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Malcolm's practice log

Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/3/18 4:15 PM
Less curious now, so time for a new practice log. 

I am adding back formal sits to support other practices (mindfulness, observing fluxing sensations, studying the dharma).  Sits are effortless, with mindfulness of breathing followed by lite jhana. No dullness at all, except a very brief moment of total dullness out of nowhere - maybe a cessation?  Only a few subtle distractions, and it has become easier to observe them, rather than engage with them. I am trying to stabilise bliss, but this is hard, and there seem to be different types at different times - dreamy bliss, bright single pointed bliss, spacious bliss.  

Now achieving some mild non-dual perceptions again, after first getting these last year.  This time they have overtones of joy rather than bliss.  They arrive, stay for a while, fade.  Sometimes they seem to just snap into focus.  I think their presence is due to my adding back formal sits.

Things seem to happen for me in half-awake and dream states.  As I was falling asleep I had the sense of being surrounded by other consciousnesses.  This could have been spooky, but wasn't, and I just welcomed them with metta.  I'm hoping they represent progress towards perceiving consciousness as being in the sensory field.  Then I had extensive mindfulness of flickering sensations, while dreaming.

Today, I am reflecting on this Sutta: "When I struggled, I was whirled about. When I stopped, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without struggling, without stopping."

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 12:20 AM as a reply to curious.
Continuing to be mindful, reading the dharma, and encouraging open awareness. Only stting for an hour every third day, due to a virus and other interruptions. My mild non-dual perceptions have subsided, and the self has solidified a bit.  I am also working on the paramis.

Had a sit with excruciating itchiness from water drops on the ears. This was great for mindfully spotting the impulse to scratch, then tracing it back to grasping for relief, then to aversion, then to contact.

Had another sit with lots of dullness in the first 15 minutes, but somehow ithat didn't seem to be a problem. Then a sudden brief blackout, followed by some purple swirls and mild happiness. Then some vipassana that was very interesting.

I found that I could discriminate between narrative consciousness, a  kind of dreamy episodic consciousness, non-conceptual consciousness, energetic/touch consciousness and visual consciousness.  At one stage I could get dreamy episodic and narrative consciousness going simultaneously.  Then I saw that dullness would solidify if my attention got pulled into the dreamy episodic consciousness, and self would solidify if my attention got pulled into the narrative consciousness.  But if I kept my consciousness in the physical sense media (with non-conceptual overtones), then those other things could occur in the background withoput pulling me in.  Different combinations of consciousnesses also had very different feelings - so attention on touch plus nonconceptual felt quite different to attention on visual plus nonconceptual.  I wonder if the one taste, versus true self, versus other versions of higher paths reflect emphases on different combinations of consciousnesses? 
 
Feeling positive energy and happy, for now.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 9:38 PM as a reply to curious.
One hour sit.  Mindfulness of breathing, then exploring placing attention (dwelling) in different sense consciousnesses.

Found a new sense consciousness - prioperception. Dwelt in that for about 30 minutes.  Found it wasn't about location of objects so much as a sense of space, or dimensionality.  It had strong feelings of joy, but the flavour of the joy varied with whatever consciousness was next most obvious.  Then I explored other sense consciousnesses, and each seemed to have a different primary emotion.

Narrative - Worry
Non-perceptual - Bliss
Prioperception - Joy
Visual - Spaciousness
Audio - Openness
Taste - Striving
Smell - Didn't do this one.
Body - there seemed to be two - a solid earthy actual body that I couldn't quite analyse, and the energetic body with the thrill of piti.
Time - I tried to dwell in this, but without much success.

It was easy to spot distractions, as they came from a consciousness that was not the primary focus. Distactions did not have to be ignored or suppressed - all that was needed was to deepen attention to the consciousness of primary focus. 

At the end of the sit I briefly tried to perceive all the consciousnesses at once, and then did some metta.  I opened my eyes to strong feelings of happiness and joy, and really sharp perceptions.  Didn't want to stop sitting.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/9/18 7:16 PM as a reply to curious.
One hour sits, on each of the last two days.  Plus, trying to feel dimensionality and spaciousness in daily life.  Watched the John Butler videos, reading Eckhardt Tolle.  Some positive changes are occuring to mental and physical habits.

Sitting continues as before - very little effort required, and distractions are easily spotted and dealt with.  Sits are mindfulness of breath (briefly), then dwelling in different consciousnesses, then metta, and finally combining consciousnesses to finish feeling lithe and positive and engaged. The ability to dwell in the prioperception consciousness continues to be a major positive change.

Today, equanimity showed hints of being an emotion of clairty. I also had hints of a kind of external energy/occult consciousness, related to energy flows above the head and also above the shoulders.  Some of the different consciousnesses seem to be associated with different chakras.  So far I am feeling pretty confident about the following.

Piti/rapture - root chakra (energetic body consciousness)
Joy - heart chakra (prioperception consciousness)
Bliss - third eye chakra (non-conceptual consciousness)
Equanimity - crown chakra (clarity, but this may just be an effect of other consciousnesses being subdued)
And maybe imaginative narrative in the palm chakras

Different combinations continue to give different flavours of experience.  When I combined the external energy/occult consciousness with joy/bliss I got a kind of ecstasy, different from bodily rapture, joy or bliss on their own.  The various combinations are pretty obviously jhana-like, but are not strong jhanas, I think this is because other consciousnesses remain active, albeit at a subdued level, making it impossible to get into hard jhanas.   

I'm trying to be mindful of the dangers of too much conceptual thought. Instead, I will just keep working on perceiving these different consciousnesses and their combinations.

[Addendum: another small layer of self also seems to be peeling away]

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/10/18 3:22 PM as a reply to curious.
I have started to dwell in the joy of the dimensionality of space outside the formal sits, for an hour at a time if I can.  Some subtle aversions have fallen away, and I am losing interest in the old busy-mind habits.  All I really want to do is sit and experience, but life has other demands.

Investigating the multiple consciousness shows they are a bit malleable and fractal. So I will pull back from that rabbit hole to stabilise the primary states, particularly  the dimensionality of space with joy. The non-conceptual bliss is ok, but kind of inferior except as a quick way to counter the appearance of the narrative mind.

The field of visual sense consciousness arises separately from contact.  Part of this field is a dappled background I can perceive with my eyes open - I recognise this as the textured black grid I have seen before with my eyes closed.  Looking into the distance produces more joy, and looking closer produces more equanimity.  Dwelling in the visual and dimensionality consciousnesses seems neither dual, nor non-dual. It just is. But there is still a concrete sense of self somewhere.

I will work to stabilitise and maintain these experiences, but who knows how long they will last.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/13/18 7:19 PM as a reply to curious.
11 June:  40 minutes just drinking coffee and enjoying the dimensionality of space, and then a formal 30 minute sit later on.

12 June: One hour sit.  I realised that my concentration needed to be stronger to properly isolate the states of consciousness/perception, so I did more anapanasati at the start.  Then concentration built nicely and there was a very good bliss state at the end - quite pure and stable. And then some tantric visualisations arrived that seemed to hint at the dissolution of self into duality, and of duality into the field of perception.

13 June: Great links to Gil Fronsdal's anapanasati talks - thanks Tashi Tharpa. Replicated the first of his dharma practice days in full - a little retreat at home with his dharma talks and a total of 2 hours sitting.  Plus some times dwelling in dimensionality of space to keep the practice up.

14 June: Read Chris's comment to Noah - what about space?  WHOAH!

I suddenly saw that my perceptions of dimensionality were creating a new duality - me and it.  Then I realised that the joy, bliss and raptures of different consciousnesses were fetters, in that I thought of them as happening to ME.

Went out for a walk and concentrated on seeing how objects were contructed - from multiple consciousness of dimensions, colour, sound, concepts (forms).  Then concentrated on seeing how continuity was maintained - from fading echoes reinforced by new inputs of object elements.  Then concentrated on time - a combination of fading and movement in the dimensional field. Plus other complex things - an overlay of perceptual cycles (bodily, diurnal, seasonal, life stages) - and a sense of behind and in front. Cars driving from behind seemed to be arriving from the past and receding into the future, while cars driving from in front seemed to be arriving from the future and receding into the past. The future has a sense of things that are arising, or will arise, while the past has a sense of things passing, or having passed away.  Some sense of time is necessary to operate in the frame of reference, but much of it is just a hindrance.

Then I find I have a new frame of reference. Previously my glimpses of non-duality were that everything was just my mind.  Now I see non-duality as my mind is just everything.  I knew these things intellectually, but experiencing them as a frame of reference is different.  Joy, bliss and rapture are not fetters if they happen to the whole frame of reference.  The new frame of reference is both totally mundane and completely wonderful.

Then what is left?  I need to maintain the causes and conditions that give rise to this frame of reference.  I have no idea how stable it is or whether it will last.  And there is still a delusional sense of self at the center of it all.  Investigating this sense of self, it seems to be linked to becoming due to intentions that arise from negative mental objects - fears, resentments, need for approval, desire for deliverance.  These are much weaker now, but not completely gone. When aversion or attraction arises, these mental objects attach themselves to the object of aversion or attraction, and then generate post-hoc evaluation (or something, it's not exactly linear, but it is reinforcing).  So I think I need to cultivate mindfulness and equanimity, to attack these unskilful mind states at the level of aversion/attraction.  Then those base mental objects will not be reinforced and should slowly fade away.  After enough of that, I might be able to get rid of the illusory self at the centre of the whole frame of reference.

Corrections, suggestions and pointers very welcome.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/14/18 3:11 PM as a reply to curious.
It is now almost 24 hours. Things are pretty stable. The state seems to be about balance of perceptions - dwelling in all consciousnesses in balance. The exceptions are verbal narratives, which I am avoiding as they seem to bring me down, and visual narratives or imaginings which are just not presenting themselves much. I have not sat again, as just to be in the world seems like a meditation.  I may sit later just to maintain the causes and conditions of this state.

The story of the lizard mound is guiding my mindfulness.  I feel as if fetters are no longer arising from five of the doors, but the sixth door - the internal mind door - is still giving rise to some aversion and evaluations that link to negative mental objects.  I am trying to spot these as they poke their nose out of the mound, and make sure they go back in, so that they will fade away over time.  Later, when these reactions have subsided, I will probably vipassinze the sense of body as a continuous object (which I can see how to do), and then the residual sense of self (which I can't yet see how to do). This could be months or years away.  Maybe some other approach will occur to me in the meantime.

I'm not sure how to motivate my work, which is conceptual and social.  My current plan is to identify the causes and conditions of good work, and to treat work periods as a form of analytic meditation.  I could also embody more - drink and think; maybe that will happen over time, but I want to avoid it for now.  However, all  this is for later.  Right now I am working on maintaining this state.

Assuming this state stabilises, it does seem different from its precursors. That is, there seems to be a state of working towards this (different again from the prior attainment), and then a state of achieving this. It now seems to me that a lot of mystic stuff, plus the sense of one self, or oneness with god, seems to be from the state of working towards this - that is, it is dwelling in some newly available consciousnesses, but without yet having all the sense consciousnesses in balance.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/16/18 9:15 PM as a reply to curious.
Just an update.  The balanced dwelling in all consciousnesses has attenuated a little. Embodiment is reappearing, especially due to social interaction.  Neither is really the default, they just arise according to the circumstances.  The more seclusion, the more the narrative mind fades and I just sit in a kind of mild serene joy. With a little concentration this gets stronger, or changes its characteristics to match the sense consciousness or chakras that are brought to the fore. I am doing a little bit of anapanasati, but mostly just taking time to sit in this new space - 5 minutes here, 30 minutes there.  I can now sit eyes-open with effortless concentration. 

Quite a few behavioural changes have developed over the last month, and culimated in the last few days.  Time wasting activities have been substantially attenuated (e.g. peering at the smartphone).  Mindfulness is much stronger in all aspects of life. Restleness is much reduced.  Newspaper headlines are now often recognised as trying to snare my consciousness with aversion and attraction. There is a sense of having completed something, and layer of clinging and self has definitely gone.  But there is more work required on ego-clinging.

All this could be related to Theravadan paths that have open, spacious, integrated fields of perceptions.  Or it could be related to Ultimate Bodhicitta, whose descriptions resonate quite a lot with this state (including emptiness, qualities, their simultaneous appearance, and their combination).  But the clearest accounts seem to be from my notes on The Mind Illuminated, with descriptions of pacifying the mind, shamatha off the cushion and the stuff around Stage 8 or 9.  It is not exact, as I don't get much in the way of nimitta, and my jhanas tend to be lite, or very lite for formless jhanas.  However, I do now have precise control over the presence and absence of rapture (root chakra), bliss (crown chakra), joy (heart chakra), and an emerging awareness of a kind of empty formlessness that pacifies bodily formations (behind the throat chakra).  

I will re-read TMI for pointers, but will probably just keep exploring the newly pacified mind, for now.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/17/18 7:48 PM as a reply to curious.
I am trying to be mindful of when the lizard pokes its snout out of the mound, so I can tell it to go back in.  To put it another way, I have been trying to spot the moment when a fetter arises from contact, leading to an intention to unskilfully react, and then cutting off the reaction before it leads to more becoming.  After a bit of this, while just driving along, part of the mind just unexpectedly relaxed.  Decongested.  It just suddenly felt more open and clear. Less noisy, less central to the whole framework of experience.  

Although I making some progress, I can still sense the old patterns of behaviour echoing around.  They seem like seaweed - some are free floating, brushing past as they drift out to sea to be eaten by crabs.  Others are still anchored deep below, waving back and forth. Later I will find the time to dive down, and detach them from the rocks on which they grow. 

I have found that the final chapters of The Mind Illuminated provide a good intepretive framework for the other changes I have experienced. I do not get much nimitta or the form of physical pliancy that causes bodily sensations to disappear.  But I am clearly experiencing a pretty stable and persistent samatha, as well as behavioural changes from ongoing unification of mind.  I can call up samatha by invoking "The Framework", my name for the current combined field of perception. Some minor insights have arisen during all this, but the process seems to be the latter stages of the Elephant Path, rather than major insight events.  Attention, mindfulness and joy seem most powerful when meditating on the dimensionality of space, with eyes open. If distractions arise, they are easily dealt with by expanding attention to include bliss, rapture, or the calming of bodily formations using a focus behind the neck. Tranquility and equanimity are pretty good, but have substantial scope for development.

Getting control of the arising of joy seems to have been the key to all this recent progress.  For now I will concentrate on strengthening samatha, and supporting this with anapanasati, meditation on the mind, and guarding the lizard mound.  Concentration and insight together.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/20/18 2:51 AM as a reply to curious.
Now settling back a bit more into the world.  I am busier at work and home, and practice has changed to shorter formal sits (20, 30, or 40 minutes, but totalling 40 - 60 minutes a day). Plus the ongoing informal practice of dwelling in the joyous dimensionality of space, for a few seconds to half an hour at a time.

To help me keep going in the right direction, I have re-analysed my understanding of various aspects of the dharma. This gave me some new intellectual understandings, but I'm trying not to keep thinking about those.  Instead, my aim is to keep the mind occupied with non-verbal and non-conceptual activities; in particular satipatthana, anapanasati (aspiring to all 16 practices), and renunciation of urges and evaluations (poking the lizard back in the hole).  There is a long way to go!  I only remember mindfulness and renunciation sometimes, but when I do it is strangely enjoyable.

Behavioural changes continue to consolidate - less aggressive driving, less reaction to 'disgusting' things, less listening to music, less time wasting, better organised, happier.  Just enjoying the process and in no rush.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
6/29/18 6:59 PM as a reply to curious.
23 June. Happy with the current routine.  40-60 minutes of formal sitting a day, plus similar amount of mindfulness/meditation in daily life.  Practice in order of frequency is anapanasati, dwelling in space, vipassana of mental formations and urges, mindfulness of action, metta.  Digging into lurking concepts and evaluations - amazing how much is there.

Had lucid dreaming or vision for a couple of minutes as I woke up.  No sense of body, but precise conscious observation of the dream that included colour and detail and movement.  Things seemed to be happening on their own in the dream and I couldn't direct them, except there was some corner of intention, just out of sight, that had a slight indirect lagged impact.  I seemed to be both awake and asleep at the same time.

24-26 June.  Practice continuing.  Did the second of Gil Fronsdal's anapanasati dharma days from audio dharma.  Carried on after his joy meditation and got some grade IV piti (not as strong as on two previous occasions, but still pretty out there). Things are generally settled back down, but with a much better baseline, more happiness, ease and joy in life.  Behavioral changes are persisting.

27 - 30 June.  Two missed days, due to illness and busyness, bracketed by two days with full one hour sits. Some mild insights into non-self of gross sensations and impermnence of subtle sensations. Worldly engagement is dragging me backwards a bit, but the default is definitely higher than before.  Striving brings me down and cues some old behavioural patterns, but when it reduces I seem to float out into ease, contentment, joy.  Sits, sunshine, forests and seclusion are factors that encourage this. 

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/9/18 12:52 PM as a reply to curious.
Up to 10 July.  Things have evolved slightly.  Quiet times in the day have moved to a more subtle joy of the now.  Just Being Now.  Although occasionally this gets overlaid with a rapture or ecstasy.  I have cut down formal sits in favour of the Wim Hof method (breathing, stretching, micro-meditations), but still sit for between 20 and 40 minutes most days.

Was practicing mindfulness of ironing a week ago and after about 10 or 15 minutes a nice bliss wave appeared, grew and washed through me.  Only thought afterwards I should have tried to turn it into a hard jhana.  Have had some colourful visual phenomena - once during eyes open meditation I got textured blueness overlaying the visual field, closely spaced.  Then the other day during normal activities I got pale yellow spots overlaying the visual field, widely spaced.

Then last night, something a bit unusual.  I was in deep sleep when I suddenly had a sense of hurtling towards a vanishing point, and had a strong startle reflex that woke me right up.  Then immediately afterwards I had diffuse nimmitta (without meditating) such that when I closed my eyes it was noticeably brighter than the darkness of the room.  There was a huge sense of the unknown about vanishing point, which I think produced the startle reflex.  Maybe my subconscious is trying to show me how much I am still clinging to the known !

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/12/18 6:46 PM as a reply to curious.
Log up to 13 July.  On holiday at the beach, so opportunities for meditation have increased!  Currently 2 to 4 hours a day, plus the Wim Hof stuff.  I have  completed the third of Gil Fronsdal's anapanasati audio dharma days.  I'm really enjoying whole body breathing and have added 20 minutes of body scanning to help calm bodily formations.  But I am getting less out of the second anapanasati tetrad.  Working with Gil's recordings has improved my rupa jhanas, and it did lead to my body disappearing at one point; however, this is more familiar territory and my reaction to these events has become quite dispassionate.

The underlying joy of being, here and now, is still there. The duration and intensity oscillates a bit, so it is less continuous than when it first appeared.  But it can be just as strong.  It gets pushed into the background by any other activity, but pops back out whenever I become secluded and make the effort.  So this seems to be pretty stable new baseline, and wellbeing is way higher.  There is some agency and centredness, and delusion in perceptions, so I am guessing things will get better again if I keep at it.  I'm not getting non-duality at the moment, but more the Tibetan child of illusion thing - where the world is no longer real, but unfortunately I am.

I think it will take a couple of years to get from wherever I am now to whatever comes next. To keep myself occupied, my intention is to enjoy the current state and to renovate my dharma practice.  I will complete the audio dharma anapanasati study and maintain that practice, and then do the same for sattipathana (which I expect to have a big impact over time).  Then I might return to complete the last few stages of TMI, or likely work through MCTB2 and mahasi-style noting. I know there is a bit of restlessness there, but overall the goal is to keep strengthening the seven factors of liberation.  There is no realistic chance of getting away for a retreat before 2020 emoticon.

One thing I am missing is a good method to apply "The remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release & letting go of that very craving"  in daily life.  I can spot impulses and deny them, renounce them, see some of the formation behind them, and try to renouce that.  But I haven't got a very effective formula.  I hope to get some advice from a nearby Forest Path monastry, as letting go seems to be their thing.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/14/18 3:08 AM as a reply to curious.
Sat down to do 20 minues of anapanasati followed by 20 to 40 minutes of body scanning.  The body scanning blew out to an 1hr 40 minutes of virtually uninterrupted concentration, so 2 hours in total.  I didn't set out to vipassinize senations (I can already do that through energetic methods), but rather to build concentration and discrimination and to give the touch sensory system a workout.  I took a focus of about an inch diamterer, and wiped it over everything, and then into the respiratory cavities at the end. So for example, rather than 'ear' there would have been 15 to 20 points of focus around each ear, each fully felt.  Joints were the most difficult and time consuming!

At first I was jumping from one location to the next, but by the end the focus moved reasonably smoothly.  It was a challenge to discrimate between intention, imagination, and actual awareness of sensation at the location. But this also got better over the sit, with a clear physical sensation of each point of focus by the second half of the scan.  I noticed some blank areas, but these all succumbed to yield a sensation. I had some uplifting piti when scanning respiratory cavities. Then at the end I felt just great - like having had great massage, but without any dullness or tiredness.  I think I will do this another couple of times, then aim to work it down a shorter scan with a single in-out breath. The long body scan seems like a great workout, but it is peripheral to the main practice at this point.

Later, trying to vipassinize daily experience, I got hints that sensations are stuctured into the "world" by the space sense (giving them location) and by the imagination sense (filling in the blanks outside the sensory field) to enable contact.  I got hints that collapsing these two senses could plaster all sensations together into an immediate kaledioscope of mind. But I couldn't quite do that.  I tried, and got energetic shuddering of the mind, but it all fell short.

I am struggling with the three characteristics right now - I'm not sure if this is normal, due to my defective practice, or due to not being on the path of the body witness.  Impermanence now seems like a grosser simplification of the subtler 'is' or 'here and now'.  On suffering, I can't find any, except for the leftover mental firmware that occasionally flails in response to stimuli (and which I am trying to let go). And there isn't exactly a self, so much as an everything.  However, there is defintely a center, occasional thoughts about the future, and some goal directed action.  Most action seems intuitive or autonomic, or to arise from a more slowly cultivated intention.  However, I am still identifying with the action, rather than just being along for the ride.  So I am bit confused.  Although that doesn't really matter.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/14/18 9:10 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Impermanence now seems like a grosser simplification of the subtler 'is' or 'here and now'.


The key is in seeing that 'reality' isn't what you think it is. You're really going to have to question if 'reality' is 'real'. Stuff is just appearing and disappearing.

curious:
so much as an everything.  However, there is defintely a center


You sure about that? What is this center and what is it's function?

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/14/18 10:56 AM as a reply to curious.
I am struggling with the three characteristics right now - I'm not sure if this is normal, due to my defective practice, or due to not being on the path of the body witness.  Impermanence now seems like a grosser simplification of the subtler 'is' or 'here and now'.  On suffering, I can't find any, except for the leftover mental firmware that occasionally flails in response to stimuli (and which I am trying to let go). And there isn't exactly a self, so much as an everything.  However, there is defintely a center, occasional thoughts about the future, and some goal directed action.  Most action seems intuitive or autonomic, or to arise from a more slowly cultivated intention.  However, I am still identifying with the action, rather than just being along for the ride.  So I am bit confused.  Although that doesn't really matter.


Curious, I'm not dharma diagnosing you because I don't know anywhere near enough about you and your practice, but this reminds me of classic 2nd path "stuff." I recall being very confused about what I was supposed to be doing and how "things" appeared to me. It was like walking into a hall of mirrors and not having any clue as to what was real, what was imaginary, and even if there was a difference between the real and the imaginary. It was just by keeping the practice going and not getting bogged down in the endless weirdness that things eventually shook out.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/14/18 9:19 PM as a reply to curious.
ivory - Yes, I can't seem to stay focussed enough on what I should be doing ... I suppose I am skating around things a bit until I feel ready to confront them.  It's ok I guess, as long as there is some forward movement.  I'll just try to keep up momentum going until I feel ready to dig into the centre and the mental sensations at a much greater level of depth.  Sometimes those kinds of moments just appear unexpectedly.

Chris - Thanks.  No diagnoses assumed or clung to emoticon.  I read that as saying don't worry, we've seen it all before, just keep going and things will evolve.  That is really helpful.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/15/18 8:18 AM as a reply to curious.
... I suppose I am skating around things a bit until I feel ready to confront them.  It's ok I guess, as long as there is some forward movement.  I'll just try to keep up momentum going until I feel ready to dig into the centre and the mental sensations at a much greater level of depth.  Sometimes those kinds of moments just appear unexpectedly.

Yes. I think of the practice as similar to climbing a mountain. You can't just appear at the summit. You can't just appear on the ledge you see 3,000 feet up there. You can sometimes get a glimpse of what's up there, but you have to walk the path - traverse it all. There are no helicopters.

emoticon

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
7/25/18 10:02 PM as a reply to curious.
Just noting that after my holiday I have temporarily moved most of my practice to the Wim Hof method (Wim Hof breathing, cold exposure, stretching, commitment).  I am still doing a bit of anapansati on top of this, but the Wim Hof method includes a lot of meditative aspects.  I am currently going through his 10 week fundamentals course, and after that I will go back to the third tetrad of anapansati. I will also review the course for the DhO community once I have finished (unless somebody already has?).  Meanwhile, here are some preliminary observations.

1 - It can be seen as a form of anapansati, but with breath holding.

2 - It gives sensations that are similar to, but not exactly the same, as the whole body energetics I can experience.  So it is an easy route into observation of the whole body (not just the breath body, but the whole body).

3 - There is quite a focus on colourful and white nimitta, which are encouraged by techniques to ogygenate the brain. This has slightly changed and considerably strengthened my nimitta - today was a kind of multicoloured flourescing aurora.  I still can't get pure white circles though!

4 - There is also a focus on mindfulness, concentration and energy in the method.

5 - So far it is nothing like the descriptions I have read of Tummo.

My initial impressions are that it is quite good for strengthening all of the seven factors of liberation, and it is a good preliminary practice. After doing the breathing techniques, I am just about in access concetration, and find it really easy to get into quite good absorptions.  Once I have finished the course, I think that I will replace the first 20 minutes of my sits with Wim Hof breathing, as it seems to achieve the same things as those first 20 minutes, but with other benefits.

RE: Malcolm's practice log
Answer
9/2/18 2:37 PM as a reply to curious.
Continuing to practice the Wim Hof method - 40-60 minutes a day, with a rest day every three weeks or so.  Lots of interesting aspects - meditative and ottherwise which I will post on at the end of the Wim Hof fundamentals course.  It is very grounding in the body, and I have been in a long period of equanimity and tranquility with relatively little interest in absoprtion.

Then, recently, I decided to summon back that underlying joy of dwelling in space, here and now.  It is still easily available, but doesn't seem to have the same compelling vedana that it originally had - its like the joy is there, but the pleasant reaction to the joy is absent.  Around the same time I found I tipped out of equanimity/tranquility and into some mild cycling, although I seemed to be going backwards through the dukkha nanas, from reobservaton down to A&P/dissolution combined (but skipping fear). I am getting better at being conscious of the nanas, but there is still a long way to go. I also realised that I have been suppressing emotions to deal with high workloads, which I think is counterproductive, and may be the reason for the loss of the pleasant reaction to the spatial joy.  So I will try to be more open to emotions and let them play out naturally.

None of this is likely to lead to further insight, but my focus remains on preparatory work.  My hope is that this will enable me to take greater advantage of future insights, once I am ready to dive down the rabbit hole again - or to see through the duality.