Jason's Practice Log

Jason, modified 5 Years ago at 12/28/16 4:24 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 12/28/16 4:24 PM

Jason's Practice Log

Posts: 2 Join Date: 5/14/16 Recent Posts
This is my first post on DhO!

I intend to post a weekly log and solicit feedback and suggestions.

Brief background of meditation experience:
  • Started meditating about 1 year ago
  • Shortly thereafter I attended a 10-day Goenka Retreat, which I found extremely overwhelming and quite distressing at times. I didn’t progress very much in terms of concentration or vipassana.
  • Disillusioned with the retreat experience I didn’t do much meditating for a few months afterward.
  • In summer 2016 I picked up Culadasa’s book “The Mind Illuminated”
I'm looking for feedback and suggestions based on my progress thus far.

Stage 1:

I have built up to a daily practice of about 40 minutes, and sometimes a second shorter sitting in the evening. I wouldn’t dream of missing a day.
Progress has been low and I find the practice very challenging but also interesting. I find its kind of like golf in that consistency is elusive. I also find it's like running in that it takes a long time to become proficient by "building the base", so to speak.

Nevertheless, I would say Stage 1 has been mastered because I rarely miss a session.

Stage 2:

I’ve made significant progress in stage 2, but I feel some improvement is necessary before I proceed to Stage 3.

I have some forgetting during my sessions, but I don’t go off the rails for minutes at a time anymore, more like 10-30 seconds. Sometimes I will have completely forgotten the breath, but I would say its becoming more likely that it has simply moved from primary to peripheral awareness, which is acceptable in Stage 2.

I feel that I can tell the difference between being completely lost and just losing the breath to peripheral awareness. When I regain awareness after completely losing my breath I have this very pronounced “waking up” experience and then I note my last thought/mental image, and then appreciate that moment of awakening. On the other hand, when the breath fades from primary to peripheral awareness it’s like the breath is nagging at me in the background get back to work and stop indulging in fantasy.

I find it challenging to locate the exact beginning and ending of the in breaths and out breaths, but I think it is improving.

I really have a hard time staying interested in the second half of a 40 minute session. It gets boring and I feel I need to get back to life. My response is to increase my effort and remind myself of my motivation. This does help some.

Drowsiness occurs probably every other session, and it’s really tough to fight it using Culadasa’s suggested remedies. It’s so hard to see the dullness arising. Even when I do see dullness developing my attempts to investigate it don’t seem to stop it!

There is also something very strange that occurs in almost all sittings. It’s like I’m perpetually trying to find the right angle or perspective from which to observe the breath. For example, sometimes my spatial perspective is that I’m on top of the breath, or it could be right in front of me, or it could be far in front of me. I often deliberately try to change the “angle of observation” to the one that makes the sensations more obvious. I would especially like some input here. It’s so bizarre, and it's consciously taxing if that makes any sense.

Thanks for reading, and I would appreciate feedback and suggestions for progress.
Jason, modified 5 Years ago at 12/31/16 11:42 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 12/31/16 11:41 AM

RE: Jason's Practice Log

Posts: 2 Join Date: 5/14/16 Recent Posts
Friday Dec 30
I practiced twice for 30 minutes. My sleep wasn't that great last night so I decided to reduce sitting time but double up on sessions in order to avoid drowsiness. I took a nap between my AM and PM sittings. My concentration was good enough to add some additional tasks in Stage 3, but mostly I was in stage 2. I experienced some strong dullness and used deep breathing and clenching to arouse my alertness. It seemed to work reasonably well. I noticed that I wasn't looking forward to ending the sittings.

Saturday Dec 31
I practiced 40 minutes, again after not sleeping very well. My mind was wandering a fair bit, having several brief episodes of "explaining stuff to people". The content was not emotionally charged, but obviously I found it interesting enough. I was not alert enough to any stage 3 stuff, so I did my best to see the points of the breath as clearly as possible. Seeing the breath clearly was particularly challenging in the second half due to dullness and, eventually, drowsiness.

I experienced very strong doubt for a brief period, feeling as though this is all a very tragic waste of time. I recognized this thought fairly quickly and gently let it go. It didn't return after that. I try not to get too discouraged about the quality of my sittings, but honestly, I sometimes wonder how people progress though early meditation before any significant skill has been developed. I try to find the pleasure and enjoyment in each sitting but that, too, is challenging.