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Yamazaki's Practice Log

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Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 2/7/17 6:11 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Noah D 2/7/17 9:16 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Chris O. 2/7/17 10:39 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 2/8/17 4:49 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 2/12/17 10:38 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/12/17 12:30 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 4/12/17 5:37 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/13/17 12:21 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/13/17 12:24 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 4/13/17 5:42 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 4/13/17 8:35 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/13/17 12:54 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/13/17 12:55 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/14/17 1:19 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/15/17 1:54 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 4/15/17 3:17 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/16/17 11:03 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/17/17 11:44 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/18/17 10:19 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/19/17 10:18 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/20/17 11:07 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/22/17 1:28 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 4/22/17 7:22 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/22/17 11:26 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/22/17 11:29 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/23/17 10:58 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/24/17 11:05 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/26/17 1:08 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/27/17 11:53 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 4/27/17 5:53 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/27/17 11:51 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/28/17 11:56 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 4/30/17 12:40 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/1/17 1:42 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/1/17 9:06 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log junglist 5/2/17 11:13 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/2/17 2:52 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log junglist 5/4/17 1:04 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/2/17 3:02 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/3/17 6:33 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 5/3/17 7:02 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/3/17 7:15 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 6/5/17 9:43 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/4/17 3:36 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/5/17 9:42 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 5/6/17 6:39 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/6/17 2:11 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/6/17 2:12 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/7/17 10:50 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/8/17 12:15 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/9/17 11:23 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log junglist 5/10/17 6:21 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/10/17 10:46 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/15/17 2:00 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/22/17 2:21 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/24/17 1:47 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 5/25/17 6:19 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log bernd the broter 5/26/17 5:12 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/26/17 2:36 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 5/29/17 3:53 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 6/12/17 8:08 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 6/13/17 6:16 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 6/13/17 2:10 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log shargrol 6/13/17 7:15 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 7/3/17 3:05 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 7/19/17 11:20 AM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 8/1/17 7:24 PM
RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log Yamazaki 8/8/17 10:41 PM
Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
2/7/17 6:11 PM
I have decided to start a practice log in hopes of gaining feedback that will help me direct my practice and make optimal progress, as I currently do not have access to a teacher. (If anyone wants to take me up as their disciple please contact me!).

I have just taken a break from university, but am still living in an apartment on campus away from my family. Over the past few months I have isolated my friends for the most part. Since I don’t work, now I can pretty much dedicate my entire life to the practice for the next few months. Starting tomorrow I will do 6-7 hours a day of vipassana. I want to “get it done”. I know this sounds unhealthy but there is really nothing else in my life that I truly care about; all I want is to see the true nature of reality and stop suffering.

I have been doing mahasi-noting style sitting meditation for around 30-60 minutes “most” days for the past two months, but have only made very minimal progress. Up until now I have done much more reading about meditation and buddhism than actually meditating, but I am determined to change this. I don’t think I have even properly reached “body and mind” yet, and don't have access concentration. I could never find a comfortable posture (I have slight kyphosis) and usually ended up spending the entire period trying and failing to actually sit still. I decided to just starting doing all my sitting meditation laying on my back, as although it is not ideal it is really my only realistic option at this point. I am doing work to fix my posture and become more flexible on the side.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
2/7/17 9:16 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Cool!  You can do it!  I did noting in daily life for 2 years with great results.  If a goal orientation isn't toxic for you and doesn't get hijacked by your ego, than go wild with relentless determination - it can be fun to be a dharma fanatic. The key to progress is persistent mindfulness throughout the day.  And In case you find it inspiring my log is at noahsmonthlyupdate.blogspot.com (with links to other logs as well).

And never stop practicing and logging either.  The best practice logs are the longest running ones.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
2/7/17 10:39 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Why the rush? When we're rushed, things tend not to go our way. Small obstacles become big obstacles, because we're in a hurry to get somewhere. While this may work for you, it also kind of reminds me of someone trying to do a crash diet. 

EDIT: Oh, I see you said "all I want is to see the true nature of reality and stop suffering." My apologies. You also said, "there is really nothing else in my life that I truly care about," which yes, does sound unhealthy IMHO. You might be surprised about what doesn't change after getting First Path, and find yourself not that much better off, or just less better off than you're imagining pre-SE. Nonetheless, whatever you do, best of luck!

Just an idea, but how about the middle path, instead? Work on making "most" days "everyday," instead, for 30 minutes. Then 45 minutes a few months later, and 60 minutes a few months after that. Gradual changes tend to stick better than sudden changes. When we over-exert ourselves in the short-term, we tend to have less energy for them in the long-term. And while you titrate up, try finding some things besides the Dharma to "truly care about" along the way. Being a well-rounded person certainly helps suffering.

Regarding posture, I've got thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis, significant anterior pelvic tilt, and overly muscular lumbar and spinal erectors, relative to the rest of my core and back. It's basically impossible for me to sit without pain if I'm not postured with a backward lean against a support, like one sits in a car seat. 

Solution? I meditate in a chair that allows a slight recline. Problem solved. On retreat, I bring a "floor chair," similar to a Back Jack. Hasn't stopped me from making any progress! As soon as I got over "doing it right" and gave up on dealing with (literal) sitting, everything fell into place. How about a chair instead of lying? If lying works, no problem. But in case you start getting sleepy, have no shame--go for the chair and don't look back!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
2/8/17 4:49 PM as a reply to Chris O..
Chris O.:
Why the rush? When we're rushed, things tend not to go our way. Small obstacles become big obstacles, because we're in a hurry to get somewhere. While this may work for you, it also kind of reminds me of someone trying to do a crash diet. 

EDIT: Oh, I see you said "all I want is to see the true nature of reality and stop suffering." My apologies. You also said, "there is really nothing else in my life that I truly care about," which yes, does sound unhealthy IMHO. You might be surprised about what doesn't change after getting First Path, and find yourself not that much better off, or just less better off than you're imagining pre-SE. Nonetheless, whatever you do, best of luck!

Just an idea, but how about the middle path, instead? Work on making "most" days "everyday," instead, for 30 minutes. Then 45 minutes a few months later, and 60 minutes a few months after that. Gradual changes tend to stick better than sudden changes. When we over-exert ourselves in the short-term, we tend to have less energy for them in the long-term. And while you titrate up, try finding some things besides the Dharma to "truly care about" along the way. Being a well-rounded person certainly helps suffering.

Regarding posture, I've got thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis, significant anterior pelvic tilt, and overly muscular lumbar and spinal erectors, relative to the rest of my core and back. It's basically impossible for me to sit without pain if I'm not postured with a backward lean against a support, like one sits in a car seat. 

Solution? I meditate in a chair that allows a slight recline. Problem solved. On retreat, I bring a "floor chair," similar to a Back Jack. Hasn't stopped me from making any progress! As soon as I got over "doing it right" and gave up on dealing with (literal) sitting, everything fell into place. How about a chair instead of lying? If lying works, no problem. But in case you start getting sleepy, have no shame--go for the chair and don't look back!


Thanks for the feedback!

The reason I am so set on going all out for the time being is so that I can fully take advantage of this precious period in my life where I have close to no “daily life” commitments. I was also inspired by this part of MCTB:
“lets say that you could allocate 365 hours out of one year to formal meditation practice. Given a choice, I would be more inclined to take half of those hours, about 182, and do a 10 day retreat practicing hard and consistently 18 hours a day with minimal breaks at the beginning of the year, and then spend half an hour meditating each of the other days.”

That said, I am trying to incorporate the middle path within my hard core practice, such as taking breaks when fatigued and not pushing myself too hard.

It is really reliving to get a conformation that my postural problems won’t get in the way of my progress! A little part of me was worried that sitting cross legged was actually necessary. Could you please post a picture of the kind of chair that you found works for you??

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
2/12/17 10:38 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Things have been far from "smooth". First I came to the crushing realization that (perhaps unsurprisingly), my past few months of inconsistent daily practice has truly gotten me nowhere, and I am still far from access concentration. I realized that for as long as I can remember, my concentration has always been generally very poor. I could never read in public because noises would make me too distracted to focus, and I have always often found myself daydreaming while trying to study. Since access concentration is necessary for insight practice, I decided to really make my practice about strengthening concentration for now.

Also perhaps unsurprisingly, so far I haven't been able to get myself to practice for more than around 3 hours a day, even though I have loads of free time. I "try too hard" while practicing, then get frustrated when I don't see results, and get very discouraged. I know that this is a toxic cycle and I can't expect to see results so instantaneously, as well as that worrying about results like this is actually slowing my progress. I often get this underlying feeling that getting access concentration is impossible for me, at least without a true retreat setting. I know that that is bullshit and try my best to not pay attention to it.

The biggest challenge is not paying attention to my thoughts. Some thoughts I can easily "see" as "not me", and quickly disregard. But then other thoughts, ones commentating on my practice (such as "wow, I'm actually focused on my breath" or "how can stop myself from controlling the breath?"), feel as though they are "actually me" and it takes me a little while to catch them. The most annoying thought that always pops up is “am I actually paying attention right now?”; I know my mind is trying to be helpful but it’s really doing itself a disservice. I realized that I have pretty much spent my entire life consciously analyzing and thinking nearly every moment I have been awake. Trying to let go of this habit is proving difficult. I know that this is just a matter of practice, and am making an effort to stay completely mindful during daily activities. This usually ends up being very exhausting since my mind really never shuts up.

I also get frustrated when I find myself completely controlling my breath (which is most of the time) and get very uncomfortable. I know that this is just part of the process and try to accept it and let it be/let go.

Overall things are tough, but I know exactly what I need to do. I am going to work my way up to 6/7 hours a day as soon as I can. I plan on striving the best I can without worrying about how much progress I am making

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/12/17 12:30 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
I was tempted to delete this whole thread and start a new one fresh, but that seemed kind of dishonest. What follows is the long and boring explanation of my absence.

A lot has happened these two months. Unfortunately, little has happened in terms of meditation. When I started this thread, I was in a pretty dark place, darker than I realized at the time. I had a lot of psychological shit that needed to be dealt with, which I was attempting to avoid with some major spiritual bypassing, albeit I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I spent a few weeks attempting to meditate for multiple hours a day, which didn’t go well at all as I was a hard core noob and meditation was quite unpleasant, and I was also depressed as shit. I eventually recognized what I was doing and that I had some psychological bullshit to work through, and settled with trying to set up a consistent practice of around an hour a day in the meantime. Around a month after that, I had a relative insight while meditating that got me to the bottom of my psychological shit, which lead to a 180° paradigm shift in the way I think about my life. This shook me up pretty bad and I ended up stopping practice completely and pretty much living a life of debauchery for three weeks while I slowly integrated my paradigm shift. This seems like a very bad choice now but at the time I had just let go of something large that I had been carrying around for most of my life, and was a little scared to see how things would play out after I got my act together.

In these past couple days I have finally settled down and adopted a normal sleep schedule, stopped wasting large amounts of time on the internet, and resumed my studies and meditation practice. My “depression” has changed but has most definitely not gone away. What has changed is that the intense negative mind states, the constant feeling of wanting to cry for no reason has gone away, which is nice. But I still experience an intense boredom, a sort of unsatisfactoriness of the present moment, no matter what I am doing. All activities, including things I used to enjoy, feel like a complete chore. My whole life feels like I am waiting in an infinitely long line that leads nowhere. I have been seeing a therapist weekly; he thinks that what I am dealing with is perhaps a sort of withdrawal symptom of my recently lost paradigm. I am also open to the idea that I might actually be in the dark night, as I have had countless powerful experiences with DMT, LSD, and shrooms in the past. On my last shrooms trip two months ago I experienced what felt like cycling through stages of the dark night before breaking into equanimity, which was probably the best I ever felt in my life, until I became sober an hour later. Dark night or not, gaining insight through meditation is the only thing I know of that is likely to free me from this uncomfortable prison of unsatisfactoriness.

I have always prided myself as someone who “gets stuff done”…. I never needed to rely on New Year resolutions to take action and make habits, and always looked down on people who were all talk. That is why I am constantly surprised at how much I repeatedly fail to jump into meditation, despite being as determined as I have ever been. Along with my big paradigm shift also came a firsthand realization that an overly goal-oriented practice was causing many problems in my practice, which in turn lead me to develop an aversion towards practice in general. I know now what it actually means to let go, to not be attached to results and progress. Still, my mind now categorizes meditation as “something good for you but very not fun”, like running or something. I have finally decided to let go of my desire to go from 0 to 100, and focus on truly nailing down a consistent daily practice. I am going to wake up and meditate first thing, every day, no if and or buts about it. But I also have the feeling that I am finally ready to step up my game. My internal logic is that 1) meditation may be boring, but everything in my life is already boring anyway, 2) meditation is the only way to break myself out of this prison, which I want to spend as little time in as possible, 3) if I can just break out of noob land, meditation should cease to be a chore. So, if I feel motivated to practice more then the one hour I will do first thing in the morning, then I will. If not, that is fine too.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/12/17 5:37 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Honestly, the hardest thing is just getting started. It's not uncommon to have a minor freakout in the beginning. Some part of our psyche thinks that we're throwing ourselves into solitary confinement and throwing away the key. And even if we get started, we're immediately confronted by our psychological baggage and the things we need to work on outside of sitting practice. The last part of the the sentence is the key thing: there are things we need to work on _outside_ of sitting practice (dharma reading/study, therapy, getting our chores done, working on longer term goals...)

One paradigm that I've found really helpful is 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years. These are all the crisis points for starting something new. After 3 days, the glamor wears off and meditation is just meditation. After 3 weeks, the time commitment becomes obvious and you start fantasizing about all the awesome things you could be doing. After 3 months, the sits begin really truly working -- which means you start going through developmental/psychological changes -- which is somewhat uncomfortable and it seems easier to quit. After 3 years, you know the benefits and you have also made A LOT! of improvements, but part of you doubts whether continuting is worth it and you think, maybe I can scale back, but this often leads to quitting and not getting all the benefits.

The same pattern seems to exist for exercise, diet, etc. -- all the really important things for heath, but which are hard to change. (Also applies to forms of art, drawing/painting, writing, martial arts, music.)

The number one way to be successful is to block out time in advance and PROTECT that time. It is for your meditation practice, period. It is for your practice but it will benefit everyone you meet, so it is important for everyone that you have this time. Don't let yourself or others down by skiping your sit. Start with short sits, but don't skip a day.

Ironically, the more consistent your are, the easier it is to be consistent. Consistency makes consistency easier, simple as that.

And keep posting. I know a lot of us want to help and cheer you on. Good luck and best wishes for your practice!! 

p.s. I can guarantee you will enjoy re-reading your practice journal 3 days, 3 week, 3 months, and 3 years from now. You will be blown away by the changes -- it will feel like you are reading someone else's journal!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/13/17 12:21 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you so much for the encouragement! I am going to keep the first hour of each day reserved for practice like my life depends on it! I will make sure to keep my practice journal going too

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/13/17 12:24 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
40 minutes of TMI style practice
As to be expected, after 3 weeks, what little water had accumulated in my metaphorical leaky bucket of meditation ability is now gone. Mostly TMI stage 3, crazy monkey mind and lots of forgetting. Sitting for 40 minutes wasn't too bad though.

I also have become hyper aware of how monkey my mind is throught the entire day. I can't even imagine how much more plesant living life would be if I could truly focus on what was in front of me

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/13/17 5:42 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Perfect. Just sit in the mess for a reasonable amount of time. 30 to 40 minutes is fine. 

Your mind fixes itself by seeing itself in the mirror. For better or worse, that means you simply become aquainted with the messiness of your mind. So you have to sit and see the raw reality of it, but you don't have feel ashamed or try to fix it. Every single person in the world starts from the same place. Even all of the zen masters, the tibetian yogis, the buddha himself.... He probably said, "shit, my mind is totally jacked" --- but in Pali of course emoticon

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/13/17 8:35 AM as a reply to shargrol.
By the way, I call the first phase of developing a consistent practice the "bubbling up phase". Basically, monkey mind is going to do what it does. Rather than fight it, just think of it as a fountain of thoughts that need to bubble up for a while.

If you sit consistently, eventually the water pressure, so to speak, is reduced. Then it makes sense to add in different meditation practices, depending on your interests. But initially, the important thing is just getting used to sitting with a gushing mind.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/13/17 12:54 PM as a reply to shargrol.
​Thanks to growing up in this culture, my knee jerk reaction to not being a super-star from day one is to mentally whack myself with a stick, so as they say in Japanese, I will carve this on my liver!!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/13/17 12:55 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
​I'll post daily for the next month just to help hold myself accountable, after that I guess I'll post around once a week

4/13/2017 - Day 3:
35 minutes
Had surprisingly decent focus for the first 10-15 minutes, then started to forget the breath more and more until the end of the sit. Was able to get up, shower, and sit before checking my phone though, which is a first lol

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/14/17 1:19 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/14/2017 - Day 4:
40 minutes
Had decent focus for the first half, after that awareness started to collapse and focus was defuse. I am now very good about not getting dissatisfied/ frustrated with how the sit is going, no matter what is occurring. Also, memories I haven’t recalled for years randomly flashed throughout the sit. This was cool because it felt like “something was happening”.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/15/17 1:54 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/15/2017 - Day 5:
40 minutes
Focus sucked more than usual today, but I had a cool relative insight. I got a little glimpse into how there truly is a feeling that “I” am in control of my mind, even though intellectually I know that is not true. When my attention really starts to become defuse towards the end of my sit, that feeling leads to the feeling “my focus is bad because I am not trying/ it is “my” fault that my focus is bad”, and it then becomes tempting to beat myself up, even though it would make no sense to do so.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/15/17 3:17 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Nice!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/16/17 11:03 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/16/2017 - Day 6:
25 minutes
Didn't get enough sleep last night... got extremely drowsy. Tried to push through, but eventually almost feel asleep and stopped early. Got to get strict about going to sleep on time

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/17/17 11:44 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/17/2017 - Day 7:
Two 15 minute sessions
Went to bed on time but slept in for no good reason besides that sleeping feels good, and didn't have that extra jolt of will power for a longer sit. Naturally sitting for 15 minutes was pretty nice since I usually start to really lose steam after the 20 minute mark. I am pretty determined to get that spring out of bed→ shower→ sit habit locked in so that it becomes effortless and things don't turn out like they did today.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/18/17 10:19 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/18/2017 - Day 8:
30 minute sit in the morning, two 15 minute sits in the afternoon
Nothing particularly interesting to report about practice, but thoroughly enjoyed heightened awareness of thoughts while talking a walk today. Aversion towards sitting also seems to be slowly diminishing, which is exciting.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/19/17 10:18 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/19/2017 - Day 9:
Four 15 minute sits
Starting to move from stage 3 territory to stage 4 territory in TMI terms. Want to start extending sits though

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/20/17 11:07 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/20/2017 - Day 10:
40 minute sit
Got nicely concentrated for a bit around 15 minutes in. Fell into gross dullness by the end of the sit

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/22/17 1:28 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/21/2017 - Day 11:
16 minutes
Gross dullness. Wanted to sit longer but couldn't. Went right back to sleep after, then woke up 3 hours later and was groggy for the rest of the day.... hopefully I will be able to fix these sleep issues soon

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/22/17 7:22 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
One of the side benefits of regular sitting practice is it gives you feedback on normal stuff that's required to be healthy. When you are sitting there, it becomes clear if you are getting enough sleep, exercise, etc. Sometimes it's even becomes obvious how to adjust your diet to make your mind clearer (lighter meals, less coffee/alcohol, etc.) Anyway, that's mostly a long way of me saying "yup, sleep is important" emoticon

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/22/17 11:26 PM as a reply to shargrol.
That helps me view things in a more positive light! Rather than having problems that need to be fixed, I now have an opportunity to clean up my life emoticon

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/22/17 11:29 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/22/2017 - Day 12:
40 minutes
At around the 30 minute mark my body started to feel very light and pleasant, and things got bright below my eyelids. Wasn't particularly concentrated, but this was very encouraging never the less

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/23/17 10:58 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/23/2017 - Day 13:
40 minutes
Pretty solid sit, nothing particularly interesting to report

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/24/17 11:05 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/24/2017 - Day 14:
45 minutes
Sitting longer is getting easier but dullness has really been a bitch

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/26/17 1:08 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/25/2017 - Day 15:
30 minutes
Sat later in the day than I usually do, and my wandered much more than usual as well. Sitting, as well as attempting to be mindful of thoughts in daily life, is starting to make me become sensitive to how my mind's performance fluctuates at different times and situations throughout the day

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/27/17 11:53 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/26/2017 - Day 16:
35 minutes
These past few days I have had moments where I knock on TMI stage 5's door. There is a noticeable shift where thoughts “become completely visible” (don’t know how else to describe it). It’s like a switch flips and I can “see” what it actually means to be focused on something without thought. It feels like I have finally learned what a “thought” actually is for the first time. I realize that I have been thinking nonstop, every moment of my entire life. There is some fear associated with going into that world of “no thought”, but it is mostly quite profound and exciting. Moments later I get caught in thoughts about the phenomenon itself and lose it, but I am excited about exploring it more in the future. It feels as though I have gained an intuitive understanding of what skills I am actually trying to build through this practice, and it actually feels like "practicing" for the first time

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/27/17 5:53 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Perfect!

Try to notice that you don't really need to do anything, thoughts come and go, getting caught comes and goes. Really good practice consists of just noticing this and letting your intuitive/deep mind learn that being mindfull is a richer more helpful state of mind. You can't force your mind to change, but by exposing yourself to the reality of your mind during sitting practice, you "develop" your mind into a more refined state.

All it takes is time on the cushion and a curiousity about what you are experiencing. It's wildly interesting and amazing to realize that all this stuff has been going on this whole time and we never noticed it.

Rock on!!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/27/17 11:51 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/27/2017 - Day 17:
56 minutes
Had too high expectations and tried too hard.... should have listened to shargrol

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/28/17 11:56 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/28/2017 - Day 18:
15 minutes
I've been trying to have the intention to try to work through dullness more, but today I was too tired...

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
4/30/17 12:40 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/29/2017 - Day 19:
35 minutes
Recently my eyes have been bugging out a bit while sitting, and my tongue starts to feel like it doesn’t belong in my mouth haha. Practice continues to feel more and more like I’m “practicing” something though, and the aversion I had towards sitting is diminishing more and more

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/1/17 1:42 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
4/30/2017 - Day 20:
45 minutes
Nothing particularly interesting to report. Can't believe it has already been 20 days.... that was fast.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/1/17 9:06 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
​5/1/2017 - Day 21:
45 minutes
Lots of random memories popping up. Some of these brought subtle uncomfortable emotions with them. Started to feel like my unconscious mind is a swamp littered with unprocessed emotional gunk. I'm trying to just let these be in awareness while keeping my attention on the breath, but I still have a hard time differentiating between the two.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/2/17 11:13 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Hey Yamazaki,

I'm enjoying seeing you log!
I've just noticed that you seem to sit for quite variable times, as well as some less usual times like 56 minutes. ;)
I wonder if you use a timer? I've got one on my phone that was free, and you can set different programmes, like 30 minutes sitting, 15 walking, 30 minutes headstanding... whatever.
Then whatever happens, you don't stop until the bell. Good stuff.

By the way, I love seeing the day counter! Mad respect for your consistency. It encourages me too! Keep it up!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/2/17 2:52 PM as a reply to junglist.
Thanks for the positive feedback! I was starting to think that posting every single day might be overkill, so it’s really nice to hear that. Once I hit 30 days straight I think I’ll start making weekly posts. I read your log too, I can really relate to having trouble making sitting a long term consistent habit. Let’s do this!

I do use a timer, the “Insight Timer” app. The variable times are mostly due to either having to stop early due to extremely strong dullness, or from going past the timer when I felt motivated to. I know it’s better to just set one time and stick with it no matter what, so I am aiming to transition towards that. Unfortunately due to some troubles with sleep apnea, my sleep schedule has been inconsistent. When I can get up early, I have no trouble sitting for 45 minutes or more, but when my day gets a slow start, sometimes I can only get myself to sit for 15 minutes at a time. Hopefully this will get resolved soon and I make “get up early → jump out of bed → shower → sit” a rock solid habit.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/2/17 3:02 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/2/2017 - Day 22:
45 minutes
At the start of the sit my peripheral awareness was strong, and I could recognize distractions almost instantly. This felt really cool. Later on dullness set in, awareness faded a bit, and my mind got a little more clouded. I noticed that there was very little self-doubt, which is something that usually comes up quite a bit. On the other hand I did continue to get flooded by memories and things. I was able to do a good job letting them be without proliferating them, but new ones just kept coming up. Stuff I didn’t even know I still remembered.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/3/17 6:33 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
​5/3/2017 - Day 23:
45 minutes
For the first 15 minutes I was around TMI stage 4, the next 15 minutes stage 3, and the last 15 minutes stage 2. Dullness really came on strong and robbed me of meditation ability. I tried meditating with my eyes open, deep breathing, and even meditating standing up, but nothing really helped. It was temping to just get up and do something else, but I sat it through.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/3/17 7:02 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Well done!

At certain points during practice, your mind will try to get you to wimp out. And once it learns it can make you wimp out, it figures out how to keep doing it. And the more you wimp out, the more wimping out gets trained into you until... you get the point. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to be tough. Not always, but keep the wimping out to a minimum and it actually becomes easier to not wimp out..

One of my favorite stories is one monk, maybe ajahn chai, would get drowsy in the hot afternoons. His hut was hot, so he would sit in the shade and luxuriate in the easy peacefulness... until he realized that it was actually dullness and laziness. But now he found it really hard to get awake. So what he did was put on all of his robes and sat inside his hot hut and made it even a worse experience. There was no way he was going to let his mind win. And eventually, he could just sit in the shade and meditate and not get drowsy.

My general rule is if I fall asleep three times during a sit, then I can consider going to bed. But if I'm just drowsy, I must sit. And if I nod off, I need to keep sitting. But if I'm really am so tired that I do the zen lurch three times... okay, time for bed. But I have to watch my mind as it goes to sleep, awake until the moment of sleep happens.

Hope this helps!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/3/17 7:15 PM as a reply to shargrol.
My general rule is if I fall asleep three times during a sit, then I can consider going to bed. But if I'm just drowsy, I must sit. And if I nod off, I need to keep sitting. But if I'm really am so tired that I do the zen lurch three times... okay, time for bed. But I have to watch my mind as it goes to sleep, awake until the moment of sleep happens.
That's awesome, I needed to hear that! Now I will never be able to use a little dullness as an excuse to give up

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/4/17 1:04 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Yamazaki:
Thanks for the positive feedback! I was starting to think that posting every single day might be overkill, so it’s really nice to hear that. Once I hit 30 days straight I think I’ll start making weekly posts. I read your log too, I can really relate to having trouble making sitting a long term consistent habit. Let’s do this!
Thanks for looking at my log! I like the brevity of your posts, I find mine far to verbose, but I suppose there's lots that I've thought about since I sorted my practice out at the beginning of the January, so hopefully I'll run out of verbal diarrhoea. I've been writing every day mostly because I want to keep a record of what I'm doing and refer back to it to see more easily what went well and what didn't.

It was the Culadasa stage one that nailed it for me, the penny dropped like "Oh yeah, consistent daily practice is actually a stage of development. Right! Every day! ... Kerching!"

Let's keep up the rock solidness!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/4/17 3:36 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/4/2017 - Day 24:
45 minutes
Got dragged deeper and deeper into dullness until I almost fell asleep towards the end of the sit. My body was filled with pleasant warm sensations. Then I suddenly jolted awake, dullness was gone and everything felt great, but soon after the bell rang.

I noticed that I am much more aware of the actives of my own mind in daily life now. I am starting to notice the effects that certain events have on my mental states, and am becoming much more familiar with my normal patterns of thinking. This led me to two cool realizations. First is that even if my practice didn't bring me anything more than what it already has, that would be enough to make continuing the practice worth it. Second is that I now know first hand that what I have heard is true: even if nothing exciting is happing during formal practice, there is likely a lot of work getting done in the unconscious. I think both of these realizations will help with eradicating doubt, which is great.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/5/17 9:42 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/5/2017 - Day 25:
25 minutes
Had some business to take care of very early in the morning, which lead to not only not getting sufficient sleep, but meditating in public (a coffee shop) for the first time as well. The experience was interesting, and the ambient background noise was surprisingly not too distracting, but combined with an uncomfortable chair and extreme drowsiness, I ended up only sitting for 25 minutes.

On the other hand, I am starting to become acutely aware of the cause and effect relationship that my thoughts and mind states have with the outside world, which is allowing me to learn much about myself that I never knew. I had a moment of clarity today where I really felt like thoughts and feelings arising were something “happening to me”, not “me, myself”, like they did before (although before I never noticed that I was actually identifying with those thoughts/ feelings). I feel like the graphics of my consciousness have been upgraded.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/6/17 6:39 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Very cool. It will probably start being obvious that a lot of the thoughts and feelings aren't useful and you might want "to get rid of them". The whole trick in meditation is to notice this too as a thought and just let all of it be. Muddy water will eventually settle into mud and water, it just takes time.

If you can avoid the whole "angsty meditator" syndrome that often happens after initial "excited meditator" phase, then you will be ahead of the game.

Many people get caught in a whole meditator identity-and-shadow-side thing. They start meditating, have initial success, it gets somewhat difficult, they deny the problems they are having, and then their sits become about intellectualizing experience. 

The way to avoid that is so simple, but it takes maturity. Basically, keep doing a daily practice. When things are great, then great! When things suck, then great! Keep practice going, gently and consistenly, and it will work out. Sitting is about making progress, then reaching a plateau, getting stuck for a while, and then suddenly going -- oh, now I "see" that thing that was causing problems. I was ignoring it or resisting it, but now if I can just experience it without doing anything, it isn't a problem. There is no reason to be angsty. We need to experience problems so we actually find solutions. It's just how this works. But the good news is being a part of the progress is fascinating. Wow, the mind is amazing! So each time a problem happens, cool! This is a chance to work on the next thing. And the next thing is seen and the mind is just a little clearer and saner.

And so it goes!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/6/17 2:11 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
It will probably start being obvious that a lot of the thoughts and feelings aren't useful and you might want "to get rid of them". The whole trick in meditation is to notice this too as a thought and just let all of it be. Muddy water will eventually settle into mud and water, it just takes time.

If you can avoid the whole "angsty meditator" syndrome that often happens after initial "excited meditator" phase, then you will be ahead of the game.


I was already starting to fall into this trap! Shutting up and letting things thake their course seems to be the name of the game. I will trust the elders!

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/6/17 2:12 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/6/2017 - Day 26:
45 minutes
Got the highest quality of sleep I have had in a while last night. While sitting, I noticed a distinct difference between the “meditative dullness” I was dealing with and simply feeling “tired” due to the body needing sleep. I was a bit worried that my dullness was purely being caused by poor sleep, so this was a relief.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/7/17 10:50 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/7/2017 - Day 27:
30 minutes
Starting tomorrow I want to increase my sit time to 50 minutes. I’m writing that here now so I don’t pussy out in the morning

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5/8/17 12:15 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/8/2017 - Day 28
50 minutes
Pretty solid sit. Applied dullness antidotes as soon as I started to notice subtle dullness seeping in, and this allowed me to stay out of strong dullness up until the last 5 minutes of the sit. Getting better at recognizing the hindrances. Finally starting to figure out what introspective awareness actually is; the whole “watch the mind while the mind watches the breath” thing is really starting to make sense.

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5/9/17 11:23 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/9/2017 - Day 29
35 minutes
A took a long walk today and really watched my thoughts the entire time. It became apparent that the “voice in my head” wasn’t talking to “me” around 95% of the time. It was having imaginary conversations with parents, friends, old classmates, and even imaginary people I haven’t met yet. These imaginary conversations are all about trying to think of things to say and ways to say those things so that I can give the best possible impression of myself. I never realized how self-conscious I am. When I caught one of these conversations arising, it would stop instantly, and then a conversation ABOUT how “the voice in my head is not talking to me” would begin. Then I would notice that too and feel awkward. I know that all this is just part of the process, so I’m not worried about it though.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/10/17 6:21 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Yamazaki:
5/9/2017 - Day 29
Then I would notice that too and feel awkward. I know that all this is just part of the process, so I’m not worried about it though

Nice, I've been noticing this and similar things quite a lot recently too, I think it's the thing that basically saves us from freaking out or trapped in unpleasant and pleasant things (well, too much anyway ;) ) 

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/10/17 10:46 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
5/10/2017 - Day 30
50 minutes
Applied dullness antidotes and managed to stay out of strong dullness for the whole sit. The sense of where my head was in space was off, and I felt the breath sensations around where my cheek should be, which made it a bit difficult to focus on them. Lots of old memories came up; got sucked in a bit towards the end of the sit.

It has been 2 years and 68 days since I first picked up Mindfulness in Plain English, and for the first time in my life I have meditated for 30 days in a row. I am no longer worried about falling off the path; I have already seen so much positive change in my life. I actually think I might have had a mild form of ADD, but now I feel that my baseline focus abilities are that of the average modern person. From here on out I will make one post a week documenting my progress.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/15/17 2:00 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
I hasn't been a full week, but I wanted to start posting every monday.

5/11 - day 31
50 minutes
first 20 minutes were dullness free, then fell pretty deep, applied antidotes to no avail, but then at 40 minutes suddenly the mind got really bright and everything felt pretty nice. It was hard to stay concentrated in this bright state though

5/12 - day 32
50 minutes
pretty much monkey mind the whole time. couldn’t see thoughts as thoughts; easily captured over and over again. Probably due to ​agitation and remorse for to events that took place yesterday. Experimented with keep extrospective awareness open to avoid dullness, which seemed to work to some degree. Combined with other dullness antidotes managed to stay out of strong dullness

5/13 - day 33
50 minutes
Overall very strong sit. Used peripheral awareness to avoid dullness for almost the entire sit, and introspective awareness alerted me to potential distractions very swiftly, allowing me to maintain a strong focus on the breath. "Stamina" started to run out in the last 10 minutes and I got caught by distractions more, but my body started to feel very nice. As I become more and more able to see common distractions as "something happening to me", not "something 'I' am creating", it is becoming much easier to stay focused on the breath. I think that before I was trying too hard to stabilize attention on the breath, allowing peripheral awareness to collapse, which lead to dullness and forgetting.

5/14 - day 34
50 minutes
Things went awful for most of the sit. Mind was restless and unfocused, and continually wandering. Dullness seeped in as well. There was a pervading feeling of aversion, I think toward the fact that my sit wasn't going well. Right at the end of my hit, I had a mini-epiphany that I should stop caring about how well my sit is going, since it's not in my control, and either way, what I will be doing will not change. I kind of opened up to and accepted the shittiness of my sit, then there was a release and I was suddenly filled with joy. I felt like my sit would have turned for the positive, but the bell rang a few moments after.

I am really starting to notice the negative effects that "wrong speech" have on my psyche. I feel awful after most conversations that I have. It is hard to imagine that I was so unaware as to have never noticed this before.

5/15 - day 35
50 minutes
First 30 minutes of the sit were very strong; kept very focused attention on the breath while letingt thoughts and memories come and go in the background. I felt that I may be ready to move on to TMI stage 5 very soon. Then I started to get a little dull, and perhaps out of cockiness form the first half of the sit, wasn't diligent about applying dullness antidotes, and become pretty dull by the end of the sit.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/22/17 2:21 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Days 36-42

I started to sit 60 minutes in the morning, and then do another few shorter sits throughout the day. I want to start doing more walking meditation, and start mettā practice as well. I want to work up to: 2 hour long TMI based sits in the morning, 30 minutes of walking meditation and 30 minutes of mettā, then a 30 minute sit right before bed. I have the time; if I work up to it this amount really shouldn’t be difficult. Sitting longer is getting easier and easier, more enjoyable, and more productive. I have three weeks before a 10 day goenka retreat I am signed up for, so I want to take my practice as far as I can before then.

This week I started to get really caught up in unrealistic expectations and self-doubt. I knew exactly what was happening but couldn’t stop it. The more self-doubt there was, the more agitated my mind got, the worse my sit went, and then worse the doubt would get, etc. It got to point where I felt like shit all day off the cushion. The worst part was that I thought that I had already learned that lesson the hard way. After getting a bunch of super helpful advice from a couple of different people, I was able to totally reframe my situation. Instead of viewing the expectations and self-doubt as some “problem” that was getting in the way of me making progress “on the path”, I started to view it as something to overcome as PART of the path. Before I was working on dullness, now I am working on doubt. I also started to reframe the doubt as just an empty phenomenon of the mind, a bad habit of the mind that has no real substance. In fact, I realized that there are no such things as “problems” in meditation; whatever comes up is just an impermanent projection of the mind, and learning to deal with it is the essence of progress. With this attitude, I can welcome things like impatience and doubt as a friend, because dealing with them is the essence how to progress.

This morning during my hour sit, I had awareness of my mind like never before. I could see that I have a shit ton of little, subtle mental habits that inhibit my ability to maintain strong sustained attention to the breath, and that I still have quite a long way to go before I move into TMI stage 5. But I also saw that I am actively chipping away at these mental habits literally each minute I am sitting, and that progress is getting made continuously. Overall, I feel really good about my practice. Everything is starting to make a lot of sense.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/24/17 1:47 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
I just had possibly the most profound experience of my life today on the cushion, and I wanted to write about it.

Leading up:
Yesterday I had some mundane insights into no-self. I was getting very tempted to do something that I explicitly told myself I wouldn’t do. I had planned ahead of time to “recognize the thoughts and urges as just phenomena of the mind”. But when the urges arose and I examined them, I realized that it wasn’t “me” having urges. At that moment “I” WAS the urges. I was literally not the same person who decided to not give into the urges. At that moment, the feeling of “I” referred to something different than what it referred to previously. I had another very similar experience later that day after a social interaction, where the thoughts, opinions, desires, the feeling of who “I” was was completely different than previously. It felt like noticing a glitch in the matrix. The problem of self-control started to make a lot of sense: there is no “I” to be in control. Then later in that day I had the realization that it is profound that meditation is actually possible in the first place: it is not “me” training “my mind”, it’s just “mind” training itself. I have intellectually understood the concept of no-self for a while now, but things really seemed to click in a new way.

The experience:
My sit started off extremely well. My internal and external awareness was on point, and I had great clarity following the breath. Around 20 minutes in, I started to have many extremely intriguing mundane insights into how the mind works: the untrained mind is very similar to someone with “Anton–Babinski syndrome”. The mind is blind to its own nature, but doesn’t know that it is blind. Stories instantly get created to account for that blindness and maintain the illusion of vision. A memory will pop up that I didn’t even know I remembered, but then the feeling of “I (chose to) remember that” occurs. I could see exactly why I was so caught in self-doubt: my mind was wandering around, just doing what it was doing, but then the feeling of “I (chose to) wander” occurs, which leads to guilt and frustration. In reality, there are just a bunch of different processes, all with their own agenda, doing their best to create good results. So of course it’s hard to make consistent new habits! Of course the mind can’t be controlled! There is no one there to control it!

I tried to keep going back to the breath but the mundane insights kept pulling me away. Then I suddenly started to feel really happy and starting giggling out loud. Then in a single moment I saw how I had spent my whole life trying to control myself and get myself to do things, failing, and then beating myself up and feeling miserable for not being able to control myself, but that was all just a misunderstanding of how things work. “I” wasn’t at blame. It was almost like all of the suffering I had caused myself all those years got erased with this understanding. I suddenly starting sobbing, harder than I have in a decade. It felt really good. I felt like I could truly love myself for the first time. The sobbing kept coming and going. I saw why I had so much trouble setting up a consistent daily practice, and how fucking incredible it is that I was actually able to come this far. Now that I have broken through this illusion, I will never beat myself up in the same way ever again, so from now on practicing will be better than ever before. I felt like I had just passed through some kind of ultimate threshold on the path. I then had the realization that EVERYONE is stuck in that place I was, just trying to be happy but suffering due to delusion, and I felt true compassion for maybe the first time in my life. I tried to focus on the breath after things calmed down but ended up stopping a few minutes early to go tell me dad what I had just experienced before he left for work.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/25/17 6:19 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Yes, the big mind just wants to let go and be free of the little tiny mind, but the big mind also wants to be gentle to the little tiny mind. So awakening takes time, out of compassion. So slowly but sometimes in big jumps, the limitations we thought we were living within are seen through. There can be a realization that aspects of the little mind can be left behind and suddenly a lot of problems go away.

Best wishtes Yamazaki 

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/26/17 5:12 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Yamazaki:
I just had possibly the most profound experience of my life today on the cushion, and I wanted to write about it.

[...] I will never beat myself up in the same way ever again, so from now on practicing will be better than ever before. I felt like I had just passed through some kind of ultimate threshold on the path. I then had the realization that EVERYONE is stuck in that place I was, just trying to be happy but suffering due to delusion, and I felt true compassion for maybe the first time in my life. I tried to focus on the breath after things calmed down but ended up stopping a few minutes early to go tell me dad what I had just experienced before he left for work.
Sounds all good, but I'd bet some money on that it will happen again (:

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/26/17 2:36 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
Even as I was writing that, part of me was going, "Never?? You sure???" haha. I should know by now that you can never say never when it comes to meditation ;D

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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5/29/17 3:53 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Days 43-49

Things have been different since that experience I had last Wednesday. Here are some of the general patterns I have noticed. These do not apply all of the time; maybe 50% of the time at best, probably less. I still find myself stuck in old patterns much of the time. But at the best moments, there are how things are: It is much easier to fight urges to do unskillful things. It feels like I was always compelled to indulge in instant gratification in order to escape the unsatisfactoriness of the present moment, but that “unsatisfactoriness” has diminished to some extent. Now when urges arise, sometimes I can say, “well, I’m just fine right here without it” and let it go, when I would have just acted on the impulse before. I am also more likely to do the things that I know are good for me but I have some degree of aversion to. When talking to people, it is easier to let the conversation be about them, and not say all of the things that would feel good to say in the moment to boost my ego, but that I would regret saying later. In meditation, when things are not going very well, it is easier to see that no one is at fault, and everything happening is just the result of conditions, and this makes it easier to work with. Sometimes I will take walks out side and really get in touch with the present moment like I was never able to do before. I feel truly fulfilled, and realize how unfulfilled I had felt my entire life. It feels like something that was always there nagging me is gone.

I have been sitting one hour every morning. Some days I do additional sits, probably bringing my daily average to around two hours a day. In reality, it is extremely hard to judge my own progress. Things go well for a few days, then go badly for a while. When things go well, I find the balance between introspective awareness and attention, maintain focused attention on the breath, and sitting becomes very interesting and enjoyable. When things go badly, dullness is a real bitch, it’s hard to feel breath sensations, and the mind gets impatient, worried, and agitated due to dissatisfaction with how the sit is going. Sometimes I think I was born to be a meditator, other times I think I have zero potential. When my sits go well, my whole life seems awesome, and when my sits go badly, my life seems rather bleak for a while. Intellectually I know that I will keep moving forward as long as I keep practicing consistently and diligently, and that sometimes the most progress is made when things “seem” to be going badly. I guess my current goal should be to watch my mind more carefully, learn the details of how and why it falls into destitution, and start intervening by throwing out those thoughts and cultivating joy, so that my mind states can start to reflect the intellectual understanding I wrote above.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
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6/5/17 9:43 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Days 50-56

I suddenly started sitting less. Still did my hour long sit on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but didn’t do any additional sits. Those sits went well. I suddenly decide to trip on shrooms after my sit on Thursday. It wasn’t planned in advanced, but I had been thinking that I wanted try tripping again and see what I could experience with my newly cultivated meditative abilities. I took 5g on an empty stomach, and had one hell of a day. I won’t go into the details, but during my trip my ego really fell apart, I saw heaven and then hell, all ideas and concepts felt unreliable and empty, and I realized that existentially I don’t know what I am.

The next day my head was still a little cloudy; I sat for a little bit but couldn’t focus at all. I was oddly compelled to distract myself and waste time all day. Later that day one of my old friends called me up and asked if I wanted to chill, and I said yes. I was surprised myself, because normally I would avoid that kind of stuff because I want to focus all my efforts on making progress on the path. I ended up going to a party with a bunch of people I went to high school with. Before, I used to be really self-conscious and uncomfortable at those kind of parties, but this time I really didn’t give a fuck and felt fine, which was cool. I didn’t drink but smoked weed. Once I got high my ego really started to fall apart again. I got that feeling that I was headless, and was just a bunch of floating thoughts with no center, which felt really creepy. At that party, I talked a lot to my old hook up for psychedelics, who I hadn’t talked to in months.

The next day, that friend came over and sold me DMT, which I also hadn’t done in around 6 months. That night, I smoked DMT twice. The first time, I had this super intense ego death where I realized that I had no fucking idea what I am. Am I these thoughts? Don’t these thoughts come from the unconscious? I’m not the unconscious, am I? It’s like I looked inside to find “me” and nothing was there. Once I came back, I had that “headless” feeling again, and was super creeped out. There is something about DMT trips for me where I feel like I am contacting something extremely familiar and close to home, yet that I normally cannot notice the existence of. It makes me feel as though I have forgotten something or lost touch with something that is extremely important. Then I did another big dose, and oh man, there is no way to describe the experience with words. Many vivid things were flashing before my eyes quickly, things that I had never seen before, and I couldn’t remember who I was or what I was doing. It was just pure experience. There was this strong anxiety, like something was gravely wrong. I was confronted with that fact that I was going to die one day, and then be gone forever (which has been a deep trauma of mine since childhood). What will be lost at death is “me-ness”, which felt like THE most important thing, ever. This felt like a huge, unsurmountable problem that undermines everything in my entire life. It felt as though my whole life was just a distraction from this problem of my unavoidable annihilation. Then the ego death stuff started happening again, wheren I feel like just a bunch of centerless thoughts, and I realized that becoming enlightened means seeing through and letting go of me ego, which WAS that “me-ness” which I am so afraid of losing. Intellectually I knew that it wasn’t there in the first place, so in reality nothing will be lost, but experientially it felt like I was signing up for my own suicide. Needless to say, this really left me freaked out.

Yesterday I sat for a bit, and then watched movies all day. There was this underlying anxiety and dissatisfaction with the present moment, but I was very good about breaking down all of that experience down into its component parts, and not identifying with any of it. I often found myself contemplating “what I actually am”. Around this point I finally made the connection between all of this stuff and my decrease in sit time. Other changes: recently I am much more skeptical about the content of my own thoughts, and have become aware that I to lie to myself and make up stories about my experience all of the time. Thinking feels very unproductive now, and I find myself just watching thoughts from afar when they arise. All of my old ambitions for the future feel kind of pointless and no longer attract me.

The cool thing about all this is that although I am going through a sort of crisis in a way, at the same time I feel “just fine”, because the only way a crisis can occur is in the form of thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, which I now know how to handle decently well. If all this was happening to me a few months ago, I think I really would have flipped out. Now I can see it as a phase and deal with it. I have no idea how my experience maps on to any maps, but I assume that all of the negative changes are related to insight in some way, and that I have to keep meditating to feel amazing again and untangle all the knots related to “what I actually am” (writting this now, each time I type "I" I wonder what exactly it is really refering to). In hindsight doing psychedelics at this time was a pretty stupid idea (won't be doing them again any time soon), but that is all in the past now. I plan on going easier on myself in general than I was a few weeks ago, but making sure to meditate a few hours a day no matter what.

This morning I meditated for an hour and it was a great sit. Still around TMI stage 4, sometimes 3 and sometimes 5. I had one moment where a memory came up but it didn’t feel like “mine”, and deep compassion arose.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
6/12/17 8:08 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Days 57-63

I think that big experience I had 3 weeks ago may have been an A&P event, because I am experiencing many dark night symptoms recently. I feel like my moods go through cycles, usually around 1.5 days long. When it’s bad things feel very meaningless, and I feel like I don’t want to do anything, but I don’t want to do nothing either, so I end up spending a lot of time distracting myself with things like watching movies. I will feel like the idea of me trying to manipulate the world in order to achieve some sort of result is really hopeless. Then suddenly I will feel fine and start thinking positive things. It is actually helpful to think that I am in the dark night, because then I can more easily accept and deal with the negative emotions and thoughts.

I guess a big part of me still doubts that the progress of insight is a real thing, because the “dark night” kind of sounds like a silly story I am telling myself. Intellectually I realize that I have not felt this depressed and unmotivated (during the times when it’s bad) in months, and there is no other explanation I can think of for my sudden change in mood and attitude. Plus, this is all coming right after a week of feeling the happiest I have ever felt in my life, which was right after that opening experience 3 weeks ago. The strong feeling of “being one unchanging being” is still firmly gone, but that no longer feels creepy or uncomfortable anymore.

I have still been sitting every day, usually around an hour, sometimes more, sometimes less. Many of my sits go very well actually, with more and more time spent in TMI stage 5. Sometimes I will feel really awesome after sitting. On Wednesday I am leaving for a 10 day Goenka retreat, my first retreat ever. I thought about doing TMI practice the entire time, but I think I am going to just follow all of their instructions. I am very excited, and hoping that it will really give my practice some momentum.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
6/13/17 6:16 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Be careful.

Going on retreat during this phase of practice is probably going to be volitile, both highs and lows. Goenka retreats are some of the toughest, very little walking, mostly sitting --- so hard to escape the mind, hard to escape the body.

If anything, I would advise not creating "momentum" but maybe think about gentle healing, relaxing, letting the body and mind develop strength and wholeness. Developing a foundation is actually developing momentum, but in the practical dharma world the focus tends to be on go, go go...

It's sort of like going for a long backpacking trip, like the Appalacian Trail and starting off not in perfect shape. Not a problem, but take it really really slow in the beginning. Let the body warm up, get loose, get used to the ups and downs at a moderate pace. There is plenty of time to walk faster, but if you go too fast in the beginning, you'll burn out.

People underestimate the intensity of retreats or expect them to "fix" their problems. As often as not, retreats are very humbling experiences that point out where all of our weakness are.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
6/13/17 2:10 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you for that advice, it all makes a lot of sense.
shargrol:
think about gentle healing, relaxing, letting the body and mind develop strength and wholeness
I will do this. I will throw away all my expectation and just take things one breath at a time.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
6/13/17 7:15 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Nice! emoticon

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
7/3/17 3:05 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
I give up on counting days emoticon

The current state of my practice

Guess what I am going through is more like a purification type thing. Either way, I'm just going to keep practicing with TMI! I can still feel steady progress below the surface of my turbulent sits, so I am not worried.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
7/19/17 11:20 AM as a reply to Yamazaki.
I think I finally got the hang of “being a mediator”. You sit, things go well, then they go badly, then they go well again. You just keep sitting. It is clear that “you” don’t learn how to “make” your meditation go well; you just keep sitting, and then over time the mind figures things out and starts to move in that direction by itself. There is almost no relation between how good a sit “felt” and how much was gained from it. And worrying about that stuff is just doubt and distraction. This all feels self-evident now.

For the first week after my retreat my practice felt really bad, like I described in the post above. But then suddenly the clouds parted and I was having amazing stage 5 sits where my mind was very bright. The week after that I was much busier than I usually am and my ability to concentrate in practice dropped a bit. I have been sitting at least one hour each day, and many days more (although there were a few exceptions where I completely missed a day; I am determined to not let that happen anymore). I also started running every morning in hopes to up my energy levels, since until now I was getting nearly no exercise. This morning I was around TMI stage 4-5. Mostly struggling with dullness. But I predict that within a few days my practice will move back up to where it was a week ago.

I have noticed a huge difference off the cushion in my relationship to my thoughts. I am noticing how much suffering I cause myself through my own behavior and thought patterns moment by moment, and this is naturally leading me to be more mindful throughout the day in order to notice and put a stop to these when I can. Many times, even when I see clearly how something is causing me suffering, I keep doing it anyway out of habit. It feels like it takes an almost physical energy to not act on deeply engrained habits, and sometimes the energy is just not there.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
8/1/17 7:24 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Lately I have been struggling with the most intense dullness/ drowsiness I have ever experienced. As soon as I sit down to meditate, within minutes I find myself in a hypnogogic state. I do everything I can to rouse myself out of dullness, but I sink right back down like quick sand. Today I filled a bucket with ice water and placed in front of me and dunked my head in it each time I fell deep into drowsiness, but within another few minutes I was right back where I started. I have also been tired throughout the day, but many times the drowsiness starts as soon as I start meditating, and goes away as soon as I stop. I eat a well-balanced vegan diet, go jogging every morning, and get 8 hours of sleep each night, so I assume that my problem is a meditative one. I continue to sit through this dullness one full hour each day, but it doesn't feel very productive

This post, (combined with many other accounts I have heard), has inspired me to seriously take up mettā practice. I have a Sharon Salzberg book which offers a bunch of exercises to ease one into mettā, and since I find that I have a lot of resistance to the idea of sitting down and doing pure mettā practice, I think I will start with this. I have a tendency to of wanting to research the shit out of everything and try to obtain a perfect understanding of something before actually starting it, so my current attitude is “just get the fuck started with SOMETHING, NOW!”

Also, I got the opportunity to participate in the Finders Course, which started 4 days ago. It’s a long story; I applied on a whim, not thinking I would get chosen, got chosen, didn’t have the money, but through a lucky chain of events they allowed me to do online research for them in exchange for the right to participate in the course. I don't think it will be replicatable for anyone reading this. I plan on continuing my TMI/mettā practice alongside the Finders Course, so I will be spending a lot of time on the cushion for these next few months. I will keep updating my real-time experience of the Finders Course.

RE: Yamazaki's Practice Log
Answer
8/8/17 10:41 PM as a reply to Yamazaki.
Finders Course is interesting. For now, it mostly consists of Goenka-based breath meditation, and a series of positive psychology exercises to increase general wellbeing. I actually think these exercises have been working because I have been feeling more joyful throughout the day. Through doing the Goenka-based meditation, which consists of really focusing on the sensations of the breath inside the nose, I realized that when I do TMI meditation I have not been paying attention to the actual sensations of the breath, but only the general concepts of “in breath” and “out breath”. I actually can barely feel any breath-related sensations inside my nose, besides a slight change in temperature. When I told Tucker about this today in eSangha, he said that this sort of “realizing that you have been meditating wrong the entire time” is a usual symptom/ attainment of stage 6 in TMI. That reframing really helped me take a more positive outlook on it. When doing body scans I can feel subtle sensations on many places on the body, and even some breath-related sensations in my arms and hands, so this leads me to assume that the nerve endings on the inside of my nose might be less active than the average person’s or something. I plan on doing body scans more in hopes of increasing my kinesthetic sensitivity and accuracy so that I will gain the ability to both feel more breath sensations in the nose, as well as focus on them and not the concept of “the breath”.

I have been avoiding doing mettā meditation (I am typing this on Microsoft Word and it automatically corrects the a to ā lol)…. I think because it sounds really abstract and I feel like I will be bad at it. So far I have just been doing 10 minutes before my normal sits. I really want to just get over this resistance and start doing 30 minutes each day. Dullness has gotten better but is still my biggest problem right now. I also had the insight that I have been putting in way too much effort, which is something that you hear all the time but suddenly became really obvious and tangible. Lots of stuff to work with, this week should be good.