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Dan's Insight log [Dan J Franklin] [MIGRATE]

Dan's Insight log [Dan J Franklin]


Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-02 05:46:36 - Dan's Insight log

Had the first restful sleep after months of insomnia, aided by meds but with plenty of REM activity (literally, as Michael Stipe kept harrowing me about my bartending abilities in his monotone warble. I digress). Went for a long walk in evening, noting the motions of the feet. Accelerated noting and then scaled it back down, found the breath beggining to coordinate with the foot motion in a pleasant way, felt on the verge of the yogic breathing that started my first A&P but didn't go for that. Had another sit in the evening, more distraction but was able to return focus to breath while noting thoughts fairly successfully. The sit was longer than my usual. Not as concerned about noting with the "right" word, and didn't have to note "word finding" which was a relief. Looking forward to whatever cartoonish absurdity awaits me beyond the veil of sleep, and an extended early morning sit if a sleepless night is my fate.

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-02 18:32:26 - RE: Dan's Insight log

Had a long walk after a short sit in the early morn. Starting to notice the subconcious chatter that Shinzen Young has talked about in some of his videos. Sometimes its indecipherable and sometimes it'l be something really goofy, but mostly its as he describes, like being in a room full of people talking but being unable to pick out any conversation. Had a slight synchronicity on my walk; while noting I was distracted by a craving for tobacco; lo and behold, after walking about 20 feet I found a full can of Copenhagen chewing tobacco. This greatly accelerated my noting to the point where I began to get dizzy, then I began noting sensations instead of thoughts. Noticed a vibratory quality in my hands and warmth in my feet, could be an effect of the tobacco but its not something I usually experience when I'm dippin like Babe Ruth (ok, more like MJ on the outfield)

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-03 18:58:22 - RE: Dan's Insight log

Meditation after sundown is always more intense for me. Since it was the Super Bowl I had a few beers and rolled a few of both kinds, and found my concentration to be a little worse but nothing I couldnt push through. Had a longer sit than usual where I was mostly at access concentration but may have hit 1 st Jhana briefly, then attempted sitting again after dinner. Whew, I went from terror to misery quite rapidly; found sitting impossible so I switched to various yoga poses. This helped my body feel better, and my mind focus a little, as the high freq vibrations were really ramping up. I have tinnitus but this was much more pronounced. While cycling back through misery my eyes were having trouble focusing (does anyone else experience this while sitting? Going "googly eyed" for lack of a better term?) and i was actually on the verge of sleep when I heard a loud, but calm voice say "Sure, lots of people want to die". I was immediately cradled back to low EQ, for some reason, on hearing this. I had a rather awful period a week ago where I was indulging in some self destructive, even suicidal thoughts, which seem to be excacerbated by the meds I'm on (anti depressants). After talking to some people I think I can distinguish between which mental scenarios are related to side effects and personal pathology and which are related to knowledge of anatta. I had a turbulent, uneven rest that night, but did sleep and had some dreams which seem related directly to anatta, which I haven't used as insight fodder much, if at all (I suppose I've mostly been focusing on impermanence of pleasant/un-pleasant emotions and thoughts).

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-05 16:05:17 - RE: Dan's Insight log

So, some clarification on goals and practice. I got into meditation as a way to handle my severe social anxiety, which was causing a lot of negativity in my life. One of my insights recently is that since I'm naturally an introverted person, some amount of social anxiety is going to be present in all my interactions for the rest of my life and while its a good goal to allieviate this as much as possible, I was trying to tinker with my Aspergian personality at a fundamental level ( by hedonistic indulgence in various empathogens and just plain bloody mindedness) and as some author wrote, "can any organism survive its reduction to its most basic mechanisms?". So my goal now is to reach stream entry as quickly as possible while navigating the DN more skillfully than I have in the past and using the experience of jhana and equanimity to work on my social issues from a less rugged emotional plateau.

My sits are now passing the 20 min mark again, and I usually just deal with the extreme restlessness that manifests as spine undulations and twisting motions of the shoulders and arms. I don't usually note this unless its accompanied by a thought, in which case I'll note "pushing" or "contraction" and return focus to the breath or kasina object until the movement or thought passes. Recently I've been noting "gone" and that has helped me avoid getting caught in conceptualizations of the practice, which still go on but aren't as loud as before. 

Most of my notes are on rehearsals for conversations and mental scenarios of past or future events, sometimes positive but mostly negative. I take this to mean that my meds haven't been rafting around my synapses long enough to have an effect, though it may also be habitual conditioning. Reached 2nd jhana despite large dose of tranqs, proves that meds aren't an impediment to samatha jhanas, which most people here already know, but I was skeptical about. Its interesting that I could distinguish between the effect of the drug and the jhanic state; I could feel one begin to overtake the other, like a car in a stock race slide into an equilibrium speed with another driver; I think something chemical happened at this point, because I got these bubbly sensations, like I was in a hot tub of champagne in Jay Z's limo, that spread over the entire surface of my skin before localizing in the arms, shoulders and chest area. This lasted for most of the sit before fading away quietly. Will investigate further. No self shattering insights yet, although my annatta dream is still fresh on my mind and I'll give anyone the details if they are so interested.

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-06 23:33:36 - RE: Dan's Insight log

Beginning to note walking without words, using slight finger motions instead of "touch, rise, fall step" etc.). I find this makes noting of mental phenomena more fluid. Free ya feet and your mind will follow. I've also been noting while listening to music, as I've discovered that I do a lot of "music journalistic criticism" in my head as I listen, and this greatly hinders my enjoyment of music, so I note that and "gone" and I find that I'm enjoying music more than ever. Still dealing with violent gusts of disgust and irritated mental states; I don't sit with these and try putting the feelings into physical activity like exercise (resuming my hatha yoga practice is helping). Went to sangha last night and had the distinct feeling that my unwholesome thoughts were causing people to retch in disgust and leave the room, but afterwards this older guy, long practiced, told me he really appreciated one of my comments and that felt pretty good.

 There was an attractive yoga girl sitting not far from me and I focused all my attention on avoiding any awareness of her presence, fairly unsuccessfully. i've come to the conclusion that, while I won't ever get rid of the need for relations and attention from the opposite sex, my personal pathologies, both pre natal and self inflicted, preclude me from ever entering into anything more than casual friendship, if that even, with women. So i think this is a good opportunity to use loneliness as a platform for insight into anatta and impermanence, since I'll be dealing with the fairly low frequency emotions of lust and longing. However sometimes I feel a deeper melancholy, maybe something akin to what the Spaniards call "duende", that comes from loving someone who will never love you back. This feeling isn't anything like depression; it rolls in like a black cloud and sometimes showers little black snowflakes on a searing skull. ( Pretentious, moi?  )

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-11 19:19:12 - RE: Dan's Insight log

Interesting thing happened while sitting yesterday. I'd taken my evening medication, and reaching 2nd jhana relatively quickly was a hoot, so much so, that I quickly lost it. So then I returned to anapanasati and gneral mindfulness of body sensations. I involuntarily closed my eyes, and felt a strong pull to my left, almost like what people smoking salvia describe. This was followed by the feeling that I could not locate the "center of conciousness" (as I described it to my self after it passed). This is my best description of the feeling, it wasn't that conciousness was extinguished ( there was still discursive thought ) but my usual perception of it was dissolved down to at least my thighs. This sounds like a feature of Dissolution, but while there was a slight twinge of fear at the onset, there was no rebound terror or disgust, and I spent a quiet night in making hip hop beats and watching people traveling home in the constant chaos of roads addled by partially melted snow. Of course this could be just another big D and I'll be growing Goth paint out of my tear ducts in a matter of hours; maybe this should be in the diagnostic clinic as well, is there any name for this phenomenon (is my description too brief?) ?

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-13 06:15:57 - RE: Dan's Insight log

I'm quite curious as to what those reading this think of the title. Is what I'm doing really Insight as set forth in Daniel's book? Or am I just deluding myself into thinking I've made some progress, and perhaps I should change the title to just a regular practice log. 

As for my sits, I think I'm reaching low EQ, usually after frantic coffee intake and copious gumfulls of copenhagen. I prance around like a crazy person, go for a long walk, noting relentlessly, then listen to some music, sit, go through 3 charicteristics with a lot of pain and then usually I drift into a more even state, where most of my thoughts are about practice or rehearsals of conversations I'll be having. The thoughts about practice and maps and stages aren't as irritating anymore. Thoughts of music journalistic criticism are far more annoying, and frequently arise when I'm trying to enjoy music. That said, I was absolutely devastated by the latest Swans LP, which I reccomend to anyone who feels like they need to be gently swayed into a fetal position with a sledgehammer. 

So my question for you guys is, does my practice as I've described accord with "Right Action", and am I sharing too much or too little about my experiences?

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Dan J Franklin - 2014-02-18 15:39:25 - RE: Dan's Insight log

Some updates. For me, the most intense insight moments seem to happen on walks, out in public usually, which can be a little awkward, but maybe thats for a reason. I seem to hit the fear nanas every time I talk to an attractive girl (in real life, not Facebook) (really, I've experienced it on the cushion as well and they are almost indistinguishable. A sinking, shrinking feeling in the lower chest coupled with the desire to jump out of my skin, climb the Middle Pillar and get out of the whole circus).

One moment that I think qualifies as true insight occurred while I was walking, noting wordlessly, "hitting with the mind" (which I find is far more effective) , listening to music, timing my breath and foot motions with the drum beats, inhaling on the kick drum and exhaling on the snare. I had a flash of images of a musician I've admired, and had a bone deep conviction that I was really seeing an image of myself, a projection that I'd created of myself as I'd like to be and that I've tried in the past to become. These flashes occurred in time with my foot steps and breath, and didn't last more than a few seconds. But I think I've had some small insight into the process of "selfing".

Annata dreams continue, and are growing more sinister and frightening, often involving themes of Tantric ritual that I've never practiced in my own life. I'll share these privately if anyone is interested. 

My sits are becoming much harder, which makes me think I've fallen back into Re-Observation, which is kicking my ass, frankly. I can still sit, but often change my posture several times throughout an hour sit, as the pain in my legs gets unbearable. Last sit was this morning; I had these weird pains in my sides and lower back; I practiced breathing "into" them and that seemed to lessen the pain, then I had these intense waves of heat cropping up all over my body. This used to be a pleasant part of jhana, but now its neither painful nor pleasant, especially compared to the pain in my legs and lower torso. I also experienced some fine vibrations on my face, which lasted for most of the sit. I'm not sure what to do when these occur; I just tried to stay with the breath and watch them; they just kind of hung out on my mug until I ended the sit; about 5 min later, as I was drinking a cup of joe, I had this wave of tingles spread from my head to toes in a shudder, which was interesting.

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Hazard J Gibbons - 2014-03-26 13:41:43 - RE: Dan's Insight log

Update:

I've been sitting with more discipline and steady concentration for 30 min at a time, although this doesn't always hold; if I cant manage that I break it up into one 15 min noting sesh and 15 min of metta. I can walk for hours tho; When practicing walking meditation I use Shinzen Young's Focus Out technique, where the notes are on external objects (Sight, Sound, Touch). I feel more anchored in my body, whereas in Re-Ob I would often have the sensation that the ground beneath my feet was dissolving. I just really like the headspace that Focus Out puts me in; its more expansive and less introverted than my usual self, and quite psychedelic in some ways. And noting external objects reminds me that Im not in control of the world, whereas in my sitting I sometimes get too enamored with my ability to reach certain states. 

In sitting I often drift into a dream consciousness, but maintain my awareness during the entire experience. Its not lucid dreaming, as I'm not asleep and I'm not trying to control anything, just watching. Some of them are just weirdly mundane situations, but sometimes they are highly charged images ( one recurring one is a flower petal wavering under a stream. I saw this exact thing several days later on a walk, but I wouldn't call that a synchronicity). In my thinking, its interesting that Leary called the 5th circuit of conciousness the "Bliss Circuit", associating it with marijuana, and the Amazonian shamans call the 5th level the collective unconcious Dreamtime. My mental feeling in these states is more free flowing and associative than normal, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a jhana, as it seems more like I'm just accessing unconscious "stuff" that I was unaware of before.

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Hazard J Gibbons - 2014-04-16 21:34:27 - RE: Dan's Insight log

I still go through restless periods on the cushion but I'm finding ways to work through them. Getting used to the field of attention being wide, and the shaking of the observer has been difficult, but I can sit for quite a while now without moving. Walking meditation is more fun, as I seem to have some features of Mind & Body and A&P ( more clarity of vision, vividness of color, occasional lights) going on without the speedy feeling of my A&P, and with the wide attention from the DN making it more panoramic. I believe I went through Fear the other day ( felt afraid, heard dog barking, mind creates story about the dog barking causing the fear etc.) and cycled up to low EQ in about an hour of walking. Disgust and Misery passed so quickly I barely noticed them, which seems incredible compared to how it felt just a few months ago. My attention is back on the center again, but the periphery is still "loud", its just not as out of phase as it was before.

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Hazard J Gibbons - 2014-04-27 16:20:58 - RE: Dan's Insight log

So after emailing Daniel, I'm pretty sure I've been cycling from A&P to Dark Night, to perhaps low equanimity, over and over, and what I thought was high EQ was really the A&P again, only not quite as impressive as the first time. I crossed A&P again a few days ago; I was sitting and watched a thought arise and vanish on its own, completely. Then I entered some kind of deep restful state (a jhana?) and my body "map" started distorting wildly, like in a hypnogogic state. My chest and head were stretching to the ceiling and then contracting down below my knees. This was a bit freaky, but also pleasant, so I just watched it, and dropped the noting as there didn't seem to be any thoughts to note, although in retrospect I could have easily noted "expand, contract". Next time. 

definitely noticed Dissolution again, as the breath began slowing down on the out-breath. Fear passed quickly to Misery, where I spent a night walking around alone in the rain, listening to the Velvet Underground and Ronettes and feeling quite lonely and thirsty for some kind of companionship. Didn't notice Disgust, perhaps because I'm a habitually cynical person anyways and being disgusted with EVERYTHING has been a sort of default mood for me. I suppose I''m in Re-Ob now; my sits are again very difficult, as the "Kundalini" seems intent on breaking my posture, leading to annoyance, leading to distraction, leading to more precise and ruthless noting, leading to vibrations, and then......well, I'm intent on finding out.