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Practice Logs

Seamus' Log

Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/2/13 7:41 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Adam . . 9/2/13 8:14 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/3/13 5:36 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/3/13 8:38 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/4/13 7:26 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/6/13 3:42 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/8/13 11:45 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/10/13 8:20 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/11/13 4:55 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/12/13 8:42 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/12/13 10:52 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/12/13 8:29 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/13/13 4:04 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/14/13 4:39 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/15/13 6:48 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/16/13 6:41 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Richard Zen 9/16/13 8:11 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/16/13 8:58 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/16/13 9:23 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/16/13 10:06 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Richard Zen 9/17/13 8:06 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/17/13 8:57 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Richard Zen 9/17/13 6:27 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/18/13 9:47 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Richard Zen 9/18/13 7:24 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/19/13 7:36 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/22/13 7:02 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/22/13 9:35 PM
RE: Seamus' Log MangaDesuYo 9/24/13 6:43 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/24/13 9:54 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/24/13 9:52 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/26/13 6:26 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 9/28/13 8:55 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/1/13 8:58 AM
RE: Seamus' Log MangaDesuYo 10/1/13 11:03 AM
RE: Seamus' Log William Quixote 10/1/13 2:35 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/1/13 8:12 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/12/13 1:48 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/12/13 6:00 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/16/13 9:23 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/20/13 8:12 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/21/13 9:15 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/23/13 1:01 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/26/13 1:03 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/27/13 9:09 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 10/28/13 10:10 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 11/4/13 4:49 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 11/24/13 8:23 PM
RE: Seamus' Log T DC 11/24/13 9:11 PM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 11/25/13 5:44 AM
RE: Seamus' Log Seamus O 11/25/13 5:43 AM
Seamus' Log
9/2/13 7:41 PM
Hi all!

I've been meditating for about ten years now, but not really with any consistency. The longest stretch of intense practice was four years ago when I lived in a Zen monastery. I kind of floundered there for a year, to be honest.

Recently, I had the first major depressive episode of my life, and it was bad enough that I decided to do anything I could to prevent it from happening again. Step one: meditate a lot. In thinking about this again, I landed here, and my goals have gotten more concrete. First goal: Hit the first Samatha jhana.

I wish someone would have told me about useful concepts like access concentration back at the monastery. I might have actually made some real progress instead of being an emotional wreck half the time.

So, I've been meditating like crazy for the past week. At least for me. At least two hours a day. Sometimes a lot more. One time I stayed up all night to get another six hours or so in.

I keep feeling like I'm on the brink of hitting the first jhana, but I keep grasping for it as soon as the piti starts ramping up, and so of course I drop out of it. I've followed alternate instructions that go more like this: 1) Get access concentration, 2) Begin very gentle progressive relaxation exercises, 3) Jhana?

But I seem to have trouble relaxing enough, or maintaining access concentration. It feels a little too finicky.

I like having this solid goal, but perhaps I need to just chill out and focus on the tip of my nostrils for four hours a day instead. I wish I knew how long it'd take, though. Days? Weeks? Months?

During the day, I've been trying out noting. For a while I was doing the rapid-fire noting, but I'm settling into picking a sense (usually sound), and noting 1-2 times a second. And sometimes I try and relax into a more general mindfulness.

In short, I feel like I'm just getting started on a real set of practices that might actually lead to insights in a reasonable timeframe. I'm hoping to understand the map more concretely soon; this level of detail is thrilling but completely alien to me.

Anyway, that's where I'm at! Back to sitting.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/2/13 8:14 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
I wish someone would have told me about useful concepts like access concentration back at the monastery. I might have actually made some real progress instead of being an emotional wreck half the time.

Yea... sometimes I wish I didn't know all the maps and stuff like that and instead was just interacting with a teacher and following instructions. Benefits and drawbacks on both sides. In any case you probably learned some things during that period, and you probably learned from your depressive episode as well, I mean, look where these things have got you... to a pretty good place. You are willing to do anything to figure out and move beyond your depression, as am I. Good luck to both of us i guess :}

So, I've been meditating like crazy for the past week. At least for me. At least two hours a day. Sometimes a lot more. One time I stayed up all night to get another six hours or so in.

Can this be sustained? Don't get down on yourself if your determination flags.

I keep feeling like I'm on the brink of hitting the first jhana, but I keep grasping for it as soon as the piti starts ramping up, and so of course I drop out of it. I've followed alternate instructions that go more like this: 1) Get access concentration, 2) Begin very gentle progressive relaxation exercises, 3) Jhana?

This very instruction has worked for me in the past. As has straight up concentrating on my breath without trying to do anything else. As has paying attention to the breath then focusing attention on the pleasant feelings that arise. I would work with the method you mentioned above as for me that was the clearest and easiest.

During the day, I've been trying out noting. For a while I was doing the rapid-fire noting, but I'm settling into picking a sense (usually sound), and noting 1-2 times a second. And sometimes I try and relax into a more general mindfulness.

sounds good

In short, I feel like I'm just getting started on a real set of practices that might actually lead to insights in a reasonable timeframe. I'm hoping to understand the map more concretely soon; this level of detail is thrilling but completely alien to me.

Being thrilled and hopeful is a way that will lead to being afraid and in despair. This sounds very dark and possibly even like intentional discouraging... but you have to learn to be equally cautious about entering into hope as into despair, equally cautious about entering into excitement as into fear etc. This understanding, the understanding to not to attach to either 'good moods' or 'bad moods' is more important than jhanas and maps. So keep practicing, you can keep working at attaining jhana, but more than anything else work to stay in the present rather than being hopeful, excited, afraid, depressed. When neither depression nor hope have meaning to you then you can really start moving beyond depression. Likewise when you see no ultimate meaning in fear and excitement you will be able to move beyond fear.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/3/13 5:36 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
I very much appreciate your comments, Adam.

I won't be hard on myself if my practice drops down to something more sustainable, and I'll keep in mind your comments about being too excited and future-oriented.


RE: Seamus' Log
9/3/13 8:38 PM as a reply to Seamus O.

Don't know where that came from.

Just sat for 2 hours and 45 minutes straight. Shifted positions from lying down to sitting twice, but with no concentration break. About halfway through I decided to switch from concentration to fast-noting, mostly focusing on sound and pain.

Whenever I had a desire to stop, I saw the desire so clearly, and it was always accompanied by a mild sense of disgust or nausea, all of which I noted. And then I'd just keep sitting there. The final time, it felt a little like I was trapped; like I would just see "desire to stop" clearly over and over without ever stopping.

Then I coughed :-) And I kind of used this to snap out of it. My final thought before getting up was something like, "back to being Seamus."

That was by far the longest I've ever continuously sat. I feel...altered.

Noting pain rapid-fire was extremely interesting. I think I was sharply "in pain" for an hour, and it was no problem.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/4/13 7:26 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Didn't sit as much today; maybe two hours total.

After a blissful morning, I got myself completely frustrated. I think my goal of getting the first jhana is totally counterproductive. I see clearly that it requires some skill at relaxing and not-grasping that I simply don't have yet. I'm going to just drop the idea of getting it, work on developing the less dramatic kind of concentration I'm accustomed to, and continue integrating noting into my sits.

I feel like I'm bottling something up! I mean, I am coming out of depression, but ever since I started intensively practicing again, I've been getting all these little knots of tension that I can't release. Yesterday there was a horrible knot in the center of my chest during sits; I spent a long time noting it, letting it relax. Today the side of my throat is tight. And my head feels like it's being slightly squished.

Is this from practice, or am I sick or something? :-P

Regular relaxing things don't sound very relaxing. I need something powerful. I want to, like, take MDMA and get a three hour massage.

I'm going to watch some horrifically sad movie tonight so I at least have some sense of catharsis.

It's not as bad as it sounds, but still, I hope whatever is in me works its way out.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/6/13 3:42 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Things much better since I stopped grasping for the first jhana. Trying to be intense about noting practice.

Was in town today going for a walk before having lunch with a friend, and there was a subtle shift that took place after noting an intention, like I became a spectator of this body and mind that was moving around in the world on its own. I had this sense of calm anticipation of the next events that would arise, and they smoothly went from anticipation to action to sensing the results of the action.

Also accompanying this was a clear sense of dis-identification with most thoughts. Often when I note "planning" or "mental narrative" or something similar, I do it after the fact, because the thoughts pull me along until they finish. But after this little shift, they were almost like another sensation -- sound-based thoughts still had more of a pull than perception of sound, but nowhere near as much as usual. It was pleasant and exciting and I took it all as a sign that noting all the goddamn time and sitting a lot is making a difference.

I still feel like there's some tremendous thing inside of me trying to get out. I feel tense all the time. I've decided I'm definitely not sick, so I'm blaming practice.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/8/13 11:45 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
After reading this thread about how the insight map works, I've been able to clearly witness perceptual shifts throughout the day as I practice.

Until today, my sits tended to begin with a lot of mental noise. In the morning, I would plow my way into access concentration and then begin intense noting, keeping it up throughout the day as best I could. At some point, noting thoughts and intentions becomes easy, and I'm like, "Sweet. Mind and Body?" And then at some point, I'll be rapid-fire noting, usually looking downwards, and I'll suddenly look up into the distance and feel a kind of lightness and vastness and dissociation from my usual willing of this and that. I'm able to watch as I label "commentary" or "intention" or "rehearsing" without getting pulled into the thoughts and losing my mindfulness, and I usually feel a sense of being along for the ride, like my body is moving itself. At that point one of a mental commentaries arises and goes: "Cause and Effect? Neat."

I think my self-diagnosis of these insight stages is correct, but I'm up for being corrected :-)

It's also interesting to watch myself lose cause and effect. I tend to at least stay in Mind and Body territory unless something very emotionally jarring happens. Having a clear sense of what the next stage feels like seems to give me extra motivation to be diligent in my noting.

I find I'm going out for walks a lot more and sitting less. My body is still achy and stressed and breathing feels awkward after a bit if I focus on it. I've had a few nights in a row now where I've been like, "okay! This is it! This walk! Pass through the three characteristics!" Because this pain definitely seems to be arising related to practice, and not from any muscle soreness or sickness or anything. I try and just note it and keep going, but damn, it's annoying.

I wish I knew a rough timeframe for how long it took to go from where I am to the A&P. The first three stages have come up quick.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/10/13 8:20 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Still plugging away. Multiple hours a day on the cushion. Noting all day. I begin each sit thinking I'm about to come crashing through the A&P. (I wouldn't say I'm hung up on this; it doesn't interfere in a way that I can tell -- it just seems to be the next stage).

Phenomenological observations: I quickly get to a point in the day where I can note intentions, verbal commentary, and other mental phenomena and watch then occur without getting drawn into them. This is neat. However, three related labels I use, "planning", "reasoning", and "rehearsing" always happen after-the-fact. I'm never able to dissociate from them; I'm always drawn in. As soon as I label, the discursive thought ceases. Sometimes this happens in the middle of the process, often at the end.

I assume that it's near-impossible to dissociate from discursive thoughts, especially at this stage of the game. Do advanced practitioners find it possible to, say, read a work of philosophy without losing one's train of mindfulness? I'd be impressed.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/11/13 4:55 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Sat about three hours so far today.

Having really intense, slow-moving tension in my head. At first, it felt like something trying to drill in. Then it felt like a snake slithering around looking for an opening. I just watched it, noting slowly, trying to feel every bit of it.

My visual field routinely has a subtle vibration to it that I note during sits.

I'm trying to work on times during the day when my mindfulness drops. It seems like painful physical work is the toughest (I work on a farm). My mind wants to focus on something else, anything else. But during other physical work, like cleaning, I'm very able to keep mindfulness going, and am being very careful about noting intentions. "intention to lift" "lifting" "intention to place" "placing" etc.

I had a conversation with someone yesterday about my practice, and I first said "I don't really daydream anymore -- like, no extended rehearsings of conversations, no re-living past moments." And this isn't totally true, and I tried to tone it down a little. I still slip into rehearsals and reliving, as I've noted in earlier posts, but they're really short-lived; I note them very fast and they go away. The fruit of my practice so far definitely has felt like the gradual shift of daydream content from being totally absorbing to being just another sensation that I watch go by.

That and intense weird throbbing tensions that increase throughout the day, as mentioned :-P

Come on, A&P. Release me.

Edit: Oh, I just remembered. Last night's meditation was incredibly overwhelming and intense, like my head was about to explode. Everything was vibrating, some things were painful, and it ended with this extremely intense sexual fantasy once I kind of collapsed and gave up. I think I legitimately almost orgasmed without masturbating. However, no sense of release or anything. And I still feel in head-pain 3rd nana territory today, so I'm assuming that wasn't the A&P.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/12/13 8:42 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
This is just for the record: I seem to have hit the A&P last night.

I feel so goddamn charismatic today! Do I get to be this charismatic more permanently later on? Because I like making people happy. Also oh my god, my self-aggrandizing fantasies about being a teacher (the usual academic kind) are so silly and nonstop today. I'm glad I know all this to be path-related so I can take it less seriously.

Onwards to a fun day.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/12/13 10:52 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Err. Something started feeling off while I was out working. I figured it could be me projecting worries about DN stuff onto the present.

Everything is still sharp. Just, my mood is less elated. A little sensitive, one might say.

Did an hourlong sit and quickly got up to feeling similar to 3rd nana territory. Not sure how passing through A&P feels each sit, but there were some bright pulsing lights and brief bliss feelings that happened. Maybe that was it? Head feels pressured somewhat like in the 3rd nana.

I still have a strong desire to practice my ass off in hopes that my momentum will carry me through DN without much of a blip. Still nervous, though.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/12/13 8:29 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Sitting tonight both easy and frustrating. I thought it was much longer than it was (It was only 40 minutes, which is short by recent standards).

My new ability today is to sink into a concentrated state really, really quickly. I barely have to try. There can even be a string of thoughts going on as I start attending to the breath. I feel this quick darkening of the mind, and then the first stirrings of jhana territory within 30 seconds, conservatively.

But the jhana, if that's what it is, feels weird. Feels annoying. It never ramped up into full-on bliss, but I didn't push it. It did feel way more effortless than usual. There was just this brightness in the center of my mind that would not go away. Not blinding, but, I dunno -- hollow, present.

Pain arose in my mind, as per usual. I watched it. The strongest pain arose right on my third eye. It felt like a tiny, dense ball pressing extremely hard against my skull. Eventually it released a bit and kind of melted to the left side of my head, where it now still resides. A few minutes later I had a similar feeling to last night's possible A&P event: there was an intense brightness and a feeling of being pulled upward, and I began looking up slowly. Intense strobing.

But then it had a falseness to it and I immediately opened my eyes. My head was clear and breezier than I can ever remember. Still the weird painful splat on the left side, though. I couldn't imagine sitting again, so I got up and went for a walk, and had various moments of feeling totally spacious and panoramic, usually accompanied by a shift in my sense of being the observer. I was still there, but not. Hard to describe.

For about half the walk I had that very clear sense of being pulled along again, and it felt almost comical this time.

Also a cat jumped out and followed me around and I felt pleasantly bonded with it.

Anyway, I think the most prominent dissatisfying thing about the sit today was that it lacked a sense of purpose. Yesterday, I had this sense of impending explosion -- every throbbing pain held this incredible potential within it. And now I know that one of these throbbing pains is going to melt away and leave me a wreck for a while. But more than that, I just, like, didn't know what to give attention to. The hollowness of that jhanic attention was bothering me a lot. I tried to attend to those feelings of being bothered, but that was too imprecise.

I did just try and stick with the feelings of breathing, but meh.

Sorry for the word-explosion. This is way too long of a post for a day of few sits.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/13/13 4:04 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Noticing the shift of my attentional field from the center to the periphery, as detailed in MCTB.

I think it first shifted last night while I was looking down at my desk, and I said, "Oh fuck."

It didn't hit again until this afternoon. This morning I was all sunshine and charm. So far it hasn't been accompanied by anything too unpleasant. It's a little annoying. Like, I try and focus on my breath, and my mind is like, "ow. ow. Stop it." So I relax and focus more broadly. It just takes some getting used to. Again, as advertised. I'm really enjoying how predictable this all is.

Some minor spooky imagery and sounds from time to time, but I could be manufacturing those due to reading about them. We'll see if they get more pronounced.

Also, my head feels completely vacant, which is bizarre, since a recurring feeling I had the past two weeks was of my head being a solid impenetrable mass with knots of tightness everywhere.

Pain is the thing I concentrate on the most. I have this weird sense of progress being made when the pain moves around.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/14/13 4:39 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Drank three beers last night, convinced myself this dragged me back, and decided to practice hard today to move things forward again. So far I've done two hourlong sits, two shorter ones, and a nice 45 minute walk.

Didn't notice the attentional shift away from center until the past half hour or so. The sit was super-annoying, but I mustered a seemingly useful aggressive mantra towards it: "Fuck you, possible dark night symptoms! This weird off-center vacant sit rules! Bring on some scary fucking imagery!"

Whenever I felt like I should stop, I pretended some evil entity really wanted me to stop, and made fun of its efforts.

Otherwise, pretty typical sit. Some slightly different hard-to-describe feelings, some slightly disturbing sensations/flickering images, but again, I could be manufacturing them since I'm expecting them. I try and just relax-and-note, relax-and-note. Sometimes I forget and try and attend aggressively to something, and this hurts, and I have to shift back.

Hopefully I'll get in at least another hour tonight.

Edit: Oh, and I had really bad dreams last night, and it took me forever to get the fuck out of bed. I drank tons of water and wasn't hung over, so I doubt it was that. I kept hitting snooze for an hour. Every five minutes. I never do that.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/15/13 6:48 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Another for-the-record post. I may have gotten stream entry:

At the very least, that was an amazing day of sitting. The full range from out-of-control DN stuff through blissful EQ stuff to this. Hope I'm not being completely silly :-)

RE: Seamus' Log
9/16/13 6:41 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Woke up today, had some tea, sat an hour.

Decided to maintain a relaxed sense of curiosity about my current stage. Especially decided to observe how a "normal" day goes -- I have a full day of work today.

My sit this morning felt like a swift but not rushed movement along a series of stages again. Did not hit the same endpoint as last night, but got to a broad, easy, empty place. The same thoughts as usual tend to arise -- rehearsals of future conversations being the most prominent. I would say they were dimmer than usual.

Richard Zen's comment on my last post got me considering whether or not last night was an A&P event, not SE. But it wasn't preceded by the sort of pain and discomfort that seems characteristic of the third nana. It was preceded by an easy bliss.

Anyway, I'm "committed" to not getting hung up on it. This feeling is funny, because neither the hung-upedness nor the commitment have a lot of force to them. I'm hung up on it in a recognizable way, but it's almost...cute? Like, it doesn't have any real potency. And so my commitment doesn't feel like it needs potency.

Anyway. This post feels silly. Off to work. Feeling relaxed.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/16/13 8:11 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
These videos might help.

Daniel's Nana videos

RE: Seamus' Log
9/16/13 8:58 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I've watched them already. :-)

RE: Seamus' Log
9/16/13 9:23 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
After my sit this morning, I went off to work. The world was poignantly fresh and beautiful. I sang for the first time since starting this practice, and they were the most pleasant songs I ever sang.

By mid-afternoon, I felt like my (old) self. A little tired. Good mood. Perception not super-sharp. Began to doubt my current stage. Alternate thesis: sleep deprivation.

Did another sit, and was very attentive to the progression of stages. It seems pretty undeniable to me that I'm moving up through all the nanas in a single sit. At first, attention is slack, then I start noting intensely. Then there's a shift (usually in brightness and spaciousness and ease of attention), then another. Then there's a longer period involving some struggle. Then a release and subtle blissfulness. Then a kind of in-between period -- attention is good, no major pain, but things are shifting. Then there's a short period where I can't place my attention centrally. Maybe a weird image or two will arise (usually metal objects impaling me) and an odd unnerving "vibration" or sound at the periphery. Then some other somewhat lengthy period of time passes, then there's a release, and a sense of expanse.

Today that was the end of the line. Last night, in the same place, I was getting those pulled-along sensations, "thuds" (though subtle), followed by tingles. I tried playing around with the sense of the observer once I got there today, and got to a very overwhelming place, but then the alarm went off. I'll try again tonight before bed.

The whole process took about 45 minutes, I think.

Afterwards I spent the remainder of the day like an excitable kid in a candy store. Lightness and ease. A friend wanted me to talk about practice stuff, and my dharma chops were pretty incredible. I felt, like, dangerously convincing, and I kept trying to check myself and hedge my statements.

I still have a sense of something having been lost. Something that I didn't want. I can't remember what it was like to have it.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/16/13 10:06 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Okay, shit, I tried again.

Cycled up very quickly. Maybe twice as fast as earlier today.

At the end of the line, I began chasing the observer in addition to the usual noting, whenever it felt most present.

This seemed to trigger something, and my heart started racing, then I kept chasing the observer, and reality fucking crashed. Clear as day. Popped back in, head dropped back down, a few seconds of pause, and then a wave of bliss rolling down from head to foot.

Was able to do this again. Maybe twice more. The third time was less clearly a cessation.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/17/13 8:06 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
That could be it. Keep doing them and review how you got there. There are some posts that state that because you got to a fruition you now have access to all 8 jhanas.

Others also say that the mental freedom you just witnessed should create a lot of energy so it's a good time to use it on important projects in your life.

Congrats either way!

RE: Seamus' Log
9/17/13 8:57 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thanks for keeping an eye on me as this is happening, Richard!

What do you mean by "review how you got there?" Like, pay attention as I keep doing them in an exploratory way to the progression leading up to the fruitions?

This morning I did another cycle in about thirty minutes and had two more of the same probable fruition experiences. This time through I didn't experience any DN stages, I don't think. Or they were quick. I was also playing around with labeling the observer earlier, so maybe that, I dunno, pushed things along.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/17/13 6:27 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Exactly that, review how you got there so you can return when you want. Read Dan's book on the three doors and see how you can get there via the different doors of the 3 characteristics. There are some who can freely call up a fruition anytime during the day. Daniel and Ken talk about using an eye flicker to call up fruitions. You may want to ask them how that's done.

I have no idea how but it's possible to get to Nirodha Samapatti which is a longer fruition and Ken Folk said he could do this before going to sleep. That sounds like a good skill to learn. emoticon

RE: Seamus' Log
9/18/13 9:47 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Cool, thanks. I'll read over that section. Not sure how I missed it so far.

I can't call up fruitions anytime, but I do seem to be able to get them with little effort. I had a spontaneous one while working last night. I was reflecting on what it might be like to be sick and dying, realized that my fears around this had shifted, and pow, fruition. This was followed by a rapid stream of thoughts for the next hour or so recounting various stresses and hopes and fears that have been very prominent in my life, and I think it helped make sense of the feeling of "something missing" that I've been reporting.

I hadn't thought of those things since Sunday, and in recollecting them last night, I realized that they had much less force than before. I still fear death. Still have hopes and dreams. Still have worries about love and usefulness. But the bite is less. I had a calm sense of like, "I think I'll be okay even if nothing works out."

I also called up a fruition later in the evening while experimenting with concentration practices. They feel weird. I seem to cycle concentration states the quickest when I don't try to do anything. I try to tune into what it feels like to be in each state, and soon, I'm pulled along to a different one. I have to stop myself from doing habitual rapid-noting on this and that, but it didn't seem to get in the way. I felt a little lost -- it was hard to pinpoint what state I was in at any given time. I have no idea how far I climbed up the concentration ladder. Felt pretty far. I eventually stopped resting in it and did some observer-chasing, and had an almost-immediate fruition.

I think I'm resolved to spend a week or two getting some work/life stuff in order before investigating moving on to second path. I didn't, like, abandon my responsibilities the past few weeks, but there's a lot of leftover unfinished business from my depression this summer that I could tidy up. This fall and winter could actually be excellent times to keep pushing forward on the path. My work life is much simpler this half of the year, and I have no romantic entanglements on the horizon.

I'm wicked sleep deprived, so I have been having no trouble sleeping. I just focus on my body against the bed, and boom, I'm out. :-)

RE: Seamus' Log
9/18/13 7:24 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Seamus O:
I think I'm resolved to spend a week or two getting some work/life stuff in order before investigating moving on to second path. I didn't, like, abandon my responsibilities the past few weeks, but there's a lot of leftover unfinished business from my depression this summer that I could tidy up. This fall and winter could actually be excellent times to keep pushing forward on the path. My work life is much simpler this half of the year, and I have no romantic entanglements on the horizon.

I'm wicked sleep deprived, so I have been having no trouble sleeping. I just focus on my body against the bed, and boom, I'm out. :-)

That's great news. That's the point is to become more functional and to get on with your life. It's okay to chase after major goals but it's much easier if the immediate distractions aren't a burden to take you away from them (especially doubting thoughts). Just remember that when you are daydreaming about likes and dislikes you are fondling your amygdala. emoticon The less you do it the less stress you have.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/19/13 7:36 PM as a reply to Seamus O.

I think I suck at concentration practices. With insight, there's none of this "relax and release your stresses" stuff. I can just be intense and pained and awkward on the cushion, and its all fuel for insight. I can collapse on the floor in noting-induced exhaustion and keep going. Maybe I'll get some magic ability to blast into jhanas later on, but I certainly haven't needed them so far.

Also, I don't think I like this floating-around not-on-the-path business. I mean, getting lots of work done is nice. Feeling basically great all the time is nice. Calmly and curiously watching how my newly changed mind works is nice. But it all lacks the sense of adventure of the past two weeks. Maybe I can try and balance practice and life? With a little more stress on the life part of things? I guess I already feel ready to continue. "Cultivating my concentration" just seems to get me worked up all the time. :-P

Also, cycling to get fruitions isn't interesting anymore. Feels a little artificial. I'm not sure how to begin second path, but how about I try sitting on my ass and making a formal resolution to begin, drop this concentration stuff, and get back to deadly-serious 24/7 noting practice again. That'll probably work.


Oh, and more about work stuff: It's been really lovely. I've had problems my whole life with motivation. But the past few days, I'll be out working, and a typical old-me thought will crop up like "Buh, I'd rather be doing something else." And I look at this thought, consider "something else", and laugh a little. Like, what else is there? Relaxing in my room feels about the same as doing work these days. Breaks no longer feel like some kind of temporary respite from shit I don't wanna do. They feel more like...a thing I do because you can't just work all the time, or because I have little addictions to coffee or relaxing circumstances or friends.

Anyway, I'm enjoying my new relation to work. I expect that the world will appreciate my new relaxed sense of utility as well.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/22/13 7:02 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Sitting more. Seems like cycling has stopped. I just did two one-hour sits and felt like I was in roughly the same mental space.

By the second one, I was starting to have interesting sensations in my chest. Kind of a mild heartache sort of feeling? And then I had a sharp persistent head pain, and I was like: hell yeah. Possible progress.

Also, in general, feeling more emotional content, more old memories, and oddly crisp visuals of flying through fields. I can't usually visualize anything, so that's novel.

Also, I think I'm getting a little better at concentration practices, despite my last post's whining :-) I've been working with the idea of focusing attention on the pleasant aspects of breathing. I think before I was doing a lot of "find the pleasure randomly manifesting in my body" stuff, which is pretty finicky. Now I'm kind of trying to sense the pleasure in the very sensations of breathing. Even perhaps imputing it where it doesn't exist, which actually seems to help. I seem to slip into concentration states, although they're subtle.

Anyway, I'm pumped.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/22/13 9:35 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
What the hell. I think I just hit the A&P. Is it even possible to go this fast?

Did two more hourlong sits today, bringing me up to four hours. During the first two, as I wrote, clear bodily pains arose that reminded me of my first 3C phase a couple weeks ago. They disappeared during the day, and then immediately popped back up during my sits tonight. They weren't soreness-related things; I switched postures and stayed comfortable. They felt internal.

Then, tonight -- I was rapid-noting, got distracted by the words "Jack Kornfield" (lol), and immediately after noting that thought, I got slammed by a bright light and all the pain disappeared (except lower-back pain from sitting a lot). I stayed with the noting practice, and a minute later, the light started strobing very intensely, and then sudden short bliss-waves started cascading.

Seems pretty typical A&P. I stopped when the timer went off, but everything remained bright until then.

I was planning on doing a lot of sitting tomorrow morning before my afternoon work starts. I'm curious to see (assuming my prognosis is correct) if I can just plow through the dark night in one day.

Do other people just not sit this much or stay with the noting the whole time? Is this just a normal progression for someone who sits this much with a relatively stable/simple life? I'm trying not to feel special, here. :-P

RE: Seamus' Log
9/24/13 6:43 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
I really enjoy reading your practice report!

Keep it up! emoticon

RE: Seamus' Log
9/24/13 9:52 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Whew. Did some unreasonable amount of sitting yesterday. Like, seven hours or so? Plus some walks.

Things moved swiftly. My best guess is that my edge is in EQ somewhere. I cycle upwards for about 15-30 minutes each sit, bumping into a broad, bright, place. I seem to stay there no matter how long I sit. I feel like there's some obvious lesson I haven't learned or something. Like I'm a kid banging on a locked door when there's a window open nearby. Sometimes it ramps up in intensity, my heart beats, and there's a sense of shifting or being overwhelmed, but then it drops back to the same old boring bright place.

I'm trying various things: being very careful and precise and fast with noting seems to make the intense parts happen more often. Sometimes I try to just relax completely and only note when I catch myself willing this or that. Willing sometimes feels like a pressure in the third eye, and it happens all the time. I'm trying to note it in between switching objects of focus. Chasing the observer seems old hat now. I find it annoying. I know there's nothing there. I know I'm not a tension in my head or a lens through which I see. Maybe my annoyance is some sign I should investigate more.

Two and a half hours so far today, and still stuck there. I feel pretty lighthearted about it, mostly because I feel less certain about my place on the map than I did a couple weeks ago. Wherever I am, things will move forward if I'm attentive.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/24/13 9:54 AM as a reply to MangaDesuYo.
Thanks Julian :-) Glad people are reading and finding it interesting or useful.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/26/13 6:26 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Shit sucks! Investigating suckiness and lostness and the headache of observer/center/background-chasing.

Doesn't feel like it sucks in a spooky or lack-of-focus way. But I am generally willing to concede that I don't know what the fuck is going on on the cushion.

Also investigating anger towards various mental states: like -- "fuck you, ramping up in intensity and brightness, you don't mean anything. Stop making me think things are changing."

I will take all this as a sign of progress, but also as a sign that I feel more confused about where I am than I have been since starting all this, which is probably good.

During the day I'm pretty fine. Chipper, even. Just annoyed during cushion-time.

RE: Seamus' Log
9/28/13 8:55 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
For the past 48 hours or so, I've been in a bad mood. First time in about a month! The primary feeling is a sense of joylessness. Or feeling alone but not wanting to or able to connect. Luckily it hasn't been very content-based. Little or no thought loops. Just malaise. Also nobody else seems excited! I could be just absorbing their grumpiness.

Haven't noticed any major attentional shifts that would be indicative of dark night stuff. [Edit: Sat again later. Had a sudden vision/memory of a movie involving men stepping on mines in a river, knowing they're about to die, looking back at their pals, and then blowing up. Full-body chills, and then immediately started getting weird attentional shifts. Cool. Glad to be possibly entering a clear stage again. Oh, and I've been having intense dreams pretty much every night, which is very unusual.]

I almost immediately calmed down about my practice after my last post. I'm actually getting the hang of concentration practices. I've been able to access what I'm guessing are some jhanic states with ease. Nothing overly rapturous, but an attentive ease and a calmness that seems beyond mere access concentration. That distinct sense of being shown something rather than having to try.

I always had a hard time relaxing enough to do concentration practices, but I've gotten better about that. Key insight one: I don't care about jhanas that much. I'm just trying to relax and get focused so that insight practices can move swiftly. Key insight two: I can manufacture pleasantness. I had read about this, but didn't really believe it. So at a certain point in concentration, I start insisting to myself that the breath is pleasant. I in fact note it as "pleasant, pleasant."

I also have added a little complexity to the concentration practice, which seems to help. My method is based off of something I read at the Hamilton Project, which is in turn based on the Satipatthana Sutta. First, I count the breath, focusing on the nostrils and giving intellectual attention to how the breath feels (long? short? pained?) and how well I'm staying with it (spacey? superficially? precisely?). I then give some attention to calming the breath, intellectually evaluating how gentle it is relative to the last breath. When access concentration seems to set in, I broaden my attention, still focusing primarily on the nostrils, but being attentive enough to notice feelings of pleasantness or spaciousness or ease. Then I begin the practice I mentioned before of insisting to myself that the breath is pleasant, that the movements of my body breathing are pleasant, etc.

This seems to always get me into an excellent state, relaxing and pleasant to abide in. Does not feel nearly exciting enough to be the first jhana, but it does match up with later jhanas. Is it possible to skip them? There's also usually some bright light that becomes central, gradually becoming something "pulling" me, keeping me concentrated.

I don't stay long before switching to insight practice, but it's very fun. I find myself looking forward to it.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/1/13 8:58 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Things are good. Concentration practice at the beginning of sits is evolving, and is definitely a good idea. After getting to a relaxed, attentive state, I spend some time noticing and gently releasing subtle tensions. I realized today that there's a particular way I tense up in my forehead and around my eyes when I am trying to focus, and I was suddenly able to let it go significantly. It felt like a sudden understanding of what kind of focus I should be aiming for. It also made the sit more pleasant.

I feel like I never talk about specific details of what I do during practice, which may make it hard to offer advice, so I thought I'd do that now:

1) Set timer (usually for an hour)

2) Do the concentration/relaxation practices described here and in the last post. I do this for about fifteen minutes or so.

3) Then I do insight practice:

I switch my attention to the sounds around me. Usually this is a combination of my computer fan and insects/birds/etc outside. I tend to rapid-note, trying to break the smooth computer fan noise into "atomic" moments of sound. This isn't hard, so I then try and add another sound source in, trying to hear the atomic moments of the crickets chirping at the same time. Sometimes I try three. The more intense I note, the faster things seem to move along in terms of shifting through insight stages up to my edge:

When thoughts arise, I note them and they very quickly dissipate. It's extremely rare that I ruminate in fantasies/rehearsals/memories for more than a second or two. Maybe once a session there'll be a 5-10 second lapse.

Sometimes distracting pain/tension/pleasure arises, and I switch focus to that. This feels less rapid-fire than sound. I tend to just attend to how they change moment-to-moment. "Attending to change" feels enough like noting that I assume it suffices for insight practice.

By about 55 minutes (I'm guessing), severe leg pain often arises, and I watch that closely, noting all the obvious "desire to check clock", "desire to stop", "desire to move", etc. Today was the closest I've come to failing to stay till the end. I finally moved my leg and the timer immediately went off :-)

I sometimes note "observer", "centeredness", "background", and "everything" Or rather, I sometimes invoke these in a row. Invoking or noting the observer makes me attend to what sensations make up the observer. Noting those sensations makes me attend to what is noting those sensations (some sense of presence or centeredness). Attending to those sensations makes me want to attend to everything all at once, to kind of leave no room for the self to hide. This makes me want to see what's "in the background", which is usually just more sensations plus a vague sense of being in a certain place in space. Then I try and hold it all, get exhausted, and relapse back into just being a simple (usually visual) observer.

I think that about covers it. Still don't have a clear sense of where I am.

Oh, also, interesting thing: I have a friend who describes herself as compulsively engaging in negative self-talk, and I remember being someone who did this a lot as well. I was thinking about trying out this practice of repeating self-talk to yourself when you notice it arise so that I could report on its effectiveness to her at some point. So I kept an eye out yesterday for any such thoughts. There were none! What the hell. I seem to not engage in negative self-talk. I'm pretty sure I used to. A lot.

Primarily what I work with is rehearsals of future conversations or fantasies of the future. And those could involve negative beliefs about myself, but I just don't hold them strongly anymore. Here's a list of things I traditionally don't like about myself: Lazy, lacking a clear sense of purpose, jumps around from interest to interest, easily romantically attached, socially needy, bad at meeting new people.

I look at that list now, and it seems recognizable, but really, really muted. Two months ago I could have wallowed all day in my sense of laziness, my sense of being overattached, my sense of wanting to overcome my lack of expertise, etc. Today I can write this post, reflect on each of them, shrug, and get on with my day.

[Edit: Also, clearly practice makes me more of a windbag on these posts emoticon]

RE: Seamus' Log
10/1/13 11:03 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
If I am not wrong you are using the sensations of the breath at the anapana spot?

I am no expert but within my 2-3 weeks of practicing meditation I observed what made the 1st Jhana arise rather quickly for me.

I have been trying for a full week different spots at my nose such as the nostrils rims, inside the nostrils, the anapana spot.. and even though my concentration was very high in placing attention on the breath sensations on that particular area, it hardly gave me any results.

Then the few times when I succeeded in raising piti and sukha I noticed that it wasn't just the sensations of the breath were my attention was put on that specific area but the 'knowing' the breath and feeling the breath generally at the nose area (not a narrow or specific location exactly. feeling the air moving in the nose and 'knowing' the breath in the nose in the inhale and exhale and the pauses is what made for me piti and sukha arise very quickly in a matter of minutes. it doesn't matter how great my concentration was on the sensation alone, it just wouldn't get me into the first 2 Jhanas.. but now every meditation session I have energetic things going on which is pretty amazing.. I don't want to tell you what to do, but I think you should really give it a try and see how it goes.

Feeling the breath/air passing through the nostrils, its that simple. if you feel the the air that goes out on the exhale and the air goes in in inhale that's fine too, it doesn't matter, just keep following whatever happens at the nose overall.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/1/13 2:35 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Seamus O:

[Edit: Also, clearly practice makes me more of a windbag on these posts emoticon]

Lol. No worries. I for one like the detail.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/1/13 8:12 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Buh. Just sat another 70 minute session.

Two fruition or fruition-like experiences came out of nowhere. After the second one, this thought arose out of nowhere, kind of shouting, and it said: "Please, I don't want to suffer anymore!" A little cheesy, really. Step it up, brain. But all of the sudden there was this huge wave of bliss/sadness/release. Almost cried. There was another twenty or thirty minutes of sitting after that. Pretty calm. Sometimes hugely spacious and calm. Then towards the end it got confusing, with a sense of falling (might have been manufacturing that). My timer didn't go off, so I sat an extra ten minutes before checking. Was relieved that I didn't fail :-)

None of the map-related stuff I've read seems to be helping here. I could just be having first-path cycles of varying lengths, although this is the first possible fruition in about two weeks.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/12/13 1:48 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Incredibly busy with work. Been following through on a resolution to kick ass at it. Going well so far, but my responsibilities and obligations this week seem to be multiplying, and I'm experiencing bouts of very annoying stress reminiscent of my pre-practice mind.

Less than satisfied with my daily mindfulness -- it's pretty omnipresent, but often in a sort of half-hearted way. My thoughts just aren't that obtrusive, usually. They seem slipperier than before. Same with the stress, really. In early September there was that rush of excitement of being able to clearly watch desires/intentions arise and manifest as physical feelings or more thoughts. Now it feels like there's less to watch, but with a persistent sense that I'm missing something.

Not a huge amount of motivation to do daily sits. Today I've done about an hour, maybe. Maybe 45 minutes yesterday. This is typical. Haven't missed a day, but it's a far cry from the 4-8 hour marathons I was doing. Mostly I think it's the tiredness.

I have a desire to schedule a weekly daylong home retreat as a way to carve out concrete progress in the midst of busy-ness. I'll give that a try and see how that goes.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/12/13 6:00 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Okay, first question in a while: Since my practice so far has been slightly unorthodox (sound as primary object), I have developed a desire to do second-path stuff more by-the-book, and to use the rising and falling of the abdomen as my primary object.

In reading about this today, I noticed that Mahasi and Daniel talk about an early insight being the ability to distinguish physical occurrences from consciousness of them. They make it sound like one can note "sound" and "sound-consciousness" all the time from an early stage. Similarly for other senses.

I can't say that I experience this. Isn't our sensory experience by necessity a kind of consciousness? Certainly there is the sound out in the world as the cause of my experience of it, but I do not experience that. I don't understand subjectively what I am looking out for, or what y'all are experiencing. There's just sound when I note sound.

I had a similar experience with not experiencing formations as described in MCTB, even though I'm fairly certain about my claim of SE at this point. I've just been trucking along confident that my practice works and that over-conceptualizing all this probably just gets in the way.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/16/13 9:23 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Man, I have like, zero desire or ability to sit. Yesterday I actually didn't sit at all. That's the first day I've missed since late August. Today, like, 25 minutes maybe.

I can't say I've been taking the greatest care of my body, but even when I've been feeling pretty good, I haven't sat.

Fantasies about doing a retreat increasing.

Mood-wise, not too bad. A little edgy.

Maybe I'm slowing down in my practice enough to actually be in a stage consistently. That's cool, I guess. I liked it better in September, though.

Looked at the nice sub-nana chart for the first time in a while. If I had to guess, I'd say 5.2ish, vague couch-potato dissolution.

Remember when I used to be able to sit the entire fucking day? Oh man. I feel like an anti-meditation blob when I sit.

Ok done whining.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/20/13 8:12 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
I think I just had a second-path fruition.

My brain feels like a kind fire or energy is moving through it.

This happened after a couple days where I feel like I finally grabbed onto where I was map-wise on second path. That is, dark night symptoms became really clear. The past 24 hours have played out almost exactly like a month (and four days) ago when I hit my probable SE.

This climaxed in my sit tonight, third of the day, where, in the midst of formation-like experiences (which were becoming a little frustrating in what I imagine is the usual EQ way -- wanting some kind of trick or thing to do that will make the fruition happen.), I felt like I was experiencing everything arise all together constantly including, in some way/maybe my sense of self. Nothing else to do, you know? Perfect mindfulness emoticon This had been happening for much of the sits today. Then in a moment of confusion I asked "Who am I?", and then, something happened. I don't know.

Then, (and I'm embarrassed to put it like this) I felt like Neo in the Matrix where he gets the machine plugged into the back of his head ("this is going to feel a little...weird"). All of the sudden, everything was overwhelming, and I made that same face he made. Couldn't do anything else for five or ten seconds.

Then it calmed. And since then, my brain feels very, very odd.

I scrunched my knees up and hugged them, and for the next twenty minutes or so, I felt surges of appreciation for everyone I know or have known, and also for people who I'll never know, who died ages ago in misery. It seemed like the feeling in my head would be related to this -- like it would pulse and I'd have too much energy, so it released in this way.

Will report back later, but this was very similar to my SE experience, just much more intense.

I'll feel more certain about things if there's fast-cycling, random fruitions, and stuff.

Edit: Sat again, noted sounds, eventually clicked into what I'm assuming is EQ, and five minutes later the same thing happened, just with a briefer aftermath. Not exactly the most pleasant thing, but I didn't find it pleasant last month, either.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/21/13 9:15 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Feeling more confident.

Followed along with the jhanic arc podcast this afternoon, which I tried to do sometime earlier in the past month and failed at. This time, it was easy and fun.

I have been able to softly enter the jhanas for a couple weeks, but I had been somewhat uncertain about it and lost interest, since they were pretty subtle. Today they were not subtle. And I had a lot of control over them, especially the first four. I can bounce around at will between them, increase or decrease the intensity of their factors, etc. The arupa jhanas are very unfamiliar to me, and I can't say for certain which ones I entered and how strongly, although there's definitely some stuff that happens beyond the fourth jhana for me.

I'm motivated to explore it.

Spent a good portion of my sit this evening doing metta and tonglen, which I've spent very little time on thus far. I felt explosively powerful. I was sitting with a friend, and I was like: not that I believe in this, but surely some sort of cracklingly powerful compassion-energy must be vibrating into her head from over here. She didn't report anything, and I didn't ask emoticon

Feeling much like a superhero version of stream entry. Similar relation to reality, but greater mastery of it. I haven't read much about second-path experiences, so I don't really know if that lines up.

Excited to finally have the skills to sojourn in samatha-land. Excited to become a vibrating compassion-being.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm popping off fruitions like it's my job.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/23/13 1:01 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Powerfully intense, very unsettling lucid dreaming experience while practicing jhanas and not-quite-tired-enough-to-sleep.

Did not feel like I fell asleep until I woke up. Felt like I was pulled into something completely conscious.

Maybe I should read more about lucid dreaming stuff so that I can control this, because it'll probably happen a lot more now if it's at all related to my practice. I've had a lot more dreams in general compared to earlier phases of my life.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/26/13 1:03 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
I think I'm randomly slipping into concentration states. A few seconds of relaxing, and my body feels great.

I also think I'm cycling without doing insight practices, but I'm not really attending to it. The most noticeable thing is that I'll be walking around during my day, and out of nowhere, I'll be hit with waves of soft blissfulness.

My head feels funny. And it's felt funny since last Sunday. Lighter, slipperier. Thoughts are very quiet, but still there.

Not feeling powerfully moved to practice much. I've been doing about 30 minutes to an hour a day. I sit down, try and carefully cycle up the first four jhanas, play with their factors, and then I try for the fifth, which I don't really understand. The jhanic arc podcast recommended attending to the sense of space and depth, and then for the sixth jhana they recommended attending to the observer. But whenever I start messing around at this point, I just end up getting what I think is a fruition.

So sometimes I just rest in fourth for a while, and then do metta practice until I feel like stopping.

I sometimes have the urge to get back to insight practices, but I'm doing so well at work stuff recently. Maybe I'll give myself the month of November to relax and continue to improve the jhanas and my compassion practices. If people have other recommendations, I'm open.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/27/13 9:09 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
What the goddamn hell.

I kind of casually started “dwelling in the witness” today. It seemed like the obvious thing to do.

I sat down tonight to sit, and continued watching and interrogating it: “Who am I?” etc.

Things were chaotic, progressing through stages quickly. Then calm. Then I felt naturally inclined to drop the interrogation and rest, watching for the arising of intentions and dropping them.

Within a few minutes, I felt something at the crown of my head, and felt a desire to attend to it. I resisted at first, noticed that I was trying to control the experience, let myself attend to it, and it intensified. My head wanted to tilt back, so it did. In relaxing and looking up, something powerful surged through me, and I experienced a fruition, I think. The most intense since last Sunday by far. Maybe as intense or more.

But then I felt a desire to look down, resisted, noted resistance, let myself attend to it. It felt like a darkness swallowed me. My sense of my body shifted, and I felt identified with a kind of broad dark field. It deepened, but eventually stopped. My body shifted to a neutral posture again. Another possible fruition.

Then again with the being pulled up and looking up. I remember a brightening, a sense of rushing vertical energy, a desire to be pulled away. Then eventually, after another possible fruition, I returned to neutral, and was wrapped up in a cycling bright pleasant field of energy. My attention would move from the brightness itself to behind my eyes to the back of my head, and eventually this all merged into one. Just pleasant energetic light vastness.

Rested in this state for a long time until a friend knocked at the door. Felt happy and at peace during the visit. Found myself reading snippets from “Cultivating the Empty Field,” a book I hated at the monastery. But now, goddamn, it's almost pornographic:

“Moving straight ahead beyond this state, totally let go, washed clean and ground to a fine polish. Respond with brilliant light to such unfathomable depths as the waters of autumn or the moon stamped in the sky.”

I'm guessing that was just a review cycle and slipping into the formless realms. But holy fuck that felt good. And confusing.

RE: Seamus' Log
10/28/13 10:10 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
This is my new favorite thread in the world:

In it, Fitter says:

Look hard – very hard – at the reasons you’re practicing. What do you think enlightenment will bring you? Make a list of them. Now look hard at the inconstancy in each of those things. They will not bring you happiness. They will not quench your thirst. If you’re doing meditation to get those things, you’ve got the situation perfectly upside-down and need to straighten it out before you can wake up.

Here's some things I think enlightenment will bring me:

1) An end to the ceaseless craving to be something or attain something.
2) Relatedly, an end to the ceaseless desire to be some sort of beloved ultra-competent, level-headed, effective-but-not-workaholic, brilliant being.
3) But secretly I sometimes think being enlightened will make me into the ultra-competent, etc. But I know it won't. And disintegrating the desire for it sounds just as good.
4) A sense of spontaneity and ease disconnected from the pleasantness/unpleasantness/neutrality of circumstances.
5) The erasure of the sense of being a set of feelings or tensions in my head. Ego-death.

Am I completely deluded? So far I've experienced portions of these things. I think my sense of MCTB 4th path is just a completion of the process I've already felt within me after 1st and possibly/probably 2nd path.

In Jason's practice journal, he also mentions the desire to be able to attend to work/study "without all the noise." I think I'd add that to my list as well. The idea of just being the sort of person who does a job or has hobbies because that's what they spontaneously do. That sounds fan-tastic.

RE: Seamus' Log
11/4/13 4:49 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
When just sitting, and just trying to see intentions and drop them, to see aversions and drop them, there is the sudden joltingly obvious impossibility of it: There is nothing that can drop intentions. There is nothing that can see aversions. What then is this maddening tug in the skull? What is it doing? What is watching it?

And after days of skimming the edge of A&P, there's just sudden waves of questions, of impossibilities, of the sudden foolishness of a self, of the uselessness of trying to locate agency. There is just this habit of mind announcing itself as agent, of trying to see whether it averts or desires, tugging one way or another.

I can't even put it in words. I just saw it for a moment, and it was so senseless.

Someday soon it'll dissolve.

RE: Seamus' Log
11/24/13 8:23 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
Whoa, haven't posted in forever.

Haven't had a lot of interest in practicing most of the time since my last post. But there's been a kind of ongoing habitual investigation of the impossibility of locating my sense of self. I remember Jason saying something like that in his journal on here, and I think it stuck with me as an odd thing when I first read it. But I've totally being doing that since about five weeks ago.

But yeah, 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there. Missed a day. Maybe two.

It's pretty hard for me to sort out the content-complexity of my life from path-complexity, so I can't really give an accurate summary of perception shifts throughout the month.

The past few days have played out like my usual pre-path moments (whether they're new path moments or long cycles, I dunno) -- I'll be trudging along through the grumpy swamps of unenthusiastic sitting, and then I'll have a sudden sense that there's a way out nearby. Usually this is accompanied by noticing weird phenomena like, uh, the "dark night helicopter" noise. Somebody else must experience this. You'll be sitting, and suddenly you become aware that some sort of satanic helicopter is flying over your room. And then it goes away gradually when you stop sitting. Pretty weird.

Anyway, that got pretty strong, and today, I was hangin' out and feeling a pretty overwhelming and unusual sense of emotional stress, and I just had to get up, scurry off to my room, and sit for an hour and fifteen minutes. Felt like I climbed out of it, hit my now-routine once-a-month pre-path EQ state, stopped for work (as usual), ate a quick dinner (as usual), and sat again (as usual).

My practice recently has started to involve some shikantaza-like stuff; it seems like the most natural thing to do when I notice myself getting too goal-focused.

I remember reading Daniel writing about a possible pre-path moment where you have a hard-to-describe feeling of your perception looping back on itself, and possibly a strong image of a face arise. Well, I had that tonight. And it was pretty weird. And then I had a very familiar blippy fruition moment, though slightly unfamiliar in that it didn't arise while noting the shit out of the universe.

I felt pretty calm, kept sitting, and seemed to cycle back up through some stages to EQ again. Didn't have a fruition again, because a friend knocked on my door to hang out. Felt good and calm and lighter in the head, which again, is typical post-path feelings for me.

In my least conservative scenario, that was the third path moment for me. Will watch out for rapid cycling and fancy new meditative abilities. I guess Nirodha Samapatti is the thing to check for, so I'll shoot for that if I notice cycling.

I feel pretty ho-hum about my practice: I have a strong sense of being able to follow this through to the end and a strong sense of being, I dunno, unimpressed with myself. I was going to say underwhelmed, but it's not that -- shit is great, I'm so happy I jumped into this, my life is concretely stellar, but really there's no, like, fantasy land of 24/7 bliss at the end of this particular tunnel.

Anyway, sorry to keep my wild fanbase waiting. emoticon

RE: Seamus' Log
11/24/13 9:11 PM as a reply to Seamus O.
In my experience, one of the signs of having gotten third path is a general confidence boost afterward. Generally you may feel a lot more confident after third path. Just saying in case you are wondering if you got third path or not.


RE: Seamus' Log
11/25/13 5:43 AM as a reply to Seamus O.
Okay, I've done a couple more hours of sits. I think that was third path.

At first I was cycling just while sitting on the computer: similar to what I think was my second-path moment, it felt like lines of energy were kind of burning through or zipping around in my brain, and then I'd suddenly shudder in blissiness.

My head feels different. I think this is the funniest part of cycles for me: after everything I take to be a path moment, my relationship to my head changes :-) I guess this makes sense from a self-deconstructing standpoint.

If I sit down on the cushion and basically do nothing, I ride up the jhanic arc wayyyyy past where I was getting last time around. Very clear formless realms, and what I'm taking to be some pure land jhanas. Last month when I first had clear access to the jhanas, I don't think I ever really made the 4th to 5th jump. But now, hanging out in the 4th samatha jhana, I can very easily and clearly shift to an expansive, voluminous space and start riding up from there. Or I can just wait and it happens on its own. Pretty cool.

Right at the start, and every time I get up as far as I think I can go, I think to myself: I'm going to hit nirodha samapatti. The descent back down the jhanic arc feels like a waterslide (with bumps!) sometimes, and there's a darkening/gradual loss of a sense of my body sometimes at the bottom, but never anything really like a cessation or rebooting or bliss-wave. But I understand that this takes time. Also, I very quickly start riding back up the arc again. Way faster pace than I remember in the past. The directional shift is a very strange feeling.

RE: Seamus' Log
11/25/13 5:44 AM as a reply to T DC.
Thanks for the tip!