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Junglist Practice Log junglist 4/29/17 3:02 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Reasons and Aims junglist 4/29/17 3:03 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Practice History junglist 4/29/17 3:02 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Reasons and Aims junglist 6/14/17 1:12 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/1/17 1:31 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Catching Thoughts junglist 5/2/17 1:11 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/2/17 1:12 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log Laurel Carrington 5/2/17 1:29 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/2/17 7:01 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/2/17 7:19 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/2/17 7:43 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/3/17 1:23 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Proofreading meditation junglist 5/3/17 9:24 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/4/17 12:49 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/5/17 1:49 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/7/17 2:28 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Thoughts on impermanence junglist 5/7/17 3:34 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Night junglist 5/8/17 1:53 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/8/17 6:42 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/9/17 4:22 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/10/17 1:09 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log (D Z) Dhru Val 4/20/18 12:40 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 4/20/18 1:24 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log (D Z) Dhru Val 4/20/18 2:11 PM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/11/17 2:26 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/12/17 1:14 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log - Formations? Equanimity? junglist 5/13/17 1:46 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/13/17 2:22 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log shargrol 5/13/17 5:54 AM
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RE: Junglist Practice Log - Interlude junglist 5/22/17 6:49 PM
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RE: Junglist Practice Log - Daily; Automatic meditation; Fly meditation... junglist 7/12/17 5:43 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 7/14/17 2:46 PM
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RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 9/23/17 4:31 AM
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RE: Junglist Practice Log - Where am I? junglist 9/24/17 10:33 AM
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RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 1/29/18 7:00 AM
RE: Junglist Practice Log. junglist 2/2/18 8:49 AM
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RE: Junglist Practice Log junglist 5/7/18 5:46 AM
Junglist Practice Log
Answer
4/29/17 3:02 PM
Dear DhO,

I have decided to start a practice log. I have avoided writing one because thoughts of what ask people and write about often distract, and also because my practice has always been a very private thing, but I've read and benefitted from so many other people's accounts that it would be a shame not to try to do the same some time in the future. I also hope the very act of writing will help me to clarify things.

I have also found great value in reading the advice people have given each other in dialogue, and would also personally be immensely grateful for any advice anyone doing me the great honour of considering this log worthy of reading might have. 

I will use this log to describe what I do, occurrences of interest, as well as any thoughts I consider worth remembering, in varying degrees of detail. I will try to avoid describing my experiences in terms of maps, since my confidence in my understanding of them and how the correlate with me is limited. I also believe it is of much greater value for me to observe and describe my experience as directly as possible.

I thought for the sake of documentation and possible usefulness I might write a bit of background stuff – you might want to skip that bit, if you are even reading this in the first place.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Reasons and Aims
Answer
4/29/17 3:03 PM as a reply to junglist.
First of all I will describe some reasons and aims of my practice.

For a few years now, life has been varyingly demanding, and I experienced difficulties last year in relation to family obligations and study, alongside work, especially in the second half of the year. This led me to take some measures to handle and be able to handle my situations as best as possible and prevent the breakdown of my life and those around me. One of these was to put my studies on hold for a semester, without any expectations of being able to continue or not continue them, and the other was to develop my meditation practice.

My initial aim was to develop concentration and stability in order to be able to do what I needed in a timely manner without being distracted by unessential things, as well as to be a good father and husband, and live life, rather than just tolerate it.

I went back to MCTB, which I had started reading a few years before, but had stopped at the point that mentions that “you ain’t got squat” without access concentration, because I never really got there with my fairly sporadic practice. I decided to make this my first aim. I also continued and then finished reading the book, and found the attainments described to be much more realistically chievable than I had previously imagined. This led me to be much more interested in the fruits promised by insight practices, since ultimately in life I feel developments of any nature tend towards something.

As a result, my difficult situation was also a chance for me to develop, and reignite inquisitive tendencies into the nature of reality and my relationship to it, and so in this regard I aim to embrace meditation together with every moment of daily life.


I will describe my practice until now in the next post.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Practice History
Answer
4/29/17 3:02 PM as a reply to junglist.
On the off chance that it makes any difference to any of you good people or anything else I might say later, I will describe my practice history.

I have been meditating sporadically for a fair few years, meaning there have been times when I’ve done 15, 20 minutes of concentration practice on the breath, sometimes every now and again, and with probably some daily stretches lasting no more than week, with a maximum of 45 minutes. Not sure whether any of this made any difference, but for some reason I kept going back to it, even without obvious directly related benefits. I have long appreciated the idea of “practice” from the point of view of music, but this often took priority of sitting. Also for some years, I have also done taikiken, a martial art with a foundation on zhan zhuang (like standing meditation), with some very slow walking and movements as well, that may or may not be contemplative. 

After Christmas last year, I decided to develop my practice seriously, with 30 minutes of concentration practice every weekday morning before everyone else in my house woke up. I focussed on where I thought the dantian might be. Eventually I found it hard to find, which with hindsight was probably quite interesting, but I decided to use the sensations at the tip of my nose. At one point I read a bit of Culadasa, specifically the first stage of progress he described of developing a daily practice, and so that permanently fixed my practice to every morning.

After a couple of weeks, I found that 30 minutes was not quite enough, and lengthened the sit to 45 minutes. I also added an extra hour on Mondays and Tuesdays when I had some free time. After a while and as I got more interested in insight practices, I added some of them after concentration, so about 30 minutes to an hour of concentration and then 15, 20 minutes of insight. 

I tried out various some different ones from MCTB, like the first exercise on impermanence in which you pay close attention to which sensation of the two index fingers you perceive at every moment, and also the dukkha and no-self one. I also followed concentration with taikiken exercises, and later combined the dukkha one with zhan zhuang, noting every moment I wanted to change my experience, and also the taikiken slow walking with the no-self one, trying to notice how things, like my body movements, happened of their own accord. 

I think around this time things got very equanimous, and I felt like something might have been about to happen, but that faded when I had a few busy days and could keep the momentum up. Hmm, maybe I should try that combination again…

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/1/17 1:31 AM as a reply to junglist.
Right. Too much talking. From now on I'll keep this as concise as I possibly can.

30 min - concentration on breath at the tip of nose, noting diversions of attention, deliberately evoke pleasant feelings on return to breath.

Main hindrances were thinking about what to right here, and the song "America" from West Side Story that we heard and were singing incessantly yesaterday. Resolution to keep this log brief and comical feelings of irritation.

Experimented with use of effort - current personal theme. Effort appears to have direction and magnitude components, and was effective in maintaining attention.

That's too much writing already. -----END-----

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Catching Thoughts
Answer
5/2/17 1:11 AM as a reply to junglist.
Last night in bed, began thinking about thoughts, and how fleeting they are said to be. So I thought I'd try and catch one.
Notes:
- Considered thoughts to be mental talk, images, sounds. Could be other things too, don't know yet though.
- "Catching" comprised noticing a thought and what it was.
- Could try to notice each in more detail (beginning, middle, end, connection to other sensations, thoughts, etc.)
- The catching often triggered another thought, such as "Ah, there's one", followed by "That was another" etc.
- Once I'd caught a few, I could wait quietly, sort of hiding, and watch to see what came up, notice them arising, and the catching became more or less like shooting them down in the middle of playback.
- Attempted to find where they were: my image was that they were shoot up and out of some kind of unseen trumpet in front of and below my mind's eye, but this didn't really hold out long, and, I couldn't really find where they were.

Might try this again sometime. Only managed to do this for 10-15 minutes until I was disturbed, and on trying again, I could quite concentrate. It was late already too.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/2/17 1:12 AM as a reply to junglist.
This morning: 60 minutes noting everything in my experience, maybe 1-5 notes per second, excusing mind wandering.

Mind wandering included mostly things I have to do or decide what to do with. At times this led to issues that have happened or may happen in the future and what should be done. Some sadness arose, but this took on a certain kind of beauty, perhaps like in a piece of music or fiction. To do list remained more or less as mild worry. -Mental note: sort stuff out.-

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/2/17 1:29 AM as a reply to junglist.
I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. You have a good balance here, with the martial arts training and the seated meditation focusing on the breath at the nostrils. You also are beginning to enjoy the practice and to want to increase it. Mind wandering is absolutely normal. Kenneth Folk once taught me a little exercise, imagining myself as a cat staring at a mouse hole, waiting for a little mouse (thought) to pop out. He'd say, "come on now, I'm watching!" 

One thing I'll suggest is that you make your reports as much about sensations as possible. If, for example, you think you are feeling equanimous, tell us what sensations constitute that feeling for you. Good luck! 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/2/17 7:01 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. You have a good balance here, with the martial arts training and the seated meditation focusing on the breath at the nostrils. You also are beginning to enjoy the practice and to want to increase it. Mind wandering is absolutely normal. Kenneth Folk once taught me a little exercise, imagining myself as a cat staring at a mouse hole, waiting for a little mouse (thought) to pop out. He'd say, "come on now, I'm watching!" 
Thanks very much Laurel!
I like the cat and mouse analogy – when I said "Come on now, I'm watching", I caught myself instead. Although the catcher somehow doesn't get caught, and there are always more mice...

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/2/17 7:19 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
One thing I'll suggest is that you make your reports as much about sensations as possible. If, for example, you think you are feeling equanimous, tell us what sensations constitute that feeling for you. Good luck! 
Following your advice!

When I was feeling "equanimous":
Sight: there was generally a crystalline clarity of things I saw, in terms of detail of people's faces, trees etc. and the breadth of my view, things were clearer in my peripheral vision, and it was interesting to watch them there, rather than turn my head to focus on them in the middle of my field of vision. Also movement, watching groups of people walking, lots of cars, etc. was somehow interesting because of I could kind of see more of it, as it were. Just lots of things seem to be happening all around, and I could notice them all.

Bodily sensations: I generally just felt good, healthy and contented, with the speed and effort I did things with, which was never too much. There seemed to be some sort of "effort righting mechanism", which when I did something with too much effort, even just slightly too much like the pressure of my finger on a light switch, I'd get a kind of shot of bliss, which would sort of show me how much effort was needed. This "bliss shot" would also seem to follow other sensations, and I think the magnitude of the feeling was proportional to that of the causing sensation.

It was easy to enjoy it, but there was a bit of unsatisfactoriness about the fact that my pleasant feeling while walking along the street would have to be lost because I would need to run to catch up with my little daughter on her bike.

Hope that makes sense!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/2/17 7:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
2nd session of the day.

Noticed uncertainty and confusion about what to do with the time I had, so started of with concentration practice.

60 min - breath sensations on the tip of the nose - towards the end, I noticed I had got distracted, and a pleasant feeling arose in my entire body. Happened about twice. Attempted to focus on it, but found it difficult to open my focus to over a wide space, so tried my hand, noticed it was fading, so tried to use a smile. Faded in the end, went back to the nose.

20 min - walking as slowly as possible, noting "lifting (foot), moving (foot), lowering (foot), touching (foot on floor), moving (body weight to other foot), lifting (foot) ..." as fast as possible - Interesting to notice the minimum speed was dependent on a series of surprisingly bulky movement, each of which was preceded by an intention.

60 min - noting all noticeable sensations, starting with "rising, falling" of breath in abdomen, sometimes noted sensations with a sense door label or pain, itchin etc., sometimes no label. Noticed uncertainty about the technique. Flashing in eyes for most of the second half of varying frequencies, couldn't quite ascertain as to whether it was linked to the breath or not. 

20 min - ritsu-zen - planned to notice every time I wanted to change my experience instead of facing it, but got interested in a sensation at the base of my spine, which sounded like what I'd heard about of kundalini, so decided to focus on that for the duration. Something small moving there, didn't change much, tried not to want it to do anything too much and just feel what it was doing, towards the end it might have grown a bit.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/3/17 1:23 AM as a reply to junglist.
80 minutes - noting sensations of breath in abdomen, along with other things that arise*.

I am having some trouble settling on a practice. Probably because:
- I want to push my practice further and further, and:
    - therefore thinking, reading and watching a lot about what to do, with new ideas for change arising often
- Could be clearer about what progress really means to me personally
- I am interested in and want something from various techniques
- I have varying amounts of time and want to do as much as possible in the time available.

Resolved to do a minimum of 90 minutes sitting with noting every day, with possible increments. Walking meditation if extra time available.


---
*I planned to do 60 minutes of concentration (for the same reasons as yesterday) and then 20 minutes of ritsu-zen, but I have been wanting to do longer sits recently and had read and watched a bit about strong determination, so I tried to incorporate not moving (intentionally) into focussing on the breath at the tip of my nose. 

I found both focussing on the breath and making sure I stayed still together troublesome because I had to focus on two things. I also found I there were other things I wanted to notice going on, like feelings with some sort of conflict like confusion. 

I then decided to abandon this as well as the following ritsu-zen (sitting the 20 minutes planned for it) and revert to noting, based on breath in the abdomen. I was a little surprised that I found it very easy to sit without moving at all, other than involuntary twitches, occasional deep breaths and relaxation of muscle tension. There was a humorously disappointing lack of pain, maybe sit longer next time.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Proofreading meditation
Answer
5/3/17 9:24 AM as a reply to junglist.
Random sit:
Towards the end of proofreading some work I had done, I started to notice I was quite peacefully focussed. Once I'd finished I decided to investigate the feeling and stayed pretty much exactly as I was in front of my computer.
It sort of developed a bit, and there would be sort of periodic "bliss bursts" every few minutes that pretty much happened by themselves - not quite sure what triggered them each time. I felt them mostly in the front of my body and in my hands, and sort of showers of lights would appear, that often flashed at about 5 Hz. 
Also some light sensations of wriggling inside my face, often forehead.
I stayed in this state without moving and without really trying to until my alarm to go rang, which was about 70 minutes.

A bit weird, don't really know how it happened.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/4/17 12:49 AM as a reply to junglist.
90 minutes - noting.
Noting was slow, attempted to speed it up, did last long. Noted laziness.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/5/17 1:49 AM as a reply to junglist.
90 minutes - sitting, noting; "witnessing"
A bit displeased with the speed of noting yesterday, so tried some countermeasures:
- experimenting with putting maximum effort into intensely experiencing sensations around as I went about my day yesterday - when I remembered to;
- 10 minutes of walking before sitting, doing the same.

I felt labelling was interfering with noticing the three characteristics, especially at any speed, so I decided drop it. Not sure I'm able to note sensations well enough yet, and noticed a fair bit of uncertainty and doubt about the meditation, as well as having sat on my arse for all these hours over the past 4 months. Duly noted.

There was a fair amount of twitching with no discernible pattern that appeared mostly in the arms and legs, fingers, and a bit in the head, but I don't think much in the middle, i.e. torso, abdomen and back. Nothing severe, just little blips. They seemed to be related to the effort I put into noting fast and without labelling.

At one point later in the sit, I felt unsure about how to observe the three characteristics of sensations fast, and attempts to put effort into it seemed to make the sensations bounce around in a way that seemed "intendedly random", I mean in a way that I thought they would appear, rather than how they really appeared. Maybe should have noted this fact more clearly.

I then decided to just witness how things happened, in a no-self kind of way, which made things a bit clearer. I found I sometimes got involved in a thought or whatever, and then remembered I was supposed to be doing the witness thing. Interestingly when I returned to this witnessing mode, it seemed like there was a kind of unsticking from something.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/7/17 2:28 PM as a reply to junglist.
10 minutes walking
78 minutes sitting - noting

Noted sitting-touching-sitting-touching as per Mahasi for a fair while, felt like I didn't get on with it too well for some reason, so reverted to rising-falling. Tried the sitting-touching again at times.

Felt guidance might be needed for deciding when to use which technique, also unsure about this in with observing the present moment, or three characteristics, and it seems impossible to try to do all of these things at once, perhaps simply noting does all these things.

Temptations to change practice, but will wait until a week has been done.

EDIT: should have mentioned that sitting was interrupted just before the end.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Thoughts on impermanence
Answer
5/7/17 3:34 PM as a reply to junglist.
About 15 minutes sit, plus a couple of shorter meditations as opportunities permitted.

Curiously enough, although I felt that my abilities had dwindled somewhat over the last few days, I have been noticing clearly something that has been a major cause dissatisfaction with the current situation of my life for quite a long time, and also probably the main reason I have basically abandoned music making for several weeks, or even months.

It is the fact of feeling like anything I start to do will at some unpredictable point be interrupted. Anything, be it for a short or a long time, will inevitably be interrupted, leading to bad feelings. Anything, meditation, trying to learn to play or compose a piece of music, or sitting for a couple of minutes to play a piece for fun, reading something, doing a bit of work, watching a video, even going to the toilet, or even writing this very practice log is unpredictably impossible to do in peace, and will always be unpredictably interrupted.


The interruption can be anything, the most difficult of which for me appears to be people, especially those who have interrupted me many times already, but also simpler things like it being time to do something else, or even simply a a sound or thought that distracts. The more involved with the activity I am when distracted, the more painful it is.

This inevitably pushes the fact that every single moment could end at any single moment right in my face. This is like experiencing a mild form  of constant death, and I am forced hold this very idea of imminent death as close as possible. I have heard of impermanence describing how nothing lasts as a fact of life, also how things eventually break or are constantly changing, flickering in and out of existence, but now I feel directly and personally that every single moment of my very experience ends. 

I have had great difficulty in dealing with this fact for the past few months especially. Now, however, I find it fascinating. The few moments I managed to sit today were dedicated to experiencing the expectation of inevitable and unpredictable interruptions, and while contemplating when this moment would end, my attention was forced firmly to the intensity of the present.

Clinging to any of these moments causes and has caused pain, yet I must be able to dedicate myself fully. Perhaps I will not be able to sleep tonight until I can do this.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Night
Answer
5/8/17 1:53 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes sitting - "experiencing the possibility of this moment ending at any moment"; noting (or attempts thereof)
about 60 minutes walking - movements of feet/legs

Sitting:
After yesterday's rant, I had intended to do a 2-hour sit (starting at 11pm), followed by walking until morning light. 
The two-hour sit began with just trying to experience the above, feeling that now was going to end, and noticing now as strongly as possible. Although it was possible at first, it became quite difficult to notice this feeling and it almost became artificial, and after concluding that this feeling of things ending can also end, I attempted to revert to noting.

It was interesting to notice why this attempt to notice something like this was difficult. Some ideas:
- The object of meditation was not concrete. I thought that maybe this was why koans are used, and made some brief attempts to form one, like "This will end", but was not satisfied and or had the confidence to do so, not being a zen master and stuff.
- Perhaps attempts to focus on the object led to it becoming over-conceptualised.
- More practice needed.
- It was way past my bedtime.

Afterwards tried to do noting, but only really managed to note a few seconds of rising, falling, touching, hearing etc., interspersed with forcing myself to stay awake the whole time.

Some welcome pain appearing in my right knee and then hip made it a bit easier to stay awake. Noted wanting the timer to ring a lot.

Walking
I wanted to try walking all night like Ananda as I had read in Mahasi's book. The longest session I have done, and thinking about this made me decide to stop before morning light (as well as shargrol suggestion about falling asleep three times in Yamazaki's log). Maybe will try again when I feel ready. While walking I noticed sometimes when my body wanted to take over, but allowing it to do so seemed to reduce the mindfulness. Noted movements more carefully. Walking appears to have given my body some energy this morning, especially my legs.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/8/17 6:42 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes walking
90 minutes sitting - noting - some mild pain at an occasionally painful point on back and then right knee. Don't think anything major happened, just a bit of fine vibrations (too fast to guess frequency) in fingertips and hands, some flashing (maybe 10Hz). No particular turmoil. Better able to focus than last night, but didn't particularly manage to get into it much.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/9/17 4:22 AM as a reply to junglist.
Around 60 minutes sitting - noting + other

Due to work and other obligations had only time to do 30 minutes. Became an hour though.
Took the 30 minutes as a chance to focus more intensely rather than for longer as the past few days.
Started noting as usual, a fairly "ordinary" 30 minutes went by. After the timer bell went off, attempted to get up, but there was not really a satisfactory moment to do so from the point of view of myself initiating standing up and then moving, as sometimes happens.

Noticed that I both wanted to get up and stay, so I decided to investigate this.
Staying desire at first seemed to be the pleasant sensation in my legs, and the wish to keep it.
Going desire, which was related to not having time and having to do my work, was a bit more difficult to find, and seemed to be around my heart, maybe also around my arms; I also used some mental images of my computer to try find it.
I tried to compare them looking at each desire one after the other, as well as how I know that I want these things, and what wants, what knows. 
Some flashing started, maybe 10 Hz, and this time instead of just observing it, I tried to catch the darker bits in between the flashes. Whenever I tried to do this, the flashing speeded up to about twice the frequency. I continued to try to do this for a while, and then the flashing included some rapid blinking, similar to what happens when I use lightning imagery in ritsuzen. I tried to move into the "witness" state, and just watch things without trying to do anything. I couldn't keep this up very long though, and kept having to try to not try.
At one point towards the end, my posture started becoming bolt upright with some sort of "energy" surges around my body, and then this faded. After that, I decided it really was time to go and do some work.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/10/17 1:09 PM as a reply to junglist.
About an hour - sitting, noting

Was out of town yesterday and today, but found somewhere to sit. Although it was a hard wooden chair, it was easier than I thought to sit for a long time.

Related to the occurrences surrounding the trip (basically positive) the implications about the future and the difficulties of the past few months, I found quite conflicting feelings both emotionally and physically, I noticed them in my belly and chest. I struggled somewhat between actively trying to resolve them by trying to merge the physical sensations somehow, and just watching them. Eventually reached some sort of acceptance, and the feelings remain, mostly in the form of fatigue.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/11/17 2:26 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes - sitting, noting

Shorter sit due to conservation of sleep and lack of time. Nothing major.

Fairly intense nightmarish dream last night - fighting evil and stuff. Wanted more peaceful methods of dealing with the conflict in the dream. Doesn't seem too coincidental after yesterday.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/12/17 1:14 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes sitting, 30 minutes walking, 30 minutes sitting.

Trying shorter sits interspersed with walking in the hope that it might increase quality, rather than going for duration.

The uncertainty continues, generally feelings of doubt about the utility and futility of all this practice, that I should have been doing something else all this time and that there may only be a few more months I can practice like this anyway. Noted, but also lots of wandering and planning arose in the second sit.


Also did this body sweep by Leigh Brasington last night while in bed, which was very interesting:
http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/1828.html

Different to other body scans I've heard (e.g. Reggie Ray's 10-point practice), which use the breath while sensing each part of the body one after the other more in units, starting at the toes. In this one your attention moves very slowly across the surface of the body, which seems much finer somehow, starting at the top of the head, moving gradually down. 

Some interesting parts: right eye and eye socket; right wrist and back of hand, maybe forearm too; maybe left side of back and chest, but found it difficult to focus on. Interesting in that I felt some sort of release that spread out over more of my body. Sweeping my head was also interesting because it was quite new moving around in such a fine-grained way. Would be interesting to see whether these body parts continue to exhibit these sensations, or if they just happen once.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Formations? Equanimity?
Answer
5/13/17 1:46 AM as a reply to junglist.
I noticed a little while after the sit this morning that things seemed to "clunk" about, everything was sort of moving at a frame rate of about 2 Hz. I had seen this before, sometimes after taikiken exercises, and wondered if this might be what Daniel referred to in his book as "3D moving photograph that also captured smell, taste, touch, sound, and thought, all woven into each other seamlessly and containing a sense of flux". So reading on this fine website some other people's descriptions, I started to wonder about if I may have some ñana of equanimity of formations.

Reading was just a little bit tricky, just because my eyes seemed to jerk a bit over the words. I decided that it wouldn't hurt to assume the best and that I had reached Equanimity and read a bit of MCTB on it, which seemed to clarify what to look for (thanks Daniel!) I ended up just deciding to observe things as they were where I was. 
After a while, I noticed quite a few quite fine vibrations, mostly in my arms, and a little between my lips. These were mostly like fine pleasant shivers, and might have been because the room was slightly cold, but every few minutes they would spread from the lower half of my spine outwards around to my arms (which were resting on the table in front of me) and would linger rather than fade. I also tried to pay attention to the three characteristics, especially watching things just happen by themselves, but also the blinking out of the mind I had read about, and where the sense of me was. Sometimes this was fairly clear, sometimes I didn't know what I was supposed to be looking for.

The vibrations became clearer and wider, and I seemed to perceive several different frequencies, maybe three or four, also in my sight. I remembered Daniel wrote that it can seem like reality is out of sync, and it seemed like these vibrations were out of phase with each other, and so just waited for them to eventually become become in phase. 
After a while, the space of my body went a bit weird, I started feeling like I was leaning forward, like I was a gyroscope, maybe also like space was bending my body sideways. I'm fairly sure the sense of my body pretty much disappeared at a few moments. I wondered also if I had some vibrating formless realms, I can't quite remember how the vibrations were to describe them properly, maybe a bit slower at a higher amplitude, but I don't really know what formless realms are like and the whole concept sounds far to cool to my ears to be certain that I was not experiencing reality through wishful-thinking spectacles.

At one point, all or most of the vibrations seemed to come into phase or sync, and there seemed to be a really clear sense of getting something to work properly. I tried to avoid thoughts about how this was going to be it, "yoohoo! Fruition coming!" etc., but, the mild excitement was difficult to contain fully. I decided this must also be impermanent, unsatisfactory and not me, and then eventually it faded. It didn't have the same roughness as some of the previous events I had had, this time it felt more right.

Strange how yesterday, the day before and this morning I felt like shite, and then now that's gone.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/13/17 2:22 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 min sit; 30 min walking; 30 min sit; 30 min walking.

Still not really sure what to do when sitting, I used the basic exercise of "rising...falling..." with the breath sensations in the abdomen, and then tried to use "sitting" as described in the Mahasi book. I also tried "sitting-touching-sitting-touching...", moving my attention from the sensation of my arse on the cushion to my left foot, back to cushion, right foot, cushion, each hand, lips, and left and right eyelids. It was all right, just wasn't sure enough when would be a good time to do it. Awkwardly enough, the rising and falling of the breath became a distraction, which I noted, but confused me a bit. I also was uncertain exactly what Mahasi meant by "sitting", I tried to understand this as noting my body in the posture of sitting, i.e. position of legs, body etc. It seemed easier to move my attention back and forth from the whole body to different points, than up and down from my derrière.

I think I need to fix the technique completely and then reassess afterwards. Kindly borrowing Yamazaki's technique of writing it here in order not to get distracted or wimp out tomorrow:
- First sit: 30 min - noting "rising...falling...sitting...rising...", noting other sensations that arise and then returning to the breath. Sitting defined as the sensation of sitting on the cushion.
- Walking: 30 min
- Second sit: 30 min - noting "sitting, touching, sitting, touching, ..." with the order of sensations described above for each "touching", noting other sensations should they arise, and returning first to "sitting" and continuing. Sitting still defined as the sensation of sitting on the cushion. 


On another note, it was interesting to notice an "equanimous" feeling as I went about my business yesterday afternoon, I felt confident, although not over-confident, healthy and at ease with things. I could relate a bit with the James Bond feeling Daniel describes, and I noticed that I felt good about myself and how I identified with these feelings quite a lot. Obviously still work to be done. I also noticed that I still felt a need to defend myself when something was said or done against me. Although I was quite aware of it and it didn't seem like such a big thing, I didn't like my reaction too much either. Maybe I was trying to defend my new-found self-proclaimed status. Still work to be done.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/13/17 5:54 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist,

The tricky thing about at-home practices is the climb up the nanas isn't so linear. It's actually very common to start over from mind and body each time you sit down, but the movement through the early nanas can be very quick. It's very common to go through multiple A&Ps and multiple Dark Nights and multiple Equanimities as one progress toward Stream Entry. Interestingly, 99% of the benefits of practice actually come from the early nanas, not SE. SE is kinda like getting a diploma after 4 years of school. You don't >learn< anything from your diploma.

I'm hearing a bit of "scripting" in your reports, which isn't a big deal because... EVERYONE does it emoticon  But try to hold your conclusions as more of a "hypothesis" and hold them lightly.

One of the main problems with using the maps is people look for and try to find the sensations/emotions/thoughts that match the stage that they think is next. Experience always has some elements of the various nanas, so it's very easy to selectively see what you are looking for. This selective looking will eventually stall out. It's much more better to get intimate with the whole experience, all the randomness, all the +/-/neutral sensations, all the chaos of moods, all the monkey mind of thought. Seeing the truth of what is going on matters most. 

The person that would make the quickest progress would be someone who never knew the maps and simply noticed what was actually occuring as it occurred. That way there isn't another conceptual overlay, judgement, interpretation of the experience. So the maps are very much a double edged sword.

That all said, you are doing great. Keep exploring, keep getting curious about fine scale sensations and vibrations. Also make sure to notice "practice thoughts" "mapping thoughts" "comparing thoughts" "progress thoughts" "planning thoughts" etc. Those also need to be seen as simply thoughts which arise and pass as well.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/13/17 7:18 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
junglist,

The tricky thing about at-home practices is the climb up the nanas isn't so linear. It's actually very common to start over from mind and body each time you sit down, but the movement through the early nanas can be very quick. It's very common to go through multiple A&Ps and multiple Dark Nights and multiple Equanimities as one progress toward Stream Entry. Interestingly, 99% of the benefits of practice actually come from the early nanas, not SE. SE is kinda like getting a diploma after 4 years of school. You don't >learn< anything from your diploma.

I'm hearing a bit of "scripting" in your reports, which isn't a big deal because... EVERYONE does it emoticon  But try to hold your conclusions as more of a "hypothesis" and hold them lightly.

One of the main problems with using the maps is people look for and try to find the sensations/emotions/thoughts that match the stage that they think is next. Experience always has some elements of the various nanas, so it's very easy to selectively see what you are looking for. This selective looking will eventually stall out. It's much more better to get intimate with the whole experience, all the randomness, all the +/-/neutral sensations, all the chaos of moods, all the monkey mind of thought. Seeing the truth of what is going on matters most. 

The person that would make the quickest progress would be someone who never knew the maps and simply noticed what was actually occuring as it occurred. That way there isn't another conceptual overlay, judgement, interpretation of the experience. So the maps are very much a double edged sword.

That all said, you are doing great. Keep exploring, keep getting curious about fine scale sensations and vibrations. Also make sure to notice "practice thoughts" "mapping thoughts" "comparing thoughts" "progress thoughts" "planning thoughts" etc. Those also need to be seen as simply thoughts which arise and pass as well.
Thanks shargrol! I have often found your posts very helpful, and very much appreciate a personally addressed one, as well as you reading my log. emoticon

The scripting is an interesting issue, I suppose I and others do this as a result of the language that we acquire to talk about what we experience, which in my case is often not my own, since lots of words and descriptions (probably far too much) come from what I've read. And from reading what people write about and wanting what they've got, bad as that may be.

I'm also worried about writing too much, but I think it might be good for me to keep track of things. I would probably practise instead, but it's usually when other people are around. I hope it's not too tiresome!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/13/17 9:08 AM as a reply to junglist.
Ultimately most people are really glad they documented their practice. It obviously helps getting feedback, but it is also very helpful to track long term trends and repeated bad habits... and it can be mind blowing to read where things were at just a few months or a year ago -- so it helps with motivation too. So I say type all you want! emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/14/17 5:23 AM as a reply to shargrol.
  1. shargrol
[quote=]Ultimately most people are really glad they documented their practice. It obviously helps getting feedback, but it is also very helpful to track long term trends and repeated bad habits... and it can be mind blowing to read where things were at just a few months or a year ago -- so it helps with motivation too. So I say type all you want! emoticon
Oh great. So either now or retrospectively, this practice log basically is a way of ensuring I feel like a right plonker. ;)

On another note, I think what you said about at-home practice is probably quite helpful in ignoring the maps because now I don't really have any idea what to expect and where things are going. It's also great to be reminded to widen the scope of what one can notice. Thanks!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/15/17 1:04 AM as a reply to junglist.
No formal practice yesterday - nowhere available.

Some body sweeping:
- scanning head was difficult, in trying to find and feel the place to search for sensations, I kept trying to literally "look" for the places. In doing so, all manner of angles were used - imagining looking at my head from the back, sides, above, backwards relative to my eyeballs, basically all over the place, meaning that the eyeballs from where I was imagining I was viewing the spot, were all over the place too. Isolating just the tactile sensations was difficult, and some "point of view" kept appearing. Curiously enough this point of view never seemed to be as if looking from the front though.
- On moving from feeling my right temple to my right eye area (somehow viewed from inside my face), a large tension appeared that stretched to my right ear. Nothing like this in the left eye area.


Today:
30 min sit: "rising...sitting...falling...sitting..." 
30 min walking - a fair few deviations from task, very often about friend with whom I had had a conversation and his family.
30 min sit: "sitting, touching, sitting, touching..." - I noted some other sensations that interrupted and found I could just continue with the same order of "touching": sitting, left foot, sitting, right foot...right hand...left hand...lips...left eyelid...right eyelid. I stayed on this noting pattern consistently with greater ease and longer than I expected, but after about halfway through I found it difficult to get past
the hand sensations. Maybe because other noises outside the door began around then, but I don't think that was always where my mind was going to. I also didn't manage to notice very much else about what was going on, so I don't know really where my mind was going to. At some point around halfway and a couple of times after, some pleasant sensations and some lights seemed to start, but faded fairly quickly. I'm inclined to just to do the one I did first for the rest of the week and start this one next week.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/15/17 6:02 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes - sit - rising/sitting/falling
20 minutes - ritsuzen
- some taikiken exercises

Noticed I felt a bit like I couldn't be bothered to carry on with my practice later this morning, so I decided to a longer sit.
Nothing major for most of the first half or so, except I noticed that when I got distracted from the breath, occasionally from slight drowsiness, some flashing would appear, which subsided after I noted it and returned to the breath. Made me wonder if the flashing – which I have quite often seen – occurs when there was some sort of imbalance.

Later, some mild pain arose in my right hip joint and leg, as often does with longer sits, which wasn't particularly a problem at first. Then I saw some kind of currents swirling down from above and coming together in the middle of my field of vision and maybe entering my abdomen or passing underneath me below where I could see, and felt like some kind of "energy" was entering my body. This lasted for a short time, probably no more than 10, 20 seconds, then there was some strong flashing, making my eyes blink rapidly. Eventually the pain increased a little, and some fear about how long the meditation would last set in, and that really I had no idea when it would stop, but this was a bit familiar, so I didn't mind too much.

Ritsuzen - started off noticing when I wanted to change my experience, but then decided that was a bit boring, so I used some lightning imagery, imagining lightning passing through me through my crown into the earth and then up again with the breath, a bit like the microcosmic orbit, and lightning explosions from the centre of my body as powerfully as I could. Rapid blinking like when sitting just now, but a bit stronger, plus lots of shaking, the force of which varied in proportion to how powerfully I imagined it. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/16/17 12:50 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes - concentration - breath at the nose
30 minutes - walking
30 minutes - rising...falling...sitting

For some reason I woke up thinking it might be a good idea to do some ordinary concentration practice. So I did. It was interesting to notice that some time after halfway through, there seemed to be lots of quite subtle things to be distracted by, outside noises, ear noises, maybe thoughts. It wasn't that I was getting more easily distracted, but more like the space opened or something and I could sense more stuff in it. I didn't feel agitated about it though.

In walking there was some light disturbance from outside the room, and I noticed some pissed-offness. I thought it might be a good idea to counterbalance it with some nicer thoughts, and did so a little when I heard the person make sounds: *clip-clop-clop-clop* - walking, "May you be peaceful" *cough! cough!*, "May you be healthy". If anything, it was good for mild comedy value.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/16/17 4:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
83 minutes - sitting
"Rising...sitting...falling..." seemed to become a bit difficult, so just changed to "rising...falling..."
Main theme of accepting everything that would arise and allow whatever happened to happen, which, er, seemed to have included the unexpected interruption. 
As yesterday, noticed again that flashing seemed to arise when there was some disturbance - correcting a slight lurch, concern about something, etc. Decided to just note what created the disturbance and the flashing (when I noticed it) and return to breath. In general, nothing profound happened though.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/17/17 1:44 AM as a reply to junglist.
60 minutes - concentration - breath at nose
30 minutes - exploration

Noticing some boredom with my practice, as well as some frustration that I don't have more freedom to practice, and not really knowing what to do.
Also thought that I didn't seem to have a chance to explore things with any degree of curiosity, which led me to consider this practice on the one hand as training, and on the other, deeper investigation and exploration made possible by the training. 

Concentration - didn't particularly ever forget about the breath, but not always the centre of focus. Used some effort to maintain concentration for increasing intervals of something like 5 seconds, 10 seconds, a wishful thinking minute... More than 10 seconds complete concentration was quite possible, not too sure exactly how long, then some flashing arose, which before I took to mean that there was some disturbance or instability, and in this case that too much effort was used. I tried dropping the effort, and then soon found that I was off the breath, but it sounds like something to explore. Not too sure about this flashing compared with (the very little of) what I've read about nimittas. Seems like an avenue of investigation.

Exploration - been noticing some kind of little bubbles and occasionally a slight wriggling in the middle at the bottom of my back, two inches or so above my arse crack to be precise. I've noticed it most when lying in bed, and sometimes I get some quite strong pressure pushing out through the top of my head, like something stretching outwards from my neck to the top of my skull. Occasionally the back of my head on the pillow gets white hot (just how I imagine it, I can't obviously see the colour of the heat). Seems interesting, and a bit like the little I know of kundalini, so I had a look at each point of where I thought the chakras might be, starting from the top going downwards, spending only around a minute or so with my attention on each: the crown, the bit above the middle of eyes, throat, solar plexus (not sure if this should have been more towards the heart, but see below), belly, dantian and perineum. I have purposely called them wrong names because I am most likely completely wrong about where they're supposed to be.

A bit about the locations I used:
The crown - just where the crown on the top of my head is. 
The bit between and above the eyes - I've sometimes felt some movements here
Throat - where I've noticed tension, and sometimes some obstruction when swallowing.
Solar plexus - around the bottom of the sternum where I've felt some slight wriggling movements, sometimes a slightly cold feeling.
Belly - somewhere in the middle.
Dantian - 
Perineum - random guess.

I found the throat and solar plexus the most interesting, both released something, the solar plexus took a bit longer.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/18/17 2:06 AM as a reply to junglist.
45 minutes - concentration
30 minutes - MCTB two-index-finger impermanence technique
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Some walking (這 "hai")

Decided to emphasise the training aspect I thought about yesterday today, and that concentration was nowhere near mastered or anywhere near as good as it should be. I thought concentration was quite good compared to a while ago in the first half, then it went all over the place. 

Two-finger technique with emphasis on "Shootin' aliens analogy" to speed things up a bit.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/19/17 1:25 AM as a reply to junglist.
45 minutes - concentration
30 minutes - MCTB two-index-finger impermanence technique
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Some walking (這 "hai") and walking with hand movements (練り "neri")

Noticed what I believe subtle distractions and gross distractions to be. That's about it.

Interesting to just notice pain/discomfort in feet, thoughts of wanting the timer to go off and other relative unpleasantness clearly made it easier to hold the position, and although I was shaking like a power drill, the intensity never got too much for me.


On random note, I noticed that yesterday going about town and doing ordinary stuff things just seemed a bit weird. I would normally be inclined to associate feeling like this with these practices, althought there is always a chance of it being something else. Around lunchtime I thought that "a bit weird" was a rubbish description, and I so I thought that things don't seem to fit properly, a slight discomfort in moving, and things seemed a bit wrong and made me frown a bit with a semi-comical frown. "A bit wrong" is also pretty rubbish description, but things had a not-quite-rightness to them, but only a bit, and things were fine other than that - maybe because of the good weather.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Interlude
Answer
5/22/17 6:49 PM as a reply to junglist.
Since I am currently away from home, I have not been able to maintain regular formal practice.

This entry is simply to document a few things I have been thinking about.

- Kindness in every action and as a form right effort
I have been wondering, and when I remember, trying to use kindness when moving. By this I mean that the force with which I move, touch an object etc. is infused with kindness and the intention to preserve the object I come into contact with. In terms of right effort for actions in general, this seems to work quite well, but I don't know enough how the would work in meditation. I think my level of mindfulness seems to increase when move in this way.. I like this idea, and I also find it interesting how easy it is for me to forget to do it, and especially that often I don't want to. Something's got to be wrong somewhere.

- Brushing my daughter's hair as a form of kindness practice
My daughter's hair needs to be brushed. In doing so, I find that there is an important balance necessary in the force and speed of the brushing, wanting/needing to get it done, and of course not hurting her by pulling to hard through a knot. The sensitivity of the hand in moving the brush through the hair in order to sense knots and not tug them by accident seems to be coupled with kindness, similar to that described above. This is all the more heightened by the fact that she is my daughter and tremendously dear to me, and I appreciate the chance every day to remember this.

- Awareness will save the world
I've been finding often how my awareness of situations seems to have broadened since I began practising more intensively. I am not certain which in particular practices may have led to this, perhaps noting to be aware of myself and my experience, perhaps concentration giving clarity, maybe metta practices for understanding others, or maybe just stretching my spatial awareness as far as I can when walking down the street.
   I don't know awareness is the right term to use, because some people seem to use it to mean something very profound that I don't really know anything about, I mean it here more or less as the opposite of ignorance. For a typical example, someone bumps into me rudely and I may get angry with that person, and I may even do something problematic as a result. Alternatively, I may see beyond the superficial and consider or even notice that the person was rude because something had happened to them or they were in a hurry for something extremely important. If I am ignorant of this, my awareness would stop at the unpleasantness it caused me and might be angry. If I am aware of other causes, then I probably won't get angry, and maybe even find a way to help that person.
   I may also have the factual knowledge that certain actions may damage my health, the environment, etc., and therefore would not make as many mistakes as if I was ignorant of these facts.
   In this regard it seems awareness is something that benefits the world, and can be developed. If it can be developed, it should be developed as fully as possible. It seems that there are two aspects of this awareness - one developed through particular practices, the other through training in morality, and what I think would reasonably be called science.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
5/31/17 1:16 AM as a reply to junglist.
90 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..."

After being away for a week and a half, first sit of previous regular practice slot. I had been pondering over what kind of exercises to do, both in the varying chances available during the time I was away and after I got back. I felt a fair bit of confusion about this, as usual. Simplifying things as much as possible, without standing, walking, or other exercises like two-fingers one, I decided to do the "Basic Exercise" describe by Mahasi, which I reread. Pure concentration is also important for me, but it seemed that the Mahasi exercise also develops concentration, so that was a good option. 

Overall, nothing majorly exciting, which seemed appropriate since the aim was more a return to regularity. Right at the beginning, I felt a kind of dizziness and couldn't really find the shape of my body properly, as though I was bent in a somewhat mutated form to the left. This didn't last too long, and I could still follow the sensations in my abdomen without to much concern for exactly where they were. Later some vibrations and fine shaking appeared occasionally throughout the sit. There was almost surprisingly no pain at any point, which I had expected, having not sat that long recently.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
6/1/17 1:18 AM as a reply to junglist.
90 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)

Nothing major, breathing became very shallow and stopped once (without attempting to hold my breath) although I was a little distracted by the tension across the bottom of my chest. Occasional small bursts of gentle vibrations in hands, neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
6/2/17 1:18 AM as a reply to junglist.
90 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)

Nothing very new, some comments:
- Pressure in gut was a little off-putting.

- Earworms.
- Remembering that I had resolved to carry out the exercise to the best of my ability and with the utmost diligence seemed to aid focus.
- Some occasional vibrations, mostly hands, in total about three or so times lasting a few seconds each time. Occasionally very light vibrations that moved over bottom lip and chin.
- Some diffuse flashing (±5 Hz), not uniform, but no real discernible shape, seems to revolve around the centre of my sight, like a radar, like spinning rather than flashing. It's a bit hard to shift focus to it because it's all over the place, but sometimes there is a small circle in the middle. Still wondering what this is, whether it's caused by a problem with my eyes or related to meditation, and to what degree it is a sign of something or worth investigating. It mostly seemed to arise when I focused on my posture in between noting "falling" and "rising", which would suggest that it is related to concentration, although it's not clear if it's due to good concentration or too much effort. Next time might try applying increasing effort to see if it increases, and if concentration gets thrown off course.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
6/2/17 9:44 AM as a reply to junglist.
Junglist, it seems like you might be getting to the point of no-return, meaning the territory of A&P. Although it's likely you crossed it in the past, it seems like you will cross it again in the near future if you keep a consistent practice.

Are you ready? Do you have a support group? Is your life in order, as good as it can be, knowing that no one's life is in order emoticon  I would strongly consider holding off on practice if you don't feel good about where you are at right now. There is nothing wrong with doing so and I wish I followed this advice looking back on my own life.

Pause, go for a walk, think about your practice, the practices of others you have heard/read about, think about teachers and experienced meditators that you know and trust. Do you feel ready? Why not get ready?


If you feel ready to continue, gently focusing on the vibrations as well as the space between the vibrations tends to have a concentrating effect. Tune into the actual sensations of the vibrations and the sensation within the gaps of the vibrations. With the flashing, put your face into the flashing and experience the light and the darkness between the flashes.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/2/17 5:37 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Junglist, it seems like you might be getting to the point of no-return, meaning the territory of A&P. Although it's likely you crossed it in the past, it seems like you will cross it again in the near future if you keep a consistent practice.

Are you ready? Do you have a support group? Is your life in order, as good as it can be, knowing that no one's life is in order emoticon  I would strongly consider holding off on practice if you don't feel good about where you are at right now. There is nothing wrong with doing so and I wish I followed this advice looking back on my own life.

Pause, go for a walk, think about your practice, the practices of others you have heard/read about, think about teachers and experienced meditators that you know and trust. Do you feel ready? Why not get ready?

Shargrol, thank you for your advice, I appreciate it very much.

Your questions are probably almost as difficult to answer as they are important. I've been giving them some consideration, and they are difficult to answer because the are very important, and for several other reasons:

Personally, meaning how I am, my psychological state, my general health, how I feel about my life and life in general, my general tolerance of difficulties, I'd say are very good, or at least I'm satisfied enough to feel that way. When reading about the progress of Insight, the dark stuff doesn't seem to cause much worry, other than the precise details of ways I might go about navigating the territory and what to notice not being so readily availably. I feel I could approach them in a quite a matter-of-fact way, whatever they may be.

On the other hand, I don't really know what to expect, I'm concerned that it is impossible to know how what might follow will be like for me, as the stories seem to vary between nothing too major and suicide. My gut feeling is that it won't be too bad, but I obviously don't have the experience to confirm that.

My biggest worry is that my wife and child depend on me. I cannot disappear and if I become completely non-functional, there will be trouble. 

My work is quite flexible and I am quite able to keep up a consistent practice of 1.5 hours a day and about one to three times 4 hours a day, although due to family obligations I can't go on a retreat any time soon. In terms of a support group, I know people I can talk to and have spoken to and have received advice from. They are not close friends that I have known for ages though.

I feel ready, but not quite ready to make the decision. Thank you for helping me to think about it, I'd greatly appreciate any other advice!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/3/17 6:31 AM as a reply to junglist.
Sounds like a good foundation. Here's another angle on it:

It's probably time to do a basic intention/motivation check.

The people who really suffer are those that treat meditation/spirituality as something that makes them more and better. More wise, more intelligent, more perceptive, more accomplished, more grounded and better than everyone else without a practice. In essence, their practice is all about getting ahead and separating themselves from the rest of humanity.

The people who seem to make quick work of it are those who already know that life is up and down, fame and blame, wealth and loss, success and failure, but who seem to key into the sense of there being a basic, human sanity that is possible to develop and refine. A sanity that connects to the simplicity of being a perceptive human mind and a simple enjoyment of a human embodied experience. This is more a motivation of "I know I will be better for myself and all beings if I see through my compulsive ideas, behaviors, and endless competition with other people."

Practice "with a gaining idea" or being "spiritually ambitious" can really mess things up.

No one is totally pure of heart, so I'm not saying you need to get rid of your shadow desires before starting --- that's impossible. But I am saying that there should be some humility and groundedness from the beginning, otherwise all of the insights -- which basically destroy conventional defense mechanisms -- will feel like "losses" and instead of feeling intimacy with life, you'll feel isolated and lost.

All of this is paradoxical, so it isn't easy to describe... but although spiritual practice DOES make you feel isolated and lost, if there isn't ambitition, it also allows you to better intimately connect. And even though you DO become more wise and perceptive, you also clearly see all of your incomplete development and stupidity. Hopefully it turns you into a good human, but if intentions are all wrong, it can turn you into a neurotic wreck.

In some sense, there really isn't a choice you need to make... life will kinda point to what you probably should do. But, to the extent that you can, think about intentions and consequences. Meditation kinda takes away the ways you can hide, so be clear about what you want to be. Meditation also wakes you up to the life you have, not some other life, so also make sure you are doing your best to make it a good one. Don't rely on mediation to fix all your life problems.

Hope this helps in some way. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/3/17 8:46 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
It's probably time to do a basic intention/motivation check.

The people who seem to make quick work of it are those who already know that life is up and down, fame and blame, wealth and loss, success and failure, but who seem to key into the sense of there being a basic, human sanity that is possible to develop and refine. A sanity that connects to the simplicity of being a perceptive human mind and a simple enjoyment of a human embodied experience. This is more a motivation of "I know I will be better for myself and all beings if I see through my compulsive ideas, behaviors, and endless competition with other people."
...
In some sense, there really isn't a choice you need to make... life will kinda point to what you probably should do. But, to the extent that you can, think about intentions and consequences. Meditation kinda takes away the ways you can hide, so be clear about what you want to be. Meditation also wakes you up to the life you have, not some other life, so also make sure you are doing your best to make it a good one. Don't rely on mediation to fix all your life problems.
Shargrol, thank you very much again, just to say that I found this really really clear, very positive, and encouraging, also in connection to our "yayness" vs. "booness" discussion some time ago emoticon. In particular the two paragraphs above.

Many thanks again and best wishes.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/4/17 4:24 AM as a reply to junglist.
Yesterday evening: metta meditation on 4 people
This morning: 30 minutes: rising...falling...; 30 minutes: two-fingers

A bit wary following shargrol's recent post here. Took yesterday morning to catch up on some sleep instead of pushing onwards. Yesterday had a bit of a sense of "farewell", as though I might soon be leaving the way things are now, or rather the way I see the world now. Also wondered about how I would see pain in everything. General concerns were difficulties organizing family stuff, the possibility of being freaked out by seeing something supernatural stuff, that I might scare people if I became very different, and then difficulties of the fabled subsequent darkness.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/6/17 1:24 AM as a reply to junglist.
90 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting...touching..."

Nothing very new, other than it was clear that there was no pain at all anywhere in my body throughout. I allowed my neck to bend sideways and have a good crack for some reason, I should probably have noticed the stiffness, but there was no pain. Noticing more that I'm having some gaseousness these days. Trying to eat less in the evenings, but family mealtimes make this a little complicated.

I didn't feel my mind was quite fast enough. It seems that the two-finger technique is good for speeding up

Did more "sitting...touching...", which seemed to increase the amount of and brightness of flashing a touch, although the brightness was also a little to do with the sun coming up.

This is a bit of a running theme, i.e. there is often about as much chance of truth in occurrences being directly caused by meditation and its "esoteric" effects, as there is in the possible skepticism of the causes being other more mundane things. One example of this is that I am often noticing some sort of wriggling towards the bottom of my spine, just above my intergluteal cleft. Often more when lying down and doing some sort of meditation technique. Occasionally I feel some things that feel like bubbles going up my spine, probably not quite up the middle. The feeling can reach the middle of my back and maybe a bit higher, but I haven't noticed it get any further. Sometimes I can feel pressure from it that sometimes pulses with my heartbeat, sometimes not. In the context of meditation, I could quite easily take this to be kundalini, which I know very little about, but which I think sounds similar to what I have found on the topic on websites that generally go beyond my currently accepted notion of reality, as it were. I could equally take this to be simply noticing some blood vessels. Either way, the new phenomena, or probably more precisely, the newly noticed phenomena probably appear because of an increased sensitivity that the practice would be expected to develop.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/6/17 6:10 AM as a reply to junglist.
Yeah, that "hypersensitivity" to potential esoteric effects is totally normal. Likewise for hypersensitivity to sensations that suggest progress through the nanas and jhanas -- or whatever model someone is using. We're all going to want to experience cool stuff and make progress... so we look for confirming experiences. Totally natural.

Ultimately, you are doing it exactly right, noticing the sensations themselves and noticing the thoughts about the sensations. You can probably also notice emotions related to the sensations (hope, fear, anticipation, interest, etc.) The point is just to put experience under the microscope of investigation/mindfulness.

As you continue, you'll have many many many experiences that will line up with all the things you've read about. The meditation path is a wierd combination of "wow!" and "oh, that's it?". Eventually all these kinds of experience become the new normal or are no big deal.

There are whole traditions that make these side effects into some metaphysical model of reality (e.g., the body really has chackras, which have particular colors, which have particualr spins and frequencies...) but with more experience you'll see that there is some general basis for this, but reality is a lot more complicated/sloppy.

I really like the idea that most of these things are artifacts of the body/mind complex re-wiring itself, side effects so to speak. Most people's body/mind goes through a period of change during 1st and 2nd paths especially. The general domain of 3rd is usually less body-changing and more perception-changing. The general domain of 4th tends to make the body go flat for a while, followed by a rapid recalibration, followed by much more groundedness/stability/resilience.

Taken as a whole it sounds like a lot of change, but it just happens one day at a time... not too different than being a teenager again. Kenneth Folk sometimes compares it to going through puberty -- and that's about right.

Hope this helps.


 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/7/17 2:29 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes - "rising...(sitting...)falling...sitting...(touching...)"

After having resolved some organisational daily-life problems and concerns to an acceptable degree, it seems time is ripe to cross "the point of no return" and continue until whatever needs to be done is done, and appears to be the most worthwhile thing to do right now.

I woke up half an hour earlier to add the extra time to my regular sit. General observations:
[EDIT:]- The "sitting...touching..." aspect became quite confusing to integrate between "rising...falling...". Since the pause in between "falling" and "rising" was of varying length; the breath stopped for a while, and thinking I had time to note "sitting...touching...sitting...touching...", I did for as long as I could, but I was interrupted by a "rising", and had to re-think what I was supposed to be doing. Sometimes I found myself rushing the "sitting...touching..." so I could get through all of the touching locations, which didn't seem appropriate, so I reverted to just "rising...(sitting...)falling...(sitting), which was easier.
- No real pain, other than: an occasional slight twinge in one point on my left shoulder, slight right knee discomfort (as before with longer sits, but no right hip pain or discomfort this time, which often came together with knee pain), neck stiff, which I bent and cracked. It seems slight moments of non-attention lead to others, often when I move it's because of a moment of distraction. Also hardly any chest/solar plexus discomfort, which I had been having recently. My body below my waist felt a little like it was a comfortable cushion itself at one point.
- Some light vibrations occasionally, mostly in hands, similar to gentle shivers after yawning, which also happened a couple of times.
- Moments of drowsiness on about four or five occasions, which I noted and they seemed to disappear. [EDIT:]Also noted a few occasions of boredom as I expected, but nothing about the length of the sit that felt difficult.
- Two types of visuals: 1) more normal occasional moments of non-intense flashing and things spinning that sometimes occupied the whole visual field, sometimes just smaller perhaps penny-sized discs spinning not very quickly in random arrangements in front of me. 2) Non-abstract images, mostly of unknown people (about 2 or 3 times) or scenes (once or twice), one of which was a quick view through a house at night with a living room at the end with a television on. Noted "seeing" and they disappeared instantly. The images were basically unfamiliar things with no relevance to me as far as I know.

Other observations from daily life:
- Noticing/noting experience in daily life often happens automatically and seemingly reliably, and interestingly (I have been making consistent efforts to do this though, not just when sitting).
- I noticed that my absent-minded forgetfulness hasn't got any worse from paying attention to the minutiae of daily experience, as opposed to thinking about what I've got to do. Which is good. Might have even got better.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
6/7/17 2:53 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Yeah, that "hypersensitivity" to potential esoteric effects is totally normal. Likewise for hypersensitivity to sensations that suggest progress through the nanas and jhanas -- or whatever model someone is using. We're all going to want to experience cool stuff and make progress... so we look for confirming experiences. Totally natural.

Ultimately, you are doing it exactly right, noticing the sensations themselves and noticing the thoughts about the sensations. You can probably also notice emotions related to the sensations (hope, fear, anticipation, interest, etc.) The point is just to put experience under the microscope of investigation/mindfulness.

As you continue, you'll have many many many experiences that will line up with all the things you've read about. The meditation path is a wierd combination of "wow!" and "oh, that's it?". Eventually all these kinds of experience become the new normal or are no big deal.

There are whole traditions that make these side effects into some metaphysical model of reality (e.g., the body really has chackras, which have particular colors, which have particualr spins and frequencies...) but with more experience you'll see that there is some general basis for this, but reality is a lot more complicated/sloppy.

I really like the idea that most of these things are artifacts of the body/mind complex re-wiring itself, side effects so to speak. Most people's body/mind goes through a period of change during 1st and 2nd paths especially. The general domain of 3rd is usually less body-changing and more perception-changing. The general domain of 4th tends to make the body go flat for a while, followed by a rapid recalibration, followed by much more groundedness/stability/resilience.

Taken as a whole it sounds like a lot of change, but it just happens one day at a time... not too different than being a teenager again. Kenneth Folk sometimes compares it to going through puberty -- and that's about right.

Hope this helps.


 
Thank you shargrol!
This is all very present stuff for me, plus just enough more, which is great. Except the bits about 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th paths, obviously, which are probably a long way ahead, but you make them sound closer and more possible than I would have previously dared to expect.

Emotions related to sensations is interesting, I didn't think of or notice them that way, I've been looking more the other way round, i.e. emotions and the sensations that make them up.

I like the puberty analogy and it makes very good sense. I feel like an 11 year old again!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/7/17 5:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
Ah, to be young again! emoticon

It can be very helpful to hold a general model that sensations, moods (primal feelings of 1-like, 2-don't like, 3-not important), emotions (more complex but still pre-verbal feelings like frustration, anger, joy), and thoughts show up in a variety of different orders and it's only because we blur them together that creates a solid sense of the percieved world and the assumed self.

So the more you can tease those types of experience apart, the more you will see how things are constructed. Basically, we tend to BELIEVE everything we experience and so samsara push and pulls us around. But if we can see how what we experience is simply our minds "hypothesis" based on a relatively few data points, then we are much freer to consider options and respond wisely instead of just blindly reacting. 

When you naturally get curious about the present moment, you will see that a sensation can pop up, then there is a thought about it, then a mood, then another sensation, then a emotion, then another emotion. My point is it is pretty much random, but our "framing" instinct makes it all mutually reinforcing. At first it's daunting to see this level of "noise" but actually seeing the noise, as it is, is actually much more simple and easier to navigate.

It's sort of like bumbling through a field of rose bushes in the dark -- lots of hesitation and suffering as you move through, and it's easy to feel like the world is out to get you. But when the sun rises, even just a little, you can see the individual thorny branches and move around them better and maybe appreciate the roses a little, even as you move through the field of thorns.

Just a metaphor, but hopefully it points out the benefit of gently investigating experience and not making assumptions about how things are ordered.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/7/17 10:45 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes - rising...falling...sitting..., plus noticing a fair few other sensations that appeared.

Suddenly had an extra two hours for a second sit today. Bargain.

This time in the first few minutes, sensations of heat and rapturousness appeared and I felt the prickles of being about to break into a sweat. The sensations began to intensify, I attempted to remain calm, but then decided it would be better to observe what was going on, so I noted the different sensations, and things subsided a bit.

There was flashing of varying intensity throughout the entire two hours, along with fine vibrations, mostly in my hands, but I think pretty much everywhere else too. I continued to note as above, but often had moments of unsure "ooh, maybe I should have a look at what else is going on here" and made some brief attempts to do so. 

The end was marked by the fact that I had to leave as soon as the two hours were up and worries about whether I could trust the timer or not and what I should do, how long two hours are etc. This thought process and the feelings involved became a bit interesting to watch. Turns out I could trust the timer.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/7/17 10:55 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
So the more you can tease those types of experience apart, the more you will see how things are constructed. Basically, we tend to BELIEVE everything we experience and so samsara push and pulls us around. But if we can see how what we experience is simply our minds "hypothesis" based on a relatively few data points, then we are much freer to consider options and respond wisely instead of just blindly reacting. 

When you naturally get curious about the present moment, you will see that a sensation can pop up, then there is a thought about it, then a mood, then another sensation, then a emotion, then another emotion. My point is it is pretty much random, but our "framing" instinct makes it all mutually reinforcing. At first it's daunting to see this level of "noise" but actually seeing the noise, as it is, is actually much more simple and easier to navigate.
Thanks shargrol, that's very interesting.
I was thinking earlier today that "I see/hear/feel such and such" is more accurate than "That is such and such". Is that what you mean with belief vs. hypothesis? I'm sure we could get into more details about what the "I" and the "such and such" are and aren't, but is that the gist? I suppose maybe "such and such sensation arises" might be more precise.

With regard to "framing": I sometimes notice things happening one after the other, and at some point later there is a retrospective thought that looks at what has happened together, and maybe makes some conclusion about them. Is that what you mean by framing?

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/7/17 6:35 PM as a reply to junglist.
Yes, you got it. It's just a tiny bit of extra room around the solidity of things and the causality of things. I'm not saying be goofy woowoo about it --- oh, please don't get goofy woowoo about it! emoticon --- but just add a little more curiousity about the things that seem obvious.

And basically, we will always have shortcut "that is X" and "X caused Y" thoughts in normal life, no big deal. But during sits just get interested and notice how experience is an interesting combinations of parts implying a whole and whole implying parts, etc etc. 

Or better yet, just sit and notice things. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/8/17 1:28 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting...touching..."

General:
- None of the heat and rapturousness that were characteristics of yesterday's afternoon sit. Two brief moments of peaceful pleasantness, that faded soon.
- The sit did not feel special, noted fairly often thoughts about wanting it to be better, when it's going to end, that noticing that is part of the point, whether the technique was right, maybe in this long sit I'm just idling rather than really doing anything beneficial, maybe my mind isn't fast enough and I need a different technique, good, I should notice thoughts like that too, etc. etc.
- Eventually I noticed that my breath was fairly shallow, and since it seemed like a good idea to note things a bit faster, I did "sitting...touching..." as fast as I could, while making sure I felt each sensation precisely, i.e. not just racing through where I imagined them to be (which did happen a little). This seemed to bring on some flashing, maybe from the increased effort, maybe something else.
- In contrast to yesterday, I think it was, not so really any pain in my right knee, more some quite localised mild pain in my right hip joint.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/8/17 1:42 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Yes, you got it. It's just a tiny bit of extra room around the solidity of things and the causality of things. I'm not saying be goofy woowoo about it --- oh, please don't get goofy woowoo about it! emoticon --- but just add a little more curiousity about the things that seem obvious.

And basically, we will always have shortcut "that is X" and "X caused Y" thoughts in normal life, no big deal. But during sits just get interested and notice how experience is an interesting combinations of parts implying a whole and whole implying parts, etc etc. 

Or better yet, just sit and notice things. emoticon
Thanks shargrol, by the way I did try/am trying to focus on the vibrations and the flashing, but the vibrations are often too fine or fast, and the contrast isn't usually quite enough to make it easy enough to see the spaces between the flashes. Maybe when things speed up it might be easier. I did try putting my face in the flashes, literally, leaning forward carefully, but the flashes moved with me. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/9/17 4:52 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes - "rising...falling...(sitting...)"

Not very satisfying, as it were, nothing particularly interesting, good or bad. Thoughts of wanting more progress, what I should be doing, that I should do something to progress better. Sometimes there were some vibrations and flashing, and I tried to investigate their causes - sometimes it seemed that they occurred when I noticed things like wanting to more progress, or wanting more vibrations and flashing and exciting stuff.

It seems that regularly after about the 90 minute mark, things start feeling a bit long and lots of "when is the bell going to ring" happens. Seems like 2 hours is a good time for investigating these kinds of things.

Also noticed just now while walking about outside for a bit that I seemed to feel a kind awkward-feeling bubbling up through my body and that my body didn't feel very comfortable and like I needed to adjust it somehow, or it was adjusting itself. I also felt a kind of generalised discomfort and some slight nausea. I wondered if that was supposed to happen, and then thought that quite a lot dissatisfaction about progress, maybe even all of it, seems to stem from judging whether what is happening is what is supposed to happen: what is happening now in relation to some other ideal. I suppose I can only suppose that whatever happens is supposed to happen, if anything can be supposed to happen in the first place. Maybe too much reflecting.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/10/17 2:31 AM as a reply to junglist.
Yesterday afternoon: 60 minutes - “rising…falling…sitting…”

Seems like there was a fair amount of wanting more from what there is, or rather wanting more than what there is, more progress, more interesting feelings. While this does appear to be simple greed, it is probably worth appreciating this as a motivating factor, and perhaps it might extinguish itself in this way.

This morning: 120 minutes - “rising…falling…sitting/noticing…”

This sit was more an examination than practising a particular technique, but it did turn into practising something. I attempted to look carefully at when I wanted to change what was happening, make it more, less, or maintain it. Since attempting not try to change or maintain what I experienced was also an attempt to change or maintain things, I decided to simply notice each occurrence and accept it. I reverted to noting to do this, and this "acceptance technique" turned into more of an attitude to the noting.

Noticing and noting each time this happened appeared to take some practice. It seemed to turn into a similar technique to the one described in MCTB for suffering (p27), or maybe also Shinzen Young's "do nothing". 

The sit was essentially quite easy and simple, small amounts of flashing and vibrations, but very "unmindblowing" as it were.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/10/17 6:06 AM as a reply to junglist.
If you choose to have such long sits, easy and simple is a very good thing. There can be such a thing as too much time/effort and it produces a lot of wierd stuff, but without much real insight. 

Sounds like you are doing a classic investigation into "greed, aversion, delusion/ignorance". Greed is the wanting feeling, aversion is the desire to change, delusion/ignorance is how we tend to focus on tiny aspects of the experience (those that reinforce a sense of self or "my special problem") when actually sitting on the cushion can be a nice full experience, like opening the windows in the morning and taking a breath of fresh air... but we forget that and, metaphorically, lock out selves in a tiny, stuffy closet of our tiny mind.

Ironically, the way out of the closet is not to fight it, that only solidifies the walls and makes the air more stuffy. If you relax, it's like the wall dissolve and a breeze will blow through.

Sometimes when people dedicate themselve to sitting and go too hardcore (too long, too much effort), they don't realize that what they are doing is creating the stuffy closet for themselves. 

Easy and simple is good. Don't worry, the challenges you are meant to have will find you. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/10/17 7:00 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
If you choose to have such long sits, easy and simple is a very good thing. There can be such a thing as too much time/effort and it produces a lot of wierd stuff, but without much real insight. 

Sounds like you are doing a classic investigation into "greed, aversion, delusion/ignorance". Greed is the wanting feeling, aversion is the desire to change, delusion/ignorance is how we tend to focus on tiny aspects of the experience (those that reinforce a sense of self or "my special problem") when actually sitting on the cushion can be a nice full experience, like opening the windows in the morning and taking a breath of fresh air... but we forget that and, metaphorically, lock out selves in a tiny, stuffy closet of our tiny mind.

Ironically, the way out of the closet is not to fight it, that only solidifies the walls and makes the air more stuffy. If you relax, it's like the wall dissolve and a breeze will blow through.

Sometimes when people dedicate themselve to sitting and go too hardcore (too long, too much effort), they don't realize that what they are doing is creating the stuffy closet for themselves. 

Easy and simple is good. Don't worry, the challenges you are meant to have will find you. emoticon

Thanks for your advice on the longness, I was quite wary of getting greedy with what I wanted from the practice, and I found settling on a particular technique for a reasonable amount of time difficult; I wanted more concentration, more insight progress, more metta, more or less walking, body sweeping, some other new techniques for practising specific things, kung fu, how long of this or that technique... which was just all a bit confusing. This is also a tendency I've often noticed happens in life in general.

Simplifying everything seemed like a good idea, so I just did the one technique for the time available. It seemed like a good idea to continue like this for a week to investigate it and build some discipline, and then replan things. I would like to use shorter times to develop in some other areas next. I think I would eventually probably settle on doing one or so long sits a week, with the rest being more focused in shorter periods.

Greed and aversion seem quite clear and tangible enough – I don't think I've managed to eliminate them yet, unfortunately – but delusion/ignorance as an actual thing in itself, rather than a lack of understanding, is new to me. I shall see what I see with this. Thanks for the pointer!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/11/17 2:05 AM as a reply to junglist.
120 minutes "rising...falling..."

Somewhat dissatisfactory sit, couldn't really find any focus, there were also disturbances from outside the room for most of the second half. Tried to notice all these things. Also thoughts about the end of my long-sit week and how I was going to change it tomorrow, and how that was a good idea because it wasn't working.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/12/17 5:16 AM as a reply to junglist.
Early morning:
30 minutes - concentration (breath - nose)
15 minutes - walking - "lift...straight(en leg)...lower...touch (foot on floor)...move (body)...lift..."
30 minutes - two fingers
15 minutes - walking

Felt my level of concentration and speed of noting was a hindrance, so short sits for practising specific things this week. Also decided to revert to using a weekly regime, i.e. choosing specific techniques in a set order for the whole week and reviewing at the end, in the hope that it might prevent confusion. Used walking to break up the exercises, and also because some moving meditation seems like a good idea. Planned to include 30 minutes of the MCTB no-self exercise last with the idea that the first two sitting exercises would prepare for an insight practice, but time is tighter this morning and I am a bit tired. Maybe tomorrow.

Concentration was better than I expected, and attention didn't waver away from my nose very much, although effort was still necessary and I didn't find occasion to drop it.

Two fingers: lack of concentration here was a bit of a hindrance.

Late morning:
30 minutes - concentration (breath - nose)
15 minutes - walking - "lift...straight(en leg)...lower...touch (foot on floor)...move (body)...lift..."
30 minutes - two fingers
15 minutes - walking
30 minutes - MCTB no-self exercise

Some quite steady feeling during concentration, felt very focused and similar to some descriptions might have read about access concentration in the latter half, thoughts faint, breath quite shallow, but attention didn't feel stable enough at all to match the description of being able to hold my attention there for a long time and without effort, which is obviously the important bit. Started both concentration exercises with a count of each breath from one to ten three times, and didn't lose the count, although thoughts and stuff did arise in between. Also some degree of flashing and slight vibrations.

Walking was more focused too.

Two-fingers - lack of concentration and noticed some mental fatigue

No-self: the difference between noticing how things just arise and disappear, and getting lost in the thoughts that arise became blurred, so tried to focus just on body sensations. Fatigue seemed to mean the suggested 1-10 noticings per second wasn't always possible.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/13/17 6:54 AM as a reply to junglist.
Early morning:
45 minutes - concentration (breath - nose)

Concentration was worse than yesterday, maybe due to poor sleep or worrying about a few things. Was generally better towards the end than the beginning though.

Late morning:
30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)
30 minutes - walking - "lift...straight(en leg)...lower...touch (foot on floor)...move (body)...lift..."
30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)

Although I promised to continue the regime from yesterday for the whole week, the current situation made me feel noting could make better use of it, and I felt that more walking would be good. 

Both sits were fairly uneventful, although the 30 minute time seemed strangely long, even though it was only two days since a daily 2-hour-sit week. 

Walking seemed to give me the chance to develop concentration and speed.

The simplified sit-walk-sit pattern with noting seems better, since it appears to allow me to observe things exactly as they are as much as possible, and develop concentration and speed, which is what I wanted from the first two sits in yesterday's plan.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Reasons and Aims
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6/14/17 1:12 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)
30 minutes - walking - "lift...straight(en leg)...lower...touch (foot on floor)...move (body)...lift..."
30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)

Not much eventful this time, other than focus seemed to be off, as well as general mild feelings of disgruntlement that seemed to be aimed at things that are happening at the moment. Also I felt like I didn't particularly enjoy meditation in general, perhaps because of an apparent lack of progress, perhaps because I wasn't getting out of it what I was getting before, but I harboured no negative feelings towards it. It seems that noting is a good choice of practice in order to be able to observe such things.

Since I seem to be prone to reflection, a few such ideas arose, which I found more or less interesting. I considered two points together: firstly, it is said (e.g. in MCTB ) that if you are watching it, then it is not you, by definition. As much as I would like to, I cannot say that I have as direct an experience of this as I would like to confirm it, but it served as a hypothesis for further unintentional reasoning. The second was that I have read that suffering arises because of a duality, which recently from what seems like a self-centred perspective I have been feeling to be things like: I feel my situation is bad because someone else has it better, this person is disturbing my situation, now things are bad because they were good before and where there appears to something like a comparison. I am not able to see how this might encompass the suffering that arises from extreme pain and cruelty, but it also serves the purpose of unintentional reasoning. I should mention that during the sit, these were two concepts that arose together without the need for the above preramble.

So watching myself, not particularly feeling satisfied with things, with very mildly unsettling feelings in my body, I saw how being dissatisfied means that there is another idea of something separate to compare it to, but I am watching both of these things from another apparently separate perspective, which made me wonder how there can be any suffering in the first place. This lightened things a bit. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/14/17 7:24 AM as a reply to junglist.
About 2 hours - sitting, noting, with a little bit of standing and walking right at the end.

Wanting to further investigate the feelings I described before, I decided to sit for a while, without setting the timer. I basically spent the whole time noting breathing and sitting, with whatever else arose.

The beginning was more or less as before, and after some time there were a few vibrations and flashing. There was also some vibrato in what I could hear, and the tactile, auditory and visual seemed to vibrate at the same frequencies. This continued for some time, sometimes more, sometimes less. Then some pleasant physical sensations began off and on, and the grew in intensity. It got fairly intense, then peaked and decreased to a somewhat calmer intensity, and then climbed, this time further and further. There was lots of flashing in patterns made up of tiny lights, which often happens, but this time it was very pronounced. This happened quite similarly 2 months ago. 

As things got more intense I tried to notice every single sensation as fast I could, which I seemed to interpret as bouncing my attention all over the place like a tiny pinball at any sensation that it might fly past, and this seemed to intensify the lights, which brightened to a golden colour, and physical sensations also intensified. Stuff also happened with my whole body, maybe vibrating everywhere, but I'm not sure, I felt enormous and small at the same time and I don't think I had as clear an image of the different parts of my body, as I usually might, maybe just one big/small globe. I think the boundaries of my body sort of blurred as vibrations increased. 

After I trying to notice things as fast as possible for a short while, it seemed that it should be clear what the reason for all of this was, which I decided should be for the very best reason I could think of, which was the freedom from suffering of all beings throughout time and space. I would have liked to have been able to feel a wish like this with much more sincerity than it was formulated, but I suppose that would have been a bit of a tall order from the tiny space of the universe that I currently inhabit.

After this, I just put all the effort I had into it, which seemed to involve forcing what was going on with my head somehow. I suppose this was probably a mistake and I should have just noticed everything as best as I could. Eventually I ran out of effort, and things started to wind down. I sat there for a while, but my focus was a little off to be able to notice things very well. I eventually stood up, and then walked for a few minutes, and then it was lunchtime.

Since it all seems a bit like what people describe as A&P, a few general observations to avoid getting too excited: I don't feel enlightened; I didn't get any zap down my spine, although there were some slight small bubbling sensations around the bottom of my back and pressure at the top at the back of my head; reality didn't dissolve and reform, my consciousness didn't explode across time and space, and I didn't make love with the universe or anything far out of the ordinary like that.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/16/17 12:52 AM as a reply to junglist.
15 June

30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)
30 minutes - walking - "lift...straight(en leg)...lower...touch (foot on floor)...move (body)...lift..."
30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)

Decided that I could develop speed simply by noting as fast as I could (instead of techniques like the two-finger one), and attempted to do so focusing on sensation breath in the abdomen. Noticed a fair amount of not feeling particularly happy with things at the moment, especially worries about the future. Noticing the three characteristics seemed to change this in the second sit, and flashing and some subtle vibrations seemed to follow immediately afterwards.


16 June

30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)
30 minutes - walking - "lift (foot off floor)...move (foot forward)...straight(en leg)...lower (foot)...touch (foot on floor)...move (body)..."
30 minutes - "rising...falling...sitting..." (abdomen)

Things seemed pretty much the same as yesterday and the sit before things got a bit exciting a couple of days ago. Concentration seemed a bit off.

It seemed today that sometimes I saw a connection between thoughts about events of life in the outside world and feelings of sadness or worry that arise (e.g. oh dear, what am I going to do about X, the situation is difficult at the moment because of Y), and sometimes the same feelings seemed to arise without being preceded by outside-world-related thoughts. This vaguely reminded me of something I had read somewhere not long ago, maybe by one forum poster here, about how the mind latches on to whatever is around, or something along those lines. My conclusion from this was not clear, since it is not clear how causality is involved, but it made me wonder if and how things just arise in the mind and get attributed to something pretty haphazardly.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/18/17 5:09 AM as a reply to junglist.
17 June

45 minutes - sitting
30 minutes - walking
30 minutes - sitting

Took a bit longer for the first sit to be able to settle into it more. 

Generally difficult, wanted to stop quite a few times, concentration not really working.


18 June

Tiredness and general disgruntlement continuing. Mild headaches that feel like they're caused by an overuse of brain, covering most of my head as opposed to one specific area. Discomfort around eyes that gets a bit disorientating when I turn my head – most likely eye tiredness usually caused by using the computer for extended periods time. 

Although avoiding the maps seemed like a good idea, I've been considering a diagnosis of moving between the Three Characteristics Ñana and A&P in order to decide whether what is needed is more practice and of what kind, or other remedies. 

This suspected diagnosis should be justified: vibrations seem about 5 Hz, but pretty much only in my closed-eye vision, I often get unexplainable sensations of having the inside of my face twisting, especially in the part of my skull where my right nostril is, as well as other places nearby. There is sadness that appears to have a clear association with my life situation, although the comparison of my situation with other situations – past, other people now, future – appears to be important. 

While sitting (or sometimes lying while going to sleep or taking a nap), vibrations become more perceivable, they become faster in my eyes, about double speed, and I feel them more, usually first mostly in my hands and in different parts of my body, most noticeably when lying down. 

It seems like I don't have enough time in the morning before everyone gets up to progress through the A&P, the bit in MCTB about a 
sense of wanting to renounce the world and practice gave me a chuckle when I reread it recently. Been entertaining that thought, as well as its impossibility, a fair amount recently.

Been waking up early to practise, so slept in to discard lack of sleep as part of my unqualified amateur differential diagnosis. Woke up relatively early anyway, so did this in bed:

Guided Meditation: Three Characteristics - http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9543/

Then got up:

30 minutes - sitting - concentration (nose)

After finally being convinced by Rob Burbea (http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9550/) that samadhi was a good idea to develop, I did some. The attitude encouraged by the talk, as well as Rob's tone of voice, was a bit more chilled out than my approach has been of late, which seemed like a good idea, and I liked the idea of having more space around the meditation object. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/19/17 1:31 AM as a reply to junglist.
60 minutes - concentration
20 minutes - noting

On with developing samadhi. First half not too concentrated, second not too bad. It seems like these days I get one point in each concentration sit in which I notice how to lock on to the breath, and can hold it there for a fair few minutes. A fair few by my standards anyway, maybe five minutes. Other times it comes and goes, I remember how to hold it there again, and then lose it. This seems to require consistent but not strong effort. Consistent because I feel I have maintain a kind of pressure on attention to hold it where it's supposed to be.

Noted for a bit, wasn't really clear about the technique. Halfway between trying to note breath and sitting fastish, halfway between trying to notice impermanence, or how things just happen by themselves, or maybe aversion and craving. Wonder if this will sort itself out somehow. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/19/17 11:12 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes - sitting - concentration
30 minutes - sitting - noting
30 minutes - walking (removed "straight(en leg)" note to focus more on foot movements)
45 minutes - sitting - noting

Concentration OK, noticed some things I think are more related to Insight meditation start during concentration practice, like flashing and some things moving across my face.

Flashing was quite definitely at around 5 or so Hz, not very intense as usual, increasing towards the end of the last sit to maybe double speed. Some variations in speed too, not clear if associated with breath cycle, but I noticed they changed speed more discretely rather than gradually, maybe about four degrees from the fastest to slowest. Also noticed the breath vibrating quite gently at about the same rate, which happened once before during a fairly long and quite intense sit a few months ago.

Not so many vibrations in hands, maybe some subtler ones towards the end, but noticed some finer ones from the chest downwards at one point, which felt fairly heavy from the point of view of the body mass that was vibrating. Haven't noticed vibrations here before, they seemed to be associated with focusing on the breath in the abdomen.

General mood was more normal, not particularly positive or negative like some sits recently.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that during concentration, one new notable thing: I quite clearly watched myself observing my breath, and I think I held my attention in that position for about half a minute, which is also quite a long time to hold my attention on the breath by my standards. It felt like standing just a little bit further back, observing myself focusing on my breath. I should probably investigate what these observers are doing next time.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/20/17 7:55 AM as a reply to junglist.
Early morning

60 minutes - concentration
20 minutes - noting

The beginning of the concentration part seemed all right, then got fairly crap, probably the crappest so far since I started focusing more on concentration. Wondered if I really managed to stay with the breath for five minutes before, sounds like bollocks now. Such is the nature of the beast.

I did not make use of any particular "introductory rituals" such as counting or anything similar to what Culadasa mentions in TMI, and just started trying to pay attention to the breath. I didn't do this before, but it made me wonder if the concentration and motivation in the first sit was somehow better directed. I've noticed this before when I try to do something newish, maybe as simple as making a series of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, which I can manage on the first attempt relatively skilfully, and then there is a marked decrease in the outcome in subsequent attempts and it takes a while before I figure out how to do it properly again and return to the level of the first result. Perhaps since new thoughts about how to do it better arise, which then disturb that actual process.

Late morning

30 minutes - concentration
30 minutes - noting
30 minutes - noting
45 minutes - noting

Concentration might have been a bit better this time. Remembered about counting halfway through, so I did some, and it seemed to steady things. Mental note: do it at the beginning from now on.

After the first 30 minutes of noting I had planned to walk, as yesterday, but today I decided to continue since things seemed interesting. I also decided to continue through the next 45 minutes instead of getting up, to try and let things develop. Interestingly each time a the bell rang for the next part, there was a renewed concentration or sense of things. The overall sit seemed fairly similar to the one a few days ago in terms of phenomena. Nothing majorly new happened, and on reflection it seems like I am getting to know the territory, rather than progressing to anywhere new. Which is also of course a form of progression.

There was much more flashing than bodily vibratory sensations. When I focused on the flashing and tried to see every light and dark part, things speeded up, my eyelids flickered a little and some rapturous bodily sensations appeared. There seemed to be a sense of fast vibrations or spinning like a gyroscope, but without clear physical sensations. Things eventually got quite intense like last time, but this time instead of just blasting effort at it, I noticed sensations as fast as I could oscillating between my head and arse, as well as hands on knees, similar to the MCTB two-finger technique, but simply moving my attention from one to the other instead of watching when I could sense each one. Things got the most intense with this. I tried to notice the Three Characteristics in these sensations but I didn't notice anything very different.

One quite interesting thing I noticed during the second noting session before things got more intense was at one point I felt like I could see myself flickering, which looked something like the top of the black silhouette of my body sitting with faintish golden flashing around it, and this image kind of flickered out and went black, all very fast, repeatedly. I wondered if something interesting might have been happening, but either I couldn't see it clearly enough, or it was just a bit of simple flashing.

Mapping thoughts often arose about moving between the 3Cs and the A&P ñanas, and concerns about there not having been an A&P event, and what I should be doing etc. Probably need a bit more time.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/22/17 12:45 AM as a reply to junglist.
21 June 

Early morning

30 minutes - concentration
(about 5 minutes - noting - interrupted)

Throughout day 

10 minutes - noting (interrupted)
10 minutes - noting (interrupted)
15 minutes - noting
20 minutes - noting
10 minutes - noting

Had a lot of work to do yesterday, so experimented with short sits every hour or so as breaks to see if it could keep some kind of baseline mindfulness level up. Nothing major to report, other than having chosen to take breaks depending on work progress and fatigue, there were often thoughts of trying to sneak in sits which seemed a bit greedy, and perhaps noting off cushion might have been a bit better.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/23/17 1:17 AM as a reply to junglist.
22 June

Early
30 minutes - concentration
30 minutes - noting

Late
30 minutes - noting

Nothing major in general, concentration average. Seem to be noticing 5 or so Hz vibrations more, which seem to have a bigger amplitude of the finer double-speed vibrations. Not sure how I'd measure it, maybe somewhere between a millimetre and half a centimetre??


23 June

30 minutes - concentration (nose)
30 minutes - noting (abdomen)
30 minutes - walking

Concentration was quite good, used Culadasa's "gradual four-step transistion to the meditation object", followed by a single count to 10. After this, I remained with the sensations of breath for quite some time, a fair amount of distractions arising, but none of them making me forget at all.

At one point, maybe halfway through, I had one of those so-called "good ideas" about something, the specifics of which I forget now. I didn't intentionally reflect on it, but afterwards stronger and distractions arose, which made it difficult to return to the breath. I attempted a couple of strategies to sort things out, and then eventually just returned to counting towards the end. Counting seems to focus things very well these days. Curiously enough, flicking through TMI looking for what Culadasa called the aforementioned transition, I stumbled upon what he calls "the problem of discursive brilliance". Not that the idea was brilliant, by any stretch of the imagination, but the point was the same.

Overall I think I had a greater awareness of how well I was concentrating and being distracted, which seems important. I also got the feeling (and remembered from having read about it some time ago) that the effort I put into concentrating had a destabilisng effect, i.e. that other distractions arise as a result of using effort. I experiemented with different levels of effort, without any meditatively significant findings.

Noting in contrast seemed all over the place. Not sure if the difference in place of focusing on the breath was a problem, tried to note sensations at the nose instead. Basically the noting seemed sluggish and slow. Perhaps because I've had a fair amount of work recently. I've been considering that I might simply be bored of it and should change practice for a while, or just note at whatever speed and focus I can manage at the time.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/25/17 2:45 AM as a reply to junglist.
24 June

30 min - sitting - concentration (nose)
30 min - walking
a bit - sitting - noting (abdomen) (interrupted)

Decided to put walking between the sitting to avoid confusion between nose and abdomen. Seems like a reasonable idea. Other options might be to base noting around the nose, but since that's what the Mahasi instructions in the book say, I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Recently been experiencing head pressure when lying down, often at the top of the head in the middle area like something trying to push outwards. The pressure increases and decreases and does not remain static. Pressure also around the middle of my face like I described a short while ago. This is not very new and has been happening on and off for a while, but noticed it a fair bit today.

Other than that, started experimenting with not drinking a fat mug of black coffee every morning yesterday, or at any other time of day. Wonder if it will make any difference to anything. Other than increasing drowsiness throughout the day(s) and perhaps giving me neck and headaches (I think they are unrelated in character to the aforementioned sensations).


25 June

30 min - concentration
20 min - walking
45 min - noting
15 min - ritsuzen

Nothing special, concentration average, but might be a higher average than at the beginning of the week.

More momentary vibrations finer, in hands mostly, also over lips and maybe some other places. Starting to note using see/hear/feel more, and with no "ing". At one point I seemed to be able to note just faster than the words would allow, which hasn't happened for a while.

Decided to include some ritsuzen after sitting noting. I've been doing a tiny bit of this on some afternoons when I've had time. This time also doing some sort of noting, but the exercise wasn't clear. The idea was basically to increase energy and develop some sort physical wellbeing. The breath in the abdomen was awkward to follow in the ritsuzen position, so I tried using the microcosmic orbit to follow the breath, and there was more sensitivity this time to the sensations moving around. Also felt some energetic stuff happening briefly. Might have been slightly different to ritsuzen before - will need to try again to be able to describe it with more accuracy.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/26/17 8:12 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 min - concentration
20 min - walking
45 min - noting

In concentration, focus seemed be there in that I was fairly aware of what was going on, but attention seemed to be jumping around to all kind of things.

While walking I experimented with lifting my feet from the back of my head. Recently I heard John Peacock talk about the sitting pose as expressing this "striving for the benefit of all beings", or something along those lines, which sounded nice. I decided to use a bit of that mentality in my postures, and in walking this manifested as raising my head up straight, instead of goggling down at my feet, and using the image of pulling each foot up from the imaginary string sometimes used to hold the spine erect, and moving my body weight from one foot to another in a similar way. This seemed to be easy to keep my attention on, although that might be because it was the first time I had tried it. I found keeping my gaze down helped keep attention from flying off. Seems like the raising from the top of the head/spine was key to be able to maintain the lowered gaze without my neck bending down in sympathy. It was, however, not quite as focused on the actual sensations of walking in the feet, which might be clearer sensations to observe. Not sure what I'll do next.

Noting more or less all over the place, didn't really settle to feel like I was noting well or consistently at all.


30 min - concentration
15 min - ritsuzen - microcosmic orbit
15 min - hai (walking with image of pushing wall with raised hands)
60 min - noting

Things seemed to happen in concentration, pleasant body sensations, some lights, I don't think they were flashing particularly though. Focus seemed to be better, wasn't sure if I reached access concentration, but had a go at focusing on the pleasantness of some of the sensations, but when I did, they were difficult to find, or when I turned my focus to them they seemed more neutral than pleasant. Tried using the smile, but there wasn't really anything of a particularly pleasant nature there, so I just went back to the tip of my nose.

Used the microcosmic orbit with the breathing. Some posture complications with the turning of the orbit, a bit tricky to stay straight. Noticed sensations at the the bottom of my spine and at the top over the head, but it was difficult to find sensations in the middle of my back to follow the orbit. At one point I noticed some pain in the left side of my back, and the route of the orbit seemed to follow that path up. After a while, I noticed a slight shooting up the middle of my body on the way up, more inside than where I was following and much faster, but not intense at all. The typical shaking that occurs in ritsuzen seemed to be finer, and a bit more like what happens while noting.

Focus in hai seemed to be very good, not sure if better than other times I've done it, but seemingly better than the other exercises. Might be good for focus, we'll see.

Noting on the other hand was more or less uneventful, other than things that are fairly commonplace these days like fine vibrations and lights, at mostly lower intensities, although increasing somewhat towards the end. Noticed that there seemed to have been a lack of things to note and that everything seemed to be "rising...falling...wandering". Not sure if that's because there were less things that I might usually note; seemed more like there were thoughts about things like progress, whether the technique was good etc. that I didn't seem to have been noting, and so I thought I should note that. I seemed unable to really note things other than the breath, sitting and other body and light sensations in real time though.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/27/17 7:24 AM as a reply to junglist.
Early morning

30 min - concentration
30 min - walking
30 min - noting
30 min - walking
30 min - noting
30 min - walking


Late morning

60 min - noting

Unintentionally woke up early, so seemed like a good chance. Concentration was quite focused, and stable, most notably a feeling developed in which I felt large and small more or less simultaneously, probably most noticeably in my legs where my hands were resting. It was a feeling I had had before about two or three times during meditation, and recognised from when I was 9 or so years old. At that time I think it happened twice quite fully, and a few other times when it threatened to happen. Then, it felt mostly like I was small and something else was very big (maybe that was simply the scariest combination) and was about to squash me, and frightened the life out of me. Nowadays it's obviously just a feeling, so interest, rather than fear arose. This time I decided to explore a little and found a spaciousness, with nothing much else other than my legs in it. I tried to rest my attention on either the spaciousness or the sensations of my legs, but it wasn't quite clear enough. Maybe the indecision between a sensation to focus on made me lose stability, so I returned to the breath. This is probably the longest I have managed to stay with this state, or probably any other state for a while. Seems like concentration is doing some good. No sensations that stuck out as particularly pleasant arose, so I just stayed with the breath until the bell.

Walking also became quite interesting, lots of things to notice and think about, and I seemed to be able to see underneath them to a reasonable extent. I also noted with the thought "this is what lifting is like...this is what moving is like...", which seemed to concentrate the mind clearly, gently and interestedly to each sensation of the process of moving my feet and body, instead of a slightly more frantic "liftliftliftliftliftliftliftliftliftliftliftliftmovemovemovemovemove...". At one point for a few seconds, a very kind feeling arose in my solar plexus area, seemingly unrelated to anything. Not sure at all why.

Early morning noting was fairly sluggish, and it seemed the practice had lost some kind of stimulation in comparison with the other two, most likely from the lack of newness factor. I have temporarily abandoned the effort to note as fast as possible, since it is becoming quite forced. I just went for gentle clarity this time, also with some "this is what it is like to breath" mentality rolled in.

Late morning noting had a fair amount of physical sensations, light vibrations or tingling sensations around a lot more of my body, newer sensations included something going round and round on my scalp for about a minute. Also something small moving around at the bottom of my spine and up my back for probably all of the latter half of the session, and some tiny bubbles or something rising up.

I am also often experiencing more or less random pleasant sensations in daily life, maybe around my chest, upper body, not sure.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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6/28/17 2:38 PM as a reply to junglist.
60 min - concentration
30 min - noting
30 min - walking
30 min - noting
30 min - walking
30 min - noting
30 min - walking

Woke up very early unintentionally again, thought I might make the most of it. Not sure if I overdid it, because it was a little difficult to maintain the quality of focus all, but the latter part wasn't any worse than the first.

I'm getting the feeling these days that something like an A&P event might be about happen, but I had quite a lot of plans and things to do for today, and was a bit concerned about having a life-changing experience midweek with people depending on me, so that might have hindered things from developing very much.

On another note, don't leave your phone to run on a 4-hour timer session with the screen on - it dies. It was OK with 3, but four was obviously too much for it.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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7/1/17 1:39 AM as a reply to junglist.
29 June

30 minutes - concentration

Fairly busy today, so only short. Quite notably and often throughout the day, I experienced slight pleasant, blissful, maybe rapturous sensations, mostly in my torso. Slightly rapturous might well be contradiction, but they weren't just normal pleasant sensations that one might experience from a pleasant breeze or in a bath, they had a mild ecstatic edge to them. They seemed to appear in conjunction with another sensation, either as well as or instead of them, I'm not too sure. I'm also not sure exactly what would bring them on, it seemed to be related to feelings like confusion or some kind of seeing something pleasing, but also some sounds. It started a bit yesterday, but happened before, a couple of months ago. I think I also occasionally noticed some extremely short white flashes like lightning out of the corner of my eye. Not sure if they were caused by anything; it did rain all day yesterday, so I thought I had seen lightning, maybe, but I don't think there was any associated thunder.

Most notably while working, I found that the spot right at the bottom of my back in the middle was also tingling, buzzing and wriggling slightly a fair amount more than usual. They were almost distracting, and I ended up observing them a little, even with a looming deadline. The most significant aspect about it was how much and constant this feeling was there, and it seems quite clear now that this is not connected to my trousers, underwear, shirt or any labels that might be on them. I also noticed some bubbles rising, and some the seemed a little larger than they have done before.

These phenomena while working might be linked to the focus on the task, and probably some heightened ability to notice and appreciate them gained through meditation. The temporal connection to meditation is fairly clear, since some very slight phenomena have arisen now that I recognise from before, but not to the same extent, and the tingling in my back increasing is new. I noticed vibrations a few weeks ago while just proofreading, which after paying more attention to them, eventually got pretty hardcore. Something else that sometimes happens while proofreading, which I do aloud, is that my voice seems to soften of its own accord, accompanied by some kind of sleepy, mild trance-like feeling.

30 June

30 minutes - concentration
15 minutes - ritsuzen
15 minutes - walking
30 minutes - noting

Used preparation routine for concentration practice:
- 3 deep breaths fully in and fully out
- breath in and out relaxing body
- breath in and out opening
- breath in and out relaxing mind
- Culadasa 4-stage transition
- Count 1 to 10

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
6/30/17 6:21 AM as a reply to junglist.
Your consistent practice is great! Enjoy the pleasurable feelings when they arise, you are allowed. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/1/17 1:34 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Your consistent practice is great! Enjoy the pleasurable feelings when they arise, you are allowed. emoticon
Thanks shargrol! Well at least I'm consistent then. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/1/17 1:55 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 June

60 min - noting


1 July


30 min - concentration
30 min - walking
30 min - noting
about 20 min - walking
60 min - noting

Another accidental early awakening. It seems that the factors of faith and doubt apply to new timers as well. Could have sworn the second walking part was way more than 30 minutes, so had to check the timer was working properly. Timer reckoned different. Changed last sitting and walking parts to a 60-minute sit in protest, dagnammit. 

Seemed to be a fair amount of dullness and drowsiness, especially in the last sit.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/2/17 11:07 AM as a reply to junglist.
Early morning
45 min - concentration

15 min - walking
30 min - noting
about 20 min - noting

The sense of the importance of concentration seems to be growing, as well as as my ability, and since 30 minutes doesn't seem quite enough, I added an extra 15. Was quite stable for most of the time, and I seemed to be more aware of the workings of my mind in order to maintain concentration. Experimenting again with varying effort, gradually stronger towards the end of the out-breath and the in-breath, and gradually weaker towards the middle. Focus seemed to get really strong right at the beginning while counting, but seemed to get disturbed by the indecision of whether to drop the count before getting to ten as planned or straightaway.

Noting was seems to be consistently mediocre these days, difficulty in focusing consistently while on the cushion, although not too bad off-cushion. Remembering to note lack of focus, sluggishness and poorer aspects of mind also doesn't seem to be happening. Considering doing a concentration-focused week to develop in that area and then pick up the noting again, or something else to keep things fresh. I see the importance of this technique, so I am reluctant to drop it, but I worry there might be a danger of this sluggishness being cultivated by this repetitive apparent lack of quality. Might take a week off.


Later on
about 20 min - something mettaish

After reading this seemingly well-thoughtout and interesting article:

http://integrateddaniel.info/magick-and-the-brahma-viharas/

I had a bit of a go at some of the techniques mentioned, mostly the metta ones, trying to sense something kind in the solar plexus area. I was surprised and even embarrassed to find that there seemed to be a subtle pain and lack of warmth, going through the phrases, but with very little of the tenderness I had previously found. However, after a while, some pleasant feelings seem to arise around my body, maybe first in my shoulder area and then further around, and then later light bubbling sensations around the back of my head where it connects to the neck and at the bottom of my back, giving the impression of starting to open some connection between the two. I may be somewhat primed to reach this conclusion from what I might have read, but it seems to be worth exploring further. EDIT: Forgot to mention that the space around me also started to change together with all this, and largeness and smallness started blurring, somewhat growing in intensity. Also, I wonder if I am experiencing a slight lack of motivation, especially when tired, caused by a decrease in desire, which would be an extra motive to do the above practice.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/4/17 12:36 PM as a reply to junglist.
3 July

45 minutes - concentration
15 minutes - walking
30 minutes - noting
60 minutes - noting


4 July

45 minutes - concentration
15 minutes - ritsuzen
30 minutes - noting

Tried some ideas to make noting more fruitful:
- Ritsuzen instead of walking to increase energy/wake up a bit. In taikiken, the exercises that follow are designed to direct the fruits of ritsuzen to what one wants to use them for - in this case noting.
- After reading the magick article above, tried using some intentions after developing good concentration so that ritsuzen and then noting would be really really good.
- Thought that if I compare my boredom of using words to note all the time with the fact that words seem to spin around in my mind anyway, it’s more or less the same thing, except better directed.
Seemed to work quite well, and I seemed to be able to maintain clarity, focus and speed during noting quite well, much better than I have for the past few weeks. 

Also did a body sweep lying down. Quite a lot pressure from inside my crown pushing outwards, lights, some fine vibrations (I think), some heat (also cold, straight after I think, perhaps because it was slightly cold).

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/7/17 12:50 AM as a reply to junglist.
5 July
45 minutes - concentration
15 minutes - ritsuzen
30 minutes - noting
15 minutes - ritsuzen

Same as yesterday with another ritsuzen - planned to do another noting but it got a bit late. For noting I decided to use a lower speed limit of about 2 notes per second, which seemed to make sure things didn’t slack off, but things didn’t particularly speed up. Both concentration and noting were somewhat less sharp than yesterday. 

Thought it might be a good idea to write some other general feelings: perhaps related to cutting down a lot on drinking coffee in the last couple of weeks (about once or twice a instead of every day), but often noticing laziness, a slight lack of sleep can affect me a little bit more than I might normally hope, general motivation to do work and daily tasks is a bit low, maybe noticing some selfishness in relation to laziness, i.e. other people can do things instead of me, slight increase in desire to eat. This laziness can seem to become quite pleasant and tranquil when I’m alone without imminent obligations. Might start drinking a bit more coffee. 

Back pain and tightness in one spot on the left between my chest and stomach is also returning.


6 July

45 minutes - concentration
15 minutes - ritsuzen
30 minutes - noting

Tried using lots of effort in concentration.

Noting was variable.

60 minutes - noticing (interrupted several times halfway through)

Instead of noting, tried just noticing what was going on, feelings, where thoughts were coming from and going to. Gave me a nice freedom to explore things, including exploring distracting thoughts, rather than treating them as things that get in the way – where they come from, what they do, what are my feelings like when they arise, etc.

A few times throughout the day, I found some tiredness, but then somehow found a way to align with it and it became quite a pleasant and calm feeling. I got the sense though that if someone were to want me to do something of I'd have to hurry for some reason it would be spoilt, kill my high, as it were.


7 July

45 minutes - concentration
15 minutes - walking
45 minutes - noticing
15 minutes - ritsuzen
40 minutes - noting (interrupted)

Woke up a couple of hours early. Concentration relatively good, I think only one instance of forgetting the breath that lasted some seconds. Not quite full unwavering concentration yet though, more just returning the attention again and again and again.

Noticing and noting were marred by some nodding off.

Chest tightness in the same spot quite prominent.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/10/17 6:13 AM as a reply to junglist.
8 July

45 minutes - concentration
17 minutes - ritsuzen
30 minutes - noting

Concentration surprisingly poor, a constant wrestle from the moment I woke up, to the cushion and until the end of the sit. Could not identify any specific reasons for it.

Decided to include noticing when I didn't feel so sharp and try to make myself alert throughout the day from now on.

Also seeing what happens if I have cold showers without spasming out from now on too. Requires some mindfulness to shower calmly.


9 July

Some minutes of concentration - interrupted soon after I began.


10 July

45 minutes - concentration
17 minutes - ritsuzen
30 minutes - two fingers
17 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken exercises: hanzen (left and right sides); yuri (up/down forces); hai (walking).

In response to the dullness during noting especially and concerns that my mind would be more effective if trained, this week will be a training week. I will use my morning practice to do the above exercises with the purpose of increasing concentration, energy, clarity, speed, and all that good stuff. See if it makes any difference.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/11/17 1:37 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes - concentration
17 minutes - ritsuzen
30 minutes - two fingers
17 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken exercises: hanzen (left and right sides); yuri (up/down forces); hai (walking).

Concentration was rather dire, pretty shocking really, decided to use counting throughout. It was also difficult to maintain attention on the two fingers, so switched at one point to trying to see what was going on that disturbed things so much.

Motivation sank during ritsuzen on several occasions and I felt a lot like stopping, but luckily I'd written here that was going to do the whole week, so I kept going.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/12/17 8:58 AM as a reply to junglist.
So, you're getting into a phase where you are judging the quality of your practice... classic trap. 

It doesn't matter what happens, whether you have a great sit or a crap sit. It doesn't matter at all.  All you need to be is present for the experience of it.

So if you are noticing poor concentration, guess what? You're seeing poor concentration clearly. Perfect.

If you are noticing dullness, guess what? You're seeing dullness clearly. Perfect.

You don't try to control what your mind does, beyond gently adding a little more effort or relaxing with a little less effort. That's all the adjustment that you make.

Other than that, what you are doing is collecting information and experience about how your mind is and works. The mind itself will take all of that new data and adjust itself. It's amazing. And it's simple. You spend time on the cushion noticing how things are and the mind drops bad habits and adopts better habits all by itself.

The big mistake people make is they think their sit has to be perfect to get the benefits. NOT AT ALL. It's like going to the gym: the workout is hard and makes you feel weak, but then you have strength during the rest of your life outside of the gym. That's what meditation practice is. You do the hard stuff, which is ironically just sitting and noticing what happens, but then the rest of life gets better. 

It's funny, usually the people around us notice the benefits of our practice before we do. We're too close to the whole situation and all we seem to notice is the things we think are wrong with our sits! emoticon







 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/11/17 7:14 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:

It doesn't matter what happens, whether you have a great sit or a crap sit. It doesn't matter at all.  All you need to be is present for the experience of it. 
Thanks shargrol! 
My concern is that if there doesn't appear to be enough energy, concentration etc. to actually be present, rather than idle on the cushion, should something not be done about it?

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/11/17 4:29 PM as a reply to junglist.
Energy is one thing. It's okay to adjust by sitting up straighter and breath with more intention if there is too little energy/dullness. It's okay to relax and slump a little and breath more gently if there is too much energy/struggle.

But a lot of times what we call a lack of concentration is actually an aversion to what is happening. Concentration just means you are able to note what is happening, you can describe what is occuring. But often times we say there is a lack of concentration when all that is occuring is dullness, confusion, irritation, boredom, discomfort, distraction, lack of interest, daydreams, etc.

Meditation really takes off when you can become a newsroom reporter and just observe and note what is actually occuring. Then all hindrances actually become FUEL for practice, because you use the awareness of them AS your practice. No matter how crappy the sit, if you were there for it, it's a great sit. No matter if you get distracted 1000 times, if you come back from distraction 1000 times then you will have learned much more about the mind than if you were only distracted and came back once.

Meditation can be counter-intuitive at first. The quality of it is not judged in normal, conventional ways of good, better, best. Actually the worst sits are the best in a very real sense.

So don't worry much about how it goes. Just keep your consistent daily practice and stay interested in what naturally arises as you sit.

When you get to the point that you can actual >investigate< what it feels like to be dull, confused, irritated, bored, in discomfort, distracted, lacking interest, daydreaming... then a whole world opens up. You'll actually hope for hindrances to show up so that you can get a good look at them and be able to learn Mara's tricks, so to speak.

Hope this helps!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/11/17 4:46 PM as a reply to shargrol.
No matter how crappy the sit, if you were there for it, it's a great sit.
Good one.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/12/17 3:21 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
But a lot of times what we call a lack of concentration is actually an aversion to what is happening. Concentration just means you are able to note what is happening, you can describe what is occuring. But often times we say there is a lack of concentration when all that is occuring is dullness, confusion, irritation, boredom, discomfort, distraction, lack of interest, daydreams, etc. 
Thanks again shargrol, and Ward Law, I think all of what you wrote is clear and makes good sense to me, and I can recognise it from my experience, except the quote above, for the reasons below. I get the feeling I am misunderstanding something important about the difference between Concentration and Insight practice that is leading to some confusion between the two:

- Perhaps erroneously, I have understood Concentration practice to be developing the ability to maintain attention on a particular object (the sensations of breath at the tip of the nose in my case), whereas Insight I understand to be observing clearly what one is experiencing and becoming more intimate with it. The purpose of the former being to be able to maintain attention and steady the mind, the latter being to directly know reality for the purpose of awakening. Aside from the secondary benefits from Concentration practice, my purpose is to better be able to do Insight practice. I understand both practices can lead to similar results... Hmm, as I am writing this, I am now finding it difficult to find exactly where the confusion and misunderstanding is. I think it boils down to: when am I doing Concentration and when am I doing Insight? Both at the same time, I imagine, but you seem to be saying that the problem I am experiencing in Concentration is a problem I associate with Insight.

- To compare my probably misunderstanding with what you describe, to me concentration is when my attention stays on the meditation object. I think concept and feeling of aversion is clear to me, but are you saying that aversion to what is happening leads to wavering attention, or that aversion itself and maintaining attention itself are the same?

Forgive me for my rambling, it seems when one tries formulate the right questions to resolve one's own confusion, one ends up sounding quite confused...emoticon 

Thank you very much for all your help, it's all very interesting and I really do appreciate it!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/12/17 3:37 AM as a reply to junglist.
about 55 minutes - concentration
about 15 minutes - noting

Volume on alarm clock was off for some reason, so woke up late. Same device was used for meditation timer - bell didn't ring. Duh. Was nice to develop concentration a bit beyond the 30 minutes planned though.

Seemed to be more settled today, attention was stable, used counting a fair amount and then dropped after a while. Relaxed effort consciously quite a lot today and attention didn't seem to waver any more than usual, maybe even less. Breath became quite subtle, meaning I could just about feel it at the tip of my nose, but it was shorter and there were no sounds. Tried to look for a pleasant sensation, and didn't find anything in particular. Began to smile, revealing two slightly pleasant sensations at the sides of my mouth, and focused on this pleasantness. Attention wavered a bit, but nothing major. There might have been a bit of development or spreading of this pleasantness.

Quality of sit was ... N/A

About an hour or so - automatic meditation; fly meditation; noting without labelling

As occasionally, happens, I was working at my computer and started noticing things happening. This time I noticed my body and mind adjusting themselves towards better balance. In my body I noticed this mostly in the lower half of my back, where there seemed to be subtle movements adjusting my posture together with pleasant sensations, as though parts of my back were sliding towards the pleasant sensations. This happened quite automatically. Also, there seemed to be another automatic process of adjusting some kind of mental tension or effort going on. Since the deadline is tomorrow, I decided to pause where I was and just watch what was going on. The automaticity became less pronounced, but I carried on observing all the same. Nice to have flexible work.

At one point a fly landed on my hand, so I decided to use the sensations it created as the object of meditation. There were lots of interesting reactions, most notably aversion, as one would typically shoo a fly away. Since it is a living being, I tried some brahmavihara on it, "may you be happy, ...safe etc." and was surprised and even embarassed to find some resistance in the "safe" and "healthy" part, and tried to let go of this aversion. It was also interesting to notice sensations at similar levels of subtly to the fly standing on my skin without moving that may or may not have been the fly, creating desires to identify which was the fly and which not. I had my eyes closed, so I tried to observe this desire and uncertainty.

I continued to observe things quite openly, and occasionally accelerating the speed at which I noticed isolated sensations, but without using clear labels.

Other points:
- Throughout the sit there were occasionally quite subtle vibrations, mostly in torso, some more localised vibrations in hands. Not with quite as clear a rapid frequency as I have experienced before. There were a few moments of what seemed more like gentle waves than vibrations, i.e. slower (about 2 Hz), more generalised (over most of my body) with a larger amplitude moving from left to right.
- Flashing – attempted to observe each individual flash, but often the noise-like distribution of the lights made it difficult to isolate which bit was lighting and which bit was darkening, as it were, and I think the act of observation affected how the flashing behaved.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/12/17 5:51 AM as a reply to junglist.
The difference between concentration and vipassina isn't as big as it sounds like on the written page. That's what makes it hard to learn from a book or without feedback from other people. 

In both cases, you need to be aware of what is happening, in both cases you need to drop greed, aversion, and indifference to what is occuring. So both involve relaxation, seeing clearly, and acceptance. 

In both cases, typically the felt sensations of breathing is used as a meditation anchor. Perhaps the main difference is that when doing concentration practices, as soon as a non-breathing-related experience is noticed, one moves back to noticing breathing sensations. In vipassina practices, it's okay to notice the non-breathing-related experiences for a while, as long as you maintain objectivity. As soon as a vipassina meditator notices they are caught up in a long string of discursive thinking, then they return to noticing breathing sensations. So vipassina includes more exploration of experience.

Notice that in practice this isn't a clear line, its more of a moving slider that you push more toward concentration or more toward vipassina. Many schools do not make the distinction and just let the student move the slider based on their own interest, curiousity, and instinct. Obviously to wake up, you need to both develop concentration and clear seeing, so no one with a good practice only does one or the other (despite what they might say!) emoticon

Here's the next level: notice how all of the above assumes that we are in control of our mind and attention? Is that true, or are we somehow watching all of this occur? It's possible to watch how the mind itself will focus on breathing sensations. It's possible to watch how the mind itself will get greedy for pleasurable sensations or adverse to negative sensations or be indifferent to neutral sensations. It's possible to watch how the mind will explore other non-breathing-related experiences. It's possible to watch the mind get caught up in a long string of discursive thinking. And it's possible to watch the mind come back from thinking/daydreaming trances and return to the meditation object.

In the paragraph above, you can see that the sense of "a watcher" is being developed. This is an important next stage in meditation practice. At first we start off trying to actively fix our mind by developing focus and attention. At a certain point, a meditator should notice how focus and attention "do it's own thing" and actually are something we experience after it happens. This is a big insight! Once you see that we really don't control meditation, but rather have to go through what is already happening, then meditation really starts to do it's work.

This might sound goofy or strange, but in reality is the same thing that every athlete in the world understands. You don't force or control the body in sports. You form an intention and let the body does it's thing and you try to get out of its way. You stay aware of what is happening and the body itself learns over time what works and what doesn't. What happens is much more nuanced than our thinking mind. "I'm going to run faster" means nothing to the body, it's just our little worried mind trying to act like it can make things happen. To run faster you have to feel what running feels like and notice anything that feels like resistance. The body will want to drop that resistance but will need to learn how to become more coordinated, smooth, and efficient over time. It's at the level of body, not the thinking mind. Making an extra effort often gets in the way of high performance. You need to trust that your body is an amazing performing and learning machine and just spend the time doing the sport and letting the changes occur.

The same thing is true in meditation. At first you need to show up to practice and learn some basic skills. You have to get to the point where you have a consistent daily practice --- and that takes determination. 

But once it is a new habit, then you need to let meditation take on it's own shape and lead you through what you need to go through. Everyone is different. That's why there are 10,000 different meditation practices/methods. But in all cases, it's about finding a practice that seems interesting enough to keep us on the cushion and productive enough to give us incremental progress -- whether it is greater relaxation, a purification of emotions, or interesting insights into the nature of mind itself.

"Progress" can be counter-intuitive, so we benefit from talking about our practice with others. The biggest problem we have is that we can become dogmatic about the practice method and what is supposed to happen during practice. But if we realize that for every meditator is is an interesting and personal exploration -- and no one has done it the same way -- then there is a lot more enjoyment and flexibility to focus on what we are trying to get out practice and to make practice work for ourselves. And if we start seeing 1) our own natural wisdom is working during practice and we can trust it, and 2) the main goal is always to see greed, aversion, and indifferance clearly so that the mind will instictively see it like a burning coal and drop it from our hand.

If we don't trust our inherent wisdom and don't clearly see how we lose equanimity and suffer because our reactivity, then we won't make much progress in meditation. But if we have a sense of faith/trust/intuitioni and investigate how we resist what we experience, then those resistances drop away and we lose suffering and become profoundly joyful, even in difficult situations.

Hope this helps!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/14/17 2:46 PM as a reply to junglist.
13 July

30 minutes - concentration
30 minutes - noting
20 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken exercises: hanzen (left and right sides); yuri (up/down forces - bubble image); some neri; yuri (heavier up/down image)

Used counting for most about half of concentration. 
Noting without anything unusual, fairly slow, some wandering… perfect I suppose?

Noticed great energy/force/power manifesting during heavier yuri. Generally feeling good physically with increased confidence owing to these regular taikiken exercises. A few days prior I had been feeling quite severely lacking in energy, and this seems like it might have helped balance things out a bit. 


14 July

40 minutes - concentration
40 minutes - noting
22 minutes - ritsuzen
hanzen (left and right sides); yuri (up/down forces)

Nothing major to report; felt a little more of the recent lethargy than yesterday. I haven't mentioned much about this lethargy, it seems to be somewhat thematic, and it has often been making appearances in daily life, sapping some of the motivation for general tasks. It varies between a languid depressed state to a pleasurable calmness that includes anticipation of being disturbed. I would not call it depression, although it has similar tones, maybe because I'm a bit too interested in investigating it that doesn't envelope me with the kind of dullness and darkness that depression might. Perhaps I am also averse to becoming depressed.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/15/17 3:21 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks shargrol!!
That's all very good advice, it's great to know what the next level might be.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/15/17 3:27 PM as a reply to junglist.
15 July

Early morning

40 minutes - concentration
40 minutes - noting
22 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken exercises: hanzen (left and right sides); yuri (up/down forces - bubble image); yuri (heavier up/down image); neri


Later on

In the afternoon, my family kindly gave me a rare few hours rest, in which I basically lay on my back for some hours. I almost never fall asleep on my back with my head facing up, so without exercising very much discipline, I did a bit sensation-examining and the like. It wasn't particularly quiet, so I wonder if I might have been able to deepen things more otherwise. 

I tried to explore what the “background” is. I read about it here: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1330349#_19_message_1330373 , although I’m not sure quite understand it - I examined it mostly from an auditory point of view, or point of listening, as some sort of silence out of which sounds come from. Also as what seems to be looking at things. Nothing major, but there have been a couple of feelings of “ohh”, with some kind of tension, anticipation, worry, that something might happen.

I also did some noting with breath and other sensations, most especially with pressure around my head, which varied both in position and intensity; mostly on the top, sometimes in the middle, sometimes around where the fontanelle used to be, and around the crown. Also at the back, but the left side seemed to predominate, maybe due to the way my neck is. It would also occasionally vibrate very fast. The pressure would sometimes appear concomitantly with the tickling sensation at the bottom of my spine, i.e. I’d notice the head pressure and then straight after the tickling would appear. I can feel it now too. The pressure would get to a nearly unpleasant and painful intensity, although never quite painful, whereas the tickling was pleasant. Noticed some other places, most notably my left forearm.  There was also some occasional heat.

I also did a bit of the back-of-the-head/forehead impermanence technique, which I find easy (ish) lying down since there is an obvious sensation of the back of my head on the pillow. It was difficult to maintain for a extended period of time, but I found one moment when it seemed to make sense to drop effort, which hasn’t happened before, so I did and the attention seemed to continue to bounce from back to front for a bit, and then did something else.

I had a play with chakras, which I don’t know anything about really, but seeing as there seemed to be things going on from the bottom to the top of my body, I thought I might find something else in between. I focused on the dantian, belly, solar plexus (where I’ve had some slight pain during sits), heart area and throat. I imagined opening something up in each place, and some maybe pleasant feelings or moving of energy happened when I did this with my stomach and and throat. I think there is some tension in a muscle between my throat and shoulder, so this might have eased it a weeny bit. I didn’t notice so much in the third-eye area this time, although I have felt kind of rippling sensations here, varying from what feels like about a centimetre in width between my eyes to about 3 or 4 cm in diameter more in my forehead. 

Also played a bit with the microcosmic orbit, which seemed to soften the area around my spine a bit, especially the shoulders.

Bloomin’ ’Enry, that’s a whole load of spiritual whackoness, opening chakras and microcosmic orbits? Wonder if I could do something more useful with my life.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/18/17 12:59 AM as a reply to junglist.
16 July

Woke up late and didn't have time for morning practice. Dang.
From the moment I awoke, I noticed some irritability, which remained for most of the morning, not leading to very skillful interaction. Then a good dose of the recent lethargy and disgruntlement for most of the afternoon.

I was granted another rest for about an hour, in which I did more of the same as yesterday lying down, with more of a focus on the front/back of the head technique.


30 minutes - noting
Just before sleeping, tried to make up for lost practice. Seems like it might be a good idea to fix a regular before sleep sit.


17 July

45 minutes - concentration
45 minutes - noting
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken

Yesterday's lethargy pretty much gone. Wasn't quite as averse to the things that had to be done today though.


30 minutes - noting
Late - spent most of the sit trying to stay awake - don't think I managed to note drowsiness very much.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
7/20/17 1:51 AM as a reply to junglist.
18 July

45 minutes - concentration
45 minutes - noting
over 30 minutes - ritsuzen
A little taikiken

Attention didn’t wasn’t very stable, but focus seem to be. I felt my mind was quite quiet and settled, although it didn’t stay on the breath for very long and I think I managed to watch the mind fairly consistently - it might be too much wishful thinking about being able to do what shargrol recommended though. 

I think I’ll try to develop more clarity in this area, and I remember two occasions on which I quite clearly watched myself, one earlier on in this practice log during concentration practice in which I noticed myself watching my breath, and another time several years ago during ritsuzen when I noticed myself standing there with a slight detachment. I realised just now that these were quite similar. They were not particularly major experiences as far as things go, but now they sound like avenues of further exploration, and knowing them might make them easier to look for once again.


19 July

45 minutes - concentration
45 minutes - noting
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken

Concentration OK, used a bit more effort than recently, but still didn’t exert myself overly. Thought of it perhaps being time to pump some concentration iron soon though. Maybe tomorrow. 

Attention wasn’t very stable in noting, not really any consistency in it either.


20 July

90 minutes - noting
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken

Woke up with a sense of not being so settled, and for the few minutes before sitting I was noting what I was doing, which is normal, but when the sit began this seemed to continue, so rather than concentration I followed this current, and continued through to the second part in what would have been noting. Some wandering and whatever as usual, but there was a definite consistency – there was lots of thinking about issues and planning, but it was fairly easy to follow what was going on, along with the concomitant emotions and sensations in the body. I didn’t notice any major variations in this consistency throughout the 90 minutes either. There was mild discomfort, but no pain.

It raises the question that keeps coming back for me, of which practice to choose, how to choose it, when to choose it, etc. In order to avoid confusion and doubt, I stick to one technique for each sit, but often preferably for a week, to review at the end. It points to a need to assess the baseline situation that meditation begins from, and respond to it accordingly. Probably more so in daily life since many things happen in a day that may affect the state of mind, although having never been on any kind of retreat, I wouldn’t really know.

An image of a tree that was quite detailed appeared, probably in a forest somewhere, which I think disappeared as soon as I noticed directly. It wasn't so much what the image was, but more, I suppose, where in the mind it appeared – usually images come in wisps together with thoughts about concrete things or issues that might be happening, but this had a more kind of dream-like vividness, even if it was only there for a split-second. It didn't seem to be related to any other train of monkey mind, or I suppose I didn't notice it's cause. I wonder if it was a different class of mental image to what I normally experience, or just noticing an image more clearly.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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7/22/17 1:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
20 July

45 minutes - noting
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken

Woke up late. Working too late last night. Dang.


21 July

50 minutes - concentration
50 minutes - body sweep
25 minutes - ritsuzen
Taikiken (yuri with opening/closing movements)

Concentration seemed to be quite good, although attention didn't quite settle, and then thoughts of perhaps trying to do something to make it settle arose, mostly in the form of whether to apply effort or even thinking that it really was actually settled enough, and I should have a go at focusing on a pleasant sensation to see if jhana might arise. I also tried to let go of effort to see if attention might stay there. Also remembered something Paweł K said in a post that I can't find now of something along the lines of just experiencing the sensation without any observing it, and tried to do that. He also mentioned it was Buddha level, and since I can't find the original post I've mostly likely horrendously misquoted him here, my apologies. Either way, all of these ponderings didn't seem to make things settle particularly, probably should just try to deal with develop concentration further and accept that it is shit.

I've been feeling for a little while that noting didn't quite follow on from concentration so smoothly, so I decided to try body sweeping, which I have been a little interested in recently. The transition seemed more natural to move from breath sensations at the nose, to a sensation somewhere else, then moving over other places in the body. The concentration also helps not to get sidetracked - it seems that moving over some parts of the body triggers some thoughts to arise, as well as other sensations, and I think the concentration helps not forget where I was, which of course happened a bunch of times.

In the 50 minutes, I did make it from top to bottom and halfway back up, and after the bell went it I speeded up the movement to finish things off, which was quite easy to do without getting lost, although sensitivity to sensations was lost.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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7/23/17 2:04 AM as a reply to junglist.
23 July

50 minutes - concentration
50 minutes - noting
25 minutes - ritsuzen + metta

Concentration average, doubts about whether the technique was working, whether I was doing it right etc. I'm not sure to what extent I really think this, but I'm getting a feeling that the concentration sits are quite good these days, irrespective of how much mind wandering or forgetting there might be. I think there's some degree of feeling comfortable in the sits.

Noting seemed to appear after concentration, although I hadn’t really given much thought to whether I would note or body sweep beforehand. The timer might have also been a bit funny and didn’t seem to have gone off, which meant there was a gap between switching techniques. 

At one point things seemed to get very focused on nothing at all in particular for no apparent reason, not sure how to describe it, but the main characteristics were a lowered gaze (with eyes shut) about 30 degrees from the horizontal plane, the left and right sides of my closed-eye vision were slightly lighter, with the main middle vertical strip was a bit darker, maybe a circle in the middle, not sure. These weren’t clear shapes, and everything was more made up of darker bronze/gold TV snow.

A few times there was a kind of tingling sensation of a string, wire or something roll from my bottom lip down over my chin. This has happened several before, but this time it seemed to be clearer and interestingly I’ve hardly been noticing any vibrations at all these days; the closest similar sensations are cruder without any buzzing to them, fine or gross. Come to think of it though, I think there have been some quite slow vibrations of about 3 or 4 Hz over more of my body, like being in submerged in water with it moving left and right ever so slightly.

Curiously there pretty much no pain at all when sitting these days, I haven’t had a chance to sit for two hours recently, which is when pain almost always appears, but I would normally have expected at least something in my knee of hip.

Added metta phrases throughout ritsuzen this time. The idea of incorporating ritsuzen is to counteract lethargy and arouse very much needed energy, and here using metta to direct where this energy should go. Plus do some metta practice. I’ve often done this before, but I decided I would do it for the duration. I’ve been noticing some so-called ill will recently, surprisingly and highly embarrassingly to people who really really shouldn’t be on the receiving end, not that any being should be subject to any ill will. There were no major follow-up actions of this will as far as I can tell, but the will was there and must be eradicated. I’m fairly certain it has manifested before and did involve some follow-up in the past, although I wouldn’t have been so aware of it then. Sorry about that.

Posture adjustment often seems necessary in standing, and there is sometimes conflict between focusing on correcting the posture and focusing on the phrases, so I added one or two breaths after a set phrases for a person in which I would adjust the posture. Another image that appeared and I used a bit was summoning up energy through the floor up into my body on the in-breath, saying each phrase silently on the out-breath.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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9/23/17 4:31 AM as a reply to junglist.
Might start this again. Probably not every day like before to avoid thinking what I'm going to write here during practice. Due to travel and other obligations over the summer, writing was not a priority.

Practice has been less regular in terms of when, where, what and how much, but has been daily. 
When: morning, afternoon, night
Where: home, once by a river, in a forest (not such thick, deep one) on a two-night camp.What: noting: Mahasi style (or whatever I seem to have understood from the book) rising, falling etc. while sitting, as well as while going about my daily business. Included occasional lying down as well as sitting. When possible: taikiken – ritsuzen; hanzen; yuri; hai; neri. Also a bit of open awareness, I mean just being aware of whatever I might notice, sounds, feelings, etc. and more recently, just trying to look at what is noticing and experiencing this right now type of thing.
How much: maybe 1 hour average, 30 minutes minimum, maybe 5 hours maximum while camping.

Recent regular practice:
45 minutes: noting
20–25 minutes: ritsuzen
Taikiken exercises

I've been liking this practice regime (although I would like to have more time), and the ritsuzen with the taikiken exercises that follow seem to prevent the depressive generalised lethargy that occurs without it. Probably to do with not getting a huge amount of exercise other than this.

Most recently: illness has hindered things, and so practice has consisted more of lying in bed noticing what arises, as well as trying to see what it is experiencing things. 

I have also finally been more or less convinced by random stuff I have read over the course of the last few months that I should sort  it out and concentrate on concentration, rather than letting it just be a by-product of vipassana. Maybe at least until it looks like I might have some more or less identifiable skills. I have therefore decided suspend other practices (noting, as well as taikiken until I've fully recovered) to dedicate a few weeks to exclusive concentration practices. This has consisted of:
- some fire kasina, well, phone-LED kasina, for maybe half an hour or so until I feel somehow I've had enough, then
- breath at the tip of my nose.

"LED kasina" has been a bit interesting, although it's earlier days yet. I happened upon some tealights yesterday and had a go with one this morning. In comparison, with the LED takes a few seconds to get the retinal burn which seems easier to follow. Most noticeable so far:
- The instant I close my eyes there is a brief explosion or scattering of dark white (dark white doesn't really exist, I know, but anyway)/blue colours/sparks/dots/webs/haze that spread out from the centre in a circle to the edge of visual field and then fade into a more uniform haze leaving the after-image of the light. This happens in about five seconds.
- The dot is not red, but more a glowing and changing white/yellow/green. There is a darker outline, surrounded by some other subtler colours.
- The dot tends to fall downwards in the visual field, which leads to a bit of annoyance, but is sometimes stable. This may be to do with exactly which point on the retina the after-image is, caused by exactly where I stare at – at the top of the light, in the middle, the bottom. I think staring at the bottom makes the dot not fall so much, but not sure about this at all yet though. 
- After a while the dot goes dark and can still be followed.
- Sometimes there is a bit of swirling of the haze around the after-image, once or twice the dot got caught in this haze and started to move around in circles that moved closer to the edge of the visual field. I had some control over it and could stop it, not quite sure how though. It got caught in the swirls a couple of times, and I stopped it as well. A couple of times I have manage to move the dot around the visual field a little, often to try and stabilise it to stop it from falling. The way this happens seems doesn't seem to involve "pushing". I think it was something like just allowing it to move without using any effort. It is quite subtle. And very interesting.

Other than that my nose has cleared enough to make it possible to use the breath at the nose, which I seem to feel more comfortable with. Some ideas I've liked recently:
- Focusing especially on the end of the out-breath and feeling that part of nose, which translates as something like adjusting effort with the phase of the breath.
- shargrol's description somewhere in these forums of concentration like standing up - you have to constantly make slight movements when you go off balance, but if you're balanced, you don't need to do anything. (Hope I've paraphrased this correctly!)
- How long does it take? As long as it takes. I have not timed sits quite often recently, with the view of just sitting there till good concentration happens. Or doesn't.
- Access concentration is like getting into a bubble where you are aware of distractions outside, but they don't penetrate. Sorry, I can't remember who said this right now. I liked this because at one point I got the feeling of sitting inside something like a quiet bubble or greenhouse with the breath, with some other stuff going on outside. I think it only lasted about five seconds or so though.
- The sense of a flow state.
- Relaxing tension and encouraging pleasant feelings when returning attention to the breath after a distraction.

Concentration seems to be better more often in the most recent sits; this morning I had three or four brief moments of a few seconds of what might be called a flow state, which felt like a slight intensification of the feeling of concentration, as well as not noticing if there was anything else going on, I think. Also, I don't think I really ever forgot the breath through the sit, of maybe an hour or so, although distractions certainly did come and go.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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9/23/17 8:27 AM as a reply to junglist.
That's good stuff -- maybe a bit too many different things, but it can be cool to play around.

Your LED kasina actually sounds right on. All of those challenges are completely normal, including the dropping down of the dot and kinda chasing it with your eyes/mind.

When you get the "The dot is not red, but more a glowing and changing white/yellow/green. There is a darker outline, surrounded by some other subtler colours" --- hold your attention right there. Often that bleached out image is "covering up" the image of the dot. Hold the white/yellow/green image (usually the colors are the complimentary colors of what you are looking at, a negative afterimage) and let them fade. Usually the dot will then appear in the middle of that image as it fade.

The kasina work has a lot of the same "balance" aspects as other meditation. Your mind won't know how to do it at first so you have to basically let it train itself. Lots of gentle practice, not just a little trying-hard practice. Eventually the mind settles in. Give it lots of time and it will happen, but assume that it is going to be sloppy for a while.

RE: Junglist Practice Log - Where am I?
Answer
9/24/17 10:33 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Hey, congratulations! You're the 100th poster! Glad the responsibility was taken by a wiser person than myself.
[quote=]shargrol
That's good stuff -- maybe a bit too many different things, but it can be cool to play around.
I have generally been doing what interests me, often unsure what to do, sometimes oscillating between what I think I need and what I really want to do. Insight is what I'm basically interested in, but Concentration seems necessary for meditation and helpful in daily life to make things run more smoothly. The above post does span around two months in different places and situations, so the variety may also be due to that. I also have continuous doubts about whether I really want or need a teacher, so the variation probably represents this doubt about my practice and trying to establish it. 

Thanks for the advice!
---

After a nap, while still lying down, I felt like trying to do some inquiry into what is experiencing stuff, especially where I exactly I was. Starting with the typical considering which bits of my body I could chop off and still consider myself to be there, I eliminated everything from my neck down, then my face, the organs in it the top part of my brain, and I ended up isolating somewhere above my uvula. I seemed to be there. I tried to consider whether I was in space, and also examined lots of thoughts, especially what was producing the thoughts, where they seemed to come out of. Maybe I was producing these thoughts. I seemed to be able to perceive them, and this seemed convincing enough that with out them I'd still exist. I wasn't quite sure yet what would still exist, and tried to observe what the point I was supposedly producing these thoughts, that supposedly emerged from me out to be observed again by me.

I couldn't reach any clear or satisfactory conclusions about this, so I tried to see if I could point at the bit that was me. I point my finger at my face, and then angled my open mouth to allow my finger (of course, it has already been established that I was not any of the mentioned anatomy) to enter and slowly guide it to go towards the exact spot that was me. I tried to consider whether where I was in relation to my finger tip, below, above, to the side etc., which got increasingly difficult the further the finger went into my mouth. I made a few attempts, in some I appeared to be in my right jaw joint, other times the finger's straightness seemed to have been blurred.

The above sounds quite easy-going inquiry, but it was pretty repetitively intense, asking questions in my mind again and again, which also help somewhat to examine the process of producing questions. After a while I left the asking to continue by itself and tried to what it came from.

No real conclusions yet, but I don't really identify so much with my uvula or my tonsils.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
10/6/17 1:21 AM as a reply to junglist.
After a week of fire kasina (and then ritsuzen/taikiken) in the mornings with some breath samatha other times, I decided to have a period of noting-type practice only, vipassana I suppose it would be called.

On the last morning fire kasina and ritsuzen, it was interesting to notice that towards the end of the week there had been building up quite a lot of resistance to both practices, mostly in the form of doubting whether this was the right practice, whether I should just do samatha on the breath at the nose, or in the abdomen, or just Insight practice, noting. Then when the timer rang to start ritsuzen, there was similar resistance about whether or not to continue sitting rather than begin standing, then when standing whether not to do the taikiken exercises that would usually follow, or to just stop or sit again afterwards. I decided to go with the fact that this laziness/aversion/confusion was interesting, and carried on to the end of what I had planned. Come to think of it, I probably didn't particularly plan to do just week and then stop...

Either way, it seemed like a good idea to have a period of just Insight practice, and so I have dones so this week.

Points (especially today):
- Decided pay particular attention to appearance and disappearance of sensations.
- Noticed that I don't notice intentions so much, and decided to notice these more carefully when they arise.
- Noticed what seems like dukkha in feelings of subtle confusion and a kind of guilt. Very temporary confusion or indecisiveness about very simple things like which cup to use, and it seemed that at the moment arising of being aware of the two choices, there was a discomfort, maybe around the chest and perhaps upper arms. A similar feeling of guilt about being indecisive would also follow. These similar feelings very often seem to arise simply from having another idea about how the present situation could be.

From now until the end of next week, just sitting, noting, giving careful attention to the appearance and disappearance of sensations, with special attention to the arising of intentions.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/6/17 5:55 AM as a reply to junglist.
That sounds like a great idea! Those subtle sensations is where we create and defend a sense of un-necessary self. It can be amazing to see how much trouble we give ourselves over simple tasks/considerations, like which cup to choose, but that low level dukka (probably left over from when we were small children trying to figure out how to do basic tasks) will be our background condition unless we see it clearly.

The biggest thing to remember is that the goal isn't to drop it or fix it, but rather just to notice it without indulging it. It's pretty normal for it to feel worse for a while (because it seems so pervasive), but if you can find a way to say "wow, this mind is so goofy, look how it clings to the smallest thing, that's funny" then you'll be able to go through the experience with much less suffering. Over time, the mind will drop those habits but it takes a while. There can be a tendency to want to rush it, but the old saying applies "go slower, it's faster".

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/7/17 1:10 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
That sounds like a great idea! Those subtle sensations is where we create and defend a sense of un-necessary self. It can be amazing to see how much trouble we give ourselves over simple tasks/considerations, like which cup to choose, but that low level dukka (probably left over from when we were small children trying to figure out how to do basic tasks) will be our background condition unless we see it clearly.

The biggest thing to remember is that the goal isn't to drop it or fix it, but rather just to notice it without indulging it. It's pretty normal for it to feel worse for a while (because it seems so pervasive), but if you can find a way to say "wow, this mind is so goofy, look how it clings to the smallest thing, that's funny" then you'll be able to go through the experience with much less suffering. Over time, the mind will drop those habits but it takes a while. There can be a tendency to want to rush it, but the old saying applies "go slower, it's faster".
Thanks shargrol!

Well, yes, it seems that even simplifying things to focusing on a particular type of phenomenon still seems to cause some confusion; noting didn't seem to reach the level of precision that it might have done, and it was easier to get lost in thought. I'm finding intentions easier to notice while moving around off the cushion, and the arising and disappearing of sensations seems easier to notice while staring into space at other times, I might do that then, leaving just noting to formal practice.

You reminded me that I should have mentioned that I have had a couple of quite interesting moments in which I have been playing with the pull and push of some kind of subtle excitement/clinging about a particular sensation (can't remember exactly which) occurring and its corresponding opposite aversion, noticing when it was above and below a particular middle point. Although completely undramatic, it seemed like a good thing to do and to notice.

Curious about the fixing, other than a lobotomy, I can't really see any way to fix them anyway; there seems to be a sense of me being pulled in the two directions of the decision, maybe getting rid of that somehow might work.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/7/17 5:50 AM as a reply to junglist.
Perfect, that instinct is right on. The sense of getting pulled in the two directions is the basic dualistic/discursive orientation to the world. We reflexively see our options as this or that, mostly because that's how logic/language works and we tend to orient ourselves through the narrative voice in our head and make binary decisions: either A or Not A. This cup or the other cup. And then we kinda fall into a trance where it seems really important to know the right answer. The right answer seems to be wrapped up in our self, like our sense of self is effected by knowing the right answer -- but really it doens't matter that much which cup we take. 

The main thing isn't to actively "get rid" of this, but rather to notice it and feel it very clearly. It will feel kind of claustrophobic. In the Reobservation Nana it will become painful and urgent, your personal triggers of "this or that" and "gotta do something about it" are in full force. But if you can maintain some equanimity, it becomes clear that this is all just a wierd problem to be having, arising almost out of nowhere, on one hand very "you" but on the other hand nothing that "you" would choose for yourself, so it really is an odd habit, karma in a sense, that is no longer helpful. 

If you can see it clearly, notice it arises on it's own (not self), the trigger/view keeps changing (impermanent), and isn't helpful (dukka) then that's enough. The habit will grow weaker and drop away.

Equanimity is basically the ability to notice how the mind works without feeling compelled to react or fix it. If you try to actively fix it, chances are that basic aversion orientation will just set up another reactive pattern (and kick you out of equanimity). That's why samsara is such a trap, if you indulge in it your trapped, if you push too hard against it you are also trapped. That's why remembering the middle way is so important. Tuning the guitar string with just enough tension, not too lose or too tight. Same thing with meditation/investigation: just enough effort (which is usually less than we expect) to investigate and make small adjustments in the way we relate to life (and our mind) over time. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
10/7/17 7:41 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
The right answer seems to be wrapped up in our self, like our sense of self is effected by knowing the right answer -- but really it doens't matter that much which cup we take. 
The "self" bit I notice most is the "if someone sees which decision I've made they would say such and such to me or about me". This might be an old pattern, but I certainly reinforced in life nowadays.emoticon
...if you can maintain some equanimity, it becomes clear that this is all just a weird problem to be having, arising almost out of nowhere, on one hand very "you" but on the other hand nothing that "you" would choose for yourself, so it really is an odd habit, karma in a sense, that is no longer helpful. 
I found this take on karma very interesting, it took me a little while to make proper sense of it, but I understand it to mean that one's actions become part of recurring behavioural patterns, as in doing something in particular makes us more likely to do it again, and again. This seems to be from a first person perspective in contrast to what I think might often be understood to mean: "You do bad stuff, you get punished. You do good stuff, you get rewarded."
If you can see it clearly, notice it arises on it's own (not self), the trigger/view keeps changing (impermanent), and isn't helpful (dukka) then that's enough. The habit will grow weaker and drop away. 
The bold bit was the only bit I didn't quite understand - can you specify a weent bit more what you mean by "trigger/view"? Trigger of the sensation, where one looks at it from, or something else?

Thanks for all your help!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/7/17 9:24 AM as a reply to junglist.
Rather than trigger/view, you could just think of it as "the problem". So when we're sitting and it's a challenging sit, there will be lots of ideas and thoughts coming up that demand our attention. It has an element of emotionality (the trigger, the reactiveness) and there is content (the view, the outlook, the "being born into a worldview") and this knot feels like a problem. Sometimes a BIG problem emoticon But the wierd thing is every problems seems absolutely real and the source of our trouble, but the problem keeps changing. It's possible to have sits (like in Reobservation) where there is just one problem after another... which if you think about it, is really really funny. When you can sit and notice "oh yeah, that's boredom, that's me wanting to quit, that's me feeling depressed, that's me doubting my practice, that's me feeling like a failure" it's important to not get sucked in but rather see all those reactive feelings (triggers) and thoughts (views) as triggers/views bubbling up, not as actual problems that need to be fixed.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
10/9/17 2:51 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
It has an element of emotionality (the trigger, the reactiveness) and there is content (the view, the outlook, the "being born into a worldview") and this knot feels like a problem.
From the way I understand the way you describe it, it sounds like the emotion precedes the thought, as in:
- Bad/sad/mad feelings arise
followed by:
- A thought such as: "My life situation sucks" or "I did something stupid".

Is that what you mean?

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/9/17 3:11 AM as a reply to junglist.
Curious spontaneous sit:
While working at my computer again I found it difficult to go on with work, and had lots of feelings of wanting to do something else, sleep etc. Nothing particularly against work, just some other unsatisfactory things. This seemed quite interesting to investigate, and seemed like the best thing to do, given the situation. 

Without moving from where I was sitting with my hands still on the table, I started looking at feelings in my chest, then soon moved to the usual abdomen rising and falling. There were a few of times when some tension arose, and then small burst of inner sound, like the "nada sound"/"sound of silence" suddenly became complex and noisy, sometimes like a large crown of people far away that faded gradually, together with the release of the tension, with relaxation and pleasant bodily sensations. Attention then returned to the abdomen. I also began to notice a cycle of this, in which some thoughts and inner chatter would begin, maybe last for a while, perhaps reach a slight climax and then the small burst and release would follow, sometimes with sound, sometimes without, and then attention would return to the abdomen.

There were around four, five or so cycles of this, with occasional blissful feelings, visual swirling patterns, and a feeling of me or space changing in terms of size and proportions.

Back to work.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/10/17 2:38 AM as a reply to junglist.
Woke up several times in the middle of the night, lots of dreams, I think, then eventually decided it was to late to go back to sleep, and early enough to get a bit of extra practice. The fact that it was extra early and I would have more time gave me a slight fear that something funky might happen during practice, which was interesting, but I decided to turn the light on (I usually sit before sunrise).

Sat 45 min, walked 15, sat 60 min.

Clear noting didn't really happen (which I noticed and I think I almost noted); the second sit especially was characterised by the same cycles of mind wandering as yesterday, but not quite the same mind wandering I associate with forgetting the breath in concentration practice, but more quite clear cycles of thought activity in the form of some chatter, planning, sounds, and most notably occasional moving images, which had about the clarity of a dream. Two of the images were of people – both women, no one I knew – the first was short and neutral in character and just walking a bit I think, maybe outside somewhere; the second was moving around more, some kind of swirling snaking movements, which froze when it looked right at me and I saw it clearly and more consciously, which was followed by slight fear. It seemed to linger on after I'd noticed it/her, and faded slowly into the closed-eye-vision noise.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/12/17 1:49 PM as a reply to junglist.
Including the session in the previous post, I ended up having time for a fair bit more, about 7 hours in total.
1. Sat 45 min, walked 15, sat 60 min.
2. Sat 60 min, walked 15, sat 60 min.
3. Sat 45 min, walked 15, sat 60 min.
4. Sat about 30 min
5. maybe 20 min tops before bed.

Don't think I've ever done that much before; sometimes I surprise myself how willing I am to sit on my arse. Don't think I was expecting anything in particular to happen, and nothing major noticeable did happen, though there were and are more vibrations. They were quite fine, and often seem to rise from my neck, especially the tensions in it up the back of my head, and I seemed to notice them around my right earlobe. Pressure in the top of my head, which I get the feeling it seems to arise when my attention turns to some sort of distraction. Vibration also happens sometimes then too.

I have a slight sense of noticing slightly more of about what's going on in general, often more subtle versions of the sensation of guilt, what I mentioned before, noticing judgement happening of myself and things around, good and bad, and one way or another, often followed by some slight feeling of discomfort, especially in the chest area.

Some moments of good concentration and very clear perception of the movements of the abdomen, which felt something like a small plastic bag inflating and deflating.

I'm encountering difficulty, as a while before, with noting "sitting" and "touching" between breaths, seemingly because the breath isn't regular enought to predict how long I can alternate between "sitting" and "touching" before the next movement of the abdomen arises. The same guilt-related discomfort arises when I fail to coordinate things every time, which is interesting, and I'm noticing, not sure what label I've used for it, if any, probably something like "er...". Also noting more doubt and confusion, unclearness on the abdomen sensation, which would have previously resulted a few thoughts along the lines of "Ooh, this is difficult, I can't quite do it yet.".

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/17/17 1:26 AM as a reply to junglist.
Since noting seemed to be going interestingly last week that is also the plan for this week.

In noting the arising and disappearance of sensations, it has been difficult to maintain concentration, so I reverted to noting the "rising, falling" of the breath in the abdomen. Noting intentions was not particularly difficult, at times it was interesting to notice how during one action, intentions about the action that would follow arose before that current action had finished. This seems like it could cause or may have often caused confusion.

Although I was pleased with my choice of practice, a couple of complications have arisen. Due to some discomfort, probably not caused by meditation, I have changed my posture. For several months, I have been sitting in something like the Burmese position, with my right foot in front of my left, and with my hands on my knees, using a cushion to tilt forward for better posture. The position of the left leg and foot seems to cause pain that I worry may cause damage, so I have opted for the more balanced full lotus. I have had added 15 mins walking in between sits to prolong meditation, since more than 30 mins can become difficult, although this is no problem now, so I'll try with 40 mins.

I have also been reading Mahasi Sayadaw's "Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma", and apart from being interesting, he discusses the issue of concentration, and how it should be developed first. Concentration is an issue that I keep going back and forth from in terms of the necessity I feel to work on it specifically in isolation, as opposed to expecting it to develop while doing noting practice. This leads to some confusion in terms of how to treat other sensations that arise, mostly of whether to note "wandering" and go back to the breath, or note "hearing" when mind starts nattering, "seeing" when images arise, "thinking", "feeling", "confusion"... and at some point amidst uncertainty, go back to the breath. 

With all this, it does give the feeling of going right back to the beginning again.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/17/17 6:33 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:

With all this, it does give the feeling of going right back to the beginning again.
Apologies for butting in, but I think this is quite important: worry and doubt will continue to pose valid reasons for one to question one's practice (look at your achievements, if you are doing it wrong, how could you have come so far?). Remember that they are the heavy-hitters amongst the 5 hindrances. What I do is look objectively at the whole picture and know that these are just mind-created distractions. In practice, note and move on or investigate. You are doing well!

Do not worry about posture, use any posture that is comfortable and which will not put you to sleep. 

I read that you do some chakra exercises, you could try Ajahn Dhammadaro's method of walking meditation:

1. focus attention on soles of feet (contact->no-contact on both feet)
2. when the feeling gets strong, visualize 'energy' moving up to the dantian.
3. when that gets strong, switch to standing and focus on the dantian.

This helped accelerate my progress, not sure how well it works for others, but no harm trying! Good luck, don't worry as all practice is good practice if you noticed anything! emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/17/17 6:38 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
junglist:

With all this, it does give the feeling of going right back to the beginning again.
Apologies for butting in,
Thanks for butting in Yilun! I really appreciate any help at all.
look at your achievements, if you are doing it wrong, how could you have come so far?
I think it is symptomatic of not having any idea where I am, nor where I am going, not really being sure what constitutes "progress", nor having any easily identifiable skills or attainments. Which may be a good thing.
I read that you do some chakra exercises, you could try Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro's method of walking meditation:

1. focus attention on soles of feet (contact->no-contact on both feet)
2. when the feeling gets strong, visualize 'energy' moving up to the dantian.
3. when that gets strong, switch to standing and focus on the dantian.

This helped accelerate my progress, not sure how well it works for others, but no harm trying! Good luck, don't worry as all practice is good practice if you noticed anything! emoticon
Thanks for the tip, it sounds interesting, I might indeed have a go at some point, maybe next week.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/17/17 8:00 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:
[quote=I think it is symptomatic of not having any idea where I am, nor where I am going, not really being sure what constitutes &#034;progress&#034;, nor having any easily identifiable skills or attainments. Which may be a good thing.
]


Shargrol is a great motivator/teacher/person from what I can 'see'... For my practice, I move away from the breath to investigate subtle or out-of-the-ordinary sensations once they are available. You can try to see if this leads you onwards. Not suffering by what progress is, is certainly a very positive thing. MCTB details what skills should be improved on and I think those are good to use as progression indicators to strive towards though... 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/20/17 1:56 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
Shargrol is a great motivator/teacher/person from what I can 'see'... For my practice, I move away from the breath to investigate subtle or out-of-the-ordinary sensations once they are available. You can try to see if this leads you onwards. Not suffering by what progress is, is certainly a very positive thing. MCTB details what skills should be improved on and I think those are good to use as progression indicators to strive towards though...
Shargrol is indeed a great all-of-the-above, with timely, pertinent, very much appreciated advice.

I think it is worth me investigating your suggestion about out-of-the-ordinary sensations further - I think these are really the things from which I feel practice actually develops, but I have no framework to work with them, perhaps because they are out of the ordinary, and that sometimes creates concern about veering off the meditation object. Sounds like the move-away-from-the-breath-once-they-become-available strategy is a good way to go. Maybe also move back when there is nothing else to notice. Thanks!

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/20/17 4:22 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:

I think it is worth me investigating your suggestion about out-of-the-ordinary sensations further - I think these are really the things from which I feel practice actually develops, but I have no framework to work with them, perhaps because they are out of the ordinary, and that sometimes creates concern about veering off the meditation object. Sounds like the move-away-from-the-breath-once-they-become-available strategy is a good way to go. Maybe also move back when there is nothing else to notice. Thanks!


Where practice starts to take off, is when you start perceiving vibrations. Try to zoom in or investigate/analyze sensations, e.g. parts of the breath so that instead of large blobs or waves, they appear to be many vibrating pixels. That should be the target along with focusing on the extraordinary vibrations. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/20/17 5:00 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
Where practice starts to take off, is when you start perceiving vibrations. Try to zoom in or investigate/analyze sensations, e.g. parts of the breath so that instead of large blobs or waves, they appear to be many vibrating pixels. That should be the target along with focusing on the extraordinary vibrations. emoticon
Thanks Yilun, I get vibrations pretty much in every sit have done for a while, sometimes more sometimes less. They're of different frequencies but usually quite fast and fine; not really in the breath at all but around other parts of the body. I've wondered if I should do something when they appear? Usually I just note or notice them for a bit and that's it.

EDIT: I should add that there have been a few occasions on which vibrations have got quite hardcore, which made me wonder about them a bit, but that hasn't happened for a few months, and only more subtle appear these days.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/20/17 5:29 AM as a reply to junglist.
+1 on investigating vibrations.

In general, the "investigation" should be gentle and intimate, almost like you are luxuriating in all the details of an attractive someone. No need to force anything, just delight and explore. It should feel natural to explore.

Yes, sometimes the vibrations become intense. Again, see if you can stay with them with less and less effort, then they tend to become more massage-like and less beat-me-up-like... although it's totally normal and okay for there to be a lot of different frequencies/sensations, including the "this is incredible, I'm really being shaken."

As always, trust your instincts. If it feels like too much, back off. If it feels interesting, explore.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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10/20/17 5:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
A few notes:

Attitude to distracting thoughts

This morning a different approach to diversions of attention from the breath appeared. I noticed I had been somewhat stiffly noting when attention was not on the breath, with what seemed like a subtle annoyed force pushing the attention back to the breath. My intention is to do vipassana, but it seems like this is something left over from how I have done concentration practice in the past. What remains is an extra morsel of acceptance of the movements of mind and an iota of relief when noticing this obstruction is absent. A very subtle point, but it seems significant. 

Body, feelings, mind, mind-objects

Further to reading Mahasi Sayadaw's Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma - he mentions the importance of the four foundations of mindfulness, namely body, feelings, mind, mind-objects. I've probably still a little more to understand about what these things are to know what is meant by them, but this morning trying to look for my body didn't really seem to work, because all that there was was sensations of touch and mental images of body parts. Where? Not sure, if distance and space are also sensations, then there isn't really any concrete place. It reminded me of a talk I heard by Reggie Ray in which he was asked for a definition of the body, and replied something along the lines of "Traditionally it's empty space, but what use is that?" The body seemed like it might be the space in which all these sensations happen, or maybe it just doesn't really exist anywhere outside my own conception of it. Ideas arrived mostly by reasoning, but fun nonetheless.

In addition to the above point on space and distance, I've noticed a couple of times again recently including this morning that the size of my body and it's parts appear to become confused in relation to each other, being both big and small at the same time.

Death

This is not directly related to meditation, although the ease and acceptance that was involved may be a result of it. Also, life and death might not be about meditation, but meditation is essentially about life and death.

I went to the doctor's yesterday for a scan. I arrived about 20 minutes early, so I sat and did some practice while I waited. I had to wait an extra half an hour, but didn't quite notice it was that long and practised through it. I think things got quite jhanic after a while, whatever that may be exactly.

The scan didn't reveal enough, so the doctor referred me for some more examinations in order to be sure exactly what it is. Naturally, thoughts of how this may lead directly to death start to arise, as well as about my life as a whole. It was interesting to notice that after a little bit of consideration, I couldn't really find any fears or adverse feelings about death, and death and the life I had lived seemed very easy to accept clearly. I wonder if this will change.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/18/17 8:09 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
+1 on investigating vibrations.

In general, the "investigation" should be gentle and intimate, almost like you are luxuriating in all the details of an attractive someone. No need to force anything, just delight and explore. It should feel natural to explore.

As always, trust your instincts. If it feels like too much, back off. If it feels interesting, explore.
After the "going back to the beginning" feeling I mentioned above, I didn't really experience any vibrations as before, at least not the faster, finer, gentler variety that are more on the surface of the skin. Over the last day or two I've noticed them coming back, but they seem to be slightly deeper in the body this time, almost as fast, but not so fine, more coarse. They are a little easier to observe since they seem to last a bit longer. I try relate to them like an "attractive someone" or with a similar sort of interest, although the investigative attitude I'm looking for is somewhat obscured by the effort I put in to maintaining concentration on noting.

I've started experimenting a little with effort, just trying to see if I can drop it all together and see what happens, but it seems to hang on, which is interesting. I've just been doing about three 30 min every day sits this week, and after the bell goes dropping effort. One small aspect to develop is that I'm not sure I quite yet know what meditating without effort looks like.

Perhaps further to the "Attitude to distracting thoughts" above, I've noticed in a couple of sits that mind got quite fed up of thinking – whenever a thought arose, some kind of stressful mental fatigue arose, the same feeling I mentioned above when choosing the cup. This wasn't exactly pleasant and I had the feeling that some part of me many years ago might have been a bit freaked out by it, but it seemed quite useful for orienting the mind, because it wasn't liking all these unnecessary thoughts that seemed to get in the way meditation, and I wondered if they could be used to naturally push the mind in the right direction, whichever that may be.

On another non-cushion note, I've been quite enjoying seeing recently, which I think I generally have done for a long time (maybe meditation with eyes open might be a good idea at some point), basically just looking at how what is seen is processed, how attention moves, expands, contracts etc., even if the eyes don't move. Also recently looking at where the borderline between what I see stops and I start, and moving in the space between them. Sometimes mental images of myself arise, although I'm obviously not impossibly looking at my face.

EDIT: "every day" in paragraph 2 was missing.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/3/17 4:05 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:
 I try relate to them like an "attractive someone" or with a similar sort of interest, although the investigative attitude I'm looking for is somewhat obscured by the effort I put in to maintaining concentration on noting. Investigation should ideally be emotionless and passionless (equanimity), treat everything objectively. Also, there is no need to note, especially if it is obstructive to clarity.

I've started experimenting a little with effort, just trying to see if I can drop it all together and see what happens, but it seems to hang on, which is interesting. I've just been doing about three 30 min sits this week, and after the bell goes dropping effort. One small aspect to develop is that I'm not sure I quite yet know what meditating without effort looks like. Probably best to reach a state of sufficient concentration stability and concentrate on noticing vibrations for now?

Perhaps further to the "Attitude to distracting thoughts" above, I've noticed in a couple of sits that mind got quite fed up of thinking – whenever a thought arose, some kind of stressful mental fatigue arose, the same feeling I mentioned above when choosing the cup. This wasn't exactly pleasant and I had the feeling that some part of me many years ago might have been a bit freaked out by it, but it seemed quite useful for orienting the mind, because it wasn't liking all these unnecessary thoughts that seemed to get in the way meditation, and I wondered if they could be used to naturally push the mind in the right direction, whichever that may be. Thoughts aren't you and are largely not within your control, having emotions around them will not help. Just note and return, or watch them come and go without investing in the content. Vipassana is mostly about dropping control, trying to push the mind around will cause agitation.

Attitude to distracting thoughts

This morning a different approach to diversions of attention from the breath appeared. I noticed I had been somewhat stiffly noting when attention was not on the breath, with what seemed like a subtle annoyed force pushing the attention back to the breath. My intention is to do vipassana, but it seems like this is something left over from how I have done concentration practice in the past. What remains is an extra morsel of acceptance of the movements of mind and an iota of relief when noticing this obstruction is absent. A very subtle point, but it seems significant. Relax and perhaps try dropping the practice of noting, it seems to bring agitation to your practice now. 1. Begin with some scanning exercises from head to toe, 2. deep breathing exercises to calm down, 3. then simply stay with the breath (try to get intimate with the breath and peer into (break down) the sensations to the smallest vibrations possible, you can follow it as it moves through your body) and with a light, flexible focus; move the focus around to wherever distractions occur. You really want to stay with raptures (out of the ordinary vibrations) to progress.

Body, feelings, mind, mind-objects

Further to reading Mahasi Sayadaw's Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma - he mentions the importance of the four foundations of mindfulness, namely body, feelings, mind, mind-objects. I've probably still a little more to understand about what these things are to know what is meant by them, but this morning trying to look for my body didn't really seem to work, because all that there was was sensations of touch and mental images of body parts. Where? Not sure, if distance and space are also sensations, then there isn't really any concrete place. It reminded me of a talk I heard by Reggie Ray in which he was asked for a definition of the body, and replied something along the lines of "Traditionally it's empty space, but what use is that?" The body seemed like it might be the space in which all these sensations happen, or maybe it just doesn't really exist anywhere outside my own conception of it. Ideas arrived mostly by reasoning, but fun nonetheless.

In addition to the above point on space and distance, I've noticed a couple of times again recently including this morning that the size of my body and it's parts appear to become confused in relation to each other, being both big and small at the same time.



Remember that the only existence during Vipassana are sensations that you can feel at each moment. If you cannot feel your hands, they do not exist. Mindfulness of the body is knowing when you can sense them being around. Never imagine where the body is or not, that will launch you into some weird space instead?

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/14/17 1:28 PM as a reply to junglist.
Recently I have been concerned and uncertain about my practice, in terms of technique, and my progress. A couple of weeks ago, having settled pretty much on noting exclusively, I had started to feel pleased with how it was going and the way I was doing it, as well as what I was noticing in the process. Then, this certainty seemed to become confused and what on earth I should do during meditation at any given moment was lost - whether breath in the abdomen, something that might have been vibrations but that didn't seem to arise anymore, a sensation between the eyebrows, sitting, touching, or just the general uncertainty and confusion. Perhaps due to a stressful journey, followed by a return to general stress, or something else, who knows. After nearly a year of daily practice and with family constraints making any kind of retreat completely impossible, it makes one wonder if there's any point.

Sunday evening involved some particularly trying circumstances, so the following day in between family obligations and a small amount of work I did some practice:

30 min sitting
about 3:00 walking and sitting (including one mindful piss break)
2:30 walking and sitting
30 min sitting

Not really sure what to report, tried to notice confusion/uncertainty when it arose. After reading FranKo's account, I also tried to use some strong intentions, such as to note rising/falling etc. and the 3 characteristics. The first stretch was untimed, and I just got up to when the leg pain made it seem like a good idea to walk, and I walked until the knee discomfort abated. I didn't bother with food (other than breakfast) until the evening.
I also did some "death-related metta" for some time at one point, considering what I would wish for people before I died, wishing them well and settling any thoughts and feelings of animosity, repeatedly reflecting if everyone had been considered and whether I was ready to die, then as thoughts of more people arose, I followed the same process. As the people who arose went from significant and memorable people to other friends and acquaintances, I eventually reached thoughts about neighbours, and it became apparent that there were wishes for everyone in the whole street to be well, then since it was clearly me-centric to wish only those in my street well, some of which with whom I've had as much contact as any lifeform in anywhere in the world, it became necessary to do the same for the whole world, and it was clear that I really did wish for everyone and everything in the world to live in happiness, harmony and peace, because it was obvious that that would be fucking excellent. That was obviously a far too geocentric view, and thus I had to consider all beings in all universes in all dimensions, because that was as far as any concept I had of any existences could reach, and that would seriously surpass any degree of excellence. I reckon at this point, I could die in complete contentment. Nice.

Other than that, noting didn't seem to involve anything much more noteworthy than flashing, nor were any puns intended. Concentration might have got a bit better.


Today followed a similar pattern of trying to do lots of practice:

30 min sitting
about 3:20 - sitting

I haven't done any sits over two hours before, so that one would be the longest. I began mostly trying to note rising/falling/sitting/touching, which occasionally was all right, but eventually became moved into feeling disagreeable from the lack of stability, followed by confusion, doubt, a degree of pissed-offness, which I duly noted. Investigating these feelings further, there seemed to arise this kind of feeling that felt like a large balloon held in my arms touching my throat and chest. It had a sense of nastiness to it, and seem like a good thing to  get rid of. Thoughts of the Disgust and other ñanas arose, and my face grimaced in disgust, which I noted off as mapping thoughts. This balloon thing seemed to be a combination of sensations of the arms and a line from the throat down towards the middle of my chest, and it seemed to ooze out in different directions. 

There was also lots of pain in my right hip joint, which often occurs at around the 1:30/2 hour mark. This time I just noted it continuously until it faded and became unpainful, although the pain returned occasionally. Later pain in the knee/s began, treated in the same way. There were some moments of some sort of emotionless stillness, I suppose, after the pain subsided, as in the flashing stopped, and there wasn't really anything remarkable.

Not sure if anything else can be said, since I had stuff to do later on, I eventually stopped at a point where there didn't seem to be any serious discomfort and no particular signs about progress, so that the stopping wouldn't be due to giving up, and there wouldn't be any lost possible progress.

EDIT: Since I was thinking about going through ñanas and the lesson each one teaches, I also occasionally asked "What is the lesson here" several times to direct attention towards what was going on right now.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/14/17 8:10 AM as a reply to junglist.
Seems like you are pretty solidly in Equanimity, that's no small thing.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/14/17 2:20 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Seems like you are pretty solidly in Equanimity, that's no small thing.
Thanks shargrol! That comes as some well-timed and well-needed encouragement. 

Seems like it might be a good idea to practise lots now.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/14/17 4:26 PM as a reply to junglist.
Sound good. Be ready for practice to either feel like its backsliding or be so simple that you wonder "is this even practicing?". Equanimity is a strange and curious beast. A lot of the challenge is extending equanimity into all mindstates, even mindstates that seem like they are "wrong" --- but if you are experiencing things intimately, as experiences, they are not wrong. 

The classic guidance at this point usually boils down to the practioner saying "X, Y, and Z is happening during my sits, what should I do?" and the teacher saying "did you note X, Y, and Z?" and the practioner palming his or her forehead and saying "Doh!"  emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/15/17 12:23 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Sound good. Be ready for practice to either feel like its backsliding or be so simple that you wonder "is this even practicing?". Equanimity is a strange and curious beast. A lot of the challenge is extending equanimity into all mindstates, even mindstates that seem like they are "wrong" --- but if you are experiencing things intimately, as experiences, they are not wrong. 

The classic guidance at this point usually boils down to the practioner saying "X, Y, and Z is happening during my sits, what should I do?" and the teacher saying "did you note X, Y, and Z?" and the practioner palming his or her forehead and saying "Doh!"  emoticon
Thanks shargrol, this sounds very much like what's going on – not too long ago thoughts went along the lines of "Boohoo! I don't know what to do!" to just noting uncertainty or confusion. I can relate to the facepalming, it seemed quite significant, while also being borderline idiotic of me not to have noticed earlier.

Something similar seems to have happened with regard to attention – this morning as attention didn't seem to settle on the breath in the abdomen, the thought struck me that attention itself must be impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, occurring causally and not in my control, and so among other things it would essentially be best left alone, and then it became quite easy for a moment to drop effort on it.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/15/17 5:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
Really nice insight into attention!!

Yes, once you see that even attention comes and goes on its own, we can let go of judging and feeling that performance pressure. Whew! emoticon It's still important to recognize when you come back from distraction, noticing when attention returns, but the whole idea that you have to control attention and feel guilty if you fall into a momentary trance or distraction -- that kind of performance pressure just isn't helpful. The important thing is notice what it is like when you "wake up" again. Becoming distracted 1000 times is fine, because that means we get to notice what it means to wake up 1001 times.

This is important early in practice, when we're easily distracted, but also in equanimity and high equanimity, because the mind is very vague and drifty and daydreamy. The goal in EQ is not to get rid of the vague drifty daydreamy aspect, but rather to have equanimity with even those kinds of experience. So nothing needs to change, we can just just continue to stay intimate with experience even as it gets vague and drifty and daydreamy.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/15/17 6:43 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Really nice insight into attention!!

Yes, once you see that even attention comes and goes on its own, we can let go of judging and feeling that performance pressure. Whew! emoticon It's still important to recognize when you come back from distraction, noticing when attention returns, but the whole idea that you have to control attention and feel guilty if you fall into a momentary trance or distraction -- that kind of performance pressure just isn't helpful. The important thing is notice what it is like when you "wake up" again. Becoming distracted 1000 times is fine, because that means we get to notice what it means to wake up 1001 times.

This is important early in practice, when we're easily distracted, but also in equanimity and high equanimity, because the mind is very vague and drifty and daydreamy. The goal in EQ is not to get rid of the vague drifty daydreamy aspect, but rather to have equanimity with even those kinds of experience. So nothing needs to change, we can just just continue to stay intimate with experience even as it gets vague and drifty and daydreamy.
Thanks again for your advice – now that's almost freaky.

I've had a couple more sits since this morning, which were marked by wavering attention with repeated distraction and the breath and sitting sensations really were vague and unclear, kind of hazy. The abdomen movements were there, but it was as though there was a haze over them, and so were the sitting posture sensations in my back, but there seemed to be bits missing, or much less than there was before. I noticed coming back from distractions, but noticed that I was not noticing the moment of being distracted. 

Now in a sense you have described how my mind was working and what I was experiencing. I'm the only person who's supposed to know those sorts of things. I ask myself how you knew... this stuff is supposed to make some people telepathic, isn't it...?

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/15/17 8:36 AM as a reply to junglist.
Not necessarily telepathic, probable more accurately "empathetic". I remember what it was like for me when I was exploring EQ, that's all. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/15/17 12:36 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Not necessarily telepathic, probable more accurately "empathetic". I remember what it was like for me when I was exploring EQ, that's all. emoticon
Daniel's book seems to be a bit telepathic as well: "The fourth vipassana jhana, meaning this stage, is about seeing the true nature of even more complex, inclusive, subtle and fundamental things, like space, awareness, investigation, wonder, expectation, anticipation, peace, ease, questioning" – the bits in bold seem particularly present, as well as assessing, judging and wondering (more than wonder).

It is very interesting though when there's a model that predicts something that one is just experiencing.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/16/17 1:22 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:
Daniel's book ... space, awareness, investigation, wonder, expectation, anticipation, peace, ease, questioning" – the bits in bold seem particularly present, as well as assessing, judging and wondering (more than wonder).
From the above list there was some definite peace and ease during walking yesterday. Also wondering about how expectations of what should be happening may affect what actually is.

Also noted regressing from a more balanced state of mind, as in losing what might Equanimity, along with slight fear of regressing. Noted inevitable pride and well-done-me feelings, thoughts of stream entry, fruition etc. approaching, what it will be like, what I'll be like afterwards, if there will be an "I" to "be like" afterwards, thoughts of "shouldn't think about that" etc.. Also what-to-write-on-this-blog, have-I-been-writing-too-much or maybe-I-should-stop-writing-for-a-while thoughts.

The "sitting" part of the noting was a bit interesting yesterday. As attention moved from the abdomen to the sitting posture, there didn't seem to be any change in sensation as there has been until now. This felt peculiar, and although it was, in a way, difficult to find the sitting sensations, it wasn't like just before when the sensations seemed to have disappeared or be missing, but they were already there quite fully, as though awareness was there already before moving attention there to note the posture. This soon developed into the movements of the abdomen being included in the sensation of the posture, in quite a wide scope of attention. There was also an accompanying image of all of this – as there often is – in the form of a picture of my body from a bit further behind than when images of this kind appear with more localised sensations. 

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/18/17 9:43 AM as a reply to junglist.
30 minutes - sitting

20 minutes - walking
a little over 2 hours - sitting

Aside from often being distracted, one particular event occurred that was interesting – at one point there seemed to be a clear space between me and sensations, especially the where things appear to be projected upon in the visual field. I'd noticed it a bit before, and this time I decided to focus on this separation between it and me. Soon, the stuff on the other side of the space came closer and closer, and physically feelings began to gradually increase in intensity. I continued to focus on the space, putting a lot of effort in to concentrating in order not to get distracted with go-for-it don't-lose-it mentality, and then eventually the thing separated came very close, and then I had a sensation of being pulled apart in my body as well in the visual field (my eyes were close), which I stayed with, until it started to reach climactic point. There was determination, and so I, most likely mistakenly, pushed concentration quite hard, and when it seemed like the intensity was about to subside, I sort of shuddered my body forcefully with a kind of "WAKE UP!" grunt, in the hope that the kind of force used I imagined is used in the Rinzai tradition might do something. Afterwards things eventually died down and returned to normal, then the doorbell rang. I might have ignored, it but the timing seemed exactly right to stop, and I had to leave the house soon after anyway. They'd got the wrong doorbell.

This issue of force was interesting, mostly because it is probably the exact opposite of what I think I should have done, and at one point the thought arose that it would be best to just note. There was some trying to make the most of a window of opportunity, but there was probably also some greed that lead to trying to make get more and more. I have the impression that having seen that sort of situation, I would just observe objectively without trying to make it more or anything other than what it is.

Afterwards, the feeling of separation remained, but changed in space somewhat, and in the end I felt like my body was in a bubble surrounded by the outside world. 

Things had also become somewhat high definition, and visuals details of objects and their movements became sharper. I don't think it lasted too long though.

EDIT: I should add that as the intensity increased, my heart rate shot up, and probably reached about the same as that of sprinting.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/17/17 8:01 AM as a reply to junglist.
Congratulations! It sounds like you are very close. Stay patient, wide (not focused on any particular formation), calm, no craving (greed) with equanimity. You can drop concentration effort slowly to ease into it. Good luck! emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
11/18/17 8:17 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
Congratulations! It sounds like you are very close. Stay patient, wide (not focused on any particular formation), calm, no craving (greed) with equanimity. You can drop concentration effort slowly to ease into it. Good luck! emoticon
Thanks Yilun! Probably a weeny bit to early for congratulations just yet. emoticon

You used the term "formations" – I can't say that what this refers to exactly is clear to me, mostly because MCTB says they're difficult to explain, and then gives a long and somewhat cryptic description. I get the impression they are simply a single mind object or something that is made up of several other mind objects or sensations. 

For example, looking into a feeling, e.g. worry, guilt, happiness etc., one might find that it is made of tactile sensations in the body, maybe in the arms, chest, throat, whatever, and then the sensation of the arm might consist of the tactile sensation, a mental image of that part of the arm, the imagined distance or position in space, the degree of pleasure, discomfort or neither, etc. Does that sound anything like it at all?

The wide aspect is also interesting, I've noticed sometimes that attention can go really wide, but not so often during meditation, usually when talking one-to-one with someone. While listening, I can direct attention very broadly to include far more space than just the speaker's face. I've often noticed this before, but yesterday focus of the visual field went really really wide, not that I could measure it or anything. Some detail is lost, which seems consistent with what I've read Angra Mainyu mention, that detail is sacrificed when focus is wider, and the overview is lost when focus is smaller, or something along those lines.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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11/18/17 9:40 AM as a reply to junglist.
I made the most of the opportunity that I've been occasionally waking up in the middle of the night recently, and got up at 3am, to do something strong determinationish. I was limited by knowing I had to be alert enough for family obligations later on, so some more sleep would be necessary, but proceeded to see what would happen.

I started off with 30 mins walking, to be followed by sitting until whenever. I had felt a bit insecure with the way I had been doing Mahasi noting technique, so yesterday I started noting using the slightly different technique Fran Ko very kindly described in https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/6955635 – "rising, falling, sitting, touching" using touching points. I felt comfortable with this technique, although the sense of newness with its concomitant slight uncertainty was there.

Over the course of an hour maybe less, concentration wasn't particularly good, although I had managed to go through the 28 points quite a few times without getting lost. There were a fair amount of distracting thoughts, mostly really very mundane things about stuff that needs to or could be done or organised at home, with the family, work etc., noticeably of a fairly flat emotional nature, which I tried to resolve to put aside until this was finished. Despite this resolution, these arose repeatedly, and perhaps gradually took on a more clearly visual aspect. Noted "wandering", "thinking" etc., then a sense of dissatisfaction arose, which I think I noted, along with "bad concentration", then thinking that it would be a good idea to do some walking for a while, which I think I noted and took simply to be hindrance and continued; then the same "good idea" arose along with the fact that it was night time and that it would be better to do this at a time when I would be more alert, which I think I also noted as a hindrance, but which eventually returned, and so I stood up.

Once I had stood up though, I was reminded that this was supposed to be something like strong determination, and that I should be sitting until the end. So I sat down again, but this time decided to simplify and maybe pacify things to just gently noticing breath in the abdomen, with occasional "rising, falling". The very beginning was nice, noting "peaceful", and soon after distractions became plentiful, and this time even more visual, with sometimes quite well-defined transient images of unknown scenes, maybe a house, inside a house; at one point I tried to investigate the actual level of detail and see what some of the objects in the scene, zooming into them to see if they had any more detail, beyond what the whole image showed; I think I tried to zoom into what looked like a bicycle on the first floor of the cross-section of a house, but it seemed to blur, as one might expect from zooming in on a photograph, but I wonder if this happened because of the result I expected. This appears to have been another sidetrack resulting curiosity as opposed to equanimity, not that being able to visualise things with a high degree of clarity as a bad thing of course.

Drowsiness was also in full force, which I noted a bit, and images often appeared during spells of drowsiness, as if dipping into a dream momentarily. It could be described as the haze of the closed-eye vision dispersing to reveal images behind. This reminds me of when I've had conversations with my wife while almost going to sleep, during which I say something completely irrelevant, which I defiantly insist is right, only for it to be embarassingly pointed out that it has nothing to do with what we're talking about. Go to sleep, says she. I didn't bed down just yet, and began to nod off a fair bit. I tried to maintain awareness such that when these noddings-off occurred, I could be aware through them and experience them clearly, the result of which might have been to lessen the depth of the nods, and the blackness wasn't so pronounced.

Eventually drowsiness got the better of me, and so I decided to lie down, but face up, which makes it difficult to fall asleep and therefore some further meditation possible. Not sure how long I stayed awake for after that.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
11/19/17 8:21 AM as a reply to junglist.

I sense with compassion, your urgency and determination, perhaps to the point of trying to repair what's not broken? I am pretty sure that learning a new technique is not the answer, on the contrary, you are introducing unnecessary levels of control. What you can work with is already there (be mindful but not forcefully so), there's nothing more to be understood intellectually (formations are stuff made up of more than 1 sense - probably doesn't even matter if you do not know this). If there's one thing to remember during distress - this is a LOSER'S Path as in just lose (not avoid/ignore) whatever is bothering you.

 Let go of control :-
Daniel M. Ingram:

Actually, the trick in Equanimity staying into the thing just doing its thing, and that thing could be ANYTHING!

Now, that thing could be the breath, could just be whatever happens, could be thoughts, could just be being really honest about what is actually going on regardless of it is, could just be being yourself in some really ordinary and non-idealized way, could be really letting the mind just do what it wants to do, all while really being naturally present to that just as it occurs.

It could be wanting to control things. It could be watching that struggle itself. It could be wishing thoughts would do whatever or not do whatever. It could be just letting your stuff happen. It could be fluxing formless realms. It could be ultra-powerful concentration. It could be noticing the motion of attention as it creates space just by being itself and moving around making space. It could be that space and attention are the same thing. It could just be following the textures of form and mind as they synchronize. It could be being really annoyed that the mind isn't "behaving", whatever that is. It could be noting forms moving and changing. It could be some other formal practice just formally practicing or trying to practice. It could be any conflict, any harmony, any success, any failure, any neutrality, anything: but that thing, whatever it is, as it is, is the key, right then and really following it, really merging into that impermanence, really giving into not being able to hold off as an observer, really not being able to find any place in space that anything can stand on and hold out from, as the whole thing is allowed to show just how utterly unstable the whole thing really is with no reference points or practitioner or anything remaining uninformed and unviolated by that direct and totally absorbed, naturally fascinated following of all of that.

Staying on any of that: letting it take you out. Letting it vanish and take you with it. Letting it stutter. Letting it shift and squirm. Letting space flow towards disappearing totally with all that is in it.

Any of that make any sense?

Daniel

Daniel M. Ingram:
If our intellect is strong, we may try to use that to somehow pry open the thing. However, it is a crutch that is ill-suited to the task past beyond a minor supportive role past a certain point.

Know the simple sensations of all types that are arising and vanishing throughout the field of experience, and, if this is done well, wisdom will reveal itself. It is the direct path. "In the seeing, just the seen. In the hearing, just the heard. In the thinking, just the thought..." etc.
Daniel


Daniel M. Ingram:

It is not just their strange sense of continuity, but also the notion that sensations can observe or control other sensations.
Minds grasping nature -> Control everything -> create permanency rules -> build self on it = stress

Daniel M. Ingram:

Howzabout try a different approach:

There is no ego. There is no you to thwart an ego. There is no ego to prefer being an ego.

There are sensations, sensations of the head, sensations of the eyes, sensations of the nose, sensations of the neck, sensations of the chest: these arise and vanish. They are transient, ephemeral, totally and utterly impermanent in ways that seem both digital and analog at once, causal, yet created from nothing, by nothing, and vanish to nothing.

There are mental sensations: sensations of effort, sensations of analysis, sensations that make up the mental aspects of emotions, sensations that seem to be controlling attention, sensations that seem to be preferring this or that, sensations that make up moods, sensations that seem to do all sorts of things, sensations that seem to observe, sensations that seem to remember: all are totally transient, ephemeral, totally and utterly impermanent in both ways, causal, natural, impersonal.

Notice this quality of sensations again and again, notice the lack of control, notice that they are all over there, notice how slippery they are, how they shift and flux, and keep noticing this, as it leads to comprehension, and when comprehension is sufficient, something suddenly flips over.


Oh and one more thing: let go of wanting SE however stupid that sounds... Be more compassionate towards yourself! Send those negative energies my way as I need to overcome ill-will and aversion. emoticon 

Much Metta to You!

https://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ajahn-Sumedho-Volume-4-The-Sound-of-Silence.pdf
I used to have what I call an ‘inner tyrant,’ a bad habit that I picked up of always criticizing myself. It’s a real tyrant – there is nobody in this world that has been more tyrannical, critical, or nasty to me than I have. Even the most critical person, however much they have harmed and made me miserable, has never made me relentlessly miserable as much as I have myself, as a result of this inner tyrant. It’s a real wet blanket of a tyrant. No matter what I do, it’s never good enough. Even if everybody says, ‘Ajahn Sumedho, you gave such a wonderful desanā (Dhamma talk),’ the inner tyrant says, ‘You shouldn’t have said this, you didn’t say that right.’ It goes on, in an endless perpetual tirade of criticism and fault-finding. Yet it’s just habit; I freed my mind from this habit, it has no footing anymore. I know exactly what it is, and I no longer believe in it or even try to get rid of it. I know not to pursue it and just let it dissolve into the silence.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
11/19/17 1:09 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Thanks very much for your advice Yilun.



I might stop this log for a while.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
11/21/17 7:22 AM as a reply to junglist.
I am sorry, I suppose that was too harsh... emoticon

One problem I face is "should": I should do this, do that, practice more, something wasn't done well enough, more this, more that...

I should see that the Buddha didn't mention perfection, he merely asked us to see for ourselves the dissatisfaction from the impermanence from all things. All these seeking, doing, more-to-do, ideal places to get to should be seen as the limitations within the impermanence. From seeing and knowing for myself, I let go of this endless search and the grasping. Even if I get to this ideal place, it starts to change. I want to get rid of some other thing, replace it with another thing - it cannot end...
In our meditation we’re aware of how our moods and feelings change. When we think of how things should be, we get back into ideas and then compare ourselves to what we think good practice is, how many hours we should meditate, how we should do this and that. We can operate from these ideas, which are often very good ideas. But the problem, even if one conforms to all these shoulds, is that there is always something more, always something that could be better. It goes on endlessly. You never get to the root of the problem. You just go on and on to where there’s always this feeling that there’s something more you should be doing. When we reach the end of this, we sometimes give up: ‘I’ve had enough of this. To hell with it. I’m just going to enjoy life. I’ll disrobe and just go out and have a good time, eat, drink, and make merry until I die.’ Because one can only be driven so far. You can’t sustain it and you reach a point where it doesn’t work anymore.
Perhaps we should simply notice the many 'shoulds' our minds create?

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
11/21/17 1:46 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
I am sorry, I suppose that was too harsh... emoticon

One problem I face is "should": I should do this, do that, practice more, something wasn't done well enough, more this, more that...

I should see that the Buddha didn't mention perfection, he merely asked us to see for ourselves the dissatisfaction from the impermanence from all things. All these seeking, doing, more-to-do, ideal places to get to should be seen as the limitations within the impermanence. From seeing and knowing for myself, I let go of this endless search and the grasping. Even if I get to this ideal place, it starts to change. I want to get rid of some other thing, replace it with another thing - it cannot end...
In our meditation we’re aware of how our moods and feelings change. When we think of how things should be, we get back into ideas and then compare ourselves to what we think good practice is, how many hours we should meditate, how we should do this and that. We can operate from these ideas, which are often very good ideas. But the problem, even if one conforms to all these shoulds, is that there is always something more, always something that could be better. It goes on endlessly. You never get to the root of the problem. You just go on and on to where there’s always this feeling that there’s something more you should be doing. When we reach the end of this, we sometimes give up: ‘I’ve had enough of this. To hell with it. I’m just going to enjoy life. I’ll disrobe and just go out and have a good time, eat, drink, and make merry until I die.’ Because one can only be driven so far. You can’t sustain it and you reach a point where it doesn’t work anymore.
Perhaps we should simply notice the many 'shoulds' our minds create?
Thanks for your reply Yilun. I didn't find it harsh at all, it was more that wrongly or rightly I got a slight sensation that the very kind eagerness to help added a layer of perceived distress to how things looked? Again wrongly or rightly, I also had a sense that the advice trying correct my practice had its root in problems of a projected nature, i.e. problems you had and assumed they were mine too. These are quite unfounded suspicions that probably shouldn't be taken to be true, my apologies! I didn't want to make any accusations, so this might explain my somewhat laconic previous post. I'm very sure your intentions come from great kindness. Thank you!

More specifically, I had been having trouble for quite a while settling on techniques and a practice that I was sure how to execute and had confidence in, and was quite pleased with the latest addition/refinement. Being told not to do one thing and do something else by someone who I can only assume is much wiser than myself kind of threw things into a spell of doubt and confusion.

As for the "shoulds" – my current thinking is that they begin with a mind having two ideas, then comparing these ideas, evaluating them, then identifying with one or the other, if we get the bad one, we're unsatisfied and feel we should try for the other. But even if we get the good one, there's always something kind of off about it in the end...

Maybe we "should" notice the two-ideas-about-something our minds create? Or not? Or both? Aw man...

RE: Junglist Practice Log
Answer
11/24/17 3:27 AM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:

Maybe we "should" notice the two-ideas-about-something our minds create? Or not? Or both? Aw man...

OK then let me put it as straightforward as I can! 

RE: Perceptive capabilities and the only thing you should care about: If you can sense the nanas - those stuff in waves, vibrations, pinging, buzz, etc. - Really no need to change technique. It is all there and all that is there is all you can work with, trying to dig deeper does nothing except create angst (but you have to be fully there facing it!). Use whichever technique that works to allow you to experience the nanas, it is good to learn more and be able to utilize whichever when the situation calls for it. There are times to note, to scan, to simply be silently aware - know when to use which.

That 'new' 28 point method is fantastic for beginners as it is an amalgam of basic techniques and keeps one busy and counters hindrances. However it might become a hindrance in the end towards clear seeing and I suspect it is abandoned after a certain point. *shrugs* not sure...

After you have ascertained the above, go for it! And yes just notice the xx ideas that the mind creates along with desires for attainments/maps. Laugh at it if you can, I find them hilarious. And please go on with the journal! Apologies if I scared you off of it. Argh...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4yipKfO8nA

All the best!!! emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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12/4/17 7:11 AM as a reply to junglist.
20 minutes walking
2 hours sitting

30 minutes sitting

Woke up in the middle of the night, and couldn't get back to sleep, so might as well practise. Things are noticeably normal, as in nothing special really happens, thoughts of what should be done about daily things and other plans go by, I got the feeling that my mind was going through its to do list, because it didn't seem to repeat the items on it. Also thoughts of whether a more rigid technique should be used. Focused on breath a bit off and on. 

About 1 and a half hours sitting - In this sit there arose a very clear cycle of a burst of sparkling lights that covered the visual field and then faded, then a short period of "normal", i.e. nothing memorable, but perhaps with occasional slight pain, and then the burst of lights again, and so on. There were many of these cycles, 20, 30, maybe more, and they lasted for maybe 5 to 10 seconds. I think the cycles were longer in the beginning, then got shorter later on, and at one point there was quite a clear predictable rhythm.

It was also interesting that I started nodding off a few times in the earlier half of the sit, with one near floor head butt, but later there was no drowsiness.

The breadth of the visual field was also notable, and it was a little narrower at the sides and top and bottom than it has been. It has often been easy to notice things over a very wide panorama, but this time the edges of the visual field were constricted, a bit like wearing glasses that don't quite cover your eyes completely when you can see through where the lenses are, but are also aware of what they don't cover.

Some time - lying down - I was sitting in full lotus, so there was a little worry that I would wreck my knees and hip joints, so I decided to lie down. The chance to catch up on some sleep presented itself, but I'm not sure whether I fell asleep or not.

45 minutes

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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12/5/17 3:28 AM as a reply to junglist.
After reading "Fire Kasina", as well as another thread, https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5639015#_19_message_5571895, I have been using clear intentions/resolutions at the beginning of sessions in ways described in the book - setting a clear intention or resolution to do something, then forgetting about it. For example, "I resolve to attain Stream Entry here and now. I will observe any related excitement or craving with equanimity", or "I resolve to clearly and precisely observe every mind state with equanimity", or "I will notice the three characteristics... " etc. etc. 

I should add that yesterday after having considered the importance of the sequence discussed in "Fire Kasina", as well as how people here often seem to go on about what happens in their sits in similar terms with ñanas etc., I had resolved to observe any sequences that might occur, without reference to any maps in order to keep things objective. Interestingly enough, the pattern I described yesterday showed up. There is of course the concern that such an resolution may lead to this pattern arising, but the arising of the pattern in light of the resolution clearly highlights an avenue of further investigation. In my 30 minute evening sit, I had made a SE intention similar to the one above, and it was interesting to notice that thoughts continued to arise, often quite clear images of things, that seem to be saying, "You've got to sort this out first before you get any of that, mate." This would probably correspond to the so-called "stuff" I might have, so I just noted "seeing, seeing..."

Today 

30 minutes sitting
- Since recently I have mostly been allowing my mind to have a free rein and there was some doubt about whether this may have been hindering things a little, I decided I wanted to "train" a bit, as in do the basic noting exercise. However, quite soon after the beginning, it was clear that mind wanted not to be pushed around, so I kindly obliged. Don't ask me what obliged – someone or something will figure it out soon enough. I hadn't used any resolutions here, by the way (see below).

An hour and a bit sitting
- This time I made a resolution to attain Stream Entry, as well as notice things with equanimity, including the 3Cs. As the sit developed, I began to pay the most attention to Suffering, choosing to use that as the main Door along with observing its Impermanence. This developed into trying to observe the entirety of all awareness and its inherent Suffering, and how it is impermanent. These are obviously conjectures based on what I have read, so I cannot yet tell from experience whether these Doors are real, i.e. these are assumptions taken as a meditation object taken to be part of the fundamental nature of reality. I wonder if I can observe the these assumptions. Why not. The choice of the Suffering Door was also due to having noticed some time ago how the unsatisfactory nature of phenomena, especially thought, seemed to be pushing thought and guiding it to stillness, such that every time a thought arose, Suffering arose concomitantly, and so slowly mind seemed to learn to move around less and less. I wonder if this might cause some serious discomfort for people without any kind of practice, but it was quite easy to remain completely objective and let the mind balance itself out of Suffering. Actually, this "technique" occurred in a fairly constricted space, one could say somewhere within the skull, with mind moving around trying to centre itself. Which was in contrast to the intention to notice awareness in its entirety. I also ended up visualising some Tibetan deities, influenced by the "Fire Kasina", although I'm not really into images, idols and icons that much.

I can't remember exactly at which point, but eventually, perhaps in waves approaching it, there arose a very deep feeling of something about to happen, things about to disappear (obviously I have read that's what happens in cessations) or open from inside, things might have got a bit darker, not sure. This is probably the nearest I have got to expecting a cessation, but of course I don't know what they are like yet. Or not like as the case may be. Aside from these feelings and some visuals, the surface of my body began to buzz finely all over, or it could have been an image of its silhouette seen from behind, in which the outline was very fuzzy. Feelings of certainty of "This is going to be it" arose that I had not felt before, and then inevitable attempts to do or not do something about letting it happen naturally arose. I was experiencing some feelings of illness in my chest that I used to observe Suffering, and during the event here, there was a thought in the form of a voice saying "Drop it. Let go" encouraging me to release this feeling. Some doubt arose since this appeared to be physical sickness, however, which may have put me off a bit. Also the thoughts of the voice probably sidetracked things a little. I had developed a bit of a headache at one point, and maybe as a result, thoughts about reducing effort came up, and I continued to try to see what effect this might have, and then the session had to end. Sure enough, after taking off the blanket and going into the next room, I started shivering, and I am clearly a bit ill, and now in bed.



Further to intentions used in "Fire Kasina", I should also add that the subplot of meeting the Medicine Buddha was cool. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet. emoticon

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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1/11/18 11:52 AM as a reply to junglist.
Straight after the last entry I became quite ill, and couldn't really practise for about a week. The changes in routine over the Christmas/New Year period seemed have also complicated things a little.

So it was around this time last year that I began a regular practice. I wonder what good, if any, it has done. This is rather difficult to say with any degree of certainty, although I find myself considering what else I could have spent so much time on. There are certainly plenty of things I could have done that could have benefitted myself and those around me. I won't attempt to tackle this so fully now, but rather assess reasons for practice. 

Motivations seem much the same; skilfully and happily tolerating and handling what life throws at me, although the urgency caused by life around me is not there so much anymore. A wish to directly know the very essence of life remains essentially the same, although I see the questions surrounding this that my mind tries to formulate to dissolve into meaninglessness, and until a satisfactory question can be posed, I think I'll leave this desire in its wordless form, observing it whenever I notice it, if that means anything at all.

Most recently in practice, I have been making attempts to see more clearly what is going on, what feeling, states of mind etc. arise, because I have often seen the Stages of Insight describe much clearer things than I experience. My practice being in daily life may have something to do with this lack of clarity, but I feel I should be able to observe things better, and thus know mind better. 

I have also got back to practising for a few hours each day, which is good. Neko’s post here was quite helpful: RE: Feel like I'm hitting a brick wall with the equanimity nana
I liked his advice of focusing on one of the characteristics, and decided that I would take Impermanence for this week. I’ve read/heard Shinzen Young talk about “riding the waves of impermanence”, which reminded me of what it feels like doing Taikiken, so I decided to added a short ritsuzen after my morning sit to investigate the impermanence of sensations in the body, as well as build some energy, which has been lacking.

====

I could probably describe a few other things over the last few days or weeks, but just to keep things briefer and up to date, I’ll keep to today. The “don’t-what-the-best-thing-to-be-doing-in-practice” thoughts and feelings came up a lot. Occasionally, I’m reminded of the good idea that it is to note and investigate whatever arises, so I did. The line between confusion and “objectively not knowing” in an agnostic kind of way became quite interesting examine, as well as the sensations around them. The confusion was the most interesting, which was a slightly uncomfortable feeling, I think now that eventually I came to observe it as just a subtle feeling, rather than any conflicting concrete thoughts or not knowing about something specific. I had the sensation that this might go quite deep, that somewhere under everything there might be this confusion.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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1/29/18 7:00 AM as a reply to junglist.

Just a bit of an update:Sitting varying amounts of time each day, basically 45 minutes early in the morning before anything happens, then a bit later another 30 minutes, or depending how much time there is maybe one and a half to two hours. Then usually another 30 minutes or so before bed, depending how much time there is – ensuring enough sleep seems very important. This morning was 2 hours, with no particular difficulty. I might try and see if maintaining absolute stillness in the shorter sits is possible. I get the feeling now that I should have been doing that more.Generally just staying aware of whatever seems to be happening, occasionally noting, and then following the kind of awareness this develops without using the words to label what arises. Still with uncertainty about what to do, whether to note, just pay attention to whatever happens, whether to just notice continuously, or to focus on particular sensations for longer and watch/feel/hear what they do, or pay attention to how I relate to them, pay attention to what is relating to what...Sometimes noting/noticing this confusion. In terms of phenomena, sits are generally neither particularly pleasant nor unpleasant. I watched "Zen, the Life of Dogen" recently, and felt some of the precision and stillness rubbed off on me for a bit; there have been some sits in which it was easy to maintain absolute stillness for a little while, and a similar feeling of quiet throughout the day. Since I decided to notice Impermanence, it appears to be quite easy to see, although there are definitely some places where I notice that I don't notice it.I've often been noticing a kind of roughness throughout the front of my body, maybe arms, but in space it appears to be in front of my body. It seems to be a kind of irritablility. Also some tight sensations around the solar plexus area in particular, sometimes the throat. When these arise there is almost always doubt about whether to examine them or just continue being aware of whatever else comes up, partly because I am unsure to what degree there maybe something physiological.I've also been considering seeking some guidance, since I think there are many things—or maybe one primordial thing—I would like to learn and could probably be improved about my practice, but I can't say I know where to turn or fundamentally what it really is I want to learn, and get the feeling I would just get told to continue what I've been doing.


RE: Junglist Practice Log.
Answer
2/2/18 8:49 AM as a reply to junglist.
Using simple noting more at the moment, i.e. noting "rising...falling..." and anything else that arises. If vibrations appear, place attention there. Not sure what good focusing on vibrations are, but people round here seem to think it's important, so might as well.

Impermanence seems fairly clear these days, I thought today to make sure that I pay to attention to the real substance of life itself, rather than some far-removed goofy concept.

No-self, in a similar often seems clear, as well as "selfing", i.e. "that's me" feelings. Also thought today (outside of meditation) about noticing if "that's not me" feelings occur. Thinking about how it is said that selfing is a process, then maybe of fixing an idea or whatever into a thing, and then each process would have a fixed system, and if these systems are changing. One might note "reflecting...reflecting..."

As confusion and doubt seem to be a recurring theme, I've been noticing when they arise and what they are like, and equanimity seems to be developing towards them. Yesterday, in response to these "don't know what to do" sensations, I considered noting (not while sitting) things that are clear and that I do know what to do about to gain some balance, often very mundane things, for example, putting my coat on was good because it's cold outside, or just opening a door being the correct thing to do – slight spin on noting, but with a positive bias. The positive aspect seem to develop and eventually phrases came to mind like
"It is good that I stopped at this traffic light", "It is good that am waiting at the traffic light", etc. which eventually became "It is good that I am noting that this is good", "...that this 'good' judgement will change", "...that I realise that it may not always work", "...that I noticed that thinking of this technique simply appeared in my mind and I didn't really do it", "...that I am wondering what is doing this noticing", etc.

It seems like many different ways to tackle things, variations of techniques and ideas about things arise, how/why/whether to do what, and as I felt it all passing and knowing how much I keep forgetting what I've thought of and read about, for a moment it seemed like confusion that needed to be settled, but it seems this is just simply the nature of every day and every moment passing. There is no one way to approach each moment, and each moment needs its own unique approach. Maybe explained badly, but it's perhaps like parenting – you can't use the same strategy to get a child do what it needs to do all the time, and every situation needs to be seen for itself and then act accordingly. Sometimes it works, sometimes there's nothing you can do.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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2/5/18 1:59 PM as a reply to junglist.
Since my family doesn't have to get up early this week, I decided to try 2-hour sits in the mornings.

I've tried to start off noting, then letting things do there thing. I've been a bit confused about the steps between these two techniques, and yesterday seemed to clarify what the confusion was, posted here:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/7413168

Following Chris Marti's advice, this morning I went for one of the two approaches and just went for awareness from start to finish.
Soon enough, thoughts and other sensations started arising and passing and the field of experience got quite densely full with it all. There were moments of quiet, and then things filled up again. Eventually my right hip started hurting, which was OK for a fair while, but other slightly unpleasant physical and somewhat emotional feelings that seemed to arise from the unpleasantness of the pain started to fill the experience. It seemed like the pain wasn't too bad, but it was more the feelings that came from it that were difficult. Thoughts and feelings of wanting meditation to stop arose again and again quite strongly, I maintained a fairly good level of equanimity to all of it, noticing a little how they changed, but some worry about the length of time of the sit and that surely the bell should have gone by now, and that I should check the timer, which in the end should indeed have gone about 20 minutes earlier. 

The Awareness approach eventually led to some "trapped" situations; when certain situations like mind-wandering arose I thought what I should do, then thought to do nothing, then tried to let go and developed some way of doing that, but that was also pushing against what was arising, which showed there was no way out in this way. In another situation I can't remember exactly what had happened beforehand, but it seemed as though mind was looking for something to rely on, like a letting-go technique that could be applied everywhere, and knowing that the techniques that I tried couldn't work in this context, the thought "I can just use shikantaza" came, and straight after came knowing that this was just mind looking for something to cling to for security.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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3/13/18 11:08 AM as a reply to junglist.
Today for a time after sitting, the aspect of quiet became very clear, and especially any attempt to move, especially movements that made some slight noise, such as doing some work at the computer or preparing lunch, had to be done with great care. While at the computer, I eventually just decided not to do anything and leave things as they were, as in, not move at all.

I have occasionally noticed this a few times before, then more coupled with a sense of trying make every movement and physical contact with objects kind, but this time there was a little less of the kindness, and a much more pronounced sense of carefulness with the desire not to upset the quiet.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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3/13/18 11:32 AM as a reply to junglist.
This afternoon I sat for 2:15 – normally I wouldn't do more than 2 hours, but I rarely get the chance to sit for much longer than 45 minutes at a time these days. I had already sat for 50 minutes doing metta (which I have been doing as the first session of the day for a couple of weeks now) and 30 minutes of noticing body sensations (and sounds) in the morning.

The sit was quite the opposite of the quiet I mentioned before, characterised by a constant, fairly unpleasant, almost disgusting tension in the top part of my chest and the front of my neck, for pretty much the whole time. Some pain in my right hip came later too. It was interesting to watch how thoughts about trying to get out of came up every now and then – or I should probably say most of the time – that maybe someone might come to the door, that the timer had a problem and I should check, that it was already enough and I should stop, and of course that I should focus on the sensations and see them clearly and equanimously, which seemed to be more of a way to squirm out of an unpleasant situation than just really sitting with equanimity. I also tried to focus on the breath in my abdomen, but concentration was pretty poor. I had half expected that at some point a more peaceful time would come, and maybe it did momentarily, but basically the disgusting tension went on and on. I remembered at one point what Daniel Ingram said somewhere about breaking every sensation up extremely rapidly, which lightened things.

Breath was also quite heavy, often breathing deeply as if to release some tension.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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3/26/18 3:09 PM as a reply to junglist.
I’ve been ill since last week, which was preceded and overlapped with a good deal of family stress.
Without bothering with too much detail, it was interesting to find myself very level headed and reacting skilfully during the most intense moment, but then for a day or so later, together with the illness, general mood and energy went down as an after effect. 
A good deal of sleep being the great remedy that it is, I did exactly that. It was interesting, as well as important, to notice the increase in general mindfulness, perhaps as a result. I had been practising as usual until now, maybe a little more, but nothing too significant. I had also watched a talk by Thich Nhat something, or however you pronounce it, which among other things, he encouraged enjoying really basic things, breathing, eating, planting lettuce etc. I have tried to inject some of this spirit of enjoyment into stuff I’ve been doing, and it seems to have opened a kind of refreshing joy around life, and I think more richness in my sensory experiences. Gentle thoughts and feelings of loving what I might see or think are not uncommon, which is almost funny, but very far from anything intense.

I also did a couple of Leigh Brasington’s body scan, first the day before yesterday and for the first time in several months, which gave me the feeling in various places where I put my attention of releasing something. I often saw lights and patterns and got quite a few spasms all around my body. Towards the end I was spasming once every couple of seconds or so. I was doing it in bed, and at the end so much restlessness had built up that couldn’t lie down anymore and had to get up.

RE: Junglist Practice Log
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4/19/18 1:27 PM as a reply to junglist.
Not much new, just still sitting every day maybe around 2 hours more and less. Just couple of things I’ve noticed (among other things) that I thought I might note down:
- Attention seems quite wide pretty much all the time now, quite clear too, both visually as well as in touch and hearing peripherally. A couple of days ago I got the feeling while walking outside somewhere that I had sort of stepped out of my eyes into the visual field. It was subtle, momentary, but a bit interesting.
- Not sure if concentration is good enough or whether trying to fix it somehow would be a good idea.
- Today for a split second I got the feeling that the sense of me is created by the flickering of impermanent momentary sensations, as in one flicker looks at another and identifies with it. Or maybe it was a blinking out that separated one from the other in order to see itself as separate. Not sure of the accuracy of this feeling and how it’s been worded, nor it’s importance, but it was interesting all the same.

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4/20/18 12:40 PM as a reply to junglist.
junglist:
 I noticed them in my belly and chest. I struggled somewhat between actively trying to resolve them by trying to merge the physical sensations somehow, and just watching them. Eventually reached some sort of acceptance, and the feelings remain, mostly in the form of fatigue.

Not sure if this will work you but it has worked for me on occassion to disloge feeling of contraction... 

Next time this happens... try moving your eyes from left to right in rapid succession while just observing the sensations

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4/20/18 1:24 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
(D Z) Dhru Val:
junglist:
 I noticed them in my belly and chest. I struggled somewhat between actively trying to resolve them by trying to merge the physical sensations somehow, and just watching them. Eventually reached some sort of acceptance, and the feelings remain, mostly in the form of fatigue.

Not sure if this will work you but it has worked for me on occassion to disloge feeling of contraction... 

Next time this happens... try moving your eyes from left to right in rapid succession while just observing the sensations
Thanks for the suggestion D Z, this entry was a long time ago so I can't quite remember exactly what it felt like, but feelings of contraction or tension aren't rare, so it would be interesting try it.

It reminds me of a recent technique for helping with trauma used in psychotherapy that I heard about a while ago, I don't know exactly how it's used, but I think the therapist holds an object up in front of the patient's face and asks them to follow it with their eyes and moves it repeatedly to one side.

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4/20/18 2:11 PM as a reply to junglist.
Hi,

Not sure how I didn't notice the age of the post. Sorry.

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5/7/18 5:46 AM as a reply to junglist.
Been doing some brahma-vihara type stuff on and off recently, as in metta phrases. It might have the effect of smoothing out irritability when there are difficulties between other people such as  and myself. I did it for about a couple of weeks then changed back to just noting, and then noticed that irritability and a decrease in well-being began. I started again, and this seems to have subsided. Nice. When the irritability is not there, I feel an improvement in my senses, with peripheral vision getting stronger and sounds becoming very clear and especially a sensitivity to silence and the desire not to make noises in order not to upset the quiet. Also and satisfying ability to handle general life and the wisdom to do so seems to arise quite naturally.

The phrases have a tendency to become a little boring, making it harder to maintain the sincerity of the good wishes, although it sometimes possible to create the corresponding wishes without using the words. I have also been doing some concentration practice for a couple of days instead to ease off on the slight boredom, as well as to develop some stability in this area, which I think has been lacking. I have then been noting "rising falling sitting".

The last sit (45-minutes, before lunch) was characterised by slightly poorer concentration and more distracting thoughts, and especially noddings off. I am fairly confident that this was not because of a lack of sleep. I half nodded off maybe even 10 times, sometimes in a peculiar jolting manner. A couple of times they were normal nods as though I was about to fall asleep, but other times I think they just came as a jolt. Not sure if that means anything, but I noticed something all the same.



Practice times have generally been:
Morning:
1st sit: 1 hour
2nd sit: 30/45 minutes

(occasional afternoon sit of varying length 30 to 120 minutes)

Night:
30 minutes (although sometimes not possible due to lack of time - I am giving sufficient sleep priority of this sit.)