A New Path

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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 6/30/16 5:09 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 2:50 AM

A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Since around the end of 2015, I have been working with a man named Richard, or alternately, Dhammarato ("Rd," from here on out), who was a student of Bhikkhu Buddhadasa and works with one of his senior students, Ajahn Po.  The perspectives he has offered me on aspects of the Dhamma such as Sila, the eight folds, and the hindrances, have already been incredibly helpful.  I am grateful that he has given me permission to openly share my progress here.

I have previously recorded my relevant meditation experience, structured around major shifts, here and here.  After the last major turning point of my practice, in July of 2015, I spent about three months practicing the actualism method, which I wrote about here.  I have used this space to record less organized thoughts about practice and life.  

The basic trajectory of my current path involves a commitment to the eightfold path at a supermundane level, as well as the daily-life practice of anapanasati.  This meditation method emphasizes getting rid of the hindrances, rather than being choicelessly aware of them.  It utilizes the conscious amplification of joy and an open-ended quality of investigation that is not necessarily sharp shooting a specific target.  This type of patient and gradual training has provided me with a wonderful sense of direction after the sense of non-linearity and confusion I have felt since July.  I am also benefitting greatly from a cohesive view of the mechanics of sila and samadhi, which is something I have always preferred to a neat separation of the trainings.  

Here is the thread I started with Dhammarato's contact info, if anyone is interested:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5840836/de
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 3:17 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 3:07 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.3

-Brain training is going well.  Day after day of applying the mindfulness makes sense because I understand why it works and where I'm going with it.  I feel almost no obsessing, where I used to mull over techniques again and again.  "Never mind, start again," is starting to trigger a physical smile on my face.

-I am going to try to slowly start dealing with my libido directly.  Rd says there is not just one, simplistic 'impulse,' but really a long series of events that occur between noticing a woman, and eventually acting on the sense of lust.  Each mini step is a chance to gradually train the brain out of its old habits.  Rd has given me plenty of tools that act as alternatives to the usual attention patterns.

-Dealing with causality directly forces me to do difficulty/anxiety-ridden activities such as applying for jobs or contacting old professors for references.  However, I force myself to take a stance on the situation as a whole, declaring that none of this is a big deal, and things do not have to be perfect for me to live happily.  Setting this boundary based on the idea of noble right thought(s) is important.  

-Countering perfectionistic tendancies in terms of my life situation is key for me.  As Rd says with regards to virtue training, "how much time have you spent in jail?" "None."  "Good enough- you pass!"
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tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 6:19 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 6:19 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy noah,
nice report, i look forward to more good reads.  in the first post you mentioned the recent focus / emphasis on sila and samadhi.  no mention of vipassana in nay form.  are you talking about HOW sila affects your absorptions?

re: you later post on 'libido', do you now or have you ever spent any energy on doing satipatthana body practices to ameliorate the lust factors?  i would be interested to hear more about the chain of these libido factors that you alluded to, perhaps in a list form or even an experiential practice.

in any case it sounds like you are getting something positive with some structure and peace which is always good in the sense that it clarifies goals and directions and removes a lot of ancilliary doubt which can crop up.

cheers
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 1:34 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 1:34 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Tom:

no mention of vipassana in nay form.  are you talking about HOW sila affects your absorptions?


I just meant samadhi as a broad term form 'meditation' in the threefold training.  I meant to talk about vipassana with the phrase "open-ended investigation."  So basically through doing a lot of meditating in daily life, specifically to soothe and reroute the hindrances, the line between conduct and meditation becomes blurred.  The goal I am working towards is that of walking aroud in 1st jhana most of the time, with all five of its factors present.  

re: you later post on 'libido', do you now or have you ever spent any energy on doing satipatthana body practices to ameliorate the lust factors?


I'm just starting to work this way now.  The guy whos coaching me makes it very clear that biological urges are permanent, and must be met by a lay person, but the socio-cultural trappings and the violent flow of chemicals through the body can and should be treated.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 3:47 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 3:47 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.4

-Rd gave me the homework assignment to begin to spread joy to others via social interaction, as I start to have more of it myself.  I don't know if I'm ready for this yet, as it is usually still a mechanistic exercise of artificially generating it.  However, there are moments where I feel a burden lifted and the joy feels like it has a life of its own in my body.

-I am doing hot yoga classes and am amazed at how out of shape I am.  Part of this path is responding directly to cause and effect, and rejecting the tendencies of the mind towards magical/karmic thinking.  So instead of assuming that I will someday start to eat healthy and exercise regularly, maybe once I'm "fully enlightened" or something, I am forcing myself to start doing this stuff now.  However, this effort is not the self-imposed burden of fake rules and rituals, but rather one that stems from the knowledge that I will not be happy until I am able to actually adapt to shifting, present reality.

-There is also bodywork involved in Rd's instructions.  One exercise is called "hands and feet"; whenever I notice myself subconsciously gesticulating or moving my body nervously in some way, I immediately stop doing it, and observe the underlying feeling of restlessness, joyfully declaring "ha! I caught you!"  This also applies to facial expressions that are in some way trying to manipulate social interaction or express insecurity.  

Another form of bodywork involves holding a still posture when I am not having to move, in daily life.  The instruction is to "watch the stillness" in the limbs.  When I look out for this, I am usually able to quickly get into a state of extreme calmness.

Also, when walking, the instruction is to "watch the flow."  Rd described the end goal of this effort as being able to move around in complete silence.  
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Chris M, modified 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 4:00 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 4:00 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 4484 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Sounds great!
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 4:24 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/4/16 4:24 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Sounds great!

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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/6/16 5:28 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/5/16 11:03 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.5

-Last time we spoke Rd suggested the interesting idea of "dying happily."  He illustrated this by smiling, taking a deep breath and saying "how wonderful it is that my life has been insignificant and no one will remember me," suggesting that it is lighter, easier, and less burdened to let go from that point.  Even though I am probably not going to die any time soon, this is a good thought to have.  

He has also suggested other ways for me to become familiar to my death, such as the fact that I am always changing- instructing me to watch the process of falling asleep, and see how similar it is to dying.  

-30 min. anapanasati:  Spent most of the time gladdening the mind.  At times when I felt patient, I let the mind just openly watch/investigate.  At one point I consciously went into 2nd jhana, using Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's method of being aware of the 5 factors, then purposely dropping the 1st two.  I will not be able to get the full benefit of the jhanas until I can sit for longer periods without the hindrances.  Rd says eventually they just drop away permanently, like a ripe fruit from a tree, or a forest path that has been overgrown from neglect.  I can't wait.

-30 min. anapanasati:  After gladdening the mind all day in daily life, the effort really pays off in formal sitting.  It is simply harder to fall into agitation, because it is less practiced than joy.  I can feel myself coming to a crossroads that I also discovered when I was doing Mahasi noting in daily life; I must either choose to prioritize meditation, or everything else in life.  For instance, if I replay an interaction with a customer in my head, I can either decide that I truly don't give a shit, or I can think about how to do better next time.  One mode allows me to feel the most possible relaxation through lowering my expectations and standards of myself, whereas another is more typical in trying to control the various areas of life.

-The BATGAP interview of Bob Thurman reminds me of Rd in terms of being both happy/optimistic and intelligent/informed about the world.  Why can't we be both?  I feel like people associate intelligence with pessimism a lot of the time.  In fact, Thurman declares that the most effective form of optimism has a core of happiness, such that an ideal activist would even die happily at the hands of terrorists- a diegasm! (Related to my first point posted today, no doubt!).
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/7/16 12:51 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/6/16 3:23 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.6

-I think it is officially time to declare that I have "cured bipolar disorder."  What I mean by this is that the remaining traits and behaviors which I consider to be flaws in myself are basically things that everyone struggles with, and are not classifiable in the DSM.  These are things like: having a messy room and wanting to watch a lot of TV.  I no longer worry about basic financial management or being able to hold a job.

The significance of this is that it allows me to follow Rd's advice with regards to the human condition, in general, not just with 'my special problem.'  In turn, this allows me to have a greater degree of confidence that the problems I am experiencing are similar to those that everyone else is experiencing, and that the solutions treat the underlying instinctual patterns that we all share.

For instance, today I did not want to get out of bed.  Inhaling with a smile, and exhaling to relax all my muscles, I declared "never mind, start again."  Instead of looking to past days of laziness and trying to predict whether the pattern will continue (which is the basic, human delusion of map-making and a belief in magic/karmic thinking), I decided to be in the here-now, and simply move my body in response to immediate cause-and-effect.  And so it goes.  

I am re-upping my commitment to this way of being: to adapting to the conditions of the moment, always refusing to judge them or make final decisions, and putting the brain pathways of map-making and magical thinking to final rest through disuse.  This is the way of the supermundane eightfold path.  This is what is necessary; meditation was never enough.

-anapanasati 30 min:  Wow!  I was only in about medium-strength jhana, but what was really great was how un-agitated I felt.  Checking in throughout the sit by reaching into those corners of my mind, the potential for impatience was simply absent, leaving a sort of void-like feeling.  What was left was the ability to actually rally my attention to focus for extended periods, which I did.  I kept reminding myself that there was not a particular goal of samatha or vipassana to the sit, and the open-ended looking without making a decision was actually the means and the end.  

-Had the thought today after seeing a woman on the street: wouldn't it be nice to be trained out of the burden of looking with desire?  I felt joy in the promise of freedom after this.  Similarly, it would be lovely to not be pinned down by ideas of the right way to live, life goals, etc.  It would be lovely to not feel the need to have a certain type of job, girlfriend, hobby, etc.  The intent is to permanently train myself out of these mental habits through breath in the moment.  
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago at 2/7/16 3:27 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/7/16 3:27 PM

Thread Split

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
As per requested  by Noah the thread has been split
The new thread can be found at http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5823714.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/7/16 5:58 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/7/16 5:58 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.7

-As Rd predicted, by practicing supramundane eight folds and constantly gladdening the mind, my interest in thinking is waning.  I can see how holding views gets me into trouble, as demonstrated by the splitting of my discussion thread yesterday and today.  It seems like there is no point in holding views and feeling certain about anything, other than the evident facts of reality, and the knowledge and vision of what is the path and what is not the path (which is just another way of saying 'do what works!').  When I find myself flexing views and judgements, I will continue to breath in joy instead.  Not needing to be right is the release of a burden, rather than a form of discipline (similar to being caught in the libido).
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/9/16 3:14 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/8/16 4:09 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.8

-I can feel that there is the possibility of returning to a type of innocent happiness that I had at a younger age.  Practicing non-clinging resolves issues that would otherwise have kept me stuck to the walls of adult-life stress.  I am planning to dive full bore down this rabbit hole and see how deep the sukkha goes.

-Here is my personal spectrum of hedonism on one end, and asceticism on the other:

(watching tv for hours)                                                                                               (being productive)
 (eating junk food)<------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->(while stressed out)
 (avoiding work)                                                                                            (self improvement full scale)

In the hedonism end, I am avoiding stress.  In the asceticism end, I am feeling stress.  The middle path does not exist anywhere on this spectrum, because the entire thing has to do with human map-making, and not with facing reality!   Actually, the middle path is a combination of several unique elements, at play simultaneously.  It is something like this:

(facing reality)                                             (seeing that this)
(cause and effect)  +  (generating joy!)  +    (way of being)                      +  (willingly staying mindful)
(as it is)                                                      (is the only fucking option!)
   
-Oh, and one more thing: the way I am thinking about it, fruition-cessation event ("seeing nothing" as Rd says) just reinforces this way of living as the obvious, correct one!  However, it is probably not enough on its own.  But once you see that everything is relative and empty, that just reinforces the intellectual knowing of the right way to be.  Is this what I have been missing? Lovely in the beginning, lovely in the middle, lovely in the end.

-anapanasati: 30 min.                                                                                    
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/10/16 3:03 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/9/16 12:49 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.9

-Rd told me a story about Louis Armstrong: in the first part of his career, he would do more traditional orchestral/big band arrangements... he would "practice" pieces so as to be able to later "perform" them... when he switched over to Jazz, he vowed never to practice/perform again- instead, whether he was in the studio or on stage, he would always, only "play."

This story summarizes my point from yesterday, with the middle path spectrum and all that.  I am not there yet, but the goal is to be un-burdened enough from ego-survival stuff (stress, concepts, etc.), that one is able to simply respond to immediate causality without filters.

-anapanasati: 30 min.  I am slowly starting to focus on the breath without the 'training wheels' of the gladdening exercise.  After minimizing the hindrances to such a low degree, focus is now easy!  I think of the development of focus as just another ingredient in the soup that is the state of enlightenment.  Focusing in meditation is just the "practice" for the "performance" of focus in daily life.  Eventually, the focus becomes automatic, natural and self-sustaining, which is the transition to the point of "play."

-30 min., anapanasati: more good stuff

-session with Rd from tonight, he finished up explaining the ten fetters and stages of enlightenment:

1) personality view

2) doubt about the dhamma working

3) ritual attachment- this is the big one... the belief in kamma, or magical thinking, or a store and forward mechanism in reality (rather than straight up cause & effect)... this could also be called "the mishandling of sila," meaning, not being willing to face conditions in reality as they are

4) sensual desire aka kamarago... this is the level of basic physical wants

5) ill will- basically just the opposite of sensual desire.. basic physical aversions

6) ruparago- this is the level of more complex mental and emotional desires... hugely misinterpreted to be attachment to the lower jhanas!!

7) aruparago- this is another big one... it is when there is the habit of clinging, but there is no longer anything to cling to!  This fetter is present in advanced students of the Dhamma because they have built up a sense of mastery in multiple areas of life, yet they still feel like something is wrong/needs to be changed... hugely misinterpreted to be attachment to the higher jhanas!! (due to a basic semantic error by the commentators)

8) conceit... the basic sense of "I AM"

9) restlessness- this is the feeling of there being a hole deep inside one's being, which we try to fill with endless views, judgements, actions, and other forms of clinging... it is the basic habit of making an effort to know/ascertain a sense of certainty

10) ignorance- this is the cause of restlessness... we can not know... true knowledge is knowing that we can not know.. with true knowledge we stop trying to fill the hole of uncertainty
------------------------------------
sotapanna:  When one learns for sure that they are not the personality (1), that the Dhamma really does work (2), and that cause & effect is all there is in this world (3), one 'enters the stream.'

sakadagami/anagami: According to Rd, these don't exist as discrete stages (which makes TOTAL sense to me based on my experience).  However, there is a point at which one actualizes the 7 factors of enlightenment in daily life, and also gains a real sense of mastery over sila (I am nowhere near this point)... this would be overcoming fetters 1 through 6.  However, the habit of clinging is still present, even though there is nothing to worry about!  So the midway pivot point is overcoming fetter 7: aruparago or clinging without object.

arhat: The arhat KNOWS that he can not know, and therefore has dropped all the burdens of personhood that exist at the various levels.  She lives out her days with joyful and wise ignorance.  There are still basic instinctual drives and psycho-emotional patterns, but there is an overwhelming degree of mastery over these things.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/18/16 3:08 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/17/16 4:06 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.17

-Past week has been pretty good except for a hiccup which downgraded my joy in daily life for a few days.  I seem to be back up to speed, and am making corrections to make sure my joy doesn't get interfered with again (in the form of staying clean from drugs and alcohol, as well as improving my diet).  Richard says such corrections are the natural course of prioritizing suffering-relief above all else.  

-In session with Richard last night I had an epiphany about my phobic avoidance of all things social media and current events; it is the same problem that most people have, which is to be too involved in social media and current events and become emotionally effected by them.  Both involve an artifical attachment and creation of a sense of relationship with the world that need not exist, or, if it does exist, need not cause suffering.  So eventually, I will naturally do some reading of the news and participation in social media, as a resullt of cause and effect.  However, it will have no emotional backlash.

-1 hr., anapanasati: Training for continuity of attention, Culadasa-style, in the absence of the hindrances which used to stop me from doing so. 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/18/16 5:21 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/18/16 5:21 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.18

-Went to a nightclub last night, but only had three beers the entire night.  I feel that one part of me is used to using concepts, categories, and thoughts of past and future to organize reality and plan actions.  In the past, I have used this part to flirt with women, befriend people, dance, plan my night, etc.  There is another, new part of me that is increasingly only in the present, in a joyful and alert way.  This part does not use any data to make plans.  It is only capable of responding to the conditions of the moment, and does not feed off the energy of the ego, leaving it somewhat 'un-shielded' from the raw sensorium.

These two selves are in a process of integration.  There is some agitation, confusion, and doubt arising as a result of this process.  I am continuously gladdening the mind today, to help get rid of these byproducts. 
Banned For waht?, modified 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 7:25 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 7:19 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
you know how to cultivate desires?

Its seeing something you want, but not doing it, then it will reveal desire and you need to see it and stay with it till it disappears then when urge again comes to do that thing you do the same thing, you hold yourself back in order to see the desire/attachment and meditate on it till it disappears.

Cultivating desires will let you know that when you do satisfy yourself then that feeling of satisfaction(actually the empty feeling there) is also reached by not doing it but disolving the urge or desire to do so.

Life without sex is possible, but then a moment later in you becomes a signal what says otherwise, you start doubting and then break the discipline. Where is the first path attainment when there is doubt that you can't overcome all desires?

Accept it that you aren't first path.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 11:56 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 11:56 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Rist:

Accept it that you aren't first path.


Lol, okay Rist, I accept... ... Wait, am I supposed to feel different now?

Its seeing something you want, but not doing it, then it will reveal desire and you need to see it and stay with it till it disappears then when urge again comes to do that thing you do the same thing, you hold yourself back in order to see the desire/attachment and meditate on it till it disappears.


But on the real, I've actually tried working like this quite a bit, and it has not worked, hands down.  Richard's methods, in contrast, have helped me curb my desires noticably in a matter of weeks.  Btw, that is not to say that I have not gained tremendous benefits from Mahasi noting, including a greater degree of clarity and equanimity surrounding desires, but they have not hugely curbed them in a certain way.
Banned For waht?, modified 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 2:29 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 2:29 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
I have meditated on what you said almost couple hours now and have many responses made. But i didn't reach that far to actually send them to you. Take it like when there is silence there is actually lots of things happening.
..
I know that its like a broken record, hmm i just realized that i didn't ever had to this day correct meaning or any meaning on what is "broken record" but nevertheless i used that expression.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 8:19 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/19/16 8:19 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.19

-Lots of nice gladdening breath all day long.  I can feel it rounding out the 'highs' and filling in the 'lows' of moods.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/21/16 12:04 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/20/16 9:51 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.20

-Gladdening breath today progressed into a head-space free of hindrance.  In this, I just practiced focusing on the moment.  The end game here is to set both of these pathways in stone.  

-Thus far, the development of joy has been about gaining relief from hindrances into a slightly-above-average state.  I do not want to set my bar too low.  I hope to progress into a territory in which the joy is about feeling way above average, and actually having my own "stash" on hand, all the time.  The goal is to have this joy give me sanctuary from the various fetters of attachment and aversion.  However, in order for it to actually do this in real scenarios (i.e. actually overcoming lust, actually obsessing less), it has to be BIG joy.  So thats where I'm headed. 

-In the past couple weeks, I have noticed a high degree of mental content (thoughts, emotions, obsessing, narratives, planning, analyzing, etc.).  I think my normal mental chatter is being revealed to be more than I actually need.  I would like to generally "let go," without assigning a specific strategy as to how.  I would just like to see a decrease in average mental content.  Rd has certainly given me the tools to do this.  

-30 min., anapanasati: some gladdening, but mostly straight-up mindfulness of breath, some good continuity, some jhana (2nd jhana, 5th jhana sub-aspect for about 10 minutes)
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 2:31 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 2:30 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.21

-One of my best days yet.  In the absence of hindrances, I was openly and easily mindful all day long.  Very little need to gladden the mind.  Being mindful actually feels good (because the moment feels good), becoming a preference rather than a method.

-30 min., anapanasati
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bernd the broter, modified 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 3:11 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 3:11 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Noah:
2.20
[...]

-Thus far, the development of joy [...] I hope to progress into a territory in which the joy is about feeling way above average, and actually having my own "stash" on hand, all the time.  The goal is to have this joy give me sanctuary from the various fetters of attachment and aversion. [...]
When you write 'joy', is that the same thing as the Mudita-Brahmavihara?
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 2:12 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 2:12 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
bernd:

When you write 'joy', is that the same thing as the Mudita-Brahmavihara?


The guy I'm skyping with says it is; that most people think of Mudita as a counter to envy, in which one feels joy as a response to noticing someone else's accomplishment.  In contrast, he says one should initially have joy going, and then spread it to others, especially the accomplished.  So, in that context it would be Mudita, but the rest of the time I'm talking about Piti of the Sambojhana.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 4:37 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/22/16 4:36 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.22

-30 min., anapanasati:  What I wrote in my sandbox thread helped.  I should be doing anapanasati all-the-F'in time now.  I have plenty of reasons to want to get good at it.  In the absence of agitation, there is still a basic sense of boredom.  It helps to remind myself that there is no problem in the moment, and I could hang out here indefinitely.  It also helps to use the pointer of 'experiencing' the breath, in a passive, receiving way, rather than 'focusing ON' the breath.  

-I have added in extra pointers for the gladdening breath: "breath in joy to ALL parts of the body and mind," and "breath out, relaxing ALL of the body and mind."
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Don Merchant, modified 6 Years ago at 2/23/16 3:45 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/23/16 3:44 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 202 Join Date: 6/9/15 Recent Posts
Noah, nice threads you have going. I appreciate them.

I also appreciate your progress. It encourages me to continue. Knowing there is a way. And more than 1 way, at that.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/24/16 11:57 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/24/16 11:57 AM

RE: A New Path

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Don Merchant:
Noah, nice threads you have going. I appreciate them.

I also appreciate your progress. It encourages me to continue. Knowing there is a way. And more than 1 way, at that.

Thanks for reading and appreciating, Don.  I like your thread as well, and am curious to see how your readings about kundalini and the like will integrate in with your own practice as time goes on.  There are definitely tons of ways, which I find to be empowering and inspiring rather than overwhelming or anything like that. 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/23/16 2:00 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/23/16 12:35 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.23

-Yesterday was probably one of my 'gladdest' days yet.

-30 min., anapanasati
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/24/16 8:16 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/24/16 11:46 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.24

-I practiced a new species of "effortless" mindfulness all day yesterday.  I have only recently discovered it as a possibility, bolstered by the fuel of joy.

-I also had a huge epiphany in relation to facing the complexity of social communication head on, instead of trying to oversimplify things or make reality fit my needs.  I wrote about both of these in my sandbox.  

-I am still practicing the extra pointers for the gladdening breath, trying to bring the joy and relaxation deeper into, and around, all the parts of my mind and body.  It can get quite intoxicating, and there's a certain threshold of pleasure that, when passed, leaves me feeling totally detached from my usual stressors in life.  

-30 min., anapanasati: more practice of effortless mindfulness... taking the training wheels off for portions of time
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/25/16 5:46 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/25/16 5:46 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.25

-As I become more joyful as a baseline, new levels of functioning become available.  This includes things like the job search, dressing better, treating my body with more care, and pursuing new hobbies and social relationships.  What I am finding is that different scenarios require me to wear different "masks" or "hats" that determine the appropriate external behaviors at the time.  Regardless of what I am doing externally, my job is to keep applying the principles of anapanasati internally.  I have to honor the complexity of this formula, rather than resisting, in order to thrive.  

-Yesterday and today have mostly been about the gladdening breath, but also about engaging in activities that occupied my complete attention, thus interrupting some of the continuity of my mindfulness.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/26/16 3:55 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/26/16 3:55 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.26

-Mostly gladdening the mind today.  Not much mindfulness in daily life.

-30 min., anapanasati: Some periods of good continuity of attention on the breath.  Needed to gladden the mind a couple times to ward off impatience.  
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 2/26/16 10:32 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/26/16 10:32 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
So for gladdening the mind, how do you do that again?  Maybe you said it before but I don't remember if or where. 
-Eva
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/26/16 11:58 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/26/16 11:58 PM

RE: A New Path

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Eva Nie:
So for gladdening the mind, how do you do that again?  Maybe you said it before but I don't remember if or where. 
-Eva

"Breathing in the energy of joy"... "Breathing out with relaxation"

Imagine you were taking a breath after surfacing for air.  Feel how much you appreciate that breath!

When Rd demonstrates the technique to me he sort of reminds me of a smiling lion bathing in the sun lol.  Idk if that helps illustrate the 'spirit' of it at all.  
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 2/27/16 1:10 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/27/16 1:10 AM

RE: A New Path

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Noah:
Eva Nie:
So for gladdening the mind, how do you do that again?  Maybe you said it before but I don't remember if or where. 
-Eva

"Breathing in the energy of joy"... "Breathing out with relaxation"

Imagine you were taking a breath after surfacing for air.  Feel how much you appreciate that breath!

When Rd demonstrates the technique to me he sort of reminds me of a smiling lion bathing in the sun lol.  Idk if that helps illustrate the 'spirit' of it at all.  

I think I understand.  Was curious if the technique would jell with me more than what I usually do, which is to sort of remember strongly the way it feels to feel good (or any way I wish to feel), which then makes me feel good.  Believing it will work also I think is important.  I notice if I worry it won't work or that the stress is too much, then it seems to work less, so then I have to kind of double down on the confidence part a bit also and maybe give it a bit extra effort to get it to kick in.  But the harder part seems to be to remember to be mindful and notice what I am feeling at any given moment.  I can do it various times through the day but don't always notice right away if stress or whatever is sneaking up on me.  So then I might feel stress for some time before I consciously make note of it and decide to use the method for dissapating it.  So although I think I am getting some good tools to do it, but I have to remember and be mindful to use the tools when needed!  ;-P
-Eva  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/28/16 4:20 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/27/16 1:33 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.27

-30 min., anapanasati

-Lots of gladdening all day.  Failed to fight off some powerful hindrances, including obsessing. 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 2/28/16 7:47 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 2/28/16 11:21 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.28

-20 min., anapanasati

-Had a melt down yesterday, which overflowed into conversations on my 'sandbox' thread.  Back to business as usual today, the gladdening breath is feeling better than yesterday.  Keeping it physically focused, rather than over-relying on visualization.  Also doing some straight mindfulness when the joy is ripe.

-30 min., anapanasati: no agitation or obsessing, so no need to gladden.  Was interrupted by sleepiness.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 3:18 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 3:18 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
2.29

-Some gladdening, some off-cushion mindfulness.

-15 min., anapanasati

-30 min., anapanasati: First time using my newly-purchased zafu and zabuton.  Hot yoga is coming in handy in terms of being able to take and maintain a posture.  Still, 30 minutes feels like a long time when I do it in the more "formal" way.  I am going to try to do 30 min. every morning and evening from now on.  
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 10:22 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 10:22 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 440 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Just curious: have you been a chair yogi up until now? I'm a sofa yogi myself. emoticon My dream would be able to use a cushion, but I think I'm probably not going to manage it. 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 12:27 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 12:27 PM

RE: A New Path

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Laurel Carrington:
Just curious: have you been a chair yogi up until now? I'm a sofa yogi myself. emoticon My dream would be able to use a cushion, but I think I'm probably not going to manage it. 

Yeah I've been a chair/sofa yogi emoticon  Trying to change that.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 9:19 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 12:28 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.1

-30 min., anapanasati

-The gladdening breath reduces bodily sensations of anxiety and anger, but seems to stop short at re-routing obsessive thinking.  This requires an added willingness to not know/ not decide, as well as some extra mindfulness.  Obsessing, like the other hindrances, can be un-practiced, according to Rd.  

I have also realized that libido is not the problem, and perhaps I should not try to re-route it with the gladdening breath.  Rather, the obsessive thinking that is intertwined with the libido is the problem.  This is where I should be applying the mental force of "I don't know," and adding in extra momentary focus.  

The obsessive-thought-pathways are linked in with deeply held patterns of perfectionism and anxious attempts at control, as illustrated by some of my recent comments in my 'sandbox' thread.  Once again, the goal is to gradually undo the perfectionistic bent, by reminding myself to return to the moment, and to be glad to have another breath, again and again.  

I have been able to apply Rd's "whistle while you work" advice to most logistics, as of late.  However, I hit a wall in areas such as dating, which are linked to deeper wounds, and the habit of obsessing.  Here, the gladdening breath is not sufficient on its own, thus the strategy outlined above.  

-30 min., anapanasati: Concentration is improving.  Stability of attention for periods of the sit.
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 1:20 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 1:20 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Laurel Carrington:
Just curious: have you been a chair yogi up until now? I'm a sofa yogi myself. emoticon My dream would be able to use a cushion, but I think I'm probably not going to manage it. 
Have you tried thos elittle tiny benches made for meditation?  They keep the back nice and straight and upright but while avoiding strain on leg joints.  They have some fairly cheap ones on ebay.  Also you can carry a tiny bench around to other locations without it being obtrusive (like if you had to ask for a chair and have it hauled in)  I find them a happy medium, neither am I sprawled on a couch willy nilly but neither are my joints all stiff and unhappy from being twisted unnaturally.  That being said, sometimes i like to just lay down and see where my mind can travel to but that tends to lead to bouts of sleep for me so that's more of just a fun passtime fo rme.  ;-P 
-Eva
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 4:31 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 4:31 PM

RE: A New Path

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Eva:

Have you tried thos elittle tiny benches made for meditation?


Yeah I have used those a lot over the years, bringing mine out to meditation groups.  I call them 'seiza benches.'  Getting to at least Burmese position (and eventually half lotus) on a zafu is one of my goals now.  
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 10:23 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/1/16 10:23 PM

RE: A New Path

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Noah:
Eva:

Have you tried thos elittle tiny benches made for meditation?


Yeah I have used those a lot over the years, bringing mine out to meditation groups.  I call them 'seiza benches.'  Getting to at least Burmese position (and eventually half lotus) on a zafu is one of my goals now.  

Yes that is the word!  I had forgotten it.  If anyone is buying I suggest looking into height recommendatoins.  Some of the ebay sold ones had that info.  People with longer legs tend to like slightly taller ones.  I tried a variety and found that a difference of a few inches could make a big diff in how comfortable I was.  I am short and do better with the shorter ones.  I just use a straight wood one but I see they sell them with cushions too. 
-Eva
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bernd the broter, modified 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 4:09 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 4:09 AM

RE: A New Path

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Noah:
Getting to at least Burmese position (and eventually half lotus) on a zafu is one of my goals now.  


Why? What benefit do you think that would give you?
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 4:36 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 4:36 AM

RE: A New Path

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bernd:

Why? What benefit do you think that would give you?


Its a purely materialistic motivation.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/3/16 12:27 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 8:04 AM

RE: A New Path

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3.2

-30 min., anapanasati:  There are times when I got continuity of attention, with little to no absorption.  These are frequenly couple with shallow, heavy breathing.  I don't know what to make of this.

-30 min., anapanasati: Less continuity this time, but more clarity and equanimity regarding the cyclical nature of my obsessions.  

-Some gladdening and some mindfulness in daily life.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 8:33 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 8:33 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 440 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Eva: I have tried benches, but my upper back muscles start to hurt after awhile, not to mention my knees. On a sofa, I stick a pillow behind me to sit up straight with support. The sofa is firm enough that I don't sink into it.
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 10:37 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 10:37 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Certainly, the benches are a good medium but they do not provide the suppport that a chair does so they are not for everyone.  ;-P
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svmonk, modified 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 9:55 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 9:55 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Hi Laurel and Eva,

Re. benches and cushions, please don't take offense if you have a problem with exercise or have tried it and it doesn't work for you, but I've found that since I've started to do regular abs exercises my ability to sit on the floor on a cushion and stay upright without tiring has improved immensely. I do 85 crunches and 30 bicycles (lay on back, bicycle feet) pretty much once a day, except if I'm sick or traveling. When sitting, I simply relax and let my abs take the weight and keep me upright. Knees of course are another matter, these won't help with knee problems.

Hope that helps.
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 10:45 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/2/16 10:45 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
My prob is with joints, not muscles.  Ironically,  I should probably cut back on exercise if I want to get better.  I've been playing a lot of sports lately and some joints are a bit peaved about it.  If i had been putting my legs in a pretzel since young, they probably would ahve been more used to in advance but that was not hte case.  Ironically, my family has some of the strongest abs this side of the Mississippi, it's just a weird trait we have.  I and my brother can outcrunch almost all athletes, even if I haven't done any for a year and they do them often.  Anyway, if I really put some time and effort into cranking on it, I might be able to get those joints to comply but I have not really seen the need for it.  I have not seen any evidence that pretzel legs have any special  power to enlighten, I sometimes wonder if it's often more a thing of looking cool and fitting in than of specific needs for enlightenment.  . 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/3/16 12:26 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/3/16 12:26 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
svmonk:
Hi Laurel and Eva,

Re. benches and cushions, please don't take offense if you have a problem with exercise or have tried it and it doesn't work for you, but I've found that since I've started to do regular abs exercises my ability to sit on the floor on a cushion and stay upright without tiring has improved immensely. I do 85 crunches and 30 bicycles (lay on back, bicycle feet) pretty much once a day, except if I'm sick or traveling. When sitting, I simply relax and let my abs take the weight and keep me upright. Knees of course are another matter, these won't help with knee problems.

Hope that helps.

This agrees with my recent experience; doing hatha yoga has given me new, core strength which allows me to augment any lack of flexibility or other physical difficulty.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/4/16 2:22 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/3/16 9:11 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.3

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Was able to "attach" the attention to the breath for minutes at a time.  The need for gladdening in formal meditation is become less and less.  I will need to re-up my efforts in daily life to end the impatience in formal meditation once-and-for-all, and to cut down on obsessing-in-daily-life (along with other, aforementioned strategies). 

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Lots of distractions, but I feel like something good is happening as I guide the mind back to the breath repeatedly.  There is an evident progression over the past few days of regular practice.

-Good mindfulness in daily life.  Not much need to gladden.  Was very successful when it did happen.  I might be getting manic.  If so, I trust that by gladdening the mind on both the 'up-swings' and 'down-swings,' my mood-line will eventually become more even.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/5/16 1:21 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/4/16 1:09 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.4

-30 min., anapanasati (morning)

-Mindfulness and gladdening off-cushion.  Staved off agitation successfully multiple times.

-Had a session with Rd tonight.  I realized that the off-cushion mindfulness he reccomends has the breath as its object, it is not general or free floating mindfulness.  I predict that this type of effort will have a much more intense effect.  I will start it tomorrow.  

-30 min., anapanasati (night)
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/6/16 11:34 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/5/16 12:25 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.5

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): still at stage 2/3 Culadasa, which is kind of embarassing... only having to gladden once or twice per sit, and immediately able to return... getting into full Burmese/friendly posture, which is a huge progression evident from my hot yoga practice.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Reached a very clear and powerful instance of the equanimity nana.  It was rapturous, so I would say it was probably just an unusual instance of low eq.  

-Mindfulness-of-breath off-cushion when I could.  Gladdened a lot to stave off agitation (one of those days).
Sakari, modified 6 Years ago at 3/6/16 3:28 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/6/16 3:28 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 38 Join Date: 12/28/13 Recent Posts
Noah:

still at stage 2/3 Culadasa, which is kind of embarassing...


Don't feel bad. Nobody masters even the first stage of Culadasa's system. From his book, regarding stage 1: "Mastery: Never missing a daily practice session." So you can't even know your stage 1 completion percentage until the moment you die ;)
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/6/16 11:32 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/6/16 11:32 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Sakari:

Don't feel bad. Nobody masters even the first stage of Culadasa's system. From his book, regarding stage 1: "Mastery: Never missing a daily practice session." So you can't even know your stage 1 completion percentage until the moment you die ;)


Thanks Sakari, I appreciate your kindness.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/7/16 1:57 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/6/16 11:35 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.6

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Continuity felt a lot stronger today.  Perhaps using the breath as an object off-cushion is showing on-cushion results after only one day?

-Off cushion mindfulness-of-breath and lots of gladdening, at a certain point when I dipped into some depression.  Regardless, I am finding increasing success with recovering to joy much more quickly.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Distracted, obsessing about my new internship and life in general.  Had the thought that I am missing a peice of Rd's morality reccomendations.  I will try to do some of them tomorrow.  I think they are necessary to be able to truly 'let go' on the cushion.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/8/16 1:09 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/7/16 10:23 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.7

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Tried to apply supramundane view(s) to aid with the refocus process.  Helped a little bit.  Probably need to get used to holding/practicing this mindset.

-Rd's morality advice:  Start with realizing that your own individual life is not that important.  Then realize that all things are impermanent, including your body-mind on the micro, and the society you live in, on the macro.  Acknowledge that you do not need to conquer the world.  You do not need to prove anything.  Settle for less, virtue-wise (as Rd says, "how much time have you spent in jail?"- me "none"- him "okay, congrats, you qualify!").  Get back into this moment, breathing, adapting, knowing there is a path to unconditional happiness.  We are defying the software that has been installed through childhood.  The programs that tell us to do something important, get noticed, become immortal.  I can hear his voice in my head from last session- "You should really consider not wanting things, Noah!"

-Not much gladdening necessary.  First day of really getting serious about off-cushion mindfulness-of-breath.  It bears a strong resemblance to my noting practice.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  A lot of concentration from focusing on the breath in the day.  Best sit yet.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/9/16 2:56 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/8/16 3:57 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.8

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Wow, I can concentrate!  No past, no future, just the present breath, Samurai-Zen-style...  And the concentration continues off into the day.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Not as good as the past couple sits, but certainly still an upward trend.  There were a couple more instances of big unification of mind, which teach me interesting things about attention.

-Somewhat spotty mindfulness-of-breathing (M.O.B. from here on out) off-cushion.  Had a long busy day at work so it was hard.  But ultimately the daily life practice comes down to priorities.  I am going to have to sacrifice work performance in order to maintain M.O.B.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/9/16 11:45 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/9/16 6:05 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.9

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Improving concentration.  There is some feeling of tension as I "hold" the attention on the breath, but I have the feeling that this is a necessary growing pain for the development of what Culadasa calls 'metacognitive introspective awareness.'  I say this because when there isn't any tension, I am much more prone to distraction, which suggests to me less mindfulness (balance between awareness and attention) at those times.  Regardless, I was able to hold concentration on the breath for much of the 30 minutes.  The off-cushion efforts obviously work.  Furthermore, attending to the breath for longer and longer periods just seems like less of a big deal: somehow less draining than how I considered it before.

-Off-cushion m.o.b. is going well.  I am learning how to have two tv screens in my mind: one for the current activity, and one for the breath.  I have gladdened a couple times.  It is increasingly powerful, and hindrances increasingly fleeting.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Good continuity, less tension.  A period of getting lost in thought in the middle of the sit.  

-Some notes from a 90 minute skype with Rd:
          -People don't cling to facts (things they know are true), they only cling to views.
          -Views have the hindrance of doubt built right into them, which is why people argue for or against them.
          -The problem with what I've been doing, in terms of obsessing, on here and elsewhere, is that I've made decisions first and then looked at my mind.  What I need to do is look at my mind first, and then draw conclusions from my observations.  Specifically, I need to be looking at the way my intensity of obsessing and taking views is inherently stressful.
          -The Buddha highlighted six possible answers to a question: 1) Yes 2) No 3) Both 4) Neither 5) I don't know 6) The question is irrelevant/imponderable.
          -My real responsibility is to have a good life and be happy, not to be perfect.
          -The human mind is a bag of crap, we get it to a pure state just to see clearly how fallible we are.
          -The wiser one becomes, the less threatened by reality one feels.
          
          
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/10/16 11:35 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/10/16 9:14 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.10

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Some continuity, some time spent lost in thought, some combination (two tv's screens in the mind)... There was a period where time seemed to jump forward about ten minutes, which has happened a couple times in recent sits.

-Off-cushion m.o.b. is hard to maintain at my internship, which requires a lot of concentration for unfamiliar activities.  It is also hard to maintain in distracting transitions between activities.  I don't try to do it at hot yoga, because it would be too hard  Other than that, off-cushion m.o.b. is going decently well.

-I spent some time today 'looking' at the intensity of my mind without making a decision.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Very sleepy, but sat through it.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/12/16 12:10 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/11/16 8:39 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.11

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Had poor focus/clarity but really good continuity, which was interesting.  Continuity is really what I am currently training for anyway.  Rd stresses following the breath all the time,  but also mentions simultaneously doing lots of things having to do with vipassana and sila.  However, the "all the time" part of that equation is obviously the hardest part to achieve, so I figure I will mostly focus on that first.  I also spent some time in the sit nonjudgementally observing the creation of stress via thought patterns.  

-Best day of off-cushion m.o.b. so far.  Worked on allowing poor-quality focus in favor of continuity.  Was able to link together m.o.b. periods during distracting hours at my internship, and at my job.  It feels like a process of finding greater intention, and also re-prioritization.

-Spent some time examining the way my mind creates stress, without making a decision.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Excellent continuity, almost no forgetting.  This is stage 3 in Culadasa's system.  I had a very strong feeling of wanting to go back to childhood with the more adaptable mind I have now, and do 'growing up' all over again.  These are regrets at having been bipolar, I suppose.  I also had the emotional feelings of being a freshman in college again.  I spent some time in the sit just watching the grasping taking place.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/12/16 8:25 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/12/16 11:16 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.12

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Good continuity, poor focus.  In fact, when I do focus in more, I almost always get blindsided and lose continuity.  This is full "forgetting" in Culadasa's system, whereas "mind-wandering" is when the breath and the thought are in the mind at the same time.  

These sits the last couple days have been pretty lackluster, yet blatantly indicative of progress.  It feels like I am shaving into a peice of wood with a file, very slowly, over time (or building new brain pathways).  The continuity is actually better when I keep my eyes open and move around a little bit with my upper body.  This allows me to "stay on edge."  

Also, my posture is really improving!   I can get into Burmese/friendly position now, with just one zafu, and without crazy soreness or leg-sleepiness when I get up.  I noticed, mid-sit, that my reason for meditating is to eventually become superman: just an observation, no judgement.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Stage 4

-Off-cushion: Mindfulness of breath...  Hard while busy at work.  I need to become a slave to the breath to make this work, putting it above everything else.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/14/16 12:46 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/13/16 10:35 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.13

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Stage 4

-Off-cushion: Maintained breath in the periphery for most of the day, even in the distracting times like while at work or at yoga class.  Might be Stage 3?

-Tried Tsultrim Allione's "demon-feeding" protocol from her book, Feeding Your Demons, which just came in the mail.  Had interesting results.  Will try again tomorrow.  

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Stage 3... I had a realization regarding how separating the three trainings is holding me back.  I have been reading an interesting meditation blog by someone who has had a high degree of recent emotional transformation, and talks about the development of bodhicitta, and a palpable sense of interconnectedness.  This is absolutely a merging of the 'wisdom' and 'morality' axes.  

Rd's version of this merge is quite different from the one this person has experienced, yet is valid and wonderful in its own right.  I have the sense that I need to open up to this deeper possibility for my own practice, and actually begin to take all of his advice seriously, rather than just the stuff that gets through my "pragmatic dharma" filter.  The mind is, after all, one unit, with many intertwined parts.  

The separation of the three trainings is a useful cultural counterbalance and was upaya for the first part of my journey, but now it might be time to abandon the notion.  What Rd talks about is essentially emotional and psychological transformation that seamlessly interfaces with fundamental wisdom in such a way that they can't be clearly separated.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/15/16 3:50 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/14/16 1:29 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.14

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): I experimented with keeping my eyes closed, refusing to check the timer, keeping my back straight, and being completely still the whole time.  It added a whole other layer of intensity to the practice.  Also downgraded me to between stages 2 and 3.

-Did 2 more demon-feeding sessions.

-I'm trying to be open to the rest of Rd's instructions.  It's hard to explain how I feel.  I know that some good psycho-emotional transformation is possible, and it will be through the door of investigation.  Still integrating that with the continuity of m.o.b., as well as some gladdening to stave off agitation.  A complex formula, no doubt.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Kept eyes closed, back straight, physical stillness, and no timer checks.  Something about the extra discipline seems beneficial.  Stage 4 for most of the sit, with maybe 2 forgetting events.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/16/16 2:01 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/15/16 2:01 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.15

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Stage 3, same limitations with movement and vision, etc.  Time went by pretty fast and the discipline is empowering.  Metacognitive introspective awareness development feels like I have an offensive lineman in my mind blocking out distractions.  

-Good demon-feeding session.  Realized the child-self needed relaxation at a deeper level than its need for confidence.  Also, discovered another demon (older-sibling-archetype) which wanted control but needed power.  When I gave it this, it re-manifested as an ally, and asked me to summon the child-self.  All three of us dissolved into emptiness, and I had a strong fruition with palpable 'blips.'  I am getting good jhanic and a&p-type stuff each time I do these sessions, which I take as a good sign.  

-Off-cushion: About stage 3 most of the day.  I am setting an intention to be at stage 4 in daily life.  Gladdened a couple times.  Still a strong reflex from my work with it the past couple months.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Stage 5!?  My mind suddenly became absurdly quiet and continuous focus was easy but there was an ovbvious tendancy towards a pleasant dullness.  The antidote seemed to be the cultivation of metacognition, which I remembered reading in TMI.  The closest diagnostic proxies I have for this experience would be the shift into 1st jhana, or access concentration, or the 11th nana, but I truly have never experieced something exactly like this before.  There was also an a&p that seemed to reveal an insight into the emptiness of time, which was cool.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/17/16 9:13 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/16/16 9:06 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.16

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): My "stage 5!?" comment was probably a false alarm.  I think the quietness of mind (which is still persisting) is just an event within stage 4.  Reviewing that chapter of TMI, the goals are to redirect attention during gross distractions, tighten up attention during subtle distractions, and use an energy-raising antidote for subtle, progressive dullness.  Also, to slowly begin to develop metacognitive introspective awareness (mind aware of mind) for later stages.  I covered all these bases last night and this morning.  

-And yes, I am 'watching' the intensity of my mind as I strive to progress through Culadasa's stages.

-Off-cushion:  So today at my internship I was actually too happy, and I forgot to watch the breath for large swathes of time, or it simpy didn't feel like a priority.  It appears that the best moods for watching the breath are slightly happy, neutral, and slightly unhappy.  If I am too unhappy than I need to gladden the mind.  

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Had to do walking meditation because I was too sleepy.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/18/16 10:06 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/17/16 9:15 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.17

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Didn't hold the back straight, but still maintaining no timer checks.  Solid stage 4.  I expect that I simply need to practice the effort of guarding against forgetting for some days or weeks before it becomes automatic, then I will be in stage 5.  It is useful to maintain the perspective that I am only using Culadasa's system as a vehicle to amplify my efforts in Rd's instructions.  

-Demon-feeding:  I remembered past rejections which triggered a sinking chest feeling.  This feeling projected the same black, insect-like demon from before but he felt more familiar this time.  I asked the same questions (want? need? meeting need?) and got the same answers (power.  freedom-from-pressure.  relaxation & joy), but they were stronger and deeper this time.  I kept feeding him love till he dissolved, and then felt a force arise, and a huge blue face appeared on my mental screen.  Looking right into his eyes, I felt a god-like, knowing presence.  This ally told me that he would help me by offering me support from outside of my mind, due to all the confusion and obsessing that goes on within it.

-Off-cushion:  I discovered that I actually can maintain mindfulness of breath in hot yoga class.  It helps me not tense up and surprisingly increases my energy.  The basic motto for daily life meditation is "I am a yogi first, and a friend, son, employee (and all other things) second."  From here one can do the intense, resolution-type thinking that MCTB inspires; "how many days, weeks, or months will it take me to advance through these stages?  What if I devote all of my extra energy of attention, during waking consciousness, to this process?  Such effort and devotion is possible, and people do it to become experts in lots of other disciplines, so why not meditation?"  This is the bottom line.   

-30 min., anapanasati (night)
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Jean B, modified 6 Years ago at 3/17/16 6:42 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/17/16 6:42 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 212 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Thanks for keeping you diary. I just want to let you know that this particular thread helps me keeping motivation to sit daily following Culadasa's guidelines.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/17/16 10:44 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/17/16 10:44 PM

RE: A New Path

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Jean B.:
Thanks for keeping you diary. I just want to let you know that this particular thread helps me keeping motivation to sit daily following Culadasa's guidelines.

Sweet!  And right back at ya, this type of feedback helps me too.  Thanks Jean.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/19/16 1:45 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/18/16 9:59 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.18

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Part of me was too agitated to maintain the posture and stillness, but I did stay on the cushion for the duration.  Oddly enough, despite the negative energy, sustaining stage 4 continuity was easy.

-Off-cushion: I got really frustrated after failing to continuously focus on the breath at my internship again.  Its totally possible, but I keep not doing it.  I realized that my OCD demon was kicking in, which brings me to...

-Demon-feeding: Did 2 demons, libido and OCD.  I realized my libido demon is a different one than romantic insecurity, which is what I've been working with thus far.  My libido demon wanted to get laid, needed to feel its energy balanced/harmonized with other energies, and will feel under control when it gets what it needs.  It transformed into an ally of confidence that would help me by unlocking my own sociall freedom in a balanced way.  My OCD demon wanted things to be perfect, needed to feel confidence that its efforts would be enough, and will feel ease when it gets what it needs.  It transformed into an ally of balance that would help me by bringing out my mind's ability to harmonize its efforts.  Both of these meditations were very shallow and I expect them to become more powerful and deep over time.


-30 min., anapanasati (night):  I think I've been in Reobservation since five pm today, which is why I was obsessing earlier, and why I got up halfway throuh the sit, and completed it laying down in bed.
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tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago at 3/18/16 1:51 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/18/16 1:51 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
noah,
at this rate you will be at stage 8-10 in no time.

i need to work on my off-the-mat sati and your attempts and journaling are a good motivator, thanks for that.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/19/16 11:57 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/19/16 11:57 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
tom moylan:
noah,
at this rate you will be at stage 8-10 in no time.

i need to work on my off-the-mat sati and your attempts and journaling are a good motivator, thanks for that.


Thanks Tom, I appreciate that.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/20/16 4:51 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/19/16 1:30 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.19

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Too physically agitated to sit on the cushion, so I moved to a chair.  Mentally I was fine, oddly.  Concentration was Stage 3.  I had an insight experience (as Culadasa would call it) about how my mind creates a lot of trouble for itself by calling up worries when there is nothing happening.  It was similar to every path shift I've had, which has always involved a part of my mind permanently agreeing not to fuck with the overall system anymore.  Instead of thinking dualistically about ((mind system))<-->((outside world)), these insights seem to be only about ((sub-mind)<-->(sub-mind)), with no mention of the outside world.   The damage in path moments occurs when ((sub-mind)<--X-->(other sub-minds/mind-sysem)). This particular experience was not nearly 'loud' enough to do permanent damage, but seemed worth noting.

-Off-cushion: Some m.o.b. at work.

-
30 min., anapanasati (night)
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/21/16 4:10 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/20/16 4:54 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.20

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  I seem to be squarely back at Stage 3.  The past 3 to 4 days have involved more emotional agitation, and I have phased gladdening the mind back in.  Physical restlessness has also increased, making it harder to maintain discipline with posture, motion, and time-checks.  Regardless, I feel that I am gaining more maturity and understanding with regards to how to 'push' for progress with anapanasati, both on and off-cushion, without driving myself crazy (which is part of why I'm so agitated).

-Session with Richard:  We covered so much stuff and I feel like I had a breakthrough, but I'll just go through some highlights...
          -He says he told Bhante V about Buddhaghosa's charlatanism years ago, while Bhante was still a Mahasi person.
          -The 12 links of dependent origination are NOT in order, and they are not across 3 lifetimes.  Just like the anapanasati, they are listed in a certain order that came up in a particular conversation (MN 9), but in reality they manifest and function out of order.  Specifically, there are 2 types of 'formations' as talked about in this sutta.  New formations are those things in the environment that give rise to consciousness.  Old formations are our ingrained tendancies from childhood that color our vision of these new formations.  Also, the only order that makes sense is that consciousness arises momentarily, when it detects something (vs other interpretations which say that various things cause consciousness to arise, which is a decidedly Hindu view).  Bodily formations=stress in the body.
          -He said Dhamma teaching is like college.  The really enlightened people are the professors and the active teachers are the grad students.  Just like in college where the grad students are the ones that actually do the teaching.  I described various perceptual shifts to him, such as luminosity, and asked him to interpret this.  He said "a lot of grad students yapping," which I thought was hilarious.  
          -There are 4 types of clinging in MN 9.  They correspond to the 4 instincts of psychology: clinging to self=survival instinct, clinging to views=territorial instinct, clinging to rights & rituals=nesting instinct, clinging to sensual desire=reproductive instinct.  I am realizing that this is a complete teaching.  It is really fucking far from pragmatic dharma.  It is not 'perceptual' training at a different level from 'psychodynamics', etc.  As Richard said to me tonight, "if you could train yourself to be really happy, would you want to be enlightened?  Enlightenment is for the miserable."  I had other various epiphanies that took place in the body in some sense.
          -With pragmatic dharma I thought that Buddhim was a series of mental exercises, nothing more.  I am now realizing that it is mental exercises AND mental decisions about one's world.  This is the integration between meditation and morality.  Both involve repeated practice of a certain mental habit until it becomes permanent.  But Richard's enlightenment involves more centrally the mental decisions to just be happy (along with the understanding of the way things are), and secondarily any mental exercises involving perception alone.  Richard has me seriously considering just letting myself be happy.
          -He also said that the way I've been practicing is no good because I've been trying too hard.  Just "never mind, start again" and guide the mind back to the breath.
          -The big aspect I noticed tonight is that Richard's approach just isn't that complicated.  Its almost as if all the exquisitely detailed mapping and technique-adjusting is over-thinking the whole thing.  Obviously these are both just lenses.
          -Finally, we discussed pragmatic dharma for the first time, including the ideas of the 16 nanas and the vipassana jhanas.  I was amazed when he said that I should take the system I already know, if it helped me (even though he's anti-Mahasi/anti-Buddhaghosa) and fuse them together.  He really has no dog in the fight.

-
30 min., anapanasati (night)
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/22/16 4:09 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/21/16 4:17 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.21

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Not-self experiences cutting through witness.  Floaty wisps on the mental screen.  Following the breath without too much effort (which Richard corrected me on last night).  Gladdening to practice enjoying the moment.  Knowing that the hindrances have decreased a huge amount in just a couple months, acknowledging that this is Richard's metaphor of building new pathways through the forest and letting the old ones become overgrown.  Realizing that the elimination of the hindrances requires the practice of mental decisions (i.e. investigation and right view), not just mental exercises (i.e. anapanasati and gladdening).  

-Most students outside of pragmatic dharma are too Buddhist/dogmatic.  I am too 'hardcore dharma' in my efforts to separate the trainings.  I actually need to move towards the center.  I sort of opened up to Richard last night, admitting that I was afraid to give up mapping and a technical approach to the dhamma because I think I'll stop progressing and stay at my current level of psycho-emotional development.  Ironically, to progress forward, this fear/intense-motivation is the thing that needs to be deconstructed, examined, and dropped.

-Demon-feeding meditation:  Did OCD, libido and insecurity.  OCD had a clear appearance to me for the first time.  He was a short, dark green demon with six arms (like Shiva) and a mask over his nose and mouth (like a Gundam robot).  The corresponding ally seemed to embody 'efficacy' and appeared a translucent, yellowish, short, skinny figure.  Although I haven't discussed this practice with Richard yet, it seems to be in line with the goal of becoming free from the hindrances.

-Opening up to some of Richard's psychological approaches while at work, and after.  One thing that is clear to me is that there are certain things which continue to terrify me, such as getting too stressed out or being sleep deprived.  Importantly, these are outdated maps from times when I was much lower functioning.  Richard says the wiser you get the less threatened you feel by reality.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  I can tell where this training is headed... I'm going to get really good at not creating extra problems for myself.
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Jean B, modified 6 Years ago at 3/21/16 10:52 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/21/16 10:52 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 212 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
Noah:
Following the breath without too much effort


I've found out it's a much more sustainable strategy, as it allows for less tension and more space / meta-awareness. By not excluding all but the breath, paraxodically this one remains at the forefront more easily. One of my current investigations is to find balance between seeing more details of the breath while keeping a fair amount of space and awareness of surroundings.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/22/16 4:11 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/22/16 4:11 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Jean:

I've found out it's a much more sustainable strategy, as it allows for less tension and more space / meta-awareness. By not excluding all but the breath, paraxodically this one remains at the forefront more easily. One of my current investigations is to find balance between seeing more details of the breath while keeping a fair amount of space and awareness of surroundings.


True true.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/23/16 1:09 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/22/16 1:41 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.22

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  I shifted into high eq and detected the usual expectation of a fruition, and with it, the hope of the next 'path moment/path shift.'  Relating this to the Buddha's 'clinging to self' and psychology's 'self-preservation mechanism,' I released it, and zoomed up into an even more impressive high eq.  When I came out of it, I gladdened the mind and noticed that I can be perfectly happy and joyful in a variety of states.  It is my maps, from stress and trauma, that tell me differently.  I also examined my concept of 'physio-energetic development,' and the idea that all permanent change comes from a fruition event.  I asked myself if I could consider other types of permanent change, on different levels than the perceptual/energetic (psychological and emotional).  The answer was yes.  Was focused on the breath all the while.

-What if it turned out that I could control how I feel, to a degree; to a sufficient degree that I could just be happy?  And what if a big part of the path is just learning how to simply not care?

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  A moment of clarity where I realized I can not force progression, and need not beat myself up.  The decision to re-engage the breath with joy in the effort, rather than as a chore.  Watching patterns of fear and obsession manifest in mind and body.  Feeling sadness as I realized those close to me will someday die.  Choosing to breathe withn this sadness, and knowing that I will do the same when such things happen.  Accepting that I too will someday die.  Breathing all the while.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/23/16 10:58 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/23/16 9:18 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.23

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Happy to apply effort, return to the breath.

-Off-cushion: Investigating mindstates.  Examining the premise that happiness is a decision.  Returning to the breath without the pressure to map myself, lost in the moment.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Examining my restlessness as an early childhood map.  Choosing to be at ease on the cushion.  Training for purposeful relaxation from the breath.  Celebrating the remembrance of the meditaton object. 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/24/16 11:26 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/24/16 9:25 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.24

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Celebrating the return to the breath.  Gladdening when the hindrances arise.  Intentionally allowing the breath to calm my mind.  Investigating the impulse to conceptualize, and the resistance of it.

-I e-mailed Richard a somewhat wordy question about the balance between emotionally neutral investigation and an attitude of joy and/or optimism.  His reply was simple, "be delighted with what you find and enjoy the hunt    tally-ho the thought!"

-Richard's instructions have driven me crazy all day today.  Investigate, but don't decide.  Just be happy.  These things should not be so hard.  But I hate being in the moment without a goal.  That will take some getting used to.  Blah blah blah.  I can already see myself ramping up again.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Moments of clarity regarding middle way ("stop punishing yourself!"), and impermanence ("this time in history, expanded to all of human history, expanded to all of earth's history, expanded to infinity").  Refused to make the breath focus into a stressor.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/26/16 12:31 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/25/16 9:39 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.25

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Boiling off performance-measurement tendancies, hardcore-dharma-sankharas, etc.  Celebrating remembrance.  Experiencing emotional pain in my chest area with curiosity.

-Session with Richard:  Richard helped me sort out some of my conflict over goal orientation.  Basically, the point is to be in the moment.  The here-now is what matters.  The moment is totally worthwhile and valuable, in-and-of itself, and independent of future enlightenment.  The more I grok this the less dissonance I will feel in terms of goals and watching the breath.  Fuck maps.  Fuck my past experience (simultaneously acknowledging it was useful at the time).  Fuck stages and states.  I am investigating my mind as I write this.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  I value the moment, till I don't.  Then I gladden.  I get distracted.  I fear things that are not in the moment.  I realize this, return, and celebrate.  Repeat.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/27/16 1:40 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/26/16 11:18 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.26

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  In. The. Moment.  the hindrances will fade, and rearise.  The see will saw.

-Off-cushion:  In the present moment, there is less suffering than there was previously.  Whistle while you work (one of Richard's catchphrases).  Big a&p today, intensified mental process... looking with humor.  Is the breath available?  Yeah.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  I am hesitant to write about what is happening, for fear of tainting it.  Yet, old habits die hard.  There is an increasing familiarity with the moment that does not carry an agenda with it, where previous techniques did.  Noting had nana progression.  Even actualism was paired with a sense of expectation.  This feels different.  Its probably just the hindranes decreasing.  I'm always so dramatic in how I view my practice.  Tally-ho!
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/27/16 11:13 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/27/16 3:22 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.27

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Felt calm and present.  Stayed completely still, no time checks.  Had something like "Nirodha lite" towards the end, which didn't seem significant.  

-Further thoughts on Richard's bodywork:  I am considering a re-attempt at some of Richard's bodywork suggestions, since I have been making new progress with other aspects of his teaching.  The idea of reversing automatic gesticulation and facial-expression tendencies seems to be 2fold: 1) greater clarity in investigating the impulses behind these movements, and 2) that the hindrances express themselves on a purely physical level, and should can 'tossed out' (as he would say).  It really is an advanced teaching, because to take advantage of it, one has to already have their mind pretty cleaned-up.  Otherwise, it just becomes another rule (which is what I discovered in my previous attempt).  P.s.- it doesn't stop with the limbs and face, there are also the whole body exercises involving movement and stillness described up-thread.

-Off-cushion: Today is a rare day off (2 jobs lately=working 7 days).  A notable aspect of my experience is my inability to do nothing stress free.  One of the first things Richard told me is that Westerners suck at doing nothing, whereas Thai people are good at it.  He also told me that reality is a flood.  In other words, there is ample entertainment and engagement to be had, moment by moment, for the well trained mind.  I hope to someday be able to sit and veg out in a carefree manner!

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Watching watching watching.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/29/16 5:02 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/28/16 11:31 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.28

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  There is some automatic processing occuring... Can I choose to be happy, to be easily entertained?  Even when doing nothing?  The "yes" answer is finding a foothold at a deeper level, and with that, an increased commitment to happily following the breath.

-Off-cushion:  I have had an increase in baseline mindfulness since Saturday.  In Richards model this would probably be a result of new brain pathways.  Could be just a phase.  We'll see if it stays.

There is obsessing, and some desire to control things.  This new way of thinking helps to guide me through these storms.  There is the option to be stupidly happy in the moment despite all the mess in my mind.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Sleepiness.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/30/16 2:59 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/29/16 1:26 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.29

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Good concentration.  Noticing subtle tendencies to go back to mapping and effort as opposed to joyfully unburdened and in the moment.  Trusting and celebrating the process, even though it has slowed down since I stopped the Herculean effort.

-Off-cushion: Stressful shift at work, but feeling very bolstered by increased mindfulness and joy the past few days.  Eventually I will start to amp up my attention to the breath again, but for now I can tell that the exercise is tied in with hindrance, so I'm just staying present without too much extra focus.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  A very mediocre sit, and thats okay.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 3/30/16 9:30 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/30/16 9:53 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.30

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Sleep-deprived, constricted breathing, distracted thinking.

-Off-cushion: There was a realization about cause-and-effect vs magical thinking... Here's an example: I thought hatha yoga would fix my posture, but only practicing posture does that.  Likewise, I thought thinking would make me focus on the breath, but only mindfulness does that.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Sleepy, obsessing about how to concentrate on breath, celebrating, being mindful
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/1/16 12:15 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/31/16 9:20 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
3.31

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Concentration is a little better this morning.  I've been in Stage 2 of Culadasa since I dropped the tense mapping two Sundays ago.  The thing that was allowing me to progress through the stages was NOT being in the moment and instead keeping some awareness of what had just happnened (reviewing whether I was distracted or not), and what will happen next (constant resolve to stay on the breath continuously).  But I am way happier doing things this way, the progress is just slower.

-Off-cushion:  Returned to the breath a decent amount, gladdened a lot, and noticed that I was way less agitated in a tense scenario than I have been in the past.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Slow going at times, this path.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/1/16 9:38 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/1/16 10:02 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.1

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): decent concentration

-Off-cushion: Pretty good day for mindfulness and gladdening.  Agitation arose continuously but it was swiftly gladdened away.  I'm aware of that emptiness inside of me, and am starting to see the times when I feel like I have filled it, i.e. bouts of mania, feelings of confidence or success, imagining positive future outcomes, etc.  True knowledge is a clear picture, not an action.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  A good one.  For gladdening, I tried the phrase "breathe in pleasure" rather than "breathe in joy."  I feel like pleasure matches more closely the type of completeness I am looking to feel with this particular technique.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/3/16 2:08 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/2/16 11:43 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.2

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Very much in the moment.  I investigated arising anger, then it stopped, then I wondered what it would be like to be without anger most of the time (this is the conditional statement to stop all the reader comments from rushing in), as Richard is.  I feel the hole inside, that all of us have, and I wonder if mine is closer to the surface, making me more aware of it on a moment-by-moment basis, than the average person's.  It can only be filled by true knowledge, but what does that really mean?  Time to talk to Richard again.

-I feel like I'm damned if I do try to fill-in the emptiness, and damned if I don't.  See-saw.

-10 min., brahma-viharas (night):  Thought of my dog, Sophie, who died last year, most of the time.  It was powerful: felt like someone blew a shotgun hole in my chest.  Started crying at one point.  Then directed compassion towards myself: how I've had some trouble making friends in Seattle since I've been here.  I think I'll portion a part of every meditation like this for the time being.  

-20 min., anapanasati (night)
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/4/16 12:21 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/3/16 10:58 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.3

-10mBV/20mAPS (morning): For BV's, felt heart chakra expanding, it was relaxing and melting.  Used memories of my dog again.  Brought this physical relaxation into APS portion.

-Rd says to build cathedral walls around the emptiness inside.  This emptiness is not what we are.  The very question of "what we are" is one of the imponderables (or at least intertwined with them).  Rather, it is our state of being/our perspective on things: what we can know.  Thus it occurs to me, that a big part of the Dhamma is the decision to not let the state of emptiness get me down/interfere with my happiness.  Amidst all the celebrations and the shittiness's, amidst the feelings of confidence and despair, can I look into the hole and smile?

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Sleepy.

Abbreviations:
Let BV=Brahma-Viharas
MOB=Mindfulness of Breath
APS=Anapanasati
OC=Off-cushion
m=minutes
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/5/16 11:40 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/4/16 1:50 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.4

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  I'm bored, but more happy than I've been (I have to admit) emoticon

-Off-cushion:  Some degree of mania at work, went with it instead of fearing the 'come down,' which was new for me.  Also succeeded at integrating the mania with the mindfulness of breath, since they are usually mutually exclusive.

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Very sleepy this time, what the hell??.

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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/6/16 10:01 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/5/16 1:12 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.5

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Some restlessness, some tracking of my progress (I'd like to think I'm getting better at mindfulness-of-breath all the time), some epiphanies regarding the workings of my mind, decent mindfulness... etc.

-Off-cushion: Remembered the breath quite a bit today, I got to a point where I felt satisfied with the day's work, haha.

-anapanasati (night):  I fell asleep halfway through.  I shoulda just bucked up and done walking meditation... But this is a small example of the messiness that needs to be celebrated in all of our lives.

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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/6/16 10:33 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/6/16 10:03 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.6

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Did walking meditation halfway through due to sleepiness.  In the moment for almost all of it.  Noticed lots of things which wanted real estate in my mind, including analysis of my meditation: was able to let them go.

-Every so often I have either a fruition, a strong a&p, or a side-effect from a high eq, in which I sort of spontaneously recall the 'technical 4th path' realization that I had under Ron in July.  It goes something like this; this moment is all there is, all there ever will be, and the only 'me' that exists, is completely interconnected with this moment, and will never exist, in any way, at all separate from it.  

I just had an event like this, in the shower, that seemed to finally (after months of effort) be building on this realization.  The add-on seems to be; this moment is all there is, AND I can definitely be joyful about it!  Yipee.

-Going from working in a restaurant to an office is friggin stressful.  The days are longer and less entertaining.  There is more variance in the tasks required, and my degree of interest in those tasks.  In short, whatever latent add-ishness I have inside is flaring up.  

There is something to do about this.  First off is understanding that all overflowing stress in non-dangerous situations is unnecessary.  Secondly, understand that it is possible to consistently create positive emotions to over-ride this stress.  Also, as I continue to stay in the moment, and get used to working in an office, it will get easier to do so over time.  Finally, be willing to not come to a conclusion, not have sense of certainty about any of this, and to take it day by day.   

-30 min., anapanasati (night): Something happened in this session.  I wont write about it unless it sticks though emoticon
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/8/16 8:34 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/7/16 9:57 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.7

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): good concentration

-I'm having some thoughts on intimacy and human connection.  Specifically, I have not internalized that people are not better or worse, but just different.  For this reason I am stuck in my head comparing myself and others and not out there being healthily involved.  It seems like ranking and judging is a safety net I use to navigate an otherwise impossibly large and complex environment that I feel blind and exposed to.  But this mess is definitely the way things are, and having a proper and joyful view of it is a good idea.  Just some investigation of how I tick.  I don't necessarily need to do anything beyond that, right now.  

-Main points from session with Dhammarato tonight:
          -He is a Dhamma teacher, not a meditation teacher.  The path to happiness is a direct one that acts on getting happiness where it is needed, which obviously extends far beyond the meditation cushion.  Meditation needs to be contextualized as a piece of the puzzle.  
          -We talked about my internship, and my future career in HR: the importance of finding an ethical balance between pleasing my employers and treating employees well.  It could be an opportunity to practice the Dhamma in the form of making other people happy, if I do it right and I am selective about what companies I work for.  
          -The thoughts on human connection I've been having is basically just the feeling of metta.  I don't need to do anything special to build this feeling, it will happen naturally on its own as I practice investigation, mindfulness, and joy.  Basically as my mind gets cleaned out I will have more space to experience an emotional link with others (without letting their clutter into my mind).  Seems to be a balancing act, but I am currently weighted towards isolation, so I think I can afford a little connection :p
          -He shared a lot about history, culture, economics and science.  I notice that this makes me feel insecure because I have a pretty shitty fund of knowledge.  I am toying with the possibility that the Dhamma involves understanding the world and being smart in ways that I lack natural propensities for.  

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  It was not really a meditation because I walked around and did simple tasks, but that was the only way I wouldn't fall asleep.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/9/16 12:01 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/8/16 10:07 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.8

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  I was doing a lot of thinking as I am in the midst of processing new ideas from Richard last night.

-How is reading the news/understanding the world part of the Dhamma?  In the past I have usually had an idea of what an 'educated, informed and smart person' is.  I have associated this with 'maturity' and through that 'status' and 'power.'  All of these ideas are basically just hindrance, blocking me from being open to life.  Understanding the world is about actually curiosity; a willingness to learn about things as they are because the Dhamma is the process of joyfully investigating facts.  There is no need to make any conclusions, or even see patterns or draw themes together.  I don't need to be smart.  This is my early stage of investigating this premise.

I feel a similar theme arising in relation to my career.  Right now, I am just trying to not be too stressed out and 'get through it.'  Meanwhile Richard is talking to me about ethics, which seems daunting to me right now.  However, the only reason it is so is that I feel all this irrational fear that is shutting me out to the flood of information that is reality.  If I can just open up to it and be a little bit curious (which is really the only way to be anyway), practicing supramundane right livelihood might not seem like such a big deal.

-45 min., anapanasati (night):  It was at a meditation group.  I ignored the instructions and did anapanasati.  There was a strong a&p, and within it the question of what needs to change/open up to reach the next level of awakening.  The answer seemed to be that my very soul or essence needs to be morphed in some way such that I will no longer recognize myself.  Seems like it was just some a&p bullshit, lol.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/10/16 2:27 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/9/16 10:14 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.9

-30 min., anapanasati (morning): Solid.

-I feel like I should write about what happened on Wednesday night (and since), before I forget about it haha.  I was meditating and a thought about spatial-processing/luminosity came to me, and I realized that I don't have to extend my awareness to reach objects 'out there,' but rather pop the bubble that is in my head, and let my awareness naturally float.  It felt like a white-plasma-light-bomb-cloud oozed/pulsed out from within my skull and suddenly my body and sensory processes felt a lot lighter.  

Since this event, it has remained to some degree in waking hours, at differing levels of intensity (but frequently very subtle).  There seems to be both a sensory processing component, as some boundary between inside/outside was popped, making external reality some more vivid, big, and real, as well as an emotional compenent, making me have increased spontaneous joy looking at flowers, or typing at a keyboard, or doing whatever.  We'll see if it sticks, I'm not attached to it because I'm more focused on anapana.  

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  I was out drinking beforehand, which has an unusual, stimulant-like effect on my mind.  Its amazing how impatient I am, considering how much work I have done and what relative success I have had.  Yet there is also a very prominent degree of improvement, along multiple axes, as of late.  I need not complain...  but just sayin' dude.  WHY AM I SO IMPATIENT WTF!!?? Lol.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/11/16 12:15 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/10/16 11:29 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.10

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  I got distracted a lot.

-Off-cushion: Good returning and staying in the present.  Spontaneous joy and a sense of my awareness extending 'out there,' but without analysis of this phenomenon.  

I had an epiphany about how lust differs from libido, and how these instincts really are hangovers from history which will never go away.  One can choose to not let them interfere with happiness though.

I am also having some thoughts about how to interact with mushroom culture people, which I think I will post to my sandbox thread.

-45 min., anapanasati (night):  I went to a meditation and discussion with Seattle's Triratna community.  Everyone was very nice.  The sit had solid concentration mixed with solid impatience.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/11/16 11:12 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/11/16 5:36 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.11

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  I tried to sit with good posture, stillness and eyes closed.  Some success.  The bodywork is a longer term project for me.  I only really have access to it in the best of states.

-Off-cushion: Agitation rampant.  Smiling into the hole.

-Went to a meditation group tonight in Thich Nhat Hanh's tradition.  It is probably the coolest group I've found thus far (I've been to seven in Seattle so far lol).  There was a structured sharing session, no cultishness, little dogmatism, and a lot of authentic friendliness.  

-60 min., anapanasati (night):  Group meditation gathering.  Good mind-body stillness.  I wasn't impatient at all tonight, which is probably partially due to being in eq, but also due to how I've been training.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/13/16 12:23 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/12/16 7:18 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.12

-I went to a lunchtime meditation group this morning which turned out to be cancelled.  That logistic fucked over my schedule, thus I didn't get to meditate this morning.

-The lust thing that I wrote about in another thread seems to be 'working.'  It just feels like that extra inch of space that allows one to see more clearly.  Almost like I don't 'believe in' my desires as much: that satisfying them will make me happy, etc.  In no way do I believe that I have found the objective truth, but rather just another way of seeing that frees (to quote Rob Burbea).  

-Also, the perceptual shift that happened last week is staying!  Its subtle, but evidently different whenever I tune into it and sometimes when I don't.  There is just a vastness or presence to the quality of space that wasn't there before, and a palpable sense of relationship with that quality that allots me a certain natural happiness. 

-Both of these 'shifts' will have to stand the test of time in order to be considered significant.  I will make an effort to periodically check back over the weeks and months to see if that has come to pass.

-30 min., anapanasati (night):  Solid.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/13/16 11:43 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/13/16 9:43 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.13

-30 min., anapanasati (morning):  Medium concentration

-Thought of a lot more things regarding lust, and the supramundane 8folds.  In a certain way, sexuality has become like a reilgion for me.  There are certain aspects that I 'worship,' which define my values and worldview.  I have certain rules that I abide by about the way things must go.  The list could go on.  Another 'religion' that I follow is mapping and conceptualizing.  My topic is spirituality, but my piety to this process is really the religion for me.  

I do not want, or need to be celibate.  Likewise, I don't want or need to stop meditating.  In both cases, the thing causing stress is not the activity being stressed over.  DROP THE PROCESS OF THINKING AND FEELING, not the activity itself.  I am very committed to being happy.  I now believe that happiness is inevitable for me, as I lower my bar for success, and increase my ability to bring myself a private joy independent of conditions.  

-60 min., anapanasati (night): Went to a Rinzai Zen group.  Did a lot of obsessing.  Kept returning to the moment.  Pretty continuously concentrated these days, but I do get what Culadasa would consider 'forgetting,' frequently.  I don't really care though.  Dropping stress there, and in other areas.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/14/16 11:29 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/14/16 10:09 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.14

-40 min, morning: Less sexuality.  Less mapping.  Less thinking.  Less stress.

-My internship was tough today.  I have add-ish tendencies that could be solved by taking psychostimulants, but I also feel like I could crush these obstacles through massive gladdening, and determination instead.  It involves more work, and is not "the right answer," since there is no right answer beyond not indulging and not self-flagellating.  The easier path of taking meds, and the harder one of retraining my brain, are both valid 'middle-way' options, in my opinion.  

I am also encountering this ambiguity in daily-life chores.  Do I diet, exercise and clean, or eat junk food, sit around, and leave messes?  It doesn't matter, there is no answer; either path could lead to my practice goals of cultivating joy and mindfulness.  In fact, these issues have little to do with spirituality, yet I am someone who requires a cohesive view of all efforts in life.

For now I am going to try the disciplined end of things, and use gladdening to see it through.  

-45 min, night: Was at a group led by Tuere Sala, who is a teacher under Rodney Smith of Seattle IMS.  Her talk was pretty mushroomy, and my sit was flooded with thoughts that I have posted above.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/16/16 11:10 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/15/16 9:30 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.15

-40 min, morning:  As thoughts of various tasks and projects arose, I had to gladden the mind and explain to myself that I can just get started on these things rather than delaying them; they don't pose me any actual threat, other than the stress reactions that I am training myself out of.  

I am starting to sit cross legged on the cushion again, after a two week break due to sore knees.  This time I am providing more pillow-age.  Its definitely going to take months to get to half lotus, despite all the yoga I've been doing.

40 minutes seems to provide the opportunity for deeper levels of concentration, especially when I don't check the time, which I didn't in this session.  Kept returning to the breath, as always.

-Off-cushion: Did lots of deep breathing and gladdening at the internship and it worked!  Also after.  Today was much better than previous internship shifts.

-40 min, night
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/17/16 12:58 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/16/16 11:14 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.16

-40 min, morning:  Mania arose.  I sliced out the feeling and enjoyed it, but threw out the ego-story part.

-Off-cushion:  anapana & gladdening

-Session with Richard:  He talked more about being a compassionate HR professional.  Also about teaching retreats and monastery politics.  

-40 min, night: Practicing posture & stillness.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/18/16 12:39 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/17/16 4:50 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.17

-40 min, morning:  Exploring many (50?) shades of joy, seen through the lens of the breath.

-Here's some new(ish) things I'm working on, in no order:
  • GTD (Getting Things Done) quickly and with big joy.
  • Sustaining joy throughout the day at my internship.
  • Mudita:  Sharing joy with others via smiling at strangers, making my customers happy at the restaurant, making more active & lively conversation with people.
  • Upper body posture- to eventually assist with sitting meditation.
  • Lower body flexibility- to get to half-lotus.
  • Averting my gaze when I start drooling at women on the street (aka not being creepy).
  • Not obsessing- less talking and typing out my opinions, interpretations & storylines.
  • Gradually increasing cushion time.
  • Not moving or checking the time on-cushion.
  • Savoring positive emotions as isolated from egoic storylines.
All these things involve habit formation, in the way Richard describes it; let the old pathways become over-grown, and create new super-highways.

-Went to the local Triratna's sangha night again.  Did anapanasati for 20 minutes there.  Talked a bit of Dhamma with some nice folks.  One woman was impressed by my sitting regimen (hooray I get credit lol).

-40 min, night:  Had to mix in walking meditation because of sleepiness.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/19/16 3:02 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/18/16 11:09 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.18

-40 min, morning

-50 min., night: At the local Rinzai temple.

-15 min., night: Stopped early to sleep since I meditated earlier.

-Off-cushion: Practiced a lot of Mudita today, smiled and made conversation with fellow hatha yogis, coworkers, customers, and friends/strangers while out for drinks.  I am taking a positive attitude towards various things as a vehicle for the emotion, rather than buying into a foolish optimism.  This seems to work as a means to an end.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 3:15 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/19/16 3:27 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.19

-40 min, morning:  Interesting to watch my concentration deepening over the weeks (on and off cushion)...  My sits aren't perfectly Culadasa-classifiable, in the sense of no mind wanders at all, yet there is a strengthened groove or reflex to be with the breath, alongside regular distractions occuring.

-40 min., night:  Observed fatigue from my first springtime sun exposure today.  Led to a thought about how this body will die.  Then thought about how this mind will die.  Then thought about how none of this is real: felt like a spear through my soul.  A wave of cool bliss rippled through me.  Somehow this stuff feels 'deeper' than the perceptual stuff I've worked on previously.  

-Off-cushion: Self-control is new for me.  Using the breath I can focus the mind, still and straighten the body, and control my moods.  Obsessing and horniness are still problems but they can be 'dampened' via investigation.  I have always been attracted to asceticism and am a huge Taungpulu Sayadaw fan.  I feel like I am actually gaining some of this power with my newfound discipline.  I also feel like that statement is my ego grasping at immortality.

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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 12:00 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 7:03 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.20

-I talked to a shrink today who said no to psychostimulants.  Based on my records I'm probably 86'd from getting them forever.  This put the final seal on any hope of escape from the path of discipline through the Dhamma that I have started.  I now have no choice but to train my brain to be really fucking patient and joyful all the time!  Oh what a joy haha!

-Not obsessing to others is not enough.  I think I am going to stop talking about myself entirely.  That will exclude this practice log.  Hopefully self-asborption tendencies will disappear over time.

-40 min., afternoon: Sat in the sunny park emoticon 

-40 min., night
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/22/16 12:22 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 10:24 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.21

-40 min, morning

-Off-cushion:  Discovered 1 hr of desk work to 10 minutes of break ratio (waiving a lunch hour) allows me to work a 9 to 5 office job without the hindrances interfering.  The shrink also gave me a beta blocker which happens to reduce physical anxiety reactions.  Worked well with the schedule modifications.  Interesting to note that none of these options would even be available without all the progress I've made so far (technical 4th, anapana, etc.).

-40 min., night:  Went to the Seattle IMS group again.  The teacher gave a solid talk and I forced myself to interact joyfully with others after, which felt really good.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 11:25 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 11:25 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 605 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Noah:
-40 min., night:  Observed fatigue from my first springtime sun exposure today.  Led to a thought about how this body will die.  Then thought about how this mind will die.  Then thought about how none of this is real: felt like a spear through my soul.

Curious: None of this is real? Which bits, in your opinion? 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 11:57 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 11:57 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Hey Stirling,  I was just describing a thought I had during meditation, rather than a deeply held belief.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 12:25 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 12:25 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 605 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Noah:
Hey Stirling,  I was just describing a thought I had during meditation, rather than a deeply held belief.
Ah... fair enough. Just thinking that our obscurations aren't real, certainly, but, having seen the dharmakaya for myself, I must say "THIS IS IT" is correct and it's VERY real. emoticon 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 7:37 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/21/16 7:37 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Stirling:

I must say "THIS IS IT" is correct and it's VERY real. emoticon 


I have definitely seen that too, and it has had a very positive effect on my mind and life.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/22/16 10:15 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/22/16 10:14 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.22

-40 min, morning:  I may build up to 50 minutes from here.  I suppose 1 hour morning and night is my goal.  Even though he doesn't endorse sitting meditation as a primary practice, Dhammarato says sitting time provides 'seclusion.'  

-Off-cushion:  I am adding in more and more ways to stop obsessing.  I have been successful with averting my gaze from women on the street.  When I look down, however, there is still some unskillful thinking going on.  I am adding in a visualization of a shutter closing or a book slamming shut in my mind, crushing the thought.  It's working.  I am pairing this effort with participation in online dating and social circles, minus any, and all, analysis.  There is a sort of ironic dissonance to thinking less and acting more.

-60 min., night:  Felt really good to sit for an hour: freeing, in a way.  Being in the moment feels more like a way of life than a meditation technique.  The thought also came up: "do you really think that this training is different than what you would get in Mahamudra?"  The answer seemed to be an obvious 'no.'
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/23/16 10:21 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/23/16 9:38 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.23

-60 min, morning:  My breath was constricted, which was annoying.  I used the shutter technique a couple times to crush obsessive thoughts.

-Off-cushion:  I practiced "crushing" obsessive thoughts today successfully.  The technique is in its early stages so it still feels odd.

-I met with an American Buddhist nun today from Buddhadasa's tradition.  Interestingly, she knew both Dhammarato in Thailand when they were much younger, and Bill Hamilton at IMS in the 80's!  She hadn't realized that Bill Hamilton took any students, or that he had died.  Anyways, funny coincidences.  I was disappointed that she wanted to direct me to one of her classes rather than just inviting me outright into her sangha.  Overall, however, we had a very pleasant conversation.  

-60 min, night:  I felt the instinct to be 'received' by the environment.  At first I resisted because it is a deviation from technique, but then remembered that I have vowed to have no rules emoticon  Trying it, I felt a pleasant warmth hit my body.  I found that I could sustain it with a type of subtle and irregular effort.  This lasted for about ten minutes, which is longer than these 'effortless' events usually do for me.  
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/25/16 12:34 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/25/16 12:00 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.24

-60 min, morning:  Breath constriction again.  It's a side effect of the beta blocker.  I'm going to go off of it.

-20 min., afternoon:  At 'sangha night' with Seattle triratna.  It's nice seeing the same people weekly, starting to build friendships.

-Here's a complete list of the habits being formed, categorized by whether I do them always, never, more often, or less often:

Always: be in piti, be in the here-now, act with discipline, practice the bodywork
Never: obsess, be in hindrance, have rules or beliefs
Less of: eating, thinking, sleeping, talking about myself, lusting, spending $
More of: being in nature, asking others about themselves, healthy foods, dating, socializing, Mudita, saving $

-Session with Richard:  It's nice to be able to tell him about my progress regarding disciplined action and the like.  I also got some insight from what he said about 'nothing is atomic,' which is that despite visceral knowledge of not-self, I sometimes assume mind & matter can be broken down to atomic particles.  However, even at this level, all is flow (i.e. discovery of the higgs boson)... therefore, we are guaranteed to disappear completely, which means we were not really 'here' (in the way we sometimes assume) in the first place.  Nice!

-60 min., night
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/26/16 3:56 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/25/16 5:27 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.25

-60 min., morning:  I felt various versions of emotional release.  Got lost in thought a lot, but also was pretty deeply focused a lot.

-Off-cushion:  I am noticing that various supra-mundane 'stances' can be taken on an issue (such as romantic insecurity) simultanously, which allows me to completely fight my way out of it and get to a place of dominating joy.  This is a joy that is 'on the ground' and helps support my embodied participation in the issues of life, rather than transcending & dissociating.  I am learning a brand of Sila that is, in my opinion, starkly lacking in the pragmatic dharma movement.  It involves having a series of approaches or stances that are horizontally integrated with every area of life, and serve to fully support the deep insight into 3 c's provided by path attainments.  This is all balanced by taking a joyful look at the messiness and disorganization of reality.

-60 min., night
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/28/16 4:01 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/28/16 4:01 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.26

-60 min., morning

**skipped meditation, night**
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/28/16 4:09 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/28/16 4:09 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.27

**skipped meditation, morning**

-Off-cushion:  I've been doing 'watch the flow' and 'watch the stillness' in daily life, while watching the breath.  It feels amazing!  I've skipped meditation 3 times over the past few days.  The highest principle is to have no rules.  So I'm doing that.  I do miss the meditation time thought; instead of feeling like work, it feels like a nice time to be secluded from everything.

**skipped meditation, night**
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/29/16 10:03 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/28/16 11:08 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.28

-60 min., morning: Did 'watch the stillness' simultaneously with the breath.  It works.  So I've been using the gladdening to bring my mental impatience down to zero, and my physical impatience down to about 3 out of 10.  What 'watch the stillness' does is bring it down to 1 or 0.  Then sitting meditation really is easy and fun.  This is basically a process of practicing a new way of being for long periods of time such that it becomes the new norm.  Another way of saying that is that its rehearsing enlightenment

-Watching stillness/flow and the breath in adjacent mental screens.  Each new way of multi-tasking attention is awkward at first.  I have parked the mudita for the last couple days in favor of the bodywork.  Eventually it will be everything at once. 

Its interesting to watch the progression through situations that previously would have completely floored me with agitation.  For instance, today I went to my internship hung-over, and on five hours of sleep, and actually felt decent.

**skipped meditation, night**
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/30/16 12:11 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/29/16 10:15 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.29

**skipped meditation, morning**

-Watched flow, stillness & breath all day in office.  After work, gladdened mind for over an hour straight.  Consumed alcohol on Wednesday night, which I didn't seem to recover from for about a day and a half.  I realized that gladdening the mind brings me energy rather than joy at times like this when I need to recharge my battery.  In contrast, when my body is panicking during hot yoga, gladdening brings it calmness.  It does different things at different times.

Zooming out a little further, I am seeing how Dhammarato's system as a whole is about training a continuity of energy across the mind-body entity and through time.  This energy possesses the qualities of the seven factors of enlightenment, and the other Buddhist lists.  It makes sense that when I do something like drink alcohol, the effects during and after that event interrupt this energy for some time.  I must learn to prioritize the pleasure inherent in momentum over the immediate draw to things like food, drugs and sex.  These things have their own energy that contaminates the specimen, so to speak.

-I am becoming more shameless in my pursuit of power through discipline. I don't feel guilty for being very physically capable, and using this advantage to boost my meditation on and off cushion.  I don't care that others might not have enough free time to pursue practices such as these, etc.  Frequently, on the DhO, and elsewhere, I see people emphasizing what is basically the qualities of surrender, clarity and equanimity combined.  IMO, progress, discipline, effort and willpower are the qualities that should be focused on.  Technical fourth path is not an end point, its just the opening of a certain door inside.  We have to keep pushing until every door is opened forever.  *War cry*

-I had a realization about expressing Mudita off-cushion; it doesn't mean purposely talking to people or smiling at people more, it means being more joyful when you do happen to naturally cross paths with people.

-60 min., night:  Watching the stillness seems to be synergistic with watching the breath.  I was able to sustain a powerful 1st jhana for about 70% of that meditation.  The stillness was actually unnerving and causing me to want to bust at the seams, at which point I gladdened.  I had to purposely avoid going into hard 2nd jhana, which is part of Richard's instructions.  Part of me wanted to stop at 30 minutes because it was so intense, but I know that stretching the muscle to the extreme is how progress is made.
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Chris M, modified 6 Years ago at 4/30/16 7:49 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/30/16 7:46 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 4484 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
 Frequently, on the DhO, and elsewhere, I see people emphasizing what is basically the qualities of surrender, clarity and equanimity combined.  IMO, progress, discipline, effort and willpower are the qualities that should be focused on.  Technical fourth path is not an end point, its just the opening of a certain door inside.  We have to keep pushing until every door is opened forever.  *War cry*

Noah, I think you have a point here but the way I see this it's more about motivation versus realization. One needs to be motivated, dedicated, warrior-like in the desire to practice, to to wake up. One needs to use that motivation to see that all of "this" is just mind - to wake up. It's a bit of a balancing act because while we need to be fierce in our motivation and desire we need to be gentle and often delicately aware to see, to realize. So for me it's not either/or, but both.

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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 4/30/16 12:02 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/30/16 12:02 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Thank you, Chris.  Very well said.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/1/16 4:28 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/30/16 5:03 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
4.30

-60 min., afternoon:  There's a ping-pong between deepening stillness & resistant agitation.  Every time I recoil, I gladden, then dive back into stillness.

-Off-cushion: Same same- stillness, flow, breath, gladden.  Very smooth and joyful shift at work tonight.

-60 min., night:  No ping-ponging this time.  Easy to sink in.  I am getting headaches from watching the stillness, it seems to be some sixth chakra activity.  I can alleviate this by purposefully softening my awareness around this point.  This sit also had more daydreams, which seemed easier to slide into because I was very physically relaxed. 
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/2/16 3:08 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/1/16 8:58 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.1

-60 min., morning:  Very quiet but in a flatter way.  I think I was in 1st Vip. Jhana for this sit, 4th Vip. Jhana for last night's sit, and 3rd Vip. Jhana for last morning's sit. 

-Off-cushion:  Walked around a beautiful park in Seattle, watching the flow & breath.  My mind was incredibly quiet, making it very pleasurable to look at trees, water, boats, etc.  I think I am starting to get into 1st jhana as a baseline, which is the plan that Dhammarato delineated to me month's ago.

-60 min., night:  An interesting moment of contemplation:  I have been lonely in Seattle, but have left the emotion untouched, thinking it a necessary part of a healthy mind.  In this moment I challenged it, considering that intimacy hunger too, can be viewed as a survival mechanism, a way to fill the bottomless pit of the void.  There was a thrill as I did this, and then an otherworldly joy pervading the remainder of the sit.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 3:08 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/2/16 3:31 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.2

-60 min., morning:  Encountered the same contemplation again: is the desire for friends, beyond the ones that I already have, a legitimate need based on cause and effect?  No.  Can I be authentically happy, without social supports?  Absolutely.  Even orgasm and romantic connection are these sort of add-ons, when viewed in a certain light.  None of this affects the way I will be in the external world; I still socialize, date, etc.  Instead, the question becomes, could I theoretically be happy in the absence of these supports.  Yes!

-Off-cushion:  I had this thought- "I don't need to have a great life, I need to have a great way of existing within my life."

-60 min., night:  Had to do standing up meditation for half because of sleepiness.  Did a lot of crushing obsessive thoughts.  I took a break from the bodywork today just to confuse my mind in a good way.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 7:11 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 7:11 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 440 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Maybe another question is, will these things ultimately make me happy? They can contribute to happiness, but will they be all that is needed?

I do think that the danger of spiritual bypass lurks for me when I consider letting go of legitimate needs. I can very easily get bitten in the backside when I start thinking I don't need these things.
Caro, modified 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 7:38 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 7:38 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 91 Join Date: 5/10/15 Recent Posts
Laurel Carrington:
Maybe another question is, will these things ultimately make me happy? They can contribute to happiness, but will they be all that is needed?

I do think that the danger of spiritual bypass lurks for me when I consider letting go of legitimate needs. I can very easily get bitten in the backside when I start thinking I don't need these things.
(Sorry, Noah, for hijacking your practice thread!)
Laurel, I find this a very important and difficult question, to which I haven´t found a definite answer, yet. I am very aware of the aspects of my life which make me unhappy because as you call it "legitimate needs are not met". But I also notice the additional unhappiness when I get too attached to wanting these circumstances to change. It seems to be a very delicate balance to accept and be happy with all of current reality including the unmet needs and still work to change the circumstances in a way which meets my needs and contributes to happiness...
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 3:25 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 3:25 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Hi Caro,

No worries on hijacking my threads, I try to always encourage it!  Admittedly, I have gotten offended in the past when I felt like people were attacking me, but that is pretty rare.

In terms of the balance between attachment and action in the world, my newest motto is to have decent, external life conditions, but a great way of internally operating within my skull.  The way some pragmatic dharma people talk seems like they are more into stoicism and just being really calm amidst suffering, and less into actually have an integrated way of being that includes perceptual non-duality, cognitive understanding of the 3 c's, an appropriate set of attitudes according to those things, the cultivation of the right emotions based on those attitudes, and the habit of new actions that are expressions of those emotions.  Every link in that chain is really important, and the 1st couple links that have to do most directly with insight development aren't enough and never were supposed to be enough, but its taken me about ten months (and a lot of obsessing and anguish) after finishing with Ron to figure that out.  Anyways, beyond the aforementioned chain of events, (which I consider to be the supramundane 8folds), there is no point in caring or being attached to things, and it is possible not to, so I say fuck it emoticon
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/4/16 6:35 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/3/16 5:21 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.3

-60 min., morning:  Many rounds of getting distracted & then returning to watch breath/stillness (back to bodywork today).  Bits of agitation & gladdening here and there.  A medium amount of blocking out obsessive thoughts.

-Off-cushion:  I am purposely giving myself a break today, watching some netflix.  I work 7 days in a row right now, on top of training my body & mind.  Its good to interrupt the patterns, i.e. if disciplined, be lazy instead.  This helps avoid rules.

**skipped meditation, night**
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/5/16 8:17 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/4/16 6:37 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.4

**skipped meditation, morning**

-Off-cushion: Some anapana, some crushing thoughts.

-It is interesting to look at my TV-watching habits.  One quality of this activity is a legitimate enjoyment; I have a strong ability to get really into storylines and I think this stimulates my imagination/creative side, as well.  I would never want to change this quality: to take away something I enjoy. 

However, another quality of this activity is addiction.  When I have the instinct to really get sucked in for hours, it is a soothing mechanism.  This is a fossil from an earlier time in my life, when I could barely get off the couch without having a panic attack.  Currently, I don't really need to 'take my mind off things.'  My internship is fun, my restaurant job pays the bills and is simple.  Less sleep doesn't destabilize me like it used to.  So I'm really not in any danger.   

It seems skillful to observe these differences, and then to set an intention to stop feeding the soothing mechanism, and simultaneously amplify the legitimate enjoyment. 

-60 min., night:  Lots of agitation, gladdening: dukkha, dukkha nirodha.  Falling back into the dark night (able to combat it, yet there nonetheless) makes me realize it could take a couple years to fully reprogram myself out of these patterns that I have.  This thought was kind of a bummer, because I really want to do mahamudra training and climb the vertical-transcendent insight ladder more, but I know full well that there is no point of doing that if I don't have the type of mind-body that can act as a container for that type of awareness.  Blahhhhh.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/5/16 11:51 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/5/16 10:12 AM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.5

-60 min., morning: Distracted thinking led to note-taking on a paper by my zabuton (an old, bad habit that reappears sometimes).  Lots of watching->agitation->gladdening loops as well.

-Off-cushion:  I have started making things like productivity and posture into topics for obsessing.  Therefore, today I've been blocking out obsessive thought, using visualization and willpower.  Sometimes I visualize various shapes covering my mental screen, or just a wall of effort acting as a shield.  It is really effective.  I had a moment while walking around earlier with resilient, mental quiet.  I can draw from this 'preview' that the obsessing will not continue forever if I continue this practice.  

Stopping the obsessing is very important not only because it is a hindrance (also a 'territorial instinct'), but specifically because it prevents the natural flow of joy that I've been working with.  Resisting an obsessive thought requires a bit of faith though, because they are so seductive. 

-Approx. 40 min., night:  My timer turned out to be paused the entire duration, and I was already nodding off, so I decided to end the sit.
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/7/16 7:02 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/7/16 7:02 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.6

-60 min., morning

-Off-cushion practice

-60 min., night
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/8/16 4:37 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/7/16 7:06 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.7

-60 min., morning:  When I begin a new technique, I have a surge of success, and then it levels out and becomes hard again.  This is especially true with watching the stillness.  I have had rapid increases in watching flow, gladdening, stopping thoughts, investigation, etc.  But when it comes to stillness, it is against my very nature.  Nonetheless, I feel the muscle slowly getting stronger.  I can tolerate a slight tension for longer portions of stillness watching during the sits.  And so it goes.

I have also been struggling with sleepiness as an obstacle, and frequently have to do standing or walking meditation for upwards of 40 minutes during my sits.  This probably won't get better until I get a 9 to 5 schedule, as I currently work nights half the week, and days the other half.  What a drag.

-Off-cushion practice

-Approx. 30 min., night:  When I get sleepy, I try standing meditation.  If I start to nod off while standing, I try walking meditation.  Only when I actually begin to lose my balance walking, do I cut the meditation short  emoticon(
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 5/9/16 2:46 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 5/9/16 2:46 PM

RE: A New Path

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
5.8

-60 min., morning

-Off-cushion practice

-Approx. 40 min., night:  Stopped for sleepiness...
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