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Don's Practice Log Don Merchant 7/6/15 6:44 AM
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Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/6/15 6:44 AM
Well here goes.

I am starting this log so I can track my progress in different ways.
One, my way of thinking.
Two, my emotional states.
Three, how these interact.
Four, my nuggets of truth I learn.
Five, my thoughts that I notice, that give me impetus to learn more about this practice and the writings.
Six, whatever is on my mind :-)

There may be others here and there but my main concern is my progress. I want to be able to look back and read posts to see where I have come from and the progress I have made till that moment.

Anyone reading this or further posts may develop severe sleepiness. You have been warned :-)

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/6/15 7:23 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Captain's Log, aboard the Starship Earth, Stardate 2015.07.06.

I have been on this journey of the mind for only 5 or so weeks but have had some interesting experiences. I used to meditate but that was over 30 years ago. At that time I meditated for about 2 years before stopping. Since picking it back up I have had so many thoughts like, "I think I knew this before", or "I swear I've been here before". Some of it seems like Deja Vu. Who knows. I don't worry about it I just keep moving. I just take each meditation session as its own. I don't go in expecting any Earth shattering revelations or experiences. That is not to say I haven't had some though. Wow. I simply go in expecting some results in some area. So far, I have rarely failed to find results.

I have been trying to get two sessions in each day. One session at work, and then one session before I go to bed. I have been fairly successful. I have also been trying to do as much noting as I can throughout my waking hours. I also try to do walking meditation at work, at the grocery store, or whenever the moment presents itself.

I have also had several experiences in meditation when I had those "Ah HA" moments. When things just clicked and I truly understood certain things at a much deeper level than ever before. I also have found a way of meditating that seems to really work for me. This new way also seems to help me progress quicker in whatever issue has presented itself for me to work through. I guess like a dark night. Maybe that is what it is. What I do is a sitting meditation of 30 - 45 min. followed by a long, soaking shower of about 30 min. During this whole time I am usually dealing with something that is an issue for me. I work my way through it and usually finish coming out the other side while in the shower. I always find I feel so much better after and start out feeling refreshed, invigorated, and lighter because I have now put another issue behind me. I don't do this every day, just on my days off from work.

I understand many things are vague. It is hard for me to trust. That is one issue I am dealing with all the time. I understand many facets of why. Dealing with those facets is the issue. But I know, as in I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the root is my sense of self. I have dug deep into many issues as they presented themselves and I keep coming up to Self. 

In a recent session I had an ah ha moment about self. I realized that if there is no self, then all greed, anger, delusion, craving, aversion, offense, etc. have no hold, no sway since there is no self for this to come from or receive. No self equals no need for any of those things. Freedom. It was a movement of the Earth for me :-)

Well enough for now. I'm bored now too.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/6/15 5:01 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
2nd meditation session today.

It went well, from my viewpoint, considering it was my first time ever practicing forgiveness meditation. Along with metta, and all the normal mental distractions that try to take my focus and concentration away. But I'm learning to drop anything I pick up, almost immediately now. I'm also noting whether it was craving or aversion. Also noting whether it is motivated by greed, anger, or delusion. I'm finding more and more my sense of self is truly in need of disappearing.

I sat and read the book, Guide to Forgiveness Meditation by Bhante Vimalaramsi, in one pass. I wanted to read the whole thing before I tried to use it. Glad I did because much of what he brings up is what I found. So, I'm learning to slow down, read first, practice second. Then if I think I have the hang of it I use it whenever it seems most appropriate. Otherwise I re-read the material, then practice again, rinse and repeat :-)

I am now to a point I need to research something that has happened to me several times in meditation. It doesn't scare me now like it did the first time it happened. I am folowing my breath, counting, when suddenly I begin to have these "shakes" or "spasms" but on the inside of my torso; in time they do spread to my limbs. Most perplexing to me. I try my best to relax, hoping they will subside, but many times they do not. Sometimes they get worse. I can still have them after I have finished my session by another half hour to hour. As i am presently. I am not cold either, but those kinds of shakes are what this feels like.

So now I'm off to research the site for any such weirdness :-)

I think I figured it out. I found a previous post about it. Mr. Ingram addressed it, "shaking is natural at the stages of Cause and Effect, Three Characteristics, and then the A&P, as it gets finer and more intense"


RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/7/15 3:51 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
An interesting thing has continued for me since starting meditation. I have found my right hip has been feeling much relieved the more I do my sitting sessions. For many years now my right hip has been knotted up from an old injury. This has been constant, 24 hr., pain for the last 23 years. I still have pain even now, but I have felt knots loosen the more I sit in sessions. This pain, and the knot, has hindered my efforts to sit for longer periods. I feel I may get something more from longer sits. So another unexpected benefit from meditation. How nice :-).

I've also found through sitting meditation that I can do chiropractic work simply by relaxing enough to meditate. Once I'm relaxed enough, I move, twist, etc. a little her and there and things snap, crack, and pop back in to place. It relieves the pain in my body enough that I can then proceed with meditation. Even after my session is done my body is still usually in place. Just one more thing in favor of meditation. At least for me.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/7/15 6:16 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, I think its time to go over some things I'm noticing for future reference.

Since I have been trying to note as much as I can, I have found I'm doing so more at an under-consciousness level. What is that? To me, it means I am doing the noting, but not in a concentrated fashion in full consciousness. Its not quite subconsciousness either. Its like its in the background. Like a 2nd program on a computer. Its there, running, but in the background. It can be called up into the foreground at any time, but mainly stays just in the background.

Because of this phenomenon, I have times when the noting shows up in the conscious level uncalled for. These times are special to me because it shows i'm still doing the noting, but as a secondary thing. But when it shows up unannounced, it does so in a way that grabs my attention. It always shows up, gets noted (interesting), then gives me a little nugget of gold about my brain and what it is doing. I get to see my brain in action, evaluate why it did what it did, i.e. craving, aversion, judgement, anger, etc. Then it moves on. And so do I.

Its nice to catch my brain about to, or it just did, make a like or dislike decision. I can see where my decisions come from - fear, anger, craving, delusion, etc. I am noticing how my body feels when I have a "feeling" about something happening. I either feel desire - craving, disgust - aversion, or anger for untold reasons, none so far that are justified, or even love. I have been out and about lately to see what happens to me when I encounter people in society. How am I interacting with them? Am I showing love, understanding, compassion, or am I feeling anger, craving, aversion, etc. ? When I feel things, does my body tense up, does my mind tense up, does my breathing change, my heart rate jump, do I have the fight or flight in my body? Intersting to note, I almost always have the fight not the flight mode, show up. It is interesting to see how others react to kind words, compassion, etc. compared to harsh words, cussing, or just plain being an A-hole.

I've noticed too, that if I take a few minutes to explain to someone where I am at, what is going on right then inside of my mind and body, that many others can relate. It makes others seem to take a minute to evaluate themselves too. My children have noticed how I've gotten better at dealing with people outside of our home. I am a recluse, basically. I go to work, pay bills, etc. like anyone else. I just don't have any social life. Once I get home from work each morning, I never leave my house again until work the next night. I just hate dealing with society at large.

All the changes I've seen,  what my children have seen, and what my co-workers have seen, proves I'm going in the right direction. This gives me the impetus to continue my sessions. And that I'm doing something right :-) For once in my life. I have tackled whatever has come in my sessions head-on because I want OUT! I want off this wheel of anguish. I've beaten myself up for too many years, its time to stop.

Another benefit has been my time with my children. They now find I am very engrossed with them when we spend time together. I'm not just there physically, i'm there mentally too. I'm able to give all my attention to them now, instead of being inside my own thoughts most of the time. Enough of a difference that they have said something about it. All their comments are  positive too :-) They are happy to see me so happy. They can see the true happiness and joy I get from this meditation. That also pushes me down the path with a mission - get out now or die trying! 

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/8/15 11:20 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Even though I have certain things I want to document for myself, I still want to set down other observations. One of which is physical changes. I've already told some of those. Here is another.

For many years now, especially since my time in the war, I have had a problem with sleep. My main problem has been an inability to sleep past 4 - 6 hours. Usually I only get 4 or 5. So sleep depravation has greatly impacted my emotions for many years. I've tried many options to address this problem, pharma drugs, alcohol, natural - which I still use like melatonin, L-Tryptophan, etc., and most never worked beyond 6 hours. Plus, I didn't like most of the side effects from most of those. There is one item I have found that helps me get 6 to 8 hours, meditation.

I still can't believe the "side" benefits of meditation sometimes. I am surprised more people don't talk about it. Unless I'm an oddball. probabaly. Could also be I haven't looked in all the categories to post in.
Well I have done some looking and don't find much of anything about what i find as physical benefits.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/9/15 3:41 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
So, it's why you liked the book "dhamma therapy"...
Dunno why this crucial writing of Mahasi Sayadaw is not freely available on the web...
As a reminder some extracts here:

http://woopwap.jimdo.com/dhamma-therapy/

do not miss the noting of his own rising death by a dying meditator!

And yes so many amazing healings have been recorded both in Burma and Thailand...

Personaly, I have no doubt that THE MORE YOU CAN FACE THE  INCOMFORTABLE IN A BIG BIG WAY, THE SURER YOU WILL BE HEALED FROM ALL KIND OF SICKNESSES AND DISEASES.

This is how Goenkaji became such a great Vipassana Teacher.

In my thirties, I myself suffered from terrific migraines that would invade the whole right part of my brain…
Only when I dared following the instructions of Sunlun Sayadaw, could I finally get released from this recurrent sickness.  Instead of manifesting in the upper part of my system, these bondages were released down through my legs in a much healthier manner… the healing lasted for months, since at that time, I was not yet mastering the technique.
I have no doubt that nowadays, I would much quicker to perform this clearing…
Anyway, these migraines are far away from me, what a release!!!  

And yes Thailand and Burma are amazing countries indeed where all kind of miracles happen daily, but people are so used to it that they forget to talk about it to their fellow-humans...
thirty years ago I assisted to the funeral of a very nice old man for whom I had great respect. It was a very sunny day, but at the very moment they lit the pyre, a cloud moved above us and stoped just above the chimney of the crematorium, showering us suddenly with the most exquisite and refreshing rainwater...
And there I remained, stunned and speechless, looking around me, and seeing people carrying on their activities.
"did you see that?" I finally shouted, and they smiled back to me!!!
"What a country !" I said to myself... And for fourty years, there has not been a single day that has gone by without exlaiming "what a country!"

A few years later, reading the biography of Phra Ajahn Man (mistakenly written "Mun" on the web), by Ajahn Maha Bua, I learned that the same incident had happened at his funeral!
That's all for today!

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/9/15 12:16 PM as a reply to woop wap.
woop wap,
Thank you for the post. I have checked out the website too. Thanks for that.

Yes, I remember now, Mr. S.N. Goenka did have migraines.
I have suffered from them for over 40 years.
Since starting meditation I have had only 2 migraines. Both my own fault. So, I can add this to the list too :-) Also, both mirgraines were not as severe as they usually were. So even that was another benefit from meditation for me.
It just keeps getting better and better.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/9/15 12:43 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Today in both meditation sessions I had a hard time staying focused on the breath. 1st session was 20 min. 2nd was 45 min. I just didn't "feel" like doing that. My mind wanted to be anywhere but in the moment. I became so disgusted with this "fight" that I almost quit meditating. Not for good :-) Not sure what the problem is. Last night was my first day back to work after a week of vacation. It is the only thing I can think of that might be the hinderance. During my week off everything was okay.
Now, I realised this fight so I did my best to relax. It helped some, but not long.
What's also weird to me is, I was in a pretty even mood the whole night. Even though I was in the building as the only maintenance guy. Nothing much ruffled me or affected me. I was just in a very calm mood. It was very pleasant too.
I caught thoughts a split second after I saw them. It was nice to note them, then quickly see it was craving, frustration trying to become anger, some kind of judgement, etc. But I did catch myself thinking nice thoughts too. THAT was more than refreshing. For me, it was a major thinking shift! Metta and other meditation seems to be paying off, finally.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/10/15 11:51 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, I get to write this all, all over again! emoticon Don't know what happened but when I went to publish, I had been knocked offline and was no longer signed in. So, now I must try to recover my thoughts. Not always easy when I am at work.
Today was both good and bad for my meditation. Bad because I could only squeeze in two 5 minute sessions. I could tell the difference too. As in, I wasn't getting a 30 minute session. Arrggh. Not enough time for me to get deep. Really makes a difference for me right now. It helps me to maintain my calm.
Speaking of calm, I nearly reverted back to my angry patterns when I had to deal with my supervisor about two machine issues. It was almost too much stress for me right then. Thankfully I said my piece, in a much less angry way than I used to before meditation. I still need to apologize to him. Also, it was nice for me that I was leaving to the other building to work my 2nd half of the night on another machine. This is aversion, yet it wasn't. Granted I didn't want to be there on that machine or work with the day shift crew coming in. Yet, it was not my decision to work in the other building. The supervisor had made that decision the night prior. So I was already supposed to go to the other building for my 2nd half of the night. It just all worked to my advantage. I am only able to deal with so much change, so quickly. This meditation has put me into a "delicate" emotional state right now.
I know that in time things may level out more. I sure hope so. Its not like I'm having extreme mood swings, its more like my minds' way of thinking is changing. This causes me to have a thought, that doesn't line up with the emotion I used to have (and still have), and the physical sensations are the same, but subdued. It is strange for me right now. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Hmm, Iron Maiden! emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/11/15 10:34 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Today I was more successful in getting better meditation. Today at work I sat for 25 min. It was a good session too.
Later, at home I was able to get my youngest to meditate with me. We did a 15 minute session that was productive for both of us. I believe, from questioning them, that they are beginning to see things in truth, not through their own lens. What is interesting is their meditation brings a blue colored dot into their range of vision, so to speak, when their eyes are closed in meditation. I've read about this, but only "saw" it once. I've tried explaining things the best way I can to them. So far they are following me with my talks about meditation. Hopefully I can get them to continue. They always say, after a session, that they feel better, are now happier, and more calm.
Time will tell for both of us. emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/11/15 10:41 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hey Don,
the dot your kids are seeing is some type of nimitta right?  I don't know much about kasina practice but thought I'd point that out...
Cheers,
Noah

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/12/15 8:14 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S,
Thanks for the reply, I do believe you are correct. I read about is somewhere in all the many books and whatnot I'm trying to digest. It was in one of them, I'm sure. Once I saw what you called it I recalled that word.
Thanks.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/12/15 11:07 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
So far today I have one session in. I was able to sit for 35 minutes at work. I tried doing the statue-like sit woop wap shared with me. I would say, I did rather well considering all my other attempts. Out of the 35 minutes, my guesstimate would be 25 minutes was good. I also noticed my concentration on my breath was better. I also noticed my ability to simply note noises instead of have them make me jump (really loud noises), was better. They use forklifts and tugs around the building, plus the machines themselves are loud. When a forklift driver drops the forks onto the cement it can be rather alarming. SMACK!!

I think I finally "got" something today. I try to read anywhere and time I can. Tonight at work, i read something about concentration on the breath, and bam!, I finally understood it better. Then when I did my session, I saw it for myself. Really cool :-) I realized I can concentrate on the breath and investigate the breath. I just never realized the breath could be studied like that because I never thought about doing that. DUH! Where was my mind when I ever read that and how many times?! How can I be so dense? lol

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/13/15 12:29 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Today at work I was able to get in another 35 minute session.
Things went okay, but I still felt physically out of sorts. Don't know but I think the weather had something to do with it. My coworkers and I have noticed a pattern with weather. If storms are coming, people seem agitated, in a bad mood, depressed, feeling aches and pains in injured body parts, or outright mean and ornery. We notice this in others besides ourselves emoticon.

I also had a rather strange experience on and off throughout the night at work. Things in my vision would begin to get wavy. They would turn from "solid" objects to an object that began to wave back and forth, like you see in a movie when they make the image do that.

Does that make sense to anyone else? Is this "normal' within meditation circles?

Honestly, this is not the first time, but it was the most prominent last night at work. It has only happened a few times here and there so far, but last night it was multiple times. I've also had things in my vision turn from solid into pixelated images. What the heck is this? I doubt that it is "normal". My life has been anything but "normal". emoticon

I just remembered, I have also been feeling vibrations, both inside my body, and from outside my body. Not all the time, but now and then too like the wavy or pixelated images. I think the two are related somehow. Will need to look into this phenomenon.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/14/15 8:12 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Tonight at work I was able to get in 2 sessions. One was a 20 minute, the other a 25 minute session. Both were difficult due to all the noise in the buildings. But, I am getting better if I have my earphones on instead of the music over speakers from the computer.

I believe the first session was acceptable. I aimed for concentration on issues with anger. Still reading the book I bought about dealing with anger in life and meditation. I didn't realize when I bought the book, just how new it was. Still, it has been a good read. I will definitely need to read it several more times; besides all the sessions I may need to pair up with readings from the book. emoticon

The second session was better. I concentrated on just the breath, or at least tried my best. Still learning to catch my mind wanting to wander off into anything but what I am trying to accomplish. Overall though, I think I did better at breathing concentration than the day before.

The mind seems like a 3 year old child: strongwilled, wants anything "fun", no boring stuff, hates reminders, hates losing, has issues it won't confront, of course selfish, and seems to be on a sugar rush if allowed free rein. Its no wonder so many people are suffering all the time. When one looks, honestly, into their own mind, they are afraid of what they find. That's probably why people often act like a 3 year old child, because mentally they still are in some ways. I'm not excluding myself. Mea Culpa.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/17/15 1:44 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
The last couple of days have been difficult for me. I have been thrown into a different schedule at work, so that has hampered my sessions. At home I have felt unmotivated to meditate but I have still sat for sessions regardless. I know I won't progress without the effort. No matter how I may feel. I have been able to prod myself to meditate.

I have been able to get 25 - 30 minute sessions every day, so I am still working towards the end. However, I still feel overwhelmed by all the knowledge I feel I need, to better understand things. That does not stop me from trying to learn and understand during sessions though. Thankfully I am starting to have things make more sense as I meditate. So all hope is not lost.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/17/15 7:52 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
After my session at work tonight, 25 min., I resolved to further help my meditation by going on 1 day retreats by myself into the woods. Just an overnight deal so I can get away from civilization for a little break. Hopefully these times will allow me to deepen my meditation. My plan is to spend as much of my waking hours on meditation. Whether sitting, walking, or lying down. I want to increase my ability to concentrate on the breath. Right now I feel a strong desire, an urge if you will, to get alone to meditate. I can only say that it feels like the right thing to do. Right or wrong I'm going to give it a try. I just need some alone time. I'm sorting through so many things right now I need the time and space to deal with all of it. Its almost like a hurricane inside my head with all I've been reading, listening to, and uncovering during sessions. All I can say is it feesl like something is coming to a head. I need to push on.

This idea has been rolling around in my head now for about 2 weeks. Last night it kept coming up in meditation, no matter what I tried to do with it. The thought wouldn't leave me alone. So okay, i get the hint.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/20/15 4:59 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
An update on my hip.
Yesterday while at work I needed to get a look under the machine I was working on. I bent down on my right knee and CRUNCH, snap, pop! Everything just totally gave way and my entire hip was no longer knotted, or out!!! It hurt, bet yet felt oh so good emoticon It has been loosening up more as I sit. I just cannot believe that after 24 years I am almost pain free from this injury?! Awesome emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/20/15 5:17 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, its been a few days. Lots going on for me.

I think I am making progress in many areas, however small or large. I am having more and more stuff just click when I read it now. Plus going back over the same material. Its indescribable to me to list all the things that I'm "getting". Its physical, mental, emotional, and a smoother ride than I thought was possible. Its so much better than before I got back into meditation. That existence was hell.

I can't even begin to list the different ways in which I now think compared to before meditation. I am more inclined to accept what I read from the pali texts, and books written about meditation, because of my own experiences now. Thus proving the buddhist invitation to try it out for yourself.

Yesterday I took a HUGE step for me. I found a sangha in my town. I went to their meeting to check it out and maybe ask some questions. It was comical to me because I was the first one to show up, early too, so the woman running things put me to work helping set things up and cleaning up. I actually enjoyed doing that for her, and the others who eventually showed. I tried meditaing while I pushed the dustmop back and forth until the entire studio was cleaned. It was nice to try that. I was partially successful too. So now I have an experience of doing that. :-)  lol

Learning how they did things was all by watching or being motioned to. No one bothered to speak to me about what they were doing, going to do, or how to do anything. It was strange. I wasn't offended, just puzzled. I figured they must have thought I knew what to do without asking me. lol Nope.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/23/15 4:03 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Update

Its been a few days. Been busy reading alot of material. Still getting my sessions in but they have been sporadic becuase the schedule I have had in the last week at work. Don't understand what the temporary supervisor is thinking when he does the schedule, but it has thrown me a curveball.

Regardless, I press on. Soon I should have a zafu and zabuton set! I'm excited for this set to arrive. I think it will help me have better sessions. My legs go numb on me at work every time I sit for a session. Even though my hip is so much better now, it hurts from wrong height position. This set should alleviate this problem.

Talked with my sibling on the phone today. They know I've gotten back into meditation. They remember many things from my childhood that are just now starting to come back to me. They confirmed my thoughts that I used to meditate even as a child. Many things from those sessions have been coming back to me lately. Its like deja vu, but more real than that. They also said that they could tell many differences with me during our conversation on the phone. I didn't think the differences were that obvious, but I guess they are! Sweet emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/23/15 11:24 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
An interesting thing happened with my hip again. I was trying to meditate yesterday at home as usual. My right hip was beginning to ache a little like it was out of place again. Not sure how it came about. Anyhow, while sitting there, I worked a little on my hip and crunch, snap! it was totally in place emoticon! It has felt even better since then. I guess this will be a recurring thing until all the knots are worked out. No matter, I know its all for my good.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/25/15 8:16 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Just got home from work this morning. Only able to get 1 session in at work. It was a 25 min. session so it wasn't bad. Had a hard time with concentration. Just haven't been feeling the "love" in my sessions. I've been feeling like I should concentrate on a few other issues right now instead of so much on metta practice, anger, forgiveness, and other issues. I know I will return to these issues, just not right now. Its so weird to work on so many facets of my life. I'm not used to moving around from one thing to another like this. Maybe that's why I am; to upset my routine life to test what I feel I have accomplished in practice sessions so far. Just to do a reality check on where I think I am in my progress. Its the only thought I can come up with that makes any sense. Of course I could be SO wrong. emoticon I just feel a pull in certain directions after staying a bit with 1 or 2 things in my sessions. Some things I've moved on from because I felt like I had totally worked out in my sessions. I get to a point where I feel like I'm going to beat a dead horse if I continue with that issue in my sessions. So I move on. I sure hope this is a correct thing to do because it seems like it with what I read.

I'm still reading any chance I get but also trying to integrate what I'm learning into every day living. Started a new book that is quite informative about the teachings. Its called, Teachings of the Buddha, by Jack Kornfield. I like this book. Its an interesting interpretation from the suttas. Almost comparable to the book of Proverbs from the christian bible. Its already cleared up a couple things I was wondering about.

Of course I'm still reading 3 other books besides this recent one. Just finished the book, Silicon Valley Monk From Metaphysics to Reality on the Buddhist Path, by J.A. Kempf. I really liked that book. It was so cool to learn so much background on Buddha and his teachings, his life, and so many other things. It was an engrossing book because I like history. I used to hate history in school. Once I moved over to Europe and lived there in a few countries I fell in love with history! I was living in historical countries, cities, etc. History came alive for me. So getting to read about all the history from those countries that Buddhism started in was a really nice hook for me.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/25/15 11:39 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I should watch what I say. Wonders never cease. I did a session about 30 minutes ago now.  I was able to sit for 45 minutes. Lo and behold, I had great concentration on my breath to get me started. I then slipped into metta, just as if I had planned it; which I had not. After some of the metta, I was confronted with some people I needed to forgive for the crimes they perpetrated against me. It was so awesome!

I could remember details of the crimes that I had buried deep. It was the absolute worst thing I've confronted so far in meditation. That being said, I was able to remove my emotional attachment after a little struggle, and observe the memories play out while I sat back, watched and made discoveries about the whole situation. By doing it like this I was able to forgive those people. The whole experience of how this happened was rather bizarre.

It was rather beautiful to me how the whole scene was slowly covered in liquid gold. The gold then melted everything and everyone in the scene. It happened slowly. Once all was dissolved, the gold then pooled around on the bare surface. After seeing all wiped away, I then felt a release like a weight lifted. It was done. I now have more space in my heart and head for love, compassion, and deeper understanding for others and their plight.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/27/15 1:14 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Update. 07/26/2015

I went to the local Sangha again. So 2 weeks in a row. I intend to continue so long as I feel its okay to be there. I had to answer common questions this time since not as many people showed up. It allowed others to ask general questions like where do I live, what work do I do, etc. Not my cup of tea. I prefer to stay "in the background" if I can. I've learned its better to sit back, observe, and learn. However, with the small size of the sangha I can't quite do that. It is hard for me. I don't trust people very much. This step to find a local sangha is my way of trying to connect with others who are trying to get to the same place.

Its difficult to adjust my sleep for the meeting. Normally when I get home I stay up thru the day until afternoon time.  I sleep during the afternoon into the night. Then get up for work. By going to the Sangha I have to readjust my sleep in such a way that it screws up my system. Today I wasn't able to get to sleep until after 11:30, then back up at 3:00, then back home and in bed at 07:30 and back up at 10:15. So I'm feeling tired. However, its a sacrifice I'm willing to continue to make as long as I see the benefit of doing so.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/27/15 1:54 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Thanks for sharing that story. I find it impressive that your practice is so strong that it allows you to let difficult memories play out and resolve themselves like this. I am sure that´s very beneficial. 

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/27/15 2:08 AM as a reply to Caro.
Caro,
Thanks for the reply. Yes, its truly amazing to me! Sometimes I can't believe how I do this either. I am trying to face anything that comes up during my sessions. There have been a few times I had to push it off for later because I didn't feel I was ready to handle what it was. However, those things still come back around. This latest issue was one such kind I had to push back several times. This last time I was able to get thru it.

The emotional and physical pain I've endured all these years from this crime has hindered me dramatically. Now, I feel so much "healthier" than I have in awhile. emoticon

Thanks for the kind words.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/27/15 11:35 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
07/27/2015

I was able to get in another session after work. This one was only 40 min. I couldn't do the other 5 min. I was hurting too bad to finish. My legs were hurting from loss of circulation and my neck was hurting. Still, it was better than not getting in the session. I'm so glad I did too.

This time I was able to delve deeper into the not-self issue. So many things going on in my head about this issue. Trying to "get" it is my stumbling block right now. During my session I had an overpowering theme of, "Stop believing in 'Self' ". Okay, how? Well, start noting every breath while you are awake, note every step you take, and keep searching for "I".  Find where 'Self" is. Its not anywhere, but you need to search for it to prove that point. Ok.

After awhile of this I felt like I was to do something more in my session, so I continued by doing metta. I'm so glad I did. I was able to do another session of forgiving people. I think I figured out how I am getting better at forgiveness and letting go. Between metta, forgiveness practice, anger abatement, and remaining detached while watching it play out, and noticing a weaker grip on my sense of 'Self', I am more apt to see how it all originated from my sense of this 'Self'. Thereby able to forgive so much easier. So this session was most beneficial for me. I can drill down now to the cause and effect origination of many things that have been my suffering for many years. I see why Buddha said we cause our own suffering.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/28/15 9:30 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, this is just a note for myself to read down the road. I am reading a book, among many, that has something in it that just jumps out at me. I just want to write it down for future reference.

Verses on the Faith Mind, by Seng-Tsan:

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.

Do not remain in the dualistic state; avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this one.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish, the thinking subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject ; the mind is such because of things .
Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute: the faster they hurry, the slower they go, and clinging cannot be limited: even to be attatched to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going.

Obey the nature of things [your own nature], and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived from distinctions and sepearations?

If you wish to move in the One Way do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many; distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the mind is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from passion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air: foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong: such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.
To undserstand the mystery of this One essence is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state.

Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion, both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the Way all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are free from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind's power.
Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.
In this world of Suchness there is neither self nor other-than-self.

To come directly into harmony with this reality just simply say when doubt arises, "Not two."
In this "not two" nothing is seperate, nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, Emptieness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Don't waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things: move among and intermingle, without distinction.
To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality.
Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!
The Way is beyond language, for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/28/15 11:04 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
Okay, this is just a note for myself to read down the road. I am reading a book, among many, that has something in it that just jumps out at me. I just want to write it down for future reference.

Verses on the Faith Mind, by Seng-Tsan:

Hi Don,

Thank you for taking your time to share this, it is so timely and true.  Wisdom is like music.

Psi

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/29/15 12:25 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi,

Thanks for your post. I'm glad it was of benefit to you. There were many sections of this poem(?) that resonated with me so deeply. Only because I am beginning to 'see' what it talks about. To most people it would seem like a riddle, or nonsense. To me it says liberation.

Music,....man I'm dealing with that too. Had a few replies about music and how listening to it can distract your mind when meditating. I've seen that happen to me at times. Most times tho, the 'music' I like to listen to when meditating helps me. At least I think it does. I will need to investigate this further to decide what works best for me. I have had great sessions while listening to something, and only a few when listening bothered me.

At work tho, I listen to my ipod while doing my daily maintenance on the machines. This helps me get through the monotony. Besides that, it helps keep me moving, happy, and motivated. I actually dance around while working on the machine.emoticon I'm sure many people think I'm off my rocker, but who cares.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/29/15 2:29 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Did a session a few minutes ago. It was disjointed because of physical pain interrupting me. We have a weather system moving in and it is hurting me. Caused me to have a hard time when concentrating.

I didn't get much out of this session except more information about 'self'. I found that 'self' is not coherent. It is just random thoughts trying to reinforce the idea of a 'self'. Bringing up memories to show possession of things, achievements, and many other things to show a 'self'. I am still not buying it.

Had a talk with my oldest child yesterday. I freaked them out. Didn't mean to do that. He was the originator of the subject we were discussing. Shortly into our discussion he stopped, looked at me like I was an alien, and asked, 'what the heck are you asking me?!, what does that have to do with our discussion?!' I then explained but he still looked at me puzzled. This happened several times and the same reaction from them. I was having a hard time understanding why they couldn't see the connections. lol, who knows? I was seeing the cause and effects of the subject of discussion.

Today I had a talk with my youngest child. I asked them what changes they have seen in me since I started meditating. They said that for the first several weeks my changes were quick and dramatic. Lately the changes have been slower but still seen as a continual progression. They said that I still have mostly the same preferences and mannerisms, but the rest has changed so much they almost aren't sure they know me anymore. They said I still have emotional outbursts, like if I get pissed off about something. But now those outbursts are so toned down and shortened that its like a short afternoon rain shower. And those outbursts are happening less and less. On a scale of 1 - 10, before I was an 8 - 10, now I am a 1 - 3, according to them. Lastly, they said that even my face seems to look happier now.

I've asked some co-workers about changes they may have noticed. Replies have been, I'm much calmer now, I'm more easy going, I'm unruffled by things at work anymore, I seem happier. I talk less and less. I'm more patient. So this meditation gig is really working.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
7/31/15 12:48 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, a few more notes.

I finally got my zafu/zabuton set. Tried it out a few times now. Its going to help my meditation sessions. Its still an awkward things for me but I'm starting to get the hang of it. It did help with the legs going to sleep issue. Now it was mainly from the knees down. So I am working on flexibility when I sit. I've already noticed improvement during sitting.

My last session again hammered home the self/not-self issue. Its a conundrum. I know I will have it 'click' one day. I just want to make sure I do everything needed to bring it about. I've also realized I'm working both sides of a coin. One side is the self/not-self issue. The other side is my metta/forgiveness/lovingkindness practice. I have found I need to work both sides to make progress. If I hadn't started on the self/not-self issue I wouldn't have understood that I can forgive others so readliy and easily if there is no 'self'. Likewise, without forgiving others I can't allow those parts of self to diminish. Its like I need to work on my 'self' hurts, failure, etc. to feel better about my 'self', just so I can release that aspect of 'myself'. Make any sense? It does to me. All that matters to me is progress. I'm willing to go through whatever comes to make it out to the other side.

My children encourage me to continue, as do co-workers. So I must be doing something right. However, I had an episode this mornig where I erupted. I got so mad, so quick, I surprised myself. I actually found myself aware of the whole fit while I was in the throes of it. Thankfully I gained control by letting go. I just let it play out while staying as mindful as I could be and it blew over in less than 5 minutes. Whew! I was so disappointed in my behavior emoticon. I almost cried. I felt like I had failed with meditation.

Later I took my youngest out with me and we spent the whole day together doing things. One thing I did was take us to a park so we could walk and talk. I spilled my guts, as the saying goes, just to explain to them where I am at right now. I told them about my little fit. They told me that it must be repressed stuff coming out. Expect more. Makes sense. Who knows? Regardless, they did say I've had fewer and fewer incidents and each one is milder, usually. So there is some progress. However slow it may seem.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
8/2/15 9:20 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, the zafu/zabuton set it working okay for me. I'm glad because I didn't want to deal with trying to return it or swap it, etc. I've taken the zafu to work with me a few times now. I had to find a piece of square cut foam to put beneath the zafu. That has been the only issue at work with it, except when I can't get in a session at work. I'm still working on stretching my legs, hips and groin area while sitting. This is helping with the legs going to sleep issue. Hope I can regain some more flexibility. The zafu is helping me with that though.

Well I tried to do a session this morning. Didn't happen very well. Can't understand what is happening. I was fine at work tonight. Had an enjoyable night doing noting and walking meditation on and off. Didn't seem to be in any bad mood or have many bad thoughts. Was left alone most of the night as I was working on one machine for much of my 8 hours. Ergo, I can't explain why this morning was like hitting a brick wall?!

One thing I did get from this mornings' session was, I need to go back into metta and company.

Last night I slipped into meditation while standing still once in awhile. Especially if I was working on one of the computers. It was all happening on its own. I wasn't fully there doing the keystrokes. It was weird. I didn't need to 'think' about what I was doing or how I was doing it. This allowed me to meditate on other things than my job at hand. I can't tell how long this occured. It did so on many occasions thoughout the night. I had 15 computers to work on so it was quite regular thru the night. Wow, I just fathomed that! Ok, maybe I had enough meditation tonight. Maybe that's why I couldn't meditate very well.

Well I finished another book. It was, Teachings of the Buddha, by Jack Kornfield. Very cool book. Glad I read it. I'm going to re-read it after I finish the other ones I bought. So now I'm on to my next one, Bringing Home the Dharma, by Jack kornfield. So far I like it too. I might enjoy this one even more. Still trying to decide whether my next one will be, A Path with Heart, by Jack Kornfield, back to my pdf books, or The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living - The End of Sorrow, by Eknath Easwaran. I will know once I'm almost done with the two I'm currently reading. And I'm almost done with the other one, All the Rage - Buddhist Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance, Edited by Andrea Miller and the Editors of the Shambhala Sun.

This book has taken me awhile to chew on and digest. I can only read so much before I need to put it down. I meditate on what I've read and how it applies to my life. It is a somewhat painful process. It hurts. Sometimes I don't want to keep meditating. I always do because I know what its done and can still do for this life. I don't care what anyone says, Meditating isn't for the weak.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
8/2/15 11:01 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
3 Weeks now I've been able to meet with a local Sangha. It was interesting today because there were a few 'new' people. Overall there was more people today than the other 2 weeks. This made it more social too. Today there was a chance for some people to ask questions and anyone reply. I was able to share some things from my own meditation sessions that seemed to resonate with the questioner and others. I'm glad to know I must be on the right path since others agreed with my observations and readings. It helps to know I'm doing the right things to make my sessions productive.

After we were all done I stayed to help put things away and hopefully get to ask the guy who was running things today a few questions. One question was to ensure I had not said anything out of line with anything they taught or believed. No, I was okay with that input. Cool. We then talked about a few other things and I mentioned something about stream entry.......There was a 'deer in the headlights' look! My minds' gears stopped cold. I felt cold. Ice cold at first. He asked, 'what's stream entry?'. I felt just as much a deer in the headlights when he asked me this. I quickly tried to recover and explain that the Buddha said stream entry was valued more than anyone who could become the king of the entire earth. And other things about stream entry as being where he wanted everyone to at least reach in this lifetime. I knew I was not educated enough on the subject, let alone not reaching it myself, to answer more indepth questions. So I referred him to search for it on the internet and in books. I didn't know what else to say at the moment. I think I should just keep my mouth shut more often than not.

RE: Don's Practice Log
Answer
8/4/15 3:23 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I did not get to meditate at work so I did so this morning after I got home. It was difficult at first because I couldn't seem to stop being anxious. I was so fidgety and achy it was unsettling. So.....I tried to just be in my anxiousness and fidgeting. Between doing this and focusing on breath I was able to switch between the two until I calmed down enough to start meditating. It felt hollow at first, like I was just going through the motions, but after a little bit I fell into it. I was able to make some more progress in metta/forgiveness/compassion meditation.

Then after that was done, I fell into meditation of self. Hmm, its hard to describe what happened. I feel like things happened but what exactly, I can't pin down. All I can say is, I had some more brought to light about self. I had some realizations about self that really hit home with me. I also had a distinctly different 'feeling' in my head or brain this time compared to all the others. This time I 'felt' all this activity/feeling/impression/washing/covering going on in the right side of my head instead of the left like it always has been before. This time it was a different sensation that I still can't put into words.

All the other times it was the left side of my head. The sensation I always 'felt' was like the left side of my brain was getting washed. Like my brain was getting cleaned up from impurities. I know this sounds very weird. I can't explain it any better. At least not right now.  That's just the sensation I had and what it seemed like it was doing. Maybe I can read this stuff much later and better understand. Maybe then I can put it into better words. So the left side is done for now I guess.

The right side sensation today was different, is how it 'felt' to me. When I 'felt' something happening on the right side today I was surprised. The sensation had an almost golden color to it. Ok, I know now. It was something that was pure in its essence; untouched, holy, perfect. This still isn't all. I can't find the words. Anyhow, after this sensation was done, I then felt something in my brain as being different. It felt like a click. Still have no idea what happened, if anything. I will note that I have been in a state of peace, calm, happiness, even joy since.  I slept like the dead today too.

Interesting thing is that once I got to work tonight, I had to hit the ground running. I found myself as the only maintenance guy in the entire building. Oh joy! :-). Plus I had 1 machine down, 2 others that had issues, and I was running from call to call, for the first 4 straight hours. What fun! Actually, I weathered the storm quite well. I notified the operators and supervisors that I was alone so expect delays in answering the calls. I kept my calm, happiness, and joy through it all so far. Even the operators and other workers have noticed how calm I am being about it all. I've even found humor with most of it too. I am unperturbed.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/5/15 12:39 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, its been just over 24 hours now since I last meditated. Does this bother me. Only somewhat. After my last session I have felt no strong inclination to meditate. Instead i've been noting, reading, and noting. I'm still in this calm, placid state. Nothing is really bothering me at all. I've felt such care, compassion, love, and wanting to help others.

I am also noticing that I seem to be doing things on autopilot sometimes. Its weird to catch it happening. It makes me wonder where my thoughts took me for who knows how long this time? I also realize that sometimes I was meditating. Yet, I don't seem disturbed when I notice these times. It seems like a 'natural' thing is happening on its own. I don't feel any fear.

I am noticing more and more the thoughts of 'I' as they happen. I see when I have a thought and the sense of 'I' tries to attach its sense of existence and ownership to the thought. Logically I know there is no self as self thinks of itself. I understand that self tries to keep up the illusion. Still working on this issue. Obviously. Hard to put into words sometimes.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/6/15 11:32 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I just finished meditating. It was interesting.

I'm finding more and more that my thoughts gravitate towards the not-self notion. It seems that the mind has so many ingrained habits, repsonses, and counter arguments lined up ready to use at a moments notice, like computer subroutines. On call at any moment. And worst of all, ready to claim thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations as self or belonging to a self. Thereby trying to reinforce the illusion of a self. Its strange to see how the mind works on this fabrication. Like a house of cards. It looks solid until you find out there is nothing inside. Its empty. There is no real structure. So why can't this illusion be cleared out of the mind or at least seen through for what it is? This is frustrating. But not insurmountable. It may just take some time for things to click inside the mind.

Still reading books, noting, meditating, and processing things.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/7/15 10:24 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I found myself as the only maintenance guy for the whole building again. Needless to say I was busier, and had as much trouble, as a 1-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. However,.......that being said, I was still in enough of a calm mood; almost a detached mood, I glided through the night. Another worker from another department didn't fare so well. They had 2 occasions where they lost it and got very upset and verbally lashed out. Not at me. My night came and went. So eventful, yet so not. I simply dealt with each thing as it came, and went.

I had many thoughts about no self tonight. My mind kept going back to that subject. I caught my thoughts many times trying to establish ownership of other thoughts, feelings, sensations. That sense of 'me', 'I', 'mine', 'you'. A few times though, I had a thought, 'what would it be like to have no sense of a self?'.  When I tried to imagine it, I felt really hollow inside my head and body, and very spacious. I could tell there was nothing there. I don't know how I could tell. It just felt like absolutely nothing in there. No thoughts, no emotions, no sense of a self either. Boy, that felt weird. lol, but of course!

After I got home I was able to get a session in this morning rather early compared to most days. I'm still acclimating to the zafu and zabuton. Its getting easier to go my 45 minutes now. Still working on concentration skill. I also find when a weather system is coming in I can hardly sit still for long enough periods of time. I really hate all the physical injuries I've suffered through the years. However, my hip, groin, and legs are getting better with the sitting.

I'm also starting to notice more energy in the body. Even though the sleep is still getting better, I still have days where I'm just feeling wiped out. More days than not though, I'm beginning to feel more energy. Its been nice when it happens at work. Really helps get me through the night without so much monster drink. Its really nice being in the state or stage I find right now.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/10/15 9:10 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Its been a few days. Been really busy at work most nights now. Plus I'm usually the only maintenance guy in the building. Also, I had to work overtime several days now. Like last night I had to go in 4 early. As I will tonight. Oh, I also have to work one of my days off and go in 4 early :-). Cramps my sitting meditation chances.

I find I prefer the sitting over the walking meditation. Although I've had a few good sessions from walking meditation. My attempts with walking meditation have been hit or miss. So I suppose(know) I should continue walking meditation attempts to develop this ability. Another thing I've found, its hard to develop concentration skills in my workplace. So many loud machines, loud people and other noises. Thats why I like to do sitting meditation there. If I can do it there, I can do it almost anyhwere.

Still on the subject of no self. The mind is turning this over and over and over. More to come tonight. I must go to bed.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/16/15 12:13 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
So much has happened since my last post. Been so busy working overtime and putting out fires in my life. Work has been hampering my ability to meditate consistantly. I have been trying to do noting, walking meditation, and any sitting meditation I can shoehorn in. Thankfully I still have every sunday with the local Sangha. That has really helped me.

I also bought a 2nd zafu. This has also helped in my sitting practice. I try to take one of them to work and use bubble wrap folded up to make up the difference in height that I need when sitting. So far that has worked; when I can squeeze a session in at work.

Still undecided about listening to something while I sit or walk and meditate. Say what you will, music helps me. Of course what I listen to affects me. So I try to be selective with what I listen to while meditating. Some of the suggestions I received has been nice to listen to also.

Still on the subject of no self. Still on the metta practice too. Not sure how to tell if the one is affected by the other or not. Somehow I think they are connected. So many questions, not enough answers. I believe I overintellectualize too much. Trying to learn how to let go, and let flow. Being "right in the moment" has also been getting easier in small steps. Can't do it all the time yet, but I see improvenment.

Saw a post here recently that made sense and so far seems to work for me too. It was about the 'clenching' feeling you get with certain emotions in a situation. Being more aware of these physical and emotional responses allows me to be in the middle of it all and not lose my calm mind and emotions as easily.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/20/15 1:17 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Its funny how working so much lately has been both a curse and a blessing. A curse because it takes time away from my sitting practice and reading. It eats away at my own time for these activities. However, it is a blessing because it makes me actively employ this new way of living here and now. There is not much time between what I glean from practice and reading, and trying to live it out in my life. How successful I am, or not, tells me how much more and in what areas I need to focus on. So, its a mixed bag for sure.

That being said, I find my joy, happiness, and totally different ways of thinking as persisting even through the rough times. Something is sticking from what I am trying to accomplish. So progress just spurs me on to continue. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn't the freight train about to run me over! :-)

Thankfully my local Sangha has been helping me with things I have questions about. Its nice to see the others are, or have been, where I am at right now. Plus, I had someone loan me some books for another subject I need to learn more about. The first book has really helped. Its about kundalini. My only reason for wanting to learn more about this is because of the experiences I've had with kundalini. The one experience just blew me out of the water! It was nice to learn that a few others have had kundalini experiences too.

My sitting practice has taken a hit, but other practices have increased to help make up what I miss. Hopefully now that I am on 2 weeks leave I can reestablish a better sitting practice. For some reason my sitting sessions are more intense than walking meditation and noting. The noting is coming along though and I 'see' so much more in my everyday life now. Many things are SO evident to me on a day-to-day basis. I also find that walking meditation and noting are giving me energy when I am actively doing either. I can't reason out why this is so. It just is.

I still listen to music at work when I am doing my routine maintenance on the machines. It really, and I mean really, helps boost my moods, morale, and energy. Say what you will, I find that listening to music for the 2 - 4 hours I have to spend on the machines each day as a blessing. Music still plays a huge role in my life. It always has from my earliest memories. However, I am about to step into the unknown by doing sitting meditation without ANY music. I need to learn how to meditate without any music in case I find myself without the ability to have that music while I meditate.

I must be making progress with everything I am doing. A person who I have known at work, for about 15 or 16 years, has mentioned the changes they've seen in me. One thing they said just a few days ago surprised me. They have said before how mellow I've become. That's good, but what they said was, "you've been getting more calm, unflappable, and patient, but lately in the last week or so you have dropped down a gear or two." Okay, that was a surprise to me. A pleasant surprise :-). I'll take that as a sign of progress any day!

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/20/15 1:24 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
The first book has really helped. Its about kundalini. My only reason for wanting to learn more about this is because of the experiences I've had with kundalini. The one experience just blew me out of the water! It was nice to learn that a few others have had kundalini experiences too.

Kundalini=usually either A&P or low EQ.  It took me mad long to realize this because I started out in AYP traditions before learning the progress of insight, so I assumed kundalini must be rampant throughout all of the nanas.  Eventually, with help from the observations of my teacher, I narrowed it down.  And I don't mean to minimize the significance of kundalini here, the A&P has breadth and depth, as Daniel's mind map illustrates.  I also think there is a rough correlation between the ability of kundalini to flow up the spine (via the chakras opening) and the progression through the nanas.  There is obviously a huge amount of variance.  

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/20/15 2:19 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S,

Thanks for the reply. Thanks for the link too. I've looked at those maps before, but it has been awhile. As for feelings about kundalini, don't worry. I take no offense or anything like that. I am merely wanting to know what it is, how it works, etc. I am NOT interesting in cultivating this. Believe me, THAT was an experience I don't want repeated any time soon.

However, after that main experience, I had a few others. Those were not as intense. I actually learned what caused them to happen, and why that 1 WAS so intense. I also know what you mean about it flowing up the spine. That was my experience all three times it happened. Obviously very energetic, but also very scary to someone who's never had that or knew what it was.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/20/15 4:52 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, I'm still on the no self issue. I'm beginning to have some understanding of what may be my main issue with this and why I cannot see there is no self.

While in meditation, I realized that I am like someone from missouri, the 'show me' state. I've been burned enough and bad enough to acquire the attitude of 'show me' if you want me to accept or believe. I realize this is causing me to try and understand this issue before I can or will accept and believe it. I know I must accept and believe it before I can understand it. Its one of those, 'you'd have to experience it yourself to understand' type of issues. As is most of this meditation and buddhist stuff.

Another problem is the fear. I know its irrational, but its there anyhow. I also know why. Again, its irrational.

I know that because of the events in my life, I developed a very, very strong sense of self. This sense of self felt so threatened as I grew up that it became everything. Self preservation. It consumed me. And it nearly destroyed me.

Lol, hopefully it will.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/23/15 7:48 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I've been on a short hiatus from sitting meditation. I have still done what noting I could, and can, plus whatever walking meditation I can. I've been away from reading much concerning buddhism, meditation, etc. because of this no self issue. I've had so many questions to work through, it has taken most of my waking time when I let it. It has expended so much mental energy that I have found myself nearly exhausted each time I lay down to sleep.

I've read in some places that when you 'see' there is no self, you 'see' it immediately when you do. There is no progression towards 'seeing' no self.
Then in other places its allowed that there might be progression leading up to the final 'moment'. So, what am I to believe? Still on the fence on this one.

Well my meeting with the local Sangha today was interesting. We had a packed house. Many first time people. Don't know who will come back. It was nice that several first timers weren't afraid to talk. I still remain silent for most of the time. I won't talk when there are that many people. That's what I do here :-).

I wanted so badly to ask someone, anyone, if they experience the same thing I do when we do our stepping meditation. They call it 'walking' meditation, but lordy they are soooo slow to take each step. Anyhow, I've noticed that each time we do this, I have energy that begins to build up in me! I feel like a battery gettting charged up! Its insane the level of energy I feel when we finish! And its only for 10-15 minutes. Holy cow it feels like it wants to erupt from me. I still can't understand why this stuff - kundalini - is happening :-(. I truly don't want this like I seem to get it. I can only think that the first time it happened, that opened up something that doesn't seem to be closing. This is so weird! I am so perplexed. I'm reading a book about kundalini in the hopes I can discover what to do about this issue. This is unnerving sometimes.

Because of jobs I've had, I've been zapped by some serious voltage, and seriously radiated. Thanks to some morons I had to work with in the military. So I know what it all feels like. THAT is what some of this feels like. Heat, electrical power, and energy radiation. Sometimes the energy is so intense that I just shake from it. My hands, arms, and torso all quiver and shake. It even makes me clench my jaw tight sometimes. That hurts after awhile.

Well enough blathering. Just wanted to get this down for future reference. Hopefully I can figure out what to do about the kundalini. I thought I had it licked from my sitting practice. Ha! what do I know?! emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
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8/25/15 11:04 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
So much has happened since my last post. Been so busy working overtime and putting out fires in my life. Work has been hampering my ability to meditate consistantly. I have been trying to do noting, walking meditation, and any sitting meditation I can shoehorn in. Thankfully I still have every sunday with the local Sangha. That has really helped me.

I also bought a 2nd zafu. This has also helped in my sitting practice. I try to take one of them to work and use bubble wrap folded up to make up the difference in height that I need when sitting. So far that has worked; when I can squeeze a session in at work.

Still undecided about listening to something while I sit or walk and meditate. Say what you will, music helps me. Of course what I listen to affects me. So I try to be selective with what I listen to while meditating. Some of the suggestions I received has been nice to listen to also.

Still on the subject of no self. Still on the metta practice too. Not sure how to tell if the one is affected by the other or not. Somehow I think they are connected. So many questions, not enough answers. I believe I overintellectualize too much. Trying to learn how to let go, and let flow. Being "right in the moment" has also been getting easier in small steps. Can't do it all the time yet, but I see improvenment.

Saw a post here recently that made sense and so far seems to work for me too. It was about the 'clenching' feeling you get with certain emotions in a situation. Being more aware of these physical and emotional responses allows me to be in the middle of it all and not lose my calm mind and emotions as easily.
From what I can tell I was correct about the correlation between metta/forgiveness practice and the no self issue.  All of my sitting sessions seem to bring up metta/forgiveness at some point during the session. The metta/forgiveness part is always about someone I still need to forgive. When I finally can forgive them I notice a drop in my sense of self in everyday living. I can feel a slice of 'self' fall away. Maybe I'm still self deluded. Maybe not.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/1/15 10:16 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Its hard to believe the time span from my last post.

I've been in such a funk. Haven't done much of anything but sleep, read, sleep, shower every day, sit around reading, just being lazy. I'm supposed to be using this time off from work to get some things done. Ha! I'm too tired. Maybe taking an actual break is what I truly need. I know it sure feels good to just relax. No pressing needs, no work schedule,...no schedule at all. Hopefully when I do go back to work I'll be rested enough to step back into the stream of life without any major disturbances. If not, I have no choice but to "live' with it and see how I handle it as it comes.

Still on the no self issue. Been reading the sotapanna. Been studying other online materials, forums, etc. I think not 'seeing' the reality of no self yet, has been frustrating me enough to have helped me get into this funk. However, during sessions that I have gotten in, combined with noting when I have needed to go out, have given me glimpses of something. Still not sure what it is, but its there at the periphery of my consciousness. I am shown many instances in everyday life the 'self' at work with things people say and do, besides my own thoughts of self or actions that get noted. This is along with the other 2 of the 3 C's. For quite awhile those other 2 were the ones I could see over and over. Now, I see all 3 but the no self is most dominant. Weird reversal.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/4/15 9:31 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
Hopefully when I do go back to work I'll be rested enough to step back into the stream of life without any major disturbances. If not, I have no choice but to "live' with it and see how I handle it as it comes.
So last night was my first night back. Immediately I hit the ground running, on a machine that was broke down an hour before my shift started. Oh joy! It still took 3 of us to fix it 3 hours after our shift started. Welcome back to work! It was a good one :-). BUT, I was so calm, so relaxed, so "honey badger" like throughout the night. It was nice to have that kind of peace and calm in both body and mind. I truly needed this time off.

Still working the no-self issue. Reading, noting, meditating when and where I can. 

Bought myself a better motorcycle this weekend. It has been a wonderful thing. That bike has certainly increased my gas mileage and quickened my travel times. Been a long time coming for this bike. It has put a smile on my face too. Of course, almost any bike does. I guess now I need to get that book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values". Lol

This last Sunday with the Sangha was another good time. We had a full house again. I also had another book given to me to read through. I just don't know how many books I can read?! Oh well, I will read them all eventually. Again I had the same 'issue' when we did our walking meditation. Its like a slow death march, but it just blasts me with energy buildup. wth? Why? I can't figure it out yet. I do believe it has something to do with what I've been reading about kundalini, and my experiences. Yikes. This stuff scares me. That's why I try to stay away from it, but I need to know about it since I keep encountering it without trying. Hmm, a paradox I can't figure out yet. Maybe a Sangha member can help.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/6/15 2:14 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
2nd Night back and I was the lone maintenance person in the whole building again. Besides being a holiday weekend, which means reduced employess anyhow, we had 2 people call in sick. So 2 people in the one building while I was in the other. It was a tough night for all of us. I was quite busy, but it was still a nice, calm, relaxed night from my perspective.

I had no one to disturb me during times I had the chance to read the one book I took to work. Its about kundalini. It was somewhat helpful but still only in bits and pieces. I am learning some things though, so its still worth finishing. I will move on to the next book after this one.

Something I want to get down before I forget. Lately, last 2 or 3 days, I've had moments where I didn't feel like I had a solid body. Then suddenly I feel like there is no 'I' anywhere. It seems to fluctuate between these two states for a bit, then dissappears. I've also noticed a 'circle' of light around things sometimes. Like a halo? Hard to describe since I am new to 'seeing' such things. This happens during wakefulness, not in dreams or 'visions' or during meditation. This is while I am out and about, at work, or at any time I'm awake. While I understand I'm dealing with no-self right now, I wonder how this is affecting me? If at all.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/8/15 2:23 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I was able to get in a sitting session yesterday. I didn't set any alarm. I just went for as long as I could. Turned out to be about 45 - 50 min. Imagine that :-).

The one reason I mention this session is because of what happened. Shortly after starting, I began to tremble. I began to shake. It felt like a mini earthquake was happening inside. I couldn't sit up straight, or hold my body up. I had to lean back onto my hands to support my body. This shaking felt like a very strong vibration, not shaking like a ragdoll. It was very strong, bizarre, and unsettling. I can't recall EVER having a similiar experience. I don't know how long it lasted but it was awhile. Afterwards, my body began to slowly fade in intensity and frequency of vibrations/shakes. I was too stunned from the experience to do much at first after it subsided, so I just sat and took in anything in my awareness. Once I 'felt normal' again, I then went to the breath. The rest of my session was metta/forgiveness meditation and what followed.

Thankfully it was not quite as intense as the 1 kundalini experience I had, but it is now a runner-up. What is going on?! I am learning more about this subject, but not totally how I would want :-) I never even knew about this stuff before that 1st encounter. I'm still confused as to why it was unlocked when I wasn't aware of it; I wasn't trying for it. Even now that I know something about it, I still am NOT trying to bring it up any further than it already has. Maybe, from things I've been reading about it, I may not have any choice in this matter any more. I will need to learn more, hopefully just from books, not the live version.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/12/15 1:42 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Its been a few days since my last post, I see. Well, I haven't done much sitting meditation lately. Still wary of setting off anything. So I have been busy with noting, noting, and walking meditation. Its actually been fruitful for me so far. Still reading more on kundalini. I'm now on the fence about this. I almost feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. Time will tell with how I plan on trying to deal with this issue.

Still working the no self issue. Gaining traction finally. So many things going on with this, in this life. Its rather interesting the more reading, noting, and meditation that is thrown into the mix. Sometimes it feels like the head is going to explode from all that's being crammed in and what's happening inside the mind. So many shifts in thinking, ways of looking at things, and lastly new experiences in this life. There is no doubt things have changed.

Well I must write more later. Either this site is having issues or my network is. Don't know since I lost my 3rd paragraph now!, I'll try later.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/15/15 2:32 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, I have a few more answers now to this kundalini. I'm in over my head emoticon. That's how it feels most times. However, after all the research for the specific questions I had, from my own experiences so far, the conclusion is: yes i've had some major and minor kundalini experiences. So, where to go from here? From what many sites and several books say, its over, its a done deal, there is no choice or stopping it anymore. Its started and will not stop until done because of the major release I had in a sitting session about 2 months ago. Its hard to argue against it when descriptions of it are almost word-for-word in how I would describe it. Its quite freaky to read your own thoughts about how to describe it spelled out on sites and in books. What to do about it, if anything can be done, is another question. Thing is, i've had several other big experiences since the first major one. Again, without trying for it, looking for it, or wanting it. Plus, I'm still experiencing it every time I do the walking meditation with my local Sangha. I had been hoping this would just go away.

I was able to talk to the woman at the Sangha, who previously lent me two books about kundalini, this sunday. We meet every sunday. Thankfully she had some answers too. She also had a few questions for me. My answers confirmed in her mind that I had, and am, experiencing kundalini. She did offer some suggestions though that I had not found in my searches about kundalini and how to deal with it. Whew, this is so unexpected, and such alien territory for me. So far i've not had most of the negative effects that are also listed as possibilities from kundalini awakening. So that is one positive from all this. One 'side'effect' that has happened is weight loss. Its been about 35lbs. I began to notice how my eating habits changed but didn't understand or associate it with kundalini until I dug into this deeper. Losing the weight was not necessarily a good thing. I dropped from about 185 down to 150. This body is now wiry. Another effect noticed is how the body felt like it was purging and cleaning itself out. Which is strange considering how my children mockingly complain about how healthy we all eat. emoticon

Still on the no self issue but making progress. Thoughts, emotions, and the body are changing. This whole path can be an upheaval to most it seems. Letting go of the belief in self/no-self is much easier when there is less resistance to it, duh. Doing so can be harder than most think, sometimes. Lol, its so funny to realize, from direct experience, these truths that you hear and read about but didn't 'get' yet. Going in, it was trying to understand it intellectually. Wrong thing. Then it was having preconceived ideas about it or expectations of what it would be like. Wrong thing. Then it was frustration because of not clearly seeing it. Then, it was always noticing the actions of self in others and yourself. Then further understanding from inside. Best way I can describe it. Now, its like autopilot and a lot less 'noise' in the head. Don't know where the progress would be classified at, but it really doesn't matter. Maybe there are more steps to go, or not. Its all okay and getting better.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/18/15 2:04 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well I just spent my two days off from work on the no self issue. Other things in llife happened, like grocery shopping, paying bills, etc. but it was all a process that happened without any thoughts of an 'I' doing it. Like autopilot. Weird. No thoughts of 'I' attached to them. Any thoughts of self that did come up, quickly disappeared because they were seen to be about self and therefore irrelevant. These last two days went by in a blur. Sleep was greatly distubred on both days off. I actually lost track of the time of day AND what day it was. It felt like the days were all a dream, and my dreams were reality. Whatever those dreams were :-). Life certainly seems surreal and bizarre.

Speaking of dreams. I had one that I actually remembered. It doesn't happen that often that I remember. Anyhow, I dreamed of a snake coiled inside me at the bottom of my torso. In this dream I was meditating and the 'snake' uncoiled and ascended through my torso until it reached my neck/head section. At this point the 'snake' became a double-helix like DNA. Then it ascended into my head. At entry into my head it became liquid gold and flowed over and into my brain. It didn't hurt but it was all happening on the left side. After awhile the entire left side was golden colored, then it spread into the right side. Once the entire brain was washed over and through with this 'stuff', I woke up. It felt so weird when consciousness came. Is it possible to 'meditate' in your sleep?! Seems I read something about that somewhere. Must go look that up.

Yes, I'm sure this is kundalini related. But c'mon! In dreams?! Really?! I can't get away from this stuff. So, its back to the books and sites.

Oh yeah, one more thing that's been noticed, my reflexes are now very quick like they used to be. I was sitting at a table in the maintenance cage with a custodian a few days ago just chatting. Along flew a small insect, maybe a gnat, that was flying around this person. They saw it, tried to swat or grab it, but it was elusive. HA, just like thoughts sometimes. I saw it clearly in the air, reached out and grabbed it before I consciously thought to do so, and squashed it in my hand. The hand shot out and grabbed so quick it made them startle, look at me with widened eyes, and exclaim, "Damn that was quick!" Why yes it was :-) I had begun to notice my reflexes were getting better. I've been catching stuff right out of the air before it can hit the floor, too. This new thing is a puzzle. Why the reflexes?

RE: Don's Practice Log
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9/26/15 1:51 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well after working on 2 vehicles and the motorcycle, we got two out of the three fixed. Been busy with this stuff.

I have done some sitting though. Plus reading, walking meditation, and noting. Plus a book I ordered came in. So the forward movement has not stopped. Just slowed. Hopefully it will pick back up.

During a most recent sitting session, I had another strange experience. While focusing on the breath, it felt like I left my body slightly, and was looking at it from behind. It then felt like I was back inside my body. But then this outside looking in, then inside looking out sensation began to flip-flop. This happened a few times of back and forth. After that I was back 'inside' looking out, but now there was a river of 'energy' that began to flow into the room, into the body, through the body, and out of the room. This 'river' flowed like a real one would. After some time of this, the 'river' ebbed until it was no more. During the time it was flowing through the body, it felt like....well its hard to describe. Like a river of peace, calm, serenity, love, and light. I know how this sounds trite, but it's what it was. Again, this is nothing that was looked for, pursued, etc. It just was.

I don't know if this was related to kundalini. I don't think it was. However, I have had a few other experiences that I can attribute to kundalini. Maybe once I get through this new book, about kundalini, I will have a much better idea of what to do, how to do it, etc. with this new thing. I found I can't just ignore it. It stills pops up on its own.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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10/3/15 3:31 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I am not sure how affected my meditation and life have been in the past week or so but I know it has been quite difficult lately. Still thinking its because of the kundalini. My sleep has been greatly disturbed, my energy levels have been all over the map, my mental faculties have been blunted at times and sharper than a scalpel at others. My emotions have run the gamut. Its been very unsetttling. Working on the vehicles has taken up so much of my 'free' time. Work has been busier than normal. I've been working on the no-self issue right along though. Still, the meditation has suffered. There has even been some aversion to meditating. Hard to believe but its been there at times. I think I'm beginning to cycle again. It all fits the pattern that I can now see from the past months.

The local Sangha is moving locations now. I missed last week. This week will be in the new place. A church, of all places :-). Should be better accomodations now with less disturbances from outside the building.

Maybe things will settle down for me soon. Maybe not. Not if what I am reading about kundalini is true. Things are just beginning if that stuff is all true.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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10/3/15 6:22 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
From first post..
There may be others here and there but my main concern is my progress. I want to be able to look back and read posts to see where I have come from and the progress I have made till that moment.

Anyone reading this or further posts may develop severe sleepiness. You have been warned :-)


Hi Don,
Happy three-months in. To me, it's practical and interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your practice. 

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10/5/15 1:54 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
"Hi Don, Happy three-months in. To me, it's practical and interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your practice."

Thanks, doesn't seem that short a time span. Lol, I'm glad someone gets a few things out of my ramblings. I do, but never thought anyone else would. This path has been more than I bargained for from the beginning. I've learned more than I thought there was to learn too. Especially about this kundalini thing. Oh boy its a Gordian Knot to me. Extremely unexpected. Never knew about it before. Still don't know enough. Still feel like I'd be playing with fire if I try to do anything with it by myself. However, from what I've read in books and many websites, there isn't a choice about it anymore. Time will show. All that can be done is to just roll with it as it comes.

I will add, that I sometimes worry with how many times my post has been viewed. It actually scares me or worries me. I never wanted or dreamed that many views would show up for my postings. Because of this, I have not posted everything that happens or has happened. I'm feeling intimidated and too judgmental about my practices. :-) I've strived to have a 'regular' practice of sitting, walking, and noting. That has not happened, obviously. Instead my whole practice has been a whirlwind mostly. The only stability for me is knowing this place and the people are here, my local Sangha, my own grit, and examples from others that I read about in their posts.

Working on the no-self issue has also helped me tremendously.

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10/16/15 12:24 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, its been awhile since the last post. Things have been chaotic. However, not all peace, equanimity, and love has been absent.

Things have been moving, changing, and stirring up inside. I have discovered that more must be learned, and from direct experience, concerning Jhana. Yes, I was uninformed about it enough to decide I didn't need or want that practice. I saw it as a way of escapism from reality. I now see I was wrong. For without that practice, I may not reach any goals. I never fully understood the reasons behind the jhana practice. I thought of it as just a 'feel good' measure. It helps with all meditation practices from what teachings and teachers say. So now, another facet of practice will need to be developed.

I can still physically feel kundalini stirring inside me. It rises up sometimes unbidden, but now mostly only when I focus on it. Being so unsure about it has caused my sitting practice to falter. I have not wanted another explosive episode like others I've had in the past. Instead, I've focused on learning more about it with books, sites, etc. Which has lead me to the jhana side of things. Its all so interrelated and connected. So many facets to this Dhamma, like a diamond they say.

Thankfully my local Sangha has moved into the new location now. Plus they have opened up a Wed. night meeting. That is perfect for me since my nights off from work are Tues., and Wed. I now have no excuse for not showing for the Wed. meetings. I am very thankful for this new avenue open to me. The only issue is parking. Its right downtown.

I believe I just finished a dark night. I recalled earlier I thought I was cycling again. I do believe I was correct. I am now on the downhill slope, almost to the bottom. Things are leveling out now. This one was only worse in regards to the length of time it took. Most others I went through in days or hours. Sadness, depression, etc. are now more diminshed than ever before, but still present. It took a few days to get throught the worst of it this time. I can 'feel' the difference in the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Its like things are still present, but a little removed. Less and less attachment to those thoughts, feelings, etc. The work on not-self has helped. Seeing things from a better perspective or from many other perspectives.

Okay, enough blathering.

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11/4/15 4:10 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, its been awhile. Been very busy with work, family, etc. but have not slacked off on practice. In fact, i've gotten through a few more books since my last post. Plus picked up about 4 more. I've also begun to be more regular with my meditation as a whole. I've been using the breath and counting it to ten as I do walking meditation. This has been even better for me than noting was. The 'now' moment is right there all the time I'm doing these two together.

I can't fully comprehend where all the joy, happiness, and lighter feelings are coming from when I am doing both of these together, but they are present. This has helped me in my research into the jhanas, actually. I realized from reading about jhanas that these are some of the effects from some of the jhanas. In my previous post I realized I needed to learn about them and see if I could get to even the 1st jhana. I do believe I just did yesterday for the 1st time. I think i've been in 'soft' jhanas before but not a solid jhana like yesterday. I'm still learning about them from sites and now a book I just bought yesterday.

Well my research into kundalini has progressed. I'm almost done with the first book I bought about it; besides the sites i've scoured for information about it. This search has benefited my practice because I now can tell when it is rising and what caused it. Besides this, I learned about the three paths it takes. The right, left, and middle. Both the right and left have happened now many times each. The middle one has only happened twice. Not sure where to go with it from here but maybe a book I just bought yesterday will shed some light.

Oh yeah, still on the no-self issue. Learning to say less is sometimes difficult. The ego of it.

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11/13/15 2:08 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well unfortunately i'm still here. Still on the no-self issue. Found a book at the local library on this subject that I really connect with. I'm definitely going to buy the book. Meditation practice has fluctuated due to unforseen incidents. Still doing all I can towards getting the time in for it though. Many more things are becoming clearer in practice from the latest books I've been reading through. Its tough to work on letting judgements, beliefs, bias, etc. all go.

In my practice today, I was able to do some metta practice with several antagonists in mind. I truly could not comprehend how I could do this with these particular people. I didn't question it too hard though, I just accepted it as it was. It was nice to break down some of the walls. Its easier to have some understanding and compassion for these people when put into the right perspective.

Well enough for now. Its probably too much in most posts anyhow. Less is better most times.

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12/29/15 11:09 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I'm not dead yet! In fact, i'm feeling much better now. I think i'll go for a walk. (Monty Python)

Seriously, I am doing better than my last post.

Being able to ride the motorcycle this late into the season is a miracle. Finally had to put the bike away today. We got 4 - 6 inches in the last 24 hours. With more snow coming, in the forecast. Finally.

Being able to make progress in this practice is even better though. Progress must be happening. Several people at work have now asked me questions about what it is that has changed me. I do believe they've been turned to the light side emoticon. It helps propel my efforts to know my energies are being well spent. Although much progress has been made, there is still so much more to do. More progress between me and my children too.

As weird as it seemed to me at the beginning, i've learned a few short mantras that have really helped. This has tied in with the kundalini. The book about kundalini, that i'm still reading, has several more mantras and meditation instructions. So far, its the best information i've found concerning kundalini and meditation geared towards kundalini awakening. That's after a few boooks I read, beforehand, by another who was considered by most to be the leader in kundalini knowledge. They had too much of a political message and less on kundalini. So now I will need to get more books from this author that i'm reading.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/9/16 12:54 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well, the book about kundalini is finally finished. What a read. It was a good book. So many things have happened in my practice. Now I understand so many things. Of course, there are so many more things I still don't get yet; yet.

Now I know, for sure, some changes have happened. At work I have a person I'm training. We have known each other for about 15 years. They worked in other departments but now work in my field: maintenance. Anyhow, the other day they actually shocked me. We were just chatting while doing our work on the machine. Then they stopped, looked at me and said, "You have changed so much that I almost don't even know who you are anymore. You are a totally different person." I was speechless.

As long as progress is being made then the energy that's put into this practice is beneficial. As long as it can be kept up there is hope. Right now there is hope. Maybe the end will be reached in this lifetime, maybe not. The effort put into reaching that goal is well worth it though. Let's hope and pray that others will see this for themselves too.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/16/16 12:27 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hmm, where to begin?
Not sure how to start, where to start from, etc. So many things have come out of my practices in the last couple weeks. I've cycled through a few DN's too. One was really tough. I can say though, that overall any DN has been less intense as my practice develops.
There have been shifts in my thinking, attitudes, outlooks, and who knows what else. Kundalini has also played a part of this transformation.

I have also had a few more dreams that I actually remembered upon waking. This has been rather interesting. They all related to my meditation practice because I was meditating in my dreams emoticon. It was weird to wake up thinking I had just come out of a meditation session, only to realize I had been asleep in bed, not sitting in meditation. It felt so real. It was hard to determine if I was awake, asleep, or both while doing sitting meditation. Almost didn't snap out of it. Needed to get going for work but was dazed and confused for awhile emoticon. This was for both dreams.

Moved on to the other books I bought a few months ago. It sure takes time to digest all the material. These books sure aren't the normal fare of what I usually read emoticon. These books are like homework, but that's good. It helps knowing these books, along with the practices, are actually making a difference.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/19/16 7:49 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Last night at work I was able to do some sitting meditation. During the practice it felt like the body lost all solidity. It felt like the body broke up into small particles that were all moving around in an excited way, like water boiling. There was no pain or discomfort, but it was unsettling.

Over the last week or so there have been several times now that vibrations could be felt. Through the air, the ground, through solid objects, and also heard. At first it was ignored, then noticed but still ignored, then noticed consciously because the vibrations became louder and invaded the awareness.

I don't fully understand yet, but other people at work are now beginning to ask me questions about my meditation practices and what I'm doing. Honestly, I'm afraid of telling them something wrong. All I can tell them are what i'm doing, how, and why. I've told several people to go read about it instead of listening to me. I am no master meditator, no guru, yogi, swami, or any other kind of teacher or leader. What works for me may backfire for them. I really don't like this. I can't help them if I need as much help :-)

One thing that has really helped meditation is the mantra. There are about 3 or 4 mantras that seem to work. Especially while meditating at work. I put my earbuds in, select a mantra, then go. Its nice to have them with all the noise going on all the time.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/20/16 6:28 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
howdy don,
nice to read you.  i too have been enjoying the long warm year here in europe.  that's in the past now but i had been able to ride my GS through the black forest up until two weeks ago.

a couple of posts back you mentioned a scene where a long known colleague commented on how much you have changed and it reminded me of one of my favorite mark twain homiles which i'll paraphrase:

two friends are talking about their fathers and one says: when i was sixteen i left home because i just couldn't stand my fathers ignorance.  i came back a few years later and was astonished at how much the old man had learned in my absence.

in any case a pleasant read your log.  keep it up.  :-)

tom

edit: actual quote:


“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven
years.”

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/22/16 12:44 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom,

Thanks for the post. I enjoyed the quote. It is such a gem of wisdom. The current bike is a K1200 LTC. The amenities are what sold it emoticon. That cruise control is so nice to have available.

Thanks for the comments. Its been a rollercoaster ride, for sure. That said, its been nice to see that what Buddha said is true. Try it out for yourself to see whether its true or not. So far, its been true and has been beneficial. Even others are now beginning to look into this 'meditation' thing.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/24/16 9:29 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Not sure what is going on, but I am in a stage, or state, where I can't wait to meditate. So, I've been adding more practice time and times per day. However, even though the urge to meditate is there, when I do meditate it seems futile most times. Its hard to relax, to follow the breath, to do anything right. There is this undercurrent of frustration, yet I continue regardless. Almost like I am being compelled. Even though the frustration is there, I just let it be. It doesn't seem to bother me enough to affect me in any way I can perceive. Although, I have noticed more 'energy' in the body in the last two or three days especially. Like nervous energy. Like something is coming down the pike towards me. Like something is about to happen soon. What, on Earth, I have no idea. Its scary, exciting, there's this anticipation, like things are about to start turning towards the better. There is no rationale behind this that I can see. So maybe, it will just silently pass. That's okay, I don't mind so long as it finishes. My thinking has also been turning more towards better and better thoughts. Its getting easier to think more positive thoughts and feel more positive emotions. Towards others and this life. I believe the metta and forgiveness/lovingkindness practices are paying off. Its getting easier to see things from someone else's perspective and to see how much pain and anguish some people are in. Certain people are no longer such a problem in my thoughts and emotions anymore also. So there is some progress, no matter how small.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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1/26/16 5:03 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
This has been a long time coming, but it is here. The taste is music has been changed so dramatically that its hard to imagine listening to the old stuff much. Its all still there, but hardly listened to anymore. Its so strange. It was becoming ever more clear how that music was distubing the mind, emotions, and meditation practice. It had to decline and maybe disappear. It certainly helps not listening to it anymore.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/3/16 12:48 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
The urge to get in some meditation is still there. So I do, at least two times a day. Usually around 2 hours for the day. Pitiful, but i'm working on that issue. The energy is still there and at times I feel like a capacitor about to release all that stored up energy. Grounding myself is the only way I found to release the energy when it gets to be too much.

Not sure what this is that's going on except that I am having moments of total blink outs. Its unlike any other weird experience so far. I am in deep like a tick, when suddenly all thoughts, all sounds, everything, just stops, collapses, then restarts. Like someone hit a reset button. It can usually happen around 3 times per meditation session. Not every session. Its usually right after I "get" something in meditation. Its certainly strange. Will need to do some more reading to find out what it is. If its anything at all. Doubt it is anything but I would still like to know.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/9/16 1:49 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
From all signs so far, it is true that certain music can no longer be listened to without changing the emotions and mental states in a negative way. Therefore, that music is no longer listened to at all.

Still having energy build-ups. Even tho the last whole week has seen a severely impacted sleep schedule. Right now, there should be a sleep deficeit, but there isn't. Still feel like there is something coming. Like a storm approaching. It doesn't feel threatening, only excitement, expectation, and suspense. Again, there is no rationale for this. Still don't know or understand what this is but I await patiently.

Getting much easier to just let go of things now. When something comes up, I ask whether it will lead me closer to or farther away from liberation - freedom. Things drop away very quickly when put to that question.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/9/16 2:03 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
The meditation "urge" is still strong. It pushes me to have meditation as many times a day as possible and as long as possible. I walk around at work and in stores while meditating. I do sitting meditation at work and home. I find myself meditating anytime and anywhere I can now. Its almost like much of my waking time is now spent trying to meditate. Weird. I don't really mind, its just weird to me. I still have blink-outs. Not sure what to make of them. After having checked them out better now when they happen, I can say that all things begin to slow down, stop, everything closes up black, there's a blink - like a reset button is pushed, then everything comes back out of the black, starts back up slowly and quickly regains "normal" speeds and then everything carries on like it was. Probably just some weird phenomenon from meditation :-) .

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2/19/16 3:03 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hopefully now that a few more things are in place in the physical realm, more time can be spent in the practice realm. The urge to meditate is still present like past posts. There is still this lack of sleep. Its like insomnia but the lack of sleep doesn't always bring the tiredness, soreness, or even being more sensitive and having minor irritations and such seem larger than they are. Therefore, the reactions when so tired are not as pronounced nor last long. The fires are being put out. Thank heavens! I guess you could call this a low state of equanimity. Can't quite understand what all is happening, but its ok.

Almost done with a couple books I have been reading. Its nice to have things settle into place when experiences line up with what was read. Of course, the practice may be kinda backwards. It seems things happen in meditation, I search for a possible answer through written material, then better understand what that experience was. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it prevents 'making' those things happen or looking for them. Either way, or neither, its all good. The books have helped put things into place for the practice. One day a real accomplishment will happen. Until then I read, practice, and repeat.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/23/16 3:38 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Still in a low state of equanimity. That's ok.

Finally made some progress in meditation. Was able to stay focused on the breath for 45 min. straight. Even though this is at work, with all the noises and interruptions that are usual. It seems the mind is getting tamed to some small degree. It was very nice.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/26/16 2:40 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Finally made an hour straight of staying with the breath and counting it too. Sure, it was at home, but hey, its progress :-).

I am re-reading material now. I gleaned much the first time or two through a few books. Now its time to revisit them. Draw out more nuggets. Refine the practice, enlarge the practice. Almost finished with the book, Bringing Home the Dharmma. I will set that aside after I'm done so I can focus on previous books that are needed again. Including the MCTB. Thank goodness for the internet resources that are out there, and in here.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/26/16 1:24 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
Finally made an hour straight of staying with the breath and counting it too.

That's reallly good progress.  Do you have distracting thoughts? Do you lose the breath sometimes?

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2/26/16 10:57 PM as a reply to C P M.
CPM, thanks.

Yes, I have moments where I slip into a thought, catch the slip, then return to the breath. Thankfully it doesn't last long anymore. Usually the thought only catches my attention for milliseconds. Sometimes up to 5 seconds. These are all guesstimates emoticon. Sometimes the count is nearly lost, but the mind is getting better at holding the count if I stop with the breath and slip into thought(s). Its getting easier to remember the count, the breath.

There are times the breath is nearly lost because its so shallow. Sometimes, it seems there was no breathing at all. I still remain focused and count. It gets hard at certain points to stay with it all. Drowsiness tries to creep in. Pains and aches vie for attention. Stay with the breath, stay with the breath, breath in and out with the pain. Eventually the pains stop.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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2/29/16 1:02 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
So the meditation session from last night at work was very interesting. As usual it was all the breath and counting. Got through 4 full cycles before another kundalini experience started to happen. This time it was more intense, but not as intense as some of the first few times. It all dropped some more pieces into place. All of that session is still shifting into place and trying to stabilize as this is being written. Wow. It was so revealing to actually have no sense of connection to any self but somehow 'feel' this connection to absolutely everything. All people, things, etc. Can't really explain it in words. There was absolutely no self present for quite some time even after the session was done. The afterglow is still present. There is still no solid connection to any self. Its so funny somehow when you 'see' such stupid things from the self. Yet, there is this deep compassion and love for everyone. Is this how it is supposed to be? Have never truly been here before. Maybe the metta practice is gaining traction. About time emoticon. Actually the metta practice has been paying dividends for some time. Maybe the reading and whatnot about no self or whatever you may call it has finally begun to sink in. Who knows, lol.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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3/6/16 2:02 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Still practicing and getting 30 - 45 min. steady with counting the breath. Still reading about 3 or 4 books at any one time. Many things are falling into place in the thinking processes. Thankfully its from more than just the reading. It includes experiencing things that make it 'click' in the mind. Both on and off the cushions.

There is still so much progress needed; but yet none is required. How much searching, practice, study, etc. must we try, before realizing no amount is going to help us find what we are looking for. Its always with us each millisecond. That's all it may take too, is a millisecond for it to be revealed to us. Damn the ego.

After this last weeks' happenings, there is a much better plan of action now. Finally some things are clear enough to understand what needs to be done and how to go about it. I haven't exactly been floundering, but it hasn't been clear sailing either. Having several serious closed head injuries hasn't helped the mental functioning. So its a slower learning curve than most others meditating :-). There is still hope though, so the practice goes on. It would be easy to get frustrated and give up. I don't. Lol, I guess I'm stupid that way emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
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3/14/16 1:29 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well things are progressing with as much dissonance as usual :-). Two steps forwards and 1 step back. Every time it seems like things are understood, then they become foreign again. However, this is all good. It shows how the mental conditioning can be undone once its seen. As an example, recently in meditation it was finally understood what one of the major fears of the ego is. No, its not the fear of death. Actually, that fear really isn't present. Its the fear of social interactions. Been burned too bad by too many. No trust. No openness. So the overridding fear is getting hurt again. Aversion. It seems the heart is too closed for certain things right now. Of course, I understand that this is all attachments to or against things in life. Letting go of things is certainly difficult at times.

Been spending the last week in metta, following the breath, and total relaxation in meditation like a statue. Mixed results as usual. But getting better. Finished a couple books too. Added a few more to the stack to read. Just keep on truckin' is all that can be expected right now emoticon.

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3/19/16 1:29 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Again, its such a great benefit to have this place. Its hard to explain the last two weeks. Its been very tumultuous. Both on and off the cushions. This place and those who post are of such great help whether they realize it or not. Many thanks. Its nice to read posts that help with understanding things in meditation and all else. Its hard to stay silent to all the posts that resonate. That's ok, its still encouraging to read. This place has certainly helped my progress. All the reading has too, but reading everyday posts help bolster what is found in meditation. This place has helped get me unstuck more than a few times. It never fails that this place is uplifting when things are coming at ya hard and fast in life.

Recently, these last two weeks have thrown a few curveballs that I wasn't sure I could handle. A full re-evaluation of some beliefs, etc. was called for. Thankfully, through reading books, posts here, and meditation, the issues are being dealt with in a better way than ever before. Its still rocky but persistence is required. This is hard sometimes, but its all that is left. The desire to meditate is still strong, the changes in thinking are going on, the everyday living is happening, attempting to apply mindfulness while at work, and a maelstrom of emotions.

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3/19/16 12:00 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
I view my process as "two steps forward, one step back."  Amidst the storm of most things going to shit, some net progress will remain, and that is frequently something new related to meditation and perception.

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3/23/16 9:26 AM as a reply to Noah.
Thanks Noah.

Most times the net result is still on the plus side. Just recently my oldest was shocked again with how I dealt with one of those sticky situations. My replies stopped them cold in their tracks as their jaw dropped. It literally brought their mind to a stop! Hahaha, it was so funny to see their expression and lack of a voice. They had to step back, think for a bit, then ask a few questions. They even said it just blew their mind, lmao.

So, its through these things that happen that progress is shown. It helps give the impetus needed sometimes to continue reading, meditating, and trying to put it all into practice in everyday life.

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4/1/16 12:51 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
My goodness, what a sickness can do! After contracting the flu that my youngest brought home from school, this last week or so has been humbling. Most times this body has the constitution of a horse. However, this last week put me down several levels of functionality. Taking care of the youngest, still going to work, and then minding my own health, has taken its toll. Trying to meditate has been rather difficult, but not impossible. It just hasn't been as much or for as long. Need to get back into the groove now that the flu is waning. Plus, its my last night at work for a whole week as I have vacation once I am off work this morning. Hopefully I can make some further progress during the week off. Finished another couple of books too, so I started the next ones left from the stack that isn't so tall anymore.

A Path With Heart is one already just started. Bringing Home The Dharma was one of those just finished.

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4/11/16 12:01 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, well time has slipped by again. This stupid flu lasted even longer than expected. However, not all was lost. Meditation was weak but it was still done. Most of the meditation was walking meditation and some noting. For some reason the noting has been hard to do.

The Jhana's is something that I have been looking into and reading about lately. The book, Right Concentration: A Practical guide to the Jhanas, is one such book I'm reading right now. It seems like a decent book so far. I've been reading about the Jhanas for the last month or two as I discovered I should give some study and effort to this subject. What's interesting is that even before reading about the Jhanas, I believe that the 1st Jhana was reached, but I didn't know what it was or what to do with it other than bask in the feelings, both physical and emotional. Now, after reading the books about Jhanas, other websites, posts here, including the write up by Ian And, and comparing my experiences to what I've read, I think that 1st and 2nd Jhana has been reached. 1st Jhana has been reached many times now, but 2nd jhana only several times. Unknowingly the 2nd Jhana was reached so I need to better understand what I did to reach the 2nd Jhana. As usual, 2 steps forward and 1 step back emoticon.

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4/16/16 1:33 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
It is SO nice to have resources like the internet. Were it not for such things as websites, books, places like this, and most of it accessable through the internet, I would be lost! Being able to access all the suttas, books from buddhist publishers, etc., has helped my progress immensely. Words are not enough. Because of these resources available, meditation has progressed further, and faster than otherwise.

To 'see' that progress from an outside perspective can be difficult if not impossible. Thankfully, there are others around me to keep me 'aware' of the changes that have come about through practice. A few days ago now, I was able to ride, an hour away, to a long time friend's house for a visit. During our lengthy talks, he looked at me and said, "Man, you have changed so much you are a totally different person now than the last time we talked." Which was about a year ago. It became apparent, he said, that I was really genuine about all this stuff. I was again surprised that someone would say such a thing. So, according to about 4 or 5 long time friends and acquaintences, the changes from all the practice is paying off.

Which brings me to an incident that happened on my way down to said friend's house. When i took off on the bike, the rear tire felt a little soft, but not bad. About a third of the way down, the rear tire was worse. So I pulled into a gas station that had an air station. The machine wouldn't operate but it ate the quarters! So, when I tell the workers there, they say I can go back up the road to another station that has air. When I return to the bike, the rear tire is completely flat! Oh boyemoticon. So, call the friend and he prepares to come help. This means I have around an hour wait now. So, I just hang out by the bike waiting. During this time, an employee of a car dealership across the street pulled in for gas, saw me and the bike, and asked if I could use some help. He brings an air tank back for the rear tire. Lol, he forgot to fill it. So, with the rear only half full, I ride after him to the dealership where he fills the rear tire up. All for free and with much appreciation. emoticon I call friend and he turns around back home as I get back on and head out.

Now, during this whole thing, I was actually quite surprised that I was not gettting upset, angry, or anything else except a small level of frustration. This whole time I was trying to practice all that I have read and practiced in meditation sessions. It was rather strange to see how my mind and emotions were quite distanced from the usual patterns. It seems the 'usual' patterns are no longer 'usual'. What a change! It actually gave me joy and happiness that things like this no longer hold such sway anymore. Words are not enough to express the changes that were seen in the mind and emotions. What has been of interest lately, through books and practices, is letting go of things. It seems to be working. SO much more could be said but why. Most know what I'm talking about.

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4/19/16 12:25 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Okay, after reading the first section of the book about the Jhanas, the practice has been geared toward reaching at least the 1st Jhana. As was mentioned, I believe the 1st and 2nd jhana have been reached. The 1st on many occassions now, and the 2nd on several. This book mirrors what is observed in practice. Its nice to learn that the practice has been on the right track, without knowing what I now know about meditation and the jhanas. Isn't that weird to find out you've been doing most of the right things without knowing they were right? I wonder if somehow, a part of the brain 'knows' what to do instictively? Is it a natural part of the human brain and body to know certain things regarding meditation? Or is it memories from my youth when I meditated?

Regardless, it all works out. Which brings me to a recent session. I went into the sitting practice a couple days ago with the 5 things Mr. Brasington recommends to do before starting the session. During the session, I noticed the tell-tale things arise but continued following the breath, until there was this state where no sounds impinged the mind, no physical sensations impinged the mind, and no thoughts either. No sense of any 'self', nothing existed except this black pool that was reflecting the moon. It was without any ripple, wave, or motion. It was as still as if frozen. This state continued for some time as there was no reason to do anything other than just let things be as they were. The body was like a statue. How long this lasted is unknown. It seemed to be 5 - 15 minutes. Just perfect stillness in everything. It was beautiful.

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4/21/16 11:22 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Its still amazing to see all the changes that are happening. Even though it may be 2 steps forward and 1 step back, its still progress. Even though the reading is heavy, the practice is beginning to gain some forward momentum now. The practice of mindfullness is starting to actually work. Walking meditation is still hit or miss. 1st and/or 2nd Jhana is still reached when the careful groundwork is done. Thoughts that are not healthy or helpful are more quickly seen and dropped. The minds' pathways are not all the old ones anymore. The old emotions are less and less intense. The 'normal' reactions are mostly no reactions, or greatly diminished. It certainly helps to release things. Duh! What helps as much or more are the other postings by those who are trying too. Seeing they are making changes and progress helps motivation.

Even though it may take longer to get there, it will be worth whatever it takes. If there is one thing that has stood out its this: This way. this path, is the only thing that I've encountered that seems to work. Nothing else has made enough sense to follow. Nothing else has produced results like this path. Others may not agree, thats fine. I won't even argue the point. Its pointless to do so. Each to their own, I say. Just keep on trucking is the mindset that I try to maintain.

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5/13/16 12:53 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Now that such time has past, it seems senseless to post. However, if nothing is jotted down, then no possibility exists to examine the material for progression or regression. This last bit of time has seen the most upheaval yet. Several books have been finished now. A few more to go and I will give up any further reading for now. From there on out it will be nothing but practice, practice, practice. Enough material has been digested that it now needs to be fully implemented for anything beneficial to come out of the studies. Its almost as though a limit has been reached. Enough reading!, now get to practicing. Even though the reading was necessary for understanding what to do, and how to do it, its now time to act. Not to say that action has been lacking. Far from it. However, not enough constructive action has happened. Maybe its too strong a decision, maybe not strong enough. Its just where the road leads right now. If that makes sense?

However much I feel like progress has been slow, or even regressive, life shows how much progress has been made by how I act, react, don't, think, don't think, etc. Especially with family members emoticon. If anyone knows, its family. Right?!

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5/20/16 1:28 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
The last few days have been interesting. More time in sitting practice finally. Besides the other 'work' that is done off the cushions. Its nice to have more and more of the teachings make sense and fall into place. Its also nice to recognize some of the ways the self tries to continue the illusions. Reading about everything is one thing, practicing and experiencing it is another thing altogether. I know, such a stupid observation and statement, but so what. It helps to get thoughts written down sometimes. Seeing these conditioned patterns, helps to stop them. Noticing that the mind is more prone to plan, fantasize, and spend more time in the future, than the past, is something just recently noticed. Which in a way is good, actually. Before now, the mind spent almost all the time it could in the past. It was so hung up with the past it couldn't let go. The realization that this is just a swing of the pendulum is there. Ergo, the mind will eventually realize it needs to give up the future too. Eventually things will work out. It may take some time is all. The sense of impatience is there quite often due to the feeling that not enough progress is happening fast enough, but if allowed to run its course it goes away. As more time is spent practicing, the sense of this being the right way is deepened. There is no question that the path is the right way. At least here and now. I don't expect that to change.

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5/25/16 2:02 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
The last week has expired like a piece of ice in a microwave. Had to work 7 days straight now. Get 1 day off and its back to work again. Oh well, good overtime pay emoticon. The whole week has been up and down, and around. The mind and body have been a mixed bag in and out of meditation. Recently the book, Shift Into Freedom, the Science and Practice of open-hearted awareness, by Loch Kelly has helped some. I just began reading it about 1 week ago. This will be one of the last books I read before putting all books away and just focusing on meditation only. Not sure how successful this approach will be, but all bets are it will be very beneficial. Its been one reason (excuse) after another why not as much time is spent in meditation. Its time for that to change too. Even though many changes have come, more are needed. Its time to put all of this study into full effect.

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5/28/16 2:43 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well, got home yesterday morning after work and sat for 2 hrs straight. It was a mixed bag. There were some good things from that session though. Working on the 3 C's with everything that comes up. Seems to be a recurring thing. Also working on Jhana practice. Had some Metta in there too. Only shifted positions twice. It was interesting to see how the mind and body began working in concert against the longer sitting time. Almost like a rebellion. BUT, it helped push the physical pain to a higher threshold. So, hopefully longer sits will become possible.

Been trying to do some of the exercises from the book, Shifting Into Freedom, throughout my nights at work, and anywhere else while I'm awake. Its only been a week of reading and trying the exercises, but there have been glimpses. So, onwards and upwards! emoticon

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5/28/16 6:51 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hey Don, I just read through the last few posts above. Thanks for posting!

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5/29/16 3:02 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol, thanks for the post. Its hard to know what to post, what not to post, etc. There is still quite a reluctance to post certain things. So, its all somewhat vague, maybe even cryptic to some. Its best if no real specifics are given. Why? Lol, no real milestones have been reached yet. So there is nothing to gauge for progress. Its all just now beginning to gel inside the brain as to what to do, how to do it, etc. Only now can any progress be looked for in this lifetime. All the previous months have been introduction, learning, then trying to apply all of it. Now its time for the rubber to meet the road emoticon.

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5/29/16 3:27 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, some extra to clarify things that were said concerning the 3 C's. At first all that was seen was the impermanence of things. Then after awhile, no satisfaction of things. Then it was seen there was no self in anything, including all 5 of the aggregates. Now, its all 3 C's, almost all the time. Why this progression, and in this order? Who knows? Does it matter,...no. Only progress matters. Even then, is it 'me' that's making progress? No emoticon.

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5/29/16 8:14 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
For what it's worth, from the outside looking in, it seems like you are establishing a solid foundation for practice. I wouldn't get to worried about reading a lot. It can help as long as it doesn't take away from a daily sit. 

Basically practice is seeing the 3C more and more subtly over time. Why do I fight what's already happening? Why do I think this thing/experience will give me lasting happiness? Why do I pretend to control what I experience? Seems like you working on getting a solid understanding of these basic ideas. Getting good at meditation is all about getting good at the basics in real time.

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5/30/16 1:27 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol, thanks again for the post. For what its worth,...its worth enough that you shared. I appreciate that.

Yes, 'seeing' the 3 C's all the time in real time is what the practice is all about right now. Well, besides the Metta and Jhana practice. Trying to hammer those 3 C's into everything that is experienced. And yes, more subtle as time goes by. Especially thoughts. Is there any real progress? Lol, who knows. It doesn't deter my efforts to practice daily sits and all else. There is no doubt that this stuff works. Although last night at work gave a real test as to how well things are working. Extremely busy all night putting out fires.

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5/30/16 6:57 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
emoticon 

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6/1/16 12:24 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Got home this morning from work and was able to do a 2 hour sitting session again. As before, it was a mixed bag. Got some things worked out tho. Still had the back pain like before but it didn't start as soon as last time. Plus it wasn't as sharp. The hip is doing better too. Hmm, it seems like everything is better right now. Of course it might be because I just finished meditation :-).

Last night at work was also very different. The previous 3 nights I was the only maintenance person in the whole building the entire night. So things were a bit hectic. Ha! Last night there were 3 of us and hardly any calls all night. Go figure emoticon  It allowed for plenty of time to practice while doing the routes on the 3 robots during the 4 hour maintenance window. It was nice.

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6/2/16 10:58 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, another 2 hr session today. It was tough because of the physical pains but it was worth it. Hopefully this will strengthen the ability to sit for even longer sessions sometime in the future. It sure brings out the resistance to meditate for so long.  The urge to do anything but sit for 2+hrs is intense sometimes. However, with persistance it can be overcome. And is, every time a session makes it the whole time. Even if the session seems wasted due to distractions or whatnot, just the time spent sitting helps reinforce the practice. Any help is accepted right now. This crutch will be abandoned in time as will other crutches. 

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6/5/16 2:54 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
In the last 2 days, the sitting practice has suffered. The first day was because sleep was a greater force than even gravity emoticon. The 2nd day was due to life circumstances. Both days were still 1 hour sits though. Its been a hectic week at work. Its been weird in sittings too. Almost all of the thoughts, emotions, images, etc. are either not arising anymore or they are not noticed when sitting. Its hard to understand what is going on, or actually what is not going on. The state of affairs right now is almost silence. Nothing seems to faze me. Almost apathetic. Its an okay place to be, but it is so much different than how things used to be. Not sure what to make of it, if anything.

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6/5/16 6:16 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Sounds good Don. Remember that sitting is a lot like a physical workout. There is only so much gain you can do at any given time and of course it depends on everything else in life, like stress, sleep, nutrition, etc. (One of the great things about meditation practice is it kinda helps motivate you get the rest of your life in order so that it can support the daily sit.) It sounds to me like you're maybe you're recovering from the previous days sit/life.

One of the challenging things in meditation is it does go somewhat slow, that lump of grey tissue in our head slowly gets rewired. A practice log is great for diagnosing the slow changes that occur. If you judge practice by a single sit it can be very confusing, but several days of data makes the analysis easier. Which is a fancy way of also saying that I don't know exactly what is going on in your practice, but it's within the range of "normal stuff" so keep going! emoticon

If you are thinking about training for longer sits or a retreat, probably the best thing to do is to work on "relaxing into the sit". Longer sits require even more giving up, even more letting go. Ironically, this can be hard to learn because "will power" will take us through a lot of difficulties. Will power should be used to get us to the practice cushion, but it's relaxing and dropping resistance that should get trained on the cushion. When that is well trained, 10 days of practicing 14 hours a day is no problem. 

By the way, what sitting practice method are you using now?

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6/5/16 7:50 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol,
hahaha, thanks for the post. Yes it does take some time. Patience is good so far actually. Lol, normal is relative from what posts are there to read. Indeed, relaxing and letting go are key. In every day life now more and more 'stuff' is just let go. It doesn't need to be hanging on anymore. Yes, one area of practice is to sit longer so a retreat can be attended.

What sitting practice am I using? Um, i'm kinda dumb so I'm not sure what you are asking. I will do Metta, Jhana, and then slide over to vipassana. Not every sit, but quite often. Sometimes it is simply sitting awareness. Sometimes jhana sucks me in emoticon. Not very often, but it is tempting. Does that answer the question?

Peace! and Metta

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6/5/16 9:37 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Metta, Jhana, and Vipassana sounds like a good mix. What method do you use for jhana and vipassina? (e.g., awareness of breathing at nose, breathing at abdomen, counting breaths, noting practice, four foundations of mindfulness, exclusive concentration on an object, inclusive concentration on all sense gates, inquiry, koan, etc.) 

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6/5/16 11:38 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol,
Awareness and counting of the breath are the best so far. Mantra has also been helpful. Noting while out and about and at work. Walking meditation via the breath also. Trying to keep things simple. Plus all the reading.

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6/6/16 7:05 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Sounds great. Awareness and counting of breath is a great practice. For what it's worth, a good, practical combination is:

1. awareness of breathing as the meditation object
2. counting of breath as the meditation method
3. when the count is realized to be lost, "note" what is currently in the mind. What did you wake up to?  Is a sensations, emotions, or thoughts in mind? Note what is currently in mind. e.g. "planning thought", "discomfort", "frustration", "pleasure", etc.
4. Give yourself a mini congratulations that you woke up from distraction. Yea!! emoticon
5. Find the breathing sensations again
6. Count the breath again.

The whole point of this method is to learn -- over time! -- how to gently center the mind around awareness of the breath and to sensitize the mind to "waking up" from distraction. Of course the mind has a mind of it's own, so to speak, so you don't force this to happen. You're more like a parent watching a toddler learn to walk. The mind "learns to walk" on it's own. And if you rush it or get angry or frustrated, you're just freaking out the baby! emoticon

Although this sounds like a simple practice, it puts you directly in touch with mindfulness and it greatly increases awareness -- don't underestimate it!

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6/6/16 8:17 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol,
Couldn't have said it any better emoticon. The breath is counted to 100, then its started again. Everything else is as you say.

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6/6/16 9:41 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
emoticon

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6/10/16 1:17 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Since the last post, sitting practice has been stale. Only 1.5hrs per sit. Can't seem to finish the last half hour. Getting time at work is hit or miss. Besides this, it seems that the message coming through practice is another cycle is about to start. Maybe. Its hard to tell sometimes. It seems like the practice is at a plateau. It seems like more progress is being made off the cushion right now. These are not gripes, just things being noticed.

Still finishing the few books that were left on the pile or on the list to read. That Shift Into Freedom book will take a few read throughs for sure. Its an interesting book. It seems some of the practices work. Still trying to refine them though. Practice, practice, practice. emoticon

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6/12/16 2:36 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Due to how things were lately, the sitting practice was not done the last two days. Everything else off the cushions was still done or attempted. After a couple days off, the sitting practice sounds like a good idea again. Good or bad, the last two days off seems to have been the right decision to make. Must of been burned out, so to speak.

After many queries to those around me, its evident that things have been a simple, slow progression. Nothing to extreme or too fast. That's just fine. The one who stays the course to the end will have lost everything emoticon.

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6/16/16 11:54 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Many thanks again to the internet and technology. Found a website with some interesting features. Many books and audio files you can download. Loaded some audio files into the ipod and have been listening to them ever since. Been listening to Ayya Kemma. So far its been good.

Sitting practice has still been quite different. Its been so different. After only a short time of following the breath, its a short slip into a state of tranquility, peace, love, and stillness. Its like the mind wants to be there. Almost automatically. Its weird. All that happens is a resting state. There are no urges, thoughts or feelings to do or be anything. In fact, that is the overall sense when there. Just don't move in mind or body. Just stay right there as long as can be tolerated. It is a nice place. But that means its a mental formation. Which falls under the 3 C's.

All that being said it still feels like this is a familiar place; yet different this time. Deeper. If that makes sense. Who knows, I may just be off my rocker! emoticon

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6/26/16 12:18 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Crap, time flies when life is busy. Between work, overtime, trying to raise the kids, etc. its been interesting. As the saying goes, "May you live in interesting times." emoticon Indeed.

Not sure what is going on this time around. There has been a mild to strong aversion to sitting practice, reading, or anything else related to this whole ball of wax while amidst this storm. Yet, there is still a gravitational pull towards it all. Its been a perplexing time. Certain things are still attended to like noting when possible, short meditation times while waiting in lines, following the breath while walking somewhere, etc. Just no proper sitting practice. Yet, its all good when at the Sangha. Just doesn't make sense yet. No bother, in time, things should settle back down. They always do. There have been several cycles like this now. Its just another time to learn. It does seem to be different each time though. Maybe that's wishful thinking, maybe not. After a year now, things are much different from everyone's perspective. As is noticed when interacting with others. And in how they act and react towards me now. Regardless of what anyone else may think or say, things are much different here.

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7/20/16 10:03 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
Crap, time flies when life is busy. Between work, overtime, trying to raise the kids, etc. its been interesting. As the saying goes, "May you live in interesting times." emoticon Indeed.

Not sure what is going on this time around. There has been a mild to strong aversion to sitting practice, reading, or anything else related to this whole ball of wax while amidst this storm. Yet, there is still a gravitational pull towards it all. Its been a perplexing time. Certain things are still attended to like noting when possible, short meditation times while waiting in lines, following the breath while walking somewhere, etc. Just no proper sitting practice. Yet, its all good when at the Sangha. Just doesn't make sense yet. No bother, in time, things should settle back down. They always do. There have been several cycles like this now. Its just another time to learn. It does seem to be different each time though. Maybe that's wishful thinking, maybe not. After a year now, things are much different from everyone's perspective. As is noticed when interacting with others. And in how they act and react towards me now. Regardless of what anyone else may think or say, things are much different here.


"Regardless of what anyone else may think or say, things are much different here."

That is still so true. Its been awhile since the last post due to letting things settle down and into place. Right now, things are on the most even keel ever that can be remembered. Not saying things are perfect, far from it, but that things are all ok as they are. This is a nice place or state to be in, but it can't be the last. There is more and better. Now that things are settled down, more energy can be put back into the right efforts.

Just got back from a 2,300 mile road trip on the motorcycle. It was so very much needed. Definitely allowed the brain to dump a bunch of crap, detox, and relax. Also allowed the body to relax. This trip allowed me to visit a sibling and their family. It was most enjoyable. It was the most fun ever in quite some time. The sights and smells were refreshing. Especially in all the mountains.

Also passed a milestone on the bike during this trip.There is a thing called an Iron Butt in motorcycling. You must ride 1,000 miles or more in a 24 hr period. That was successfully passed on the return trip at 1,110 miles in 18 hrs of straight riding, according to the odometer on the bike. Will it be "official', hell no, it doesn't really matter except to the butt that bore the brunt of this act. emoticon lol

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7/28/16 12:48 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well its about time there was another post. After these last couple weeks, things are much more settled. Sitting practice is getting there again. 1st and 2nd Jhana are usually easier. Its really weird, but it seems like things are starting over. Its all familiar ground, of course, but different now. Maybe its simple wishing, but it doesn't seem that way. Its like a new 'norm' is the baseline. If that makes any sense. Regardless, its a nice place to be.

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8/6/16 12:43 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Although things have been busy, it is all taken in stride. Many things now that would have tied up the emotions into knots, no longer does so. This is definitely a new baseline. A new 'norm". Even though things are so much more even keeled, the awareness that this is not the end is still there. So....practice, practice, practice emoticon

Speaking of practice. This morning was an excellent sitting practice. It was only 30 minutes, but it was a great 30 minutes. During practice, it was so sweet that all I could do was weep. It was beyond words. It was another memorable experience, but still not the end goal. Something inside also shifted. A clearer understanding of no harm. Most would say a non-dual moment in time. This was the most recent in a line of many such moments during practices. This time it was an even deeper sense of the experience. Beyond any such, so far. So...practice, practice, practice.

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9/5/16 3:32 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hmm, where to start. Things have been a mixed bag but it seems like its still on an upward slope. Progress. Quite a few things have been made clear. The last six months have shown the greatest improvement. So many things have been put into daily life as a practice. Its beginning to get easier to live this and not just read about it or sit in practice but not put into everyday use. 

Things have progressed with the Sangha. Its nice to see more people showing up now. Its also nice to see others are serious about all this. How serious are any of us though? Serious enough to be free? Serious enough to put all the energy into it that can be? As with others, i'm sure, that drive to be free can ebb and flow.

As the practice moves from the cushions to daily life, it sparks so many things from all the books and audio files that has been consumed. It certainly makes those things come to life. Or is it that I am becoming more aware? Or a combo of the two? Actually its just that now it is known when it appears. Whatever it may be.

A few things that have happened is the deep, endless love that has been found and tapped into. The love, compassion, understanding, and space that have come about from everything is so amazing. That alone makes things easier to deal with as it comes. Another thing is the lessening of all the negative things most people tend to do. The mind is less prone to go into bad places. Even when it does, its much easier to deal with now. Okay, enough for now.

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9/26/16 2:59 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Meditation on the cushions is still active and progressing. Going back through a book that's been read 4 or 5 times already. Plus still reading another that is taking some time to digest and integrate. Dealing with anything that comes up is even smoother now than ever before. Not to say its all smooth as glass, just easier to act, instead of react. There has never been a time like this where i've been this happy and enjoying life like now. Its the biggest change that's ever happened. I must be going crazy to think this is how things should be, but regardless its so much nicer to think and act like now instead of before. Tired, so some thoughts and observations may sound weird to others or when I look at this post again.emoticon

RE: Don's Practice Log
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10/13/16 9:00 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
It seems that having such a change in life causes others around to really notice. I've fielded so many questions lately. I've handed out pamplets, books, and files per request. Its amazing to see how many people are suffering and looking for a way out of the misery. The compassion level has certainly been increased. Its also amazing to see how many are suffering and are NOT looking for a way out. The feeling of not knowing enough or having "attained" enough to allow any real discourse with others hinders interactions. Just since the last post the thought processes are different. They no longer go down the worn ruts like they did. Those ruts are filling in and becoming overgrown. Many thoughts now are less and less negative, and more and more positive. That alone helps with daily living. The thoughts are also less about the past or future; they're more about the present. This life situation is the best that has ever been experienced so far. I know there is still far better than this though, so no settling for anything less than absolute. Thankfully getting to both sessions per week at the Sangha has been possible. Practice, practice, practice.

RE: Don's Practice Log
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11/21/16 12:08 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
It seems like no time has passed since the last post. Yet, it also seems like much time has elapsed. Its weird being in this state. Time has no real relevance anymore. Sure, time must be acknowledged for some things, but not for anything of any import. Fewer and fewer things seem to truly matter when seen from the perspective of no time. Maybe its delusional, but it doesn't seem that way. Regardless, there is less dukkha.

Since the last post I missed several wed. and sun. Sangha meetings. They worked me 20 - some days straight, 1 day off, then 6 days straight. Cushion time and Sangha time suffered, but that didn't seem to affect the equanimity much. This is the most stable time ever. Sure, there are bumps in the road, but they are not as destabilizing as they used to be.

Been reading alot of material from someone named Nanananda. Its been great reading. So much makes sense. Some still doesn't make enough sense or even any sense. Its all good. Things are developing in stages like they say it will. It will all work out in time with the right view, right effort, etc.

Still fielding questions and handing out material to those who ask. The questions are usually of a personal nature; such as, "does that meditation stuff really work?" and "how do you really meditate?", etc. Its been difficult being under the microscope here at workemoticon. This whole thing needs to show results for most people to even consider it. No better test than through your own life emoticon

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12/9/16 11:07 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, November is over and December rolled in hot. Just after working 20-some days straight in november, I will now work every single day straight until Jan. 3 at least. Already had a co-worker mention that in more stressful times at work, when working so many days straight, that the chance of having the equanimity upset is easier. Hopefully not this time. Still reading all the time it can be worked into the schedule. Still meditating to help keep the equanimity stable. Not that meditation was not being practiced, it already was. Just reinforcing it when and where it can be supported. So even though there are usually 2 sessions at home, there are many other smaller sessions where and when they can be done.

Dealing with others is getting easier. Less stress now. Less anxiety. Less negative things overall. Some people at work are still an issue. They just won't go away and leave others beemoticon. Of course, metta meditation also helps. So does reading what the Buddha said in regards to how different kinds of people are to be dealt with. Always gives a smarter way than what most humans think should be done. Enough for now. The eyes are closing on their own emoticon.

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1/9/17 12:46 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Well December was chaotic for most. Here, it was just what it was and nothing more. Thankfully a meditation session was done every day in December, except 1 because of a migraine. So much equanimity was achieved through a daily session. There is much to be said for such a daily practice. Before, it was an almost daily practice but not quite. This time it was a daily practice and still is. Its like a medicine that is enjoyable to swallow. No bitterness in the taste of it. Hahaha, it didn't taste like salt though.
Still reading many books and other literature during any chance that appears. Most reading is geared towards anything to do with meditation and Buddhism in general. Most of it sinks in; or sinks in better than before. Seeing things in everyday life is quite funny most times. It just makes a situation funny when the illusion is seen through and for what it is. Maybe it sounds crazy but things are funny when they are seen for what they truly are. Just reading won't bring this about, of course, but it helps to add it to the meditation practice.
This whole last month also brought about other changes. My youngest is now doing more meditation and beginning to understand what I've been trying to explain. They've begun seeing benefits and progress too. Can't ask for anything better than that! emoticon

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2/5/17 2:38 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Working so much takes such a physical toll. January was almost as busy as the previous 3. It doesn't look like there will be a break any time soon, either. Oh well, it keeps the lights on emoticon. Meditation last month was not as good as december. Had several interruptions that prevented any session. Just simply no time and/or too tired. However, there has come to be another shift in the thinking processes. A shift of understanding. Another letting go of some things. It is still happening right now. More equanimity. Less stress about some things. Less self-identification. Still reading as much as can be done. Part of the reading list is the Dhammapada. Very interesting book. Well enough for now. Need to get back to work.

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2/5/17 4:06 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hey man - Just wanted to say that this sounds good and to keep up the good fight.  From what I can tell, there are at least 3 types of shifts (major, minor, gradual) - and it sounds like what you've been doing is still conducive to the latter 2, formal practice or not.

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2/7/17 12:03 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah,
Thanks for the post.
Indeed. The latter 2 seem to be the "norm" nowadays. There have been some major shifts, of course. Just recently in fact. However, the end goal is always there. Meditation seems to be more off the cushion than on, lately. If that makes sense. Thanks for the encouragement. It can be difficult when mostly alone in this practice.

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2/13/17 1:43 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
February has been good so far. Been getting more sitting practice than just daily practice at home. Been getting more real life practice too emoticon. Its always handy to assess the progress, or lack of, now and then by feedback from those around you every day.

Had some more release in the last week. Its a weird sensation to no longer have the "burdened" feeling. Makes jhana a little easier now emoticon. Had some more release of anger. The impermanance view usually helps, but sometimes the remeberance of it causing suffering does the trick. Besides the no harm any life "rule". Things are never rosy, but its getting easier to handle things as they appear.

Even the teenager is seeing the benefits from the practice for themselves. They have also had several shifts in understanding. They are well on they're way now. Its beginning to make more sense to them as they ask questions and "see" it for themselves.

Well TTFN emoticon

Oh, Oh, Oh, almost forgot! Its been three days now since the right hip had another snap, twang, crack happen. The right hip now feels as though it is completely loose and unimpinged now!! Its been 24 years since the hip has felt this way. Just another benefit to sitting practice emoticon.

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2/20/17 12:03 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Yup, there has been another shift that seems to be "permanent". The previous post talked about it some. It doesn't seem to have slipped or lessoned. So, it should settle in as another shift. Progress seems slow sometimes, until its remembered how many years this mental conditioning was (and partially still is) in effect. So, it may take awhile or disappear in an instant. No one can tell. Just as long as it is still forward progress there are no complaints.

Still interesting to listen to everyone while at the sangha. These lips stay closed unless someone asks a direct question. Which very rarely happens anyhow. Today though at the sangha there was a couple direct questions. There weren't enough people there to question, so they asked me. Thankfully a few mumbled words was sufficient. Its never fun to be in the hot seat.

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2/21/17 7:34 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Just reading the Dhammapada and encountered this:

Sitting silent, dustless
absorbed in jhana,
his task done, effluents gone,
ultimate goal attained:
he's what I call a brahman

By day shines the sun;
by night the moon;
in armor, the warrior;
in jhana, the brahman.
But all day and all night,
every day and every night,
the Awakened One shines in splendor.

It just struck a chord, so to say. Several actually. Its just so beautiful.

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3/4/17 12:43 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Mmmhmm, things are different in the mind. Its beginning to be noticed even more when talking with others about meditation and the benefits. As the ideas, concepts, experiences, etc. are discussed with others it becomes crystal clear in the mind here. Oh my, the things that are noticed :-). It helps that some reading has been done too. Helps make the experiences make sense. Not that all experiences make sense, but many do. The mind is beginning to lose bad trains of thought and are being replaced by good trains of thought. As should happen, of course.

In fact, just this morning at work was a mind blowing event. There's a guy on the day shift who, almost to the day 1 year ago, nearly killed me. Yes, on purpose. Long story. So there where some hard feelings betwixt us. His machine was broke down through the night until late this morning when the part finally arrived. The two of us available went to work on the machine. After 1.5 hrs working on it, he showed up, to start his shift. At the time we were the only two in the shop. He began asking questions, nicely, and the negative thoughts and emotions that tried to rise up, were squelched immediately. There was this peace that began to pervade everything. Its almost hard to describe all that transpired. It was...equanimity, love, compassion, understanding, and some kind of 'mental' release that was felt, if that's possible. Best way to describe it. Cheers!

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3/4/17 5:14 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Awesome.

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3/6/17 7:25 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol,
Yeah, it was. The next morning, they looked me up just to explain what the fix was. And ask about the performance of their machine. It was awesome that there were no immediate thoughts/feelings that were very bad. Instead it was a feeling of relief. Maybe they are beginning to change. That would be a miracle, but they supposedly do happen emoticon. The poor guy has too many, not very nice people to deal with on day shift. It sours too many people after they work that shift for 6 months or more.

You'd think that people who get to sleep 'normal' hours, with their mate, work days, get to eat meal(s) with family, etc. would be happier. But NOOO, these people are so ungrateful, whiney, etc. They all hate each other lol. Thankfully those of us on our shift all get along, work together, and even at times eat together, just to maintain healthy work relationships. We have many 'characters' though, but they are all understood and accepted emoticon.

Of all the reading and meditating that's been done, the best for these people and situations seems to be metta meditation and reading. Oh, and jhana whenever its possible. Some days are better than others.

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3/10/17 6:16 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Hi Don,

I just finished binge reading you practice log. emoticon Fascinated by your determination, progress and observations.

From your posts, I know that you do no like extra attention so if you do not feel like expanding on these, please disregard or you can send me a private message also if you prefer (I could not seem to figure out how to do it emoticon.

I was wondering about your research into Kundalini. At one point you've mentioned that it can go to the left, to the right or in the middle and there are reasons for that. Would you happen to recall what those reasons are? Or maybe point me to the source? Spontaneous movements started happening to me on week two of meditation. Then they mellowed out. This week they are back full time. emoticon Needless to say I am curious.

Also, you've mentioned something about how Kundalini and Jhanas are related and that you got to the reasons as to why. Do you recall those reasons?

One thing that stood out for me was that your relatives recalled that you meditated when you were a child. I found that very interesting and I wonder if you remember doing that. 

Again, no worries if you do not feel like discussing these or do not recall those points.

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3/11/17 12:43 AM as a reply to Brooklyn.
Brooklyn,
Thanks for the post. Sent you a message.

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4/2/17 11:05 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Ok, more good news. That one person who seems to have changed some, is still acting better. Miracles do seem to happen sometimes. So far they have not descended to the lower levels of childhood again in their interactions of late. They've even been cordial. Maybe their time off of three months due to sickness helped them gain a different perspective in life, about life. From what I heard, they could have died recently from this illness. A good gut check sometimes is all that's needed.
On the homefront things are still moving along at an even, level progression. Things seem to have plateaued in some areas and are improving more in other areas. Overall its all positive progress. Right now the newest book is helping solidify things in meditation. Many things are making more sense now that the material is there to explain things in a way that hits home the best. So far this book is worth every penny spent. The anticipation for MCTB 2's release is there too. None of the knowledge, experiences, and intention for meditation that are inside are there without MCTB 1. That book really catapulted the practice in the first year. Say what you might, that book started things that can't be left unfinished now emoticon. That book has been read at least 5 times. No exaggeration.

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4/2/17 11:36 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
There are only 90 pages left, out of the 345, to the book that's held such interest of late. So far, its been well worth the read and the money spent. This is another book, like MCTB 1, that will be read more than once. So glad this book is available. It has helped the practice both on and off the cushions. Besides, it has helped out when discussing these things with others too.
The last week has been difficult. Both at work and home. Many people have been touchy, moody, even outright nasty. Many say its the weather. Others say its the present politics of our country. And then others have various theories. No matter what time in history we live, the world will always have ills. As long as people continue to stagnate instead of making progress, there will always be 'problems'. Oh well, maybe one day they will get sick and tired of the wheel of torture they put themselves back onto for another spin.
As for this lifetime, the intention is for it to be the last one. No matter how long it takes emoticon

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4/15/17 4:20 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Almost done with the book. Been really busy lately. This is a book that needs to be read a few more times. Granted, following it in practice is more important, but getting it into the head is also as important. Still trying to put forth the right effort every day. Its paying off.

The last week or two now, its been interesting to see what has been happening in the mind. There's still resistance to some things, but other things are now getting easier. Some deprogramming is happening even on the conscious level, it seems. There is less mental anxiety, split of focus, or wrong thinking about certain things. There seems to be more focus, concentration, goodwill, compassion, tolerance, and memory. There is always more but it is something others are sure to understand from their own practice.

Even co-workers are noticing the changes, however big or small, as they all watch the 'experiment'. emoticon The scrutiny is ok because it forces you to always take a hard look in the mirror. Either there is progress or there isn't. It must be 100% brutal honesty. Many times we don't like what we find, but that is just something we can work on instead of bemoaning it.

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6/2/17 1:24 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Wow, time flies when you're so busy. Between working more hours and everything else in daily life, it's been awhile since the last visit here.
Sitting practice has taken a hit. It's been a struggle to sit every day. Too many things to do and not enough time. Oh well, we manage as best we can.
Finished that book. Have now been revisiting certain sections or chapters. It was a great book and had things clearly explained. Should probably just reread the whole book.

Well, reading the book will be later. It was just loaned out emoticon .
Been struggling to sit each day but its more hit than miss now. Its all coalescing again. In fact, its been rather interesting. Most sits now end up with little, to no sensations of the body existing. Once the timer goes off though, everything is back. Not sure what this means besides an enjoyable session. It is pleasant, but not the goal.

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6/2/17 5:35 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
How is off cushion practice?

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6/13/17 1:22 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Hey Noah,
Off cushion is so-so. It's hectic right now, but most times the mindfulness is still there. Thankfully there are many days at work when there is time to break away for 30 minutes, or so to "sit". Since the shift is on midnights it is quite nice to go outside for these sessions. So, there are still sits, but not every day. Again, off cushion, its trying to be as mindful as possible at all times, when or if possible. Focusing on the breath while performing daily tasks helps quite often. At other times the machines that I am assigned requires a whole lot of walking. So,... emoticon. Any opportunity that is afforded is usually taken advantage of. Even if it is only reading. Which is a daily habit. Reading books, etc. about buddhism, meditation, and the whole ball of wax. As much time as possible is spent towards the path, with what energy is there from day to day.

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6/17/17 9:44 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Since the sitting sessions have not been every single day, time has been spent working with the Jhana's when there is a sit. Its not for the whole session, but enough time to help things out. These times are well worth the investment. Of course, any time spent in meditation is worth it emoticon.

Interesting time lately in the sits. Had a couple more unitive experiences.
Had another time where the whole body began turning into nothing but vibrations. Like the body had no real substance and began to turn into particles that were pixelated. Like pointillism paintings. Not long after the whole surrounding did likewise. It was very interesting and enjoyable, but not what gets you there. However, it was a very deep state compared to most experiences.

Maybe better progress can be made when vacation time comes? That's the plan.

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7/15/17 11:17 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Vacation has come and gone now. However, it was not a total waste of time. It allowed for the time to unwind. To reflect, contemplate, meditate, and learn. It was a good time for the youngest too. They enjoyed getting out there and seeing new places, meeting new people, and tasting their culture. They found out the world is much bigger, geographically, than they imagined.

Overall, the sessions were still not 'formal' sits each day, but they were done while sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time emoticon. It was rather peaceful to stare out at the scenery while 'meditating'. For obvious reasons no attempts at jhana. While this is all rather unorthodox to most, it was the best that could be had for most of the trip.

Formal sits did happen, when and where possible. They are in the log that has been kept since the beginning of this year. It seems last year was a better year for consistancy. Still working on that.

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11/26/17 9:08 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Between all the overtime, then being sent to a school, then more overtime, things have been hectic. Besides not having hardly any energy anymore. However, not all was lost. There have still been 'formal' sits, reading, and other times of meditation. The physical log book shows that things are about as average as last year.

Most of the reading is non-duality, Advaita, or whatever you want to term it. It makes a whole lot of sense. More than some other Buddhist material. No offense to anyone reading this. Its stuff that was seen early on in life but others said it was nuts. So, I was strongly dissuaded from such seeing and/or thinking by most others. In other words, programmed, conditioned, into duality.

Lol, now the key is to undo that. Well it ain't been easy for most of human history so far. So, what are the chances it will happen now? Still slim to none most times. Those odds still don't mean its impossible. Just improbable. Still, it can happen here as well as anywhere else.