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SigmaTropic

SigmaTropic
Answer
5/13/18 8:42 AM
Backround:

Short term goals: Increase awareness of subtle energy in body, increase total conscious power, develop piti, increase depth and ease of jhana access, develop ability to end proliferation and suffering as it arises, develop ability to transform sexual energy. 

Long term goal: Elimination of all suffering

Method: "The Mind Illuminated" Upasaka Culadasa, "Way of Energy" Master Lam-Kam Chuen

Current Practice: 30 minutes of Qigong daily, 1-2 60 minute formal sits daily, walking meditation sporadically, general daily life mindfulness of craving. Stages 6-7 in TMI. Novice in WOE.

History/tentative path progress: I was introduced to meditation in October 2016. The 1st A&P occured in January 2017. I Got in contact with my teacher, a long-time student of Culadasa, in January. Had a suspected cessation experience in February 2017. I Crossed A&P again in mid-March 2017. Obvious dukkha nanas from mid March to roughly the beginning of June 2017.

In my most recent talk with my teacher, I told him that I had a noticable increase in suffering caused by craving lately, and he brought up the possibility that I had stream entry. This was basically brought on by me describing for him how suffering proceeds lately and describing being able to go from a high state of suffering/mental proliferation to complete peace almost instantaneously by just deciding to. My current instructions are a practice to transform sexual craving into metta, and practicing/investigating the cessation of suffering described above to make the "decision" happen sooner and sooner. He also suggested I should get better at jhana, but beyond that no specific on-cusion instructions. All things considered, there is less suffering overall than when I started, and the feeling of having a choice/the ability to temporarily stop suffering is new, so whether I have stream entry or not the fact is there is still suffering so there's no reason to stop.

Edit: Linking previous log on r/streamentry: https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/wiki/logs/23sigmatropic

   

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/27/17 3:00 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
60 minutes, breath at nose to start, attention was wobbly with subtle partial thoughts/some images/words. Proceeded to body scan systematically, straight throughout body, attention stabilized early into body scan. Proceeded to spine/right leg, spine/left leg, spine/both legs. Prana wave felt vaugely as traveling electric sensation internally, not as vivid as cutting edge state. Subtle dullness was a significant challenge after attention stabilized, alternating between over-agitation and increased energy to relaxation and decreased energy. Overall a baseline sit. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/27/17 3:12 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
60 minutes, emphasis on enjoying the breath, no dullness at beginning, breath developed into trampoline sensation between eyes. Proceeded straight to body breathing, starting with spine/legs. Prana felt vividly, warm pleasure appeared in awareness, mind was glad, pre-jhanic tremors appeared. Pleasure not attended to, tried to include arms and torso in attention, prana sensations faded in clarity, pleasure still in awareness. Subtle dullness set in, went back to nose breath to stabilize energy, spent the rest of sit alternating between lower body breathing and nose. Slight observer sense arose, ended sit at nose breath, trampoline sensation at nose and notable lack of effort, stillness, content, brightness. Close to cutting edge.   

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/28/17 3:08 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Nice descriptions. Good to see how Culadasa's stuff performs.

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/28/17 3:55 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Nice descriptions. Good to see how Culadasa's stuff performs.
FWIW In our group SPUDS* we've seen at least 5 people attain to some sort of path/permanent shift using Culadasa stuff.

*Seattle Pragmatic Underground Dharma Society 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/28/17 5:07 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
Daniel M. Ingram:
Nice descriptions. Good to see how Culadasa's stuff performs.
FWIW In our group SPUDS* we've seen at least 5 people attain to some sort of path/permanent shift using Culadasa stuff.

*Seattle Pragmatic Underground Dharma Society 

Feel like opening a thread for this? I'd be curious to read more emoticon

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/28/17 8:30 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Note: it will quickly become too time consuming to update every sit. From now on only new observations/developments. That being said:

Recently been trying experimental off cusion practice of inclining mind toward pleasant and interesting aspects of sense contacts. Recently there has deveoped an awareness that all sense contacts are multi-faceted, containing both pleasant and unpleasant aspects, which are selected for based on current mental intention and previous conditioning (this is a theory). During daily errands and chores etc, practice is basically intend for mind to filter sense contacts looking out for pleasant aspect. I like to think of it as pleasure mining- its there, you just need a mechanism to sift through and select for pleasure. I'll call it "pleasure goggles". Unpleasant aspects bounce off, pleasant aspect of sense contact then leads to small mental blip of pleasant mental state, which is sometimes correlated to body as pleasant sensation, sometimes not. When resting in this kind of awareness, repeated blips of mildy pleasant mental states come repeatedly, gladdening mind. Preliminary experiments have led to playful relaxed mental state. Continuous concentration is necessary, or else mind falls into default mode. Interestingly default mode interpretation of sense contacts is still in backround awareness but doesn't disrupt flow of pleasant blips. It will be interesting to see how this practice holds up starting from a suffering mental state. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/29/17 10:00 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Developments/Observations

Jhanic development focusing on Culadasa full body method/ Brasington pleasure Jhana:

What seems to work is first finding pleasure "sweet spot" in chest/nose breath. Zooming in on the sweet spot breath becomes effortlessly rythmic and pleasurable. Fully indulging in pleasant aspect of rythmic breath without strain or effort reveals more subtle prana sensations pervading chest/thorax. From there gently allowing arms and legs to get involved in rythmic breath cycle leads to vivid full body sensations, like waves. Sign of imminent jhana is when sense of doing falls away and I become the breath sensations-i.e. slipping into "groove". 1st full full body jhana seems more satisfying than 1st pleasure jhana (Brasington), more potent happiness, bodily bliss is more internal and smooth and enjoyable. Maybe I'm jumping straight into 2nd? 

Usually it's a toss up whether I can get into the rythmic effortlessness that seems to be required for full body jhana. Sometimes as scope exands breath gets more intentional feeling. Doesn't seem like I have found the right conditions for full body jhana on demand, just sometimes conditions are right. 

I still don't think I'm doing the Brasington jhana right, or maybe the piti isn't developed enough for it. Often there is gross body shaking and vibration, electric piti that's more outer shell of body, buzzing sensation, usually pretty agitating, lose sense of pleasure and jhana collapses. Only when I really hit it well is there pleasant internal moving piti, and bubbly pleasure on exterior, pleasure seems to fluctuate. About half the time I get close but no cigar and it's like an engine revving that wont turn over, just a lot of bodily vibration and electric piti that not really all that pleasant. Open to suggestions here.  

"Metacognitive Introspective Awareness" - Culadasa

Basically just intending to have two minds, one watching breath or body region, one watching the watching. I think I have it but it only works with relatively small object, say, nose breath or half body breath. This may be lack of enough conscious bandwidth. If thought arises, disregard content and just be aware that a thought has arisen. If new intention arises, be aware of intention without specifics. It usually proceeds with a vauge hint of what the thought was about, but mostly an awareness that thought has arisen. Intentions to move body region/scope of attention are fading from being coming from "me" to just being something that's being observed. Intention to move scope or go from breath at nose to different area seems to come without notice and proceed by itself. Seems a lot more pleasant to just watch meditation happen than actually have to do anything. 
 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
6/30/17 9:36 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Tension

Lately theres a tension that's preventing me from settling down. I was dealing with an intense facial/arm bobbing kriya for a month or so, and the Qigong and body breathing seems to have calmed down the involuntary movements. But lately the energy seems to manifest as a tension preventing me from fully settling down. I feel it at the end of the outbreath as a "not quite enough air" sensation deep in the belly region, which can develop into a subtle tension that gradually travels upwards into the base of the skull, where it seems to manifest as subtle dullness. Thats what it feels like at least.

Feels like it's ether caffeine related or a sign that effort is becoming a hindrance. The feeling is more common in the morning sit after tea, but in the evening sit there's noticably less of this sensation.

Last evening sit there was a nice development- proceeded from pleasant breath at nose, no breath tension, hung out with breath in the body for a while until energy started to fall, some jhanic factors present also a little dullness. Went back no nose breath, energy stabilized, breath became shallow, breath sensations were distinct, went for 1st pleasure jhana and closely missed. The tension came back as I was very settled in and breathing very shallow focusing on the pleasant energy flowing down the back and internally. Felt it take off but concentration was broken by breath tension. What's interesting is that after this I stabilized again on nose breath trampoline-like sensation and decided I was sharp enough to just drop all effort and see what happens. There was a distinct sense of the breath re-stabilizing as I was effortlessly drawn to the breath nimitta, in awareness I noticed the breath sort of re-organizing, like I had been breathing wrong the whole time! The breath stabilized on its own into a different pattern, and I spent the last 10 minutes or so just watching the breath nimitta without any sense of effort or tension whatsoever, from a witness-like state. The bell rang and it took an act of will to pry myself from the breath. I'll be playing with this little revelation in the days to come.  

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/8/17 1:42 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Marijuana induced vibratory experience of some kind

On July 4th I smoked some pot for the first time in many months. This is not a thing for me and it will likely be a long time until I do it again. That being said, the experience was worth mentioning because it was traumatic and seemed like an imortant insight was realized. That being said, it was drug induced so this should be taken with a grain of salt. After smoking the mind started meditating seemingly on its own as I sat in front of the TV with my wife. I could hear another TV in the other room, and people were hanging out taking, etc. It was as if all sensory inputs were completely cut off from their normal interpretation. The TV show was a collage of images and sounds, each as a discreet vibration, or bubbly wobble of sensation. The other noises were meaningless vibrations intemingled with the TV vibrations. There were physical vibrations, very bubbly, fast and pervasive. Thoughts seemed to also break down into vibrations. The part where Daniel talks about vibrations and intereference patterns during the A&P comes to mind, and the various vibrations took no meaning. The mind could only make sense of the different patterns of wobbles by playing with the emphasis of attention to tune into different frequencies, much like tuning a radio. I inclined the mind toward the pleasant vibrations and seemed to enter a light 1st jhana just by tuning into the pleasant vibrations in the body.  This was reality for about an hour or so until the effects started to wear off. The vibrations became finer and finer until reality smoothed out and the experience faded eventually. This was traumatic, and that's all I can say, but I think it was important. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/8/17 3:39 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Suffering about rejected sexual advances 

Went on vacation for the week, normal routine was considerably thrown off and my mindfullness was deteriorated by lack of sleep, agitation due to lack of routine/struggle to maintain practice during vacation. Lack of sleep and sexual advances to wife not being reciprocated led to short episodes of high suffering, which were shut down by strong intention to stop suffering and recognition that suffering was optional. It's as if the suffering only continues until I remember that I don't need to suffer and become willing to shut it down. Then with a deep breath and a strong decision not to suffer it releases with a few concentrated breaths into a mild to intense peace depending on the degree/length of suffering. More suffering for longer = more peace when it is released. The suffering is most intense when sex/lack thereof is involved, and it's as if the self is stubborn and won't recognize the suffering present. In this case I've been finding the energy in the root chakra and taking a deep breath, pulling the energy up to heart chakra, repeating as necessary. So far the energy has manifested in the heart chakra as mild joy/goodwill, although I'm not sure if I'm just manufacturing that feeling on purpose because that's what's supposed to happen.  

Main seated practice lately has been full body breathing/jhana. Jhana entry wasn't working the past week with the lack of sleep and change in routine, so I've just been doing the full body breathing, soaking in any peaceful and pleasant feelings. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/10/17 3:24 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Keeping it simple works

Sit down, start breathing, find pleasurable breath and stick on it. wait around for 10-15 minutes then jhana just seems to happen. No finding pleasant sensation or any of that crap. The breath itself just becomes blissfull if you wait around long enough without doing anything else. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/14/17 8:38 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
60 minutes, more practice with strong intention/resolution for metacognitive awareness. My practice has been scattered lately but I've resolved to stick with the TMI method and actually follow the stage 6 method. So just holding the intention seems to work to make it happen for me, I tell the mind to watch itself and don't neccesarily know what that means, but weirdly it just works. Attention was more or less exclusive throughout the session, and the trampoline representation/nimitta of the breath was faster and more detailed than I've seen in a while. It seems that working with this new intention is the way to go while I expand the conscious power. I was told by one of the co-authors of TMI that for the adept stages the conscious power has to be pretty large or you won't get anywhere, even if you have stable attention and can do the stage 7 jhanas. So for now I'm going to make a strong resolution to make a focused, consistent effort to expand conscious power and stick with it until I can breathe with the whole body and hold the metacognitive awareness. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/16/17 8:25 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Key realization about stage 6 TMI:

One must strive for metacognitive awareness while doing body breathing, working up from smaller areas to whole body while maintaining awareness. Before I've been just straight body breathing, not giving to much conscious effort toward staying aware. 

Also I've started to notice an inward current of prana on the inbreath that I wasn't discernng before. In some areas when I'm particulaly aware and sharp I can discern an outward wave, an inward wave, and both expansion and contraction sensations. Still have a long way to go until I can feel this in the entire body simultaneously and be minfully aware, but it's coming along. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/17/17 2:52 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Random note:

Probably better to start with chest/abdomen and work outwards keeping metacog. More pleasant/less tension inducing than starting at feet/and and working inward. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/26/17 1:11 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Weird Black Moments/Fruitions?

So this has been happening fairly regularly but I haven't really made a big deal of it but today one happened that seemed to be a little more clear and stronger. 

I'm going along like normal just following the breath at the nose and I was particularly tuned in and aware, and the breath was pulsy. I happened to be paying attention to the prana sensations in my left arm, then all of a sudden out of nowhere the visual field goes black. It seems like it happens in an instant and after the blackout there is a sense that I just skipped something or like a glitch in the matrix. After this thing the ambient sound seems to come back with somewhat of a clicking sensation. The after part kinda felt nice today. This time it felt a lot more clear so I'll keep seeing what exactly is going on if it happens again.   

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
7/31/17 9:29 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Full Body Breathing/Jhana/Meditation

It seems to work to start with open awareness of everything in consciousness, then refine down to body sensations, then breath sensations in the body. This works better and full body jhana comes reliably, but it's still unstable and requires effort to maintain. Weirdly jhanic factors arise sometimes before refining to breath sensations by just focusing on bodily sensations all at once. There's no dullness whatsoever when I take this approach. Theres also a strobing effect and the breath sensations come in discreet packets traveling around. I feel fast vibrations that are barely discernable at the very threshold of my perception which are interesting.  I think I've been a little too dogmatic in folllowing the TMI instructions and not having fun with it and staying curious. I think I'll keep taking this approach for a while then eventually try to watch mind while doing it. I'm also noticing what I'm becoming more and more convinced are fruitions. They are mostly just blank gap moments where the re-emergence feels pretty clicky and sudden. I've noticed I'm very peaceful for hours after it happens, although there's not so much of an immediate effect.   

Qigong

Blissful, deep peace pervades the mind and body sometimes just standing there doing wu chi or balloon posture. Big fat grin for a while afterwards. Although I haven't seen third jhana yet, it seems like what I think of as having characteristics of third jhana. This state comes along the less movement I can manage to make during the postures. 

Daily life 

I seem to have ready access to some sort of higher state that is deeply peaceful. It's a kind of peace that I have never experienced before starting on the path that feels very deep and profound. Metta flows effortlessly without volitional control when I am really flowing in this state. I get there by sort of inclining the mind toward it and concentrating. I can hang out there for a while and it doesn't seem to fade completely before I incline the mind again. Part of me wants to deconstruct this peace into it's component sensations, but I've been really curious about it and testing it out. It's almost like a well of peace bubbling up from somewhere in my belly. I've tested it when I'm agitated or hungry or tired, and it delivers.

 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
8/24/17 9:11 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
I haven't updated in a while because I went on retreat (12 days, solo). I stayed in a small house on my teacher's property and meditated all day for 12 days and met with him for 10-15 minutes every day. In terms of meditative phenomena, nothing really extraordinary happened that doesn't normally happen in my daily life practice. I struggled to keep the investigation going during walking meditation, and wasn't mindfully aware of everything during waking hours. There were several instances of spontaneous jhanas and the body being perceived as fast vibrations, but again, not really deeper than what happens in daily practice.

My relationship to practice has been purified. I don't think of practice as something that if I put x amount of hours in and really try super hard than I'll surely get to y level of enlightenment in z amount of time. I sit down to practice because a process that I'm a part of and not really in control of leads to the thought of "how about some meditation". When I sit a process happens where I attend to an object and various other processes play out and meditation occurs. This is not really in "my" control. So I think meditation and perhaps meditative progress will happen regardless of whether I try to force anything.

An interesting thing happened after the retreat. The realization that there's no one here controlling the process led to a decrease in motivation to practice and some drug use. The drug use tanked practice for a few days but practice still happened. The drug use stopped because it seemed silly and was just a dead end and a delay of the inevitable. Practice took a hit for several days after the drug use (probably some sort of unconscious thing being worked out), and now for the last 10 days or so practice is happening on its own accord without any sense of forcing anything or doing anything. I just sit down and it happens every day.

The previous sense of ease and lightness has returned, practice is pleasurable and rewarding, and my overall level of happiness and flow with life is higher than ever. I'm kind of perplexed that this is looking more and more like a baseline state.There's a part of the mind that wants to label this ease and flow, but when I think about it that's just ridiculous. I'm happy, and life is flowing like a river without resistance and theres a confidence that things will continue to just happen on their own. When sit I'm mostly just sittting in open awareness until pleasant sensations come up and just flowing with the pleasant sensations and breathing energy into them, imagining them expanding, etc., mostly just enjoying sitting there. Usually after some pleasure soaking I've been soaking in metta for a while until the bell rings.  



 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
8/25/17 10:59 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Officially taking a temporary detour from strict TMI practice

So to expand on the retreat report another pearl of practical truth that seems to stand out is the fact that feeling the breath in the body is somewhat of a toss up and has a lot to do with unconscious process that one cannot control directly. On some days I was able to feel body breath sensations quite clearly and on other days there was a very mysterious muting of these sensations. One interesting pattern i've noticed is that during genuine, heartfelt metta practice, often body breath sensations are readily discernible even though they are not the object of attention. There was a metta recently where I ended up in a jhana with full body breath sensations. 

A common theme lately has been an emphasis on metta and pleasure. I mainly just start in open awareness, taking care to really enjoy and savor breathing in a natural and effortless manner. This brings pleasure that has an excited, almost contracting mental sensation along with warm, pleasant spinal sensations. These are usually somewhat subtle but very soothing. I've been gently resting attention on these sensations along with a general sense of the breath as a sort of combined object, and allowing the pleasure in the spine to move outward to limbs. This primes the mind for metta. For the metta, I've been doing whatever phrases feel right, usually "may I be happy", "may she be peaceful", "may he be joyfully at ease", "may you love", but just sticking with the feeling more than anything and not really worrying about the phrases all to much or if I skip one. Sometimes there's fireworks and sometimes not, but the after effects of the practice have left me in a distinctly non-dual mindset. The samatha is strong lately.  

Also in daily dealings I'm using the pleasure goggles practice described in one of my earlier posts to good effect. 

As always, open to suggestions and advice. 

RE: SigmaTropic
Answer
9/7/17 8:07 AM as a reply to SigmaTropic.
Metta/Samatha thoughts/update

Sitting practice:

Starting with open awareness, then finding a groove with the breath cycle by letting it flow freely, linking up pleasant spinal piti with breath cycle, encouraging it to spread and grow to limbs. At this point i've been getting very choppy detailed breath pulses at the nose, which I've been lingering on for a bit, finding the pleasant aspects of this sensation and allowing it to spread. The focus lately hasn't been very rigid, but I'm kind of exploring whatever senations are interesting and pleasant, with a general mindful awareness of where my attention is focused and generally defining a scope of attention as Culadasa emphasizes heavily. 

After some of this I've been moving into metta, which has been pretty vanilla lately but I had a bit of a breakthrough the last couple days with wrapping up the session imagining the metta energy radiating off of me in clearly defined quadrants, one at a time, until I radiate metta energy in all directions to the universe. This sort of thing is commonly suggested, and it has left me quite high during and after. 

Taking metta to the street walking to work and back, where I hold a a general sense of radiating metta energy, and when I pass people imagining them being very happy and joyful, or somehow transmitting my joyful mindset to them. 

I haven't had as much time for sitting lately, mostly limited to 45 minutes in the morning, so just trying to focus on the metta for the time being.