Alex's Practice Log

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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

Alex's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
This is my second post in this category, my other one being about a May retreat. Since then I've been practicing vipassana mostly, fluxing between stronger and weaker periods of motivation. A couple weeks ago I went through my strongest period of practice off retreat, meditating with a high quality and often, getting into mid to high EQ and with a curiosity of the mind while having fun like this is a video game. During daily life I maintaned momentum with a gentle paying attention every time I remembered dharma. But then I began to burn out. This period was unpleasant with stronger insight bug feelings but less desire to do anything about it and feelings of anger toward that with some debauchery and pleasure seeking to drown myself in with no pull towards dharma. Definitely more Re-Ob during this period.

Yesterday I decided I need to meditate but couldn't figure out how to do it with vipassana so I did concentration with the intention of fueling my vipassana to get SE at some point. I've taken Kenneth Folk's model of (paraphrasing) "you need to work on concentration after the A&P" because I  already "reach all the strata of mind (up to EQ) but need to penetrate more deeply into said strata". Reflecting on my very little practice sessions of concentration since this last retreat I think I'm starting to finally identify being in soft jhana, either 1 or 2 and maybe slipping into 4th vipassana jhana accidentally. I particularly remember this one sit (lying down) where I decided to work on relaxation and not try so hard. I simply said phrases like "peace" and "relax" very gently and appied effor very gently. The typical physical feelings came up of pleasant tingling I get but then a small welling up of joy arose. That was the first time I've gotten the joy, so it improved my confidence that I can actually do jhana.

So remembering this experience along with Kenneth Folk's Model, in the wake of not making progress in vipassana, I read up on jhana in Ian And's thread and decided I'm going to cultivate concentration, relaxation and jhana if it happens. The techniques I'm using are: to concentrate on the the breath VERY gently to practice concentration with an emphasis on relaxation, and using an LED light closed eye kasina and a black circle open eye kasina to practice concentration with relaxation with an emphasis on really staying with that object. Now that I actually have the ability to physically relax, I can calm my nerves and give my body some love in the form of relaxation after years of post A&P anxiety. Then I concentrate better, which in turn can be used to relax more. This is my game plan post burnout and debauchery period. Hopefully this log will help me grow as a meditator somehow.

Here's my tashion' sesh bro (haha)

9/2/14

Pre-meditative context: 12 ounces yerba mate (containing caffeine and theobromine). Ate breakfast, recently awoken.
Technique: LED Kasina and breath as objects
Posture: lying on back, comfy
Aides: ear plugs, mindfold, 1 white LED
Duration: ??? 20-30mins maybe

Sitting events: I focused on the after-image for a while until I was sure it was gone, then I relaxed with breath as object. Eyes open, I focus on the black dot until it fades before shining my eyes again. I'm engaged with the visual object like a video game, it's fun. I relax with the breath like I'm letting the body heal. I repeat this process once more. After doing this twice I stay with the breath for a time, eyes open and allow the body to relax till the end of my sit.

It was difficult to stay with the kasina without awareness slipping into the periphery. I keep going back to it. I allowed thoughts to do their thing when using the breath as object. After I was relaxed enough I just completely stilled the mind as often as reasonably possible without getting tight, then relaxed a little more going as deep as I could. At one point a smaller ammount of joy welled up than that of my previously mentioned sit, but enough to know it's there and enough to have my confidence grow. I'm wondering if I should have focused on the whole visual field, the blackness plus the white kasina, as it felt unnatural to focus on just the kasina this sit but I maintined focus anyway. I wonder if I was in the 3rd vipassana jhana at this point. hmmm, more experimentation to be done... (puffs pipe)
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Alex E, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Alex Practice Log

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9/3/14

Pre-meditative context: Have not eaten yet. A little depressed.
Technique: Breath as object. Choiceless awareness.
Posture: Lying down. Earplugs, blindfolded
Duration: about 40 minutes

I focused on the breath gently letting my body relax and all tension dissolve. I let my mind wander a bit while maintaining a percentage of focus. Then I increased that percentage and calmed the mind several times. I co-opted the innermonolaug to talk about what I was mindful of "oh ok just got really lost in a fantasy there, here is the breath again"... that sort of thing. I gently teased the welling of joy to come up. It did but just a smidgin and quickly passed.

After 20 minutes I gently switched to choicless awareness. There was a play between my identity as a meditator, my identity as attention and the field just being itself, no-self being evident. I tried not to force anything here. I allowed the suffering characteristic to show itself to me, while I was aware of any tensions present. I never thought of impermanance. It was kind of dream like at some points. I got up at 40 minutes, 20 short of my intended sit. I'm defnitely less depressed now and a little more happy.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
9/3/14 in retrospect

Pre-meditative context: Tired before bed, some milk and tea is drunk. Relaxed and happy.
Technique: Sound as object, Choiceless awareness
Posture: Lying down with binural beats
Duration: T>30min

I tried binural beats for the first time. I chose gamma waves quickly from an app I downloaded. It started quiet then rose in volume and went quiet again then silent. I like how it resembles the breath like this, it's easier to get into. I did this while relaxing for a time and noticed it was way easier to concentrate. My concentration juice began to wane because I was tired but I was definitely in a "trippy" state and very satisfied with these sounds. Then I switched to choiceless awareness vipassana. I remember being excited, while also disembedding, at the fact that a lot of tension was gone. I got up, turned my fan on and continued to do this as I got duller and duller into sleep. Being equanamous with the dullness.

I'm going to be playing with binural beats a lot more from now on. emoticon
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Colleen Karalee Peltomaa, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 401 Join Date: 6/19/14 Recent Posts
Hello, Alex, I enjoy reading your posts.   Sounds like fun with the binaural beats and would like to see further how that works for you if you decide to continue with it.    I've always been interested in it myself and re-read Dr. Monroe's books recently.

best wishes for your practice,
colleen
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Thanks Colleen. I'm definitely planning on continuing usage of binural beats. I hope it can accelerate my practice. I'm kind of surprised how much it affects meditation sessions, even after the first use.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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9/4/14

Pre-meditative context: Recently woken up, no food yet. Decent mood. Desire to meditate without aversion. Looking forward to it.
Technique: Sound as object. Choiceless awareness.
Posture: Lying down with binural beats
Duration: 1 hour

Same old concentration senario plays out, maybe a bit less focused than last night. Now I'm beggining to see how you get absorbed in an         object. When I'm really with the sound it's quite fascinating. After 35 minutes I switch to vipassana. The binural beats altered the session for the better again! By the end of the concentration session        there was more visual strobing than usual and more perception of the three C's. I was noticing suffering more. I think that may be key in getting SE for me. It seems to be what this whole thing is about. Suffering is driving me to meditatve in the first place and it has been a hinderance       because I've been ignoring it, fixating on no-self mostly because it's interesting, while impermanance has been the most evident characteristic usually, but it seems now the other two are far more perceptible. As in I can see that I'm progressing.

 I take back what I said in my initial post. I don't think I've gotten to high EQ, from the information I've read. I think I'm getting to late mastery. I      could be totally wrong since I'm not there yet but I think of High EQ as Kenneth Folk's third gear, or at least being one aspect of high EQ. Maybe I can rest there for a couple of seconds independent of the insight stage, but I cannot yet get to the insight stage itself which correleates to third gear.

At my cutting edge It seems to be a delicate play between doing and non-doing, self and not self, it's difficult to describe in detail. I can read and understand technical things people describe but I have a hard time commiting it to memory and articulating it myself. I'm not that intellectual, but I can understand what's happening in real time without noting. I hope to grow in this area.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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3rd gear: If you can just let it be, understanding in your heart and
in your bones that the happiness and peace you seek are your own true
nature, then let it be. This is known as recognizing buddha nature or

2nd gear: Ask “Who am I?” until awareness turns back on itself. Who
knows about this experience? If the answer is “I”, then ask “Who am I?”
This is called self-enquiry.
Here are desciptions of Kenneth's gears on his blog which I referenced above. I do second gear using different questions or none at all. Like "where am "I" located in attention?" or when I was resting in the space of the head, noticing that this is not I. But who is noticing the resting in the space of the head is not I? WTF? The universe is trolling itself. The endless loop of questioning is answerd only when I recognize the question is the answer itself, the sensations that make it up. Then "I" am jumping between this mode and what feels like not meditating at all, 3rd gear. But I'm pretty sure I only rest there briefly. I'm playing with what I felt on retreat again, beacuse of the dukkha characteristic, I'm noticing what I noticed on retreat more. Investigating my "need" for stream entry. Sometimes I want it so bad and it hurts. So I investigagte that. The very reason I'm sitting there. Then I will meditate "just because" or just out of habbit, but then I'm back craving for nirvanna. Maybe I'm learning something from this waffling back and forth. On retreat I knew that you can get stream entry by craving it and trying really hard. The subtle dukkha of being in equanimity in daily life but not yet quite being over the hump. Maybe this is the process of that insight maturing. hmmm (puffs pipe, strokes beard)
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Pre-Meditative context: Ate a few hours ago. Been mindful after last session.
Technique: Sound as object
Posture: Sittting and Standing
Duration: 50 minutes

I focused on the most pleasant sounding insect drone for about 10-15 minutes and ignored the pain from sitting in an uncomfortable chair.

After the mind was settled I opened my eyes and pretty much just sat there without a technique. It started raining and I was uncomfortable when it picked up, I wanted to go inside but I stayed with the desire and grew in the quality of equanimity. I stood up and the more energetic position increased mindfulness. I was interrupted twice durring this sitting by my dad, but I was able to stay concentrated. It seemed more neutral and less happened. I noticed the dukkha of physical pain and then boredom. Then I noticed the no-self of the field of my body, vision, space and proprioception of myself in the environment. Overall the meditation session has a sort of neutral okness about it.

My motivation is increasing but I think I need to be careful to maintain a bigger perspective, because I might crash from anger and impatience at not landing SE. I hope that each meditation session works out brain cells a little bit each time. This meditation log is making me enjoy this whole thing more. Hopefullt I can catch myself crash, if I do, and meditate through it. I mean I usually do but only 20 minutes here and there. I want to experiment with more time on the cushion if I crash, even though I know I will hate it in that senario.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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9/4/14

Pre-Meditative Context: Food and coffee 20minutes before
Technique: sound as object, choiceless awareness
Posture:Sitting on cushion with binural beats
Duration: 1hour

I did my favorite ratio 1:2 parts shamatha:vipassana. I tried alpha waves to balance the coffee. I was surprised I wasn't more focused after the coffee. It seemed like I was dull. I was wondering if I was in my new cutting edge. My previous bout of meditation fever entailed really digging into the subtleties of self. I think what brought me down was not being equanimous toward boring experiences. I think boredom has become a hinderance because I'm never bored in daily life anymore. But on the cushion I've been totally ignoring it. When I realized this I was joyful, because even the sensations of boredom can be investigated. I felt like I was a pancake, flat and boring. Not really much to look at. Dukkha was subtle but noticable with gentle attention. No-self wasn't that noticable unless I used more agressive attention, but it did show itself to me a little. I remember one showing was humorous when the thought "look at all this suffering, it's just there of its own accord" arose. Somehow that was funny. I tried to objectify the humour as well. Joy, inner laughing and face muscle pressure which was pleasant.

That was a boring ass sit. But somehow the boredom was interesting and motivational. At times forgetfulness arose and with it doubt, thinking like "what am I doing? I don't even know what I'm doing". But looking at Daniel's sub-ñana map it seems there are both markers of high-EQ. I suppose I could meditate for hours but I don't want to. I'm definitely not planning on stopping day to day though. I want to keep at it through the boring phase to get SE. I actually resolved to pay attention till I get SE today. I said it and vipassanaized it but kinda thought "yeah ur full of shit" then I attended to that. I went grocery shopping, which I hate, and whatched myself shop and hate! Went home made food and coffee and payed attention, at least somewhat all the way till my this session so it at least did that. Since I'm breaching into this territory, I'm thinking of a day-home retreat, if I get the house to myself one weekend.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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In the context of this second burst of meditation, and getting into no-self the dharma is doing you territory, I wonder what is going on. If I'm not doing this, then how, what and why?

9/5/14

Pre-meditative context: Empty stomach, coffee, magnesium, herbal supplement and kombucha.
Tecnique: sound as object, choiceless awareness with some noting
Posture: lying down binural beats
Duration:80minutes

Nothing interesting to note for the 20 minutes of concentration on the binural beats. It seems like I just focus on it and improve my concentration without as much relaxation and pleasant tingling than just lying down with my body/breath as object.

Energy was really high with edgyness and anxiety. Since it was so chaotic, both body and mind, I noted it out for maybe 5 minutes. When things settled down a bit I just switched to noticing the 3C's/ choiceless awareness. Anxiety was still high but it was ok now and less unpleasant. This, I think was early or high mastery. When things opened up more I gently noted. So gently in fact that I didn't know you could even note that gently previously. It was vicarious noting, I could see how a slightly more energetic note/noticing could cause unnecessary tension. At a point I tried dropping this, tyring to be forgetful and let experience just be itself. Things settled down even further. It wasn't as boring as yesterday because of the energy, nor as dreamy. From this point until the rest of the sit, I mostly just let things be without intervening, with one exception. I payed special attention to any thing time oriented. I have a sticky note that reminds me "notice how all past/future thoughts always happen now". Theses kind of thoughts, for me, are as sticky as the note that reminds me to notice them. Especially ones about doubt and desire for attaining stream entry. Thoughts that are maybe opposite poles. Besides thought I pay attention to impatience in the body, which is obviously linked to time. I think I had a good glimpse of a formation when I was eating food after the session. It was like there was this volumetric tank of sensations all woven into a seamless fabric, all happening of its own accord. I was watching myself lift a spoon to my mouth and it just seemed so smooth with the mental and physical blending into each other.

It seems my resolve from yesterday actually helped and I'm amazed quite frankly. I keep repeating the resolve and I feel less like its bullshit, although doubt is still present to some degree.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Alex E:

9/5/14
Pre-meditative context: Empty stomach, coffee, magnesium, herbal supplement and kombucha.
Tecnique: sound as object, choiceless awareness with some noting
Posture: lying down binural beats
Duration:80minutes

Nice break down...I love it, keep at it.
Add some Suntheanine Chewable Tablets to your coffee mag stack. One tablet will add a layer of calmness to counteract the coffee but not make you drowsy. Are you doing 4 - 3.8 hz with the binaural beats? Try that range. Do not particularly pay attention to the sounds especially, let it take a background unless it naturally comes to the forefront. If you are in High EQ you are doing all the right things. Have you read up Kenneth Folk's take on EQ?  11 Knowledge of Equanimity (Stage 11)
Good Luck,
~D
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Thanks DW.

I'm a big fan of L-Theanine, I always add it to my coffee.

I'll try that range, I've been doing whatever range gamma is. I've just been listening to it for the concentration portion of my sits and turning it off for the vipassana but I'll give it a shot.

Yes I have read that but it's always worth another read. Actually, I just did a sit with binary noting after reading it again.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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9/4/14

Pre-meditative context: Tired after work but relaxed.
Technique: binary noting thinking/quiet
Posture: reclined on couch upright eyes open
Duration:23min

I noted thinking when I was thinking. I notice that sometimes my thoughts are subtle. And it's like the entire sentence, every word, is stacked up on top of each other as the first word of the thought is mentally vocalized. For example, the thought "I want to go to bed". The word "I" is heard inside my head but if I'm paying attention to thinking I just stop at vocalizing the word "I" because I already understand the rest of the thought. This seems weird and frustrating to me that I've never read about this kind of thing before. Do I even need to understand the subtleties of thoughts yet, I mean to land stream entry? It seems like a distraction right now. As long as all thoughts are objectified and disembeded with equanimity I don't think so. For a latter path maybe.

I also noted quiet when this thing was silent, which I could do almost on command by noting silent. There was tension in the silence, fear of a thought coming, fear of the fragility of the silence. I was really relaxed and getting into concentration territory during the silent bits. I really liked the binary noting tool because I do think I can benefit from noticing thoughts more, building my skill in that area.
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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I think this thing is working. I realized that I can work my way through re-ob no problem. My technical meditation mind is stronger than my mind which buys into crap (current trend which is subject to change). I was even having the worst day content wise but I still made it through. But the dark night yogi crap is still there the rest of the day and suffering is still present in my cutting edge insight territory. It's that darn stream entry bug.

The binary noting of thinking/silence helped so much. It was like a stepping stone because I now note specific thoughts much easier after only practicing a couple of days. Usually I feel aversion to the thought of having to note and aversion to noting itself. That has been greatly reduced. From this I also noticed the tension in my throat when I note, a new and interesting sensation, which was possibly a hinderance (I need a lawyer for all these hinderance divorces).

I think I just have to notice all thoughts and the mental stuff located around the seat of the soul in the middle of my head. I notice attention, effort, direction, movement, space, choice, searching, investigation, noting, center, periphery, anticipation, expextation... what else is missing? questioning.

This is all in a kind of fish bowl of sensations related to the visual field being formed with the body and other sense doors. Present moment snapshots.

When I'm really going it like this it's the best time to contemplate "be here now" and give up seeking. I noticed the here of each moment, as well as the now of each moment, playing with them. I couldn't seem to notice a difference between time and space from this experiential point of view. This is my secret weapon for dealing with my stream entry desire. I can't just give up that desire on the spot, it arises and passes of its own accord but it always seems to arise when I think I'm standing on the bank of the stream, which is usually when I'm noting the detailed subtleties around the center point. If I'm just aware of the moment for the moments sake I become forgetful but still aware. So I see some combination of this "standing on the stream bank" noting around the seat of the soul and "fish bowlin" it, to balance and strengthen this process of stream entry happening.

By seat of the soul I just mean center point. Less technical more poetic. I love the phrase. I gotta have fun with this thing. emoticon
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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I've kept up practice this past week. It seems like it's getting easier to keep up the motivation to do at least one hour. I don't even think about it really. On the low days I wake up with fear or depression and wonder what is going on with reality, almost like routine, feeling neutral toward it or am tired of it because of repitition. A mini existential crisis that's not even scary any more, just a hollow shell. Then like clockwork I meditate into a more pleasant baseline state for the day. A trend is swinging from bursts of practice fueled by a desire to get there. Then days where I just meditate out of habbit, neutral toward the task.

All I did today was stuff to feel good. Like taking a break from the subtle suffering of insight bug by ignoring it. I just let myself play video games all day or do whatever I want. It seems like some puritanical part of my subconscious is being lifted through some mysterious process because I never intended this. I listened to the Buddhist Geeks talk about video games and the positive aspects. Not even thinking about meditation all day (besides my morning sit) the thought arose after noticing how I handled fear today "oh I guess I'm shifting my baseline to EQ in daily life [in a meaningful way]". The meaningful way being that I feel way more powerful over my mind and not letting fear get the best of me.

So instead of soley striving for stream entry, it seems that that's not the only way you get there. I mean obviously that makes sense intellectually but until now I never felt that through experience.

Right now I noticed the insight bug when I look. But then I notice how I can ignore it and how that helps me relax. As long as I keep a daily sit I think this is what I need to do. Ignore, pracice and relax. (and practice relaxing)
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Colleen Karalee Peltomaa, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Hello, Alex,

I'm enjoying reading your gentle progress.   I had one question:   when you say "ignore" I assume you do not mean "suppress"?    Do you mean that you simply acknowledge it, allow it, experience it?    If I do what I learned in The Sedona Method, it washes over me and then is gone -- most of the time at least  :-)   In Sedona Method I learned to allow myself to experience it (even rev it up purposely) and then it fades away.   Most of my life I majored in suppression so that was a turning point for me.   

Aside from that, I'm relating to what you are saying and am getting encouragement from you.   

Keep up the good work (me too)   :-))
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Hi Colleen. No, by ignore I do mean supress. For me, I had the opposite problem. A derepression of painful psychological material occured with my A&P experience and since then I've watched deeply rooted paranoia and fear subside. It's a skillful repression but It can become unskillful quite easily so I have to be careful if I'm trying to make progress.

lol Yes let us both keep up the good work. I havn't this past week though.
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Colleen Karalee Peltomaa, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Hello, Alex, thank you for answering my question.   

I think I can relate:  in one seriously heavy session I experienced in present time all the panic I experienced in a very hot past incident.

To prove the body-mind connection, during a long water fast, as the toxins were stirring up in my brain, I suffered my first panic attack.   Brought me to my knees.  Made me realize the importance of getting out the toxins though.

Only a few very brave souls are willing to approach the insanity held within the mind.  As with yourself, I too am very very careful not to prematurely open the floodgates and get swept away, although I do like to use the most direct practice I can in vanishing my mind.  And there are certain reliable exercises I do to stay de-stressed throughout the day.

 As we say here in the clearing biz:  "May you never be the same again".
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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I finally figured out how to meditate in this new psycho-spiritual phase I find myself in. I watched Shinzen Young's video about "Six Common Traps on the Path": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i288Lnb7NOk

I was getting stuck in the last trap, the observer trap. He used an analogy, about how it takes six months to be able for your body to intuitively drive a stick shift without you having to think about it. Meditation is the same way. Your mind can intuitively meditate without you doing anything. This is werid because it can't be communicated adequately with words. I never understood 3rd gear that well, only in breif whiffs. But now it's the only way I can meditate. I started with a few 20 minute sessions of concentration meditation and noticed that I was more relaxed than I had been in a while and quickly got the hang of it. Insight meditation was trickier but I just figured it out today.

10/13/14

Pre-meditative context: Half hour after eating light. Coffee/L-Theanine. Pretty depressed mood. Reluctantly getting ready for the day. Decide that I can meditate for an hour or at least try.
Technique: Fluctuating between 2nd and 3rd gear. Zen just slouching.
Posture: On the cushion sitting upright.
Duration: 1hour

It was really quite effortless. I was fluctuating between three different modes pretty much. Getting lost in thought, getting lost in trying to meditate (i.e. second gear), and the bare awareness of just sitting. There isn't much I can really do at this stage I noticed. I just have to let whatever this thing is do its thing and it will work itself out. My breath has historically been unpleasant and heavy when meditating. I noticed during this sit it just naturally was at ease. My mind and body also relaxed for seemingly no reason. This is the most gently type of meditation I've ever seen. I'm quite happy about this new inner-discovery.

I've been battling a new depression on the psychological side of life but now being in equanimity for the first time in weeks, it's actually gone for the moment. I feel more ok than I have in weeks and am pretty happy about this. I'm going to do an hour a day of this. Maybe I can do an at home retreat in November when my Dad leaves for a week. That's my goal-oriented plan for now. I'm kind of sick of striving with dilligence however. This be-here-now style feels so restful. It is much needed. Just sending out a little gratitude towards Shinzen Young for getting me unstuck. emoticon
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Colleen Karalee Peltomaa, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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Cool link, Alex.   I like this dude.  I made your link "clickable":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i288Lnb7NOk
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

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I'm going through another major shift in my practice here. It's about dropping the goal oriented style meditation from my emotional body. Each moment in meditation if I sense some tention related to this I practice dropping it. The stages of insight and desire for stream entry have definitely been useful in motivating me to meditate.

I recall insecurity in relation to me as a meditator. I remember wanting some jhana experiences. I wanted them out of curiousity and to experience pleasure. The very wanting was preventing me from getting them, besides my concentration not being high enough. At the time I could have been happy with my meditation skills. Learning from this, it is easier to be happy now. I can appreciate where my skills are at and be greateful for what I have now. FINALLY I'm beggining to clearly identify soft absorption in meditation. It makes me feel subtle warmth to know this is possible.

Each moment meditating, moment after moment, I practice accepting things as they are without altering them, even if I hate it. Like when I feel this recurring upleasant feeling under my ribs, like a crepped-out-by-my-innerds feeling. Another strong one is a feeling on the bottom of my foot or big toe. It feels as if some imaginary insect made out of energy is burrowing in, but MUCH less painful than if it were an actual inscect. I think it's important to bare equanimity in mind so I can practice embodying it when these come up. Since I'm getting more into jhana I have to do this for the pleasant raptures as well.

This is in stark contrast to what I call "armageddon stream entry". The felt sense, part conscious and unconscious to varrying degrees, that I must get SE ASAP for a variety of reasons. It's all or nothing in its extreme. This has made me racey, energetic and anxious. The content of the former paragraph is the remedy. The phrase "strengthen and balance" strongly applies here. I have an excess of energy than can be balanced by increasing tranquility. This can be increased by concentration obviously and by emphasizing relaxation. All things from the seven spiritual faculties. As is I think I have enough abilities to gather enough momentum that mindfulness and investigation are present to a strong enough degree from SE to arise. Through patience and practice I can continue building equanimity. Soon enough through this battle plan (well... peace plan really!) it will happen. I say that with no felt emotional charge. This is simply where the adventure leads. I do hope it will happen but I watch that hope arise and pass. Being without stream entry, in this moment, is fine as it is. I can write all this out and it appears solid now but I will forget. I will return to this post to remind myself to be with each moment as deeply as I can without running from it nor building up excess energy. Here's to the moment!
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finding-oneself, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Sitting practice has come to a wane. I've been finding myself in daily life and concentrating on the third training practice wise. I changed my name for privacy reasons. I really cherish both honesty/openess and on the other end security through privacy. If I get too voulnerable I will become unballanced. I want to open my heart and mind to the world but I have to tread slowly and patiently. I can, in a sense, feel my sense of self coaslescing. I need to build up who I am before I can finish the dissolution process. An ego precipitation process.

I've come to open my heart to the gifts of meditation that have already fruited and appreciate where I am. Energy is a big one. It has often been a burden, coming with anxiety and small insomnia. But this same energy can be used for other things like creativity, exercise or low level pleasant vibes in my body as I be still while cultivating tranquility with some rapture bubbling up from time to time ( some low level jhanic territory?). Energy combined with the mindfulness and concentration factors of enlightenment can be used to better listen to people. I really love this one. It's fun to work with and makes sociliazation into a fun energizing practice instead of an anxious energy draining one. I've been sick recently  and investigating the pain while practicing equanimity. Instead of half-assed long meditations where I hate the pain, I can get whiffs of real-deep equanimity for some rather painful sensations.

I have had some long meditations that were as equanimous as these brief meditation sessions on pain. Some in particular I remember fondly from this summer. My investigation and moment to moment concentration were so high I definitely felt like I was "shootin' aliens" to borrow Dan's analogy from the book. It really did feel like a great video game. I've lost this high level for the time being but I'm happy to do so because, at this point, I even need to let go of meditation. I need to let go of a lot of things in life as well. 

Technically speaking what I need is to develop more tranquility to balance things out. To do that obviously requires meditation. Instead I'll just relax. I'll practice non-meditation and relax. In the end what I'm actually doing is concentration meditation with a lot of day dreaming. At this point that sounds pretty good. But for my body and mind's sake I deliberatly pretend It's not mediation to relax more.

But after this post I won't think about technical meditation. Just relax and enjoy life. At some point more intesive meditation is welcome but it's key to know when you should ease up on the gas.

: ) gratitude
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finding-oneself, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Pre-meditative context: Just had my first long sit in a while. Been having a lot of anxiety today so I meditated out of necessity. Before that I slogged down several herbs and nutrients because the anxiety was that bad. The anxiety was seemingly for no reason and was strange due to its intensity. I even ate well and went for a jog today, getting out of the house to complete an arrand as well so I had several variables in my favor, yet it still arose. Earlier I had a 20 minute tranquility focused meditation with a little vipassana after as well.

Duration: 50min

Technique: noting, choicless awareness

Posture: Fetal position with some movement allowed

Supplements: L-theanine, magnesium citrate, 5-htp/green tea, inositol (non-essential vitamin) and rhodiola rosea (herbal adaptogen).

The anxiety was bad enough that I felt like I was in one of those sensation battles that I've undergone from psychedelic mushrooms. It wasn't that intense but it was strong enough to remind me of this. It's a battle because it's a matter of having to face the unpleasantness moment after moment without ignorance. I started off noting a lot to get concentration up. Then after general noting I focused more on the contents of thought, then getting subtler and discecting the self. There were a few bief moments where I felt minor breathroughs. Eventually the mediation gradually faded into calmer, less-anxious sensations. I eventually got rather tired and concentration was fading so I decided to get up, continuing to pay attention to what constitutes the self as I moved around for a few minutes. I checked in with the anxiety, and all that remained was a subtle unease. The predominante sensation was that of being tired. The state I find myself in now is much more ideal than pre-meditation.

As I turn inward now even the subtle unease is gone. I think the supplements may be kicking in as well.

God, I'm gonna have to have more sits like this if I keep getting hit with anxiety. I've been practicing tranquilty and relaxation of the body but it's no gaurantee that it will prevent anxiety during the day. It seems pretty consitent that I can vipassanaize my way out of anxiety by getting to the EQ stage but that's only if I have the motivation or mental energy it seems. But perhaps this experience will motivate me to practice insight meditation this duration more often as I used to do so much this past summer.

I found myself asking "why me" because it hurt so much, tearing a little because of the pain in one moment, slightly panicked at another point. I guess I just have to accept that I'm the heir to my suffering and that out of this is being born positive qualities and hopefully the ability to eventually help others who may one day find themselves in the boat I'm in now. Gotta look at the positive angle to balance out the defauly negative bias of the mind.
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finding-oneself, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Pre-Meditative context: Light kettlebell workout. Ok-mood, slightly edgy.

Duration: ~30minutes

Posture: Sitting on cushion

Technique: Choiceless awareness

I have decided that I shouldn't note at all when doing vipassana anymore. Unless the note arises naturally. Noting usually is followed by physical anxiety in the abdomen and correlated muscle movements in the throat for said note. It seems that, from these two pieces of information, that I note with too much agression. I notice that I note without these two things happening ocassionally, and when that happens the note is subtler. Closer to where thoughts arise on there own than where thoughts are seemingly consciously thunk. I pracriced dispassion toward the unpleasant sensations which comanded my attention and to pleasant sensations of steeping in a bliss soup in the limbs. Then I noticed the blind spots and had one of those gentle notes "neutral". I now realize that even in my cutting edge somewhere in one of the EQs I would strain inside the head when looking through the self there. I let my entire body relax, and tied a tight cloth over my eyes to let them relax. I let my attention relax and saw the head area as I see the rest of the body usually for a few moments, more relaxed than I have previously. If I can't force effort anymore then each meditaiton session from now own will simply be what it has to be. I set the alarm for 60 minutes but the meditation was over sooner than of its own accord.

I'm gonna find a middle path here. Meditating for whatever duration seems appropriate. Having several shorter sessions a day for greater efficiency. Working out in with the same principal in mind to combat fatigue that has had me exercising far less.
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finding-oneself, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Alex E's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Duration~20min

Technique: Body scanning, choiceless awareness, concentration.

Cutting-edge: Soft 1st jhana?

I sat down to relax in a chair and started meditating. Fatigued, feeling heavy, yet anxious at the same time, I knew it would be a good time to meditate to calm down a bit. After some sweeping to get concentration up I relaxed the attention and let things be where they were, switching to choiceless awareness here. Then I remembered something. Noticing the thought but recognizing its relevence to meditation. I used to get wall electricity outlets to disappear when I was in my big-intitial A&P phase. So, knowing its a fun thing to do, and a concentration practice, I took a whack at it. I noticed it still took a relatively large ammount of effort to do but once I got it to disappear I could sustain it longer than I used to, pleased with the insant feedback that my concentration had improved. After that I let my attention focus wide-angle on my body and steep in the pleasure like a hot-tub. I didn't want to get out, but I stopped eventually because it took effort. It sounds like descriptions of the first jhana. I've got rapture, sustained and applied attention, the only ingredient I'm missing mostly is joy, but I can get a spurt of it here or there to come out of my chest if I focus on it. I've been getting this more and more. I'm happy to see that the negative effects of meditation are beggining to be smoothed out!
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finding-oneself, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Alex's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
I've been doing loving kindness meditation most days for 15 minutes. It can be pretty relaxing and good for being less pissed off overall. It's from the first chapter of A Path with Heart. I've added the specifics of what happens in my body when doing it.

May I be filled with loving kindness. - Focusing on my heart.
May I be well, settling into my entire body. - Embodying the general concept of wellness.
May I be peacefull and at ease. - Relaxing the body further, quieting my mind and easing tension.
May I be happy. - Feeling an upwelling of joy that seems to be located in the face/chest related to the muscles twiching to smile.
Then I start over and try to build up all the feelings together. Feeling peaceful and still, with love and warmth in my heart and joy uprising from my chest to my face. It seems to be helping life in general and I don't have to worry about what future goal I'm closing in on because the benefits of this are imediate.

Now to get some stuff off my chest:

To be honest, I'm a little angry with the idea of stream entry these days. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I've read a lot of advice. I've tried meditating with a lot of effort and with less effort. I'm a pragmatic spiritual and contemplative non-materialist. I believe in a cosmic super intelligence which points to the words spiritual as distinct from contemplative in this post. I do secular meditation techniques for the contemplative bit. Let me express that I understand the materialist perspective and I know what it feels like to embody it. I'm careful about my beliefs and try to see where my delusions are. I've tried to permanantly embody a materialist perspective after the fireworks of scary psychedelic plunges and the fireworkds of the spiritual path after A&P and I think that I would personally be more delusional if I forcefully maintained the materialist perspective. I always come back to the evidence, I'm supposed to be a non-materialist, I'm convinced. I understand why someone would see this as delusional. I'm pragmatic because I believe the point is to reduce suffering in any capacity available for all beings. Reducing the collective suffering of the world always adds to the value of it. This view would be maintained either way so I win even if I'm delusional.

If I die, and consciousness ceases, there is no problem. Nirvana. If I die and the conscioussness continues, then life is far more complex and the problem aint so easily solved. What are the implications of possible eternity? I can be awestruck and overjoyed at the possibilities and mysteries of this vast game that this ocean of conscioussness and its various individual droplets, puddles, rivesr and lakes are playing together. I've already found that the other end of the spectrum, fearing the continuity of conscioussness, to be less than pragmatic. Here I can take refuge in things like synchronicity and archetypes that wouldn't be equivalent in a strictly material universe. I.E. out minds can influence the physical world beyond its connection to the physical body. This gives purpose to even the most suffering filled lives and it's a bit of a heart softener. Somehow the cosmos values a crap life too.

Now moving back in a little closer to Earth to the purely nonspeculative spirituality:

Despite the negative meditative side effects, I have more mature coping skills with life. I would rather have the timeless spirituality than the former life of ignorance to sensations that I had relatively speaking.

As long as I'm going in the right direction, even haphazardly, I'm happy. I don't know how to get to stream entry but I suspect it will become more and more of a possibility as life continues because I'm designing my life to align with my values. Doing this gets training in morality in order, which will help concentration, etc. I'm happy for the model Daniel has presented and for this website and its members. All the information has been invaluable. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that the idea of me getting stream entry sometimes angers me... (laughing silently on the inside, heh heh!)
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finding-oneself, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Alex's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
This is funny in the context of my previous post but I believe, feel it in my body, once again that stream entry is attainable by me. For the past 6 days I've sat at least an hour and have hit EQ. The second day I mapped myself as being in high mastery according to Daniels big insight stages chart. What's exciting is that it takes very little effort. I can tell that metta has helped me alot. My concentration, tranquility and rapture have all shot up. Then getting back into vipassana I noticed practicing the quality of equanimity is easier. I can sit with the unpleasant shit in the dark night with equanimity and the pleasant concentration vibes help a lot as well. When I get to the EQ stage it's even easier. Later it does get somewhat boring but isn't that bad. I usually get up at the end of the hour and go about my day. Later when I meditate again being in the equanimity stage immediately or rather quickly is obvious. I usually sit beyond the alloted time for my second sit. Then I just eventually get up. I could keep sitting but I'm not that motivated to hit SE in daily life. I've got a retreat in may that I plan on tackling this. In the mean time I will work on metta more to cultivate those three previously mentioned qualities and vipassana to get up to eq because it can't hurt and makes me happy.

These  have been coffee/L-theanine fueled sessions which I love. A typical session starts off with about 10-15 minutes of metta. Before that I sip my coffee over 15 minutes or chug it right before. By the end of my metta I feel my heart pounding and the energy mounting. I establilsh awareness of the three main sensory fields and assess what's going on. I pay careful attention to the feeling tone and make sure I'm not clinging or averted to whatever's going on. I use some notes here and there, less and less as the duration increases. Somehow I end up in the EQ stage. This is where the cutting edge of my practice is. Getting through the DN is a cakewalk compared to EQ obviously as I have not landed SE yet. It's highly experimental. I investigate no-self in my head and the observer in the head. I pay attention to the comings and goings of sensations.  Dukkha by this stage is not obvious. I should pay more attention to it. Hmm what else? I sort of space out.  I practice working with everything being where it is. Gear 3 of Kenneth folk's model. From Sam Harris's book, he mentions having no head, I have the
experience of this more and more for longer durations at this stage. I practice balancing effort, too much or too little. By the end of my sit the energy from the coffee has a finer qualitty and the anxious energy associated with (maybe) stress hormones is gone. I find it fascinating that meditation can alter the apparent psychoactivity of my coffee/L-theanine combo. Indeed, I consider coffee primarily a meditation supplement because if I drink it without meditation the stress hurts, so I only drink it if I plan on meditating vipassana.

Maybe I'll switch to focusing on metta again because I could benefit from solidifying these pleasant states I've been hitting this past week. I feel it would improve my already bolstered confidence before the retreat because of the energizing quality of the surprise that I was able to do this seemingly out of no where but actually because of improved concentration. After that I will work on the investigation factor of enlightenment more.

My previous post is still relavant to me but it looks like I will be shifting back to primarily technical meditation working more with equanimity, neutrality and boredom and less synchronicity, fireworks and all that.
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finding-oneself, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Alex's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Another formal detail of my sit for fun:

Pre-meditative context: Coffee/L-theanine
Technique: Metta followed by choiceless awareness
Posture: Sitting
Aides: ear plugs
Duration: 60 minutes

I start of doing metta with the four repeated sentences and slide in related phrases after each sentence. Like for loving kindness I follow it by words such as love, warmth, gentleness, etc. to keep my mind from wandering and to cultivate the feeling more because I began with a lot of energy. After maybe 10-15 minutes I was calm enough to begin vipassana. I was noting strongly covering each sensory field one at a time then noting whatever was predominant. Eventually I was in equanimity but I didn't see a clear transition.

I'm finding myself more and more able to work with the quality of equanimity whichever stage I'm in or even in daily life. It seems my insight is mature in regards to the DN because I understand its lesson. Something like, yes this moment sucks, accept it utterly and completely. This is now combined with the equanimity toward intitally unpleasant sensations that become neutral or even pleasant because of the lubricant of rapture.

Near the far end of the sit I was able to note anticipation, desire for stream entry, space and when I was the deepest in I noted time. I find being able to perceive time/movement very intersting and encouraging since it seems to be tied to formations. I havn't seen formations, that I'm aware of, yet in this most recent bought, but I think the fact that I noted time means I'm getting close. The last time I was here it was, in large part, due to sheer force. But now I'm getting there in what seems to be a more gentle manner. The other intersting thing about the sit was noticing the desire for stream entry and then applying real equanimity instead of being overwhelmed and angered by the desire as I have in the past. I think practicing equanimity is positive reinforcement for more enquanimity and eventually the posibility of stream entry arising being manifest. The days where I silently sit with the dark night by practicing specific neutrality, and eventually emerge into the EQ stage are MUCH better. That in initself is reason to meditate. My mind is slowly being trained to not crave stream entry and to simply practice equanimity. The practice of equanimity is itself a great reward. Those moments when it is practiced with the visceral perception of no-self there is even greater reward because I am instantly free of whatever suffering had plauged me moments before.

Interesting times in my practice. Gratitude towards all who have helped me.
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finding-oneself, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Alex's Practice Log

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
The week before my lasy post my brother was in town so it was easy to motivate myself to sit because hanging out with him was such an antidepressant.

The polarity of progress has definitely been shown to me many times over and more and more insights about the progress of insight keep gathering. The only reason the former positive post and this postive post are not sandwiched between a negative post is because I didn't write about that unpleasant phase.

Yesterday was the worst. Steeping in anxiety all morning. Reading a pleasant novel to calm myself down. While I was intersted in the novel and it entertained me it didn't calm me down. I just accepted the fact that that day I was to be beaten with the hormonal equivalent of a human punch. It hurt. I shed tears in the evening at the recurring anxiety. Welcome heartfelt compassion. Later that night I sat on the cushion for an hour and things turned around. I was in EQ again. Instead of stimulation before bed I just meditated. Sometimes it was pleasant, other times it was neutral but it was nice.

The morning before last I "somehow" managed to get to EQ. And the day before that and so on I didn't meditate much and didn't think I could really go anywhere with it. At the time I thought I "somehow" managed but this morning I "somehow" managed again and am starting to see exactly what I'm doing to cultivate and anxiety-free or low-anxiety day via entering the EQ stage.

I now understand that often, when in the Dark Night, that it feels as if I can't meditate and that I'm meditating rather shittily. Well that's the insight because I am consistently getting into EQ even when it feels as if I definitely can't.

I wake up and my body is heavy. If I do nothing with my mind, somatic anxiety begins to permiate my body. At this point I believe that I'm royally fucked and I can't do anything about it. Then there's the aversion to body anxiety which leads to cognitive anxiety as I fear that my future will be consumed by this painful hormonal fuel. All of that doesn't have to happen I've discovered. I don't have to physically sit, I have enough energy (7 factors of enlightenment definition) to just meditate lying down first thing in the morning. Then I can slowly allow my senses to adapt to sound and light by removing the shade and ear plugs and sit up in bed to adjust my body to movement. Before I know it, really I more often than not don't notice the shift, am OK with being alive and the fact that I must engage with a "day" as a human being.

Someone recommended a dharma seed talk on another post to a yogi who seems to be walking a similar walk at the moment. http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/74/talk/22715/

Oh good I don't have to have the goal of "stream entry". What does that even mean? That's pragmatic dharma/ theravedan buddhist jargon. How can I communicate my goals without alienating people. I can make "being peaceful" my goal.

I'm paying more attention to the tensions, dukkha, in my sensory field related to the desire for stream entry. It's less and less an aggresive energy. I used to get into EQ back in the summer and get excited for a path moment. If/when this happens I will definitely pay attention and practice the quality of equanimity if I can. But more often the trend is that this desire is getting subtler and subtler, quieter and quieter. Then there is the aversion of not being there yet, not accepting this moment or related sensations. A powerful insight for me has been the recognition that this is dukkha and that it has been a hindrance. Finally, it feels, that the characterisitic of dukkha is being consciously penetrated as sucessfully as the other 2Cs.

I don't post to often on this forum. This is my main area where I post. It helps me feel connected and more accountable that others see this.

I see other people's posts and relate to their experiences and feel love. Then I read the replies and see others helping them and feel love. I can't tell you how much practice fine-tuning that I've been able to do thanks to the questions other people ask. I really love this forum.

I can't believe this is happening. Progress. More peace. Less anxiety. Maybe there is an end in sight. Noted the excitement, noted that thought in the body, desire for SE. Alright I gotta go be busy being a snake eating its tail, bye!

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