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The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together [Mind over easy] [MIGRA

The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together [Mind over easy]


Mind over easy - 2014-04-29 18:39:39 - The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

I thought I would take a minute to post about a useful tool that I don't often take advantage of. 

Resolutions!

I've been working my way back into a consistent insight practice. Naturally, I don't want to spend any more time in 3rd V.J. off the cushion than I have to. On the cushion, it is not so bad, since you are already making a commitment to work through the difficulties that can arise, etc... but off the cushion, there is potential for letting your guard down and having negative sensations compound, which can spiral into more negativity and cycling through the unpleasant nanas therein. This has been happening to me lately. Especially with difficult life circumstances, it is easy to neglect the effects of 3rd V.J. off the cushion, instead blaming your problems and letting negativity compound.

So I decided to mark my targets (make resolutions)! No sense in sitting, making it to, say, the A&P, having a sit end, going off into the day, and getting stuck in dark night territory. 

Essentially, when I started sitting, I resolved in my head, "I am going to rise to the level of the A&P in this sit". Then I forgot about it** and continued practicing. Surely enough, the A&P came about fairly quickly. I continued to practice and then my time was up. But before I rose from the sitting, I resolved, "I am going to rise to the level of EQ today". I went about my day, making sure to keep some level of mindfulness up through noting. It wasn't balls-to-the-walls noting or anything like that, just enough to keep myself cognizant. As I was working that day, aspects of 3rd V.J. started to manifest and I continued to be mindful through consistent, yet loose and low-key noting. This continued to go on, on a very background level, where I wasn't necessarily thinking about noting or anything. Then, towards the end of the day, as I was getting some food, I was struck by a moment of silence and clarity. Like being conscious of a thunderstorm in the back of your head all day, then suddenly, in a moment of quietude, tuning into your hearing and finding silence! I experienced the transition to EQ very clearly, which is usually not so obvious when I'm not actively engaged in practicing. Sensate clarity, calm mind, ahh... much better!


I thought I would share the experience in case it could benefit anyone. The basic idea here is to sew together your sits by making conscious and precise resolutions both at the beginning and ending of your sit, then keeping some level of mindfulness going throughout the off-the-cushion time through noting or whatever your technique is. The mind has an uncanny way of fulfilling intentions that are slipped through from conscious to subconscious. So the implication is that if you are working towards some goal in practice, it is best to have stated your intention before you step away from your moments of dedicated practice, so even if you aren't able to keep an active practice through your daily tasks, you can still progress towards your goals on some unconscious level.

**For more informations on resolutions, stating intentions, and the mechanism by which intentions manifest, I highly recommend checking out works on Magick by Alan Chapman. Three Steps to Heaven and Advanced Magick for Beginners both come to mind. Highly useful stuff.

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Mario Nistri - 2014-04-30 16:18:30 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

Hi!

Awhile back I used a lot, maybe too much; I would cast resolutions allthe time in order to make them strong quickly, even making silly resolutions like "now I'm going to visualize this color for x min", or something like that. Eventually it became a problem,because insane resolutions would arise and I'd be forced to follow them. At a certain point I made a resolution like "I'm going to sit for 1 hour". At that time I was in a very painful place, as far as meditation was concerned. The sit became quickly incredibly painful, and I was totally unable to deal with that pain, and everything inside me was screaming to get up and stop, and yet the body just wouldn't move. After, like, 30 min in horrible pain I was able to override the determination and stand up, but the damage was already done, as that ended up being a clearly  traumatic experience; I'm totally afraid of determinations since then, wich is unfortunate, as they clearly are a very useful tool.

BTW, I red Chapman's works, but I fail to see the determination part in it... how do you put together his magickal conceptual framework with the practice of determinations? I mean, they are obviously related with magickal stuff, but I'm not sure how exactly you see them fitting in his way of seeing at things.

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Dream Walker - 2014-04-30 18:03:29 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

Mario Nistri:
that ended up being a clearly  traumatic experience; I'm totally afraid of determinations since then, wich is unfortunate, as they clearly are a very useful tool.
Add caveats to the resolution. I tend to always add - if this is in accordance for my highest benefit and for the benefit of all beings. This tends to trim down the negative consequences of magick quite a bit...but you will get less results overall.
Good luck,
~D

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Mind over easy - 2014-04-30 18:39:40 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

Eventually it became a problem,because insane resolutions would arise and I'd be forced to follow them.

Like, a resolution would just come up without any deliberation on your part and they would automatically follow out? Or you would feel pressure to carry out the resolution? Just curious how you are experiencing this.

Resolutions are more effective with some degree of concentration, plus more concentrated mind means more deliberately and calmly deciding on a resolution. With monkey-mind, thoughts racing, without some equanimity/distance from content, it's harder to be "lucid" and in control of intentions and instead, intentions are formed without our consent/deliberation, like being in a dream and not being aware of dreaming and thus having no control over the way your unconscious reactions shape the dream. In fact, it's also good to practice removing intentions, and doing so will definitely reveal attachment/aversion to various intentions...

If you got stuck in some catatonic state, maybe it would be good to simply resolve, "I renounce/cancel/take back/undo my resolution to sit 1 hour". If the power of your resolution got you in, then why not out?


BTW, I red Chapman's works, but I fail to see the determination part in it... how do you put together his magickal conceptual framework with the practice of determinations? I mean, they are obviously related with magickal stuff, but I'm not sure how exactly you see them fitting in his way of seeing at things.


Sorry, just to clarify, what do you mean, practice of determinations? Not sure what you mean. I'm not sure what you're getting at with putting together the two frameworks. Could you clarify? I will probably be able to respond better.

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Droll Dedekind - 2014-04-30 19:37:04 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

I'm glad you posted this. Ever since reading the Resolve chapter of MCTB I've been making a habitual resolve at the beginning of my sits. Lately the importance of willpower/intent/subconscious/'Volantia'/'Will'/whathaveyou have dawned on me. Only now do I properly give the 'oomph' behind the resolve. 

Has anyone tried using sigil magick to make resolutions? I tried a couple in the past, to success, so I've been experimenting with them this week for meditative resolves. Anyone who wants to give it a try should check out Practical Sigil Magic by Frater UD or this.

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Mario Nistri - 2014-05-01 12:18:47 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

Like, a resolution would just come up without any deliberation on your part and they would automatically follow out? Or you would feel pressure to carry out the resolution? Just curious how you are experiencing this.

What comes with or without deliberation got very fuzzy, as in, thoughts come with or without deliberation on my part?. 
However, there was the pressure to carry out the resolution, and the sense that I couldn't help but doing whatever I previously decided to do.

Sorry, just to clarify, what do you mean, practice of determinations?

By determinations I mean resolutions. "X will happen" and then does happen. If X is a state of some sort it has quite a different feel to it than the case where  X is some kind of objective behavior, but I put them under the same name.
The thing I wanted to say about Chapman is that he seems to me more concerned with meaning than intentions and resolutions, so I don't understand why you suggested his work in relation to resolutions and intentions.

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Mind over easy - 2014-05-01 18:15:52 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

Ah, okay...

The thing I wanted to say about Chapman is that he seems to me more concerned with meaning than intentions and resolutions, so I don't understand why you suggested his work in relation to resolutions and intentions.


So for starters, if you're familiar with Magick, you'll know that the goal is the same as in Buddhism, gnosis/enlightenment/non-duality/whatever you want to call it. Path moments/cessation, etc...


I'm still not sure where your confusion lies. My practice tip was in making resolutions to suit your practice, particularly in insight practice. Resolution=a modification in your belief=a modification in your experience. The essence of Chapman's teaching as it pertains to doing magick is that you modify your belief to modify your experience. Resolution is really modification of belief. Therefore, Chapman's work, along with the magick traditions, is useful for an meditator seeking to experience the "x"th nana or jhana, or even fruition. Resolutions are no different from magickal intention, and the difference between "I resolve to experience x" (a la Mahasi Sayadaw) and "I am experiencing x" (a la magick spell) is close to nothing. In either case, you are believing something in order to experience something. Hence experience=belief. See what I'm getting at?

What comes with or without deliberation got very fuzzy, as in, thoughts come with or without deliberation on my part?. 
However, there was the pressure to carry out the resolution, and the sense that I couldn't help but doing whatever I previously decided to do.


Interesting. For me, I just forget about the resolution and working towards making it happen. Part of it comes down to letting intention go to the subconscious. Pressure is often a sign of aversion (this current state doesn't match my resolution) and attraction (I want that resolution). A goal is different than a resolution in that you work towards your goal consciously, whereas a resolution should be stated and forgotten, proceeding normally and letting the subconscious work it out on it's own. Although the lines do get blurry from ambitions to goals to desires to intentions to beliefs. The power of this particular type of resolution is definitely in letting them slip beneath conscious processing though. Always maintain the liberty to modify your resolutions/intentions though. And also keep in mind that intense pain/itching is common in particular nanas, and must be worked through (reasonably, not doing damage to your own body). If your posture is sound, why not resolve to come to equanimity with pain?

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Mario Nistri - 2014-05-01 18:41:48 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

In either case, you are believing something in order to experience something. Hence experience=belief. See what I'm getting at?

Yep... ok. Got it.
Didn't make the distinction between goal and resolution.

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Eudoxos . - 2014-05-01 19:13:50 - RE: The power of resolutions, sewing your sits together

Nice post, thanks!

Reading MCTB I was a bit surprised that there was relatively little dedicated to resolutions in terms of making the progress of insight go forward.

My vipassana background is the Ajahn Tong tradition (very much Mahasi, I assume, thought I don't know Mahasi first-hand) where intentions are used before every sitting, where one makes a wish to have the respective nana one is aiming for appear (usually one per day, which makes up to 10 days for a retreat - from A&P to EQ plus 2 days (and nights) for fruitions). When I saw that for the first time, I thought it was bogus, that a wish formulated with words I had no clue about (like "Within this hour, may adinava-nana appear" -- WTF??) may not bring any effect - but I learned soon enough that there is something to it. After the EQ, those resolutions are called "determination" and they aim at fruitions (short ones the first day, extended ones the second (last) day).

In The Progress of insight, Mahasi Sayadaw writes about such resolutions, e.g. (sections 18 and 19)

One should also set one's mind resolutely upon the further tasks: to be able to repeat the achievement of Fruition Attainment, to achieve it rapidly, and, at the time of achievement, to abide in it for a long time [...]. But when still in the practice has been acquired, the Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations' will arise, soon, even after four or five acts of noticing. If the power of concentration has reached perfrction, the Fruition consciousness will, repeatedly, get absorbed in cessation by way of Fruition Attainment. The mind can thus reach absorption even while one is walking up and down, or while taking a meal, and the Fruition Attainment can remain for any length of time as resolved. [...] When the meditator has thus become skilled in achieving the Fruition Attainment, he should resolutely set his mind upon the task of attaining to the higher Paths and Fruitions. [...] But although Equanimity about Formations has been attained it just goes on by repeating itself, if the Spiritual Faculties have not yet reached full maturity.


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I would cast resolutions all the time in order to make them strong quickly

Thanks, Mario, for sharing this, that's something I was about to try out a bit...

Cheers, edx.