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Hibiscus Kid, modified 4 Months ago.

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Posts: 18 Join Date: 5/3/18 Recent Posts
 
Matthew, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
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: http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/

Best of luck to you on your path.
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
H.K.,

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!
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nicely done.
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Lars, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 420 Join Date: 7/20/17 Recent Posts
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.
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Zachary, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
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. 
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Nick O, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 317 Join Date: 11/5/17 Recent Posts
 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.  
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Jehanne S Peacock, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 167 Join Date: 2/14/14 Recent Posts
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
step.

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."
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alguidar, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 106 Join Date: 6/4/17 Recent Posts
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. 
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
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.
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Cool, rock on!
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Zachary, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
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! 
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Zachary, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
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.  
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
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. 
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nicely done!
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Hibiscus Kid:
There is a brook that runs right next to the house where I am staying, and I spent about 10 minutes staring at it, watching the patterns of light dance off the ripples and waves so rapidly that it almost made me dizzy. I wanted my attention centers to synch up with experience so badly and it almost felt like it would here and there, but that's probably my imagination. 

Oh, this quote brought back memories! One thing I learned the hard way is that the kind of intent staring/focus really really does not help. This is a classic example of agitation building up and trying to fix it with effort, but when agitation occurs the correct response is to emphasize >relaxing<.

The rules are:
   If agitated, then relax 
   If dull, then energize 

The other thing to be aware of is the ambitious mind will naturally want everything in the flowing brook to be crystal clear, in focus, no blur, etc. But when you are actually synched up with (in equanimity with) the visual field, there can still be blurriness. A bit of a blur is also a beautiful, normal, natural, honest aspect of the visual field.

Your quote reminded me of a time on retreat when I was getting angry with myself because all the fluttering leaves on the trees were just a confusing blur. Later on the retreat (after a path moment in fact) I looked at the trees again and the leaves were still blurry but beautiful just as they were.

Hope this helps! 
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Zachary, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
I think that appreciating the simple wonder of sensate reality as it presents itself would make the act of sitting more interesting and fun. That includes the understanding that some things are going to be unclear, not so defined, blurry, confusing, or ambiguous (also realizing that the moment needs to be noticed as what it is, even if wonder or appreciation are not present). 

It seems incredibly ironic to be striving so hard to get 'somewhere' in meditation when that 'somewhere' is none other than here/now. 

Nice!
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Raving Rhubarb, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 73 Join Date: 7/5/18 Recent Posts
Hibiscus Kid:

[...]
A final one: the amount of time I have spent in my life lost in fantasy, playing videos games, watching Netflix or surfing the internet (still both huge vices of mine) is pretty crazy. The point here is not that I am making myself feel bad that I could have made that time productive, but more questioning the reason why tuning out is so pervasive. Living life without these distractions does not seem restful or relaxing and it seems that watching TV while doing chores makes the chores themselves more bearable. I actively rearrange parts of my life to give myself time to tune out through TV or the internet. Avoiding whatever the moment is presenting is so much easier than what the mind inevitably dredges up in silence.
This ties into a phantasy that I often have: me being some sort of older, retired, and awakened version of myself, chilling out on a hammock and enjoying some New England sunshine and a light breeze without a care in the world. It would be a simple life. I can now imagine a version of this 'simplicity' that doesn't look outwardly simple (no hammock, not retired, many demands on my time), but an inwardly simple version of this where the 3 poisons don't gum up the works and I can function a bit more smoothly.

I don't know if the 3 poisons disappear completely at a certain level of attainment and it sounds almost too good to be true. I realize that the body and mind still become tired after a long day as that is our biology. However, I'm still hopeful that the mental gymnastics that gets in the way of living becomes attentuated, allowing me to just live in a down-to earth, sane way. Here's to hoping.

I'll be examining clinging, aversion, and tuning-out and how these manifest as reactive patterns, thought-loops, emotions, and tensions in the body.  
Personally, I draw spiritual inspiration from the most unspiritual person ever: Linus Torvalds who, when faced with accusations of "stop being a jerk", apologizes and, instead of trying to change his character, decides that some nifty tools will do the job just fine.

https://lore.kernel.org/lkml/CA+55aFy+Hv9O5citAawS+mVZO+ywCKd9NQ2wxUmGsz9ZJzqgJQ@mail.gmail.com/

I think this issue boils down to a simple decision. You can either
1) watch how your life goes by while browsing reddit and buzzfeed, wondering if this is actually skillful and trying to shoehorn this into a 2500-year old framework that was invented when internet wasn't even on the horizon yet. Eventually you decide that this is not skillful and you try to be mindful and remove the urge to tune out. You do this for years, an uphill battle against a mind that is always faced with temptation, and it works... sometimes. a bit. maybe.
2) You install leechblock (or similar). invest a few weeks of try&error to find a configuration that works fine for your needs. problem solved forever.
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Finding a teacher, mentor, spiritual friend(s) is probably the most significant thing that will help your practice at a certain point. Of course, not all teachers are a good match. For what it's worth, I personally gave myself a particular amount of time to find a local teacher here in Chicago, saying to myself "if I don't find a teacher I connect with in real life in 3 months, then I'm going to send Kenneth Folk an email." (This is at a time when Kenneth was just starting to teach and wasn't widely known.) I didn't find a local teacher that resonated with me, I contacted Kenneth, and it really helped my practice. 

The one thing I always advise is "never give away your power" to a teacher. Don't let them tell you what to do, what to think, how to feel, etc. Their role is to provide good advice, which when tested through practice time leads to better practice and more independence for you. You get to decide if their advice is helpful and if after testing it for a reasonable amount of time it is not helpful, politely end the teacher-student relationship. Rule #1: If you find yourself becoming more dependent on a teacher and doubting more and more your own abilities as a meditator, i.e. you feel less independent and less sane --- get the fuck out. The teacher must inspire confidence and growing independence. And if the teacher is violating basic respect for your finances, emotions, family and friend relationships, psychology, privacy, etc --- get the fuck out. Remember that they should be even more respectful than your friends in this regard, so if you wouldn't be friends with a person acting this way, don't have them for a teacher. 

And it's like the boy scout motto for campsites: teachers should leave the students better than when they first found them.

And it's like camping: you don't become a great camper by living forever in the first campsite you encounter. It's okay to camp in other campsites. You can have several teachers in a lifetime. A good teacher will want to empower a student to explore and own their own development, even if it means leaving the teacher-student relationship.

For what it's worth!
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Zachary, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
The mind can generate bizarre, terrifying, disgusting and downright awful narratives during practice. It's important to let yourself feel into the difficult stuff, dispassionately observing the content of mind and noticing what's coming up in the body. Keep noticing how this fearful content isn't "you" and keeps slipping away fragment-by-fragment as soon as it's observed. Notice how painful it all is, almost insurmountably so. You can make a lot of headway by going through these rough patches with a tender mix of courage and surrender. 

It's also totally fine to take small bites of this stuff, a bit at a time, take a break and come back later. Sometimes it can feel like the content of our experience is going to totally drown or consume us. It's important to be kind to ourselves and do our best to set boundaries so practice doesn't spill out into the rest of our lives. It can help to remember that no matter what is going on in our practice or daily life, we aren't going to stay there forever. 

Be well and keep up the good practice emoticon 
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Andromeda, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 393 Join Date: 1/15/18 Recent Posts
Good to see you continuing your practice, Kid.

For off-cushion practice--one thing I really like is to use the posture/breath as a place to return to in every spare moment. It can help to do some formal standing meditation or yoga practice as a supplement, but basically what you can do during the day is just become aware of your posture, stand up straight or otherwise correct any postural problems, relax and rest in the sensations. Then take a single deep breath if you have the time, or just move on to whatever you were doing. Repeat, repeat, repeat. You can do the same thing if you're in a chair.

But this is just one option. There are tons of ways to do this. When I was first working on this stuff I turned it into a game to see how many creative ways I could come up with to practice off-cushion. 

Have fun!
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Andromeda, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 393 Join Date: 1/15/18 Recent Posts
Hibiscus Kid:
still wondering where this is all leading or how it all progresses... although it all leads to being here, now. Sort of paradoxical, but I am acclimating to that paradox and not trying to figure it out. 
  

It sounds to me like you are right on track. There is an infinite creative potential at the heart of practice, but it absolutely isn't something that the conceptual mind can figure out. We just have to keep going back to the mystery of it, again and again, and when we do that consistently over the years sometimes things happen. Or sometimes we simply notice one day that things are very different from what they were. 

As to where it's all leading and how it progresses... I still wonder about that myself sometimes. And I haven't met anyone who really knows, even the ones who've been deep into practice since The Beatles were popular. Isn't it a fundamental part of being human? And wouldn't it be kind of a bummer if we weren't? Without that, we would have lost the capacity for surprise. The more time I spend resting in not-trying-to-figure-things-out, the more it seems to me that the most important things in life simply don't fit into words anyway.
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Chris Marti, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Good for you!
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curious, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 904 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Beautiful.  emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Oh wow! That’s the way to go. I’m so happy for you, and moved.
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 904 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Looks like you are making good use of the insight HK.  Keep at it!  

With metta
Malcolm
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 1537 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Excellent, rock on H-Kid!
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Zachary, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Hibiscus Kid:

Lately sits have looked like:
(Samatha)
1) initial dread/impatience
2) a settling in
3) sustained breath focus and some stability and confidence
4) relaxation & visual light & feeling like I am in a cozy cocoon of sorts
5) falling off the breath, spacing out


Sounds like good stuff, a couple thoughts:

One idea to help stay more rooted in your stage (4). If you haven't been doing so, you might want to try checking in with the rest of the body periodically and see where else within it you can spread this sense of relaxation. Often times in samatha practice the feeling of relaxation can be so nice and welcome that we can end up unconsciously funneling all our energy and attention into specific areas of the body in order to get as much of that pleasant feeling as possible. It can be helpful to ask yourself if there are any tensions or areas that feel vague in the body that you can get to "sympathetically vibrate" with the nice relaxed feeling you've already cultivated. Really allow the body to tap into this, and don't feel shy or guilty about promoting this sense of ease and peace wherever you can.  

If you end up in stage (5), one approach could be to bring in some extra effort to investigate the sensate qualities of "spacing out" and "falling off the breath". Experiences that are vague and lack clarity still have a very definite, even granular quality that can be fruitful if investigated. 
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Zachary, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 197 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Hibiscus Kid:
I'll experiment trying to spread it out. I notice that even in this state, there is still some constricted tension in the stomach/abdomen. 
At this point, it is still pretty fickle and delicate and I need to work on stabilizing it so as to be able to play with it more. 

Nice, and the thing with tensions in the body is that some will respond readily to effortful concentration and specific techniques and others not so much. Some areas of constriction just need a whole lot of time, space and awareness before they fizzle away on their own, so don't get discouraged if some tensions just don't seem to budge! 
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 904 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Looks like you are building strong foundations HK. Keep it up and they will bear fruit.

Malcolm
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
That cozy cocoon part sounds like a very fitting way of describing third jhana. How would you describe the texture of the cocoon? emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Hibiscus Kid:
I'm really not sure that I'd consider it a jhana at all. I think that it may be access concentration because I still have to put in effort to maintain it. It's a state of feeling relaxed like waking up from a nap while lying under a heavy blanket. There's plenty of thoughts in the background as well, but the general outside world is attenuated or muffled as if I were in a cocoon. There's usually a field of light (nothing crazy) and the breath is sort of at the center of attention. 

It feels alright, but it isn't really as blissful and wonderful as I have heard jhana can be.

I still think it's worthwhile to cultivate and hang out in as it may lead to something deeper. emoticon


Ah, okay. If that’s the case, then you have even cozier cocoons to look forward to. emoticon And yeah, if the breath is at the center of the attention, it’s probably not third jhana anyway. Language is so tricky! The thing is, I have had jhanic factors lately that really felt like being in a silk cocoon. Soooooo soft.

Definitely something to cultivate further. Best wishes for your practice!
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Dustin, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 103 Join Date: 12/28/17 Recent Posts
I get a lot of what your saying. Especially that part about being insecure which can cause a lot of issues. I think for me the greatest thing going is being different from all the people that really got it all together and are at ease (supposedly). I use to really wish things would have been different in life with more money, better relationships, better schooling and all kinds of other things and areas of life. But for me I realize I’m still at an age where I can wake up all the way and live in some real truth no matter what’s going on. I trip about all the path stuff to. I was tripping about it all week with thinking I’m close to something or in eq or falling back to dn and so called money and work issues but I saw a post that talked about suffering and then read a meditation in this guy’s book on seeing everything as suffering because of its impermanent nature and it kind of chilled me back out. I’m no arahat but the practice I’ve done has made me way less insecure and more open to the idea that it was all and is all exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Anyway man I can get down with what you wrote and the honesty so I figured I would say something.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
And yet, I do it still today. I stress out about many things: Will I get the path shifts that I am hoping for?; Will I be able to find an SO when I am finally ready to settle down?; Will I be able to keep friendships as people start settling down and start families?; Will my body remain healthy and functional?; Will I ever find the bravery to move somewhere new?; Will the people close to me (who rely on me to an extent) be able to thandle their emotions if I leave? Etc...

These are all normal anxieties about the future. But they are about... the future. Imaginary and impermanent, not self, and prone to making you uncomfortable. So you can examine them as they occur with the skills you have developed, then you can see them as what they are.

emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Hibiscus Kid's Practice Log

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
It was as if my mind forgot to construct the sense of 'space' which it creates out of colors and textures and lines. Maybe that is similar to how the mind constructs a sense of 'time' which it creates with memories or future thoughts?  

That's something to investigate. Why space? Why time?