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Matt's practice log

Matt's practice log
6/27/12 10:05 PM
For the past couple months, I've been reading about meditation, but not actually meditating (much), because... I have no idea, really. I certainly have the time and the intent. So yesterday I sat for an hour, today I sat for an hour, and I see no reason I can't continue for the foreseeable future. So what follows are the thoughts of a complete amateur: just concentration practice for now, never received real-life instruction, working with a bad case of ADHD. Feedback, including cruel feedback, very welcome.

Yesterday I sat upright continuously for an hour; today, maybe 100 minutes, broken up, of several different postures. The former was more successful, but I didn't get a great deal of sleep last night either. Vajrasana made it very easy to keep my back straight, but produced a lot of distraction from my feet; sitting upright, laying down, and sitting back all seem to be roughly equivalent (based on my minuscule sample size.)

Each time, opened by counting the breath until it was no longer volitional, though still continuously observed. Awareness that I had been distracted or lost track of breathing, which happened a lot, typically reset the volition clock, although it was easier to get back after initially establishing it. Sometimes I would transition from willing myself to breathe to seeing myself (as if a third party) willing me to breathe to just breathing, but typically it was more direct. I tried to focus on all sensations that could be perceived as in rhythm with the breath (although my heartbeat provided a second rhythm, and I'm not sure what's the proper way to suture them, if at all.) Sometimes, when distracted by other sensations, I was able to switch to a more vipassana-like attempt to perceive each quale individually and gather them all up into one big basket (mostly) that kept constant time, but other times this failed miserably at the integration step. Pain was more distracting than I had expected and outside noises less.

There were several moments spread throughout that I assumed represented genuine progress. Each time, the rhythmic movement of my body with the breath seemed to speed up rapidly, even violently, and I found myself fully "immersed." In the instance I remember best, I was able to combine the ringing in my ear with a point in space that was moving along with the breath in my chest into a single quale, and everything else evaporated. The exception to the body rocking pattern here was once, while focusing on the whole body without trying to integrate it into the breath (but remaining aware of the latter), I experienced some flashes of light and intense pleasure. In all instances I promptly got excited and lost it. All in all I would guess I've experienced ten genuine seconds thus far of access concentration, but I really don't know enough to map my experiences to others' in any meaningful way.

Several times I told myself that I would try focusing on metta, but found myself immediately averse and confused in a way that caused the thought that I probably don't want myself to be happy (or want myself to want myself to be happy, or something.)

Afterwards, I noticed myself spontaneously very aware of the breath. I also remained aware of the ringing sound in my ears; yesterday this was highly aversive, but today it has almost no valence. And I find myself wanting to meditate, as one might want to grab a snack. I expect I'll sit some more before I sleep tonight, but I'm also looking forward to a longer session tomorrow morning.

RE: Matt's practice log
6/29/12 1:59 PM as a reply to Matt W.
Last two days were frustrating. I'd say I've been montonically declining, but I'm not sure that's strictly true and the sample size is minuscule.

Yesterday I was off my meds; and I wasn't able to focus at all (though the effect might have been nocebonic.) Gave up after 45m.

Today, 80 very frustrating minutes, but I think very helpful and informative ones: I feel that I have a better understanding of (guess at?) what, specifically, I need to improve.
  • Be more exploratory and hedonistic. Having conscious goals in mind is distracting. Cravings should be aligned with experiences. This may be difficult to suture with the other goals.
  • Improve at distinguishing breath from heartbeat. (Breath pulses from the front backwards, whereas heartbeat can feel like that or visa-versa.) Also, stop worrying at this stage whether I'm breathing volitionally or not.
  • Lower my energy level a bit. Maybe sit reclined rather than standing up, or don't precede with sessions with tea (assuming I'm on meds.)
  • Visualize my sensations as objects, rather than as caused by objects.

I do think that I've improved over the past few days in terms of quickly ramping into an at least minimal level of focus (way less than access concentration, I would guess, but at least not losing track of whatever I'm keeping track of) and in not being distracted by bodily sensations other than the ones I'm looking at. Not making progress with respect to conscious thoughts, and for the past two days no really strong immersion.

Perhaps I should make a more honest attempt at metta-bhavana, since it's supposed to be more pleasurable and more hedonistic techniques have been recommended for ADHD. But I'm not sure how much modification of my practice I'm supposed to go about at this stage, or even, really, the difference between progressing along one path and starting over with a new one. HALP