Nick P's Practice Log

Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/11/12 7:03 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/11/12 7:03 PM

Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Hi DhO,
so I grew tired of posting my experiences in various different categories, as it is all part of the same practice. So here's to start my practice log, which I expect to update whenever there's something noteworthy to add.

About me
I'm shooting for stream entry. I started meditating in March this year, crossed the A&P in May while trying to develop concentration and jhana, then gained access to the other rupa jhanas in July-August, then saw a hint of the 5th jhana (or maybe it was another A&P event?) at the end of August and haven't tried to get there again. I started stabilizing in Equanimity since then. The language on the post is a bit off when talking about high EQ, actually if we take this map as a reference, it's 11.2 Early Mastery of Equanimity. Then one day I had a near-miss and was floating for a couple days in 11.3 High Mastery of Equanimity, in what felt like a small sample of what it will feel like after SE. Then I slid back due to lack of practice. So I guess that's my cutting edge, but I only attained it once.

I can't go on a long retreat for now, so for now I'm just building momentum for a weekend retreat on the 7-9th of December at Gaia House. I'm aware that my chances at SE on such a short retreat are quite slim, but I'll still do my best with the time I have, and I'd like to at least explore EQ very well when I'm there.

Now I'm coming back to practicing after three weeks of almost no practice due to family reasons, and this is what I'm seeing:

Practice seems a lot more "productive" when it's been a while since I last practiced. This seems very counterintuitive to me.
On Tuesday I practiced on the train for an hour next to a very noisy group of girls chattering and inadvertently touching my knees every now and then, and it still felt very productive though. Then the next day I practiced in perfect conditions at home for an hour, and it was just fine, and I found it a lot harder to progress through the stages. These days I'm more inclined towards vipassana than samatha, and I go that way straight from access concentration, without bothering to go into jhana.

Sat twice for an hour each time. Anapanasati counting 3x10 out-breaths, then 2x10 in-breaths to start with. By the end of that I'm usually in access concentration and jump into the actual practice, this time vipassana. I don't really remember what thing belonged to which sit, so I'll relate them as one.

My attention was drawn to the visual sensations at the third eye spot. I see waves of energy that, most of the times, arise and pass away on their own without me being able to control them, either by will or by changing the breath pattern. So I just dwell aware of those waves, and their character change according to the stage of insight I happen to be in. At the beginning they are blinking very fast and encompassing the whole visual field, then they start moving in one direction and keep going that way. Sometimes a series of white lumps of energy present themselves in succession, and each of them stays put for a second and then quickly goes up, crashes against the "ceiling" of the visual field, breaks up and comes down its "side walls". When they crash against the ceiling, a physical sensation of a vibration accompanies the event.
Sometimes those energy things stay put for long enough and I can examine them in more detail, and I see they have a texture, it's very interesting. After building enough momentum, I kinda feel like it's time to move on, and I consciously focus on a spot one inch behind the "third eye", which triggers what feels like an adrenaline discharge. A bit after that, and on its own accord, the texture of the energy waves becomes very detailed, more luminous and easy to follow. A minute or so after doing that, the world becomes a lot darker and I struggle to find any energy waves in the visual field. That's when I turn to noting and the vibrations felt on the body. If there's an itch or pain, I focus on it to watch it mutate on its own. If there's none, I go through the vibrations on my fingers, the sensations of the breath, the pressures on the temples and the visual field. Spacing out happens considerably more at this stage. When I catch myself doing that, I try to start noting but it's still not a guarantee against spacing out. It's an improvement though. There's a big sense of fighting at this stage.
At some point I remember to stop fighting and accepting what comes, but it doesn't seem to work that well. Consciously, I can only stop the fight to some extent, but then the struggle drops on its own accord, at its own time. When that happens, I feel like I can sit for a long period and it also feels very normal. If I turn to the visual field, I see some activity (usually less than earlier in the sit) but I'm not too drawn to stay there too narrowly. Today I chose the breath as an anchor and I felt I was able to stay 100% with it without losing track at any point. It was hard to keep focused on the usual noting, so I turned to bystander noting, which felt so much easier to do. Many times, I noted "watch it as it craves stream entry", and a couple times I felt like something big was about to happen ("see how it anticipates"), and the heart started racing.

The only thing I remember distinctly of the second sit is that I felt like I was in EQ right from the beginning. Might have had to do with the fact that I kept some mindfulness in the three odd hours that passed between one sit and the next.

Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/16/12 9:01 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/16/12 8:45 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
These days I'm trying to not let a single day pass without practicing, I'd like to gather some momentum to reach new territory in the upcoming weekend retreat. Even if the retreat itself doesn't bring much insight, it's a great motivation to get my arse on that cushion more often, and probably it's already paying off.

The day after writing the previous post I was lurking on this forum and realised I had been striving too hard to practice insight. I had forgotten how good the jhanas felt, and also remembered the other benefits they used to bring me. A good session of concentration on the cushion makes it very likely that I'll be able to concentrate really well at work the next day, and be more awake and alert all other things being equal. Mid-week I fell into a mild form of re-observation, it actually felt more like a mixture between that and early Equanimity, things took an unpleasant feeling tone for no apparent reason but most of the time the mind was on top of that, not drowning in the negativity. It's like almost the whole week was somewhat overlaid with Equanimity.
Jhanas also feel different in this stage, it seems like I lost the ability or the motivation to go up to 4th samatha jhana as I used to do during the Dark Night to make it more tolerable. Now, I can remain in absorption up to 2nd, with piti holding it together. After that the focus loosens up too much and I find myself in a deep state of calm but investigating reality rather than basking in it. I don't mind, as this seems the Right Thing to do at this stage.

Today I was coming back home after a long day at work, with my mind drained. Then, coming back from the gym, the mind seemed to shift a bit and I found myself having a very open attitude, with my senses being very receptive, like a veil was taken from between them and reality. I feel like there's a veil between the senses and reality, and its thickness seems to vary a lot these days. When I'm most equanimous is when I feel that veil is thinnest. I was in the tube, and then walking about, and I felt the mind was effortlessly aware of the information coming from the six sense doors. Time for a great sitting, methinketh.

So I got home and sat for an hour. The first 20 minutes were spent going back and forth between the early and dukkha ñanas and their corresponding absorptions. It's the first time I've purposely tried to do exactly that (most of the times I go straight for insight and end up "a little bit" absorbed while striving), and it worked wonders, it intuitively felt right. After that I reached Equanimity, in about half of the usual time. The other 40 minutes were spent investigating that ñana, and I think it's the longest I've ever spent doing that. Today I saw clearly what was probably blurrier in other sittings:
- The energetic phenomena arose in the form I've been describing in previous posts. It was very clear, and it's also very clear that I have very little control over them, they arise and pass away on their own. That experience is confined to the visual field, and a pretty strong pressure at the temples. As before, when energy hits the ceiling of the visual field, there's a tactile sensation above that ceiling, sometimes reaching the crown.
- Focusing on a point of pressure (like at the temples) or pain (like in the back) made them shift, shift, and then explode in many vibrations. The pressure/pain would reappear shortly thereafter somewhere near the previous point.
- The mind state was very calm throughout, and as the ñana matured, it integrated more senses and aspects of the experience. Touch was evident as more and more points, outside noises were more present, and thoughts were obvious most of the times from the point of their arising.
- Craving for stream entry felt much weaker than in other sittings.
- Near the end of the sitting, I saw flashing light lines (shaped somewhat like a cobweb), not moving (unlike the "energy balls", which do move), strobing very fast maybe at 15 or 20 Hz, with A&P-like clarity but without A&P rapture overlaying (rather, it was very calm), and joined with the outside noises and the tactile sensations of pressure at the temples and the butt touching the cushion. It felt unitive, but at the same time didn't feel otherworldly, not sure I'm making sense here.
- No feelings of anticipation today, i.e. nothing "big about to happen". But a decent amount of mind commentary "keep going, you're on the right track, the aim is at hand", etc. The commentary was dutifully noticed, but it ended up being somewhat annoying in the end, which I also noticed.
- A fair amount of spacing out, which was noted as soon as I became aware of it (the longest must have been 1 minute), followed by a few seconds of noting, but I can't keep noting very long, it just doesn't feel like right effort at the moment. I just notice without labeling.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/18/12 8:09 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/18/12 8:09 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Friday's sit left me with a feeling of "I'm such a macho meditator, stream entry is at hand", so today's sit taught me some humility and reminded me of how skillful effort is needed for all stages in the path. And raised some doubts as to whether my cutting edge is really Equanimity. I rationally "know" it is, but it's amazing how the feeling tone of a given sit dyes the whole approach to practice afterwards. As you can see from previous posts, it also happens the other way round.

Today's sit could be described as follows:

Set the timer to 1 hour, sit, count 3x10 outbreaths, then 2x10 inbreaths, observing how I was only aware of the count but only half-heartedly of the breath, get into some weak concentration state, be interrupted by a chain of thought, go back to the object, sometimes choosing to go back to the breath, sometimes choosing to go back to visual and tactile sensations in the third eye area, sometimes going back to choiceless awareness. Start seeing/feeling late 3rd/early 4th ñana lights & sensations, focus on them, be distracted by another thought and getting embedded in the thought, be distracted from the thought by the A&P lights and getting embedded in the light, mind sticking to whatever arose. Pain/itches arising, try to focus on them, but too many arise at once and can't focus on one. Feeling hot, taking off the t-shirt, scratching itches, stretching, being hard on myself for doing that. Negativity arising, and not enough clarity to distinguish if it is a dukkha ñana or just frustration due to having such a restless mind today. Noting negativity, starting noting in order to get some focus, keep going for one minute, get interrupted by a chain of thought, come back 5 seconds later, keep noting for one minute, get interrupted by a chain of thought, come back 15 seconds later, give up noting, just trying to stay mindful, thinking "this isn't taking me anywhere", get up in frustration after 48 minutes.

That reminds me to honestly assess my level of mindfulness before starting the sit. If it's not high enough, prop it up with a few minutes of walking meditation before actually sitting.

On a positive note, I couldn't care less about stream entry today, I guess aversion killed craving emoticon
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/18/12 1:55 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/18/12 1:55 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Right, so I went to see some friends and said hey, why don't I give it a try again on the tube? I used not to be the biggest fan of meditating on the tube, but things did go very well the times I got a seat, and today was a Sunday, so why not.

So I did walking meditation to the station, then got a seat and meditated for 20 minutes there. It wasn't the most insightful sit ever, but I felt inclined towards absorption and that's what I did. Mainly 2nd jhana and a bit of 3rd and then I had to get off. When I feel "it's time", maybe a few minutes into the sit I consciously trigger the absorption by focusing on that spot behind the 3rd eye. For me, it's a really reliable way to induce jhana, but it doesn't seem to work out of the blue.
For example, I try it now while typing, and it does trigger something that vaguely resembles an absorption, but it's extremely weak and I don't think I could use that to move to a full absorption. Also, it's not the only way I can get into jhana, only the most reliable I find.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/23/12 6:46 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/23/12 6:46 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
I welcome thoughts, ideas, interpretations and advice.
At this point it doesn't feel like it's as simple as "keep practicing, you will eventually pop", or "just stop exerting yourself so much and relax into your what's already there, let reality unfold and do it's work", and some minor or major corrections need to be done to this practice. Ideally, in time for my weekend retreat in two weeks, so I can use that time to at least explore Equanimity as best I can.

Today's sit: 65-minute sit, untimed. Initial energy levels low, after a long day at work.

Resolve to do a sit seeking concentration rather than insight, maybe switching to insight towards the end if I feel like it.
Start off doing mindfulness of breathing, 3x10 outbreaths, 2x10 inbreaths, then trying to stay with the breath without counting. Mind wanders, I bring it back. Mind wanders again, I bring it back. Concentration more stable, able to stay for a few minutes with the breath, start feeling this familiar sensation of lightheadedness, also start to see lights in the visual field, shift my focus hard to the sensation of lightheadedness, and away from the lights as they tend to be hard to solidify (and so tend to lead me through a more insight-ish approach). Sense of a lot of effort and striving, I keep at it. After some minutes, the rapture becomes more intense but the sense of effort doesn't drop. I try to surrender to the rapture but it also starts to dissolve when I give up the effort. I sustain the effort for a while until I surrender, drop the effort, the rapture dissolves and I space out. Get jerked back from the wandering mind by a few images of bright lights and rapture coming back, this time effortlessly.
Then the following thought appears in the mind: I can reach Equanimity in any of two ways, either by the concentration route or the insight route, and I decide to keep treading the concentration route and start actively investigating reality only when in 4th samatha jhana. Insights seen until then are to be welcome, but not actively sought (i.e. as in noting, or as in sabotaging the mind's attempts to solidify reality).
Rapture drops quickly and I find myself basking in a feeling of well-being and feeling calm. After a while, this becomes boring and I consciously drop this subtle bliss as well, leaving only a deep peace felt in the background. This also holds for a few minutes, but after a while the mind starts to space out. I bring it back, it spaces out again. I start noting at a rate of one note every two seconds. Sometimes the mind speeds up to almost 2 notes per second, and I change the note to dat, dat, dat as I can't keep spitting words to name phenomena that fast. When it slows down I get back to words.
Physical sensations from the 5 sense doors are glaringly obvious, and at this stage the mind just notices them all, gross and subtle, without any exertion. Some energy waves noticed in the visual field going mostly upward and sometimes in 3D (upward and incoming), and a bit fainter than what I usually see when I do more insight-driven sittings. Feeling tones can be noticed in real time but aren't as obvious, I need to drive that noticing consciously. Thoughts are slippery, and I can note a bit less than a half of them in real time, but some 80% of them after 5 seconds of their arising, being embedded in them during that short period. I try to note mind states but they get intermingled with thoughts and don't change as fast as thoughts, so mind states are just a tiny fraction of my notes.
The background mind state was calmer than in my drier insight sittings. However the foreground of the attention field was filled with a lot of exertion. I tried just "relaxing into the present moment" many times but that resulted in spacing out so I went back at making effort. I kept noting and noticing, and this dissonance between peace in the background and effort in the foreground was apparent at all times. Some back pain started to build up. I just noticed it as one more sensation and carry on.
After some 10 times noticing willingness to end the sitting, I start moving to get up, some 50 minutes into the sit. I scratch the itches, stretch a bit but without opening my eyes. I notice some intention arising to keep going for a little while more, and I freeze in the position I'm at, probably not your classic meditation posture, similar to this.
I started noting again, and a lot of the sources of different negative sensations became apparent, mainly fear and anxiety. I noted them, though in an unorthodox manner: "fear of this", "fear of that", "anxiety at that", more like the kind of things one would say to the therapist, but those feelings were present there and then so I felt it appropriate to note them like that. At the same time, they were fears that are continuously present, only lurking in the back of the mind, and it was the same time I put some of them into words. Something I noticed is that a feeling of joy and freedom was arising while noting all those things. After a couple minutes of doing that, I went back to a more conventional technique. The back pain dissolved in champagne bubbles, though that might have been because of having stretched earlier. Vibrations were all over the body, particularly over the arms/hands and were a lot faster than before and with a lot of buzzing. The energy waves were apparent again, but were fewer and this time, every time they flew upward, they dragged the entire background with them (first time I saw this happen). Also, when there were no energy waves i.e. only the background, it wobbled badly. At this point, thoughts of craving for stream entry were predominant, mixed with feelings of anticipation and the heart beating faster. I stayed mindful to those phenomena until they calmed down, kept calm for one more minute, and got up, eyes slightly tearful.
James Yen, modified 10 Years ago at 11/24/12 11:58 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/24/12 11:58 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 270 Join Date: 9/6/09 Recent Posts
Hello Nick,

I'm just curious, as someone who has crossed the A&P (you), I was wondering how it affected your daily life.

Also, specifically how does this attainment (it is an attainment after all) manifest, how would you differ it from stream entry?

Answer as you wish, don't think too deeply.

Or don't even answer at all, it's up to you.

Peace brother.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/24/12 1:08 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/24/12 1:06 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
I understand by direct experience that the maps, at least up to the point I've visited, describe what really happens.

I experience more noticeable cycles in my daily life, between:
- a state of joy and high energy where concentration is easy
- a state of low energy where getting annoyed is easy and it's hard to concentrate on daily tasks
- a state of peace where mood is stable, I don't get worked up about stuff
those are influenced by experiences on the cushion but also by the sleep I got the previous night

I find it more natural to rest on physical sensations when I don't have anything to do (waiting in line, walking down the street, etc). When I do dwell in my stuff, I usually do so with awareness.

I have the feeling that my performance at work is much closer to my potential.

It's easier to make that extra effort in the gym, to do those 2 last reps to complete the set when lifting weights, just by focusing on the sensations.

Easier to put things in perspective, "this too shall pass".

Less anxious in certain social settings that used to make me anxious. Not a massive amount, but certainly noticeable.

Can't really talk about differences vs. stream entry as I'm not there yet. I could speculate and theorise, but so can you emoticon
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/25/12 5:15 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/25/12 5:07 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Sat 20 minutes yesterday, dry vipassana, I got to sit only when it was too late at night (3AM) and I was very sleepy. Very easy to sit though, despite the sleepiness, and had rather high energy for the time it was. Easy to follow the breath, easy to get lost in thought for some 5 to 30 seconds. Energy waves in the visual field are less obvious, I kinda chose to surrender to whatever needs to arise (so I guess that makes it easier to get lost in thought as I'm less vigilant). Visual background shaking and wobbly, and the edge of it was also wobbly. I'm trying to get used to it.

Sat 53 minutes today, dry vipassana. Actually resolved to sit for an hour, though untimed, and I got up when I thought it had elapsed.
Went straight from access concentration to a state of deep calm and OKness with everything. Having resolved to not make a big deal of all this and avoiding excessive exertion, it all unfolded rather easily although at times it felt as if I wasn't really meditating. Felt some kind of bliss waves initially, then it was a bit hard to stay present and I got restless, but the main feel of the sit was this mildly blissful peace. After some 20 minutes, this peace was extreme and I felt like I could stay for hours in that position.
Soon after I got (noted: ) bored and started to play around: asking myself who was feeling these sensations, who is meditating, and it was kind of fun as each time I asked the question some sensation arose in the body or the visual field. I resolved to get stream entry after counting down to 0: 5...4...3 (noting: anticipation)..2...1......then a bliss wave. This happened twice during the sit. It's interesting stuff, I kinda like it.
Recurrent notes: lights, vibrations (in my right hand), pressure (in my temple/s), peace, planning thoughts, path thoughts, pleasant.
Also at some point the pressure in (the surface of) my right temple slowly started going up to the mid point between the "third eye" and the crown, and from there slowly creeping towards the crown, but not reaching it. As it crept up it was less and less solid, and more vibratory.

Off cushion it's like there's a bit more distance between mind and stuff, but not always, and noticing things with awareness while talking with people/doing intellectual work is quite hard. My mood during the day is influenced, I'd say, by the number of hours I slept the previous night, rather than where the cutting edge of my practice is. I'm aware enough of my background mood, though, as to have no bleedthrough from either positive or negative ones.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 11/29/12 7:03 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/29/12 7:03 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Been having better momentum lately, sitting every day for 20 to 60 minutes, plus trying to do walking meditation wherever I go.

Today I was doing walking meditation for just 10 minutes when going from A to B, and focus shifted like this: first distracted with thoughts, then effortlessly focusing on the sensations in the soles of the feet while walking, then a brief period (a few seconds) of "only the seen" and when I realised that it shifted to just pure awe at the unfolding of reality, just deep awe. And time slowed, it must have been one minute but it felt like it took forever. Then thoughts started to intrude as I was arriving at B, and I was aware of them as they arose and kept them at bay...and seconds later I became aware of the intention to keep them at bay as the walk ended.

Today I sat for 45 minutes, after a long and demanding day at work. Experience just felt peaceful and effortless before the sit. I sat concentrating on the breath and it all felt easy and effortless, but that didn't mean I was very concentrated or wasn't interrupted by thought. Actually, many thoughts appeared and were noted, but after some 15 minutes I started to get more and more sleepy. I had moments of clarity interspersed with hypnagogic moments. At times it felt like I was waken up from the sleepy states by advances in insight territory, and then the mind got bored again and kind of fell asleep. Nowadays the visual background seems to change as much as the foreground, while I think that two weeks ago only the foreground changed (visual light waves). A few days ago the background shook and wobbled, today that happened as well, and also seemed like it got ripped apart a couple times.

These days it seems quite a few mini-insights off the cushion are appearing. For example, practicing well leads to pride, and if pride is not observed that leads to becoming embedded in the pride, which leads to not practicing well. That chain of causality can be cut, just by adding awareness to that process of feeling pride.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 12/2/12 10:51 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/2/12 10:50 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

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I didn't get to meditate on Friday and yesterday it was only 20 minutes while nodding off until I finally gave up (as in "get up and go to bed" not as in "accept and embrace my experience") as I was so sleepy.

Today I woke up refreshed, and went to meditate without any of the (100% non-dharma related) sleepiness that had haunted me during the whole of the week. It felt like going back to my first days of meditation, pre-A&P. I sat for an hour.
Tried to do mindfulness of breathing. Had such a restless mind all along, and frequently got lost in thought. It was like I was able to follow the breath for one minute, and the next minute was spent embedded in random thoughts. The general feeling was of peace and calm though, just as my first couple months meditating.
At one point I felt in some daydreaming, half-aware of what was going on. Some lights appeared, and they started showing texture, then the texture started changing, then I observed the texture and was able to identify the pattern within that texture, but was also able to spot "impurities" in that pattern in this and this place within that space. Then the mind "said" on its own, still within that half-aware state and without any conscious prompting "this is all changing and imperfect". Immediately those words echoed in the conscious mind, I woke up from that state startled and thinking "oh shit, that's anicca and dukkha".
Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful sit where I could barely notice any ñana markers, or rather, they were very very subtle. Noting felt like a lot of effort and I couldn't sustain it for more than a minute.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/12 6:10 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/12 6:10 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

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30-minute sit this evening. Counted 3x10 outbreaths, 2x10 inbreaths, then started noting: itching, itching, pressure (on the temple), itching, thoughts on work, journal thoughts, hearing (voices outside), itching, (breath) in, (breath) out, ease, calm, pleasant, [noted just feeling tones for a few minutes], hearing (mind-created high-pitched noise), blue, calm, pleasant, annoyed (at phone ringing outside)-unpleasant, proud, calm, planning thoughts, annoyed, (back) pain-unpleasant, progress thoughts, path thoughts, annoyed-unpleasant, pressure, vibrations (on two fingers), pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, (...lost in thought), in, out, in, out, blackness, vibrations, (visual) waves-pleasant, calm, (the noting itself is) slowing, pressure, fading, shifting, pressure-unpleasant, waves, moving, confusion, confusion, pressure, itching, pressure, pressure, false noting, (arm) jerk, itching, itching, waves, light, itching, false noting, confusion, pressure, light blue, path thoughts, peaceful, calm, (...spaced out...), spacing out, vibrations, pressure, (pain) dissolving, pressure, vibrations, pressure-unpleasant, (...lost in thought...), green, timer craving, confusion, pressure, vibrations, pressure, pressure (...lost in thought...), [bell rings]

I'm surprised at having seen colours. I don't remember them appearing in previous sits, although I might be mistaken.
This is the first time I noted for so long. It's usually very demanding on my attention and not very appealing, but I gave it a shot anyway. I'm more of a fan of "mindful noticing", but I can see it's easy to get embedded in much of the stuff. Actually, now I'm noticing how embedded I had been in previous sits in what I noted today as "path thoughts" and "progress thoughts", which, paradoxically, didn't appear much on this sit. It's not that I didn't know it, but today I saw it with a clarity that punched me in the face.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 12/12/12 2:37 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/12/12 2:37 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

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Cross referencing another post with some practice experiences for completeness:
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 1/6/13 4:52 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/6/13 4:52 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
It's been a while since I last posted, just wanted to give a quick update on where my practice is going as of late.

I found that I was striving a lot to get stream entry, and noting was part of that striving. It was a lot of work and didn't feel like right effort. Contrary to what I read on some other posts, it didn't get easier for me over time, so I changed strategies a bit. Now I'm trying to relax into my experience and in doing so letting the samatha jhanas arise, without any manipulation.
First and second jhanas are reached on pretty much every sitting, while third and fourth only appear on the longer sits ( > 30m) and even then not always. I've come to associating 1st jhana with a very narrow focus on the third-eye area, with pressure on that spot. On moving on to 2nd jhana, focus expands to a triangle with one corner at the third-eye area and the other two below the eyes. I feel energy moving over the surface of the head from the third-eye area to the crown area. A feeling of floating appears on 1st and is even stronger on 2nd. On reaching 3rd jhana the focus seems to expand to include the shoulders and the strong energy flows seem to stop, but it still feels like a very happy state. On 4th jhana any concept of focus disappears (no more triangles or spots), and all feels very normal, except that thoughts are very few and far between.

I'll probably do a bit more jhana practice before going back to noting, so I can keep some balance. I note that some vipassana practice is still happening on its own, even when the practice is on the concentration side. I don't resist it, though. I'm caring less than before about Path during the sits.
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 1/20/13 6:57 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/20/13 6:57 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

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This log is continued in KFD: link
Nick P, modified 10 Years ago at 1/31/13 10:49 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/31/13 10:49 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

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Moved to the new KFD: link
Nick P, modified 10 Months ago at 7/7/22 6:45 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 7/7/22 6:45 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
The "new" (now very old) KFD link that works is this. Stream entry happened on the Apr 09, 2013 post, and on the Apr 18, 2013 post I have a summary of the path to getting it. Then I continued to sit for another 5 months while struggling with motivation, and then I allowed life to take over while still enjoying the fruits. I then didn't practise for the following 9 years. During those the increased immediacy and clarity of sensations gained from stream entry were there, and clinging to worldly objects was and continues to be very reduced, compared to both my previous baseline and to what I see in other people, it looks as though it has faded into the background.

My motivation is back, inspired by picking up MCTB2. It's been a few years since Daniel published it, why I picked it up exactly last month I don't know, seems to have been a momentary whim. With a family life now featuring young children I don't have much time to formally sit, but the motivation is back, so I do reclining practice just before sleep (not great for me, I tend to fall asleep), and squeeze an actual sit when life opens some window of opportunity.

I just sat for 45 minutes, in which time passed quickly. By the time my timer rang I thought a bit less than 30 minutes had passed. I was doing mostly vipassana with light samatha, noting without words the whole time. Words don't seem necessary to capture the sensations, including thoughts.
In rough chronological sequence, I rose through some pleasant states focusing on counting and feeling the breaths in my nose and then moving on to the visual field and tactile sensations around the head and back. Feeling pain in part of the back, focusing on it and seeing how it disappears. Thinking about current events, about posture, about coming back to meditation, all seen as fleeting thoughts and put to rest as they pass - not lost in content. White light visuals and tension around the head, both with undefined high-frequency flickering superimposed on low-frequency waves. Eventually half-way through seeing more intense visuals, white on black background, bunched up in the center of the field and pulsating tense eyelids while the facial expression is relaxed, if that makes sense.
Then a few minutes of unremarkable sitting, some boredom (but noted), some spacing out, some back pain coming back, and emerging from that period the visuals changed to a succession of 10 or so detailed textures in the center of the visual field, some with colours other than white, like a pink mollusc, or wood from a tree stump, all going up, being "served" to the observer and then giving way to the next. Then all was chill for a few minutes, and then my body (but the head more than the rest) felt being pulled forwards, and next thing I know it was going backwards to its original position, seemingly with a few frames edited out. This happened around 5 or 6 times in as many minutes, with the strongest one being the first one. Then the rest of the sit, what felt like 5 or 10 minutes, was pretty uneventful, feeling similar to when "all was chill for a few minutes" (see above) while noting sensations slowly (didn't feel right to do it fast).

As I write this I have some nice soft waves around the area of the crown, and there is jarring pressure with what feels like a bit of electricity at the temples.
Nick P, modified 10 Months ago at 7/19/22 5:20 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 7/19/22 5:20 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
I typed a log entry but it seems to have vanished as I clicked Publish. I was describing a 45-minute sit where I went up the jhamas and half way through the sit the boundary of my hands resting on my knees seemed to disappear, and the hands expanded massively. Then the visual space was filled with white luminosity, which in time also dropped away, and what remained was a mental state where verbal thought seemed impossible. Then as I started investigating that state more actively, the above characteristics seemed to drop away and things became more corporeal once again.

I would like to compare notes with someone who has access to the formless realms, and hear your descriptions and any advice for insight from those stages.
Nick P, modified 10 Months ago at 7/21/22 5:14 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 7/21/22 5:14 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Been sitting for 45 minutes for the last three days, with earplugs. First day was after a heavy meal, going up the first 4 jhanas and what may have been the next 3 up to 7th, but unconvinced, see previous post for phenomenology. Second day, less concentration and more investigation, focus on the visual field, vedana aversive, like it's a chore.

Third day just now, still aversive prior to the sit and fidgeting but differently, and aversion disappeared as soon as I closed my eyes to meditate. Count 3x10 in breaths, 2x10 breaths, feel a high-energy knot in the area of the third eye, take it as an object, jhana rapture, drop the one-pointed concentration, rapture and bliss in that order in five-minute intervals as they lose their shine, and start investigating in that state. Posture becomes uncomfortable periodically, shift my body slightly a few times throughout the sit. Distracted thoughts in a different layer of mind, sometimes mind gets absorbed in content for a few seconds until brought back. Visuals unfocused, moving at variable speed across the field, strobing about ten times per second. Index fingers also with vibrations around the same frequency. After some time with the mind floating in what feels like an uncomfortable soup, aversion disappears and things (mostly visuals) are seen more clearly. A small pale still dot in the middle of the field starts vibrating, then becomes luminous and then explodes. A small white dot in the middle of the field vibrates, sends straight pinpricks of light in all directions and disappears. A ​​​​​​​skull looks at me from the middle of the visual field, vibrates violently, and disappears in an explosion of pinpricks of light. Some interval, the whole field strobes bright and dark, then the dark background of the field itself opens and reveals a layer behind, the mind becomes very absorbed in that scene, the heart accelerates, and then... I am sitting there meditating and everything seems very immediate, no big deal, I am just sitting there. Some mild pain in my upper back. My timer goes off and I turn it off, sit for a couple more minutes, think about what I will do next, and get up.

This is similar phenomenology as my entries on and around 9 April 2013.
Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 7/21/22 11:59 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 7/21/22 11:59 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 552 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
A good trick is: before pressing Publish, select all the text and cut it, then paste it back in and hit publish. If it disappears, the text will be in the clipboard so you can make a new post and paste it in. 

It's good to read your posts. The question of how practice and the fruits of practice blend into life on longer time scales is interesting to me. 
Nick P, modified 10 Months ago at 7/22/22 4:59 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 7/22/22 4:58 AM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Thanks Martin for the tip. In daily life, there is less suffering than before stream entry, and it's been almost ten years so this sticks. But it's very much not in your face. There isn't any more automatic immediacy to my experiences that I could notice, which might come with third path, or automatic agencylessness, which I read would be fourth, but a lack of attachment and aversion to things and experiences. It's not apathy, because the emotions are still there, but operates at the meta level, so there is less investment in those emotions, and they are much easier to let go if I want, and much easier to express skillfully if that's what I want. Doesn't mean that other people will judge those expressions skillfull, only that there is enough space between emotion and reaction that the frontal cortex can chip in before it is expressed, and therefore have a chance to change that expression.

Sit 45 minutes, vedana aversive, persistent distractions. Same setup, earplugs, counting breaths, j1->j4, but less intensity of jhana and more rapid distracted thoughts slip through even in jhana, so mind less calm. I didn't make a plan/resolution for the sit beforehand unlike most times, and that may have enabled more distractions. Lots of imagery of places/things that I didn't remember I remembered, such as memories from a commercial street in Takayama at night with all shops closed, the beach at Balchik, what I was wearing for meditation at Gaia House ten years ago, or the fact that the Pali word for formations is Sankharas. The jhanas don't satisfy. The fireworks that precede a fruition (which today happened with an image of an infinite line of faces all the way to the vanishing point, all looking to the side, collapsing onto each other) don't satisfy, to the point that the mind stopped the process while it was happening, and may have stopped the fruition. 

To my rational mind, nirvana is the only thing that ultimately satisfies, but today's insight is that the doors that lead to it are not it, and therefore don't satisfy. I'm not sure what to make of today's sit, if it was one distracted mess, or a source of wisdom, or both. Perhaps better to avoid rational analysis, and let all slot into place when the time is ripe.

​​​​​​​Edit: formatting
Nick P, modified 10 Months ago at 7/23/22 12:04 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 7/23/22 12:04 PM

RE: Nick P's Practice Log

Posts: 46 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
45 minutes sitting, no earplugs, different location, counting breaths, resolving samantha j1->j4 then vipassana. Vedana neutral, starting with great solid pressure on the temples. Halfway through, that turned to a vibration fest in the area of the crown, then outward pressure with vibrations, like something wants to pop. Like I had when sitting in daily life in high eq before path, except now I can never seem to know if I'm doing a review cycle, or this is related to the second path. Probably the former. Either way, just phenomena to let go of.