Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Sam's practice [Sam Sykes] [MIGRATE]

Sam's practice [Sam Sykes] [MIGRATE]
Answer
5/7/14 5:22 AM
Sam's practice [Sam Sykes]


Sam Sykes - 2013-12-15 21:34:33 - Sam's practice

Hi everyone,

I would like to begin my practice thread here. I'm happy to receive any feedback and suggestions.

Background: playing with mindfulness based practice's for about 12 years on and off. Took a Goenka retreat 4 years ago, read MCTB about 2 years ago and then a 9 day M Sayadaw style retreat last year. My progress so far: in relation to the stages of insight and jhana I have no idea where I am. Honestly I feel I have changed a lot over the years, developed a fair bit equanimity and concentration, worked through personal problems, feel generally pretty good in myself. But when I look at the highly technical descriptions I don't really know where I am, and about a year ago I stopped worrying about it as it felt like I was imagining instead of experiencing my senses. So I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I know I've got a lot from noting practice so want to continue.

Current practice: 30 min of seated noting a day. Trying to keep it simple, either feeling, seeing or hearing a la Shinzen, noticing the flow or flicker of the senses. Secondly, I try(not as hard) to maintain some somatic practice every day. At the minute I'm using 'your breathing body' by Reggie Rey and also some mindful movement exercises, which make it easier to be mindful throughout the day by making it feel nicer.

So here is my first entry: I start by getting comfortable and following the breath. Settling in I can pretty quickly Get into the body feelings. Note them, notice the general feeling, any movement, then sometimes get into the flickering nature of them. However usually before I get to the flickering I'm distracted by thoughts, and when and if that's noticed I come back to whatever that is and start again. I can have longish periods of concentration on a good day(guessing a minute or two) but other days not so easy. Over the course my perception often gets weird and distorted, sometimes feeling quite psychedelic and strong. As often as this I get bored and distracted and it can be a struggle.

I'll begin going into detail from tomorrow's sit, just wanted to make a start for now. 

Cheers, Sam

-------------------

Sam s - 2013-12-16 15:44:49 - RE: Sam's practice

Hey, still learning the ropes around here so I hope I'm ok to post like this. I sat for 30 minutes this morning having got up at 6am especially to. It was a stinker, the sleep was still in my head and I kept dropping off. I could notice obvious thoughts and feelings but nothing of any subtlety. I'm thinking first thing sitting isn't the best idea. Anyway, I'm starting to notice bigger patterns of my concentration swelling and dropping. When I can stay with it it feels as though I'm on the cusp of going to somewhere special. Nothing else to report.

-------------------

Travis Gene McKinstry - 2013-12-16 20:40:11 - RE: Sam's practice

Hey Sam!

From the looks of it you joined the site yesterday. Thanks for making the move to joining this awesome online sangha emoticon

First things' first; 
Hey, still learning the ropes around here so I hope I'm ok to post like this.


I post sometimes, 2 maybe 3, times a day. So don't fret emoticon This is your practice log and people will come read it, maybe post on it maybe not. But the number of times you post doesn't seem to matter (so far I've gotten no complaints).

Secondly, it would be good to detail your goal(s) on writing a practice log, meditating etc. For example, I keep a practice log to detail what is going on during my sits so that other people can comment and (hopefully) diagnose. I've gotten a lot of help so far and am incredibly grateful for the feedback this sangha gives, so you'll feel welcome here.

The other thing I wanted to mention is your experience during meditation is (a lot of the times) very subjective. So if you feel 'this' or 'that', it could just be some strange experience that happens once and never again. I've had several of these. That being said, you could also be experiencing some stage on the stages of insight, so if you have someone diagnose you, best be someone who knows the path relatively well. 

Lots of times I got hung up on some crazy experience to find out it was one of those thats-not-terribly-important-go-back-to-noting moments.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that if I've learned anything after being on this forum and through my practice is never lose your meditation object. Meaning; the more you can meditate and focus on whatever you're trying to focus on (be it the breath, sensations, etc.), try to stay on it as much as possible throughout the day.

Good luck and don't hesitate to ask!

-------------------

Sam s - 2013-12-18 11:14:47 - RE: Sam's practice

Hi Travis,

Thanks for your warm welcome and advice, much appreciated. I've been lurking around here for about a year or more so I didn't get stuck straight in! My goal is the big E, and I've felt after reading here and other places(Kenneth Folk etc) that the Vipassana path is the most consistent way of getting there, and have been using choiceless awareness and steady noting as my practice. 

However, despite feeling that the noting and other mindful practices I've done have helped a lot, and have some how changed my brain quite deeply, as I mentioned earlier I don't feel I've progressed along the map of insight very much. I have indeed become aware of arising and passing away in present moment sensations and also in 'longer' processes, a speeding up and slowing down of general moods for example. But I can't match the described phenomenom of the stages of the map. For example I feel during practice I reach states where all sensations are made up of vibrations, and feel quite strongly equanimous to all I'm feeling, but then it gets to a point of so what? and not beyond. 

I'm thinking of making body awareness, posture and the breath my central practice. I'm a bodyworker which means when I work I tend to keep the body in mind, which goes along with your suggestion of not losing the meditation object throughout the day. Thanks again, I'll keep your suggestions in mind and look out for you on the forum!

In yesterdays practice of half an hour I became aware that there seemed to be a continous flow happening downwards in my body towards the floor, and this began to feel as though everything in my consicousness was happening at a single empty point. Some anxiety was noted when I began to try and get a stronger feel for this point. Will investigate further today.

-------------------

Sam s - 2013-12-22 16:08:50 - RE: Sam's practice

Practicing noting has had lasting effects bon my consciousness but for some reason I just feel really loathe to do it. I've had a very stressful year and couldn't feel myself making progress with it even when ramping the hours up. I know, that I probably need to just shut up and do it, and I'm not sure what exactly I'm afraid of (apart from not making progress), but nonetheless find myself more interested in jhana again. So I find myself doing a half hour of it a day.

Yesterday, concentrating on just the feeling of the ribs expanding and relaxing. I soon get a warm feeling(in the area) which becomes my focus. It expands and feels euphoric, so I keep on with this. It becomes very large and expansive, and often then very small and dimensionless. One other thing, I sometimes get intense pressure in mainly my finger joints which I eventually have to move, as it feels like they're bending backwards. It becomes painful and concerning but a bit of movement brings them back to normal. I don't know if I can stay with this and what would happen. Maybe I should. My concentration isn't hard and occasionally lapses but for the most part the warmth is where I'm at. I've been looking at the various jhanic factors to try and figure out if this is first jhana or not. Anyway lets see where I go today.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-04 12:59:35 - RE: Sam's practice

Enough flipflopping about, I'm having a main practice of 30-45 minutes of vipassana simple noting per day. Any extras I do will be(like concentration or other work) will be bonuses, but the main practice has to be insight. I've realised this after a busy Christmas period, all I really want is tangible progress. So I have been mostly sticking with this since my last post.

Here was todays sit:
Spending a few moments balancing posture, securing breath, and relaxing, I start internally noting any physical sensations approximately once per breath. When my mind wanders I gently notice the physical component to the the thought and note feel again. Occasionally I'll throw in something fruity like the name of the emotion or the sense of resistance to it, or sometimes noting if it disappears, but I realised I wanted to prune all this back so that that isn't the main thrust of the process, but noting to keep me stuck to the object is. Apart from the preference for the physical I'm mainly choiceless, and I'll go wherever the largest or most interesting or captivating sensation seems to be happening. If anyone has feedback on this approach (ie can spot any major errors with it) I'd be pleased to hear them.

So most of the sensation was hands, torso, feet and head. Hands and head tend to be vibratory, torso feels more fixed but can also change to ibration. Then there is the movement with the breath which is watched. By the halfway point I began to feel twisted(in the torso) and distorted, like my hands were too big. This intensified but didn't become overwhelming. Then at about 25 minutes my torso felt twisted and uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure it's not my posture but something else. I stayed with it for a time but was glad when the chime went as it was beginning to make me feel anxious. I don't know if this is a good sign or something to stick with but will look out for it tomorrow. 

Later today I plan to do some moving meditation and some breath meditation (a la Reggie Ray).

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-12 21:28:37 - RE: Sam's practice

More flip flopping. I should just stop reading I think. Anyway for last few days, slow noting. Over time I become clearer but no real insights or new energy. Been reading 'focused and fearless' which has me interested in jhana too. Only problem is I just don't enjoy anapastani. Think I will keep to vipassana 30 main a day, then just do extras ass I feel ( as daily stress needs to be taken care of which sorry but the noting isn't cutting it.). More later.

-------------------

Rist Ei - 2014-01-12 22:28:09 - RE: Sam's practice

try to play with the awareness there is countless ways to be. There is some combinations what will bring immediate result.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-13 11:49:24 - RE: Sam's practice

Sorry Rist Ei, are you able to be more specific? I've had a (admittedly) quick look through your practice and I'm not sure about all the terminology you are using. If you're able to PM me a source of information I'd be happy to read it. However I've spent quite some time reading around and am quite sure Vipassana is my path at the moment. I do try to be present throughout the day in various ways. Thank you for your insights.

-------------------

Rist Ei - 2014-01-13 13:16:19 - RE: Sam's practice

Its better to be not more specific because it will be a waste of energy for the reader.

What i did i read a year from morning to night every day- i didn't have a job. Pretty much everything free on a subject highest states of mind, who i am, what is Tao, Buddha etc, mystics, powers.

Noting didn't help. Actually nothing didn't help. I was clueless, so i asked inner guidance, and thinked what i really have in this moment. Pure silence. So i started cultivating that silence, i hold my attention on it(i tryed to catch it) and i succeeded at last.

It can take decades. Becasue we don't put maximum into our practice, so only 1% from hourly sitting is fruitful. But if you figure out how to take the lead and be the leader you can make 10%, so progress is 10 times faster.

The terminology is weird in every book. I don't follow any certain type, but my favorite for now is Taoism Yoga inner alchemy.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-13 15:05:02 - RE: Sam's practice

Rist Ei:
Its better to be not more specific because it will be a waste of energy for the reader.

What i did i read a year from morning to night every day- i didn't have a job. Pretty much everything free on a subject highest states of mind, who i am, what is Tao, Buddha etc, mystics, powers.

Noting didn't help. Actually nothing didn't help. I was clueless, so i asked inner guidance, and thinked what i really have in this moment. Pure silence. So i started cultivating that silence, i hold my attention on it(i tryed to catch it) and i succeeded at last.

It can take decades. Becasue we don't put maximum into our practice, so only 1% from hourly sitting is fruitful. But if you figure out how to take the lead and be the leader you can make 10%, so progress is 10 times faster.

The terminology is weird in every book. I don't follow any certain type, but my favorite for now is Taoism Yoga inner alchemy.


Ok thanks, well it sounds as if you found your own path.  I try that a little myself, well-read up on all the 'I am that' stuff but I found the practicality of meditation just overwhelmed it completely. Maybe coming back in for one day though. Thanks for your response.

I am working off  slow noting mostly in the body for 30 minutes per day, plus doing the occasional other concentration/other process to keep the pressures off life low. Trying to be aware when possible. 

I drop into a mushy state of 'I don't care' when noting for longish periods. I can feel the detail of my experience coming and going but concentration isn't always strong enough to note the actual end or change of a sensation. I guess this will improve over time.

-------------------

Travis Gene McKinstry - 2014-01-13 16:42:14 - RE: Sam's practice

Sam s:
Ok thanks, well it sounds as if you found your own path.  I try that a little myself, well-read up on all the 'I am that' stuff but I found the practicality of meditation just overwhelmed it completely. Maybe coming back in for one day though. Thanks for your response.

I am working off  slow noting mostly in the body for 30 minutes per day, plus doing the occasional other concentration/other process to keep the pressures off life low. Trying to be aware when possible. 

I drop into a mushy state of 'I don't care' when noting for longish periods. I can feel the detail of my experience coming and going but concentration isn't always strong enough to note the actual end or change of a sensation. I guess this will improve over time.


Sam,

You sound like you are starting well with a consistent practice. I have a friend on the Path as well, although he is more into the Zen tradition. He always tells me 'the best practice is the practice you can do consistently'. I'll even ask directly 'what meditation do you think I should do?' and he'll always respond with 'you should do the technique that you can do consistently'.

After you've got consistency down, (which, in my opinion, can only be judged by you) you can start to focus on length of each session or quality.

In MCTB Daniel talks a good amount about the length of time one should meditate. He explains how it varies and has for him. How he has had very high quality insight in just a couple of minutes or less standing in an elevator or walking around and he's also had some crappy experiences with long sits, and vice versa. I'd recommend reading that part.

A note on this; I've read up a good amount about the meditation community's opinion on which is better: length of sit or quality of sit. Of course many would agree that quality of sit is very important. But there are some traditions that claim if you can't get a quality sit down, that's fine, sit for a long time anyways. I've read some experiences of people who seem to have reached equanimity not by improving the quality of their sit, rather, the length of each sit.

I'm not a teacher nor too experienced. These are things I've just read. In my experience the only way to deal with restlessness, anxiety, or doubt is to just sit. Even if I'm not exactly meditating, I'm just going off into thought worlds, staying sit until the timer goes off gets my mind to get used to the time and disciplines it greatly. If I don't get up or move during THAT sit, the next sit will be that much easier.


In either case, it's up to you to decide what to do. I read your post and immediately thought of my Zen friend; 'the best meditation is the one you can do consistently'. I'd agree with him. Whether it's concentration or insight. But like many have said before, the main goal in any meditation is to never lose your meditation object. On or off the cushion.

Good luck Sam and I hope this helped. If not, disregard it emoticon

Pragmatism: dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-15 16:27:51 - RE: Sam's practice

Thanks Travis, that helped a lot. I've been flickering between wanting to practice insight and concentration and for the time being concentration has won out. I made another thread asking advise about that and got some good insights so I'm about to start trying to enter into the absorption states as my cushion practice, and I still have plenty of tools to play around with off-cushion to stay mindful and happy.

Just a point about length of sit- I think I've still yet to reach that fundamental shift where sitting becomes a pleasure. I have been on retreat several times, so I have sat for over an hour at a time, but at home 40 minutes is still kind of pushing it, consistently speaking anyway. I think I need to crack the whip a bit, as I've found that as long as I can balance it(ie. not get frustrated by setting unattainable targets) then the quality and enthusiasm increases. Think I'm going to go for either 45 minutes once or 2 x 30 minutes, depending on my daily situation.

-------------------

Travis Gene McKinstry - 2014-01-16 00:21:56 - RE: Sam's practice

Sam,

I am more than happy to help out. I am not more advanced, smarter, or more experienced than you. We are both fellow travelers on the Path to Liberation. Although sometimes I talk too much so if this happens, feel free to ignore my replies. Haha, I'm well aware of this tendency of mine.

If you have anything you don't agree with, or would like to recommend to me, please don't hesitate emoticon I'm up for respectful criticism any day of the week.

I've been told many times that absorption is good. It helps one (obviously) learn how to let go a tiny bit and focus intensely on one object. Problem is; absorption generally takes a good retreat or two of (on average in my experience) more than 7 days. 
However, I've talked with some teachers about this issue in daily life of school and work and they suggest to me that if a yogi were to focus everyday in every activity on the breath (or whatever) for a good amount of time off the cushion, and cultivate a daily disciplined cushion session or two, one could reach absorption.
I think the reason for this is that absorption requires the mind to calm way down and enjoy the object so much it doesn't want to stop focusing. This isn't possible for those trying to reach absorption outside of retreat due to daily stresses and whatnot.

I used to oscillate between concentration and insight multiple time during the week and found that, although sometimes I'd reach access concentration doing this on retreat, it was best that I stick to one practice for an extended period of time. Many people report having reached jhana after reaching Stream Entry, and after failed attempts before SE.

Again I'm not terribly experienced, or knowledgable, but I do know that it's hard to get by on this path with your own guidance. I've fought with a lot of obstacles before finally realizing what the Path actually was, so if you ever need some help with guidance, let me know. Not suggesting I can guide you, but I can perhaps show you where to go (mentally, in your practice, and in studies) and you can decide what to do.

Good luck emoticon

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-22 12:01:05 - RE: Sam's practice

Thanks Travis, and sorry for the late reply, hope you didn't think I was ignoring you I've just been away without access to the internet. While away I have been reading 'Focused and Fearless' and I'm beginning to understand just how hardcore these Buddhists and their practices are. I realise that to get jhana will probably(?possibly?) take more time and perseverance than I can currently give to it. However I have the nagging feeling that I don't have enough stability when practicing Vipassana alone. Perhaps this is incorrect (some doubting mara) on my part. 

As I understand, practicing Vipassana, specifically the noting variant, will develop a different type of concentration than Shamatha. The principle reasons I wanted to make the shift is that I've felt I don't have enough stability for Vipassana. I've read MTCB and others, been on several Vipassana retreats, in which it seemed to be suggested that this type of concentration is enough. What I want is SE but I've been frustrated by not reaching it. I can't blame the method as I probably haven't been consistent enough, and may just as easily run into the same problems after some Shamatha practice (which as I think back is true).

I can't take off long periods of time to go on retreats any time in the foreseeable future. I am getting a little tired of being so inconsistent in my approach and getting inconsistent results. Sometimes I think I want jhana, then SE, then just think some emotional stability would be nice.

In summation, I guess I won't reach jhana by myself or in my circumstances in the near future. 
Does this make shamatha a less useful practice? I've found Shaila Catherine's book excellent for describing the practice, and will continue to read it to try and understand how it fits with insight. But it's also slightly discouraged me to go for something which I don't think I have the time for. I'm looking for a core practice which I can do for half an hour a day. Off-cushion there is loads of mindfulness based stuff I play withand feel has improved my quality of life. But on cushion I need to pick and knuckle down. I'm thinking Travis that you are suggesting get back to Vipassana and though I'm still somewhat on the fence I'm starting to agree.

Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time to give your advice, it's much appreciated.

-------------------

Travis Gene McKinstry - 2014-01-22 15:03:10 - RE: Sam's practice

Thanks Travis, and sorry for the late reply, hope you didn't think I was ignoring you I've just been away without access to the internet.


No problem Sam. Even if you were ignoring me that's fine. Everything I post/advise is an attempt at helping. If it doesn't help I don't mind that you ignore it or don't use it!

While away I have been reading 'Focused and Fearless' and I'm beginning to understand just how hardcore these Buddhists and their practices are. I realise that to get jhana will probably(?possibly?) take more time and perseverance than I can currently give to it. However I have the nagging feeling that I don't have enough stability when practicing Vipassana alone. Perhaps this is incorrect (some doubting mara) on my part.


This is definitely a belief I share. Now, again, I have never had jhana arise. However, I've made an honest effort at the practice and realized that for many people, in order to have jhana arise, many consistent hours of meditation are required. 

As I understand, practicing Vipassana, specifically the noting variant, will develop a different type of concentration than Shamatha. The principle reasons I wanted to make the shift is that I've felt I don't have enough stability for Vipassana. I've read MTCB and others, been on several Vipassana retreats, in which it seemed to be suggested that this type of concentration is enough. What I want is SE but I've been frustrated by not reaching it. I can't blame the method as I probably haven't been consistent enough, and may just as easily run into the same problems after some Shamatha practice (which as I think back is true).


Yeah, I want SE as well. I've thought many times that I don't have the concentration needed in order to reach the higher vipassana jhanas, but apparently I do and I'm sure you do as well.
I took one entire day to do concentration meditation (I meant to do a week but got extremely restless) with the goal of having jhana arise. On the second day I 'gave up'. I figured I was done and was also extremely tired of trying so hard. At that point I reached the point of no return; the Arising and Passing of phenomenon, or A&P. If you can reach the A&P Sam, you'll be very close to SE. The reason why I told you this story is because I was very discouraged for the longest time. I thought the same thing you did, 
But it's also slightly discouraged me to go for something which I don't think I have the time for.

I felt like this many times, believe me. And if I could talk to my former self, I'd tell myself to go talk to a professional like Kenneth Folk, Daniel Ingram or Beth Folk via Skype for a good 45min or so and talk with them about where you think you are. They'll help you consider things like, perhaps you've already passed the A&P once, maybe you've experienced Equanimity, etc.

Off-cushion there is loads of mindfulness based stuff I play withand feel has improved my quality of life. But on cushion I need to pick and knuckle down. I'm thinking Travis that you are suggesting get back to Vipassana and though I'm still somewhat on the fence I'm starting to agree.


Just some questions to consider (not necessarily for me to know), these mindfulness practices off cushion, are they aimed towards SE? I had mentioned before that the theme of this website is to not lose your meditation object as much as possible. I'm getting the feeling from my teacher and everyone else I talk to that if you want SE and you want to use the Mahasi technique of noting, note constantly. As much as possible. As another member suggests 'think of your meditation alarm as a position change, not the end of meditation. For 30min here you're sitting, meditating. After those 30min you're walking, meditating. After walking, you're eating and meditating, etc.
Also, why such a strong leaning towards jhana? Be honest with yourself on this part. I realized I wanted jhana because of how cool it sounded, how blissful and peaceful it could be. This reason is exactly why jhana didn't arise for me. I realized that if I truly want peace that will last off cushion, vipassana meditation is what I need to do.

Once I realized how serious everyone was being about how simple the practice is, I took it to heart which is what I think everyone who wants SE should do. Note everything you can. Feeling doubt? Note it. If you're feeling extra doubtful or whatever consider talking to a teacher. They add loads to the quality of meditation, at least they do for me. In my experience (and Kenneth says this on several of his sites), theoretically, if one could note constantly at every second, as many experiences of reality as one can (not stressfully), one would walk straight to Equanimity and to the Three doors leading to Nirvana.

Again, I'm not a professional at all. I haven't achieved SE or jhana, and I can barely recognize any of the stages I progress through. So take what I say in regards to the stages with a grain of salt. With that being said, there is nothing I want more than to help others, especially reaching SE or awakening. I'm more than willing to offer any of my experiences, knowledge or opinions if you think they will help. If it's not helping, don't use it. If it is helping, use it.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-25 12:51:55 - RE: Sam's practice

Thanks for your reply Travis. I've been asking about jhana on the concentration board and come to the conclusion that it can wait for another day. To answer your question about why I wanbt it, well alongside the feeling I needed more stability, I'm with you, it sounds cool, I love altered states, bliss doesn't sound bad. A trap also, but one I fugured I could worry about when it arrived. Now I'm not so worried about that. In fact I feel very much relieved. I will keep ploughing the Vipassana path and see where it takes me. 30 minutes a day formal, the rest off cushion as much practice as possible, narrow/wide focus, checking my emotional energy is being wisely used and discerned and generally doing what was working well for me in the first place. What a relief. 

Next post I will start documenting my sits in as much detail as possible. Thanks again for your input Travis, invaluable to meet another traveller on the way.

-------------------

Travis Gene McKinstry - 2014-01-26 15:59:44 - RE: Sam's practice

Thanks again for your input Travis, invaluable to meet another traveller on the way.


100% agreed. If you wanna talk via email or PM, PM me and I'll give you my email. 
Either way,

Good luck emoticon I hope your practice continues!

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-01-27 10:56:24 - RE: Sam's practice

Cheers mate. 

So back to Vipassana. I sat twice yesterday for 20 minutes each time (not as long as I'd like but with kids running around and threatening to interupt the best I could do). I spend the first minute or so settling into posture then focusing on breath, then slowly note feel, see or hear, usually with the in or out breath. Mostly it is feel, sometimes in the torso (where it feels more emotionally based) and sometimes it is more external (eg. sit bones on the cushion, tingles in hands, other). There is always some feeling. However yesterday I noticed two things.  Firstly after a while the feelings in my torso became almost shadow like and subtle, like the tingling outlines of the sensations I'd assumed they were, and second that when I stayed with them a feeling of anxiety came, first mentally (the thought 'I can't stand this' or 'better focus elsewhere'). I can usually then when I become aware of it locate an accompanying feeling which felt separate from the original sensation I mentioned. When I get lost in thought I note thoughts, try and find an accompanying feeling and slowly draw my attention to that while the thought/image  disappears (which is often instant). 

One thing I aim to do more of is to try to notice (as per Shinzen Young's 'noting gone' instruction begin noticing when the sensation goes, or as more often happens my attention drops on one object and goes to another. Attention feels like an entity in itself. I feel I could have more mindfulness of this faculty.

Off cushion, I try to have as much mindfulness as possible, sometimes using noting to help, sometimes just feeling. Similar to sitting I will try to see if there is a feeling underpinning any thought process and focus on that instead. I've also taken to noting 'back' when I realise I've been drifting, and consciously trying to note for a couple of minutes at least after I've done this. I hope it will create the habit more. 

I'm also focusing more on the niceness out there(and in here) instead of giving myself a hard time and worrying about progress so much.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-02-06 13:05:57 - RE: Sam's practice

I've been continuing the noting practice since my last post, generally still 30 minutes a day and then 'optional' extras and trying to maintain mindfulness. I'm beginning to feel emotionally much better since being consistent, more optimistic and also realistic, more mindful.

An interesting experience yesterday, about 15 minutes in I notice the sphere of my attention and physical sensation became very distorted. At one point it felt like my head was the shape of the room, the next a pin prick, the next 2 dimensional but in randomly expanding/contracting directions. It has done this before to a lesser extent, but interestingly this time my thinking mind continued to play on side by side in an disconnected way. There were judgements of the sensory feeling(eg. this is weird, does this mean something is happening? etc), but equally it was drawn up by other random thoughts. One part interest to one part disinterest. And equally I felt sometimes I felt my self was the thoughts, sometimes the sensations. I'm aware cognitively from reading and self-enquiry that neither is my self at all, and occasionally I looked to identify a self within but this felt like a distraction.

There was no anxiety that the sensory distortion often produces when I've experienced it before, and I was able to continue my sit. I guess it would be useful to spend a bit of time reading the map to see if this correlates with any of the stages, but at the moment I'm more interested in continuing and am wary of colouring my perception by making assumptions.

-------------------

Dream Walker - 2014-02-08 22:25:55 - RE: Sam's practice

Hey Sam, 
here is a thread that talks about body distortions a little...fun interesting stuff....but temporary phenomenon.
Interoception, Proprioception, Cortical homunculus, Body distortions 
Good luck,
~D

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-03-10 22:21:24 - RE: Sam's practice

Hey Dream Walker, thanks for the!e link, interesting stuff indeed.

Its been a few weeks since updating, I haven't felt drawn to. I've been fairly good can't regular on there cushion but have been mixing it up with different practices. Lately I've been doing a lot of movement work (Feldenkrais somatic type exercises), meditations from 'your breathing body' by Reggie Ray, alongside the vipassana practice. I've been spending time trying to figure out what kind of meditator I actually am, though figure since I've been actually practising this isn't a case of analysis paralysis, not yet anyway.

So what have I figured out? I have good somatic awareness, and I'm naturally drawn to continuing to work this way. So my practice at the moment is to focus about fifty fifty between the breath and body sense, booting if I get thrown, coming back to the breath and go again. I find softening my awareness, paying attention to actual tension in the body has been helping a lot, at least in terms of feeling of wellbeing. I find I naturally fall into decent concentration this way, so will keep going with this approach for the time being. I get plenty of fuzzy vibrations, expansion/contraction etc. I think my weakness is in not noticing when I'm off track quickly enough, eg when thoughts intrude I'm into them without realising. I want to start noticing more the feeling of thoughts beginning and to stay with them.

Well that's all for now. Not much update in progress but I'll try to start the log up properly tomorrow.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-03-12 22:33:16 - RE: Sam's practice

Just time for 30 minutes today so I'm sticking with noting. Generally it's feel/see/hear but I've begun including other labels like intention pleasure etc.. So after a couple of minutes of breath go onto noting pretty quickly. I can feel the vibrations more clearly over time. Over the duration I begin to notice cycles and movement in general, but don't feel completely precise. The experience feels as though its changing and becoming much more lucid.

-------------------

Sam s - 2014-04-28 22:05:54 - RE: Sam's practice

Ending officially rthis practice as I was a little unhappy with certain facets of the mtcb, and I've been transfixed by Reggie Ray lately. Just got as far as your breathing body but I'm very happy with the results, as opposed to the daily grind of vipassana noting over and over. Each to their own folks, and perhaps I'll be back but for now I'm looking at pastures new. Thanks and good luck all.