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Establishing a Practice

Establishing a Practice
6/28/18 5:06 PM
Hello everyone!

I've recently had some experiences that have hardened my resolve to establish a consistent meditation practice. After reading several other practice logs, I feel that creating one myself could help with my motivation when things get tough.

A little about me, I'm a grad student living in Toronto who has been interested in meditation for probably about 5-6 years. Although, I have never been able to stick to daily sitting for more than a few weeks at a time. Most of my previous experience has come from intermittent weekly sits at Zen centers in the San Francisco Bay area. I always found the Zen teachings fascinating, but I felt lost with the lack of structure and thought that I would never be able to make progress short of living at a monastary.

In the past, I think my interest in meditation and buddhism was mainly due to its esoteric nature. I don't think I actually understood the value proposition beyond the nice idea of "elminating suffering". However, as I've gotten older, questions of what to do with my life, how to live a good life, how to overcome suffering that seems tied to the mundaneness of existence, etc, have become more and more pressing.

Several times, including very recently, I've had, let's say "induced" experiences, that have left me absolutely convinced that overcoming the self is the only way to make progress here. That, along with my recent introduction to "The Mind Illuminated", an extraordinary book, has led to my recommitment to this project. I'm still working my way through the book and trying to understand the stages, but I absolutely love the way it is explained in a language very understable to my technically inclined mind.

Current Practice & Goals:
I'm currently working my way up to a 45 minute daily sit as described in the book. I started at 10 minutes a day and have been increasing by a few minutes every day, currently at 18mins.

I would also like to incorporate a second shorter sit focusing on metta, as I feel developing loving kindness is something I am sorely in need of. However I might hold off until I have more firmly established the first sit.

Depending on the day I'm somewhere between stage 2 & 3. I can usually focus on the breath for minutes at a time without forgetting and don't often get distracted for more than 5-10 seconds. Dullness is a big issue for me I recognize, looking forward to working on that for the next while.

Anyways, I plan on posting weekly updates. Wish me luck!

RE: Establishing a Practice
6/28/18 5:31 PM as a reply to Bernoulli.
Good luck and I hope you stick with it!

RE: Establishing a Practice
6/29/18 12:44 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks Chris emoticon

I sat for 18 minutes this morning. It took a little bit to settle down, but once my mind quieted I managed to stay aware of the breath for the remainder of the sit. Special effort was made to appreciate the noticing of subtle distractions.

Near the end I started to feel a tingling sensation throughout my body, and a buildup of pressure/pain behind my eyes that felt like the verge of tears. I did my best to simply observe it and it faded just as the bell rang. This has happened several times recently, feels like some sort of release.

I felt refreshed and energized afterwards.

RE: Establishing a Practice
7/3/18 4:43 PM as a reply to Bernoulli.
Up to 21 minutes today. Lots of progression this week. I've been able to maintain awareness of the breath (but not necessarily full attention to) for most of my sit.

I'm having a hard time with the instruction to maintain awareness of the rest of my experience while focusing on the breath. It seems like I'm either closely following the breath and feeling the sensations without being very aware of anything else, or I am vaguely aware of everything, but flickering back and forth between sensations.. 

RE: Establishing a Practice
7/3/18 6:17 PM as a reply to Bernoulli.
Best of luck, Benoulli. Just in case you're not aware of it, some good TMI tips/discussion is available here...