Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

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Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

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Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)


2013-12-09 11:25:35 - Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)


Hi,

This is my first post, so i wanted to introduce myself properly. It's going to be quite elaborate, so now is the time to decide you're gonna skip this thread ;-) I hope this is the right thread to post the introduction, I didn't discover an introduction thread.

I'm a 48 years old woman, european (so pardon my english, please), living in a busy household and my big dogs and the cats make it busier still :-)

Unfortunately, i've been 'blessed' with severe major depressions and yearly SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, kind of a severe form of the commonly known winterblues, which affect me some 7 months of the year). It seems a hereditary condition, since it runs in the family, grandmother, mother, and others). I wouldn't have mentioned it right away, but this is how I came to meditate. I was dealing with a severe depression and around the time I met a good psychiater -who helped me tremendously with good meds- and a psychologist, someone dear to me started 'nagging' me once again that I ought to try mindfulness, which to me was a weird new agy kind of thing (boy, was I wrong). At that point I was desperate, so I decided to give it a try. I read a couple of books from Jon Kabatt-Zinn which made a lot of sense, did meditations like the one he did with the people at Google. 
I was very surprised how good it felt and after a couple of months I got curious as to where that mindfulness stuff came from and I discovered the teachings from the budhha and when I tried to get over the weird pompous language which was kind of offputting at first, I started to discover that he actually made a lot of sense and more and more I could verify my experience with what the buddha said. On top of that, I had some big and small surprises with meditation; my memory is very bad the last couple of years, probably due to medication and randomly I noticed getting some memories back and not during the meditation itself, which was astonishing, because I initially assumed all these experiences from people happened during meditation. Not neccesarily important ones, but it was very surprising. 
Gradually I noticed that I seemed to get more of a pause between thinking and saying unskillful things, which made a difference, I was getting less volatile.
One other impressive thing is that my way of thinking is changing dramatically. All my life it felt like I was on camera, being judged and scrutinized by every single person who happened to walk by. Gradually this feeling was at first replaced by a kind of "so what, if people judge me!", then it changed to "people have way more important things to do or think about, than judging me" and now the feeling of being judged is completely gone! I just have the notion that every person is different and that's ok.
Maybe a year ago I started to realize that concentration practice is way more important than people say, so I've been experimenting more rigorously with it, starting with the courses Gil Fronsdal did, on Audiodharma.org. Experimenting with separate concentration sessions versus incorporating it with insight practice.
I could get to access concentration relatively easy, but the jhana's were a different story. Unexpectedly people would come home, slamming doors, a cat would crawl on my lap, lovingly putting nails in my legs, or dogs would walk with their nails on the hardwood floor. 
A couple of months ago I finally reached the first jhana, but it has been really hard to reproduce it. At first I had the "Yay, I reached jhana!" effect, so now I changed more in the sense that I don't really care how that particularly session will turn out and that made it easier. But lately it seems I only get a kind of invalid jhana, where piti and sukha disappear fast and then I'm left with "shoot, what am I supposed to do now?" The last couple of 'jhana sessions' I decided that sinceI'm quite concentrated, I might as well switch to insight and look for the three characteristics.
I also started noting, hesitantly. More like experiments, so hours would go by and then I would remember: "Oops, I was supposed to note everything". But now I notice that - even if I don't do it much yet - I start to experiment vibrations. Usually some tinglings in my body, but one day I opened my eyes and everything I saw vibrated for maybe half a minute or so. Also, I've had maybe 4 nights the last month that before I dose off, I get tingly feelings in my head, neck or shoulders. Not unpleasant, except one time when I got tingling of the upper back, then it stopped, then it returned ten to thirty minutes later. This repeated maybe six times or so in that night. What was quite scary though was that as soon as the tingling would start I would experience a mortal fear. I would get really terrified. When the tingling stopped, the fear would stop too. Then it would start again. Even though I was terrified, it seemed a confirmation that I'm doing things right - things are starting to happen - and this was enough for me to start thinking - during the fear: " Relax, impermanence, not self and suffering at work. It will pass."
This episode convinced me that noting is a very important tool, so I'm getting ready to start to note more seriously. One question that does come up is: am I supposed to give up reading? Because those two don't match and I love to read (buddhist) books, articles and sutta's.
I've had one other very strange experience outside of meditation, which lasted for hours, but I asked about it on 2 other forums and not sure if it's appropriate to talk about it here as well.

Anyway, I've studied the progress of insight and I'm pretty sure I've yet to experience "Mind&Body", though I do realize that all these depressions could lead one to think 'Dark Night'. But that's just nurture and nature, in my opinion. Nothing of these insights seem to have happened, but I keep an eye out to 'see' the difference between mental and body, particularly during walking meditation, when I can intellectually grasp the difference between intentions and the body walking.
So, enough for now. I haven't been depressed in two years, by the way, thanks to the meds and the meditations and the impact buddhism has had on my life. Do suffer from the other SAD symptoms, like craving for carbohydrates, sleepiness, etc. And I aim to meditate some two hours a day, usually divided in at least two or three meditations. But sometimes it's one hour and sometimes two and a half, so it varies.
I really appreciate comments, have browsed around the site for hours, lurked for a couple of months to get a feel of this place, read 'the' book and learned heaps. Also, I'm glad that there are some female members who participate regularly.
Thanks for reading this. Have a nice day!
Edited to add link

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Chuck Kasmire - 2013-12-09 16:53:12 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Hi,
But lately it seems I only get a kind of invalid jhana, where piti and sukha disappear fast and then I'm left with "shoot, what am I supposed to do now?

I think it's pretty common to have some 'beginners luck' as we can follow the directions without trying to seek out a previous experience. When jhanic qualities come up try to see how they came up - what you were doing at that time - and when they fall away try to see how that came about. It's very much like learning any other skill - concentrate on what you are doing (attention/perception) and not on the result (piti/sukha).

Fear and Tingling: Any practice that allows you to be sensitive to what is going on in the body - particularly when you can bring some relaxation to it - is going to bring up these tingling sensations. Most people are not aware of them as they spend their time in their head wrapped up in thoughts. Fear is deeply rooted in the body. As you become more sensitive to the body this is going to come up. You are in effect releasing it and there is a kind of therapeutic feeling that comes with these practices as a result - it seems like the right thing to do. 

By the way, some jhana teachers consider the tingling you are experiencing to be piti that is arising. If you look into the pleasant aspects of this sensation you can take that as your object for jhana. Thus allowing you to move back into a jhana practice if you so wish.

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Ian And - 2013-12-10 04:50:51 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

No-Second-Arrow Z:

I'm a 48 years old woman, european (so pardon my english, please), living in a busy household ...

Hi,
 
Welcome to the DhO. 

No-Second-Arrow Z:

I was very surprised how good it felt and after a couple of months I got curious as to where that mindfulness stuff came from and I discovered the teachings from the budhha and when I tried to get over the weird pompous language which was kind of offputting at first, I started to discover that he actually made a lot of sense and more and more I could verify my experience with what the buddha said.

That's good that you enjoy reading and studying the discourses. They are the best source for instruction and study. Besides accesstoinsight.org, you can fine quite a few good sutta translations (in English) at http://www.palicanon.org/. Best to find them in your native tongue, though, if you are able. 

No-Second-Arrow Z:

On top of that, I had some big and small surprises with meditation; my memory is very bad the last couple of years, probably due to medication and randomly I noticed getting some memories back and not during the meditation itself, which was astonishing, because I initially assumed all these experiences from people happened during meditation. Not neccesarily important ones, but it was very surprising. 

Gradually I noticed that I seemed to get more of a pause between thinking and saying unskillful things, which made a difference, I was getting less volatile.

It appears that you are already benefiting from your practice. Congratulations! 

No-Second-Arrow Z:

A couple of months ago I finally reached the first jhana, but it has been really hard to reproduce it. At first I had the "Yay, I reached jhana!" effect, so now I changed more in the sense that I don't really care how that particularly session will turn out and that made it easier. But lately it seems I only get a kind of invalid jhana, where piti and sukha disappear fast and then I'm left with "shoot, what am I supposed to do now?" The last couple of 'jhana sessions' I decided that since I'm quite concentrated, I might as well switch to insight and look for the three characteristics.

Don't worry about any disappearance of piti and sukha. Just maintain your focus on the pleasantness of the breath, and oftentimes you will fall right into an absorption meditation without really trying. A good website to dig around in to learn about Jhana is Leigh Brasington's.  And yes, if you feel as though your concentration level is high, it's perfectly natural to use that time to practice insight. Very good (and insightful) of you to notice this. Keep thinking for yourself and following your natural intuition about how to practice. It sounds like you're doing a good job. emoticon

No-Second-Arrow Z:

This episode convinced me that noting is a very important tool, so I'm getting ready to start to note more seriously. One question that does come up is: am I supposed to give up reading? Because those two don't match and I love to read (buddhist) books, articles and sutta's.

No, you are not supposed to give up reading. Keep reading the things you enjoy reading and pondering about what you are reading, especially the suttas. Noting is only a tool to be used when you want to focus on doing it, not something you need to practice all the time as though it were some kind of therapy. As your mind becomes more calm, you may start to notice more and more things about what you are experiencing, as this is one of the benefits of having practiced noting: you begin to notice more and more about what is going on in the present moment. Noting can help you to stay centered in the present moment, but you don't have to be constantly noting in order to achieve this. It begins to happen naturally. And that is called mindfulness. Okay?

No-Second-Arrow Z:

And I aim to meditate some two hours a day, usually divided in at least two or three meditations. But sometimes it's one hour and sometimes two and a half, so it varies.

This is good! Two to three hours a day can be very beneficial to one's practice. Keep up the good work!

In peace,
Ian

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stuart chas law - 2013-12-10 12:46:43 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Hi,

             Sorry i have no words of wisdom for you, but i read your first post with growing fraternal feelings.  I'm 62 and clinical depression as been a constant companion down through the decades and whilst good medications have succeeded in centering me up reasonably well the only thing that has bought back a modicum of lasting enjoyment was my stumbling into the Triple Gem (the Buddha, Dharma and Sanga) and then a couple of years ago having this forum recommended to me by one of my actual sanga.

Your journey  seems further advanced than mine but i just felt compelled to wish you well and sincerely hope you gain as much if not more than i have from this unique forum and wonderful people.

Be well, stay well.

Stu

Queensland, Australia.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-10 12:55:00 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Chuck Kasmire:
When jhanic qualities come up try to see how they came up - what you were doing at that time - and when they fall away try to see how that came about. 

 Yes, I agree and for that reason I wrote in my meditation journal (not online) what was working, what was not working, stuff like that. Very helpful.

Chuck Kasmire:
Fear and Tingling: Any practice that allows you to be sensitive to what is going on in the body - particularly when you can bring some relaxation to it - is going to bring up these tingling sensations. Most people are not aware of them as they spend their time in their head wrapped up in thoughts. Fear is deeply rooted in the body. As you become more sensitive to the body this is going to come up. You are in effect releasing it and there is a kind of therapeutic feeling that comes with these practices as a result - it seems like the right thing to do. 

When I first read this, I thought "Nah, how could I be unaware of that much fear?" But when I thought about it some more, it actually made sense, because as far as I can remember I am very nervous, it feels like a buzzing in the solar plexis (is that proper english? It's just beneath the breast bone, in the center). Even when I think I'm relaxed, usually it just keeps going.

Chuck Kasmire:
By the way, some jhana teachers consider the tingling you are experiencing to be piti that is arising. If you look into the pleasant aspects of this sensation you can take that as your object for jhana. Thus allowing you to move back into a jhana practice if you so wish.

But usually I sense these tinglings outside of meditation, so just in daily life. Usually when I'm resting or something. So, that's probably not piti? 
When I reach the first jhana, the piti element feels like an exploding ball, in the center of my lower torso. Then it subsides, builts up again, and so forth. Showering piti? Before I reached the jhana I felt piti building in access concentration, but then it felt like a warm flood surging through the body, with an upward quality. But ever since I reached the jhana that quality of access concentration changed, no upward sensation anymore. On reading and listening to Leigh Brasington I experimented with focusing on the pleasant quality, but I have a bit of difficulty with that. Also with 'expanding the piti', can't get it to my limbs. But I keep experimenting and I've learned heaps already.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-10 13:16:30 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Ian And:
That's good that you enjoy reading and studying the discourses. They are the best source for instruction and study. Besides accesstoinsight.org, you can fine quite a few good sutta translations (in English) at http://www.palicanon.org/. Best to find them in your native tongue, though, if you are able.Ian

I have the Samyutta Nikaya, which is very beautiful. And "In the buddha's words". Truth be told, I dislike reading in my native tongue, all the reading I do is english. I'm not a native speaker, but english is my preferred language. I study those links as well, mostly accesstoinsight. I know some people here are no "sutta heads", but when I'm in doubt, I'll check what the buddha had to say. In the beginning I was quite shocked when I realized how many modern teachers are referring to the Visudhimagga that much. Sometimes it seems to be preferred to what the buddha himself said. And some things are in direct opposite to what the buddha plainly stated.
Ian:

No, you are not supposed to give up reading. Keep reading the things you enjoy reading and pondering about what you are reading, especially the suttas. Noting is only a tool to be used when you want to focus on doing it, not something you need to practice all the time as though it were some kind of therapy. 

Pheww, that's a relief, thanks emoticon
I appreciate your comments, I always enjoy your point of view.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-10 13:25:55 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Stu, thank you for your very kind words. It's hell to have to go through severe depressions. But I recognize what you said; this practice is very important and it offers real relief. It has become easier to recognize that the feelings you have are actually impermanent. And the thoughts we have don't hold up at all under close examination. That really helps. Of course I don't expect to get rid of depressions for 100 %, but I have a couple of extra tools to deal with them now.
As for the journey; you probably know as well as I do that it is not a race and insights change day by day. So, as long as we just keep walking we'll make progress, I'm sure of that!
Take care, you and all the other people here who deal with stuff like this!

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Chuck Kasmire - 2013-12-10 18:11:38 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

No-Second-Arrow Z:
But usually I sense these tinglings outside of meditation, so just in daily life. Usually when I'm resting or something. So, that's probably not piti?

What are the boundaries of meditation such that there is an inside and an outside? This is something I look at nowadays.

Have you ever looked at Michael Olds site BuddhaDust? You might enjoy it. He has an ability to present the depth of his experience of this path in contemporary language - with a sense of humor and play. He has a glossology that is I think unique among Buddhist sites and a good way to explore pali terms. Here is the link for piti.

His definition: Piti, whatever it is, has a carnal side, and that must be accounted for in the translated term. I believe the best term is probably "excitement". I usually use "enthusiasm" to avoid having to explain that this is a good kind of excitement, not a distracted sort.

So if you find this tingling sensation as pleasant such that it kind of draws you in then it may develop into a more 'formal piti' so to speak. Something to play with.

No-Second-Arrow Z:
But ever since I reached the jhana that quality of access concentration changed, no upward sensation anymore. On reading and listening to Leigh Brasington I experimented with focusing on the pleasant quality, but I have a bit of difficulty with that. Also with 'expanding the piti', can't get it to my limbs. But I keep experimenting and I've learned heaps already.


You'll probably find that it comes and goes. With regard to the limbs - might try looking for it in your finger tips or palms first and then see if you can bring it up from there. 

"But I keep experimenting" - that's the key!

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-11 11:04:16 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Chuck Kasmire:

What are the boundaries of meditation such that there is an inside and an outside? This is something I look at nowadays.

I see your point and I agree that there should not be a boundary, but...If I experience them in daily life and not while I'm 'sitting' than obviously there is a boundary, whether I like it or not. I'm guessing it's because in daily life I forget to stay mindful, when I'm busy running around or talking to someone. It gets a bit better, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Chuck Kasmire:
Have you ever looked at Michael Olds site BuddhaDust? You might enjoy it.

Thanks, never heard of him and I'm always happy to discover new sites.
Chuck Kasmire:
So if you find this tingling sensation as pleasant such that it kind of draws you in then it may develop into a more 'formal piti' so to speak. Something to play with.

I'll try that. It's not so much a pleasant feeling as much as that suddenly reality changes by seeing or feeling these vibrations. I mean isn't that incredible? The first (and only) time I experienced seeing this, I felt like I was in the Matrix! Meditation opens up a new world and a very unexpected one and - it may sound childish- but it's like I suddenly could confirm there is more to reality than what I saw.
Chuck Kasmire:
With regard to the limbs - might try looking for it in your finger tips or palms first and then see if you can bring it up from there.

Nice idea, I'll try that next time.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-11 11:18:53 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Knowing I didn't have time to do some concentration practice, I went for half an hour of noting. 
Since I've been reading a lot about noting lately, it's getting easier to remind myself what to note (well, yes of course everything that comes up, but a lot of it went below the radar).
 So, I noted input from the sense doors, Vedana, thoughts, posture, breathing. At a steady rate of one per second, it was a very pleasant experience. It's nice when you start to become better at a new skill. 
Sometimes, when it didn't go so well, I just started noting rising and falling and then after a while it got easier to incorporate other sensations.
I also play with noting specific things, like the 5 aggregates. Did that a couple of days ago and it was great. So, gradually I learn to see what kind of sensations there are and how to notice them.

Well, it's quiet now, i'm going to try another noting session. I learned early on that I don't have to react negatively when I get disturbed. A couple of years ago I would have been very irritated that they would disturb Poor Me and now I don't react at all, I'm just happy with the fact that I snuck in a couple of minutes of succesful practice.

By the way; is it just me or is this message board very slow lately? It takes minutes to load a page and I don't get that problem with unrelated web sites.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-14 13:22:39 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

So, this morning I meditated for 1 hour 50 minutes. I think it's been weeks since I lastly successfully entered the first jhana. I didn't make too big a deal of it, because I already learned how fragile and shy a jhana is; even thinking "Yes!" is too much.
I did wonder -outside of meditation - what the problem could be. It was not the hindrances - something I routinely check before getting really concentrated - and the five precepts were 'intact'. So, I sort of dismissed it, thinking that if I had been able to enter the jhanas in the recent past, then surely I would be able to do so again sometime in the future. I was able to get access concentration, usually, that is.

So, this time it felt like maybe circumstances were right and just maybe I could enter the first jhana today. But to my amazement I felt a little bit of fear when I felt I nearly entered the first jhana. That was quite a surprise, because why would I fear entering a jhana? Now, a couple of hours later, I think it might have been the fact that I'm very aware of the fact that the first insight knowledge is somehow connected to the first jhana. So I felt I needed to keep the experience of getting into the jhana fresh. So, maybe this had something to do with it? And maybe this was the reason I had so much trouble experiencing them lately in the first place.
So, I told myself not to worry and accessed the first jhana. Piti was very present and I read somewhere (here? or maybe Leigh Brasington?) that part of mastering a jhana (aside from the 5 things you need to really learn to really master it) could include practicing the strength of piti, so making it strong, weaker, make it disappear. To my amazement it went very smooth, even though it was the first time I tried,I could tweak it as if turning on or off the tab. 

I'm still not quite sure if I'm able to access the second jhana, or not, for 2 reasons:
1. I know that vitakka and viccara are supposed to drop away, but I'm not sure if it happens automatically or if I make a choice to not 'think'. Because my thinking was not completely gone, but I just decided to 'let go' of the 'thinking' (not sure if thinking is the right word, as it is not discursive thinking, but a very soft background thing).
2.  And what I also am not sure about is that I feel as if concentration (or tranquility?) becomes somewhat weaker and then it gets stronger again, something that feels like a pleasant tight pressure enveloping my head. Every 5 minutes or so it got stronger, like a blanket. Though it's not an unpleasant feeling, it's not piti and I always seem to feel it in connection with getting more concentrated, so maybe it's  a physical sensation that signals concentration. So, is it just getting more concentrated, or does it signal the entrance to the second jhana. 
I forgot to mention that I always feel a pushing sensation and then I tense my muscles as if I'm delivering a baby. This is incredibly weird - especially since I used these muscles to deliver 3 baby's and not at any other time - and the first time it happened, I was completely surprised. Because, it felt like a painless delivery, in the sense that the same muscles were activated. I'm wondering if it is piti as well. To me piti has a very specific quality and it goes together with that 'pushing' sensation, but at the same time it seems not entirely part of the piti. But then, sukkha is more of a mental feeling, I think. A deep kind of contentment and peace, so I'm not sure if maybe sukkha has a physical quality as well.

Anyway, one thing happened at one time during this 'sitting', something that I haven't experienced before: suddenly I felt as if someone gently pealed away a very heavy layer from my forehead and then I felt that a kind of pressure had gone. I remember 'thinking' very vaguely; that's strange, I never knew I had that tight pressure there on my forehead. It was not that pressure from the concentration enveloping my head. It was very different from that. 

For the most part I just let the jhana unfold, but now and than I looked for the 3 characteristics as I was very mindful and could see those with ease. And I tried once or twice to notice the differences between body and mind, in the hopes maybe it would trigger the first Knowledge.

After having entered the jhana I usually feel very content, peaceful and 'fresh' / well rested for a couple of hours, but this time it was extremely so; all my symptoms from the S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) were utterly gone! I knew and know that this too is impermanent and that's ok, but it was an immense relief to feel this way, even for a couple of hours, instead of having to wait until may or so. Maybe it felt so good, because the last couple of months I was feeling so exhausted and listless in the first place? It was the very first time I could really understand the buddha's words, when he said that the jhanas were a very safe way of feeling happiness in this world, without the dangers involved in wordly desires. Yes, I already knew the first jhana was pleasant, but not that pleasant that I would prefer this to a nice piece of chocolate emoticon
But this time it did feel better, though I don't see how I could ever get addicted to a jhana, as I heard to be the case with some people (or maybe that's just an urban myth to scare people away from the jhanas). Maybe I'm just to practical or something; I see it as a pleasant tool, which can teach me things and that's it. 

Yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed reading an old thread here from Sister Khema about Dependent Origination
It was beautiful how enthusiastic she explained this. Of course I've read a lot about it, listened to podcasts, but the way she showered everyone with examples was very inspiring and it brought this topic so much more to life. I immediately focused on some daily life stuff and could see very clearly how D.O. was visible and how I could have changed the way I reacted. 
This message board is loaded with treasures, so much knowledge, so much experiences, so many different views.
Well, that's it for today.

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triple think - 2013-12-14 15:16:23 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

hi No-Second-Arrow-Z

Thanissaro's - Wings to Awakening - is a good outline of the steps to take.

If the five hindrances are all flat-lined ( "All asteroids have been vaporized sir. No anomalous obstacles or disturbances linger in the void." ) the next thing to consider is the balance of the seven enlightenment qualities ( "Bring main thrusters online and prepare for shift to warp from impulse power." ). The other wings all support the balancing effort ( "Plot course and extend sensors to maximum range." ). Onward and upward.

- triplethink

considered one more brief note on plotting the course in 8 steps over breakfast

joyful appreciation
concern
kindness
peace
truth
purification
wisdom
liberation

take a step forward or back as necessary until arriving at the 'far out'

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-15 13:28:06 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Hey there, thank you for taking the time for your beautiful answer!
I've got some 107 books, booklets and articles - all buddhist - on my cell phone, including Wings to Awakening; guess I need to change priorities here emoticon
Though I am aware of the seven factors of awakening, I haven't figured out yet how to implement them, other than it seems to develop somewhat automatically if you follow the 16 anapanasati steps. I like the anapanasati very much, but it has taken me quite some time to try to figure out what the buddha ment, since some authors said " it's just concentration practice", while the other ones claim " no no, it's vipassana" and than I've not even mentioned different views about 'the body' (breath body versus physical body). Anyway, I digress. So, thank you and I will start reading after I finished Map to the journey by Jotika (pdf), which is an incredible interesting book, also going through the (ten) insight knowledges. 
In those 8 steps I recognize some paramitas (and a precept). To highlight one: metta. When I first came in contact with the buddha and his teachings I skipped hastily over those metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha sutta's. But gradually I learned more about them, for instance that metta is an antidote to ill will. And ill will I had plenty. I was irritable, easily angered and even though I tried, I could not understand why the buddha said (with his famous simile about a hot coal in your hand to throw at an enemy) that anger was unpleasant and bad for you. Because when I was angry I felt strong, I felt that I was Right. Gradually I started to examine anger and learned to feel that it wasn't pleasant to be angry; it felt very unpleasant in the body and even if my 'enemy' was nowhere in sight, he or she had managed to hijack my thoughts and emotions for hours. So, I decided to try out metta, not only to people around me but also to strangers. I've got two big dogs, so daily we went out, with my bike, and I started to greet everyone, and decided I wouldn't feel bad if I got unpleasant responses. Well, there were no unpleasant responses. One or two people looked puzzled and didn't greet back, but usually people suddenly smiled and greeted back. There was one man, who looked incredibly sad. I saw him almost daily. Gradually he started to smile back, even said a word or two and than a little miracle; one day he saw me coming (with the dogs and bike), he started to laugh, made a funny jump and waved his arm as if he was clearing the path for me. It felt sooo good to make his day a tiny bit better. So, metta; very, very powerful.So, while at first, I started to experiment with metta, to change my ill will habits, now i also do it, because you never know how it might affect someone, it might be the only positive thing in their day, even if it's just a couple of seconds.
I could go on and on about your other steps, but let's not emoticon

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2013-12-23 12:44:38 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

While I don't have little kids anymore, I do live within a 5 person household and all of them are home for the holidays, for 2 weeks. I'm very happy for them, because they are all utterly exhausted, but it does pose challenges. Most of them are turning their day/night rhythm around, while I go to bed early (with earplugs) and rise very early, due to one of my older dogs who has incontinence issues. So, my early morning meditations are often interrupted and during the day that happens as well.
These days, my attitude of just fully accepting interruptions, without getting irritated or feeling full of self pity, serves me well. This attitude is also helpful in daily life. More and more I try to see things without dividing them into good or bad, right or wrong. Especially after meditating that is very helpful, because every meditation that I would have labeled 'bad' a year and a half ago, turned out to be a lesson in which I learned what does or does not work, for instance, when dealing with the hindrances. Often I'm quite tired, so sloth and torpor is a frequent visitor and in the early days it often felt like a loosing battle. But nowadays I know that if I just hang in there it will magically disappear on its own when reaching access concentration.
Another thing that will probably come up during the holidays is Right Speech. This is something I practiced a lot the past year and I've made significant progress, but there still are people and situations where all my good intentions fly right out the window. So, I suspect I'll encounter some more situations where I can practice this emoticon Also, right (or wise, which I prefer) speech is very useful when I'm sending emails. Earlier on I would just hit the send button, now I let them stew for awhile and more than once I decide to edit it, or to rephrase sentences. More and more I'm also trying to see how the other path factors connect with each other.

The holiday has brought some unexpected financial gifts and I have to admit that I felt a bit greedy choosing books that were on my wishlist for a long time. But since they are all Buddhist books, well, maybe it's not all bad. I already have the Samyutta Nikaya and now I'm able to add two more to my collection, the Majjhima and Anguttara Nikaya. The first one, because it tends to be the one people cite the most from and the Anguttara I picked, because there are some very old suttas in there, I think chapter four and five in particular, if I remember correctly. And going by the descriptions, it's kind of - don't know if it's the right word - chaotic, meaning that if I just start with number one (though I know bhikkhu Bodhi added a thematic guide) I might encounter some surprises. I love reading, so I've got my reading cut out for me! 

So, not much to tell meditationwise, but I did a lot of other stuff, for instance checking out the videos where Daniel gets interviewed in the Cheetah house. Very interesting, though probably not easy for people who are totally new to the buddhist path and haven't read Daniels book yet. Also checked out more thoroughle some websites - and pages, for instance the one where Kenneth Folk explains noting according to the 4 Establishments (Foundations) of Mindfulness. And The Hamilton Project Very helpful were these sites, though they left me wondering why some people explain that noting the positions / movements of the limbs is crucial (Mahasi Sayadaw), while others don't mention them at all At first I was mostly noting bending, moving, stretching, grabbing and all kinds of other bodily movements intensely, but now I'm not so sure anymore. Would love to hear peoples opinions about it!
I've been practicing the noting 'system' from Kenneth Folk, first of all because I like the division in the Four Foundations, second because I want to add more words to my existing noting vocabulary. Usually I just sit down a couple of times a day for 5 minutes, just practicing one of those four, next time another one and also mixing and matching categories, so that it will become more second nature.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2014-01-02 09:42:43 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you, loved ones and your pets are well.

The holidays continue and I still can't practice more than maybe 15 minutes. Not only people, but also sleep deprived and a sore throat, lost my voice.

One thing I forget to mention every time is that, maybe a month ago, my breathing changed during meditation. Although my breathing is clear and unobstructed, one breath in it's like I hear 5-7 little 'puffs', same thing on breathing out. It's very subtle, not as dramatic as the performance Daniel gave in the Cheetah house Vimeo I saw recently emoticon
More as if I would on purpose try to breath intermittently, only it's not on purpose. It's not a big deal, but quite funny. 
I can't wait to pick up speed -or rather, uninterrupted time - to meditate longer and more often. I remember the days I didn't like to meditate, it was more of a chore, but the last year I really learned to enjoy it, felt more secure in how to do it.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2014-04-10 09:57:09 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

Big holes in this practice log. Life has been chaotic and at times difficult, so didn't do much, though I kept meditating at night, before I fell asleep. I decided to pick up my meditating again and my reading, because it's no excuse as I believe wholeheartedly in the Buddha's path. 
I did practice right speech and such, so that has been very useful.

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2014-04-21 13:51:23 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

April the 20th: 

As I am getting back to finding my meditation mojo, I notice some things that disappeared when I meditated very little and now are returning: 
Last year I aimed at some two hours meditating a day and noticed that my breathing started to change: I focused on my breath and usually I had a 'normal', calm and steady in breath and out breath, but I noticed that my in breath changed very subtly into a kind of a breath with approximately 5 little pauses in it. (Hard to describe as I'm not a native english speaker). 
Allow me to draw an in breath which is normal: _______  and it changed into _ _ _ _ _ 
Same with the out breath. I'm not talking about something related to the heart beat or something. I'm not even talking about something important, but it's just strange that meditation changes all kinds of things in very unexpected ways. So, last week this kind of breathing returned.

Another thing that changed when meditating for longer periods a day was that during the meditation it felt as if part of my spine was shifted an inch or two to the right. That is, starting from just below my head to somewhere in the middle of my back it felt as if my spine was not in alignment with the rest of the spine. Not talking about bones, muscles and tendons, but the usual background feeling when you pay attention to your spine. Once again, not important, but kind of unexpected and strange, though a bit funny as well. This is returning very subtly as well. 

Another change, also related to longer meditation sessions was that I got back memories from long ago. When I hardly meditated for a couple of months, that too disappeared, but now that I'm meditating more again - those little memories returned. I'm talking stuff from decades ago. Thirty, forty years back. Never thought about these things, until they suddenly pop up. Not even during meditation, but just in ordinary daily life. Never important (one example is that I remembered a type of paper that people used long ago - is blotting paper the right word? - , it was always lying on my fathers desk, I think) but I'm surprised to find these memories still existed somewhere in my brain, especially when they are not very important.

One little practical thing: I read or heard somewhere (maybe in Shaila Catherine's book Wisdom wide and deep?) that it might be helpful to count differently, when you aim to concentrate. Often people advice: breath in, breath out, count 1. But if you switch that - breath out, breath in, count 1 - it's often more helpful, because people tend to get distracted at the end of the out breath. Well, tried that and what do you know: it works! It really is amazing that such a simple thing makes such a difference for me!

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No-Second-Arrow Z - 2014-05-02 11:10:05 - RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

So...Nearly a week ago one of my old, beloved cats died. She was almost 15 years old and had a severe heart condition. We had a couple of challenging months with intensive and loving care day and night. 
Being very aware of her approaching death was very emotional and raised a lot of questions, one of them: euthanasia or not (me being a buddhist, this was a very difficult issue) and my three (adult) sons had also very outspoken opinions. I'm not going to mention what we chose, because I know how easy it is for a topic like this to bring up intense emotions.There aren't any easy answers. Anyway, it was a painful couple of months and her daughter and son are old as well, but so far very healthy, as are my two old big dogs. I do know however that I'm not going to have new pets in the future. To much suffering, as I now not only see a cute animal to love and cuddle, but I am painfully aware that they too will get sick, get old and die and it's just to much heart ache.
I was kind of surprised because of my mixed feelings, because I've had many pets (rats, all kinds of birds, an indoor big rabbit) and I loved them dearly, which causes suffering, the buddha warned about that, over and over again.
On the one hand I am heartbroken and I've cried a lot, but on the other hand I sometimes feel a bit more at ease with this, as if slowly my buddhist values are - what is the expression? - seeping through my life and I'm seeing very clearly that this -  feeling, craving, clinging, becoming, birth, and old age and death is the essence of what the buddha explained; dependent origination. 

As to meditation, a recent thread brought up the 'sound of silence', which I've been aware of the most part of my life. I thought a lot about using it as a meditation object, but I was afraid to, because I assumed that it might trigger something...I don't know, maybe somehow making these sounds more intense or something. Kind of like I don't focus on my heart (the physical heart), because I always fear I might influence the heart beat or something. Or that time when I focused on the third eye area which almost immediately triggered an intense pressure and I stopped, because I feared it would trigger a migraine, which I get regularly. But Daniel chimed in pretty quickly and he didn't mention any medical caveats, so now I focus on it now and then, also off the cushion.
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Skip this post if you dislike rambling posts, I just can't help myself today.

Yesterday I tried to meditate (anapanasati) three times, but there was to much noise in the street, oh well. Slowly but steady I have upped the time to an hour, hour and a half a day, aiming to get back to at least two hours.
I've worked on sila as well and now often I check - before an action I'm planning - whether these will provide 'good kamma'. So, sila is getting stronger and has gained importance for me, even though I already kept  the five precepts for a year or two.

Later that day I was looking up some Buddhist stuff on the internet and found a name I never heard of before: Webu Sayadaw.
http://dharma-documentaries.net/webu-sayadaw-anthology-of-a-noble-one
And I read a bit from one of his dhammatalks, which was encredibly inspiring for me and while I was reading a couple of things happened:
First, suddenly and without trying, mindfulness locked onto my breathing - click. And for the next thirty to forty minutes it stayed there, whatever the interruption. After ten to fifteen minutes I became incredibly happy, giddy almost, and focused. Spontaneously metta arose (I wasn't even thinking about loving kindness). I noticed I had just a few thoughts, not very intrusive. And I felt very peaceful. I thought something like "Wow, this must be a tiny, little taste of what Dipa Ma was experiencing.
http://www.amazon.com/Dipa-Ma-Legacy-Buddhist-Master/dp/0974240559
In her book there is a passage (page 132) where Jack Kornfield asked here what it was like in her mind and she answered that there were only three things: concentration, peace and metta.

And while I was talking to my oldest son, he ate a piece of chocolate cake and that cake was right in front of me. I thought: that cake looks great, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it, but I didn't have any desire for it.
Two other things happened. One of them was the realization that I suddenly understood what the buddha meant when he stated that everything was burning, something I never quite got before: things like craving and aversion are like a hungry fire. Just like fire will verociously 'eat' everything in its path - without pause -  so our desires and dislikes, our thoughts and emotions will lock on to whatever they encounter, without hesitation and without preference. As long as our mind finds fuel it will consume our mindfulness, our peace and our calm.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.028.than.html

One final thing I noticed is that 'my' Samvega and pasada returned.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/affirming.html
A spiritual urgency to practice, a fear that time might be running out and I could die any moment. The knowing that I have to practice because I don't want to get sucked into the endless round of rebirth again. I had that feeling for a long time, but I lost it in the months that I hardly practiced. The motivation to get at least to stream entry (as the buddha described it) before I die, has returned in full force.
(And yes, I believe in rebirth. Two years ago I firmly believed that those rebirth / samsara things in the suttas were just some rubbish that ended up there from other religions. I really disliked hearing about stuff like that. And then one day - poof - I knew for myself that I believed in rebirth. Without contemplation, without an insight or anything, I just woke up one day and had lost the disbelief.)

Anyway, yesterday for me was yet another unexpected gem, that was loosened by meditation. I've had lots of strange experiences, which usually turn up óf the cushion and in ways that  I would have never expected. And they always happen when I meditate for - at the very least - an hour a day.
Today I still feel quite peaceful and committed to practice.


Before I forget, one other meditation related thing. The last couple of days the faces are back when I meditate. Last year, often  I would meditate and then I would see a random person in great detail. Sometimes a face close up, sometimes from a distance. Once I saw a young, very blond boy, walking and it was in Russia (I don't know how I knew that), he was walking with others, it might have been some prison camp . Maybe 16 years old. Another time I saw a boy, around 9 years old, jumping excitedly next to his dad, they were talking to a man and it was maybe in Iran. A woman with a dimple in her cheek. All that disappeared when I hardly practiced anymore (well, maybe 10 minutes or so).
It's weird, because if you would ask me to 'create' a random face, I would have great difficulty to do that. And it's not that I feel something special, they just pop up and disappear.
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I too have experienced the "seeing people" visions, what is weird is that as far as i can recall, these are people I have never encountered before, not in real life, not seen in movie, work aquaintences, none of these people.  Wouldn't one think that if a face or a person were to pop into ones consciousness, it would be a visual of someone that was recognizable??   Anyway, I don't know what to make of it all.  Just the speculations...  Also, it does seem to occur after a cumulative couple hours of meditation, and by that I mean , it could be sits like a 30 minute, a 20 minute a 10, a 40, and another 20, , and not exactly 2 hours, it is just that that is the general  "trigger" area.  Anyway, for now I just observe it as a phenomenon.
B
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I finished reading the Vimuttimagga
https://archive.org/details/ArahantUpatossa-Vimuttimagga-PathOfFreedom.pdf

It's an earlier book than the Visuddhimagga. I know I should read the Visuddhimagga, but over the years I've heard there were quite a lot of mistakes in there - don't ask me which ones, because my memory is very bad - so it's not top priority for me.
I also finished a great little book The debate of king Milinda
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/milinda.pdf who asks many, many critical questions to a wise buddhist monk called Nagasena. It's just the sort of book a modern western buddhist would want to read; it's easily readable, many critical questions are put to Nagasena and answered patiently and it has a happy ending emoticon

Also, I'm still reading the Samyutta and also started the Anguttara Nikaya, because of the surprise factor (the suttas are according to numbers, so for instance 'the Ones' can be about Nibbana and about subjects completely different, while the Samyutta is bases on topics, so all suttas about Devas and all suttas about anapanasati.

I meditated for two hours daily last week, but the noises are increasingly distracting me. During the day things to do, school across the house, noisy cats and dogs and at night either the rest of the family runs around slamming doors, talking loudly (no matter the bilions of times I asked them to be more quiet) or I'm just exhausted. I know, aversion is a hindrance...I'm wearing ear plugs but they don't filter all the noises (for safety reasons), so I'm looking into other things and buying noise cancelling earphones are not an option, unfortunately.
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The past month or so I have been focusing even more on virtue, morality. So, I catched all kinds of flies and spiders even more diligently, to release them outside, or focusing on wiser things to say, to keep myself from saying unkind things. I've experimented a bit with sharing merit. And I still wish people, animals (yes, the flies as well) metta, by saying my phrases and aiming these phrases towards people that pass by or animals I see (and we have many, many bird species in the garden). emoticon

Today I was looking up some suttas and other things and suddenly I felt a wave of metta. And then I reflected how grateful I felt towards what the buddha has left us, so many teachings, still valuable after thousands of years. And how he devoted his entire life to other people, with the sole purpose of helping them reach Nibbana, to patiently explain what people have to do, telling everyone in ways suitable for all kinds of persons.
So, I thought it wise to sit down immediately and to meditate, because I felt very quiet and peaceful, no hindrances in sightemoticon. Within maybe 10 minutes I noticed the jhana factors starting to arise.
Finally, after months and months of rebuilding my meditation skills, I was able to enter the first jhana again. I experimented a lot with expanding piti and letting it fade into the background. I noticed sukha, something that I was unable to discern in the past, because the piti was so overwhelming.
Actually, I did a lot during this meditation. Noticing when there was pain, noticing when it disappeared, reflecting on the three characteristics of piti, pain and other things. And I observed that I could regulate piti by focusing on the pleasant sensation, but when I focused more on the breath, it seemed like the concentration got stronger, although it also helped generate the beginning of sukha and piti. I could do that, because my concentration sometimes was getting a bit less and then I experimented and then I practised with getting more concentrated again.
I still have trouble understanding how I can know whether or not I enter the next jhana; is it only noticeable by discerning which jhana factors are present or absent, or is it some kind of physical sensation you feel, some sort of shift? It would be great if someone could answer this. I did notice something new, it was like a grey (gray?) mist was passing by. This was towards the end of the meditation, around the same time the sensations of the face disappeared and I was the most concentrated.
Also, at one point I tried to discern the body versus the mind, hoping a bit to evoke the fist nana. Focusing on mind versus matter like that brought up some visualizations about seeing the head of my dogs as dog skulls and seeing my own skeleton and brain (inside the skull) moving, while the mind watched everything. But that was just my imagination, not an insight.

All in all it was good to be able to get into the first jhana again. And this meditation was the 'strongest' I've experienced in my (few) meditation years. I've certainly learned my lesson, to never ever let my meditation skills slip like that (by only meditating for 5 or 10 minutes a day at most). It took me months to get back to where I left off. And I should have known better, because in one of her podcasts Dipa Ma warned people explicately to meditate every day, because otherwise you had to start over from scratch.
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Impermanence.
I decided to meditate in the garden, disguised as sunbathing. But looking up I saw beautiful clouds, changing shape constantly. And against the sky I noticed courting swallows, and seagulls lazily gliding along.
Now, impermanence was something I could relate to from the moment I learned about it, from the discourses. Even before that, watching Discovery (months before I quit watching television altogether), I was shocked to my core, realising that the earth would one day be gobbled up by our dying sun. To realize that all life, all plants, all animal life would be gone one day, was very depressing. All our efforts to save dolphins, tropical rainforest, futile in a sense. I mean, I knew that that would happen objectively, but this time it really got to me and it took me months to get over that shock, even while I knew that this was gonna happen after billions of years. Who cares, right?

So, the past two, three years I was almost constantly seeing impermanence: our lives, the lives of birds in the garden, the ants, buildings, tectonic plates, but also the incessant vibration of molecules in all matter; arising and passing away.
So, looking up at those clouds and seeing impermanence, not only in the shapes of those clouds and in the positions of the birds sharing a moment in time and space, and also realising that one moment could be divided in uncountable little time fragments and thus, even within one moment everything arose and disappeared, all that was nothing new for me. Even so, this realization suddenly made me scared, as if I had looked down and found that the earth beneath my feet had disappeared and I was standing on... nothing. It was just a couple of moments that I felt this fear and it wasn't even the worst fear I ever felt, but it was very real, very emotional. And I felt a touch of grief, because I really, really saw on an emotional level how I could not have hold on to anything even for half an hour, because uncountable changes had been happening without me even realizing it and all through my entire life and - on an incomprehensible scale- forever.
So, no spectacular meditation experiences or seeing vibrations (which I did a couple of times, months ago), but a few moments that felt very intense. This, to me, are the differences between objectively knowing things and insights. For me a true insight feels as a sort of intense jolt.
And now? Nothing, of course emoticon I just keep working, but with things like this, I have the reassuring feeling that I'm on the right track. Progressing in a clumsy, but forward motion.
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No-Second-Arrow Z:
So, looking up at those clouds and seeing impermanence, not only in the shapes of those clouds and in the positions of the birds sharing a moment in time and space, and also realising that one moment could be divided in uncountable little time fragments and thus, even within one moment everything arose and disappeared, all that was nothing new for me. Even so, this realization suddenly made me scared, as if I had looked down and found that the earth beneath my feet had disappeared and I was standing on... nothing. It was just a couple of moments that I felt this fear and it wasn't even the worst fear I ever felt, but it was very real, very emotional. And I felt a touch of grief, because I really, really saw on an emotional level how I could not have hold on to anything even for half an hour, because uncountable changes had been happening without me even realizing it and all through my entire life and - on an incomprehensible scale- forever.
So, no spectacular meditation experiences or seeing vibrations (which I did a couple of times, months ago), but a few moments that felt very intense. This, to me, are the differences between objectively knowing things and insights. For me a true insight feels as a sort of intense jolt.

Pretty cool when the insites come so clear click click click. Remember that jolt feeling. It helps to identify the passing thru the nanas....sometimes.
~D
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Thanks for your advice, Dream Walker.
I have had that 'jolt' feeling a few times now. It's not always an important insight, bur for me personally it always is.
For example, one day I was very, very angry and I decided to meditate right then and there to see what anger was all about. And it was very interesting; the emotion didn't last that long, but to my utter amazement I noticed that as soon as that anger faded, I  had a stream of memories of other situations in which I was that angry. So, it seemed like the mind wanted to continue those angry feelings, by fueling it with 'angry memories'. That was quite an insight, but in the big scheme of things maybe not an important insight for everyone.

(edit for typo)
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This morning I meditated for 50 minutes, the last couple of months this means anapanasati btw.
Since it was quiet I just meditated again, for 55 minutes and I went somehow farther then ever before. It started when I closed my eyes and to my surprise, within two minutes I almost reached access concentration.
When concentration gets stronger I always feel as if my body is wrapped in a blanket and someone pulls it very tight. I feel an enormous pressure around my head and upper body, but it's pleasant. So I felt concentration getting stronger, but I still had some discursive thoughts, so I was surprised that I felt concentration coming up, though I've noticed before that concentration sometimes starts when I'm still a bit in thinking mode and it makes it easier for me to drop all thoughts and 'get serious'. So, I decided to follow that concentration, by focusing on the breath.
First jhana must have been within ten minutes. For me this is really strange, because I'm often really restless and then an hour of meditation is nothing more than getting distracted, coming back to the breath for the full hour, of course never getting even near the developing of the jhana factors.
So, first jhana and I experimented once again with piti, making it stronger and weaker. But this time I experimented that way with concentration itself as well. I discovered I just had to say - in my mind - 'stronger' and then it did get stronger. As if I just could manipulate buttons to tweak piti and concentration, very funny. And I made a resolution, sort of "Let me get as far as I possibly can, the highest jhana within reach and the strongest sensations", but less wordy.Then I think I reached second jhana, thoughts went away, occasionally one word would pop up, but that was once or twice. I think I reached second jhana only once before. But then, after I had stayed there for a while, I felt something new. It was as if my head was pulled in the air, stretched out, but it was not like piti. It was just a strong pulling sensation and I got even more concentrated. Towards the final minutes of meditating  the body suddenly would draw a very deep breath, but not as if it had a lack of oxygen, not like a deep sigh. And then normal breaths and then another very deep breath. That happened for a couple of minutes. It was not uncomfortable at all. I felt very mindful, just calmly looking at what happened and I had a strong feeling that this was an important learning experience. And also I had sort of confidence that I could stop meditating and that I wouldn't have to be scared that I would loose the ability to get this far again. Kind of 'don't worry, this knowledge will stay and you will have no problems getting here again'. I guess this is what 'internal confidence' means? After a while I decided to stop, which was fun. Just as you wouldn't stop a horse from galop to standstill (well, if you like horses, that is)in one second, so it felt like I could just calmly work my way back from this state, slowly getting ready to end this meditation.
I'm very happy to see that aiming for two hours meditation a day is so fruitful. It's like I'm gaining momentum again now and I'm getting more at ease with what I should or shouldn't do.
Last year -  before my stupid break from meditating - unexpected things happened when I would meditate for around two hours and I had a very excited feeling back then, because I never knew what for surprising things would happen, on or off the cushion. That feeling is back. A feeling as if I'm involved in some metamorphosis, combined with the reassuring feeling that it will improve me in a good way. And that I don't have to be scared, that I can trust this process, as long as I'm willing to really work (meditate and practicing the noble eightfold path, as well as keeping the five precepts).
I said, maybe in my first post above, that I wouldn't do this, but I think I will copy / paste an experience I had last year. I sent it to another forum, but I feel it's important to share it here, as an example of what happened last year, when I worked thus diligently and because it felt important. It makes the picture of my development more complete, I think.
...

Found my forum post, from august last year:

A couple of days ago during daytime, I was just doing my regular stuff and sat down to drink a cup of tea.

Suddenly something in me shifted and I became very quiet inside. From one second to the next emotions were gone, I had hardly any thoughts and I wasn't a 'self' anymore, no stories about who I was or what I was doing. I had only perception. I've had this happen in my life quite often, for 1 or 2 seconds at most.

This time it went on and on. I looked at my dogs; no stories. Not my beautiful old dogs whom I love dearly, just dogs in a room. I was completely empty. After 10 minutes I had one thought and I thought; the only thing missing is metta.

After that I decided to continue doing what I planned to do. I did an equanimity meditation, 40 minutes long, I was incredibly focused and concentrated, but after the meditation I realized I still felt quiet and empty. I did some chores, mindfully. Still no stories, no dislike to doing dishes, no, just doing the dishes.

After 2 hours slowly things returned to normal. Over the course of another 2 to 3 hours, thoughts began creeping back in slowly (and I realized then that I had felt selfless, just one of many creatures occupying this earth. I was not special, not different, not unique, nothing, just a creature like all the others), I felt some very light emotions and after 3 hours I was my regular 'self' again, mind buzzing as usual with thoughts, emotions, memories, planning.

All in all it felt incredibly quiet, it was as if my whole life I had walked around with noisy paper wrapped around my head and for these couple of hours someone had removed it. It was very interesting, but it felt cold. There were no emotions and anything could have happened without me having any sort of reaction. Like a recorder that records all sensations, but doesn't care what is being recorded.

One thing I get from this experience is that I need to continue with my brahma vihara practices, but for the rest, I'm puzzled.


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Dream Walker:

Pretty cool when the insites come so clear click click click. Remember that jolt feeling. It helps to identify the passing thru the nanas....sometimes.
~D

I thought about this some more and what I mean to say is that early in the paths the transitions from one Vip jhana to the next tended to have a very noticable transition point that was like a jolt or click or something...the nanas correlate to these vip jhanas and therefor can sometimes help you tell where you are in the territories.
~D
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Dream Walker:
Dream Walker:
early in the paths the transitions from one Vip jhana to the next tended to have a very noticable transition point that was like a jolt or click or something...the nanas correlate to these vip jhanas and therefor can sometimes help you tell where you are in the territories.
~D
Hi Dream Walker,

At first I read a lot about the nanas in Daniels book, but also in a lot of others, but I felt I wasn't even near the first nana, so I decided not to focus on these any longer.
It's interesting what you describe about the vipassana jhanas, however this 'jolt' was off the cushion, when I intended to meditate, but started observing these clouds and birds. So, that is not the same, is it?

However, last night I had an experience and I'm really hoping you and others would comment on that. I'll post it in a minute.
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Sweet Nothing, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

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Hi,

I admire your sincerity and dedication. Keep it up emoticon

I haven't read everything. Regarding suppressed memories or emotions or visions : Just ignore them like they are a passing thought.

Never be dissapointed by what's "on the menu" and never have any regrets. Keep accepting everything as it is, keep seeing and keep going.

Good luck !
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No-Second-Arrow Z, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

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Hi Sweet Nothing, thank you very much for your (Sweet) response. And I fully agree with you that it's best not to focus on all kinds of objects as they are distracting, not leading to anything. It's something many teachers on podcasts I listened to warned about time and again, so I always keep that in mind.
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No-Second-Arrow Z, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

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Mortal fear (I really hope someone can shed some light on this):

Yesterday ended a bit unexpected, to say the least. I went to bed, began meditating, but unfortunately was disturbed by people starting to talk. After waiting a while I became sleepy, so I decided to sleep.
Then my heart skipped a beat, which happens often, and is a sign  I need to drink more fluids. The thought arose: 'what if my heart hadn't resumed beating... I would be dead. And I was gripped by mortal fear, feeling how fragile we are. I had lived my life for almost fifty years and all that could end in the next moment if my heart would just stop. And suddenly I felt incredibly fast vibrations horizontally, all across my chest and my shoulders, without those sensations on my arms. These vibrations were so fast that it had a rushing quality to it. (I tested it on an app, a metronome and 1200 beats per minute was slow compared to the speed of these vibrations)I was mortified by fear of dying (which is strange, because I had m'n many major depressions in the past and had frequent and very lively fantasies about dying) and tried calming myself down. In the next half an hour or so I experienced waves of fear and those vibrations accompanied the fear, starting and ending simultaneously. Every time I succeeded a bit in calming myself down, those vibrations would almost subside, but not quite. And every time I began to feel fear again, (accompanied by realizing my fragility, how easy it is to die) , those vibrations would flare up again.
In the end I succeeded in calming down, by suppressing these thoughts (don't know if that was the wisest course of action) drank water, but it took some time to fall asleep, as I felt very restless as if I had had coffee.
Now,  not *exactly* the same but quite similar, some six months ago - after intensive noting for a couple of days - I had also an 'attack' of extreme fear and vibrations (only) across the shoulders, where vibrations and fear acted together in flaring up and calming down. that also happened while I was about to sleep. If you read the very first post in this thread you'll find that event described.
But tonight must have been triggered by something else, because I stopped noting. The only changes have been that I meditate usually two hours a day.
Does anyone have had the same experience, where extreme fear and vibrations come up and disappear together?
For months now I've noticed that I can often feel vague vibrations in my body, but not accompanied by fear, not in special locations and not very clear. And once or twice I noticed that - I don't know how to explain this - my body was incredibly loud, full of vibrations, moving muscles and the rushing of the blood stream. But I assumed I just was more in touch with my body nowadays, because meditating causes one to pay attention to everything, including body sensations. So, that those vibrations probably were always there, but I just didn't notice them.

It's only now that I realize that this fear and those vibrations would have been perfect material for contemplating the Three Characteristics and to meditate, but I was not in a state to observe them calmly.

If it happens again, I will try to be more mindfully aware, I think I can do that. It was just that it took me by surprise.
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No-Second-Arrow Z, modified 6 Years ago.

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Folks who enter jhanas within a minute and choose whichever jhana at will; please ignore the followingemoticon

I meditated for an hour and it was hard work, the first half hour was all about 'keep coming back to the breath'...
But after that I entered the first jhana, but still I was a bit restless, so it was unsteady. Then I recalled a sutta I found yesterday, I think maybe this one, where the buddha helps a disciple to remain in the jhanas properly:

39:1 Moggallana Samyutta - English

So, within the jhana I imagined that I was supposed to dwell in a jhana and I sort of gave myself over to that, as if I held my head gently under water, being enwrapped in the jhana and then it became stronger, not tremendously but noticeable. I'm going to practice with that.
I still feel like a baby learning to walk, but more and more i get a feeling of what I should and shouldn't do and I start to recognize subtle signs, like my hands twitching a little bit, which sort of give an indication of where I am and how to proceed.
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No-Second-Arrow Z, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log No Second Arrow (comments valued and appreciated)

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Hi Dream Walker,

Yesterday I spend time to check once again the nanas, which I already did elaborately in the past. Books I have which discuss these topics are:
Sayadaw U Jotika - Map to the journey
MCTB of course
Acharn Thawee Baladhammo - Practicing insight on your own
Of course the books from Sayadaw U Pandita and Mahasi Sayadaw
and more.
Still, I recognize things in the Knowledge of fear, but hardly anything from the nanas before that. If I do, I feel I just know things not because I gained an insight, but because of the fact that lots of things are easy to try out.
Anyway, time will tell and I keep an eye out for things happening, but primary I just do what I have to do, so keeping up sila and things like that, meditating and noticing as much of the Three Characteristics in all objects I possibly can.
Next post some more observations.
Thanks again, Dream Walker, I really appreciate the time you take to answer and to look up links that could be helpful!
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No-Second-Arrow Z, modified 6 Years ago.

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Not funny; I write a post, publish it --> service temporarily unavailable --> post gone emoticon

Yesterday:

I admit I'm a bit confused. I spent an hour in the afternoon meditating and for half of it I couldn't concentrate. And now I just decided to do a little meditation exercise for 5 minutes, amidst noises from dreaming dogs, shower sounds and slamming doors. I close my eyes... Wait... What? I feel piti arising? That took all of 5 seconds? It was quite strong too. I guess that means that the hindrances were pretty much suppressed before I started, which is cool!

I spent some time checking out sources about the insight knowledges (MCTB, Nanarama, a few others), because  I wanted to freshen up my knowledge about the 'fear nana'. But it makes no sense: I never had A&P 'symptoms or any of the knowledges. I've seen vibrations maybe 4 times for a short while. I don't recall meditation getting easier, fast noting, or any of that other stuff. And when reading Daniel describing seeing things in the perifery, I can imagine a bit, what he means, but haven't experienced things like that. So, I'm pretty sure it can't be the fear Nana. I'm even in the beginning stages of jhana practice; just recently I touched on the second jhana, maybe the third yesterday (sort of).

This morning:
I slept fine, but this morning I didn't feel so well, dizzy and a bit of nausea, so I lay down on the couch for a while, not meditating, not dozing off. Suddenly I noticed vibrations arising in the upper torso (front and back), but deeper; not under the skin, but under the rib bones. Even my heart was vibrating, which was weird. At first it was a bit upsetting, until I remembered that -whether I'm conscious of it or not - everything is always vibrating. All matter is made up of atoms and -  unimaginably small - kalapas.
After a while I noticed that if I thought a negative thought (like worrying) the vibrations flared up, when the thoughts disappeared, the vibrations became hardly noticable. This went on for at least an hour. I would think that this might be maybe the first insight knowledge: nama (thoughts) arising, rupa (vibrations in torso) reacting.
Anyway, I'll stop wrecking my brain about it, it's just cluttering up my brain (but it is fun). I just continue with sila, precepts, meditating for at least two hours and we'll see. All this stuff probably means I'm doing something right, no?

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