or later. Trying to keep this attitude. Sticking with the noting, though sometimes it kind of falls away as i notice sensations naturally. Alot of times ill just keep noting, in in in, out out out, and be paying attention to those sensations of the breath and others at the same time. All the 3 characteristics generally are showing themselves pretty easily, but they can be elusive at times. Sometimes i feel like i'm about to get something, and then i just cant quite make it. But like i said, oh well. Tomorrow will probably be another day like this where i'll have approx. 2, 3 hours if i'm lucky to practice and then monday and tuesday i plan on getting up at the crack of dawn and getting in 4-6 hours of practice each day to really get things going. I'm honestly really enjoying this whole thing. Even the dukkha nanas i experiences for a few days were so interesting and weird, sometimes its like tripping/being high without drugs. Any feedback or suggestions are always welcome.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/24/12 7:22 AM as a reply to Brian K..
Can you describe how you experience the 3 C's, and how you experience them as elusive at times?

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/25/12 5:34 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
I'll try. Impermanence i experience as just the various sensations of the 6 senses. I try to really watch thoughts and mental sensations and how they relate to physical sensations. Often it feels like a thought is "me" and then i watch it disappears and clearly its not. I see the back and forth between different sensations, noticing how if i observe one the other takes a background until i observe that one, and then the previous one takes a background, and this happens back and forth fairly quickly, perhaps a few times per second and then maybe less when my concentration isnt as strong. Impermanence often leads to non-self, because i see experience is just a bunch of sensations strung together changing every second. In this view i get the clearest understanding of non-self. I will also observe non-self as its own though, investigating if feelings thoughts or sensations are "me". Unsatisfactoriness is observed just by a feeling of desire, that desire is still present so things are unsatisfactory. Admittedly i focus on impermanence and non self. Impermanence often leaves me with a clearer feeling of unsatisfactoriness, because all the experiences are constantly fading, which means they wont permanently satisfy. I think they are elusive only when my concentration wanes. Whenever i investigate for them, i find them but if i dont actively investigate they may not make themselves known.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/25/12 7:23 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Sounds quite promising. Here's to hoping your extended sits are peaceful.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
Answer
6/26/12 8:47 AM as a reply to Brian K..
Approx. 4 hours of practice... sat, walked, sat, sat sat. Woke up at 4:40 am was practicing by 510/520 and its 940 now so i got a decent amount in. My first sit was 50 mins, walk 50 minutes, then sat a couple times for random intervals, getting up whenever i felt like it (for example, i kept nodding off at one point so i got up to drink some tea to wake myself up, still noting the whole time). The walk and sit right after were very enjoyable. My last sit i couldnt seem to focus and it was more or less bullshit. Sometimes i get guilty about doing insight practice because i havent mastered any jhanas yet, and doubt if i should be doing them. I like to flip flop with my commitments. Nothing new to report in terms of experience during meditation.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
Answer
6/26/12 9:17 AM as a reply to Brian K..
Brian K.:
My last sit i couldnt seem to focus and it was more or less bullshit. Sometimes i get guilty about doing insight practice because i havent mastered any jhanas yet, and doubt if i should be doing them. I like to flip flop with my commitments. Nothing new to report in terms of experience during meditation.


The benefit/harm from changing the meditation depends entirely on intention.

If you change it in an attempt to control an experience which makes you uncomfortable, that is potentially harmful. (But it can be the right approach for the time being, if there's too much disturbance to allow stable attention.)

If you switch back to concentration/jhana/metta for a while in order to restabilize attention because it's wandering, that is likely to be beneficial. Just use the skills you've developed to power your investigation in whatever way makes sense at the time. The appropriate commitment is to follow the investigation where ever it leads you, not to stick to any particular practice.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/26/12 4:27 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Do u mean within the context of one sit or within practice on a day by day basis?

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/26/12 4:39 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Within the one sit. Dropping back to a concentration practice because attention is scattered can be quite useful.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/26/12 5:06 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Yea you are right. I avoid doing that because i think "no! Im doing insight!" But i should really be able to be more flexiible

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/26/12 10:15 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Don't be so hard on yourself. You've shown very effective flexibility already. emoticon

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/28/12 8:25 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
Thank you. You've been a great help fivebells i appreciate it.

Didn't post yesterday, got maybe 1hr 20 min, meditation in total. First 2 sits got up after 20 mins and the last sit i managed for 45 mins. Idk if i lapsed into the dark night again somehow, but it was rough. I couldnt focus i kept going back and forth from fumingly angry at absolutely nothing to depressed and sloth. My last sit started off slow, built some good concentration then tapered off again. Will post later today as i practice

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/28/12 8:45 PM as a reply to Brian K..
No worries.

Definitely dark night experiences. I imagine it's painful, but it's a good sign. If you can continue to note during the anger and sadness that will be very productive. You might find the "MIND WEEDS" section at the bottom of this page helpful. (Audio version.)

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/29/12 8:28 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
Very true, hard to remember some times

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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6/30/12 2:22 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Past few days have been more or less normal, going back and forth between good sits and difficult sits. More on the side of good sits though. I had an important insight yesterday though. I realized i guess u could say, the self i've been trying to look for/see through has never been there in the first place. I came to understand that everything - my thoughts, emotions, feelings, physical/mental sensations - is the same as its always been but ive been labeling it as "self", subconsciously, and now its just a matter of reversing that subconscious adaptation. ITs actually alot simpler than i thought, i dont have to look at it in some crazy weird way i just have to see it as it actually is, idk its hard to explain. I look forward to incorporating this newfound outlook into my meditation further.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
Answer
7/1/12 12:44 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Brian K.:
I came to understand that everything - my thoughts, emotions, feelings, physical/mental sensations - is the same as its always been but ive been labeling it as "self", subconsciously, and now its just a matter of reversing that subconscious adaptation. ITs actually alot simpler than i thought, i dont have to look at it in some crazy weird way i just have to see it as it actually is, idk its hard to explain. I look forward to incorporating this newfound outlook into my meditation further.


Sounds really interesting. I know it's hard to talk about, but are you able to describe any aspects of the experiences which led you to this conclusion? Also, how are you planning to incorporate it into your meditation?

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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7/12/12 9:36 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
hey, sorry fivebells havent been on recently.. have major doubts as to "where i am", stopped caring about it and long story short am practicing concentration only again and doing actual freedom practices outside of meditaiton... will not be updating this log anymore... thanks for all of the guidance

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
Answer
7/13/12 1:08 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Keep in mind that doubting where you are in terms of progress is a clear symptom of the dukha ñanas. Since you're feeling that and other aversive sensations (from what you're describing) and feel the vibrations, you're without a single doubt in the dukha ñanas. One of the symptoms of this stage for me is wanting to give up the practice and go do something else or approach the practice from a different perspective to somehow trick my way out of this situation. It's all just aversion and aversion is something you can note.

I realize that you aren't planning on doing noting at the moment, but in case you come back to it later, the thing that eases my way to equanimity and making longer sits bearable until pleasant sensations appear on their own is noting pleasant sensations along with the obvious unpleasant ones. There always are some pleasant sensations. Does the breath feel pleasant, is sitting relaxing, do you feel calm when you're not noting the unpleasant sensations, are any of the vibrations pleasant, is there any happiness that you can note?

Have you had a chance to read Mahasi Sayadaw's description of the dukha ñanas and the moments that lead up to stream entry? If not, take a look at http://bit.ly/P4RB9F . Pages 29 to 36 are very useful to look at. Does any of that seem familiar? Keep in mind that so far your concentration practice has also been an insight practice. If you keep on doing that style of concentration practice, you're probably going to keep experiencing what's on the Progress of Insight map whether you like it or not.

RE: Brian's New Practice Log
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7/13/12 1:40 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Yea, what Jigme said.

And what you said on flip flopping above - fivebells replied in the context of one sit. At a more meta level, though, since you're saying you're switching to concentration and actualism too it means it's also outside the context of just one sit. Jigme did a good job explaining why the flip flopping is happening, so I won't go into that. You can also investigate the flip flopping itself and see what's associated with it. No need to stop the practice log if it's previously been helpful. Reading what you've wrote here so far, it sounds like you've started building a solid foundation. Whether or not things seem good or easy, the groundwork you are laying right now will help you for the rest of your practice. Your explanations are detailed and you are explaining cause/effect quite clearly, which means you have already gained some insight. So why not keep going with it?