Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Daniel Johnson, modified 6 Years ago at 3/22/17 11:56 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/22/17 11:56 AM

Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Hello Friends,
I've been off this board for at least two years, and I've been on quite a journey in that time. I was slowly fading in my participation here as my meditation practice was also at a seeming plateau. The plateau that I thought I was stuck at was 10th/11th nyana, still trying to get stream entry - year after year. So, I stopped posting here, got on with my life and my practice, and just did my best.

I just returned from a 12 week retreat at Panditarama Lumbini, and it was phenomenal. No more plateau! I didn't attain "stream entry" by the Mahasi standard, but I must have attained "creek entry" or something because my life is profoundly different than before I entered the retreat. And rather than saying I attained "first path" by the Mahasi standard, perhaps I'll say that I attained "first trail," because whatever path or trail I was on... the fire has been extinguished. The progress I made is beyond words, and I'm so grateful to have this new life and new momentum in my practice.

I could say a lot more about all of that, but it is all in the past, and I'm more interested in keeping this thread going from now onward through my life. Therefore, rather than a bunch of chatter about the long journey that I've been on, I've decided to jump right in with a fresh new practice log. Full Steam Ahead!!!

Perhaps at a future time (or if anyone is interested), I can fill in more details of what's been going on for me. Right now, I'll continue in this thread with my practice log starting this morning.
Daniel Johnson, modified 6 Years ago at 3/22/17 12:08 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/22/17 12:08 PM

RE: Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
3/22 Morning - walk/sit/walk/sit 3 hours

Started out with lots of thoughts about a family issue. The thoughts had a mostly pleasant quality, although the topic of the thoughts is one of conflict. There was a flow to the thoughts which was somewhat fluid, insightful, and intelligent. There was an intention and many attempts to give priority to sensations rather than get absorbed into the content, although the content won out for much of the time. This topic remained as the predominant object for the first hour or so of the session. The body felt mostly comfortable and at ease, no intense sensations. Breathing was slightly pleasant, and relaxed. The thoughts were definitely observed as changing and evolving, and insights were arising. Perhaps there was a flavor of pride and conciet which gave the thoughts a particular momentum, although the pride was not totally clear in the moment (more clear in retrospect).

The family topic eventually faded, and then there was a bit more attentiveness to moment-to-moment experience, with other worldly thoughts and other topics briefly making appearances. The family issue did come back intermittently throughout the rest of the sit, but the mind was slowly losing interest in it. In noticing more of the present moment, there were different experiences of craving, running, grasping, striving. Investigating those led to some relaxation, and insight into "this is all there is." This led to more simplicity of practice: "just sitting" "just breathing" "just being", etc. The last hour of the session was mostly like this - very simple, not much going on either positive or negative. If anything, a slight hint of unsatisfactoriness, but not intense. Just accepting the moment.

At the very last 10 minutes, the mind became more agitated again, as it started wanting to get on with daily tasks for today. This led to some anxiety and unpleasantness. I was walking during this last part, and had to just stop and do standing posture, and just breath into the tensions and unpleasant spots.

Right now, I'm noticing a bit of a quickness. Some enthusiasm, bordering on overly-energetic excitement. Pausing, I notice some tension in the neck muscles that starts to relax. A bit of a tense sort of clinging and holding on and wanting. A sort of "pain in the heart" feeling, which is letting go into some sadness. Then, some joy... lots of joy... to be here on this discussion board, participating again. Love too. emoticon
Daniel Johnson, modified 6 Years ago at 3/24/17 10:42 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/24/17 10:42 AM

RE: Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
3/23 Did about 9 hours of meditation yesterday, but didn't log any journal entries for it.

3/24 Morning: walk 20 min, sit one hour

Walking - still many thoughts about events from yesterday. Noticing more pleasant states than the previous night. Mind slightly scattered, walking pace slightly faster.

Sit - lost in thought for first couple minutes, then establishing more presence in the moment, some relaxing in belly, and some insights - which led to more thoughts. Body very still and calm, some coldness. Quite relaxed and still for first 30 minutes. Coldness replaced by a lot of heat in body - and noted the contrast of opposites. After about 30 minutes, slightly more unpleasant, but body remained very still. At 45 minutes, a rather rapid onset of resltessness. I was lost in thought, then had an intention to check the time. The eyes opened before I realized it, but I didn't break posture, and didn't check the time. Very quickly closed eyes, and observed the onset of restlessness. Body was hot, and now much more uncomfortable - some pain in legs, etc.

Watched the decay of the still and calm state into a more chaotic aversion/craving state. Many intentions to move the body arose, and they were noted and not indulged. There were thoughts of "extreme discomfort" which were challenged and investigated, and found to not be accurate to reality. The discomfort was composed mostly of some light pains and tensions in the body and a series of rapidly arising scattered, quick thoughts moving in different directions. I sat with this for a few minutes, and then the pain increased, and eventually I did break the posture and stretched the legs. Then, the back was more slouched, and the mind was more drifty and day-dreamy with lots of planning thoughts for the day. Lots of desire to get up and get on with the day.
Daniel M Ingram, modified 6 Years ago at 3/25/17 2:36 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/25/17 2:36 AM

RE: Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 3268 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Glad to have you back. Glad you had a good retreat. Thanks for the reports,

Daniel Johnson, modified 6 Years ago at 3/25/17 10:16 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/25/17 10:16 AM

RE: Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Thanks Daniel,
It's great to be back. I greatly appreciate this community, and it has been helpful for me in many ways. I was on a plateau for a very long time, but things are moving again. I want to keep a practice log going, because it is a good discipline for me, although I don't know if I'll keep it in this thread or not. (I don't want to flood the forum with mundane details of all my sits). We'll see.

3/24 Total meditation ~ 5 hours

Nighttime: Very light sleep. A lot of lying in bed, awake and meditating. Remembering how wonderful it is to meditate during the sleeping hours, and allow sleep to come and go as necessary. Pleasant.

3/25 Morniing: Walk/Sit/Walk/Sit 3 hours
Lots of planning and creativity thoughts. Really noticing the way I get swept away in the momentum of worldly pursuits. "So many great ideas" "So many things I want to do", etc. Mostly observing these various mental states and thought patterns. Craving. Sense of identity. Enchantment with imagination. Aversion to sitting and doing nothing. The tension increased in the last ~45 minutes, with a more compulsive desire to get on with the day. It was more unpleasant.

The first sitting period, the body was pretty still, the mind calm. There were many thoughts, but not as overpowering or tense. A few times, I switched to out-loud noting to strengthen the energy and focus - with positive result. AT one point, some subtle pulsing tensions relaxing in head that felt pleasant... sensations like "brain rewiring."

A few times, a sense would arise of: "ugh" with some doubts, or craving, or planning... and it would seem "real" when arising. Then, a thought would arise, "wait. I don't have to do anything but note this."... then attention would take this "ugh" mind as an object and see that it was only a temporary passing mental state. A predominant sense of existing as a soup of ephemeral and changing phenomena, unpredictable. With this, there has been a sense of wonder - curiosity to see what will arise next, and where this will all lead to from here.
Daniel Johnson, modified 6 Years ago at 3/26/17 10:41 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/26/17 10:41 AM

RE: Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
3/25 - about 5.5 hours of meditation - got very thrown off in a couple ways. First, I got immersed in a creative project which threw off my meditation schedule and my entire schedule for the day. Noted the compulsivity of such creative projects: "I *must* do this." Also, it has a sense of being "carried away." It wasn't altogether stressful. It was actuallly mostly pleasant, with a sense of flow and love moving through me in the creative process. But, it was also tunnel-vision type focus, wherein there was a loss of perspective of other aspects of life - and also an over-importance placed on the currently focused-on object. 

Second, I inadvertantly got a phone call from a friend and conversation turned to politics, which brought some disruptive energy and agitation to the mind. I think, in a way, it's important to make contact with political energy from time to time, simply to stay atuned to the greater patterns and flows of energy that are occuring in the world, however, they can be agitating in a way that requires time to digest (through meditation and settling the mind). I think there is a balance between those two.

Long story short: Went to sleep late, with mind full of thoughts and somewhat distracted.

3/26 Slept in (see above) by about 1.5 hours, and was still a bit scattered upon awaking

Walk/Sit for 1hr 40 min.
Walking - lots of insights! Wanted to write it all down. Noting the nature of impulsivity and compulsivity that had swept me away the day before, and noting it in the moment with intentions to break meditation. Noted the intentions, along with the intensity of intentions. Noted that intensity of an intention does not necessarily corelate with importance of an intention. Practiced pattern interupts to come out of compulsive intentions.
Sitting - a bit more drifting in thought, but body calm, still, and relaxed. More of a drifty practice (but not obsessive).
Daniel Johnson, modified 6 Years ago at 3/27/17 10:20 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 3/27/17 10:20 AM

RE: Daniel Johnson - I'm Back!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
3/26 - total meditation 3.5 hrs

3/27 Lying/Sitting/Walk/Sit/Walk/Sit - 4 hours in morning

Woke up an hour early, so did an hour of lying meditation in bed. Body was calm to begin with. Mind mostly still too, but a bit drifty. Not much going on for most of session, with worldly thoughts often but not super intense. A few rounds of moderately intense pain, with an attempt to maintain maximum equanimity with the pain... which led to some relaxation and peace and calm.

I am trying to keep the habit of a meditation log, because I think it enhances the quality of practice. Today was percieved as somewhat uneventful, however.