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Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log

Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 1/23/14 5:59 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log Change A. 8/25/13 11:57 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 8/25/13 10:36 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 8/31/13 11:46 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 9/8/13 2:05 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 9/24/13 4:44 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 10/10/13 3:29 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 10/27/13 9:35 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 10/27/13 2:20 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 11/21/13 5:34 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 12/8/13 6:45 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 12/20/13 10:30 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log Richard Zen 12/21/13 3:38 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log PP 12/22/13 1:06 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 1/25/14 1:00 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 2/15/14 10:49 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 3/26/14 6:10 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 5/11/14 7:55 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log d j 5/19/14 7:50 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 5/21/14 7:16 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 5/24/14 7:46 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log d j 5/26/14 7:10 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 5/26/14 1:13 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 6/26/14 7:05 AM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 9/5/14 5:22 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 10/13/14 8:17 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 10/18/14 6:23 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 12/5/14 1:58 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 4/4/15 6:50 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 4/16/15 10:02 PM
RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log PP 5/4/15 6:39 AM
Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
1/23/14 5:59 AM
I start here a new practice thread, following Shinzen Young's noting protocols. Below, a short summary of his work.


Shinzen Young offers four Noting strategies, plus a traverse noting tool that crosses/mixes with all of them.

Focus In: deconstruct the self by exploring mental images and talk, plus emotional body sensations. The divide and conquer strategy (five aggregates, four foundations, four elements). It’s the closest method to Mahasi Sayadaw Noting.

Focus Out: experiencing oneness with the outside world by anchoring to external sights and sounds, plus exploring the physical body sensations. It merges aspects of Zen practice and Taoist monistic philosophy.

Focus on Rest: feel a restful body and mind, by learning how muscles relax either by themselves or because of an intentional relaxation. Also note when the body is without emotional feeling. The main difference with a other Samatha traditions is that you have to note/label whether the restful feelings come from visual, auditory o body aspects. Added: Once in jhanas, look for the Three Characteristics.

Focus on Flow: keep track of the change of sensory experience, and the (outer and inner) forces that create that change. There are two versions of this noting strategy. The first one is focus on the flow of phenomena (akin to noting impermanence, or the Qi flow focus of Chinese medicine and martial arts). The second one is focus on expansion-contraction (akin to Taoism (Yin-Yang), Taichichuan’s filling & emptying, and Joshu Sasaki’s Zen).

In the first version, notes should be done on visual, auditory and somatic flow. The labels are just those three, though they are referring to the many facets of flow. For example, in “somatic flow” you keep track of increase-decrease of intensity, frequency and size, and the inward-outward pressures plus the display of vibrations (as bubbliness, undulations, vibrations,etc).
In the second version, you note the simultaneous expansion-contraction forces within each phenomena, or of different ones. IMO, this kind of method works best when coupled with the Gone noting tool, which a describe below. Here the labels are just three: expansion, contraction and both, where you add later “gone”.

Focus on Gone: note vanishings, that is the passing part of A&P. This noting tool feeds and is feed by all other four focuses, though it’s not easy to note vanishings in an already restful body and mind (Focus on Rest). The idea is that by noting a stream of “micro-endings” eventually the gaps between the “gones” get shorter and shorter until a figure-ground reversal takes place. Gone then becomes the abiding ground. IMO, the shortage of labels in Shinzen Young’s noting strategies seek not only reduce the complexity of the job, but also foster an equanimous perception and in particular let those “gone moments” show up.


So far, I have tailored my own noting strategy (as Shinzen Young encourages), where off-cushion I Focus Out and Focus on Gone, and on-cushion I blend both Focus on Flow versions with Focus on Gone. In particular, I found that there is a (needed) complement to note vanishings, which is noting the “tipping point” when/where and expansion switches to a contraction, and vice versa. It’s like a gone moment while I’m still fully immersed in the phenomena. In that way, I put myself in a situation where equanimously should wait for all phenomena to unravel and show itself. There’s also another third tipping point, where phenomena arises out of a restful state, but it’s harder to catch (unless probably you already have a deep concentration skills, which I don’t). Occasionally, I do see that happen with spontaneous Taoist reverse-breathing.

In short, my noting labels are: “pop” when a visual, auditory or body phenomena pops up, “expansion” when it grows, “contraction” when it shrinks, “change” in the tipping-point, “gone” when it vanishes, and “rest” when nothing arises. All along the sitting session there are plenty of times when I have a broader perspective and I’m able note expansion-contraction by pairs (“both” label). So far, I haven’t seen them both disappear by pairs too often, but do happen individually or in sequence: an expansion-gone moment and then (or before) a contraction-gone moment.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
8/25/13 11:57 AM as a reply to PP.
Pablo . P:
Focus on Flow: keep track of the change of sensory experience, and the (outer and inner) forces that create that change. There are two versions of this noting strategy. The first one is focus on the flow of phenomena (akin to noting impermanence, or the Qi flow focus of Chinese medicine and martial arts). The second one is focus on expansion-contraction (akin to Taoism (Yin-Yang), Taichichuan’s filling & emptying, and Joshu Sasaki’s Zen).

I tried this approach off-cushion and noted that there is flow all the time be it of sound, vision, body or mind (including that of this noting itself). This had a catharsis effect and I went to sleep for an hour or so.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
8/25/13 10:36 PM as a reply to Change A..
Interesting! So far, I had off-cushion short periods of time (few minutes) where no thoughts arise (though intention was present) while sounds could be heard very clear, even the minor ones, almost like having a fascination with sounds.

Sensing the expansion-contraction is easier once a "gone moment" occurs. Funny enough, the expansion-contraction is felt also outside the body.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
8/31/13 11:46 PM as a reply to PP.
Usually I sit for about an hour. At around the 45' mark, I power up the sitting with 5' diaphragmatic breathing and keep the rest of the session in a restful samatha-like state and/or follow expansion/contraction at the dantian.

- The "pop" label I mentioned earlier is needless. Phenomena always is arising, but I can't note it at the very beginning. The rare occasion when I can note it is when just before there was a gone moment. But in this case, the phenomena (usually bodily sensations) show up as expansion/contraction. So, the noting labels in use are expansion, change, contraction, gone, rest.

- Only a few longish events can be noted with all of the labels, like outside sounds, a full tension-relaxation cycle, the breathing cycle. Otherwise, spanning from easy to difficult, I:
1) Note contraction in one place, and expansion in other non obviously related place.
2) Note expansion and an associated contraction in the same place, with different intensities.
3) Note a rapid succession of expansions and contractions.
4) Note a gone and then either a restful state or a clear stream of expansions/contractions.
5) Stay fully equanimous (as I can) not trying to relax a building tension, in order to let develop completely, arise and pass away (when the tension is big, usually a gone moment vanishes that tension).

- During the first couple of days I had these moments when I stayed without thoughts while performing daily tasks, amazed by sounds. Then this disappeared and my mind was full of thoughts anytime. Nowadays, if I focus on sounds off-cushion I may (not always) have this thoughtless moments. Other phenomena spotted during these days (colorful dreams & cool flow energy --> fear images & restless thoughts & uneasiness in the chest and throat --> vanishing of all of the later coupled with easier concentration and more gone moments) let me think that I was sailing through A&P, DÑ and Low EQ.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
9/8/13 2:05 AM as a reply to PP.
- Focusing Out on sounds when walking down the street has shown interesting things. Most of the time, it's hard to override loops of thoughts because of the inner mind instability plus the many distractions of a big city. But sometimes I can stay focused on sounds, which are heard bright and clear (many times I would say amazingly bright and clear!). It's a stream of outer sounds, either close or distant. Verbal and image thoughts disappear completely. Instead, emotions are shown very clear, something that don't happen on-cushion because of the reduced stimuli. So, it's funny to see that seeing and hearing things trigger emotions but that doesn't end up triggering thoughts. Because of this, restful moments are longer and more frequent.

- Regarding noting Gone moments on-cushion, it's much easier to note the vanishing of sounds, while body sensations are a bit more difficult (because the vanishings are not complete, covering only a small part of the body), and sights vanishings seldom happen. But, when sight vanishings happen they are the deepest, while sounds ones vary in intensity and somatic ones are shallow. Nevertheless, any kind of vanishing pulls the other two into display too, at a lesser degree.

- Keeping track of expansion & contraction gets easier after some gone moments happen, but that may take long minutes. So, I found that getting back to note vibrations and zoom in a little patch of body let me see those expansions & contractions plus gone moments. And noting sounds vanishings happen much automatically.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
9/24/13 4:44 PM as a reply to PP.
Usually, it takes around 20 minutes before gone moments can be noted. In that lapse of time the meditation is kind of messy, sometimes daydreaming, others focused, full of images, etc. So I have tried different approaches to make efficient use of that time *. Probably the best solution so far is to do a body scanning spotting tensions and actively releasing them, much in Vimalaramsi's way. This can be combined with a 5 minutes fast diaphragmatic breathing, then stay 1-2 minutes with breath retention and finally getting back to normal (but calmer) breathing. This brings out lots of vibrations and/or expansion/contraction, so I can do noting. If even this doesn't work, then I can rely on Mahasi's 4 Foundations noting.

Once while lying in bed before falling asleep gone moments happened "fast", say 5-6 (big) vanishings in about 2 minutes. This was followed by quick visual flickering and then bright spot lights spread in the space, which I could start to investigate, in particular the space in between. The conclusion is that I need to improve a lot samatha just to get here and be able to investigate.

Noting sounds in daily activities isn't an easy task. Most of the time I'm not able to do it. But when it happens, it's delightful. Sounds are heard sharp, like when hearing a good CD in a high-end B&W speakers. Yesterday I made a little experiment while having dinner with friends. I just heard them speak, every word. It felt restful, specially as being aware of silences between phrases. But the interesting fact was that when I stopped listening/noting, I noticed how my mind is reacting to the words heard, tension arise as there's an intention to speak back to their remarks. So, there's the tendency to get involved in emotionally-triggered thoughts when in fact I could "easily" just hear them fully (instead of only pieces of their words) and only elaborate a response later.

* One of the strategies I tried out was simply doing nothing. Strangely enough, I'm probably seeing formations. That is, I'm aware of being watching people doing their daily activities, no story telling, investigate what it's at display. Unfortunately, I didn't focus the investigation in myself as a watcher. I have seen this many times before, which I cataloged then as clairaudience. Are one part of the other?

Edit: Tarin Greco mentions in an old thread that formations are experienced earlier, during re-observation, not only in Equanimity.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
10/10/13 3:29 PM as a reply to PP.
In these two weeks I've learn the hard way that the only thing that works for me is not sticking to a single practice but to use different tools as needed. Every sit is different. It's not that I'm not able to cope with boredom, but pushing too hard sometimes when another tool would work best. Jumping from gone noting to mahasi noting to Bhante V protocol to do nothing to concentration practice doesn't seem wise. But the alternative is worse, specially in my perpetual DN-ReOb-LowEQ cycling. Progress, if any, is slow, but that's perhaps the best I can do, working at home babysitting an almost three months old son. In fact, I'm waking up 3:30 am to meditate before work, as it's the only time when there's silence inside and outside my flat. Whenever I was able to add another hour of daily meditation, a difference was noted. But I cannot count on that extra time.

On the bright side, even with DN symptoms off the cushion, they disappear during the sit. And I'm starting to connect body sensations and thoughts with body parts (faces & eyes specially) and words. There's a clear sequence happening here, and it happens a lot during the session. Haven't been able to see what happens in between body sensations and images, though. Just allowing myself to get use to it.

My concentration has improved a little bit too, regarding jhana factors.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
10/27/13 9:35 AM as a reply to PP.
In these past two weeks I've been through DN > EQ > DN > A&P > DN. Once the hardest part of DN is gone, the self-referencing body/face to thought connection is shown clearer, specially after the initial 40 minutes of the sit. Anyway, due to a non consistent practice during the week, I fell back to A&P...which wasn't that bad after all! Lacking solid jhana skills and enabled to stay in EQ, A&P is kind of a consolation prize: noting practice are sharp and I have a big boost in (artistic) creativity and (a sample of) the powers. This time A&P lasted much longer than expected, and DN is slowly showing up.

Following Change A's advice on the Working with the Throat thread, I had to end up acknowledging a long time energy blockage at the solar plexus. Funny enough, I can connect soles-legs-dantien (because of my Taiji practice), but the descending line from the crown stops either at the throat, chest or solar plexus. One real promising practice I have found by trial and error DO clean up that blockage (for a while). It's been only a few days since I started, so I can't say much about it's long time effects. I'll describe it below for future reference. If anyone is reading this and want to try it out, please be careful. If anyone has done a similar practice and can comment about it, or can post a link to someone who knows about this, I'll be very thankful.

The procedure consists of:

1. fast diaphragmatic breathing for about a minute.
2. One big in-breath and out-breath to clean the lungs.
3. A second in-breath (70-80% of lung capacity) and breath retention.
4. While holding the breath, do vipassana (just noticing) starting from the chest and slowly going down to the dantien.
5. At about 1:30 the abdomen starts to pulse violently. Just let it happen and notice it and if possible relax after each pulse. A tension is built along the center line but after relaxing, cool (strong) energy flows down by itself and eventually reaches the dantien.
6. When I can't hold the breath any longer (as I can't pass the pulsing stage and step in the later calming stage mention yet, as mentioned in the tummo tradition), I just breath in and relax and after half a minute or so, I start again from point 1.

I repeat the cycle for 5 times and then start the noting practice.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
10/27/13 2:20 PM as a reply to PP.

Sitting posture is key to this practice. Sit in a chair with the ischiums at the border, the legs wide open in V and with the toes lightly pressing the ground. Add to that a gentle pull of the lumbar region to the front. This posture would enable to sense a little tension and nice warmth in the rectus abdominis muscle in the first 5 cm above the pubic bone, just below the dantien. This tension is needed in order to make that the pulse starts in that area and so sucking the energy down from the chest / solar plexus to the dantien. Also, the toes at the ground and the legs in the V shape will let sense the energy flowing in the inner side of the legs.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
11/21/13 5:34 PM as a reply to PP.
Nowadays I can connect the front line without interruptions, but it's not a default state, I need to focus consciously in order to get it. So, lately I got back to noting gone moments plus doing the 6R's protocol whenever needed.

It's well known that Bhante V's 6R are a mix of vipassana and samatha. But didn't expect to find that Shinzen Young's note vanishings had that mix too! Rereading his stuff, I found this:

How can anyone experience something that is not an experience? Well, of course you can't! But what you can experience is a continuous sequence of "momentary advertings of awareness towards nothingness". After a while, this string of acknowledged vanishings sum to a a deliciously fulfilling sense of nothingness. That "deliciously fulfilling sense of nothingness" is not nothingness itself. It is a human sensory event, the closest experience a human can have to direct contact with the non-human nothing(ness) of the Source. ............. As you note vanishings, it can sometimes happen that a kind of figure-ground reversal occurs. Instead of observing the vanishing point, you become it!

So, by observing a discrete string of vanishings, the mind eventually interpret this as continuous and so the figure-ground reversal occurs. In some way, you slide from a vipasanna to samatha in order for that to happen. In Mahasi noting it's said that High EQ is a mix of vipasanna & samatha, but what's implied here (as far as I understand) is that in this branch of Zen, the equivalent of Fruition stage is an (on and off cushion) vipasanna & samatha mix! That is, the Fruition is stretched by (implicitly) applying samatha...

Added: In other words, in Mahasi Noting the time-length of Fruition is determined by the energy released as a consequence of stepping into Path (in the first ones it seems, but in the 4th too?), while in this Zen branch is achieved by a discrete-to-continous samatha triggered by a brain rewiring. Does this means that enlightenment is a fabricated experience? That is, not fabricated by the will of the practitioner but because of putting himself in a place where this rewiring happens. Kind of tricking yourself to see things in a different way, not exactly seeing things as they are?

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
12/8/13 6:45 PM as a reply to PP.
There are two possibilities of noting vanishings: single and compounded phenomena. Either way, when you focus on it/them, I found that the key to success is to watch/hear/sense the periphery and not the center. Now that I'm writing this down, it sounds pretty obvious, but if you have been previously conditioned to Mahasi noting, you (IME) go straight to the center of the phenomena and from there observe its parts / deconstruct it. Although it's true that in DN you shift to the periphery, that's because the center is usually very unpleasant. This isn't the case in noting vanishings, either center or periphery is much the same pleasant or unpleasant.

The thing is that when focusing on the boundaries of the phenomena, the vanishings are deeper. If the phenomena is compounded (eg: many sounds), then doing this the vanishings are deeper and broader. And if by chance, the vanishing happens while the out-breath, then its much more deeper and longer in time.

Related to this, one thing I noticed is that even when the pull "back to the source" feels like going deeper, when the next phenomena arises it seems to arise from a shallow place, not from the source, more like from the periphery and not the center.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
12/20/13 10:30 PM as a reply to PP.
  • In order to trigger a vanishing, when a sound is e.g. in C key, I set my mind to wait until it goes down to G, and then let myself be surprised as the pitch goes lower to E. The thing is that the vanishings occurs when I’m expecting that something should keep being solid, but suddenly it disappears. Much like when you’re walking down the stairs and suddenly a stair is missing. The difference is that instead of panicking and getting tense, you relax and enjoy the drop (and later expansion).
  • I found that many times I’m actually practicing mindfulness half-way, that there’s a general and unspecified aversion to all phenomena. So, one solution is to put some concentration on the job, not an equanimity pose, but more like a “forceful” noting/noticing, and as vanishings start to pop up (no pun intended), let the equanimity grow on its own.
  • When silence has grown wide and body tensions were released enough, but there’s subtle sounds & sensations at display, I ask myself “Where the silence is hiding?”. This make me go deeper already, but not lasting so far, just started to try it.
  • In an earlier post I talked about focusing in the periphery instead of the center of the object to watch it vanish. In the case of sounds, that works best when they grow slow & fade slow. But when they are fast, there isn’t time enough to step into the periphery. So, the solution I found is to try to hear/sense closely them as soon as they appear and immediately after drop them, in order to be thrown away to the periphery.
  • In the case of sounds, some frequencies/pitches work better than others regarding vanishings. Middle-slow frequencies seems to work best. Once I had noted one or two of these vanishings, then it’s easier to replicate them in lower and higher frequencies. Funnily enough, vanishings are spotted best while hearing the (manual) gear changes of bikes and cars. There’s always some space between the gear changes, there are sudden drops of sounds.
  • I had an interesting “The Watcher” experience while practicing vanishings. Instead of falling into a somewhat contracted & silent space, I stayed like expanded and seeing things from above. I was kind of amused by the experience, so I couldn’t check if the practice changes with this position. Next time, I’ll do it.
  • Regarding spatial expansion/contraction as explained by Shinzen Young, I found that the lateral direction is key in sounds, the vertical direction in thoughts and emotions, and the forward/backward direction in images.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
12/21/13 3:38 PM as a reply to PP.
Pablo . P:

  • I had an interesting “The Watcher” experience while practicing vanishings. Instead of falling into a somewhat contracted & silent space, I stayed like expanded and seeing things from above. I was kind of amused by the experience, so I couldn’t check if the practice changes with this position. Next time, I’ll do it.

This reminds me of the Shingon practice described by Hokai Sobol:

Integrated Daniel - Podcasts and Videos

Hurricane Ranch Part 1 Starting at 21:20

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Flow Practice Log
12/22/13 1:06 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Wow, thanks! Seeing emptiness as space, the expansiveness of The Watcher, seem to be just the same. Yesterday I got to that perspective again, but briefly, and played a little with vanishings. But my concentration need to be improved before being able to notice the third feature*, the waves, "the resonance between space and awareness".

This, the three features, seems to answer too my question about how a discrete string of vanishings turns to be perceived as a continuous flow of vanishings. The key here is that you need to be in 4th Jhana to see the three features clearly.

Thanks again,

* Hokai Sobol says three features / three characteristics. I avoid using the latter, not to get mixed up with Buddhist's Three Characteristics.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
1/25/14 1:00 PM as a reply to PP.
As I said in an earlier post, I need to deepen my (poor) concentration skills, in order to go further on shinzen young's 10 steps towards enlightenment , as I hit a plateau in my practice lately. I believe that the way to go is an indirect way, not working on "concentration" per se but in "equanimity". Shinzen Young says that there are three pillars: insight, equanimity and concentration. Probably I don't have much problem with insight, so if equanimity is added to the mix, then concentration will come along.

What I mean by equanimity nowadays is more like "open awareness" (see Richard's post) but with a little twist. It's not only allowing anything in, and let clinging/aversion pass away on its own. The practice is like this: start by noting vanishings of sounds and body sensations until stepping into access concentration. Then sent that awareness to the background and let images/light/sight at the foreground. Soon, clouds of light, waves, filaments, bright spots, nimitta, etc appear. The key is to watch them without trying to manipulate them, and that includes noting its characteristics, trying to see patterns, shapes, etc. As long as I'm able to do this, in 5-10 seconds the relief comes and concentration deepens, in a wide way. The little twist is that that kind of relaxation leads usually to getting out of concentration, so I need (I think I need to) to put a little effort to see new phenomena to do a next round to deepen it a little further.

So far, what I see is that in an open awareness approach there's the risk of not seeing a "subtle" aversion to deeper phenomena, as you have plenty of shallower phenomena available. So even in this Wu Wei path, there's a need to to push and pull.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
2/15/14 10:49 AM as a reply to PP.
Shinzen Young says that the fastest path is to stand still as long as possible while meditating. What I found lately is that this means no blinking too! emoticon I start by noting vanishings of sounds and let me be hooked by the latter silence. This transfer the awareness to sight. Then I get aware of the frame of sight (can't find a better word) and keep it still while being aware of any kind of sight phenomena. It's kind of a mix of vipassana and samatha. I have to go through the aversion-blink link. Once done, in a few seconds there's a letting-go happening by itself, and a deeper concentration is reached. Then, the cycle starts again with sounds or sight.

There's a mechanical/organic need to blink once in a while, not aversion driven. I can easily see it coming, so by adjusting the frame you can avoid it or make it less raw/hard. I also play trying to relax the eyes while keeping the frame still.

A couple of times I went deep and the outer sound was felt like happening and ending in me (kind of expanded me).

Don't know yet if this no-blinking method leads to standard lower jhana (as happened), or sort of The Watcher (which happened too) ***. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to stabilize it and get a clearer sense of what is happening.

*** Added: The former seems to happen when the eyes are pointing downwards (tip of the nose) and the latter when pointing upwards to the Third Eye.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
3/26/14 6:10 PM as a reply to PP.
Given that English is not my first language, I thought that "Passing Away" meant really "away", like seeing watching cars passing by. Actually, there's a time in the session where vanishings happen & end "in" me. It's felt like a vibration plus a sinking. These vanishings seem to happen when the attention was already expanded (spacious).

When noting vanishings of sounds, I found that I was focusing too early in the vanishing. Instead, when letting go the process, after the "long" fade there's a silence and then like a "short" sound rebound which rapidly dissolves. That's when the vanishing really happens. These sounds vanishings happen at the edge of my attention, but somehow it's connected to what I described in the previous paragraph.

Every now and them while waking down the streets (with no hurry) there's a big silence in the scene even when there are sounds popping out from multiple sources. The silence isn't only me -because thoughts aren't arising- but perceived also outside.

In these 5-6 weeks, there weren't the usual signs of passing through a Dark Night, felt more like an unusually long A&P (though with different peaks and valleys in the precision of the noting). Perhaps it's low EQ. Maybe the change in diet has had an impact. I lost 7 kilos in the past two months, mainly by limiting carbs (flour) to twice a week and having fruits only for dinner (in my country, dinner is the big meal).

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/11/14 7:55 PM as a reply to PP.
d j - 2014-05-06 13:03:03 - RE: Pablo's  Zen/Taoist Practice Log

Hey Pablo,

Just wanted to check in and see how your practice is going and how you responded to the herbal teas. My messaging function seems to be turned off and all our previous exchanges were deleted for some reason.



Hey Dean,

I tried the herbal teas in January. My wife didn't join me in this one, as she is breastfeeding still. Then, I also started an almost no-carbs diet for more than three months. Not only I lost 7kg but also felt much better, specially during the nights, when my energy is low. Unfortunately, I couldn't last long with the herbal teas, as I wake up 4am for work (that means at most 4hs night sleep) and need to be sharp, so I resumed drinking coffee. Hopefuly, soon we'll be able to pay a nursery for some hours, so I'll have a nice rest. Thanks for your help!

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/19/14 7:50 PM as a reply to PP.
Oh congrats on weight loss Pablo! About to do some low carb myself. Any tips?

Not no coffee and only drink tea. I am not a sadist, haha. Drink lots of coffee and some tea. The tea is nutritive and so safe for breast feeding women..

I tried to open the chi kung cd 4 we shared in drop box, but it won't work, do you think we can try the drop box thing again?

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/21/14 7:16 PM as a reply to d j.
I'll upload the cd4 again tomorrow. Regarding the low carb, in my culture we have a light breakfast, a bigger lunch and a heavy dinner. What I did is to keep light the breakfast but have a heavier lunch and only fruit for dinner (5 times a week). It wasn't a big deal as it was summer back then when I started. So, I was strict with carbs intake (a big salad with some chicken, fish or beef was the default mode), cut most but not all sugars (fruits, nuts and cheese replace most of it) and had as many fruits as I wanted for dinner. Nowadays, fruit for dinner 2/3 times a week let me keep in weight even when I increased my carbs intake (as Autumn days are getting colder). 

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/24/14 7:46 PM as a reply to PP.
I copied the disc into Dropbox. Please let me know if you can download it. Otherwise, write down (temporarily) your private email so I can share it directly to you. 

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/26/14 7:10 AM as a reply to PP.
I have downloaded now, thank you emoticon I will give your low carb suggestions a try.

Are you continuing with any daily practice?

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/26/14 1:13 PM as a reply to d j.
Three weeks ago I stopped practicing meditation, I was (and am) sleeping less than 6 hours a day, so when I sat after 15 minutes I started to daydream. Before I had a longer than usual A&P and then a longer than usual too DN. Hopefully I two months time I'll be able to send my son to a nursery, and so get back to the sits. Nowadays I only practice Gone Noting or samatha, 15 minutes laying in bed before getting asleep. Funny enough, last week I had a 5 minutes no-thought & no-aversion/discrimination experience, which I had never gone through while actively practicing. Nothing blissful at all, just a silent consciousness of mare facts.  

Meanwhile, I got back to martial qigong, which is something I can do for 10', 20' o 30' during the day, in my noisy house, while sharing the living-room with wife and kid. Essentially, you first get tuned to a deep vibration (and amplify it just by being conscious), deal with the aversions it sparks, let the vibration get full body and then vanish going down to earth and finally wait for a energy rebound up to the neiwan and finally deliver through the limbs. Not only the buddhist tools can enhance my practice here, but in a broad sense there's a similarity with A&P, DN and EQ insight stages. In fact, the goal is to get to "a kind of cessation", in order to launch a strike. So, I'm entertained with this practice while waiting for a chance to resume meditation.

What about your practice?


RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
6/26/14 7:05 AM as a reply to PP.
There's an interesting connection between the first 4 jhanas with the energetic strikes (jins) in chinese martial arts. As it's about a performing (martial) art, it's more related to vipassana jhanas (VJh) than straight jhanas. (Added:  To be fair, it may well be the case that all these 4 jhanas are in fact sub-jhanas of the 1st Jhana, following Daniel's terminology). 

The 1st and 2nd VJh are related to Ming Jin (明勁), usually defined as "training the Jing to transform into Qi", that is "training the body (muscles, bones, tendons, fascia) to transform into electric/hydraulic-like energy".  While the 1st VJh is about a whole-body cause/effect connection and the ability to be steadily aware of key body points (crown, three dantians and soles of the feet), the 2nd VJh is the direct release of a focused, linear electric-hydraulic energy that adds like a second wave to the muscle-tendon strike. All sorts of A&P phenomena happens here.

The 3rd VJh is related to An Jin (喑勁), usually defined as "training the Qi to transform into Shen", which can be rephrased as "training the electric/hydraulic-like energy to transform into mind-Intent". Here the energy release is not direct but indirect ( a pause plus a rebound from the ground -sort of emerging from a Shinzen Young's gone moment-), not focused but wide-spread, which exploits weak points of the opponent in the periphery as a back door to his center. It can be soft yet overwhelming, or sudden and disruptive and even scary. It generally affects the mind perception of the opponent (say Dukka Ñanas), triggering an aversion reaction that can be sensed and exploited.  

The 4th VJh is related to Hua Jin (化勁), that is "training the mind-Intent to return to emptiness". Notice here that is "return to" and not "transform into", addressing the Taoist goal. The aim here is to dissolve one's sense of body (sort of equanimous attraction/aversion free, light-body-walking-on water experience***) so that the opponent's deeper tension can be absorbed and directed to the ground (alike to starting a free-fall, stepping into a non-existant stair). You become a single unit with the opponent by dissolving oneself. You can either let him crush into the ground, or combine a Ming Jin + An Jin counterstrike, but this time using both masses to broaden the force exerted [ Force = ( m1 + m2 ) * acceleration ]. 

*** as the practice relies in spontaneity, much of the "experience" is a reconstruction of past events.

Disclaimer: there are different interpretations of what Ming Jin, An Jin and Hua Jin actually are. This is the one that fits my (unmatured) experience and goals. 


RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
9/5/14 5:22 PM as a reply to PP.
Still I can`t allocate time for sittings, so I try to make the best out of my energetic practice. Luckilly, although it's a martial arts practice, a total relaxation is needed in order to succeed, so this pours more water to the meditation mill. It's akind to Shinzen's Flow practice or B.Vimalaramsi's SMILE method, but with more weigth in concentration. 

In my 15 minutes practice lying down in bed before sleep, I note vanishings. Nowadays, deeper and more frequent letting go's happen with vanishings. One thing I found is that once after the let go happens, I can incline the mind to choiceless noting (more of a broad uncathegorized noting). The thing is that triggers a deeper but wide concentration. So it's kind of a deeper samatha/vipassana at once.

This also resolves (I guess so) the focus/let go dilemma for concentration. Before, whenever I tried to focus on something, I ended up building excesive attention, stressing the mind. And when I did the let go thing, the subsequent calm state (or whatever) lasted short because of a lack of anchor. Nowadays, this anchor is wide enough not to get stressed. It's just the intention to be aware of everything. It's annica and anatta, if there's dukkha it's subtle enough not to be noticed yet.

Frequently, I wake up from sleep, and when not fully awake yet I can incline the mind to all kinds of visual stuff. They're not bright and colorful nowadays (as I presume I'm in the DÑ), but the exhibit 3D features, something I haven't seen in a while. When I stopped with regular sits, the A&P-DÑ cycle expanded from 3 weeks to 2 months.  This one seems to be the first mild DÑ since January.

Later today, I'll add the spinning ballerina  samatha/vipassana practice I'm playing with.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
10/13/14 8:17 PM as a reply to PP.
I've been rereading Daniel's Three Doors MCTB Chapter and Shinzen's 10 Steps Towards Enlightenment: . Daniel says that at Fruition there's (only) two Characteristics at play, one at the foreground the other at the background. And so, there are 6 different ways that Fruition may display. Shinzen seems to imply a specific two-stage paths, Impermanence & Dukkha and No-Self & Impermanence.

It's more of a linear-sequential model, where in Steps 1-6 it's all about Impermanence. As its focus is in noting vanishings, it seems to by-pass the Dukka Ñanas, or at least lessen them a lot. Then at Step 7, at first it looks like he's talking about Equanimity (dwelling in subtle preconcious experience).  He actually says the Nothingness where everything arises from and returns to "becomes rich providing tranquility, safety, fulfillment and love". The thing is that the transition from Step 7 (Passings become rich) to Step 8 (Arisings become rich) is where his famous "Ground Reversal" shift happens. This is actually Stream Entry, entered through Impermanence at the foreground, and Dukkha at the background. Then at Step 9, "all arisings tend to coalesce into a single polarization, all passings tend to coalesce into a single polarization". Here he's talking about a final Fruition, where No-Self is at the foreground and Impermanence at the background. 

In some way, Dukkha plays a different role to Theravada-DhO's model, not as a shitty place/phase/stage one has to walk through, but a natural renunciation / immersion into "tranquility, safety, fulfillment and love", a crucial step that let you walk into stream entry. Daniel talks that entering through the Dukka door is the more unsettling, death-like experience. Perhaps Shinzen's Dukkha build-up make a radical different experience.


RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
10/18/14 6:23 PM as a reply to PP.
Just testing.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
12/5/14 1:58 PM as a reply to PP.
One interesting pattern that's showing up is that "gones" are popping out on there own. I'm not trying to find them, they are just happening. So more than meditating/noting, it's like sitting back and waiting for them to happen. Once "there" (silent, spacey, very little breath) I can go focused or wide. In both cases the experience goes deeper. The focused one is more exciting, adrenaline-like experience, and there's some unlocated tension. It's also dark but clear anyway. The second one is wide, as the attention broadens more things are seen/experienced concurrently, they key here is not to select the objects to be seen. With time, the aversion has been decreasing. After a while, it's a mix of light filaments, thoughts and emotions (no body sensations). I'm dwelling there, not worried by the thoughts that eventually pop up (which weeks-months ago took me out of there). But the interesting thing is that gones keep happening on there own, bringing me back to the beginning.

Eventually, I got out of there. The striking thing is that once out, I saw that "I" was seeing. In retrospective, I think that before, the "I" was glued to every experience, kind of haven't the time to think where "I" was. Later, when the "I" was seeing, there was some kind of direction and distance/"perspective" in the seeing. And of control. It was a clear view/awareness (I thought: why is it clear? Shouldn't be messy and full of thoughts?) but also kind of "blocked" (solidified?). Once there, gones didn't pop up any more. Finally, a nice warmth flowed through my body.

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
4/4/15 6:50 PM as a reply to PP.
Regarding gones, one obvious thing I never wrote down is that they happen not only when getting into a calmer state (through noticing passings) but also when noting rapidly. It's quite unexpected, can't see what's triggering them other than I'm noting fast. Probably with better concentration, I could see that triggering, or it's just an organic-mind response/activation. (By the way, they aren't cessations!)

One thing I want to try is the "Counterpoint" between simultaneous arisings & passings. I'm exploring this concept in guitar, where each note has different duration, so there's overlapping, etc. The connection to meditation: I noticed that many times craving/aversion to the thing being noticed makes me jump to the next phenomena, when there should be some kind of overlapping. That I'm noticing 1s and 0s when actually there's more like a flow. So, I'm trying to reconcile the "granular noting" vs "flow noting" with the "counterpoint noting"... if it's not an useful hypothesis at least it's an entertaining one LOL. 

While on the street, I'm noticing all phenomena as coming from outside, even thoughts & emotions. Now that I'm writing this down, I should also include bodily sensations. Probably this would be harder to do. Could this help to notice the 3rd Characteristic?


RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
4/16/15 10:02 PM as a reply to PP.
Regarding the "Counterpoint" thing, later I remembered that Shinzen Young says that for every contraction happening somewhere there's an expansion happening elsewhere. So, basically it's the same, when focused in Flow. And for Gone, at the end of the road there's the simultaneous arising & passing to be seen, hopefully one day. 

A few days ago I had a very nice A&P. This time it was different, no big energy explosions, peak of creativity, visions or the like. It seems that the Gone noting had some effect. For half a day, even while working (at home) and babysitting my child, I had a Zen like experience, where inner mental activity went off and the outer world phenomena came to foreground. While not sitting at the computer, there where very little thoughts happening, and if they pop-up I could notice them without clinging or aversion. No discoursive thought, rehearsal and the like. The most promising thing was that, unlike past experiences, this time I was actually working. So it was like experiencing what meditators in higher paths experience everyday, being able to switch back and forth from the rational thinker to the 'enlightenment' mode. In Shinzen Young's framework, it's Outer expansion & Inner contraction. 

Rereading MCTB1 about A&P, I noticed a correlation between the big Gone moments and the beginning-middle-end of out breaths. Some of this I had mentioned before, but now it seems clearer. Also, I noticed that I tend to solidify those Gones, when actually I should mildly vipassanized them, looking for expansion&contraction of space (and time?). Interesting things happen, luminosity, spaciousness, etc.

ADDED: Another thing that boosted my faith in the practice was something that also happened a couple of weeks ago. When exiting jhana I noticed lights pulsing at around 30 times per second -never witness anything beyond 10 bps-. I remember Daniel Ingram's quoting that you need around 40 bps to reach stream entry actually sounded a distant goal. So may be it's not that far after all ! 

RE: Pablo's Zen/Taoist Practice Log
5/4/15 6:39 AM as a reply to PP.
Rereading Shinzen's articles, out of curiosity, today I tried "Rest Noting" (See Rest, Hear Rest, Feel Rest). In comparison, Gone Noting is more abrupt (though pleasant), while Rest Noting more stable, so to speak, to practice Vipassana. That is, I 'labeled' See, Hear, Feel but also 'noticed' other things arising and passing, more in the Mahasi mode. One thing that striked me was that I could clearly see a sequence:

1) images & thoughts popping-up
2) there was an "I" watching them
3.1) images & thought arised and passed away on their own
3.2) sometimes the "I" claimed ownership of an image / thought, and thus extend it in time and importance
3.3) sometimes an image / though seemed to arise from the "I", or be the "I".

Added: So it's clear enough that the "I" builds up by fishing/acquiring phenomena. It identifies (connects) so much with things happening, up to a point where it no longer can see the difference. So the work to be done by meditation, seems to brake apart that identification/fixation and then rebuild the connection in a much loose and broader way.