fifteen hour update

Mark L, modified 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 6:30 AM
Created 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 6:30 AM

fifteen hour update

Posts: 90 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

I recently passed the fifteen hour mark in my practice, so I thought this would be a good time for an update.

At this point, my practice time is divided into half concentration and half insight.

Concentration work involves following all sensations related to the breath with special emphasize on mindfulness, presence, and paying attention to paying attention.

Insight work involves moderately fast noting (one to six seconds per note). I've mostly based my noting labels on Shizen Young's teachings, possibly incorrectly. (See his website: touch, sight, sound, feeling, image, talk, relax, light, silence, peace, blank, quiet.) I add two additional labels, "grasping" and "resistance", also adapted from Young's teaching.

Additionally, I am intermittently working with a simple kasina, and I'm toying with ideas for bare-bones dream yoga.

I base all practices above around repeating short time intervals with tiny breaks in between. Eyes are generally open.

During concentration (following the breath), influx of sight, sound, image, thought, body sensations, etc., continue to be distracting. The winners are image and verbal thought which are infinitely more insidious than all the others combined. I still find myself losing the thread of mindfulness as well as having my awareness "thinned out". In general, it's very hard to notice gradual changes, but overall stability and mindfulness seem to have improved.
Mark L, modified 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 6:31 AM
Created 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 6:31 AM

RE: fifteen hour update

Posts: 90 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
nsight practice was fairly straightforward from the beginning. I note out-loud, and it's so fast-paced that it's nearly impossible to get distracted. I've noticed how image tends to precede sensation when turning attention to the body. Sound, especially, has a faint underlying "shimmer" to it, that I don't think was there before. I've noticed nothing of so-called "vibrations" within/as gross objects yet, as far as I can tell. (I'm assuming "vibrations" are different than "energy" sensations, which are distinct, ongoing, and obvious.) Thought, feeling, imagery, sensation, energetic sensation, etc., remain precise, clear, and distinct from one another, a perceptual acuity that I picked up from bodywork, energy work, and meditation years earlier.

Working with a kasina generally sets off a symphony orchestra in my head. I've put in less than an hour in this area, so I'm curious to see how that will evolve.

For years I've been experiencing "mindfulness pain" or "concentration pain," i.e. when I really knuckle-down, emotional suffering is generated in my heart, precisely correlated to the degree of my effort. That was actually one of the things keeping me from getting back into the game. It has come back again, but applying insight and some cognitive techniques have helped. Overall, it doesn't really seem to be "hurting" me, and I may get to the bottom of it at some point.

Every couple of weeks amidst the usual ravenous reading and thinking, I get a mini-insight into the nature of desire and/ror suffering and/or ultimate priorities which is superseded by the next round of mini-insights. This was fairly common before I started the meditation again, but it seems to have picked up quite a bit since I've been meditating regularly. I generally try not take them too seriously and to not make any major sweeping changes.
Mark L, modified 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 6:32 AM
Created 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 6:32 AM

RE: fifteen hour update

Posts: 90 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
It's faded somewhat, but for a few weeks in there I was experiencing intense resistance to life. It's still burning in me. Again, I work to respond skillfully and appropriately to those things I can change about my life situation, without doing anything too big or stupid.

Both concentration and insight are lately tending to get a little breathy, shimmery, energetic and emotionally blissy. Nice, though distracting. During insight it becomes something fast and complicated to try to cover and track precisely.

I'm in the middle of a big life-transition, so there are way too many confounding variables, but, for the record, I am the happiest, most clear-thinking, and emotionally stable I've been in years. Again, way too many confounding variables.

Also confounded by changes in sleep, diet, lifestyle, etc., my discipline (ability to exert will and enact intent over time in the face of competing drives and distractions) already (perhaps too) highly developed has probably doubled, while simultaneously seeming to be a more stable and healthy aspect of my being. (Gotta love those charts and spreadsheets.)

Questions or suggestions? How do I know I'm meditating correctly? I'll post another update between somewhere within the 30-50 hour mark, unless anyone thinks more regular updates would be helpful to me and interesting to others.
Vincent Horn, modified 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 10:13 AM
Created 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 10:13 AM

RE: fifteen hour update

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Hi Mark,

Sounds like things are going well, and that you're into some interesting early insight territory. Though I'm sure it's been said at other times here on the forum, I'm always a big fan for making time for retreat w/ good teachers, and then having the daily practice be built around opportunities to mediate for 12 hours or so a day for several days at a time... That's when things really get interesting, though of course if conditions don't allow for it, the kind of daily practice that you are describing sounds very solid, though I've yet to meet someone who has gotten stream-entry on daily practice alone. emoticon
Nathan I S, modified 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 10:26 AM
Created 15 Years ago at 8/22/08 10:26 AM

RE: fifteen hour update

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
Do your life circumstances permit time for retreat, or for taking classes and meeting with a teacher? I found it a tremendous boon to attend a teacher's classes semi-regularly--that really clarified practice for me and kept me from wondering if i needed to wonder what some phenomenon was. I find that there is something about having someone advising you that curbs the need to speculate and indulge, even if you intend to avoid those from the outset... e.g., at least for me, I don't need to worry about "what to do" with physical stuff or emotional stuff that comes up when someone else in person tells me it is likely or "just an energy release". There is something about an external, experienced perspective that is tremendously helpful. "One is next to zero," as someone once quipped.