Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
I haven't posted in these forums for a while now, probably about a year, as this forum made it a little too easy to whine about things that come up as opposed to noticing it and letting it be. Also, I have been quite wrapped up with getting used to living in Thailand again and with a new job as a university professor. I'm still relatively busy, so I don't think I will post long comments or logs, but this can be something that kept me away from getting caught up with thoughts and emotions during practice and daily life, I hope.

As to where I am, I'm still working toward third path. I have been on it for 3 years now, and admittedly don't really know where I am on the path at the moment. I came to realize that the time I left the US about a year ago was basically when I was in the "misery" phase of the practice with lots of loss. I also doubt I have reached re-observation yet, as I'm not particularly angry with most people at the moment (but it could show up differently, I suppose). I'm probably somewhere in the dark night phase of the path.

I also haven't found good place to practice here in Thailand. I went to a couple of places for a 1-day retreat or weekend retreat in Bangkok (I still can't take long vacation at the moment), and I'm somehow sick of how the teachings are put together here with lots of blind faith and belief. Also, most retreats seem to be geared toward beginners (which I can probably benefit from, but I have some doubts with that too.) Anyway, I decide to stop the search for the place at the moment and focus on practicing well instead, or at least to not to bind into suffering too much.

Okay, that's it for now. I will try to post something short every day (telling myself). Seeing thoughts as thoughts, emotions as emotions. Okay, no more reactions. Practice metta.

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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
I have been dealing with the morality question (and karma maybe) in the past couple of weeks. It was basically something I did long time ago that basically was not so right like cheating on the exam. It kept coming up, and because of everything I have read in the dharma circle in Asia about karmic result, somehow the mind just said I'm not going to succeed because of this karma. It was funny how the thoughts took shape differently almost every day. First, I just remorsed. Then, it tried to figure out what to do with intense feeling of fear. Then, it said I have to do something to fix this (which is really impossible), maybe telling someone about it. Maybe this will reduce the effect of it somehow. But then it kept going back and forth with just facing it. Come, I'm ready. Now I can kind of conclude that all of these might just be an excuse not to take responsibility for what happen or is going to happen somehow ... whether I will get caught up with it again tomorrow or what other shapes it will take place is to be discovered.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Julie,

I have been dealing with the morality question (and karma maybe) in the past couple of weeks. It was basically something I did long time ago that basically was not so right like cheating on the exam.


Remorse can be an unwholesome mental state if it buries us in more subsequent unwholesome mental states (like continuously flogging oneself or causing one to "sorrow over what as been done and what has not been done" and growing the unwholesome state of conceit by way of causing one to constantly think "I'm a failure" and/or develop a fierce self-hatred, envy of others...etcetera [1].

Or one could recognize their remorse (etymology: to re-bite and re-bite) and develop one's wholesome and beautiful mental factors such as conscientiousness, hiri (respect for self and others, more care in thought, speech, and action), moral dread (a memory of how one's immoral action caused a long-lasting pain and thus one shies from such action again), and one could instead focus on germinating the seeds of wholesome and beautiful mental factors: geminating and watering generosity/non-greed, metta/non-hate, proficiency in letting unwholesome mental state seeds remain dormant through lack of feeding them and proficiency in having faith in one's precepts/moral trainings and sati (sati as both a guardian over one's mental factors and what is arising as well as sati being an active presence and quality of mind relating to all phenomenas that we encounter/realize), which sati and precepts' faith can cause tranquility and lightness of mind and these help the mind become wakeful and not sluggish and help the mind to be equanimous. These can support the mind's flexibility and wholesome wieldiness and thereby not let the mind become rigidly stuck to any one thing conceitedly or divisively or with clinging, e.g., as unwholesome self-flogging or as clinging even to the knowledge of dependent origination. The wholesome and beautiful mental states can lead one to have, despite one's previous actions, consistency in wholesome, unregrettable conduct, confidence in rectitude/non-hypocrisy. From a field of well-developed wholesome and beautiful mental states, one may deal better with the consequences of one's previous and unwholesome actions should such consequences arise. One will be well-trained and practiced to deal better with any hard situations, even fluently operating with wholesome and beautiful mental states.

What do you think?

It was generous of you to share your hard experience. Thank you. I respond as much to you as to myself and others who understand your feeling and experience. One of the Buddha's teachings is that one is not locked into some kamma deterministically; one has creative responsibility for contributing to extant dhammas, like current events and consequences, as one's mind is the forerunner of all things. So this welcomes one to take up wholesome, liberating changes. That's nice. :o)

Best wishes and thank you for your post.

_______
[1] and [2] these comments on wholesome and unwholesome and beautiful mental factors from from Abhidhamma Sangaha, a Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, published by BPS Pariyatti Editions, mainly pages 83-88. I'm just back from a retreat on the Theravadan Adhidhamma and Ven. Bodhi made this challenging compendium warm and accessible, practical to daily life and situations like the one you raised, as well as the class being immensely engaging and often hilarious.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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If it is of any consolation, I have seen remorse mentioned several times in the suttas as a positive force (e.g. 1, 2).

An "unskillful" reaction towards remorse would be to become more and more perturbed.

A "skillful" thing to so would be to abstain from the same kind of actions that led to remorse, by bringing it to mind at the right moment, to abandon the mental qualities that led to these actions, and to develop those qualities that prevent them.

I.e., what katie says, her advice is as buddhist as it gets.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
You need to forgive yourself for past bad actions because the ego likes to defend itself as "good" or "bad". The most important thing is to not let guilt or remorse prevent you from bettering yourself. If you can make good choices with kindness and consideration it's much better than wallowing (which I was an expert at in the past). Negative emotions can be used for good. If you use your anger to make better choices and use your guilt to not repeat bad choices of the past then the negative emotions aren't self-destructive. It's almost like that saying "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good". Don't let knowledge of a wrong turn make you do more wrong turns. It can be used to do the opposite.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Thanks for the responses. When I'm conscious of what I have done in the past that was not so great, such as the habits, the moral conducts, etc., there is always something in there that says I'm going to be like this forever. The hardest thing seems to be to realize that I can act wholesomely at the present moment and let whatever "bad" things go and forgive myself completely. I can't say that I won't be caught with anything that will arise again in the future, but thanks a lot to all the posts; at least I can come back to read these, and hopefully, I will suddenly remember not to cling to those ideas too much emoticon

Back to today's practice.
Well ... The thing that I remorsed over and over again did not even show up today (but if it does again, I will follow you guys' advices/ comments.) I had lots of activities during the day today with lots of classes to teach. I'm in the pleasant mood almost all day today. I have been trying to be mindful during my walk to places, which surprisingly was very easy today. I felt some rush in the afternoon and I tried to encounter that by slowing myself down and noticing the rush and seeing the energy in my body.

About formal sit, I did ~40 min sit in the morning. After going to the weekend retreat here about a month ago using basically Mahasi sayadaw technique, I have been quite curious at seeing the rising and falling of the abdomen. With many years of looking at breath at the nostril, it has been really hard to see this actually, and I admittedly still can't feel it. In fact, I have been breathing so lightly these days (at least from time to time) that I don't even know if I'm breathing in or out. I mean it was not like I spaced out, but I really did not know. This made me even more curious about it. When not doing that instead of seeing the rise and fall, I seemed to feel the tightness in the stomach and felt much urge to sway back and forth (which I did), alternating with being lost in the thoughts and bringing my attentions back to it. At some points (and this happened from time to time), there seemed to be some energy moving up to the eyes, making me squeeze my eyes and fell into some space that was darker and quieter than usual. That did not last very long though.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
btw,

Katy: That sounds like a good retreat. hmm...maybe I can find a place that is not too conservative here to practice too. Maybe that does not matter anyway if I can find someone I trust and think he knows what he is talking about.

Bruno: It's funny I never read those suttas that way, even though I have heard them before several times. Now I have new ways to look at it; thanks for pointing this out.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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One question I contemplated on today was whether I reacted to the thoughts. When a thought arose and I knew I was thinking, I tried to let my mind think and watch it like a witness. But then I was not so sure if I was actually adding anything to it or creating the thought further. I seemed to be able to stop it, but that felt like an aversion. I definitely noticed an aversion to an aversion quite a few times today. Maybe I'm trying too hard (?)
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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One question I contemplated on today was whether I reacted to the thoughts. When a thought arose and I knew I was thinking, I tried to let my mind think and watch it like a witness. But then I was not so sure if I was actually adding anything to it or creating the thought further. I seemed to be able to stop it, but that felt like an aversion. I definitely noticed an aversion to an aversion quite a few times today. Maybe I'm trying too hard (?)
From my experience, what you're doing yields excellent results when repeated over time: paying attention to how thoughts change/give rise to sensations in the body and more thoughts in the mind.

Without breaking up a chain of unskillful (aka, unwholesome) thoughts, they give rise to more of the same family of thoughts (unskilfull, unwholesome/harmful), forming what Bhikkhu Bodhi has called "The Law of Cumulative Development". (This again is coming from the same Bhikkhu Bodhi's Abidhamma retreat and his "Law" regards moments of thoughts, cittas, how they string together in this buddhist typology of consciousness).

Instead of stopping that thought with aversion --- like you said, creating aversion for aversion --- one can be simple and honest with an unwholesome thought. I hear it as if Thich Nhat Hanh is speaking: "Laziness [for example], I know you're here. We're going for a jog; you can come, too." Or "Remorse, I know you're here. You're pointing me to change speech for the better, carefully, full of care." etcetera. So there is friendly receptivity while still changing the mental stream from unwholesome to wholesome without inserting a punitive or aversive "block".

It can feel synthetic at first to practice wholesome thinking, but those do support the development of both an equanimous mind and even neutral feeling.

Does that make sense to you?
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Instead of stopping that thought with aversion --- like you said, creating aversion for aversion --- one can be simple and honest with an unwholesome thought. I hear it as if Thich Nhat Hanh is speaking: "Laziness [for example], I know you're here. We're going for a jog; you can come, too." Or "Remorse, I know you're here. You're pointing me to change speech for the better, carefully, full of care." etcetera. So there is friendly receptivity while still changing the mental stream from unwholesome to wholesome without inserting a punitive or aversive "block".

It can feel synthetic at first to practice wholesome thinking, but those do support the development of both an equanimous mind and even neutral feeling.

Does that make sense to you?


I have never heard of this, but it seems like a nice way to combine insight practice with metta actually. What I usually did was to say something like "laziness is like this." and often after noticing enough compassion just arises by itself without forcing it.

I have a question for you though. From my experience like today (or maybe every Saturday emoticon) when I seem to be cycling through re-observation (I thought so because I was irritated last night and I simply just had no energy and don't want to do anything this morning), it has been really difficult to actually notice these feelings like laziness or low energy and actually get myself to do whatever it is. I mean I did it when I really have to, for example, to keep my job, but then, eventually, I really need to pay those dues. Also, I seemed to have more success allowing myself to accept those feelings and just rest, instead of fight it. Or usually, if I fight it, eventually I have to surrender and have compassion for myself. It seems my strategy with difficult stages of insight in general has been to have compassion for myself for whatever difficult things happen. Rest, if possible. Then, when I cycle through some more attentive stages, it will be time to catch up with work, etc.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I have a question for you though. From my experience like today (or maybe every Saturday ) when I seem to be cycling through re-observation (I thought so because I was irritated last night and I simply just had no energy and don't want to do anything this morning), it has been really difficult to actually notice these feelings like laziness or low energy and actually get myself to do whatever it is. I mean I did it when I really have to, for example, to keep my job, but then, eventually, I really need to pay those dues. Also, I seemed to have more success allowing myself to accept those feelings and just rest, instead of fight it. Or usually, if I fight it, eventually I have to surrender and have compassion for myself. It seems my strategy with difficult stages of insight in general has been to have compassion for myself for whatever difficult things happen. Rest, if possible. Then, when I cycle through some more attentive stages, it will be time to catch up with work, etc.
I'm not sure about your question -- you are sharing for feedback on maybe this excerpted process? Anyway, I like your advocacy of and agree with that point: resting and having compassion for oneself during hard times.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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katy steger:
I have a question for you though. From my experience like today (or maybe every Saturday ) when I seem to be cycling through re-observation (I thought so because I was irritated last night and I simply just had no energy and don't want to do anything this morning), it has been really difficult to actually notice these feelings like laziness or low energy and actually get myself to do whatever it is. I mean I did it when I really have to, for example, to keep my job, but then, eventually, I really need to pay those dues. Also, I seemed to have more success allowing myself to accept those feelings and just rest, instead of fight it. Or usually, if I fight it, eventually I have to surrender and have compassion for myself. It seems my strategy with difficult stages of insight in general has been to have compassion for myself for whatever difficult things happen. Rest, if possible. Then, when I cycle through some more attentive stages, it will be time to catch up with work, etc.
I'm not sure about your question -- you are sharing for feedback on maybe this excerpted process? Anyway, I like your advocacy of and agree with that point: resting and having compassion for oneself during hard times.


I was actually responding to this sentence: "I hear it as if Thich Nhat Hanh is speaking: "Laziness [for example], I know you're here. We're going for a jog; you can come, too." The fact that he is still going for a jog just said something like let's do it anyway even if you don't want to.

Okay, I'm totally thinking ways too much emoticon
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Ah, okay. emoticon

still going for a jog just said something like let's do it anyway even if you don't want to.
Yeah, this is the way I do this. If I placate too much a negative world/self view with too much rest and compassion, my body will learn, "Hey, negative self/world view gets more time in bed and coddling." That's me. I'm not saying you'd do that. So once I've rested a bit, I definitely get out and make efforts again and then I also "reward" those efforts. So this is friendly, effortful behavioural conditioning, to me, that has worked well little by little.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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"Hey, negative self/world view gets more time in bed and coddling." That's me. I'm not saying you'd do that.


I complete know what you mean!!! I did that with work sometimes, especially when I don't get enough sleep.

Speaking of exercise, thanks for posting that 7-min exercise thing. Okay, time to get back to some exercise. Better to do a short one than not doing it at all (I totally stopped during dissolution phase of this path; I simply had no energy to do anything at all.)
Mario Nistri, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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One question I contemplated on today was whether I reacted to the thoughts. When a thought arose and I knew I was thinking, I tried to let my mind think and watch it like a witness. But then I was not so sure if I was actually adding anything to it or creating the thought further. I seemed to be able to stop it, but that felt like an aversion.


From what I've observed, every thought is born out of some kind of energetic moviment throught the body, and the mental manifestation is the way that energy gets released; so, stop thinking, in a way, it's like trying not to feel an emotion, just on a much smaller and quicker scale; when I try to stop thinking, that particular pathway for energetic release is not working anymore, but the energy is still flowing, and so get released in a way that is a bit more chaotic and mildly uncomfortable, because now it has to go out in a way that is not natural.

Also, -again, according to my observations- when you are observing you are doing a few things, some of them being, getting more concentrated, wich makes energies run faster, and moving energies upward; since thoughts are very much energy-dependent, there is no way you can possibly observe them and not influencing them at all, IMO.

PS: I do metta-insight hybrids as well... love that practice

Bye!
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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From what I've observed, every thought is born out of some kind of energetic moviment throught the body, and the mental manifestation is the way that energy gets released; so, stop thinking, in a way, it's like trying not to feel an emotion, just on a much smaller and quicker scale; when I try to stop thinking, that particular pathway for energetic release is not working anymore, but the energy is still flowing, and so get released in a way that is a bit more chaotic and mildly uncomfortable, because now it has to go out in a way that is not natural.


In some ways, I think I can observe this too. I notice too that sometimes the only way the energy can move through wherever it needs to, I have to really let the mind think.

Also, -again, according to my observations- when you are observing you are doing a few things, some of them being, getting more concentrated, wich makes energies run faster, and moving energies upward; since thoughts are very much energy-dependent, there is no way you can possibly observe them and not influencing them at all, IMO.


Are you suggesting that I should not even try to observe or investigate anything? I have always thought that for this path, I should practice being a witness. Part of me just says that in fact not doing anything at all is enough in and of itself, but then the other part of me always doubt that. Since the first time I truly learnt how to meditate, I use Mahasi Sayadaw techniques (or something extremely similar to it) and all I was instructed to do was to watch the thoughts, see how they arise or change and get interested in them. It's somewhat hard to believe that not doing anything at all is the right 'way' to practice or that's it's enough at all.
Mario Nistri, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Are you suggesting that I should not even try to observe or investigate anything?


For God's sake, no.

I'm just saying, it's normal that the act of observing will influence somehow the way what is observed presents itself.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Mario Nistri:
Are you suggesting that I should not even try to observe or investigate anything?


For God's sake, no.

I'm just saying, it's normal that the act of observing will influence somehow the way what is observed presents itself.


For some reasons, your quote reminded me of Kenneth Folk's 3rd gear (I haven't read it for a while, so I totally forget exactly what it said. I just remember that the 1st gear is noting, 2nd gear being being witness, and 3rd gear being doing nothing.) Anyway, at this point, I will just practice being a witness, alternating with noting (more like knowing, I guess), whatever feel right. No need to fool around.

I'm totally thinking too much over the weekend emoticon
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I practiced some metta-insight hybrids today while sitting. I simply just set an intention to wish everyone well and feel whatever feelings that might arise without forcing it. Also, if a thought of some people arose and after being mindful of it, I just included these people into my metta practice as well. I could feel pretty intense metta feeling this way and could drop phrases eventually. There was just metta feeling left with some lightness and piti (so I think that was light version of 2nd jhana).

For the day, I went through some low energy stages, so I set an intention to let it be and paying attention to some big targets instead. For example, instead of noticing all the hands or feet movement, I observed the whole body movement and let my attention be at the peripheral instead.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I simply determined to let things be again today. Instead of observing thoughts, I just went for the energy in the body, which has been going quite crazy today. I felt slight irritation again for a few hours and that came with some tightness in the belly, as well as the back of the neck and the shoulders. It seemed I could move energy through this part by trying to stretch them or simply just let my body get as crazily restless as it wanted to. Of course, it was very difficult to do with other people, and I just tried to act as normally as possible.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I set up an intention to actually go through my day sending well wishes to everyone I met or saw. In a way, I was doing quite well, as I definitely caught myself judging others several times, but I'm still sending well wishes to them though. On the other hand, that intention was not carried through throughout the day. I felt quite a lot of energy in the afternoon with some restlessness, so I decided to watch the restlessness instead. There was definitely so much urge to get on the random websites and looked through them without any purposes! When seeing that, I decided to just meditate for a while instead, and that was a good way to channel those energies somewhere else. Now I'm totally in a good, hyperactive, clear-mind mood. It's time to witness myself fantasizing, I guess emoticon
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I just placed my attention at the rise and fall of the abdomen this morning (I still cannot feel it.) When thoughts or emotions came, I just noted and watched those too before coming back to the abdomen again. I could again feel some tightness in the stomach and could feel the energy get released from that a bit. Overall, the sit produced peaceful mind, which lasted for about 0.5-1 hour after that this morning.

I also set my intention to know what I'm doing as much as possible throughout the day and if interacting with people, to do it with metta. With that intention, I could see myself dropped the thoughts much more quickly and came back to my activities instead. Also, the effect of trying to plan what to write winds down a bit now. There was definitely some obsessing thoughts with that.

Okay ... I was having such bad shoulder/ neck pain last night that I could not sleep. I guess I will be doing some yoga to help with that. I'm not sure if anyone has any other good techniques they use to alleviate the pain.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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~40 min sit. Before the sit, I was feeling really bored and did not want to sit. I just ignored that thought and sat anyway. I placed my attention at the abdomen area again. Yet, I could see the breath around the neck area and not the rise and fall. I felt tightness at the abdomen instead. After a little while, I started to feel my body brighten up. I still paid attention to the abdomen area and absolutely saw no movement. Just tightness which moved from lower abdomen to middle. At this point, some energy also moved to the eyes as well. There was also an urge to rotate my upper body around which I did. I felt lots of peace after the sit, but I'm still bored although that somewhat became a background.

I will try to pay attention to the abdomen area during the day today.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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Don't forget to relax your body muscles and facial muscles before you meditate. It's easier for the mind to get calm if the body is calm.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I did come back over and over to the abdomen area during the day as intended this morning. I still can't feel the rise and fall there. Yet, again I kept seeing energy moving there, sometimes around navel middle abdomen area and sometimes at lower abdomen. I could feel lots of aches and tiredness there, not really painful, but definitely some urges to stretch that part of the body. Overall though, what I found was that having some anchor made it much easier to keep coming back to it and stay present, as it's clear where attention should be at. I'm not sure if this will work all the time especially with some dark night stage, as it's harder to narrow down attention to points, but I will see. I will try to do some yoga to relieve this pain too. The video from youtube worked so well with shoulder and neck pain.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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After fear, comes misery. I'm actually quite miserable today when I'm by myself ... so that was the summary of the day.

Did some yoga before the sit this morning, but I did not feel much energy movement and did not feel the urge to move. I had some difficulties concentrating at the abdomen. There seemed to be quite a bit of thoughts going on the background, and whenever I noticed them, I just came back to the abdomen. What made it somewhat difficult was the fact that I did not 'feel' much. I mean it was like the mind was dull and had no feelings (something I always feel during misery phase). I felt some energy as heat from shoulder up to the head area.

Moving on from sitting to the day. I started off teaching a large lecture class of 200-300 students. I actually was quite amazed that I had so much energy in front of them when before this my mind was just plain dull. I taught some difficult concepts today that I myself did not understand much, and it was funny how if we actually admit that to the students, they were having fun with that as well and could accept that it's okay to not understand some of these things. After class, the mind felt dull again. I could feel some energy getting blocked (and no movement) at many placed in the body. Then, somehow the energy seemed to get through something, and I started to feel some feelings again with some mild pain in the shoulders. The mood is definitely better though. Through all these, I have tried to feel the dullness as much as possible. I tried to also place my attention at the abdomen throughout the day today, but that seemed very slippery ... well, I guess I was doing the best I could.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

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I thought I would log my sit before going to teach another section.

Did some 30-40 min sit today. I did stretch my body with yoga briefly again before, but that was helpful. I could feel the energy flowing with ease this morning, and I haven't felt as peaceful as this morning for a while. I still paid attention to the abdomen area. It took very little time for the mind to get concentrated today. I could see some bright orange light in the upper part of my body, and this was brighter as my mind got more concentrated. It was pretty excited because for a little while, I actually could feel the subtle rise and fall of the abdomen, and this synchonized quite well with the breath (I still see the breath in other areas though). The noticing of the rise and fall ceased, as I started to feel some release of the energy in the abdomen. I felt really calm after meditation and am still feeling lots of peace right now. My mind seemed to be in no rush. Peaceful, but really that affected my lecture this morning; I went really slowly with it, slower than I had planned and now risking not finishing the contents ... still see no trouble with that in the mind emoticon

I will still be trying to know the center of my body while walking around today.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
Wow ... so I went to teach another section, and my concentration wore off quite a bit and I taught like 7 min faster than before (but then it might just be the second time around teaching the same material). Anyway, I got students' exams back from another class, and basically all students failed. It was really interesting to see how my mind just went straight to "it must be my fault. Maybe I did not make my points clear. Maybe my exams were too difficult." Very interesting to see.

Another thing that has been quite interesting and frustrating in life right now is that every problem I thought I sorted out many months ago came back right now pretty much at the same time. I need to get people to fix my wall again, the instrument is broken again, I need to write exam for the class (which I should not have) again. Really frustrating ... okay, I will just have to keep watching my mind frustrated, I guess. Where am I rushing to anyway? I'm so prepared to quit this job if this does not work out a couple years down the road anyway.

On a different note, I interacted with many people today, and I had a hard time remembering to keep my attention at the center of my body all the time. I will try again tomorrow.

With this current frustrating mood, I will probably able to drive home pretty fast ... (and pretty rudely!)
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
~45 min sit. I did some yoga beforehand to stretch my body. My sit was quite difficult today. I tried to watch the rise and fall of the abdomen again, and I did not see any as usual. After a while, there was again an urge to rotate my body around, which I did. I could see a lot of boredom and dullness in the mind, which I looked at them. There was even a thought saying why seeing the breath at the abdomen and really called for me to stop, which I listened to it and just let it pass by. I guess this will be the test of how much I want to see the essence of this technique. Before getting up from the sit, I again set my intention to be with my center at my body throughout the day.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
So somehow I feel like I went through nearly the whole cycle of insight for posting on this website already only after a week or so. This feels really familiar. Even though when I started, I was only going to go slowly and just log my practice, I went a little too crazy again. I also feel like I over-effort quite a bit and paid a little too much to the practice. I probably stopped my log for now, but I will probably post on this site occasionally, as some insight arise or need some help.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Julie--

It's been nice to read your experience. Best wishes with your teaching and your students, too.
And driving... ;)

Katy
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
I went to a dharma talk by a monk named Thammatipo today. He seemed to indirectly claim himself as Arahat, or at least that was what I sensed. I guess it's really not about like or dislike here, as I think our worldly ideas on certain topics are quite different.

What I'm curious and maybe want to ask you guys here is about what he said about practice technique. Basically, he said forget about all the other technique and just place your attention at the center of your chest (where the end of 2 sides of rib bones meet) when you sit, walk, or go about your day. This is where your citta lies and the center of knowing is. Just drop all the noting; that's blocking the real knowing.

For those who know something about the mind better than me, does this sound about right? For some reasons, I just trust you guys here more than any monks I meet right now emoticon

Btw, for anyone who might be interested, here is his website: www.thammatipo.com Most info are in Thai, but his technique can also be found in English on the menu on the right.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I think he's trying to get the idea of a self away from the skull and in an area that often is involved with reactivity. I often can feel anxious sensations in that area and to be in that area with mindfulness might be helpful. I still think a broad awareness including anything is better. Knowing doesn't really have a location other than we know it's the brain being involved but you can't feel knowing. Knowing just knows what's happening. That's why you hear descriptions of the knowing/consciousness being untarnished. But then the thoughts can pretend to be a knower or treated as a permanent self and that's where fading of perceptions and consciousness can prove to the meditator that it is also subject to the three characteristics.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:
I think he's trying to get the idea of a self away from the skull and in an area that often is involved with reactivity. I often can feel anxious sensations in that area and to be in that area with mindfulness might be helpful. I still think a broad awareness including anything is better. Knowing doesn't really have a location other than we know it's the brain being involved but you can't feel knowing. Knowing just knows what's happening. That's why you hear descriptions of the knowing/consciousness being untarnished. But then the thoughts can pretend to be a knower or treated as a permanent self and that's where fading of perceptions and consciousness can prove to the meditator that it is also subject to the three characteristics.


The other place I went for a weekend retreat a couple months ago said something similar though, so I think that's why I was curious. This is from a different master, and he said something like when noting knowing pays your attention at that center of the chest where that rib bones meet, when sending metta places your attention there as well, but then when dedicating merit, place the attention at the third eye area. This is from a pretty famous Thai master named Luang Po Jarun.

Anyway, these are somewhat too confusing for the practice. I might just stop going to talks for a while. I like a broad awareness including everything too, and that would be what I do for now. Fluidity in practice and in life is totally called for.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
It's also important to try something out long enough see how far you can go with it before abandoning it. Usually it's good to update your practice when you've reached an impasse after having accrued some benefits. For example when I did verbal noting I could get up to a narrow equanimity but bare noting has been able to go deeper because verbalization is known by consciousness so creating a disassociated self that is "noting" becomes an impasse. Just paying attention gently to how thoughts manifest as a meditator is a relief because you don't have to cling to the practice anymore. I also feel that understanding dependent origination and seeing it manifest in your life will be a massive help in noticing patterns of stress so your noting has more value.

Eg: To see that consciousness notices objects (without objects consciousness can't know anything) -> if contact with objects hits your skin/nose/tongue there is a pleasant/neutral/unpleasant feeling tone (unless your ears and eyes are being hurt those doorways lead straight to perception instead) -> then perception quickly labels whether they are desirable or undesirable objects (based on memories/advertising/what people say you should like or dislike) -> then your amygdala reacts to those labels and gets the brain to release addictive chemicals or stress chemicals making you have craving or aversion-> then the mind obsesses about why you like or dislike something which further increases those chemcials (clinging) -> Then there's an intention to do something about it and you find it easy to react. Seeing this process over and over again while you're noting will teach you about the limitations of willpower and will develop disenchantment with the repetitiveness of it. The benefit then is that you won't react as automatically and you'll see your particular triggers for mental stress and try to avoid them in the first place.

If you have a negative story that's been in your head for years you can start interrupting the thought stream and get back to the present moment again and again letting those old habits atrophy and you can insert your own conditioning (metta) and nudge it towards positivity and an appreciation for being alive. Gil Fronsdal says that some people like to say "no" and interrupt the stories. Nick's suggestion to ask "why?" is a good one. Some of the stories are quite stupid and I've had them many times. Gil Fronsdal relayed a funny one (that I'm sure many people have had) where he saw a woman he liked at a retreat and he imagined that she was French and he was dating her...married her...divorced her, within a small span of time. When he met her in reality and found that she wasn't French he got disenchanted with the story. Instead of following that story he could have just enjoyed the moment. That's the problem with clinging and how it's like a vice that once you start clinging it's very hard to stop and not act. It's easier if you let those perceptions arise and pass away and also to have beliefs challenged. "Is that really true?" "What evidence do I have for that?".

Good luck with your practice!
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
For some reasons, I'm just not interested in practicing any techniques at all at the moment. It might just be the combination of a dark night of the darker cycle so lots of peripheral attentions and equanimity of smaller cycle. I have been searching for Thai meditation teachers for more than a year now, and all I got was some disappointment (I guess I was expecting something). The first teacher I was looking at was Ajahn Chah's disciple and he dis-ordained (if that's the word) after almost 40 years of ordaining, because he was in love. Then, I tried a different tradition, and the teacher was doing something I did not like again. Everyone seemed to be inserting something else (like the conservative belief found a lot in Thai society) into their teaching. I somehow found it very hard to trust them. Then, a month ago, I asked myself what exactly I am looking for. If I were to find someone I liked, would I regularly go to that place or that person, and the answer was no. I guess my mind was searching for something without any purposes at all, so I don't really care about that question anymore.

It's almost like I'm bored with the dharma. I just want to live my life somehow. This could be partly because I had a hard time following any techniques. Any of them, which most require narrowing down attention, feel like I'm over-efforting. Maybe this will change at some points. I don't know when or how though.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I've taken breaks from meditation as well and I recommend it if it's interfering with your main goals because it shouldn't.

The goal is this:

Bahiya Sutta

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."


If you can see that thinking is not a self but only thinking, then there is less need to talk to yourself in your mind, less need to have arguments with people in your mind, less need to rehearse for conversations that might not happen and most importantly there's less need to self-reference and compare to others. Over time as you treat thoughts like sensations there's less of a pull to feed on those addictive thoughts because there's always some stress you can feel. It takes some time but the brain starts noticing that it's less painful to get on with what's going on in the present moment than to fixate.
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Travis Gene McKinstry, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 208 Join Date: 7/26/12 Recent Posts
Julie V,

I enjoy reading your posts. It's interesting that you live in Thailand, which part (if you didn't mention that already, if so, I missed it)? My brother is moving over there for some formal meditation instructions in a couple of months.

Thanks for posting emoticon I hope your practice is going well now.
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
I was trying to send you a private message, but I was not sure which one to use. I guess I will reply here then.

Glad to hear that you enjoy reading the posts emoticon. I live in Bangkok. Nice to hear also that your brother will come for a retreat in Thailand. Which center is he going? I still don't know much about many centers here, as I just moved back about 1.5 years ago.
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Travis Gene McKinstry, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 208 Join Date: 7/26/12 Recent Posts
Yeah I'm not sure either emoticon

I'm not sure yet… do you know of any good ones? He is interested in the Theravada tradition.

How are you enjoying Thailand?
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Julie V, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Julie's practice log and place to ask questions

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/17/10 Recent Posts
My e-mail address: aspiritualfriend at gmail dot com.

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