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ham's log

ham's log
Answer
1/9/18 2:21 AM
Hello fellow yogis!
 
This is my first post on this forum though a frequent lurker and benefactor of the words written here. During my first sit of day 8 of 2018, thoughts of starting a log dominated talk space, so here I am. 

It seems to me like a wonderful way to monitor progress and deepen my practice. I resolve to take on this endeavor (maintaining a log) with an honest heart, that I will report to the best of my ability the experiences I encounter on this path, both in formal and life practice. 

To get things rolling, this first post will include the first two sits of the 8th day of the year. On the following posts I will go into more details as to who Ham is, why he is meditating, what are his goals and values, and what his practice looks like. I will also back track a bit concerning my sits. I am thinking long term here, as I want a good size sample of my sits, to see where I am on this path. 

Also, thank you for reading. It is my wish that my experiences on this path can benefit others. I wholeheartedly welcome others to comment/share their perspectives, offer advice concerning my practice, both formal and life. 

First sit - 90mins (transcribing verbatim from hand-written log) 
Second week of 2018, first sit, very sleepy, though it did not have the typical dullness sensations. I just felt sleepy throughout the sit, tried here and there to get back into decent concentration but its like I didn't care, I felt ok with it all. 

There was some restlessness, thoughts like "Just get up," "don't waste this sit," "might as well go to sleep if you're sleepy" came and went. Also physical manifestations of restlessness; opening eye and looking around, changing posture, holding my breath. But overall a sense of being ok with it all - normally I would be more bothered by the sleepiness, but I was ok with it. 

Second sit - 90mins 

No sleepiness, very alert and mindful for the most part, some swaying side to side toward end of sit. First sit with the prior intention to record my sits, so, plenty of thoughts about the sit itself, and what I was going to report. 

So it took me sometime to find some groove, but overall the general sit was very ok (again). Very ok with whatever was happening, not much efforting, not much wanting to do much, I noted here and there. Toward the end, a wave of restlessness took hold and I checked the timer (this is very unusual for me), changed posture, and just thought, 'how boring' haha. 

I noticed the body swaying 5 - 10 mins before the bell went off. I noted 'swaying,' 'rocking.' I took an interest in it, seeing clearly the body doing its own thing. That's what I've been taking away from these sits (past 5), the mind and body are doing their own thing...so where the hell am "I' in this? 

--------
OK, just wanted to get this down. I only talk about this stuff with my partner, so I have to get the hang of writing about it. More to come. With more information about how I practice, etc. The writing and descriptions will get clearer, I just wanted to get this rolling. 

All in goodwill, 
ham 

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/10/18 1:52 AM as a reply to ham.
Ok, don’t have much time to write anything other than how the sits went today. 
Straight to it! 

(I write by hand, usually 5-15mins after the sit. Just putting down what I wrote)

First sit - 90mins

Decided to extend the concentration/relaxation after metta practice. Very relaxing, couldn’t feel my hands/feet...soft waves of tension moving about, tingling sensations around arms and chest. I counted on the exhales, making sure I was breathing properly from the diaphragm (something I’m experimenting with at the moment).  At times I would stop counting and just repeat ‘relax,’ timed with the beginnings of the in and out breath - also noted ‘in’ and ‘out.’

Alertness was high, I could make out all the sounds around me, subtle body sensations (quick pulses around the hands and feet), thoughts clearly coming in and out...all very clear, all very there. At some point a blue flash dominated visual space, followed by very fast flickering, followed by a deeper calm. 

Spent some time ‘just sitting’ after I let go of counting, or noting the breaths...just watching it all, staying there. I then turned attention/awareness to the tension around my head (always there by the way, even off the cushion) and just sat with it, being grateful for it, thanking the tension. Not fighting, just being cool with it...I did his with narrow focus then zoomed out...pleasantness dominated.

Then I zoomed in on vibrations (usually in the head somewhere; jaw, temples, close to ears) while maintaining wide open awareness. This technique if fun and interesting to do, feels like I’m flexing some muscles, increasing mindfulness.  I tend to get louder ringing in the ears when I do this. It seems like I can ‘tune in’ to the white noise quite easily, even right now as I type this. It’s fun! That’s about it. 

Second sit - 75mins 


Decided to sit less to do some chores around the house before work. Very pleasant sit after riding the tranquility momentum of the last run. Did metta, counted breaths, and immediately fell into nice pleasant concentration, nice to be there, nice all around. Visual field was bright, breath was smooth and tingly sensations permeated the body. 

I told myself I was going to start insight but I indulged for a little bit, I held on a bit longer. I think the concentration went overboard and mindfulness wasn’t up there to keep it in check, so I started getting vivid images. Then suddenly I jerked forward, back to consciousness  ( oh so it seems). I have felt//experience this before (within the last 10-15 sits I’d say)...and it’s not from being dull or sleepy, no. I just seem to get really absorbed, and when my concentration gets high, it gets dreamy. It’s like I don’t bring up the mindfulness with the concentration, balance off-kilter. I always smile when that happens, and I seem to be realizing how/why it is happening -- five spiritual factors, strengthen and balance.

I then noted out loud for a while, just noticing whatever came up. The focused on impermanence and how each moment is different then the last, very groovy. Lots of vibrations when I do that, and I am not even sure what I am doing -- I guess its like I’m trying to catch the transitions in frames (like a film), like I’m trying to figure out what’s in between the frames.  Then I just sat and took it in. 

My sits are very loose, I do this, I do that...I like exploring. I am learning a ton about the mind...there isn’t a sense of rush to get things done, or at least not nearly as much as before. This path is really really interesting. Man, more peeps need to get on this! 

That’s all.

----
All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/11/18 1:08 AM as a reply to ham.
Straight to the sits again, will write a bit more tomoroow - no work.

First sit - 90 mins

Took a bit of time to ramp up this morning, the mind and body seem to still be acclimating to the new sleeping schedule, plus I wasn’t as wakeful as I would have liked to be before the sit, but all is good.

After metta and concentration,  I noted for the remainder of the sit, Shinzen Young style: hear in. I used the label ‘rest’ when talk space wasn’t active with thoughts, and ‘hear’ when a thought arose. Productive practice, usually don’t mess with talk space much, I primarily focus on body sensations. Just because they are easier to notice, and heck, all sensations are created equal it seems like -- they can all be perceived as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not mine. Also noted ‘lost’ when the mind strayed too long away from talk space.

Typically I like doing this technique with spoken labels but my partner was also having a sit in the same room. Because man, thoughts(mental talk) are slippery buggers -- not as slippery as mental images though! So I usually employ two methods to help me out, both coming from Shinzen Young I believe:

1) One is to think about this practice as if you’re watching a mouse hole, you’re just sitting there looking at the hole, waiting for the mouse to peek out.

So I do that, and the trickiness is in sustaining that, and the best way to do that is to make sure I bring up the mindfulness. Otherwise I run into the same problem when I get into high concentration (high from my pov, haha). So as  I’m watching this hole, I am making sure I can hear sounds, notice body sensations, mental images, etc...If I notice I’m slipping away, I also notice awareness is ‘sloppy.’ Meaning it goes in and out, the intention to do the practice slips into all the other objects, then reappears, then goes away again...Another balancing act.

2) The second method is to hold attention where you hear the mental talk.

So I get a spatial position (back of the head, inside near middle, it changes though not by much) of where the thought seems to be coming from. I do this by jamming talk space with nonsense, like counting really loud or repeating a word over and over, then I place attention there. And it works because thoughts seem to appear near the location I have my attention set, though I’m sure I’m missing something here. Well, it is fun and challenging and requires persistent effort, so I like doing it.

Noticed lots of wavy, pulsing, groovy vibrations around the head/temples when I noted ‘rest’. Great force behind those sensations, if I let them, they’ll spin my head around.

Second sit - 90mins


Metta then counted breaths, got nice and concentrated, though noticed some dipping in mindfulness -- common, but the noticing seems clearer, more frequent. So I used spoken labels for the majority of the sit...very helpful to note out loud. After doing that for sometime, the mind gets quick, especially notice it after dropping the spoken labels.

So I just noted as I usually do (not going after objects, but letting them come to me then pow! arrow right through ya!), sensations popping left and right (what the hell is making these things show up!??), the mind quick to grab on, quick to let go...then I stopped noting and just sat. Watched attention do its thing, so hungry attention is..feeding feeding (it should go on a fast!).

The last 20min or so buddy restlessness showed up, and some agitation. The mind got caught up on the content/stories, the body reacted, changed posture, opened eyes, and looked about. Writing this now (at work), I can’t remember why there was restlessness and agitation.

But, after the bell, self-reflective thoughts flooded talk space. Thoughts reminding me (so it seems) of the progress I’ve made so far. How daily life stuff just doesn’t stick as much, an inner calm is ever present, quickly within reach. So many bad habits dropped in the past year...and all in all, the path has been good to me, even amongst the suffering.

-----
That’s all. I’ll back track a bit tomorrow about some earlier experiences in the past two weeks.

All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/11/18 3:18 PM as a reply to ham.
I want to backtrack just a bit, to have this written down somwhere.

The last 3 sits before my first post were very very chill, super relaxing to the point of boredom (like, where are the fireworks kinda boredom, is this it?), though very ok with it all, felt like nothing to do. Awareness & mindfulness came and went, periods of mind-wandering, I would experience a sudden lurch, a sudden wake up, felt like I caught myself drifting off or falling over -- but without the typical dullness feeling. That happened twice in one sit, but only once in the other two sits.

Now, before those 3 sits, two things really stand out:

1) One is that I cried, a very good cry, a real down-to-earth kinda cry. It came after a difficult sit, a lot of discomfort, pain and restlessness. I remember just having a deep sense of compassion for the mind/body. It felt like to me that mind/body was trying to avoid suffering. I clearly saw the intentions to scratch, shift posture, check the time, get up, take a deeper grasping breath, hold on to this sensation, let go of this one, hold on to this other one -- I saw all of that as the mind’s attempt to not make ‘me’ suffer.

And when the sit ended, I had the thoughts, ‘man, there is so much suffering,’ ‘the mind is just trying not to suffer,’ ‘I just want this to end.’ So I cried, or crying happened, I don’t know. Silently coming out it felt good in a deeply compassionate way (like shit, I really care about myself). Lots of compassion for myself, the mind, and body, I went off to work that day with a lighter heart, that compassionate attitude lingered. Just writing this down gets me, nice!

2) The other significant experiences PRIOR to the above and PRIOR to the very chill/very ok sits, are that of intense pain. So, I gave myself a little retreat for the holidays since the girlfriend went away. So I practiced more than my usual, so around 5-6hrs a day on the cushion, and noting, taking things easy and mindful off the cushion. I did this for about 3 days. On the last 4 sits before going back to work my right side (shoulder, neck, upper arm) was drenched in pain. Nothing like I have ever experienced in my life, it felt like a giant was trying to give me a shoulder massage (with those giant hands!), but the giant didn’t take into account that I was just a human -- so it hurt ‘for real.’

I kinda caught on the second time it happened (it only happened once per sit, it ramped up), I thought it was a test of sorts, so I tried to sit through for as long as it lasted. I gave up, I gave in, I would change posture. On the third time I tried holding it then broke by actually yelling then laughing at the whole thing, frightening the cats!

I looked at the maps/stages and put myself in the 3 C’s based on some experiences someone else had, so then I got to thinking, ‘oh, cool, next is the A&P, stoked!’ But now I don’t know. This I don’t know is part of the reason I’m writing this down. I want to remember.

Ok, so the last sit with the pain went a lot better. Again, it was very painful, but this time it didn’t last long. I was noting the sensations with labels such as, ‘discomfort,’ ‘not self,’ ‘not mine,’ ‘stress,’ ‘so,’ ‘not sure.’ Then they kinda lost their punch by the end of the sit, the sensations fizzled out. The sit after (after my retreat) I can’t remember clearly, but I do know I did not get the pain again, I was anticipating for it in subtle ways (mental thoughts ‘get ready’) but it just didn’t happen.

Also my concentration went to the crapper, not as ‘strong’ as when I was in retreat mode. The lost of concentration bothered me, so much so that I  listened to a bunch of damma talks about right effort, concentration, etc., and was appropriately reminded that concentration states are also subject to change. The rest of the week (first of January, week before I started posting) kinda mellowed out. Nothing ‘exciting’ until the above mentioned crying episode occurred.

So this is as far back as I’m going to go (7-10 days before first posting). The stuff above I have confidence in reporting, the more far back, the murkier things get.

To recap:
1. Very painful sensations right side of body, lasted 4 sits. Then,
2. Mellow but agitated sits (lost of concentration) and compassionate cry. Then,
3. Very chill, equanimous, everything is ok, what’s the rush, make peace kinda sits. Then,
4. Now, the beginning of my log.

----
Very cool, got this down.

All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/11/18 6:16 PM as a reply to ham.
First sit - 90min

First time noticing the same visual effects that I get with eyes closed with eyes open. Interesting. I see a bluish formless shifting something doing its thing. At times there seem to be a pattern to it; it took on a circular shape, large and wide then zoomed to a smaller pinpoint then disappeared, and repeat.

Spoken labels used for the majority of sit, very nice rhythm going. Productive first sit. Cat started meowing/pawing at me to feed him a bit early this morning, so I noted him. Meditation is fun but there’s a weirdness at the moment that I can’t wrap my head around. Eh. Off to the next sit!

Second sit - 120mins

An interesting drowsiness permeated for a good 30-40 mins at first. I sat with it, didn’t even flinch, made peace with it. Just the mind moving about...Sure, I could bring up the energy, open the eyes, use spoken labels, get a good noting rhythm going, but what’s the rush? You watch the mind long enough it settles down, and that it did.

On this sit I notice how the mind also gets lost in other sensations, not just thought. It seems like the mind is just habituated to grasp at thoughts in a different way then say the sound of a plane looming by. The mind gets into following a body sensation, like around the throat and neck, and other objects lose their steam, then I come back and they come rushing in again. Thought runs in the background when attention goes from object to object, thought disappears when attention gets to it. Very slippery. That doesn’t happen with body sensations, it takes a lot longer. Felt something new as well: heat on my right knee, like a fire was nearby. I noted ‘heat’ and ‘pleasant.’

One of my favorite things about longer sits is the discomfort, restlessness, doubt and pain (doesn’t happen all the time, but most of the time) that slowly creep up. Man, it’s the best. I learn so much from watching the mind and body during all of this. I ended up smiling through all of it. After experiencing intense pain not so long ago (see above!), the pain and discomfort of this made me laugh, seriously I was laughing. Intentions very clear, trying to get away from this very clear, but what the hell is trying to get away!? I’m smiling at this stuff. What is it with the tensing when a quick sharp pain courses through the hips or knees, or when the bum feels sore and the body wants to (in subtle ways) lean forward...

Yes it is painful, yes it is less painful when those intentions are followed, but is that really the end to this unsatisfactoriness? Na! I’m not fooled, I know enough theory to hear the marching bell, keep sitting and then I can ‘untangle this tangle.’ And maybe one day like Mr. Bharadvaja I’ll know ‘birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.’

Third sit - 90mins

Not much to report on this sit. But, wow, what stillness. I just sat the whole way through, barely got metta done.  Very at ease, very still. Felt like the sensations buzzing around my entire body kept the posture, I had nothing to do with that. I just sat. I gave noting a try just out of habit, but it didn’t stick. It was all good. Buzzing and tingly sensations around top of the head, not common. Again I noticed, with eyes open, visual effects like the ones with eyes closed. This time the room was sunlit bright, on the other sit the room was dark...

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I also generally notice that most of the sensations I note are in my head area. Top/side of the head, but also above/near the roof of inside the mouth. Very very prominent off the cushion, like right now, as I type this...I notice blob of sensations above the roof on the inside of mouth, and if I stop....the blob moves around and other blobs start showing up; one near the right temple, one near nose area, and another near throat. And, if I 'give in' to them, my head moves around on its 'own.' Reminds me of the posture bamboo in the wind in qigong. Head just sways.

All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/14/18 11:32 PM as a reply to ham.
Sat 6 times (2 a day) since last posting, here are some notes I took after the sits:

First sit - 120mins


Uncomfortable and restless sit, conscious intentions not ‘working.’ Tried counting, noting ‘relax’ on in and out breath, noting, eyes open, but only just sitting seem to bring some calm. Feels like I’m learning all over again, ‘same’ effort not having usual effects. Attention all over the place, need more gentleness. Sense of I’m not doing anything, interesting. Last 30mins I noted everything as either, ‘not me,’ ‘not mine,’ ‘so,’ and ‘stress.’

Second sit - 90mins

- Stillness
- Not doing much
- No Noting
- Just sitting

On this sit I had a good reminder to push forward and stick to bare sensations and noting, though neither occurred.

Third sit - 90mins

- Productive sit
- ‘Good’ noting (Good in the sense that I kept at it, not many gaps, continuous)
- Motivation high (This came from reading another log, I believe)
- Used body/posture as anchor
- Intense focus on the ‘quality’ of the sit

Fourth sit - 75mins

Very similar to last sit, noting went well, 75mins flew by. Continued using the body/posture as an anchor, no trouble remaining alert/mindful, it being a very large object.

Fifth sit - 105mins (today) (I suspect I’ll have a good laugh one day re-reading some of this)
    
- Doubts and floundering
- Uncomfortable, thoughts of not wanting to do this; ‘what am I doing,’ And of course me identifying with the thoughts.
- Why does the mind keep proliferating! Is it trying to prevent ‘me’ from staying present...
- What’s this resistance to staying mindful and present?
- Why is there so much doubt now
- Recently put a new post it on the wall I face when I practice, ‘when in doubt, note doubt,’ and ’stick to bare sensations.’
- Man, if I didn’t have such a strong daily habit of just sitting down, I would’ve walked away...
- And if I didn’t know that all of this doubt/uncomfortableness is par for the course, I would just stop this whole thing.

Feel fortunate that I have build up some equanimity, and have a modest tolerance for pain and discomfort. Subject to change, it shall pass.

Sixth sit - 105mins

- Less uncomfortableness
- Still doubts and restlessness
- Aimless mind, like the mind can’t stand still.

Conscious intentions not doing much (where’s the unification...), so reverting to just watching, and reminding self that it is ok, make peace with whatever is happening. Grateful to have a practice. Feels like I’m getting in touch with a different layer of restlessness, discomfort and doubt. Only say this because it feels pervasive...still learning how to describe all of this.

Again, got the sense that I'm starting all over. Concentration not the same (is is ever...). The mind keeps going to this, to that, all over...just trying to keep up...but the sit is just so 'meh,' so nothing -- what am I expecting? Getting in touch with expectations and how I want things to be. Just keep trying to string together as many mindful moments...good sit.

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Is there a way to just sit and not have to concern myself with any of this...The habit of just putting the body there is in place, now is all about what happens when I sit. I lack consistency, but that's ok. I've been doing this thing 'seriously' as a habit since picking up The Mind Illuminated March last year, not long at all. The meditation thing since October/November of 2016, I think. November I logged in 75hrs, last month 100hrs, since August 336hrs. My life is different, I can see that, I know that. The Vipassana deal, just a month or so -- and very all over the place, what do I do type of deal. Just writing all this down...man...letting it go. 

All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/15/18 5:09 AM as a reply to ham.
You look like you have a very strong practice! Some stuff to consider:

1. Do you think you might be having a lack of goals/interest or objects of interest to investigate during meditation?
2. Would trying to go deeper/wider with sensations, looking closer at Arising & Passing Away and studying how attention changes things be of interest?
3. Have you thoroughly exhausted investigations of doubt/worry/restlessness, including cause & effects to the root, studying what investigations and certain realizations do to their levels or stickiness?
4. Would having a short-term resolution e.g. of going deeper into a specific area before each session help with generating an overarching interest during meditation?

Keep going! emoticon

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/17/18 11:12 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hello Yilun Ong,

Thank you for the questions and interest. I have reflected on them and found them helpful, especially question 2. Concerning question 3, can you give/advice me on how to go about that during a sit? Or how you yourself have implemented this type of inquiry.

Thanks for encouragemnt!

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/19/18 7:56 AM as a reply to ham.
hey ham!
love reading your log!

i have similar experiences to you in meditation.

keep posting!!!

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/21/18 7:07 PM as a reply to alguidar.
Sweet, thanks for the words.

Will do.

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/18/18 12:17 AM as a reply to ham.
Sat 7 times since last posting, some quick notes I took after:

First sit - 90mins

Aimless once more, that’s ok, I can roll with that. Resolved to practice do nothing (Shinzen Young) toward the end of sit, plus for the reminder of week. Let’s see how it goes expectations...

His basic instruction for the technique is: whenever you become aware of the intention to control/move attention, drop intention.  

Second sit - 110mins

First full sitting with do nothing tech. Good vantage of what the mind is doing...No interfering, just dropping intention to control attention (playing with this). Very vibratory around heart/throat/hand.

Will continue on. Uncomfortable last 10mins, bum sore and pain in knee...Not difficult to sit through, intentions very clear. Dozed off a few times in the beginning (afternoon sit not my usual, even with coffee).

Not making a fuss over it, sit and be done with, keep the mindfulness as much as you can off cushion, sit down again, repeat. Figuring out productive ways to keep mindfulness of cushion...ok.

Third sit - 90mins

Full on do nothing (after metta of course)...Very sleepy, drowsy, nodded off a few times, saw it all, all is good.

Just sitting with no (obvious) expectations, some minor discomfort and restlessness last 10mins.

Fourth sit - 90mins

Same as last sit, still not clear what I’m noticing though restlessness/doubt not there...having  no expectations...will continue.

Drowsy a bit since the mind is accustomed to being more active when meditating it seems. Waves of sensations in throat, head and hands, very powerful...the intention to investigate...no, I’m sticking with this. Curious to where this will take me.

Fifth sit - 75mins (today)

Decided to cut back on the sit time, focus more on quality (and to potentially get more sits in, haha). Still going with do nothing tech, going well, just sitting with no expectations, becoming more familiar with the intentions. Dropping intentions, easier now, just noticing what attention is doing seems to do the trick.

Mind quiet down, very still it seems, bright visual field, smooth ringing in the ears, body light with tingles.

Old memories, 5-10+ years ago, crept up. Things I haven’t thought/recollected for some time. Assuming the effect of the stillness causes this, eh.

Beginning of sit, thoughts about contacting/getting a teacher kept coming up, getting my life on a different track...vivid mental images, lasted longer than before.

Good sit, as always. Just staying there, just putting the body on the cushion, and letting the mind do its thing. Who am I?

Sixth sit - 75mins


Similar to last sit, sensations around heart area strong, only movements made were swallowing and correcting posture periodically. Some drowsiness, flow of objects seem more clear...will continue.

Seventh sit - 75mins

Sat down, repeated metta phrases, did do nothing tech.

Loads of body sensations. Strong sensations on cheek which I’ve never felt before, very ‘solid’ feeling sensation around tip of nose, like glue...At one point I experimented with moving attention and found it quite easy/effortless to feel around the body, felt sensations from face area to throat, then down to chest area...did this for a few seconds, then went back to doing nothing.


-----------
Copying this stuff down from the little blue memo book is a trip. Never recorded my sits. So far I’ve noticed that I’m not as preoccupied with thoughts about how my sits are going. The act of writing it down  (however vague/inexact) has a siphoning effect, just get it out of here. I will work on being more descriptive, it will take time.

Life stuff is going well. Past couple of days I’ve been more quiet at work, avoiding eye contact, avoiding small talk...Home life going well, working on time management/allocation, continuing to eat more whole foods, making peace.

All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/18/18 5:24 AM as a reply to ham.
This reads like you are doing just dandy.

Investigation is extremely important. 1. Do not think you know/seen it all, you have not. Keep the curiosity and with interest in speed/depth, the lessons of pain (anything that bothers you - doubt/anger/worry/etc.) will not be in vain. You meditate so that you can transcend the pain. It is not beneficial to say more other than what you have seen in pain is the middle part, if you see its arising, you should be able to trace the cause; if you see its end, how it ends lies the insight. You may have to hold the pain to see clearer, so start looking at them like they are gold.

Wishing you Love...

RE: ham's log
Answer
1/21/18 7:20 PM as a reply to ham.
Sat 9 times since last log entry, below are the notes I took a few minutes after each sit.

First sit - 75mins


Straightforward sit, no fireworks. Interesting sensations around right ear, periods of being very still...

Second sit - 75mins

Good sit, crossed legs opposite way, first 50mins or so, straightforward - just dropping intentions.

Then the soreness that was gradually building up on the bum started having a very clear effect on attention. Once the soreness began to feel painful, other body sensations started popping up, including growling from stomach. The mental chatter wasn’t all that, but the amount of body sensations kept increasing, attention moved around with gusto -- here’s this, here’s that, look over here, look over there.

When the pain increased even more, boy, disco in mental space; thoughts of this, thoughts of that, even a commentary of what was going on started playing, thoughts of what I was going to write down...a funny commentary to listen to. It got pretty intense, not so much the pain, but how active attention became in comparison to earlier in the sit...and this isn’t the first time I notice this, quite a clear pattern (read above), but since I’m doing this do nothing practice, this was clear and comical.

After a while (I did not move, although at one point the intention to open eyes and check how much time was left became so frequent that the eyes opened. It felt like I did it, but I know I didn’t!) attention stabilized, the pain sensation remained but it was cool. It’s like I was letting attention know, “hey, I feel this sensations, it’s ok, it’s just a sore bum, I don’t need to be rescued. It’ll go away as soon as I get up, don’t worry about it, have a cup of tea.”

So for a while I sat with this sensations, body felt very sensitive, I even took a deep breath just to feel it roam around the body, my hands and arms felt like they were being inflated.

Stabilized attention didn’t last long, agitation and grasping for some relief came back, both physical sensations and mental chatter resumed...right until the bell went off.

I see you attention, trying to look out for ‘me,’ but buddy, when you stabilize (recharging, or planning more subtle ways to get ‘me’ to move) the pain sensation was just there, like the sound of the plane, or the shuttering of the window when the wind passes through. It was just there, let it be there, it’ll go away. I love you too though, but you’re not protecting anyone, there’s a bug in the system, but you won’t find it, it’s not there.

Third sit - 75mins

Distracted sit, mainly caused by some very minor unfavorable news at work (something I’m unfamiliar with at this current job).

The mind kept churning up thoughts concerning said news, body restless...thoughts really wanting to end all this stress, it all seems unnecessary...what the hell are we doing?

Difficult sit, but honestly, these are my favorites. I’m building up this attitude of detachment, seeing more and more what the mind gets itself into, all this not sure, turned into something grandiose, give me a break!

Fortunate to have a modicum of insight that pierces (not really, haha) through this current natural tendency of mind...but golly, I sure do feel it, eek...renounce but keep your head straight ham!

Fourth sit - 75mins

Less uncomfortable, moments of stillness and quiet, moments of mind going on about worries...why does it keep doing that? What is there to worry about, it’s all good! Tension around temples strong, mind is a scenario machine. Sore bum sensation present throughout sit, but not sticking as much, it’s not pleasant, neither really unpleasant, just a hardness sensation, like one side of bum is sitting on a pebble....but it’s in the background most of the time. Sometimes it comes up, ‘here I am, stress please.’

Feeling/mood of ‘let’s get this over with,’ not the sit, but the whole campaign. Good sit, I want another one.

Fifth sit - 60mins

First hour sit in a long time, sweet and short. More stillness, more quiet, less tension in the head. It’s rare that I get in 3 sits before work, but it felt needed...however the quality of sit, this practice is just straight up good medicine, thank you doctor Buddha. Feel lighter, less bothered and tethered, more compassionate.

Speaking of compassion, I sense it ‘growing,’ it feels like I keep tuning in to how much stress there is, ALL THE TIME, and golly good I want it to end...it’s just not necessary. I’ve rid myself of not-so-good tendencies: smokes, the bottle, tv, movies, mindless browsing, obsessive political thought, the bit of porn I was watching, constant music...these are just symptoms of something else, an addiction of sorts...me, mine, me, mine...I.

So a good dose of sitting down still and investigating (however hesitantly and half-steam at times) is what the doctor ordered. Peace be with me, good sit.

Sixth sit - 90mins

Not sure what to put down...

Moments of quiet, moments of going in and out, moments of wandering and stories...a pervasive uncomfortableness mixed with ok-ness, ‘this is it...ok.’

Still sitting doing nothing. This overall ‘lost’ feeling/mood has hit me before....

I don’t know, march on ham...

Seventh sit - 75mins

Again not sure what to put down...

Quiet, busy mind, quiet, peaceful, ripples of sensations throughout body, subtle tingly layer around body...busy mind.

No expectations, just sitting, just dropping intentions whenever I become aware of em.

Just sitting, not sure, not sure...doing nothing, moments of peace are nice, but ok with whatever comes up.

What a thing to do...to meditate.

Eight sit - 128mins (today)

The body was like, ‘do what you want mind, but I’m going to relax.’ And so it did.

A very very relaxed sit, what I like to call a payday sit. Less than 10mins in, the body fell into this comfortable, pleasant stillness...barely felt the thing.

The mind was also quiet, but it went in and out.

Again, do nothing after metta...just not much to say, made peace with the calmness.

Oh, some thoughts about how the mind takes thoughts and gets involve with them. Heard the mind saying, ‘why don’t you let dispassion arise with thought like you do with sounds, like that sound right there, those cars passing by. You don’t wonder about what kinda car it is, the color, who is driving it, where it’s going, were did it come from...So, why do that with thoughts...thoughts, like sounds...all the same.’

Isn’t this it...deprogramming mind habits, rebooting system, same hardware, different software! Eh, keep sitting, less theorizing...Good sit, as always.

Oh, 2hrs was breezy.

Ninth sit - 75mins


Riding the momentum of last sit, body relaxed, mind as well...not much movement.

Last 20mins or so heavy-feeling sensations near chest, like something blocked, needed to burp or breathe. At one point loud groaning/growling sound/movement emanated inside body...nothing, just funny.

Decided to explore near end of sit, just noting sensations lightly, watching them disappear. Prickly and tingly sensations on back, more breath like sensations on hands...some uncomfortableness as well, soreness near bum (purposely sat to induce it), some minor agitation, some future-thinking, slipping away from what’s going on.

Also...dozed off a bit, but with a clear sense of what’s happening. Hmm, difficult convey, it’s like I know the mind is going away...no interfering...then jolt!...mind wakes up again.

Metacognitive awareness Culadasa calls it, that thing seems to be running consistently, especially off-cushion. Can feel annoying at times...like, ‘hey, let me get a breath of unconsciousness sometimes please.’ Strange.

--------
Off cushion daily life, trying to work on focusing on the compassionate side to suffereing. It's there I see it, just need to keep stringing more moments of mindfulness with view in mind. Also keeping up with increasing mindfulness at work, it's been going.

This past week of doing nothing, good stuff. Less restlessness and doubt, more figuring out life direction stuff, getting some ducks lined up, being reminded to make peace with that I have.

Will continue with doing metta and do nothing practice for this week as well.

All in goodwill,
ham

I sat 11 times since my last post, below are the notes I took after each sit.

First sit  - 75mins (rereading these two entries now, I smile)

Quiet sit, not much ‘real’ meditating, more of a revival of the past...

Seeing the past with compassion, opening up to it so I rest in the present...

A sit to remind me how much I carry, how much to keep letting go, and to continue...

‘ let not a person revive the past,
  of on the future build his hopes,
  for the past has been left behind,
  and the future has not been reached. ’

Second sit - 75mins
 
Last 15mins restless, dunno, tried investigating it, roadblock, don’t know what to do...

Opened eyes, checked time...kept eyes open for a bit, stared at wall...impasse, but what is it...another war..just keep sitting. All things are subject to change, wanting it to end is my motivation; where is courage, where are you bravery...? Come help me out, I need a push.

Thirst sit - 75mins

Metta, do nothing.

At the end of the bell the thoughts, ‘this is peace,’ came up. So I looked back, and yeah, peaceful sit...no obvious agitation or restlessness...just sitting. Ok, it was all ok. No obvious pull, no expectations, just writing this now, it feels quiet; light body sensations, subtle ones around head. A feeling of comfort at the end of sit, being ok with what is.

Fourth sit - 90mins  

Calm sit, just sitting doing nothing. Dozed off a bit, way comfortable.

Fifth sit - 75mins

Straightforward sit, not much to say...felt automatic. I sat, the meditating happened, I got up. I didn’t do squat.

Sixth sit - 75mins

Interesting sit, firs evening sit after work in some time.

Lots of energy in the body, very strong sensations (movement)...

I noticed the built up stress (tension) at the end of the work day, all that tension dancing around. Immediately sitting down I noticed all this movement, in the back, face, temples, front of head, and neck & throat. I noticed twitching arms, and at one point I almost bit the tongue. The neck turned on its own, stuff I experienced before...

I sat doing nothing, but couldn’t resist the urge to ‘play’ around with all this tension. Every time I noted a sensations it would disappear and another would immediately appear - talking about body sensations here. This kept happening over and over, all around my face and neck. When I started noting sensations on my back, the object too several noting to go away, then it would com back again...like it was building up.

Good sit, loads of tension accumulated from work now gone. Opportunities here, thinking of moving my second sit after work instead of doing back-to-back sits. This should also facilitate the building of momentum. Right now I feel much more alert, responsive, and considerably less fatigued, less wound...considerations.

Oh, this time it wasn’t just the neck sensations that ‘moved’ the neck around, sensations around forehead seemed to push the head forward too, time time experiencing this.  

Seventh sit - 90mins (important to note here: 1-2 days or so before this sit I restarted reading Seeing That Frees by Rob Burbea...reading it at a slower pace, just taking it in....)

Wow - so much insight, not capital I insight, just different ways of seeing my own patterns, behaviors, ways of thinking, how I construct self-views. I say insight because I felt a release of sorts, like ‘oh wow, that’s one way I can view this situation that can reduce stress, oh this is one way to look at this behavior...’ (Pretty much Burbea’s ‘loose definition’ of Insight).

Insightful sit, thank you damma.

(Interesting reading this entry that I didn’t go into details...hmm)

Eight sit - 80mins

Again, meditated after work, lots of tension and strong sensations. Some light dullness throughout the sit as well, dozed off here and there, but still had some clarity...

Do nothing once more, dropping intentions. Last 20mins or so did some light noting using spoken labels, noted body sensations. Sensations were clear, they came up, noted, then went away...again again.

Last 10mins, a sudden loud high-pitch ringing. No built up, just 0 to 10...interesting. At first it seemed to be only my left ear, after a minute or two it seemed to be all around. Even right now, writing this in my notebook, the ringing persists, though not as loud as it was during the sit. Not worry, just find it interesting.

Oh, some restlessness after doing some noting, I even opened eyes and changed posture, thoughts of getting up and starting dinner (future-thinking takes ‘me’ away). Good sit, feel less fatigued, more alert, less tense, finely tuned...gonna cook dinner, maybe through in a damma talk.

Ninth sit - 75mins

Straightforward sit, busy mind, mainly due to some interactions at work, at home, and some job application I filled up last night.

Body still, no expectations, dropping intentions, seeing things come and go. Good sit, as always.

Tenth sit - 75mins (I didn’t write it in my notebook, but 10mins before this sit I cried. I read something that struck right through me, it was a comment on a video, ‘I want to go back to school, but I am afraid. I don’t know what to do, but I know I want to do something.’)

Sat with fatigued heart and mind, felt that throughout the sit. Mind-wandering goes in and out, aimlessness...

Attempted to energize the mind with some samadhi, it helped, I was able to calm the mind-wandering and dozing off. Glad to see I still have some skills with concentration...

Not much to say, went in tired from work and cleaning the apt (and crying, I did not mention crying, hmm), came out less tired and tense, good sit young man, keep at it hamster.       

Eleventh sit - 120mins (today, this morning)

Good sit, metta, then did nothing...

Decided to switch to noting the last hour or so...Noting went well, though I found the labels laborious, so I truncated...Doing so made it easier to keep with sensations.

Sit had a bit of restlessness, minor doubt, uncomfortableness, peace, tranquility, boredom, pleasantness, moments of over effort-ing,

Not sure what to put down...there’s a stirring, I sense it, but I do not know what’s going on...Resolving to not have expectations before my sits for since the beginning of last week has been good for me. I noticed when I started noting it felt like I wanted to get somewhere, either things to move faster, or things to sync up...this was subtle, but clear in a way.

I think I’m ready to contact someone...

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Ok, so just reading/writing this down now, I have some thoughts. First, I can see the person writing this stuff if clearly confused about something very fundamental, weird thing to say since I wrote those words. Typing this right now, I don’t feel that connected to whoever wrote that. Even the last sit, which was this morning! I think something is off about that, I don’t know. Second, I am seeing more of a pattern with me. At a macro scale, I have ‘felt’ this subtle pervasive ‘what is going, what am I suppose to do in life, what the hell is all of this’ at many different points in my life. At a smaller, more day-to-da scale........actually, I’m drawing blank, I can’t see a pattern, not right now at least. I thought I did. I’m also thinking, ‘man, you’re not talking about meditation, you’re talking about your stuff...just do the work, toughen up and investigate for real.’

Yesterday and today (this morning) thoughts of finding a teacher danced around the mind. It feels like I am getting in the way...someone to hold the lantern, this cave is dark and treachorus...And then I'm reminded that this is all view, a perception I am holding...it's like there's a problem to solve but I don't have a real sense of what the problem is, let alone how to solve it, but also there might not be a problem at all....haha, man, I'm smiling right now, something is off about this whole thing...feels like the I'm driving around the parking lot looking for a space to park, but there aren't any spaces to park in, not because they are full, but because I can't see a thing, so I go round and round...boy ignorance is no bliss, delusion is no bliss, dukkha is no bliss.

And yet, I've never felt more at peace, more content, more present and just plain grateful in my life. My relationship (almost 10yrs) has never been this 'in-synced'...very reciprocal, lots of support, reading the same book, on the same page kinda relationship. Heck, she meditates everyday now too (5 months now I think), 50-60mins on the weekdays, more time on the weekends, she's reaping benefits....Many of my coworkers come to be for advice on how to be less stress, how to be more 'chill' about things...I've cultivated a very caring and relaxed attitude at work, and I'm able to sustain that -- compared to my last job, tremoudous change....Man, I guess I have to remind myself how beneficial this path has been already in my life.
 
All in goodwill,
ham

RE: ham's log
Answer
2/9/18 1:53 AM as a reply to ham.
Ok, took longer than usual to update the log. I took a detour, but it seems like I'm back where I kinda left off but with a different (what's new, haha) mindset. After last update I restarted doing Mind Illuminated practice again, out of desperation I believe. Just wanting someone to guide me...the book does a great job at that. I also began reading different material, primarly Jack Willis' Reichian Therapy (and related body-work psychotherapy stuff, Regardie, etc) and a book by Antero Alli called Angel Tech - A Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection. I began doing the body work exercises, just simple exercises, and really diving in and getting into this stuff -- never considered body-work psychotherapy. I noticed some changes, just in the way I carried myself, my overall attitude (I would smile and find things funny often for example) and just grateful to have some new tools in the toolbox. I will be continuing this work alongside my meditation.

I sat 19 times since last post, below are some notes I jotted down after the sits. It's funny how the first sit starts with being done with Insight practice, and I'm currently back at it again. Man, this whole thing is a trip. No fireworks...just want this all on record. Excuse the writing style, typos, etc, just the way I write on paper after a sit, haha.

First sit - 70mins

Insight, take a chill pill...this unstableness cannot go on...
Rollercoaster...
Will restart my original practice of concentration...just (feels) off.
TMI(The Mind Illuminated) once again.

Second sit - 75mins

Hello nose, welcome back. Did some metta then followed breath...kept coming back. Was a bit tired/sleepy but energized the mind with some visualization and opening eyes...attention on the sensations around nose area, while keeping peripheral awareness open & inclusive...good start. Unifying mind is the goal.

-- Also had a sit last night before bed, just fire kasina, haven't done in a while, fun practice...but I was sleepy.

This time the dot (very yellow), inside of it, so much movement...spinning...The after image stayed after opening eyes and appeared very solid, fun.

Cultivate joy, peace and tranquility, and with these factors I'll shine a light...

Third sit - 45mins

Short sit, sleepy, working with stages 2/3(again). Sleepiness came in after following breath; tried antidotes of opening eyes, being with body and sounds, and holding breath. They worked temporarily, kinda remember this when I first started, so much more clueless I was...Now, what's happening is a lot clearer, I've done a lot of sitting...good or bad....glad to have a guide.

Fourth sit - 75mins

Good sit. Worked with holding intention to keep peripheral (awareness) open whole engaging with breath. Did some checking in, a bit of labeling when I noticed longer periods of more stable attention.

Was able to ward off drowsiness and going to sleep for the most part...used antidotes.

Balancing between holding intention to focus on peripheral and engaging breath...strong dullness present, but not something to correct at the moment...don't carry too many intentions at once.

Fifth sit - 75mins

Metta + TMI

Long periods of being with breath and keeping/sustaining awareness open...Distracting sensations, related to how I breathe perhaps. Used labels for gross distractions and was somewhat diligent with checking in...also when remembered, I consciously relaxed body, nice way to let go of tension.

Playing with intentions, want to be as gentle as possible, but seems like I become a bit impatient and end up using a bit of force...Patience and trusting the process. Good sit.

Sixth sit - 75mins

Balancing awareness and attention...Used gentle intentions to get situated on the breath, this time with more patience. Worked well, was able to perceive a myriad of individual sensations on the nose (both inhale-exhale) while maintaining awareness .

Strong dullness and slight sleepiness, but not concerned with that, unless I'm knocking out.

Just bouncing between stage 2 and 3, overcoming mind-wandering and forgetting. Good sit.

Seventh sit - 60mins

Straighfoward progress, less mind-wandering, maybe 3 times at most, same with forgetting...floating with breath and awareness.

Eight sit - 75mins

Good sit. Gross distractions and forgetting kept occurring. Distracting sensations near throat area, spent some minutes dissolving tension...worked for a bit, but not enough. Ended session early.

Ninth sit - 60mins

Good sit, started out well from doing some body-work excursuses, lots of movement. Dozed off, going back and forth from focusing on breath to opening up to awareness...being with what is...ended sit early.

Tenth sit - 60mins

Started with metta, TMI, then just let go and sat, did nothing. Accepted the mind's inclinations toward just sitting...peaceful sit, feel very calm...nothing more to say.

Eleventh sit - 75mins

Good sit, comfortable, cultivated pleasantness and ease, holding breath sensations in attention while maintaining nice peripheral awareness, last 15mins noted out loud...nothing more to say.

Twelfth sit - 60mins

Lots of movement near face, neck and back. Layback attitude, diligent for the most part, then let go...

This striving business is losing steam...good riddance. Mind, body, you just be....do your thing, not getting in your way anymore...just occasionally to prevent disasters, thank you for your time.

Thirteenth sit - 72mins

Beautiful sit. Metta, TMI, just sitting...Exploring sensations...enjoying my existence.

Fourteenth sit - 144mins

Good sit, released a lot of tension. Metta, TMI. Lost some motivation to do TMI, was more inclined to stay with body sensations...letting go of tension around throat/neck, staying grounded in body. Nice session.

Fifteenth sit - 90min

Good sit, lots of sensations in face, noted the whole sit...good stuff.

Sixteenth sit - 90mins

Metta, then focused on body sensations, noted here and there. Just following sensations around, dozed of a bit, but seeing things clearly...having a lot more sensations these past couple of days, I believe is a result from the body work I've been doing...

Seventeenth sit - 60mins

Strong metta, spoken labels for a bit, soft labels...Spending more time just watching sensations come in and out....quiet straightforward sit. Feel less tense, more alert and mindful...ready for the day.

Eighteenth sit - 90mins (today)

Metta, concentration with breath, then let go and noted here and there...learning to balance when to note and when to let go and watch.

Strong awareness, very inclusive, noticing mind get into thought stream, then gently pull it out and smile...no force, just gentleness and persistence. Letting mind do its thing, just here to watch and intermittently nudge it back to present moment.

Good straightforward sit hamster, and this is subject to change...enjoy the peace and ease for now, just don't go on expecting the world - all the time.

Nineteenth sit - 60min

Good sit, lots of sensations...mind going in and out, in to images/stories, out to just being with everything. Lots of images this sit, I was able to tell that the mind was into this...I don't know.

I was aware of the mind getting lost as it was happening. I could even tell when the body woke itself up...at one point the body lurched forward, eyes opened wide, and I thought what the hell was that, very unnecessary...I was aware of the images and metal talk prior to this lurch...this happened several times.

Got a bit dull when the sun shined on my face. Even though concentration didn't seem strong (although now I'm rethinking my view on what concentration is) I felt very aware of what was happening...definitely not clearly, but just the pattern of the images coming up, then thoughts, then mind getting out of it, to a body sensation, to the tingle/goosebumps sensations around body, etc...

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Since last update I sat less, both in duration and actual sitting. On two occasions I only sat once for the day, and I've been doing two a day for some months now. I am ok with it. I am learning either way, one truth that keeps presenting itself to me is this: all I can do is keep sitting, attempt to set the right conditions (some investigation/concentration), and let the fuck go. I'm learning...and learning is discovering. Also, still learning how to write about this for others...


All in goodwill,
ham