Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log

Toggle
OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/16/12 4:04 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 3:46 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Fitter Stoke 11/11/12 6:34 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 7:25 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This This Good Self 11/11/12 8:15 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:16 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This This Good Self 11/11/12 9:00 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Fitter Stoke 11/11/12 7:50 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:53 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Fitter Stoke 11/12/12 8:39 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/12/12 9:48 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Fitter Stoke 11/12/12 10:06 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/12/12 12:27 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Fitter Stoke 11/12/12 1:07 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/12/12 1:08 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Florian 11/11/12 11:18 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This fivebells . 11/11/12 4:50 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 5:55 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:22 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This fivebells . 11/11/12 9:19 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/11/12 11:44 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This fivebells . 11/12/12 10:27 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Shashank Dixit 11/12/12 12:18 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This John P 11/12/12 10:51 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Jigme Sengye 11/12/12 11:46 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Jigme Sengye 11/12/12 12:00 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/12/12 12:20 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Professional Idiot 11/12/12 12:59 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/13/12 7:52 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Robert McLune 11/14/12 10:24 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Jigme Sengye 11/14/12 12:07 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This Florian 11/16/12 12:00 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/16/12 4:05 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/16/12 5:06 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log fivebells . 11/17/12 11:41 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/17/12 12:09 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/17/12 12:05 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/17/12 5:20 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log fivebells . 11/18/12 2:33 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/18/12 3:53 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log fivebells . 11/19/12 11:38 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Florian 11/20/12 2:09 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/18/12 2:08 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/18/12 2:08 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/20/12 2:19 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/21/12 1:50 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Florian 11/21/12 4:22 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/21/12 9:59 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Jigme Sengye 11/21/12 9:28 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Jigme Sengye 11/21/12 9:36 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/22/12 11:28 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/21/12 10:00 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/22/12 11:26 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/23/12 11:38 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Florian 11/23/12 3:43 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/23/12 4:36 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Florian 11/24/12 12:53 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Florian 11/26/12 2:01 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/26/12 2:17 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 11/27/12 8:31 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log fivebells . 11/27/12 9:06 PM
Taking pause on the logging Robert McLune 11/30/12 11:38 AM
RE: Taking pause on the logging anti anti camper 11/30/12 1:39 PM
RE: Taking pause on the logging M N 11/30/12 4:30 PM
RE: Taking pause on the logging Nikolai . 11/30/12 5:09 PM
RE: Taking pause on the logging Florian 11/30/12 5:05 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 3/27/13 1:41 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 6/2/13 5:53 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Florian 6/25/13 6:14 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 7/8/13 10:08 PM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Ivo B 9/20/13 5:01 AM
RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log Robert McLune 9/25/13 5:36 PM
Signing off Robert McLune 11/7/14 8:08 PM
RE: Signing off Ivo B 1/28/14 4:13 AM
Ongoing mindfulness -- much more central than I thought? Robert McLune 7/12/13 9:32 AM
RE: Ongoing mindfulness -- much more central than I thought? M N 7/12/13 10:47 AM
Story so far:
I've grown increasingly interested in meditation, and then in Buddhism, over the past three-ish years. However, so far it has been almost exclusively just that, interest. I have tried meditating on and off, managing to sustain practice only for a few weeks at a time. On the intellectual side however, I have been reading more and more broadly, as part of what is really a life-long desire to know What This Is All About. That has taken me to a fairly advanced level of technical understanding (physics and compsci being the two primary fields, but with analytic philosophy as an adjunct), and a pretty intense journey through evangelical christianity within the Roman Catholic tradition.

Motivation:
Several things have led me here, and their relative priorities have changed over time. They include (not in current priority order):
  1. A desire to lose weight -- the assumption being that obesity has a large "control the mind" component, and meditation helps train the mind
  2. A treatment for ADD
  3. A growing awareness of the fact that there appears to be no deep correlation between money, sex, power, etc etc on the one hand, and deep happiness/wellbeing on the other
  4. Curiosity as to the true nature of reality

Current status:
I've pondered a lot, read a lot, discussed and debated quite a bit. I see no problem with that. In fact, I see it as being (for me, not necessarily for others) a solid platform from which to pursue this next stage. But I think I've done enough for a while, or at least, I'm ready to stop doing *only* that. I've already pondered the idea that a scientific-like analysis of the world may actually *be* a form of insight practice, but I'm really only speculating there. And as Daniel Ingram says in MCTB:

"When choosing an insight tradition, I would suggest you look for a tradition that is tried and true, meaning that is either very old and well-tested, or at least can, in modern times, demonstrate that it consistently leads to unshakable realizations."
So it may be true that if you study reality, in the right way and through the lens of Quantum Mechanics you will indeed find insight and eventually Enlightenment. But I'm disinclined to risk it since there already appear to be paths that are well trodden and effective. Call me a wimp, but I'm no Newton, or Amundsen, or Siddartha Gotama. I'll take some signposts if I can get them, and leave the true trail breaking to braver souls.

So, here's the plan. I have begun re-reading MCTB, but I now aim to *do* it rather than just read and analyze. The overall aim is to establish a sturdy and determined meditation practice. Daniels book will be my primary initial guide, and I'll supplement that with anything I need from both primary and secondary Buddhist sources. I'll also gladly take input from people here on DhO who are further up the mountain than I am. Since I consider myself to be pretty much at the bottom, many of you qualify.

From early in MCTB, I note that there are three components to this path: morality, concentration, and wisdom. My understanding is that the first must precede, surround, inform, and also be enhanced by the other two. I consider myself to have been working on that aspect all my life. So the other two become the focus. And for now, it's the first. I note Daniel's comment:

The essential point about meditation is this: to get anywhere in meditation you need to be able to really steady the mind and be present. That’s just all there is to it and it is largely a question of just doing it. There is an important shift that happens in people’s practice when they really make the commitment to developing concentration and follow through with it.

And so that is the commitment I'm making to myself now. Daniel points out "access concentration" as being the first formal goal, so I'll get started on that for the time being.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 3:46 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
First sit. 40 minutes of (what I think is) samatha meditation.

I sat in a chair. I have an injured lower back and kneeling is hard; any kind of sitting on a cushion on the floor is impossible. On the odd occasion I've meditated in the past, I worried about that, but not now. I'm assuming for now that the most important aspects of posture are sustainability coupled with to sending one to sleep. Sitting in a chair qualifies as far as I'm concerned. All I'm trying to do is develop the concentration Daniel talks about in MCTB:

MCTB:
"So, the essential formal concentration practice instructions are: pick an object (the list above is a great place to begin), find a place to practice where you are as free from distractions as possible, pick a sustainable posture (it doesn’t really matter so much), focus your attention on the object as completely and consistently as possible for the duration of that practice period, allowing as few lapses in concentration as possible, and learn to stabilize all of your attention on that object."

I chose 40 minutes because that's the most I've managed before, and I kinda wanted to make a bit of a statement to myself about effort. In the past I've tried to first build a habit of sitting and too 5 minutes to be enough. I imagine it *is* enough for some people, but that approach never resulted in a long-term practice. So I decided to be a *little* bit tough on myself. I know by many of your standards, 40 minutes is a blink of the eye, but it's not for me. And as I say, I have sat for 40 minutes in the past, so this isn't really pushing myself.

That said, I always have and did again today find this *hard*. Uncomfortable. Not at all soothing or relaxing. For a while I just focused on the breath on my nostrils. Then I tried Mahasi-style noting of my moving abdomen. But throughout it was tense. Bum was sore. Lots of distractions, some minutes long and off into daily concerns. And overall I had a sort of "gritted teeth" feeling, as if I *was* grinding my teeth even though I wasn't. I am overweight and have sleep apnea, and along with that I have some of the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. If you know what that's like, then that's pretty much how it felt. I read absolutely no significance into any of this. And throughout, as soon as I became aware that I'd gotten distracted, I noted and moved back to my primary object -- breath or abdomen. But still, not fun.

A few times I experienced what some have said in the past may be 1st jhana. It's a deeper sense of focus, combined with the feeling that I'm going cross-eyed behind my closed eyelids and also a pattern of swirling pink, purple and orange brightness in my vision (albeit with closed eyes). When it has happened in the past it has been pleasurable. Today, if it was pleasant it wasn't able to override the more general feeling of tense discomfort.

That's all for now.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 4:50 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
If you want to lose weight, the Buddhist practice of only eating one meal a day is very effective and complementary to meditation.

Regarding other paths, there is no way in hell you can get enlightened by contemplating quantum mechanics. You made the right choice.

Regarding other things to read, I strongly recommend Thanissaro Bhikku's writing. I am a cheap bastard, but I liked Wings to Awakening so much, I sent him a $50 donation for it.

Regarding the meditation session, no need to be masochistic about it. If you're not getting stable attention, long sessions aren't useful. Better to break it up into 25 minutes with walking meditation in between or something like that. And sit comfortably, on a blanket or whatever you need to keep your backside from hurting.

Rest warm, appreciative attention on the object. When you notice your mind has wandered, celebrate the noticing. If frustration arises at the wandering, that frustration is itself another wandering, so having noticed it, celebrate that you've noticed it. Then back to the object.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 5:55 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Thanks fivebells. I really appreciate the input.

fivebells .:
...there is no way in hell you can get enlightened by contemplating quantum mechanics.

One of the things I'm working on right now is to focus on doing the stuff, and to try not to get too involved in much in the way of argument and discourse *about* the stuff. I imagine I'll last no more than a week, but in the meantime thanks for giving me an opportunity to test my resolve on that front ;)

Regarding the meditation session, no need to be masochistic about it. If you're not getting stable attention, long sessions aren't useful. Better to break it up into 25 minutes with walking meditation in between or something like that.

Thanks. I may do that tomorrow. I did some kinhin at one point, so I guess I can just recall what I did there.

Again, thanks for the input. Please offer more as much as you see the need and can be bothered.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 6:34 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
First sit. 40 minutes of (what I think is) samatha meditation.

I sat in a chair. I have an injured lower back and kneeling is hard; any kind of sitting on a cushion on the floor is impossible. On the odd occasion I've meditated in the past, I worried about that, but not now. I'm assuming for now that the most important aspects of posture are sustainability coupled with to sending one to sleep. Sitting in a chair qualifies as far as I'm concerned.


That's fine. I sat on a zafu for the first six months I did this, mostly because I thought it was more authentic, but now I just sit in a chair with the zafu supporting my lower back. :-)

Is sitting on the chair supportive enough for you? You can recline if you want, like laying in bed or on the floor. There's no hard and fast rule about it. If I'm going to fall asleep, I fall asleep. I saw people on retreat pass out while standing, so there are no guarantees.

All I'm trying to do is develop the concentration Daniel talks about in MCTB:


There's no need to be rigid about it. I bet even Daniel would agree that a lot of this stuff develops organically, and that concentration will arise along with the other factors of awakening.

The main idea here is to realize what's happening as it's happening, to see the true nature of things. For that you need a little bit of concentration ... a little bit of curiosity ... a little bit of tranquility ... a little bit of enthusiasm. Don't get hung up. Just imagine that you're bird-watching ... or watching cells under a microscope ... or observing a comet through a telescope. Take a patient scientist's attitude toward the thing.

I chose 40 minutes because that's the most I've managed before, and I kinda wanted to make a bit of a statement to myself about effort. In the past I've tried to first build a habit of sitting and too 5 minutes to be enough. I imagine it *is* enough for some people, but that approach never resulted in a long-term practice. So I decided to be a *little* bit tough on myself. I know by many of your standards, 40 minutes is a blink of the eye, but it's not for me. And as I say, I have sat for 40 minutes in the past, so this isn't really pushing myself.

That said, I always have and did again today find this *hard*. Uncomfortable. Not at all soothing or relaxing. For a while I just focused on the breath on my nostrils. Then I tried Mahasi-style noting of my moving abdomen. But throughout it was tense. Bum was sore. Lots of distractions, some minutes long and off into daily concerns. And overall I had a sort of "gritted teeth" feeling, as if I *was* grinding my teeth even though I wasn't. I am overweight and have sleep apnea, and along with that I have some of the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. If you know what that's like, then that's pretty much how it felt. I read absolutely no significance into any of this. And throughout, as soon as I became aware that I'd gotten distracted, I noted and moved back to my primary object -- breath or abdomen. But still, not fun.

A few times I experienced what some have said in the past may be 1st jhana. It's a deeper sense of focus, combined with the feeling that I'm going cross-eyed behind my closed eyelids and also a pattern of swirling pink, purple and orange brightness in my vision (albeit with closed eyes). When it has happened in the past it has been pleasurable. Today, if it was pleasant it wasn't able to override the more general feeling of tense discomfort.


This sounds perfectly normal to me.

When I'm dealing with very difficult sensations and a frequently wandering mind (which is what it sounds like you're describing here), I just go to wide open noting. I drop the sensations of the breath, and I drop all models and notions of progress or regress, and I just note whatever predominates.

This is the bootstrapping technique. :-) I sometimes amuse myself here with the image of a car that's broken down in a field and getting out and pushing (noting) it.

"Okay, there's daydreaming ... now there's soreness in my back ... now there's tension ... now there's a mental image ... now pressure ... now hearing ... hearing again ... now pressure ... now thinking ... thinking ... hearing ... seeing some stuff behind my eyelids ... wanting this to be over already ... discomfort ... where's that discomfort? ... pressure ... feeling ... feeling ... hearing ... seeing ... thinking ... thinking ..."

I often do this out loud. I actually had a session today where I was staring at the clock, noting, "wanting this to be over ... wanting this to be over ..." And I'm not at all a n00b. Some sessions are just like this.

A big part of the psychological benefit of this practice comes from just being able to sit with unpleasant sensations and not do anything with them or about them. You're struggling with sensations. There are sensations from the body that are unpleasant. There are thoughts about those sensations that get woven into a story, and that story is very uncomfortable. And then that story leads to more unpleasant sensations arising. This is basically what dependent origination is about. It's also basically what Daniel's chapter on Content vs. Insight is about.

Your job, as a yogi, is to go to the root, to watch the sensations as they unfold, before they turn into stories and theories, and to just see their true nature. This is hard, because the preeminent tendency of the mind is toward content, not toward insight. It's toward stories or theories about things. It's toward memory and narrative, as though these things are simply There, as though they're Realities, when in fact they're constructed in many, many, many steps -- each one of which tends to offer its own little bit of pain.

Have patience with it and with yourself. It seems as though you've put off sitting for whatever reasoning and have had to circle around the thing a lot. And now you see why: it's because there's discomfort and frustration there. Okay. So be with that, and see it for what it is.

And by the way, I have studied philosophy. A lot. I have letters after my name in the subject. :-) I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that the part of you that wants to theorize about this and the part of you that wants to sit down and Get It Done are not the same. This doesn't mean they have to part ways or that there's no place for your intellect in this. It just means that, like every other person, you're made up of different motives. Make an ally of the part of yourself that can approach this like a scientist rather than a theoretician. Also bring a helping of empathy to the practice so that you can flow and move with the consciousness as it does its thing. You're not going to bring your experience to understanding, but you can bring your understanding to the experience -- if that makes any sense.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 7:25 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Thanks FS,

Fitter Stoke:

There's no need to be rigid about it. I bet even Daniel would agree that a lot of this stuff develops organically, and that concentration will arise along with the other factors of awakening.

The main idea here is to realize what's happening as it's happening, to see the true nature of things.

Can you clarify that for me. Here's the thing -- I think I need to keep things as simple as possible for the time being. If I don't, I'll just analyze stuff to death and not actually get any sitting done. Also, I suspect that my tendency to analyze may slow my progress because it's stopping me concentrating. I have ADD, which just adds to that.

So my attempt to simplify was to take Daniel at his word. Get concentration going first, *then* insight. But you seem to be saying I should just forget about that and do insight from the word go.

I'm not trying to pit one position against the other, but let me ask it this way. Can you see any harm in my simply working on concentration for a week or three anyway, and specifically *not* working on insight. I'm not saying I would make any kind of effort to "not do" insight. All I mean is, is it OK to *not* exert effort to *do* insight. If you see what I mean.

To fully understand Calculus, you're going to have to learn to differentiate and integrate. But it's a useful learning approach to get the basics of differentiation under your belt first, without worrying about integration. Does that apply here for concentration (differentiation) and insight (integration).

I emphasize -- and this is based on the fact that while I don't know this stuf, I do know *me* -- I'm just trying to keep things simple to get started.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 8:15 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert, I've been reading most of your posts lately and thing that most stands out is a tone of very high excitement. This doesn't work well with many styles of meditation, in my experience. I find the following method better when my mind is over-heated. It's from Richard Rose's "The Imposter".


Description A: Shut your eyes. Relax your body. Now ignore your body. Let go of all effort. Let go of all sense of having to do something, as though there is nothing you have to do and nothing you have to think about. Letting go of all effort means letting go of all will and all desire as though there was nothing that needed to be accomplished or changed.

Let go. Relax. Let go more. Relax more. See how far it is possible to let go. Let go of all thoughts. Let go of all feelings. Let go of all effort. Let go of everything except your awareness.

Whatever thoughts, perceptions, images or feelings arise, let them go as soon as they arise or even before they arise. Do not follow thoughts, as though you had no interest in them. Let go of all your perceptions as though they have nothing to do with you.

Continue to relax more and more. Throughout the practice session let go more, then let go even more and as the practice session continues see how far it is possible to let go. Relax completely. Let go totally. Release everything except your awareness.

Letting go is giving up completely. Letting go is surrendering completely. Letting go is relaxing completely. Letting go is releasing completely. Letting go is letting go of all effort and all thought. Letting go is letting go of all feelings, desires and images. Letting go is letting go of everything except your awareness.

The difference between falling asleep and the Abandon Release Method is when you fall asleep you let go of everything including your awareness. In the Abandon Release Method, you let go of everything except your awareness.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 7:50 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
No, I don't think there's anything wrong with working on access concentration for awhile, if that's where your mind is at with things. The problem is, you may sit down and find that your mind, for whatever reason, doesn't want to concentrate on one thing, that it's going to wander all over the place. Then what do you do? This is a really common problem.

I remember going on a one-day retreat not long after I started reading MCTB and deciding I was going to sit and concentrate just on understanding anicca. Specifically, I was going to do like Daniel prescribed and observe nothing but the sensations of the tips of my index fingers. I was going to understand anicca, goddamnit, and I was going to do it this way.

Well, obviously my mind laughed at me. It went to everything and anything, just not the fingertips. My plan was ruined.

Now, there are many ways I could have responded to this. Mind you, this is the beginning of an eight-hour day of meditation. You think 40 mins is hard? You really need to think carefully here about what you're going to do, because otherwise, as the ski instructor from South Park said, You're Gonna Have A Bad Time.

So I did the opposite. I let the awareness go wide open. Instead of a narrow focus, I let the consciousness go absolutely anywhere it wanted to go - from the tip of the nostrils to the weirdest philosophical concept - but I noted everything as it occurred: feeling ... tasting ... unpleasant ... mental image ... thinking ... imagining ... etc.

No one had ever shown me freestyle noting like that. It just seemed right. I was astonished when I read later in MCTB, the Space Aliens part, and saw it was exactly what I had done. It wasn't really genius on my part. I was just sensitive to the moment, and instead of having this rigid attitude of, "Okay, the book says to work on this first, so I'm gonna work on this first," I was just in touch with the experience and let my practice move with it.

And sure enough, I got the first ñana (hard!), and the second two showed up right afterward and confused me and I didn't know what to do with it. But that's fine, it's okay to get knocked around. It's happened at least 200 times since.

So you've read MCTB at least once, and you're reading it a second time now. Okay, good. If you can, let that information sit in the back of your mind, and trust that you'll call it up while you're meditating. Greet the experience where it is and work with it.

If you feel you really need to buckle down and master access concentration right now, okay, you can go with that. I'd recommend having a Plan B on hand, though. :-) The mind has an uncanny way of doing the exact opposite of what you want or expect it to do. You know that already. But what you may not know is that you have different options with regard to that. It starts with learning to sit with that indecision and that uncertainty and just seeing it for what it is.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 8:16 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Robert, I've been reading most of your posts lately and thing that most stands out is a tone of very high excitement.

That's spot on.

I find the following method better when my mind is over-heated. It's from Richard Rose's "The Imposter".

Thanks for the pointer.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 8:53 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
No, I don't think there's anything wrong with working on access concentration for awhile, if that's where your mind is at with things. The problem is, you may sit down and find that your mind, for whatever reason, doesn't want to concentrate on one thing, that it's going to wander all over the place. Then what do you do?

Well, I thought I'd just do what the various instructions tell me to do. Bring my mind back to the original object, and continue with the practice. And then over enough time and sufficient number of wanderings and gentle returnings, one gains capability. No? Isn't that the whole point?

You think 40 mins is hard? You really need to think carefully here about what you're going to do, because otherwise, as the ski instructor from South Park said, You're Gonna Have A Bad Time.

I'm very curious that you say that. Not the contents of what you say, but the fact that you said it.

If you don't mind me asking, where are you on the path?

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 8:22 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
... there is no way in hell you can get enlightened by contemplating quantum mechanics.

Something is niggling me about a couple of things people have said to me. I'm not concerned about what you just said, but I am curious as to why you said it.

Can you tell me about your practice? What stage on what path have you reached?

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 9:00 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Just wanted to add a snippet of good teaching from Kenneth Folk, and it relates to one's attitude towards practice, and how a vibe of high excitement can turn you into a hardcore practitioner and all the hardcore problems associated with that.

I once saw a move called Harlem Nights. Terrible movie, but it had one funny and important scene. Richard Pryor's character and his wife are in bed together. The wife says, "Let's make love all day, real slow and sensual. Then we'll make love allllll night. Then, we'll make love alllll morning."

Richard Pryor is getting this uncomfortable look on his face. He says, "Baby, how 'bout we make love real hard... for twenty minutes?"

In order to get enlightened, you have to take the feminine approach to practice. The masculine [read: hardcore] approach will never work. Doing it really hard for twenty minutes is a recipe for anxiety, frustration, and failure. If, on the other hand, you can keep up the gentle pressure of attention all day long, from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to sleep at night, you can't help but awaken.



Have you read: "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, An Unusually Gentle, Loving and Feminine Dharma Book"?

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 9:19 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
I'm not concerned about what you just said, but I am curious as to why you said it.

Can you tell me about your practice? What stage on what path have you reached?


Where I'm at: I know the path, I know how to walk it, I've tasted the fruit, and I'm committed to building my life from it.

Why I said it: Enlightenment is not a conceptual attainment, and depends only on observations which can be made from personal experience. The ontological claims of a theory like quantum mechanics simply don't pertain to the phenomenological issue awakening addresses.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 11:18 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Hi Robert,

have you tried a visual object (kasina)? I would not recommend staring at it for 40 minutes on the first try, but to start gently, at 5-10min. I emphasize the "gently" bit, but the practice is self-regulating because you'll have tears and snot running down your face if you are like me and strain too much on the first sit emoticon keep some tissue paper nearby.

You can use it as a "warm-up" exercise for breath meditation.

My kasina is a saucer-sized grey disk cut from a breakfast cereal box, and stuck to the wall at about eye height. You can lower the height if that is too uncomfortable.

Cheers,
Florian.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/11/12 11:44 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
[Why I said it: Enlightenment is not a conceptual attainment, and depends only on observations which can be made from personal experience. The ontological claims of a theory like quantum mechanics simply don't pertain to the phenomenological issue awakening addresses.

Sure, but it's not the content I'm asking about, nor what the content deals with. What were your motives for saying it? What insight, if any, did you glean from those motives? If you didn't glean any, why didn't you? Does *the fact that* you said it tell you anything about yourself, or about the nature of reality?

As to your stage on the path, are you a stream enterer or even beyond?

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/12/12 12:18 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Be utterly selfish when you are going for concentration practise which means do not hesitate to go into seclusion..jhana
is born out of pleasure born from seclusion/abandoning , which means putting aside any and all greed/distress wrt the world..the more pleasant the environment initially , the easier it will be to get concentration.
personally I live in a somewhat noisy surrounding and so I used to put cotton plugs..when you close
your eyes , you shut visual input, likewise you can do with ears..

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/12/12 8:39 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Fitter Stoke:
No, I don't think there's anything wrong with working on access concentration for awhile, if that's where your mind is at with things. The problem is, you may sit down and find that your mind, for whatever reason, doesn't want to concentrate on one thing, that it's going to wander all over the place. Then what do you do?

Well, I thought I'd just do what the various instructions tell me to do. Bring my mind back to the original object, and continue with the practice. And then over enough time and sufficient number of wanderings and gentle returnings, one gains capability. No? Isn't that the whole point?


That sounds like a good place to start.

I'm very curious that you say that. Not the contents of what you say, but the fact that you said it.

If you don't mind me asking, where are you on the path?


3rd path.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/12/12 9:48 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
3rd path.

Cool. And forgive my ignorance -- I know the names for what's "out there" but I'm not trying to understand them too much until I get there -- but is that pre- or post- stream-entry?

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/12/12 10:06 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
It comes after stream-entry. Stream-entry is the 1st path.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/12/12 10:27 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Sure, but it's not the content I'm asking about, nor what the content deals with. What were your motives for saying it? What insight, if any, did you glean from those motives? If you didn't glean any, why didn't you? Does *the fact that* you said it tell you anything about yourself, or about the nature of reality?


Motive: To help your practice.

Insight on a moment to moment level, as I chat on a Buddhist forum, and recalled hours later? My mindfulness is not there yet, and neither is my insight practice. What it tells me about myself in retrospect is that I like to help people with their meditation practice and I'm skeptical of intellectual fabrications posing as meditation exercises. (Not that I'm against intellectual fabrications in general. I like to help people with Math, too.) I'm happy to stipulate that that something else may have been going on there. If you have any insight on the matter yourself, I welcome your feedback.

Robert McLune:
As to your stage on the path, are you a stream enterer or even beyond?


Stream enterer according to the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetter_(Buddhism)#Sutta_Pitaka.27s_list_of_ten_fetters]fetters model.

RE: OK, Let's Do This
Answer
11/12/12 10:51 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
  • A desire to lose weight -- the assumption being that obesity has a large "control the mind" component, and meditation helps train the mind

  • Hi Robert, I have used the IF diet with success in the past (Intermittent fasting).
    This is a good website to read about it: http://gettingstronger.org/diet/, I strongly recommend reading the content linked by it too.
    Even though I say that, try not to let this conflict with your practice too much, it is secondary to practice.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 11:46 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
  • A desire to lose weight -- the assumption being that obesity has a large "control the mind" component, and meditation helps train the mind


  • I got into meditation from kung fu. You mentioned karate in another thread. Do you have a martial arts background? I've found and have consistently been told that a regular exercise program helps with the practice. It also helps to deal with the unsettling aspects of the dukkha ñanas. Conversely, as I've applied silent noting to my kung fu practice, I've gotten compliments from my kung fu teacher for being more present, doing the moves more correctly and managing to put more power into them. Since I'm not particularly good at kung fu, I find this to be a refreshing change and pretty motivating to do more noting off the cushion while at the same time exercising more intensely. I do find that practicing kung fu as vipassana is habit-forming and pleasant. I get a low-level trance from it.

    I'm mentioning this since I also saw a mention of eating once a day. A monk suggested this to me on a retreat as an option against drowsiness, since the starchy vegetarian retreat food that I was stuffing myself with was making me sleepy. I happily took his other advice and kept on overeating (I lost 10 pounds on that retreat). I find the practice is hard enough as it is and requires a lot of mental energy. Eating less robs me of mental energy. Exercising more makes me more relaxed, but at the same time, more lively and focused. Different things work for different people.

    Getting told "you should exercise more" is annoying nagging. I don't mean it that way. All the same, you may find that some forms of exercise are nice supports for noting or some other style of concentration and fill the same role as walking meditation while giving you the added bonus that you're looking for. Other people have posted about getting a fair bit of mileage out of combining meditation with weight lifting.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 12:00 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
  • A desire to lose weight -- the assumption being that obesity has a large "control the mind" component, and meditation helps train the mind


  • Also, pushups are a nice warm up before sitting. Doing some quick exercise of that sort wakes up the mind and can be useful when drowsy when meditating right after waking up or right before going to bed. As time goes by, you'll notice needing more pushups (or leg raises or pull ups, whatever you choose) to get the same effect.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 12:20 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Only 10 minutes this morning. Awoke late, so couldn't sit for as long as I'd hoped.

    Much the same as yesterday though: sat in a chair, focused on abdomen. Not uncomfortable this time though. Just sat.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 12:27 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
    Fitter Stoke:
    3rd path.

    So that's an anagami, yes? You are free of sensuous craving and ill will?

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 12:59 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    If you want to lose weight, I would strongly recommend giving the 5:2 (sometimes written as 5/2) diet a try. It's a form of intermittent fasting:

    BBC Horizon - "Eat, Fast and Live Longer"

    I've seen it work amazingly well with several people, including myself, and it's easy, sustainable and 5 days a week you can pretty much eat what you like (although I personally would't recommend eating crap just because you can).

    Current evidence, albeit limited in human trials, also suggests that you'll age more slowly and have significantly reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, brain disease etc. etc.

    I find that it improves my concentration also (why you don't usually eat after mid day on retreat, or as a lot of buddhists do in everyday life).


    With regards to getting seriously into meditation, I would suggest going on a retreat. Perhaps a 10 day Goenka as they're potentially cheap/free, all over the place and pretty hardcore. You'll have to do 3 1/2 days anapanna and if that doesn't still your mind I don't know what will. The only problem is that it's physically gruelling and if you're finding shorter sessions tough you may be in for a rough ride. You can sit in a chair though and you can always alternate between that and going to your room and lying on your bed for a bit (so long as you don't nod off).

    My analogy would be that somebody who's tried skiing a couple of times on a dry ski slope doesn't really have any idea what it's about. Until you get out for a week in the mountains on real snow, it's just not the same. A retreat would give you a real taste of what it's all about and to generate a decent amount of momentum to begin building a regular practice. That's how it was with me anyway...

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 1:07 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Nope.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/12/12 1:08 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
    Fitter Stoke:

    emoticon I was literally just reading that!

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/13/12 7:52 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Last night.
    Because I managed only a short sit yesterday morning, and remembering someone mentioning that it's possible to meditate while lying down in bed, I decided to give that a try, to add a little bit extra time to that day. After turning my light out, I just watched my breath for a while. I reckon I did it for about ten minutes before falling asleep.

    Today.
    Too rushed this morning to sit at all, so waited until this evening. Just finished a 40 minute sit. Very different in quality from the first attempt two days ago. It was almost effortless and very relaxing. I noted breath a lot, but much of it was observing colored lights behind my eyes. That got quite intense at various points and was accompanied by a not unpleasant "hollowness" in the pit of my stomach, as if I was suddenly falling backwards in my chair. Tingling in my hands too. I just tried to note all of those things. Various other sensory effects, all combining in what was a pretty relaxing 40 minutes that was over before I knew it. I tried to keep noting throughout, but at various points I got caught up in the effects. And at one point I even found my thoughts wandering to now, when I imagined myself writing this post.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/14/12 10:24 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    DAY 3

    First session
    40 minutes, still in my chair. Alternating Mahasi noting with breath following/counting. Not as peaceful as yesterday, but not as uncomfortable as day one. Still lots of distraction, then coming back to the breath or abdomen.

    Comments
    Although I was distracted, I'm noticing some pattern to the experience (of being distracted, and then coming back to noting, and then being distracted again, and ...). One thing is that at any point when I'm not distracted and off thinking about daily life, I can identify me as being in one of two "states".

    The first of the two could maybe be described as the "closed eyes equivalent" of normal, everyday open-eyed looking at and attending to an object. Like a vase of flowers. In the "closed eyes equivalent" (CEQ), it's not a vase of flowers (obviously), it's whatever visual signals the brain is getting from "attending to" the insides of my eyelids. They manifest as a melange of swirling colors. I doubt there's anything noteworthy here. All I'm describing (I think) is what happens when you dramatically reduce the visual data available to the eyes, so they and the brain start making stuff up. Now, I'll note that although this state seems to be fairly mundane, it is somewhat different from *actually* "looking" at something with one's eyes shut. I tested that by shifting my attention (still with eyes closed) from the swirling colors and onto a floater that's in my left eye. I did that fine, and so by contrasting the two experiences, I could confirm that while attending to the floater really is just "looking", there is something a bit more detached about the color thing. OK, but that's only the first of the two states. The floater thing was just something I did to check out some of the qualities of this "color swirling" state. Now I'll describe the second state.

    The second of the two states could be described as the CEQ of staring into space. You know the deal, where your eyes are open, you're completely awake and aware, but you're just not attending to any specific object.

    Finally, for a brief moment today, I think I spotted a third state, or an intersection or union or something of the two. To describe it, I need to first describe two what I could perhaps call "parameters" of states. One I'll name "distractibility" and one I'll name "attentuation". (If these concepts have any integrity then maybe they already have names. But I don't know if they *do* have integrity, and I certainly don't know the names if they do.)

    The first state -- the "color swirling" one -- has low distractibility, and low attenuation. When I'm in that state, I can stay in that state, I don't end up wandering in other thoughts, but I am clearly aware and "attending" to a vivid and unattentuated object of thought -- in this case, swirling colors[1]. So one way of looking at it is that I'm not easily distracted by everyday thoughts because I kinda *am* "distracted" by the colors.

    The second state -- the "staring into space" one -- has high attentuation, but *very* high distractibility. When I'm that state, I'm attending to nothing -- almost as if my thoughts themselves are disappearing. But precisely because of that, my mind seems to freak at the developing "thought vacuum". The vacuum seal weakens and then breaks, and then in flood thoughts of "what's for dinner tonight" or "how will Obama care affect businesses" or even "I wonder if what I'm experiencing here is one of two states ...". And that breakdown of the vacuum appears to be inevitable at the moment. If I'm in the second state, I'll always quickly exit and end up day dreaming.

    So the possible third state was simply one of low distractibility and high attentuation. It happened only briefly and I only realized *after* I'd left it and moved into the second state (at which point my timer went off to end the session, so I didn't get too far into daydreaming). But there was a fleeting moment when I somehow felt I was not distracted, but neither was I thinking *anything*.

    Or maybe I'm just seeing shit because I'm sitting in a nice quiet room with my eyes shut emoticon

    [1] In fact, I think even the colors are slightly attentuated. In fact I think that's exactly the difference in quality I noticed between attending to the colors and then attending to the floater in my eye. The floater thing is really full-blown, unattentuated attention/thought. My brain is "on it". The "detachment" I mentioned when I compared the color swirling to the floater is probably a function of the slight attenuation in attention to the colors.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/14/12 12:07 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    DAY 3

    The second state -- the "staring into space" one -- has high attentuation, but *very* high distractibility. When I'm that state, I'm attending to nothing -- almost as if my thoughts themselves are disappearing. But precisely because of that, my mind seems to freak at the developing "thought vacuum". The vacuum seal weakens and then breaks, and then in flood thoughts of "what's for dinner tonight" or "how will Obama care affect businesses" or even "I wonder if what I'm experiencing here is one of two states ...". And that breakdown of the vacuum appears to be inevitable at the moment. If I'm in the second state, I'll always quickly exit and end up day dreaming.



    If you're staring, you can try staring at a spot on a blank wall. I do that a lot. It turns into a sort of kasina meditation. You can keep on bringing the mind back to the narrow spot on the wall and note eye posture (looking down, looking up, looking forward) and your emotional response to all of this any time you either feel that attention is slacking or you want to get more focused. Eventually visual patterns emerge in the narrow spot you've chosen to focus on. See how the patterns change. How does a closer focus change the pattern? What does that do to you mood. What does a wider focus do? While this is happening, the mind gets absorbed into the show. Things become pleasant, fun and vibratory. The width of attention expands and you find yourself not having as narrow a focus anymore, despite becoming more absorbed. You can play around with these sensations. It's a fun game. It's also very effective.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This
    Answer
    11/16/12 12:00 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    Or maybe I'm just seeing shit because I'm sitting in a nice quiet room with my eyes shut emoticon


    Heh. Keep it up!

    You could just make notes of those two qualities you noticed - distractability and attenuation.

    You could keep an eye on the moment when either of the two states ends.

    Cheers,
    Florian

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/16/12 4:05 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Day 4 - 2012-11-15
    No sit today

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/16/12 5:06 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Day 5 - 2012-11-6
    Set my timer for 45 minute, but gave up after 15. Still just sitting in my chair, still just trying to stay with my primary object. But restless legs, tenseness all over, and it didn't help I hadn't eaten lunch. May try another sit later this evening.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/17/12 11:41 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Try starting with metta meditation. Might help with the tension.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/17/12 12:05 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Day 6 - 2012-11-17
    45 minute sit. Chair. Noting. No discomfort, but I still have the basal concentration of a kitten surrounded by balls of wool and toy mice.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/17/12 12:09 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
    fivebells .:
    Try starting with metta meditation. Might help with the tension.

    Thans fivebells. I'll keep that in mind. One thing I need to be careful of though is giving up too soon on one approach and ending up jumping from method to method without giving any single technique a chance to work. That's a particular problem of mine that I've noticed in several areas in my life over the years -- like music practice, fitness, academic study. I'll keep at simple noting or anapanasati for a little longer to see if I start to see some progress. If not, metta could be worth a try.

    thanks!

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/17/12 5:20 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Day 6 - 2012-11-17, Second sit
    20 minutes, sitting and noting. Very pleasant sit this time. Since it was the second sit, I had decided to do in a kind of "don't take myself too seriously" spirit. At various points I felt light-headed, almost dizzy, but in a pleasurable way. I just noted it -- "dizzy", "pleasure" -- and kept going. Then I felt proud of the fact that I was able to note the pleasurable dizziness rather than simply wallow in it. But I spotted that and noted it too -- "pride". Of course then I felt even prouder that I'd spotted and noted the pride, and I noted that -- "proud about noting that pride". Fortunately I somehow avoided getting into some kind of infinite proud-note-proud-note-proud-... regress and got back to my abdomen emoticon
    20 minutes was up before I knew it, but I could have gone on a lot longer.

    ** addition **
    Forgot to mention. A couple of times, during the light-headedness, I got a rush of excitement, as if something profound was about to happen. Like maybe I was going to suddenly get major concentration "lock". If that happens again, and unless someone of experience advises otherwise, I'm going to consider that to not be significant and simply to note it like anything else. But it did make me aware of the fact that anticipation can be a danger here. I assume the right mentality is, while maintaining a reasonable level of positive belief or faith that this whole shebang is worth the bother, at the same time not really looking forward to what it is that makes it worth the bother. In other words, whether the sit involves aching legs and itchy eyes on the one hand, or floating around the room surrounding by fairies and angels on the other, the best approach (at least for me as a beginner, if not for everyone) is always just to note, note, note. Yes?

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/18/12 2:08 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Day 7 - 2012-11-18
    30 minute sit. Chair. Noting.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/18/12 2:08 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Day 7 - 2012-11-18. Second sit
    45 minute sit. Chair. Noting.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/18/12 2:33 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    ...whether the sit involves aching legs and itchy eyes on the one hand, or floating around the room surrounding by fairies and angels on the other, the best approach (at least for me as a beginner, if not for everyone) is always just to note, note, note. Yes?


    As long as the noting is achieving its intended function of establishing mindfulness, yes.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/18/12 3:53 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
    fivebells .:
    Robert McLune:
    ...whether the sit involves aching legs and itchy eyes on the one hand, or floating around the room surrounding by fairies and angels on the other, the best approach (at least for me as a beginner, if not for everyone) is always just to note, note, note. Yes?


    As long as the noting is achieving its intended function of establishing mindfulness, yes.

    Presumably it takes some time to get there though, yes? Is so, how long should I keep at it, in the face of apparently *not* establishing mindfulness, before deciding I'm not doing it right or that I should try something else (like the metta you suggested)?

    Also, how do I know I'm establishing mindfulness? I do experience periods where my mind is calmer and more focused than others. But I'm not sure if that is what I'm supposed to be experiencing.

    My current feeling is that my priority is simply to establish a regular habit of sitting, and not worrying too much about success or otherwise for a month or three anyway. If by then my mind is still racing all over the place, then I should consider changing what I'm doing. But maybe that's wrong?

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/19/12 11:38 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    how do I know I'm establishing mindfulness? I do experience periods where my mind is calmer and more focused than others. But I'm not sure if that is what I'm supposed to be experiencing.


    Keep track of how often the mind is wandering from the task of noting. If that's happening less, you're on the right track. Calmer and more focused is a good sign.

    Robert McLune:
    My current feeling is that my priority is simply to establish a regular habit of sitting, and not worrying too much about success or otherwise for a month or three anyway. If by then my mind is still racing all over the place, then I should consider changing what I'm doing. But maybe that's wrong?


    It really depends on individual character and what you're hoping to get from the practice. If the goal is the development of concentration, then experimentation is called for when hindrances arise. If the goal is to get the student to give up chasing after something when it's hindering their project, then a few months/years of "wax on, wax off" or ngondro practice might be called for.

    You want to be giving things a good try, but a few months is too long.

    Also, I was not suggesting metta as an alternative to noting, but a supplement in response to the tension you were experiencing. It is good to have a repertoire of responses to the different hindrances, otherwise you can find yourself up against a wall. As far as I know, noting practice is a good way to develop mindfulness.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/20/12 2:09 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    Also, how do I know I'm establishing mindfulness? I do experience periods where my mind is calmer and more focused than others. But I'm not sure if that is what I'm supposed to be experiencing.


    Don't worry about the results ("what I'm supposed to be experiencing"). Just get back to the meditation when you notice you weren't doing it. That's all there is to it. "Mindfulness" is just a weird buddhist way of saying "remember what you're doing".

    My current feeling is that my priority is simply to establish a regular habit of sitting, and not worrying too much about success or otherwise for a month or three anyway. If by then my mind is still racing all over the place, then I should consider changing what I'm doing. But maybe that's wrong?


    You'll get the hang of when to change something, and you'll find lots of suggestions what you can change here on the DhO, either by reading old threads or by asking.

    I think you're on the right track when you feel that you have to give it some time to see what's working and what should be changed.

    Cheers,
    Florian

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/20/12 2:19 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Week 2, Day 1 - 2012-11-19
    No sit today

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/21/12 1:50 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Week 2, Day 2 - 2012-11-20
    No sit today. Again. Sigh. Holidays start tomorrow, so hopefully that will give me chance to get back to it.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/21/12 4:22 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Surely you can slip in 5min somewhere? A lowered toilet seat works great as a makeshift Bodhi Tree Root.

    Remember the simile of the raft? Build a raft to cross the flood, not an ocean liner. Make it from whatever you find, and use it to scramble across. It only has to work once.

    Cheers,
    Florian

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/21/12 9:28 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    It happens some days that I've put off sitting for too long and I'm too drowsy to sit and meditate properly. In those cases, I'll set the timer for 10 minutes, maybe do a few push-ups to briefly be more alert and have one really drowsy sit where I fall asleep every minute for a few seconds, and struggle to note. It's still worth it. It allows you to keep some momentum.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/21/12 9:36 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Also, at what time of the day do you usually sit? What are your ideal times? I know this is completely obvious, but having a regular schedule helps. After a few weeks, it becomes to routine to sit at your chosen time every day.

    How do you commute to work? I frequently note or do a bit of jhana practice while taking the subway to work. Noting while walking from the subway station to the office is also nice. Any few extra minutes that you can squeeze in will help.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/21/12 9:59 PM as a reply to Florian.
    Florian Weps:
    Build a raft to cross the flood, not an ocean liner.

    Making the perfect the enemy of the good (a.k.a. perfectionism) is the story of my life :-)

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/21/12 10:00 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Week 2, Day 3 - 2012-11-21
    20 minutes. Noting. Chair.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/22/12 11:26 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Week 2, Day 4 - 2012-11-22 (Thanksgiving)

    First Sit: 20 minutes. Noting. Chair.

    Second Sit: 10 minutes. Noting. Seiza bench.
    Decided to give the bench a go after hearing Shinzen Young talk several times about the importance of posture. I had definitely been slouching in my chair. I'd moved to the chair and away from the bench because the bench made my knees sore and my feet go numb. But I found useful advice in this video and so decided to give it another try. I probably need to buy myself a zabuton or two to get the ankle-hanging effect he describes, but meantime a blanket could work.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/22/12 11:28 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
    Jigme Sengye:
    Also, at what time of the day do you usually sit? What are your ideal times? I know this is completely obvious, but having a regular schedule helps. After a few weeks, it becomes to routine to sit at your chosen time every day.

    How do you commute to work? I frequently note or do a bit of jhana practice while taking the subway to work. Noting while walking from the subway station to the office is also nice. Any few extra minutes that you can squeeze in will help.

    My time varies, but I agree it would help to make it more routine. I drive to work, and I'm not sure I'm ready to meditate while behind the wheel (and I'm pretty sure the other road users aren't :-) )

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/23/12 11:38 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Week 2, Day 5 - 2012-11-23
    20 minutes: 12 minutes on seiza bench then 2 minutes on chair and then 6 minutes kinhin ('cos sitting on the chair resulted in pins and needles in my feet after coming off the seiza bench). Abdominal noting.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/23/12 3:43 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    How did the pins and needles & abdominal noting get along? You noticed the pins and needles - did you note them? When you decided to change your posture - did you note the decision?

    Cheers,
    Florian

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/23/12 4:36 PM as a reply to Florian.
    Hey Florian
    Florian Weps:
    How did the pins and needles & abdominal noting get along? You noticed the pins and needles - did you note them? When you decided to change your posture - did you note the decision?

    Cheers,
    Florian

    Abdominal noting -- not really sure how it "got along". Same as always I guess, with perhaps a little bit of an increase in the time I'm actually noting before I end up day dreaming.

    Pins and needles -- I "noticed" them for sure, but I don't know if noticing constitutes noting. I really just gritted my teeth and then gave up and started kinhin.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/24/12 12:53 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    You have to notice things before you can note them. The note is an acknowledgment that you noticed something.

    You are trying to notice what's going on in your abdomen - that's fine. When you notice other things like pinpricks or gritting your teeth, note that, too, and then direct your attention back at the sensations which tell you that you have an abdomen.

    The mindfulness bit is remembering that you're noting your abdominal sensations. So the teeth-gritting is a necessary part of that.

    But you're not just training mindfulness here: you're also training discernment ("wisdom"), which is what the notes do in a slightly stylized manner: ackowledging that you've discerned (noticed) something, such as a sensation of your abdomen or gritted teeth or pin-pricks.

    Cheers,
    Florian

    edit: Have you re-read the section on the five spiritual factulties in MCTB in light of your recent meditation practice?

    MCTB The Five Spiritual Faculties, which is the introductory passage, also read the three subsequent sections which go into the details.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/26/12 2:01 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Bump.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/26/12 2:17 PM as a reply to Florian.
    Florian Weps:
    Bump.

    Robert pulls the duvet over his head and yells a muffled "Yeah, yeah. In a *minute*!!"
    R

    P.S. Thanks emoticon

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/27/12 8:31 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Week 3 Day 2 -- 2012-11-27
    I've been reading "Focused and Fearless" and decided I'm going to switch from Mahasi-noting to simple breath watching. My aim right now is simply to establish a good habit of practice, and attain access concentration and I think noting is confusing me. As an ADD type, and an inveterate Maximizer, I am always at risk of making things more complex than they need to be, and of being distracted by too many choices. So simplicity is my friend, and breath watching it is for the time being.

    33 minutes, seiza, mostly with a seiza bench but with a little bit on my zafu towards the end.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    11/27/12 9:06 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    For mindfulness of breathing, I recommend the procedure outlined in the first chapter of Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond. I find it very helpful to ease into attending to the breath that way.

    Taking pause on the logging
    Answer
    11/30/12 11:38 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    I've been continuing practicing over the past few days but I've decided the logging thing is counterproductive for me at this time. So I'm going to stop (the logging, not the practice) for the time being.

    The reason is that I'm finding that logging keeps me analyzing. And while analyzing was useful to get me to the stage where practice could begin, I'm now finding it a hinderance. A primary reason is that analysis leads me to unrealistic expectations (I want 2nd jhana NOW!; I want stream entry NOW!; I've been at this a whole week, why am I not enlightened yet!?); those in turn, through being unfulfilled, constitute an assault on my limited supplies of faith that this stuff is worthwhile at all, and so there is serious danger that the very same thinking and analysis that led me here will then result in me giving up entirely. I think for me, the best approach for the time being really is "Don't do something; just sit there!" where "do something" includes logging.

    I'll probably check back in at some point, and in the meantime I'm looking for a personal teacher who can understand and handle the extent to which I am an inveterate arguer/analyzer. Clearly logging and contact with other more experienced people is *in general* useful. But right now, today, for me, the logging-on-the-internet method is more problematic than useful.

    Thanks all for the help so far; with a particular hat tip to Florian.

    RE: Taking pause on the logging
    Answer
    11/30/12 1:39 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    You may want to consider doing the Life Retreat with Kenneth Folk which begins in February:

    http://www.liferetreat.me/february-2013-life-retreat/

    Incidentally, your style, recent path, and meditative struggles strongly resemble mine, which is not surprising since I'm also a scientist (mathematician/computer science) and analytical type.

    RE: Taking pause on the logging
    Answer
    11/30/12 4:30 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Good luck!

    RE: Taking pause on the logging
    Answer
    11/30/12 5:09 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    I've been continuing practicing over the past few days but I've decided the logging thing is counterproductive for me at this time. So I'm going to stop (the logging, not the practice) for the time being.

    The reason is that I'm finding that logging keeps me analyzing. And while analyzing was useful to get me to the stage where practice could begin, I'm now finding it a hinderance. A primary reason is that analysis leads me to unrealistic expectations (I want 2nd jhana NOW!; I want stream entry NOW!; I've been at this a whole week, why am I not enlightened yet!?); those in turn, through being unfulfilled, constitute an assault on my limited supplies of faith that this stuff is worthwhile at all, and so there is serious danger that the very same thinking and analysis that led me here will then result in me giving up entirely. I think for me, the best approach for the time being really is "Don't do something; just sit there!" where "do something" includes logging.

    I'll probably check back in at some point, and in the meantime I'm looking for a personal teacher who can understand and handle the extent to which I am an inveterate arguer/analyzer. Clearly logging and contact with other more experienced people is *in general* useful. But right now, today, for me, the logging-on-the-internet method is more problematic than useful.

    Thanks all for the help so far; with a particular hat tip to Florian.


    I also found logging to be counterproductive in my own experience pre-MCTB 1st path. You have the tools, now all you need to do is maintain the motivation to gather momentum putting such tools into good and effective use. Those unrealistic expectations are the norm. Accept them as part and parcel of the path of untangling those me, me, me desires (thus getting caught up in content i.e. such as being sidetracked by logging and analysing) from simple recognition of what is occurring right now i.e. those me, me, me desires intermixed with recognition of other sense door activity, mind states, itches, pain, urges, mental images, feeling tone and so on. Note them all with the notion that it is all grist for the mill. If the idea that no matter what the mind does, and how the experience of being alive plays out, regardless of how wrong and distracting it is designated for one's practice goals, it will be noticed, accepted and noted and let go of for whatever replaces it.

    Jack Kornfield's RAIN approach is helpful:'

    Recognition: The willingness to see what is happening allows us to step out of denial.
    Acceptance allows us to “… relax and open to the facts before us. … With acceptance and respect, problems that seem intractable become workable.”
    Investigation: “Whenever we are stuck, it is because we have not looked deeply enough into the nature of the experience. As we undertake investigation, we focus on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (body, feelings, mind, and dharma).”
    Non-identification “… means that we stop taking the experience as ‘me’ or ‘mine’. … ‘Is this really who I am?’ … We see the tentativeness of this identity. Then we are free to let go and rest in awareness itself.”



    Distraction comes when the phenomena that distracts is not integrated into that panoramic awareness of specific neutrality and acceptance of all phenomena. When that which previously distracted is accepted and noticed (and noted if that is the chosen tool of practice) as just more manifesting compounding and triggered (cause and effect) phenomena, including the mind state of 'wandering' and 'getting sidetracked' (by one's own tendencies), none of it need be an interruption to momentum, and all of it can be left to arise dependent on factors, initially seemingly beyond one's control. This is the conditioning of this mind. It sucks when aspects of it are given status and mental weight, such as not desired, and desired more of. Initially, noting it all and accepting it all as part and parcel of one giant mass of conditioning can lead to it's relaxing and calming. Distraction is no longer distraction even though the mind moves here and there, as it is noticed for what it is, just another mind state. And with further unravelling, may cease to move like so due to lack of fuel (i.e. lack of noticing).

    Alternatively, there are other ways to work with such distracting tendencies.

    The choiceless fully integrative 360 degree acceptance of the entire field of experience and all compounding manifestations, mind states, thoughts, views, sensations, images, etc worked well for me. But so did the removal of distracting thoughts when I initially started in the goenka tradition. Perhaps one approach will work better for you over the other at the moment.

    Nick

    RE: Taking pause on the logging
    Answer
    11/30/12 5:05 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Robert McLune:
    A primary reason is that analysis leads me to unrealistic expectations (I want 2nd jhana NOW!; I want stream entry NOW!; I've been at this a whole week, why am I not enlightened yet!?); those in turn, through being unfulfilled, constitute an assault on my limited supplies of faith that this stuff is worthwhile at all, and so there is serious danger that the very same thinking and analysis that led me here will then result in me giving up entirely. I think for me, the best approach for the time being really is "Don't do something; just sit there!" where "do something" includes logging.

    Thanks all for the help so far; with a particular hat tip to Florian.


    You're welcome. Looks like you made good progress. You got the heat up under the proverbial kettle, and it's becoming a bit uncomfortable in there. Now keep up the heat (keep doing your practice).

    Thus, until you find that teacher who will get you enlightened, just keep noting the desire to be enlightened, and the fear of over-analyzing, and the fear of giving up... Note everything. Come up with ways to fuel your practice, to keep up the heat.

    Good luck, and practice well.

    Cheers,
    Florian

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    3/27/13 1:41 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Quick update. Just stopped by for a wee look. Not staying long.

    Still sitting. Still trying to keep it simple and discipline myself not to look too far ahead to where I hope I'll get. No rush, but hair on fire an' all that.

    Hope you're all well.
    That's all for now.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    6/2/13 5:53 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Still sitting. Currently working with Vern Lovic's book, "Meditation For Beginners - 22-Day Course" which is proving useful.

    Hope all are well.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    6/25/13 6:14 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Cool, good to hear you've kept going. Practice well!

    Cheers,
    Florian

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    7/8/13 10:08 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Found Lovic's book really useful. I allowed myself to read only a chapter a day, each before sitting. I'm finding myself less and less inclined to apply my rational faculties to meditation, and instead just do it. So I decided not to "read ahead". Just one chapter, as fuel for that morning's sit. Any other reading I'm trying to make "motivational", so stuff about how people have managed to continue to sit, rather than theory. I'm a *very* "theory" kind of guy, but my hunger for reason and logic seems to be quietening for now, which I like. I've also been trying to stay mindful during my normal day. Walking between offices, switching on a light, and so on. I'm keeping my movements slow and deliberate, just watching myself as I do regular things. Lovic suggested it, having done it himself. So I'm giving it a go.

    While sitting, I'm just noting. Breath or abdomen. Slowly increasing the time.

    I didn't manage to sit this morning, so I've just finished a 15 minute before-bedtime sit. I'm beginning to see periods of calm non-monkey-mindness. But tonight was especially so, and intense. Most of the session was verging on blissful I might say. About a minute or two into the sit, I experienced a sudden and a dramatic dropping away of "busyness". It happened yesterday morning too, but tonight it came on rapidly and hung around for the whole sit. To be honest I had to force myself to stop. I could have sat on for ages but I have an early morning meeting tomorrow so I have to get to bed.

    As the thoughts dropped away, I was still aware of the gentle noise of the a/c, an occasional car passing in the distance, the tightness of my instep (I'm kneeling on a seiza bench) as the circulation slowed, and so on. But all in a kind of bubble of quiet tranquility. There's a GIF somewhere in the internet showing something like what I felt. The sitter starts off being bombarded by the usual thoughts. That was me -- so much so, thus far, that I occasionally thought maybe I was just incapable of experiencing anything *but* that bombardment. But then the GIF shows the sitter being surrounded by what looks like some kind of "force field", and the deluge of thoughts then bounce off without ever hitting the sitter. And tonight, *that* was me.

    But while it was serene, there was also an excitement about it too. The best way I can describe it is as if I was like one of the kids in "The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe" and I'd found myself in the wardrobe for the first time and realized that I'd just discovered the door to another existence. There were colors behind my eyes, and almost light headedness, and I felt like I just wanted to explore. I forgot the time entirely and my iPhone bell (I'm using the "Insight Timer" app) came as a surprise.

    My aim throughout it all though is to follow the advice I've seen repeated here time after time, which is just to keep on noting no matter what. So that's what I did. But I have to admit it was fun. Verging, as I say, on blissful.

    That's all for now.

    Ongoing mindfulness -- much more central than I thought?
    Answer
    7/12/13 9:32 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Hard to know, from a beginners standpoint, just how much of an epiphany an insight is (if it's even that). But let me try this as a little one.

    I've been reading a short piece every morning, just before sitting. Recently it was a couple of little Kindle books by Vern Lovic, one of them on mindfulness. This morning, Chapter 3, "Thought", of The Dhammapada. The combination of Lovic's earlier words, with the Dhammapada's, and the simple act of trying to stay focused on just reading, plus a moment of effort in focusing on the top of my Kindle device itself, suddenly broke into the thought that mindfulness -- I mean the simple, throughout the day kind -- is of the utmost importance. I stress the "utmost". Over the past few years, I've often heard about the idea that one should be mindful, but I always took that in an optional, nice-n-friendly, motherhood-and-appple-pie sense of "Let's all the world love each other and pay attention to each bite of food, shall we?".

    But what suddenly hit me was, no, mindfulness is The Thing. The sitting down in the morning is merely an exercise intended to develop the mindfulness. But The Point, is constant, every-minute-of-every-day mindfulness in a substantial, solid, rich way. Sitting meditation is important, but it's a means to an end -- the end being ongoing, continuous mindfulness of the present moment[1]. I was struck by the thought that if I could only work on one thing in the context of meditation -- sitting and following the breath, or Mahasi-noting, etc -- that one thing should be, Just Be Mindful Every Moment Of The Day. Of course, that's not a command any given person can simply follow, You need to train into it -- hence sitting, the breath, Mahasi-noting, and so on. In *practice* they are probably essential. But they're NOT THE POINT.

    That then coalesced into the realization that until now I have had an unspotted "world view" of what a life involving meditation looks like. Until now, I think I had been seeing four kinds of "states of mind" (for want of a better phrase):
    1. Going about my daily life "unmindfully"
    2. Going about my daily life mindfully
    3. Sitting mindfully -- a.k.a meditating
    4. Sitting meditating deeply -- a.k.a. jhana and stuff

    But what I think I'm seeing is that a key aim of practice is to modify that list so there are only two "states". The first modification is to completely remove, as far as possible, the first of the above. I think that's the "figure-ground reversal" that Shinzen Young talks about. The second is to merge the above stages 2 and 3. So you then have:
    1. Meditating mindfully all throughout my daily life
    2. Sitting meditating deeply -- a.k.a. jhana and stuff

    That then makes sense of what I've often heard, that "jhana" literally means simply "meditation". But there's no "simply" about it. And I'm guessing that the eventual aim is to see even those two states merge into one:
    1. Going about my daily life meditating deeply

    Regardless of that last part, what has struck me is that mindfulness on a minute by minute basis isn't some kind of optional extra, like an athlete's little good luck routines on the starting blocks. Minute-by-minute mindfulness is the whole point! It's the off season gym work, the preparatory races, the intense in-season training, and the Olympic final itself.

    Shrug.

    [1] Actually, even that is not The End. But one step at a time!

    [EDIT: As far as impacting my practice, none of this makes too much difference. I'll just keep sitting as before, and note and so on. Although it might result in me bringing my mind to the present a little bit more frequently during the day than I so far have managed. But while I think I'm seeing that formal sitting is not The Point, I still take it as being the central effort for me, for now at least. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" :-)]

    RE: Ongoing mindfulness -- much more central than I thought?
    Answer
    7/12/13 10:47 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Some thoughts about that:

    Ajhan Ottama talks about that in this video
    If you don't have the time to see that (it's one hour long), short summary is this: if you cannot be mindfulall day long, you add another category to your list, wich is, simple tasks that do not require so much complex functioning of the brain, like eating, walking, waiting somewhere, dishing, house-cleaning in general, and stuff like that, 'cause they are everydaymoments where it's easier, and more realistic to be mindful then, let's say,while you are reading.

    Another interesting video (23 min) that talks also about that. [the part I linked it for begins at 6.15, lasts for about 3-4 min]

    Another thing Inoticed is that,when you are performing complex activities (talking, tiping, doing maths, reading and whatever), even if maybe you can't have some kind of vipassana-observing mindfullness, what you can do is putting more intention, more concentration while doing thoose tasks, wich is certainly useful in a daily-life context because they tend to be done better and faster, and it also help developing the mind as well.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    9/20/13 5:01 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Still practicing Robert? I'd love to read about it since I'm also at the bottom of mountain. I have't established regular sitting practice yet but I intend to as soon as possible.

    RE: OK, Let's Do This - Robert's Practice Log
    Answer
    9/25/13 5:36 PM as a reply to Ivo B.
    Ivo B:
    Still practicing Robert? I'd love to read about it since I'm also at the bottom of mountain. I have't established regular sitting practice yet but I intend to as soon as possible.

    Hey Ivo. Yes, still beating my head off the wall :-) I'd be lying if I said I'd managed to get really good regularity yet. If I was following the Jerry Seinfield approach of marking chains of X's, the most I'd have in a run would be 6 or 7 :-)

    Not logging in here much though, but popped by to ask a specific question, based on me reading Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder's Jhana book. It has really cleared up, for me, a lot of residual confusion about the respective purposes of samatha vs vipassana, and I think I'm going to really get cracking with their instruction, even to the extent of trying to get on one of their retreats.

    But, as I say, I have a question about it. I'll do that on another post.

    Signing off
    Answer
    11/7/14 8:08 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    This is a final check-in post. I have been struggling to "get into" meditation for a few years now, and finally, over the past two months, have managed to get the beginnings of consistency and have seen some remarkable (to me) initial progress. I was using the simple "habit building" method often attributed to Jerry Seinfeld, whereby you mark an X on a grid of paper each day you "do" your habit. The idea is that once the chain begins to build, the visual feedback of the growing chain gives an incentive not to stop. After a few fits and start, I began to build momentum, and am now into my second month of sitting every day. By experienced "sitters" standards, I know that's trivial, but it is a fundamental change and advance for me. I purposely sat for only 11 minutes each sit (although sometimes I sat twice in a day -- 11 minutes each time). And so while I don't consider myself in any way out of "newbie" territory, I think I'm beginning to move forward.

    RE: Signing off
    Answer
    1/28/14 4:13 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
    Inspiring transformation.

    Good luck on your path!