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Lars' Practise Log
Answer
8/5/18 1:40 AM
Starting a practise journal, it seems preferable to asking questions or describing practise in other's threads. It's also been an interesting last few days and could use a little feedback and advice, and don't want to dump this long post somewhere inappropriate.

Quick Summary

Decades ago I practised a fair bit zen style (or whatever I thought was zen style) and hit what i'm guessing was A&P, which I mistakenly thought was "the big one". Crazy bliss, compassion and joy and all the rest for 4 days, followed by 15 years of popping in and out of dark night. Since I had no idea what was going on, wasn't exactly fun. Finally got back into practise a few months ago and hit A&P again using vipassana. Progress of noting went something like this:

1) Sensations are solid and constant
2) Sensations have a beginning and an end
3) Sensations have a beginning, middle and end
4) Sensations have a beginning, middle and end, each of which also contain a sub-beginning, middle and end.
5) Sensations break up into pulses/particles/vibrations
6) Sensation (rarely) ceases to be normally perceived and instead there is an almost repellent "screech" alternating with gaps (in the case of hearing)

I've essentially been on home retreat for the last few months (though i'll admit I didn't practise as much as I had time to). Read TMI, MCTB, Thanissaro Bhikku, Shinzen Young, etc. This time when I fell into DN again I had some idea what was going on. Figured out how to navigate it and made it to EQ, bouncing between low and high, had some help from some of the folks here.

Had some interesting sits where it felt like something was pushing its way up my spine and forcing my spine/neck/head into alignment, followed by strong energy and seeing light. Was able to get into 1st and 2nd jhana, occasionally what i'm guessing was 3rd. Average sits increased in duration from 15 minutes to an hour. A month or so ago I also realized more deeply that intentions etc arise fully formed, I don't create them consciously.

Recent Practise

A few nights ago I decided to play around with the "nada sound" or tinnitus or whatever it is. Instead of breaking it up in my right ear as usual (usually strongest in right ear, but now equalizing) I decided to alternate between left and right as quickly as I could. This worked surprisingly well and noting (no labels) quickly became unbearably fast. My body and mind started reacting with strong aversion to what was occurring and I started feeling what felt like a rubber band snapping against the middle of my brain from the back of the head, maybe 5-10 times a second. Then it started happening in my body as well, all my muscles were individually contracting and releasing multiple times a second, totally out of phase with each other. I was actually a little worried I was having a psychotic break/stroke etc, but I just settled into it and relaxed. It eventually started to subside with some residual muscular twitching.

Next night I tried again, and almost immediately it began again. Muscles began twitching randomly like crazy. I noticed a few tiny gaps occuring in the sensory stream, and then suddenly it felt like all the various muscle contractions were aligning and the vibration of it started noticeably syncing. It felt like an engine that was out of alignment suddenly started shaking itself back into sync and running perfectly. I felt this tremendous energy and very fast vibration just filling the entire body, way beyond what piti has ever felt like. It felt like the whole body/mind was humming and blissful. When I woke up this morning the body was already humming and in sync like it had been doing that all night.

Today I did another sit, feeling the humming and my fingers twitching within seconds. Then my face started twitching, constant vibration in my eyes, cheeks and forehead, like I was getting out of sync again. When sitting a second time a little while later I felt the physical vibrations sync up again within a couple minutes, but this time I distinctly heard the nada sound also sync up with it so that every sensation in my body and mind seemed absolutely harmonized and I can only describe it as "smooth" lol. The facial twitching didn't occur this time. A&P territory energy felt very rough (occasionally flowing), this feels very smooth.

Sat again later and as soon as I noticed that the bodily vibrations were slightly out of phase (and nada sound was wavering) they aligned again. All I need to do is relax and it happens on its own. Also just tried it while walking to the store for coffee filters, the syncing occurred and then I had a brief "gone" in mid step, which I wasn't expecting at all. When I finally went to bed to get some sleep, just as I got totally relaxed my face started twitching again, I lol'd.

Any suggestions on practise at this point would be appreciated, I don't want to make any assumptions about what this was or how to proceed. Thanks to everyone for their help so far.   emoticon

RE: Practise Log
Answer
11/27/17 9:13 PM as a reply to Lars.
Whatever this is seems to be deepening, woke up this morning with the body humming again. I noticed that even these synchronized and pleasant vibrations were very slightly "rough" and they started to fade. Now it quickly settles into a stillness i've never experienced before. The body/mind becomes incredibly still, even though there is breath and a heartbeat it feels like the body almost isn't there. Breath becomes very subtle and outbreaths take a long time, followed by what seems like a long gap before inbreath starts again. It seems like my only job at this point is to be aware, the less effort I use the deeper it gets.

Changed focus to mental activity and suddenly the face muscles started twitching very subtly again.

Sat again, body synced quickly but then started going out of sync again and "stuff" started forming. It didn't feel like muscular tension, or vibrations, but like a very vague fog in the chest. It eventually dissolved and I noticed that breathing was very subtle, both in and out breath and sometimes stopped for a few seconds before starting again. Then noticed that there was mild tension/pain in the neck and immediately it started relaxing and then dissolved. It feels like the body has changed in the last few days, like it just optimizes itself and automatically syncs anything that's dissonant, returning to stillness by itself because it likes it.   emoticon

Another sit, after being still for a while I noticed I was starting to think about this stuff intellectually, and dropped it. After sitting in the stillness again for a few minutes I began feeling a very strong piti-like energy, but one-pointed and located in the spine at about heart level. Usually I feel piti in the whole body, but this felt like all the usual energy was bundled up into a single point and it felt orgasmic, and lasted for a few minutes. It was almost too much. When I noticed that my breathing was being effected and there was a slight tension around my spine it faded.

Sat again later and after getting into stillness again the energy started bubbling at my feet and going up my spine in a thick current, but stopping at around the same point just above the heart. I focused on the nada sound and it started moving up into my head and got quite strong.

There seems to be more sensitivity to nerve tension in addition to muscles now. There's a nerve that got damaged in surgery a few years ago that's been painful ever since. After feeling some subtle tension there and really getting into it, it "clicked" a few times and then released and I felt strong pulses of pleasure from the nerve cluster for a few minutes (this was a few days ago and it hasn't come back). The area that felt oversensitive and "wrong" before just feels like normal flesh now.

More sits, the vibrations are getting more subtle as I keep syncing back to stillness again (though they were so heavy while lying in bed last night that it felt like my apartment building was shaking). Vibrations etc sync, stillness for a while, then some subtle vibrations or muscle tension starts again and I go through the cycle once more. My body seems to prefer the stillness and sometimes does the syncing thing when i'm thinking about something else. Usually the first vibrations that start interfering with the stillness on the way back out is in the heart/chest, or between the eyes. It feels like the heart has a vibration to it that's seperate from the physical sensations, and it is one of the last things to sync, and first to desync. It's also interesting that the feeling of heart and eye tension help to create a feeling of personal space or location.

Had two dreams on successive nights which were very similar and seemed to be making the same point. In both dreams there was a strong emotional response to something (in the first someone close to me died, in the second a black widow spider crawled across my abdomen). At the moment when the emotional response was strongest, I suddenly awoke and it was incredibly obvious that the strong emotional/physical reaction that I was feeling was based on something that wasn't actually occurring, that I was freaking out over fabricated drama. Watching the suffering drop to almost nothing after being caught up in fabricated drama only a moment before was interesting.

RE: Practise Log
Answer
1/7/18 4:26 PM as a reply to Lars.
Took a break for a while to integrate whatever the above was. Getting back into it has been relatively quick, 20 minute sit first day, 30 the next couple days, an hour the next, hour and a half the next etc. Access concentration happens almost immediately and the breath becomes calm and slow. Flowing piti and sukha become obvious within a couple minutes, eventually the piti fades and is replaced by a light humming through the whole body. Sometimes there are obvious nanas that I pass through relatively quickly, sometimes they pass so quickly I barely notice. Usually at this point my spine and neck straighten up on their own and there is white light at the crown, like there's a white fire burning on top of my head. Then this also fades somewhat and there's just a peaceful stillness in body and mind.

It's amusing though, the "narrator" still shows up sometimes, even when all other thoughts are largely gone. It's as if the narrator has admin priviliges, though the narrator has switched from a hero narrative to more of a commentator. When I notice something like a nana passing, or piti fading, it sometimes shows up to do a running commentary, and I don't always notice until it's already talking. Most other thoughts are recognized and fade before they even fully form.

I'm not currently trying to access any particular jhana or state, I just watch awareness itself. When reviewing the cessations that occured previously, awareness seems to be the most interesting aspect about it. At that moment there was no eye, ear or thinking etc consciousness, only "black". But for there to be even an awareness of that, awareness must have still been present. If awareness was still present with no object to make contact with then it can't be dependently originated. If it's not dependently originated then it shares the same characteristic as nibbana. It's hard not to infer that awareness itself is nibbana. However this also causes me to wonder why there was awareness of "black", but when in a deep state of sleep or under anesthesia there's not even that, instead you're only aware afterwards that you were unaware during that time. I'll just keep sitting with "awareness of awareness" and see what happens, I know this is about direct experience, not trying to figure it out intellectually.

Update: Did another sit, this time the light humming in the body I mentioned before became much thicker and intense (it felt like someone duct taped a big vibrator to the back of my chair lol). I suspect the strong vibrations from last month are coming back now that i'm practising again. Should be interesting.   emoticon

Update2: Yes, it's back. Went to bed last night and almost immediately the face vibrations from last month started. Did the "syncing thing" and the body became still again. It's interesting that stopping practise for a month either caused the vibrations to go away, or caused me to be unable to recognize them. A few days of practise again, and *bam* vibrations in the face lol.

RE: Practise Log
Answer
1/10/18 1:00 AM as a reply to Lars.
Sat for about 3 hours yesterday, one sit being 1.5 hours long and got very deep. I dropped into what felt like 4.5 jhana, some odd mix of 4 and 5 (I can only guess about the 5 part since this is my first taste of anything resembling formless jhanas, with the exception of some OOBE etc in my youth).

I started by making a resolution to enter the 5th during that sit, and to then be able to exit it easily and comfortably when I wished to do so. I'd tried before (without resolution), but had no success. This time the sit went as usual, eventually reaching a soft 4th. I tried to tune into the spaceousness of it, but it didn't make much difference. I got distracted in thought for a few moments, and then I noticed it was suddenly more wide. After getting distracted noticing that it again got more wide until I suddenly found myself floating in what felt like a huge grey-ish sphere that I couldn't see the boundaries of (though there was a vague sense there was a boundary out there beyond what I could see, in a way it felt like I was floating in a giant holodeck so big I couldn't see the edge). What was odd was that there was "stuff" in there, i'd expected the 5th to be a completely empty space. There were what looked like pebbles and rocks suspended in the space, and at one point some reaaaaally odd little "creature" came flying up to me, made a gesture and then flew away. Its body made no sense, and was made of what seemed like random objects that weren't connected (including what looked like a slice of an orange lol). The visual aspect was both very clear and vague. It was very stable and detailed, but looked a little like watching a high resolution movie with a little vaseline smeared on the screen (colors were also very washed out). Eventually I got distracted by the "oh wow, this is crazy" type narration and the session ended soon after.

At one point I checked in with the body to see if it was truly formless, and I had barely any sense of the body, though I could hear the sound of traffic (it's always very loud, I live in a big city on a major street), but it was like I was wearing earmuffs and the sound was muted and far away. So, I don't think this was a "real" 5th jhana, but some odd mix of the spaceousness of 5th combined with the clear visual aspects that can sometimes occur in 4th. Instead of fractal 2d/2.5d shapes, this time it was 3d within a large space.

The relationship between intent and letting go is becoming a little more clear. I used to have a more binary view of it, ie - you either need to strongly intend something, or recognize agencylessness and let go completely. Now it seems more profitable to define an intention, and then also let go of it, allowing it to either happen or not without attachment/aversion to either result.

Was speaking with someone else here last night and they mentioned "action potential", had no idea what that was. Did some reading on axons and action potential etc and it really blew my mind lol.



If you change "stimulus" to "contact" it looks a lot like the arising and passing away of phenomenon. With no contact (or too low an action potential) there is no arising and passing away (depolarization, repolarization), just the resting state. If you look at the "refresh rate" that different types of neurons and muscle fibres are capable of, it looks a lot like the number of cycles per second that can be seen during a concentrated vipassana session. Perhaps keeping action potential below the threshold required to fire neurons etc (so it remains perpetually in rest state) is nibbana from a physiological perspective? Yeah yeah, speculation.   emoticon

RE: Practise Log
Answer
1/10/18 11:16 PM as a reply to Lars.
While sitting today I very clearly saw an instance of a thought being conditioned by a prior thought, which then led to another thought conditioned by the last, which led to a conditioned physical sensation reacting to the thought, etc etc. Even as I was being very mindful of it, it just kept happening as a chain of events. I stopped counting at about 20 when it was obvious it just keeps going like that, and always has. Of course it's also conditioned by sensations which occured previously even minutes/hours/days/years before in some tangled temporal mess.

I noticed a while back that we don't create intentions etc, they just happen like other sensations do, but seeing them condition each other like that in sequence was like seeing agencylessness from a different angle. In a very real way this is essentially karma without the mystical aspect that's usually attributed to it. All of the sensations we experience from moment to moment (both physical and mental) are conditioned by our past sensations (which again includes both physical and mental). Intention in particular is more important than i'd realized, it's not just physical actions which have that cause and effect process, intentions directly shape the sensations we experience on multiple time scales. Karma with no judge, or judged required.

RE: Practise Log
Answer
1/10/18 11:15 PM as a reply to Lars.
How does the nature of whatever exists change as that meaningless process of mental activity and frabrication plays out? 

RE: Practise Log
Answer
1/11/18 1:41 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
How does the nature of whatever exists change as that meaningless process of mental activity and frabrication plays out? 


The underlying nature doesn't change, but one meaningless process colors another meaningless process like an object with wet paint on it leaving a smudge on anything it contacts, and the contacted object also leaves a smudge on the one that contacted it. It's an impersonal process, but I hadn't seen before how deep that conditioning process really is. It functions on many more "layers" and timescales than i'd realized.

Many texts describe the enlightened as being "beyond karma", if there's no self to take ownership of the sensations which are the result of this conditioning process (and i'm not saying this is the only form of karma), then the process doesn't cause the suffering which would usually help to fuel the process. The body/mind is still subject to and aware of the process but there's no clinging/aversion to the content of that process. I would imagine that over time the sensory experience would become less and less conditioned as prior entanglements are worked out, and new ones aren't being created through clinging/aversion/proliferation.

RE: Practise Log
Answer
1/11/18 1:44 AM as a reply to Lars.
In my experience, once you have seen that the whole experience of human meaning is just a mental process, the mind can begin ignoring the apparent meaning in it all and begin to consider the unchanging nature of This.  To be truly free of craving is as stupid and simple as realizing what you have realized about the mind just being a meaningless process -  and being perfectly ok with it.   If you pay attention just to the nature of reality - This, the mind will stop craving meaning at all.  Upon inspection, This is manifestly perfect as it is.  Does that make sense?  

RE: Practise Log
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1/11/18 2:00 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
In my experience, once you have seen that the whole experience of human meaning is just a mental process, the mind can begin ignoring the apparent meaning in it all and begin to consider the unchanging nature of This.  To be truly free of craving is as stupid and simple as realizing what you have realized about the mind just being a meaningless process -  and being perfectly ok with it.   If you pay attention just to the nature of reality - This, the mind will stop craving meaning at all.  Upon inspection, This is manifestly perfect as it is.  Does that make sense?  

Yes, this whole thing follows the previous realization that everything i've ever experienced is mind, and it's devoid of a seperate self. There is less and less aversion to the process, i'd just like to understand it better and I know i'm not "done" yet. Even if you subscribe to the "there's nothing more to be done" model (or have reached arahant) there's still so much to learn.

Regarding This, as mentioned above "awareness", "stillness" or whatever you'd like to call it is my primary practise lately, and yes the perfection of this moment is getting clearer every day. Though apparently i've been doing too much intellectualizing during my experimental periods (I devote a certain part of each session to just screwing around).  emoticon

RE: Practise Log
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1/11/18 9:35 AM as a reply to Lars.
I found that trying to understand stuff was just another trap for me.  In Hawaii the locals always say - it Iz what is Iz, bro.  All the meaning, every drop of it, that I have in my mind - I made up (the mental process you describe, fabricated it). Chasing comprehension of my own meaning structures turns out to be pointless and endless.  In my view, we are always just sitting here in perfection, in this moment and there is nothing we can or need to change. 

RE: Practise Log
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5/25/18 7:21 PM as a reply to Lars.
After the last shift I stopped sitting for a few months, a combination of integration and laziness. This seems to be a cycle that repeats after every shift, but this is the longest gap in a while. There was still practise, but not formal sitting. This time there was no significant DN, except for a short one caused by a friend here on the site when challenged to a "sila duel".  emoticon

As mentioned in other threads, there are occasional "hearing things where they are" perceptive moments, but not as often as right after the last shift. There are also visual changes, including a beautiful glow that I get when looking at light reflecting off objects, or strong light sources. When looking at the glow as a whole, it looks like a spray of particles coming out of and back into the light source. The particles seem to be tinged like a rainbow, there is at least white, blue, red and green and most likely more subtle hues as well. When I zoom in on them they appear to be thousands of tiny cells moving about turbulently. It's like the light source is illuminating the cells in my eyes and I see them like looking at a microscope slide (as opposed to the usual floaters/gunk that appear in vision). This doesn't require staring at a light source, it's pretty much constant, though staring does change the movement of the particles. I can also often see the "refresh rate" of visual perception. It's like looking at a video on the internet that's slightly choppy because it was captured at 15 versus the usual 30 frames per second. Maybe i'm just getting old and macular degeneration is setting in.

Stress has diminished to a point that i'm almost waiting for the ball to drop, it's been so long since I freaked out at anything. I'm in a pretty much perpetual EQ'ish state, just aware of what is occurring with minimal volition. A few weeks ago a friend asked me to cover a few shifts as a cashier since one of his employees was being flaky. After working a few shifts they fired the flaky worker, and hired me full time. They've since promoted me to assistant manager, which I find amusing. I'm making about 1/2 what I made in my last job as a programmer and I don't care, my rent is paid and there's food on the table.

How is this related to practise? I'm approaching this job as basically meditation/service and it seems to be working really well. I just move about as necessary, am aware of things that the boss wants done, and they get done. Customers arrive and I deal with them with as much compassion, care and humility as i'm capable. There's no need for opinions about those tasks, ownership of those tasks, pride or dissatisfaction at those tasks, etc. Of course, those concepts do arise and I do my best to just be aware of that and continue flowing with whatever occurs. There's a really simple joy in just doing the job with no drama, and seeing both the customers and the other employees being happy at the result. I've had every employee and manager I work with thank me for not being a drama queen like the previous employees. What makes me laugh is even just a few years ago I was the drama queen employee. There are still hindrances of course, but they're as empty as anything else and will work themselves out in time.

After sitting for a few days again i'm somewhat surprised by how quickly concentration dropped, but is also coming back. The first sit was like being a total newb again (with awareness of that lack of concentration), the second was still pretty scattered but I stuck with it for over an hour without even intending to. What's amusing is i'm more equanimous off cushion now than on, perhaps because that's been my primary practise now for a while (no division between on and off cusion, being mindful of all activities).

I have to say Seth, you were right. It's all just stuff, and it just happens, and it's perfectly beautiful.

There's also so much still to do, even if none of it needs doing, and there's no one doing it.  emoticon

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5/28/18 12:48 AM as a reply to Lars.
After reflecting on my recent post, conceit and pride appear to have crept into my practise. Ironically i've become proud of acting without pride, which is just silly on so many levels. My apologies, i'll be more mindful of that going forward.

RE: Practise Log
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6/20/18 7:07 AM as a reply to Lars.
Approaching work as service/meditation has been very educational, though it's bringing new challenges. Being kind and compassionate and really listening to the customers has been great, but I now have multiple customers who have become very clingy and desperate for my company. Some have obvious issues and seem to be seeking some stability (someone to listen etc), most are seemingly "normal" and may just be confusing my pretty much constant smile for flirting. There are also numerous other customers who are just overly friendly and flirty. I haven't dated in years and have no real desire to, so it's an odd situation to be in. Dealing with the situation with compassion and without judgement is sometimes difficult but i've managed so far. I try to accept them as they are and accomodate them as best I can, while still setting appropriate boundaries when necessary.

When sitting tonight I sat in open awareness for a while, and then started to do vipassana on the whole field, not literally noting but simply being aware of as many shifts of attention as possible. At one point I was going fast enough that I missed a sound as it occurred (attention shifted to the continuation of the sound but not the beginning of it) and instead caught the mind bringing up the memory and noticing the memory of it instead of the actual sound. This caused a thought regarding how the perception of time is correlated to memory and there was a strange feeling in the body, a welling up of energy through the spine, neck automatically straightened up suddenly and then a "near miss" sensation in the neck and head. The blockage or near miss or whatever seemed to be caused by my noticing and grasping at what was occurring with a feeling of expectation (I should really know better by now). What's interesting is this isn't the first time lately that i've had that sensation when thinking about the relationship of memory and time. I know time doesn't really exist, the past is just memory and the future is imagination, there's just now. But it feels like i'm missing something obvious, like I need to see it more directly. Perhaps that "knowing" is the problem.

RE: Practise Log
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6/20/18 5:33 PM as a reply to Lars.
Now isn't a thing any more than the past and future are. Silly meditator, go sit some more.   emoticon

RE: Practise Log
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8/3/18 4:33 AM as a reply to Lars.
The "ball has dropped" so to speak, i'm in a state that feels very DN'ish at the moment. Many of the usual sensations I would associate with it like doubt, shame, stress, confusion etc are there, but they don't seem like a big deal like it did years ago. They are just temporary impersonal sensations and recognized as such. What's interesting is the intense volume, this feels like panic attack levels of mental anxiety. I can feel physiological responses as well, but it doesn't feel like it's happening to me. It's like watching a very loud and chaotic thunderstorm from a distance.

I suspect the DN was caused by a sudden onset of aversion today. One of our "toxic" customers showed up in the store, and instead of dealing with it compassionately as I have for months now, I just said I was taking my break and ate some ice cream in the break area with a co-worker and let someone else deal with them. I deliberately waited until they left (they waited around for a while to see if i'd return) before I came back out again. I recognized the aversion as it was occurring and did it anyway. A few hours later, they called right as we were closing and when I saw who was on the caller ID, I didn't pick up (and again recognized the aversion yet ignored the call). Later that night a drunk ex girlfriend called me up and tried to rope me into some drama with her latest ex boyfriend and heavily hinted she wanted me to loan her some money. Again my response was nope.

Neither of these were horrible offenses, but i've been deliberately "leaning into the knife" recently so it was noticeable that I just politely disengaged. It's interesting to watch the mind retrieve the memory of these things and then build it into drama, then it falls apart. Then it reconstructs it a different way, and again it falls apart. (DN sensations have now faded, mind and body are calm)

I wonder if this is just another subtle selfing thing. If over the last few months i've created a "nice compassionate guy" identity that I cling to at some level, and today's events contradicted that, it could cause the stress described above. I've also been becoming more aware of "aversion to aversion" lately, which is twisting my noodle a bit. Or maybe I just had a bad day....   emoticon

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8/5/18 1:26 AM as a reply to Lars.
The DN'ish sensations haven't returned, and I noticed something about suffering during the experience. It's been obvious for a while that clinging/aversion is the primary source of suffering, but this put it in contrast in a way that was very clear. The level of stress that I experienced from being intentionally aversive was far worse than the stress I would have experienced from simply experiencing the original situation without aversion. It also likely caused stress for those I was aversive to (while I wasn't explicitly rude, I did disengage). Obviously unskillful behaviour, and seeing that clearly will hopefully make it easier to behave more skillfully.

It's funny how it wasn't some huge thing that caused the "ball to drop", like someone screaming at me or being threatening etc. (which does occur at my job). Instead, it was my own moderately aversive internal reaction to a fairly mild stimulus.

Aversion to aversion. In theory aversion to being aversive is good since aversion causes suffering, but if i'm being aversive to aversion then i'm still being aversive, so i'll still suffer <ad nauseum>. But if I let go of aversion towards aversion, then will I act aversively and still suffer?  emoticon

Gut reaction tells me to drop aversion to aversion and let aversion function freely as required with the simple recognition that it's empty. Perhaps easier said than done.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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8/9/18 4:34 PM as a reply to Lars.
After not having touched them for 25 years or so, I took about 2 grams of very potent magic mushrooms yesterday afternoon. They hit like a sack of bricks after about 20 minutes and continued to be very intense for the next few hours. I'd made some intentions at the start to see the experience clearly and accurately but also to enjoy it. The three characteristics then "displayed themselves". First the experience of being in a body was very intense and the suffering involved was clear. Then the characteristic of no-self became very apparent (and insistent), to the point that I mentally commented "yeah yeah, i'm aware" and the experience suddenly shifted to impermanence (with a mild "don't get cocky" mental response lol). At one point I noticed that deep within all that chaos there was that stillness and joy smiling back at me. This was followed by the sensation of what felt like a literal knot of rope in my heart unravelling. Then it was like a switch was flipped (this was during the peak), and it felt like I was dead sober while also being on mushrooms. I could feel the effects very strongly of the mushrooms, but I was very lucid, able to speak clearly and felt like I could have gone to work if necessary. The rest of the trip was very joyous, lots of laughing and noticing all the new loops that my life has accumulated since I took mushrooms decades ago.

Since it was a psychedelic experience i'm wary of attributing too much meaning to it, or assuming any real insight was gained, but I don't regret the experience at all. If anything it just showed that meditation practise is fruitful. The same "accept it as it is" and gentle curiosity that works so well on the cushion helped navigate the more chaotic aspects of that experience. It was like reobservation or dark night on steriods. I probably spent about half the trip meditating (vipassana was intense and amusing), and the rest just having fun and just experiencing my current loops on mushrooms.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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10/8/18 6:33 AM as a reply to Lars.
A few posts written over the last few months by others on the site helped me to realize that I was holding myself to an unsustainable standard, and that doing so is essentially selfish. This also led to the hero/dingus cycle where I would practise very diligently until I burnt out, and then regress for a while to recharge, followed by another "going hero" phase. I'm now formally sitting pretty much daily (in addition to the usual "everything is meditation" approach), though i'm not grasping so hard as to burn myself out, and if I miss a day it's not the end of the world.

Interesting accidental sit tonight, I was lying in bed pretty relaxed and not really intending to sleep or meditate. As I lay there I just observed the sensory stream until it became very "smooth" and there was minimal awareness of any watcher or Me there. There was just awareness of sound as sounds arose, thoughts as thoughts arose, etc. Because of this, they didn't really capture attention, there was just what felt like a stream of awareness for a few minutes, until finally exitement arose and it wasn't recognized for what it was so attention was captured. As soon as mindfulness had broken (and that was recognized), there was a sudden tightness in my chest. It felt like there was a tiny black hole in the centre of my chest (not sure if it's heart or solar plexus chakra) that was sucking my breath inwards to a point. It didn't just pull down, it pulled in every direction like it was pulling in the entire subtle body, not just the literal breath in the lungs. What's interesting is that point has been opening and closing for the last year or so. Whenever I engage in any "naughty" behaviour volitionally in the last few months, I feel a very slight electrical charge there, like a 9 volt battery on a wet thumb. I tried to use that strong pulling sensation as an object for vipassana tonight, but it faded quickly. Even now after that sit I can still feel that spot slightly contracted, and slightly cold. If I try to continue vipassana on it, it begins to "swirl" a bit, and some other odd sensations.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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10/9/18 6:08 PM as a reply to Lars.
When sitting last night I scanned the head/face for tension (this has been a focus lately) and released the tension at the point where the brow and the nose meet (there was what felt like a 5 pulse per second vibration). Then subtle tension at the top of the nose became apparent, and it released. Then a little lower in the nose, a small pocket of tension, released. This continued with small regions of the nose feeling slightly tense and it began to move downward automatically, tensing, releasing until it reached the bottom of the nose. This reminded me of "pacification of the senses" and I noticed that my eyes had some tension. This tension then released in a similar fashion, little groups of tension becoming apparent and then releasing. Once the eyes were no longer vibrating/tense I focused on the ears, but found no tension there (which is interesting since hearing is already partially pacified from a previous shift). After all of this the head and face felt odd, almost overly relaxed. In particular my eyes almost felt heavy, as if they weren't straining anymore and were just lying back on a comfy chair relaxing.

I've done this sort of scanning for tension practise many times, but this was the first time that the tension was so clear and broken up into so many "parts". It also had an interesting "this is happening by itself" aspect at many points, particularly in the nose.

There was also the fluttering in the centre of the head, but that wasn't really the focus last night (still interested in any info on that subject btw lol).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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10/20/18 2:42 PM as a reply to Lars.
Continuing to sit, letting the drama of all of it go. There has been too much grasping at progress, "meaningful" or "interesting" sensations etc. Shargrol's simplified map was very useful, it made it more clear that while I did recognize certain nanas for what they were, there were others that I didn't fully recognize as a reactive pattern. Of course after reading/meditating on it there was an instinct to react to the newly recognized reactive patterns lol. I'll just continue to sit, being aware of sensations as they arise without trying to put any of it in a particular box or attribute any meaning to it. Whatever peak experiences happened previously aren't happening now (just the memory of them), whatever I think future progress involves is also not happening now (only the thought of it). Keep it simple, focus on the sensations occuring at this moment from sit to sit.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/24/18 4:03 PM as a reply to Lars.
Oct 22

Sat 40 minutes, the first 20 or so were dominated by the usual distractions like itching, pains, muscles wanting to move, thoughts, memories, etc. Instead of scratching, moving etc I just kept going back to the breath. Eventually I realized the breath had become fairly stable and attention wasn't leaping around much anymore. I then switched to awareness of all sensory input both in the body and "outside", watching the field of awareness grow and become more clear. As I became aware of more and more sensations per second, vibrations in the body increased in intensity and there was the feeling that "something was happening" but I remembered not to get carried away so I just recognized that feeling as with all the other sensations occuring. This state then quickly transitioned into a very calm and clear state with minimal vibrations or sensations of movement, like a lake with no ripples. After a while I did some metta practise and ended the sit.

Oct 23

Sat 40 minutes, started similar to the previous session. During the phase where I focused on increasing the clarity and width of sensory experience I kept noticing things that distracted me, which I did my best to just recognize without reacting. Part of this was noticing the push and pull of perception, it felt like mind was reaching out to sensory data instead of just being aware of it naturally as it occurs, where it occurs. Eventually settled into slightly more vibratory version of the clear state from yesterday, and did metta practise before ending the sit.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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11/25/18 1:59 AM as a reply to Lars.
Still sitting most days, not posting much anymore. Finding a better balance between hero mode and not practising. Sits are usually almost exactly 40 minutes, I don't intend to sit for any particular duration or use a timer. I start with 10 breaths, if I lose concentration I go back to 1. Then I switch to using the tinnitus in my right ear as an object. I'd previously used this object with some success, but had switched to the breath since it seemed like the "correct" thing to do. Back to sound, it seems to work more naturally for me. When either using breath or sound, I just keep attention on it until I get distracted, then come back. Once the sound is breaking up into squeals and squeaks and multiple frequencies laid upon each other, I pick a particular frequency and attend to that until it also breaks up. Sometimes I attend to the dominant sounds, sometimes the more whispery subtle sounds. I know from experience the effects of purely "dry" practise so sometimes I do choiceless awareness or just focus on pleasant sensations initially and let jhana just go as deep as it wants to (usually fairly soft 1st or 2nd, rarely 3rd).

Lately the eyes don't dart around like they used to during meditation, following the sound or whatever object i'm focused on. The effect of continuous practise is becoming clearer, that momentum and slow increasing of the factors. When I stop formally practising for whatever reason i'm more immediately reactive to circumstances (even when trying to stay mindful in all things), when practising for a period of time there's often a short period of clarity before reacting to things. Hero mode followed by dropping practise followed by hero mode generates novel experiences (and inevitably a DN), but the factors are all over the place.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/24/18 7:48 PM as a reply to Lars.
Continuing to sit for an average of one 40 minute sit a day. In addition there are usually many "mini-sits" during the day where an object is picked and vipassanized for a few moments or minutes while waiting for customers to arrive or coffee to brew etc). Various types of emotional and physical reactions are investigated as they occur when the situation allows. Slowly working back up to the previous "high water mark", building concentration and equanimity again after regressing for a while due to scattered practise and some spiritual bypassing.

Formal sits are still roughly as described above. Not surprisingly due to the consistency of practise for the last few months, awareness of vibrations has increased markedly (though still not at the previous peak). Sound is easily broken up into particles/pixels/vibrations, but the visual field is now pulsing and pixellated more often as well. Bodily vibrations present with even minimal relaxation, sometimes even just when reading suttas etc. Trying not to get lost in the content of all this as I have so many times before, and instead just be aware of all this with as much clarity and precision as possible, including the reactive elements of the nanas etc.

In the last couple weeks i've added a new note when doing vipassana, "observer". I've deconstructed that sense of an observer before, but it was more of a specific exercise. Now it's being added to general noting practise and it's been interesting to see the variation and instability that appears to make up those sensations. It's obviously not some consistent solid thing, instead it's similar to a pattern recognition mistake like seeing Jesus in a slice of toast.

There has been one difficulty I would appreciate some feedback on. Previously there was a shift where somewhat soft versions of the first and second Jhana were easily accessible, but I found the vibrations (particularly in the first) to be rough and dissonant. After a later shift the ability to sink into an almost perfect stillness within seconds presented itself (possibly a 3rd jhana state or mimic). If there were even strong bodily vibrations all I had to do was be lightly aware of that, and the vibrations would fade (like all bodily sensations synchronized and then dissolved into stillness) without any effort. This felt amazing, and sitting with open awareness in that stillness was very seductive. The issue is, i'm now trying to relearn the Jhanas properly instead of discounting those rough vibrations. However whenever they become very apparent the "stillness routine" kicks in and they dissolve. I'm slowly learning to be aware of those vibrations without the subtle mental "movement" which seems to trigger that shift into stillness, but it seems counter-intuitive. That still state seemed to be more refined than the rough ones, am I wasting my time by focusing on the more rough sensations versus allowing that stillness to just do its thing?

I suspect this may be due to mixing of samatha jhana and vipassana jhana techniques, jumping around too much without being clear about which is being practised at that moment. Perhaps using intentions at the beginning of the sit to specify which type for that session might help?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/24/18 8:39 PM as a reply to Lars.
Thank you so much for sharing your work! You are obviously ahead of me in several respects, but I do recognize myself a great deal, and that encourages me to keep working and do longer sits. You are the first person I have seen describing the same phenomenon as I so often experience, with the spine correcting itself on its own volition. I’m new here, though, so there may be many others who have described it, I don’t know, but for me it was new. That face thing seems to be the same as well, or at least something similar. For me it’s about two thirds of my face dissolving into waves that are in turn built up by smaller oscillations. Body parts may also ”disappear” from my consciousness.

I’m looking forward to reading more from you. I believe I have a lot to learn.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/25/18 12:00 AM as a reply to Lars.
I notice this as well. After a while practicing the jhanas, the mind wants to bypass or go quickly through jhanas 1-3 for the seductive stability of 4 and beyond. I have found that focusing on generating little jolts of piti and sukkha and kundalini throughout the day and then setting an intention to progress slowly through jhanas 1-3 can be a good way to prime myself to take more time in these jhanas. Now is there much more to learn there? I'm not sure. For me anyway, jhanas 1-2 are the most shamatha-like and difficult to vipassinize. If that's the case for you too, perhaps there is more there to unwrap if you gain finer control?

One word of caution about that technique: I at least tended to get into a loop where the kundalini stuff would start coming up unbidden a lot during the day. Getting constant hits of kundalini can be distracting/annoying/exhausting if you are trying to concentrate on anything else (Like work), so this should probably be done for a limited amount of time.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/26/18 5:00 AM as a reply to Milo.
Linda: The spine aligning thing is actually fairly common at certain stages from what I understand. I'm glad you're encouraged, just don't make the same mistake i've made repeatedly (going hero mode and then burning out, then repeating that cycle). Consistent practise seems to be more beneficial.   emoticon

Milo: Thanks, i'll try to be more clear about what practise i'm using during a particular sit. Part of the problem is I seem to enjoy "breaking things up", so whenever I notice impermanence showing itself in a sense door (even during samatha) I instinctually focus on that and start vipassana instead. Someone mentioned in another thread that the mind can "chase after bliss like a puppy", in this case it seems to be chasing after stillness in a similar way. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/26/18 9:38 AM as a reply to Lars.
Cool. I just didn’t know about it.

Thanks for the advice! Yes, I have prioritized consistent practice over longer sits, so I have set the minimum to only 20 minutes per day to be sure that I can make it.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/27/18 6:05 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Linda: The spine aligning thing is actually fairly common at certain stages from what I understand. I'm glad you're encouraged, just don't make the same mistake i've made repeatedly (going hero mode and then burning out, then repeating that cycle). Consistent practise seems to be more beneficial.   emoticon

Milo: Thanks, i'll try to be more clear about what practise i'm using during a particular sit. Part of the problem is I seem to enjoy "breaking things up", so whenever I notice impermanence showing itself in a sense door (even during samatha) I instinctually focus on that and start vipassana instead. Someone mentioned in another thread that the mind can "chase after bliss like a puppy", in this case it seems to be chasing after stillness in a similar way. 

Oh yeah, stillness is nice so of course the mind wants to chase it! =D

I'll second that consistent practice is more beneficial than cycles of going hero mode, burning out, and quitting. I personally think a critical step in the cultivation of a deep practice is making it just something that you do every single day, period. No matter what. As the saying goes, the only bad meditation is the one you didn't do. It may be that the ones we don't want to do but do anyway are some of the most important. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/31/18 6:02 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
The other night I realized that i'd been continuing to focus on single objects during vipassana, and it could be related to stagnation at certain points in practise. I opened up awareness so the sensory field was as wide as possible, while still maintaining focus on the primary object (the very whispy background noises in my tinnitus). At first I noticed lots of odd squeaks and squeals (different from the usual ones) occuring, and then it felt like the whole perceptual field was strobing. After a while it became apparent that the strobing was related to my attention jumping to the squeals, back to the primary object, then to another squeak, back to the primary object, etc. It was about 5 cycles per second and very "visible". Doing two sits per day of 40 minutes the last few days (this all has the stink of Desire for Deliverance on it, but also some level of Equanimity).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/2/19 6:21 AM as a reply to Lars.
Yeah, no need to focus on a single object. It's good to have an anchor to return to when you get very distracted, but you can let your mind be mind and notice what it does. If you realize you have been distracted, then return to your anchor. In Dark Night and EQ it is very important to notice how the mind can do all sorts of stuff but there is still a "knowing" of this. You can be in a state of misery or a state of ease and the mind >knows< this. What is the nature of this knowing?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/2/19 6:04 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks, i'd switched to open awareness style at certain points previously, but for some reason kept coming back to the single focus stuff (i'm guessing because it worked a few times for getting through A&P). As for knowing, i've been gently asking those questions when I get into 3rd jhana territory lately, thanks again for the simplified map you posted earlier.

Switching from one 40 minute session a day to two 40 minute sessions was a bit of an abrupt jump, easing off a little on the gas pedal and going back to monthly posts unless someone else asks a question etc.

Update: One last thing, which just occurred to me while making coffee lol. The stages of grief are very similar to the nanas, specifically both are reactive patterns which are "ended" through calm acceptance, giving up the attempt to fight what's actually happening.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/18/19 8:31 PM as a reply to Lars.
A fair bit has happened since my last post, formal sitting has been a little sporadic though moment to moment mindfulness continues. Sits are generally more "just sitting" variety, which has gotten easier and more useful. It's becomg apparent how the different sense doors are influenced by attentional changes. This seems most obvious in hearing, I can often hear state changes as well as the usual feeling of them. The constantly cycling aspect of mental function is clearer (both in terms of nanas and other temporary states). Previous long and short term cycles become clearer, and how the mind jumps from object to object and cycle to cycle as a way to find happiness or stability. Even piti and sukkha, jhana and equanimity are golden chains. Desire for deliverance, reobservation and equanimity are the usual territory lately, but it's as if the equanimity bleeds through even when falling back now. The fallbacks are shorter. and it's obvious when it's occurring, and fear is just fear, dullness is just dullness etc. The desire (or belief than I can) "fix" it lessens. Still bouncing back and forth but it feels less reactionary, and more like a ball losing momentum as it bounces up and down. In general reactivity is lessening and things are obviously ok just as they are, warts and all. Put another way i'm getting much more comfortable with this being human thing.

I joked previously that some of the visual perceptual changes could be macular degeneration and not dharma related. After vision went blurry for a couple days I went to the doctor and it turns out I was correct. My eyes have developed a rare condition which is causing me to go blind. They're currently trying to find the cause, but haven't been able to yet and it's advancing fairly quickly. I find it amusing that just as I start developing some ability to see more clearly "inside", i'm losing the ability to see "outside". Anyhow, don't be a dingus like me, meditation can cause all kinds of interesting stuff, but sometimes it's just a medical or psychological condition and conventional therapies may be called for.  ;)

It's a good test of equanimity, friends and family seem more stressed out about it than I am. Getting poked and prodded, blood taken, pressure sensors pushed against my eyes, bright lights in the pupils over and over again, it's interesting to do all that with as much calm and least aversion as possible. I'm also taking my own advice from another thread and focusing on good diet, exercise, having fun, etc. I don't mean to cause concern by bringing this up, i'm good.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/18/19 9:18 PM as a reply to Lars.
Hey Lars,

I'm sorry to hear about your vision. It's clear that the benefits of your practice are keeping you grounded in the face of it. Wishing you the best. Please do keep us posted.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/19/19 5:58 AM as a reply to Lars.
Even piti and sukkha, jhana and equanimity are golden chains.

Nice.

Best of luck with your vision, Lars.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/19/19 8:53 PM as a reply to Lars.
Thanks, I appreciate the kind words. It's really not a big deal, it's just part of getting older, and good practise fodder.

A while back I mentioned in a post that from a fundamental point of view the sense of self "doesn't exist". Someone else was kind enough to clarify that it's more that it's impermanent and doesn't exist in the way we previously thought. I find it difficult to say it exists anymore after seeing it flux and pop in and out etc (then again exist doesn't mean what I previously thought either), but it was a very valid point.

For some reason I felt compelled to write down my current thoughts on it as clearly as possible, if anything it might be good for a laugh in a year when I read back through this thread.

The sense of self appears to be a constellation of temporary sensory "arisings" which appear to have no specific or stable location, are dependently originated, and contain no agent or witness (any sense of agent or witness is itself an empty sensory arising).The sensations of self arise with awareness/awareness arises with the sense of self, and sensations of self pass away with awareness/awareness passes away with sensations of self. This tends to lead to the "I think, therefore I am" idea. Thinking does not require a thinker, awareness does not require someone to be aware. When conditions are met for a sense of self to arise, there are the sensations of a self (and awareness of them). When conditions are not ripe for them to arise, they don't (and thus no awareness of them arises).

Don't worry, i'm not in DP/DR. I'm still Lars, I still like ordering Combo D at the local sushi joint, I still like stupid fart jokes and playing my guitar. Feel free to kick out a few load bearing 2x4's in my shaky conceptual framework. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/20/19 1:54 AM as a reply to Lars.
No need to laugh at those words, as far as I can see. That sounds like profound insight.

I’m sorry to hear about your eye condition and happy to hear how skilfully you handle the situation. Very best wishes!

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/19 3:41 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks, but I have a gut feeling that awareness hasn't seen awareness with enough clarity yet. I'll keep sitting and ease back on the conceptual stuff, funny how often that's the more skillful choice. I wrote a bunch more but deleted it, this is the crux of it heh.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/19 10:54 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Thanks, but I have a gut feeling that awareness hasn't seen awareness with enough clarity yet.
Are you sure you are looking in the right place?  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/19 12:18 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:
Are you sure you are looking in the right place?


Don't just tickle that load bearing 2x4, kick it. Do you mean the section I quoted in your thread? I think I read too much today lol, my mind is tired.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/19 12:43 AM as a reply to Lars.
So tickling is the way ... or as we used to say in primary school, it's for me to know and you to find out. 

Go and look !  Look hard! 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/19 2:09 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
I'm gonna guess seeing dependent origination with more clarity is what you're hinting at. If not, sitting some more can't hurt. Thanks for the help even if i'm not grokking it yet.   emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/26/19 2:24 PM as a reply to Lars.
Just a quick update on the medical front, they determined what is causing the eye issues. Turns out the eye problems are a side effect of a larger systemic issue:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcoidosis

A bunch more tests over the next few months, switching from a opthalmologist to a rheumatologist etc.

It's not so bad, but it's actually influencing meditation now lol. When I sit I can see a "structure" floating in my eye even with eyes closed. It's somewhat distracting, so i'm tempted to make it an object. Then again the visual disturbances it causes with eyes open show impermanence in a very direct and obvious way (and it's beautiful lol).

It is what it is.   emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/27/19 9:51 PM as a reply to Lars.
Very best wishes Lars.  Life throws some curve balls, doesn't it.  

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/28/19 11:56 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Yeah it does, but this isn't my first encounter with medical issues. Botched surgery a few years ago taught me a few things that are applicable here. No amount of bargaining, drama, aversion, clinging, deflection, self medicating or any other attempt to "fix" things will change what's actually happening. Best I can do is do the tests, take the recommended medication(s) and continue living my life. The tough part is maintaining practise, it's easy to use it as an excuse.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/9/19 6:51 PM as a reply to Lars.
Hey Lars, how is your practice going?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/9/19 9:31 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:
Hey Lars, how is your practice going?

Aimless.

Still sitting somewhat randomly, not daily. I seem to be going repeatedly through dissolution to low EQ and back again. EQ doesn't seem so special anymore, and dark night stuff doesn't seem so dark. It's all just very blah and I don't have a strong desire to practise, though I know I "should". The mind keeps trying to find happiness in things I know don't work, but I do them anyway. My sex drive alternates between strong lust in DN and complete indifference when I get back to EQ (and it's odd seeing such a contrast in a relatively short time). Sometimes time wasting stuff like video games consumes me (and again I know even as I do it that i'm burning time as a distraction) and then I go through periods where I have no interest in that activity. Sometimes fear/shame/anger show up, they don't really stick (sexual desire seems to be the one i'm wrestling with lately, that sticks for a while before it fades). I've noticed the DN aspects present themselves more and more the less I practise, and yet I don't much care. Sometimes I feel like kicking myself in the butt and putting more effort in, but that just seems like desire for deliverance yet again, and that just leads to re-obs and realizing I was being aversive/clinging without really changing much.

Perhaps this medical stuff is having more of an effect than I thought. If I was a ship sailing across the ocean, i'd be in the doldrums, though not particularly stressed by it. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/10/19 3:19 AM as a reply to Lars.
So I'm guessing you are getting video game kasina?  Spontaneous visualisations of parts of the game in your mind's eye at night?  emoticon  That can undermine practice.  It could be a good time to balance your vipassana with some more external and emotional practices.  Sometimes you need to let what you have learned embed itself in your sub-conscious, before you take the next step - particuarly if you are living a western lifestyle and not going on retreat.

Video games do offer a kind of flow state that is a simulcram of what we are after, but video games activate craving and clinging and anxiety far too much to be a skilful practice.  But mindfulness of physical sensations, emotions, mental states can offer a similar flow sate while being far more productive. Just feeling the flux of sensations across your body, or across the states of mind, during the day.  Working on metta too. The flow state of existence and love.

Walking in the dawn light and twilight is often really good too. Walking to get that flat negativity out of your body, but also walking in forests, or varied cityscapes, so that your consciousness can move a little into the interleaved light, and into the fractal shapes and spaces of the landcape.  There is a joy in the space between the leaves of a tree at dusk, or in the angles of light shining through buildings at dawn.  A glimpse of a kind of vivid illuminating beauty.  Look for that.

Where's the damn heart emoji on this platform anyway?  

Malcolm

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/10/19 6:42 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:
Video games do offer a kind of flow state that is a simulcram of what we are after, but video games activate craving and clinging and anxiety far too much to be a skilful practice.


I learned a lot about that flow state playing guitar hero with friends, it's actually one of the reasons I got back into practise. Recently I noticed that I no longer react with strong aversion when playing video games. I used to physically tense up, get angry, my heart would beat out of my chest when I would get killed in PvP. Now I laugh, or mutter a quick "seriously!?" and feel no major tension or excitement, whatever mild frustration I feel is gone in seconds. So, perhaps not good practise, but maybe useful as a litmus test for emotional and physical reactivity.

Thanks for the metta reminder, that may be part of it as well. I usually do that as part of my practise but since it's been much less formal lately that's been dropping off.

I know roughly what I need to do, it's just a matter of having the discipline to do it, and keep with it. Still finding that balance between lazy bum and manic yogi, and learning to let go of the various crutches i've relied upon for so long (the list is getting shorter but the remaining ones are surprisingly tough lol).

Thanks for the specific suggestions, I have been making a point of going for a walk every day even if I don't need to go anywhere, I should do more late night walks, they are beautiful.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/28/19 4:32 PM as a reply to Lars.
Recently I allowed my practise to completely stop (on cushion anyhow) and observed how this influenced day to day life. At first it didn't make much difference, but then clinging and reactivity began to increase steadily. I then started practising again and observed how that influenced things. There was an immediate change, clinging and reactivity decreased and general level of stress is dropping quickly. Interestingly though, there are small "storms" of emotion that are worse than what occurred when not practising. They start suddenly and end suddenly, like tiny panic attacks, but they don't cause much actual stress since they're so transitory. They're usually accompanied by vibrations of different kinds, so I try to focus on the vibration instead of the content of the storm.

Something Shargrol said in another thread resonated recently. He mentioned that the mature phase of a nana can feel like EQ, and that sounds like what I have probably been doing with misery for a while (and other nanas). Misery can be comforting in a funny way, but the mature stage of misery is even more comforting, though there's a reluctant awareness that you're taking the easy route and shortchanging yourself. It's like eating horrible junk food when you have good food in the fridge, despite knowing the junk food is bad for you. Practising again is making that comfort less appealing, and understanding the maturity phase thing a bit better will hopefully make navigating the nanas a little more clear. Just because i'm temporarily equanimous towards something doesn't mean i'm actually in EQ, and it can be a sticky trap if I mistakenly think so.

Though it's a little Desire for Deliverance'y, I put some effort into improving my meditation setup. Previously I meditated in my room, which is right beside a major street in a big city. Traffic noise is constant, and people walk by chatting/screaming/laughing at all hours. Now i'm using a smaller room in the back of the building that is much quieter. It's making a difference, as distractions are much less frequent so I get a chance to go deeper. Dealing with distraction is part of meditation, but previously it was a bit like trying to meditate with someone poking you in the shoulder every second or two. Focusing on metta has also been of benefit. Getting some strong vibrations when doing metta, which makes it eaiser to transition into jhana afterwards.

Just want to say congrats and best wishes to curious and Polly. Very happy for you both, may you continue to practise well for the benefit of all sentient beings.   emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/28/19 6:39 PM as a reply to Lars.
Yeah, I was really surprised how comforting misery could be. 

Those "storms" sound promising. That's how the next level of insight seems to begin. (Not some dharmic "next level" but just in the almost psychological, deeper layers of an onion sense.) First you have to get sensitive enough to detect these curiousities. Then you need to be disciplined enough to investigate with regularity. 

Time off is good. But it is really clear that without praticing, we kind of slide backwards. Like paddling up a river, you find some rate of paddling at some sustainable pace and make slow progress, sometimes hitting slow current and making faster progress, sometimes fast current and slow progress, but if you stop you kind of go shooting backwards. Consistent daily practice is the secret.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/29/19 4:36 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the advice. The time off does seem to have helped if only because practise has rebooted somewhat. I'm going back to basics with vipassana and samatha, assuming I know nothing and just seeing what happens.

Reading through MCTB2 again (3C's in particular), i'd forgotten about focusing on the mental echo versus the initial physical sensations. I'd done that practise previously but moved on to other things. Tonight I did a second sit and focused on seeing how quickly I could percieve the initial sensation followed by the echo, then the next physical pulse, etc. When doing my usual "breaking sounds up" practise I would only focus on the sensation itself and not the echoes. That caused sounds to break up into squeaks and squeals, multiple frequencies and inconsistent gaps etc. However tonight when focusing on sensation and then echo when it got really fast suddenly there were occasional very clear gaps without the squeaks and squeals etc. It was like a cookie cutter was cutting out gaps in the "shape" of the initial sensation (this is really hard to describe but it was much more clear than the usual gaps). I'm not sure if focusing on the echo caused me to also notice that the initial sensation pulse was now gone, or if going so fast caused the echo to not happen, revealing the gap. I'll need to look more clearly lol, not concentrated enough yet.

One other aspect of that sit was eventually I started getting a headache so I backed off and did some jhana. I was able to stretch out 1st jhana longer than usual (the mind seems to usually want to skip ahead quickly, not a big fan of 1st), then spent a bit in 2nd, quickly through 3rd and into 4th. The interesting thing was there was a significant sense of space to it after a little bit. Normally it's very still and quiet but somewhat "flat", there's a vague sense of space to it but it's not a prominent feature. This felt like there was a wide space around me on all sides, with barely any visual stimulus, mostly just black. It was very peaceful yet clear, when it was time to stop I kept going because I didn't want to leave that state lol.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/29/19 6:57 AM as a reply to Lars.
It was like a cookie cutter was cutting out gaps in the "shape" of the initial sensation (this is really hard to describe but it was much more clear than the usual gaps). I'm not sure if focusing on the echo caused me to also notice that the initial sensation pulse was now gone, or if going so fast caused the echo to not happen, revealing the gap. I'll need to look more clearly lol, not concentrated enough yet.

Yes!


RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/29/19 11:45 AM as a reply to Lars.
Thankyou for your kind words! They warmed my heart.

Interesting observations in your journal as usual. I always enjoy reading it.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/30/19 7:45 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Tried to replicate the "cookie cutter" thing from the other day, not surprisingly trying to do it wasn't very successful. That there was a burst of pride probably didn't help lol.

Something about trying to replicate it was interesting though, the fact that the sensations are known without effort is apparent though obviously not fully mature. I don't need to try to be aware of it, the sensation occurs whether I try to notice or not. Trying just gave me another headache (even though I was being as gentle as I could). The tension seemed to be all bundled up in a tight knot right where people tie up a ponytail. It felt like that pride and striving was contracting into a little ball in the back of my head.

The echo is feeling odd though, something about it is confusing and stressfull, and it's harder to see clearly (i'm using sound, maybe I should use something slower for now). The amount of work the mind must be doing to constantly echo sensation is crazy. The analogy of the kazoo player makes more sense now. I could appreciate previously how it applied to "big" things like thoughts/emotions, but of course it's more subtle than that. In my imagination he used to be a quiet, shy kazoo player trying to mimic the symphony occasionally, missing notes and wanting to play along. Now he seems more like a stressed out sleep deprived kazoo player madly trying to keep up and duplicating every note while wondering "why the hell am I doing this?!".  emoticon

At one point I stopped doing the "cookie cutter" exercise and just listened calmly to hot water flowing through a pipe in the room. At first it sounded like normal, but then it began to take on depth, like I was inside the pipe and I could hear the many subtle noises involved and the space between them. It was like listening to a microphone inside the pipe versus listening to one placed where I was sitting. In that case since I wasn't trying the exercise above there was no tension and I seemed able to just sit and just hear the sound and "feel" that space inside the pipe.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/31/19 12:19 AM as a reply to Lars.
Factors are out of balance, easing off on the gas pedal a little (and no i'm not stopping practise lol). Energy seems a little high, too much striving/thinking, not enough "just seeing clearly".

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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3/31/19 5:57 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
...Something about trying to replicate it was interesting though, the fact that the sensations are known without effort is apparent though obviously not fully mature. I don't need to try to be aware of it, the sensation occurs whether I try to notice or not. Trying just gave me another headache (even though I was being as gentle as I could). ...


Good stuff. Yeah, the tension of "trying" can be oppressive sometimes, which is a pretty big pointer about subtle and pervasive dukka.

A really really gentle touch is needed for exploring the subtle stuff. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/1/19 9:40 PM as a reply to Lars.
Yesterday I went on a 2 hour very slow walk where I just felt all sensations, didn't try to change anything or do anything. After a while it took on aspects of second/third jhana, even though I was walking with eyes open I felt a very calm and peaceful sort of sukkha with a wide field of awareness. Very few fully formed thoughts, and when they occurred they were really obvious, like a loud sound on a very quiet night. I could also feel that sukkha waver when thoughts or other distractions arose. It felt a little sad but also somehow freeing to notice that even "positive" mental states are impermanent and not-self (there's no point in chasing them, they arise when they arise and cease when they cease). That calmly blissful state continued until I went to bed.

When making coffee after getting up this morning I noticed that I felt a little dull and the sukkha was gone. Then there was one of those storms I mentioned above immediately following that thought. It was like the mind had an incredibly short foot-stomping tantrum at the idea that the sukkha had been "taken away". I'm giggling at mental reactions a lot lately (and yes the giggling is itself a reaction).

Never really noticed before how much of the time i'm reacting to memories, not things that are actually happening (and I don't just mean sensory echoes). Of course, those memories are as "real" as anything else from a sensory point of view. Thoughts have echoes as well, i'm noticing a wordless knowing or questioning before the usual verbal thoughts follow.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/2/19 2:52 PM as a reply to Lars.
This is so wierd, it's like i've fallen all the way back to mind/body and cause/effect. I've been wondering why I haven't had an obvious A&P event for a while. I had a number of them in fairly short succession over the last few years, but it's been a while since the last one. Either that or it's some fractal thing.

Update: Now it's presenting in a more EQ way again. Spaceousness feels natural and relaxing, close focus feels like contraction, tension and suffering (you don't need to "push" toward sensation, it reveals itself naturally). I think I may have actually fallen back to re-obs for a very short time and then hit EQ again last night or this morning. When I did a session last night the vibrations were very chunky (which is unusual lately), now they're smoother again. This morning when I woke up there was an odd sensation like an inverted black hole between the eyes, like something was flowing out from inside the head to "out there". With eyes closed I could actually see what looked like the inverted black hole made of particles, it faded within a few seconds and a small knot of pressure remained between the eyes for a half hour or so (not painful, it felt like water trying to get through too small of a rubber hose).

The visual field is becoming grainy, though with my eye issues it's tough to tell if that's related to practise or not lol. It's like someone took the visual field and put it through a very subtle noise filter in photoshop. Solid colors don't seem so solid, like they have a subtle texture to them. I should probably just ignore the visual stuff since it's possibly caused by the medical issues.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/6/19 1:14 PM as a reply to Lars.
Last night when sitting vibrations started getting very clear, not just endings but the whole sine wave. It felt like the oscillation was caused by attention bouncing back and forth between sensations and echoes (or one sensation and another, not sure yet). Tried counting the rate of the vibrations but they were too fast (I should really practise counting as Daniel recommends). I then relaxed more and just recognized how sensations know themselves naturally for a while. At this point "being meditated" started. Odd sensations that felt like someone else was slipping into my body, and the meditation just doing itself. I've been in that state before so I knew not to panic or overreact, and it deepened for a while. Eventually there was distraction/striving and it ended. For the last week or so the lesson seems to be "stop trying so hard" lol. Letting go of the maps for now and just stting.

At one point the other day when meditating in bed I looked up at the ceiling and allowed my eyes to completely relax (this felt really nice lol). At first I was focused on one spot and it began to ripple. I then focused on the rippling and the entire visual field began to ripple like the surface of a lake. I figured it was just the usual distortion you get when you stare at something, so I relaxed and took in the whole field instead of focusing. Suddenly the entire visual field "flipped" into what looked like a negative image that was incredibly detailed, and I realized that the entire visual field had become a kasina with eyes open. It was really odd, my eyes are horrible lately and yet the kasina object was so detailed I could see every little bump and texture in the ceiling. It was as if the usual visual image and kasina were overlaid with a very tiny offset, so I could see the edges in incredible detail.

Continuing to get sensations of energy flowing out of my face with a slight knot of pressure between the eyes.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 12:50 PM as a reply to Lars.
I suspect trying to figure out the cause of the vibrations is a dead end for now, and instead just observing them (and everything else) with clarity is a better approach. Another brief body meditating itself state again last night, got distracted again and it faded. I'm alternating between great calm and great distraction in general, the two extremes seem further apart and those storms are getting stronger. Lots of forgotten memories and traumas bubbling up. Sometimes it's like i'm seeing the storm from a distance, sometimes I get caught up in it and feel the emotions very strongly. Then suddenly there's an awareness of that intensity (and suffering) and it drops abruptly leaving a calm mental state and slight confusion, but still feeling the previous physical/mental sensations lingering quietly for a while, like the shadow of something remaining after the object itself is gone.

Continuing to experiment with meditating with eyes open (thanks Polly!) and getting interesting results. I tried a similar exercise to the one above, but instead of focusing on the whole field with the lights on, I did it when the room was dark. All detail on the ceiling was washed out due to the low light conditions, and when the visual field inverted again like before I began to see mental visual objects like fractals and what looked like rorschach blots. It was like hypnagogic imagery with eyes open, overlaid on the usual visual field. Like before they were incredibly detailed and looked like they were deep blue or purple. When concentration was stable the detail was amazing, if I got distracted or started thinking then the detail faded and the images dissolved. I've hesitated to play with fire kasina very much due to my eye issues, but this seems to have similar aspects, in particular the mental object clarity being determined by concentration level. I owe curious a joking apology, he mentioned video game kasinas a month ago and I dismissed the idea. During the session last night after the blots faded I saw a creature from a video game I play flying slowly across the visual field in great detail lol. Being wary of getting lost in the content of this stuff, focusing more on the combination of concentration and relaxation that allows it.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 1:56 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:

With eyes closed I could actually see what looked like the inverted black hole made of particles, it faded within a few seconds and a small knot of pressure remained between the eyes for a half hour or so (not painful, it felt like water trying to get through too small of a rubber hose).


This sounds familiar. I have had very similar experiences. Cool that these weird quirks are something that fellow travellers share! Does the inverted black hole look sort of like an effervescent tablet?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 2:00 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Last night when sitting vibrations started getting very clear, not just endings but the whole sine wave. It felt like the oscillation was caused by attention bouncing back and forth between sensations and echoes (or one sensation and another, not sure yet). Tried counting the rate of the vibrations but they were too fast (I should really practise counting as Daniel recommends). I then relaxed more and just recognized how sensations know themselves naturally for a while. At this point "being meditated" started. Odd sensations that felt like someone else was slipping into my body, and the meditation just doing itself. I've been in that state before so I knew not to panic or overreact, and it deepened for a while. Eventually there was distraction/striving and it ended. For the last week or so the lesson seems to be "stop trying so hard" lol. Letting go of the maps for now and just stting.

At one point the other day when meditating in bed I looked up at the ceiling and allowed my eyes to completely relax (this felt really nice lol). At first I was focused on one spot and it began to ripple. I then focused on the rippling and the entire visual field began to ripple like the surface of a lake. I figured it was just the usual distortion you get when you stare at something, so I relaxed and took in the whole field instead of focusing. Suddenly the entire visual field "flipped" into what looked like a negative image that was incredibly detailed, and I realized that the entire visual field had become a kasina with eyes open. It was really odd, my eyes are horrible lately and yet the kasina object was so detailed I could see every little bump and texture in the ceiling. It was as if the usual visual image and kasina were overlaid with a very tiny offset, so I could see the edges in incredible detail.

Continuing to get sensations of energy flowing out of my face with a slight knot of pressure between the eyes.


I could have written this! This is exactly how my practice enfolded right before stream entry.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 2:06 PM as a reply to Lars.
Haha, I quite often see images from a game that I play on my ipad, but for me it’s just flashing images and not as solid as kasina objects.

Oh, I’m glad that I could inspire. emoticon Sounds like a cool development. I look forward to reading more.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 3:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I could have written this! This is exactly how my practice enfolded right before stream entry.


Lol, don't say that! emoticon

I've had sensations of expectation, anticipation, like something is about to happen for the last week or so. Had similar sensations previously when in this territory, but then regressed. Trying not to let it get to me, it just gets in the way.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 3:39 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
This sounds familiar. I have had very similar experiences. Cool that these weird quirks are something that fellow travellers share! Does the inverted black hole look sort of like an effervescent tablet?


It looked like a funnel made of yellow bright particles (and yes effervescent sounds about right, i'd say it was made of pop rocks candy in a net sort of pattern), with the narrow end facing me and energy flowing outwards from my face. I couldn't see the energy but I could feel it.

The first time I saw it, it wasn't aligned to flow energy straight outwards, it was at an angle so I could see it in 3D. The second time I saw it, it looked flat like I was looking straight through it (properly aligned). Both times I saw it was immediately after waking up while still in that slightly dreamy state.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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4/7/19 4:22 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I could have written this! This is exactly how my practice enfolded right before stream entry.


Lol, don't say that! emoticon

I've had sensations of expectation, anticipation, like something is about to happen for the last week or so. Had similar sensations previously when in this territory, but then regressed. Trying not to let it get to me, it just gets in the way.



Right. Yeah. Sorry! I should have thought of that because that’s all too familiar too. Anyway, it’s beyond your control. It may regress several times and there’s nothing you can do about it. It happens when it happens, probably not at all when you expect it.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
4/7/19 6:06 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Right. Yeah. Sorry!


No worries, like you said, it unfolds at its own pace. Just happy to be along for the ride, so to speak. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
4/10/19 1:38 PM as a reply to Lars.
Realizing that some of my old "coping" habits were interfering with practise and life in general. Experimenting with them, much like I did with misery previously (they're related to misery as well). I seem to have been using crutches than I no longer need.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
4/14/19 2:14 PM as a reply to Lars.
Continuing to experiment, something in particular is presenting often recently. I mentioned hypnagogic/kasina imagery previously, it continues to develop. Pretty much every night when I go to bed I lie with eyes open or closed looking at the ceiling with the lights off. After a fairly short while various visions present themselves. They seemed random but the other night I intended for the great pyramid to be part of the visions that night, and sure enough a few minutes later I got a very clear 3D image of the pyramid in dark blue/purple (without specifically trying to do that at that moment). A little while later I saw a group of people with torches walking down a very narrow and long passage and realized it was likely inside the pyramid.

I know not to get too clingly or put too much meaning in these, and they generally don't cause great excitement etc. However one last night was on the creepy side and actually freaked me out a little. I was watching "the murk" and suddenly the face of a child popped out and was looking right at me. It was incredibly detailed, like a negative image animation in 3D, and he kept looking at me as his face tilted slightly and grew and shrunk. Not sure if it was me as a child, but it was a little unnerving. Eventually he faded back into the murk. This stuff doesn't appear right before I fall asleep, it's still during a very wakeful and clear phase while meditating before I go to sleep. It's like the hypnagogic stuff happens earlier now, instead of just on the transition into sleep.

Also continuing to do very long walks. I don't intend a specific destination, method or duration, but they're usually about 2.5 hours long and I walk about 30 blocks during that time. Sometimes I just walk, sometimes I do the Buddho mantra, sometimes I investigate the feelings of peace and ease that happen after a while, sometimes I sit for a while on a bench or curb and just listen and watch. In either case by the time I get home I feel physically tired, but mentally blissfull and very clear. Even just looking at the incredibly detailed patterns in the pavement as I walk seems to put me in an altered state after a while.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
7/16/19 1:51 PM as a reply to Lars.
Haven't posted much in a while for a number of reasons. Striving/grasping was getting a little out of hand, and it seemed like posting wasn't always for the right reasons, or useful. That said, another shift occurred the other day and I figured i'd post while the details are fresh.

I'd been doing an exercise by Shinzen for a few days regarding three types of perception: bodily sense, peripheral sense, and the visual space that we generally experience as being between the eyes and in front of our face. The exercise involved watching the interplay of those and how they cause a sense of self. It was interesting watching daydreaming transition to "reality" and then back to daydreaming, watching how those three spaces were constantly changing and yet the mind didn't seem to notice or differentiate. A few days later I was meditating and noticed how the sense of inside and outside was fluctuating somewhat. Sounds outside my apartment seemed to still be a part of "inside" and then suddenly it was like inside/outside flattened. It felt strange, and then I heard my neighbor throwing heavy objects in the back of his truck and the usual aversion arose. However, it now seemed silly to get frustrated at "outside" sounds, and it seemed ridiculous that i'd ever made the distinction before (and I started giggling at the idea). It feels like everything is inside and there is no outside (making the distinction largely pointless except for practical things like putting on socks lol). Essentially I was previously treating those "spaces" with different rules, even though the nature of the sensations in those spaces are the same.

This shift was a quiet one, no fireworks or "big experience", and was totally unexpected. As per the usual advice i'll give it some time to see if it sticks.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/2/19 10:52 PM as a reply to Lars.
New equanimity test today, got an injection directly in the eye. I've had them before right below the eye, but this was the first one directly in it. Wasn't actually that bad, but seeing blood filling half my eye afterwards was a little unsettling (yes I noted it). I was reminded of Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale, dabbing a silk handkerchief at the blood drop in the corner of his eye.  emoticon

I only had a kleenex, and no tailored suit.

Two things though, one was the reaction from other people. I saw how I looked in the mirror before I left the opthalmologist, but I was still amazed at the reactions from people on my way home. When I dropped into the grocery store a girl who is usually very flirty and sings along with the radio while she checks my stuff out was totally silent and only looked at me once before looking down at the counter for the rest of the transaction. The charity donation guys who usually enthusiastically greet me and everyone else looked away and didn't say a word. Not a single homeless guy asked me for change. Only the pharmacist acted like it was no big deal (he saw from my antibiotics eye drops script that it was due to an injection). I was still dressed as a middle aged professional guy in glasses, but that one detail made me functionally invisible to most people.

The other is that i'm currently seeing colors that "don't exist". When I look at grey text on a black background I see smudges of red, blue and green between the text that I know aren't really there, yet experientially it's vividly present. When I see it, thoughts arise that it's not actually there and logically it can't exist. Then there are thoughts that so called consensus reality doesn't include it, but then how do I know what consensus reality looks like? It's interesting watching mind struggle to understand it, it's seen no matter what thoughts have to say about it  Makes me wonder what else I see that isn't part of "consensus reality". When I used psychedelics I could always discount visual changes as just being due to the drug. I don't know why this feels different, like there's an insight lurking somewhere in this.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/7/19 1:21 AM as a reply to Lars.
In the last few days since the injection a new object is present in the visual field. It appears to be the iris, with a transparent circle in the middle being the pupil. I suspect some blood has entered the iris, and I can basically see the distortion it causes. With eyes open it causes a greyish/white distortion that blurs anything in front of it. With eyes closed after looking toward a light source, I see a kasina version of it, which fades over time in the usual way. I started playing with it yesterday, seeing how long it would remain etc. At first it faded pretty quickly, but I decided to try with a candle in a dark room and it got a little more consistent. After a while I blew out the candle and just sat in the darkness and it faded. However after about ten minutes of do nothing meditation it suddenly reappeared, then faded, then reappeared, pulsing on and off every couple of seconds. There were also lots of little sparks in vivid color in the center of it, which would shoot outwards. Occasionally they would grow into very distinct fragments of images in bright color. Any attempt to do anything with it caused it to fade, just sitting seemed to allow it to flourish. Eventually I went to bed.

Today I played with it again, didn't use the candle because just the light from my monitor seems to work. This time the sparks and kasina were more intense and distinct (at one point the kasina went brilliant white) and after a while it suddenly turned into a rainbow kaleidoscopic quickly flickering light show. It was very vivid and constantly moving, morphing like i'd taken a large dose of psychedelics lol. The flickering was very fast. Really wasn't expecting the intensity or how it just exploded from a few sparks into detail and texture (though it only filled the kasina, the rest was still murk).

I should probably apologize, i've made some posts on here about kasina, and have had some interesting optical effects. But this is something else entirely, I realize now that I had no idea what I was talking about previously (and still don't). If the Dunning-Kruger effect is a thing, i've been hanging out on mount stupid for a while.  emoticon

Going to keep playing with it and see what I can actually learn.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/7/19 12:09 PM as a reply to Lars.
Sounds interesting.  It might be a non-traditional object, but from your description it has good potential for deep examination and deconstruction of the default sensations. That's what you want!

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/7/19 5:37 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Thanks, good to know i'm not wandering off into the weeds with this.

Played with it some more last night and i'm surprised how quickly it's developing. Last night the kasina was a green/purple outline and solid white inside and then faded. Then it was solid green, and faded. Then green but full of 2D detail and some sparks, then faded. Then it turned into the full psychedelic lightshow. Was able to go through this cycle in a minute or two, watched the cycle a few times and then went to bed. When lying in bed I remembered Daniel stated that he was able to focus on colors in the murk (he used white) so I tried the same thing. Worked really well, I simply said "white" mentally and within a few seconds the white aspect of the murk became more apparent, and I could see much more detail in the murk in general. Did the same thing with green and red. They eventually turned into the same sort of sparks I got from the kasina, and then did the lightshow again. Tried it with the sparks and sure enough the sparks took on a more white appearance with subtle blue undertones. Eventually the lightshow had images "underneath" the kasina, some of them vaguely 3D. It was like there were magical sigils and other obects floating around within the lightshow (I was into sigils etc when I was young, but not for decades). Also noticed that the flickering isn't consistent, it's like different colors flicker at different rates, which makes it seem alive. It's a bit like a mass of coral snakes made out of LED's all slithering over each other. For you old folks, it also reminded me a bit of a very high resolution Lite Brite where the pins are moving around and flickering. It's making meditation fun again, it had gotten a little boring for a while, like I was doing the same exercises over and over for no obvious reason or benefit. Apparently it kept concentration at a reasonable level though.

Update: This now occurs with eyes open if I defocus and just look straight ahead. First there are the sparks, and then it becomes the lightshow. It's not as clear as with eyes closed, but it appears to be the same thing. Hard to tell sometimes if this is "valid" or just a side effect of ocular damage. That said it requires some level of calm and concentration to occur, so it's more likely to be practise related. Either way, something new to play with during those long waits at medical appointments.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/7/19 8:48 PM as a reply to Lars.
This is almost going too quickly. I just watched a solid bright white pentagram hover in front of me with eyes open, with what looked like a long tunnel made of streaming rainbow colors fading off into the distance behind it. I was watching the Mandalorian and noticed the kasina was back so I looked at a wall and the white kasina formed into the pentagram within about 5 seconds. I can see why some people really like this practise, but also why some get lost in this sort of stuff. It's like the visual cortex is showing off. I'm aware this sounds like bragging, but i'm as surprised as anyone and I don't do anything other than attend to whatever presents itself in the visual field with eyes open or closed. Not sure if this is just another A&P or there is an affinity for this practise like I had with the nada sound previously.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/8/19 5:53 AM as a reply to Lars.
I suspect the quick progression of the kasina stuff is simply due to the fact that the retinal bruising that's causing a kasina to form is present 24 hrs a day in the center of the visual field with eyes open or closed. It's similar to staring at a candle flame all day, every day. I'm also playing around with it quite a bit. Not surprising that the kasina is vivid and also present most of the time. Tried to go to sleep and it followed me to bed lol. Eventually the bright flickering was a bit much so I got up again hoping the light might wash it out a little (which it did). Saw all kinds of odd stuff, at one point it got a bit repetetive so attention loosened a bit and the murk started going white. This reminds me a bit of the kundalini awakening a couple years ago. I'm not doing this, it just does itself whether it's convenient or not.

I may have been wrong about the flickering rate being based on the color, sometimes it seems to be related to the intensity of the color instead. When the kasina fades, right before it disappears the flickering is noticeably reduced. When it's bright and vivid the flickering is much more pronounced.

The term sparks may not be the best description. Sometimes it does look somewhat electrical or like sparks from a fireplace, but sometimes it looks more like smudges of bright paint with texture. It's like there's an image behind it, like i'm looking at a window completely covered in dark mud, and the smudges are someone wiping the mud off the window from the other side with a finger, allowing me to see the scene outside the window. Tough to describe some of this stuff, and it keeps changing.

Twice today the kasina with eyes closed became a creature. First one was when all the sparks went rainbow colored and a purple outline surrounded them in the shape of a 3D man 'o war jellyfish. Right below the jellyfish was a green flame. It was at angle which really showed the 3D aspect of it. The flame was also very defined and had depth. Second time the sparks were less rainbow and more just primary colors, but this time instead of an outline they organized into what looked like a spider. It was 3D but not as much as the jellyfish since there was no distinct outline. The spider was moving its legs and it was a little creepy. No flame that time.

If i'm babbling on too much about this, feel free to post a "it's time to stop posting" meme. emoticon

Update: It's now no longer constrained by the shape of the original kasina object. The entire visual field with eyes closed is now going 3D. As an example at one point there was a bright white full visual field flickering, which then turned on an angle and looked like fancy embroidered tablecloth with multiple light sources on it and lots of shading and detail. There were also balloon animals of various kinds, and then the pulsing began again. This time instead of the kasina shape pulsing, I saw a sci-fi tank. Each time it reappeared it was a different design. At first it was on a static isometric angle, but after a while it began to rotate and move around the visual field. The tanks were pretty fuzzy, but some of this stuff is higher resolution and better detail than I can see with my eyes.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/8/19 2:54 PM as a reply to Lars.
After I went to bed the second time the kasina was still doing its thing, but not as intense as before so I was able to go to sleep. However just before going to sleep I remembered that earlier in the day i'd mentally stated "duck" after seeing a few creatures, to see if I could call up a specific form. At the time it didn't work, but when I remembered the attempt lying in bed and thought "huh, guess that didn't work" I suddenly saw a yellow plastic duck floating in bright blue water for a few seconds and then it faded. It was like the visual cortex said "Not working? Watch this!" lol.

I'm wondering if i'm wandering off the kasina path and back into jhana again. I've been in 4th jhana a few times before (and rarely the formless realms as a teenager), but it feels like mind is teaching itself how to access 4th more reliably through this practise. Just about every aspect of the kasina practise is becoming vididly 3D. Even the sparks now look less like sparks and more like 3D black "tubes" with moving spots of bright color randomly arrayed on it (hard to describe).

To anyone more experienced with this, am I on track or wandering off into the weeds again? Anything in particular I should be looking for? Or just keep going? My concern is that i'm getting lost in content, but i'm doing my best to observe the process of imaging more than the images themselves.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/8/19 5:37 PM as a reply to Lars.
Your doing just fine. Have some fun with it. Worry not. Becoming vididly 3D is the right track. If you feel you need more proof then my words I will give you some links. 

Be well my friend.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/9/19 1:27 AM as a reply to Michial N.
Thanks for the feedback. Instinct tells me it's all good, but whenever practise suddenly leaps forward like this I get a little weirded out and wonder if it's really happening lol. Previously it would often cause me to hit the brakes and start seeking stability in worldly things, but I seem to be pushing through that this time. And yeah, i'm having fun with it.  emoticon

It's starting to effect other sense doors. At one point I saw a very detailed landscape, it looked like a dark mountainous forest. A voice started talking to me, but I didn't recognize the language or understand what was being said. Also getting a lot of eye imagery, it looks like my own eye looking back at me (but no fruitions). Flames are also more common now, and not just green but orange, yellow, blue and white.

The last few days I had minimal interaction with other people, which probably helped. Went out to do some shopping today and tried it at various points while waiting for various things. I was able to do it while out walking, but when I was getting food there was someone speaking very loudly right beside me and I could get the kasina, but it didn't become the lightshow. Now that i'm home again I can get to the rainbow sparks phase within a few seconds. I'm aware that this will eventually fade, enjoying it while it lasts.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/9/19 1:16 AM as a reply to Lars.
Tried playing with it while listening to music with eyes closed. This time despite the loud sound it got to the lightshow phase a few times, but didn't turn into anything coherent. Lyrics in particular kept screwing with concentration and it would fade, i'd recognize the distraction and it would come back. At one point it looked like a propane countertop with really billowy and thick yellow flames but the murk remained murky. There was also a point where I felt strong bliss and gratefulness. It was almost overwhelming (and distracting lol) but I kept at it and it eventually mellowed out. It was a fun exercise, I might do that one again. On the other hand it showed how good "worldly" things are at degrading concentration.

The kasina is now more stable sometimes with no flickering, not sure if that's a good or a bad sign. Maybe it's just becoming less vipassana jhana and more samatha?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/9/19 6:15 PM as a reply to Lars.
The lightshow starts and begins forming into objects even listening to music now. Probably partly because I wasn't meaning to do an exercise, just listening to music. Learned a new trick to center the kasina when it drifts off. Usually I can do so by just moving attention back to the center of the visual field and the kasina will either move to the middle, or fade and then reappear in the middle. If it's on the right side, I found that I can just turn my head left slowly so that the kasina moves to where the middle was before I turned, and then quickly turn the head back to center. It makes me smile, like i'm lasso'ing the kasina and then whipping it to the center.

Went to the opthalmologist again and they found my eye pressure is about twice what it should be, so they gave me eye drops to reduce it. The "non traditional kasina" is starting to fade. However if I look where the kasina usually would be the sparks start forming just as before. This makes me wonder two things. One, do those with mastery of this technique (not there yet) still need the candle and/or kasina? Do the sparks just form with eyes closed if you just attend to the center of the visual field? Two, what are the differences between reaching 4th through attending to the factors versus attending to the the kasina?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/9/19 7:19 PM as a reply to Lars.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/9/19 7:49 PM as a reply to Michial N.
That's amusing, i've been to both Denman and Hornby Island and currently live less than 200km from it. Thanks for the link, i'll give it a read.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/9/19 11:31 PM as a reply to Lars.
Listened to the first FAQ, it made sense of a few things i'd been wondering about like why the kasina was often green initially (using the computer monitor as a light source versus a candle) and why it often persisted so much (same reason). Also funny to hear one of them describe seeing the body, just earlier today I had a "WTF!?!" moment when I closed my eyes and hands resting on the keyboard persisted for a few seconds like I could see through my eyelids. Mostly I just got out of it that I somehow fluked onto the correct techniques and I should just trust my instincts. I'm sure there are some things i'm a little off on but generally I seem on track like you said.

I'll hold off on the other ones for now as I don't want to script anything, and like Shannon(?) said it's interesting to go into it "fresh".

Back to practise, eyes are becoming much more detailed and common. One eye had a vividly detailed iris the same color as my own, and the iris then became filled with thick rainbow sparks, and then turned into a very long tunnel full of dark blue smoke which flowed into the distance with a jet black pupil in the center. No I didn't fall in, though there was a subtle pull to it due to the motion of the smoke. After going out for the doctor appointment the intensity seemed to dip a little, but it seems strong again after playing with it for a bit.

I was watching the kasina and it started pulsing again, and immediately noticed it was matching the breath perfectly, just like they mentioned in the FAQ. I started laughing so hard I opened my eyes and stopped playing with it lol. It happened again later, and again it matched the breath, but this time I held my breath to see what would happen. It continued strobing as if I was still breathing.

Played with it again and another eye, but this time it was right up against mine and took over the entire visual field. I could see not only the eye but the face surrounding it. The eye had presence this time, like it was actually looking at me. And again, it looked even more like me than before. It was like staring my own doppleganger in the eye. After a few seconds it dissapeared suddenly, the visual field strobed and my eyelids started flickering, then it faded.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/10/19 4:58 AM as a reply to Lars.
Used a mantra for the first time, decided to use Love as mentioned by Shannon in part 1 of the FAQ since i'm also going for the medicine buddha thing (going to do some prep first). Mixed in some metta as well. I did the corpse pose in bed for about 1.5 hrs (didn't fall asleep) and got into a fairly deep shamatha version of this. Much less awareness of the body than the previous few days. That session also marked the beginning of being able to recognize and somewhat trigger the switch from 3rd to 4th using kasina versus the autopilot of the last week. Once the lightshow starts up I look for motion and color in the full visual field, which pulls the focus out wider. Then just let the pattern recognition process do its thing. Eventually something looks like an object and I focus on that. When I noticed this the first time the murk suddenly looked like glass had broken, which then turned to 3D very detailed broken ice which was being buffeted by the waves on the ocean. I find the mantra slightly distracting, but that's probably because I don't have much experience with it. I'll probably do a mix of with and without for now.

Felt a little burned out and my eye was starting to ache so I ignored the kasina stuff and focused on the whispery more subtle sounds in my tinnitus in the right ear. After a few seconds the kasina flared up and pulsed again. It's cool how either concentration practise and sense door fuels either practise once it has some momentum. I was testing the width of peripheral vision with eyes open and closed and I could see my hands through closed eyes again when they were beside my head. They're tinged yellow in kasina form, i'm a simpsons character lol. Going to relax for the rest of the night.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/10/19 9:58 PM as a reply to Lars.
After going to bed last night the kasina presented again even though I was trying to just relax and go to sleep. It turned into an eye over and over again, but it felt "graspy" so I just let it go. There was some level of striving and emotion which surprised me, the last few days have been pretty smooth sailing. Eventually I managed to just let go and relaxed somewhat. Almost immediately I saw the first fractal imagery taking up the entire visual field. It looked like one of those old fractal screensavers, except it was 3D. Each fractal was a flat plane that had a hole in the middle and strange "tentacles" surrounding the hole that were wiggling in 3D. Looking through the hole I could see another fractal behind it which also had a hole, which I could see through and see another fractal behind it. Not sure how many layers there were but it seemed to just keep going. The details were incredibly crisp and bright. After a while there was a shift and the top fractal morphed into what looked like one of the creatures from The Langoliers, the cheesy low budget tv adaptation of the Stephen King book. It was fully 3D and the inside of its mouth was full of the rainbow sparks. Then it faded and I eventually fell asleep.

Went out for groceries this morning and the headlights of cars (particularly the ones with LED lights) were shimmering and forming into the lightshow. At one point I was crossing the road and saw a car way off in the distance doing the lightshow and I had to force myself to continue walking, I wanted to just stop in the middle of the street and watch. The colors blue, yellow and white also seemed to be particularly bright. I kept stopping to look at yellow traffic signs, blue cars and various types of light sources. Probably best that I stay home during the day, if I want to walk around i'll probably do it later at night so I don't weird out my neighbors.

The murk is becoming full of white noise when eyes are initially closed, like an old TV set that isn't hooked up to cable. There seems to be more attention on the murk versus the kasina as this continues. Vision in the dark is noticeably improved. Was in the kitchen and turned off the light. It was like the room was in full moonlight even though it's very cloudy outside, no moon and there are no significant light sources in the room or coming from outside. Usually my night vision is pretty good after letting it adapt for a minute or two, but this was immediately after turning off the light. It's like the visual field is brightening with both eyes closed and open.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/11/19 3:49 AM as a reply to Lars.
It just went to 5th or maybe vj4.j5 while I was doing another exercise. I watched a show on my monitor for a while to boost the kasina and then paused it and closed my eyes when the kasina was visible with eyes open. I went to 4th to get concentrated and the spaciousness was noticeably wider. When I focused on that it was like two blobs of space appeared, one on each side and kind of mushed up against the usual visual field with a black seam between them. Then it continued expanding, though it didn't seem to fully wrap behind me. The body started feeling out of phase and my head began moving back and forth. When I noticed that I tuned into stillness instead of space and the body calmed down almost immediately. Then I tuned back into space again, but I realized i'd lost the mantra and started that again. Inexperience with both mantra and 5th caused it to shatter so I went back to watching The Expanse lol. Doesn't matter if it shattered, I have a better idea how to get to 5th now.

I no longer need to wait for the lightshow to go to 4th. As soon as I close my eyes I just focus on the full visual field and the murk starts to organize into "protoshapes". Triangles, squares, lines, shading etc. Then I can let the pattern recognition kick in like I mentioned in a previous post. It's funny, I feel like both a good and bad meditator. I learned something new, but I got distracted from the exercise I was intending.

Went for a night walk for a little over an hour. Streetlights had a wide glow around them and it's like I could see the space that was illuminated versus focusing on the light source itself. Light reflecting in water on the street as it rained looked amazing. The pavement and water looked so shiny and detailed I had to check to see if it was frozen. I started the mantra and after a while my body started feeling really odd as I walked. I stopped on a corner and it felt like my body was about to evaporate into the surrounding air. Someone had a christmas light display which included a long strip of LED's that were animated. They displayed a rainbow pattern that went back and forth horizontally like the cylon visor strip in the old battlestar galactica. After each cycle there was a momentary blackness, and it would repeat. Each time it repeated the glow around it grew until eventually it seemed to extend about 10 feet around the lights. Sounds and smells were also very vivid. It was really nice to just walk slowly and take it all in.

Update: Ok this is a little weird. Is it possible to script based on something you haven't heard yet? Just started listening to part 2 of the FAQ after the walk and he mentions the glow around street lights and focusing on space. What Daniel mentions regarding "real" sensation just confirms what's felt like an insight cooking on the backburner for the last little bit. I was in the washroom tonight and decided to stare into my right eye like I used to do on psychedelics decades ago. The iris started filling with sparks just like the closed eye kasina version. It seems odd to claim that the "real" eye is the one I can't see, and the "unreal" one is the one that's vividly seen. It also feels weird to say that one is underneath the other when I can't see the underneath part. It's inferred but not directly perceived. The dreamlike quality of perception is more apparent, the distinction between so called genuine objects versus mind created has been slowly blurring over the last few days. It all takes place in the same space.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/11/19 3:48 AM as a reply to Lars.
Update: Ok this is a little weird. Is it possible to script based on something you haven't heard yet? Just started listening to part 2 of the FAQ after the walk and he mentions the glow around street lights and focusing on space.

No need to question your own experience with this. Your doing great. Let it all move and flow and appear just as it does. Just watch it all happen with enjoyment in your heart. Follow your gut instincts, you already know the way. Learn to trust yourself a little.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/11/19 5:04 AM as a reply to Michial N.
I should have made it more clear that I was saying that in a joking tone. It did initially weird me out a little, but it's all good. I'm doing my best to just report what's happening in as much detail as possible for as long as this continues. I know Daniel would like more "data points", here's another one. If anyone gets some benefit out of it, it's worthwhile.  emoticon

Listened to the rest of the FAQ, I love how it ends on a joke about actualism. I lol'd. Time for bed.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/11/19 1:38 PM as a reply to Lars.
Last night in bed I did the corpse pose again for an hour or so before going to sleep. Played around with the transition into 5th. It kept happening, then fading, then happening again, then fading. At one point it got really wide and felt like it was all around me for a short time. I got a little cocky and tried tuning into the fact that there was consciousness of that space. It didn't feel quite right, like I was trying to make something happen versus something just presenting itself. When I realized I was striving I let it go. Also continued another exercise from before (inquiry) which caused subtle sensations between the eyes at the bridge of the nose. It was like a small string was super glued to that spot and someone was lightly tugging on the string. There was also a subtle tension in a specific muscle in the top right of the shoulder. Dissolving that tension caused fluttering sensations in the surrounding area. I've been eating mostly vegetarian during this "retreat", possible i'm just low on protein.

Now that the focus has gone wider the kasina seems to be less prevalent and is less clear (though i'm not refreshing it as much as I initially was). Also starting to feel a little drained and some striving is coming in since i'm in new vipassana jhana territory (and doing the inquiry exercise). It's possible this is starting to wind down but i'll just keep going as long as the kasina hangs around. Possible i'm just going through the dissolution or re-obs aspects of this again. I've generally avoided mapping during this and just watched what happens. I'm actually a little surprised it took so long before I started feeling drained (that walk last night was great, but it also took a lot out of me due to the medical stuff).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/11/19 8:01 PM as a reply to Lars.
Went to the kidney doctor this afternoon, and light sources continue to draw attention. Again light sources reflecting on water were just beautiful. When I approached the office I walked up the stairs. As I neared the top and placed my left foot it was as if the concrete wasn't even there and my foot was passing through it, like I was falling. Body had a small panic response and I suddenly snapped back to feeling solidity again. As I continued walking with a "what the hell..." feeling, I noticed that sounds were odd. There was a woman with hard soled shoes walking in front of me, and the clop clop clop of her feet didn't seem to match what her feet were doing. When I got to the office I sat in the waiting room and closed my eyes. The kasina was there and began pulsing again. After a little while I noticed the endings in particular so I started noting "gone" whenever it faded. After a few seconds of that the murk started pulsing in the opposite phase to the kasina. When I got to see the doctor I laughed when she asked me how I was feeling lately. I was feeling a nice mellow piti and sukkha, so when I said "I feel good" I couldn't help but laugh and smile. The walk home felt very dreamy and weird, in a good way. Body felt light and almost buoyant. At one point there was a very bright blue spotlight shining on the ground so I stood below the light and faced the ground. The entire visual field was bright blue and spine started tingling and it felt like the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/13/19 1:34 AM as a reply to Lars.
Went out to an event tonight, talked with people and interacted a fair bit. The kasina went fairly mellow during the evening (though the moon looked amazing on the way home). As soon as I got home and closed the door in my dark apartment the one small orange light on the water heater looked like it was made of orange fire and smoke a foot wide (with eyes open). It's like the kasina wants to play now that i'm home again.

Earlier today I bumped up the difficulty of the listening to music exercise by playing with the kasina while playing the guitar. As expected the kasina was shy when I was thinking about what I played, but whenever it was just muscle memory the kasina came back. It didn't reach third screen but it was still very apparent.

Someone suggested I focus on more subtle aspects of experience in terms of emotions and urges etc. Tonight at the event I noticed what felt like very quick judgement of certain people around me (some were drunk or very dirty, or behaving inappropriately etc). They weren't verbal, not quite at the level of thoughts. It was like a small contraction, a pulling back. I still interacted with them, and whenever I noticed the contraction I repeated the mantra internally for a little while. Talked with one of my friends at the event who is a Christian meditator, we discussed the kasina stuff. When I described things like how my body felt last night, and how intense colors are etc, she kept smiling and told me that she often gets that after "resting in her love of Christ". She liked the mantra i'm using for the same reason. It was really nice to talk with someone of "another faith" and see so much common ground.

My neighbors are incredibly loud (even at 3:00am etc), and even late at night with curtains drawn a fair bit of light leaks into the room. I just took a pair of industrial eye protection glasses, cut out some cardboard to fit the front and sides to make blackout shades. I also have a pair of noise cancelling earphones, so i'll be using both of them tonight to see if it helps with distraction. It seems like every time I get deeper and i'm losing awareness of the body they knock me out of it with really loud sex or slamming doors. Lol as I type this I can hear one of them singing, it's 11:30pm. Temples and retreats may not be required for practise, but they do have their benefits.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/13/19 5:29 AM as a reply to Lars.
This is a little strange, in the last few days I could get into vj4 within seconds to minutes at most and sparks and lightshow were almost immediate upon sitting and closing my eyes. Just sat for about 20 minutes and the kasina was there and reasonably bright, but it was blurry and never organized. There weren't even noticeable sparks or vivid colors, very monochrome. It was similar when playing guitar earlier today, but I was active so that didn't surprise me. It's possible concentration dipped because of the social interaction (for about 7hrs) today. I noticed some frustration and did my best to just sit with whatever was happening, but it just kept flickering and growing a little, shrinking again, growing, pulsing etc, but never moving beyond that. I used a candle this time instead of the LED screen. I'll keep going and try mixing up light sources.

Update: Just tried a totally white LED screen and now i'm seeing some color and minor sparks, but it's still really shy.

Update2: More color and detail coming, and i'm getting occasional swirls of rainbow sparks, but it fades quickly and I need to refresh a lot. The first week of this I was in front of my monitor most of the time (doing sits in my chair). Today I barely looked at it until I got home. Going to watch a show for a bit to boost the kasina and see if that makes any difference.

Update3: Watched a show for 40 mins or so, sat for 10 minutes no swirls this time and the sparks were minimal. It feels like i'm pushing too hard, going to  bed.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/13/19 3:14 PM as a reply to Lars.
Don't panic friend. This is what happens, from my experience after spending some time with the kasina, the colors fade in intensity and it stops doing all of it's crazyness. Your not doing anything wrong. You haven't lost your concentration. 

Just my opinion, but your ready for the next step/stage.

It might not be possible with the way your eyes is right now. So if you can't do this now don't stress it.

The next step would be to let the kasina fade down to the black dot, then it will fade away also. You keep that same focus you had on the kasina, now on the murk (whats left over after the kasina fades). I would recommend staying with the murk for 30-40 mins before you refresh the kasina. Try this and see what happens.

This might be overly 
detailed. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/13/19 3:28 PM as a reply to Michial N.
I'm hesitant to report, but I wrote this earlier and might as well post it now:

After I posted last night I noticed a desire that I would usually associate with the misery nana. At first I started inclining that way because I was a little frustrated, but then I thought "nah, don't need to do that" and dropped it. Then I went to bed and nothing much was happening for a little while. I decided to just get some sleep and as I lay there the kasina evolved, went colorful and swirly and then became a bright white dot which was flickering very fast. I tuned into that vibration and then the murk started flickering as well and my body started vibrating in sync with the flickering. It felt like I was lying on a vibrating bed. I noticed the spot between the eyes at the bridge of the nose seemed to be vibrating out of sync with the rest of the body, and eyelids began fluttering. Things started feeling really odd and there was a sense of warmth and energy in the neck and head. This continued for about 20 minutes, my eyelids felt tired from flickering so much and it felt like I was getting too excited so I let go to get some sleep. After a minute or so it suddenly felt like my head fell forward into the pillow (lying on my side). With a start I opened my eyes with a more mellow version of that panic and "what the hell?" feeling from a couple days ago. I was very awake, but also a little spacy. Then this cycle repeated about every 5 minutes (probably about 5 or 6 times). Flickering kasina and fluttering eyelids and vibrations, then a letting go, then a dreamy distracted comfortable period and then falling forward and snapping back with a start, and then smiling and giggling a bit before it began again. At one point I was going to update this log but when I got up and sat down at the computer my hands were vibrating so I went back to bed.

It feels like i'm cycling and having repeat fruitions, but I need to experiment a bit more before i'm sure (never been in this territory before). I told myself I was probably just falling asleep and waking up again, but it didn't feel like that, and it feels like i'm learning how to do the kasina over again each time. I'll see it continues to happen, and if so will try to see the entrance and exit in more detail. This morning when I close my eyes and watch the kasina my eyelids flutter slightly and that feeling between the eyes is back, but no falling so far. The kasina is somewhat shy and not a white flickering dot like last night. It feels like i'm trying too hard again because I want to "confirm" this.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/13/19 4:14 PM as a reply to Lars.
I know what your saying. Sounds like we had the same experience. I get a lot of eye fluttering at the start of my sits, everytime.

This is from my log.

Day 6

Sitting in my room with the candle on a small chair. 7:00 to 8:00 pm

The same progression happen as Day 5. White clouds/fog (nimitta) came and I had the intent to move into 5th jhana. I feel like the intent might have been a bit to strong, because it felt like I got stuck half way in and out of it. Might this be what they call soft jhana? In any case I left it alone and just stayed with the nimitta. After some time had passed, focusing,focusing,focusing. There started to be this sinking feeling very subtle and slow. Just allowing it to take me where it wanted to go. 


Sinking, sinking sinking, time slowing,slowing,slowing, nimtta fading (felt like falling asleep) then suddenly "WOOSH" the body and mind sprang back into full awareness and focus. A wave of bliss and mind sharpness. The nimitta flashed and strobed with brighter light then before. Things settled, but the mind sharpness stayed. The thought "that wasn't 5th jhana, lets keep going" 

Refocused on the nimtta. Some small amout of time had passed. Then it started again (about 10 minutes later), sinking, sinking, sinking, slowing slowing slowing. Just allowing it to take me where it wanted to go. Again "WOOSH" awareness came back to life and full focus. The bliss wave was even stronger this time. The nimitta looked even brighter then before, like lightning crackling through the mind. A few moments passed and things clamed down. The nimitta faded. Being left with just the murk I decided to go back to the candle for the 2nd time in this sit.

Looking at the candle for 30 sec I closed my eyes. The after-image of the large candle left a negative on my field of vision. Inside of the negative the pixelated field glowed. Every other pixel glowed a dim blueish puprle. It looked like a stary night inside the candle negative. It was beautiful!! I watched it until it faded. I felt great so I opened my eyes and blew out the candle. 

*At no point did I feel sleepy, before, durring or after the sit.*

(I think this was fruition, but I want to see if it happens more, as I am sure it will.)

If you want me to delete this post after you read it just let me know. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/13/19 4:37 PM as a reply to Michial N.
Michial N:

If you want me to delete this post after you read it just let me know. 

No, that was useful thanks. Prior to the "falling into the pillow" moment during the dreamy phase it did feel like sinking and letting go, like grasping was fading away (a little bit like that "i'm going to evaporate into the air" feeling from a few days ago). It does feel somewhat similar to the sensation of transitioning into 3rd, but not quite the same. That feels more cool and heavy like a sinking stone in water, this feels like a lighter warmer version of that sinking. Again though, i'll just keep going and see what happens.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/13/19 4:47 PM as a reply to Lars.
Reading back over it, I left out that there was a moment of nothing and a head drop, then the WOOSH came after. The woosh had a feeling of the mind and body comming back online.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/13/19 4:53 PM as a reply to Michial N.
What's interesting is this doesn't feel like a path. There were previous shifts where suddenly I had access to new states afterwards, strong bliss and it felt like things had changed. This feels much more normal, like mind is being flicked off and back on again but things just keep going like before after a few minutes of mild bliss.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/13/19 5:04 PM as a reply to Lars.
100% agree and was the same for me.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/13/19 6:48 PM as a reply to Michial N.
There is one thing that has changed somewhat. I keep letting out long deep breaths and the body feels much more relaxed. It feels like I was previously more tense than I realized and the body is just letting go of that tension and really relaxing. Going for a walk in the rain.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/14/19 2:20 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lol that deep breathing may have just been related to something else. While I was on the walk I was suddenly hit with some of the strongest nausea i've gotten yet from the chemo drugs (they doubled the dose of one of them on Wednesday). It was like someone poured a 2 litre bottle of battery acid into my stomach within a few seconds. I kept feeling weak, and like I was going to puke. I kept breathing deeply and it mostly passed before I got home. Maybe I needed a reminder that all states are impermanent, good and bad.

Played with the kasina a few times at my desk, and lying down for a while. At first the vibrations weren't apparent but then they started coming back along with the fluttering eyelids. It felt pretty close to last night, but no fruitions. I could feel some aversion to the vibrations when they get stronger, and some striving. It feels a little dark nighty but I know from experience that if I just relax and keep practising i'm liable to cycle again. Either that or I have a vivid imagination. I'll find out either way.  emoticon

It feels like the kasina is matching my curiosity again. When I was interested in colors, they grew. Interested in creatures, creatures showed up. Interested in eyes, lots of eyes. Interested in 3D, it went 3D. Interested in space, space grew. Now i'm interested in the formless aspects, and it's like the kasina is going formless.

Update: I just realized that it's not that the kasina is matching my curiosity. It's more like the kasina is curious, the same curiosity as my own. It reminds me of when I saw my face and eye vividly looking at me with presence. It wasn't just the face, presence and eye that felt like me, the look in the eyes and expression seemed to mirror my own "is that me?" curious and slightly creepy feeling.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
12/14/19 3:40 AM as a reply to Lars.
Seems to be progressing again, out of the neurotic DN phase and more comfortable. The kasina was just pulsing slowly again, but it seems different. Previously it looked like it was a white kasina of my eye that would fade in, and then fade out. Now it looks like a white kasina that fades in, and then a black one fades in on top of it, then fades out, fades in etc. It's like watching black pulse instead of white.

I'm realizing that my understanding of dissolution was weak, which is why I was getting doubtful and neurotic after a cycle. The other DN nanas aren't so bad anymore but dissolution still threw me for a loop apparently. I didn't recognize it for what it was, even when I recognized the others.

One of my previous insights seems to have upgraded. I noticed a while back that all visual states occur in the same space, that dreams, conventional reality, hallucinations, daydreams can't really be separated at a fundamental level. But I didn't realize i'd constricted it to visuals. It's the whole field of sensation that it applies to.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 2:00 AM as a reply to Lars.
After I went to bed last night I got into similar territory as the previous night, but whenever I got into the dreamlike phase there was a sense of expectation. The previous ones happened when I wasn't expecting them. That sense of expectation feels like it's getting in the way.

Earlier in the night there was what felt like one of those "discontinuities", it felt like the switching off and on but without the falling forward. It happened when I was distracted so I didn't notice the entrance. I'm not assuming it was an actual cessation, it could have been a near miss or a mimic. The fact that i'm looking for a clear confirmation of the previous cycling is probably exactly what's getting in the way. As usual, the answer is to just keep going in a relaxed and curious way. I'm probably being too demanding, just because it happened one night doesn't mean I should assume it will happen the next. It's not like ordering pizza.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/14/19 2:07 PM as a reply to Lars.
Wishing you all the best.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/14/19 3:09 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks, I appreciate it. I'm very grateful for this community and I hope I don't come off as conceited. It's more of a desire to "make hay while the sun shines". I'm not really doing any of this, it's only when I try to DO anything that I struggle. Wishing you all the best as well. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/14/19 3:52 PM as a reply to Lars.
You don't come off as conceited at all. Sometimes I'm afraid that I do, but it's just like you said: it really isn't anyone's attainment. I'm not going to blame the universe if I'm mistaken about my assumed awakening, though, haha. Not that it wouldn't be just as agencyless, but I think I'm more likely to behave if I assume some kind of responsibility, because my assumptions, however pragmatical, are also part of the dependent origination. Just speculating, though.

Thankyou! emoticon

I'm deeply grateful for this community too. It has made my life so empty... in a good way. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 1:52 AM as a reply to Lars.
It's a little odd seeing the kasina flicker, but then fade into almost nothing after all the fireworks of the last couple of weeks. It's habit to assume some sort of mistake in practise or concentration, but instincts tell me that it's ok. It's funny that initially fireworks were a "good sign", now it seems like the inverse of that. The murk seems to be doing something different when really relaxed, but i'm not seeing it clearly yet. I've decided to stop putting so much pressure on myself to confirm anything, and just keep going no matter what presents (or doesn't). Feels like things are settling down a little again.

Just did a little over an hour of the corpse pose, got fairly relaxed and eventually the kasina faded completely. Focused on the murk but wasn't sure if I should just watch the whole field or focus on space. Just attended to the whole field for a while, and then got up. Got distracted a few times, and the kasina would come back as a vibrating white dot again, become black and fade.

At the beginning of this kasina thing it was showing some of my strengths, now it's showing me my weaknesses (and that's not a bad thing). I'm not as experienced with certain nanas as I thought I was, and some of the more subtle stuff is still unclear even in the nanas i'm comfortable with. In a way that inverted as well, in my previous practise laser focused alert attention worked well. Now it seems to work better when attention is loose and dreamy and almost distracted, like i'm not attending to anything in particular yet still aware.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 2:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Not that it wouldn't be just as agencyless, but I think I'm more likely to behave if I assume some kind of responsibility, because my assumptions, however pragmatical, are also part of the dependent origination. Just speculating, though.

Yeah I think it's best to take responsiblity for your actions (and thoughts) at the conventional level, while also recognizing it's all empty at the fundamental level. That said, have fun with it. But i'm just speculating too.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 3:39 PM as a reply to Lars.
Turns out space isn't such a bad place for attention after all lol. Sat casually listening to music with eyes closed and at one point paused it to watch the kasina without distraction. Eventually it faded and I got to the dark murk with no visual objects. I then focused on space, it widened but didn't wrap around. Then I remembered that it all takes place in the same space (dreams, daydreams, "real" life etc) and that meant that the space was already there. It suddenly filled in all around me, took about 5 seconds to wrap around completely.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 6:17 AM as a reply to Lars.
Now that is cool!

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 3:36 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I love how consistent it is that the "cool" stuff always happens by accident, it's shy when I waaaaaant it, and often just shows up unpredictably when I let go and relax. It's like a mother who won't give her kids candy when they're screaming and crying for it, but if they're relaxed, behaving appropriately and forget all about it...   candy!

Just noticed part of what's going on in the murk during the settling phase. When the murk starts darkening and the kasina goes black and starts fading, every outbreath causes the murk to go darker. It darkens in a tunnel like way, every outbreath "pushing darkness" in a pulse down the tunnel. It has a slight pulling sensation to it. Might just be a more subtle manifestation of grasping after fruitions.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 5:50 PM as a reply to Lars.
Not grasping. Relax and let it pull you. Let it move you into the space. It knows were to go, you just have to let go and trust it.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/15/19 7:24 PM as a reply to Michial N.
I just did a "short" sit, got settled, it went black. I was more resting than anything, it felt like it was about thirty minutes but when I got up an hour and thirty minutes had passed. Didn't notice any discontinuity or snapping back sensation. I rarely ever fall asleep when meditating even lying down, and i'd just had a cup of coffee. Still probable I just nodded off or just lost track of time.

Thanks for the info, i'll just keep letting the relaxation do its thing.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/16/19 5:19 PM as a reply to Lars.
Went for an MRI today and watched the kasina while in the machine, within a couple minutes it settled into the dark murk and the kasina faded. The scan apparently took about an hour but it only felt like about 20 mins. That state apparently causes impatience and restlessness to be fairly muted which would explain the 1.5 hour sit last night. The tech also said my heart rate and breathing were very consistent despite the "hold your breath" instructions every few seconds. Seems like a very calm and restful state in general.

Since this practise has entered more of a quiet and calm phase with no big fireworks i'm probably going to post less frequently (unless something seems worth noting).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/17/19 1:25 PM as a reply to Lars.
Yet another medical appointment this morning, but I now have about a week without any so I can get back to retreat mode. The "settling" phase is happening much more quickly now, similar to how the fireworks phases got faster and faster previously. Still, I feel like a sprinter who got switched into the marathon team and i'm working on a new set of skills and muscles. I've always liked vipassana style practise because it gives vivid feedback of various kinds to show the level of concentration, and it tends to cause interesting experiences. This is much more subtle and requires a level of relaxation and lack of grasping that i'm not used to. I have no doubt it's worthwhile, it's just a challenge and somewhat humbling. I previously did lots of shorter sits, this seems to benefit from longer ones (which thankfully seems somewhat easier now).

I'm seeing more detail in how the murk and kasina fade, it's like watching the visual sense shutting down. Any grasping after the kasina or the murk and it starts winding up again. Using the mantra seems to help deepen the state, though i'm not sure if I should drop it once it gets to the dark murk no kasina phase. At that point even the most minor mental activity or grasping causes it to destabilize. The biggest obstacle at this point continues to be a sense of expectation and excitement when it starts darkening with the outbreath. Based on previous experience it will fade in time once I get more used to it (or even bored with it).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/17/19 3:49 PM as a reply to Lars.
Your doing amazing. As i'm reading your log, your going in the right  direction with every step. It has become easier to sit for longer. Just keep going, keep following your gut. If you feel it helps to use a mantra at the start, then later in the sit (at some point) it feels like it isn't necessary to keep it up, then drop it. 

Use the kasina, let it fade into the murk. Relax but hold your focus on the murk. Once things feel open and relax, feel free to move your focus onto the breath for sometime, then back to the murk for sometime. Enjoy the space and invite whatever wants to come in to sit with you, like an old friend invited over for a cup of coffee and a good conversation.

Every moment is an opportunity to see the peace buried in this experience of being.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/17/19 6:28 PM as a reply to Michial N.
I find it funny that your instructions have mostly been "trust your gut, keep going". It's amusing how many times we need to hear certain things before they really sink in (and how at some level we resist things that are beneficial out of habit, fear, doubt etc). To be clear, I don't doubt the process, I just sometimes doubt my objectivity in observing that process play out. But, it's getting better as it continues. Thanks again.

I forgot to note something that occurred to me a few nights ago. It's not just that the kasina is "my" curiosity/intelligence/awareness, so is the murk and every other sensation that's occurring. I keep finding that i'm sectioning off each sense door and responding with different rules even though there's no discernible boundary between them. I was even taking the visual sense and splitting it in two lol. The difference is conceptual, not directly perceptual. There is just vivid arising.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/18/19 6:11 AM as a reply to Lars.
Earlier today I sat for 2 hours across two sessions, and then did the corpse pose for a longer sit that ended up being a little over 2 hours. In that sit I got to the usual dark state after watching black pulse, and then it shifted into something new. It felt like I was rotating to the right while also being pulled forward (no tunnel this time, just pulsing increasing darkness before the shift and then it almost looked like the white kasina appeared for just a moment and then smeared across the visual field as I rotated and then faded as I entered the new state). Tough to describe lol. The new state was odd and when I came out of it I felt even weirder. It almost felt like the shift into it went wonky. It's been about an hour and my head still feels funny. As with everything else I should just settle into it a bunch more times and see what it is.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/18/19 3:45 PM as a reply to Lars.
Sat again tonight and repeated the cycle up to the dark state twice, didn't repeat the new state from tonight. Then I got up again and had a coffee, read the MCTB2 section on formless realms to see if I could understand what that new state was, and went back to bed. I did have a hunch but wanted to wait it out. Without really meaning to it got back up to the dark state again pretty quick, things got a little dreamy and suddenly there was an unknowning moment (pretty sure it wasn't fruition). However right after that I suddenly saw a bright detailed image (it looked like a scroll or paper with writing on it) with a bright kasina behind it and then *blip* and I snapped back again. I recognized it from before so I just relaxed and waited to see if it would repeat and then the heater turned on with a click and *blip* and snapped back again, this time with a pretty strong bliss wave. That time it was noticeable that the visual field had suddenly changed after the blip, the kasina was brighter, more colorful and different. This seems to confirm the fruition thing, feel free to disagree if anyone thinks i'm overcalling. The blip felt a bit like daydreaming and then being slapped playfully in the face by the invisible man. Sudden clarity and a "what, who, where?" kind of feeling. At the risk of overcalling even more I have a feeling I know what's happening here:

The first phase of the kasina practise improved ability in 3rd and 4th jhana, and eventually brought aspects of 5th which inverted the practise from vipassana style to a more relaxed and open style. When I sit now I see an eye with whirling colors in the iris, which fades within seconds (4th). Then I focus on space and it expands and surrounds (5th). Then there's a white flickering (6th), but then I invert that by focusing on how that can also be perceived as black flickering. Focusing on the black flickering causes both the white and black flickering to fade, which leaves nothing (7th). But even nothing is something (to put it in programming terms, even NULL is a variable/value), so eventually I let go of that and relaxed enough that I got pulled into a state that I can't remember specifically, and can't say how long I was there, but know I was "in" (8th). This resulted in a very strong state of concentration that allowed me to finally relax enough to repeat fruition again. Entirely possible it's "just" vj4.j5, vj4.j6, etc .... or i'm having the most mind blowing A&P ever. emoticon

As before i'll just keep going and see if it proves this to be correct or not.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/19/19 3:25 AM as a reply to Lars.
Mostly just relaxed today, hung out with a friend and then came home for dinner. Felt a little graspy due to what I posted last night, but not nearly as bad as a few days ago when grasping after fruitions. The kasina is still here but it's muted again. Did a sit a little bit ago and it's not even doing the whirling eye thing clearly, I can see it and eventually there's color there but it's not clear and bright, like the batteries are running low. Didn't quickly transition to the dark phase like the last few days. There was some restlessness and boredom, not easy to sit for long periods like it was yesterday. It's not freaking me out, I know it will build again as before if I don't grasp at it and keep sitting. I'm interested to see if the new state is really 8th, but willing to take as long as it wants to get back there. It really does seem to know what its doing even if I don't (I was expecting the darkening state to lead to a fruition, not what seems to be 8th).

Update: Sat some more and the initial swirling eye phase is much more detailed and colorful again. Space is a thing but not fully expanded. The kasina then seems to be trying to re-establish the flickering white phase but it's still smaller and dimmer than usual. One interesting thing though, that new state wasn't really explainable or comprehensable which is why I suspect it's 8th. But for some reason I felt some association between the color blood red and that state. I can't say why, i'm not saying it looked red, there's just some association for an unknown reason. When I sat a little while ago after the iris started swirling with more vivid color, the whole eye shaped kasina suddenly went blood red and stayed that way for about 10 seconds. It looked a little creepy, which would usually suggest fear.

Update2: Sat again and the eye became detailed again pretty quick (no red this time), then it faded and murk expanded, then the white kasina started doing something similar to what I previously called "the lightshow" and then went full visual field. It turned into the deepest version of the flickering white I think i've been in so far, I usually skip through that stage pretty quick out of disinterest. This time it hung out there a while and I eventually tuned into nothing to get to the dark phase. The sit moved so fast there was expectation and a little apprehension, and then it went dreamy and it felt like space was pushing or pulling slightly. Eventually it faded. I feel a little disoriented, like i'm slightly dizzy.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/19/19 8:16 PM as a reply to Lars.
Kasina is muted again, and I have a fairly strong headache. The highs and lows of this recent practise seem to be smoothing out a little, the highs don't feel as manic (though anyone reading this recently may disagree lol) and the lows seem less low. It reminds me a little of when I used to work in the video game industry. At first it was the most exciting thing ever, and it was a rollercoaster of "OMG THIS IS AMAZING" and "Oh crap I have a lead designer review in 2 hours and this thing isn't working yet". Eventually it just became a job and the drama smoothed out. I'm constantly surprised by how quickly we can get used to (or even bored with) things that previously seemed so amazing. It's a catch-22, the curiosity and interest can help us stay on target, but taken too far it becomes striving. On the other hand being able to relax also helps, but taken too far it leads to disengagement and/or losing clarity.

Update: Sat again and decided to hang out in the 3rd/4th transition and watch the eye grow in detail, color, and intensity. As soon as it got pretty vivid the kasina abruptly shifted to the white pulsing stage, like it skipped space completely. It felt like walking a dog on a leash and suddenly being pulled off the sidewalk when it sees a cat. It became the white eye pulsing with a whitish murk, and then I focused on the "gone" aspect of it when it faded. I hung out there for longer than usual and really watched the process of it fading in and out. It looked like the kasina was collapsing into the black dot when it faded, and grew out of the black dot when it faded back in. It seemed similar to watching a time lapse of a bacterial culture growing from nothing in a petri dish, and then watching it in reverse, and then forward again etc. Sometimes it looked like just fading, but probably about half the time it looked more like collapsing/growing.

Update2: Eye is aching somewhat after the previous sit (I also suspect the pressure is going back up again). Taking a bit of a break for the rest of the day and switching to the mantra, i'll investigate the more shamatha side of this for a bit. When I went out on a walk after the last sit it was reeeeeally nice to be outside and just feel that open space around me. About halfway to the store I could see the kasina with eyes open doing the white flickering thing, and then a little while after I felt that "space pushing" feeling and it was as if mind was trying to settle into a fruition. I walked funny for a few steps and then stopped for a bit and just enjoyed the space. No blip that I noticed but I had a stupid grin on my face when I was waiting for a pizza. A guy walked by the window I was sitting behind and when he saw me just staring out the window with a grin on my face he stopped, walked up to the window and grinned back at me. It was a little awkward lol.

Update3: Shortly after writing the last update I was sitting at my desk, remembered the guy in the window and laughed. After I laughed there was a sinking relaxing feeling and then *blip* and an afterglow. Made some coffee and had some pumpkin pie and then sat again. The kasina was muted again, though it started growing quickly and jumped again to an unrefined version of the white flickering phase. Cycling seems to have gone from every few days to every few hours.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/20/19 12:29 AM as a reply to Lars.
It's interesting that some of the states that have been presenting lately require such a lack of self based striving and effort, and yet pride and conceit still come back afterwards. Part of the greed for certain states is pride (and excited anticipation of that pride) of finally experiencing them. In nothingness the slightest grasping or excitement causes it to fall apart, and yet sometimes there is pride afterwards. When it comes to the things i've been chasing after like certain forms of kasina, states, fruitions etc it's always accidental when they present. Yet pride and conceit try and take credit afterwards despite it being repeatedly, abundantly clear that I don't do any of it. I've been using the "Mara, I see you" or just noting conceit or pride etc methods, and still.... I realized that the big stupid grin on my face earlier was partly just sukkha etc, but partly pride. I'm not beating my self up about it, but it's not skillful to ignore it either.

Oh, and i've been reifying space.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/20/19 1:17 PM as a reply to Lars.
After my last post I noticed the kasina was muted, so I sat and it progressed pretty quickly, got dreamy and then *blip*. I noticed that what Daniel had mentioned in the fire kasina book was becoming more obvious, that the kasina looks different in different nanas. It's not just whether it's "muted", it's also the colors (or lack of them), whether there is also a tint to the entire kasina, what form/phase the kasina hangs out in, etc. I did a longer sit to explore that and again it progressed quickly and *blip*. Then it cycled again and *blip*, probably less than 10 minutes after the last. I went to bed to do the corpse pose and it went really deep into something mostly formless, and then it felt really odd again. Space felt all twisted and pushed around, but unmoving after the initial twisting. The visual sense was barely there but also twisted and didn't make any sense. It didn't feel the same as the "incomprehensible" new state from a couple days ago, I was still able to investigate it somewhat even if it didn't make much sense. It wasn't a fruition because I was aware of a state. After I dropped out of that I looked at the clock and two hours had passed in what felt like minutes. Then I watched the kasina for a very short cycle and *blip*. Then opened my eyes and just lay there and *blip*. This continued for about another hour or two (alternating between eyes open and closed, attending to the kasina, not attending), over and over and over, I lost count. I understand now why Shannon mentioned that fruitions could be distracting when working with the kasina, because it resets the cycle (and the kasina along with it). I'm having some trouble remembering the exact sequence of all of it because the kasina kept changing, *blip* out of nowhere, kasina changes, state changes, *blip* etc. Essentially cycling went from every few hours to every few minutes and it was interesting but also somewhat disorienting. At one point it almost felt physically tiring (despite also having the afterglow), I started breathing more deeply like I was trying to ground myself or I was out of breath (and it slowed down and stopped at that point).

If I do mundane stuff and don't pay too much attention to the kasina, it takes a few hours to cycle. If I sit and just attend to the kasina/murk then it can cycle within minutes, and continue to do so. After going to sleep I woke up again after about 5 hours, no blips yet though the kasina is already fairly developed, not in the muted DN phase.

One thing i'm not sure of yet is if the "repeat fruitions" are just very fast cycles, or if I somehow linger in high EQ and repeat fruition(s) for a short while before cycling again. A hunch tells me it's a full cycle even when it's quick. Learning more about how the nanas "look" will probably sort that out eventually. It's cool how the kasina is not just a concentration meter, it's also apparently a nana gps system.

Update: Forgot to mention that after the blips while at my desk and before doing the corpse pose there was some odd visual activity. When looking at the desktop on my pc it looked like parts of the screen (and peripheral vision) were "breaking", then falling or moving left/right, or fading, and then snapping back to the original appearance. For example it looked like an icon would disappear and then reappear, or a chunk of the screen would "break off", and start sliding down, and as soon as I attended to it specifically it snapped back to where it had been. I wasn't sure if it was due to the medical issues, or if the visual field was being distorted by practise. At first it was creepy, then after a while it didn't seem so crazy considering i've been watching similar stuff happening with the kasina with eyes closed for weeks now (it is now day 18 of this unintended kasina retreat lol).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/20/19 5:35 PM as a reply to Lars.
First attempt at writing down what the nanas look like using this practise. Keep in mind that i'm using an LED primarily as a light source which influences colors versus candle. I may also be misinterpreting the transitions or even nanas they're occurring in (particularily in EQ). As well, it continues to change. I'm currently seeing some primitive 3D objects mixing into the kasina when it's in detailed colorful phases, even though that went away for a while during the beginning of the more subtle phase. That said:

A&P - Bright colorful or white kasina, sometimes incredibly vivid and sparky (sometimes mistake it for falling back to low EQ from high EQ if I don't notice a blip and clarity is a little off)
Dissolution - Muted, minimal color, tinted dark, blurry
Fear to Desire for Deliverance (Lumping them together for now) - Increasing detail and darker blues and greens which eventually begin to swirl, brighten and add additional colors
Reobservation - Swirling collapses into a bright "electrical" irregular ball of light, like the kasina is not just sparking but made of energy/electricity, either white and black or sometimes white and blue, like lightning in a bottle
Low EQ - Light fades, space widens, kasina and murk go more purely white (can also be very colorful and detailed if that's the focus) and relatively stable, then eventually kasina and murk flicker white (or a white eye forms that pulses with a black eye "behind" it)
Mid EQ - Focus then inverts to the black pulsing eye or blackness in general and both fade to nothing with an increasing feeling of relaxation and letting go
High EQ - A dreamy slightly distracted phase which may or may not have fragments of colorful images or "specular highlights", space and murk may seem to move subtly even though there's usually "nothing" there, a feeling of settling and then eventually *blip* or falling back

In relation to this, I think I may understand a little better how pride and conceit can be so slippery. In high EQ they don't really show up because by definition if there isn't clarity and concentration, then it's not high EQ. If there's clarity and concentration then they don't have fertile ground to grow in. In the same way when you drop back or cycle to A&P and DN territory, that clarity and concentration is lost or unbalanced, so there's fertile ground for pride and conceit to grow again. Essentially wisdom starves pride and ignorance feeds it.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/20/19 7:48 PM as a reply to Lars.
Earlier today I didn't sit much, just looked at the kasina occasionally to see what state it was in. Finally lay on my back for about half an hour a little bit ago. It took longer than I expected to get to a fruition, about 20 minutes, but it was weak compared to previous ones (though noticeable). After that I just rested with eyes open for a few minutes and when I closed my eyes the kasina was already back to the pulsing white eye (transition into nothing) stage. However all phases of the kasina were weak today, more than it's been so far. The stages were clear but it was all very low energy. It's like it's shy, tired, or bored with it after all the repeats last night and whatever that deeper state was. I generally feel like I just want to go to sleep for a 1000 years. It doesn't feel depressive and it's even present in low EQ but it could be some fractal DN thing. I think i'll take a hint and relax a bit (though whenever I say that it just keeps doing its thing anyway lol).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/21/19 10:31 AM as a reply to Lars.
Very interesting to get that summary of the phenomenology throughout the cycling. Thanks! 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/21/19 1:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have no idea how well that matches up with anyone else's experience of this practise, so take it with a grain of salt. I have a feeling the basic characteristics of the cycling would most likely be similar, but the specific imagery and colors etc may vary in the same way that people report dreams differently (some report colorful intense dreams, some report black and white, some can't remember at all, etc).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/22/19 12:21 AM as a reply to Lars.
Going through what feels like Dissolution.Dissolution.Dissolution (or Reobservation.Reobservation.Reobservation). It feels like things have changed, but also haven't changed at all.

There may be an insight in this snarky period after all, the sensations of ease, peacefulness, space, equanimity, formless realms, afterglow, etc come and go like everything else. I was aware of the "golden chains", but this makes it clearer.

Edit: Removed silly cartoon, doesn't seem appropriate, I generally try not to swear here. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/22/19 7:19 AM as a reply to Lars.
And back out of the DN again (though possibly still aspects of re-obs). Funny how sometimes they're easy-peasy to navigate and sometimes they really sink in.

One thing though, even though both emotionally, physically and from what the kasina looks like I can tell i'm out of the worst of it, the kasina remains muted as it was yesterday, even in later phases. When sitting last night even though there was the one fruition, after that it would repeatedly go to Nothing and then remain there without cycling again. I sat for an hour and thirty minutes before bed and it mostly just remained in Nothing. It's similarly low energy today even though i'm feeling better. I'm not sure if this is a shift into an even more subtle phase of this practise, or if it's time to stick a fork in this retreat. Instinct tells me it's done and I can just relax and integrate for a while, but i'm aware of the "roll up the mat" thing, and wondering if that's all that's going on. Maybe I just need to accept that it's not doing what I expected and just keep going anyhow.

Update: I should know better by now lol, but yes just letting go of what I thought it should look like seemed to move things forward again. It was still weak so I just sat in what looked like the late stage of vj6 for a while and just attended to the flickering. Unlike last night I also used the mantra. Within about 15 minutes there was an unexpected subtle falling forward and then blip etc, after that it brightened for a bit and then went back up to late vj6 again though pretty subtle. The phases look more similar (monochromatic and lower intensity) and the kasina is usually smaller than before. What was also different about that sit is usually i'd have to go all the way up to stable vj7 and get a little dreamy before a fruition (except some repeats), this seemed like more of a vj6.j8 > blip thing though i'm just guessing. The kasina was also triangular in the beginning, which i've seen before but isn't too common.

Update2: I'm starting to wonder if that dreamy state that often occurs before a fruition is a soft or quick dip into j8, and those two really odd states were hard or longer duration versions of it. I've described it as distracted before because it's similar to that first odd state in that I can't really tell you what I was "dreaming" of during that time. There is a feeling of shifting, but I couldn't tell you what shifted to where, and in the harder versions of that state it's like the perception of time doesn't exist (or is slowed down significantly). Maybe i'm just trying to convince myself.

Update3: Was thinking about how i'd expected the kasina to look different, and the thought "I need to just let it be what it is" arose and then I busted out laughing at the idea, like it needs permission. It's not just silly that one sensation could allow or deny another sensation to be what it is, but even the idea that it's possible for a sensation to be other than what it is made me giggle. I thought I already knew this lol.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/22/19 8:22 AM as a reply to Lars.
I mentioned before that the kasina practise is like a concentration meter and a nana gps system. I just realized that it's also like a clinging/aversion meter. When in the state of Nothing any clinging to name/form (though there is still a subtle focus on nothing) cause visual forms to arise. If they're dropped then those forms fade back to Nothing. If Nothing is dropped, 8th. When name/form are dropped completely, *blip*. It allows you to watch the process until it really burns in that clinging to name/form leads to becoming and that letting go of it leads to cessation.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/22/19 3:53 PM as a reply to Lars.
I've been doing 20 minutes of fire kasina the past few nights. I find it difficult to take to but that may be related to my current state involving lots of energy movements. When I can no longer see the flame impression there is still concentration there. Do you ever keep with that concentration even when the flame impression has completely disappeared or do you immediately return to the physical object to burn-in another kasina?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/22/19 4:28 PM as a reply to Bardo.
That was one of the important insights into this practise, that the kasina just does (or doesn't) do its thing and your only job is to attend to it, even when it seems to have faded or become something you didn't expect. Daniel makes this point repeatedly at the beginning of the fire kasina book (read it if you haven't already, I found it very helpful) and it can't be repeated enough. If it gets completely shy and won't come back after an extended period of time you're free to refresh it, though sometimes just continuing to attend to where it "should" be can cause it to move forward into another phase. For example when transitioning from vj4 to vj5 the kasina and murk seem to fade away for a while as breadth of space becomes the focus, but that's not a mistake or a problem, it's just part of the cycle and eventually it returns in a different form. That focus on space also occurs naturally when appropriate by continuing to just attend, it reveals itself without effort.

One other thing, the degree of playful curiosity seems to be a big factor. The kasina is like a little kid or a puppy, if you're interested and curious about playing with it, it responds in kind. If you're bored, frustrated or expecting it to be something other than what it is, it usually takes its ball and goes home.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/22/19 8:08 PM as a reply to Lars.
Last night I was sitting at my desk and decided to do the listening to music exercise again now that the practise had progressed. Eventually it settled into the transition into Nothing, and sometimes Nothing. When it rested in nothing the music took on a richness that was beautiful. It was like selfing and particularization were so attenuated that there was just sound (though not even the concept of sound or music was really a thing). The kazoo player faded, the sense of there being a hearer fell away and even the distinction between singing, melody, beat etc faded. Whenever I fell back out of Nothing i'd realize I had that big grin on my face and there was bliss.

Now I also know why I like a song by Billie Eilish (Everything I Wanted). It has a dance beat to it despite being very whispery and mellow. However at the beginning of the song before the bass drum starts thumping the piano volume increases and decreases in a pulsing fashion at the same BPM as the drums eventually will. It's as if silence is thumping like a bass drum. That thumping silence is like an audible version of the pulsing nothingness when transitioning into Nothing using the kasina practise. When they're both happening at the same time it's hypnotic.

Update: Went on a walk just as the sun was setting. The sky was bright orange and red and starting to fade into the blackness, and it reflected in all the windows of the houses and cars. There were colorful christmas lights everywhere and the orange streetlights were just turning on. It was absolutely beautiful, similar to the music last night. The color and vividness of the earlier phase of the kasina practise is coming back somewhat. It's like a merging of the subtle and vivid phases.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/23/19 12:10 AM as a reply to Lars.
Kasina is back to just hanging out in vj6>vj7 transition, getting close but never tipping over into fruition unless I sit for a while. It seems to also apply to activity as well, listening to music, watching a show, going for a walk etc. The kasina remains fairly muted most of the time, but that's not a bad thing. The greed for fruitions seems to be gone, which is amusing considering how much I wanted confirmation of them before. It feels like previous insights are refining, the weak spots reveal themselves and autocorrect. The vj6>vj7 transition and sometimes dipping into vj7 a little is an interesting place to investigate dharma related stuff, it's about as far as I can go without investigation causing a backslide.

Update: Just realized that the state after 8th would be a better state to investigate from. 8th is still not reliable for me and I don't fully understand it, so it can't hurt to play with the entrance to it some more. I just remember that after those two "odd" states there was an almost uncomfortable level of concentration (though I wasn't used to it yet). The first time it felt like my head was inflated far past capacity for a couple of hours.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/24/19 12:38 AM as a reply to Lars.
This retreat basically started on the 2nd with the eye injection and resulting colors which eventually became a kasina. It's been a little over 20 days now and it feels like it's done, though practise will continue. I seem to have achieved the goals I set early on in the retreat, and the car seems to do what a car should. That said, i'm going to give it a year and a day to see if the car keeps puttering along.

Thanks to everyone who helped out before and during this retreat. Much metta to all, i'm going to relax for a bit and integrate all this.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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12/23/19 2:30 PM as a reply to Lars.
Sounds like a great idea. Take your much deserved rest, and thanks again for sharing.

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12/23/19 3:07 PM as a reply to Michial N.
It was useful to do the log during the retreat, and hopefully it will be of some benefit now that it's done. Thanks again for your help, you struck a good balance between being supportive when needed, and just leaving me to do the practise when things went smoothly. Much appreciated. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/1/20 1:34 PM as a reply to Lars.
Took a week off (about 1hr meditation a day), now increasing sitting time again slowly. As expected concentration dropped off fairly quickly, but the kasina remains. It was muted during the break but it's slowly getting more vivid again, like it's repeating a more subtle version of the first phase of the retreat. Though the kasina is often muted, the major nana transitions are still obvious. A&P still comes on strong followed by mellow dissolution, DN is murky but becoming more detailed, Re-obs is still very energetic and obvious compared to the DN. EQ phases are more subtle than before but the transition from vj6 to vj7 is still clear. The pulsing white/black eye is pretty obvious even when smaller or lower intensity. It also pretty much autopilots to vj7 like before, and seems to like staying there. If I just continue sitting once there, it eventually goes to j8 so i'm slowly getting more experience with that state. The transition is a little clearer now and i'm able to relax into it more than before. It's still the state I have least experience or understanding of so i'll just keep at it in a relaxed way until it's clearer (and clearer what the following states are).

Something new, once vj7 has faded and in the "dreamy" phase, there are sometimes odd visuals that I haven't seen before. It looks like the kasina returns and becomes a small room or environment. It appears to contain people moving around, but I can't see who they are or what they're doing, it's not detailed enough. Usually when in that territory there aren't cohesive visuals (except for short vivid images prior to a fruition etc) so it's a little odd, not sure if it's occurring in j8 or if i'm moving forward or falling back once there.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/2/20 3:33 PM as a reply to Lars.
I'm wondering if i'm using the jhana notation correctly in some cases. Sometimes Nothing is a harder state (usually when doing corpse pose), in which case I describe it as j7 since it's more of a deeper samatha version. Usually however it's more of a softer vipassana version in which I investigate more, where i've been calling it vj7. When looking through MCTB and some other sources the other day I noticed that they only recognize vj1 through vj4 (with the latter lining up with the equanimity nana) and don't mention formless vipassana jhanas. Is what i've been describing as vj7 actually vj4.j7? Not sure if it matters too much since both are versions of a similar state, but i'd like to use the terminology correctly. There are enough maps and notation systems out there without creating yet another one.  emoticon

One of the reasons I ask this is that last night when the white/black eye was pulsing (transition to j7 or vj4.j7) it started turning into the "worlds" again where I could see people moving about within the kasina. As it pulsed the scenes would change and eventually the entire visual field was full of what looked like people interacting within an environment. It looked like the kasina was an eye shaped TV screen displaying black and white infared images where the people were bright and the environment was more dark. When it went full visual field it was similar, but constantly morphing and changing. I could see the people waving their arms and gesticulating at each other, walking, running etc but not enough detail to see who they were or what the environment they were in was. It went from being transition to Nothing, to more of a j4 style vivid environment, which suggested it's more likely to be vj4.j7 than j7. It was a little strange watching the pulsing eye turning into people and places. Usually it leads to the absence of visual forms, not proliferation of them. Probably overthinking this lol, but it's something I wondered about during the retreat as well.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/2/20 10:13 PM as a reply to Lars.
Sat tonight and just watched it go wherever it wanted, eventually led to 7th territory and spaced out for a bit. Suddenly there was a falling backwards (usually it's forward) and a *blip*. The kasina went back to the bright A&P form and then started to fade into dissolution again. The funny part was that today i'm wearing a heart halter to monitor my heart function for 24 hrs. I'm supposed to log any activity or anything that might change heart function. I'm half tempted to log the fruition on the form (30 minutes into the sit which I did log) and see if the doctor notices anything at that point in the data. As interesting as that would be, I won't lol.

There was some of the visual stuff mentioned before, but not as intensely as last night. It was only after that phase ended and I got a little spaced out that the blip happened.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/3/20 3:12 PM as a reply to Lars.
Very nice Lars. Such a unique approach and I admit that I was really uncertain that you would get any traction with this approach, but it really does seem like SE and review. Congratulations. Still wait a year and a day of course before claiming anything, because I'm not the toughest judge of people progress. emoticon

For what it's worth, my main lingering question is "How much is Lars noticing things like urges, emotions, and thoughts? All he reports are sensations and visual effects." 

Any thoughts on what you might focus on next? Refining jhana? Or other visualizations? Any other techniques or theories that you are interested in?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/3/20 5:14 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the feedback. Regarding urges, emotions and thoughts, yes that's a focus though admittedly I log the visual or jhanic factor stuff more often. The only way I got through all the "ox bucking" phases during the retreat was by noticing that I was expecting/anticipating or rejecting instead of just being with whatever was happening. I saw one of your posts regarding noting during re-observation and equanimity and it lined up incredibly well with what I was feeling and thinking during those phases. I tend to notice that stuff more when i'm struggling, and less when things are going smoothly. It's a skill that could still use some development.

As for the focus going forward, i'm interested in learning more about j8 and the states past that point (and getting deeper into the prior jhanas as well). Also, learning the distinctions between the samatha and vipassana jhanas (particularly formless aspects) and how to describe/investigate them more clearly. Whatever the visuals are that i'm seeing in the last week would be interesting to get a little more clarity on as well, but that will likely unfold like everything else when it's "ready". Part of what the retreat experience showed me is just how much concentration and other factors increase when practise is consistent and focused (and playful), and how they fade once the retreat ends. I'll probably do another retreat soon when conditions are appropriate.

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1/3/20 6:03 PM as a reply to Lars.
Sounds good. For what it's worth, people with minds that tend toward jhana seem to do well making that the main focus during road second path. It will also be intresting to see the extent to which your body/mind are being re-wired. That really common after SE.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/3/20 8:05 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the suggestion, i'll just keep alternating between vipassana and samatha jhanas and see what happens as they go deeper. I did some more reading today on the vipassana jhanas and apparently I misunderstood something i'd read earlier. The current version of MCTB2 lists 7 vipassana jhanas with 8th being basically beyond investigation, so it's not considered a vipassana jhana. This seems to match my experience so i'm a little less confused lol. I should really just go buy a physical copy so I can refer to it more easily.

As for rewiring, i'm interested as well. Even prior A&P events brought noticeable changes. One thing i'm noticing now is that after learning a few things i'm realizing how much I don't know, similar to how I realized prior to the retreat that I didn't actually know diddly-squat about kasina practise. It's almost like there's something to that whole beginner mind thing. emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/4/20 1:55 AM as a reply to Lars.
Sat again and when the kasina started sparking slightly I focused on the sparks (i'd ignored sparks since the early phase of the recent retreat). As before they started growing and forming shapes etc but this time there was a width of space that wasn't there initially the last time. It was also full visual field instead of just the kasina most of the time. It's like the narrow and wide phases are overlapping, and it also feels like the retreat sequence is starting over again. Focusing on color, movement, detail and shape instead of nothing is causing it to come back again quickly. The muted aspect of it previously probably wasn't totally due to concentration level, but also what I was attending to.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/6/20 2:34 PM as a reply to Lars.
For the last couple of days there's been an interesting tug of war. Focusing on the sparks and color/detail etc is making them stronger again, but it seems like it still prefers to hang out in nothing. The focus on the sparks feels forced, so i'm backing off and letting it just go where it wants. Last night when doing so it got very deep again after getting to 7th. That said, when focusing on the sparks etc it has been getting very detailed, more than the initial phase of the retreat. It also seems highly suggestible, at one point the murk looked vaguely grid-like and when I mentally noted that, the murk became a very detailed and cohesive grid. It then began iterating on the grid, each cell becoming a sub-grid etc. The kasina is also getting very detailed and vivid with eyes open again, though it often becomes more subdued when I close my eyes to look at it. Experimenting with using the blackout shades during some sits, and not using them in others. Total blackness seems to make it easier to see the detail in the kasina, some background light seems to make it easier for the murk to form into shapes since there's a "basis" to grow from.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/10/20 7:02 AM as a reply to Lars.
The last few days have been mostly similar. When sitting I don't focus on anything in particular and eventually the pulsing eye arrives, and then eventually nothing. The visuals which eventually arise at this point are more complex and 3D, I suspect i'm getting bored with nothing and when mind starts to wander the visual forms arise. When I find them interesting they grow even more. When I drop the interest in the visuals they fade pretty quick back to nothing. I'm starting to understand how some can become jhana junkies, after sitting in nothing (or falling into 8th, which still seems to be mostly accidental) it's incredibly restful and relaxing, and I feel almost high for a while afterwards. Some part of me wants to do more vipassana style sits, but samatha has always been a weaker side of my practise so i'll stick with this for now and see where it leads.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/14/20 10:44 AM as a reply to Lars.
Sits continue to move more into the samatha side of things. Last night it went to nothingness as usual, but then slipped back a little into a deeper version of 6th. It was very relaxed, stayed there for about an hour. When coming out of it I noticed there was some tension in the heart area, like it felt contracted. I let go of it and it felt really nice, it was as if my chest opened up. The kasina aspects of this continue to be muted unless I focus on them. The visions have mostly faded for now. More emotional content in the last few days than before, though it's fairly mellow.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/17/20 7:19 PM as a reply to Lars.
The last few days have been a mix of samatha and kasina practise, read some of the older texts on jhanas and some things are a little clearer (like the relationship between 4th and formless jhanas). Also got a few pointers on 8th and specifically the transition into it. As during the retreat it seems like instincts are usually on the right track and it's when I question what's happening that I struggle. A while after the retreat it felt like there was a mild DN phase (misery in particular), but then I started to wonder if it was just that i'm more sensitive lately. When I go out i'm noticing a lot of wordless judgements of people and things similar to what I noted during the retreat. Clinging and aversion are easier to see, which is both interesting and a little humbling. I can let it go and it's not a big deal, but it's still a little odd to see it (and the resulting stress). It feels like a repeat of earlier stages in practise where seeing negative things is actually a good thing, not bad practise though it can feel like a mistake at first.

In one case today I was watching someone on the bus who was freaking out over nothing and there was both sympathy but also a mild judgement that he was causing himself (and others) suffering. When I noticed the judging I saw how that was causing suffering as well. When i'm at home I notice the way I try to avoid boredom or responsibilities with various things. There's been a snowstorm here for about a week so it's been like an unintentional mini-retreat. Since i've been sitting more the kasina is stronger again, though it becomes very subtle if it's not the focus. Mostly I "just sit" until the pulsing blackness and then hang out in nothingness or backtrack a little and watch visual forms growing out of and dissolving back into nothing. After so many years of being a stress puppy it's nice being able to settle down.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/21/20 12:49 PM as a reply to Lars.
Emotional stuff continues to bubble up, went for a walk with a friend yesterday and noticed I was complaining a lot and taking things personally (not things she'd said but things we were talking about). Again I suspect this is actually normal and i'm just becoming more sensitive to it. Sitting still goes deep versus vipassana style, last night the kasina got so muted that the pulsing black eye was very small and barely visible. At one point something happened which has happened a few times in the last week. When space was apparent instead of feeling like I was within that space, it felt like space was a massive balloon that I was pressed up against instead of being inside of. It felt like my face was pushing up against space and I could actually feel sensations of something against my face. Despite the space pushing/pulling aspect it didn't lead to a fruition and didn't seem to interfere with the ability to move on to nothingness. Also for the last few days when I wake up there are vivid visuals for a few seconds with eyes closed. Lots of particles and stuff in the murk, with vivid symbols or text in the center of the visual field. Today it was a very clear question mark within the kasina. After a few seconds it fades.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/26/20 6:00 PM as a reply to Lars.
Last few days have been an interesting mix. At first I thought I was going through the early nanas again, lots of physical pain and tension. However I can feel my lymph nodes are very swollen and the pain seems associated with that, so it's most likely just the medical issues (swelling and inflammation in the lymphatic system is part of this condition). This made it hard to sleep and concentrate and it felt like meditation was faltering. Last night when sitting only the A&P phase was clear, everything else was vague and muddy. Even the pulsing black was almost imperceptible. However this doesn't really feel like a problem, only transient states and sensations like always. Deep down it feels like it's ok, and it couldn't be any other way than what it is. The 3C's are very apparent during this sort of thing, which makes it easier to let go of. That said I can see how the pain causes me to react more quickly to things that I would normally be more accepting or patient with.

Recently there's some aversion to posting. Multiple times i've wanted to give feedback in someone else's thread, I write a reply and then cancel it. I also wrote practise logs a couple times and then cancelled them.

Generally the last week or so feels like an odd mix of DN/Re-obs and some EQ elements, like being in the middle of a rainy thunderstorm and just sitting in the midst of it. The visions upon waking continue, I keep seeing clearly defined text surrounded by particles that I can read, but upon fully waking I forget what it said.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/28/20 4:56 PM as a reply to Lars.
This particular "storm" seems to have passed (or at the very least reduced). Still a little trouble sleeping last night, but eventually I got some rest. When waking up this morning instead of being sluggish I immediately got up, had a shower and did laundry etc. I feel more present and accepting versus overwhelmed and aversive. Last night when sitting there was a vague unsettling "scream" far in the background, like some part of me was freaking out. I just sat with it for a while and it faded in intensity though it's still there, like hearing a sound off in the distance being drowned out by the wind.

Another vision of text this morning, this time I was able to remember after waking up. It was made up of words, but it was meaningless, like "purple monkey dishwasher". Technically words, but nonsensical when put together. I suspect it's just the cycle starting again at A&P upon waking. I keep smiling and finding things funny since early last night, which is usually indicative of EQ, but if that's the case it's likely early EQ, not mature. I'm a little surprised the transition happened so quickly. It may be due to using the mantra again last night (which i'd mostly dropped without intending to since the retreat). The mantra Love is great, since it works as a mantra, actually means something to me versus a sanskrit/pali mantra I don't understand or feel anything about, and also functions as metta practise. As well it's easy to remember and repeat so the discriminating mind doesn't get engaged as much. I've also been using "peaceful, peaceful" when in 7th as suggested in the Visuddhimagga. It seems to help relax and deepen the state though 8th is still shy and only presents occasionally.

Still, it's only been a day or so, for all I know another storm is just over the horizon.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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1/29/20 3:05 AM as a reply to Lars.
Did corpse pose for a couple hours, there was some distraction and thoughts, but then it got fairly deep into 7th and I did the "peaceful, peaceful" thing for a bit. Then that sense of being pushed up against space happened again. This time when I could feel it pressing on my face I just kept repeating "peaceful" and it started pushing through me until I ended up inside the space. It didn't feel like 5th, it looked like I was just above a massive wheat field late at night with only minimal moonlight, so it wasn't very detailed. There wasn't really a sense of the body, but some sense of location. There was a vague sense of a forest or mountains in the periphery and a horizon far off in the distance. It wasn't a scary creepy kind of darkness, it was very peaceful and serene. Thoughts and investigation started and caused it to destabilize. Didn't seem to be 8th since it had a vague visual form, though it had that peaceful restful aspect.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/2/20 11:32 PM as a reply to Lars.
Meditation hasn't changed much in the last few days, though i've noticed something about off cushion behaviour. After the retreat, part of the "storm" I described was misery related impulses showing up and then fading away, then coming back etc. Even after the worst of that has passed I continue to have some of those impulses, but they seem to have less fertile ground to grow in. It's like the part of me that chases pleasurable sensory experiences is bummed out that it's not working as well anymore and it trying desperately to get it back. Whenever I do though, it almost immediately fizzles out and is seen to be unsatisfactory. Yet that impulse arises again. It's like a guy who wants to pick up a bright orange object on the ground, but then immediately drops it when he realizes it's a burning hot coal, and as soon as it hits the ground he wants to pick it up again. I know it's a hot coal, but i'm so used to picking it up... I should probably be noting that confusion and clinging. Some of it is "useful" in a conventional sense, which muddies the waters a bit. Lost myself in the guitar for a few days and learned some riffs and solos i'd wanted to learn for a while, but noticed how annoying the resulting ear worms and obsessive practising could be. Started exercising more and like the results, but also notice the effects on my diet and pain levels (and that the results I like are related to striving and ego). Etc etc. I'm reminded of the thread regarding elements a few days back, it's like i'm trying to distract myself with activity (and intensity).

The sense of smell seems stronger, being on the bus the other day was a little gross. One guy was drowned in cologne to cover the joint he'd obviously smoked before leaving for work, both were overpowering and clear. Each person who got close to me seemed to have their own pungent aroma. When I cook or eat the smell of food is almost too strong. Walking up the multiple flights of stairs to a friends apartment I noticed particular strong smells in multiple individual spots where normally it's just generally "funky" all the way up the stairs. I noticed this a week or so ago and it seems to be continuing. Taste is also a little off, the coffee creamer that i've used for years recently tastes artificial and weak (maybe they just changed the recipe lol).

More visual stuff upon waking, the other day instead of text it was a whole visual field of small screens, about 10 screens per line and maybe 15 lines. Each screen was displaying a different signal and the lines of screens were moving left and right. I'm sleeping better again, for a while there it was maximum 4 or 5 hours a night, getting closer to normal sleep patterns now.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/6/20 11:36 AM as a reply to Lars.
The kasina seems to be slowly powering up again. The swirling phase after dissolution ends is clearer and in general there's more detail and color. Continuing to use the "peaceful, peaceful" thing once I reach 7th. Last night there was a pushing space feeling again, though it didn't push through me like the last practise log. This time I ended up in a space that was bright green, it looked like I was facing the ground and there appeared to be pebbles and rocks scattered about. Prior to reaching the green space there was another vision of someone moving around within a space and then disappearing. It seems to be common in the last few weeks that I see people in some sort of environment, and when I get closer they move behind an object and then disappear before I can get close enough to see them more clearly. I don't think any of this really means anything, if anything I continue to suspect i'm clinging to perception at some level which is why i'm getting these states instead of 8th. My favourite practise used to be breaking up sounds into squeaks and squeals, lately it's watching visual forms growing out of and collapsing back into nothing.

The misery impulse stuff is mellowing out, and dreams are becoming more vivid and remembered more easily. Went to the opthalmologist again and they said no shot this month, though i'll probably get another next month. If it causes the same reaction as last time i'll probably do another home retreat if circumstances allow.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/13/20 12:30 PM as a reply to Lars.
Mundane stuff is more prevalent lately, an old employer is trying to bring me back despite the medical issues. Unfortunately they're very desperate and actually suggesting potentionally illegal methods to bring me back, which I want no part of. I've been simplifying my life lately where I can, and it's as if they want to undo all that and make things as complicated as they can be lol. It's also having an influence on friends who still work there, it's just odd seeing the whole thing play out. I feel grateful that i'm not in a desperate financial situation, so i'm able to look at things more objectively (hopefully).

Continuing to meditate usually twice a day, though not always for long periods. I usually get up to 7th and then either sit there for a while or end the session. My interest in 8th and beyond seems pretty mellow at the moment. I was getting into some odd states after 7th recently, it's possible i'm being aversive. Sometimes when i'm in new territory I seek stability by sliding backwards a bit. The visuals upon waking in the morning are fading, though dream recall is increased generally. The kasina becomes fairly muted if practise time is reduced, but goes back to usual levels after a day or two of increased practise. Emotional stuff is still bubbling up to some degree, but it continues to settle down over time. Mostly just more of the same lately.

I found out that someone I know has a son with similar visual issues to mine, and gets the same kasina type objects in the visual field, though they don't use them as meditation objects. A friend was telling me I should mention the kasina practise, but I don't want to get preachy or push practises on people. I'm not even sure he has any interest in meditation practise.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/18/20 2:24 PM as a reply to Lars.
The ex-employer thing worked itself out without any shenanigans, thankfully.

Been practising a little more after getting lazy for a few days, kasina is brighter and cycles are more detailed again. I didn't mention previously, but I haven't been refreshing the kasina since the retreat, it just kind of hangs around with intensity varying by how much I practise. The grasping misery style stuff seems to be working itself out, and things feel a little more like desire for deliverance or early re-obs. Doesn't really matter, it goes where it goes. I like the "arahant or no?" mapping style lately, it's useful when the desire to map or strive after progress gets distracting.

I've been noticing some more odd stuff after waking, a few times now i've woken up to a distinct and clear breath, but it doesn't feel like "my" breath. It's like i'm waking up to the experience of someone else breathing my lungs (or lungs breathing themselves). Reminds me of some of the stuff Polly has been posting lately. The first time there was a spike of fear, like someone had stolen my lungs lol.

Sensory intensity seems to be decreasing somewhat, it was a little much for a while. Still sensitive, but a bit more balanced. One thing i'm noticing a lot is the afterglow from jhana. After even a relatively short session, as long as I get to 7th once I exit meditation I feel like i'm still meditating for a while afterwards, anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours after deeper sessions. At a recent event I went to I felt like I was meditating while walking around interacting with people (i'd meditated right before going) and it actually made it somewhat difficult to interact. People would be very enthusiastically telling me about things but some part of me had no interest in being drawn into it, and there was little interest in forming words or opinions. I had to make an effort to engage and there was some apprehension about being pulled out of that calm. I felt a bit like a kid clinging to his teddy bear and not wanting to put it down when it's time to play with the other kids.

Last night, when I was sitting for a bit my neighbors were being noisy as usual and I got irritated. Then I looked at where that irritation came from and noticed it was mostly due to a feeling of pushing out towards a sound, or pulling back from it. I'd noticed this sort of thing before and I know that sensation doesn't require me to DO anything for it to present itself. However this time that pushing and pulling dropped for a bit and sound just was what it was. Not annoying, not nice, just sound. It was very relaxing to still be hearing all the "annoying" sounds, but not being annoyed by them. I've had a few variations of this experience before, the tendency to try to grasp after or push away sensations is deeply wired apparently.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/22/20 6:47 AM as a reply to Lars.
The kasina began to show itself with eyes open again the other day (it happens sometimes since the retreat, but not as intensely as this). It looked very similar to the re-obs stages from the retreat. Very bright and chaotic (but with minimal color), with both the kasina and periphery of the visual field flickering. The murk was also very chaotic and detailed during a couple of sits. Meditation became more difficult to relax into, sleep is disrupted again, the usual stuff. I was wondering why I didn't feel it emotionally, but then I felt a burst of anger in the shower when someone flushed the toilet and hot water dropped off. Then multiple other small bursts of negativity and contraction from things that would usually provoke some frustration, but not full blown anger. Interestingly the anger drops off almost immediately, it doesn't seem to sustain itself though it's intense for that short burst. It feels like it's starting to mellow out though. It's funny, i'm not really trying to be mappy but it seems to be going through the stages in a very obvious way since the retreat (in addition to the A&P to EQ cycling during each sit). Fruitions have been either rare or i'm not noticing them since the review phase. I'm fine with that, but i'll admit i'm a little excited about what the next EQ phase will be like considering the odd mix of calm and intensity of the other stages since the retreat.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/22/20 9:33 AM as a reply to Lars.
I have never been to any meditative retreat, it must be very nice and enlightening experience .
I bet there must be some pretty advanced people there.
Have you tried directly "reading" their mind state?
You might be not aware how it works or even aware of such process but assume it can work and that it is built-in feature in your mind and just do it... I would assume it might yield interresting results.

Oh... if you are not currently on retreat then you might want to assume you can do it nevertheless.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/22/20 3:44 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
The kasina began to show itself with eyes open again the other day (it happens sometimes since the retreat, but not as intensely as this). It looked very similar to the re-obs stages from the retreat. Very bright and chaotic (but with minimal color), with both the kasina and periphery of the visual field flickering. The murk was also very chaotic and detailed during a couple of sits. Meditation became more difficult to relax into, sleep is disrupted again, the usual stuff. I was wondering why I didn't feel it emotionally, but then I felt a burst of anger in the shower when someone flushed the toilet and hot water dropped off. Then multiple other small bursts of negativity and contraction from things that would usually provoke some frustration, but not full blown anger. Interestingly the anger drops off almost immediately, it doesn't seem to sustain itself though it's intense for that short burst. It feels like it's starting to mellow out though. It's funny, i'm not really trying to be mappy but it seems to be going through the stages in a very obvious way since the retreat (in addition to the A&P to EQ cycling during each sit). Fruitions have been either rare or i'm not noticing them since the review phase. I'm fine with that, but i'll admit i'm a little excited about what the next EQ phase will be like considering the odd mix of calm and intensity of the other stages since the retreat.
So in the next EQ phase, when your concentration is at its peak, you might get some interesting effects if you try swapping places with the kasina.  Instead of being you, looking at the kasina, trying being the kasina, looking at whatever it sees.

:-)

Malcolm

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/22/20 4:10 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:
So in the next EQ phase, when your concentration is at its peak, you might get some interesting effects if you try swapping places with the kasina.  Instead of being you, looking at the kasina, trying being the kasina, looking at whatever it sees.

:-)

Malcolm


Interesting timing on that advice. I was in the pharmacy today waiting for medications and there was a couple standing close to me talking very loudly and pacing back and forth, and there was some irritation (though not as strong as yesterday). Instead of contracting I experimented with seeing the sensations of their movement and talking as "mine". There was an odd merging of my sense of location being at my usual center, but also where they were. When they talked it felt a bit like I was talking, when they moved it felt a bit like I was moving.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/22/20 4:47 PM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Ni Nurta:
I have never been to any meditative retreat, it must be very nice and enlightening experience .
I bet there must be some pretty advanced people there.
Have you tried directly "reading" their mind state?
You might be not aware how it works or even aware of such process but assume it can work and that it is built-in feature in your mind and just do it... I would assume it might yield interresting results.

Oh... if you are not currently on retreat then you might want to assume you can do it nevertheless.

The retreat was done at home alone, only going out when I had to. I sometimes feel like I can tell what others are thinking or feeling, but I make no assumptions that it's "real" (I have a vivid imagination lol). Probably just basic empathy. That said in theory I see no reason that it shouldn't be possible. In my experience the sense of there being a boundary between sensations is illusory, and in theory that should include "my thoughts" and "your thoughts".

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/22/20 7:59 PM as a reply to Lars.
Processing in mind is done in a kind of overlays that have inputs and outputs. There are all sorts of overlays and they are wired in all sorts of ways. They can be thought of as services. Because of convenience and because at some point in time, when we are young, the usual conviguration of overlays is such that strongest one that actually draws on consciousness is one that comprises of opinions made by working on ideas that are result of overlay that classify incoming stimuli. It is kinda like neuron network based image classification program that get raw pixels and recognize a dog and light "dog" output bit with such and such certainty. In the same way all sorts of data from inside mind and which comes from internal/external senses and thoughts is processed before it is then passed to other overlays. Consciousness can be also thought of as overlay that receives stimuli from other overlays. It acts as some sort of broadcast system inside your body.

Configuration of these overlays is different in different people and these work differently also. Some typical patterns of development can be assesd and certainly when using this basic empathy that you mention information about configuration of overlays and even some details about their implementation can be assesed... or simply read out of other people directly.

Empathy itself is an overlay also and its output can be directed to all sorts of other overlays. If for example it gets processed and reduced to set of ideas and opinions then it won't be what I am talking about. What I am talking about when I say to read mind state out of someone is to direct output of this overlay to some sort of overlay which can reconfigure and re-train your mind. This one is similar to normal consciousnes but not quite the same. Different signalling is used for experiences and reconfiguration.

The one issue worth mentioning is that we get very used to the way we are configured. So much so that changing things is scary and the longer we use certain configuration and the less changes of this sort we experienced the more terrified mind is to do it. Not actually having trained mind in using other configuration does not help either. It might take quite some time to actually train own nervous system to use different configurations, especially something that differs greatly from what we did.

Having example, or dare I say "reference" can be helpful because it provides a lot of data to process, training data, and also reassurance that such configuration is workable. Mind does not usually like jumping in to deep waters without any reassurance it won't drown and get eaten by sharks.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 12:43 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Consciousness can be also thought of as overlay that receives stimuli from other overlays. It acts as some sort of broadcast system inside your body.

Sounds similar to the way Culadasa describes it. I'll agree it can be difficult to let go of old overlays once they've become established, though not impossible. My current interest is building concentration and using that for insight practise. I'm definitely not against siddhis and that sort of thing, but it's not my priority at the moment, if they happen they happen.

You remind me of someone who used to post here (and of reading the Enuma Elish in my teens).  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 3:07 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:
So in the next EQ phase, when your concentration is at its peak, you might get some interesting effects if you try swapping places with the kasina.

I'm wondering if you meant this as a method for inducing fruitions (merging/falling into the kasina) or as an insight thing? Either way, i'll give it a go.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 5:12 AM as a reply to Lars.
It is insights that lead to fruitions, isn't it?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 1:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It is insights that lead to fruitions, isn't it?

This seems like a path versus fruition thing. Repeating them doesn't seem to be the same thing as the initial path/cessation that allows for repeating them. In the same ballpark, but not strictly the same, otherwise fruitions would also cause paths wouldn't they? Some people flicker their eyelids to induce fruitions, and while technically that's about impermanence and the three doors it's not quite the same as the initial insight into impermanence (or the other characteristics) that causes cessation. I'm no expert on this so if i'm incorrect don't hesitate to say so. emoticon

Maybe I should have phrased my question like this: "I'm wondering if you meant this as a method for inducing fruitions (merging/falling into the kasina) or as a way to induce cessation/path?"

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 2:17 PM as a reply to Lars.
Do you distinguish between fruition and cessation? I thought those were the same thing. 

Not all fruitions/cessations cause a new path, true, since it is possible to have many ones belonging to the same path, but they all involve insight, right? Or are you using the word fruition differently than in MCTB2?

Do people really flicker their eyes to get a fruition? Are you sure that they know what a fruition is?

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 2:32 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It is insights that lead to fruitions, isn't it?

This seems like a path versus fruition thing. Repeating them doesn't seem to be the same thing as the initial path/cessation that allows for repeating them. In the same ballpark, but not strictly the same, otherwise fruitions would also cause paths wouldn't they? Some people flicker their eyelids to induce fruitions, and while technically that's about impermanence and the three doors it's not quite the same as the initial insight into impermanence (or the other characteristics) that causes cessation. I'm no expert on this so if i'm incorrect don't hesitate to say so. emoticon

Maybe I should have phrased my question like this: "I'm wondering if you meant this as a method for inducing fruitions (merging/falling into the kasina) or as a way to induce cessation/path?"


So usually I'm all for intellectual analysis, to the disappointment of some ... emoticon.  But in this case I'd say just wait to you get super high concentration and try it out.  Talking about it in advance is probably not all that useful.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 2:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Do you distinguish between fruition and cessation? I thought those were the same thing. 

Not all fruitions/cessations cause a new path, true, since it is possible to have many ones belonging to the same path, but they all involve insight, right? Or are you using the word fruition differently than in MCTB2?

Do people really flicker their eyes to get a fruition? Are you sure that they know what a fruition is?

As to whether i'm using it differently, not sure. Regarding flickering the eyes, yes i've heard of a few practitioners using that technique (to repeat fruition). I tried it during the retreat when I was able to repeat fruitions and it got close, but didn't flip the switch. I can see how it would work though, flickering the eye lids quickly causes the visual field to flicker so it can be used as an impermanence door (or suffering if you find it annoying).

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 2:59 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:

So usually I'm all for intellectual analysis, to the disappointment of some ... emoticon.  But in this case I'd say just wait to you get super high concentration and try it out.  Talking about it in advance is probably not all that useful.

I had a feeling your response would be something along those lines, and I don't disagree. I'm posting way more than usual which is classic desire for deliverance and reobs, and mind feels stirred up, which is generally not fruitful <insert laugh track here>. I'll likely be doing another retreat within the next few weeks so i'll wait until then and give it a try. Thanks!

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 5:05 PM as a reply to Lars.
Practicing siddhis is the sllippery slope of insanity...
Thankfully upon enlightenment both sanity and insanity are transcendened so there is nothing left to loose ;)

Real siddhis are enabled by experiences of supermundane path. There are many of these and have various powers. I set one of such experiences, the one that was culmination of my bodhicitta awakening idea and by far my favourite one, as my soul signatiure and password.

I like these ancient belief systems because they do not assume any infinities or permanence of title of supreme God. Pretty much any descendant of any god can contend for this title. This is also the mind set people had in the times of Buddha so perhaps more fitting to understand Buddhism as a whole.

BTW. If I was active on DhO in the past I must have been more angry or something emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/23/20 5:10 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It is insights that lead to fruitions, isn't it?
Meditation if done properly can lead to changes in mind that enable fruitions to happen..
Medation and fruitions which then are followed by the right kind of analysis/contemplation can lead to having insight and just having some experiences does not have to do anything. One can have ordinary meditation induced seizures and that wouldn't give that much insight...

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/20 1:37 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Seizures aren't fruitions. That was kind of my point. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/20 3:55 AM as a reply to Lars.
No offense, but i'd prefer to just get back to the practise versus discussing the finer points of fruitions or cessations or mimics. Like Malcolm said, better to just do it versus talking about it. The answers will reveal themselves naturally anyhow. I hope this doesn't sound snarky, I don't intend it to come off that way.  emoticon

It just occurred to me that recent practise answered a question that I asked during the retreat which was essentially "what's the difference between getting into jhana through attending to the kasina versus attending to the jhanic factors?". When repeating "peaceful, peaceful" after getting into 7th via the kasina, it basically switches gears from vipassana jhana to samatha jhana. Doing so causes it to become much more of a hard jhana versus soft (and harder jhana had been difficult to ease into previously). It's cool that you can use more vipassana style techniques to reach a certain jhana and then "convert" it to samatha by shifting attention (and vice versa). I think I knew this at some level but it's clearer now.

While reading some texts tonight I started to feel like I was in jhana so I closed my eyes. Usually at the beginning of a sit there's a quick flash of the A&P phase of the kasina, followed by dissolution etc up to EQ. This time when I closed my eyes it was already somewhere in the DN phase doing the swirling purple kasina. I seem to recall someone else mentioning something similar in another thread. It's interesting that just reading dhamma texts can give it a nudge in that direction (and to verify this using the kasina phases). Usually it jumps ahead when I sit for a while attending to the kasina, get distracted for a bit in 4th territory, recognize that and drop the distraction, and the kasina re-appears already at the 6th to 7th transition. Once in a while this also happens outside of meditation, but not as common.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/20 5:47 AM as a reply to Lars.
No offense taken. emoticon That sounds like a very wise decision. Best of luck with your practice! And it doesn't sound snarky at all. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/20 3:13 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
After I posted last night I decided to do a short sit before bed. After a few minutes restlessness set in, but I kept going and it turned into a 1.5 hour sit. The intensity of the kasina was crazy toward the end, I don't even remember what I saw but it was similar to the vivid phase of the kasina retreat. (Update: I now remember there was more of that "people in an environment" thing, and this time instead of being solid white they were detailed and I could see their clothes and faces). I went to bed to sleep but ended up doing corpse pose for another 1.5 hours. The kasina (which as usual looks like my eye) at one point turned on an angle and seemed to be looking down and to the left. A golden smoky beam of light shone out of the eye and created very detailed visual forms that were 3D and translucent, like a 3D projector or hologram system. Then it just went crazy again and the full visual field filled with complex 3D imagery. At one point it was intense enough that I opened my eyes and it just continued overlaid on the ceiling of my apartment (it looked like a mass of tentacles writhing around). The funny part was I didn't really intend to open my eyes and it took a few seconds for me to realize that my eyes were open and yet I was still seeing the visuals. There was also a pulsing of white light in the visual field after the forms faded. I almost got up to post in this log but decided to try and sleep. It was difficult to fall asleep, I kept falling into waking dreams, coming out of them, falling back in, but not really falling asleep. Eventually I did sleep for about 5 hours. In a way I wish i'd gotten up to log in more detail, but the content doesn't really matter.

After the retreat I didn't do much extended sitting, just enough to maintain concentration and the kasina. I'm a little surprised how quickly it escalated after just one evening of longer sits. I have a feeling i'm back in early EQ again, which is amusing because i'd intended to do a retreat in a few weeks, I may be doing it sooner. It's almost like i'm not in control of this.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/24/20 11:43 PM as a reply to Lars.
Sat again and the kasina phases are getting more distinct and detailed. It seems to be similar to how it looked a few days into the retreat. Once it got to 7th one of those little environments with people in them showed up. For some reason I just wasn't interested so I mentally noted "nothing, nothing" to return to a more refined 7th. Instead the one "world" split into two, which then multipled until there was what looked like a huge tree with branches in the murk and each world was on a different branch. The tree almost looked like it was made of earth, but it was more fuzzy than the worlds. I have to admit it made me wonder about seeing past lives but that isn't something i'm trying to do, and they weren't on a string in a series like i've usually heard it described (let alone actually experiencing those lives in first person). I also have no idea who those people are so it doesn't really have any meaning to me. Chalking it up as just another interesting kasina quirk.

A while ago I commented that jhana and kasina phases aren't like ordering pizza, but i've been experimenting with getting to 7th and then adding toppings. The "peaceful, peaceful" thing works well to harden 7th and go deeper, so I also tried bliss and concentration. Bliss worked as you'd expect (and the visual field began to brighten), and concentration made me feel like I just drank a cup of coffee but also made my posture straighten up and head tilt up. Not pure versions of 7th, but interesting.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 1:28 AM as a reply to Lars.
Great!  Keep going. Don't forget to swap. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 1:59 AM as a reply to Lars.
Given this topic of fruitions is at least as big and boundless space it does not make any sense to continue it here.

Your practice reports motivated me to try and do more serious kasina/visualization practice.
I usually practice meditation for some period of time and then do reduced set of things that meditation enabled me to do and then go to meditation again. As you can imagine things get harder during periods of not meditating. During periods I practice and some time after that I will hit jhanas doing concentration intensive tasks and this will then get less and less frequent and less intense. Not impossible though. It is just that not only it gets techically harder but mind tend to forget things it can do when not doing them regularly. At least the one thing I did practice that I got from last period of meditation four-five years ago I got refined so much that I can do it as easily as I could do then and I often get vivid images when falling asleep and dreams.

Anyhow, great practice you got there.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 1:59 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Thanks, I try not to force anything too much but i'll try the swapping thing again when it seems appropriate.

Just to make shargrol happy, when I was considering whether that actually was past life stuff I felt confusion, nervousness, striving, questioning, fear, excitement and a few others in addition to physical tension (particularily in the neck) and mildly shaky hands.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 2:09 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
Ni Nurta:

Your practice reports motivated me to try and do more serious kasina/visualization practice.


Glad to hear it, it's a really fun practise which makes it easier to maintain interest in. As you mentioned consistent practise is key, it was what finally got me through the doldrums i'd been stuck in for a while.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 2:27 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Thanks, I try not to force anything too much but i'll try the swapping thing again when it seems appropriate.

Just to make shargrol happy, when I was considering whether that actually was past life stuff I felt confusion, nervousness, striving, questioning, fear, excitement and a few others in addition to physical tension (particularily in the neck) and mildly shaky hands.  emoticon

Definitely worth keeping Shargrol happy! He really knows his stuff. 

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 6:39 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Don't forget to note "past lives thoughts" emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 2:12 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Don't forget to note "past lives thoughts" emoticon

Lol, my noting vocabulary has been expanding a bit lately, adding a new one to the pile.

Sat again last night for an hour or so, i'll admit the positive feedback gave me a little rush of pride, which not surprisingly then turned to dukkha when I wanted to sit, but some part of me wanted to bask in the pride instead. During the sit the kasina stuff was surprisingly muted, as if it was already moving into the subtle phase. Not going to make any assumptions based on one sit though.

During the sit there was one thing that was very vivid, after sitting in nothing for a while a bright gold "ingot" appeared at the top of the visual field. It looked like it was glowing and as I watched it began to rise slowly above my head until it went out of view (though I could see the glow). It was as if my view tilted a little so I could watch it going up, it seemed to go a few feet above my head. Then it came back down until visible again and turned silver, seemed to turn into some sort of symbol and then faded. When I had a kundalini opening a couple years ago I saw what looked like the crown burning with golden fire, this reminded me of that even though i'm not experiencing any significant energetic stuff at the moment.

I'm going to continue practise at current levels for a bit as I have some mundane stuff getting in the way of a retreat right now, but I should be able to start another home retreat around March 5th. I'll also possibly be getting another eye injection on that day so it might boost the kasina again, I find it funny that to some degree i'm looking forward to an injection.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 3:21 PM as a reply to Lars.
Hey Lars,
Since you reply to the latest post when publishing a new post, now your log doesn't display correctly on a full screen browser (I am using Chrome on Mac), and horizontal scroll is needed. So I suggest you reply to the first entry of your log the next time you post. Although I am not sure it would resolve this problem.

Another point about following your log, I still don't know what definition you use for kasina, and also things like 7th and 8th jhanas. It would be good to have a definition for these terms, since it seems that you are using them differently from say Daniel in MCTB. That would make following your log easier. Just a suggestion, if you would like to. Thanks :-)

Best wishes :-)

-- Edit:
I wrote this post by replying to the first entry of this thread, but it still have the same horizontal scroll problem, since the whole thread have this problem. Maybe a new thread!? ;-)

RE: Lars' Practise Log
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2/25/20 5:43 PM as a reply to Siavash.
I was waiting for someone to say my log was too long lol, i'll start a new one in the next few days.

Regarding terminology, i'm not sure how i'm using them differently but i'm open to feedback. I define kasina as any visual image which can be used as a meditation object (usually the mental afterimage that gets burned in by light sources). Prior to the eye injection I got them from the usual sources like candles or bright lights. After the eye issues and injection a persistent object formed in the visual field that could be used as a kasina with eyes open, or when closing them i'd see an afterimage of that object which I could also use. In the period since the injection the physical version has faded, and I mostly see the afterimage version (though just to make things confusing when concentration is high I see it with eyes open too, or some mix of the two). I can tell the difference because the physical version is mostly static, just a greyish half transparent blob in the shape of my iris caused by retinal damage. The kasina (afterimage) version flickers and changes colors and shapes though the initial shape is still like my iris. Keep in mind it's a "non-traditional" kasina so it might not follow all the usual rules, though it's still very useable. The reason I said the injection will likely boost the kasina is because when the visual object is present with eyes open (retinal damage version) it's like staring at a candle all day, it makes the afterimage version more intense just like staring at a light source all day would.

As for 7th I define it as Nothingness. When I first got into that state the slightest bit of thinking or clinging would cause it to fall apart, it's now much more stable and I can experiment while in it, though doing so causes visual forms to arise. If I let go of that stuff it returns to Nothingness. In that state the only real object is the subtle sense of "nothing" which as i've noted before is subtle but still a thing. Since the retreat if I stay in 7th for a while visions start forming (like the "worlds" I mentioned earlier). I'll admit I was confused when those showed up since usually 7th lacks visual forms, but i'm just rolling with it for now. 8th happens when I basically defocus so i'm not really paying attention to the center, or the murk (but not focusing on space either) and just relax and let go of even nothingness. Eventually I feel slightly distracted and dreamy, space feels like it's shifting or bending, and it gets into 8th which generally leads to a fruition. Lately I haven't been getting into 8th much, mind seems to like playing with 7th for now. I suspect it's because I can't really investigate or experiment in 8th, and fruitions cause the cycle to start over again. 7th allows me to experiment with all kinds of stuff, and if it strays too far from 7th I can just relax and it tends to autopilot back again to a more refined Nothingness. If that's still unclear feel free to ask more questions, it's entirely possible i'm using terms incorrectly.  emoticon

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
2/25/20 5:38 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
I was waiting for someone to say my log was too long lol, i'll start a new one in the next few days.

Regarding terminology, i'm not sure how i'm using them differently but i'm open to feedback. I define kasina as any visual image which can be used as a meditation object (usually the mental afterimage that gets burned in by light sources). Prior to the eye injection I got them from the usual sources like candles or bright lights. After the eye issues and injection a persistent object formed in the visual field that could be used as a kasina with eyes open, or when closing them i'd see an afterimage of that object which I could also use. In the period since the injection the physical version has faded, and I mostly see the afterimage version (though just to make things confusing when concentration is high I see it with eyes open too, or some mix of the two). I can tell the difference because the physical version is mostly static, just a greyish half transparent blob in the shape of my iris caused by retinal damage. The kasina (afterimage) version flickers and changes colors and shapes though the initial shape is still like my iris. Keep in mind it's a "non-traditional" kasina so it might not follow all the usual rules, though it's still very useable.

As for 7th I define it as Nothingness. When I first got into that state the slightest bit of thinking or clinging would cause it to fall apart, it's now much more stable and I can experiment while in it, though doing so causes visual forms to arise. If I let go of that stuff it returns to Nothingness. In that state the only real object is the subtle sense of "nothing" which as i've noted before is subtle but still a thing. Since the retreat if I stay in 7th for a while visions start forming (like the "worlds" I mentioned earlier). I'll admit I was confused when those showed up since usually 7th lacks visual forms, but i'm just rolling with it for now. 8th happens when I basically defocus so i'm not really paying attention to the center, or the murk (but not focusing on space either) and just relax and let go of even nothingness. Eventually I feel slightly distracted and dreamy, space feels like it's shifting or bending, and it gets into 8th which generally leads to a fruition. Lately I haven't been getting into 8th much, mind seems to like playing with 7th for now. I suspect it's because I can't really investigate or experiment in 8th, and fruitions cause the cycle to start over again. 7th allows me to experiment with all kinds of stuff, and if it strays too far from 7th I can just relax and it tends to autopilot back again to a more refined Nothingness. If that's still unclear feel free to ask more questions, it's entirely possible i'm using terms incorrectly.  emoticon


Thank you so much :-)
I think we all use terms differently (not incorrectly often), and your descriptions above made it much clearer for me how you use them. Thanks again.

RE: Lars' Practise Log
Answer
2/26/20 3:57 AM as a reply to Siavash.
Siavash Mahmoudpour:

Thank you so much :-)
I think we all use terms differently (not incorrectly often), and your descriptions above made it much clearer for me how you use them. Thanks again.

No problem. I should clarify that my understanding of 8th is still the weakest of the jhanas (and it's usually described as incomprehensible which doesn't help lol). I suspect I occasionally fall into it briefly without realizing after being in 7th for a while. Sometimes the afterglow from what I thought was 7th is more pronounced, which is when I suspect I may have dipped into 8th for a moment. I also suspect this when what feels like a short sit turns out to be much longer than i'd intended. However I try to have high standards for making claims so I generally don't state it's 8th unless i'm sure (which is rare). I have a feeling i'll get to know it better next time concentration gets higher, no rush.

Created a new practise log here: Log 2