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Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry Gerry V 8/10/14 2:33 AM
RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry Richard Zen 8/10/14 12:12 PM
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RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry Gerry V 8/21/14 1:54 AM
RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry Gerry V 8/10/14 5:39 PM
Hello to anyone reading this. I finally decided to start a practice log as it seems as if that's the best shot I have at doing things the right way. A little background.

Have had several years now in what I now know as the Dark Night. First passed the A&P (that I can remember) one day when I smoked a lot of weed and decided to meditate (I was about 16). I closed my eyes, and did as I usually did, followed the breath in and out. Kept at it, next thing I know, I see a light in my mind, and feel myself being pulled up from the head, best feeling I'd ever had during meditation, never again to be replicated at the intensity and pleasure of that day. I'm sure I've hit the A&P other times, weed always brought out a certain introspective and concentrated side to me that led to lots of "inner" exploration and strange energetic things. I have had much trouble with Dark Night symptoms for awhile, but I'm finally at a point where I see light at the end of the tunnel if I continue practice.

Now to the present. I started Noting seriously about a month ago. I was always aversive to Noting just because I had had good experiences with just following the breath, and I didn't want to change techniques now, but I'm glad to have started. I can safely say that, in my experience, the best way for me to get to Equanimity is by noting. It takes me about 20 or 30 minutes (altough I seem to be improving on how quick I can get there) of noting for me to pass through the shitty feelings, then my mind feels more expansive and although the feeligns are still there, they are no longer a "problem", they're sort of just there. If I continue noting, the shitty feelings subside even more and my body feels relaxed and awareness is more panoramic. I'm pretty sure I've hit something close to High Equanimity a few times before. I got to a point about a week ago where senses were sort've morphed into each other, with no real distinguishable sense, if that makes sense, like if someone threw a bucket of different colors on a wall and the colors are sort've meshed together. Also at that point, I could actually see thoughts before they turned into thoughts, I sort've visualized them as wisps of clouds that when I noticed vanished before they turned into anything. I've had some adrenaline-y feeling come up at points at just how quiet and open things get, I guess I'm just so used to harsh sensations that when I get to that point in my meditation, I get scared, like I have nothing to hold onto. I note the fear and feelings and they subside, but it seems as if it sort've knocks me down the Equanimity ladder when I hit it. I don't know if it's just me wanting Stream Entry, and anticipating, or what, but I do my best to let go of those desires and note them when I can.

So do I continue what I'm doing any stay noting away, or am I going to have to let go of noting when I get to High Equanimity? I've tried doing the one syllable "that" note, and it seems to work well as long as my concentration is pretty decent, if it's not decent, then I just note with more specific words to avoid falling into thought stories.

Also, I've read that seeing the 3 characteristics is a very reliable way to get Stream Entry, but how do I "see" them? I've tried saying "not me" as a note (because if "I" note "it", "it" isn't "me"), but I'm not sure if I'm deluding myself or not, so I haven't tried that as of late. The impermanence I understand intellectually, but I don't know if I'm seeing things disappear. I just note new sensations or sensations that seem to be constant. The suffering seems the one I seem to know the best, although I don't know if I need to see it in a specific way. I don't know, I'm just throwing things out there that I've sort've been wondering about.

Practice time has been sort've been dropping off as of late. I started almost 3 weeks ago with a very sincere plan to hit Stream Entry and I started out for about 7 or 8 days meditating 1 hour on, 1 hour off, so more than 6 hours at least a day. But now as days have gone by, my practice time has gone down to 5 hours, then 4, then 3, now I'm doing about 2 hours at least, every day.

Today I've done a total of an hour, with another hour that I'll do before bed tonight. Started off with shitty feelings, general tension in the body, noted all sensations that I could, until I hit Equanimity, kept noting and felt like a feeling of relaxed well being surrounded my head. Also during this, and several other meditation sessions, I've felt what feels like a pressure, sort've feels good type of feeling in my forehead, not sure what it is, but feels kinda good, and I note it as well. Seems to go away most of the time if I note it. I forgot a lot of little details, but I'll update as soon as I finish my sessions so they can be fresh in my mind when I right it down.

So this concludes my first post, if you'd like to leave any advice, or comments, or answer any questions you are very welcome to do so. I'm a sponge, so I'm just looking to absorb all the information I can. Thank you for reading.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/10/14 12:12 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:

So do I continue what I'm doing any stay noting away, or am I going to have to let go of noting when I get to High Equanimity? I've tried doing the one syllable "that" note, and it seems to work well as long as my concentration is pretty decent, if it's not decent, then I just note with more specific words to avoid falling into thought stories.

Also, I've read that seeing the 3 characteristics is a very reliable way to get Stream Entry, but how do I "see" them? I've tried saying "not me" as a note (because if "I" note "it", "it" isn't "me"), but I'm not sure if I'm deluding myself or not, so I haven't tried that as of late. The impermanence I understand intellectually, but I don't know if I'm seeing things disappear. I just note new sensations or sensations that seem to be constant. The suffering seems the one I seem to know the best, although I don't know if I need to see it in a specific way. I don't know, I'm just throwing things out there that I've sort've been wondering about.
Continue noting.  It's good to practice just bare awareness at times but the noting can help if you're getting slack.  Ultimately noticing what's there is the most important part of noting.  Noting is just a feedback loop to keep you honest in your consistency.  When you get comfortable with bare awareness I still would keep noting for difficult to see patterns.  Labeling patterns helps with the understanding.  I find that "confusion", and "strategizing", "analyzing", and "rehearsing" are areas that should be noted because a subtle sense of self is hidden there.  

I also would look at time and how our understanding of our self-story is through time thinking.  Noting "past", and "future" thinking can help you locate the present moment concept.  That concept is basically short-term memory.  Trying to find the present moment is a powerful tool in seeing emptiness of all experience.  This is because all measurements (including time measurements) can be fractioned infinitely.  Whatever happens moves into the past instantaneously.  You can do this in just normal experience.  Some like to note "gone" but you have to notice that gone is happening more rapidly than that your note.

The three characteristics I find works best when you look at impermanence first and then notice how clinging to things that are impermanent cause stress and because you can't permanently own anything that's impermanent then there can't be a permanent self to rest in.  

The difficulty is that you need to develop more depth and knowledge while not getting bogged down in complexity.  Investigating the 4 foundations of mindfulness is a lot of detail.

For stream-entry most people who've attained it say that you need to do retreat work to increase your chance of it and that you must develop equanimity towards all experiences (including thinking and intentions) so the brain lets go of preferences.  Gil Fronsdal in one talk I listened to plainly said that if you didn't get nibbana it's because you want something else more, hence most people follow a gradual path.  You basically have to want nibbana more than anything else.  This is where the habitual wants and aversions appears to distract your progress.  This is where wanting nibbana as a concept gets in the way of equanimity towards all formations.  So keep letting go of the push and pull towards any experience.

When you get to the point that everything is like reflecting on a mirror of consciousness you have to investigate consciousness and how it's strung together like a movie film with frames.  Impulses of consciousness.  But remember consciousness isn't seeing strobing just in vision but all the senses and thinking. That requires a lot of concentration and I'm still working on this.

Good luck!

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/10/14 5:39 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Time spent sitting : 56 minutes

Started the sit with unpleasant sensations in the chest and neck area, noted them as they came and went. Things started to expand, felt sense of the room felt wider, sensations still a bit unpleasant, but not as much of a problem. Felt pleasant preasure-y feeling in the middle of my forehead, noted and eventually went away. Dropped specific noting in place for "that" noting, seemed to help me note faster as well as started seeing vibrations in my visual field. Thoughts of progress came up, and how I could get "there", but I noted them, and reminded myself that there is no "there" to go to. Continued to note "that", sometimes would go back to specific noting if my mind kept getting stuck on thought loops of progress. Time definitely felt slower, I actually thought I had been meditating for at least an hour and a half, maybe even 2 hours, not sure if that's good, bad, or nothing of importance, but just thought I'd share. Also, I had a strange thing happen to me a bit after I let go of the specific notes. The feeling in the middle of my forehead came back, and even grew a bit in intensity, but this time, I could see a white light strobing in and out for I'd estimate about 10 or a bit more seconds. Strange. Not sure what it was, but it was kinda cool, noted it anyway. Also, at one point, it felt as if "I" was watching my body, as if the watcher was exclusively in the head region, and the body was sort of "down there". Sensations of the body were there, but very faint. Also at another point, when the sensation in the forehead region were kinda annoying and strong, I physically touched my forehead and the feelings immediately went away, must have something to do with focus or something.


So that's about all I can remember from the first sit, will sit at least another hour a bit later and will post anything new or interesting that pops up.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/10/14 6:04 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Definitely consistency. I can see how that is going to be a key to progress. I learned that lesson outside meditation when I started weight lifting. The most important thing for me was going in the gym and doing the work, no matter how I felt. Just do the reps. Months later, I was stronger and looked better that I had in years. So I can definitely see this helping me. Thank you for the reminder.

I also have learned to note tricky patterns as well. "striving" "anticipating" even "space" when there seems to be nothing to note but the background itself.
I also see how time can get tricky as I notice that as soon as I note something, the actual experiencing of it at the moment has already passed.

I saw what seemed to be vibrations in my field of vision, flickerings that were too fast to audibly note, maybe that's an experience of more subtle impermanence. The suffering seems quite apparent to me just from the shitty sensations and the striving and disappoint when the thing I strive for doesn't happen.

The wanting Stream Entry is definitely my biggest obstacle I'd say. It's quite paradoxical how wanting it can prevent it from happening, but letting go of the wanting can open the door to actually getting it. Quite frustrating, but I note those instances as well.

Another thing that I'm noticing is that longer sits where I sort've "challenge" myself to go for longer than I want or than I planned are seemingly helping me progress and see subtle things that I usually don't see in planned sits. Sort of reminds me of weight lifting in that you have to actually challenge previous workout sessions to progress and build strength and muscle. Not quite the same I'm sure, but somewhat similar.

Thank you for your reply Richard

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/17/14 2:49 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
So I'm still doing what I can, but I'd be lying if I said I've felt further progress. Past few days (about 3 or 4) have been especially rough. No energy, LOTS of pain, weird aches, feelings of heat and exhaustion, lots of anxiety. I moved on from pure noting to trying a more concentration, follow the breath, type meditation because I felt as if I wasn't really progressing anymore with noting. Started off decent, then about 2 days ago concentrating was just tougher. Now when I sit and concentrate on the breath it almost feels as if the shitty feeling get amplified and get worse. I try and push on, but today I kinda just gave up about 10 minutes in because the shitty feeling were so overwhelming (sweating and tensions throughout the body). I don't get it. I thought concentration was supposed to calm you down not rile you up. Maybe it's just the Dark Night territory and I just need to work through the feelings and push on through and stay with the object of meditation. I kinda want to go back to choiceless awareness noting, but I feel as if I probably need more concentration. Who knows. Today I layed down and just let awareness be sort've choiceless and the tension wasn't as bad as when I was concentrating on the breath. It's as if when I concentrate on the breath the shitty feelings are amplified, especially around the head area, and also around the chest and neck. Maybe I just need to go back to the breath again and again regardless of shitty feelings. Leaves me feeling kinda lost to feel like I cant get calm even though I can keep track of the breath pretty continously, it's just not pleasant, at least not at the beginning. I dont know. I just want Stream Entry. I just feel as if I don't have the energy at times, and then I get discouraged by feeling terrible. I know that Stream Entry is probably not the final thing I'd be looking for, not the final answer, but I really cant imagine anything worse than this. I've learned what I need to from this Dark Night, I just want out of it, finally.

Sorry for the, probably, jumbled mess. I just need advice, or encouragement, or both. Should I do choiceless awareness again with noting? Should I continue concentrating on the breath even though it seems to agitate me and stick to it? Seemed to be working well when I began it again a few days ago. What to do, what to do.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/17/14 10:48 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Sat today in a different fashion than the past few days (about a 30 minute sit). Sat in choiceless awareness. Shitty Dark Night feelings were there, but not too much of an issue after awhile. Focused on the breath for a few minutes until I felt my attention was too forced, so switched back to choiceless awareness, kept repeating this throughout the session. Seemed to work well.

One thing I noticed is that during choiceless awareness, I am quite good at seeing what's going on in my sense field. Noting things actually felt sort've stressful, as if I was grasping on to feelings. Had a weird head tension feeling whenever I noted things, so I just let my consciousness do what it did and just noticed what was going on. Noticed 3 characteristics as well as I could. Definitely more of calm approach than forcing concentration. Let go of wanting any result as much as I could, and just was content to let things sit. Towards the end of the session definitely hit something in between Re-Ob, and Equanimity, maybe late Re-Ob early EQ. Shitty feeling were still there, but not much of a problem, also bad feeling were starting to die down.

Also during the sit, I remembered an article in the Hamilton Project website about unfabricated awareness where you sort've see things in a peripheral way, and not in a focused way. Not "focusing" on things doesn't prevent me from seeing the phenomena that's happening in my consciousness either, so maybe that can be a fruitful practice.

So from now on, I'll stick to mostly choiceless awareness with some concentration on the breath whenever I'm not too agitated.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/18/14 5:27 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I see a lot of my own experiences in your posts, I think we have a somewhat similar practice history and are in a similar stage. I also find concentration can often make things worse, and modulate between concentration and open awareness. 
I am looking forward to hearing about how your progress goes.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/21/14 1:54 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
So I've been keeping on keeping on with practice. Bare awareness is the best thing, I intuitively feel, is the best for me at the moment. I notice that whenever something negative, or even pleasant comes up, it seems as if the stress in my sits come from the actual separating and focusing on phenomena. I feel like the focusing on phenomena actually takes the shape of scrunching my brow, or even just a felt pressure behind the eye when I section something off from my experience, as if "I'm" looking at it, even though the "I" can be sensed. I don't stress about looking for anything, I'm just letting things come up, and as I do, I notice patterns of separation come up, things that I focus and stress about. In the beginning of my sessions, it's grosser pains and feelings that are noticed, but then as I let go of them by treating all sensations and feelings neutrally, things start dropping off, and the body feels calmer. My mindfulness is good too. I notice what's going on, and I dont wander into stories as much, and when I do, I'm fairly quick to snap out of it. Whenever I focus on something, I sort've look away from it, and peripheralize it symbolically with my vision treating it as another set of sensations, remembering that things are happening without the need to "look" at or for them. I picked this tip up in a Hamilton Project post called Periphery/Center, or something like that. I'm not sure if what I'm doing is what he's saying in the post, but it seems to work, and it's not like I don't notice phenomena when I peripheralize them, I just don't bare down on them. Things seem to be progressing, but I'm really not looking for much at this point, just enjoying the fact that the crazy pains I was having when I tried to force concentration practice are going away. Still facing general stress and the usual, but I don't feel as stressed by doing what I've been doing lately. Seems as if I'm noticing ways in which I bare down on things and stress myself out.

Anywho, that's it for today. Maybe tomorrow I'll right another post that's more concise, as this post is probably all jumbled as I had a few drinks tonight with a friend.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
8/21/14 2:05 AM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
Thank you.

Concentration seems to be too forced for me at this stage, I just can't sustain the willpower it takes to focus on one thing. Bare awareness is nice for me since I can notice most everything that comes up, I just tend to get caught up in certain feelings and sensations. I'm going to keep at it, no sense in stressing myself out unnecessarily if it's not required. If we are in the same boat, then I hope we both continue progressing towards that other side. Everyday I'm noticing that this journey is not one that can be forced. Seems everything must be let go of eventually to attain path, so worrying about when I'll get it is another subtle attachment that seems to have been beaten out of me. Or at least keeps being beaten out of me, until it's finally gone. emoticon

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/4/14 9:36 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Haven't posted an update in awhile so here goes.

I've continued practice everyday since the last update. I've maybe missed one day of practice, but other than that I've continued. My practice as of late has consisted of returning to noting. I had posted in another thread that noting was just too stressful for me, but I've adjusted it to fit me. Now when I notice something that my awareness takes a hold of, I notice it and follow it up by saying "not me" or "not mine". I feel like that's a good way for me to note no-self in my experience. Somehow for me, labeling things such as "heat, pain, coolness, etc.." still had me identifying with them. So now noting takes on a quality of recognizing that things aren't me, or don't even belong to me. I hope I'm not deluding myself, but this is how I'm interpreting the second point in an article on The Hamilton Project titled "The Yogi Toolbox: What Should I do to get Stream Entry". Makes more sense to remind myself of the fact that things aren't me, especially all these abrasive Dark Night sensations. I also do Bare Awareness if I find myself too bothered by noting. Seems like most of the day I'm alternating between Dark Night shitty feelings... and Equanimity when I sit down to meditate, although the Dark Night feelings return again after at most 2 hours of decent feeling Equanimity. That is incentive enough for me to continue to break down the illusion of self.

Also a question for anybody who might be reading and might have an answer... When I notice something, it seems like my eyes are "looking" at things. So when I note something not self, is it correct for me to sort've look away from the sensation after I objectify it? I tend to do that when I notice myself clinging onto something, I "grasp" it with my eye attention, and I intentionally look away after I note it. I dont know if it's necesarry but it seems to metaphorically and somewhat literally allow me to let go of things. Seems as if that's the problem in this stage of practice, my attention gets caught up in harsh sensations. Seems like the clinging onto the thing is the problem "to be solved" to arrive at Stream Entry (that thing being every single thing attention gets caught up in until nothing is clinged to). I don't know. I'm just throwing out things that I've been noticing and coming to cautious conclusions of, although I'm not 100% certain, and am willing to change opinions if a more appropriate conclusion is made.

Another thing that I've noticed and have come to a pretty decent conclusion of is that the Dark Night, and probably Equanimity to an extent, really can fuck up your ability to focus. Writing this is a real struggle to be honest, and reading comprehension can get pretty foggy too. Maybe it's stage specific... hopefully. Focus seems to be stressful because there are so many other attention grabbing sensations all around that focusing on what I intend to focus on is quite difficult many times. I sort've imagine it like looking down a tunnel, but all around the tunnel walls are flashing red dots. The looking down the tunnel is the intended focus and the red dots are all the shitty or otherwise distracting feelings.

Also I've noticed that moderate exercise, or better yet, somewhat vigorous exercise followed by a day or two of rest is great for dealing with anxiety type Dark Night feelings. Drinking plenty of water as well as eating fruits and veggies everyday is helpful. So I guess I've picked up some really good and healthy habits even for after I get 1st path, whenever that might be.

Sooo there's my update, sorry it's not more concise or thorough but it's hard to focus at the moment, but I appreciate this community and all the posts everyone posts up. I always pick up something from threads even if they don't seem to relate to what I'm specifically dealing. I'm definitely more of a lurker but it does help to post updates every so often. So anyway, have to go. Thanks for reading.

P.S.: It's kind of weird that this is a journal and yet I'm addressing it as if I'm reaching an audience, I don't know, kind of think it's funny how it kinda clicked for me right after I finished. Ok enough writing, bye.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/4/14 9:54 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:

Also a question for anybody who might be reading and might have an answer... When I notice something, it seems like my eyes are "looking" at things. So when I note something not self, is it correct for me to sort've look away from the sensation after I objectify it? I tend to do that when I notice myself clinging onto something, I "grasp" it with my eye attention, and I intentionally look away after I note it. I dont know if it's necesarry but it seems to metaphorically and somewhat literally allow me to let go of things. Seems as if that's the problem in this stage of practice, my attention gets caught up in harsh sensations. Seems like the clinging onto the thing is the problem "to be solved" to arrive at Stream Entry (that thing being every single thing attention gets caught up in until nothing is clinged to). I don't know. I'm just throwing out things that I've been noticing and coming to cautious conclusions of, although I'm not 100% certain, and am willing to change opinions if a more appropriate conclusion is made. 

I don't think it matters if you linger on the object or look away from it, as long as the action is taken without clinging or aversion.  Usually, to look away from something to divert your mind is a subtle form of aversion, but that may or may not be the case for you.  Perhaps next time you look away from an object, examine your intentions behind the action and note what you find.

One trick I've found useful recently in regards to clinging, is when I notice that I'm clinging or craving for something, say stream entry, I just say to myself, "Okay, crave away!"  And the feeling vanishes.  Its as though once we give some mental thought stream explicit permission it stops in it's tracks.  I haven't had any tough dark nights recently, but I hypothesize that it could work well there too.  Just tell youself, "alright, be miserable, I'll just watch."

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/4/14 10:21 PM as a reply to Teague.
Yeah, when I look away, it's more of a representation of me saying that this is not more important than everything else. It's just another sensation. I do that because I tend to notice that those feelings are given higher importance than others and I can get stuck on a sort've loop where nothing else matters besides a certain feeling. Also it's followed up by a "not mine" note.

I can definitely see how that trick can be helpful. I'll give it a shot whenever a tricky craving comes up. The craving for Stream Entry is interesting beacuse without it and I wouldn't want to meditate, I wouldn't know what the point of what I'm going through is... but also, craving Stream Entry is another thing being held onto. Then again, I note that like everything else, I'm treating it all as if it were all the same, and not me.

As for your DN not being terrible recently, that's good! It's probably not necessary to suffer as much as people do. I think my suffering is the culmination of bad habits in response to the DN I've had since I was 16 or so, which is nearly 10 years. So I think that I compiled a lot of bad habits and aversions as well as bad cravings. I think that these patterns probably need to get burned out gradually, or at least enough for me to experience a cessation moment. I think if I would've known what I was in when I first got in it, and how to work on it to get out, I would've been far ahead of where I am. In the end I'm just greatful that I found this website. I honestly don't know where I'd be without it, they don't teach this stuff in school. I only recently am finding what techniques work for me. It's probably only been a solid maybe year of practice, if that, that I've been doing the right thing and going in the right direction. So I think catching it (the DN) early before you build up so many aversions to it is probably way better and is probably why there's such a wide set of experiences of the DN.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/15/14 11:24 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Quick update, or at least, I'll try and keep it quick. Gonna just flow with this.

So, a few days after my last post, can't remember exactly what day, something shifted. The way I related to sensations sort've changed into something not so bothersome. Shitty sensations were still coming, but there was no resistance. I was actually kind of happy. Happier than I've felt, all day long, in a long time. My concentration was really good. It was strange. My concentration was seriously so bad before this. I guess the bad concetration was mostly due to aversion to the shitty, messy, irritating background sensations. Now this might seem like a weird example, but playing video games was easier. Before, I couldn't focus because it was just too irritating, but I was doing really well in the actual video game. Or another example. During conversations, I could actually hold a nice conversation with someone and not be irritated. Quite unusual for me nowadays. Things were easier to do, like physical exercise. I was actually very calm and felt pretty nice.

I continued practice, but not as much as before. I sat for 10 minutes here, and 15 minutes there, nothing too serious, but I felt good, and my concentration was good too, so what the heck. I'm making progress still right? Wrong.

About 3 or 4 days ago, I woke up feeling super shitty. Feeling hot all over my body. Pin prickly sensations were back, and concentration was terrible again. All in a matter of a day it seemed like. Looking back at it now, my backtracking probably wasn't so sudden. I got seriously complacent. My meditation time and quality was just not what it was when those shit feelings were there. Suffering sure does motivate me to meditate, and I know this now at a deeper level than I used to.

So, here I am, today. Still feeling sort've shitty, but I regained my passion for meditation again. I'm back to noting, this time with appropriate words such as heat, pressure, coolness, pleasant, instead of the "not me" notes. I feel like specific noting keeps me in check and I'm more present and not lost in thought when I do this. I slowly feel like my concentration is getting better as well.

Today I began with a noting session of about 25 minutes right as I woke up. Just noting sensations in my body. Then thoughts came. Noted those with no problem. Things got quiet, so I noted space. I seemed to hit my cutting edge and back to sensations again. Just did a 40-ish minute session, but this time I did concentration. Shitty feelings come up, heat, pressure all noticed or noted. Things got a little quiet, then things settled down a bit. Ended the session with some choiceless awareness noting, because my head was hurting a bit. So I have a question. Whenever I focus on the breath (at the nostrils), even if I "focus" on that, I can't help but notice background sensations, especially shitty ones. I can't ignore it, and from what I understand, it's probably not a good idea to ignore them, as that's probably a sort of aversion. So do I just notice the sensations and stay on the breath as well? It feels like it's a big mess of sensations soup when I focus on the breath. I focus on the breath, but I just don't have the ability to single out the breath. Do I integrate all sensations and sort've breathe with the sensations? Seems right, but I'm not sure. If there's another way, I can't imagine how.

So there's my jumbled up update. Just gonna keep on keeping on. If I hit what I think was some sort of Equanimity baseline again, I will do my best to continue noting. Seems like that's the problem around where I'm at. Not wanting to practice when things are easier.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/16/14 12:08 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
So I have a question. Whenever I focus on the breath (at the nostrils), even if I "focus" on that, I can't help but notice background sensations, especially shitty ones. I can't ignore it, and from what I understand, it's probably not a good idea to ignore them, as that's probably a sort of aversion. So do I just notice the sensations and stay on the breath as well? It feels like it's a big mess of sensations soup when I focus on the breath. I focus on the breath, but I just don't have the ability to single out the breath. Do I integrate all sensations and sort've breathe with the sensations? Seems right, but I'm not sure. If there's another way, I can't imagine how.
If you are doing concentration ignore everything that is not the object of focus (air tickling nostril) if you are doing insite stay with the predominant sensation. Don't mix the two till you get pretty good at concentration, than you can mix and hybrid them together.

Gerry V:
If I hit what I think was some sort of Equanimity baseline again, I will do my best to continue noting. Seems like that's the problem around where I'm at. Not wanting to practice when things are easier.
That is the big ol' trap of EQ....don't fall for it....it leads back to re-ob or starts the whole cycle over. (we all been there and done that...) Learn how to note again in EQ and keep moving up to high EQ....then drift....a little....
Good luck,
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/19/14 11:21 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Another thing that I've noticed and have come to a pretty decent conclusion of is that the Dark Night, and probably Equanimity to an extent, really can fuck up your ability to focus. Writing this is a real struggle to be honest, and reading comprehension can get pretty foggy too. Maybe it's stage specific... hopefully. Focus seems to be stressful because there are so many other attention grabbing sensations all around that focusing on what I intend to focus on is quite difficult many times. I sort've imagine it like looking down a tunnel, but all around the tunnel walls are flashing red dots. The looking down the tunnel is the intended focus and the red dots are all the shitty or otherwise distracting feelings.

Also I've noticed that moderate exercise, or better yet, somewhat vigorous exercise followed by a day or two of rest is great for dealing with anxiety type Dark Night feelings. Drinking plenty of water as well as eating fruits and veggies everyday is helpful. So I guess I've picked up some really good and healthy habits even for after I get 1st path, whenever that might be.

P.S.: It's kind of weird that this is a journal and yet I'm addressing it as if I'm reaching an audience, I don't know, kind of think it's funny how it kinda clicked for me right after I finished. Ok enough writing, bye.

Boy can I relate to this.

1. Attention and focus are all over the place. Reading is difficult but what's even more challenging is comprehension. Memory is also all fogged up.

2. I haven't exercised in 3 months and my quality of life has dramitally worsened. My eating habits have become worse, I eat about 70% processed garbage food.

It feels good to relate to someone else going through the DN. It feels worse knowing you are in the DN and not having the motivation to practice. Looking forward to reading more of your log Gerry.

PS: Now that I look back on my post and the other posts I've written here, its all about me and my experience. I apologize for not adding anything constructive emoticon

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/23/14 2:56 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Quick little update.

This past weekend was kinda hectic. My body and mind are still recovering from the after effects of some special event celebrations. Continued practice at least twice a day for those days, so that's a plus. Feeling kind of out of it and low energy. Probably due to too much drinking and not enough sleep, but I've remained quite equanimous towards the feelings. Not too proud of the overdrinking, but I feel the need to mention it as it might have some significance to where I'm at and how I'm feeling.

Have done a bit of metta at the starts of sits every once in awhile. Feels kind of nice, even though I'm pretty sure I don't have a great clue as to if I'm doing it correctly. I do some "May I be healthy" and some "May I be happy" ones, then switch onto family, and friends. Like I said, not sure if 'm doing it correctly, but it helps me concentrate and saying positive things can't be a bad thing, right?

After my warmup metta, I go to following my breath at the nostrils and I just notice what pulls my attention from the breath. Usually it's shitty sensations that do it, but I've learned to be ok with the feelings and just watch and note them. Feelings start falling away, breath gets finer, start noticing subtler tensions that pull my attention, notice them, note when I can, rinse repeat for a good 25 to 50+ minutes (If it's a good session). Usually end sessions with a nice bare awareness, noticing what's going on type of deal. Usually gets me kind of sleepy, but I'm aware so that's cool.

Baseline seems to be more Equanimous, although I'm not sure I'd call it that. Maybe an early Equanimity if I'm being quite honest. Don't feel great, but not terrible. Sort've bored, but not sure if it's the after effects of the weekend. My practice continues though, I know I can't stop if I don't want to fall back. Not really worried too much with getting Stream Entry as I was. I mean, I still want it, don't get me wrong, but when I sit I'm not thinking about it, just noticing tensions and placing the attention back to the breath. We'll see what happens though.

So, good luck to all of you who are striving well towards your meditation goals. I think we can all do it, it might just take some of us more than others and that's cool, we all go at our own pace. Can't rush these things.

And that concludes my little update. Thanks for reading.

Edit:
I forgot to add that on Sunday I had sleep paralysis. Usually I REALLY freak out and my heart races out of my chest, and I basically panic to the max to try and wake up. Sunday was different. I was conscious about it, but I wasn't really freaking out. It was uncomfortable, but I just observed the state and slowly willed myself to wake up so I could turn my fan on. Quite strange how calm I was with it. Never had happened before that way.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/23/14 12:37 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Thanks for your reply Dreamwalker.

I've tried to only pay attention to the tip of my nostrils and bring it back when I notice something else, but it feels like when I do that without spending a few moments to just look at it and note it, the sensations tend to stay and bother me. I don't know why. I used to actually be good at ignoring the sensations and going back to the breath, but now I'm kinda not (although that was years ago, and probably pre-A&P). Feels better to, I guess, Vipassinize (probably made that word up) the sensations that bother me and notice them and then go back to the breath. I feel like I'm running from the feelings if I don't.

I don't know for sure if the practice is right, but it feels right, and I haven't felt sure about a practice I think ever. Just intuitively feels right and is leading to what seems to be EQ. Then again maybe my concentration is good enough to do both concentration and insight as a hybrid and that's what I've been doing lately. My concentration is good enough to stay with what's going on and not be too distracted by thoughts, I don't know though, I have no baseline for what good concentration is so who knows.

I appreciate the feedback though Dreamwalker. I've been reading the forums everyday for the past few weeks and of and on for the past few months and the feedback people give is great. I've learned more here then I probably would've ever learned if I wouldn't have found this website. So again, thank you.

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
9/23/14 12:54 AM as a reply to Jake.
Hey no worries. We're all kind of selfish to be posting about our lives, but I like to think of it as a good selfish. Other people
s personal posts have helped me out tremendously. Even knowing someone else is going through what you are helps. I want Stream Entry not only to end my suffering, but to help others out as well. If there's one thing I've (painfully) learned, it's that people are really suffering. So if I suffer less I feel like I can probably handle their suffering better as well. Not in a holy type of way, but in a more day to day normal way.

Oh and as for eating well, I'd recommend eating some veggies every day. 2 servings. Some fruit helps as well. We were meant to have those in our lives, so that will help you feel better. Might not get rid of all Dark Night symptoms, but whatever can help is always nice. Also, drink plenty of water. Make a conscious decision to drink more water. You'll feel better. Exercising moderately helps as well. A nice walk, or a jog can help you feel better. Sleeping a good 7-9 hours a night also helps, so do that for sure if you can. If you're prone to anxiety as I am, avoid caffeine. Won't get rid of anxiety completely, but it will help. And just keep practicing if you can and if you're ready. That seems to be the thing that frees us from the DN the most.

Good luck Jake.

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
10/7/14 7:09 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Quick update.

My baseline seems to have moved up from DN to late Re Ob/Low EQ. I do find that I hit higher EQ in sits, and also that I cycle back down to Re Ob from time to time, although the frequncy of that seems to be going down. Motivation to practice is down, but I think that's due to the shitty sensations either ceasing to bother me, or just plain not showing up anymore. Pain motivates the hell out of me to practice. I do remind myself just how bad Re Ob is so I try and at least do 20 minute sits when I don't feel like, or am not motivated to sit.

Things I've noticed include my ability to read is back. For a time I found reading comprehension just not there. My libido is much better. During the DN my libido was almost nonexistant. Somewhat paradoxical to the reading comprehension is the fact that my focus is wider. Feels somewhat relaxed outside of meditation, and during meditation I can notice the space surrounding me, I've gotten to what seems like infinite space. Energy is relaxed, just want to rest most of the time, exercising is down, but I almost don't need it to control stress, noting things is working much better than that, although I will go for a jog today. Pains are also way lower in intesity and frequency. Also, a few days ago while I was picking up the remote control, my hand seemed foregn to me, like it was me watching a hand picking up a control instead of "me" moving my hand. Pretty cool.

As for actual technique, I have continued to note. I can't believe how much time I wasted resisiting the technique, but I'm really seeing the benefits that the practice has for me. Note when I can throughout the day, but I make sure to meditate everyday. If it's not a couple longer sits, I do various smaller sits. Noting what shows up to me, and when things get super quiet and it seems that there's nothing to note, I try and look for the "looker" which usually leads to some pressure in the third eye area, or the actual eye. I note that as "attention, focus, pressure, slight pain" depending on how the "looker" is "looking" so to speak. Noted "space" today as things got very wide. I also notice the relay of information that seems to happen in the eye area. Like for example my tv makes weird little snapping noises outta nowhere, and they startle me a bit. My usual note is "sound" or "startled", but I notice when that happens my eyes sorta twitch which seems to imply that that's where the receier of information is. Gonna keep investigating that eye area, things got a little wobbly a few days ago when I was noting everytime I "focused" on something, but haven't been able to reproduce the experience again, which is cool as I just need to note what's there. I also have been able to notice vibrations. I'll be in the bathroom peeing and I'll focus on the wall and I can see tiny dots composing the totalty of my vision moving around. Not like those eye floaters, but like tv screen pixels moving around. Really cool. I've also noticed pulsing on my temple area start turning into tiny vibrations as well as just vision during meditation be vibrational. Don't know if it's significant, but I thought I'd share.

Things that I'm having trouble with are things like subtle thoughts that seem to carry me without me noticing. During the DN, that didn't seem to be as big of a problem as it is now.  Another is just lack, or seeming lack of things to note at times when things get quiet, or when my awareness is just scattered. During those episodes I'll look for the "looker" if possible, but sometimes even that is difficult. I don't know what goes on at times, but I really can't help but space out at times. I try and note, but I get sorta sleepy and not completely there. I'll realize it and note that I was carried away, or what carried me away, but a bit later I get caught up again. Guess I just gotta roll with the punches, practice can't be perfect all the time I guess, although I put in as much awareness as I can. Motivation to do much of anything is kinda low as I'm pretty spacey, although I'm very happy with my anxiety being reduced. I'd rather be chill than to be hypervigilant and anxious. Another issue is just frustration at times at not getting SE yet, but I try and note that when I can. I'm sure it'll come soon-ish, just gotta be patient and let go of wants when I can remember.

Oh and I also forgot to mention that about 4 or 5 days after my last post I fell back HARD into Re Ob/Earlier DN. I attribute that now to stopping noting. I think I need that feedback and objectification of the noting technique to keep me from falling back so far. Learned a big lesson there, I just hate that I have to learn these lessons by failing. Wish I was wise enough to learn from others' mistakes, as I've heard that falling back is inevitable if proper practice isn't continued, but I guess I'm just a damn knucklehead who needs to be whacked in the dome to learn these damn lessons. Oh well. Moving forward.

That's about all for my update. There has been much more subtlety and more experiences going on during all these days of practice, but for now that's all I can remember. It's very hard to remember all of the little things that happen or questions I may have during some sits, but I guess that's why I should start keeping a notebook on things... Now if I wasn't so damn lazy to do so. lol

Anyway, thanks for reading

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
11/20/14 5:28 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Update:

So I've continued practice daily. At least 2 hours a day. An hour a day, an hour in the evening, although most days it's more like 4 or 5 hours a day in hour or hour and 15 minute intervals. 

Some things I've noticed in practice:

-As I note obvious sensations of the body (heat, pressure, pulsing, pain), the sensations that start to arise are very subtle, and I have to begin to use more general notes like "feeling" because the sensations are too subtle. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes or so in my practice for things to begin to get subtle like that

-Thoughts, fantasies, imagination, planning, foreshadowing are still my biggest problems, although they're much less of a problem now because even as I snap out of the thought bubble, I say to myself "that was a thought, remember to note that next time". Although I do still get caught up in these thought bubbles, I can snap out of em much more quickly, and they don't capture me as much as they used to. I think that has to do with reminding myself to note the thoughts or imaginings even if I notice after the fact.

-Things get really quiet at points in practice where all that seems to be left is the space "out there" and the watcher watching the out there with the occasional sensation or thought popping up, being clearly seen and noted.

-There seems to be a subtle tension in the watching which I have noted in different ways. Things such as "observing, focusing, trying". This seems to me to be related to what Dream Walker told me in an earlier reply. " Learn how to note again in EQ and keep moving up to high EQ....then drift....a little....". Seems like the drifting has something to do with the tension or doing of the observer. A sort of pressure in the eyes or slight scrunching of the forehead area that I notice.

-There have been a few times where things seem like something is about to happen, and I get an andrenaline dump. Not sure if it means anything but I note it as "fear, excitement" and whatever subsequent bodily sensations follow.

-I definitely get frustrated at not getting Stream Entry yet. I have improved a lot since I first began to really take meditation seriously, but it's not enough. I realize it can take time, so I remind myself when I can. I note those times when I get frustrated, or when I'm just trying to shape my experience a certain way during practice, so hopefully the craving for SE isn't holding me back too much. 

That's about it for now. I'll continue to practice as much as I possibly can. I'd be greatful for any replies. Thanks for reading.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
11/20/14 8:29 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:

-There seems to be a subtle tension in the watching which I have noted in different ways. Things such as "observing, focusing, trying". This seems to me to be related to what Dream Walker told me in an earlier reply. "Learn how to note again in EQ and keep moving up to high EQ....then drift....a little....". Seems like the drifting has something to do with the tension or doing of the observer. A sort of pressure in the eyes or slight scrunching of the forehead area that I notice.

That's about it for now. I'll continue to practice as much as I possibly can. I'd be greatful for any replies. Thanks for reading

Hey,
Give this a read - http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-two-theory/the-progress-of-insight-map/#Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11
When you first get to EQ it's like you have to learn how to meditate all over again....then you move up thru the EQ territories until you hit high EQ. Once you are solidly in High EQ you don't really "do" anything...The meditation does you at that point and things kinda just happen and sensations present themselves and for me it takes on a dreamlike quality.
I spent most of my time in the re-ob and EQ phases. Hanging in EQ for months is common. Progressing thru EQ seems like the hardest part because it is so easy to just hang out there effortlessly....then people overshoot and kinda bear down too hard past the point. So figuring out that your in high EQ and then drifting dreamily directionless and letting it just happen is the key. 
Also setting a really strong intention to get stream entry has been helpful for many people. Give yourself permission to do it....ask for a little help from any spirit allies/buddhas if you are into that....
Good Luck,
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
11/20/14 9:15 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry,
You are doing great! Keep it up, and don't worry. That is the most practical advice I can think of. If you maintain the high practice hours, and allow things to take their course it will be fine. I mixed in some shamatha in the form of breathing and metta prior to stream entry, but I don't know this was necessary. Dream Walker's advice is very good. In my own experience I just kept noting in a steady/relaxed way until the thing did itself, even when everything I was noting appeared very spacious, as it did frequently. At times I just let go, and that is good advice as well, but I needed the anchor of noting almost up until the moment. I am stubborn though, and probably not too skilled at meditation.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
11/21/14 6:16 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Thank you for your replies Dream Walker and William

To Dream Walker:

Thank you for the link. Some things that stood out to me. I defnitely am guilty of the not wanting to practice when things get easy. I'm just learning to get over this bad habit. Another thing that stuck out was the getting stuck in thought part. I've really been dealing with this as of very lately, quite a bit actually.

I think my biggest problem at times is the letting things happen part, I just don't know how to "do" that. For now, I just note the sensations that seem to imply trying, or doing. Hopefully that leads to a good direction. I've also tried asking for help from the Universe to help me advance, and I definitely have advanced, but I feel weird asking, doesn't feel genuine. I wish I could somehow believe it. I think posting and getting advice as well as reading past posts is helping me advance the most.

To William:

Thank you for the encouragement. It's nice to see others have been in the same boat, and I will definitely keep up the practice hours. I've tried doing breath concentration at times, but it just aggravates me for some reason. I don't know if it's the stage that I'm in, or maybe it's the way I'm focusing on the breath that irritates me, but most of the time, I feel more tense after doing concentration, I probably am not doing it correctly. I think noting has been super helpful. I began by hating it, just because it felt so wrong to do. When I first began meditating, it was concentraion on the breath without the overlay of a note, but I can really see now how it is very helpful. I have a feeling I'm going to need to be anchored by noting until near the end as well.

Practice notes:

This first sit of today was a 70 minute sit.

Most of the sit was spent getting caught in all types of thoughts... planning, fantasizing, predicting, playing scenarios, mental chatter, you name it. I couldn't find the moment when these thoughts were coming up, I noticed them when they were already beginning. By the time I noted them, they were already developed. I did my best to notice when I was stuck though. I noted the thought even when it was a few moments gone just to remind myself what type of thought it was and to remind myself to try and catch it earlier next time. Later on in the sit, I'd catch the thoughts earlier, but as soon as I did, I'd almost immediately get stuck in another thought or imagination.

Bodily sensations were very quiet this sit. Not much to note, and what I did note was very subtle, so I noted "feeling" when those came up. There were a few times when, again, it'd be only the sense of the watcher and not much else besides space in front, so I noted the feeling of observing and of focusing. When I noticed the sense of watcher, I, for lack of a better term, embodied the sense of the watcher and felt what it was like to be "watching", "looking", or "observing".

Another interesting note from yesterday's sit. While I was doiing my second sit of the day, I kept getting these rapid flickers in my eye lids and a bright light in my vision. This only lasted a few seconds. This happened about 4 times. I don't think I got too excited, it was just kind of weird. I also don't think it was A&P, because soon after that it went back to the normal feeling of Equanimity. Kind of interesting, although I'm inclined to treat it like any other sensation and just note it.

So that's about it for now, sorry for the jumbled mess of an update, it's kinda hard for me to write and remember right now for some reason. That first sit really got me in a strange headspace. Anyway, thanks for reading.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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11/25/14 12:58 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
So I have a question or two, but I need to set it up a bit, so here goes. 

Yesterday I sat for more than 4 hours, decent practice all day. Some more pronounced pain than usual, but I noted it like everything else. Caught myself many times snapping out of all types of thoughts, images, mental chatter, etc. Much different than other times when the main problem would be terrible pain and anxiety during sits. At times, I'd be noticing things, but they felt so subtle, or maybe the attention seeing the things was subtle, but I just couldn't find the appropriate words to find to note these things. I mostly noted them as feeling because they all could be felt. Didn't feel special, just very normal and sort've relaxing/boring. 

Fastforward to last night. I just couldnt sleep. My sleeping conditions were not conducive to rest, plus everytime I tried to sleep, I'd automatically notice and sort've be forced to note bothersome body sensations. Took me about 4 hours of tossing an turning to finally sleep, and in the end, only slept about 5 shitty hours of sleep. Today's been busy, not complaining, just being factual. Anywho, I feel like utter zombie mode. I've sat when I can. I had a 35 minutes, a 20 minute and finally an hour and 10 minute sit. During each of those sits, I kept falling into these states where I'd notice what was going on, but in a very very sleepy/bored type attention. Hard to explain. Whenever I tried to note, I'd succeed for the first few notes, and then again slip back into that state. I almost fell asleep at one point, although I was aware, and it felt like something was gonna happen, although I really don't think anything was, just sleep. Anywho, for the life of me, I couldn't get myself to note well. Like my brain wasn't recognizing what was happening in a way, and it couldn't find the words to describe it. I'm thinking this is probably a stage in my progress, but I hope it's not a regression. I also feel that it might be the sleep deprivation, but I was feeling lke this a bit yesterday, so I'm convince it's 100% the sleep deprivation. I noticed the "laziness" as best I could, but I mostly noted it as "feeling" because it felt like a slightly pleasant, relaxing, sort've spaced out quality. I also got caught up in many interesting thought bubbles, I really wish I could catch these a bit earlier, but I think I'm getting better.

So now to my questions...
-Is it normal to have periods when you just can't note, and just lazily notice things?
-Are there any helpful strategies to when it's hard to note and the noticing is too lazy?

I guess that's about it. I'm going to start to write down post sit summaries in a notebook and give an overview of times between when I last post and when I make updates. Seems like a good habit to pick up. Anywho, thanks for reading. Any answers or comments would be welcome.

Thank You
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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11/25/14 1:56 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Some more pronounced pain than usual, but I noted it like everything else. Caught myself many times snapping out of all types of thoughts, images, mental chatter, etc. Much different than other times when the main problem would be terrible pain and anxiety during sits.

Fastforward to last night. I just couldnt sleep. My sleeping conditions were not conducive to rest, plus everytime I tried to sleep, I'd automatically notice and sort've be forced to note bothersome body sensations. Took me about 4 hours of tossing an turning to finally sleep, and in the end, only slept about 5 shitty hours of sleep. Today's been busy, not complaining, just being factual. Anywho, I feel like utter zombie mode. I've sat when I can. I had a 35 minutes, a 20 minute and finally an hour and 10 minute sit. During each of those sits, I kept falling into these states where I'd notice what was going on, but in a very very sleepy/bored type attention. Hard to explain. Whenever I tried to note, I'd succeed for the first few notes, and then again slip back into that state. I almost fell asleep at one point, although I was aware, and it felt like something was gonna happen, although I really don't think anything was, just sleep. Anywho, for the life of me, I couldn't get myself to note well. Like my brain wasn't recognizing what was happening in a way, and it couldn't find the words to describe it. I'm thinking this is probably a stage in my progress, but I hope it's not a regression. I also feel that it might be the sleep deprivation, but I was feeling lke this a bit yesterday, so I'm convince it's 100% the sleep deprivation. I noticed the "laziness" as best I could, but I mostly noted it as "feeling" because it felt like a slightly pleasant, relaxing, sort've spaced out quality. I also got caught up in many interesting thought bubbles, I really wish I could catch these a bit earlier, but I think I'm getting better.

So now to my questions...
-Is it normal to have periods when you just can't note, and just lazily notice things?
-Are there any helpful strategies to when it's hard to note and the noticing is too lazy?

To answer your questions,
-It is totally normal to have sits without any ability to effectively note....especially by comparison....don't compare. This sit is this sit.
- Strategy - I downshift to concentration practices. I count breaths to 10 over and over. If I can do that I move to counting to 1 with each out breath (mantra). If I can do that I move to sensations of breath and then noting each time I get off breath. As concentration increases (if it does) I move to more noting. Some sits you can't get anything "done" It's just one sit. Progress is happening whether you think so or not.
You may have moved to starting the insite cycle over from the beginning, or if you know that you are still in EQ then you are moving slowly from low EQ to mid to high....there is a lot of territory there that can mimic the earlier stages. Either way look at a weeks worth of sits to see what is happening slowly....progress is not always fast....diligence is the most important thing when skill goes out the window....trust that it is happening....after seeing it happen over and over the doubt goes away mostly because of experience. During sleep problems do the mantra until you bore your mind to death, works like a charm and you will continue to get more concentrated in your sleep. (I wake up vibrating pretty heavy)
Keep notes in a notebook and summarize them here weekly or if cool stuff happens, more often. I've spent many months in EQ. Writing about how boring it can be can make you want to stop posting...just summarize....
Good luck,
~D
Edit: Have you investigated the 3 Characteristics?

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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11/25/14 2:01 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
 Very true about comparing one sit to another. Also very good advice on downshifting to concentration. I actually had the idea of maybe following the breath for a bit earlier, during one of my sits, but I forgot to do it. I'll do that next time. Also, not sure what stage I'm at, but I'm way more equanimous to things, so whatever it is, it's better than previous times. Guess it doesn't really matter as long as I keep practicing well. I've also never tried a mantra before sleep, but that's a great idea.

Thank you for the tips Dream Walker. I'll keep a notebook summary of my sits and summarize on here when things get interesting.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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11/25/14 2:24 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
(Reply to the edit)
I think so, although I'm not sure.

There were times when I'd intentionally remind myself that what I was noting couldn't inherently be the thing looking at it. I also would remind myself that anything that comes and goes can't be me. It's been awhile since I've done that though. I just stick to noting and noticing. Should I continue what I've been doing? Or maybe is there another way to investigate the 3 C's?

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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11/25/14 6:28 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
(Reply to the edit) I think so, although I'm not sure.
There were times when I'd intentionally remind myself that what I was noting couldn't inherently be the thing looking at it. I also would remind myself that anything that comes and goes can't be me. It's been awhile since I've done that though. I just stick to noting and noticing. Should I continue what I've been doing? Or maybe is there another way to investigate the 3 C's?
Have you focused on some so called permanent sensations and had it dissolve? Try pain if it comes up again. Put all your attention on it and see what happens. Have you ever found a sensation that was "you"? Did you stay with it and really investigate it? Same with sensations that are pleasant...do they stay pleasant, stressless and satisfactory? Sprinkle these in each Nana. Be aware of things as they come up that have these qualities and investigate...Don't force it and make it into something it's not, but don't ignore this either. Some Nanas seem to really need this to move on.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/1/14 1:43 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Quick little update before the reply

Not much practice Saturday, a bit more on Friday. Feeling a bit shitty from a long weekend, but am doing my best to do my best, if that makes sense. 

To Dream Walker: So just about 10 minutes ago, I finished an hour 5 minute sit where I tried focusing on things that seem to be permanent. Some interesting things came about. I began my sit in just terrible pain and decently bad anxiety from not much practice this weekend, plus just not feeling well. I focused on the heat feelings, stuck to em, then the focus would shift to a pulsing feeling, then I'd stay on that until I witnessed it go away. Then again shitty feelings would replace the calm after the pulsing sensation ceased. Again, similarly, the focus would shift to another sensation as soon as something would begin to fade. There were a few moments where I "looked" for where I was "looking from". Found a pretty tense spot near the 3rd eye spot, stayed with it until it vanished. And throughout the sit, I just kept doing this, whatever seemed solid, I'd stick to it until another more obvious sensation would pull me from it, or until the original sensation vanished, then I'd stick to the new sensation. There were 2 times where I was focusing on the watcher, and I'd get movement in the energy at the 3rd eye spot, then I'd get a jolt in my eyes, and a slight fear response. Felt kinda cool, but probably not important, just cool.
In the latter half of the sit, the body felt very quiet, like there were barely any feelings coming from there. At one point, it felt as if I could see a thought in the space I was witnessing as well as a few other subtle things (I'll pay closer attention next time if it happens). Felt sort've like what I approximate to be Infinte Space, but again it felt different. Hard to explain, I just wish I had better recollection skills after my meditations. Lots of sensations in the "looker" area during the latter part of the sit. Tried to stick to the feeling as best I could. At points, things would get super calm, where there were no obvious sensations, but I'd ask myself, "who's watching this?", and then I'd ask, "who's asking this?" and my attention would shift to a spot behind the eyes. Also, at one point, there was a song stuck in my head, so I did my best to stick to just hearing the sound, and my eye focus would shift to behind and left of me. Kind of weird that that's were I thought the sound was coming from.

It's kind of strange to read now, what you wrote to me in the reply I'm replying to. The first few times I read it, nothing in particular stuck out to me, because I thought I was already sticking to sensations, but in reality, I was actually noting then just sort've relaxing and not sticking to the permanent feeling sensations. Now I think I get what you were trying to say, to actually stick to the solid feeling sensations until it vanishes. Is that correct?

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/1/14 2:41 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
It's kind of strange to read now, what you wrote to me in the reply I'm replying to. The first few times I read it, nothing in particular stuck out to me, because I thought I was already sticking to sensations, but in reality, I was actually noting then just sort've relaxing and not sticking to the permanent feeling sensations. Now I think I get what you were trying to say, to actually stick to the solid feeling sensations until it vanishes. Is that correct?

impermanence (anicca), suffering or unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and non-self (anattā)
Looks like you are doing good with Impermanence. Keep investigating it with sensations. Does the sensation fade/vanish or does it dissolve? does your attention just move on to something else because something is a little stronger or did the original sensation dissolve to nothing and therefore there was nothing left to focus on? Where did it go? What is this nothing that you have for that brief moment before you move to the next thing? Don't ignore nothing....lol....it's an exploration, there is as much or as little as you need to see to get it done.
Do the same type of exploration of sensations that make up self.....are there any? are they connected to permanence? In what way? Is there any ME ME ME MINE MINE MINE happening? Check it gross and subtle. Sometimes it's so big you can't see it and sometimes its too subtle to see.
Do the same type of exploration of sensations that make up stress/stressless, satisfactoriness/unsatisfactoriness. Is your stress "yours"? Is your pleasent states "yours"? Are they permanent? ETC...Question them and feel into them too. Some of this is a mental exercise but the other part is a feeling thing....you feel it over and over and look/investigate and find out. Take the "hey I got it all figured out" and then put it on a shelf....change Nanas and try it again. Does it hold up? Take it all the way to EQ. When something passes away.....look into the chasm as deeply as you can....
This was a small part of my practice....Maybe 10%, probably less. But I think it is an important part especially if you have not done any of it....Once you kinda got it down it only takes moment to pick it off the shelf where it was getting dusty apply it to something new, and put it away again.
Good Luck,
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/1/14 3:00 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Take it all the way to EQ. When something passes away.....look into the chasm as deeply as you can....
This was a small part of my practice....Maybe 10%, probably less. But I think it is an important part especially if you have not done any of it....Once you kinda got it down it only takes moment to pick it off the shelf where it was getting dusty apply it to something new, and put it away again.
Good Luck,
~D

Why are we investigating things like this? Because you want it to become part of the process...You are training yourself to see something that you have never seen. The training of attention and how we apply it leads to something that needs to happen on it's own in high EQ. If we have trained well up to this point it will do itself...This stuff I'm giving you is some of the things I and others have done to get to stream entry and beyond. Master some of this a little and take it to high EQ and see what happens. It's not a matter of doing at that point....its a matter of what you have done.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/9/14 2:57 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Update time:

1st off, thank you to Dream Walker for the help. The questions you asked and the pointers you gave me really have been helpful in helping me investigate my experience in new ways. I've been incorporating what you wrote, in all of my sits, and it definitely seems to be helping move things along.

So, where to start.

I guess I'll begin by saying that I've continued practice. At the very least 2 hours, but 3 or 4 hours is more common. Sticking to noting as best I can through these subtle stages. Have tried concentration a little bit, but I'm just not motivated to do it, and I just can't seem to find motivation to do so. I find myself in more EQ than I can ever recall. Most of my sits have very little pain nowadays (today being a bit of an exception), and have trended towards much more subtle feelings at the eye and face area. Investigation of where it feels perception comes from led to a very wobbly type feeling, as if the observer were shaking under investigation. Something that I've been relating to lately has been this post from Nikolai and Tarin http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/98741 . Also the last 2 or so paragraphs in the Slacker Guide, before he lays out a sample schedule, where he talks about the "imaginary" parts of practice, as well as where he talks about just sticking to things when you get deep enough in EQ http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/ReformedSlackersGuide/en . 

I guess I'll speak a bit more about things during my practice. Usually my sits start off with noting sensations, usually of some pulsing, or some pressure. After awhile (maybe 10 minutes), the bodily sensations get turned down big time, and I notice the seeming relay that happens when I observe something, then it "goes to" my eye area, implying that that's where "I" am and back to the sensation observed. I stick to that eye area, feeling the place out, noting it as "sensations" as that's what they're felt as. In most of my sits, at one point, I get to a spot where my noting gets very soft. The notes are more of a whisper compared to the more verbal ones I do in other stages. Sometimes I don't note, and just acknowledge the phenomenon, but this happens on it's on, I really don't do it intentionally. Usually when my notes get very soft, or when I don't note is when things get very subtle. The body isn't really felt, it's more subtle sensations of where the eyes are and sometimes of the "space" or "moment" being seen by the eyes. I just acknowldge these with a wordless note. Also during these times, my imagination can really be strong, and I have to be sure to note the thoughts or images or else I can really get stuck in some vivid imaginings. I guess this is why the paragraph talking about imagination in the Reformed Slacker's guide hit home. I just can't (seem) to help the imaginations from coming, so I just note them, and notice how they feel like, and they usually are felt as a very subtle eye tension along with the mental images which I just note as "images" or "sound" when its auditory. I relate to the part in the Slacker's guide where Tarin says "understand that you can't imagine a fruition, but don't exclude the parts of your experience you think of as 'imaginary' from practice." . Really reminded me to note these things that I usually get caught up in. Also, something in the way he speaks in that paragraph hits home, but I'm not exactly sure why. Another thing that's been happening, especially today, while investigating sensations of the eye area where it feels like perception is coming from, have been these feelings that something is about to happen. The latest time it happened, which was a few hours ago, I noted the excitement, but nothing happened, just a small adrenaline dump. Still weird, since it happened three times today and happened yesterday as well. Idk, could be nothing, I'll continue to note it as best I can. As I write this, I can sense the "watcher", and I've been sensing it more and more as the bodily pains have decreased.

One thing that sucks about this, is that I just can't seem to get the energy to workout as I've been able to in the past. Seems as if I can't rouse enough energy to do it, I just want to relax, or meditate. Feelings of something like sleepiness, but not exactly, engulf a lot of my day. A very relaxed feeling in the eyes, like sort've spaced out, soft, hard to explain. Even as I write this, it's a bit hard to do, and a bit hard to recollect which is probably why it's taking me so long to write this out. Hopefully it's stage specific, as that's what my intuition is telling me. I really would've liked to get SE by christmas, as that's when I wanted to go on a Holiday trip, but I think it'll serve me better to just wait it out until it happens, and see what happens from there. I guess another note, since I forgot to include it above. I seem to be scared of SE. I noticed that earlier, when it felt that something was going to happen, I just felt this primal fear. Not very intense, as I was in EQ, but still. Even if the feelings of something about to happen really don't mean anything, my mind seems to be scared to let go. I guess I'm just so used to having built an identity around the DN, that a fundamental change just seems scary. Intuitively, it feels as if I'm just around the corner from it, but it's just weird, because I don't know what to expect, and I do my best to disembed from these thoughts of expectations and wonder, but still, it's hard not to wonder.

Anyway, I guess that's all for this post. I might write another post soon, preferably right after a sit so I can recollect things better, but that's about all I can think of for now. Thanks for reading.

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/9/14 11:12 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Thank you for sharing your experience Gerry.  Something you said is very familiar, but I've never heard it mentioned before: when I have a thought (especially on the cushion but not exclusively) about mastery, or awakening I get a micro adrenalin rush, right in heart area.  It lasts just a second tor two.

If I'm understanding you, you charactierize this feeling as fear.  Just right now, as I'm writing this I think back to my first years of getting on the stage to do improvisational acting.  I'd get a lot of every excited, adrenergic feelings and I characterized them as fear, and that thought of fear led to an unfavorable circle of feeling/fear/more-feeling/more-fear, etc.  One day a more experienced improvisor told me, "dont think of that feeling as fear, think of it as helpful energy for what lies ahead".  This helped tremendously,it broke the cycle of  and helped me focus on the things that were helpful to focus on.

I hope this was worthwhile to write, and I look forward to following your future experiences.

Edit: of course, I get it that noting is the best response to sensations.

Matt

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/9/14 1:18 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
A very relaxed feeling in the eyes, like sort've spaced out, soft, hard to explain. Even as I write this, it's a bit hard to do, and a bit hard to recollect which is probably why it's taking me so long to write this out. Hopefully it's stage specific, as that's what my intuition is telling me.
...I seem to be scared of SE. I noticed that earlier, when it felt that something was going to happen, I just felt this primal fear. Not very intense, as I was in EQ, but still. Even if the feelings of something about to happen really don't mean anything, my mind seems to be scared to let go.

Make a strong resolution to get SE....Add ritual if it helps you....or not ....but let yourself know this is gonna happen..and ask for help....from whatever your belief system allows....if nothing else tell it to your subconscious. Believe it.

I get the feeling you are hitting high EQ....Time to drift. Notice what you can but then let yourself drift down into the borderline of dream/daydream/hypnagogic state. Get to high EQ and let go of control.....just drift a little and let it happen.

Excitement and fear of SE are both totally normal. Happens every path. That is why you gotta do it in EQ....where you mostly stop caring about either.... Just lightly note either and don't make a big whoop about it....just another sensation to be EQ about.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/15/14 7:12 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Update:

So very soon after my last update (next day), I fell back into Reobservation. I'm pretty sure I fell back from being too tense during my sits as well as wanting things to happen too much without letting things just happen. Usually, Reobservation isn't a huge problem, but this time it was a bit more troublesome and more enduring. The reason for this, I think, is because I was focusing too narrowly on sensations instead of a more relaxed type of focus. It's weird, because even though I've been up and down Reobservation to what seems like High Equanimity several times, it's just until now that I have noticed that the way I was observing things affected if I would advance to a higher nana or not. Now I could definitely be wrong, but it seems to me, that during Reobservation and all the Dark Night nanas, a more relaxed, softer, wider type of focus is required to get to EQ. Yesterday, I tried to keep the focus more open, and I seemed to have hit EQ, even though it seemed to be less vipassana, and more samatha as I wasn't really investigating things very well.

This morning, I put up a post about what type of focus is needed in different jhanas. Here's the link if it interests you http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5636849 .

Right after I wrote that, I sat down, but this time, I did more of an investigative type sit. I sat and focused on these tight feelings in the chest that had been bothering me since last night, but this time, it was a "softer" focus. It's a bit hard to explain, but the way I can describe it is that when I focused on something, my eyes felt soft. The way I describe this "softness" is like if you were to focus on a single letter in this post, but almost like the opposite of that. Soft, wider, more inclusive. I sat with this tightness and it started to change and it finally shifted to some pressure on the side of my head. I softly focused on that, and it dissipated into other sensations, and I'd do this with the rest of the sensations that presented themselves. I ended the sit with no more chest tightness, and I felt as if I touched Low Equanimity for a few minutes during the sit.

Anyway, I'll continue experimenting with this softer focus and see if it helps me stay in Equanimity for longer periods. Thank you for reading and thank you to all of the replies, I read and consider all of them during my sits.

Thank you
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/20/14 4:10 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Update time:

So I've continued meditating in hour spurts multiple times a day. Experimented with width of attention and seeing if there was a way that I could "not grasp" onto things. A way I could just let things happen. I made some observations. One of these observations was that trying to "not grasp" at anything was a form of aversion, things just show up to awareness whether I want it or not. Trying to not latch onto something is not possible. Just being with whatever arises is a better way of "not grasping". Not looking for any set of experiences or sensations, but just seeing what shows up as it is for however long it needs to show itself. So for now, what I'm doing is somewhat more of a middle ground. Not tightly focusing on sensations, and not trying to "not grasp" any sensations for the entirety of experience, but just being with whatever shows up in a more relaxed, less focused, but still with whatever shows up type of deal. I don't know if this is the right way to do it, but I'm experimenting, and it feels right. I see now why people say you're kinda own your own at a certain point. Some things you just have to experiment and see for yourself.

Little note from practice. About 40 to 50 minutes into my sits, I will get to a point where nothing seems to be going on and I just feel bored, for a lack of a better word. No bothersome sensations, no pleasant sensations, just sorta sitting there wondering when the clock will ring. I try and sit through this, but damn can it be hard at times. I did notice the feeling of noticing itself, that feeling of watching my experience, but it didn't lead to much, just more boring sitting. I just need to keep sitting, I'm sure, just gotta set my schedule and do it even if I feel "done" with the session.

Also a life note. As I was talking to a female friend tonight, the topic of careers came up, and damn is it hard to get an answer as to what type of career I want to be involved in when all I can think about most of the day is practice and eventual SE. Everything else seems pointless and dull. It's hard to fake enthusiasm about things with others when this existential problem is happening in your perception. I don't know how people do this. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so this whole Dark Night/ Equanimity trip makes it hard not to bleedthrough into my relationships. I really don't know what I'm saying, but this felt like it needed to come out. Maybe a few people can relate. I don't know.

Anywho, that's it for now.

Adios
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/20/14 9:06 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Little note from practice. About 40 to 50 minutes into my sits, I will get to a point where nothing seems to be going on and I just feel bored, for a lack of a better word. No bothersome sensations, no pleasant sensations, just sorta sitting there wondering when the clock will ring. I try and sit through this, but damn can it be hard at times. I did notice the feeling of noticing itself, that feeling of watching my experience, but it didn't lead to much, just more boring sitting. I just need to keep sitting, I'm sure, just gotta set my schedule and do it even if I feel "done" with the session.
This is an example of what, for me, is the "I don't know how to benefit from this part" part of my practice.  I decided that being bored and super normal-present was not a valuable use of my time, that I needed to figure out how to find the next level from that point.  (This is just a week ago).  I don't really know that this is a good attitude for me to have!

Anyway, I found this video.  It somehow showed me that at this point, (and I'm still slightly in doubt that it can be this easy) I can hit 4'th jhanna and explore it much easier and more reliably then before.  This is when I found someting that I assume (based on feedback here at DhO) that is in the neighbohood of high equanimity.  It's quite blissfull, and hence is seductive but I do believe I'm retaining my ability to fool around with gentle investigation.  So that's what I'm doing now, I find this supposed H-EQ spot in the first 5-10 minutes of my sit, and I rest there and notice subtle aspects of my emotional/intentional experience.  Whats for sure, is I'm not bored with my practice, at least for the time being.  Now I sit till the 40 minute timer goes off, then I sit more for whatever I want.  This lowering of the timer has, in a childish way, made me feel better about my practice.  Again, not sure if this is a good attitude!

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/13/15 9:15 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I've been lurking a lot, and just sitting and trying to figure this thing out, but I decided I'll do a little update just because... so here goes

I've continued sitting, seemingly going back down to Reobservation, heading up to Equanimity, going as high as I can there, then going back down, cycling over and over just trying to advance my cutting edge. I've been playing with width of attention lately as I've been reading lots of advice from posts dating back 2010, and 2011 talking about how width of attention must include space and awareness along with everything else that's noticed in it then seeing it all arising and passing to get to a path moment. This makes lots of sense to me, because when I was doing what I was doing before, I'd "focus" on things like a feeling without noticing that it was part of a whole "soup" of sensations and tense up around it, expecting it to somehow go away, when in fact I was probably reinforcing it even more. I've been playing around with noticing sensations and the edges surrounding it, so I can "focus" in a much more relaxed way. This leads to a much wider headspace and a more relaxed state after my practice, without sacrificing knowing what goes on during my sits. I tend to get dreamy at times, but still aware, and I think that's probably to be expected. I also notice the "watcher" and I try and incorporate it into the whole of my experience.

95 percent of thoughts now are really no issue, and I can notice when I'm being caught up that 5 percent of the time very quickly and see the thought vanish. A weird experience happened a few weeks back when I was in a state I'd consider High Equanimity where I was just sitting watching thoughts come and go when very clearly I heard a name. I got up, googled the name of an Indian woman who sells tarot cards came up. Very strange. It really has not much to do with insight, but it was just strange. Maybe one day I'll contact her and play around with tarot when I'm ready.

I've also been playing around with seeing things as just happening on their own and also on noticing that things come and go. I remind myself every so often during my sits just to reinforce it. 

I also seem to have had some near misses a few times, but I think I chanced upon them by accident in the past, and I just recently seemed to have one yesterday, but fear got a hold of me. For me now, I don't even care about the near misses, it's SE or bust for me. 

I'm not sure if this is the correct way to practice, but it seems like it's the right way at the moment. Noting tends to reinforce a narrow focus for me for some reason, so just bare noticing seems good for me right now.  I'm good at technical instructions, as I played sports when I grew up, so some advice can sometimes lead me into the wrong paths if I misinterpret things. Some of the old posts I've been reading by Tarin, Trent, Nikolai, and Daniel to name a few (sorry if I missed you) have been just what I was looking for, with instructions to widen attention going into the 11th nana, especially to someone like me who really didn't study any sutras or had any formal instructions. Hopefully this approach of finding the edges of things and trying to include more and more of my experience proves to be fruitful as I really hate spinning my wheels as I did in the past.

Anywho, that's about it. Not sure when I'll post again, but I will if anything new comes up

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/13/15 9:18 PM as a reply to Matt.
That video was very helpful to me Matt, thank you. I hope your practice is doing well.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/31/15 4:30 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
I've been continuing practice since the last post in my last thread. I actually began to note again after the last post, and found success with it for awhile. After awhile I began to just note with "dat", and nowadays I've been noticing because noting seems to get in the way.

I've been noticing a lot of boredom lately. I seem to feel it behind the eye area and I notice it and stay with it in a relaxed way. Body sensations tend to come up more pronounced during the begininning of sits, things like pulsing, itching, or heat. I notice these in a relaxed way and they tend to die down lot later in the sits. Later during sits I'll notice more of the blackness of the space in front of me and I'll notice the "noticer". I'll pay attention to all of that, and sometimes I'll get a very pleasant, calm feeling. At other times, things seem to move quite a bit, and I feel like something's going to happen, and I notice that until it all usually dies down. At other times, nothing really happens, and I'm just sitting there with a bored feeling, just sitting and noticing whatever comes, which seems to be not much except for the behind the eye feeling and a bit of restlessness. Another thing I've been noticing is that I'll get quite hot even during cold which makes me cold sweat which is very unpleasant. I stick with that, although that tends to happen outside of sitting when I'm stressed.

I question whether I'm doing the right things quite a bit, even though my anxiety is significantly less than when I first began posting here. I'd like to know if noticing what's going on without noting is enough. I note when I can, but when I do, it feels like extra added tension because I already feel and notice what's going on. I notice the 3 characteristics of what I notice by asking questions. Is this permanent? Is this me if "I" am noticing it? Suffering I'm not too good at except for noticing how some sensation really suck when I grasp onto them.

Anywho, I guess that's it. I'm continuing practice as well as I can. Any advice, comments, or encouragement is welcome. Thank you for reading.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/31/15 10:53 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Here's a thread I read that gave me more to chew on, noticing-wise:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1973107

After reading it, for a few months, I floundered a bit and wondered exactly what my technique was.  I still wonder that a bit, but I also feel that I have a greater range of appriciation for the depth and breadth of my experience and I feel that this is good.

Matt

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/31/15 1:06 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:

Also a life note. As I was talking to a female friend tonight, the topic of careers came up, and damn is it hard to get an answer as to what type of career I want to be involved in when all I can think about most of the day is practice and eventual SE. Everything else seems pointless and dull. It's hard to fake enthusiasm about things with others when this existential problem is happening in your perception. I don't know how people do this. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so this whole Dark Night/ Equanimity trip makes it hard not to bleedthrough into my relationships. I really don't know what I'm saying, but this felt like it needed to come out. Maybe a few people can relate. I don't know.


I can relate to this Gerry. I think at some point I found relief by realising that the wanting was Goenkas "craving". I realised by wanting to make progress and wanting to experience something each time I was sitting, that I was not maintaining equinamity properly. The wanting was becoming a kind of pushing, pushing to achieve something. I think Jack Kornfield talks about this in some of his books, about how its a western mindset - to achieve, and it doesnt neccesarily fit so well with vipassana. But then its a bif of a paradox, because there is something to be achieved, there are maps, there are benefits to your life for putting in the time and effort and ulitmately you need a certain degree of this wanting because if you didnt want something (i.e. SE)  then you might not be so motiviated to sit. So for me its been about learning to balance that desire to see progress and not "need" it, if you see what I mean. I have somehow found a way to just think of it as a long game. If I get it in 3 days or 3 years (or 30 years?!) I dont mind. Haha, actually thats an interesting one, Im not sure I wouldnt have given up in 30 years if I hadnt seen some progress. Have you been on any retreats recently? I find that the intensity of retreats, especially 10 day ones is really a blessing if you are feeling a bit bored or have a strong desire to move your practice on. Also alot of people talk about hitting SE on retreat. 

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/31/15 5:53 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Matthew: Thank you for the link. I've read that post before, but it was good to read it again.

B man: Yup. Striving for it can definitely be a problem at times, but when I sit it doesn't seem to bother, just mostly in daily life when I'm stressed do I really crave it bad. I'd probably quit if it took 30 years to accomplish though. That seems like such a waste if I'm sitting and putting in work to accomplish nothing, although I do get what you're saying. I gave up expecting SE to happen anytime soon. If it happens today great, if it happens later, what can I do? Just keep diligently practicing. To your question about if I've done a retreat, no I haven't, although I probably should. I just can't rouse myself to go. Thinking of going makes me anxious for some reason, sitting 10 days in a strange place. I've read that it can be done outside of retreat, so that's my hope, that I get it outside of retreat. Maybe I'll hit a breaking point and go, maybe I'll get the courage to go. Who knows.


Sitting notes:

This morning's sit began a little restless. I did a bare awareness, but it felt like I was solidfying the shitty feelings, so I began to note them. Wow. It actually helped out a bit. I continued, then I began noticing a feeling in the seeing itself which was interrupted my noting of it, so I dropped the verbal noting and just began to notice it. I began noticing other sensations around the periphery which were making my focus "grasp", I guess you'd call it, at them. I got an idea that maybe the narrow focus on them was causing the suffering, so I began to notice the sides of the sensations. That really helped out, so I began to notice the edge of sensations in an inclusive way that didn't exclude the shitty sensations, but didn't make the shitty sensations the center point. I continued this until the end of my 50 minute sit. I felt much more relaxed at the end than at the beginning.
I was questioning whether I was just avoiding sensations by noticing the edges instead of looking at it directly, but I don't think I was. The sensations were there, but they weren't the focus point. Maybe this is what people mean when they say "letting go" or "letting be", or maybe I'm deluding myself.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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2/4/15 9:12 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Update on my practice:

I've been doing a lot of noting without words lately. Acknowledging the sensations, instead of spending so much time thinking about what to call certain sensations. At certain times, I will note with words, but most of the time, it is just an acknowledgement. I've been playing around with what I do after I note a sensation. I noticed that before, I'd stick to an area where a sensation was, and keep my attention on it with a grasping (my interpretation) attitude. Like for example, A feeling of pulsing at the temple would show up, I'd note it, and stick my attention there, subtly waiting for it (sensations appearing after the initial sensation is gone) to go away. This caused even more tension and stress, so I decided to employ a bit of a different approach. Now when I notice something, I notice the sensation, and I'll notice much of the time, a grasping at where the sensation was, somewhat wanting it not to be there. When I notice this grasping, I disincline from it by relaxing around the sensation. This leads to much less tension than before, and it seems to have actually lead me to some Jhanas.

An example of some Jhanas I stumbled upon: I was sitting a few days ago, and I was sitting (actually laying down), noting sensations and whatever showed up. As I noticed in a relaxed way, I could notice my body was much lighter feeling. Then, I noticed a very pleasant sensation somewhere behind my eyes. I noticed this in a relaxed way, and this very pleasant sensation turned into a different sort of pleasure, a sort of calmed down, almost more diffuse type pleasure where I felt more calm, but still pleasant. I noticed this calm diffuse pleasure, and things got dreamy and body sensation were dialed down big time, but the pleasure was still there in a dialed down more soft way. I noticed what showed up, and all of a sudden something happened, and the only way I can decribe it, is like what happens in those space documentaries where they show earth and then they zoom out and they show the solar system, and then galaxy, and so on and so forth. Well it felt like "I", the watcher, was earth, and the area around me zoomed out. It happened in a moment and lasted for just a bit, because it felt kind of freaky, cool, but freaky. Idk if that really was any of the Jhana's, but it really feels like I'm letting go of things a lot easier without sacrificing the noticing of them.

I think I get now what they say about balancing effort and concentration. To me, concentration always meant bare-ing (idk how to spell that) down on something like a cheetah on it's prey, but the more I read about Jhana's, the more it seems I was wrong. Tight constricted focus leads to a lot of agitation at this stage of my practice, so this more relaxed way of seeing things has really been a big help.

Ok, that is all for now, thank you for reading.
-Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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3/5/15 7:16 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Update time:

Unfortunately, no Stream Entry yet, but it feels like I'm going in the right direction.

Most of my sits as of lately start off with some unpleasant sensations which I observe in a relaxed and open way until they dissapate. After this, one of a few things can happen.

1) I can keep noticing the shitty sensations (vibrations) come and go and most of the sit can be just watching these sensations dissolve with occasional relative quietude.

2) I can notice sensations and fairly quickly enter a state where not much of anything except for attention and the space "out there" predominate. I try and notice what it feels like to pay attention and this usually shows me some tension in the 3rd eye area. I relax and openly observe these tensions and progressively release tension by just relaxing and observing. This is kind of interesting because observing these tensions feels like that's where the false sense of watcher "resides" and "watching the watcher" is weird because I can't watch my eyes with my eyes. Weird.

3) I can pretty damn quickly get so relaxed by just observing openly, that I start to drift off into either dreamy thoughts or just weird spacey head feelings. From what I've read in several posts this can happen during Equanimity and from advice that Dream Walker gave me, this seems to be somewhat the right direction to go if I'm not misinterpreting his advice. I stay as attentive as I can during these states, but every once in awhile I'll lose myself in these thoughts. They can be so pleasant and dreamy that they just carry me with them. I've tried "paying more attention" during these times, but this seems to cause more harm than good in the form of tension. I try and just be as receptive as I can during these times and just be like the receiver for whatever comes up instead of being the person who pays attention to these things, if that makes any sense.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm heading in the right direction or not, but from what I've read, dreamy/weird thoughts during equanimity can be normal. Maybe it's my past conditioning of thinking I have to pay such tightly focused attention that's making me feel as if I'm not doing the right thing, but I can say for certain that the tension in my body has certainly decreased a lot and I seem to get up to equanimity fairly reliably on a daily basis from taking a more relaxed and open approach.

Another thing to add. I've been doing about 4 sits a day, each session lasting as long as I can, which is on average about 50 minutes and this feels right for me.

Anywho, that's about it. Any comments, encouragement or advice is welcome.

Thanks for reading
~Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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3/5/15 8:32 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry, sounds great. I really think your approach of letting things present themselves however they do is solid. Sometimes it seems our minds are ready to "pay attention" (or discern) and others times they'd rather just space out. My advice when it seems like you're spacing out is to try to keep your attention with one object, no matter if it's not a really distinct focus, just know when your mind leaves it to bring it back. The other sits you describe sound on the right track to me.

EDIT: Oh, and don't forget to investigate the sense of equanimity itself, and also the intention to pay attention!

EDIT 2: And another thing! Despite what others may advise, I find it helpful sometimes to keep my eyes open during meditation if I feel it will keep my mind from wandering.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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3/6/15 12:45 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Update time:


3) I can pretty damn quickly get so relaxed by just observing openly, that I start to drift off into either dreamy thoughts or just weird spacey head feelings. From what I've read in several posts this can happen during Equanimity and from advice that Dream Walker gave me, this seems to be somewhat the right direction to go if I'm not misinterpreting his advice. I stay as attentive as I can during these states, but every once in awhile I'll lose myself in these thoughts. They can be so pleasant and dreamy that they just carry me with them. I've tried "paying more attention" during these times, but this seems to cause more harm than good in the form of tension. I try and just be as receptive as I can during these times and just be like the receiver for whatever comes up instead of being the person who pays attention to these things, if that makes any sense.

Thanks for reading
~Gerry
Make a strong resolution to get steam entry. Ask for assistance from whatever entities, Buddhas, spirit helpers, subconscious, higher self, angels....whatever you believe in....The switch is not on this side...."you" can not flip it. Then get to the dreamy/drifty spot and let go.
The resolution seems to be the secret sauce that helps many people. Try it and see what happens.
Best of luck to you....If you want to chat message me...I can video with you if you would like to.
~D

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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3/6/15 10:14 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
On second thought, I think Dream Walker's advice is better.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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3/31/15 8:23 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
(I'm pretty worn out today so forgive me if I sound out sorts, because I kind of am)

Hello everyone, long time no update, so why not today for one.

Before I begin, I'd like to thank Dream Walker and Incandescent Flower for their advice. I've been pondering both of your advice and implementing it as well as I can in my sits.


So now for my update..

Still no Stream Entry. I seem to have cycled back to some pretty bad Dark Night sensations after a couple weeks or so of solid Equanimity. Even though I'm not solidly in EQ, I still feel it's progress as I hadn't felt that chill in a long time.

The DN type sensations, I found out were actually more attributable to lifestlye choices as of late. Exercising vigorously almost everyday, as well as poor quality sleep and lack of nutrients (I hadn't taken a multivitamin in forever, was probably deficient in a few vital vitamins a nutrients) really caught up with me big time. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why I was in so much pain, and why I was so tired and my heart was racing throughout the day. I thought about it, and I remembered that I should probably take a multivitamin, as exercise and stress depletes vital nutrients quickly. Took it yesterday, and last night I had the best sleep I have had in about a week. Today I'm tired, but the racing heart rate has slowed down. Still a bit high, but not like yesterday when I felt as if I was going to pass out. Hopefully I can recover well these next days and start to feel better.


As for actual meditation, I've done my best to just keep practicing. For awhile, like a week back, I decreased my sitting time from sheer tiredness (not good). That's about when I fell back, although I think it had more to do with lifestyle choices than practice time, but who knows.

Lately I've been messing about with asking myself "who's experiencing this?", or "who's aware of this?", things of that sort and feeling what feeling accompany this sense of "experiencing" or "being aware". I do this with a relaxed attention and I just relax around whatever sensations show up. If I do this enough, sensations start to drop and the feelings of being aware become more subtle and more diffused at times. One thing I've been noticing is that whenever I feel a tension in the body and I ask "who is aware of this?", I can sense a feeling of contraction around the eye or face area and I relax around it. This usually relaxes me and I just continue asking myself these types of questions and just feel where this "I" is located, and just observe and relax around it.

I've been reading a few things by Nikolai about fabricating and how letting go of these fabrications is the way to go. Seems like the fabrications take place whenever there's a contraction in my experience (usually felt around the eye or face area) around a sensation, or set of sensations, which I either like or dislike. What I do is just ask myself who experiences this, and just feel what seems to be experiencing this, and relax. This seems to drop things and things seem to get more spacious, calm, subtle and more pleasant. 

Not sure if this is the way to go, but it seems to be helping me notice and let go of things better. 

Another thing I've noticed is that time flies by quicker when I meditate. Guess it's kinda like that expression "time flies when you're having fun". Seems like I'm much more engaged than before when I'd just get kinda dull and space out. I mean, I still space out at times, but at least I can ask myself "who's spacing out" and feel what seems to be spacing out. Seems like relaxing and being inquisitive is helping me drop things I've been holding onto subtly. This self inquiry stuff is pretty cool.

So I guess that's it for my update. Thank you to everyone who posts on the forum. Really cool stuff from people who have done what I'm shooting for, or are in my position and aiming to let go, or even from people discussing things which seemingly don't pertain to me, really helps me stay curious. 

Thank you for reading emoticon

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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4/23/15 4:20 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Just finished a 30 minute sit, so I thought, "perfect time for an update".

Sit description (4/23/15)

Layed down in bed to see if I could take quick nap but couldn't so I decided to meditate. Object of meditation was the sense of openness itself. Whenever something arose, I'd notice it and avert back to this open sense. Sense of calm and relaxation grew in the body the more I let go and I began to pay attention to a pleasant feeling that seemed to come up due to this letting go. The pleasant feeling seemed to be located around the "third eye" spot so I attended to that. After a few minutes, I began to have a sense that I've had before, and recently about 4 times in the last 2 or 3 weeks. This sense was of the area of perception opening up wider in a 3D way. The way I'd describe it would be as if I took a red Mario mushroom and everything grew. As I continued to attend to this pleasant expansiveness, I could feel a bit of a heavyness to this expansion, almost felt like the arms of the Michelin man, but the arms were the sense of openness itself. These expansions came in subtle waves but they felt almost heavy in a subtle way. I finished my sit after a bit of enjoying the experience. I'm underslept so the sit was cut a bit short.


As of lately I've been focusing on the more pleasant and "open" aspects of experiences and dropping whatever is not that felt sense of openness. This has resulted in way less stress in daily life without sacrificing mindfulness. Feels like letting go, though I'll admit, I don't exactly know what that means. Does feel better though and a lot of bad habits are dropping away.

Also as of lately, I feel like asking lots of questions, but sometimes I shy away because I don't want to look dumb or ask a stupid or obvious question. Maybe that'll change and I'll begin to ask more questions. If I do happen to ask a stupid question, go easy on me. I can take constructive criticism well. I played sports when I was young so I'm good at being coached (I'm also a team player). I was also very curious growing up so forgive me if I ask obvious questions in the future. Anywho enough of whatever it is I'm doing in this paragraph, time to wrap this update up.


If anyone is curious or just wants to ask me questions for whatever reason, feel free to do so. I'm not saying this because I know a lot (I definitely don't), I'm saying this because sometimes asking someone questions can help them move along and progress. Only if you'd like though emoticon

Anywho, thanks for reading. Apologies if this all sounds weird, i partly blame the lack of sleep emoticon

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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4/23/15 5:10 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Hi Gerry,  there are no dumb questions.  The only time there's an element of, as you say, dumbness is in the unasked question.  Any one who insinuates that there is an element of dumbness in a practice query must look to their own immaturity, yes?  Yours in the fellowship of the spirit, Stuie.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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4/23/15 6:53 PM as a reply to Stuie Charles Law.
Yes. That's a good point. It's just that sometimes self critical thoughts or feelings come up when I want to ask a question because I see so many advanced meditators on this site and I know that some of the things I want to ask they've probably answered tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times. I don't want to sound like a fool. I'm slowly coming out of this negative habit though. This post definitely has helped me. Thank you.

Btw, is it ok if I call you Stuie or do prefer something else? (hope this isn't a dumb question emoticon)

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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4/24/15 1:09 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
No Gerry, it's not dumb and by all means please call me Stuie.  The reason for the alteration of name is that the site has locked me out on several occasions and i've come back with a slight name change as i am not very well versed in computors and their management. As to the point of boring more seasoned practitioners, my same point stands.  At most i can see those more advanced meditators smiling as they respond to your questions and/or doubts, thinking......."been there, done that"  You are why Mr/Dr Ingram set up this site.  A non threatening environment where the likes of you and i can begin to have these age old questions about enlightenment answered.  Were it not for beginners this place would eventually wither and die.  Be not afraid and celebrate the fact that you are contributing to the on going rebirth and regeneration of the Dharma Overground.

Turn around three times and it will be you with the knowing smile, answering some poor new yogi's questions.  Will you think any less of the new fellow and his needs, i think not Gerry, i think not.  If there is still some reticence or something of a personal nature then please feel free to email me at stuartcharleslaw@gmail.com and i'll be happy to answer if i'm able, and if unable then head you towards one who can.  There are some extremely patient advanced practitioners here within this forum.  Your in the Dharma, Stuie.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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4/26/15 5:09 PM as a reply to Stuie Charles Law.
Thank You Stuie. I appreciate this post.
I've never felt unwelcome in this forum, it's just been my own insecurities which have made me hesitate.  

I appreciate your reaching out. I'll save your email in case I do have a personal question.

Thank you
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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5/7/15 7:13 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Update time:

I've been continuing sitting. About an hour to two hours every day. Began taking some medication a few days ago and this sort of coincided with me falling back hard from practice and generally feeling terrible. I'm off the medication now so I'm feeling better, fwiw. I seem to be getting really sick and tired of being pre SE at a level which I haven't before. I'm using this frustration as fuel and I'm sitting at least 2 hours every single day and working towards 3. I've been doing this for about 4 days now. I need to be consistent, so I'm treating this like a workout plan and doing at least 2 hours so that way I don't go crazy and do like 4 hours one day, burn out and do an hour for the next 4 days because I'm so tired. Regardless, I'm willing to make the final steps now to get thru this Re-Ob/EQ/SE hump.

As for what I've been doing in practice, I've been noting and noticing whatever shows up in a relaxed way which I hadn't approached it before. It seems like everything that comes up has a (seemingly) physical component to it. A physical feeling. Even things such as paying attention are felt, thoughts are felt, sleepiness is felt... in the body. What accompanies these feeling are somewhat like holding patterns which also are felt (feels like "I" am the holding pattern at times, if that makes sense). I notice all of this in a relaxed, open way and just let the energy of whatever comes up work through, let it come up and dissipate on its own. If I don't know what's going on or if I get sleepy, I note with a sound like "dat', or even preverbal notes, and I notice whatever it is even if it's hard to put a word on it. I'm pretty sure the word isn't very important. It's feeling the feeling as it happens that's important. That lets me know what I need to know. There are some "tensions" or holding patterns around sets of sensations which seem to be coming up lately. Sensations of tightness around the chest or heart can come up, and I notice in a relaxed way how my mind seems to surround this tightness in a negative way. When I notice this, I observe it and relax, which seems to let the tension dissipate eventually. Another set of sensations which seem to be coming up are around the eyes when things get very calm and quiet. This seems to be the feeling of attention or awareness itself. I notice this in a relaxed way and sometimes the feelings dissipate and sometimes they come back up again. So the general gist of my practice now is notice whatever comes up, notice if there's tension in noticing it, and relax letting the sensations come and go with noting used on occasional times when I'm sleepy or lost.

So that's it for now. I'd like to know if I'm heading in the right direction, so feedback and any corrections or tips would be appreciated. If I am on the right track, let me know also, because if I am, I'm willing to stick with it for as long as I can. This will motivate me more. If I'm not on the right track I'd like to know because I feel I have no more time to waste deluding myself.

Thank you
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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6/9/15 4:51 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Long time no post, but today feels like the right time to update so here goes.


My practice has been going through some significant changes as of these past few weeks as a result of some alarming things happening to me. One of the biggest most alarming things that has happened is that I was getting some pretty major chest pain as a result of the way I was practicing. This pain was making activities hard and making me super anxious so I began to look at my practice and why it was making my experience so painful. One of the things I noticed was that I was very stuck on these feelings. This stickiness was felt as attention going to the center of the pain and holding it almost like two hands holding an object. I noticed that this was causing more and more constriction so I said "fuck it, fuck everything I've been told (or better yet, understood), I'm going to avert my attention from this pain". As I did this, a few things of note were occuring. The pain was still noticed, but as I averted my focus from this pain for 10 minutes, 20 minutes the pain was subsiding and a sense of relaxation was growing. Now, I see where people might say, "well Gerry, aren't you just avoiding the pain by doing this?". My answer to this is no. There is no possible way to ignore the pain even if I tried, what Im actually doing is relaxing around the pain and letting it dissipate. Resting ON the pain was making the pain worse and worse everyday until I switched it up. One of the reasons I rested on sensations before, was because from my understanding, noting was noting something again and again until it passes away. Now maybe this is what one is supposed to do, but in my experience, that makes for a very painful and concerning experience. So now I've commited to a practice which actually feels like allowing things to go, letting go, you might say. This type of sitting has had a hugely positive effect on my life. I feel way less anxious and way more enjoyable as well as leading to seeing the more subtle tensions I hold onto as the bigger ones fall away. (P.S. to this, I've had chest pains before and had heart tests done several times and the diagnosis has always been anxiety, which is one of the reasons why I didn't make the pain a bigger deal than it had to be.)

From my personal understanding, this resting on objects type attention is attachment. The relaxed, outer focused, averted attention from tension is letting go and is progress. It feels like I've been battling my intuition for so long by resting on sensations and tensions, somewhow expecting that keeping a focused narrow attention on them would help me see them go away. The exact opposite seems to happen when I do that though, tensions get tighter and new ones arise, this seems to me to be clinging (sorry if it's not the technical definition, just the way I understand it experientially).

Lately I've been drawn to the teachings of Bhante Vimalaramsi (6 R's). I'm also intrigued by what Reggie Ray says when he speaks about the "soma". I feel like this journey (my journey at least), is a physical one, a felt one. One about releasing tensions until maybe all tensions are dissolved. I've also been drawn to posts by Chuck Kasmire and some old posts by End In Sight. They seem to be talking about things which I can relate to.

As for experiential stuff, during daily life, I've been releasing tensions in my chest and neck which seem to be a source of anxiety. As for during sits, I find my cutting edge to be boredom. I get nice and relaxed, time's flying by, noticing and disinclining from tensions and I hit a spot where I get this bored feeling. Luckily I can feel this boredom feeling somewhere around the eye area and I disincline from it as much as I can and just continue my sits. Something I've noticed is that time slows down when I get caught up in a tension, whether it be an anxious chest feeling or a thought feeling in my head. Another thing I've noticed is that energy goes where attention goes. I've read this before but I can see it clearly now. I can induce an anxious feeling just by attending to the chest or neck areas and I can relax by attending to the outside of a tension. Sits are starting to trend towards easier because sits and daily life are more enjoyable. I feel as if sits are nourishing instead of stressful. Another thing I've noticed in daily life is that I'm more inclined to space out. Now for some I can see why that might be undesirable, but I'm so used to being such a tense guy that spacing out and relaxing feels good, it's been awhile.

Other things of note, I've been more easily increasing sit times. I can sit hour long sits easily at times. 40 minute sits are more normal for me, but I try and let go of inclinations to stop sitting and I've sat past an hour on a few occasions which is cool.

So that's about it for now, I'll post an update if something of significance happens in the future.

Thanks for reading
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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6/9/15 7:44 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Please ignore if this is intrusive!  I apologize in advance for that. 

I would guess that the realization of a new, more relaxed and fulfilling way to practice is actually intertwined with the transition from the excruciating tension of ReObs to the kind release of Low Eq.  Further evidence of this is your newfound ease in longer sitting times.  Also, I think there is a Middle Eq territory that is marked by boredom, which you said is your cutting edge.  I think later, Higher Eq is more exciting, entertaining, trippy, reality-warping, etc.- all before the big bang of SE.  Just one way to frame the practice (although I could be completely wrong).

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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6/9/15 8:26 PM as a reply to Noah.
Hey, no need for apologies, I welcome input from everybody, that's how I learn and grow.

I agree with your assessments, it does feel like I'm somewhere in EQ when I get to my cutting edge. I have had a few instances where I'll be sitting down just hanging out and this feeling of I don't know what comes, sort of like a confusion, but if I pay attention to where it originates in the body, it seems to come from the eye area and I just disincline from holding onto it and it subsides after a bit. During the sit today after I wrote my post, I had this strange feeling of something building up, like something was going to happen and I just stayed calm not grasping it and it subsided eventually, felt quite nice. Before, I'd get excited and my adrenaline would start pumping but I'm much better now at just letting it be. I think nowadays I'm pretty much exhausted of all striving to "get" Stream Entry. If my intuition is right, then just going how I'm going will let the thing happen eventually. 

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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6/9/15 10:40 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
That sounds right in terms of the descriptions that I have read!  

I think its valuable to use the nanas to frame/understand your experience but also to be willing to set them aside when necessary.  Cognitive insights and new attention-techniques can unlock new nanas.  Likewise, new nanas can uncover new, skillful ways of thinking and approaching meditation and life.  

I think that if you keep breaking down your experience and breaking up the patterns (vipassana), then stream entry will happen when you have become accustomed to all the territory of the mind that there is.  When your mind is bored of low-eq, mid-eq, high-eg and all the other nanas and the lessons they provide, it will pop and gush over :p 

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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6/10/15 2:51 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:


Make a strong resolution to get steam entry. Ask for assistance from whatever entities, Buddhas, spirit helpers, subconscious, higher self, angels....whatever you believe in....The switch is not on this side...."you" can not flip it. Then get to the dreamy/drifty spot and let go. ]The resolution seems to be the secret sauce that helps many people. Try it and see what happens.
Best of luck to you....If you want to chat message me...I can video with you if you would like to.
~D
I'm in. Resolution made.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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6/10/15 3:55 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V,

Plz continue posting. I'm very new both here and to this mediation life. I never had any maps, proper instructions, or anywhere to turn for advice or to ask questions, when I was younger and into meditation from martial arts.

I've begun reading this post and already learned many things and understood many other things from what you and others have posted. This is a great log. I truly appreciate the candor. Its nice to have found this site. Its helped me so much in the short time I've been here. 

Hope this is understood as encouragement. Posts like yours and many others help motivate me :-)

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/4/15 5:20 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Apologies for not posting more often, I basically got burned out. I stopped practicing and worked on my normal life for about 2 weeks. 

I just began practice again yesterday, and boy am I glad I began again. I don't regret the 2 weeks I took off. Felt like a recharge and a rekindling of my passion for practice. I'm starting off slow for now, just a couple sits a day to begin with, but it feels good to be back.

I feel like I almost had no choice in stopping practice. I got to a point where I said fuck it. Very frustrating. I felt there was no point anymore so I stopped, I reached my breaking point.

I still kind of don't give a shit, but I also feel like keeping on meditating is the only way to go. I see how I am when I sit and when I don't and I like me better when I sit. If all I get is a bit better me, then fuck it, at least I'm not suicidal. 

I am curious about things now though. I've been contemplating a bit, and sometimes under the influence of some THC, so hopefully I can gather the cojones (or energy) to ask the questions. 

I actually posted a question a few minutes ago, so go check it out, it's under the Stream Entry category. I hope I get many responses, sorry if that's selfish.

Anyway, that's it for now. Sorry for the lack of breakthroughs, but that's just how life went for me these past few weeks.

Thanks for reading
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/4/15 9:42 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V,

Thanks for this post. Again the honesty is needed. I appreciate what you are experiencing. I am so far behind you on the path, but I can see what you talk about. I've had a day here or there that I never felt like I wanted or needed to practice. So I didn't. I just followed my instincts, right or wrong.

Keep up the practice and the practice will keep you up :-)

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/4/15 2:51 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
You might not be that "far behind". Just keep practicing and reading posts that resonate with you. That's what's helped me so far. That and being consistent (except as of late).

Good luck Don

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/11/15 12:02 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V,

I have a question. You said, "I am curious about things now though. I've been contemplating a bit, and sometimes under the influence of some THC, so hopefully I can gather the cojones (or energy) to ask the questions."
What questions are you wanting to ask?

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/13/15 4:45 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
General questions and curiosities. Nothing in specific. I don't think there are any "important" or "special" questions that I need to ask, just sometimes I feel like a student in class who wants to ask a question, but doesn't want to look stupid by asking the obvious question. I'm only hurting myself by not asking though.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/13/15 4:53 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
So, update time.

Been pretty busy with "real life" stuff lately, and life has been relatively pleasant, so I'll admit that I haven't been meditating as much as I probably should. I have to start being more aggressive with practice. I have to push it (in a certain sense) when I hit Equanimity, because I get too complacent. I know there's more I need to notice and be ok with. Been doing some inquiry lately like "who am I?", or "what is this" just to see what I'm missing. I feel like I need to be like a person who doesn't want to workout because they're sleepy, and just do it. I've been working with some "frustration"-type feelings as well as a sort of sadness feeling in the eye area. I think this is due to some pretty hard physical wor in the past days. Sometimes I get this feeling I used to get a lot when I was younger. This feeling is like a slight contraction of the abdomen that feels really comfortable. It's hard to explain, but I see my niece doing it too when she's sleepy or relaxed, so it's either genetic, or something common to some humans.

So that's it for now. Goals for now are to be more aggressive in seeing sensations and to keep on keeping on. 

Thank you for reading
Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/13/15 10:39 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V,

I can relate, "General questions and curiosities. Nothing in specific. I don't think there are any "important" or "special" questions that I need to ask, just sometimes I feel like a student in class who wants to ask a question, but doesn't want to look stupid by asking the obvious question. I'm only hurting myself by not asking though."

That's one reason I don't ask much yet. I figure I might get my answers by reading. Maybe I'll find it (the answer) like so many others by what I read online, in books i've purchased or downloaded, and through posts in this site and others. So far, i've had many ah ha! moments by practicing after reading. I read, try it out, then see what my results are. Maybe its the wrong way, but it has been working, so I'm not worried. Just takes me a little longer than others. I had some severe closed head injuries during my life, so my brain has some damage. I have whole swaths of memory that are wiped.

Glad to read you are still giving it a go. Per your last post. Meditation has been what i've needed for some time but never realized.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/29/15 5:39 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Update time:

Been continuing practicing as much as I can muster. Been asking questions during practice, mostly "who am I?", then attending to the energetic/physical feeling of where I feel the I is. A lot of the time I feel the I is located somewhere around the head area so I just softly attend to this as much as I can. Mindfulness during the day is strong. I've been feeling very "heady" lately. Lots of energy around the crown and middle of head. I attend to this as much as I can. I have a feeling I need to just attend to whatever comes up and let the energetic qualities do their thing on my system. Just got to get used to these feelings by plainly attending to the feelings in the body. Been asking "what hears this?" and also "who thinks this?" at appropriate times. Just being creative with bringing a more engaged and thorough attentiveness.

Life's been less stressful lately, even though I'm aware of way more processes which before might have disturbed me. I'm also getting my diet in check a of lately. Supplementing with vitamins and minerals really help me out. Treating this journey like an athletic endevour. I could do this unassisted, but assistance helps out in the form of healthy foods and healthy supplements. Seems like the brain and body need to get used to the awareness of these feelings in the body, which I assume is being helped by proper nutrition and supplementation.

Anyway. That's it for now. Going to keep on keeping on. Thanks for reading.

Gerry

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/29/15 5:42 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I've actually bought way too many random dharma and new age books in the past and I wish I would've found this forum earlier. Probaby would have saved a bunch of money. But hey, maybe in the future I can gain some nice insights from these.

Also a reminder to you Don that the brain has plasticity and can adapt to new situations so keep doing what you're doing.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/29/15 6:01 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V,

Ha, funny you should mention to me the brains' plasticity. I know now for sure that I've had mine remolded, rewired, reworked, etc. Its been the most amazing thing to me, and for me. Thanks to this place I am recording my path so I can go back and read from the beginning and learn new things and see my progress.

Keep it up, it pays off.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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7/30/15 12:58 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Update time:

Been continuing practicing as much as I can muster. Been asking questions during practice, mostly "who am I?", then attending to the energetic/physical feeling of where I feel the I is. A lot of the time I feel the I is located somewhere around the head area so I just softly attend to this as much as I can. Mindfulness during the day is strong. I've been feeling very "heady" lately. Lots of energy around the crown and middle of head. I attend to this as much as I can. I have a feeling I need to just attend to whatever comes up and let the energetic qualities do their thing on my system. Just got to get used to these feelings by plainly attending to the feelings in the body. Been asking "what hears this?" and also "who thinks this?" at appropriate times. Just being creative with bringing a more engaged and thorough attentiveness.

Life's been less stressful lately, even though I'm aware of way more processes which before might have disturbed me. I'm also getting my diet in check a of lately. Supplementing with vitamins and minerals really help me out. Treating this journey like an athletic endevour. I could do this unassisted, but assistance helps out in the form of healthy foods and healthy supplements. Seems like the brain and body need to get used to the awareness of these feelings in the body, which I assume is being helped by proper nutrition and supplementation.

Anyway. That's it for now. Going to keep on keeping on. Thanks for reading.

Gerry

I like that point about the diet. Ive felt really in touch with body lately, sensitive to differences in digestion, energy level, etc.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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8/29/15 7:03 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Long time no talk.

So here's an update. Still no SE, but I do feel some sort of progress.

Lately been asking a lot of "What's going on right now?" and "Who/what am I?" type questions and noticing what sensations make up where my attention goes when I ask those questions. Been a lot of noticing of the head area, especially between the eyes and the eyes themselves. Today I felt a bit of tension in the top of the head, noted it as "sensation". Been noting a lot of things as "sensations", I feel like too much detail is overkill. Sensations are sensations whether good, bad, ugly, pretty, big, small, whatever. Every once in awhile I note a bit more descriptively, but its uncommon. Been getting to points quite frequently where I'll ask who I am, and it seems like nothings going on except for a subtle awareness of my experience. Feels pretty chill but when this happens I feel like I'm not doing enough so I ask who I am again and I still get the sense of the subtle awareness. This is what I've been noticing lately. I've also been thinking about some advice I've had about "letting go" when things get dreamy. Tbh, I'm kinda scared to waste time doing that and get lost in a pleasant haze, so I just notice things, seems like the safer option for me I think. Who knows tho right? I definitely don't, just experimenting and seeing what works.

On Motivation: My motivation to practice has been high lately, even when things are calm. I just don't like my life right now, and this constant cycling of DN and EQ is wearing my patience down. I feel more desperate in a way, but not exactly. I want to get past this stage and see what the next brings. I'd like some relief from the dukkha nanas in a more fundamental level than cycling up to EQ only to cycle back down. I know this is done by just keeping practice going so that's what I do. I also read a lot from the Stream Entry section of the forum, getting motivation there. Also thinking about how much time I'm wasting being pre path motivates me with despair, if that makes sense. I know I only have a certain amount of time on this earth, and even tho I'm relatively young, I dont feel accomplished at all and I feel held back with all this DN suffering. I'd like to do things without worrying about this constant nagging anxiety. Pretty sad, but this motivates me to practice. I know some people say, "let go of desires", but thats all I have now and it's somehow motivating me so fuck it, right?

On diet and some theories: I feel like Magnesium is a heaven sent gift from the lord above. Seriously tho, it's great, calms me down, just not too much at a time or else I get extremely groggy. Also salads are cool, eggs are good and I like greasy foods but I'm avoiding plant oils and sticking to animal fats, something like Paleo. Really helps me out. I also feel like it's probably important for Pre-pathers, especially ones prone to anxiety and panic to get their diets in check. We run off food, bad food don't help, good food is nourishing and we expend a lot of vital energy on stupid anxiety (which we have no real control over except for diet and coping mechanisms... and hopefully insight practice). Maybe with further paths and insights, useless energy ependiture is significantly decreased and diet isn't as much of a factor in making us feel ok.

Also a question, is asking questions like "Who am I?" and noticing the sensations associated with this "I" a valid strategy towards Stream Entry and beyond? It feels right, but I don't have SE so I can't say for sure it's effective.

Ok that's it, hopefully this wasn't too long.

Thanks for reading

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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8/29/15 9:16 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Hi Gerry, 


Also a question, is asking questions like "Who am I?" and noticing the sensations associated with this "I" a valid strategy towards Stream Entry and beyond? It feels right, but I don't have SE so I can't say for sure it's effective.

Ok that's it, hopefully this wasn't too long.


Nope. It was a good, clear read for me. 

So for me "Who am I?" would generate concept for a good while. Whereas something like zen "Mu" would probably not cause me concept. 

It's hard to know how a person will do with more of an insight-focused pratice versus a tranquilizing-focused practice (like, breathing meditation and kasina). So if you like this, and other methods leave you "hazy", maybe give this a good-gusto go for at least two months. Everyday, just do the practice you choose. At some point the "Who am I?" is can be like long, tranquilizing "WhoamiwhoamIwhoamI" phrase and/or it can be an insight sparker.  

So if you like it maybe make a real go of it. I wouldn't do a practice I didn't basically have a pleasant feeling for. The practice is challenging enough that I wouldn't add an aversive practice just because someone told me to. I like that you say you experiment for yourself not knowing who is right. Ditto :]

And about food: yes, I agree and it's repeatedly come up that people modify their diets here, a lot of ketosis (not always meaty tho)/paleo changes to clear the brain with a quasi-fast.

Daniel quotes a sutta called the "One favorable Desire" I think. I forget already which it is? Maybe it's in the Anguttara...? But when you write,"I dont feel accomplished at all and I feel held back with all this DN suffering. I'd like to do things without worrying about this constant nagging anxiety. Pretty sad, but this motivates me to practice. I know some people say, "let go of desires", but thats all I have now and it's somehow motivating me so fuck it, right?" I think that sutta would be in support of this particular desire.

Further, a friend and I read a letter from a teacher (Dr. Feyman) to his student (
Koichi Mano) this week and, like many people, this phrase from that letter was highlighted: "The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to. … No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it."

I don't have anything to offer your practice, just basic support. Best wishes!

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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9/13/15 8:07 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hey Katy, thanks for the reply emoticon

The way I use "who am I?" is by asking the question then feeling where this "I" is perceived.  A lot of the time, I get feeling in the upper head region, sometimes the eyes, sometimes the back of the head, sometimes the crown of my head. I then stick to these sensations with awareness and see the sensations equanimously. Sometimes they flicker, sometimes they appear solid, sometimes they appear solid then appear to flicker if I stick to them long enough. If there's a lot of unpleasant sensations going on, or if I feel dull and lost, I ask, "what's going on right now?", and I stick to whatever physical sensation is coming up, noting it if it is particularly difficult as this seems to help disembed. When things quiet down I go back to the "Who am I?" inquiry. For me, I don't get much discursiveness, and if I do I can recognize and note the thought relatively fast.

Something interesting about what you said about the practice being pleasant feeling... I've been following sensations in the head lately and I seem to be getting into some pleasurable experiences where I get locked into the head sensations. Sometimes the sensations expand outward in the head area in a cool, pleasant way. Reminds me of descriptions of either 3rd or 4th jhana. I should probably write down what I'm experiencing more often to get an accurate assessment.

And hey, thank you for the support, it really does help. 

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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9/13/15 8:16 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
 Update:

A lot of my update is in my reply to Katy so check it out if interested.

I've been doing my inquiry practice a lot recently and I'm investigating those sensations of where I assume the "I" is. I only do this when I reach a relatively quiet portion of practice. These sensations are located in the upper head region. I stick to these sensations and watch them flicker and I seem to reach what seems like 3rd or 4th jhana at times. I actually stopped inquiry for a few days to just kinda let myself experience whatever happened and I ended up spacing out a lot and losing mindfulness and eventually hitting the DN/Reob again hard. I began inquiry again and I'm in a much better place. Maybe that "letting it all be" practice isn't for me, or maybe not just yet. I'm just sticking to noticing whatever I assume to be "I". I've read about some people who don't advise watching the sensations of self, and I've read about people who say that watching these "self" sensations helped them progress towards Stream Entry. I haven't tried the inquiry practice long enough so I'm going to stick with it for awhile and see what happens.

That's it for now, thank you for reading emoticon

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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10/5/15 6:58 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I don't know how to begin this, so I'll just start off.
I stopped meditating for almost a week. I was just fed up with the bullshit chasing. I actually lost all hope for getting Stream Entry. I got sick, and I've been recovering slowly, almost 100% as of today. Being sick really sucks, I'm not used to it. Very unmotivating as well. I started meditating again about 2 or 3 days ago, mostly following the breath and whatever sensations came up. Today I did some breath meditation, and did some searching for stress, which was inspired from some thoughts I've had for months that were sort've confirmed to me in a thread  http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5787155 . I got a lot of sensations of stress in the body, below the head for a few minutes, then after awhile I was getting sensations at the spot I think of as the observer. Observed those sensations for the rest of the sit.

So there's where I am. I really don't know why I updated, there doesn't seem to be any progress, but it's good to write shit out sometimes. I honestly wish I was a normal human being, but there's a huge issue going on with me that I feel is only to be ultimately solved with meditation, I'm sure many of you can relate. I feel I want this suffering to be over, and all I can do is observe it and hope it leads to something productive. I know things will change in  few days, but this is a different post from what I've posted lately. I don't usually post when I'm so frustrated.

An idea that's been brewing in me lately is that if I can keep seeing and disidentifying with phenomena by just observing the sensations arise and pass, and keep going to more subtle sensations and stress, that this is the way to the promise land. Sounds simplistic, but that helps me push through the dark night to equanimity. Maybe if I do this consistently through equanimity and keep searching for the stress then eventually the thing will pop. I don't know, just ideas from a Pre stream enterer.

I also need to be consistent again with practice. I also need direction, which is why I'm searching for stress in the body to help me see things clearly. Also continuing asking questions helps me stay on track and not daydream.

Well that's it for now. I probably said a whole lot without saying much, but that's where I'm at. Hopefully in a few days I can return with a better update.

Oh and also thank you to EVERYONE who has replied on my thread, old replies included. There's a lot of gold there that I go back and read every once in awhile. Just wanted to let you all know that you are appreciated, I'm just not very good at showing it so I apologize for that.

Ok, post done.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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10/5/15 10:10 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Hey Gerry, sorry you got sick.  "all I can do is observe it and hope it leads to something productive" sounds just like pretty good work to me.  Maybe, add 'hope' to the list of things to notice. emoticon

Hang in there.

Edit, addition: at some point I found the ability to apply what I called compassion to my meditative experience.  To notice the suffering in everything and be OK with it.  It really felt kind of like a valve... I'd notice I was thinking about some bad thing or having a bad feeling, I'd sort of forgive myself or the other, give permission for it to be that way, accept it as fact, recognize inevitability, understand that it has to be that way, whatever but the important part was that there is some kind of valve I could open and relax away being stuck on that thing.  It is a way to stop dead a discursive trend in the mind.  Maybe compassion is not the right word, but that's what occurs to me to call it.  I hope this is useful but don't hesitate to ignore if it seems too random. emoticon

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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10/7/15 5:02 PM as a reply to Matt.
Hey! Thanks for the reply. It's good to hear from you.

I was going to reply a couple days ago but I was in such a shit mood that I decided to wait to see if my mood changed in the coming days, and yup, it definitely changed. 

I appeciated the edit portion of your post. I can see how this can be considered compassion. I really stuck to whatever was going on and I seem to be in a much more equanimous place as of today.

I have a question for you though if you don't mind. Did you get any periods of boredom during sits? If so, what did you do? Did you keep investigation high somehow? I find it hard to keep mindful when there's not many sensations happening in the body so I do self inquiry, but I was curious if you had any experience with navigating these "bored" periods. If this didn't happen much to you then feel free to ignore. Just curious.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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10/7/15 5:07 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I decided yesterday that I was going to post a new update every other day to keep myself accountable and to keep a more frequent and up to date analysis of what's going on in my practice.

For the past couple of days, I've been working a lot with tension in the heart area. It seems like that area is the most "troublesome" for me. Being a hypochondriac, whenever I have a pain or sensation there, i freak out and instantly thing I'm in some health trouble. Nowadays I dont freak out much. I treat it much more like any other pain, and those feelings don't send me into a tailspin of negative thought loops about dying.
To keep it current, I just finished a 45 minute sit after a decent sized lunch. It's interesting to feel the stomach digest the food, and then it move into the intestines to get absorbed into the body. Sensing the process seems to really help digestion go more smoothly. About 20-30 minutes into the sit I got energy in the heart area, an acceleration of the heart rate. I stayed with that meanwhile I was also getting energy in the third eye area. I stuck to whatever was most apparent. After awhile, the energy died down and I began some inquiry into who was aware. I was getting sensations in the eye area so I stayed with that. After awhile even those sensations dwindled and I got a bored feeling that I really seem to struggle with. I kept my inquiry and I kept referencing the area behind my eyeballs, but in a more subtle way. I stayed with that which felt very nice in a calm way. I kept the inquiry up for the rest of the sit until I felt I was done.

My main problems I'd say are...

1) I don't meditate long enough, I dont think. Also I should probably do 2 a day sessions, at least.
2) When I get to the bored area in my sits, I tend to wander off into subtle thoughts unless I keep the inquiry going.
3) Uncertainty about if I'm doing the practice correct. It seems to me very abstract the instructions of meditation and the theory behind it, especially the transition to Stream Entry from Equanimity. Seems pretty paradoxical at times and instructions are not specific in the way I'd like. I get the whole, "Note everything including uncertainty", but when I hit that bored stage, there's not much to note, or at least not much that's apparent. Body sensations are tuned down and it's easy to get lost in thought. I note the thoughts but then what? That's the big issue I'm having. This is why I'm using inquiry to see what's still left acting as observer. Maybe I'm missing that.

So that's my update. I'll update again in a couple days.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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10/10/15 2:01 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Quick Update: Still continuing meditation. Still doing the "Who am I?" questions and getting sensations at the head. Heart pressures are pretty much gone, although I do get tightness related to anxiety that I attend to. I think I just need to be with everything consistently then good things will happen. Time will tell. Hopefully next update is more in depth and detailed.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/16/15 7:57 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Deleted my last post. Pondering on it, I didn't like it. Apologies for anyone who read that. 

Basically just starting up practice again after a 2 month or so break. Going at it full steam ahead. Thank you all for your help

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/18/15 5:33 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Continuing practice, about twice a day, for as long as I can sustain, which is usually 25+ minutes, still working back to the endurance I had when I stopped.

Been feeling a lot of sleepiness and dreaminess in practice lately. Not sure if it's regular sleepiness or stage related. regardless, i stick with it and just notice these feelings until they change or dissapear. When I feel the "calmest", I get this sense of this subtle observer who's watching everything, like the whole of my experience is there, but the watcher is part of that too. Kinda hard to explain, but I just gently observe this. At times I'll get the typical 3rd eye pressure and I just stick to this as long as it's there. I still get pains in practice, but I can stick with these feeling equanimously much better than before, and this usully lead to the pains eventually dissipating. Kinda weird how observation can affect pain, makes me wonder just how much of the pain we have is "self inflicted". At times I'll start having strange daydreams, but I snap out of them pretty quickly most of the time. At times when I don't know what to do, I ask myself questions like, "What's going on right now?", or "Who am I? (What sensations imply self)" and see what sensation arise in response to these questions. .

A question I have on the 3 characteristics. Is a good way to notice suffering to ask "is there any tension here?" ? I ask this because Impermanence is sorta seen by seeing how things change, and how attention changes. No self (from my understanding) can be seen by noticing that whatever happens is observed, therefore it can't be you (the observer). Suffering is a bit different. I can see how pain shows suffering, but pleasant or neutral sensations are harder because the don't bother me. I do notice a slight tension in these things tho. So when neutral or pleasant sensations arise, I'll ask, "Is there any tension here?", and feel around where there's tension, and stick my attention to there. Just curious if this is valid, as I'm still kinda confused about "seeing the 3 characteristics"

Ok, that's it for now, i'll update at a later time.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/19/15 6:33 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:

A question I have on the 3 characteristics. Is a good way to notice suffering to ask "is there any tension here?" ? I ask this because Impermanence is sorta seen by seeing how things change, and how attention changes. No self (from my understanding) can be seen by noticing that whatever happens is observed, therefore it can't be you (the observer). Suffering is a bit different. I can see how pain shows suffering, but pleasant or neutral sensations are harder because the don't bother me. I do notice a slight tension in these things tho. So when neutral or pleasant sensations arise, I'll ask, "Is there any tension here?", and feel around where there's tension, and stick my attention to there. Just curious if this is valid, as I'm still kinda confused about "seeing the 3 characteristics"


Fruitions usually happened for me when I made an internal commitment to "allow reality to be unconditionally pleasurable" or "to be familiar."  I always recognized this as the suffering door.  It didn't seem like it was about pleasure quite in the dualistic sense, but more so about channeling a sort of blissful, hypo-mania which allowed me to open my heart to the range of experience.  So I understand the suffering characteristic to be that which highlights the opposite, which might be the ability to permanently transcend personal experience in a way that relieves it.  Another way of saying this is that it was about non-resistance.  So the suffering door might be related to how there is a sense of *tension* in all experience, whether we are being pushed away (pain) or pulled in (pleasure).  Non-resistance to both the push and the pull might be what the suffering characteristic is pointing to.  This advice probably sucks, btw, which is why its just personal experience, not a suggestion.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/19/15 7:08 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thanks for the reply Noah.

I think I understand what you mean by non-resistance. Months back, I'd be hesitant to place my attention on painful sensations, so I'd ignore them as best I could and only stick to pleasant or neutral ones. Nowadays I can place my awareness on most things, unless the sensation is way too intense, then I'll turn attention away for as long as I deem appropriate then go back when I feel I can handle it. I think fully embracing sensions by attending to whatever shows up is my way non-resistance.

Now, I guess the only "issue", if you can call it that, is that when things get very quiet, I don't feel I have much to note. I sorta solve that issue by asking questions like "what's going on?" (meaning what sensations are presenting at the time, or "who am I?" (meaning what sensations are implying an I). Another way is asking myself where there's tension, and placing my attention there, even tho when it's really calm and quiet, this tension is very subtle. This tension can feel like a subtle sense of observation, more subtle than the strong behind the eyebrow sensation I sometimes get when I ask who I am. Something like the observation is observing the whole of my experience in a wider way. I usually just attend to this in a relaxed way. 

I feel like I just need to keep up the practice and eventually I'll progress. Probably one of those things that needs time, which I remind myself of if I ever get impatient (which I rarely do when I get to the calm space, because things are quite pleasant and relaxing anyway). Regardless I think I'll continue logging what's going on in practice just in case I'm going astray or if there's anything I can or should do.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/20/15 11:00 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Noticing the suffering characteristic inherent in any sensation, pleasant or painful (sometimes so subtle as to be quite easy to rest your attention on), gives rise to dispassion, so another optional route is to just go ahead and focus on dispassion itself. You might draw the distinction that this a concentration technique, whereas "noticing suffering" is an insight technique. Just so it will bring about a different flavor of experience, but it can be useful to come at things from different angles.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/20/15 1:55 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Interesting. When you say focus on dispassion, do you mean focus on the actual sensations associated with dispassion, to cultivate an attitude of dispassion or something else?

For me what happens is I'll note if things are too overwhelming, then when things calm down I'll notice whatever sensations come up watching them come and go, then I'll hit a spot where I'll feel a relaxed and kinda sleepy and spacey with the observer being implied in the entirety of this experience. Sort of a subtle tension in it. Then I'll just observe this gently, occasionally noticing the tension (suffering quality) of this experience and just keep watching.

Before, I'd think that I needed to "go" to the next step, whatever it was, but now I have a feeling I probably need to cook in these experiences and eventually good things will happen. Just need to be consistent and patient. Also helps that it's relaxing as opposed to the regular shitty sensations I experience in the DN. emoticon

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/21/15 5:09 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Something I've been noticing lately is that my attention seems to end up "softer' at the end of my sits. Before, I'd ask "who am I?", and strong sensations would appear behind the eye area. Nowadays, I still get those, but much less often. Now I experience the awareness as a soft focus. I think noticing how irritating this attention sensation was has led me to let go of that tension easier and more often leading to a more diffuse sort of awareness. This leads to a more relaxed disposition after meditation, but also a harder time to concentrate in the conventional sense. Feels like I'm heading in the right direction. I tend to note with words more often in the beginning of my sits but I let that go moreso when my concentration increases. I'm sticking to noticing whatever sensations appear, not really "looking" for any, just sorta relaxing and letting whatever come. Occasion inquiries if I feel stuck or feel I don't have a good grasp of what's going on.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/21/15 7:45 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Interesting. When you say focus on dispassion, do you mean focus on the actual sensations associated with dispassion, to cultivate an attitude of dispassion or something else?


Cultivate an attitude. It can go hand in hand with noticing the suffering/tension aspect (as in, noticing the sensations), in that they can help feed each other.

For instance, if I direct my mind to notice suffering, then my mind will look for it and almost immediately find tensions and micro or macro struggles going on within my mind/body, and from there, it becomes easier for the mind to let go of them naturally. If on the other hand I direct my mind in a dispassioned manner, then I am less likely to experience those tensions (as I will not be so quick to grasp at experience), and so the experience will be in general smoother and clearer.

However, if I train myself just in noticing the suffering aspect, I run the risk of never allowing my mind to be in a clear, calm state, because I will always find tensions/struggles going on somewhere. On the other hand, if I only train myself to have a dispassionate attitude toward experience, then I will effectively block out tensions/struggles that nonetheless are continually cropping up, even if only in the subconscious, and still utilizing my energetic resources in some way or another.

Concentration is about willing positive mindstates.

Insight is about integration, sometimes at the surface level, sometimes at deep levels.

In this sense I would argue concentration and insight are best practiced hand-in-hand; concentration fuels the mechanism, insight puts it to use.

Hope that helps. Let me know if anything is unclear.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/21/15 10:56 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
What I mean by noticing tensions is basically just noticing sensations and seeing that they always have a slight tension when I notice them. Pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. Each sensation has a tension in it, just by observing it, even if it's a passive observation. I'm not straining to see them (the sensations), they just show up. I only remind myself to notice what's there if I get sleepy or dreamy because I feel like I might lose mindfulness or daydream if I don't remind myself. Although the sleepiness could be stage related, I still want to keep awareness of it, if that makes sense.

I also am not quite clear on what you mean by viewing with dispassion. The way I do it is I just watch things come and go and this seems to do something where sensations start dieing down and new subtle ones (like dreaminess) show up. I don't intentionally look at pains and tensions to notice suffering, I just notice whatever happens to be in front of me. Mostly it's shitty sensations/tensions because that's probably stage related, but sometimes they're pleasant or neutral, especially as the minutes go by in my sits. The way I understand dispassion is just viewing whatever shows up as another sensation, regardless of what it is and just sticking with whatever's there at the moment. Am I understanding dispassion correctly or do you mean another way?

Also, I've tried to will positive mindstates but it's difficult for me. Like I said, it's probably stage related but finding pleasure in things can be difficult and I'm not too good at cultivating good mindstates at the moment. This is why I just stick to whatever's in front of me, because if I were to only focus on positive things then I'd be unfocused most of the time.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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12/22/15 12:58 AM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
What I mean by noticing tensions is basically just noticing sensations and seeing that they always have a slight tension when I notice them. Pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. Each sensation has a tension in it, just by observing it, even if it's a passive observation. I'm not straining to see them (the sensations), they just show up. I only remind myself to notice what's there if I get sleepy or dreamy because I feel like I might lose mindfulness or daydream if I don't remind myself. Although the sleepiness could be stage related, I still want to keep awareness of it, if that makes sense.

Exactly, that is the suffering characteristic, tension, sometimes subtle, in any and everything the mind "touches" as an object. And I understand trying to keep awareness during states such as sleepiness or even lack of focus, that is a good skill to have.

I also am not quite clear on what you mean by viewing with dispassion. The way I do it is I just watch things come and go and this seems to do something where sensations start dieing down and new subtle ones (like dreaminess) show up. I don't intentionally look at pains and tensions to notice suffering, I just notice whatever happens to be in front of me. Mostly it's shitty sensations/tensions because that's probably stage related, but sometimes they're pleasant or neutral, especially as the minutes go by in my sits. The way I understand dispassion is just viewing whatever shows up as another sensation, regardless of what it is and just sticking with whatever's there at the moment. Am I understanding dispassion correctly or do you mean another way?

So, the suffering aspect of experience which you notice with the "whatever comes up" approach is related to the natural attachment the mind has with the aggregates of form, feeling, perception, volitions, and consciousness. Attachment causes suffering because it is not in harmony with the impermanent nature of reality, but rather based on fundamental misperceptions of reality that tie in to the fundamental nature of the mind/body phenomenon itself. Focusing on dispassion is essentially taking that lesson (that attachment = some level of suffering) and willing the mind in this way: I will not become attached to any experience or sensation that arises in the field of my experience, whether it be a physical sensation, internal feeling sensation, perception, thought, memory, mind state, etc. This does not mean to be aversive to experience, or to push it away, it means simply dropping any and every thing that comes up in the field of experience without exception. It's quite a different skill from "whatever comes up" because it is very much actively directing the mind.

Also, I've tried to will positive mindstates but it's difficult for me. Like I said, it's probably stage related but finding pleasure in things can be difficult and I'm not too good at cultivating good mindstates at the moment. This is why I just stick to whatever's in front of me, because if I were to only focus on positive things then I'd be unfocused most of the time.

I get it, man, this path is definitely not always easy. It may be the right time for you to stick with what you know, or it may be the right time to try to switch things up. It's tough to say. That kind of intuition should not be underestimated.

Best of luck,
Kyle 


RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/2/16 9:32 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Hello and Happy New Year. just thought I'd give an update.

I've been continuing practice as usual, minus the previous 2 days for the most part, especially yesterday. Been continuing to sit and notice whatever comes up. I've been having trouble with sleepiness in sits so I've decided to start anchoring the attention on the breath whenever I don't have anything apparent to note. It feels like this sleepiness is part of a stage in practice, but I don't want to be a lazy meditator and it doesn't feel right to go off into La La land. I have no reference point in how to practically get a Fruition so I want to do everything I can just to notice whatever's happening. May be the right approach, maybe I need to stay in the dreamy spot, but intuition is telling me to concentrate on the breath as an anchor. Ive been getting a lot of sensations at the brow area associated with sleepiness and that's where a lot of sensations tend to show up towards the middle and end of my sits. The sensation of effort has a scrunching type sensation at the brow or just behind the eyes. I stick to that and note it. Just gonna continue to notice what I can and see where it takes me.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/4/16 4:04 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I've been focusing on the breath wherever I feel it in the body, and it's been working well for me as of lately.

I was reading some of the instructions given by Mahasi Sayadaw and he said to note the rising and falling of the breath. I've been doing the noting part, but missing on the anchoring the attention on the breath part. I feel I really needed the breath anchor to keep me in check. Now, I have no issues finding things to note, because I can always fall back to the breath, an object related to the breath, or a distraction away from the breath. I feel noting with words helps compliment the practice as well, unless there's a sensation that feels like it needs my undivided, pre-verbal awareness. Focusing on the breath is also pretty damn relaxing which helps take the edge away from Reobservation and the other unstable nanas. I feel like I can always vipassanize the moment if it gets to Samatha like, by noting. Noting shows that whatever I note isn't "me" and shows impermanence to a degree... gives me a bit of wiggle room around the sensation. I also feel I can meditate a bit longer more comfortably because I have something to "do" by anchoring at the breath. Instinctually, I felt I was really slacking off by only noting. Now I feel I have a more proactive approcach, which paradoxically helps me be calmer. There's probably more to sticking to the breath which is beneficial which is why I'm gonna stick to it for the foreseeable future. Not to mention that I believe I originally crossed the A&P following the breath back in my high school days. If it got me past that, maybe it can get me past this next hump.

Something else I've been learning not only from meditation, but from working out, is that this thing I'm doing is a marathon, not a sprint, and that I need to be patient. I probably have a lot of bad habits I need to break before I get Stream Entry, and I've accepted this much better than when I first began. It encourages me to see meditators learn and advance towards further awakening, but it can also be discouraging to see skilled meditators advance way quicker than me. I'm starting to really just accept that I probably need a slower progression to get where I wanna get to, but consistency is the key to the thing in the end. Do something often and you'll get better at it. Period. It's all about patience.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/6/16 7:05 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
"This does not mean to be aversive to experience, or to push it away, it means simply dropping any and every thing that comes up in the field of experience without exception. It's quite a different skill from "whatever comes up" because it is very much actively directing the mind."

This has been on my mind lately, especially the "dropping" part and the "actively directing the mind" part. I've been doing anapanasati for the past few days, and while it keeps me more aware, it's quite irritating to place my awareness on the breath intentionally. It feels like my attention is always tuned to something other than the breath (usually shitty irritating feelings). Because of this I've left noticing the breath only if I'm tired and instead I'll just pay attention and note whatever comes up. Instead of doing the straight forward, in your face noting, I've been sort of lightly noting whatever comes up with a "whatever" type of attitude. Like I don't really care what it is, I just note it, like I don't care for it, if that makes sense. This seems to me to be related to the dispassion you were speaking about. I could be mistaken, if I am, please correct me. Is this what I should be aiming for? It leads to an almost sleepy I dont care type of state. Like, I'll be noting and aware of what's happening, but I'm almost noting it peripherally, like a soft sideway note if that makes sense. Sort of disregarding it's importance and going back to the field of whatever's happening. I usually note things until they pass away, but this aaproach is like a "hey.. ok I don't care" . A light touch with the note. Sometimes I don't even note in words, more of a quick sound. The past sit I just had a few minutes ago lead to a dreamy relaxed state. It feels like what's left is the awareness of this state itself, but I don't know how to let that go if that makes sense. It feels like maybe doing it like I've been doing lately could lead to a good thing. Being "whatever" with it, attitude-wise. Dispassion seems like a good description, idk. What do you think? I'm open to suggestions

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/7/16 2:50 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
"This does not mean to be aversive to experience, or to push it away, it means simply dropping any and every thing that comes up in the field of experience without exception. It's quite a different skill from "whatever comes up" because it is very much actively directing the mind."

This has been on my mind lately, especially the "dropping" part and the "actively directing the mind" part. I've been doing anapanasati for the past few days, and while it keeps me more aware, it's quite irritating to place my awareness on the breath intentionally. It feels like my attention is always tuned to something other than the breath (usually shitty irritating feelings). Because of this I've left noticing the breath only if I'm tired and instead I'll just pay attention and note whatever comes up. Instead of doing the straight forward, in your face noting, I've been sort of lightly noting whatever comes up with a "whatever" type of attitude. Like I don't really care what it is, I just note it, like I don't care for it, if that makes sense. This seems to me to be related to the dispassion you were speaking about. I could be mistaken, if I am, please correct me. Is this what I should be aiming for? It leads to an almost sleepy I dont care type of state. Like, I'll be noting and aware of what's happening, but I'm almost noting it peripherally, like a soft sideway note if that makes sense. Sort of disregarding it's importance and going back to the field of whatever's happening. I usually note things until they pass away, but this aaproach is like a "hey.. ok I don't care" . A light touch with the note. Sometimes I don't even note in words, more of a quick sound. The past sit I just had a few minutes ago lead to a dreamy relaxed state. It feels like what's left is the awareness of this state itself, but I don't know how to let that go if that makes sense. It feels like maybe doing it like I've been doing lately could lead to a good thing. Being "whatever" with it, attitude-wise. Dispassion seems like a good description, idk. What do you think? I'm open to suggestions

Gerry,

Maybe once you get to the point where all that's left is awareness of the state itself, you could try to see if anything in the field of your experience (including thoughts about what you're doing) is permanent, or if there's anything intrinsically "you" in it. Then just ride with whatever comes up.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/9/16 5:09 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I've been sticking to a more relaxed type of attention I seem to be advancing. I've been contemplating what it means to be dispassionate and the role of the 3 characteristics in practice and I seem to have made a new understanding of it. I've been perceiving the 3 c's in whatever shows up. Reminding myself that it's stressful, that it's out of my control, that it's not me, that it's subject to change, therefore unworthy of attachment. This is the direction that not only feels better, but also seems to be leading me to let go of more things. Instead of facing a sensation head on in the hopes of "finding" the 3 c's, I just remind myself about why it's not useful to attach to it and instead just let it be while I keep a wider, more panoramic perspective. It feels like this is what's been missing for me.

At the moment I feel a lightness at the third eye area and the eye's themselves feel relaxed and unfocused. I'm working on noticing whatever I feel "I" am, whatever I feel attached to, and disinclining from attaching to it in a broad attention sort of way. At times it feels like I'm sorta dozing off, but with awareness of it and subtle notes like "this" or mono-syllabic sounds. At times I'll say "this isn't me" or "this is stressful" just to disincline the mind from attachment.

Last night before falling asleep, I was being mindful of what was going on and I got "shocked' out of almost falling asleep. Didn't feel like a discontinuity, but maybe a near miss. Felt kinda strange, but I didn't and don't feel different which is why I'm calling it a near miss.

Anywho, just gonna continue this way. If there's anything I should know, let me know, or if there's anything I need to improve on let me know also. I feel ready to get this thing rolling.

Edit: Forgot to add something. I've been feeling some disorientation at the head/eye area which gives me the impression of instability. Feels like little flutters which tend to also make my eye flutter a bit too. Not too intense but interesting and different. Makes reality feel kinda unstable. I remind myself of the 3 c's when this comes up.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/9/16 4:45 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Hey IW

I've been doing what you said and noticing if there's any "me" in the experience and I do notice a sort of broad, soft awareness of things. I'll percieve the 3 characterics in this and just go along with whatever shows up with disinclination of attaching in mind. I wrote about my experiences in my update if you'd like to check it out. I have a question though.
When you say disincline, is this a reason for people perceiving the 3 characteristics? To disincline the mind from going along and attaching to things? It sounds kinda basic, but this idea has been in my head ever since you gave me the advice to be dispassionate and I never really had that understanding. The idea that going at a sensation head on wasn't the correct way, but cultivating dispassion for going at a sensation was moreso correct. More of a relaxed paying attention than I was doing. Is this correct, or am I misunderstanding?

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/10/16 11:34 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
Hey IW

I've been doing what you said and noticing if there's any "me" in the experience and I do notice a sort of broad, soft awareness of things. I'll percieve the 3 characterics in this and just go along with whatever shows up with disinclination of attaching in mind. I wrote about my experiences in my update if you'd like to check it out. I have a question though.
When you say disincline, is this a reason for people perceiving the 3 characteristics? To disincline the mind from going along and attaching to things? It sounds kinda basic, but this idea has been in my head ever since you gave me the advice to be dispassionate and I never really had that understanding. The idea that going at a sensation head on wasn't the correct way, but cultivating dispassion for going at a sensation was moreso correct. More of a relaxed paying attention than I was doing. Is this correct, or am I misunderstanding?

Gerry,

Here's what I said in myfirst response to your question about the suffering characteristic:

"Noticing the suffering characteristic inherent in any sensation, pleasant or painful (sometimes so subtle as to be quite easy to rest your attention on), gives rise to dispassion, so another optional route is to just go ahead and focuson dispassion itself. You might draw the distinction that this a concentration technique, whereas "noticing suffering" is an insight technique. Just so it will bring about a different flavor of experience, but it can be useful to come at things from different angles."

So what I was saying here is that noticing the suffering characteristic and focusing on dispassion are kind of like two sides of the same coin. Noticing the suffering characteristic is a moment-to-moment technique that will lead naturally to dispassion (and, if a certain momentum is achieved, to fruition), while focusing on dispassion is a way to will the mind in a more continuous manner in the same direction. In the former, the faculty of mindfulness takes the front seat; in the latter, the faculty of concentration.

Now, I really fudged things up when, in response to your question about that post, I told you that dispassion should be cultivated as an attitude. That's just wrong -- you were right in your initial assumption that it means to focus on sensations related to dispassion. I think I made the mistake because I used to practice a real "move along" type attitude, which was more or less the practice of ignoring, a while back when I was trying to make sense of the anapanasati and also dealing with some pretty serious life "stuff". In that sutta, the advice to "focus on dispassion" comes in the forth tetrad, grouped with "focusing on cessation", "focusing on inconstancy", and "resulting in relinquishment" as "mental factors". So the distinction is between attitude and mental factors; attitude is the leading intention of the mind (which should generally be positive, encouraging), while mental factors are components that the mind considers before forming individual volitions. They may seem on paper like similar things, but the truth is they are very different. Understanding the distinction might be essential so that both aspects -- attitude and taking mental factors as an object of meditation -- can work in harmony. Any more questions on that I would be happy to try and address.

So I'm sorry. Most of the advice I gave you on 12/21/15 and in the 2nd paragraph of my response on 12/22/15, in blue text, I would disregard.

Now this:

"For me what happens is I'll note if things are too overwhelming, then when things calm down I'll notice whatever sensations come up watching them come and go, then I'll hit a spot where I'll feel a relaxed and kinda sleepy and spacey with the observer being implied in the entirety of this experience. Sort of a subtle tension in it. Then I'll just observe this gently, occasionally noticing the tension (suffering quality) of this experience and just keep watching. "

sounds to me like the right track. Also, although Noah downplayed it, I thought his advice on "allowing reality" was really good.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/11/16 5:28 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
I'm pretty out of it today, but I'll see what I can do as far as an update goes. 

I've been sticking with the sitting consistency and something I've been wondering about is how to transition to equanimity from the dark night effectively. Something that I notice happens in the dark night is that some shitty sensation happens and my attention hones in on it like a laser. This causes me to constrict, sometimes grossly or subtly, around the sensation. Idk what this is called in buddhist terms, clinging, craving, attaching? Idk. Whatever it is, it's not helpful. What I do when this happens is I put my attention on the edges of the shitty sensation instead of directly in the middle of it. This leads to a peripheral awareness of this, which if done consistently, leads me to what I call equanimity. Equanimity for me is when those shitty sensations are either minimized and not honed in on in a narrow way, or when there's no significant shitty sensation, just this wide awareness of this dreamy, sleepy state. Occasionally I'll get bumped back to some shitty feeling, but if I keep a wide, relaxed awareness of whatever happens, the shitty feelings eventually dont hurt or they go away entirely and I'm back to the dreamy relaxed state. When I'm in this state I just ride it out and am aware of it. I keep a relaxed awareness of this and it kinda feels like a deepening calm. I've tried noting when I'm here but it tends to narrow my focus and it feels stressful, I guess because so little suffering is happenign I can notice the subtle tensions and they seem more stressful than usual. Doing anything intentional like pondering the 3 c's of it feels stressful so I just ride it out. I have no idea if this is the correct way. I've heard conflicting advice that you should note the whole time, or that you should let it be, but I'm just doing what feels right for now. I just wish I had a little instructional voice in my head telling me exactly what to do. That would be nice emoticon

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/11/16 5:46 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Hey IW, I guess I still don't understand what focusing on dispassion means. Focusing on suffering, for me means seeing my experience through a lense that says "this is stressful and clinging to it causes suffering". Idk how I'd focus on dispassion though. I can't find a sensation in my experience that feels like dispassion other than when I get to what I call Equanimity.  It feels very chilled out and dreamy. Another interpretation I can see for dispassion would be to percieve things with the lens that nothing is worth clinging to (especially in the narrow focus way). If you mean something else I'm curious.

The difference between attitude and mental factors is also confusing to me. I guess it comes down to how we use words. When I say attitude  I probably don't mean it in the exact definition way. I mean an intentional way of seeing phenomena which highlights the suffering they cause if attached to, the way every phenomena is impermanent or the way something so inconstant can't be me. Like a mental filter. Idk what you'd call that, maybe that's a mental factor.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
Answer
1/11/16 11:54 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Gerry V:
I can't find a sensation in my experience that feels like dispassion other than when I get to what I call Equanimity.  It feels very chilled out and dreamy.

Gerry, what you're refering to here is probably dispassion as a mental factor. States of equanimity are where one is most primed to notice and, if one chooses, focus on mental factors.

The difference between attitude and mental factors is also confusing to me. I guess it comes down to how we use words. When I say attitude  I probably don't mean it in the exact definition way. I mean an intentional way of seeing phenomena which highlights the suffering they cause if attached to, the way every phenomena is impermanent or the way something so inconstant can't be me. Like a mental filter. Idk what you'd call that, maybe that's a mental factor.

So in the system of the eightfold path it is said that one should normally develop a wholesome attitude. This means volitions of generosity, kindness, compassion, and so on. And I would agree with this. However, as one reaches deeper states of meditation, one begins to access pre-volitional data, so things that go on before the mind is able to form a volition, and so it is here that attitude or intentions begin to fade, collapsing before, during, or just after entering the mental field. This is where awareness of mental factors emerges and is what I imagine is happening to you when you enter the "dreamy" state you refer to. The Anapanasati encourages one at this point to focus on this fading quality (in fact, the literal translation of the word dispassion in the sutta is "fading"), and also the qualities of cessation and inconstancy. These are essentially the three characteristics, dispassion being suffering, cessation being not-self, and inconstancy being impermanence.

Hope that helps.

-Kyle


RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/12/16 3:10 AM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
This was very very helpful Kyle, thank you so much. It makes a lot more sense to me now.

The Anapanasati sutta has always been interesting to me. I've read it a few times and the way you explain the last steps resonates with me. I always thought the last 3 steps kinda sounded like the 3 c's too.

It seems like mental factors are more subtle than attitudes if I'm understanding correctly. I'll do some research on mental factors tomorrow morning though, just to get better acquainted with the lingo and know exactly what they are.

RE: Gerry's Noting practice log aiming for Stream Entry
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1/12/16 2:53 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Just wanted to add, the reason you are encouraged to focus on mental factors or pre-volitional data at deep states of meditation is that volitions like intentions are conditioned phenomena (meaning linked up in the chain of cause and effect along with your unconscious/inborn assumptions about that chain), and so in order address the problem of those incorrect assumptions, the mind must first approach the unconditioned, or unfabricated, which is like a platform from which the mind can then free itself (fruition). Mental factors/the 3Cs are like signposts pointing the way.