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Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice

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I've decided to begin journaling my practice, both to track my progress and to motivate me to give it my all.

For those who may be so kind as to comment and perhaps provide feedback and advice, it may help to know a bit of my background and past practices.

I began a somewhat serious meditation practice in May of 2014 which included diligent study of the teachings of Theravada Buddhism.  My practice started with Vipassana-style meditation, but I soon switched to Bhante Vimalarami's "Tranquility-Insight" method (the 6 Rs), and then soon after switched again to a Samatha/Jhana style more along the lines that Thanissaro and Brahm teach and have been doing that ever since.  I initially started out strong, putting in two one-hour sessions per day, as well as at least 45 minutes of walking meditation each day.  Around the time my daughter was born (August 2014), I began putting less time into my meditations (30-45 minutes per session) and averaged about one session per day.  This eventually became a few sessions per week as I became a bit complacent from the results of my practice (more peace and tranquility, better concentration, less overall attachment, etc.).  

I recently began reading into Actual Freedom and started to give it a try.  According to my understanding, it is simply being in the moment with a sense of joy and appreciation and recognizing the silliness of unskillful and unwholesome states of mind.  It actually seemed rather easy and I almost immediately got results from it.  The way I see it, it is essentially a variation of mindfulness practice, although the joy and appreciation that I now experience was absent from my previous Buddhist mindfulness practice.  

I've also practiced astral projection/out-of-body experiences and lucid dreaming for the past 15 years or so and still dabble with them, although they stopped being my main focus when I began my Buddhist meditation practice last year.  My mentality and goals switched from having a desire to discover mystical knowledge to understanding the importance of purifying my mind.

Anyway, I've been wanting to revamp my meditation practice and my daily mindfulness practice for some time now, so it begins tonight.  I look forward to joining and taking part in the community here.  emoticon

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
9/28/15 7:01 PM as a reply to Vince.
the joy and appreciation that I now experience was absent from my previous Buddhist mindfulness practice.  


Same here!

My mentality and goals switched from having a desire to discover mystical knowledge to understanding the importance of purifying my mind.


This was a turning point for me: taking control of the wheel, and deciding where I want to go, instead of thinking there was some mysterious journey I was but a traveller on, and enlightenment was the holy grail.

Looking forward to reading about your practice.

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
9/29/15 8:19 AM as a reply to Noah.
Nice to meet you Noah, I look forward to future discussions with ya!

I'm going to keep my log pretty simple, just basic notes about the session and points to keep in mind for future sessions based on what was going on during the previous session.

9/27 
Night- 30 minute session
Lying meditation before sleep.  Fairly easy to keep concentrated on my breath and bodily sensations, mind more or less still and calm, easy to return to meditaiton object and stay.  Went to bed late, pretty tired.  Need to go to bed earlier.

9/28
Actualism mindfulness about 10% of the day.  Need to set a stronger intention to be in the moment.  Remaining "actual" and present while driving is the easiest time to do so, eliminates the need to rush or make internal commentary about other drivers.  

Night- 40 minute session
Sitting meditation before bed.  Mind initially calm, half way through it began wandering.  Bodily tensions minimal, no pain anywhere.  Focused on breathing, then moving my awareness through my body and expanding it to feel my entire body as a whole.  Tension arises in my head when I lose focus of breath and body sensations, I expand my awareness out of my head and through my body to allieviate the tension and return to breath.  Seems like I experience either a mind-based awareness in which this head tension arises (usually when there are thoughts taking place) or a body-based awareness in which there is no tension and I tap into my entire body and really feel all the sensations throughout it.  Random movie scenes running through my head on and off.  Need to watch less movies.  Need to set a stronger intention to stay with my meditation object and remain tapped into the feeling level of my body.  Remember to calm bodily formations with the breath next time, I've had past success with this.

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
9/30/15 9:12 AM as a reply to Vince.
9/29
Drive-itation
(I have a 25 minute commute to work every day (each way) and almost always meditate during my drive.  The entire ride is down a small highway without a whole lot of traffic so I can pretty much zone out without problems.  Sometimes I listen to Buddhist discourses, paricularly by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, as I did today.)  

I got particularly concentrated and tapped into my body feeling, experiencing very pleasurable energy throughout my entire body.  Thanissaro spoke of a concept that was an enormous help to my meditation: Heedfulness.  The idea is to contemplate death so that each breath is taken with the thought in mind that this may be one's last breath and therefore one should use this opportunity to practice the Dhamma to their fullest.  This really hit a chord with me this time (I've heard this from him quite a few times before but never applied it like I did now) and provided the motivation and strength of will to allow for a wonderful meditation with some nice piti.  Interestingly, I experience more piti during my drives than I do during sitting meditation.  Perhaps it's because I can relax better while sitting in the seat than I can when sitting upright with no backrest.

My actualism practice throught the day was a bit weaker than yesterday.  I had trouble feeling the same appreciation and joy as yesterday, although it was not necessarily due to hinderances.  I was experiencing peace and calmness, but without the added good feelings.  It strikes me that this appreciate/joy that actualism gives rise to is dependent upon a partiular thought, whereas I would otherwise simply be tuned into my breath and body and experience peace and contentment without needed to rely on mental fabrications.  I've read that the thoughts used in actualism are eventually abandoned as they become more like a feeling or a knowing that one adopts.  It seemed like I just wasn't focused as much on the thoughts that give rise to the appreciation.  I honestly haven't found much instruction on the practice, but I haven't read through the entire AF website yet so there's probably more there that can be helpful.
 
Night- 40 minute session
Kept Thanissaro's heedfulness advice in mind, giving attention to each breath like it could be my last.  More concentrated than yesterday and more time spent in the pleasurable entire body feeling-zone.  From time to time head pressure arose but was fairly quickly releived by spreading my awareness through my body.  I found it easier to switch to full-body awareness by starting from my legs and feet and spread my awareness up like a bubble engulfing the rest of my body.  Had to adjust leg to prevent it from completely losing circulation, it was starting to go numb.  At times I would focus on letting go with each breath, which brought a wave of light piti through my body from my head to my legs and brought me deeper into my body.  I think I'll do this more of this next session.

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
10/1/15 2:23 PM as a reply to Vince.
9/30
Morning- 30 minute session
Sitting meditation after waking up.  Longer than usual mental stillness and full body awareness with piti arising after completely letting go and being in tune with the body for continuous periods of time, perhaps 20 seconds or more continuous awareness would begin to give rise to piti.  Need to allow the piti to continue without getting excited and making mental commentary on it, this breaks my concentration.

I've been able to apply my contemplation of death and the heedfulness that it brings with my actualism practice in a way which gives rise to the appreciation and joy that I initially experienced with actualism, but now it arises due to my understanding that this life can end at any moment, so it is only logical to appreciate each moment and make the best of it.  I think the ideaology of actualism, namely the contemplation it suggests for the practice which initially gave rise to the good feelings and drive to be mindful, is a bit weak compared to the contemplation of death that I've been using.  

Drivitation
My concentration, the depth of my awareness of the energy throughout my body, and appreciation of the moment has improved over the past few days.  Need to remember to set the intention to let go of everything not related to the meditation for the session beforehand.

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
10/1/15 7:14 PM as a reply to Vince.
I've been able to apply my contemplation of death and the heedfulness that it brings with my actualism practice in a way which gives rise to the appreciation and joy that I initially experienced with actualism, but now it arises due to my understanding that this life can end at any moment, so it is only logical to appreciate each moment and make the best of it.  I think the ideaology of actualism, namely the contemplation it suggests for the practice which initially gave rise to the good feelings and drive to be mindful, is a bit weak compared to the contemplation of death that I've been using.  


Just to encourage you more, I would say that the actualist appreciation of the moment is based on the reality of death.  Enjoyment (as a state) makes the most sense because of both physical and mental mortality.  So you could think of these things as one and the same, if that helps consolidate.

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
10/1/15 8:55 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thanks for that perspective!  My understanding of actualism is rather inadequate, I honestly haven't read a whole lot into it yet.  The idea that I had was that the actualist contemplation was more about the idea that there is only ever one moment and the illogicality of choosing to feel anything other than elation or focus on the idea of some other moment aside from the present.  I plan on giving your actualism practice thread a nice long read tomorrow on my day off!  

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
10/1/15 10:12 PM as a reply to Vince.
Thanks for showing interest.  A lot of it is just day to day throw away thinking though, although lately I've been making more progress.  Resources that will be more reliable include the actual freedom website and the Yahoo discussion board (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/actualfreedom/info).

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
10/3/15 10:26 AM as a reply to Vince.
10/2
Night-35 minute session
Concentration pretty good, could be better.  Tension arises in head throughout the session.  I investigated this tension and it seems to be mainly concentrated in my eyes and the front part of my brain.  I noticed that it mainly arises when I begin to think.  Ironically, the process of releasing this tension begins with thought:  I think "letting go" and bring my awareness into my chest/solar plexus area and expand it out throughout my body with the intention of feeling my entire body.  This relieves the tension and shifts me from a head/mind/thought-based awareness into a body/feeling-based awareness, which is when piti begins to rise.  Coupling the intention of letting go with my breath- placing the intent with each in and out breath- brings about deep peace and tranquility, and when I am able to continue this for a short while (several breaths), piti begins to develop.  Need to work on continuing this process without breaks due to random thoughts and commentary on the experience.

RE: Vince's Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Answer
10/5/15 10:49 PM as a reply to Vince.
I've been a bit lazy, haven't logged any of my recent sessions but there are some points worth noting.  My meditations over the past few days have been decent.  Not a ton of improvement but I'm slowly developing more concentration and mindfulness during my sits.  Still dealing with arising head tension.  Need to focus more on letting go, I get wrapped up in developing whole body awareness and feeling energy but arising thoughts don't allow for very long periods of unbroken concentration.  I believe that letting go more deeply and more often will help with this.

Had an hour long meditation session in public today (Brazil's version of the DMV's waiting room).  It was surprisingly good.  In the past when I have meditated in public, my mind would often gravitate towards imagining other people's thoughts about me and what I'm doing.  Today these thoughts rarely came up, and when one appeared I almost instantly released it before it could fully form.  This meditation was on a full stomach, so it was a bit uncomfortable.  I would experience short hot flashes due to this uncomfortablity coupled with a momentary desire to end the meditation, particularly towards the end, but I was always able to release these thoughts and shift back to my meditation object.  Piti was difficult to cultivate, I believe due to my full stomach.  

My actualism practice has been a bit slower to develop lately.  I believe that posting regularly will help keep my goals in mind and my actions in line.