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Morgan's Practice Log
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10/28/12 4:02 PM
Discontinued practice 20 years ago for unknown reasons (using my own method, found by experimentation). Found Goenka 4½ years ago. Switched to Mahasi style a year ago.

Morality: Ok I believe, but there is always more to do. Maybe I should give more of my time and attention to other people?

Samatha: Strong. Intensive samatha practice last autumn really paid off. Reaching any jhana given enough time.

Insight: Developing. I have started to integrate samatha and insight in a new way. Before, I started my sits with samatha, I then switched to insight after stabilizing 1st jhana. I found that approach to be stressing. Thoughts like "what if it takes an hour to get to 1st jhana, then I only have 20 min to do insight" used to interfere with the effectiveness of the jhana practice. Because of strong and persistent samatha practice, I can now enter 1st jhana in less time (10-20 min) if I start the sit with insight right from the beginning! So now there is only one, integrated practice.

First AP (in 20 years) off retreat 6 months ago. Now I'm reaching AP every sit and DN now and then, but rarely EQ. My practice is finally at the same level as it once was. Most of my time is committed to parenting, but my ambition is one 80 min sit a day.

Morgan's Practice Log
Answer
10/28/12 4:01 PM as a reply to mind less.
I just finished a weekend solo retreat in a remote cabin. I'm getting to DN almost every sit and to what I believe is EQ quite a few of them. I'm trying to penetrate the sense of a watcher when in EQ, but I'm not sure what I should observe or how. Another thing that confuses me is how to tell 4th jhana (which has equanimity as its predominant characteristic) inside DN from EQ (the nana)?

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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11/28/12 4:32 AM as a reply to mind less.
Morality: The "quest for enlightenment" feels very self-centered at times. I have been thinking about giving meditation classes, but a voice in my head is telling me that the people coming to the classes will not be the people in most need. I'm currently looking into the opportunities for voluntary work.

Concentration: Improving. Usually I go to 1st jhana whenever I can see the Counterpart Sign clearly, which is almost always in AP. To use the time as efficiently as possible, I build the concentration from noting, not from anapanasati. I'm only deliberately and with effort entering 1st jhana (by expanding the sign/nimitta) - the other jhanas are automatically entered during the vipassana.

Wisdom: The last two weeks I have hit EQ almost every time I have meditated. The meditation has still not converged/stagnated, but is getting subtler and subtler. I'm trying to keep a wide and inclusive focus. There is anticipation about progress and I'm trying to just note it, but it still distracts me. When in EQ I sometimes don't know where I am or who I am - there is just flickering and calm. During the last two sits I realized (in EQ) to a new degree that what I take for the outer world is an illusion, and that other people are a part of that illusion. I felt lonely and scared, but it subsided when noting it. This was a completely different kind of 'scared' then DN a month ago (with visions of skeletons, blood, wounded people, conflict, etc. DN is not so dark anymore).

Typical 80 min sit: 20 min; AP and 1st jhana. 40 min; dissolution and 1st-3rd jhana. 60 min; EQ and maybe 3rd-5th jhana. 80 min; EQ and 1-3 more jhanas.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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11/28/12 4:32 AM as a reply to mind less.
Morgan Gunnarsson:
Another thing that confuses me is how to tell 4th jhana (which has equanimity as its predominant characteristic) inside DN from EQ (the nana)?


One take on the relationship of 11th nana and 4th jhana. Could be wrong, but in my experience there was an uncanny relationship between 1st nana/1st jhana, 4th nana/2nd jhana, 5th nana/3rd jhana and 11th nana/4th jhana. i.e. vipassana jhanas. The more absorbed attention is on the pleasant factors of each corresponding nana (they are all more or less inherently pleasant nanas), the more the experience moves to samatha jhana territory. This may not be the case or even obvious without at least MCTB 1st path under one's belt. At least, post 1st for me, will of mind access to nanas/jhanas and the abiltity to explore and experiment with such new found mental pliancy and malleablity resulted in having this take. I was not aware nor had such access previously.

Don't know if its relevant, but the following tarin quote is cool.

"assuming a norm about the level of phenomenology is to be confused by content. it is content which 'pulls' the attention, because the attention isn't paying attention and so there is the (also content) assumption that it is happening on the level of insight. equanimity doesn't have to be fabricated because it really doesn't matter. im talking about the cause of equanimity. the causeless cause; the unfabricated cause. the whole body means the whole formation. not the assumption of what sensations out of the formation are taken to be body. understand what i'm saying

4th jhana is whatever equanimity shines through. The equanimity which purifies the mindfulness is not neutral feeling, as might be supposed, but specific neutrality, the sublime impartiality free from attachment and aversion, which also pertains to this jhana. Though both specific neutrality and mindfulness were present in the lower three jhanas, none among these is said to have "purity of mindfulness due to equanimity." The reason is that in the lower jhanas the equanimity present was not purified itself, being overshadowed by opposing states and lacking association with equanimous feeling. It is like a crescent moon which exists by day but cannot be seen because of the sunlight and the bright sky. But in the fourth jhana, where equanimity gains the support of equanimous feeling, it shines forth like the crescent moon at night and purifies mindfulness and the other associated states.'

'The equanimity which purifies the mindfulness is not neutral feeling, as might be supposed, but specific neutrality, the sublime impartiality free from attachment and aversion, ...'

not a feeling. not a feature of the field. not content. equanimity is insight." Tarin Greco (prisonergreco)


Nick

Edited once to change a word

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
Answer
12/17/12 1:37 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Could be wrong, but in my experience there was an uncanny relationship between 1st nana/1st jhana, 4th nana/2nd jhana, 5th nana/3rd jhana and 11th nana/4th jhana. i.e. vipassana jhanas.


As I've understood it, the vipassana jhanas line up with the nanas per definition. The vipassana jhana scale is just coarser than the nana scale. How the samatha jhanas relate to the nanas seems to be hard to capture in my experience.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/19/12 3:08 PM as a reply to mind less.
I'm getting to EQ faster than before (about 30 min), and things are still getter subtler. The transitions to Dissolution, Re-obs. and EQ feels almost the same way; I'm tuning in to the passings/gones in the flickering of as many sense modalities as possible, which causes the flickering to accelerate and the body starts to vibrate. The higher the flickering frequency, the more the muscles contract, but I've learned to relax a bit as it happens. As long as I'm keeping up the equanimity, the next insight stage is reached.

In EQ the same thing is happening, but either there is no transition at all or the next samatha jhana is reached (inside EQ). Today I did a two hour sit, and a couple of times the acceleration in EQ was even more intense than in AP, and it felt like something was about to explode! I think I reached 7th or 8th jhana a couple of minutes before the end of the session.

I always make a resolve for stream entry before I start the sessions. Am I too bold?

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/19/12 6:28 PM as a reply to mind less.
Morgan Gunnarsson:
I always make a resolve for stream entry before I start the sessions. Am I too bold?


Not at all! That can make for very strong practice.

But as soon as you start, put that thought aside, along with all thoughts about progress, maps, enlightenment, fruitions, attainment, states, whatever. If such thoughts arise, do not push them away, and do not identify with their content. Just drop them like hot stones. "Thinking is not me ... progress is not me ... path is not me ..."

From the point of view of insight, all that exists is what is in front of you, right here, right now. Nothing else.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/19/12 8:18 PM as a reply to mind less.
I'm curious how you're practicing in EQ?

Getting there quicker and quicker is definitely a sign you're on the right track.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/20/12 12:01 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Morgan Gunnarsson:
I always make a resolve for stream entry before I start the sessions. Am I too bold?


Not at all! That can make for very strong practice.

But as soon as you start, put that thought aside, along with all thoughts about progress, maps, enlightenment, fruitions, attainment, states, whatever. If such thoughts arise, do not push them away, and do not identify with their content. Just drop them like hot stones. "Thinking is not me ... progress is not me ... path is not me ..."

From the point of view of insight, all that exists is what is in front of you, right here, right now. Nothing else.


Thanks for the advice. I use a timer app with one signal for the start and end of the session and another signal every 20 mins, to keep track of progress in relation to time. Maybe that unknowingly creates distracting thoughts about progress(?), but it helps me to keep up momentum and to wake me up from daydreams. A signal every 5 mins instead might give the same positive effects, while meeting the "let go" criteria since it will be hard to keep track of time, or maybe it's better to skip the periodic signals altogether.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/20/12 12:04 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
I'm curious how you're practicing in EQ?

Getting there quicker and quicker is definitely a sign you're on the right track.

I'm trying to note anything that pops up and tune in to the passings. Sometimes I'm labeling "attachment" and "anticipation", but usually I'm not labeling at all. I have a wide focus and spread my attention evenly throughout the body and evenly between the sense modalities.

Sometimes I have special focus on the sensations that make up the illusionary observer, as some here on DhO advocates, but I'm not convinced that this is the way to go. Mahasi says nothing about special attention to the observer sensations, neither do Shinzen(?), for example. I prefer a technique that is as clean as possible. The problem is that it adds another thing to keep in mind, and how much more focus should I have on the observer sensations than on the rest, etc?

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/20/12 12:24 PM as a reply to mind less.
Morgan Gunnarsson:
Fitter Stoke:
Morgan Gunnarsson:
I always make a resolve for stream entry before I start the sessions. Am I too bold?


Not at all! That can make for very strong practice.

But as soon as you start, put that thought aside, along with all thoughts about progress, maps, enlightenment, fruitions, attainment, states, whatever. If such thoughts arise, do not push them away, and do not identify with their content. Just drop them like hot stones. "Thinking is not me ... progress is not me ... path is not me ..."

From the point of view of insight, all that exists is what is in front of you, right here, right now. Nothing else.


Thanks for the advice. I use a timer app with one signal for the start and end of the session and another signal every 20 mins, to keep track of progress in relation to time. Maybe that unknowingly creates distracting thoughts about progress(?), but it helps me to keep up momentum and to wake me up from daydreams. A signal every 5 mins instead might give the same positive effects, while meeting the "let go" criteria since it will be hard to keep track of time, or maybe it's better to skip the periodic signals altogether.


Having a bell or alarm go off every 20 minutes is fine.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/20/12 2:22 PM as a reply to mind less.
Morgan Gunnarsson:
I'm trying to note anything that pops up and tune in to the passings. Sometimes I'm labeling "attachment" and "anticipation", but usually I'm not labeling at all. I have a wide focus and spread my attention evenly throughout the body and evenly between the sense modalities.


Are you making a distinction between noting and labeling? It's not clear. Anyway, some people find it better to drop noting at this stage. Some don't.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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12/20/12 3:17 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
Morgan Gunnarsson:
I'm trying to note anything that pops up and tune in to the passings. Sometimes I'm labeling "attachment" and "anticipation", but usually I'm not labeling at all. I have a wide focus and spread my attention evenly throughout the body and evenly between the sense modalities.


Are you making a distinction between noting and labeling? It's not clear. Anyway, some people find it better to drop noting at this stage. Some don't.

With "noting" I mean that I wordlessly acknowledge the arising/passing of something. Maybe this is "noticing" to you? With "labeling" I mean that I also assign a word to the thing.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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1/1/13 5:18 PM as a reply to mind less.
Sleepiness and daydreaming are major problems in my meditation. I realized today that if I focus on the visual noise and the sound noise at the same time there will not be any daydreaming! When an image or a sound pops up I just acknowledge this as I move the focus back to the noise. The problem has been that the image or sound stays or triggers another image or sound, and then daydreaming will kick in within seconds, but with this technique the image or sound is killed and acknowledged at the same time. I also added bodily sensations to this. There was a furious anicca acceleration (flickering) in EQ where the observer and the spatial dimensions of the body got significantly vaguer, and it kept me awake and alert! Unrelated to this, I also managed to relax my neck, shoulders and back during the nana-transitions for the first time.

RE: Morgan's Practice Log
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1/5/13 4:39 PM as a reply to mind less.
Today and yesterday I could, using the above mentioned technique, clearly experience formations where feel/image/talk (in Shinzen's vocabulary) vibrated as one and the same. The frequency was about 15 Hz at most. I slipped into 5th and 6th jhana while doing this, and realized that extra effort is needed to keep up the insight when a samatha jhana transition is happening inside EQ, and managed to do that. I make a resolve for stream entry before every sit and have slightly increased the meditation time to 90 mins/day, but have doubts about if this is enough time/day to "get it"...