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Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 7/15/12 6:01 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 6/24/12 1:35 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 6/26/12 12:15 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 7/1/12 3:08 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 7/8/12 2:27 AM
Pulsing blobs Teemu H. 7/10/12 4:26 PM
RE: Pulsing blobs Teemu H. 7/12/12 8:34 AM
Irritation and bliss Teemu H. 7/14/12 3:44 AM
Craving calm and peace Teemu H. 7/15/12 2:46 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 9/18/12 9:58 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Tommy M 10/6/12 3:11 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 10/7/12 5:41 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Tommy M 10/7/12 8:58 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 10/7/12 3:25 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 9/18/12 12:41 PM
Sensations away from me and sensations near me Teemu H. 9/20/12 10:23 AM
Not fearing the situation but the feeling Teemu H. 9/20/12 11:24 PM
RE: Not fearing the situation but the feeling Tommy M 10/6/12 3:16 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 10/6/12 1:18 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 11/3/12 3:14 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 11/9/12 12:48 PM
Investigating the background Teemu H. 11/11/12 3:39 PM
Everything crumbling into waterfall of sensations bubbles Teemu H. 12/1/12 1:30 AM
Blinking Teemu H. 12/6/12 2:12 AM
Sensations, sensations, sensations... Teemu H. 12/9/12 1:05 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 12/30/12 1:38 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Chris Coleman 12/30/12 4:34 PM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Teemu H. 12/31/12 4:12 AM
RE: Teemu's Practice Log Chris Coleman 12/31/12 2:06 PM
Anatta Teemu H. 10/5/13 12:22 PM
Location and time Teemu H. 10/5/13 12:41 PM
Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
7/15/12 6:01 AM
[EDIT 15.7.2012: This post is a good example of jumping to conclusions too quickly when trying to make a self diagnosis.]

Hi DhO members,

I have not posted much here before, but I have read some threads to find advice for my own practice. Now I am writing this entry, because I will most likely need some advice in future if I am going to pursue the second path. I assume it will be easier to get answers if people know what I have done so far. So feel free to comment or ask questions if you like to have clarifications about something. I will certainly ask some questions later. Also, I do not mind at all if you doubt my descriptions, so feel free to ask more confirmation when necessary.

1. Beginning to meditate (2008 - March 2012)

I got interested in the mind stuff around 2008 when I started to notice that I was very often thinking about past or future and it was difficult to relax, because my mind always wanted to have some action. On impulse I bought Tolle's book "Power of Now" and, encouraged by the book, started to observe my feelings and thoughts more often. I did not do formal sitting, but I got a habit of focusing on body sensations and feelings when walking or commuting to work, or when waiting something. Really experiencing realisations like "anxiety is very often caused by my own thought patterns" and "it feels really good to drop mind stories and just be" increased overall happiness considerably.

During the following years I continued the habit of observing thoughts and feelings quite actively. I read miscellaneous stuff about meditation (Mindfulness in Plain English, MCTB, Why Meditate, various articles about noting) but did not try formal sitting until March 2012. Then I decided to give a shot with focusing to breath (first abdomen, but switched to nostrils later) according to the instructions in Mindfulness in Plain English. I started with 5 min - 10 min sessions and when I really started to enjoy the relaxed concentrated feelings it was easier to do 20 min - 30 sessions.

In the end of March 2012 I had a session where the concentration suddenly deepened and very strong buzzing sensation came over and filled the mind and shook the body. Feeling of body vanished completely except for hands which felt really big. I was quite frightened, but partly managed to remember instructions and submit to the feeling and let it be. Buzzing lasted perhaps 10 minutes and faded slowly. The phenomenon did not happen ever again even if I got to some concentrated states. In hindsight, I am not sure if I my practice at the time was samatha or vipassana, as I did not really understand the difference.

3. Practising samatha (April - May 2012)

A little later I decided to focus on samatha. Many books and articles encouraged to develop concentration first and I suspected that the informal practice I had done in the earlier years had been more on the mindfulness side. Reading MCTB and other texts about the concentration practices, I wanted to understand what samatha jhanas are about. Soon meditation started to be very fascinating. Many of the states were ridiculously pleasurable and I probably got somewhat hooked to them, which was good in the sense that I wanted to do it more and was really curious to find out more. Fortunately many sources warned about getting addicted to these temporary states. At this time I started to feel strange pressure around temples and between eyes - somehow pleasant but slightly annoying sometimes.

On the other hand, I was also confused with these altered states. I seemed to notice many transitions and separate states, but it was not easy to associate the states with the descriptions of jhana. The first state with one-pointed concentration, excitedness and tension was quite consistent, but its intensity varied a lot between sessions. Sometimes the tension grew almost unbearable and sometimes it relaxed very quickly to a more stable and peaceful state. This second state was also different from time to time. Sometimes it contained very pleasant burning and bubbling sensations in arms and legs, sometimes body sensations were not present clearly at all. After these two states I could not find any consistent order of states. I could feel slow and fast transtitions, sometimes states were very calm and peaceful, sometimes very intense and concentrated, sometimes body sensations vanished and sometimes pleasant burning sensations came back. I did not see any lights or other visual things.

After reading Shaila Catherine's book "Focused and Fearless", I spent some time practising moving between the states I considered as the first two or three jhanas. Gradually there was a subtle shift in my default state in daily life. If nothing special was happening, I seemed to gravitate towards observing breath and being in present moment. Sometimes jhana-like concentration started to emerge during daily activities feeling like some internal pressure wanted to come out. Sometimes the pleasant burning and bubbling body sensation stayed even if I continued to work. In such states I was very happy and it was easy to do things and let thoughts come and go.

4. Vibrations (May 2012 - June 2012)

Having some confidence that I can enter the samatha jhana states in a minute (or in seconds if already in a meditative mood) and move between some of them, I decided to start concentrating on finding the vibrations. The main sources for my practice were MCTB and the the LessWrong article "Meditation, insight and rationality (Part 2)". I started to focus on breath so that I intentionally tried to really feel the sensation of breath again and again as quickly as possible. At first it felt like the mind was sluggish so that the attention could only really feel the sensation every one or two seconds. In a week or two, the attention became more flexible and at times it felt like I could feel and notice the sensation 2-4 times per second. I am not really sure if I used mental words in noting. I tried sometimes thinking "in, in, in, out, out, out out", but I perhaps just the feeling of mentally placing the attention to the sensation describes my noting better.

Around here, I started to feel weak pulsating sensations around the place where the breath felt in the nostrils. I could only feel them in the middle of the breaths and more clearly if I intentionally took a deeper breath. The frequency was about 4 Hz in the middle of a breath and seemed to be slower between the breaths. The pulses were soft and air-like: like a small tube blowing air with a vibrating object in front blocking and releasing the air stream at 4 Hz.

I continued observing the breath and vibrations in the meditation sessions. I was not sure whether I should observe the vibrations or the breath, but I guess the vibrations gradually became the main object, though I often needed the breath to find the vibrations again. In a few weeks, the vibrations became a bit stronger and I could sometimes feel them even with eyes open and not meditating. Just closing the eyes made them immediately stronger. I felt the vibrations only in the nostrils even if I pretty hard tried to find them in sight, hearing or hand touch. I think I could sometimes see vibrations in the eye lids when having eyes closed.

I relentlessy tried to force attention to every pulse in the breath and even to the sensation between the pulses. At some point I started to notice vibrations that was separate from the breath vibrations. The breath vibrations were located quite clearly around the nose area and their frequency was affected by the phase of the breath. The second vibration was more like inside the head and its frequency was more constant and usually faster. Maybe 10-20 Hz and sometimes even faster. I was not able to set my attention to every pulse, but I kept trying. Sometimes it felt like the mind was sucked into the pulses merging with them so that the whole head pulsed.

In the same way as in my samatha sessions earlier, I had quite clear transitions. The transitions were characterized by the one-pointedness of the focus and location of the focus inside the head. In the most usual transition, the focus became very one-pointed and located somehow more inside the head - almost in the back. I am not sure if I even crossed my eyes behind the eye lids. On the other hand, the states were not very consistent and I did not seem to recognize any clear pattern between the states. Some of the states I remember were:
  • intense narrow focus
  • stable wide focus
  • very peaceful state with nothing happening
  • dark and a bit scary states with gloomy bumpy walls moving slowly in background

All of these could be with vibrations or without clear vibrations and focus could be located in different parts of the head.

5. Equanimity (June 2012)

At some point the order of the states became more clear and I started to associate them with the descriptions of the samatha and vipassana jhanas. I felt the states as follows:
  1. intense focus one-pointedly in front and between the eyes
  2. more stable quite peaceful state focus wider and in the back and quite low
  3. wide focus with muddy clouded center located in the middle; included sometimes gloomy feelings; sometimes several slightly different sub states
  4. light and peaceful state with wide focus located in the forehead (also some sub states here)

I also started to have some states in which I was kind of forced to press my eyes closed very tightly and make a wry face.

Some instructions encouraged to observe with wider focus in the later states, but somehow a more one-pointed focus (at least subjectively) seemed to move me forward better. Again I kept my attention on vibrations, moving attention intentionally once for a while to check if I am wanting something. Sometimes I tried to observe thoughts and feelings as objects, but it was difficult. Also, I did not see them vibrating.

When I started to reach the light and peaceful state after the gloomy states, I got some instructions to try looking at the observer. In one session I found a pulsing thing which, to some extent, seemed to move along with attention. It did not feel like an observer, but perhaps it is the closest thing to the observer I could find. In a few sessions I tried to observe it from different perspectives (more relaxed, wider focus, more one-pointed). I was very excited and I had lot of thoughts like "is it going to happen now?" Observing the vibrations in the thing seemed to make the vibrations stronger, but nothing happened.

6. Fruition (22th June)

Yesterday, I had a similar session after which I went to read DhO discussion forums. In "Jason's Practice Journal", JB described his stream entry: "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 decided to try this approach and it worked! I started meditating and got into the light peaceful state quite quickly. I started to observe the vibrations of the pulsating thing quite one-pointedly and the state and the vibrations got stronger again. I kept focus on vibrations but observed also the thought stream which was quite active as I was so excited. I kind of intentionally started to think that thoughts are not the self and kept relentlessy observing the vibrations and the thoughts at the same time. The energy of the state increased all the time and at some point the thought stream kind of became an object and moved apart from me. I think I had to close eyes very tightly and grin again. The state got stronger and the whole mind vibrated and I was already waiting for the *blip* which then happened and the peaceful silent darkness appeared. In a few seconds the body was filled with bliss.

I continued lying on the bed thinking "Was that it?" and tried to see if I feel different. I did but I was not sure if that was just temporary afterglow or something else. If I closed my eyes, I seemed to start immediately from the second jhana, which I had read to be a good sign. I think I tried to meditate a bit further, but ended up in a strange empty state and was a bit scared. I got up and wondered what to do next. I went to read MCTB and Kenneth Folk Dharma about the Review. After some reading I tried another test suggested by Kenneth Folk: jumping between samatha jhanas seemed to be very easy. Then I tried so see if I could get another fruition blip. I got quite quickly to the light peaceful state and started to observe the vibrating thing. I had to push quite forcefully through the intense vibrating state and suddenly I was in a silent dark state. I am not sure if fruition happened or if I just had dropped back to the dark gloomy states. There was no bliss wave and I felt slightly scary instead. Then I decided to sleep over night before trying anything else. I was slightly restless and unsure after the bliss faded and it was very hard to get sleep. I ended up reading more stuff about the second path before I managed to sleep.

Today I still managed to jump between samatha jhanas easily and went through the insight cycle once with fruition and small bliss wave. General feeling has been pretty happy and very light and it is easy to let thoughts come and go. Once for a while world looks somehow different, especially when walking outside, but it is hard to put in words. Anyway, I guess I have to just wait and look a few days and see how things look and feel now. Current plan for the next meditation sessions is just to observe and pursue nothing.


7. About my practice and daily life

I have not had very regular practice schedule. Being 35 and having two kids (7 and 5 years old), I have tried to put in meditation minutes between daily routines whenever and wherever possible. My formal sessions have been mostly in the evening after 9 PM when kids are sleeping. In the beginning I sat, but a bit before the buzzing event I switched to lying on bed which felt more natural for me. I still prefer lying but sit sometimes if I get too sleepy. In addition to these sessions I have had some mini retreats at home if I have had a possibility to be alone for an evening or a day. The 40-minute bus ride to work and back to home has been the most regular time slot to dedicate on being present, observing feelings, thoughts and world, and letting everything simply to be. In the later stages I have done a few very concentrated vibration hunting sessions even in the bus. I suspect this mixing of daily life and meditation has helped to bring the meditative feeling in daily routines and to build momentum.


8. Miscellaneous things I have been wondering

1) I did not notice any dark night outside meditation sessions and even in sessions the gloomy states were quite mild. My best guess is that it may be because of the gentle background of experiencing mind and body many years which had already removed many worries from my life. Or maybe I just happened to get over dark night quickly.

2) I have always been a bit doubtful about my samatha jhanas. They have been quite soft so that I can easily observe other things at the same time. On the other hand, observing other things does not seem to break the jhana states easily.


That's about it for now. Questions will surely follow as soon as things start to settle. Thanks for reading the post.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
6/24/12 1:35 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
20 min session aiming just to observe and not pursue anything. Starting from a peaceful quiet state not many intentions arose and it was easy to drop them. Murky states also passed quite peacefully, but it was now easier to note that the last dark state was different by being more intense. After getting to the light peaceful state, fruition happened this time gently and peacefully without vibrations and without trying anything. Had a small bliss wave and stayed in a quiet state for a while. Then I felt like concentrating on the breath and stayed a few minutes in each of the jhanas 2, 3, and 4.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
6/26/12 12:15 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Vibrations in daily life have been relatively faint recently except when there starts to feel a pressure to end a cycle. That has happened perhaps 3-5 times per day. The last state is usually quite intensive with strong vibrations and a need to press eyes closed followed by silent darkness.

Last night before going to sleep around midnight I did about 15 minutes samatha concentrating only in the 2nd jhana, and then fell asleep. At 3 AM I woke up having very pleasant vibrations. Both mind and body were pulsing at about 5 Hz. The mind was pulsing very strongly -- the body somewhat less but was filled with pleasurable burning sensations. In the mind the center of the vibrations seemed to be the thing that moves with attention. Almost like a fish caught in attention and trying to break free once for a while. It was very easy to keep attention in vibrations and body sensations, as little thoughts or wants were arising.

Soon the state intensified and started to feel like the buzzing event I had in March, but this time the vibrations were very pleasureable and not so sharp and violent. More thoughts arose at this point, but they dissolved quite easily. In about 5 minutes the state gradually weakened and became lighter but maintained the pleasant burning. The vibrations became also lighter and moved to the forehead at around 10 Hz. In a few minutes vibrations disappeared completely and the state became dark (but not gloomy at all). I stayed awake for a while and then fell asleep again.

EDIT: Remembered one more thing: During the session, thoughts and feelings often seemed to be located in front of me at some distance, and they were moving slowly like weird blobs.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
7/1/12 3:08 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
During the past four days I have not had very planned sessions. Instead, I have generally observed thoughts and sensations whatever I am doing, and done several quick ad hoc sessions each day. Last week's meditation events have caused lots of thinking about where I am and what to practice. Planning to return to practice instead.

Done some concentration sessions (focusing on smooth breath) and a typical session goes as follows. Starting to focus on breath. Sometimes I resist temptation to let a transition happen immediately from the default state and build concentration first. Concentration deepens and it is easy to stay and follow whole breath. Soon there is pressure to let a transition happen and focus changes. When I relax more, several quick transitions follow and I end up in the state where vibrations are clear and a need to press eyes closed and release the pressure in a dark silent peaceful state. There are no vibrations and I can not feel the breath. If lying on bed, I nowadays seem to fall asleep after 15-20 mins, so I am planning to sit more instead in future.

Today's last 30 min session sitting: Planning to just see what happens and observe the most clear things. Right from the beginning the forehead contains a blob that pulses strongly and quite irregularly at 2-5 Hz. Starting to observe the pulse and the mind somewhat merges with the pulse. After a few minutes again need to press eyes closed and a release to a dark silent state. Observing how the state feels from moment to moment. No vibrations. Can not feel breath. After a few minutes faint vibrations arise around 5 Hz. Focusing on vibrations. A few transitions to different kind of focuses. Vibrations around 5-10 Hz. Trying to see each pulse clearly and the vibrations gradually speed up to maybe 50 Hz. The state intensifies and a transition sucks me in a state where the focus is very tight inside the head. Feels like it would be very hard to move the focus anywhere. Staying there for a while followed by a transition to a dark state that is slightly suspicious. I hear that wife comes home and I decide to end the session. Intention to open eyes, but nothing happens. Need stronger intention to actually open eyes.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
7/8/12 2:27 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
This week I have been doing the following. In daily life I have been noting seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, and thinking. I have not tried to observe vibrations so much and they have not been so visible generally. One clear trend is that vibrations get stronger at work in afternoon when I wake up from a busy working state, or after work when I sit and relax in the bus.

In formal sessions I have been concentrating on smooth breath without trying to observe vibrations. I have been a bit confused about the states that I understand as samatha jhanas and I have started to think that I do not understand access concentration and jhanas properly. Currently, I am trying to worry less about maps and how others describe the states, and instead try to describe the states that I experience in my own words.

Today I had a possibility to have a nice undistracted 60 min session in the morning (children were staying overnight at our friend's place). It went as follows:

Putting timer 30 + 30 minutes. Resolving to go to the state I have understood as second jhana and examine the difference between the first and second jhanas. For a few minutes, wishing to be happy and free from suffering; then same for wife, children, parents, friends, all beings. (Warm fuzzy feeling arises in the body.) Closing eyes and taking three deep breaths doing the out-breath slowly. (Pressure between eyes arises.) Starting to follow the breath in nostrils.

After 15 seconds a transition to a more concentrated state (quite narrow focus at front, eyes like a bit crossed and somewhat fixed, somehow dropping into myself and muting external world a bit, easier to concentrate on the breath, easy to intentionally think verbally without losing the state). This state is easy to access at will whenever I want in 1-2 seconds. I have earlier considered this state as a very soft jhana, because I can experience different versions of this state, and those versions resemble the descriptions of jhanas 1-4. Now I consider this state as access concentration.

After a minute or two a transition (focus becomes very narrow at front, eyes cross strongly, the transition kind of sucks the mind in, the tension of crossing eyes is somewhat painful, the focus is very fixed, and it is more difficult to think, the state is quite agitated). I try to relax the painful crossing of eye, but the state seems to drop. I return the focus on breath and soon the transition happens again. I bounce between this state and the earlier state while experimenting different ways of relaxing the eyes but trying to stay in the more intense state. Intentionally thinking verbally seems to throw me out of the intense state. I am not sure whether I should continue keeping the focus on the physical feeling of the breath or switch to observe pleasant feelings. I have read conflicting instructions about that. I called this the first state.

I continue observing the breath in the background, but focus also two other things: the visual light sensations in my eye lids and the pleasant sensations in the body. Then I manage to relax crossed eyes without losing the state. The state becomes more relaxed (eyes are relaxed, focus forward, focus medium wide, the state somehow starts to drift downwards slowly, becomes more and more calm, body has subtle pleasant warmth).

I experiment trying to get back into the earlier intense state. I do not have a good plan and try different things. It feels a bit bad to force myself out of the pleasant state. Eventually I end up opening eyes and trying to start from beginning. It is quite easy to get back to the more relaxed stable state in a few minutes. I try again going one state back by gently narrowing my focus to the feeling of breath. It seems to work (state becomes more intense, focus narrows, eyes cross and get fixed). Then I try again widen the focus to the lights in eye lids and body sensations and the state becomes calm and stable again.

In a few minutes the state becomes very very calm (the space is very empty, very smooth and feels soft, the focus is all around me like a ball, state is stable, it is easy to think verbally intentionally without losing the state). I enjoy this state for a while and decide to call this the second state.

About here or during the next state the 30 min bell chimed. Next part I do not recall very well, but there was a spontaneous gentle transition to a different state. I think the focus came back the center first, but then become kind of horizontal. The state was not so empty anymore. I called this the third state.

After this there was a transition to a state that was more relaxed (very calm, focus in center, eyes relaxed, space was quite small, no much body sensations, it was easy to be). Perhaps in a way it felt like that not there was only mind. I was somehow surprised that the space of the state was so small. I called this the fourth state.

After a while, remembering some instructions, I tried to turn towards the observer and look at it. The focus became more narrow, eyes turned kind of inside and started to flicker. Again felt the need to press eyes closed more firmly. The state became more intense and there was some light sensations and slight buzzing in the ears (probably because of the muscle tension). I tried to relax somewhat, but the urge to get tense came back. The state became even more tense and darker and centered inside my head. Concentrated on the darkness that had blue-violet light blob, heard a few snapping sounds and then the state released in very calm state (round and quite big ball-like space around me, very pleasant warm feeling in the body or in the whole space, no need to do anything). Stayed in the pleasant state for several minutes and then got up. 55 mins had passed in the timer.

I the next week I am planning to continue the same practice: observing and noting in daily life, examining concentration states in formal sessions, and forgetting maps for a while. However, I would like to hear comments or suggestions what would be useful things to focus on at this point.

Pulsing blobs
Answer
7/10/12 4:26 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Today's evening session. Planning to sit 30+30+30 mins, but sat actually 20 mins extra.

Started with doing nothing, but switched to noting after 15 mins because sleepy and nodding. Still nodding and sleepy, so standing up for a few minutes. Then easier to sit again and continue noting. Some vibrations around nose area.

Around 30 min - 50 min feeling is very heavy and quite many thoughts about wanting to stop at 60 mins. Trying to observe the wanting. That helps but wanting keeps coming back. At some point big relief like someone lifted heavy baggage from me, and suddenly I want to continue, and it is easy to concentrate. The state is calm, light and the focus is quite wide.

Observing how it feels to observe the calmness of the state. At some point getting the familiar pulsing blob in the forehead. Observing its vibrations and the mind merges with it so that the whole mind pulses. Trying to relax while observing it. Observing also how the blob feels if I observe hearing, touching or thoughts at the same time. The blob seems to bounce somehow if I try to follow thoughts. It feels difficult to think.

After a while, the pulsing diminishes and the state becomes even calmer than the previous calm state. The space seems to be much bigger and feels like filled with some soft substance. Again starting to observe how it feels to observe the peacefulness of the state.The state gets bigger. The area behind my right eye starts to hurt. Observing the pain for a while, but it does not go away. Continuing to observe the state. At some point a pulsing blob appears again, but this time higher near the crown. This time I concentrate more on observing the vibrations of the blob. The mind merges with the vibrations and the whole mind pulses. Again the mind bounces around if I try to observe thoughts and the vibrations at the same time. The right eye still hurts. 90 min bell rings.

The vibrations diminish and the state becomes calm again. The right eye stops hurting. Staying in this state for a while lying and then getting up.

---

I am a bit confused how I should handle the calm states and the pulsing blobs. I am not sure if I should actively observe the states and the vibrations of the blobs as fast as possible, or if it would be more useful to relax more and let everything be.

RE: Pulsing blobs
Answer
7/12/12 8:34 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Short report: Today's 90 min sit observing vibrations: Took longer than usual to get in the pulsing blob phase. This time the blob appeared far in front of me and approached slowly. This time it vibrated really strangely (somehow electric, sharp triangles appearing and disappearing) and it was hard to observe it clearly. It merged with the mind and the state became very tight with eyes pressing closed again and the state became very calm.

This time I continued observing the calm state for a long time. It became very calm, spacious, and pleasant. Starting to suspect that earlier "fruitions" may have been transitions to equanimity. Would be happy with that turn, but let's see what happens in future sessions.

Irritation and bliss
Answer
7/14/12 3:44 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
During the past two days, my mood in daily life has been oscillating between irritation and strange bliss. Sometimes there can be several mood changes in an hour, which is quite unusual for me. The bliss state includes subtle bubbling sensations in the whole body. When irritated, it seems to help if I note slowly with mental words. Usually I do not use words.

The previous formal noting session (around 90 mins) had pretty long sticky irritating states with aggressive pulsing and vibrating. Those states ended only after 50 mins or so. Then there were many different calm and pleasant states. In some states the mind became very still and was so fixed that it could not be moved and it was almost impossible to think, but strangely it was easy to listen sounds. Had also one state that pressed my mind and body tightly downwards against the bed.

Craving calm and peace
Answer
7/15/12 2:46 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Strong desire to meditate all the time (I am on vacation) instead of living daily life. Sitting and lying a few 60-90 sessions in a day. Sessions have been quite similar. New trend is that after 30-60 mins a kind of burning and pressure arises around chest and head area, which is strangely pleasant and unpleasant at the same time. It is not strong at all, but still it becomes almost unbearable and I start to wish that it went away and I could have calm and peace instead. It lasts usually about 10-30 mins and dissolves by itself (or because I observe the state and the craving, I don't know).

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
9/18/12 9:58 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Have been meditating a lot both off and on the cushion, but have not reported here. Recently the stages have become more familiar

  • Concentration
  • Irregular vibrations maybe 4 Hz
  • Vibrations speed up 10-20 Hz, focus narrowly in vibrations, intensity propelling up. Sometimes I have to press eyes closed and grin before release.
  • Release and more peaceful state. Steady subtle slower vibrations again. Attention moves more freely to different senses.
  • Vibrations get more intense and mind fixes to sticky knots inside head. A bit like headache feeling. Vibrations throw attention violently around inside head.
  • In the end it gets darker and more violent.
  • Release to a calm and peaceful state. It gets really calm and things move slowly around
  • Sometimes a short intense phase with stronger vibrations with a smaller sticky knot again
  • Really peaceful and calm state.


In peaceful state, hearing often moves in front of me so that it is somehow easy to watch hearing. To some extent, body sensations are moving there too or around. Attention picks up most hearing and body sensations. Have been watching thoughts too, sometimes they move too, but they are harder to see. Seeing has not moved. Usually I meditate eyes closed, but experiment sometimes opening carefully eyes for a short period while trying to keep the feeling similar as eyes closed. Trying to see who is observing. If observing something, observing it with other senses until it dissolves.

Evening session 16.9.
  • Quite normal session through stages to a peaceful state.
  • Senses moving around and sometimes they feel similar so that it is harder to see which is which
  • Opening eyes too for a while, trying to include them
  • Moving a hand slowly and including it too


Went to sleep around 11 pm. Woke up at 1 am. Was not sleepy. Started to meditate lying.
  • Was pretty quickly back to peaceful state. Maybe was already when woke up.
  • Senses were moving around again
  • Sometimes the space was large ball and senses were moving along the edges
  • Sometimes could not feel the size of the volume, senses moving in center in front of me
  • Senses gathered in front of me
  • Senses moved slowly away to left
  • Trying too see what is left. At first nothing.
  • Seeing who is observing the nothing.
  • Pretty complex thing emerged filling the space. Trying to observe who is obseving it but it was difficult
  • Observing the sensations making the thing as it started to move
  • Sudden shift. The thing or the space turned around and moved quite fast and perhaps merged with everything
  • Felt different. All senses are soft and somehow in different place.
  • Opening eyes, seeing was now also in different place. Somehow it is easier to watch seeing.
  • When I try to watch inside, it seems somehow impossible. Earlier the mind had volume and I could somehow concentrate on different parts. Now somehow there is nothing and there does not seem to be any volume to watch.
  • Clock is 3 am


Trying to sleep, but meditation begins again. The vibrations are very subtle and soft as if dampened with cottonwool. Hard to recognize states. A few slightly more intense states with fast vibrations and then peaceful, but everything very soft and subtle.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
9/18/12 12:41 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
The shift has stayed continuously so far for two days. Have had possibility to only meditate off the cushion. Observations in daily life:

Senses are still happening somehow in a different location than before the shift. Vibrations are dampened with cottonwool. It feels strange to try watch inside the mind. The space inside the mind is different as if there were no volume at all. Thoughts are considerably less sticky. In threatening situations, feelings arise somehow at a distance. In addition to accepting a threatening situation and observing the feelings, it feels easier to observe the feeling without losing touch to other senses. I think I have earlier had a stronger automatic response in threat situations to move all focus to the feeling in order to watch it. Maybe I have been subtly annoyed about the fact that the feeling arose in the first place. Now the actual process of watching is less sticky.

Sensations away from me and sensations near me
Answer
9/20/12 10:23 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Very interesting 60 min session:

Now that some sensations have started to move away from me recently, I started to observe whether there are any sensations near me. Often there was something, and I started to observe those sensations. Sometimes it was a thing that vibrated already, sometimes it was solid at first. I continued observing it and once for a while tried to observe also that I am observing the sensations. Then I tried to compare how the observed thing feels compared to me who is observing. Sometimes I also tried to compare the thing to other sensations that already were away from me. Doing that for a while, the thing usually started to move away from me.

Sometimes the space become empty and I could not feel anything near me, just the space. Then I tried to observe the sensations that make the space, again trying to relate it to me who is observing. After a while I could feel something that is near me, and I repeated the above process. The same happened several times and at some point repeating the procedure started to feel like an endless process.

Not fearing the situation but the feeling
Answer
9/20/12 11:24 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
I realised some time ago that when I am fearing a situation that might happen in future, I am not actually fearing the situation. Instead I am fearing that in future I will feel the same disturbing feeling that I am feeling right now when imagining the situation. The situation is not scary at all, but my mind and body just has an aversion to the feeling. On the other hand, observing the components of the feeling allows me to notice that there is nothing to be afraid in the feeling. Instead, it can be interesting if I am curious to observe it.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
10/6/12 1:18 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
During the past two weeks I have been investigating a lot different sense doors. In daily life, I have been experimenting the following:
  • Focusing intentionally to each sense door in order to really taste them.
  • Starting with one sense door and incrementally adding other sense doors. Trying different combinations.
  • Open awareness
  • Noting slowly and carefully


On the cushion I have experimented with three kinds of sessions (after getting past the sticky stages with the usual methods):
  • Adding sense doors, investigating their relation to observer and to other senses.
  • Letting focus wander freely between sense doors, letting go all control except for maintaining some monitoring
  • Letting go all intentions, wantings, monitoring, and finally even the process of letting go


Recent observations:
  • Adding sense doors is much more difficult if not in the lighter stage that follows the intensive sticky stages. In the sticky stages it is most natural either to ride with the bouncing and vibrating blob behind the eyes or note slowly and carefully different sense doors that seem to run away. Usually the weight lifts in a few minutes. In the first stages I have not been much lately, and they go fast if I concentrate on one sense and then on the vibrations.
  • It has become much easier to meditate with open eyes and add other sense doors in focus.
  • It is really hard to remain mindful when eating. Eating puts me very strongly in a thinking and planning mood. Probably very useful thing to be mindful of.
  • If expectations occur during meditation, starting to notice them too seems add momentum nicely.
  • Deep in the latest stage, I sometimes end up in a state where concentration is somehow very strong, but still it is easy to move between sense doors and investigate.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
10/6/12 3:11 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
I am a bit confused how I should handle the calm states and the pulsing blobs. I am not sure if I should actively observe the states and the vibrations of the blobs as fast as possible, or if it would be more useful to relax more and let everything be.

I've had a look through your thread so far and was actually going to ask you to describe this "blob" thing a bit more. I'm pretty sure I know what you're talking about, but I think that you're maybe placing too much importance on this and using as a kinda visual feedback thing, if that makes sense. The "blob" thing is probably "nimitta", or sign, which is a good thing especially when doing concentration 'cause it only arises if you're practicing properly, but it might be that your focusing on this too much and neglecting the more subtle physical and mental sensations.

If that's the case, it's not a big problem or anything, just try relaxing the focus and allowing the visual field to open up more rather than fixating on this one object. Based on your descriptions so far, and especially the mention of how hearing seems to move to the front of you I'm guessing you're probably hitting 2nd vipassana jhana consistently, and early-mid 3rd when you start to notice that complexity in the sense field, the absence of volume and the way the senses seem to move outwards to the side.

Advice-wise, there's a few things I'd suggest which might be helpful:

- Don't worry about the super-fine technical details like rates of vibration or anything like that, it's cool if you can perceive things at this level but try to stay with the bare sensations themselves. The same goes for trying to find a specific location for where sensations seem to be happening, try looking at where those sensations themselves seem to come from and go to rather than thinking "Oh, hearing has moved to the left" or whatever; concepts like direction, space, volume and all that sort of thing are no more than clusters of physical sensations with a certain mental overlay being added to create the impression that there's such a thing as "right", "left", and so forth. Look more closely at the actual sensations themselves, see how, no matter what they seem to imply, they don't last any longer than an instant and don't belong to "you", can't be "you" and don't actually imply "you" other than through thought.

- If you're finding it difficult to see what's going on at the center of the sense field, just like you describe what you say "When I try to watch inside, it seems somehow impossible", this is a pretty good indicator that you're in 3rd vipassana jhana. Don't try to force attention towards the center, relax it and watch how it moves towards the periphery seeming to 'spread' out somehow; take advantage of this, don't fight with it or try to make attention do anything other than what it does by itself, just take in what's going on at the edge of perception itself and remain attentive.

- When the senses seem to move: Remember that sense consciousness is dependent upon the point of sense contact which doesn't actually move anywhere, so, rather than trying to locate where the sense seems to have moved to, just stay at the sense door and watch how it's actually the movement of mind that gives this impression. Again, relax and let the field of attention open up naturally so that you can observe these mental movements more easily.

Your current descriptions make me think that you're probably in Dissolution, possibly oscillating between 5th and 6th ñana, so it's just a matter of adjusting your practice slightly and relaxing the focus a bit. The level of detail you're noticing suggests that your practice is probably pretty good already, but those technical bits and pieces may be what's keeping you from moving fully into Equanimity. I'll have a think and see if there's anything else I can suggest but hopefully that's of some use in the meantime.

RE: Not fearing the situation but the feeling
Answer
10/6/12 3:16 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
I meant to mention this actually:

Teemu:
I realised some time ago that when I am fearing a situation that might happen in future, I am not actually fearing the situation. Instead I am fearing that in future I will feel the same disturbing feeling that I am feeling right now when imagining the situation. The situation is not scary at all, but my mind and body just has an aversion to the feeling. On the other hand, observing the components of the feeling allows me to notice that there is nothing to be afraid in the feeling. Instead, it can be interesting if I am curious to observe it.

Good insight, as simple as it seems this is really quite profound and the benefits to be had from this sort of experiential insight in real-life terms can be quite incredible. What you've described is typical of 2nd ñana, Knowledge of Cause & Effect, while the aversion and subtle fear-like sensations are 3rd ñana, Knowledge of The Three Characteristics. This is really good 'cause it's definitely demonstrating clear progress and so I hope my previous post there will help a little more.

: )

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
10/7/12 5:41 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hi Tommy,

Thanks for taking time to comment my practice. I really appreciate it. I am happy to answer questions, as it is hard to realize what parts are unclear for others.

Tommy M:
I've had a look through your thread so far and was actually going to ask you to describe this "blob" thing a bit more. I'm pretty sure I know what you're talking about, but I think that you're maybe placing too much importance on this and using as a kinda visual feedback thing, if that makes sense. The "blob" thing is probably "nimitta", or sign, which is a good thing especially when doing concentration 'cause it only arises if you're practicing properly, but it might be that your focusing on this too much and neglecting the more subtle physical and mental sensations.


The blob is not visual at all. It feels a bit like physical touching sensation (a pressuring knot inside head just behind eyes), but on the other hand it is more like a mind movement especially when meditating. What I undestand as vibrations happen mostly as mind movement in this area. If I now close my eyes and start to concentrate, for example, on the momentary sensations in my hands only, or in a more open manner let the attention notice momentary sensations from all sense doors, the mind starts to vibrate around this area. At the moment it is pretty light (not sticky or irregular) and very steady 4-5 Hz pulse regardless of the sense door that happens to be observed.

Good that you commented about focusing on the blob. This is one thing that I have wondered occasionally: whether to concentrate on that or not, and I have experimented with different approaches. In this respect I have observed the following:
  • If I have been long unmindful (for example, exceptionally stressful work day and did not remember to pause at all during the day), meditation (usually in the bus) begins with irregular vibrations in that area. Vibrations get stronger and weaker with attention. Attention naturally narrows down to vibrations and it feels natural to observe them. This stage does not happen anymore very often.
  • After the release of the previous stage, the vibrations start soon again and the knot becomes bigger, heavier, stickier and has more pressure. The mind knot bounces more violently around the mind space, the center of the visual field becomes darker and muddier. In this stage the attention does not stay naturally on anything. If I intentionally try to observe for example touching sensation in hands, the sensations vanish and attention moves to some other body part or to other sense doors. When I let attention move freely, it bounces around between different sense doors and the bouncing mind knot. Here I let attention move freely and notice the sensations a bit more slowly and carefully. Occasionally I check if I have tension, wantings or aversions and let them go. I have interpreted this stage as the 3rd vipassana jhana. When the stage ends, a weight clearly lifts, the knot becomes lighter and less sticky or melts. The vibrations in the mind become lighter. Recentely this stage too has happened less frequently.
  • Then the next stage is generally peaceful. It feels easy to focus on specific sensations narrowly or openly to whatever happens, to many sense doors or to the space inside mind. Perhaps for that reason it has not been so obvious what to do. Investigating with intention and effort seems interesting and useful. Letting go and letting things to do their things seems also interesting and useful. Recently, I have been experimenting the letting go approach more. I have been a bit worried that I space out too much on the sleepy side, but in the last two sessions when I start to feel what I could interpret as drowsiness I end up in a concentrated peaceful state where the space feels different. It is hard to describe, but somehow sensations are totally somewhere else even if they occur and can be observed. The space and its relation to observing is somehow clearly different.


Tommy M:
Don't worry about the super-fine technical details like rates of vibration or anything like that, it's cool if you can perceive things at this level but try to stay with the bare sensations themselves. The same goes for trying to find a specific location for where sensations seem to be happening, try looking at where those sensations themselves seem to come from and go to rather than thinking "Oh, hearing has moved to the left" or whatever; concepts like direction, space, volume and all that sort of thing are no more than clusters of physical sensations with a certain mental overlay being added to create the impression that there's such a thing as "right", "left", and so forth. Look more closely at the actual sensations themselves, see how, no matter what they seem to imply, they don't last any longer than an instant and don't belong to "you", can't be "you" and don't actually imply "you" other than through thought.


Ok, good. I will experiment with these things in the next sessions. I have sometimes tried the investigation other way around: trying to see if some sensations seem to imply "me" and then observing those sensations more clearly in order to see that they do not really imply me.

Tommy M:
Your current descriptions make me think that you're probably in Dissolution, possibly oscillating between 5th and 6th ñana, so it's just a matter of adjusting your practice slightly and relaxing the focus a bit. The level of detail you're noticing suggests that your practice is probably pretty good already, but those technical bits and pieces may be what's keeping you from moving fully into Equanimity. I'll have a think and see if there's anything else I can suggest but hopefully that's of some use in the meantime.


Great. Thanks a lot for the advice!

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
10/7/12 8:58 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
The blob is not visual at all. It feels a bit like physical touching sensation (a pressuring knot inside head just behind eyes), but on the other hand it is more like a mind movement especially when meditating. What I undestand as vibrations happen mostly as mind movement in this area. If I now close my eyes and start to concentrate, for example, on the momentary sensations in my hands only, or in a more open manner let the attention notice momentary sensations from all sense doors, the mind starts to vibrate around this area. At the moment it is pretty light (not sticky or irregular) and very steady 4-5 Hz pulse regardless of the sense door that happens to be observed.

Cool, that makes sense and is well worth investigating in more detail. That tension/knot thing is something like a center point where sensations 'bounce' back to, this is what leads to those vibrations as attention ricochets between the object perceived and the sense of an "I". Look at that knot and try to stay with it, investigate how, even though it seems to be there all the time, it's just another pattern of sensation which is subject to change and not this "I" that seems to be observing it.

Look at the physical and mental sensations that come up with it, what sorts of thoughts arise and how they're implying that this knot is somehow different to, or seperate from the rest of the sense field. You might notice that it literally vanishes, if and when that happens, try to catch where it goes and how it seems to come back 'online'.

If I have been long unmindful (for example, exceptionally stressful work day and did not remember to pause at all during the day), meditation (usually in the bus) begins with irregular vibrations in that area. Vibrations get stronger and weaker with attention. Attention naturally narrows down to vibrations and it feels natural to observe them. This stage does not happen anymore very often.

Something to bear in mind is that as soon as you realize you're not being mindful, you're actually back to mindfulness in that moment again. Don't stress if you realize you haven't been mindful through the day, all of this stuff can only happen now so don't beat yourself up if you find you've been less than attentive.

After the release of the previous stage, the vibrations start soon again and the knot becomes bigger, heavier, stickier and has more pressure. The mind knot bounces more violently around the mind space, the center of the visual field becomes darker and muddier. In this stage the attention does not stay naturally on anything. If I intentionally try to observe for example touching sensation in hands, the sensations vanish and attention moves to some other body part or to other sense doors. When I let attention move freely, it bounces around between different sense doors and the bouncing mind knot. Here I let attention move freely and notice the sensations a bit more slowly and carefully. Occasionally I check if I have tension, wantings or aversions and let them go. I have interpreted this stage as the 3rd vipassana jhana. When the stage ends, a weight clearly lifts, the knot becomes lighter and less sticky or melts. The vibrations in the mind become lighter. Recentely this stage too has happened less frequently.

Definitely 3rd vipassana jhana, try what I suggested before and just let attention spread out to the edges and see what's happening there. It's all worthy of investigation, but if you try to force attention back to the center then you'll get a shitload more tension and unpleasantness coming up. The endings of sensations will be much clearer than their beginning, so use this to your advantage and see where those sensations seem to go when they end and what happens in the gap between.

Then the next stage is generally peaceful. It feels easy to focus on specific sensations narrowly or openly to whatever happens, to many sense doors or to the space inside mind. Perhaps for that reason it has not been so obvious what to do. Investigating with intention and effort seems interesting and useful. Letting go and letting things to do their things seems also interesting and useful. Recently, I have been experimenting the letting go approach more. I have been a bit worried that I space out too much on the sleepy side, but in the last two sessions when I start to feel what I could interpret as drowsiness I end up in a concentrated peaceful state where the space feels different. It is hard to describe, but somehow sensations are totally somewhere else even if they occur and can be observed. The space and its relation to observing is somehow clearly different.

Sounds like Equanimity to me, that tendency to sort of zone out or drop into a concentration state is totally natural but it sounds like you're doing what needs to be done, i.e. balancing concentration with continued attentiveness. Don't go looking for sensations, just observe and keep turning attention back towards that sense of a center point. Do you find that the sense of volume in the spatial field starts to return at this point?

As long as you don't get complacent and space out, you'll be fine. Just keep investigating with an eye for the Three Characteristics, particularly that knot you've mentioned as you'll find some interesting stuff if you keep on breaking that down.

Thanks for clarifying about the "blob" thing, and for taking the time to go into more detail too.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
10/7/12 3:25 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks for good advice again. Had quite an interesting 60 min session when trying apply the ideas:
  • No knot. Not much volume.
  • Intentionally checking hearing and touching at the same time creates volume in the space.
  • Letting attention go around (noticing more thinking than usually because of our recent discussions).
  • After 5 mins the knot appears vibrating clearly, happy to find the knot. Investigating sensations of knot.
  • There is some volume. Knot is behind the eyes, the observer feels to be further back so that the knot is in front of the observer. Spatial sensation, no visual.
  • Concentrating for example hand sensations => attention zooms quite fast to the vibrating knot (a bit like eyes crossed)
  • Concentrating on space sensations => attention zooms quite fast to the vibrating know
  • Continue investigation of sensations that change all the time and happen without me
  • After maybe 10 mins knot starts to melt and dissolve.
  • Space left, no knot, no clear vibrations.
  • Trying to concentrate on hand sensations => attention zooms somewhere but i do not where.
  • Observing space, not finding the knot, no vibrations.
  • Concentrating on various things => attention zooms into emptiness.
  • Doing that a few times until I realize that attention seems to zoom much closer to the observer.
  • Starting to feel vibrations, which are more like around observer.
  • Feels like the knot has moved around the observer or the observer inside the knot.
  • Continuing investigating sensations of the merged observer-knot: Sensations change and happen without me.
  • Volume is very small inside the knot.
  • I spent some time investigating.
  • I think the knot started to melt and dissolve in the space.
  • At some point I noticed that I am using quite a lot effort. Dropping effort, letting attention go more freely.
  • Soon I drop in a concentrated peaceful state.
  • Couple of shifts of concentration deepening.
  • Sudden zooming into knot but there is no knot but blackness and a few vibrations.
  • Release into peaceful soft floating state. No knot, no vibrations. Mind feels comfortably numb.
  • Observing the state for a while and getting up.

Mind area feels soft and numb. If I close eyes and concentrate on hands, I feel vibrations, but they are very numb. At the moment there is no clear knot, but vibrations are more around the mind. Bed time. More investigations tomorrow.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
11/3/12 3:14 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Recently the following things have been interesting on the cushion:

In investigation, really light intention is enough to turn the investigation towards observer or to sensations happening themselves.The sessions have been more of investigating the sensations in the mind instead of sensations of touching, hearing and seeing.

Once for a while the process of observing becomes more like an object. Turning to sensations that seem to make the observer leads to shifts and something new becomes an object (sometimes vibrating strongly). Seeing the process of observing the new object and turning to remaining sensations that seem to imply observer lead to further shifts. Sometimes the whole space becomes a pulsing object.

Somehow it occured to me only this late that the mind can be observed in a narrow or wide sense in the same way that can be done with other senses: 1) focusing on a small visual detail or the whole visual field, 2) focusing one detailed sound or the whole sound landscape, 3) focusing touching in a fingertip or the whole body. I guess I have been observing the mind also in wide way, but now I really noticed the difference between narrow and wide.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
11/9/12 12:48 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Two-hour session. Most of the session was in a peaceful state. Observing vibrating parts in the mind, observing observing, comparing how observing feels compared to sense of observer. Looking at sensations that make me. Vibrating parts disappear and sometimes appear again. Letting sensations to happen by themselves.

Some new things happened in the later part of the session. Sometimes the volume of mind somehow includes the both the mind and the whole body that contains the internal feeling sensations. Sometimes the whole space including everything becomes a vibrating object. Trying to see between or behind the vibrations. Found new sensations that feel like a subtle energy forming the core of the body and mind. Observing the sensations. Mind vibrations cease and a new kind of really solid peace and calm grows. Goal-oriented thoughts lose all stickiness and become more like objects. Really feeling like finding a home in my body and mind. Observing all sensations for a while until children need attention and I get slowly up. The new kind of peace has stayed so far.

Investigating the background
Answer
11/11/12 3:39 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Recently I have been investigating and wondering about the vibrating mind knot and bouncing attention. Today I ended up digging up old DhO threads about "attention wave":


After reading those threads, I got really interested in trying to investigate the background of the mind, which I have not actually done much before, and had pretty interesting session with new things showing up. I sat perhaps 60 mins eyes closed and then lied down for 30 mins or so.

I started with active investigation of sensations of what I consider the background of the mind. It is the space that I kind of see and feel when the eyes are closed. Usually it feels located in head in front of the "mind's eyes" but behind my real eyes. In the same area I often feel the vibrating mind knot when it is present. During the session the vibrating knot was sometimes present and sometimes absent. When it was present, it seemed block the background so that it was hard to see. Instead of investigating the knot and the vibrations really actively, I alternated between looking for the background and reminding myself to let all sensations to happen by themselves while relaxing a bit. Sometimes the knot and the vibrations disappeared quickly and sometimes it took some time.

When the knot was absent, it was easier to look at the background. I am still not really sure if the background is related to some particular sense or senses, or if it is somehow common for all senses. At first investigating the background felt like seeing it, but later in the session it included more and more feeling too. Most of the time I managed to observe the background without expectations. Alternating between observing the sensations of the background actively and then letting the sensations to happen by themselves, the state deepened continuously as if the awareness was going deeper and deeper in the mind and the body. There were shifts where part of the mind or background started to vibrate and then kind of disappeared revealing more background. Sometimes the mind started to vibrate so that it was hard to see the background. Gradually the background got broader so that it included visual background of the mind, feeling background of the mind, and feeling background of the whole body. At some point the body background started to feel like located in the core of my spine all the way from the lower back to the neck.

Peeling the background continued for around 60 mins and then I ended up in a state where the background seemed to disappear completely or at least the remaining parts were very subtle. I continued observing the mind space for a while until I was suddenly thrown in a very concentrated state where there was very little present. Body sensations were not present anymore and mind was quite locked. I do not remember those states very well, but I think it felt like the mind space was not somehow present. There were perhaps one or two shifts after which even less could be observed.

After getting up I once for a while closed my eyes and observed the background (which was present again) for a minute or so. Now it is easier to locate the background feeling in the mind even with eyes open.

Everything crumbling into waterfall of sensations bubbles
Answer
12/1/12 1:30 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Recently in the stage I consider Equanimity, I have been doing the following:
  • Observing all sensations making the pulsing mind knot and tension around it.
  • Really surrendering to all sensations and letting everything happen.
  • Trying to notice why the pulsing knot and sensations seem to be away from the experiencer


In longer sessions (1-2 hours or more), the stage I consider EQ often evolves as follows:
  • Really observing touching sensations in hands throws the mind to the pulsing knot. In a way it is unclear whether the touching sensations happen in hands or inside the mind.
  • Observing vibrations of the knot accurately often causes the mind to merge with the vibrations. Vibrations accelerate, mind somehow compresses around the tension and then releases (dat, dat, dat, dadadadatrrrrrzum). This can happen several times and every time there seems to be some kind of shift in space going deeper.
  • At some point the tension in the pulsing knot melts and the space becomes very open without tension boundaries.
  • Later I start to space out more and some kind of objects appear. The pattern goes often like this: Observing clearly sensations of the knot and experiencer. Then after a while, barely "waking up" in observing a strange floating 3D object (not visual but a kind of mind movement or tension inside head).
  • Observing the sensations that make the object. Suddenly the object disappears as I realize it is totally imaginary. The space gets more relaxed and it is easier to observe where sensations of vibrations or subtle tensions are found.


Around here it often feels natural to collect all sensations together and surrender to them all at the same time. Sometimes the body and everything starts to feel like somewhat energetic and sometimes everything vibrates. Comparing these sensations to the sensations of experiencing that all is really mind boggling.

In the last session, the stage evolved further so that suddenly everything crumbled peacefully into "waterfall" of sensations. Everything (sensations, thoughts, mind, wantings) seemed to be just same kind of bubbles appearing from nowhere and disappearing right away. Nothing seemed to be solid as it usually were (or how it is right now).

Blinking
Answer
12/6/12 2:12 AM as a reply to Teemu H..
Recently there has been pull to focus on surrendering to all sensations. A new kind of perspective to sensations has emerged gradually: At some stages it is easy to let sensations happen by themselves, and mind does not cling to them almost at all, but still each sensation vibration pulls the mind and creates subtle stress. That encourages to surrender more. Then the mind is not concerned anymore whether vibrations happen or what is the current stage or whether something is going to happen or not.

In many sessions the pulsing vibrations quiet down and instead there is more infrequent blinking. The mind is calm 1-2 seconds and then extremely short *blink*. Trying to observe accurately what happens during the blink causes sometimes the mind to freeze or sometimes the mind starts to vibrate more aggressively or there is a shift to another state.

In the last session, the knot was again blinking. I tried to compare how the blinking place feels during the blink and right after the blink and suddenly there was a short *bzzzt* and the knot melted in a new way. It felt like the place in the mind had been closed and now it opened. The mind and body became very relaxed and experience of sensations started feel happening all over instead of centered in the mind. Once for a while the sense of self kind of could be moved more freely in the body. Earlier it had been mostly in the center of the head, and infrequently around chest area.

In addition to surrendering, I have also been investigating sensations in a more controlled way. Trying to really feel all momentary sensations in hands is often possible only for 1-2 seconds at time. Then the mind is strongly pulled to the vibrating knot in the mind. If I continue to bring the focus on sensations in the hand, the sensations of the hand mix with the vibrating sensations in the mind and it is difficult to tell if the sensations actually happen in the hand or in the mind.

Sensations, sensations, sensations...
Answer
12/9/12 1:05 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Related to surrendering, the following two concepts have started to hit home hard. I really do not understand what was so difficult about them earlier. And most likely I still fail to grasp them totally.

1) Your reality is just impersonal momentary sensations arising and passing - everything. You really can not observe anything else.

2) No sensation can observe other sensations. However deep you look, there is no one observing or experiencing. Just sensations arising and passing.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
12/30/12 1:38 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
After reaching the calm peaceful state, it has been interesting to alternate between observing the sensations and reminding the mind about the following things:
  • Who is experiencing these sensations?
  • Who finds this unpleasant/pleasant?
  • Why an earth this should be unpleasant/pleasant?

It is hard to describe how this changes the experience, but somehow it changes the perspective and seems to keep the momentum well. Often the practice has a feeling of peeling tension layers revealing calmer and clearer states. Then new subtler tensions sensations appear and the pattern repeats itself.

In daily life, there has been more mood swings than usually. Often the change can also be felt quite clearly in the vibrational flavor and openness in the mind or chest area.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
12/30/12 4:34 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
I'm new here - apologies if questions from outsiders are not welcome in a practice journal. But I find your descriptions of y our early experiences very relatable to my situation. My question is this: I am just starting a formal practice. The vibrations you describe - was this something that just naturally arose in your sessions, or was there something you did to cultivate them? I gather that they can be a natural result of noting practice, but I'm unclear on whether the noting is purely passive (just watch and see what comes to your attention) or more active (repeatedly direct your attention to your breath as frequently as you can).

Thanks for the clear writing and descriptions of your journal. Very helpful.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
12/31/12 4:12 AM as a reply to Chris Coleman.
Welcome to DhO, Chris! I am sure you will find lots of useful and interesting information on this site. And no worries about questions, they are welcome in this journal.

About vibrations, I tried to find them very actively by bringing my attention repeatedly to sensations of some sense and object. I mainly concentrated on breathing sensations in my nostrils, but in some sessions I decided to investigate other senses and objects: really trying to notice when I really see something, or noticing when I really feel touching sensations narrowly in hands or widely in the whole body, or really trying observe several senses at the same time and noticing when the attention moves between the senses.

But this is only what I did. I do not know if something else would be more useful, or if this approach is useful for others. In many things in life, I like to simplify and concentrate on one thing at time and investigate it thoroughly, and after that investigate its relations to other things. Also, I did this after spending a few months doing concentration practice: focusing gently on breath in nostrils without investigating the sensations accurately in space and time, bringing the attention back to breath again and again and keeping it there, getting into pleasant absorption states.

Many meditation instructions encourage allowing everything to arise naturally without forcing anything. I have liked to do a lot of active investigation where I direct the attention to specific things, but I have also liked to do more relaxed sessions where I let things to happen by themselves.

RE: Teemu's Practice Log
Answer
12/31/12 2:06 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Thanks very much for your help, Teemu.

Anatta
anatta emptiness
Answer
10/5/13 12:22 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Back to this log after a long pause. I have been practicing all the time even if I have not been writing the log. The practice has been mostly noting, choiceless awareness, investigating some specific things, and some metta. A lot of informal practicing in daily life and more formal sitting 15 min - 60 min daily.

Recently, I have been contemplating a lot the difference between sensation and concepts. Instead of trying to see sensations without mental overlay, I start from the assumption that I have several assumptions bundled with the sensation. I focus on seeing, for example, and tune into the thought about implicit assumption "there is me seeing" Nowadays, doing this seems to trigger reality shaking, eyes blinking, face muscles moving involuntarily, release in tension and very light and careless being for a few seconds. Then subtle tension slowly coming back. All this last perhaps 5 seconds and can happen 2-3 times in a minute, if I continue contemplating these things.

Usually there are several concepts related to the sensation. I alternate between the actual sensation and the concepts, and try to narrow down which parts of the experience are concepts and which parts not:

*sound* There is a strong assumption that I am hearing. "I am hearing" is a concept. *sound* Sound coming from the laptop. A laptop is a concept. Me being separate from the laptop is a concept. *sound* Even "sound" is a concept that is different from that what arises, is observed, and passes. *sound* The sound feels to come from that location. Location is a concept. Direction is a concept. *sound* There is an assumption that I am observing and understanding these things. That is also a concept. *sound*

Sometimes I focus specifically in a certain sense door to study that sense door in more detail and sometimes let the attention go around to different sense doors.

This emptiness thread has begun to ring a bell: http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4179363 and also this blog post On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection

Location and time
Answer
10/5/13 12:41 PM as a reply to Teemu H..
Recently, I have also contemplated concepts of location and time. These things has been said many times in many places, but this way the theme has seemed to hit deeper in me.

Location: Start with any sensation that seems to imply a location. For example, if you can hear some sound repeatedly from somewhere, note how the mind automatically puts a location to that event, or it might feel like the mind "turns" to that direction. Try to separate the sense or feeling of location and the sensation of sound. Focus some time to the location feeling, then try to switch focus to the actualy sound for a while. Switch between those two. It might also be helpful to intellectually understand that location is a concept and is totally different thing from the sound (or whatever sensation you are using for this experiment). Experiment also with other sense doors and sensations: sensations in hand and the mind-created location feeling of the hand, sensations in foot and the mind-created location feeling of the foot, sensation in seeing something and the mind-created location feeling of that something, thoughts or mind movements and the mind-created location of them. Explore with a curious attitude: what an earth makes me feel as if these sensations imply a location?

Time: Understand that time is mind-created by having THOUGHTS about past and future occuring RIGHT NOW. Think of some past events and feel what makes you feel that it is in the past. Try to separate those time-related thoughts from other sensations. Try the same for thoughts about future. Experiment with long time scales (childhood, yesterday, hours ago) and short time scales (what happened just a second ago). Experiment with expectations: What will be the next sensation to happen? Am I expecting something or really observing the thing that will happen?