Inky's practice log

Inky's practice log Inky 2/11/23 1:52 PM
RE: Inky's practice log ‎ ‎Nihila 2/11/23 2:52 PM
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/11/23 1:52 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/11/23 1:48 PM

Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Long time lurker. I finally decided to start my own practice log. Hopefully will help to build a bit of consistency into my practice, also might help to spot some more long-term trends (if I ever get there) and record for myself my past states so to understand where I'm coming from better. So. Um.

I started being interested in something resembling spiritual practice - back in 2012 approximately. Before I didn't have much interest in it, neither did I have any of the A&PA experiences -- or at least I don't remember any. My memories about my childhood and much of the adolescence are rather spotty.

In 2012 I found out about tulpas on the internet and decided to create one for myself. It did not went particularly successfully. However while trying to create it, I was first exposed to contemplative practices, although at the moment I had no idea what to do with them. In the end I didn't succeed in creating tulpa, however I gained a little bit of experience and got interested in spiritual practices in general.

In 2016 I found out about vipassana courses through a friend and enrolled in one. It was a mixed bag. It was the first introduction to the serious meditative practice that I had. Unfortunately trying to meditate seriously upheaved a shitton of previously latent neurotics. Also any attempt at serious meditation was made more difficult by some sort of attention disorder I have. I never got properly diagnosed but I suspect it's something on the ADHD spectrum, leaning to the attention deficit side. Trying to concentrate was a frustrating experience. I was very impressed by the project's message though. I tried to maintain a consistent practice but gradually slid down and eventually abandoned.

Around 2018 I found out about MTCTB. Read it in one breath and felt immensely invigorated -- this is it. This is what I've been looking for. In particular, I was hooked by the description of the Dark night -- I started suspecting that the lingering depression / anxiety / general aimlessness in life were connected with deeper spiritual issues. Further on it would become clear that meshing together life problems and meditation problems only goes on to create more confusion. However still that does not mean that I'm not in dark night. You can be paranoid and still be spied upon. However, in the case that I ever manage to progress beyond this stage and actually become enlightened, and I would not be able to remember how it is like to be in the dark night, I'll note it's characteristics that are most obvious to me:
• Lack of motivation
• Lack of direction in life
• Disgust towards pleasurable activities
• Overt seriousness, gloominess and generally being a bore
• Obsession with "duty", "honor", "perseverance" and idealisation of suffering
• Low self-esteem
• Inability to stick to the habits -- whatever pleasurable and enjoyable thing I have found, it somehow stops being exciting after I sleep. As if someone presses a reset button in my brain and I return to being my gloomy self.
I cannot say whether this is dark night or not mostly because I don't remember myself being any different, ever. I always had the shades of those same qualities Then again, my memory is not the most reliable source.
If anything, I hold on to the hope that this is the dark night, because it promises me some sort of deliverance from the bog that I haven't been able to achieve otherwise.

Anyway. Having read the book I started furiously practicing. Now I knew at least that it was for real. Now I knew there was an end in sight. At least metaphorically. I upped the times of the sitting. Eventually I reached something like 2h every day. I also read a few other books on the subject, expanding the arsenal of techniques available to me. Hanged out at r/streamentry. Mostly lurked here. All of this culminated in my second vipassana retreat, where I intended to devote all of my time to practice and break through and, if not achieve stream entry, then at least achieve considerable progress.
Yes, I was setting myself up to fail. Yes, it worked.
The retreat was… nothing special. But nothing really, substantially, changed. I was the same me with the same quirks and problems. No realization. No special insight. Just a lot of boring, boring practice.
And eventually I got bored of it. Sitting times started to shrink, until I stopped practicing at all.

Time passed. A lot of things happened in the meanwhile. I studied, got a degree, got a new job, got involved in a new relationship.

And somehow, approximately a month ago, I started practicing again. An event that kinda triggered me into this is a separate story, which I'll probably relate sometime. But what is important is this event showed me -- harshly and rather painfully -- how illusory was my existence all of this time. It left me shaken and unsure what to do except to start practicing again, hoping that perhaps this way I can close the cycle. And here I am.

I'll try to make this log consistent. It will probably be less consistent than I like since writing them takes an unadequate amount of time. I would be happy to hear any comments along the way.

May I be liberated and freed from suffering. May my loved ones be liberated and freed from suffering. May we all be liberated and freed from suffering.
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Year ago at 2/11/23 2:52 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/11/23 2:49 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 351 Join Date: 1/19/23 Recent Posts
Welcome!

Inky
I cannot say whether this is dark night or not mostly because I don't remember myself being any different, ever. I always had the shades of those same qualities Then again, my memory is not the most reliable source.

This is probably more a pointer towards that you are not as, at least in my experience, Dark Night stands out very much from "regular life". Perhaps not for everyone, but it sounds to me to be more akin to depression than anything. I was depressed for a large part of my life before entering DN, but DN was a whole different ballgame and it's usually preceded by some spiritual high/insight.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/12/23 1:48 AM
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RE: Inky's practice log

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So, entry 1. Or, rather -1, since this is not something that happened to me in this sitting today. Today was mostly uneventful, some shamata practice where I was practicing holding my breath in attention while also noticing the surrounding "scene" of sensations. The breath was a bit "slippery" however the surrounding "scene" was refreshingly clear. Something new as I never tried to actually expand the field of my focus. More on that later.
Rather, I wanted to write down something related to my daily life and work. I try to bring awareness and noting techniques with me into my daily life and work as well. I hope it helps with the practice and helps me to be more discerning of my states and feelings, especially at tougher times. And, well, today was one of such days. It did not went particularly well.
Thankfully, neither did it went absolutely catastrophic (that would be the trigger -- note to myself, need to write this experience down eventually). Just run-of-the mill stressful day when I did not manage to handle stress very skillfully. One of my superiors kept trying to micromanage me and it just didn't work well as it kept making me more and more anxious. She had the best of intentions, trying to prevent me from making a mistake, but unfortunately checking and rechecking my work tended to drive me more and more wound up -- which in turn made me more prone to make mistakes. Which were promptly corrected since I was under close observation but -- it didn't improve her confidence in me and made her even more likely to check up on everything I do. Hello unskillful loop.
One thing I could do in the meanwhile was noticing bodily sensations. My practice is not at the level where I could discern individual vibrations as of yet, not while out in daily life anyway. So the sensations were manifesting as large "blobs" of sensation, often occupying an entire body part. The tight, wound up blob of tension occupied most of the abdomen and was stuck there. The tension was also manifesting itself as memory and attention deficits -- I kept forgetting things that others told to me -- and communication deficits. At one point when I was trying to write a shift report I found this task very difficult because I could not hear myself telling myself what to write. Usually whenever I write my inner voice narrates what I write to myself. At that moment, the bodily tension was so prominent that that inner voice was lost, I couldn't discern it against the background of anxiety. It manifested as sort of "mental noise", like a buzz or something. When I tried to listen to my thoughts, it was silence, but not the kind of quiet silence, more like persistent buzzing hum against which no words could be discerned.
I thought just by the act of noticing it and categorizing the phenomena from mental sensation to body sensation I would be able to control and neutralize it. Well, I guess I overestimated myself. At this level at least, I was able to note what was happening to me and not react to the background of anxiety too much, but functioning as usual was just hard. People noticed that as well. Just another reminder that practice is not a substitute for qualified psychological assistance and / or medication.
Talked to one of my coworkers after the shift and described what was happening to me. She insisted that I seek medical attention and possibly medication for my anxiety issues. Will do that next week. (BTW turned out she is a fellow meditator and departing on another vipassana 10-day soon. Oh those coincidences).
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/13/23 5:21 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/13/23 5:21 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Today's sitting was 35 minutes of vipassana in the morning. I've found that for me vipassana works better in the mornings, it tends to be more awakening and energizing for the mind. Gives a little "pick-me-up" for the rest of the day too.
Sitting I've found the blobs of sensation dominating my field of view as I descended from head to legs. Some of them had a more definite shape, like the shape of the airway as I draw breath -- inside of the nose -- the throat -- inside of the chest. Some had less definite shape but were still anchored to the particular body parts. Some I couldn't pin down at all -- there is a sensation somwhere inside / on the surface of my belly but it's shapeless and doesn't have any particular quality. It's a sensation. I try to investigate it.
One of the first chapters in MCTB claimed that without access concentration, there is no progressing along the path of insight. That always gave me a bit of a discomforting feeling because concentration is something I've always struggled with. Discrimination of sensations on a vibration-level is something I yet have to experience. Even though my concentration got a lot better recently, thanks both to increased sitting times lately and morality side improving (a lifelong hobby of mine). Sometimes I wonder if I'm simply calling a thing X while others call it Y and am being confused. How would you describe the "vibratory" nature of individual sensation feels? Is it even possible to put into words?
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/14/23 2:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/14/23 2:29 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Continuing with vipassana. Today in the morning, 35 minutes. Concentration in the evening. Not really happy with this choice since evening usually means I'm after a work shift, tired, sometimes still reeling a bit from anxiety. As a result, in the evening I'm more likely to straight up start falling asleep during the shamatha. Either that OR I get my concentration levels and energy so high that I'll have trouble sleeping. Which is not really good as well since I've attributed a lot of bad stuff happening at work recently to the simple fact that I've been subsisting on 5-6 hours of sleep for some time and it really doesn't seem to be enough. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t actually make me feel sleepy, but it makes your reasoning impaired  and / or slow.
Shamatha is harder because you have a specific point to anchor your attention. Like breath. So what happens in the space between the breaths when sensation quiets? I guess the point is to develop the mind sharpness to the point when I can maintain contact with the sensations even when they are really subtle, like between the breaths. What happens so far is that the mind just slides towards the nearest source of sensation. Most of the time it's some sort of thought process.
Vipassana is actually easier because you investigate ALL sensations. So there always is something to investigate. And because mostly they are really course ones, I don't confuse them with mental constructs. Actually, some time into the session an opposite kind of problem emerges -- the field of attention becomes so much saturated with sensations coming from all sides that… It feels like my head is too small to contain them all and it hurts from the strain. Although obviously this is false since this too, is a sensation.
Anyway, time for the evening meditation. This will be all for today then.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/14/23 2:32 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/14/23 2:31 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Nihila
This is probably more a pointer towards that you are not as, at least in my experience, Dark Night stands out very much from "regular life". Perhaps not for everyone, but it sounds to me to be more akin to depression than anything. I was depressed for a large part of my life before entering DN, but DN was a whole different ballgame and it's usually preceded by some spiritual high/insight
Well, I guess that's good to know. Depression is hard enough, but depression + DN is just another level. Not sure I'd be able to handle it skillfully.
​​​​​​​And thanks for the welcome)
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 1:47 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 1:47 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Shamatha in the morning 35 minutes
Ok so apparently problems with concentration were less connected to the time of the sitting and have more to do with the general concentration problems I've had since forever. I suspect it's some sort of adult ADHD. However it is not necessarily so -- might be a general kind of problem any one who trains to focus their attention encounters.
Today I tried to have a more wider object of contemplation. I took the whole breath, from the entrance of the nostrils to the movement of air inside my chest. The goal was that with a big enough and continious enough object I could have something to feed to my attention always throughout the breathing cycle. And thus I'll be able to keep my focus for a longer period and more consistently.
It kind of worked, but also kind of didn't. The wider area of contact did help a bit but attention still continued to slide off it, and I slid into daydreaming or just drowsiness from time to time. More practice could help. More energized mind could help as well. I feel that I'm a bit lacking in energy factor. Will think on how to remedy that.
On a different note: I"m reading a book called "The antidote -- Happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking". Found a mention of it in MCTB and decided to explore ("people who can't stand positive thinking" is a rather apt description of me). In the chapter about the founders of the modern stoicism I've found a story of a guy who describes something very A&PA-like in his early 20-s and radically changed his worldview. However, as far as I understand, he never stumbled upon any explanation of his experience nor did he have any interest in contemplation practices. So this person would have been stuck in DN indefinitely, with no context and no chance of ever getting out.
… yeah, becoming a stoic sounds like one of more sane things to do in such a situation.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/16/23 2:34 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/16/23 2:34 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Shamata in the morning, 35 minutes
Today I decided to do something differently. I took a different point of concentration, instead of taking breath as an anchoring point, I focused on the area between eyebrows. 
Meditation yesterday gave me this idea -- I came from work with an unpleasant tension headache. But instead of swallowing down some paracetamol as usual I tried to focus my attention on the sensation and… well that's all really. Just focus my attention there and try to perceive the sensation as clearly as possible. As soon as I did that a few things happened, one of them is that the sensation lost the quality of unpleasantness. It was still an intensive sensation but that was it, there was nothing inherently unpleasant about it. I just kept my attention focused on that sensation, without trying / wishing for it to dissolve. Just attended to it without any interaction. Eventually I ended up falling asleep and when I woke up I felt completely ok.
So that gave me an idea to try and focus on some other area other than the breath. Today I tried doing this with the area between the eyebrows again and it worked! Took some time to distinguish a sensation there, but I managed to do that and unlike the breath sensation which is naturally flowing and changing all the time, this one was more stable and provided a good base which I could return to. A different kind of distraction appeared though -- unlike with the breath, when my mind gets distracted whenever the breath draws to a still and a sensation calms down, here I felt like my mind is so energized that it can't sit still and just needs to jump somewhere else, just needs to distract itself with something. And this restlessness wasn't only in the mind focus, also a body sensation. I couldn't stop fidgeting. I kept returning to the point between the eyebrows and then the time run out. Interesting session.
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Year ago at 2/16/23 6:55 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/16/23 6:55 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Inky
Well, I guess that's good to know. Depression is hard enough, but depression + DN is just another level. Not sure I'd be able to handle it skillfully.


It's well worth having some preparation. Emotional intelligence and awareness is key. You seem fairly mature though, and you have good resources already so you'll probably do allright.
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 2/16/23 9:50 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/16/23 9:50 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 907 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
The thing where you put your attention between your eyebrows and investigated what was actually going on has been very fruitful for me. I don't mean in terms of the specific place, but rather in terms of the investigative/observational principle.

For shamata with the breath, a trick that I have found useful is to consider the lack of sensation in a portion of the breath cycle to be a type of sensation. You can actually train for it by holding your breath and seeing what kind of signal the nerves at the spot where you are watching the breath produce. You can call that the no-airflow signal. Then, in the breath cycle, you can try to notice whether the no-airflow signal is present. Sometimes, I have just simply lost the signal. That has a feel too. These are both versions of what you describe: perceiving sensations as clearly as possible.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/17/23 2:17 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/17/23 2:17 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Vipassana 30 min morning, Shamatha, 35 min evening
Continuing from the experience yesterday, I decided to focus on some afterimage of a sensation on the bridge of the nose as a stable point of fixation. Did not go particularly well. Attention kept slipping out, most of the time into short-lived daydreams. I felt like falling asleep, then waking up, then falling asleep again, and so on. Might be a side effect of anxiolytic herbal medication I started taking a few days ago. Need to observe further. Interesting note -- when I'm focusing on something other than breath, breath becomes an automatic magnet for attention. Mind became so trained to return to breath that when loosing focus, breath becomes the most prominent, default magnet of attention.

>re:Nihila
Heh, i hope so. For now, it's just the question of building the basis of the practice, the power to discriminate sensations as clearly as possible. I would benefit so much from a 10-day course now (interestingly enough, better integrated morality is probably the key to whatever is the reason my sittings are much less dysphoric now. I almost never get the persistant opposition to sitting down and practicing that I had a lot before.) Worldly dependencies, however, ensue

>re:Martin
"put your attention between your eyebrows and investigated what was actually going on" -- are you implying as "find an existing sensation and investigate" or "pick a place, start observing and investigate whatever crops up"?
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 2/17/23 2:37 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/17/23 2:37 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

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"put your attention between your eyebrows and investigated what was actually going on" -- are you implying as "find an existing sensation and investigate" or "pick a place, start observing and investigate whatever crops up"?

-------
Why not try both? They are, in a certain sense, the same thing. No existing sensation stays the same. It will always change and become whatever crops up. As for the other option, picking a place involves being aware of the sensation existing in that place, even if that sensation takes the form of "no signal." So, in short, you can't go wrong. If you are cultivating samatha, then you might not want to change the place you are paying attention to, once you start.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 4:11 AM
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RE: Inky's practice log

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Morning sitting, shamata, 35 minutes
Today woke up with a headache. It's shamatha time!
It is interesting to compare and contrast my experience now with my previous attempts at meditating with a persistent noxious sensation. I remember I had one back on my first vipassana retreat. There, after few hours of meditation I told to myself "I give up" and went for the paracetamol. There were numerous attempts to "meditate the pain away" afterwards but almost each and every one of them ended like this -- I sit down, the pain becomes more pronounced, I become more agitated, I lose my shit and storm out to get some relief.
In retrospect, it's pretty obvious that the "meditate the pain away" part was, of course, the problematic one since it included in itself the craving to get rid of something unpleasant by doing something. Sitting down today I tried to abstain of that notion as possible, attend to the sensations and see what happens.
What happened is that as I started meditating, I noticed that the sensation of pain is a conglomerate of two distinct sensations -- the physical sensation that has it's locus somewhere in the body, and a mental one, which is distinctly different and much more unpleasant. It has a different… frequency, I guess? Lately I've been noticing that sensations have a "beat" to them, they "pulse" with a particular frequency. I used to attribute this to heartbeat, but now that I actually pay attention, they seem to be different -- the actual heartbeat is more variable, while the sensation-frequencies are more stable. So, the mental part is the one that puts the "sting" in the pain, that makes me "DO NOT WANT" when something bad happens. It's not actually situated in the place where the physical sensation resides, it's more diffuse and icky, makes you want to revolt -- why do I have to suffer this?.. And yet, this, is exactly, what you are suffering, the suffering itself. And once you put it into the focus of attention, it… I actually don't know what happens then, but under the close inspection, I'm left with just the physical sensation. It's as if when the pain and suffering have been separated, suffering can no longer feed on itself by perpetuating itself through the mind loops, it burns out and extinguishes. And you are left with just the pain. Which is fairly tolerable.
That.. was interesting. Also this marks the second time when I applied this technique to the suffering situation and it actually worked. Yay, replication.
I think I'm going to try and apply the same approach to other highly emotionally charged states, like craving, and see what goes. Gonna be interesting.
~Inky out
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 9:47 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/19/23 9:47 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Excellent!
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/21/23 2:19 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/21/23 2:19 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Yesterday was some serious emotional turbulence due to RL stuff. Two things helped:
    - firstly, vipassana in the evening before sleep. When I got ready to sit I felt as if I was shrouded in some sort of a wrap from a persistent negative feelings. Those feelings were like a magnet that kept pulling my thoughts back towards them. That's what "wallowing in misery" feels like, I guess. Vipassana is like diving into a stream and having that wrap washed away from you. There are just so many sensations, observations that are happening in every moment that the mind-sensations that dominated my thoughts earlier just faded to background -- and I couldn't find them later. I still knew I was sad but it wasn't this overwhelming, dragging-down kind of sad that just looped your thoughts on themselves. It was like.. being able to, not move on, perhaps, but at least continue living out of the shadow.
    - I've been continuing to read a book "The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking" that I've stumbled upon somewhere along the course of reading MCTB. One of the concepts that really resonated with me was an idea of "don't feel like it, but do it anyway". Which is especially relevant at work. No matter what is going on with me, people around me are not privy to any of this and neither they need to suffer because of this. I also find this very alike to Hindu concept of dharma. Sometimes, we all just need to do what needs to be done because it's the right thing, because in this moment this is your dharma. Of course, to act like this one needs to have some sort of reserve stability to not collapse completely when some sort of emotional event happens. Which is, once again, a lifelong quest…
Today, shamatha, 35 minutes.
This is probably the closest to access concentration that I've been able to get. I let the focus rest on the tip of my nose and just kept delving into more and more subtle sensations as they appeared. Interestingly, they did appear as "flowing" and "smooth" which is quite unlike my experience with shamatha, which always has a bit of vipassana texture going on in the background. Other sensations did not disappear, but stayed in the background and my attention kept softly returning to the tip of the nose even without me actively forcing it. This is not to tell that is was completely effortless, but still a step in a right direction. Other stuff: body felt giant as a mountain with my nose being a small object near the top. I guess being able to perceive so many different sensations at the same time does this to your sense of scale.
That would be it for now. Inky out.

>re:Martin
Thanks!
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/22/23 3:33 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/22/23 3:33 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Yesterday evening, vipassana, goenka-style, 35 min
Today morning, shamatha, 40 min
Here be another reminder that the progress, for the most part, is cyclical and rarely goes the royal road without any deviations.
Vipassana session was even more intensive than usual, with lots of sensations, including layers that I haven't touched yet, showing up. There was more distractions than usual and I noticed something that occurred to me multiple times before when I was practicing: I was unable to make a full pass from the head to the toes as I became so overwhelmed with sensations that I forgot where exactly was I. When I discovered being lost in sensations, I started the pass from the beginning. As I kept doing this, the magnitude and richness of the sensations in the scalp of my head began to dominate everything else, and so it became the magnet of attention -- whenever I lost track of what I was doing at the moment, I returned there spontaneously. 
Shamatha however was even more stormy. Like in the old days, when I could spend most of the sitting in daydreams, occasionally waking up to understand what’s going on, now also the amount of distractions and daydreams that were happening was unusual, haven't experienced this in the previous sittings. An interesting point is that now, however, it did not require me extraordinary effort to wake up from the daydreams. I woke up, gently guided the attention back to the spot between the eyebrows, rested there, woke up, rinse, repeat. A good practice of going through this process without aggression or irritation towards myself to be sure, since undoubtably, I'll have to deal with this kind of mind stubbornness in the future a lot. Both on- and off-cushion
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/23/23 9:40 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/23/23 9:40 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Meditation in the morning, shamata 20 min
Meditation in the afternoon, shamata, 40 min
It has to be said that the right effort and stubbornness are just not the same although sometimes it can be hard to differentiate one from another. In this vein, trying to meditate right after the night shift was not particularly productive. However, this was good for cultivating persistence, or so it seems to me.
Some shamatha after waking up. Trying something new -- doing my daily yoga routine and continuing to hold the point between my eyebrows in the focus of my mind. Not always succeeding. But the process is interesting. Dealing with a bit of a tension headache, it reveals how much the body sensation in the limbs and the tension in the head are ultimately one and the same, a type of a body sensation which can be released and relaxed.
Not succeeding completely. Another lesson -- not always and not everything will go as we like.
Practice continues.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/24/23 3:45 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/24/23 3:45 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

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Morning, shamata, 35 minutes
Today it is more difficult to focus attention for some reason. It started yesterday already, and continuing. The object at the focus did not became less discernible, my senses did not become less clear, but there is more of a tendency to be sidetracked by other thoughts.
As if the thoughts become more "seductive" and easier to switch towards without actually realizing what you are doing. More "slippery". This has to be a particular kind of vibration but cannot put my finger on it yet.
A useful trick in the meantime -- turn my focus of attention towards physical sense doors -- hearing and touch in my case. Mindconstructs mostly appear as auditory thoughts -- for example, imaginary music. In such a case, turn my attention towards sense door of hearing and firstly, focus on taking in sounds as they come, second, trying to discern the difference between the mind - door sounds and sense - door sounds. Or are they actually the same? Not clear on that one just yet.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/26/23 12:51 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/26/23 12:51 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Haven't written down anything in the last few days. So, what's going on.
Practice has slowed down. The mind feels more stubborn, course yet slippery. When I tried to sit down and meditate today in the morning it felt particularly restless and slippery. This is combined with the lack of clarity about what is going on at each particular moment makes for a situation when I frequently loose track of daydreams and start chasing them. On the positive note, I've homed into the taste of craving, attraction, which makes those daydreams particularly attractive to the mind. It's like a subtle itch you just have to scratch.
Real world practice continues to be very useful though. I'm reminded of the quote from MCTB 
> Physical pain is a gold mine for this. I am absolutely not advocating cultivating or inducing pain, as there is already enough there. Just knowing in each instant how you know that pain is dissatisfactory and miserable can be profound practice
As is the case it's not the pain thankfully I have to deal with but unpleasantness of stress, exhaustion and so on. They make powerful object for practice as well particularly when the mind goes like "why me? Why am I suffering? Do not want!!!" Being there and examining the bare sensations can be very profound in those moments. And reminding myself of dhamma of course. Short intensive practice is also good. Like, feeling as many sensations as possible in the feet while I'm walking to the bus stop. It has to be relatively short, intensive and have a clear goal. All of these help to focus the mind to the task.
Inky out
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 2/28/23 4:06 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/28/23 4:06 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
The last couple of days were, unfortunately, very stressful. Practice and mindfulness suffered. What can I learn about practice, and about myself, from there?
Morning, concentration, 35 minutes.
A lot of getting lost in mind clatter, in content. Regurgitating the events of the past few days. The attention doesn't feel smooth and flowy, more jittery and restless. Lots of fast-pace, jittery feelings that interrupt my attention. They actually make good objects to investigate during vipassana but not for focus practice since they tend to capture my focus really easily. Still trying to figure out how to manage my attention better.
Off-cushion. Yesterday I learned that there are several types / levels of stress and exhaustion. On level 1 I see that I'm more stressed than usual but I see stress as sensations / vibrations, am concious of it and can actively focus attention on it. I can detach my sense of agency from this vibratory experience and do things as needed. As there is more workload and I feel more stressed, I start to degrade towards more instinctive, knee-jerk reaction to stress. Namely, aversion. I still do things, but persistent looping thoughts "I hate this, I hate this, why this is happening with me" become an issue. Going deeper -- the same, but I am much worse at actually doing things. I remember a few times feeling very exhausted just sitting and glaring at the screen knowing that I have to write a report but just not having any energy to do that.
Well, technically, it's not correct, I can move my limbs, I can write, it's just that when this happens, my mind's voice gets drowned out by a wave of… hard to say what it is. Something like pure aversion, desire to curl up and pretend I'm not here. Something that grown ups, apparently, are not supposed to do.
What to do? Well, long-term goal is to either restructure my workload so it wouldn't be as stressful or move to another workplace. Sometimes things are just not sustainable. Another point: hunger + stress are a baaad combo. It moves the stress from "things are tense but essentially nothing really bad is happening" to "I'm on my last legs and the tiger is catching up to me, maybe if I curl up and lie still it will think I'm dead". I think it's a physiological reaction. Just eating something, especially something sweet, immediately relieves some of the tension. Unfortunately, a side effect of stress is that I intensely focus on the outside tasks and pay little attentions to the sensations (again!) of the body. Something I should work towards.
Inky out.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/1/23 10:21 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/1/23 10:21 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Morning, ~20 minutes, concentration, unfinished
Afternoon, 40 minutes concentration, 10 minutes metta.
Things have evened up a bit. I feel less stressed and sleeping better so meditation also improved a bit.
Tried sitting in the morning. Just didn't work. I have just returned from working night shift so I just couldn't, every few minutes I was literally falling off a cushion. I close my eyes, focus on sensations, get into the "groove" and them, in a few moments I just have this "jolting" moment when I'm falling and have to regain my balance. As if my conciousness has blinked out for a moment and my muscles have gone completely slack for that moment. I remember having such experiences a lot in the past, very frustrating.. In the end I gave up and just went to sleep.
Waking up a bit refreshed, I sat down and tried concentration again. It went better. This time I tried focusing on a small area on the underside of the nose, and as per instructions, tried to "get into the flow" of the feeling. It went a bit better, with stable attention and mildly calming presence. It's not that I didn't have any interruptions, but at least those interruptions were immediately obvious, like they appeared on my mind's screen alongside the object of attention and tried to compete for attention. I attended to the main object and they fade away. The pattern of breathing then changed,  more calm, more smooth. Distractions continued to appear. Then the session ended.
I tried metta again. Metta is something I have a particular problem with, mostly due to personal issues. I focused on sending loving-kindness to myself first, then to other loved persons I know. Feeling of a solid blob of sensations in my chest. Have not explored further as of now.
that will be all for now
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 2:00 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/4/23 2:00 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Been practicing anapana mostly throughout those days. Setting my sights on a particular point in the body and trying to find sensations there. Attention is more stable now, I'm able to stay on the breath sensation more persistently and follow it as it changes. When other mind-constructs arise I'm able to distinguish them fairly quickly and return to sensations. Today I've been additionally trying to note the changes in the breath sensation -- the beginning, the middle, the ending, the no-breath sensation that remains when there is no movement of air in the area. Still hasn't been able to get into the area of smooth, jhana-like focus. More like -- as I go deeper into meditation, the state feels fragile yet sustainable, like riding on a bike. I'm feeling I might loose my focus and wander off (and wandering off in the state of heightened attention can be pretty captivating too) but I manage to stay on track. After some time additional sensations arose, clusters of pleasant vibratory sensations in the chest, cool-like energy, goosebumps. Those kept arising, and I kept observing although my main focus of attention was on the breath. Then the session ended.
Tried metta afterwards. There was a warm, solid sensation in the middle of my chest as I formed an intention of "may I be happy, may she be happy, may they be happy, may everyone be happy" but it did not radiate outwards, just sitting there, warmly. Still, no rejection and that is already good.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/8/23 12:57 AM
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RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
again, mostly anapana. For a couple of days was developing concentration in a particular point at the entrance to the nostrils. Throughout several minutes sensitivity to subtle sensations increases enough that I can perceive the sensations of in-breath, out-breath, in between. Several times was able to get following the sensations closely, but stable focus I can't attain yet. I can focus for a minute or several minutes but afterwards something usually sidetracks me. Today in the morning mind was particularly energetic, like a lively kid trying to play with all of the toys, just trying to pick up every thought possible. So a bit of a downgrade.
Yesterday was on a long hike. While I was walking tried to perceive bodily sensations -- completely submerging oneself in the bodily sensations, coming from the feet as I walked, from the breathing, the smells, the sounds, and detach from the judging aspect of the mind. Also on the last leg, when I was in a hurry I did a sort of anapana, when I was focusing on "in-breath-out-breath" as I was walking fast towards my destination, going in a kind of shallow trance to distance myself from the feeling of tiredness.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/13/23 6:30 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/13/23 6:30 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
The last few days were extra stressful on the  double so hadn't had much chance to practice. Did some concentration training in the evenings whenever had time. The concentration is in a bit of a groove, but not very deep and easily disturbed. Still working on this although realistically I suppose that it will take a significant change to my life circumstances to correct that.
Today in the sitting I tried to consciously perceive the three characteristics of the sensations being observed. The impermanence was a relatively straightforward one: I do percieve the impermanence of sensations to some level, even when I don't actually perceive the vibrations directly. The non-self I'm not sure how to tackle yet. Surprisingly, the suffering aspect turned out to be trickier that I imagined. When I focus on seeing sensations as clearly as possible I perceive them as.. well, sensations, without discrimination about where do they come from -- pain, breath, or something else. So this way a significant reduction in suffering is achieved. But where is dukha? Is the suffering is in the sensations themselves or in the act of interpretation / discrimination? Not sure
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/14/23 9:59 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/14/23 9:10 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Hello Inky, keep practicing well! A lot of what you have written here resonates with me - the thoughts and doubts and little issues you share here are ones that I have grappled with in the past and it's entirely normal and part of the process.

I see that you've read MCTB further up the thread and so have probably read Daniel's descriptions of the 3 Characteristics contained therein - I come back to those desccriptions from time to time to check how understandings have changed - but I'd definitely endorse re-reading them anytime doubts crop up or you feel that you aren't seeing them clearly in your experience.

Also I had an issue early on where I'd be trying to intellectually figure out these concepts or wonder what I was supposed to get out of them - I'd observe sensations arise and vanish and then think, "Okay I see that these sensations arise and vanish, but so what? Now what? What else am I supposed to know?" The thing is, the part of us or our minds, that learns about impermanence experientially - that part that wires that understanding in - is not the thinking mind, so it can cause doubts to arise or seem pointless or confusing. As any meditation practitioners/teacher/master will say: just come back to the moment, rest in what is occuring, and continue observing. A teacher I had once told me that impermanence was being observed just by watching the breath and I didn't have to be too obsessive about vibrations necessarily - for what it's worth. 

Someone else once gave me this analogy to illustrate that as long as sensations/experiences are being observed in the present moment, then all three of the 3C's are being observed on some level. It's like looking at a football (or soccer ball in the US): just by seeing the ball we already pick up on multiple characterisitcs and we don't really have to try all that hard to recognize them. We can recognize that it's spherical in shape, we recognize the color, and we can recognize the texture of the material or pattern of the stitching. That said, we can also lean into one of the characteristics a bit more than the others to better study it. 

Speaking for myself, I have found a little bit of self inquiry to be helpful with regards to leaning into non-self. Holding an inquiry question lightly can help create curiosity and orient our minds in such a way that non-self becomes more apparent. We may ask "What experiences all of this?" and let a gentle curiosity and investigation unfold from there. We can also ask, "Who is hearing?" "Who does that thought belong to?" "Who does that body sensation belong to?" "Where is there a self in here?" The Bahiya Sutta is a great pointer for non-self if you haven't read it yet - Buddha gives 'pointing out' instructions to Bahiya and Bahiya realizes non-self right away. Again, not an intellectual pursuit so always stay on the level of experiential reality.

For suffering, I'd say a helpful tell or indication that there is dukkha is that our reactive patterns engage: it's as if a part of us doesn't want to actually look at what is arising in the moment so we become distracted by patterns of thought or other forms of reactivity. An example might be that you are hugry during a sit and start thinking about the meal you will prepare for yourself after the sit: instead of returning and resting into the body sensations of hunger (which can be uncomfortable, sure), we are now distracting ourselves so that we don't have to experience the sensations directly and clearly. Same goes for feelings of confusion, impatience, stress about work relationships, etc. because we go into our thought loops of problem solving, planning, or worrying instead of experiencing these states/experiences fully. Meditation is great - all we are doing is sitting in silence, just 'being', and we are visited by all of this reactivity which partly obscures what is going on now, in this moment. Gentle rest into the experiences and feel into them directly and fully as if lowering yourself into a cold pool of water - you'll acclimatize to it even if it's a shock at first.

If you're serious about this stuff and practicing daily, it might help to reach out to and form a formal relationship with a teacher that resonates with your interests. 

I'm not sure if any of this is at all helpful, so feel free to ignore it emoticon Be well and keep practicing! 
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/15/23 1:29 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/15/23 1:28 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Hello and thank you for your kind words

re the impermanence. The most obvious way that I'm able to observe impermanence as of now is by observing it in very concrete things, like my pulse, my breath, ticking of the clock and so on and so fourth. The "vibrations" in themselves kind of remain a mystery to me, a goal on a mountain somewhere which I might be able to attain someday maybe, if I just keep walking, but better not fret too much over it. See, I've got some sort of focus problems that have been going on for the most of my life and this has greatly discouraged me from practicing properly. If I haven't reached access concentration something like nine years down the line from when I have started sitting, what is the chance that I will ever reach it. And if without access concentration, I'm not likely to get anywhere in the practice, so why bother at all?..
This was my line of thinking until recently lately, until I started sitting again.

As per inquiry, in general I try to do as little "thinking" during sits as possible since it's very easy to go off-track and find yourself wandering later. How do you deal with that?

re suffering I think you are correct as breaking down the pain sensation yields this exactly: a bodily sensation and a reactive "DO NOT WANT" which is also a sensation, rooted in the body, but of a different kind. Observing it directly is what makes you become equanimous with pain, thus significantly reducing the suffering.

re the teacher, that would be very helpful indeed I think. The problem is that I have no idea how to 1) find one 2) find one that fits me 3) figure out that we fit together. If you have any advice on that I'd be happy to hear it.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/15/23 3:51 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/15/23 3:51 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
vipassana sitting -- 45 min<br />Tried something new, specifically combining goenka-style scanning with noting. So far going well. When I'm scanning often the biggest issue is that I get lost for a second and then confused as to where I was at that moment. Something that also tends to happen is that the sensation blobs are too big and hard to define or pinpoint -- where are they, what exactly am I feeling? Is this the foot, the knee, the finger? I solidly feel body parts and as I go deeper into practice, I start distinguishing smaller body parts but they become elusive as per "what" exactly I am feeling.<br />To this I added noting -- "sensation" when I'm observing sensation, "thought" when I'm observing thought. It's a bit clumsy -- when I'm observing sensation, am I observing this sensation, or that sensation? Or two simultaneously? Am I confusing them together, am I melding them together? I yet do not have an ability to discriminate between the sensations that well. For now I'm content that I'm feeling something, and I'm noting it. For now, I guess, this is enough.
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/19/23 2:41 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/19/23 2:34 PM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Hello Inky,

It sounds like you're observing impermanence well enough - the beginning instruction is generally to use the breath since it is always changing and is always present in experience, occuring now. The vibrations may or may not show up for you and that's okay - I personally don't worry about that too much although I did in the beginning too. The framework in MCTB regarding vibrations, while true and helpful for some practitioners, is just one way to describe reality or experience. It might not be right for everyone or it may not make sense based on where they are in practice. There are many, many frameworks and it's great to explore and use a framework that resonates with you (I mean, look at how many schools of Buddhism there are alone!). As always, you have to rely on *your* experience in this moment and have confidence in that.

I also fretted about access concentration - it's okay, just keep going! What we are doing is returning and resting in this moment regardless of whether we are chaotic or centered. Always coming back to this moment. You may not think you're 'making progress' without 'access concentration', but you are developing the mind anyway. It's sorta like saying, "If you can't run at an 8 minute per mile pace, then you're not actually running and you will not get in better shape." That's not true, is it? Walking for extended periods can get a person to the point where they can start to jog, and if they can jog for a while, they can eventually get to a point where they can run. Have faith that this modest daily practice will benefit yourself and others down the line, but just be focused on today's sit(s) without fretting about results or worries that you're doing "enough". Those are just stories that the mind makes up - such beliefs are essentially a distraction to let go of and return to the present. This is easier said than done since I am always fretting myself (that's why I have the previously linked thread saved on my phone to remind myself all the time emoticon ). It's okay though! Presence and compassion will start to develop with consistency, time, and patience! 'Access concentration' will become a new baseline and will be entirely normal as the practice deepens. Deepening and practice always happens now. 

Again, I'd recommend having a teacher that can work with you where you are at, can answer questions, and can help you work through any doubts. 

If inquiry isn't right for you currently or you're not interested in it, then feel free to ignore or skip it for now.
That said, you can view vipassana as a sort of inquiry, the question being, "What is happening now?" The answer to this question is simply what arises in experience for you in this moment - and in a way, by noting with labels, you are supplying the answer to this question in an ongoing way. What is happening now? Noting: A breath. A sound. A sensation. An emotion. A thought. Etc. You can even note verbally out loud if it helps you stay on track because once you stop noting verbally out loud, you know that you've fallen into distraction and can re-adjust. For more info about the types of noting, check out the section "Noting in a Nutshell" on page 60 of this See, Hear, Feel guide written by Shinzen Young

However, inquiry is just as much an attitude as it is an act of asking a question: you cultivate interest in *what* is occuring now and also examine for *whom* this is occuring in real time. It's not about getting lost in thought or trying to come up with an answer. If this sort of practice leads to tons of thinking, either ask "To whom do these thoughts belong" and search for the thinker (a form of self inquiry), OR just practice noting or any other technique you enjoy that gets you in touch with the present moment and away from distraction. 
Inquiry is helpful because it can generate genuine curiosity and interest about the nature of self, experience, reality, time, and space, etc. Curiosity and interest can help support some of the 7 Factors of Awakening such as invesitgation and rapture. 
Again, if it feels a bit unwieldy or doesn't resonate or becomes a distraction, just go back to simple mindfulness, resting in this moment and observing what occurs in experience. I am not sure if I truly answered any questions or thoughts you may have had about inquiry, but that's what was coming up as this answer was being written. Apologies if it missed the mark or is confusing. 

As for finding a teacher, it can be helpful to outline what you want first: are you into Pragmatic Dharma? Or is there a certain traditional school of buddhism that resonates with you? Do you prefer someone local or is it okay to meet someone over Zoom and interact via email? Do you mind paying for each session? What do you hope to get from working with someone? Etc. Here is a list of a few names to get started however I will admit that names tell you little to nothing about the teacher or their teachings as it were.

​​​​​​​Good luck Inky!  
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/23/23 1:49 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/23/23 1:49 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
march 22
morning sitting -- concentration, 45 min
Returning to meditation after a prolonged period when I couldn't sit at all due to stress at work and / or tiredness. Feeling a bit rusty. Hardly feeling the breath, it's slippery again, like standing on a surface that is being battered by the waves. They come, you reel and lose your balance. You recover. The wave comes again. And again.
This is the time when I stop posting generally. It more or less follows the same pattern -- I get a wonderful new idea, I start practicing, I get some promising results, am very cheerful and optimistic. Then life happens and suddenly a wonderful idea becomes an afterthought. Silly me, I thought it could fix me or some problems in my life.
"obligatory self-hating thoughts later"
I guess I'll just go to sleep
march 23
@ verbal labeling (thanks to AKD) + scanning 30 min
This went better than I expected. The technique of verbal noting I borrowed from Shinzen's manual, courtesy of A K D. I only skimmed through it so far but I think I got the hang of verbal labeling, which is very useful to notice mind wandering. It will take some time to get used to it though, and labeling feels a bit awkward, since finding names for sensations sometimes is something I get stuck with. Will improve with practice.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/23/23 2:41 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/23/23 2:41 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
hey there A K D

Thanks for the reply. The Shinzen noting manual was particularly useful. I only skimmed it as of now, will read it later and hopefully will try to find teckniques that work best for me. As for the rest, I feel that... what you are saying makes sense for me intellectually. It makes sense while I practice. The problem is that when real life, especially more stressful aspects of it, hit, I feel like I completely loose sight of those, I start spinning wheels of anxiety and self hatred and god knows what else. And returning to practice after stressfull times feels like I have to start everything over again. And I can't even think about all of this in a structured way, it just devolves into a festival of self-hate, self-pity, whining, wallowing and other emotions.
Sometimes I wonder whether what I really need is just some therapy. Sometimes I wonder whether it will even help me.

Although I guess there is some genuine progress, I remember those flashes of negative emotions happening much more often in the past.
Enquiry is a useful tool. I'll try to use it every time some negativety arises, to just try to probe, where is it coming from.
As for the teacher, I really have no idea which school I belong to. I'm just taking techniques from here and there and using them as well as I can. Does this count as pragmatic dhamma?

​​​​​​​Thanks and be well
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A K D, modified 1 Year ago at 3/28/23 9:20 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/28/23 9:20 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 213 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Hello Inky, 

I am not sure I have great advice to share, but I can tell you that it's normal to feel that way sometimes as I have been through phases of this as well (and I still feel this way on occasion). If therapy calls out to you or sounds like a helpful decision, it may be a great idea to try it out. Just remember to be gentle with yourself and consider other healthy ways to cultivate a foundation of wellbeing that can help you weather difficult times: good sleep, diet, exercise, social life, hobbies, etc. can provide some stability or structure when things get tough.

Also keep in mind that when these feelings and thought loops arise, you have an opportunity to work with them by cultivating patience and compassion for yourself and others. We are waking up to our life as it is, and there are these sides of ourselves that bubble up from time to time which gives us an opportunity to bring awareness to them. We can gently sit with our emotions and the resulting reactions

I'll send you two teacher recommendations via DM - they are pretty pragmatic so you might resonate with them. 
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 3/31/23 10:34 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/31/23 10:34 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
march 29
I'm slowly getting back on track. Practicing almost exclusively verbal noting. It's getting faster as I get better with finding labels for sensations and recognizing them faster. I notice as at the beginning of a practice each limb is like a solid block of vague sensation and in the course of the sitting it unfolds into a cluster of different sensations -- cold, warm, pressure, touch and so on. I speak them, or whisper them, or think them. Generally I start from speaking them distinctly out loud, then whispering, then I note internally until I notice that I'm mind wandering at which point I start noting verbally again. It kinda helps me to wander less.
I am thinking of finding a teacher to practice with. The main obstacle to that is that I'm very wary of opening up to anyone. That's a very old, grown in defense reaction -- to fold in on myself and not let anyone in on how I'm feeling, what I want, what I'm thinking and so on. This is the same reason why every attempt to work with a psychologist ended after two-three sessions.
march 31

Tried something new today: started the same way, scanning from the head towards the toes, and noting everything that goes through my field of consciousness. At some point I stopped noting anything but the sensations of touch, mostly my clothing against my body, and continued to do that in an area around my waist for some time. It felt like a game of whack a mole, sensations kept popping up, I noted them, and then they popped up somewhere else, and I noted them, and then in some other place, and so on, and so on. Then the sitting ended.
I'm trying to figure out what happened with my desire to sit, I remember I really was passionate about it in february and I'm less so now. I'm not feeling noticeably more tired or exhausted, although I did feel sleepy throughout most of the sitting today. I guess is one of my cycles when I find a new activity and then run out of interest and slowly start neglecting it and then drop. I will note it as will.
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Inky, modified 1 Year ago at 4/7/23 9:07 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/7/23 9:07 AM

RE: Inky's practice log

Posts: 26 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
7 april
There is a feeling of unsatisfaction with practice that I've been observing for the last several weeks. I haven't been able to pinpoint it before, so I was just experiencing it, getting anxious and restless about the fact that I'm "not able to sit" and "not progressing" and so on. Those thoughts keep popping up. While I'm sitting I recognize them as "thoughts" and label them as such. While going around and doing life stuff I get lost in thoughts and start associating myself with them. The experience of going back to the previous stage is unpleasant, but it does not have to be. I just keep gently reminding myself that ebbs and flows are a natural part of any progress. Also I keep inquiring "who is doubting? who is calling names? who is restless?" It's an experience of calling out something by it's name and.. it doesn't call back. No response, not even echo.
I make a mindful commitment to ask more questions like this.

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