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Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 6/10/18 10:18 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 6/11/18 9:33 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Matthew 7/27/18 4:48 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 9/29/18 12:19 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log shargrol 9/30/18 6:24 AM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 9/30/18 7:18 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/2/18 7:55 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log shargrol 9/30/18 7:17 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/1/18 8:39 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/2/18 8:23 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/3/18 7:39 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Lars 10/3/18 9:19 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/4/18 3:40 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Zachary 10/3/18 9:49 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/6/18 8:45 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Nick O 10/3/18 10:18 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/6/18 4:28 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/7/18 7:44 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/8/18 7:07 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/10/18 9:53 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 10/24/18 11:40 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log shargrol 10/25/18 6:08 AM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 11/1/18 6:13 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 11/1/18 6:55 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 11/2/18 7:38 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 2/26/19 6:07 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log shargrol 2/26/19 8:18 AM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Zachary 2/26/19 2:39 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 2/26/19 6:04 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 2/27/19 6:23 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Zachary 3/2/19 6:07 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 3/3/19 5:37 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 3/3/19 6:33 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Hibiscus Kid 3/5/19 8:17 PM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log shargrol 3/6/19 6:25 AM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log Jehanne S Peacock 10/4/18 3:54 AM
RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log alguidar 10/11/18 8:55 AM
Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
6/10/18 10:18 PM
The decision to make a practice log on this forum has come about because of a recent event that happened in daily life which I posted about here: Was that it? 

I don't have a main teacher who I report to regularly, and so it is difficult to track progress in my practice even with the extensive reading I've done on the progress of insight. I figured that posting my practice on here for all to see would give me a chance to report to other meditators with extensive experience. That way I can compare notes with others, shine a light on any "shadow sides" that I'm ignoring, get advice where needed, and, hopefully, posting on here may keep me motivated and accountable. With any luck, if this buddha-dharma experiment works for me, this log might be a helpful resource for other people in the same way that I have benefitted from the practice logs of other practitioners. I hope to keep meditation reports on the phenomenological end of the spectrum, but I'm not sure how this will unfold quite yet. 

For some background: I'm a 25 year old male working as an aerospace engineer in CT. I have a somewhat active social life. I like cooking, listening to and making music (I play piano and guitar and use Logic X), running, rock climbing, reading, traveling and meditating (of course!). I'm not extremely proficient in any single hobby of mine though as I often go where my interests take me. I'm a pretty busy person during the week as I work full time and try to be active in the evenings. I attend a Zen group once a week (which is super informal and the practitioners who attend don't seem to be super interested/believe in awakening for themselves). I also do community service in the form of mentoring through Big Brothers, Big Sisters and, once a month, I help out at a soup kitchen with my coworkers which is rewarding. I meet with a licensed counselor every few weeks to talk about life and such which for me falls directly in the realm of sila. 

My main resources that have guided my practice are Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, The Mind Illuminated, Right Concentration by Leigh Brasington, Focused and Fearless by Shaila Catherine, Practical Insight Meditation by Mahasi Sayadaw, Loving-Kindness by Sharon Salzberg,, reddit/r/streamentry, reddit/r/themindilluminated, as well as The Fire Kasina book, and this website: the Dharma Overground. I also enjoy the countless resources from Shinzen Young and listen to podcasts such as Deconstructing Yourself, BATGAP, and the Wright Show. There are many other books and websites I've used over the years, but the ones listed above are the ones I typically reference again and again and again. I prefer simple, pragmatic instructions over everything else.     

My formal practice at the moment is to watch things come and go, trying to be as inclusive as possible and getting the noting speed up. The simple framework of 6 sense doors, 3 characteristics has been the framework that most resonates with me. My main practice involves trying to note as much as I can off the cushion (inspired by Noah's post) in my daily life. I am not the most consistent formal sitter, but I hope that I can get motivated to increase quality time on the cushion by posting to this log. I've been practicing mindfulness/noting in daily life since August of 2017, but my interest in meditation has gone back about 6 years at this point.
I've never gotten into a jhana from what I can tell. I usually get pretty agitated/impatient or really sleepy when practicing samatha (I'm aware that these hinderances are common) but vipassana is usually a bit more engaging and fun for me. I'd describe myself as an aversive type.  
I've been on 2 small retreats: a weekend fire kasina retreat as well as a 4 day metta retreat led by Shannon Stein on Denman Island near Vancouver, Canada. I find fire kasina to be settling and restful as well as engaging. My body really calms down and releases tension when I'm tuning into the sense of sight. I don't claim to have had any crazy visual experiences from the fire kasina, however. It's still fun though and is a nice way to shake things up when I feel like using a different object of meditation. The metta retreat led by Shannon Stein was also an interesting experience: I spent hours on end crying tears of gratitude during every day of the retreat. I've never had a heart opening like that before: the appreciation of the complex web of circumstance that aligned to get me to Denman Island from CT in order to practice with a practitioner as amazing as Shannon left an impression on me that I will never forget. Although the metta really flowed naturally during that retreat, I don't really practice it formally at the moment.

The big motivation behind meditating (and awakening) is because I'm acutely aware of how unsatisfactory my life seems. I've had an awesome life so far with many opportunities and blessings. I grew up in a loving, supportive, middle class family in which we always had enough money for food, housing, clothing, toys, vacations, after school programs, etc. I am young, have very little debt, good health, and I have a pretty promising career start so far. I have a good social/dating life and hobbies... the list goes on. This isn't meant to come off as bragging or anything, but to illustrate the point: I've come to this place now where I keep wondering what's next. I've followed all the rules and took people's advice on how to live life and, now that I'm here, I should be satisfied and happy, but I'm not. I'm not depressed, but I'm looking around at this point saying "what's going to make me happy and satisfied?". I look around at all the adults who helped me get to where I am, and I notice that they don't necessarily seem happy or completely satisfied either. There is usually this urge to be somewhere else or to be someone else which is why I think I'm pretty aversive. Either way, I am hoping that I could get to this point in my life where I can just come to apprectiate it all for what it is instead of pushing it away. It would be really lovely to settle into this moment and enjoy the ride. Curiosity is also a huge driving factor in this: what was the Buddha talking about and what is awakening (also luminosity, centerlessness, loss of agency, equanimity, nondual perception) really like??? This seems to be a worthwhile axis of human development. 

Thank you in advance to everyone for taking the time to read what I post as well as providing feedback. I also would like to express gratitude for all those who have already supported my practice through DM's, emails, video/in person discussions, as well as books and other countless ways. I hope that I can return the favor in some way to those who are seeking as well.  

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
6/11/18 9:33 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
When discussing daily life noting/noticing/mindfulness, I'll rate it using a scale out of 10 where 0 means absolutely no mindfulness was practiced and where 10 is my personal best (10 does not necessarily that I was mindful 100% of the time because I have work that requires my attention).  

I didn't get much sleep last night, so I had some trouble with keeping the noting going throughout my day (while I was at work). I took advantage of my 20 minute commutes to and from work to note. I also went for a walk in the company parking lot during lunch and used that time for walking meditation. Bathroom breaks, cleaning my bowl after lunch, filling my waterbottle, and eating were all great opportunities to note or notice physical sensations and thoughts/mental impressions. I'd say that I was about a 3 or 4 out of 10 for keeping the noting going while at work today. After I got back from work, I took a quick 20 minute nap which really helped to refresh my mind. I'd say I was a 6 out of 10 for noting as I exercised, made dinner, showered, and then drove to my Zen group.

At the Zen group tonight, I showed up 20 minutes early and used the time to practice samatha by focussing on the sensations of my nose (obviously sensations of the breath but also small tensions and twitches and such). Trying to keep the width of attention just on the nose while allowing other sensations and thoughts to remain in the background really helped chill me out (lots of tension in the body was released) and get me focused (similar to what is taught in The Miind Illuminated). After 20 minutes of samatha, the formal Zen sit started. 

The Zen group meditates for 60 minutes broken into 2 sessions of 25 minutes. There is about 10 minutes of silent walking in between the two sessions of formal sitting. I used the formal hour to practice noting with mental labels. The first 25 minutes started out pretty normal. After about 5 or 10 minutes, I was hit with major sloth and tried to keep my eyes open and the noting going. Eventually I was dozing off and watching how the mind would get pulled into vivid dreams and then get startled/wake-up when someone made a noise or coughed. The session continued between awake and dreamy states until the bell was rung. The 10 minutes of walking helped to refresh my mind and wake me up. The next sit was a bit more productive. I started noting faster and faster. I continued using mental labels since dropping the labels would probably have led to more dozing off/spinning off into content. I noted sounds, sights, body sensations, thoughts, emotions and more. Eventually noting shifted to noticing when things were gone (I see the floor - gone - I see the floor again- gone). There was also a lot of twitching which isn't very common for me, but I made sure to note it. At some point, while it was all going very well, I started to get impatient and noted appropriately. Doubts also arose and those were noted too. After the final bell was rung, I layed on my side and watched how the carpet started to pixelate and warp and change color which was interesting and engaging although this has led to states of anxiety in the past. The full meditation session for me was an hour and 20 minutes. 

After coming back home, I did another 20 minutes of fire kasina. I sat at my desk with the candle about a foot away. I would slide my waterbottle in front of the candle to block some of the light as I closed my eyes which helps create a brighter after-image. I typically stare at the candle for 20-60 seconds before closing my eyes and then let it ride out for 90-120 seconds (before the murk can really set in since I'm sort of tired). The after-image was moving to the bottom, right-hand corner for about 5 minutes of the session. The after-image would flicker quite rapidly due to the twitching in my eyes when initially starting. The after-image is usually the same shape as the candle flame. It usually starts as a yellow or green flash with a slightly red/pink outline before it shifts to a turquoise. At this point the afterimage will start to split off into 3 different colors like one of those rainbow popsicles with the different color bands. The top band is turquoise, the middle band is yellow, and the bottom band is red. Typically the top band grows downwards and the entire after-image becomes turquoise again. The after image oscillates between these two states for the rest of the session. My body becomes quite relaxed while tuning into the colors. I don't use a mantra and I let thoughts, body sensations, emotions, etc. come-and-go in the background. Again, impatience arose after around 10 minutes. 

With a minute left of the session, I put the candle out and used the LED on my phone to create one last after-image. My experience has been that the brighter light can usually get me the fabled red dot. Tonight, the dot was a brilliant shade of grey/white and would move straight down. In the past when using the LED, I'd get a brilliant turquoise dot that becomes almost 3 dimensional since it suddenly becomes super defined and pops out from the black background. I don't want to damage my eyes with the LED though. 

That wraps up my day today.      

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
7/27/18 4:48 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Thank you for describing these experiences. Your motivation, attention to detail, and the breadth of dharma media you've taken in are all inspiring and bode well for your practice.

At this point, I'd recommend that you practice samatha according to the instructions in the various concentration manuals that you've read, especially The Mind Illuminated. Without access to jhana, insight practitioners often run into difficult psychological territory that can impact work and relationships. Practitioners who are dedicated to the dry insight path and unwilling to develop concentration sometimes stall out before the A&P or in high EQ and eventually give up on meditation, which is tragic. 

I suspect that those who are able to reach stream-entry without formal concentration practice have naturally concentrated minds and are likely to have experienced jhana at some point in childhood or adolescence. If you have never experienced jhana, it's a sign that you're better off pursuing concentration first: this will ensure that you have an enjoyable path and will guarantee that you're able to break through to stream-entry when the time comes. This is also in line with the path of practice that the Buddha describes in the Pali Nikayas.

It's fine to keep experimenting with multiple concentration techniques, like the fire kasina, mindfulness of breathing, and body scanning. This will keep your practice fresh and may reveal aspects of attention and patterns of mental resistance that you wouldn't have noticed practicing a single technique.

Consider working with a teacher like Tucker Peck, who is Culadasa's student and is generally well-regarded. If Tucker isn't taking on students, I'm sure he'd be able to recommend someone. Teachers are helpful for pointing out blind spots and providing perspective. You may have noticed similiar benefits from working with a counselor.

As an aside, you might enjoy the Hamilton Project blog about pragmatic meditation:

Best of luck to you on your path.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
9/29/18 12:19 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I haven't written here in a while. The posts I made before this were so long and would take me at least 40 minutes to write down all my thoughts and such. If I am to continue this log with any regularity, I'll probably be less detailed in order to save time. 

I originally started this log because I believed that I had a cessation on May 23rd. I wasn't reporting to a teacher with any regularity up until that point, so I wasn't really able to confirm this event. I decided to start a log on here so that others could chime in, but I haven't been very diligent in sitting or reporting.  

The advice is to wait a year and a day to decide whether or not one has attained a path (I am extremely aware that many people who think they attained stream entry are often incorrect and I accept that I'm most likely in that camp). Either way, there was definitely some sort of shift since May which reduced suffering. A huge portion of my existential crisis has evaportated. I became lazy in meditation since I felt so much relief since then, but I'm starting to notice all the other small ways my existence could be improved through practice on (and off) the cushion. It feels a bit like picking up all the dirty laundry off the bedroom floor (big mess) to then realize that it would be a good idea to vacuum the carpet as well (more subtle mess). The existential crisis was such a driver and really fueled my practice, so I'm trying to get some of that drive back. 

Another hinderance was having to deal with a panic disorder that made me slightly agoraphobic. I was frequently getting panic attacks that convinced me I was dying. Trying to ride out these terrible attacks of anxiety with noting usually just made them worse and so I became adverse to meditation as well. After spending months with Xanax, I finally spoke to my doctor about going on Zoloft so I could feel normal and not have to worry about potential addiction. I'm about 6 weeks into taking Zoloft and it's made a huge difference and has allowed me to be more objective about difficult sensations that I sometimes experience. I think that it was the right choice for me and helped to lessen the hinderance of major panic. 

Stay tuned! Thank you for reading! 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
9/30/18 6:24 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.

For what it's worth --- and I don't say this to be mean but rather give you another possible angle to look at your practice log --- your reports are very consistent with a deep A&P experience (which doesn't need to be "sparkly" it can just be profound and create momentarily reduced suffering), falling into disolution (lack of motivation in practice), then into the dukka nanas with the fear nana bringing up a panic disorder. This is a really, really common pattern. I would even say that >most< people have this experience in some way or another. I would recommend re-reading this section in MCTB. I can't guarantee it happened to you, but if I had to place a bet, that's the bet I would make.

It also seems that --- from your dharma library and internet interests --- you are essentially a dark night yogi. (Does that seem fair to say to you?) Sometimes it isn't obvious, especially when someone is intelligent, social, and is doing well professionally. 

A dark night yogi basically needs to develop a very consistent daily practice, never missing a day, never quitting too soon. (That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but essentially correct). They need to be dedicated to objectifying the "dark" or "negative" aspects of their thoughts/emotions and develop tools (jhana, metta) and have access to high-quality suppport (teachers, dharma friends). They need to read texts that support the >actual stuff< that is showing up and difficult (which could be reading about the nanas or particular psychological disorders/treatment methods). And they need to think of their practice as a life-long practice of healing and growth (otherwise they binge and purge with practice, trying too hard and then not enough, being "heroic" which usually fails, instead of being "consistent" which usually works).

Many people think of stream entry as the thing that "fixes" the dark night yogi, but it is really all of the things leading up to stream entry.  By the time someone is on the verge of stream entry, they almost don't care anymore about it. They know instead that it is doing the basic daily practice that makes a difference. They have a hunch, too, that even after stream entry there will still be a big benefit in continuing to practice. So they are going to sit and going to go on retreat when they can. It's just that simple. And any SE event is just a bump in a lifelong road trip. This is the kind of attitude that tends to support the equanimity and objectivity and consistency of mindfulness that makes us prone to SE.

The nice thing is that regardless of SE, the daily practice and introspection makes us better anyway. So there really isn't a downside besides a little less time spend sitting instead of TV, internet, etc. Ironically, dharma reading/internet/podcasts can eat up practice time if we are not careful. Better to sit daily and never read another dhama book nor listen to another podcast, the former is going to make the big difference.

Hope this helps in some way!

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
9/30/18 7:18 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you shargrol! 
I've definitely considered that what I had could be an A&P experience. Other practitioners I've spoken to also think it was an A&P experience (some think it could have been a cessation as well though so the jury is still out). I guess I was somewhat hopeful that what I had was a cessation because I had been practicing rigorous noting in daily life for about 10 months preceeding that event in May (as well as formal sitting and I've been on two short retreats with Shannon Stein). The issues with panic started shortly after I started noting in daily life (maybe after about a month of getting serious about practice). I am quite sure that I had crossed the A&P years earlier (I can recall a few different occasions where I think I crossed the A&P by accident so I was probably cycling). I felt like I've been a dark night yogi for the last few years since meditation became such a huge interest of mine and I found myself on forums such as this trying to solve some sort of issue with my existence. 

As you and other practitioners have said, the important thing is to keep practicing and really make the commitment to consistency. I've noticed the benefits of practicing meditation even without getting paths. 

Thank you for your advice. I'll be sure to dedicate more time to formal sitting! 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/2/18 7:55 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Sat for an hour today and noted with mental labels (about one note every second, sometimes faster, sometimes slower). Someone called the house phone 15 minutes into the sit so I paused the timer in order to answer.

At first, I noted apprehension at the fact that I'd be sitting for an hour. The first 10 minutes took some settling into as I worried about whether I'd get too cold (I sat in my backyard) or impatient to finish the sit. 

I noted sounds of cars driving by, air planes flying over head, birds, crickets, and neighbors talking/arguing. I noted mental images associated with these sounds. I noted annoyance with my neighbors arguing so loudly and explored the body sensations of that emotion as well as the mental content flashing by. 

I noted the warmth of the sun on my face and experienced it as different points of sensation sort of crawling around my cheek (I'd then get a subtle mental image of my face). I noted the pressure of the cushion on my butt, the pressure of my legs against the steps I was sitting on, the rising and falling of the abdomen as well as air flowing through my nostrils. I noted the sensations of my hands. I was also sort of anxious from drinking too much coffee earlier in the day, and I kept noting that sensation through out the sit.

There was this interesting little dance my mind would do where I'd get very subtle mental images of the parts of my body in which I was currently experiencing sensation. These mental images seemed to suggest the shape of the body part in question. For example, arbitrary sensations in the general space where my hand was located, taken along with a mental image of a hand, seemed to create the experience of owning a hand and knowing what shape it has. These sensations also suggested that there was distance from some center point (sensations being experienced "over there").

I stayed with noting but eventually my rate of noticing increased so for every note, I'd experience 3-5 other sensations. After about 30 minutes I started to get lethargic and had to put in more effort not to get pulled into mental content. I had to open my eyes and bare down a bit to keep the noting going. Eventually I started to get really impatient and noted accordingly. Then the bell rang and I got up but tried to keep some level of mindfulness using noting. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
9/30/18 7:17 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Nicely done.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/1/18 8:39 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Today was about a 1 or 2  out of 10 in terms of daily life mindfulness. 

Sat for an hour tonight. About 30 minutes leading up to the sit, I was dealing with difficult emotions related to lonliness and then impatience to get the sit started (I had to make a phone call beforehand and it was getting late), so I was noting the thoughts and objectifying the body sensations of these emotions (as well as sights, sounds, and other physical sensations of course) before making it to the cushion.

During the sit, I was pretty lethargic and had to keep my eyes open after about 20-30 minutes. Difficult feelings related to lonliness and such would pop up occasionally, but soon the sit felt very neutral. I just made sure to note sounds, and sights and physical sensations. Since I was lethargic, it was getting difficult to note thoughts since I'd tend to get pulled into them more. I tried to compensate by really grounding myself in physical sensations, the visual field and the auditory field. After a while, my body felt pretty relaxed but my mind was impatient at the same time.

After about 30-40 minutes, my vision would also start swimming and objects in the visual field became less defined and almost larger and sometimes seemed to change angles. Also, the vertical stripes on the wall paper started to move back and forth. This happened when I'd keep my gaze anchored on one point, but my attention was taking in a wider area of the visual field (I'd lose the center point). 

The last 10-15 minutes were pretty difficult as the impatience grew and then my legs and butt started to hurt. I noticed how large swaths of pain would travel around my legs and butt and then vanish the moment attention turned to a different sense door. My butt felt like it was burning and pricks of sensation would pop up and disappear. At first, I was reluctant to explore pain and stuck with visual objects, but eventually, there was curiosity to see what the pain actually felt like as well as the urge to explore the aversion associated with the pain. There were also a ton of doubts at this point which I noted (thoughts such as "Is meditation really worth it when it just leads to pain and impatience? How will I motivate myself to practice something that's so unrewarding?"  or "Will I ever awaken or am I being deluded?" "Even if I do awaken, will that actually fix anything? Is it even worth it?").  

The last 2 minutes, I was fighting urge after urge to check the time (which I didn't do) but I made sure to note the mental and physical aspects of these urges. 

The urge to check my timer leads me to a question: I've always had difficulty with understanding the concept of noting intentions (especially things like intentions that precede thinking because thoughts seem automatic and unavoidable). Are intentions an urge to do something? Can intentions arise even if the action isn't carried out (similar to wanting to check my timer)? Or must intentions always be acted on? Are some intentions more obvious than others? Sometimes actions seem completely automatic but intentions must precede these actions from a dharma point of view (like when I type this out, my hands are sort of doing it based on muscle memory and an overall intention to send a message, yet there must be an intention to type each individual letter out). What should I be looking for when it comes to noting intentions? Or maybe I've been doing it all along and havent realized it...

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/2/18 8:23 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I'd say I was about a 6 out of 10 for staying mindful during my day. I woke up and had to contend with the negative emotions of the previous night as well as lots of stress related to work (basically just did my best to objectify thoughts and body sensations). I noted from the time I got up until I got to work. The morning was stressful as I had to participate in a conference call in place of my coworker which I had never done. I noted the body sensations of the stress as well as the various thoughts related to fear that I'd mess up (luckily it all turned out well and it was just typical overreaction). I tried to go for short walks to the bathroom or around the parking lot and when getting lunch at the grocery store nearby so that I could take the time to note.
The afternoon was also stressful due to the fact that I had to finish a report that was due the day before. I noticed how my impatience to get the task done kept rising. The fact that I had some coffee after lunch definitely didn't help the impatience and added to the body sensations related to stress. This was also partly due to the fact that I needed to get out of work at a certain time to help out at a soup kitchen with some coworkers. Helping prepare food was fun and it gave me opportunities to continue noting when I wasn't engaging with anyone directly (I tend to lose mindfulness during social interaction since I tend to be more engaged that way). Serving the food to those less fortunate than myself also brought up natural feelings of Metta and inspired me to continue noting for the benefit of myself and others. I noted in the car on the way home. I noted in the shower once I arrived home. And then I did a formal sit...

I sat for an hour, but I sat in a lawn chair instead of on a cushion because the painful end of yesterday's sit was on my mind. There isn't much to report about the sit. It seemed pretty plain and unspectacular. There was plenty of impatience and doubts arose related to whether this was at all worth it. Also kept questioning my ability as a meditator ("I've never been able to achieve a jhana, how do I know that my concentration is even strong enough to make progress in insight?" [I just keep the noting going as best as I can, although I never feel absolutely absorbed in the task of noting if that makes sense]). I did my best to keep noting and I'd say that I noted about 95% of the sit. 

That's all for today. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/3/18 7:39 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Probably a 4 out of 10 for noting through out my day today. There's a natural, base level of awareness that's sort of going on even if I'm not labeling. There was a ton of resistance to noting for some reason. I think that aversion to the technique was so strong because there was a lot of aversion to my thoughts and feelings throughout the day (just aversion to the life that I'm living). I just wanted to day dream about living a different life. This post might turn into a bit of venting...

I wake up and seriously DO NOT want to leave my bed (I noticed the aversion). I drive to work and I get impatient and frustrated with cars that drive slower, I DO NOT want to be stuck in traffic. I get to work and I DO NOT want to focus on the tasks that I'm responsible for. I get impatient to leave and go home. I had to go grocery shopping after work since I've gotten lazy and haven't purchased food in over a week, yet another task I DO NOT want to do. I played volleyball in a beer league tonight, and on the way there, I was stuck in traffic and again I DO NOT want to be stuck in traffic.

Being stuck in traffic, I reflected on how much I DO NOT want to be living the life that I am. I feel this way on an almost daily basis, it's this crazy cycle (routine) that I feel stuck in. I'm not depressed or suicidal, more just frustrated at where I am. It all feels mundane and not at all glorious. I keep dreaming of the day when I will awaken and this will all seem glorious, then again, awakening can only be done through examining (and eventually embracing) the content that's coming up in the present moment (and honestly, I have no idea what awakening is like, I've heard it's actually sort of disappointing too). 

So I spent a good portion of my day day-dreaming. I would notice this on some level and understood why it was happening. Imagining myself with that girl I've been interested in (although I have commitment issues), imagining winning the lottery (the jackpots are pretty high today, and although I didn't buy a ticket, I still like to fantasize about it), imagining myself going on long retreats to experience the sacred geometries and other realms of deep concentration practice (although I fear the lonliness of long retreats, and I don't like concentration flavored meditation), etc. Then again, I'm averse even to the thing that's supposed to eventually take the sting out of aversion: meditation in general. 

So I'm not sitting formally tonight. Accepting where I am seems just so hard sometimes which is crazy because my life is actually really good content-wise (good job, good social life, friends, loving family, good physical health, interests/hobbies, etc.). I just have yet to see it. I just want to be content, you know? At the moment, I feel "doomed" to have to live this life. 

Thank you for reading this rant. I'm not sure how many other people feel this way or if anyone can relate. I'm curious to know how much awakening helps with these issues.  

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/3/18 9:19 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Hibiscus Kid:
Accepting where I am seems just so hard sometimes which is crazy because my life is actually really good content-wise (good job, good social life, friends, loving family, good physical health, interests/hobbies, etc.). I just have yet to see it. I just want to be content, you know? At the moment, I feel "doomed" to have to live this life.

When you have trouble accepting something, sometimes it's easier just to accept that you're having trouble accepting that thing. If you can't accept that you feel "doomed", at least accept the fact that you're having trouble accepting that feeling, if that makes any sense. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it can help.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/4/18 3:40 PM as a reply to Lars.
Hey Lars, 

Thank you for your input. I guess that I understand my feelings on some level but I haven't quite accepted them. I understand that insight meditation isn't about being peaceful and really means examining what is going on. I guess I respect my current issues, but I'm still allowing myself to skip formal practice which would probably be considered irresponsible by some practitioners here. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/3/18 9:49 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Hey Hibiscus, I've enjoyed following your log, lots of good phenomenological reporting. 

The aversive and delusive (daydreaming, etc.) experiences you're describing are excellent oppurtunities for investigation, despite how painful it can be to face them over and over again. It can feel like banging your head against the wall. In my experience, making an effort to do formal sits during rough stretches yielded strong insight. You certainly should be mindful of your limits, but don't be shy about really plunging into experience here. 

There's a natural, base level of awareness that's sort of going on even if I'm not labeling. 

Since you mention this, you could also try shifting gears from noting every so often and see what it's like to just sit and rest in awareness for your formal sits. 

In the meantime, keep doing your best to take care of ordinary life stuff and don't forget to be gentle to yourself. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/3/18 10:18 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
 I keep dreaming of the day when I will awaken and this will all seem glorious, 
No need to have FOMO. It'll never all seem glorious (all of the time).
Probably a 4 out of 10 for noting through out my day today. There's a natural, base level of awareness that's sort of going on even if I'm not labeling. There was a ton of resistance to noting for some reason.

Don't worry about noting or labeling every single thing (unless you're feeling the motivation!). As you say, you already have a "base level of awareness". Pick a focus. It can be something obvious, like something that's bothering you when you awake in the morning. For me, a focus has been the feeling of awkwardness or emotional tensions within human interactions.

And this plays into what Lars said above about accepting your troubles in accepting. After all, what matters, in practice, is the refinement of "seeing" your troubles in accepting. Not the subject matter of what's not being accepted.  

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/4/18 3:54 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Hi there,
I read your log and liked it very much. You're doing good on the noting and reporting about it. I could see myself in there, too, so rest assured, somebody else has been there too emoticon

I wanted to tip you to try two-part formula that combines vipassana and shamatha and directly examines the sense of self. This method has proven to be effective in producing the initial  awakening. The basics point is that during your sit you alternate between two different modes, and target speficically the I-ness of your sensations. They are implicitly there also in your current practice, but tipping the scale purposefully just a bit might help in obtaining SE. You don't have to note in partucular, but be aware of the various subtle sensations that are associated with each mode. In the other mode you purposefully fortify the I, in the other you relax until you have no clear concept of I anymore.

Here's the instructions:
"1. First, sit down and relax thoroughly. Take a comfortable seat with eyes open
or closed. Then scan through your body with attention and release
tensions from anywhere you notice them. Scanning the body means that you
look, feel and listen into the body space and scan around it as if
using a flashlight in a dark house. When some tension is found and is
allowed to release, pay close attention to what is found in the area of
that released tension. Look closely. What you find is mere open space.
After you notice this move on to next tension, release it, and again
notice the open inner space in the place of the former tension. After
you have done this for several minutes with some sharpness of attention,
what happens is that the small locations of open space become connected
and a greater open space becomes revealed. Notice and enjoy that
spaciousness. Marinate in it for several minutes. This mode is called
the ”I-less mode” because in this spaciousness there is no ”me” or
”you”. As you are in that experience of spaciousness, see if ”me” or ”I”
can be found there. Check whether ”I” is there or not. Check left and
right. Check front and back. Check up and down. Check the center as
well. Can you find the sense of me-ness from this spacious mind? If you
cannot find it, the recognition of the I-less mode is correct. If you
are not sure, then do the exercise again and look with sharper
attention. In this mode, when you listen to a sound or look at some
external object in front of you, there is no ”hearer” or ”seer” but
rather there is only ”hearing and ”seeing”. It is important to recognise
this selfless mode well. It is not difficult, you just need to apply
some attention and relax properly.

2. Say to yourself "I, I, I", "me, me, me" or "mine, mine, mine", aloud or
silently, with conviction, so that you mean it. Repeat the affirmation
2-3 times and then for a moment wait for sensations to arise. How does
it feel? Do you feel some tensions arising? Do you feel some lack of
freedom when you reinforce the I-thought? How does the I-thought feel?
You have consciously brought up the sense of me-ness and are now
consciously experiencing how your sense of me-ness feels, perhaps for
the first time in your life. The subject, me, now becomes an object that
can be observed. Make note of how me-ness feels all over your body, in
the chest and the head. Pick the strongest of these sensations and
observe it more closely, just like a scientist does when looking at an
organism under a microscope, not to change anything but just to study it
with great interest. Consciously look and feel the sensation and simply
by experiencing it, make observations about it. How is the I-thought?
Does it have a shape? What's the size of it? Where is it located? Is
this experience of me-ness the truth of you? Is that the real ”you” or
not? Look carefully and make observations. After some time, the
I-sensations disappear. If at that point you still feel calm and not
agitated, you can do another set of affirmations. If one the other hand
you feel a bit restless, look into that restlessness to find out what's
causing it. When these sensations eventually subside the spaciousness
again becomes revealed and so the formula begins again from the first

The idea is that you keep comparing the two modes until the sense of
me-ness wears out. At some point when the affirmation no longer sticks
and the affirmation, no matter how intensely you say it, just echoes
into empty space, awakening has more than likely taken place. At this
point, you can feel a special kind of openness and elation, lightness
and unobstructedness, when compared to before.

When practicing the Two-Part Formula, it is best to sit down and process the two modes silently 1-2-3 times a
day for 20-30 minutes at each sitting. These sitting sessions are
essential along with processing during activities. In activities,
whatever they may be, make note of how the two modes alternate. Also,
when we are around others the ”I” can come up unexpectedly and strongly
because we are used to reacting to other people from our sense of ”I”.
Make use of these moments to look into the self or ”I” with awareness."

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/6/18 4:28 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Thank you for the support everyone. I guess I was just having a rough couple of days and I'm feeling back to normal now. 

I've been noting a bit less in daily life the last few days.

I did an hour long session both yesterday and today. I'd sit for 25 minutes, do some walking meditation for 10 minutes, and then sit for another 25 minutes.

I tend to walk very slowly during the walking portion so that I can try to note the rise, moving, falling, placing of my feet, and shifting/balancing of my weight. I also note thoughts, sounds, sights, and examine aspects such as parallax and movement of objects in my peripheral vision. I notice that the hardest part of the each foot step to note is when the foot is moving through space since that's the most subtle in terms of physical sensation. I also notice some sort of sensations related to directing my attention in a downward manner towards my legs as if I were pointing a flashlight from my head and could sense the direction of the beam. Sometimes, it almost feels like the sense of self is down in the feet when the focus is intense enough.

During my sits, I notice that I have been a bit spacey. Thoughts are super vivid and tend to push physical sensations to the background so I have to be diligent so that I'm not caught in thoughts. I also realized this habit where if I have a mental image (and note it as such), I'll then jump to the visual field (so then the distinction becomes noticing whether I'm "seeing" something in my mind or with my eyes). The same goes for mental talking/sounds where, once noted, attention jumps to the auditory sense (am I "hearing" in my head or with my actual ears). This process is generally pretty automatic but sometimes it becomes a feedback mechanism to see if I'm lost in thought or not. 

Besides that, (as mentioned before) physical sensation bring up subtle mental images of those parts of my body. Or even, if I am wearing a hat to keep my head warm, I feel the pressure/tactile sensations related to having the hat on my head, and start to imagine my head and the hat etc. 

My face also constantly tenses up, and every time I notice, I set the intention to relax it. A few minutes later, I'll notice that my face is tense again. 

Typically, I note more freestyle, but I'm starting to try and ground myself more in the rising and falling of the abdomen. I figured that would be. a worthy aspect of practice to work on and could potentially help develop some better concentration.  

I still experience plenty of impatience towards the end of my sits, but at the moment, it is less intense than usual. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/6/18 8:45 PM as a reply to Zachary.
It can feel like banging your head against the wall. In my experience, making an effort to do formal sits during rough stretches yielded strong insight. You certainly should be mindful of your limits, but don't be shy about really plunging into experience here.
Hello Zachary,

That's exactly how I'd describe it. I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall with this life routine. I can feel frustrated with myself and also the circumstances in which I find myself. 

It's almost a bit like the story from Greek Mythology of Sisyphus whose punishment from the gods was to push a boulder to the top of a mountain, only to have the boulder roll back to the bottom of the mountain again. He had to endure this routine for eternity. 

A philosopher by the name of Albert Camus wrote an essay relating man's futile search for the "meaning of life" to the plight of Sisyphus. 
Some philosophers (interested in the "absurd") believed life to be pointless and that suicide was one of a handful of valid options for dealing with this issue. Camus went in the other direction and argued that the fact that life was pointless required revolt. He argued that the struggle of life is in itself fulfilling and is worth pursuing and we should never stop questioning. He concluded the essay saying "One must imagine Sisyphus happy" as in, Sisyphus could accept his position and enjoy the struggle for eternity.

I suppose that is very closely aligned with the various dharma folks who discuss the noticing and compassionate acceptance of the various sensations that arise in life and dharma practice. It can be so easy to forget that simple message sometimes. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/7/18 7:44 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Did 2.5 hours worth of formal meditation today in the form of 2x1 hour sessions at noon and at night with a 30 minute outdoor session in the later afternoon. The hour long sessions were 2x25 minute sits with 10 minutes of walking meditation in between.

I experimented with dropping labels in favor of just noticing sensations arise and vanish once concentration was stronger. I'd switch to noting with labels any time I felt that the session was getting spacey.

I noted the usual stuff (mostly sensations related to hearing, seeing, thinking, and physical sensations), but I'll mention a few of the more unusal things that happened (and were subsequently noted/noticed/investigated): 

--The 30 minute session outside was probably the best session because the noticing was happening so quickly and I could kind of sit back as loads of sensations came in (bird calls, crickets chirping, car motors buzzing, wings flapping, bugs flying, leaves swaying/falling/flipping, body sensations of heat/pressure/emotions, and all the thoughts interpretting this as well as nonsensical thoughts that just popped up). My attention became more diffuse as the sit progressed since it started focussing on fewer specifics and became more inclusive. The nice thing about this session was the overall feeling that "this moment was it" and I could just rest easy in it. Eventually, impatience did arise and I had to get on with my day so I got up.

--I also noticed at points throughout the day (not formally sitting) that noting with labels would be happening by itself in the background. I'd notice it happening and then the labeling would get louder in my head as soon as I realized it, bringing it to the foreground. Pretty cool! This didn't happen the entire day, and would really only pick back up if my attention wasn't currently attending to any task/activity. 

--During the first half of my night sit, about 30-60 seconds before the bell rang for the walking meditation portion, I suddenly felt huge. I felt like my wingspan had doubled. This has happened to me on a few different occasions before, mostly during meditation (and I've read that it's a common occurance in books such as TMI). It was interesting to explore because the sensations in my arms didn't feel any differently than usual, but for some reason, these sensations were interpreted as alluding to taking up more volume (and the mental image associated with that just reinforced that interpretation). I also wouldn't say that I was super absorbed either since I could still hear/see the insides of my eyelids/had thoughts/etc. so I doubt it was anything related to formless absorptions.

That's really most of the weird stuff. There was also a lot of investigating the mechanics of attention, as in, trying to understand the sensations that made it feel like attention was pointed at something. A feeling/sense of 'here' examining things 'over there'. Overall, a productive day with less impatience than usual.  

I'm starting to enjoy the process of adding material to this practice log because it's keeping me accountable and motivates me to put in cushion time. Formal sitting was definitely an aspect of my practice that was lacking as of late. I hope to be able to create a habit out of this. 

Thank you for reading and for the support/advice people have offered and continue to offer me! 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/8/18 7:07 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Today was a long day. I tried to keep mindfulness when I could so maybe a 4 out of 10. I dealt with a lot of impatience at work as well as fantasizing. Coming back to this moment was always met with resistance. However, there's less of a sting in the reluctance to live in this moment as it is. 

When I got home from work, I had zero motivation and was pretty apprehensive about sitting for an hour given the fact that I was tired, impatient, and just wanted to keep the fantasies going. 

All in all, the sit was pretty uneventful. I tried my best to keep the noting going, trying not get caught in the tape loops of fantasy that make up an issue that's got quite an emotional pull for me. During the 10 minute walking portion I do, I was barraged with thoughts about quitting. I've seen people say that making the effort to at least sit on the cushion (even when not in the mood, or even if you spend the time not meditating) is very important so I stuck with it and tried my best to note even though I kept getting caught in thoughts and feeling bad about having a "bad" session. 

It's not glorious, it feels pointless, but it's important. There was some satisfaction with completing the hour and hopefully this is another drop to help fill the bucket. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/10/18 9:53 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I added my picture to make this thread a bit more personal on some level.

Okay, so my posts are pretty long, so I'll do my best to introduce "TLDR's" from now on at the beginning of the post. 'TLDR' stands for: Too Long; Didn't Read. It's a common way of summarizing really long posts to a few sentences on the website Reddit so that people will understand what a post is about without having to skip the entire thing because it is too long to concentrate on. I don't want to waste too much of anyone's time (even if you have good concentration and the samatha jhanas under your belt haaaaa [unlike me]). Feel free to read beyond the TLDR if you feel so inclined. Of course, your advice is always valued as well, so feel welcome to comment at any time! I'm not as advanced as most here, so having the guidance is always welcome. 

TLDR: Had a reasonable amount of mindfulness/noting the last 2 days. Didn't sit formally yesterday. Sat today, but the timer never chimed to end the hour sit, so I sat (and noted) for an extra 37 minutes before giving up and checking the timer.

I did not sit yesterday as I had gotten home late from afterwork activities (I went rock climbing). I did my best to note during the day and would give myself about a 6 out of 10 for noting. It was interesting to watch the natural, mammalian fear reaction (because of the height) during rock climbing and being able to sort of attenuate it by being really focussed on the next hand/foot hold that was in front of me. I wasn't necessarily noting, but the intention to be mindful of thoughts, emotions, and such was there.

Today I'd give myself about a 7 out of 10 for being mindful (so by 'mindful' I mean noting without labels or just being present). I noted (with labels) a bit less than usual, but I really tried to anchor myself in the physical body while working on the computer. I also went for a 20 minute walk during lunch to loosely focus on the senations in my feet while being aware of the usual sights, sounds, thoughts, and physical sensations/emotions. On top of that, I really tried to eat lunch slowly and chew my food well and turn that into an insight practice. After work, I played volleyball with my coworkers and dropped the mindfulness in favor of being involved with the game, but I still noticed my mind boomerang back to the present to make a couple of notes every now and again. I can see how training this way slowly creates a habit of being present/aware/mindful/etc. 

I sat tonight and instead of doing 2x25 minute sits with a 10 minute walk in between, I decided to sit for an hour straight. The reason to leave out the walking is because the walking allows me to gauge how long I have left (and that means I tend to get a tad less impatient and my legs won't have to deal with pain because I get the opportunity to stretch them out in between sits). I was already sort of dreading an hour-long sit (long day and such), but I figured that would be a good opportunity to explore impatience as well as pain. I use the "Insight Timer" app by the way because it allows different bells to be set at different times... and although I didn't set multiple bells tonight, it's still relevant to the story.

The sit was alright at first. I noted with single-word, mental labels and noted for a good 98% of the sit. I really did my best to stay with what was going on (seeing, hearing, mental image, impatience, thinking, phantasy, bummed, touch, touch, thinking seeing, etc.) and tried to observe the rising and falling of the abdomen. I also tried to note some of the hinderances/mapping after re-reading Daniel's essay "Map-Obsession: Hinderances in Sheep's Clothing" today. I allowed myself to open my eyes when feeling tired. My vision sort of washed out and things in my visual field warped. I sit in front of a Buddha statue during meditation (a drunken impulse buy, btw) and the face kept warping (although the eyes are closed, suddenly there were pupils overlayed and the mouth would warp into an uncomfortable grimace). Colors would wash out and things would move. Also, my body was swaying forward and backward ever so slightly in rythm with my pulse.

At some point, the pain in my legs/butt hit hard. I decided to explore the pain instead of avoid it as I had on previous sits. I tried my best to be ultra clear about its arising and passing. I tried to see where it was located (tried to "let it speak for itself" as I understand luminosity). I saw what the pain did to my thinking patterns. I'd see how I'd be focussed on a different sense door or a part of my body without pain and the pain would disappear. The longer I sat, the more the pain would take up my attentional bandwidth so that my attention was circling back to it more frequently. Pain kept coming up, but I decided to sit and watch it change and see how it affected this entire mind-body system. I had to use some real will-power to stay cross-legged. Thoughts came up about Shinzen Young and how he has had to deal with hazing at certain Zen monasteries where he had to sit for some ungodly amount of time without getting up (like 10 or 12 hours if memory serves), so I continued to sit and sit and sit and note and note and note with that as my inspiration. Finally, I broke and unfolded my legs for a while and decided to wait for the end of the sit with my legs out in front of me. Then, after some more time, I folded my legs again and kept waiting. The bell wasn't ringing... I got really darn impatient especially because I had to eat dinner still and it had been a long day, etc. I really did my best not to check my phone, but by gosh, this hour suddenly felt like it was the longest hour of my life. Finally I broke down after noting for so long and checked my phone. Turns out the app had somehow gone to sleep (the timer kept running though, but the bell never rang) and I had been on the cushion for an extra 37 minutes!!! If the timer had gone off at the proper time, I probably would not have faced the amount of pain/impatience that I did and it would have felt reasonably short by comparison. 

All in all, this sit was a lesson in the difficult physical pains and emotions/thoughts that can arise during a meditation session. I'm happy with the fact that I noted most of it and didn't get lost in thought. I tried to be honest about what I was feeling even if it wasn't pretty. I noted about 1 note every second on average (sometimes slower and sometimes faster) for 98% of the sit (hazarding a guess here). I tried to be skillful in opening my eyes when it seemed reasonable. I tried to explore the difficult stuff with curiosity. I tried to use will power and just kept sitting. I tried to see where sensations (difficult or not) were arising in space, as well as how the mind-body reacted to sensations arising and passing. Good teaching moment, but maybe I should be more skeptical of this app next time haaaa.

May this drudgery be for the benefit of all beings (especially myself, oh goodness!).  

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/11/18 8:55 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
It happens to me many many times.
The non-stop fantasies, lots of judgements about others, lack of motivation to sit.

My atittude? Just do it. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/24/18 11:40 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I have not practiced formal sitting in over a week. I am still setting intentions to be as mindfull as possible in daily living and hoping that it will be enough to make the difference.

I probably have the time to sit formally for at least an hour every day (if I were diligent). If my hair were to be on fire, I could probably put aside multiple hours on certain days (maybe even up to 3-4 hours some week days and more on the weekends).

The hinderances are so overwhelming, honestly. Doubt related to the fact that doing these practices will actually make a difference in my life. Aversion to the thought of sitting, even for 20 minutes. Desire to watch Netflix, listen to music, have a few beers to chill, pursue hobbies that will make me seem interesting as a person, etc. Sloth after I get back from work and I'm tired. It's gotten in the way of being objective and just sitting. It's bumming me out. 

I'm still pretty young; at the age of 25, I keep telling myself that I have time to change. That's such a trap though. I tell myself that I have all the time in the world to pursue meditation and all other interests that would create the cohesive, well-rounded person that I wish I were. I honestly see this particular pattern of avoidance guiding my activities well into my 40's, 50's and beyond (I am sure that after a certain point, I'd just give-in to it and forget everything else and stop meditating all together). 

Shannon Stein and I spoke about this a few times since she became such a hardcore practitioner later on in life. She was always of the opinion that I was extremely fortunate to be so passionate about this stuff at such a young age. However, on some level, it can be torture. I see the benefit in discovering this side of myself now, but I tend to procrastinate because of the feeling that I have so much time.

Daniel and Michael Taft spoke about faith on the latest "Deconstructing Yourself" podcast. It was inspiring, but at the same time, sort of disheartening because I don't have that faith. I follow the directions when I'm on the cushion (staying away from the intellectual dances), but I don't ever see myself as the practitioner who gets soooo into this stuff to the point where I start making major lifestyle changes to get it done. That drive has yet to be discovered and I am so ready for it to rear its head. 

I think appreciation/rapture are missing from my practice, but I'm not sure how to cultivate that attitude. It's drudgery more than anything. 

I try to notice this all, of course, but that's not enough. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
10/25/18 6:08 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
If you think about it, this is a perfect problem to have. Doubt about meditation is no different than doubt about anything else in life, it's a big avoidance mechanism and usually behind it is some kind of perfection complex, e.g. "I need to be like Daniel or Shannon or Michael or I've failed as a meditator..." These sorts of doubt-avoidance mental states will happen throughout your life and if you can learn to rise above it, learn to go through it, then think of all of life's possibiliities you'll be able to explore and experience! You'll be one of the people that understands that doubt, confusion, fear, etc. are not signals to stop and avoid, but rather good, intelligent signals to _slowly_ explore. It's the key to safe adventure and personal growth. 

Honestly, the best thing to do in these circumstances is to dial practice back to something achievable and simply sit in the mess. Sit for 30 minutes. Or sit for 20 minutes. Or do 5 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of standing, and 10 minutes of sitting. etc. Something simple, but make sure you "take the seat" so to speak. 

Let yourself doubt, let yourself feel the drudgery, let yourself feel exactly as you are feeling. That's totally fine. Understand what your mind is going through in a very deep way. See if the doubt about meditation also relates to doubts about other stuff in your life, work, school, social scenes, familiy, etc. If you can, take periodic deep breaths and try to accept the simple fact that it is true that you feel this way. Sometimes journalling (writing down thoughts) after sitting can really help you see, understand, and clearly articulate exactly what is happening. 

And then get up and praise yourself for sitting in the mess. Good job! No need to dwell on it throughout the day, no need to compensate for having such a short sit by being extra mindful during the day, just let the sit go. Done. Live your life. Don't worry about it.

And the next day, take the seat again.

Everyone has to work through these periods of doubt, confusion, "bad practice", etc.  It seems like things aren't working, but this is EXACTLY what needs to happen for us to see our hindrances. We will always reach some kind of mental/physical/emotional limit during practice. The answer is not to push beyond it or avoid it. The answer is to meet it half way, adjust the "dose" of practice, but make sure we do a little each day, not pushing beyond it, not avoiding it.

There is also a point where you might need to convince yourself you can rise above this and go back to normal sitting. There is a story of Ajahn Chah who as a beginning monk was prone to getting really sleepy in the hot afternoons in Thailand. He would go to his meditation hut and kinda sit in a daydreamy sleepy way for the afternoon. He struggled with it for a while in a kind of wishy washy way. At some he realize there was no way he was going to make progress unless he overcame it. At a certain point, when he was ready, he spent some time sitting in his hut while _wearing_all_his_clothes_ to get as hot and uncomfortable as possible. And he sat like that with great energy and commitmentment. After a while, he went back to normal sitting and could easily deal with the afternoon heat.

The problem is most people want to heroically jump to using strong determination, then they fail, then they give up. I suspect that part of their mind already knows and wants to fail, so that they have a good excuse to stop. (Looking back on my life, I see myself doing that several times.) But the right approach is to go gently, really explore and consider what is happening first, and consistently and gradually work towards a goal. (It doesn't need to be meditation, this applies to all of life.) But also recognize that at some points in our life, there is no easy way to be found, and we just have to work through the difficult path forward.

Again, the difficult path forward isn't the first path we should explore. We should respect our body/mind and how it needs to gradually change over time and go slowly and consistently toward our goal.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
11/1/18 6:13 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you Shargrol. This post has been helpful and is much appreciated. I've been reading it daily!

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
11/1/18 6:55 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Been sitting on and off lately. Practice sessions are nothing spectacular. I'm coming to terms with the fact that not having "fireworks" during meditation sessions is not a cause for concern. There is definitely some attachment related to being a "good meditator" with good concentration and the idea of vipassana/samatha jhanas and formless realms and nanas and all that. The real goal is to put all that sexy stuff aside and just watch the sensations and be patient and let the process work itself out. I've been through something like this before. There's less striving (I mean, it's not completely absent) and being mindful becomes more natural (but not quite automatic). It seems like less of a deal to be quietly present to what is currently going on instead of striving to note every single damn thing coming up in experience during my day. It becomes very simple. There's also less frustration when I do get lost in thought/content or when I have to concentrate on a task at work and can't be aware of everything going on around and in me. 

Many of the relative "issues" that I've been dealing with have been attenuated over the course of the last 3 weeks. There's this really lovely, overarching feeling of quiet contentedness underlying even times when I'm stressed, etc. There's less idealizing some perfect self (less striving after some ideal self who is talented and physically fit and whatever else I tend to heap on myself). There's less fantasy about other ways my life could be better and less pull into those thoughts as they deliver less of a dopamine hit. 

I'm keeping an open mind. I know this won't last which I'm completely fine with. I'll enjoy this period for what it is and just keep the gentle mindfulness going. Experiencing the sensations for what they are. Coming back to it all again and again and again. 

Maybe it's just the transition in seasons (I'm willing to bet that there are changes in brain chemistry associated with this sort of thing). It's nice to go out and see the leaves during walking meditation however. As it gets darker earlier in the next few weeks, I'll probably start some more exploration of the fire kasina! That's something to be excited about for sure!

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
11/2/18 7:38 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
About 75 minutes of Fire Kasina tonight (not timed, just sat for fun). I was rereading the Prologue of the Fire Kasina book today and feeling pretty inspired to sit down. The most recent Deconstructing Yourself interview with Daniel was pretty inspiring as well. Seems like a few practitioners benefitted from the Fire Kasina at the Cochise Stronghold retreat in September. Apparently Daniel and Shannon (and many other high level practitioners) are currently on Denman Island where I had my first meditation retreat with Shannon. They are doing a Fire Kasina retreat. I guess you could say the FOMO got me to sit down haaaa. As an aside: it would be an awesome experience to meet and sit with some of these people one day since I think of many of them the same way sports fans think of their favorite players.

Back to the practice: at the start, the oblong dot would move and flicker until my concentration set in a bit more and my facial muscles stopped twitching. I had to deal with a lot of dullness and dozed off many times. Sort of annoying but I tried to keep it going.

I experimented with using mantras tonight. I don't usually use mantras but they seem beneficial for aiding concentration based on what I've read. Daniel's advice is to make the mantras long and resonant, but I could see a preference for my mind to repeat the single-syllabic mantras I experimented with about once a second or maybe slightly slower (rather quickly all in all). I'm also not familiar with that many traditional mantras, then again, my understanding is that any word/sound will do. It's less about the meaning, and more about keeping the mind occupied with the repetition of syllables. I guess I'd just like to find a syllable that's fun to repeat mentally and produces interest if that makes sense (I'm looking at the practical side of this). "Om" doesn't really do it for me. 

Also, the dot is rarely red for me. It is usually a really lovely turquoise with some red outlines. Sometimes it turns white or gray or yellow. It goes through many different random phases and tends to disappear and reappear. I'd also tried to be aware of the details and colors around the dot (there's usually a halo around the flame that creates a lovely afterimage in addition to the dot). I'm not really concerned with the fact that the dot isn't red though. It's stil fun to just watch the dance unfold.

The interesting part of tonight's sit was when the dot would shrink to a black pin-prick. That's when my concentration seemed to be the most strong. The dot itself was easy to see even with its small size as it was clearly darker than the rest of the murky, pixelated visual field. The dot would become super defined and warp into various simple polygon shapes. The mind naturally found these different shapes to be interesting and would watch little sides and corners appear and disappear. It almost looked like a small black spider trying to make up its mind about which direction to crawl. As soon as this "spider" stuck a leg out to one side, it would pull the leg back and consider another direction and stick its leg in that direction and so on and so forth. It was cute, in a way, and natural feelings of metta would sort of accompany the observation of the dancing dot. 

Fire Kasina is a lot of fun. I have a really hands-off, playful attitude towards it as a practice compared to noting or the TMI style breath meditation. Someday, I'd like to go on a long term, intensive Fire Kasina retreat to experience what Daniel and Shannon have, but I feel that expectations would potentially cloud the enjoyable aspect of this practice. Then again, maybe it is just natural, simple, wholesome fun and one can explore that deep territory even with expectations as long as one is diligent. I look forward to practicing this more as it gets darker earlier through the rest of this fall and winter.  

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
2/26/19 6:07 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I have not posted here in a while, so I thought I’d just check in. 

A few months ago, I picked up my copy of TMI again and decided to really practice it. I had been in touch with some TMI yogis over on reddit who really hailed the benefits of achieving unification of mind and practicing within the later stages of samatha laid out in the book. I was talking to some real phenoms who had managed to reach the later stages of the book within a matter of months. I really wanted to get there myself and started really striving. 

My new years resolution was to try and practice formal sitting at least an hour a day, if not more. I left some of my toys (guitars and other such things) at my parent's house so I wouldn't get distracted. I wanted to immerse myself in practice. This period of practice really sucked. I was bearing down which only led to tightness, frustration, and stagnation. Practice was more of a stick than a carrot. I was skipping plenty of days and quit most of my sits before the bell. Most sits ended with me being extremely impatient. Sometimes I'd end the sit just flat out angry. 

The irony here is not lost on me: Samatha is not achieved through force and requires some degree of relaxation. Unification of mind requires enjoyment. Culadasa mentions throughout the book to rejoice in coming back to the breath, which I clearly wasn't. 

I realized that this point in my development would really benefit from falling in love with my practice. The post that really drove this home were some instructions from shargrol this past week on the stream entry subreddit:

The fact is, I've been bumping up against the various hinderances that were presented in that post. I've been using shargrol’s instructions which have really helped me feel settled. I am also a big fan of keeping this sort of loose awareness of breath sensations going through out my day: commuting, cooking, exercising, at work, showering, talking to others, etc. 

I'd really like to fall in love with my practice. If I sit for two hours a day in the future, it will be because I've found the process to be an enjoyable one. I'd like to let this path of mine to unfold as it may. I know that it's good to sit a bit longer now and again, but pushing ourselves must be done in a balanced and considerate way. I cannot map others' success onto my own development. All I can do is set aside some time daily for practice, participate in the process, and let grace do the rest. 

If I fall in love with my practice, the rest will sort itself out.

Thank you shargrol for your perspective and advice! Thank you to everyone for making this community what it is emoticon

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
2/26/19 8:18 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Cool, rock on!

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
2/26/19 2:39 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I'd like to let this path of mine to unfold as it may. I know that it's good to sit a bit longer now and again, but pushing ourselves must be done in a balanced and considerate way. I cannot map others' success onto my own development. All I can do is set aside some time daily for practice, participate in the process, and let grace do the rest. 

Nice to hear from you again. This sounds like a great attitude to approach practice from. It's a mindset I've had to learn and check back in with time and time again. Give yourself as much license as needed to experience love and joy in your practice! 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
2/26/19 6:04 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Thank you shargrol. Thank you Zachary.

I was about a 5-6 out of 10 for being mindful. Loose focus/awarness of breath sensations in the lower abdomen was the anchor (intstead of noting). I figured that the lower abdomen was a good place to come back to as it leads to nice, easy abodominal breathing that is a known relaxation technique. It does seem to work: I notice myself being a little less wound up than I usually am. At some points in the day, it felt like I was wading through melted butter: slowly gliding as I moved, it was almost decadent.

In the evening, I attended my Zen group. I haven't been going as often for personal reasons, but it is nice to reconnect with that group. 2x25 minute sits with some walking in between. Again, just relaxing into it and watching thoughts and coming back to the body and breath. There was some impatience to work with. There were also thoughts of "maybe I should try to increase the vivdness of breath sensations" or "maybe you should set stronger intentions to stay with the breath". Noticed these thoughts and continued breathing in an easy-going way.

I was probably a 6-7 out of 10 for being mindful today. I kept general breath sensations in my lower abdomen as the background focus when I remembered. If I was walking, I used the sensations in my feet as an anchor. 

I did 2 informal walking meditation sessions: 1 at lunch and another once I got home from work. 

I did a formal sit for 25 minutes. Very dull. Many thoughts that pulled me away from breath sensations. The intention I set was a very light focus of breathing.

Many repeating mental images pop up during my sits which is curious because these images really only pop up when I'm in a formal sit. An example: usually it's mental images of video games I played a looooong time ago. Weird that the mind is sifting through it's old memory banks to rehash information that is entirely useless to me. This happens practically evey time I sit.

Shortly after starting the sit, I also dealt with a couple minutes of really uneasy dread. This feeling of dread/doom has been really substantional from the end of December until about a week or two ago (I blame part of this on the fact that I developed some sort of panic disorder/anxiety issues about a year and a half ago). I observed the thoughts in conjunction with the fear, but after a few minutes, the fear subsided. At that point, since I was calm, I tried to remember which particular thoughts had induced that feeling of dread/doom and I honestly could not remember. 

The sit ended with more impatience and dullness. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
2/27/19 6:23 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Probably a 2 or 3 out of 10 for mindfulness off the cushion today. 

Directly below is a rant about my current attitude. Feel free to skip down to the next underlined portion that says "End Rant" for the phenomenological reporting of my afternoon sit. 

Bit of a rant (or some thought patterns/thinking I'd like to see through):

I had some interesting conversations about "conditioning" at work today: familial and social conditioning that leads us to normalize clinging, toxic behaviors, and lack of self awarness that hinders personal growth. These conversations highlighted one of my motivations for practice: if I did not cling to familial and societal expectations/pressures, and was able to undo past conditioning from those afore mentioned influences, I could lead a more authentic, rewarding, and exploratory life.

I'd like to move away from CT and spend a few years either in a foreign country or on the West coast (Seattle or San Francisco or Vancouver). I'd also like to try living off the grid in a yurt or travel in a van (different and separate fantasy). I'd like to know what it's like to work and cook in a commercial kitchen. I'd like to perform music I've written in a live setting. There's more I'd like to do, but there are fears related to the logistics of it all: what would friends/family/coworkers have to say? Would leaving behind a 401k and a promising career be worth it? What would my parents do without me (they've mentioned many times before how tough it would be on them if I left CT)? What if I can't find a job in a new location? Would I make new friends? If I decided to turn back to a career in engineering, would I have shot myself in the foot by missing a few important career development years? What if the music I write is not recieved well and people think I suck? What if working in a commercial kitchen is even more stressful than my current job and I don't even learn how to cook beautiful food in the process?

The list of fears and such goes on. I feel that these fears are totally due to 'clinging' to various stories and self images. If I could just loosen the hold on some of these, I'd be more inclined to pursue some of these interests and life would be more interesting, fun, and rewarding. I'd really like to just live my life and not worry too much about receiving some sort of "blessing" from others for my actions. 

Then again, all this 'wanting to try new things' is a form of clinging in itself. Maybe making peace with my life now, as it is, is the practice. No idea what I should do. I'm only 25: young and dumb.  

End Rant

This afternoon's sit was 30 minutes. I was pretty tired so I decided to note with one-word mental labels which helps me to stay awake.

Relevant pre-session info: about 20 minutes before the sit I tried CBD oil for the first time to see if it would help with anxiety at all. I have been taking some medications for anxiety and I wanted to see if there are other options to limit my consumption of Xanax (even considering how well Xanax works for me, the amount of stories I hear about people forming addictions makes me apprehensive about taking it). I bought this CBD stuff right up the street at a gas station! Wow! What a time to be alive: the dharma is freely available on the web and CBD oil can be purchased right up the street haha!

Anyway, I used labels. I noted sounds and corresponding mental images. Mental images would appear, one after the next in rapid succession. I got pretty dull and started to doze. I let the mind doze and watched the mental images unfold: all were noted to the best of my ability. I could feel the effects of the CBD oil in my body (similar to Xanax honestly although not quite the same): as if a heavy blanket was weighing down my gut and made me feel almost cozy. I noted the slight feelings of usual stress, but also the effects of the CBD: the fact that it all seemed a bit "muffled". My body was just so chilled out and this was noted. I did end up becoming impatient towards the end of the sit and I noted accordingly. 

Overall summation of the sit: mostly stayed with mental objects since dullness/drowsiness/relaxation led to vivid mental images. Noting helped me from getting stuck in thought proliferation. I was able to note and experience dullness and be aware of it.

Honestly, it took me longer to type all this out than my actual meditation session. Probably not sustainable, but I will figure it out. 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
3/2/19 6:07 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
I would encourage you to really feel into the sensations that comprise everything you mentioned in your rant: being fed up with your current situation, the desire to do something more fulfilling or creative with your life, the belief that if you just change something or make certain choices that things will be better somehow in the future, unsavory and darker beliefs about family/human socialization and so forth. Really dig into these on a sensate level and see what's there! Additionally, get really interested in the texture and felt experience of dullness, irritation, drowsiness, etc. All of this stuff is great fodder for investigation. 

Finally, and I think it's mentioned in MCTB at some point: notice that all these ideas and beliefs about your past and future only ever happen right... now.  

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
3/3/19 5:37 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Thank you Zachary! These are all good reminders. It's easy to lose sight of the simple fact that these stories and sensations are more fuel for awakening if investigated properly.

I appreciate your feedback and I'll reread it any time this sort of material/stress pops up from now on. Inevitably these sort of frustrations will arise again considering my general disposition and attitudes and it's best not to get lost in it all. Thank you!! 

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
3/3/19 6:33 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Thursday February 27th:

Probably a 6 out of 10 for mindfulness. At around noon, my attention was... weird. It felt like I was navigating my day with a shoe-box on my head. Realizing that things were off, I did some walking meditation during lunch to explore this weird state of attention. I could stay mindful/aware of sensations in the feet (and noted other sensations and such), but it felt really heady and I couldn't really take in the world around me. It felt like being high. I think it was because of caffeine, blood sugar levels, and lack of sleep, but it cleared up around dinner time. 

I didn't sit formally on Thursday.

Friday February 28th: 

Didn't sit. Was really busy at work. Drank too much coffee. Didn't eat until dinner. Was not very mindful. Fridays tend to be really unproductive for me: I have trouble focussing at work and meditation is typically not on my agenda. I think this is because in college, I'd have 1 or 2 lectures at most on Fridays and then I'd start celebrating the weekend with my friends. The same checking-out happens now, but I am not really celebrating the weekend in the same way that I was while in school. Oh well.

Saturday March 1st:

Had an opportunity to interact with an advanced practitioner from reddit/r/streamentry for almost 2 hours. I asked him some questions about practice and life and I felt really motivated afterward. This practitioner has worked with Ron Crouch in the past so we discussed topics such as noting, the Progress of Insight, and faith in the practice. Faith in practice is probably the most pressing issue for me. 

Although many of my friends/family/colleagues would consider me really spiritual, lack of faith in the practice has always been a major hinderance for me. This practitioner described how their sits would progress exactly as Ron had described the PoI on his website. The fact that the maps lined up so well with this practitioner's practice really helped their faith. I have never studied with a teacher on a weekly basis, and I personally don't see the PoI manifesting for myself (or maybe it is and I am just too pig-headed to see the patterns). Either way, since my experiences seem so plain compared to the descriptions given by the practitioner, Ron, and Daniel, I feel like I haven't validated the practice for myself.

I felt a bit better once the practitioner decided to do a 5 minute noting session out loud. It's really so simple and it's a technique that I am doing correctly. My experience may not match the maps, but the maps are not the key to progress: it's this experience right here that is the key to progress. Even if I feel frustrated because my experience doesn't match the maps, this just needs to be noted for what it is: mapping, frustration, etc. "The Hinderances in Sheep's Clothing". 

That being said, faith is something I need to work on, the ultimate question needing to be satisfied is: Is this practice a good investment of my limited time while I'm still on this planet (will it work as promised or is it just a waste of time)? 

Probably a 7 out of 10 for mindfulness and did a formal sit for 40 minutes with noting. My sit was pretty normal: noted body sensations, thoughts, emotions, doubts, impatience, motivation, gratitude, sounds, etc. I can't really remember details about how the sit progressed, but it was a nice sit. 

Today, Sunday March 3rd:

Was probably a 5 out of 10 for mindfulness, but I had quite a lovely sit. I managed to get really relaxed, played with attention and awarness while using the breath at the nostrils as my main object. 

I noticed "forgetting" of the breath as well as gross and subtle distractions. I noticed how dullness and drowsiness would get in the way of breath sensations, but also produced their own sensations. I saw how letting tape loops of thought do their thing was less stress inducing than cutting thoughts off, all while keeping the breath as the anchor and thoughts in the background. There were different types of thinking: fantasizing, planning, remembering, ruminating, projecting, etc. Some of these types of thinking created different types of sensations in the body depending on whether they were future oriented or past oriented, etc. 

The overarching progression was: The sit started pretty plain, strengthened in focus and detail, and then at some point I hit dullness and kept forgetting the breath. It got a bit muddled after that with fluctuating between good focus and dullness, but I tried to be as aware as I could on a sensate level. 

The 40 minute sit went quickly without too much impatience. Very nice. 


RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
3/5/19 8:17 PM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Sat yesterday for 40 minutes. Tried to stay with the breath while allowing other sensations to arise. Was pretty dull. 

Today: rigorous off cushion investigation of experience.

Examining mental echoes of sensations: I feel a sensation somewhere on my body and all these mental images of my body map those sensations in space. Hearing noise and trying to locate sounds. Watching when and where thoughts occur in space. How vivid. How rapid.

Investigation became more interesting although sort of ominous when I tried to notice the patterns of sensations related to a centerpoint/perceiver. I'd tune in to the sense door of sight and try to figure out just what or who (or distinguish which patterns of sensations felt like a 'what' or 'who') was doing the seeing. It is so subtle and at some points felt like there was just seeing. Tried the same with hearing at at some point it felt like sound was flowing through an open, hollow skull.

Saw through some difficult anxiety and thought patterns that have been haunting me as of a while now. Panic disorder has made me afraid of having panic attacks or dying in front of other people, but there is this part of me now (in the very short term) that would be open to it, like it fundamentally wouldn't mind. If waves of anxiety washed over me today, I really just sat there feeling it, completely open to it. Almost like part of me was saying "try me" to these really dark stories and sensations that would arise. I can't run away from these sensations for the rest of my life, so like a cornered animal, I have to face them. Unlike a cornered animal, I feel a bit more resolute about it. 

It was a good day.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log
3/6/19 6:25 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
Sounds good. The trick is being both vulnerable and strong. Adventuous but safe. Investigative yet relaxed. Etc. etc. Afraid of panic yet willing to panic. It goes beyond the thinking/emotional mind and is more of a embodied, "this is my life and I have to live in it, so I will do my best while recognizing my body and mind's limitations. I know that over time I can develop beyond my current limitations, but I can't do it all in a day." Fast fixes never last long, but gently and firmly building a foundation of mindfulness and insight will support me in growing for the rest of my entire life.