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DB's Log
9/22/17 1:24 PM
I'm in my early 50's and have started sitting regularly following TMI and MCTB with a bit of Shinzen thrown into the mix.  Mostly doing two 1 hour sits per day but on a busy day I may only do one sit.  I am trying to get in as much Shinzen See-Hear-Feel noting as I can during the day.    Retreats are not in the cards for the foreseeable future.

My history is a bit convoluted as befits someone of my age.  The first phase was the entheogenic phase in my mid teens.  Two important milestones to note.  The first was a very powerful experience that all of the cool kids at the time refered to as ego death - complete dissolution of I.  Afterwards it was pretty clear it lasted for at least an hour (enough time for it to pass from day to night out in the middle of the desert); in the moment it was timeless.  I could go on and on about it (it was answer to every question and it was so frickin obvious!) but I wouldn't be talking about "it", I'd be talking about the imprint "it" left on "me" - which is somewhat beside the point.  Second milestone was an experience a few months later that didn't go so well.  This time I was trapped in a dorm room with some friends that wanted to watch cartoons while under the influence.  I wanted to dissolve but Elmer Fudd had other ideas...   It's somewhat hysterical in retrospect but it was deeply unsettling and I wound not completely sure if I was still high or not.

This triggers second phase.  I spent at least 2-3 years utterly unsure about what was normal.  For example, I'd see some flashing lights in my peripheral vision and freak out thinking "oh my god I'm still high!".  Not fun.  Part of what got me thorugh the second freak out phase was ready access to a low level bliss state (weird huh?)  The initial trigger was listening to music (for the uninitiated, Eno/Budd Plateaux of Mirror is not music it is a sacrement) and I wound up in a really intense bliss state.  Subsequently, that intense bliss state was really elusive (maybe two other times in my life) but a lower level was super easy to access by just sitting. I did a lot of that for a couple of years, just go outside at dusk for a couple of hours and watch the sun go down.  Then one day, poof!  The door closed.

That phase three which was initially quite difficult but is now the rest of my life.  It's pretty awesome.  The first insight I got through sitting meditiation is that I've been practicing slowly and deliberately for 30 years (mostly morality practice to be sure).  I watch my dad take his last breath, and I spend 12-18 months meditating on death.  I get a dog and I realize house training is hard and frustrating so I practice loving her (it's not hard she is incredibly cute).  Maybe it sounds trivial.  Maybe it IS trivial.  The net effect is that most of the time I'm kind of blissed out (same as when I was 16-17?  did the door reopen? couldn't tell you) but I have fundamental suffering.  Lucky contact with pragmatic dharma in the guise of DhO and TMI has given that it might be possible to finish the path.  

Basic structure of sits is that I am using breath at the tip of the nostrils as the primary meditation object.  Concentration seems to be pretty good ; generally very vivid senstations on the inbreath (the cool air helps) and between breaths but more subtle sensations on the outbreath.  As per Daniel's recommendation in MCTB I am usually explicit about what I am going to do for a sit.  At the high level I'll decide If I am having a concentration-centric sit or an insight-centric sit and then likely make a more concrete goal (e.g. do a concentration sit, awareness initially on the breath then exercise moving awareness around having it come back to rest on the breath).  In reality a sit will usually be less structured than I make it sound.  Concentration sits usually stick to the script (concentration is good and getting better) while insight sits just are their own beast (note tingling in the tip of my nose, try see 3C's; wait, was that vibrations or just tingling in my nose?).  Off cushion noting is very much a work in progress (e.g. walking meditation with dog, note steps "feel", dog stops to sniff the pee mail I get annoyed, note that ...)  

RE: DB's Log
9/23/17 7:44 AM as a reply to David Blair.
Concentration sit with goal of trying to achieve 1st jhana.  A bit chatty since I want to establish a baseline, then I can just describe relevant changes in the future.

Started on breath on nostrils as primary meditation object (attention).  Doing what shargrol refered to as one breath in a post - in, between, out, between, reboot.  Performing periodic checking in on awareness (during in breath since it is so easy to get attention back on the in breath post checkin).  Playing around with different levels of intent of attention on breath (intense focus vs. letting it drift into something apporaching peripheral awareness).  Latter two both TMI techniques. Peripheral awareness mostly nada sound, dog snoring, swirling colors behind eyelids, growing sense of light as sun comes up.  Definitely verbal mental chatter of commentary, analysis and planning - from what I could tell almost entirely on the subject of the sit itself.  Occasionally aware of my inner CD player playing stuff (e.g. Stormy Weather - been working on these changes on guitar) - always funny to note that part of the unconsious mind is apparently a party that never stops.  Totally on script at this point.

Transition to attempt TMI stage 6 technique of body breathing. Gradually move attention to cover torso and arms feeling sensation of
clothing moving on the breath.  Some sense that fits the prana description in hands and arms.  Attempt to access pleasure jhana following TMI.  Find something pleasurable to focus on. Wait, what the heck is pleasure anyway?  I feel relaxed, good, aware...  Nope, I don't even understand what pleasure is.  Oh yeah, Culadassa says try smiling.  I do that and get a little flush of sensation in my face, it rises a bit and crests.  Meh.  Note dissatisfaction.  Somewhere around this point I realize that I'm tracking a lot of different stuff, I'm not really "on" any particular sensation.  I really don't have a clear sense of what "I" am doing.   Crap, have I become distracted?  Hmm... I guess the difference between investigating and wandering is whether you find anything useful along the way.  Noted.  When will you know whether you can let go of the effort of returning attention and have concentration be effortlesss? Good question.  Noted.

Reset back to one breath to stabilize attention.  Let's try to find pleasure again.  Turn on my internal party machine and let's play some tunes!  Sigur Ros Saeglopur.  Right after the 3:30 mark when it's total Godhead.  Pow!  Body explosion, tingling in every joint, emotional energy coursing outward.  Not unusual, what I experience when I listen to an actual CD, just turned up to 11.  Don't know what to do with it though.  I'll be a sobbing mess.  That's not  the important part.  The knot in my chest right below my sternum.  All this stuff seems to want to keep exploding out of me but it doesn't, it seems to get caught right there.  Sure enough, that's what suffering feels like today.

RE: DB's Log
9/23/17 8:15 AM as a reply to David Blair.
Nice! All I want to say is you are completely empowered to come up with a practice that works for you. Many of us have used many different approaches. When in doubt, just be facinated with what the mind does on it's own while gently staying "objective" about it. The mind is fascinating to watch and it has a way of leading us into an exploration of the knots that need to be untied. It will always be a mix of bliss and bittersweet purification feelings, with some tough spots along the way. But practice has a way of leading onward in an amazingly appropriate way, especially if you can stay good hearted about the whole thing -- not unlike training a very cute but untrained dog.

RE: DB's Log
9/25/17 7:57 AM as a reply to David Blair.
This is my baseline description of where I am at with insight sits.  Most of this is from a single 1 hour sit that was preceeded by a 30 minute iPhone LED Kasina work out: 4-5 iterations worth, stabilized the red dot (purple with the iphone) and then got it into nice rotating mode with the golden corona at which point the dot started to change shape a bit.

To paraphrase MCTB the goal here was to "bust some vibrations".  Lets be honest, at this point I have no idea what Daniel is talking about but here is what I've come up with so far.  This is representative of other recent insight sits.

mode 1:  Rhythmic stuttering to the breath maybe at 1 Hz.  The sensation is not restricted to the sensation of breath at the nostrils but sensed the throughout the abdomen as well - the whole apparatus of breathing.  In addition, much of the energy is in the head.  A feeling that creeps up the back of my skull towards the crown and the lurches forward into my temples and behind the eyes.  Throbbing like that at 1 Hz.  

mode 2: Just random low frequency chaos to breathing.  This is like the breath is being jerked around like riding on a bumpy road - 1-2 Hz on average maybe.  In this mode breathing can start to feel a bit difficult/labored.  Also lots of sensations of being bumped around inside the
head; head is probably moving sympathetically at times.

mode 3: way more subtle than the other two modes.  This is noticable to the nostrils but not so much other parts of breath and and is a highfrequency random sensation - 10+ Hz.  Not quite prickling or tingling, it a bit duller.  It is spatially distributed too, not like discernable sensation at a particular point that is oscillating rather lots of individual sensations in a 1mm square type of thing.  It interacts with but seems somewhat independent of the sensations of the in and out breath e.g. the coolness of the in breath flits around with the background buzz but it is much more solid by comparison. It has rough correlates with visual flow behind the eyelids, pressure sensations inside the head and nada
sound.  On a related note, in a sit a week or so ago, I had the "stuff crawling on my face" thing happen and I was able to focus on one instance of that and it was definitely a buzzing at 10+ Hz as well.

RE: DB's Log
9/27/17 2:12 PM as a reply to David Blair.
Had a repeat of an interesting experience during an insight sit so I decide to jot down what happened (I am obviously in an enthusiastic puppy dog phase of practice).  I was just doing some noting with the breath and pretty early in my sit I started feeling some pain my back and decide to explore that instead.  Was hoping I could sense some vibrations in the pain, found maybe some low frequency stuff but basically no joy.  Then something got me to look for some no-self there.  Looking made me realize that the pain was indeed really separate from me and I no longer had a strong sense of my body; the pain was "out there" somewhere and I was looking at it.  I turned back to the breath and the same was true ; there were breath sensations but no nostril to speak of, just disembodied coolness etc off in space that I could dial into. Attention was almost effort less, it was like walking around in a library of sensations, just casually picking a book of the shelf and leafing through it.  The other interesting part is that external (e.g. the hum of the A/C) and internal (e.g. nada sound) sensations were on equal footing on the not-me front. Pretty nifty.

Decided to look for some vibrations with the breath - still no joy.  I was pretty content to just keep exploring; not a bliss state but decidedly pleasant.  Last idea was that if all of these other sensations were decoupled, then what about the sensations that were the "me" in the library?  Shouldn't they just be another book on the shelf? Concentrating on this I felt a kind of pulling away of something elastic from my head and then...  pffft not quite sure anything changed.  Maybe a little darker, maybe a little quieter mind, a bit more spaciousness?  I was starting to investigate and then my wife turned on the lights in the next room for a minute and concentration broke.  I was still partially in the state of mind but decided to cut the sit short a bit.  Still no vibrations for me but the consolation prize was a shiny new mind-toy to play with! 

RE: DB's Log
10/4/17 1:32 PM as a reply to David Blair.
9/27 - 10/3

Continuing with two 45 minute to 1 hour sits per day with some bonus time on weekend. Insight sits now include common periods of fluttering/strobing on the breath.  I've given up the coy "could be vibrations" act; they seem legit in my book so let's call 'em vibrations.  Part of the game here is that in certain parts of perception (visual noise, pressure/tension flow in the head, etc) vibrations are a really familiar sensation.  I spent a lot of my life learning to ignore/paper over them because I found them disorienting (and at times frankly terrifying).  Being able to get sufficiently concentrated on the breath that I could notice the fluttering there without it also interacting with visual noise etc. seemed necessary to me for some reason.  That said, it is MUCH easier for me to experience high frequency moments of perception in visual field or even easier bouncing between e.g. breath and visual field and ...  Much to explore here (effort vs. dullness yadda yadda)

Which leads me to the second thing which is that my classification of sitting as being concentration vs. insight is seeming a little brittle.  If I start out with the intent to do concentration at some point I'll start to get vibrations on the breath or I'll notice that my concentration on the breath is incomplete and is actually fluctuating rapidly between the breath and visual field.  If I start with the intent of doing insight then at some point a wave will pass over me and I realize I'm in some concentration state.  I seem to be able to get back on track generally for example by pulling back my attention a bit to re-solidify the breath and then resume concentration (easier) or trying to get vibrations on the sense of the concentration state (harder).

Random stuff :

I've had moments where noting is easier and doesn't seem as unnatural (most recently being able to label and note attention pretty rapid bouncing around between breath, visual, etc).  

Next up on the coy front is jhanas.  There seem to be four repeatable concentrations state that I can experience.  They have jhana-ish characteristics : central focus, more open focus with motion (particularly visual), peripheral focus and 3d spatial awareness (the "library" from a previous post).  The trick is that none of these are particularly blissy by my standards.  In fact #3 peripheral awareness is sort of annoying (quite a bit of tension related to the periphery).  As someone posted recently, no joy = no jhana and who am I to argue?  Maybe I should practice ramping up the rapture a bit but it doesn't seem important.  

Intention.  Seems really important.  It's the good child (effort being it's evil sibling).  But what the hell is it?  How do I cultivate it?  Most importantly, how do I sense/observe it?  Do unconscious acts flow from intention (e.g. breathing)?  Culadassa makes a lot of the intention to focus as the key to concentration but leave intention unexplored : the koan embedded in TMI?  I intend to spend more time investigating this in the upcoming weeks emoticon

RE: DB's Log
10/13/17 7:54 AM as a reply to David Blair.
Notes 10/4-10/13

Summary:  Some kind of change this week.  Finding concentration more challenging (dullness).  Started to notice some aversion to sitting at middle of  week (hmm... "it's pretty late, maybe I can just do a short sit...") : better now.  Watched some of Ken Folk's noting videos and they seemed to have helped my off cushion noting.  I think there is progress penetrating visual objects off cushion.  In particular, at night even static scenes can start to flutter mostly around the edges.  Trying to improve noting mind states and thoughts. Last 3 or 4 days have noticed that I am waking up in a very vibratory state - whole body flickering in a way that maybe I hit once on cushion.  Seeing suffering for sure, impermance I suppose, no-self not so much.

Sit Specific Notes:

planned one hour sit with two 30 minute chunks : concentration then insight.  First 30 minutes on breath. At some point started feeling dullness with significant pressure/tension in temples, crown of skull, behind eyes.  Deep violent aversion to it. Stress in the chest, feeling hot, mild nausea.  Fighting to stay on the breath till the 30 minute timer goes off, suffering like a mofo the whole time.  Reset timer for another 30 minutes with intent to drop the breath if needed and move to noting the head sensations.  Nastiness is still in full force and spreads out eventually taking over most of my head.  Pretty hellish, feeling like I want some kind of psychic head explosion (note to self: great name for a band); some dramatic resolution. Eventually start to clue into some strobing/vibrations in the pressure and there is some relief.  Over a couple of minutes most of it washes away leaving a warm glowing vibe, dullness gone, clear awareness.  Still some minor tension in a few spots but attending to couple (not all) of them seems to slough them off.  Coast in to the final timer.

Toned down the concentration effort for next sit.  By identifying areas of tension early and looking at  them seemed to keep it all in check.  At some point got in to a rapid fire noting mode spraying attention at visual noise, tension sensations and verbal chatter.
Noticed a knot of tension in the right side of the back of my neck that seemed sort of opaque and attempts to investigate generated low grade aversion: like attention was bouncing off some protective shield around it.  Tried to summon intention to investigate, attention drifted to the
abdomen and I got these wild physical contractions below the navel that felt like they released a bunch of "energy" up my spinal column and into my head. Blissy rush up through face with whiteness in visual field.  Noted and back
to the knot.  Got through the opaqueness and aversion to establish attention on it;  remaining on it for a few minutes seemed to clear it up a bit. Timer went off; time for work.  Definitely some residual tension in the back of the head.

Short 30 minute sit with goal to investigate not-self : just let stuff come up on its own and try to observe how it ain't me. Got into the zone quickly, breath dropped away as focus and attention was mostly visual field and head sensations.  Started to notice thoughts and noted without labels in an attempt to disembed those a bit. Drifted down into a deep state with almost no commentary.  Very hard to describe due to the lack of reflection.  Occasionally I'd come back to the surface a bit and it wasn't clear whether I had drifted off into story land or dullness (which would be Bad Practice); there was a vague sense of residual "thickness" that seemed worrisome.  I'd just note the doubts and dive back
down. At some point got a more serious jolt of popping back to surface and then timer went off soon after.  Left with a really nice feeling of clarity and immediacy. Very little residual tension in the head.  Took me a while to get to sleep but very enjoyable state.  

Next morning sit was OK, more choiceless awareness practice.  First half was good, lots of disembedded vibratory sensations with increased sense of causality : less a feeling of bouncing between different sensations and more of a coherent flow (breath connecting to visual connecting to pressure ...).  Second half not so great, commentary got the better part of me.  Perhaps overconfident on the effortlessness front. Still feeling pretty clear off-cushion.

Evening sit was useless: after about 15 minutes, creeping dullness eventually fading to sleepiness.  Eject around 30 minute mark.

One hour concentration sit decided to count breaths 1-10 reset to 1, reset to 1 when you get lost (got this from KF).  This helped to avoid dullness.  Say 15-20 minutes of this is pretty doable without losing where I am then it starts to get harder and I find losing where I am starts to happen (don't think I am losing the breath just the counter).  The act of counting seems to have some other effect on mental state and feels like it may keep one from going "deeper" (or maybe what I think of as deep is just dullness: ouch!).  At one point I let go of the counting and it did seem like I dropped into what I call my "2nd jhana state" but a bit harder more pleasant than I've ever experienced.  Whole body breathing in this state was pretty awesome.  Lost it and went back to counting though.

RE: DB's Log
10/13/17 8:07 AM as a reply to David Blair.
Philosophical aside:

When noting vibrations in the breath sometimes it feels that every vibration (not just start of in or out breath) is initiated by a moment of suffering - more specifically a sense of suffocating.  This makes sense physically, we breathe in to satisfy a craving for oxygen and and we breathe out to avoid aversion to excess carbon dioxide.  For a more specific and somewhat speculative take, see Scott Alexander's recent reviews of MTCB and Surfing Uncertainty : body has priors for correct amount of O2 and CO2, deviations from priors arising from metabolism generate prediction errors that trigger respiration response.  The prediction error is sensed as a feeling of dukkha.  On a related note, during a sit a while back I decided to move my hands and I did so very slowly and mindfully.  From what I could tell, the motion of the hands was preceeded by mental sense of the hand being in a new position.  This is a very Surfing Uncertainty idea according to SSC.  I'm not sure this is part of sensing intention; at the time I thought so.  Infinite regress alert: what causes the mental sense of the hand being in a new position?  I assume its dependent origination to the rescue.

RE: DB's Log
10/20/17 8:18 AM as a reply to David Blair.

Seem to have gotten a handle on dullness for the moment. Sticking with two sits per day.  No major insights, it feels like I am revisiting territory but maybe noticing some new nuances along the way. Wondering if this boils down to experiencing the map/nanas.  Self/No-self is mocking me and my effort.  Doing a good amount of noting off cusion (driving in particular) but started labeling verbally.  This keeps me on task; still baby steps with this practice.


Refined my counting the breath technique.  Instead of tracking a number visually, on the in breath I attach some attention to one of my fingers in sequence; index to pinky then thumb, right hand first then left hand. This is kind of a sweet spot where I can stay mostly on breath with a
 little extra work to do that keeps me from dullness.  Most of the time breath really slows down, so I timed it a one point about 5 minutes for 10 breaths.

Sit:  Totally fucking annoying sit, an hour of my life wasted.  Concentration, yeah.  Vibrations yeah. No self in the breath?  Just notice how it happens on it own? Bullshit.  Just watch me control my breath; holding it just like a two year old.  Yeah I know,  at some point I want to start breathing again; big fucking deal I learned that when I was two.  Another thing, some weird ass shit starts happening in my head, if I turn my attention to it to investigate the 3 fucking Cs IT FUCKING GOES AWAY!  Under "my" control, get it?   In the middle of being pissed off about all this, some orgasmic body electricity thing happens.  But THAT arises and passes away when I'd like it to stick around for a while.  Did I mention fucking annoying?  In a really good mood afterward, found the whole thing hysterically funny.

Sit:  1 hour sit exploring interaction between narrowness of focus and vibrations in breath.  When trying to keep constant attention on the breath sensations at the tip of the nose it becomes clear just how poor my concentration is.  Attention is drawn fleetingly to all manner of distractions: visual noise, feeling of breath at the middle of the nose, nada sound.  So much so that vibrations at the tip of the nose are inseparable from other vibrating phenomenon (particularly visual noise) - thought I'd settled that a couple of weeks back not so clear now.  Drop into a mind state (basically what I call jhana four) with lots of stuff disembeded; basically body is gone.  Concept of effort keeping one-pointed attention is irrelevant.  New sense of breath at the tip of the nose.  There is no nose, so it is simply occuring in a specific 
region in space but it's like a cloud, it gradually forms, drifts a bit and gradually dissipates. Changing constantly yes but vibrating is too harsh a word.  The vibration is really in space itself and breath cloud vibrates sympathetically.  Visual field presents in a similar way.  Can't quite recall if breath and visual were still intertwined, think they were separate but background coupled. 

Sit: Counting breath to 10 for 3 rounds, stop counting almost immediate drop into jhana 2.  Concentrate on visual field quick transition to 3 then almost immediate to 4.  Misty sensations on background of rapid vibrations.  Got impermance and lots of disembeddedness.   Where is suffering, this is pretty nice.  Start thinking a bit and disembed thoughts into a lava lamp like thing; thoughts are just globules of stuff that form, eventually pinch off and slowly float away (usually "up").  Notice a big block of tension between rib cage and abdomen. Somewhat impenetrable but not much aversion.  Is this what people refer to as heart chakra?  Thinking : "nice insight champ, you're work here is done, let's cut this sit short".  Suffering!  Investigate this till timer.

Sit: Stuck in jhana 3.  Investigate the state.  In particular the head pressure more or less in a ring around the face.  Vibrating but nothing remarkable.  Sensations are slow and clingy (thought globules there but really resist pinching off).  Tried to be open to the sense of being
stuck/unsatisfied, couldn't penetrate that.  30 minute timer then on to freeform noting for another 30.  Got pretty quick with noticing, past ability to label accurately, just being whacked around. Transitioned into a crazy body jerking state,left arm twitching, evenutally with some oscillations comprising abdomen/dantian spasm flowing up through spine and crown of head.  Noting the whole way through.  Eventually stuff just stopped, left in a peaceful warm state.  Noted through this for a few minutes till timer.    

RE: DB's Log
10/27/17 2:11 PM as a reply to David Blair.

Summary:  Mostly two 60 minute sits per day but a bit more variance (longer and shorter) than usual.  Body movements, tension etc. not presenting much this week.  What was unpleasant head throbbing a month ago can now present as energy cycling - woo woo. On the insight front, maybe some legit no-self experiences and cutting into the boundaries between senses.   Wallowing in a progress narrative though; am I practicing the right things?  am I practicing things right? am I getting better/purified/unified?  am I a complete poseur?   Ran across this old post distinguishing use of breath for insight and concentration From that perspective no wonder I can't get within a country mile of a concentration jhana, I'm not even trying.

Sit:  First 60 minutes, tried body breathing but it felt artificial/forced so I transitioned to negative body breathing : observe the body not breathing or doing anything.  Now the exceptions start to pop up : feeling clothing rubbing against body etc.  Stuck with this for a while and established good clear full body awareness. 60-90 minutes in transitioned to exploring the vibrating background.  Started with the sense of visual noise/color and head feelings flowing while simultaneously vibrating sympathetically with background.  Developed this so that feel sensations in more of my body became part of the swirling stuff.   Sense of being inside of a somewhat undifferentiated flow of <insert new age term here>.

Sit: Started with counting breath, transition to whole body awareness then the swirling color sense mode started happening again. Merged background sound of HVAC into the swirl then suddenly it subsumed everything.  Felt "me" sort of smeared in a bunch of different directions at once.  Fear response and I quickly popped out of it. Reestablishing concentration, I could get back in to a shallow version of the state but could feel aversion to it and I'd pop back out.  Iterated this a few times.  Cut sit short to walk a bit, feeling like I need to recharge.

Sit: Approached cautiously with residual fear.  Got into a shallow state of the swirl and it transformed into wonderful sensation of vibrations in body with cycling of sensation up through spine and head.  Sent metta to family members who need it (I don't practice metta - this just seemed right) which leads to cresting and subsiding of pleasant body sensations.  Fell into a state of equanimity in which meditation was doing itself.  Suffused with a pleasant sense that I'm not in control and just along for the ride.  Oddly, decided that the right thing is to cut sit short at about 45 minutes (since I'm just along for the ride who am I to argue?). Urge to go tell wife how awesome this was (temptation resisted :-)

Sit: Reestablished energy cycles up spine through head and around but not terribly intense and lacking most of the body tingling/vibrations.  Tended to land in equanimity and hang out there.  Tried to find still point, spent time with breath. Vibrations were almost entirely the pervasive high frequency ones of space/background.  Still somewhat selfy. Noticed the desire to cut sit short and examined. Very clear sense of unsatisfactoriness of self and effort: rapture flows through me and leaves.  Definite clinging to the idea that I am on the cusp of something.

Sit: Just 45 minutes of one breath concentration.  Fine can still do this. The actual physical sense of the out breath at the tip of the nose can definitely disappear and I fall into awareness of the mental object of the outbreath instead. Attention always there at the start of and throughout the in breath.

Sit: Tried to find still point then wheels come off, narrating mind takes over and just wanders.  Nothing coherent, just blather. Mostly, a thought happens but then I can't even remember what the thought was : like the waking sense of a dream as it is almost done fading away.  Seeing cause and effect well beyond my reach.  Try to note the thoughts, the effort, the dissatisfaction and the frustration. 

Sit: 30 minutes doing one breath with eyes open.  Interesting variation on sitting with eyes closed :  can easily sense attention flicker between the breath to visual field and then back.  Next 30 minutes with eyes closed, devolved into choiceless awareness mayhem with rapid noting using mostly undifferentiated "dit" label.

Sit: 30 minutes at night waiting for son at soccer practice.  Sat in car looking at a wall of beige 6x6 cement blocks letting focus drift in and out.  Blocks would merge together and split back apart.  Blobs of color from visual noise superimposed on wall and were enhanced by ambient lighting of headlights/tailights of passing cars.  A bit of a pointless holiday from progress, but it was gorgeous.  

RE: DB's Log
11/3/17 6:13 PM as a reply to David Blair.

Summary:  Confusion, bitterness, doubt and a little bit of just not giving a shit.  Generally 2 1 hour sits per day.  TMI stuff falling by wayside a bit this week.  On cushion dynamics of effort/no-effort figure prominently.  "best/rewarding" results when I'm feeling hopeless, defeated, exhausted. "worst/unrewarding" results when I'm feeling same. A new and glorious mind state experienced (maybe not new, I think it's similar to the stuff I used to get as a teenager but lost).  MTCB maps make little sense, on the one hand feel I don't even have mind/body (it's all mind duh!) but then different kinds of raptures pop up suggesting other points on the map.  Mind states aren't jhanic yadda, yadda.  Off cushion things are all good.  Mostly noting practice switching between verbal and non-verbal (still way more on-task with verbal).  A great DhO thread has me looking at my off-cushion stories and seeing some craving/attachment more clearly (family and progress narratives).

Sit: Fell into a state in which mental chatter/thinking was unusually clear and disembeded.  Started out hearing something like an airplane and then clearly sensing the labeling/identification of the sound. Made a conscious decision to let thoughts get fully formed (as opposed to trying to nip them in the bud by noting as soon as possible). Transformed into watching my commentary about how it was really novel that thinking was disembeded in this way, how powerful to be able to watch thoughts but still maintain awareness; that kind of stuff.  Did this for full hour noticing short periods when thoughts got re-embedded and then watch them disembed again. Could feel low level dissatisfaction and effort in maintaining distance from thoughts needed to watch them as well as aversion to idea of letting that effort go (the bogeyman of dullness is right around the corner ya know).

Sit: 60 minute sit late night on little sleep.  Surprisingly didn't have to fight dullness but wound up in "edge of the donut state" with crappy sensation frosting.  No luck penetrating this particular confection.

Sit: Started out feeling a bit broken.  The will to investigate vibrations or the 3Cs is gone.  The will to worry about being lost in stories is gone.  Stuff happens.  Then it doesn't.  Then it happens again. Still no urge to dig into it, label it, analyze it.  It's just stuff ; that's it.  Eventually becomes clear that most of this stuff that is happening is better than a sharp stick in the eye.  A story.

Sit: Yup, back on the treadmill of effort and progress.  Investigate sense of being on the treadmill.  Lather, rinse, repeat for 60 minutes.

Sit: Concentration on solid breath.  Body scanning followed up by concentration on whole body.  Eventually get a soft rising of illumination and pleasure, sticks around for a few 10s of seconds and then fades.  Another few 10s of seconds pass then the rising repeats. Slow oscillations like this rest of sit.

Sit:  Effort and will gone.  Nothing remarkable.  No knowledge. No illumination. No body bliss.  No concentration.  No quiet mind.  No craving.  No aversion. I feel perfect but with no attachment to that perfection. Not really meditating at this point, I open my eyes not caring whether this changes anything.  It just feels like there is nothing left to do.  I am home.   A mind state to be sure but an unusual sense of finality.  EDIT: Have it the rest of the night, still have it next morning but it does fade eventually.

Sit: 90 minutes at late night. Half of the time in sensation swirl/flow mode examining boundary of part of/not part of the flow (e.g. right half of my body a flowing river of sensation/left half solid).   At some point become aware of thoughts racing around like crazy then they take over. Totally incoherent, seemingly content-free, I do remember Taiwan coming up.  What the heck does Taiwan have to do with anything?  To a skillful practice probably a great display of the 3Cs : blipping in and out like a mofo, totally uncontrollable and decidedly unsatisfying.  Probably a great opportunity to see cause and effect in the chaos.  Not me, grabbed my crutch and just noted my way through as best as I could dit, dit, ...

RE: DB's Log
11/10/17 7:39 PM as a reply to David Blair.

Summary:  Still 2 1 hour sits per day (think I snagged 3 hours on Sunday).  More of the same on-cushion, but noted a decrease in enthusiasm for sitting as week went on.  I'm thinking I need to amp up noting on-cushion.  Most interesting thing is that off-cushion is improving: easier noting and accessing more "meditative" states.  First half of week had dreams with lights and flashes; one dream I exploded in big ball of light and woke up.  Basically a caricature of A&P stuff; not making anything of it since nothing has really changed.  Second half of week, waking up in a disembeded state watching "not wanting to get out of bed" happening.

Sit: 60 minutes trying to note mood a la Kenneth Folk.  Start out with the escape valve of "uncertain".  Eventually notice I've been noting uncertain for quite a while : "frustrated".  Cool, I get the hang of this : "hopeful".  This is a bit silly, I am just thinking myself into different moods: "doubtful".  Transition back to "uncertain" or something like that.  And so it goes for an hour.  Interesting to observe the causality between thought and mood. But also a little strange how much the noting itself was an actor in the play; I always thought it was "don't note the noting".  Feeling uncertain (not the escape valve version :-)

Sit: 60 minutes.  Started out noting breath, got to the vibrations in the breath that end with a little "pop".  Let this go for a bit trying to focus on the tip of the nose and ignore that the other visual and feel sensations that the pop comprised.  Eventually just let myself experience the full synchronized pop which pretty quickly transitioned to swirl/flow mode : mostly localized to head area.  Enjoyed the feeling of equanimity for a bit then started to investigate equanimity itself.  Settled in on the feeling of relaxation in the body and then body vibrations appeared.  Different from the past, not superfine tingling or slow/random jerky stuff; a gentle pulsing at a medium frequency.  Stayed with this till timer.

Sit:  60 minutes on breath at tip of nose intent to attend to only what is a sensation of air flow there.  Breathing shallow and mid tempo.  Occasionally dropping conceptual awareness of in and out, but keeping enough to realize that I can't sense anything at all on out-breath.  In-breath is wisps of coolness and flow, out breath is simply rest.  Sense of out breath appears to be coming largely from rising and falling in chest/abdomen but also a constant background sensation of <new age term> flowing outward.  The latter flowing outward during in breath as well.  Maybe even a little sense of dissonance arising from inwardness of air flow/outward-ness of <new age term> within the composite experience of the in-breath.

Sit: 60 minutes.  Went to the cushion (fess up: the bed to lie down) with a noteworthy lack of enthusiasm.  Surprise!  A few rounds of counting breath then quickly into a lovely clear state. Disembedded thoughts, noting effortless.  Noted swallowing; very selfy.  Investigate neck area and upper chest which start out really solid.  Very slow gentle disembedding proceeds.  Clarity increases even more, conceptual sense of body largely gone, things are starting to feel perfect.  Investigate this and notice tension in the body (arms in particular) which punctures tension and perfection.  Next up, sense of solid vantage point in head ("watcher"?); investigate and it dissolves into swirl/flow.  Greediness and expectation ensues, probably triggering some reembedding.  Nice sit.