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john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 6/25/14 10:15 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 6/25/14 10:37 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 6/28/14 12:08 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 6/30/14 10:45 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/3/14 8:37 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Florian 7/4/14 3:38 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/4/14 10:42 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/7/14 12:57 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Florian 7/7/14 5:48 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Jake 7/7/14 12:30 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Florian 7/7/14 4:20 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/8/14 11:58 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/9/14 8:49 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/11/14 11:07 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/19/14 6:36 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Noting Monkey 7/19/14 11:13 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 7/21/14 6:52 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 9/13/14 9:37 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 11/24/14 7:22 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 12/4/14 7:09 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 12/9/14 7:49 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 12/11/14 6:47 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 12/19/14 8:30 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 12/29/14 9:58 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 1/6/15 7:31 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 1/8/15 4:48 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 1/25/15 12:34 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Bill F. 1/25/15 12:51 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 1/26/15 8:02 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Bill F. 1/26/15 8:06 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 1/26/15 8:16 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations Bill F. 1/26/15 8:47 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 1/27/15 5:19 AM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 2/1/15 2:45 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 4/9/15 7:30 PM
RE: john.watcher's explorations john.watcher 4/22/15 7:34 PM
john.watcher's explorations
Answer
6/25/14 10:15 PM
Hello everyone and thank you for reading.

This is my practice log and it has the obvious purposes of allowing:
  1. For others to read - this has the benefit of allowing others to guide me and to be guided by me.
  2. For me to read - which may motivate and remind me of what I passed through.
Therefore, if you find something interesting here and want to know more, please ask. Also, if you can add something helpful, please do so.

Initially I will describe how I got interested in buddhism and meditation, then I will give a background on how my practice has been developing.

My aim is to post at least 3 times a week, the more the merrier.

--

My interest in buddhism goes back to when I was about 15-16 (I am 20 now), when I got interested a little bit in meditation and other explorations of the mind such as lucid dreams etc. Unfortunately I didn't find much to go on and was not interested enough to be a real practitioner back then.

About one year ago, though, my interest came back in a much stronger way. It didn't start with buddhism itself, but with general 'philosophy' along with psychedelics (what a nice mix).

I was often with a friend who is quite intelligent and on late summer and through autumn of 2013 we had some life-changing experiences, not 100% mystical in nature. We would spend afternoons tripping on LSD while walking through a park or maybe downtown, simply observing with awe the shattered reality which is the psychedelic experience. After walking we usually went to a pub nearby and talked about the nature of the mind, of the universe, of society, of arts and related things.

At that time I began to discover that I am not a separate being, that my mind is not disconnected with the outside and that the world has a much more beautiful aspect to it than I thought possible. Although at that time I didn't put it on these terms, I guess I would have agreed with that previous statement back then.

Around October of 2013 I started listening to Alan Watts' audio lessons, which actually I strongly recommend to anyone. The things he said would 95% of the time explain something that I was aware of but hadn't quite got the grips of what it was. In simpler terms, Alan Watts' lessons untangled my view of the world.

Therefore I started getting more interested in buddhism and meditation. My practice would basically consist on sitting and get lost in thought while trying not to get lost in thought. The reason for this, I think, is that I didn't have a clear goal nor method on meditation because I had not yet found guidance which really resonated with me. It was rare the occasions that I did practice, although I remember some occasions when I felt a very strong bliss during meditation back then.


--

After reading MCTB things changed. This book changed completely my course in life (if I am to say such thing). Daniel's concise writing with undogmatic approach and powerful statements strongly resonated with what I had been finding during the 4~6 months of self exploration prior to reading it.

Therefore, I suddenly found myself with this goldmine in hands. It provided me with all the material necessary to reboot my approach of cushion-time, retuning the settings and rebalancing my efforts. Also, having a clear goal: enlightment, and knowing it is possible, renewed my faith.


--

I started working right away on setting my Morality right, getting grips with my daily life and transforming my relationships with the world and with myself onto something I was proud of. This instantly affected my practice: my thoughts got to a 'less sticky' consistence, gradually becoming something which I could simply let go of since I knew that my way on living life was on the right tracks.

Regarding the cushion-time, my first objective was to consistently reach 1st jhana with breathing techniques.
After some weeks of half-assed practice (about 30 mins a day, 3 to 4 times a week) I was comfortable on reaching 1st jhana.

Then I worked on solidifying that state further. I got there a few times, with strong concentration on the breath and highly blissful states, but my practice started to be even more sparse for I was busy with college and other stuff, which is not really and excuse, since I could have found the time.

Fast forwarding a little bit, some weeks ago I started vipassana practice. At first I was not very comfortable with it as I was with samathi, in such way that I was not finding the cushion time as productive as I knew it could be. After reviewing some chapters of MCTB Part 1 I was back on track and my meditation started to regain speed.

My last few practices consisted of rising in concentration with the breath as object into a solid samathi jhana and then begin investigating the present moment with noting practice. Usually, I start noting the rising and falling of the breath and then begin to add other sensations that are being shown. After some time I usually drop the noting and stay with the present moment as it shows itself, being mindful of whatever my attention gets contact with.

I have been able to easily detect vibrations on my body while meditating, more so in the hands, which sometimes I try to sync with and notice every component of the vibration, other times I keep noticing it but choose to not place too much attention.

With this background, I begin my practice log.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
6/25/14 10:37 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
26-Jun-2014

Practice: Absorption/Concentration

On the last few days my practices were focused on vipassana and yesterday's evening vipassana was kind of sloppy, without the necessary concentration to really enable me to notice the present moment without wandering.

Therefore today I focused on concentration by itself to strengthen it. After reading parts of this wonderful post I felt like doing that.

The practice started with balance but uninteresting. Although my mind was wandering, the thoughts weren't particulally catchy and therefore it wasn't necessary too big an efort to place my attention on the breath.

For about 10~15 minutes, though I was calm and mindfull I guess I was focusing too much on trying to reach absorption instead of simply letting it take place (it was necessary to apply more focus on the breath and less on excluding everything else).

Around the 20~ minute mark I felt a strong and blissful sensation linked to the breath. I danced with it for a while but at a certain point the good feeling was too strong, what throwed my concentration off balance. I guess next time I need to stay more equanimous to it and let it flow more freely.

For more 5~10 minutes I was still concentrated but not as much as before so I ended the meditation.

The tranquility is still present on me while I write, though it is already fading. I feel the meditation session was very worthwhile nonetheless.

That feeling around the 20th minute left me with a increased curiosity regarding the concentration jhanas. I am not sure which state I was or what is the furthest state I ever reached on samathi practice, but in any case it is worth investigating (eg. practice).

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
6/28/14 12:08 AM as a reply to john.watcher.
These last few days I've been having some thoughts regarding no-self. I am starting to see quite clearly the impermanence of what I used to suppose was myself. During my daily life it is noticeable, when I am mindful, that thoughts are actually disconnected from eachother (this seems rather obvious by now..).

Walking down the street, see a pretty woman. Think of the pretty woman for 3 sec, see a car X that reminds me of something and think about that something for 2sec, then a bike goes by .. etc etc
The mindfulness is very helpful in showing how far your mind can go in such a short time..

The 'thinking self' does not sustain itself. It is fluid, sometimes occupying a large portion of the space (awareness), sometimes barely noticeable. Strangely (still obviously) enough, when the light of attention shines upon the thought-machine it tends to change its behaviour. How the hell could it be 'the total me' if it seems so independent and disconnected? Thoughts simply arise and pass away. Thats it.

I was reading some of the ideas of David Hume and under his investigation, he found that if you observe your thoughts well enough, it is noticeable that they don't compose a 'person' but more like a 'nation': although temporary, they tend to keep some of the characteristics of their content from 'generation to generation'. Maybe I am interpreting this wrong but anyway it is something to keep in mind.

--

26-Jun-14:
Practice: Simple concentration on breath
It started normally - 5 min of applying attention to breath, then things start to work and the attention on the breath started to have less deviations..

~10 min into practice I was able to keep my attention on the breath but there were still some distractions, though brief. ~20 min things started to work and I could feel some deep concentration starting to get a hold, but practice was interrupted at ~30min into practice with a knock on the door.

I am still not satisfied with the amount of effort I need to apply to reach jhana. It could be less of a hassle, so I'll keep working on it.


27-Jun-14:
Practice: Rise in Concentration -> start vipassana
After making the resolve of the practice, I started bringing the attention to the breath as always and things were better than yesterday. My mind seemed less bothered by distractions.

After ~20 min of concentration on the breath, I started to notice the impermanence of this object by breaking it into smaller pieces.

After getting comfortable with this, started to notice sound of cars passing by and other sounds in general and likewise breaking them into the present bits. I was getting a balance on the vipassana practice, although no 'big event' happened.
Again after about 30 min into practice there was a knock on the door and a meditation interrupted.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
6/30/14 10:45 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
30-Jun-14

Its usual when I practice Insight meditation for me to start by making a resolution, then concentrating on the breath and after my mind is stable enough I proceed to some kind of insight practice. Today the insight part started with noting, but it was too slow to use words and I guess more a hindrance to the practice than a support. The present moment was more easily observable through bare awareness with the occasional noting of something in particular.

Therefore, I was able to stay in a good rhythm of vipassana by noticing all I could of the present moment, which led to the strengthening of some insights I previously had, mainly regarding mind and body, cause and effect and the three characteristics (to use MCTB nomenclature).

My last practices have been leading to pain in my upper back muscles and today after a certain point (~30 min into practice) I started messing with my posture. As described in MCTB these seems classic 3C's Stage symptoms.
Another evidence of this stage is the fact that I have been needing lots of sleep during the last ~2 weeks, often sleeping for more than 10 hours a night..

Enough of the diagnosis, though. I'll try and meditate at least 2 times a day for this next week at least and see what happens.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/3/14 8:37 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Practice has been slow. For some reason I've not been able to get a good rhythm on practice.. My concentration is again subpar, maybe because of some stuff I need to work outside the cushion.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/4/14 3:38 AM as a reply to john.watcher.
john.watcher:
Practice has been slow. For some reason I've not been able to get a good rhythm on practice.. My concentration is again subpar, maybe because of some stuff I need to work outside the cushion.


Not intended as an excuse to avoid working on the off-cushion stuff, but: have you considered that while your concentration may indeed be different than before, you are now noticing more stuff in places you didn't notice them before, whereas the place you previously had no trouble keeping your attention on is becoming fuzzy and hard to notice? If so, this would be the textbook "can't concentrate on the center, periphery seems distracting" pattern of the dukkha ñanas. Or it could be ñanas 2&3 - 2 (Cause&Effect) can have this "thinking how one off-cushion thing leads to another off-cushion thing" aspect.

Just a blind, educated guess. Please cross-check with what is actually happening on-cushion.

Cheers,
Florian

(edited for clarity & more speculation)

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/4/14 10:42 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
have you considered that while your concentration may indeed be different than before, you are now noticing more stuff in places you didn't notice them before, whereas the place you previously had no trouble keeping your attention on is becoming fuzzy and hard to notice? If so, this would be the textbook "can't concentrate on the center, periphery seems distracting" pattern of the dukkha ñanas.


when I read your reply I thought "nah.. I don't think I'm on the DN.. its just a lack of effort or something similar"..
but today, as I was meditating, this characteristic of the center being fuzzy whereas the periphery is pronounced was actually there.. I guess it was as you said: textbook pattern of dukkha ñanas..

Anyway, during practice I was able to keep mindfulness on the present but it seemed a little bit different from what I was having before. It is like my edge has gone blunt.

On noticing this I stopped trying to produce a sharp focus and instead started letting it flow more freely, allowing even short thoughts into the mix along with the 5 senses.

At some point, maybe 20~ min into practice I noticed how much of a weight it was my mind trying to conceptualize what I was experiencing, so I "pressed the let go button", what produced a longer out-breath accompanied by a moderately good feeling. This actually happened 2 times.

Well.. I'll keep investigating! Thanks very much for your "educated guess". It may have saved me from a lot of trouble..

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/7/14 12:57 AM as a reply to john.watcher.
From my last post it seemed as if I was quite certain about my entrance into Dissolution, and it is still a good guess. I am not sure because, honestly, whatever the stage I'm at, it is not bringing me such a hard time that seems to be so common in the DN, though the stage is not bringing me good feelings either.
One of the things I am experiencing is a feeling of being 'lost' in the Dharma.. while 2 weeks ago I was progressing clearly, now I'm not sure where I am and what to do with it.

Anyway, during practice I am now trying to get used to this wider focus when observing the present.. It is a bit unsettling since it feels different from what I have in my head as what should be happening. Fortunately this was already addressed on MCTB, bringing me reassurance: even not feeling like 'good practice', it is still progress. Another reassurance is that I am able to keep the rhythm going during practice.

On a side-note, I was pondering that if I am to reach stream entry this year, likely it would have to be until the end of the month (July), since in August I am back a routine which does not allow much free time. Also, stream entry does not seem close, unfortunately. A retreat would be great, but I live somewhere with a very small buddhist community (northeast of Brazil), so a 'self-retreat' is my only real option.

I need to practice more.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/7/14 5:48 AM as a reply to john.watcher.
john.watcher:
One of the things I am experiencing is a feeling of being 'lost' in the Dharma.. while 2 weeks ago I was progressing clearly, now I'm not sure where I am and what to do with it.


Note it.

Also, can you notice individual ñanas in a single sit as they arise?

Anyway, during practice I am now trying to get used to this wider focus when observing the present.. It is a bit unsettling since it feels different from what I have in my head as what should be happening.


It is very, very important to explore, observe, note what is actually happening, rather than trying to enact some kind of script. This is really important. This is what it's about - pay attention to what is actually happening.

If wide focus is happening, notice that. If narrow focus is happening, notice that. If "bad practice" is happening, notice that. If you are dissatisfied with it, notice that. And so on.

On a side-note, I was pondering that if I am to reach stream entry this year, likely it would have to be until the end of the month (July), since in August I am back a routine which does not allow much free time.


You could use more of your everyday activities as an opportunity for practice. Walking down the hallway? Walking meditation, note the footsteps. Waiting at a bus-stop? Great! Time for noting. Taking a shower? Note. Eating by yourself? Note the chewing, swallowing, tastes, etc.

Short sits can be really effective: no time to dally around with posture and whatever if you have only five minutes. Sometimes, that kind of "pressure" can really help.

Also, stream entry does not seem close, unfortunately. A retreat would be great, but I live somewhere with a very small buddhist community (northeast of Brazil), so a 'self-retreat' is my only real option.


Self-led retreats can be really effective, too, speaking from experience.

Also, meet some realized people! I don't have much of an opinion about "transmission effects", but there's something to seeing how alive and ordinary they are. Makes it really special!

Ona Kiser lives in Brazil. She's really into Roman Catholic mysticism at the moment, but not in a dogmatic way. She's not too heavily into (dogmatic) Theravada, but she knows the terminology. I think she's got a really good perspective on her realizations. Recommendation, but do with it what you like.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/7/14 12:30 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:

On a side-note, I was pondering that if I am to reach stream entry this year, likely it would have to be until the end of the month (July), since in August I am back a routine which does not allow much free time.


You could use more of your everyday activities as an opportunity for practice. Walking down the hallway? Walking meditation, note the footsteps. Waiting at a bus-stop? Great! Time for noting. Taking a shower? Note. Eating by yourself? Note the chewing, swallowing, tastes, etc.

Short sits can be really effective: no time to dally around with posture and whatever if you have only five minutes. Sometimes, that kind of "pressure" can really help.


Noting everything that occurs in daily life... Would this would help reinforce the characteristic of impermanence? I find it difficult to note and maintain mindfulness during the day because I do not know the theory behind it. Apologize for posting this in your log John but I found it funny that this was the only thread I read during work, where I was resolving to maintain mindfulness for the day but having difficulty doing so.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/7/14 4:20 PM as a reply to Jake.
Jake WM:
Noting everything that occurs in daily life... Would this would help reinforce the characteristic of impermanence? I find it difficult to note and maintain mindfulness during the day because I do not know the theory behind it. Apologize for posting this in your log John but I found it funny that this was the only thread I read during work, where I was resolving to maintain mindfulness for the day but having difficulty doing so.


Hm... impermanence is to be noticed, rather than reinforced. Maybe I understood you too literally.

Start with something you can do, such as noting the steps when you get up to walk to the water fountain or someting. Expand that as you gain confidence.

As to the theory: get some data points, some firsthand experience first, then try to fit it into some theory (or not). Or again, I may have misunderstood you; the theory is basically, "pay attention!".

Cheers,
Florian

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/8/14 11:58 PM as a reply to Florian.

Also, can you notice individual ñanas in a single sit as they arise?

I can notice shifts during practice, transitions that often I can't really say if its from ñana X to Y etc. But yes, I can feel a range of 'states' during practice.

It is very, very important to explore, observe, note what is actually happening, rather than trying to enact some kind of script. This is really important. This is what it's about - pay attention to what is actually happening.

If wide focus is happening, notice that. If narrow focus is happening, notice that. If "bad practice" is happening, notice that. If you are dissatisfied with it, notice that. And so on.

I'm aware of this, though it is good to be reminded how important it is simply accept the practice as it is happening.

Short sits can be really effective: no time to dally around with posture and whatever if you have only five minutes. Sometimes, that kind of "pressure" can really help.

Hmm.. I'll begin incorporating short sits.. Seems worth it. As for noticing stuff during daily activities, I'm doing that as often as I can. I've had good experiences by bringing awareness to bus-time, dish-washing time etc. Powerful stuff.

Self-led retreats can be really effective, too, speaking from experience.

That is very good to hear! I've sought for opinions here on DhO about this kind of retreat and many people have had good experiences. I'll program one for me.

Also, meet some realized people! I don't have much of an opinion about "transmission effects", but there's something to seeing how alive and ordinary they are. Makes it really special!

Ona Kiser lives in Brazil. She's really into Roman Catholic mysticism at the moment, but not in a dogmatic way. She's not too heavily into (dogmatic) Theravada, but she knows the terminology. I think she's got a really good perspective on her realizations. Recommendation, but do with it what you like.

I've looked into her websites and really seems very interesting. I hadn't heard about her. I was once studying on other kinds of mysticism, including magick, though I didn't go far into it. I'm still interested though and she may be a good source of information. Thanks for the indication.

Still as a response to you Florian, I'd like to thank you very much for your attention. I feel welcome and supported on DhO, which is nice!

--

07-Jun-14
I woke up feeling sick because of some bad stuff I ate on the evening of the previous day, so I was quite miserable since morning. I meditated shortly after waking up and the pain was greatly reduced during practice, only to come back after I left the cushion.

As the day passed I started feeling better. On the evening I meditated again, and it brought me to attention many feelings and emotional tones which coloured the practice. Usually this does not happen. I was able to stay with it and enjoy the ride anyway.

After meditating, during the night, I had some strong mood swings and thoughts about my life and identity. This ceased some time before laying to sleep, when I was quite peaceful.

08-Jun-14
Spent the day quite busy, but mindfulness is now easy to maintain during daily life and not only at the cushion. Thoughts from yesterday's realizations still linger in my head but they are helpful and not harmful.

I meditated on the evening and some interesting stuff happened. First of all, my concentration seems to be getting back on track, more easily attained and sustained than the previous days'. Second, I barely noticed any irritation from practicing. Actually it was quite easy and fun from the beginning. I think this hadn't really happened since the day I had a feeling of great rapture (A&P?), which was the day before I posted here on the log about concentration being weak.

After about 30 minutes into practice I had a somewhat strange experience. I was feeling peaceful, but nothing out of the ordinary (for practice). Then on the start of a out-breath there quickly rose a feeling of rapture which was sustained until the end of the breath, with some moments of a different clarity. It happened again on the following out-breath. Meanwhile, my head dropped frontwards, whatever the reason. Hard to explain. I was mindful of this and trying to examine this 'process' moment to moment, having in mind that it would be dangerous to solidify it, in order to gain insight from it.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/9/14 8:49 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
09-Jul-14

Practice was similar to yesterday's, plus a sense that some kind of shift is happening (noticed properly). I'm more motivated to practice because of that.

During meditation I am noticing a broader focus, more inclusive of what is happening, though sometimes one of the senses may become more pronounced.
It is easy to maintain this state of inclusion and tranquility.

Another mentionable thing that is happening is some occurrences of me 'catching' my sense of self in the act. This is another one of those hard to explain stuff, probably because of my inexperience with it. It is like I'm having a thought and suddenly it hits me how I'm identifying with it, showing me the no-self characteristic very clearly. This brings a strong and strange sensation that fades quickly, like if I have realized something important, but that I already knew.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/11/14 11:07 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
10-Jul-14 + 11-Jul-14
Again, practice not very different from the last few days. More pain on the upper back, though.

I've kind of reached the conclusion that I was wrong on some of my previous 'diagnostics' regarding stages. (writing this for the record..)

I am adding more effort on noting during daily life, with some good results. One example is mindfulness during my time on the computer. Since my time has been consumed a lot by programming/reading/etc on the computer, I need to be good at not wandering by during these periods. If I am moving the mouse to close a window, note moving, if waiting to load, waiting etc. Don't know why I wasn't doing this before. Guess its just a matter of putting effort.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/19/14 6:36 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Although I am not posting as often as I was before, that is just because there is not many new things happening worth mentioning. That doesn't mean I'm not progressing.

I am being able to note faster and faster on each sit, more clearly too. Some strange things also occured.. Today, for example, at a point where I'd dropped noting and was quickly perceiving sounds, bodily sensations, mental impressions etc, there began some short and fast involuntary movements (like the tip of a thinger bending just a little bit, flickering of the eyes, etc).

On another day, something like 3 or 4 days ago, while practicing vipassana, I was being able to perceive the vision of the left eye and the right eye kind of independently, like if I was able to "choose" which eye to look with. (lol) To add strangeness, I first noticed this with the eyes closed (though it also 'worked' with the eyes open).

Sitting has become almost painless (except for a relatively weak pain on the upper back) and sustainable with ease. I could sit for longer periods than I am setting my timer to, but I don't think my knees will like the idea of staying in full lotus position for more than 45 minutes.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/19/14 11:13 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
[quote=
]Sitting has become almost painless (except for a relatively weak pain on the upper back) and sustainable with ease. I could sit for longer periods than I am setting my timer to, but I don't think my knees will like the idea of staying in full lotus position for more than 45 minutes.

Hi John,
I haven't really seen (even very advanced) meditators sitting in full lotus while on a retreat. Any variations are fine (half lotus, burmies sit etc.).
Better to protect your knees you will need them in the future emoticon 

NM

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
7/21/14 6:52 AM as a reply to Noting Monkey.
Noting Monkey:

Hi John,
I haven't really seen (even very advanced) meditators sitting in full lotus while on a retreat. Any variations are fine (half lotus, burmies sit etc.).
Better to protect your knees you will need them in the future emoticon

NM


Really? I imagined it was the most common among the 'serious meditators' for some reason.. I realize there is no problem in using other positions, but I really like full lotus because it keeps my back straight without any effort and everything locked the right way. It is not actually painful during sitting. Only when I get up it tends to hurt my legs moderately for about 1 or 2 minutes, then it is back to normal. I'm afraid if I stay on it for more than ~45 minutes I won't be getting up altogether! haha

But thanks for the tip! Cheers

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
9/13/14 9:37 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
More than 2 months without a post! Glad to be writing again today. I have been quite busy with university etc since the end of July, so my practice frequency has declined. Anyway I've been wanting to update this log for a while now.

Although I am sitting much less, I'm squeezing meditation into any appropriate situation. I take the bus to and from the university,. These commutes are 1h~1h30 duration each and have been the core of my practice for these last couple months. This is not ideal but is working well, since I have been feeling the progress.

I'm sensing mid/high frequency vibrations even when not focusing on them (i.e. daily activities), in such way that insight practice has become very natural and smooth. When I stop, sit and practice on my cushion (as I just did today), strong phenomena happens. Very funny stuff to watch actually.

It is at the same time strange and amazing how the "world" is being perceived by myself now. How far off from reality was I to be blind to all this stuff? Not saying that I have actually achieved something very special, a kind of milestone or anything like that, but I feel a little bit different.

I must also add that I visited an interesting person on the first week of august, a father of a friend who lives on a nearby "mountain", where he built a kind of temple and lives with his wife, isolated. He is not a buddhist strictly speaking (at least in my opinion) but he is very realised. It was an inspiring visit but not very informative. Some of my friends were interested and mentioned that they'd like to go there, so I may visit him again in a not very distant future.

It may take some time for me to post again but certainly I'll be practicing nonetheless!

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
11/24/14 7:22 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Ok, so I still don't know exactly what happened today, but here it goes.

I actually haven't really practiced much these past few weeks, at least not in a appropriate manner (end of semester), but in any case I was feeling quite well. Yesterday I came back from a hiking trip (2 days), where I had long talks about philosophical/spiritual stuff with a good friend. Also, the trail was quite challenging but I was feeling very energized so no big problems.

Then today while I was meditating, something very powerful happened. Honestly, as I said, I haven't been able to put it into the proper words and explain, but it was something like a very strong flux of energy going on everywhere. I felt many different emotions in a matter of minutes. I could see vibrations going on in everything I was experiencing, very, very fast, and it was something that was like self-sustaining, no interventions required, so to speak.

Maybe I will edit this later on for clarifications and more stuff.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
12/4/14 7:09 AM as a reply to john.watcher.
4-Dec-14

Practice on these last few days has been.. interesting? different?
It is 'slower' but more 'encompassing'. Using '' here because I am not sure about the appropriate words.

Today, on the cushion, getting into a concentration state was easier than it usually has been. Very flowy state. After that I started a more vipassana approach and keeping a wider, less forced focus worked nicely. Instead of trying hard to look into stuff to find the sensation which is satisfying, I think I am learning to accept that this does not exist. I am mentioning this here because during the last sittings I found myself on this lookout for that special something which I do not know what it is. "But it should exist, right??" Don't think so.

Had quite a few emotions passing through and some chills also happened. Symptoms of.... ? Whatever.

In any case, meditation is still pleasant overall. Not rapturous, but suave. I am happy to be meditating with some frequency again.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
12/9/14 7:49 AM as a reply to john.watcher.
I've been delaying for some time now an analysis of where I am on the maps, but it may be a useful time to do so now.

After the event I mentioned some posts ago meditation changed. I had suspected when it happened that it was my first 'meditating A&P' (I have gone through similar experiences but not while on the cushion). I saw vibrations very, very fast, with the 3C's manifesting clearly during the process. It taught me a lot of important although hard to explain stuff. Even with those clues, I wasn't sure I could call it the A&P event, but this is changing.

Now, two weeks after, I'm suspecting that I am reaching third vipassana jhana. Some clues I'm considering are:
  • Some days ago while I was meditating I had this strange feeling that I was looking for something in every sensation but the thing always left as soon as my attention shifted into the sensation. Like a slight delay on my attention, so to speak (this was mentioned in a post above).
  • In another circumstance, I was using visualisation of a symbol as object, and the symbol was often missing in the center while its 'influence' could be felt on the edges. I do not have a very strong concentration yet, so things weren't that much clear, though visible.
  • Attention itself seems more inclusive, while the general feeling of meditating seems less rapturous but still blissful. I'm not having trouble to sit, though sitting does not have that 'wow, incredible' feeling anymore.
  • I heard in some occasions a vibrating noise while meditating which was on the 5~Hz mark. It was linked to external sounds (maybe like a reverb + distortion pedal on a guitar? haha) but it was an internal sound. Strange stuff. Also, visual vibrations on this kind of frequency has appeared often. Higher frequencies were also there but unclear.
I am very excited to be gaining insight and finding my way through the dharma (so to speak). I have much more free time now and this will continue to be so until halfway through February. Hopefully I will be able to progress further with that opportunity.

If anyone has a good tip on what I should work on now, feel free to help! Thanks.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
12/11/14 6:47 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Jhana (or jhanas?) are relatively easy to enter on this point of practice. Comparing the meditation I just had (or the ones I've been having) with the ones I was having around March of this year, the differences are remarkable. This is very satisfying and rewarding to realize.

I am mentioning this today because I've just finished a sit where I dedicated more time for reaching a profound tranquility than I usually do, before starting to look into the 3C's. I was able to enter an unusually calm state and this helped tremendously on gaining insight after I switched to a vipassana approach to the state. I am not sure which jhana it is, but I may investigate this further in the next sessions. (note that I am talking about samatha jhana here.)

-

Practice started as it usually does: I tune up my mindfulness and start to bring the breath into the center of consciousness (of attention). Distracting thoughts and other hindrances are not a big problem right now. I can keep my attention primirely on the breath regardless of what is going on 95% of the time even in the starting minutes, the reason for this being that my mindfulness is at an adequate level. Another important aspect of this reduced difficulty on reaching jhana is because of the first training, Morality, which I have worked on a lot during this year.

After some time, as I said, I started noting the 3C's initially by looking into the impermanence of the breath. After that, other components were added, but I didn't stay much longer in the cushion because I was interrupted by a knock on the door.

--

There is still a long path for me, I guess, before stream entry. Nevertheless, I have become meanwhile a much "better" person and the skills I have cultivated for meditation are as useful as a swiss knife, regardless of all this enlightenment stuff.

Also, about my last post: I am not sure about that! Haha. I rarely am and that is the main reason I was avoiding a "map analysis".

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
12/19/14 8:30 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Still practicing daily, with cushion time usually more than once a day.

Two things are predominant right now, regarding practice evaluation:
1: Both concentration and insight approaches seem to "work".
2: Insight practice seems to have slowed down, both in the vibrations kinda sense and the "progress" kinda sense.

Regarding number 2, let me explain my last sitting.

--

Initially started noticing whatever was happening. Then, after getting some speed, focused only on the breath, quickly noticing the impermanence with moderate speed. Also, no-self was observed time after time through the interconnections of the breath with attention and other phenomena.

After some time, switched to listening to my tinnitus (which was very loud relatively to the lack of exterior noise, since I was using a internal earphone and a headphone, both mute obviously, for noise isolation). The sound of the tinnitus is very complex, with lots of frequencies going on, and frequencies within frequencies and all that jazz. Anyway I was like.. meh.. I was able to spend good amount of time with moderate concentration listening to that "as fast as I could".

When appropriate, I used noting practice to sort out something that my attention grabbed.

After listening to my tinnitus, I opened my eyes and tried to notice every 'viewing' of my vision on a single spot of the floor. Quickly stuff started to move around, like if the floor was actually fluid and mini-earthquakes were going on. These mini-earthquakes started within a 3 inches (10cm) radius of the center of my eyesight but after some time the whole thing (field of view) was intensely shaking. This went back and forth for some time, being more intense in some areas for a minute or two, than switching to another area, etc.

--

Although all this stuff may seem interesting, I still wonder if I am going in the right direction. It was easy some time ago when just sitting and spending 10 minutes in the cushion could bring intense rapture and joyful feelings. It gave a sense of "something is surely working". Now I get a sense of being stuck even though the practice is not uneffective, which is a bit paradoxical. Sometimes I even caught myself wishing for fear/misery even if only to feel something strong again, and also something that is expected on 3rd vipassana jhana, so I can say: yeah, that was a bitch, but its path.

Overall, everything is fine. I'll keep practicing.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
12/29/14 9:58 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
For this past 1~2 weeks I have increased my cushion time significantly and for this reason there are some interesting stuff happening. 2h/day of formal practice has not been uncommon and for me thats quite a lot.

I have started to use a candle for kasina practice, which I had not attempted before. Initially it was hard to concentrate on this new object, but things are getting better quickly. I have even been able to access soft jhana with the image 'burnt' on my vision, a red dot that is very peculiar. On one particular occasion I was meditating with the eyes open, staring at the light for quite some time, when suddenly my eyelids flickered intensely on its own and an explosion of pleasure-waves was there for me to grab (after the eyes were shut). This moderately strong event only happened once, whereas a more delicate, weaker version of it has been more common.

Another change worth mentioning is that I have been using, since yesterday, this anapanasati guide to enhance my breathing practice. I begin by counting the breath from 1 to 5, then 1 to 6, then 1 to 7 [...] then 1 to 10. This is the most basic of the procedures from the Commentaries and its very easy for me, fortunately. Then I try to notice the 'size' or speed of the in-breaths and out-breaths, trying not to miss any in or out-breath. This is reasonably easy, but I still miss some half-breath from time to time in the beginning of this 'section'. After that, when I am very consistent with this section I switch to holding the attention on the entirety of the in-breath and out-breath. Some deviations occur and I miss some parts of some breaths, but overall I'd say I am getting quite good at it.

This has led me to very consistent practice, increasing my mindfulness considerably. Also, I have been able to access soft jhanas, though I still need to really nail it down and make it more stable before I say that I have been mastering concentration states.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/6/15 7:31 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Currently I'm having to deal with a moderately strong pain in the center of the forehead when practicing vipassana. It starts to hurt some 10~15 minutes after I start to notice the 3C's, after I've got some speed going.

When the pain starts I tend to lose focus, and the loss of focus makes me decrease the rhythm of noting/noticing or simply forget to notice entirely, which makes the pain fade away. Then, a few moments later, I notice the loss of focus and start to look into anicca again, making the pain come back.. This cycle repeated a few times. After this I started to look into the impermanence of the pain itself, breaking it into small pulses, making it hurt even more but then a few seconds later the pain went away and I could get back to whatever exercise I was doing.

This pain has been showing up for some time now, maybe a week. It had happened before actually, some months ago, but only in isolated cases, whereas now it is a common thing. Not 100% of the sittings, though.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/8/15 4:48 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
I've been having more dreams than usual lately or, alternatively, I've been remembering them more. Spirituality is a recurring theme.

On one of them, which happened some days/few weeks after my most memorable A&P event (two months ago), I was on a dancing/yoga studio, one of those square-shaped rooms with a wall composed entirely of mirrors. I don't recall if I was there alone, with other people or other copies of myself. I know that I/we were all dancing to the same rhythm, the same pattern and movements. Then when I looked into the mirror I noticed, when I started a particular dance movement, that actually what I was seeing as myself was a mask. For some reason, I instantly attributed it to a Shiva mask. It was blue, a radiating blue. The mask was vibrating on my face and fading away, or maybe strobbing in and out of vision. This made me confused/awed, which caused the whole place to shake as in a earthquake. When things started to get torn apart by the earthquake, I woke up feeling confused. Thoughts about this dream are frequently popping up in my head.

Before I tell the next dream, its worth mentioning that I am actually a Civil Engineering student and that I am looking for a internship to start this semester.

So, in this other dream, a more recent one, I found an announcement in a webpage/newspaper that was a person looking for an engineer to make some projects regarding modifications in a house on a distant village.  The person who had placed the announcement was highly accomplished buddhist (which I recognized by name) and therefore it got my interest. Then I was in the mentioned house, and the buddhist greeted me. I don't remember many details, but what happened was that I heard a woman screaming. When I reached her, I found that the buddhist was making her captive. The man then reached us and tried to kill us. There was a lot of fear involved, but the dream ended shortly after that.

I realize that this is a Practice Log, but in any case I think it is interesting to have this on record here.

This second dream, as I said, was actually very recent, I think 2 or 3 days ago. I am experiencing negative energy within myself constantly. Some times it is barely noticeable, some times it is very strong. Particularly when I wake up there is a lot of negativity within. It even happened once that I screamed (not very loudly though) with anger while lying in bed. Anxiety is also a common feeling.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/25/15 12:34 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
There is much more relief now.. I've been practicing and fortunately I believe I have come to a place of tranquility, after some rough weeks during these last few months. Maybe it is too early say that I have 'stabilized', but anyway I've been feeling better.

I'll keep practicing and hopefully write something more specific later on, just wanted to leave this little message here.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/25/15 12:51 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Thank for you sharing, John. I read upstream a little bit to the post where you talked about A&P and then possible dissolution stage. What is your intention in moving the practice forward? Stream entry, jhanas, brahma viharas, something totally different.

Bill

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/26/15 8:02 PM as a reply to Bill F..
My pleasure, Bill!

My goal is stream entry. I am very interested in samatha jhanas and also the formless realms, but I'll focus on vipassana practice until I finish first path. This seems more reasonable. Therefore I focus on samatha only if I'm going through days with weak concentration.

If I'm not mistaken I wrote twice about possible A&P events on earlier posts. The one which happened in November 2014 was the real deal (or so I believe right now). It was a very strong experience with lots of energy and vibrations everywhere. Also, during the event my 3rd eye area was very active, strongly pulsating with good sensations.. Is there anything specific you'd like to know about it?

I guess I really could use a retreat right now in order to push things further and attain SE, but unfortunately that may not be possible until the middle of the year. In any case I'm happy with my ordinary practice.

Thanks for posting!

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/26/15 8:06 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
No problem. Thanks for posting. It certainly read like A&P. It is very possible to attain stream entry off retreat. I did. But I practiced a lot (4-5 hours a day, more on weekends) for a period of a couple months before it happened. I do not know if that is feasible for you. But I think you are on the right track: My own experience, which may or may not work fo you, was: Note as much as possible on/off cushion. Practice metta when things get difficult. Both build concentration and metta at difficult times can aid the development of eqaunimity that makes it easier to perceive.-Bill

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/26/15 8:16 PM as a reply to Bill F..
During the last few months (from mid November up until now) I've been practicing more than before.. Usually more than 2 hours a day, occasionaly 4 hours a day.. I may not be able to keep this up since I'll get back to work + studies this week. Anyway I truly believe I can make it to SE!

One thing I have to get better at is noting off-cushion. It is not like if I completely separate on/off cushion (I mean, I am mindful in any case) but certainly I have to enhance my "daily-activities game".

Hearing about people who did it out of a retreat gives me a lot of motivation. Thanks! If you have the time, could you share a little bit about your weeks before SE? How were you feeling, what were you doing etc.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
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1/26/15 8:47 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Hi: Yes, I imagine consistency spread across an extended period of time plus actual amount of time sitting, plus actually being willing to push forward, and by that I mean, simply being willing to look at everything, even excitement, spaciousness, etc. is sufficient.

As for your request, sure.
I had been practicing for four or so years at that point. I had been noting heavily, which I had been introduced to by Vince Horn when I was somewhere in very low equanimity/reobservation. Noting really changed things for me. The impermanent aspect of thoughts, feelings, moods, mental impressions became very apparent. There was a deep sense of letting go, also a sense of grief at really realizing I could not hold onto things. Having seen that before, I saw it now in a way that it really sank into my bones, and there was a deep sense of release alongside the sadness. 

Sometimes a couple of weeks after seeing impermanence very clearly I remember suddenly it was like some internal sense of unrest and aversion that had been shuffling internally for a couple of years just suddenly stopped moving. Thoughts would come up/feelings and there was just this wonderful feeling that there was nothing wrong with any of it. It was a tremendously peaceful period. Just an incredily deep profound sense of rightness with the world.
I had been struggling with insomnia for years, and it just went away. All of a sudden I just started going to bed on time. Insomnia had been a major bane in my existence, but I have not seriously struggled with it since that time, which is miraculous in itself. In terms of actual empiral results of practice I had tried everything (sleeping pills, warm baths, etc.), and none of that worked. I routinely had sleepless nights for years. I have not had a sleepless night since, with one exception a couple of months later (and that was several years ago).
I think the equanimity stage hit me very hard because I had been struggling for a while. It was like a bad dream of sorts had been washed away, or rather I had seen that what seemed so terrible was just an extra imposed mistaken perception, and a needless push/pull. Occasionally in the midst of all this I would have hours/periods where I would be overtaken with a strong sense of anxiety, where reality just looked very weird and I felt unhinged. This would give way to deeper levels of open, spaciousness. This spaciousness at times effected me in negative ways. I got honked at by some friends who came upon me at a traffic light sitting way past the light had turned green ha. 
There was also the tremendous sense that something huge was about to happen. I did not know what it was, but it seemed to be this sense of expectation, and excitedness, as though the ground itself was shifting. At least one time that I recall I thought it (stream entry) was about to happen, and it did not. Vince also tried to walk me to it through focusing on a sense of joy and then shifting the attention to the third eye spot on the forehead, but I became overcome with expectation, and it didn't happen. 
I remember practicing several hours a day. It was easy to do. I frequently had vibratory sensations that would grow in potency in my third eye area. I was introduced to out-loud noting by Vince, which seemed strange at first but also really seemed to work, so I used this method which is very useful as it can be easy to become spaced out and lose focus in equanimity. In the days leading up to stream entry, I began to really see very clearly how different sensations (thought, physical sensations, mental impressions) combined to create the sense of a separate identitiy. It was like I had front row seats to the creation of the self, and I could watch it all happen in slow motion, each part of the process. There was a tremendous sense of clarity and liberation and release in seeing this. 
I kept practicing heavily, noting, and when things became difficult using metta to bolster eqaunimity and concentration. And I just did that consistently until stream entry happened one night. I was noting almost up until the moment.
Having read descriptions in MCTB and KFD it was not what I expected, and yet afterward it lined up with what I had read before but did not have the context to understand . Nothing along the way has been, which I think has been a blessing although very disheartening at times. I went through a period of destabilization at some points immediately after stream entry. Daniel warns about this briefly in MCTB I think, but I was still not prepared. 
Sorry I wrote so long. Perhaps I have been waiting to talk about this stuff again as I have not had much occasion to really flesh it out verbally in the years since. It was a very happy and deeply impactful period for me.
Look forward to reading more of your practice.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
1/27/15 5:19 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Good story! Things like insomnia are a real pain.. I once went through a period when I couldn't sleep either, some 3 or 4 years ago.. It is terrible, I agree.. Great that it has gone away ever since!

I began to really see very clearly how different sensations (thought, physical sensations, mental impressions) combined to create the sense of a separate identitiy


I've been having this same experience.. Sometimes I just notice in an instant how my brain is trying so hard to make up a story for "myself", which includes sensory sensations and thought, making the last couple seconds seem like a needless suffering..

Also, I've been having these "space-out" moments which are different from the Dissolution stage.. it is a more pleasant, less clingy "spacing"..

All these things are not yet very clear to me but hopefully they'll be when I look back into this stage from a more insightful perspective.

It was like I had front row seats to the creation of the self, and I could watch it all happen in slow motion, each part of the process


It is very interesting to know this is possible in such a clear way.. I'd say I'm getting good hints of this process (as I said above) but nothing that much clear.

I'll keep posting! Have a good one.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
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2/1/15 2:45 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
I'm having frequent dropouts while meditating, even when I'm not that much tired. I'm there, after stablishing concentration and noting with consistency, then some time passes and I'm "back" after buying into some story.. It is not a "regular" buying in.. it kind of involves a distraction in a deeper layer. Not very easy to explain. In any case a sort of equanimity persists through all that. There is no reprimend for the distraction, there's just an okayness. All of this feels good and natural.

Sometimes this good equanimous feeling gets more intense for a couple of minutes. Maybe intense is not the right word.

Unfortunately I'm meditating much less these past few days. Free time is scarce now during weekdays.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
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4/9/15 7:30 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Well, there's not much going on lately regarding practice. I've been having good and bad days, as usual. Things are less intense now since I've not been meditating regularly. Honestly I don't know where I'm at in the path, or even if the path is actually what I thought it to be. I may think I'm very close to attaining something great right now. In two hours I may think otherwise. This sensation of being adrift is unsettling.

Sometimes amazing stuff happen in my life which are clearly "mystical" in nature and this makes me motivated. Alternatively the day may pass as a blur without any real "content" in it, making me whither. Yesterday I was radiating with happiness, today I am almost screaming with anger/sadness. To which point this is connected to my spiritual training I don't know, it could be 0 to 100%.

There are some stuff that I need to improve in my life and I take it as an aspect of training in Morality. Some goals that I have that are not being properly taken care of make me kind of beat myself up, though I realize this is not helpful.

Also, I have visited an local buddhist centre, a mahayana one, about one month ago. Story for another time, but in short it was.. 'ok'.

RE: john.watcher's explorations
Answer
4/22/15 7:34 PM as a reply to john.watcher.
Wow, Ive been quite happy since yesterday.

I was meditating after having lunch with some friends. Sitting on my cushion, as usual, but this time I thought it to be a good idea to have my small buddha statue right on my sight. Things were going on as usual, but with some extra intensity. The 3C's were very obvious at a certain point, when a train of thought passed through my mind and at the same time a nearby car passed on the street. The passing of the car kind of brought me back from the train of thought. More like snapped me back actually, with a sudden intensity.

When the sensation passed away I noticed something very profound/ridiculous/incredible about it. I could only laugh. Actually, more like a smile, but a laugh nonetheless. It was such a huge unnecessary suffering. Such a illusory thing. I don't actually remember exactly what the thought/sensation was about. The content actually didn't have much importance I guess. Regardless, it was a huge burden. When my mind noticed and 'disengaged', something quickly 'flashed'.

Shortly after that my upper spine and neck started tickling, with an increasing intensity. I felt good and peaceful, and happy! I'm with almost with a constant smile on my face since yesterday. I also feel much more present, as if my mindfulness was set into a higher tuning.

Honestly I am not sure what all of that means regarding the progress of insight and the path. Maybe A&P again? I'm not sure. It felt very different from the explosion of intensity and vibrations of the A&P some months ago, which involved lots of flux of energy, third eye stuff, emotions, and also lasted much longer. This time, it was something quick. I think a good analogy would be that the one back then was a flamethrower, while this one was a cannon fire. (omg violent analogies! run! heh..)

Well, there is no rush. I guess in a few days/weeks I'll know more about it.

Anyway, I'd like to leave here a HUGE thanks to anyone who helped me up until now, regardless of whether the person will read this or not. Daniel Ingram has forever my most profound gratefulness, along with the DhO community. Also, anyone reading this, please feel hugged. Thank you too!