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Zachary's Practice Log

Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:55 PM

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:54 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:55 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:58 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:58 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:58 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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4/30/18 5:26 AM as a reply to Zachary.
Great phenomenological report! 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:59 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:59 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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5/2/18 1:34 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Hi Zachary, 

Just wanted to say I enjoy reading you log. If you can go on a 3 month I would do it (wish I could). I don't want to phrase this as advice as I'm unqualified, but why not rip into those sensations/mind states of wanting to go on retreat, wanting the suffering to stop, feeling like you can't do it. These are not special sensations, and they don't deserve special treatment. 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:59 PM as a reply to SigmaTropic.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:00 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:00 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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5/20/18 8:05 AM as a reply to Zachary.
Nice retreat report. Sounds like good things are happening. 

The equanimity you're getting into is the good stuff. I like to watch the energetic/breath flow in the body. Sometimes the homogeneity of the energy in the body will get disturbed, get patchy, etc the energy will get pulled to one side or up or down or there will be a ripple like disturbance. In equanimity I've noticed the energy is homogeneous and doesn't get pulled around as much. These disturbances are correlated with little graspings before noticing them and releasing them. Maybe you've noticed something similar. 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:08 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:01 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:02 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:02 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:02 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:03 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:03 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:03 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:04 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:04 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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8/3/18 4:56 AM as a reply to Zachary.
At this stage in your practice, hopefully you are getting the sense that the hard stuff  --- the reactivity, frustrations, negative emotions, paranoid thoughts --- is actually somehow necessary because it seems to be the only way the very deep, semi-conscious, or even unconscious mind learns to drop all this bullshit and stop self-creating states of mind that cause suffering.

I wish it was different, but it just seems like the very primitive part of our mind is a desparate little lizard that wants to attack or run or freak out at all the stimuli in the world... and then all of this gets combined with human emotions and intellect... which turns into the really hard stuff, the reobservation nanas etc. And maintaining awareness when all this shit is happening is about the only way the deep mind learns that this shit is simply not a helpful way to behave. It just seems to work that way.

I think it's a great time to go on retreat and hope you will do it.

You really don't need to do much at this point, just let all the faux-dramas play themselves out. Keep noticing how this mind that wants "something to happen" is yet another mindstate that causes suffering. See if you can let your self have a radical kind of equanimity on the retreat -- no concern for progress, states or stages, and just connect with how it feels to let yourself be a sitting, walking, eating, sitting, walking, sitting, walking, dharma talk listening, walking, sitting, eating, etc. human being on retreat. 

That attitude of playfulness toward worldly obligations is EXACTLY right. That's really the only way someone with a solid practice and insights can function in that world. Oddly enough, bringing that same playfulness into retreat is also the best way to make progress.

Hope that helps!

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:04 PM as a reply to shargrol.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:05 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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8/17/18 7:33 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Interesting stuff!

I've experienced the "drooling at the corners of the mouth" sensation too.  Come to think of it it's been a while but there was a period where it would happen regularly at a certain point in my sits.  Early on I would check to see if my mouth had opened but as soon as I made a movement it was clear that nothing had changed.

Nothing of substance to add but just thought it was funny how we both experienced such a similar minor experience!

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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8/20/18 9:57 AM as a reply to Zachary.
"Current Practice: "Just Sit" formally 1-3 times per day. "

Still do Just Sitting?  That´s my practice.


Tell us how are you experiencing this kind of "meditation"?



RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:05 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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9/1/18 6:47 AM as a reply to Zachary.
After powerful retreats, it is totally okay to slack and let things come back into balance. You'll eventually find yourself wanting to seriously sit again, but in the meantime it can be good just to commit to doing short daily sits and let what ever happens just happen, without judging it. Those short sits can help balance return and create a foundation for whatever is next.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:06 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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9/20/18 3:15 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Seems pretty normal, but no one finds it fun. It's important to try and find a kind of balance despite being knocked around by periods of energy and no energy. Mostly it's very important to be kind to yourself during times like this.

It's also important not to (consciously or unconsciously) develop a sense of identity around "all this wierd stuff is happening, I'm special". Even though no one indends to do it, I'll bet everyone with a serious meditation practice falls into phase of spiritual pride and/or a funny feeling of "I'm proud because I'm such a mess".

Best wishes!!

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:06 PM as a reply to shargrol.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:06 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:07 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:07 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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10/12/18 7:11 AM as a reply to Zachary.
Sounds like good practice. You're investigating the yucky stuff and keeping a broader context that "this is the DN and its normal for things to suck". It's very true, investigating the sensations of discomfort in objective way really does seem to move practice forward. But investigating is different than wallowing in a self-pity party (which will happen from time to time, no big deal, you're human), so keep that in mind. 

It's almost like the observation of all this shadowy stuff "refines" the experience and untangles these little knots of micro-suffering. Even though the DN feel clastrophobic and oppressive, the work to get very clear on the actual nature of how these little sensations/feelings exist in our body/mind seems to be what leads to a much more expansive and sensitive mind. 

Good work, keep (genthly) going forward!

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 6:07 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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10/25/18 6:12 AM as a reply to Zachary.
Sounds good/normal. The subtle stuff isn't "known" the same way that the obvious stuff is known. It can feel vague and uncertain and give the yogi an odd feeling of "being there but not really being there" --- I suspect that might be the same thing as your "Yogi Dementia". 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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10/25/18 8:12 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Sounds good/normal. The subtle stuff isn't "known" the same way that the obvious stuff is known. It can feel vague and uncertain and give the yogi an odd feeling of "being there but not really being there" --- I suspect that might be the same thing as your "Yogi Dementia". 
Hahaha. You just nailed my sit from this morning. :-D 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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10/25/18 8:34 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
emoticon

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:57 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:57 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:57 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:56 PM as a reply to Zachary.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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11/27/18 4:26 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:
I spoke to my teacher the other day and he seemed to think that I’ve been hanging out in EQ. He instructed me to cultivate pride in my practice, to feel good about the work I’ve done this year.

Headed in a few days to Tathagata Meditation Center in San Jose for a retreat of a little under three weeks. Sayadaw U Pannananda, the abbot at MBMC, will be leading.

Have been continuing to pay attention to the different states of concentration. I’ve mentioned these before, but have been trying to fit them into the Vipassana Jhana framework, so make of it what you will. Open to suggestions if something seems off. 

-- 

1st Vipassana Jhana

Concentration is sticky, solid, locked-on. There is a sense of being in control and of successfully applying mindfulness. There is a focus on the head area, specifically the crown and forehead. This is my walking-around baseline for the past few months and can be clicked into within moments.

As VJ1 transitions into VJ2 (typically within moments), the solidity of the head focus begins to shift and break up into goopy swaths of energy that slither around inside the head.

2nd Vipassana Jhana

Energy increases in the head and becomes more refined and granular. The energy is “bubbly”, like that of a cheap garden fountain, but then becoming smaller and quicker. The sense of “applying mindfulness” is dropped and the thing just seems to be doing itself. The breath feels silky and moves quickly, the sense of an “in/out” breath begins to disappear and breathing just becomes one continuous energetic thing. In the head, there is a noticeable upward pull through the temples which culminates in what feels like a constant blast of quickly vibrating energy rolling up and out of the forehead. Relative to the 1st VJ, this all feels more intense and interesting.

3rd Vipassana Jhana

Somewhere during the transition into third VJ, there can be a “peak” emotional experience. It feels purifying, there is the sense that some emotional blockage or memory is being untangled and passed through. There can be a brief panic and intense aversion to sitting, lots of resistant verbal thoughts in the mind, or feeling of wanting to cry. This usually only lasts for a few moments and is accompanied by whole-body vibrations sweeping around several times.

As the 3rd VJ matures, energy begins to spread out more through the body. There is a feeling of more energy dropping from the head into the chest, heart, neck and abdomen. The quality of the energy is more refined and chill, more pleasant. There are also lots of weird, less orderly energetic sensations throughout the body that are not present in the previous VJ’s. There is a throbbing pulse in the knee that seems to show up with clockwork regularity in the 3rd VJ, it feels kind of gross. There is something annoying about this energy because while it feels nice, it is still not “as good as it could be” and keeps slipping away.


4th Vipassana Jhana

As 3rd VJ transitions into 4th, everything continues to chill and even out. Any remaining energy in the head and body seems to disappear almost entirely. The cavity of the skull feels empty, there is a sense of relief, spaciousness and stillness. I have a tendency of dropping back from 4th to 3rd here. It has been hard recently to maintain 4th VJ. Each time the skull empties out, a new wave of vibrations arises moments later to fill it up, like there is some sort of backlog of “stuff” that has to be processed.

Really good descriptions. Dropping from VJ4 to VJ3 is totally normal, same with dipping into dark night after EQ. The mind is kinda doing a scrub of your "stuff". Resting a little, creating a safe place, then bubbling up stuff and digesting that, then resting a little, etc. This is a sign of really good practice. Or an even better way to say it: this is when "you" stop "doing" the practice and when "the practice really starts doing you". Honestly, it can kind of feel like your mind is showing you all the things you need to see. This exactly the kind of "I'm participating in practice, but not controlling it" effot that will keep your practice moving ahead.

So that's really good advice from your teacher. You can be happy with your practice! emoticonemoticon  You have put in the time and are experiencing things that few humans experience.

Best wishes on your retreat!! You are are in great shape for having a rewarding retreat.

The hardest thing for most yogis at this stage is to actually let themselve soak in the jhana that arises and learn to use less and less effort and let the mind guide the practice. To really get deeply into EQ, you have to let go of worry, of second guessing. By now you should see that there is no way you could have "figured out" how to get your practice to your current level -- and yet, here you are! Practice really does follow it's own path and everyone is different, except everyone is the same in the sense that if you keep a consistent practice, progress does happen.

I normally caution folks from DhO to forget about maps on retreat and really go deep into the lived experience. A lot of us will spend too much time "thinking about being on retreat"... and not enough time _actually_being_on_retreat! So, what does it really feel like to be a breathing human being on retreat? What does this body feel like in this world of textures, breezes, sounds, smells? How does it actually feel to walk? How does it feel to sit? When you close your eyes, what is the mindspace like? Really, what _are_ sensations, urges, emotions, thoughts? (Can you feel that calm and open and yet gently questioning/inquiring mind -- that's what you want to cultivate.)

And don't worry if things are kind of vague and confusing. That's not being dull/distracted, but actually that's when things are subtle. Notice how a lot of what we experience --- when we let the busy mind slow down and we really pay gentle attention --- is a mix of very sublte pre-sensations, pre-urges, pre-emotions, and pre-thoughts --- subtle sensations that sometime never even develop into concrete and discrete objects, but rather are subtle flickering almost-sensations, almost-urges, almost-emotions, almost-thoughts. 

On a long retreat, you're going to have highs and lows, aches and bliss, clarity and confusion. That's all normal and totally fine on a retreat. The important thing is you keep your intimate experiencing of all of those things. Connect with the knowing mind. The knowing mind doesn't care if things are clear or confused, it knows it is clear or confused. The knowing mind doesn't care if the body feels aches or bliss, it knows aches and it knows bliss. This is deep deep Equanimity. This is a mind that is prone to slipping into SE. So don't fall into the trap of judging your progress based on what is happening during your sits, simply strive to intimately experience it, to know it. And simply trust that this moment is absolutely the only thing you need to pay attention to. The mind will lead practice onward...

It takes a deep body-sense of letting go and trust before the mind will grasp nirvana as an object instead of grabbing all the objects in samsara. The worried mind is always grabbing at samsara. But on retreat, life is simple, there is almost nothing that needs to be done. You can let yourself relax more and more and simply be a knowing mind.

Basically, it is like a star imploding into a black hole. All the energy of the judgemental mind needs to wear itself out, like a star burning out, and then it collapses into itself.

And if you get stream entry, so what? That's just 1st path. emoticon There's plenty more emoticon So no big deal.
And if you don't, well many folks have struggled on retreat only to fall into SE when they were doing just normal practice at home. So no big deal. 
No big deal either way. This is a lifetime practice and it can be good to think that way so that you stay balanced and stay consistent and keep practicing in each moment.

Again, best wishes!

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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11/27/18 6:40 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Re-reading/skimming your journal, I'm curious what you think about those previous cessations? (I might have missed if you had recent thoughts). Do you think you're working on 1st or 2nd? (No deep answers from me, based on what I read I could argue it both ways.)

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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7/13/19 5:56 PM as a reply to shargrol.

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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11/29/18 5:45 AM as a reply to Zachary.
Okay, thanks for the arguments for/against SE. I have to admit I'm now placing my bet pretty solidly on "SE".

(For what it's worth the evience that tipped the scale for me was 1) multiple cessasions, 2) instant A&P when I sitting, 3) head rewiring, and 4) knowing that there is nothing special except simply meditating in the moment which creates progress, no special tricks.)

Which means that the advice I gave for retreat is still mostly correct, but wow, it means you really really need to let meditation take you wherever it wants to go. You might have a lot of body aches, body bliss, awake dreams, dips into formless jhanas, lots of those geometric and rainbow colored images, etc. It can be confusing where you are on the map, but post SE things get harder and harder to map anyway so not caring is a great attitude.

Also, be prepared for extended EQs that are simply like "being present" without much of anything that seems like meditation. This can go on for days (!) Like you are just simply alive, a nice basic feeling, but it can be unnerving -- "shouldn't I be trying to meditate?"  Don't try to make something happen during those states, but rather just know that if you are aware of any body/breathing sensations, then you are present, body sensations only occur in the present, and that's all you need to be, simply present. 

In the same way that in SE you become interested in the mind, get lost, then have a cessation... In later paths, you become interested in the full bandwidth of being an alive human being, wholely embodied and present, and that completeness is seductive and somehow you get lost, and there is the next path. (As usual, if you start getting excited or anticipating a path moment, just laugh at your mind "silly mind always trying to anticipate or make things happen. I understand you're excited, but we're just going to relax and sit here and see what happens..." emoticon

So what this really means is you are totally allowed to become a simple human on retreat, to get into studying the patterns of the mind/body over the course of the day, to enjoy "the pleasures of seclusion", to let go of worries and cares, to be a simple forest monk sitting at the base of a tree and simply allowing experience, living imperminance, to show itself in the moment.

One of my favorite metaphors is you are sitting in the jungle by a small pool of clear drinking water, and over the course of the day and night you watch all the animals step from the jungle and quitely sip some water -- and if you are simply still and quiet, you'll see all the amazing animals in the jungle. After several days, animals you never imagined will start showing up, some beautiful some terrifying. But they all just want to take a sip of water and then melt back into the jungle. So just sit and watch.

Nothing fancy, but very good hearted and whole hearted and accepting of simplicity.

Best wishes!!!




 

 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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11/29/18 1:54 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks shargrol, always a treat to read your posts! 

RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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11/29/18 7:02 PM as a reply to Zachary.
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RE: Zachary's Practice Log
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11/27/18 7:02 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:


Headed in a few days to Tathagata Meditation Center in San Jose for a retreat of a little under three weeks. Sayadaw U Pannananda, the abbot at MBMC, will be leading.



Great center. I was there for 10 days back in March and a weekend retreat more recently. Enjoy!