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Satchit's log

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Satchit's log
Answer
1/14/18 11:39 AM
A short bio:

A&P event: age 16 I was lying in bed when pretty much out of nowhere huge waves of love flowed through me. I was filled with joy. I remember crying out of ecstacy and feeling pain in my jaws from smiling. I did not imagine that the next day I would wake up feeling pretty similar to other days. Nevertheless it was an utterly life changing experience. From that moment on I became an ethical and loving person. 

Stream entry: age 23 I became utterly absorbed in meditation. I sold all my stuff and left to India to have the time to meditate as much as I wanted. I was pretty determined that I would come back fully enlightened. Sitting on a balcony in Kashmir after hours of meditation I experienced what I now know to be stream entry. I spend almost 2 more years in India after that.

Since that time I did not feel I made much significant progress on the path. There were many blissfull times during many meditation retreats, but nothing transformative. I felt addicted to meditation, but dissatisfied with the actual progress. My practice deteriorated and after some long years I completely stopped meditating and dropped the whole thing for some time. I was also in a bad relationship for 5 years.

2017, age 35 I went on another retreat. Afterwards somebody advised me Daniel's book: MCTB. That led to the insight that I had been doing Samatha meditation all along even when I thought I was doing Vipassana. I became convinced Vipassana is a way for me to make progress. 

Current situation:

* I am the CTO of a startup, currently 22 people and growing fast. It's an extremely demanding job, but totally worth it as long as I am not drowning in it. 
* I have a nice girlfriend who is very supportive and understands what I am doing.
* I am pretty healthy: no physical or psychological issues.
* I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Commitment:

With the help of DreamWalker I am now exploring the stages of insight using noting meditation. I am committed to meditate twice a day and try to bring as much noting practice to my daily life as possible. 

Goals:

1. Get to second path through another fruition. 
2. Get noting to autopilot mode throughout the day.
3. Deeper appreciation for each moment I am able to be feel present.

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
1/14/18 11:30 AM as a reply to Sat Chit.
One and a half week of practice of noting. Twice a day on cushion. 

I am enjoying my new practice a lot. During my sits I have my most blisful experiences. Yesterday I had almost an hour of uninterrupted equanimity. There was very little distraction, perhaps only a handful of them, and not lasting long. When I sit down to meditate I am present and when I move of the cushion I am present. Sitting for meditation therefore feels quite different, more like just sitting down in general. It has become quite low barrier. 

Almost each sit I find myself surprised of the fact there is still the notion of an observer in me. Perhaps it is also a deep curiousity. It typically means I will start becoming aware of the feelings, often in my head, that are identified as being me. A few times this caused a kind of unpleasant pressure behind my eyes, like they're about to pop out of my head. Coming in waves. I believe it is just part of the process, even though it sometimes also feels like "me" trying to skip a step in the process. 

I've had a few moments where I felt a bit demotivated during sits and during daily noting. Those were generally times where I had to pull myself out of mental distractions. It sometimes feels like I have to start all over again. I deal it with by focussing on the up-side: hey, at least I am back! 

Daily noting is becoming a nice habbit. I enjoy waking up and starting before I open my eyes. It is much easier to do when I am all by myself and can do things in my own tempo though. I have lost it a lot in the last week, especially in conversation with others or when doing mental work. Sometimes I have a bit of autopilot happening already in the form of a single note, often to do with feelings in my body. 

Some interesting things I have noted:
* Noting internal hearing, often music repeating in my head. 
* Internal seeing, often thoughts fading out. 
* Random memories. Really old ones all of a sudden popping up.
* Thought. Most of the time thoughts, distract from the noting, but a few times I was able to note thought itself, even though it tends to then not run for long anymore. 

I find that passive notes, like "feeling", "hearing" and "seeing" work really well to keep my anchored, but not when I am doing something active. In those cases I find it easier to note what I am doing. In the morning that means a lot of "put on left sock", "put on right sock", "close drawer", "standup", "walk to door", etc. I find it a bit harder on the computer, e.g. "search on google", "switch tab", "click on button". Probably because it goes quicker. One time I was running late and had to speed up and lost it.

On the rhythm of noting I have decided for now that it should not be too rhythmic, because then it becomes boring and distracting, but there should be some kind of minimum rhythm, where a switch of one type of attention to another should be noted as soon as possible. This seems to work well for me for now.

It still seems I have a long way to go before I get to autopilot noting therefore I don't want to overdo it. I still have a desire sometimes to simply watch some entertaining videos on the internet and I just allow it for a limited amount of time (an hour or so), because I am worried I will burn myelf out.

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
1/21/18 2:28 PM as a reply to Sat Chit.
Steady practice, but at times difficult to not get demotivated by mental chatter. It's always work related stuff. Often either playback, fast forwarding (rehearsing the future) or some type of talking to myself or others. The weekend really deepened my practice, because there is an end to all of it at some point.

I worked out a better noting system for myself. Instead of mental noting whole words like "hearing", "seeing", "feeling", etc I have short sounds:

"he" - hearing
"fe" - feeling
"se" - seeing
"is" - internal seeing
"ih" - internal hearing
"mem" - memory popping up

I don't note "thinking" too often, so no shortcut there, usually when I do it tends to be when I snap back to the present moment. There were some times I could note thinking, typically when I make a strong intention to stay present. It is pretty predictable when thoughts come. They seem to need to occur and noting too much non-thought seems to build the pressure. Before thoughts come I often get a bit hazy and or I will feel literally some type of pressure, often in my head.

I have a lot of random memories popping up. They are easy to note and are typically gone the moment I note them, with often a few lingering "internal seeing" notes. They are quite interesting and I enjoy having them. There is no clinging though, although once I did look up some old photographs of a period I don't often think about because of they memory popups.

An interesting insight: sensations that feel bad when they arise, feel good when they pass away. Vise versa sensations that feel good, feel bad when passing away. Sensations passing away are typically not experienced too often, because the new ones tend to dominate. Perhaps if one would see all sensations arising and passing away then equanimity would merely be a logical response.

There is a whole lot more consciousness in my life then before I started noting practice at the beginning of the year. I would say it is an improvement of several factors. I am pretty grateful for the method. It is also already a lot easier to keep it up then in the beginning.

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
1/28/18 5:45 AM as a reply to Sat Chit.
It's been a destabilizing week in terms of what was going on in my life. As a result my mind did a lot of wandering and there was a lot of "bringing it back". Nevertheless I kept to my daily practice, but I felt less joy and sometimes even a bit guilty for not working hard enough. I was becoming a bit monk-like in the last month. Before I started this journey I was spending way too much time surfing the internet, but the last month I've hardly done any surfing. Probably that switch was a bit too much, because last week a part of my mind started to fight back. I obviously don't want to be a monk. I also don't want to be a half-monk: half of the time doing my work and the other half growing more meditative. I sometimes just wanted to relax and watch a movie, but another part of the mind wants to be more meditative, pretty much all of the time.

I had a wonderfully inspiring chat with DreamWalker yesterday where he reminded me that when meditation becomes another form of suffering you're missing the point. So true, and yet I obviously need reminding of this. I am really motivated, but I have to work with the conditioning I've got. I should not aim to change my behavior or conditioning, but merely to have insight in it. So yesterday I tried watching a movie with my girlfriend, while at the same time practicing meta-cognition. It was good fun.

I am going to be working more on playing around with mindfullness on and off the cushion. As long as there is presence of mind it is good.
Also I'm going to be following DreamWalkers advice of meditating on each stage on the progress of insight. 

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
1/31/18 2:11 AM as a reply to Sat Chit.
Seems I had some kind of mini fruition today during my morning meditation. At least that is what it reminded me of.

I started becoming aware of the layers that are between myself and the sensations I note. I saw that it is possible to stop directing attention. That in fact directing attention is an illiusion, or just a kind of mental catching up, because sensations are already experienced and observed the moment they occur. While that became more clear I saw clearly that there was an idea of a receiver of sensations. There was a visual represenation of an observer that is like the nucleus of an atom, whereas the electron cloud around it represented the sensations. The moment that became clear it disappeared. I was a bit dizzy for a while after and then everything kind of reverted back to normal. It didn't feel earth shattering.

Wanted to log this. Need to go to work now.

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
2/3/18 8:37 AM as a reply to Sat Chit.
I am starting to note thought more often. I have a few notes that I use for thoughts:

Fast forwarding - imagining the near future, typically accompanied with a desire for something. For example, thinking about lunch or going to do something fun. 
Playback - just rewinding of some not too distant past event, typically moments that confused me or in some way seem to need more processing.  
Memory - I often encounter quite random memories from the far past. 
Chatting - Imagining talking to someone. This is a bit of variation on fast forwarding, because it typically involves something I wan to say to someone. It is often accompanied by an impatience to tell them or a fear of not finding the right words.

The feelings that accompany these thoughts are interesting follow up notes. I am going to investigate the follow ups more.

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
2/7/18 4:21 PM as a reply to Sat Chit.
On DreamWalker's recommendation I've started meditating on each stage of the progress of insight. To me that means I simply read about a stage, memorize the important bits and determine if I can relate these bits to my experience. For each stage I will post my insights here (if any).

Knowledge of body and mind.

Just today I've started with a new label: mind (or "mi" for short). I find it progressively easier to stay with the often quite random stuff my mind throws up. The harder parts to stay with are the thoughts that are unresolved (mostly work related puzzles/situations); they tend to arrest my attention. Even though, I find it quite natural to see that the mind is just another sense. 

The connection between body and mind is intruiging. Thoughts often seem to be located somewhere (typically behind my eyes, but also behind the sense of "me": the camera). Sometimes when I try to not get distracted by thoughts I check every now and then to see if I have any. That typically causes pressure to my eyes, because there is a natural tendency to want to look behind me. It feels like I am tying my eyes in some kind of knot by trying to rotate them 180 degrees. 

I understand thoughts are not actually located anywhere, but the illusion persists. Today I noticed that what I believed to be the location of my thoughts were just a bunch of tingly sensations on the inside of my head. When the thought dissappeared the sensations dissappeard as well. I am not sure if that insight is really part of this stage or perhaps part of the next (cause and effect).

Ingram refers to "crude impression" that become easy to see after random bodily sensations. That is indeed easy to see. It reminds me of a reinforcing neural network that for lack of inputs starts to output its impressions. I should probably take note of this a bit more, because the difference between a bodily and mental sensation is often so subtle that it is easily overlooked. 

The other way around mental sensations can cause bodily sensations. I rarely note this, but when I do it is typically because a thought causes a feeling which goes together with a bodily sensation. I should probalby take note of this more as well: I know I am full of feelings, but the stuff I note typically tends to be about externally causes sensations (stuff I hear, see or random bodily feelings). I'm not a sensitive person (in a wordly sense), but I sure would love to develop more of it. 

Ingram talks about seeing intention before thought and action. Intention is quite an interesting note, because the moment you note, because of the latency, the intention has revealed itself. Thoughts seem to bloom and intention is like a seed that grows in the general direction of where the thought will reveal itself.   

I am pretty sure I've experienced this stage, am in it or beyond it. Right now the "dualistic split" Ingram refers to in MCTB is seemingly becoming more unitive. On to the next..

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
2/11/18 4:37 AM as a reply to Sat Chit.
My reflections on the stage of...

Knowledge of cause and effect:

I often note chains of cause and effect. Just some examples of today:

* I hear a police siren and get a mental impression of a police car.  
* I note fast-forwarding towards diner time and then I note the feeling of saliva in my mouth.

These are I guess basic cause and effect chains. I've noted many times also that noting itself causes effect. The most prolific the fact that often mental impressions stop as soon as I note them.

Most often I don't find relations between whatever I am noting.  

In the real world everything is always changing. I know that the only way to find perfection is by letting go of the conceptual layer that I call "the world" itself. Notions I hold about myself are included in that. Since I've accepted that I don't have a hard time trying to not change anything during meditation, because I know that 1) no such thing is possible and 2) the one I believe would be changing anything is simply a mental construct. Perhaps that is a next level insight (the three marks of existance). 

One of the things that changes through meditation is the length of the attention span. It seems that the longer I am conscious the harder I have to try to stay with it. Some kind of samsaric inertia always seems to build. That seems to be an effect of meditation itself. 

I know what Daniel Ingram refers to in MCTB when he describes jerkyness that is due to more awareness of the cause and effect chains. I remember a long time ago smoking weed and being unable to speak, because everything I would say would cause so many effects that it drove me mad, so I would just stare at the person which then in itself would become a thing and so one. I think I am not so afflicted by this anymore since I've let go of the notion that I am in control of these chains as I stated above.

Also MCTB refers to Noting 1 to 10 sensations per second. I've done some investigation and I can state that my noting is at minimum once per second. It's pretty hard to say how many notes per second, but it seems like a number I am hitting. 

Today for the first time I started combining my two letter notes. For example, I was listening to the wind, while I felt my body and while I was conscious of the black I was seeing, thus I noted "hefese" (hearing, feeling, seeing). A few times I included the "mi" (mind) note. For example when I was hearing the police siren while having the picture of the police car in my mind I noted "hemi". 

It is described in MCTB that during this stage the meditator may have macro level insights into cause and effect. I can not think of good examples that I've recently had. 

I doubt I am at this stage right now as insights into causal chains have not been at the forefront of my experience lately. 

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
2/22/18 4:14 PM as a reply to Sat Chit.
I had a pretty good insight just now. I realized that I typically underestimate how loud the mind really is in comparison to bodily sensations. It's pretty interesting when you think about it actually. I have known for a while that something (I don't know what that is) has to make a decision on what to focus the attention and that that something therefore has to determine what weighs more on the attention. What shouts loudest typically wins (although I realize that this is by far not the only factor). But I never considered that it is a pretty hard task to compare a bodily sensation with a mental sensation. How could anything decide on what weighs more: a mental sensation or a bodily sensation? 

While it doesn't really matter how, the question remains whether it is making the right decision or not. Thought tends to sneak up on me via the backdoor. When I realized that perhaps that is caused by an underestimation of the estimated "weight" of mental sensations compared to bodily sensations I started noting "mind" perhaps two or three times more. My attention span was immediately prolonged by a factor as well. So there seems to be some sensibility to it.

I might even theorize that this causes much of the human condition. The mind is chatty and untamed, because it does not get proper attention. It does not get proper attention, because something prioritizes bodily sensations over mental sensations. Perhaps this is due to evolutionary inertia. We're not in the jungle anymore. 

RE: Satchit's log
Answer
4/5/18 4:54 PM as a reply to Sat Chit.
Interesting insight: I was enjoying the immense silence and then I had some random thoughts. I then had a desire for the stopping of thought, all together. I then realised that I can only have that desire, because I am simultaneously aware of the space of non-thought. It's a beautiful thing to realise. I could see that my thirst for freedom can always be quenched by observing the space around the things I falsely believe to be my prison. I wonder how big that space is.....