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spatial's practice log spatial 5/22/18 10:17 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Ward Law 5/24/18 9:05 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 5/24/18 9:08 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 5/29/18 9:43 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/7/18 7:26 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/7/18 8:49 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/8/18 10:09 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Zachary 6/8/18 4:39 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 6/9/18 2:20 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Nicolas G. 6/9/18 5:33 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 6/10/18 1:09 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 6/9/18 8:39 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/9/18 10:43 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 6/9/18 2:17 PM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/13/18 9:01 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/21/18 7:40 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Nicolas G. 6/13/18 5:52 PM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/23/18 9:58 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/25/18 11:39 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 6/26/18 9:27 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Nicolas G. 6/26/18 4:37 PM
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RE: spatial's practice log spatial 6/30/18 10:04 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/30/18 10:18 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 6/30/18 5:07 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 7/3/18 5:33 AM
RE: spatial's practice log alguidar 8/30/18 4:58 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 7/5/18 11:16 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 7/10/18 9:48 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 7/10/18 10:07 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 7/16/18 9:00 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 8/30/18 5:23 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/1/18 8:29 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 8/29/18 8:58 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/1/18 8:25 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/1/18 8:25 AM
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RE: spatial's practice log alguidar 9/17/18 10:51 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/11/18 8:24 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/14/18 6:48 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 9/14/18 6:57 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 9/14/18 9:47 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/15/18 8:31 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 9/15/18 10:32 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/18/18 7:43 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 9/18/18 1:58 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/27/18 8:42 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Daniel M. Ingram 9/27/18 12:42 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/28/18 8:52 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/29/18 7:55 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 9/29/18 8:32 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 9/30/18 4:05 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/2/18 8:18 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 10/2/18 10:36 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/3/18 9:14 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 10/4/18 5:05 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/3/18 8:51 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 10/4/18 4:59 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/12/18 8:58 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/17/18 8:48 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 10/17/18 1:23 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 10/17/18 2:52 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/19/18 9:20 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 10/26/18 9:12 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 10/26/18 9:25 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 10/26/18 10:08 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/1/18 8:43 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 11/1/18 8:52 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/1/18 9:47 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/2/18 8:19 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 11/2/18 9:00 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/3/18 8:56 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/10/18 9:08 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 11/10/18 10:44 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/13/18 10:08 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Tashi Tharpa 11/13/18 12:26 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/14/18 9:34 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 11/13/18 1:41 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/13/18 4:57 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 11/15/18 7:14 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/16/18 8:36 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Zachary 11/13/18 2:09 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/14/18 9:37 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/16/18 8:37 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 11/16/18 11:51 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Zachary 11/16/18 12:00 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 11/16/18 12:58 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/12/18 8:55 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 12/12/18 8:57 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 12/12/18 10:33 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/13/18 8:47 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Milo 12/12/18 5:25 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 12/13/18 7:25 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/13/18 8:46 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 12/13/18 8:53 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/13/18 8:42 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/14/18 8:52 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Andromeda 12/14/18 1:57 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/19/18 8:37 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 12/19/18 11:22 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 12/19/18 11:48 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/22/18 9:15 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 12/22/18 10:28 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/28/18 11:14 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Nicolas G. 12/22/18 11:16 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 11:38 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/2/19 9:01 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/2/19 12:31 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Nicolas G. 12/22/18 6:14 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 7:00 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/28/18 11:45 PM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 12/29/18 7:02 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/29/18 8:29 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 12/29/18 9:01 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 12/29/18 9:29 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Jordi 12/30/18 2:03 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/1/19 10:55 PM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/2/19 6:10 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Nicolas G. 1/2/19 8:55 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/2/19 9:04 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/2/19 8:57 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/2/19 10:09 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/2/19 1:05 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/5/19 6:36 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/6/19 3:11 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 5:02 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/8/19 8:58 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 12:48 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/8/19 8:48 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/8/19 10:09 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/10/19 9:02 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 9:50 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 1/10/19 10:44 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 11:13 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/15/19 9:36 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/15/19 9:56 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/16/19 9:15 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/16/19 9:32 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/18/19 9:18 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/19/19 10:34 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/16/19 5:37 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/16/19 8:36 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/16/19 9:29 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/18/19 12:31 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/19/19 10:04 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/19/19 11:03 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/19/19 11:09 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/19/19 6:55 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/20/19 6:33 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/20/19 9:00 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/20/19 4:38 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/30/19 9:24 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/30/19 12:07 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/31/19 8:10 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/31/19 1:21 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Erin 1/21/19 3:23 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/30/19 9:25 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/16/19 9:11 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/18/19 9:10 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 1/30/19 9:25 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 1/30/19 11:23 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 2/1/19 8:56 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 2/9/19 9:07 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 2/10/19 6:00 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 2/16/19 8:40 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 2/16/19 8:43 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 2/16/19 10:17 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 2/22/19 8:40 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 2/22/19 8:41 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/22/19 2:47 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 3/2/19 8:54 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 3/2/19 8:55 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 3/2/19 10:36 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 3/4/19 9:58 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 3/4/19 6:22 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 3/29/19 9:09 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 3/29/19 9:53 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 4/10/19 9:01 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 3/29/19 9:06 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 4/10/19 9:04 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 4/10/19 10:01 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 4/17/19 9:24 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 4/25/19 9:00 AM
RE: spatial's practice log shargrol 4/25/19 11:09 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 5/2/19 9:26 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 5/2/19 10:36 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 5/2/19 9:32 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/2/19 9:55 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 5/2/19 3:59 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/2/19 5:34 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 5/2/19 5:35 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 5/3/19 9:23 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 5/3/19 10:13 AM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 5/4/19 9:05 PM
RE: spatial's practice log Chris Marti 5/5/19 8:18 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/5/19 8:12 AM
RE: spatial's practice log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/3/19 12:21 PM
RE: spatial's practice log spatial 5/21/19 9:07 AM
spatial's practice log
Answer
5/22/18 10:17 AM
I feel like I'm on the verge of something. I have a new willingness to experience things. I am able to sit still for an hour with practically no movement.

Previously, I would obsess over the movement of the breath, and the adjustments I would have to make to keep my balance as I moved with each breath. Now, I can observe myself making those adjustments, or not making them, and I am willing to experience each one.

I can observe feelings of discomfort, nausea, restlessness. I can observe myself wanting to eliminate them. I can observe the ideas my mind generates about how to eliminate them. I can observe how it affects my breathing.

I notice when my mind goes to "how much time do I have left?"...."30 minutes!? This is torture!" I notice how that affects my breathing, and I can feel other unpleasant sensations in my abdomen as a result.

I can feel myself gripping muscles to prevent pain. I can feel the pleasure of releasing those muscles as I realize I don't need them to stay upright. I notice how fleeting that pleasurable feeling is, and I notice my urge to try to hold on to it, and I am willing to simply sit still in response, and experience the nausea that comes as a result.

I am aware that a lot of these feelings and thoughts and sensations are still very solidified. But, I can feel things loosening a bit. I'm not sure what sense of self I am still holding on to, but I'm sure it must be there somewhere.

I worry about my knees. Sometimes I feel pain, but I don't know if it's coming from my knees, or the muscles surrounding them, or both. I think I will experiment with other postures. I should also get back into yoga...

I mentioned to a friend a couple weeks ago that I felt I had unwittingly gone off the path somehow. Over the past couple years, I had acquired so many insights into the nature of things, that I felt I really understood something fundamental. But instead of pressing on in the direction that led to those insights in the first place, I somehow tried to tie it back to satisfying the desires that I had before the insights occurred. As a result, I ended up frustrated and resentful.

I felt this morning as if I would be willing to experience absolutely anything, *as long as it doesn't lead to permanent injury*. Will this fear prevent me from going further? I will keep practicing and see what happens.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/23/18 8:27 AM as a reply to spatial.
I sat in a chair this morning, to give my knees a break from kneeling. I spent a lot of time thinking about posture. I suspect this is to be expected, because I am not accustomed to meditating in a chair, and have not yet found a stable posture. Concentration was in and out.

I was able to observe a lot of sensations and thoughts. I noticed recurring thoughts, and I noticed how disconnected they were, and how my mind kept trying to reconstruct them. Thoughts about how irritating this was, about how I think I know just what adjustment to make to sit upright.

I had the sense several times that I was leaning far to the left. No idea if it's true. I was able to sit with these sensations and notice the images in my mind for a while. I let myself count three breaths and then adjust a tiny bit. It felt better for a while and then went back.

I noticed myself falling into a deeper concentration state and then snapping out of it at least 4 times. I don't know if I was falling asleep or what. It felt like a startle response, and I felt safer after it happened. I have a feeling it would be great if I could catch this response before it happens.

I noticed my foot feeling like it was falling asleep, and I noticed my urges to move it. I noticed the feeling of my fingers touching each other, and then gradually felt those sensations disappear. I noticed myself wondering if my fingers were still touching. When I was done meditating, I noticed they were.

I could feel the muscles in my back and neck working hard to support me. I suspect this makes concentration difficult.

A couple times, there was pulsating light in my vision.

I noticed myself trying to go deeper into concentration by recalling images I observed in previous sessions.

I noticed myself getting frustrated that there were so many sensations I wasn't clearly noticing. I tried to make a real effort to observe everything. I felt discouraged, and felt a little panicked that my meditation was so unstructured and graspy.

Did 10 minutes of metta practice at the end. It was very hard to focus. I suspect a lot of this is because of the chair. Not sure if I should try to adjust the chair, or continue to sit with this and learn more.

Still think I'm moving in a good direction, though. I think there's a lot more dust that needs to be kicked up.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/24/18 8:02 AM as a reply to spatial.
i find it VERY hard to meditate in cushion, so much pain. Burmese/half lotus/seiza...

As an experiment,

Try to sit as confortably as possible  in your best chair/couch, not giving a shit about posture.

report back. emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/24/18 8:29 AM as a reply to spatial.
Started off with really good concentration. I could observe the breath in minute detail. I felt like I could follow it through its whole cycle, and observe a very tiny sensation beneath my nostrils.

My vision was pulsating quickly. I felt at times as if this was synchronized with my perceptions of the breath. Perhaps it was only the exhale. It came and went.

Strong urge to swallow. Felt like mouth was overflowing with saliva. Could feel the pressure building up behind my lips. Felt horribly disgusted by this. Decided to sit with this sensation for a while.

Worried I might become a crazy person who didn't care if he drooled all over himself.

Decided to swallow just a little. Realized my mouth was nowhere near overflowing.

Just make this stop! Can't I just be enlightened already??? How much of this do I have to go through?

What if meditation is always just more and more observation of unpleasant sensations, and I just go deeper and deeper and nothing actually changes?

I alternated between this type of thinking and equanimity several times. Was able to observe these thoughts pretty clearly, and my urges to react to them.

I can clearly remember a time when these thoughts would have completely derailed me. I have all the same pain I've always had, but it doesn't freak me out as much now (time will tell, I suppose!).

Noticed clearly how my eyes want to move to whatever part of the body I'm observing. I think this is tiring for my facial muscles. I tried to stop this, and sometimes was successful and sometimes it caused a great deal of stress. This might be worth working on.

Examined some thoughts with curiosity, to observe their static nature. This has been particularly fascinating to me lately (how thoughts are not the dynamic movies they claim to be).

Was able to observe sensations throughout the body pretty well. Some doubt about whether I should focus on the breath, or scan freely. I didn't seem to have a plan in place.

Was certain my lower body would be numb when I finished. This wasn't the case.

I think it's good to journal some of this stuff. Reflecting on my experience makes it easier to see patterns. On the other hand, I wonder if I'm casting it in a specific light based on how I want to perceive it, rather than it being an objective log of what really happened.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/24/18 8:24 AM as a reply to alguidar.
alguidar:
i find it VERY hard to meditate in cushion, so much pain. Burmese/half lotus/seiza...

As an experiment,

Try to sit as confortably as possible  in your best chair/couch, not giving a shit about posture.

report back. emoticon

I've experimented quite a bit with this. If I'm too comfortable, I tend to fall asleep. If I'm sitting in a couch, I eventually become very aware of how unsupportive the couch is, and how I either feel like I'm collapsing uncomfortably into it, or straining to keep myself from doing so. I cannot find any kind of chair or posture where this doesn't become a problem after 20 minutes or so. I've had the best luck so far in seiza while sitting on a stack of yoga blocks, as this is where I feel the most grounded and don't have to work so hard to support my spine. I feel like it's difficult to find a posture that simultaneously allows my spine to be free but also works with my lack of flexibility in my lower body. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/24/18 9:05 AM as a reply to alguidar.
I've been sitting in a comfortable chair, spine curved, for a couple of years; and I've made progress in samatha/vipissana. Being perpetually sleep deprived, dullness is my main hindrance. So, whenever I feel dullness setting in, I immediately get up and move to the seiza chair. The stress on my back, and the postural instability,  are enough to re-energize the mind. At some point, I switch back to the chair.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/24/18 9:08 AM as a reply to spatial.
Great reports on your practice sessions, spatial.


emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/25/18 4:29 PM as a reply to spatial.
The vibration in my vision is almost always there (with my eyes closed). The frequency changes. Not sure if it was always there before noticing it a few days ago, or if it's new.

I think I'm seeing where to go with this. I think the vibrations need to be made slower (or is it faster? or is this completely unrelated to anything? not sure...)

There is a steady stream of physical sensation. Much of it I can perceive as vibration. Very little of it remains solid after examination for too long.

I can do this with sounds too, to a degree. The halfway bell on my timer did not sound nearly as solid as it did yesterday morning.

Yesterday, I sat at the piano, closed my eyes, played one note at a time, and really paid attention. I just wanted to spend time hearing the harmonics and beats. It is fascinating how much of our world is closed off to us, because we just solidify it.

Two days ago, I became fascinated by this "Yanny vs Laurel" illusion. I spent 30 minutes training myself to be able to hear it both ways. I think this is a related endeavor, somehow.

Thoughts, however, are more intrusive. I can pretty easily see them as still images. But will they break down further into vibration? Perhaps if I observe them for long enough, and catch enough of them. They don't seem to be as constant a stream of input as physical sensation, though. Does that mean by sense of physical sensation needs to be refined further, until it as at the level of resolution of thought?

Thoughts always seem to be images or sounds, not words. Words seem to always be accompanied by movement in the vocal tract. So, they are not pure thoughts. At least, that's my perception.

There are other senses of mental activity, though. Realizations, questions, excitements, frustrations. I'm not sure if those are accompanied by images always. I get glimpses of them, but I don't know what their content is.

I think this is why stillness is necessary. There needs to be enough steadiness for things to decompose. The cats meowing, for example, is unpredictable, and distracting. My reaction to it, though, became predictable.

Sitting still for an hour like this was impossible a month ago. This is progress.

I tried to observe the breath fully. Sensation disappeared at my nostrils at times. Then I realized I could follow the breath elsewhere. I have a lot of letting go to do. It occurred to me over and over that as long as I'm observing something, I'm progressing. Even if it's not what I *wanted* to observe.

I've tried a few different vipassana techniques (scanning, noting, just watching). The technique always seems to get in the way. It slows me down way too much. Not sure if this is because of lack of practice, or because I'm doing it wrong, or because I need more concentration, or what. There's a big difference between a verbal awareness of sensation, and the direct, raw contact with that sensation. The techniques seem to encourage the verbal awareness too much, which feels like daydreaming rather than experiencing. What seems to work better is to wait for something solid to appear, and then trying to notice as many details as I can about it.

It's so easy to fall into "wanting things to decompose". Instead, I need to remind myself to just look for more things to notice.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/26/18 8:37 AM as a reply to spatial.
This was not an easy session this morning. It amazes me how quickly it can change like that.

I decided to try no technique, and simply sit for one hour.

I noticed restrictions in my breathing due to my posture.

A lot of thoughts about how difficult it was. I tried to observe these thoughts, to separate myself from them.

I noticed strongly how I was identifying with so much. I was discouraged that I would never be able to penetrate through that. I reminded myself that I need to tease things apart more. I'm not seeing everything.

On a related note, I started to realize more about the connection between my posture and my breath constriction. This made me feel more discouraged, because I I felt like there was no way to clear that up.

Spent some time observing how some actions are performed by "me" and some are performed by "my body". It drives me crazy trying to see the difference. I tried to look into the nature of those thoughts as well.

Started to worry I was compressing nerves in my legs and would end up with a serious problem as a result. After 45 minutes or so, I switched to lying on my back.

10 minutes of metta, very hard to stick with the phrases, as I kept daydreaming, possibly falling asleep. Although, I had the sense that I could somehow synchronize the phrase with speed of my thoughts if I did it very deliberately.

Part of me says this was a good session, because it gave me a lot to observe. But, part of me says I am somehow conditioning myself to be averse to meditation, and I am going in the wrong direction. Not sure what to do.

I want things to go well. I don't even want to talk about them when they don't go well. I want to feel like I have a handle on this. Why is equanimity easier sometimes and harder other times? All I wanted to do was sit and observe unpleasant experiences, but somehow they got the better of me.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/26/18 3:58 PM as a reply to spatial.
Spatial --

There's a big difference between a verbal awareness of sensation, and the direct, raw contact with that sensation. The techniques seem to encourage the verbal awareness too much, which feels like daydreaming rather than experiencing. What seems to work better is to wait for something solid to appear, and then trying to notice as many details as I can about it.

Do some research on dependent origination aka dependent co-arising. It will help you sort through this. It's what you're getting glimpses of when you observe the different components of what at first seems to be one object.

emoticon


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/28/18 8:16 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

Do some research on dependent origination aka dependent co-arising. It will help you sort through this. It's what you're getting glimpses of when you observe the different components of what at first seems to be one object.


Do you think that it is worth trying to understand this better (through reading, etc.), or by digging in more with observation in my practice?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/28/18 8:17 AM as a reply to spatial.
Practiced for about three hours (over 4 or so sessions) yesterday. It was all over the place.

This morning, things went pretty well. I decided to give Goenka's technique another serious try.

Start by concentrating on the breath. Mind wanders. I let it wander, and then tune back into the breath when it presents itself.

I am concerned that I am trying to focus my eyes really hard on my nostrils. A lot of pressure in my face.

Build up a good amount of concentration, and then try to tune into sensation at the top of my head. Nothing. But, I don't want to move my eyes there. Don't want to concentrate too hard. Just wait for it. Nothing. Mind starts to wander. Bring the attention back to the breath.

I work this way systematically through my upper body. Sometimes there is sensation, sometimes none. I am trying not to use my eyes. I am trying not to block out thoughts, but rather perceive the sensation through the noise of the thoughts.

I go into a deeper concentration state. I feel sensation throughout my body. A lot of vibration. My vision alternates now and then from dark to light.

I'm not sure if I'm doing the technique right. I can't seem to sustain the attention necessary to move part by part through the whole body. I always lose my place or start skipping around, or just decide to screw it and feel the body as a whole.

I feel imbalances in my posture. I feel anxiety caused by this. I feel myself trying to correct it.

I remind myself over and over that anything I feel or think is ok, and to refocus on physical sensation. The anxiety calms down, and I feel more settled.

I worry that I get attached to the positive feelings, the feeling of concentration, the excitement of a meditation that is going well. Equanimity with respect to negative sensation is easy to understand; just don't move when you feel it. But how do I practice equanimity in the face of positive sensations?

By the end, I was pretty concentrated. Large parts of my body had totally dissolved into (pleasurable) vibration. I am always so stiff when I stand up. Hopefully that will improve over time.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/28/18 8:24 AM as a reply to spatial.
Do you think that it is worth trying to understand this better (through reading, etc.), or by digging in more with observation in my practice?

Spatial, it's entirely up to you but I'd suggest you try both. It may help you to know what you're looking for and the reading is a "might help, can't hurt" kind of activity. It certainly doesn't prevent you from digging in deeply in your meditation sessions.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/29/18 9:02 AM as a reply to spatial.
This morning was quite an interesting meditation.

It started off with the usual discomfort and obsession over posture. Observed how the breath kept moving me off balance. How I kept adjusting. How frustrated it made me.

I had an idea bouncing around in my head: "meditation is not physical... it is purely about training your attention." What if I really took that seriously?

I observed the breath. Very hard to concentrate. I tried following it, but my mind kept wandering. Every time it wandered, I tried to bring it back. Frustrating and nauseating.

Ok, let it wander. This isn't physical. It's just about my mind. The frustration and nausea is not mental. Obviously, "trying to bring it back" is doing something more than the meditation really calls for.

Let the breath gently intrude on my mind-wanderings.

I've been down this road before, but this morning was a bit different. It occurred to me, "I can use the breath as a weapon to dissolve my experience." When the mind wanders, let it wander, and focus on the breath. The experience doesn't disappear, but the breath introduces disruption into it. It becomes slowly harder to concentrate on the experience. And eventually I'm back at the breath, or perhaps a new experience interrupts.

I played with this for a while. I would be pulled into thoughts, sensations. I noticed how the breath made it hard to really latch onto them. Just let them break up into little pieces.

Once I felt reasonably secure in this, I switched to Goenka body scanning. I tried the exact same technique. Focus on the top of the head. No sensation. Get distracted. Ok, let the sensation at the top of the head dissolve my distraction. Nothing.

Attention goes to sensation in legs. Great, let the sensation at the top of my head dissolve the experience of being with my legs. Now we're getting somewhere... This is exciting. Great, let the sensation at the top of my head dissolve the experience of being excited.

Once I felt something at the top of my head, I moved down my body bit by bit in this manner. I practiced dissolving absolutely every experience I noticed I was having, using the awareness of sensation of the body part I was focusing on.

This brought me into a deep state of concentration. My body felt still and I could feel subtle sensations everywhere.

There was a moment of fear. As my body was losing solidity, I started to panic with the thought that I might actually dissolve my entire being. And what if it didn't stop after the meditation? What if I ended up with some kind of dissociative identity disorder? I decided to go with it, and used the sensation of my body to dissolve that train of thought.

I was half expecting to achieve stream entry right there. But, I think that was just a preliminary defense mechanism. There's a lot more self that needs to be dissolved. Yet, the path seems a bit more doable at the moment.

The fear actually seems a little silly as I write this. I'm not dissolving myself. I'm only practicing focusing on something other than the self, for a brief period of time. The self isn't going to disappear. It's just a new habit I'm building. And if I'm happier with no self, then I guess that's not a problem...

I used the same strategy in my 10 minutes of metta.

"May I be safe...fr.... Oh this is really cool! I can really focus! Sensation in body is really pleasant...where was I....? May I be free from...."

No, that's all just experience. My focus is on "May I be safe from danger."

Wait for it to come in loud and clear, as a single uninterrupted action. If it's hazy, if I'm distracted, frustrated, whatever, then just go with it and wait for the phrase to come in loud and clear.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/29/18 9:05 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Do you think that it is worth trying to understand this better (through reading, etc.), or by digging in more with observation in my practice?

Spatial, it's entirely up to you but I'd suggest you try both. It may help you to know what you're looking for and the reading is a "might help, can't hurt" kind of activity. It certainly doesn't prevent you from digging in deeply in your meditation sessions.

Probably a good idea. It's always helpful to be exposed to different ways of looking at things. Sometimes they lie dormant until they are activated by experience, and then things seem to really click... Thanks for the advice.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/29/18 9:43 AM as a reply to spatial.
In addition to finding a middle way between (1) just letting the mind wander and (2) being too tight around the primary object, you also seem to have found a way to see experience as process and watch it dissolve. Very cool. Great report!  

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/30/18 8:34 AM as a reply to spatial.
Not sure what to make of this morning.

It was pretty difficult for the first half hour. Not easy to concentrate on the breath, or even feel the breath. My mind was racing with thoughts. I could not find a comfortable posture.

I tried using the technique I thought of yesterday of letting the breath dissolve my experience, but it wasn't working.  I could recognize that the feelings and evaluations of "it's not working" were themselves experiences, but they seemed more solid.

After 30 minutes, things changed a bit. I noticed I wasn't really feeling the breath. There is a difference between the mental concept of the breath and the actual physical sensation at the nostrils. I realized the physical sensation has quite a lot of power, because it's real and ever-changing. Trying to dissolve my thought patterns using more thought-patterns is potentially frustrating, but using real physical sensation is another matter.

So, I tried to zoom in on the sensation. It was a very tiny sensation. But, once I found it, it gave me something to anchor to, much more stable than any of the thoughts or even the larger unpredictable movements of my body. 

Zooming to a tiny level has the effect of stabilizing the mind, I think because it synchronizes everything to a level which is not on the same wavelength of the rest of the experience that was preoccupying me at the moment. 

I noticed that the sensations and thoughts I was experiencing were wholly separate from my perception of the breath. It was surprising, because a moment ago I had been completely wrapped up in them.

There was a moment of blackness, I felt tingling through my whole body, and my vision "reset" itself to a more stable pattern of slow oscillating light. I felt much more grounded after that point.

The rest of the session was fairly uneventful, except once there was what looked like a flash of lightning. Not sure what it meant.

I believe it is good to spend some time really making sure I am sitting as comfortably as possible. Even to take a few minutes at the beginning of every session to work on this, rather than immediately jumping in to observing sensation with equanimity. I am hesitant to do this, because I don't want to obsess over discomfort. However, unpredictable physical pain and instability of posture is really distracting, and if I can eliminate it, I should. I do think that a big part of this is being able to tune the mind into a concentrated state, because it makes observation easier, as much as that feels like a cop-out to me.

And, I am going to stick with my viewpoint that concentration is not about developing concentration, but rather about breaking up concentration.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/30/18 8:35 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
In addition to finding a middle way between (1) just letting the mind wander and (2) being too tight around the primary object, you also seem to have found a way to see experience as process and watch it dissolve. Very cool. Great report!  


Thanks! I wish it were more predictable. Sometimes I feel like I can get it, and sometimes it's just an intellectual concept.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
5/31/18 8:43 AM as a reply to spatial.
I practiced for a bit yesterday afternoon. I was really getting the sense that I could dissolve any aspect of my experience. The sensation of the breath, or other sensations I chose, could be steadily maintained, while thoughts came and went. Body parts disappeared.

A black hole appeared in my vision, and grew in size. It covered half of my vision, and then a new one appeared. The cycle repeated many times. I had the idea of allowing it to grow until it enveloped me. As it approached, I had an intense fear of disappearing. I decided to sit with the fear and let it approach, but I think I was distracted, and the black hole dissipated. I was slightly nervous that in my attempts to deepen my meditation, I was depriving my brain of oxygen, or threatening to burst a blood vessel, or about to cause a stroke or seizure, or something like that.

---

Not very concentrated this morning. Distracted by posture and noises from the kitchen. The noises made me angry, but I tried to welcome them as an opportunity to practice.

I wonder how much of this has to do with how well I slept at night.

15 minutes before the end, I changed posture to cross-legged. I'm nervous to do this, because I think it might be back for my neck and back, but I always feel that way about my neck and back no matter what I do with my body, so wtf do I know?

I felt my hair brushing against the back of my neck and imagined it was a spider. I noticed the image of the spider in my mind and felt tingling through my body. Just watch and return to the breath. My mind came up with another more detailed image of the spider crawling slowly. I saw the image frozen in time, and returned to the breath. Another image, spiders crawling all over my body, down my shirt and up my legs. Pretty terrifying, but I also saw clearly how my mind was trying to play this game. I thought "you laugh now, but what are you going to feel when you reach back there and find a real spider?" (I'm trying to put this wordless thought into words). But, it seemed clear to me that this really was just a game, and my whole experience of this was constructed in the moment. So what if there's a real spider later? It's only *right now* that I'm bothered by it.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/1/18 8:09 AM as a reply to spatial.
Well, no meditation happened this morning. I spent the entire hour working on posture.

A few things are on my mind:

- Concentration is very difficult when I'm straining my muscles and when the act of breathing itself threatens to knock me off balance.
- I think it is possible to solve this problem.
- If I solve it, my meditations will probably be much more productive.

I was reading an article last night that suggested a method like this:

1. Sit grounded on your sit bones.
2. Lean forward until you feel yourself starting to fall, then relax as much as you can, feeling the pull of gravity.
3. Lean back until you start to fall, and do the same thing.
4. Repeat over and over, making the movements smaller and smaller each time.
5. Pull up through your head, and relax.
6. Repeat until you are balanced.

So, I started my session with this.

I noticed I was in a hurry to find balance. I wanted to meditate as soon as possible. Once I felt balanced enough, I tried watching the breath.

And then I wasn't balanced anymore.

I tried this a few times, getting increasingly frustrated.

It became clear to me that I was not giving sufficient attention to my posture. I was imagining how much time was left on the clock, and how little meditation was happening.

After 30 minutes, I gave up meditation and decided to work completely on posture.

What I noticed while focusing on posture:

- sometimes not sure if my sit bones are pointing straight down or not.
- not sure if leaning forward and backward means rotating the pelvis, or moving from the bottom of the spine.
- even after I find a "balanced" position, I still find that I can let go and "slouch". This means I'm not relaxed enough. The relaxed position should support my spine.
- at each position, it is useful to take at least a full breath, to observe what effect that movement has on my balance.
- I believe it's possible to find a posture that requires practically zero effort, because I remember having found those balance points at times in the past (including, I believe, last night.)
- Sitting lower means the yoga blocks cut into my legs less, but it also means I worry more about my knees. It may be useful to get a meditation bench, but those seem expensive and I have no guarantee it would work better than what I'm doing now.
- I need to be aggressive about relaxing as much as possible, even if it means the routine will take longer.

It is a good idea for me to set aside time for no other purpose than to practice this balancing routine. I can meditate in a more comfortable posture until I feel I have it figured out better. I will have to run the risk of falling asleep, I guess! (And also potentially not be prepared for the retreat I have coming up in less than two months...)

There is a part of me that thinks this is either cheating or will lead to more obsession about posture. That vipassana is supposed to be about feeling your aches and pains and learning to be mindful of them, rather than trying to eliminate them.

I think it needs to be understood that yes, in meditation one should be mindful, but a posture needs to be chosen where mindfulness is possible. There are times where I feel OK sitting and watching my discomfort. But, if am constantly adjusting my posture, it is simply not meditation, no matter how much I am trying to be mindful. I need to proceed with determination, but also with gentleness.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/2/18 8:39 AM as a reply to spatial.
I've been thinking a lot about the characteristic of dukkha over the past day. I believe it's starting to make sense to me in a more comprehensive way than it was before.

I listened to Joseph Goldstein's recent podcast on the topic yesterday, but honestly I can't remember much of it. I think what really did it was flipping through MCTB last night and coming across this sentence: "Just knowing in each precise instant how you actually know that pain is unsatisfactory can be profound practice."

Life is unsatisfying. Everything is. This is so fundamentally true that it's easy to miss.

I experience pain. How do I know it's unsatisfying? Just pay attention. Notice my impulses. Chances are, I will find some reaction inside of me which is an attempt to minimize the pain. If I were satisfied with the pain, I wouldn't do this.

I experience pleasure. How do I know this is unsatisfying? Same deal. If I pay attention, I will find some attempt to hold on to that pleasure, to intensify it, to assure myself it will last or that it's real. If I were satisfied, this wouldn't happen.

In my meditation this morning, I tried to observe this characteristic of sensation. I think it proved to be somewhat fruitful.

Every time I experienced a sensation, I asked myself "what is unsatisfying about this sensation?" I noticed what my urges were to eliminate pain or hold on to pleasure. This isn't the first time I have thought about my urges this way, but this was the first time I made a deliberate investigation of analyzing ALL of my experience in this manner.

A lot of sensations seemed neutral, neither pleasure nor pain. These were challenging. How can these be unsatisfying?

It started to dawn on me that something wasn't right. I wasn't satisfied with the neutral experiences either. This was so simple that I am surprised I had missed it.

I was doing things in response to the neutral sensations as well. I was investigating them, asking questions about them, trying to observe them better, etc. I would not be doing those things if I were satisfied with them.

It's the only reason we ever learn to do anything. It's the only reason anything ever catches our attention. It's the only reason we ever care about anything.

This actually drove me a bit crazy. I felt like a pinball in a machine. I could see that everything I was doing was a reaction to something, an attempt to satisfy some deep unsatisfaction. Do I have any control at all??? Is life just one long sequence of bouncing from one urge to the next???

Why am I trying so hard to focus on the sensation in my leg? So I can be mindful. Why was I trying to be mindful? So I can be a good meditator. Why do I want to be a good meditator? Because that's just how I think of myself. Why am I thinking of myself that way at this moment? Because I am meditating and investigating the characteristic of dukkha. It's hard to convey with words exactly what I was experiencing, because much of it was subtle, and these realizations felt like they were happening quickly and sometimes simultaneously, but I am trying to give a sense of it. It's just one thing after another, all happening in perfect sequence.

These realizations moment-to-moment had a strange effect of allowing me to let go of a lot of my physical activity. I saw how interconnected much of it was...the interplay between my sensations, my concept of self, and my whole program of meditation. I think there is a way out of this mess, and that the way out is to see the concepts of self as being yet another attempt to satisfy an urge. This will need to be practiced. (It also raises the question for me: is the idea to see more, or do less, or both? There is the troubling realization here that "seeing" is itself more urge-satisfying)

Anyway, I think this line of investigation is worthwhile, and I am going to continue it.

I also think "suffering" is entirely the wrong word for this. That's my impression anyway, because hearing the word "suffering" made it impossible for me to understand what was really going on here. Now I think I understand that, on some level, one could say that what you think of as "suffering" is really just more experience (because "suffering" is just a label tacked on by your mind to a bunch of impermanent sensations), and all experience has that fundamental quality that sometimes manifests itself as "suffering", so in that sense there is an equivalence. But, it's misleading at face value.

It's so easy for this stuff to turn into abstract philosophy. It's important to keep it practical. I think physical sensation is the key to this.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/2/18 10:12 AM as a reply to spatial.
Spatial, your powers of observation are amazingly astute. It's fun to read your reports here.

I also think "suffering" is entirely the wrong word for this.

I agree with the misleading nature of this word - it's not "suffering" in the usual sense, so how about using the word "dissatisfaction?" Concentration isn't the right word, either. I think we suffer (pun intended) from the original translations from Pali to English, probably done by folks who might never have experienced these things and so were a bit off in their choice of words.



RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/3/18 5:28 PM as a reply to spatial.
Hi spatial, ive been reading your posts. Is there a reason for using the kneeling position, if thats what your doing. I guess if it is, then you must have found sitting on a cushion presented difficulties. What did you try and what happened?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/3/18 9:12 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Spatial, your powers of observation are amazingly astute. It's fun to read your reports here.


Thanks!


I also think "suffering" is entirely the wrong word for this.

I agree with the misleading nature of this word - it's not "suffering" in the usual sense, so how about using the word "dissatisfaction?" Concentration isn't the right word, either. I think we suffer (pun intended) from the original translations from Pali to English, probably done by folks who might never have experienced these things and so were a bit off in their choice of words.

Yes, I think "dissatisfaction" is a better word. I know very little about any of this, but I get the sense that the English translations are influenced by Western religious concepts in a way that isn't very helpful. Even "dissatisfaction" might be too negative of a term.

This is a very interesting topic... I don't think the Buddha intended "life is suffering" to be interpreted as "life sucks." I think the idea was to encourage people to look at their own behavior, so that they could see that they are acting on impulses which could be understood. It's an inherently optimistic message. We tend to think of "dissatisfaction" as some kind of negative feeling, but what if it is simply the observation that there is a connection between stimulus and response? There is absolutely no need to label any of it as negative, unless you want to create an elaborate story justifying that (which itself would be only a response to a stimulus). I go back and forth between thinking that I am really on to something here, and thinking that I am somehow oversimplifying this. 

I've been examining a lot of my sensations: negative, positive, and neutral. Neutral sensations are tricky, because there's no obvious attempt to eliminate them, or to latch onto them. But, something tells me that they probably aren't as neutral as they appear. Why would I even notice something that is neutral? I was looking at a white wall and asked myself "what could possibly be dissatisfying about the observation that the wall is white?" I'm not exactly sure, but I also can't ignore the fact that when I was a kid, learning the names of the colors, I must have felt great about myself...

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/3/18 9:37 PM as a reply to Bigbird.
Bigbird:
Hi spatial, ive been reading your posts. Is there a reason for using the kneeling position, if thats what your doing. I guess if it is, then you must have found sitting on a cushion presented difficulties. What did you try and what happened?

I just can't seem to sit in a way where I don't have to work super-hard to support my back. I don't think my legs or pelvis are flexible enough. I've tried sitting at different heights. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 2:13 AM as a reply to spatial.

Hi spatial,
              choosing a way of sitting, say a really comfortable couch. Has benefits such as making it easier to relax, less pain with more space to develop concentration or better comprehension.This is a short term gain. I don't think being to comfortable because you tend to fall asleep, is going to work long term either. One day sitting meditation will become extremely comfortable.

At this point in time pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings or sensations must be allowed to display their nature. You need to work with pleasure, pain, neutral or indifferent feelings. So choose a sitting method that has long term benefits, unless you have disease or injury.Choosing to avoid working with pain will not benefit long term. For anyone who reads this, if your on a couch because of disease or injury that will cause you harm if you sit another way, then you doing the right thing. If your on the couch to avoid pain, its not doing the right thing for your practice.

So your choice to not avoid the painfull or unpleasant feelings or sensations is the right way. Remember being mindfull of these  unpleasant feelings or sensations is going to promote more unpleasant sankaras coming up, or if your still in material aspect insight into that.  

Although your method of sitting falls into the right category for one aspect, its falls short in another. There is no future up there for some of the meditation experiences one will probably encounter in the future. If everthing switches off, will you stay upright. Try it. let yourself slump, and see if it stays up, for 1 hour 2 a whole day. A basic Burmese comfort will stay up, no problem. Try it, 50-60mm cushion max get a small forward tilt and slump into it. Add some Sri Lankan style to really test it. All you do is basically drop your face into your lap. Its a strange style, but not if your Sri Lankan. It can stay up for a day, probably way longer. If not you want fall far.  Understand the importants of this, having to remain aware of the basic physical body, is not recommended. A basic Goenke experience can have you on a lean but not realize, think your leaning but your not. Slowly lean until your head is on the floor. This will happen because you let it, and keep meditating. Thats recommended. Its going to be different up there, im guessing. I saw youve got a retreat in 2 months. Maybe after that, but think ahead. 

I wrote some stuff about your practice, then came up with another idea. These neutral sensations. You could be (edit) past A&P. In which case they are the darkness your eyes cannot see yet! There are places in that direction that do not oscillate at all. Don't follow your nose, follow reliable teachings. At present you have no formal instruction or technique developed and haven't developed the primary object. If you don't get up to speed with correct literature (
use the link), take the time to read what is to be done, you will not get the opportunity to go-wow im doing alot of stuff that i shouldn't be doing and not doing alot of stuff that i should be doing if i want to get to this place. Then notice that you can see the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral and these 3 aspects are on the last pages with the neutral thing on last page with the thing that doesn't oscillate. Don't go looking to see if you've got a non-oscillater. You have one. But you've got so many of the other ones you can't appreciate the non-oscillater anyway.

So i will send you a link to this free 56 page book. Start at page 54 Experiencing the deathless. Read those two pages then work backwards noticing the habits you need to drop and the ones you need to pick up. If you can't get your skills up to speed, you still have the opportunity to use noting. It can help if one can't keep their unnecessary level of conceptual mind off the stage, or can't penitrate the object etc. I won't post any more stuff. Let me know if the reading material is suitable, if you want to talk etc. When this book is finished you will need to go back one more small book, Sattipathana Sutta first sit primary object. Then progress forward in a process of direct experience to that non-oscillater. Best of all its with you right now all the time allways is. There's not much to do or get, but heaps to undo or Let Go!
                                                                                                                                           Best wishes, for a single excellent night.
www.nissarana.lk/pdf/Books/Eng/VenUD_Eng_Bhaddekarrata.pdf


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/4/18 8:18 AM as a reply to spatial.
I've been examining a lot of my sensations: negative, positive, and neutral. Neutral sensations are tricky, because there's no obvious attempt to eliminate them, or to latch onto them. But, something tells me that they probably aren't as neutral as they appear. Why would I even notice something that is neutral? I was looking at a white wall and asked myself "what could possibly be dissatisfying about the observation that the wall is white?" I'm not exactly sure, but I also can't ignore the fact that when I was a kid, learning the names of the colors, I must have felt great about myself.

Yes, you're on to something here and while I'm reluctant to get deeply into it at this stage in your practice...  at some point farther down the path, it will become apparent that subtle, even very subtle objects cause a disconnect (you can substitute "unsatisfactory") between what is truly effortless and what requires effort. What I mean by effortless is that the mind is not required to process any stimuli at all. As you can probably tell, this is a pretty deep rabbit hole to follow. There's a book by a man named Rob Burbea called "Seeing that Frees" and in that book, Burbea does a good job of describing the fact that every object, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, requires mind effort when it arises, yet without that effort, there is no perception because there is no object.

I'm not sure this will help much but feel obligated to post it.





RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/5/18 2:48 PM as a reply to Bigbird.
Bigbird:

Although your method of sitting falls into the right category for one aspect, its falls short in another. There is no future up there for some of the meditation experiences one will probably encounter in the future. If everthing switches off, will you stay upright. Try it. let yourself slump, and see if it stays up, for 1 hour 2 a whole day. A basic Burmese comfort will stay up, no problem. Try it, 50-60mm cushion max get a small forward tilt and slump into it. Add some Sri Lankan style to really test it. All you do is basically drop your face into your lap. Its a strange style, but not if your Sri Lankan. It can stay up for a day, probably way longer. If not you want fall far.  Understand the importants of this, having to remain aware of the basic physical body, is not recommended. A basic Goenke experience can have you on a lean but not realize, think your leaning but your not. Slowly lean until your head is on the floor. This will happen because you let it, and keep meditating. Thats recommended. Its going to be different up there, im guessing. I saw youve got a retreat in 2 months. Maybe after that, but think ahead. 

Are you saying that I should try leaning over and seeing if I fall? That I should actually lean over and fall?


Thank you for the advice, and for the link to the book! I will look through it and let you know if I have any questions.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/5/18 2:56 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Yes, you're on to something here and while I'm reluctant to get deeply into it at this stage in your practice...  at some point farther down the path, it will become apparent that subtle, even very subtle objects cause a disconnect (you can substitute "unsatisfactory") between what is truly effortless and what requires effort. What I mean by effortless is that the mind is not required to process any stimuli at all. As you can probably tell, this is a pretty deep rabbit hole to follow. There's a book by a man named Rob Burbea called "Seeing that Frees" and in that book, Burbea does a good job of describing the fact that every object, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, requires mind effort when it arises, yet without that effort, there is no perception because there is no object.

Thanks for the book recommendation. Is the idea that you can perceive stimuli without the mind processing it? Or, that the most basic act of awareness contains effort? Is the idea that what we tend to think of as "awareness" is really a complex conditioned phenomenon built on top of actual primitive awareness (which is unconscious)?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/5/18 3:44 PM as a reply to spatial.
Is the idea that you can perceive stimuli without the mind processing it? Or, that the most basic act of awareness contains effort? Is the idea that what we tend to think of as "awareness" is really a complex conditioned phenomenon built on top of actual primitive awareness (which is unconscious)?

It's that any act of awareness/consciousness requires effort, which is "painful" to some extent, even if only a tiny bit.  On top of that, if there are no objects, no subject-object duality, there is no consciousness.

In Theravada Buddhism, a meditator can experience this at certain junctures in their practice, called path moments. The first such moment is called Stream Entry, and one of the signs that a meditator has hit that point is the experience of at least one cessation, which is the total loss of awareness/consciousness - an event not unlike the rebooting of a computer, but it's the loss of any contact with the phenomenal world and contains no consciousness, no sense of time or space, just nothing at all.





RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/6/18 11:07 PM as a reply to spatial.
June 4:

So, I'm rethinking some of what I was saying about posture. It may indeed be problematic, but I think something else is going on too.

Over the past few days, I've been feeling increased sensations in my face. They happen frequently when I'm meditating, and often when I simply stop to focus on them. There is pressure, vibration, movement, all kinds of weird things.  I've been thinking that this is a result of the increased durations of my sits, that I have been straining muscles, and re-aggravating whatever started at the retreat last year.

I have also been noticing that the feelings of pressure and tightness disappear when I touch my face. I'm not sure they are as real as they seem to be. Maybe they are the result of heightened perception, or perhaps hallucinations or something like that. Maybe I'm feeling something real, but my mind is interpreting it as something worse than it is.

I have no idea is this is safe, but something tells me the only way to proceed is to continue meditating. 

I sat tonight and resolved to simply observe the sensations, without trying to make them go away. I decided to approach this with no pressure, with awareness of physical sensation as the antidote to getting lost in thought. I started with awareness of the sensations of the breath, with no expectation of where I would feel those sensations. When the sensations in my face started to distract me, I included them in the breath. I became concentrated pretty quickly. 

The outer layers of my body began disappearing. I don't believe it has ever happened in such a pronounced way. I could feel the skin detaching from my face. The feelings of pressure flickered back and forth between solid and decomposed forms. I could feel subtle vibrations throughout my whole body. I was scared that I was damaging myself.

I had the sense that I could not get lost in thought. I was constantly aware of sensation. I had thoughts, but I immediately recognized them as thoughts. I had emotional reactions to thoughts and sensations, but I saw those too. 

I could see how certain things were being prevented from de-solidifying. The sensation of the breath at my nostrils. The sound of the cats running back and forth in the kitchen. The edge where my hair touched my neck and moved slightly with each breath. The floor. 

It was all a really pleasant feeling, and I could observe that feeling.

June 6:

That was two nights ago, and meditation has been much easier since then. I have not had any trouble sitting motionless. I get concentrated pretty quickly.

I've been experiencing strange sensations on my face. Rippling feelings. Tickling. Fizzing. Tightness. Release. Heaviness. A lot of fizzing... Sometimes I can feel the breath landing on my upper lip and dissolving almost in slow motion. Slightly worried I am giving myself neurological damage. I don't feel these things when I'm not meditating, unless I tune into them. 

I get absorbed into the patterns in my vision sometimes. They can be mesmerizing. 

My body has not disappeared as much as it did the other night, but there tends to be a pleasant tingling. It's actually hard to describe, because sensations are changing a lot. Sometimes I feel like there's just a ton of stuff happening under my skin. I'm trying to keep my attention moving, observing as much of it as I can. Whenever I find something solid, I rest there for a bit, trying to look under the surface. I've been doing this with sounds throughout the day, as well, listening for harmonics and beats in musical tones, and oscillations in any kind of sustained sound, such as a fan. 

Not sure what to do at this point. Just keep investigating whatever comes up, I guess. I'm a bit worried this ease will disappear at some point.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 6:03 AM as a reply to spatial.
Hi spatial,
               The link to the book was so that you could see the end part of the practice and work your way back looking at the practice or framework -(you were starting to leave practices)- needed to get there. That way you could drop the theorising such as in the thread (TMI: A contradiction or no?) or where your heading with Chris and get your attention directly aligned with the object. ASAP! Thats where its going to count. That would be further back in another book, but its in the present moment, direct experience of the object using the Buddhas framework that is the place that has the material for liberation.
The comments on your sitting practice are based on all the postural requirements you keep mentioning in your logs. All i was saying is that if you are in a position that requires you to monitor it to keep your balance etc. That is a gross level of awareness. In order to go subtle effectively you need to completly drop any monitoring of the gross level or you will not get the the benefits from a sitting practice because thats more a walking meditation level, practice. So therefore choose a position based on that requirement.
Where you are you are right now June 4. (Its all good - stay with this stuff). If you want a brief discription of whats going to happen and what you should do. Its no mystery- its all available so that you don't interfere. To develop insight continue to meditate in the same posture. If pain gets to much and you can't work with it-make a minor postural adjustment. If you need to maintain balance to stay upright-move to a couch or some way of sitting where that is not neccesary because you can't stay in contact with that gross level of body as it needs to break apart and disappear. As the elements begin to display themselves, all one does is follow the technique.
Its always difficult when not talking with someone as there is a greater possibly of misunderstanding. However if you can stick to a correct practice, everything is going to break apart. The better you are at not interfereing, the faster, effortlessly and more thoroughly it will happened. If it really gets going and you have the time. (Practice more but don't start trying to force a result as that can stuff things up. I might point out, this is just the material aspect, its not that demanding regarding the last point). Eventuarlly all will become a flux(Arising & Passing) no internal, no external, just a flux. 
I'm only telling you enough to alleviate the worry of neurological damage etc, etc, ect? So you can relax into it. There is far more detailed explanations. However you've only ever mentioned Goenke. (Follow his technique). 
                  Best wishes.

 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 7:26 AM as a reply to spatial.
I've been experiencing strange sensations on my face. Rippling feelings. Tickling. Fizzing. Tightness. Release. Heaviness. A lot of fizzing... Sometimes I can feel the breath landing on my upper lip and dissolving almost in slow motion. Slightly worried I am giving myself neurological damage. I don't feel these things when I'm not meditating, unless I tune into them. 


In an attempt to give you some context, these are some of the classic effects one gets at one of the stages on the Theravada meditators' path called the "Progress of Insight":  

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+The+Progress+of+Insight

I used to get these, too, as it felt often like I had bugs crawling all over my face when meditating.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 8:32 AM as a reply to spatial.
Again, no significant trouble sitting motionless for an hour this morning.

I do something like the following routine:

1. Take a few moments of heavy breathing to make sure my posture is reasonably stable.
2. Focus on the breath, trying to be aware of each inhale and exhale, whatever that means. If anything distracts me, I incorporate it into the concept of the breath.
3. Wait for myself to become aware of the sensation of the breath at my nose.
4. Hang out there for a while, until I feel I really perceive it continuously.
5. If I feel antsy at this point, I try to get absorbed into something. Sometimes I can find a "glow" or "rhythm" somewhere. Not sure if this is recommended, but it often seems doable, so I go with it.
6. Once I feel stable with my attention, I start scanning my body top to bottom (the Goenka method), attempting to perceive subtle sensations in each part. If I feel something solid, I observe it and try to perceive some more detail. Often, it ends up vibrating as the breath does. Sometimes it remains solid, or blank.
7. Once I go through the whole body, I sit and wait for solid things to catch my attention, and investigate them in the same manner. If I get lost in thought, I come back to the breath.
8. Finish with 10 minutes of metta.

I find myself wanting to really perceive every single oscillation. It's a mixture of frustrating and fascinating. It's frustrating because the oscillations are usually way too fast (I wish I could count! Reminds me of an old computer monitor with a refresh rate that is way too low). It is fascinating because I feel like I can perceive them in anything I bring my attention too.

A couple times, I noticed blank areas on my body, and realized that the frustration over that was actually causing them to stay blank. I investigated sensations relating to the frustration, and found that this "tuned me in" a bit better to the level of sensation present at the blank area.

There was a time (I can't remember if I wrote about this) maybe a week ago, or more, when I realized that the vibrations were fast as I was inhaling, fast as I was exhaling, and then super-slow in between. So, I just decided to speed them up to even it out, and I could do that. It was like my attention went in and out based on what part of the breath I was interested in, and I realized I wasn't interested in the whole thing. I find myself wanting to do this with sensations of all kinds now, whenever I realize I'm not fully interested.

Several times this morning, I thought I saw several "harsh frames" of light in my vision, which pulsated for about 4 times (this happened a few days ago once, and it was like there was a metallic sound which went along with them...no sound this time). When I brought my focus to them, they disappeared and I felt irritated that I couldn't grab on to them. It was like I had fallen into a state by accident, but then my attempt to observe the state caused me to snap out of it. After a few instances of this, I started to investigate the sensations of "irritation".

I also get irritated when I hear sounds of someone walking. The sounds distract me from my attempts at de-solidifying my reality. Not sure if there's a way I can incorporate them better.

I find myself craving "pleasant tingling" and "disappearing body parts" and "motionlessness" and "glowing light" and "synchronous absorption" and "novel experiences."

Part of me is also thinking, "ok, now what?"

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 8:39 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
Bigbird:
Hi spatial,
               The link to the book was so that you could see the end part of the practice and work your way back looking at the practice or framework -(you were starting to leave practices)- needed to get there. That way you could drop the theorising such as in the thread (TMI: A contradiction or no?) or where your heading with Chris and get your attention directly aligned with the object. ASAP! Thats where its going to count. That would be further back in another book, but its in the present moment, direct experience of the object using the Buddhas framework that is the place that has the material for liberation.
 

I agree that I was changing things somehow. I was worried about my body, and made that my focus. I think I got back on track by realizing I didn't know how to fix my posture, so I may as well just observe it. I'm not sure if this detour was necessary or not...maybe it was. I don't want to just push through things when they are uncomfortable and injure myself, but I also don't want to condition myself to shy away from discomfort. I remember when I started meditating, I could not sit in a chair for 5 minutes with my eyes closed without feeling nauseous and like I wanted to jump out of my skin. It's probably good for me to keep checking in with myself and making sure I am actually meditating. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 8:45 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I've been experiencing strange sensations on my face. Rippling feelings. Tickling. Fizzing. Tightness. Release. Heaviness. A lot of fizzing... Sometimes I can feel the breath landing on my upper lip and dissolving almost in slow motion. Slightly worried I am giving myself neurological damage. I don't feel these things when I'm not meditating, unless I tune into them. 


In an attempt to give you some context, these are some of the classic effects one gets at one of the stages on the Theravada meditators' path called the "Progress of Insight":  

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+The+Progress+of+Insight

I used to get these, too, as it felt often like I had bugs crawling all over my face when meditating.
Are you referring to a specific stage? I'm a little hesitant to think too much about the stages, because I'm not sure I have enough knowledge to know which stage I'm in, and I don't want to aim too hard for specific experiences.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 8:49 AM as a reply to spatial.
That's funny - I was originally going to link you to the specific stage but thought about it more and decided to link you to the whole page so you could decide how much you wanted to dig into it. The main reason I posted was to get you out the worrying mode, thinking you were somehow hurting yourself. That's something I experienced, too.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/7/18 10:05 PM as a reply to spatial.

I agree that I was changing things somehow. I was worried about my body, and made that my focus. I think I got back on track by realizing I didn't know how to fix my posture, so I may as well just observe it. I'm not sure if this detour was necessary or not...maybe it was. I don't want to just push through things when they are uncomfortable and injure myself, but I also don't want to condition myself to shy away from discomfort. I remember when I started meditating, I could not sit in a chair for 5 minutes with my eyes closed without feeling nauseous and like I wanted to jump out of my skin. It's probably good for me to keep checking in with myself and making sure I am actually meditating.


From the 5 minute comment to what your doing now. Thats awsome. Takes dedication to do that. Regarding the changing things comment. Regarding technique or framework, you were completely leaving the arena. I will give one of many possible examples. (Below) This form of analysis does not fit the framework. Doing this can become very different to a framework of being impartial or impersonal, not me, not i, not mine. Analytical meditation practices are very different in the Buddhas framework. Below is one of a number of practices that lacked effectiveness. It looks harmless but it has a form of ownership when analyzed this way. It can be a case of just the explanation not the practice, so i may misunderstand. There were many other examples in you logs, i chose this one for its potential harm. Awsome logs by the way.

Every time I experienced a sensation, I asked myself "what is unsatisfying about this sensation?" I noticed what my urges were to eliminate pain or hold on to pleasure. This isn't the first time I have thought about my urges this way, but this was the first time I made a deliberate investigation of analyzing ALL of my experience in this manner.


In one discussion you were having, someone commented that techniques were just basic guides that were not mean't to be strictly adhered to, or something in that direction. Thats completely wrong. In the case of Mahasi or Goenke these are highly developed techniques by master practishoners. The framework is built in to the specifics of the technique. Until one gains a deep understanding of this, they do not have the ability to decide which parts can be changed. They would need help. 
The meditation experience itself is of no use without the framework. It is the Buddhas framework that liberates. Example. Meditators with strong Kundalini experiences can have amazing perceptual abilities. Yet they flounder because they will not adhere to a correct framework. All the sensations agitate the mind, so they indulge in endless mental proliferation. Try and use any concept to point to a practice or framework and they take the concept and proliferate. In a majority of buddhas techniques thoughts are regarded as thinking.

So where does this leave you. On june 4 you continued the process of mental proliferation which can only hinder your progress in the long run. This time however you scored. You started doing things that adhered to the Buddhas framework and in this case the Goenke technique. Not alot i might add, just abit. Now i'm looking at your last post 36. Now you are doing some things that will not support the practice. It will lose its built in effectiveness if you don't keep to certain specifics. You will wander away again.
 
In the Goenke technique. You have the breath where it touches the body(1 spot only), subtle sensations, gross solidfied sensations, blind areas. Then the just observe or aware or equanamous or with the understanding of anicca(impermanence). The routine is critical, because it contains the framework built in. Each and every part is critical. As soon as you notice a subtle sensation-move to the next spot is critical. When you notice a gross solidified sensation or a blind area stop and observe for a minute or two(choose now 1 or 2 minutes, then stick to it) is critical. Just aware and EQ, just observe, then continue-move. This is critical. Not try and dissolve it, or see through it, or this or that etc, etc???? When the times up you move, never get excited or upset about what happened, the practice has got nothing to do with that. Whatever happens is what happens is critical. Your job is to notice it. Just observe, aware and EQ. Now at this point the EQ is just a word, there's no real EQ. However there is a form of EQ amongst other things built into the technique, that is way behond the meditators current ability in most cases. Just sensations is critical. Disregard thoughts, let them arise and pass is critical. Don't get effected by what happens, its not about what happens.
You can observe both primary object and bodily sensations. You can adjust how much attention you give to the primary object or the other. You can leave the primary object all together and go full sensate and (dynamic-meaning on the move), you can use the primary object as a form of EQ to work with painfull or even pleasant sensations. As soon as you become aware that you have left the primary object or sensations bring your attention back. If you are doing that continuously, thats fine. Whatever happens is what happens so don't get exited or upset and if you do don't get excited or upset about that as its distracting and reacting. Just thought i would throw all that in for you as well.

Goenke teachers are bound regarding what they can say. As much as it causes difficulties regarding advice, it does have its benefits or strengths. The most valuable asset you have apart from being in the human realm, is the Buddhas framework, and specifically that technique. Your in nanas 1-3 Pre-Vippasana Stages (alot of Three Characteristics),1st Vippasana Jhana. Use the link from Chris and read Daniel Ingrams descriptions, there some of the most detailed available. I'm hoping you will have a look and then get out of there. The Goenke technique is one of the best ever techniques for nanas 1-4. The technique not only gets A&P, but has a high rate of a complete penitration. Thats just a flux A&P, no boundries, no internal, no external. That is the maximum one can penitrate into the nature of material phenomena (like the gold standard). The june 4 session indicates that the meditation is at the stage where the elements can present themselves or the object can break apart, is another way of saying it. The technique is what has the major potential regarding this process. Applied correctly it can reach a point of no return. It lost momentum when you became scared of damaging yourself. Recognizing thoughts as thoughts etc was good. Then you went off track a bit. It may help to talk with someone about the process so that you can relax into it.

In your logs there was alot of unclear information, alot of opinion. The last couple of posts had good clear yogi stuff. Right now your on the surface(thats what indicates where you are) You have the subtle, gross and blind. Thats the entire cast in that department. You don't even need to identify the Elements, however your a 4 element meditator(insight) so its earth, air, fire, liquid or water at this stage. Having the subtle, gross, blind up and running is something you should take advantage of now. Follow the full specifics of the technique, don't bring anything else in. Get the A&P under your belt. Then continue the full specifics of the technique until any weak spots can be identified. Then and only then adjust the technique, to get the Path. That is my advice. 

I am aware of some difficulties your having regarding part by part and getting confused. Also following the breath etc. I will private message you. Give my Gmail address. If you download the free Google Hangouts App. You can use my Gmail address to contact me on hangouts. I just use audio for a cheap phonecall. If you decide to. Google current time in Perth Western Australia for time difference. I will explain which are the parts you shouldn't change and why, or ways around it. Banging out long detailed posts is still not nearly as effective as abit of back and fourth dialogue. I won't be offended if don't want to talk, or if you don't follow my advise. So don't put any pressure on yourself about it. 

Best wishes.

Edit. If you do look at the nana descriptions, probably look at 4 as well. That was starting to show. The descriptions may help you to be more comfortable with the actual experience. Im sure you will relate to parts of them as soon as you read it.
 


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/8/18 8:32 AM as a reply to spatial.
Last night:

Very concentrated. Large portions of my body disappeared. I saw a great deal of light at times. Felt tons of movement on my face. After I was finished, I sat down again and had someone look at my face intently while I meditated some more, and she didn't see any signs of movement. I was really surprised.

After scanning my body part by part for a while, I realized I could feel the whole body on the exhale, if I tuned into it. I think I've noticed this before, but prevented it from happening, because I had taken it to mean that my posture was too strained. After I was done meditating, I tried tuning in to this while sitting on the couch, and found that I could do it then as well. It was like it had taken me 50 minutes in meditation to figure out how to do it, and then once I got it, I had it.

I think the trick is to keep it moving. Don't dwell on any sensation for too long. It seems that an expansive awareness is what I'm after. But on the other hand, there also seems to be the danger of just mentally running through the body too quickly, without actually experiencing any sensation at all. I have the same conversation with myself in piano practice. And there, the solution is, in my opinion, to just keep practicing.

The experiences I am having now are reminiscent of what I experienced on the Goenka retreat last year. At that time, however, they freaked me out. I think I was too ashamed or something to really talk to the teacher about them. I just viewed them as my own personal provlems that I would have to deal with alone. (I guess I don't have a lot of faith that teachers will be sympathetic to me, throughout my whole life!)

---

This morning's meditation had the least amount of movement yet.

I had a recurring urge to swallow, but I didn't. I wanted to adjust my posture, but I didn't. Every time I had such an urge, I brought my attention back to physical sensation.

I noticed how the effort of focusing on physical sensation is not the same as the effort of blocking out thoughts. I can really do this. It doesn't use up energy in the same way. If I get lost in thought, I can double down on the amount of sensation I observe, and it doesn't cost me anything. At least, that's the sense I was having this morning.

I was keenly aware of the difference between scanning my body by following a visualization, and scanning by following sensation. It's a subtle difference, and I often get confused by it. For example, I will observe sensation on the back of my neck, and then move down to my upper back, and feel nothing. Then, I realize I wasn't actually tuned into the upper back, but rather I was tuned into an image of the upper back in my mind. So, I go back to the sensation in my neck, and follow the sensation down a little bit, until I'm actually on my upper back.

After doing this for a while on the surface of my body, I tried a little bit on the inside. I could feel sensation in my mouth, followed it down my throat, felt my heart beating, into my abdomen.

I have certain fears about letting go of the need to move. What if I cut off blood supply to some body part for too long? What if I am putting too much pressure on my spinal cord, and the damage feels good? What if I figure out how to manipulate my heartbeat, and have a heart attack? What if I start feeling something scary, and I can't stop feeling it after the meditation is over?

I'm also wondering what is the best way to use this remaining time until I go back to the Goenka retreat in approximately 6 weeks. Should I be trying to make progress now? Or should I wait until I'm there and there is a teacher I can see?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/8/18 10:09 AM as a reply to spatial.
Just relax - you're doing great. Your fears about hurting yourself physically aren't uncommon but have you ever read a news article about someone having a heart attack during meditation? And... however you approach the upcoming retreat, it won't matter in the long run.


emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/8/18 4:39 PM as a reply to spatial.
Hey spatial, I've been enjoying following your reports, good stuff. 

Might I humbly suggest something to try out? I found the following to be immensely helpful after I'd made a lot of headway with my practice but was continually running into issues regarding striving and attempts to control and optimize my sits. 

Try and see how relaxed you can be while still being aware of what's happening. A more relaxed position lying down or reclining could help support this. Observe intentions and desire to optimize, control and tinker with your practice during sits. Really let go of any sense that there is anyone here doing the practice and just see what's going on. 

Also, as far as anxious or even paranoid thoughts, I've found that paying attention to what awareness is doing and where it is in the body when these thoughts are occuring can lead to strong insight.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/9/18 8:39 AM as a reply to spatial.
Somewhat frustrated this morning.

My mind was all over the place. There were fragments of thoughts bouncing all around: images, sounds, all coming and going very quickly. It was hard to maintain concentration on anything. I couldn't tell if I was falling asleep and starting to dream, or just had a crazy mind. I couldn't tell if I was being jolted awake, or if I was trying to concentrate my mind.

I got stabilized on the breath OK, and then tried to scan my body. I kept getting lost in thought. I kept losing my place. Was I just at my neck, or my legs? I can't even remember.

I kept feeling like I was losing my balance. After 30 minutes, I switched to sitting on the couch. My mind had a ton of objections to that, but I figured that I may as well try it and see how those objections hold up in reality.

The couch wasn't much better. I was still keenly aware of how I had to support my neck to prevent my head from falling backward. I just don't see any possible way to meditate in a relaxed position except perhaps lying down. I wonder if "relaxed" is the wrong goal. There have certainly been times (yesterday!) where I didn't feel like this was an issue.

The question kept coming up in my mind: when I am at a blank area of my body, and I am waiting for a sensation to appear, do I keep awareness of the breath, or do I stay with my attention on the blank area, thereby risking losing contact with sensation altogether and getting swept back into my thoughts?

I don't want to just invent my own technique and disregard the instructions. However, I find that what I perceive as progress has always come from "disregarding the instructions". I suspect that my attention should remain on the breath. What is the sense in getting lost in thought?

This is just always the issue: if I am going to observe without reacting, what do I do when I notice myself struggling? It's so easy for a teacher to say "you're doing it wrong...stop struggling and just observe", but it's not like I planned on struggling. In my piano practice, and with my students, I avoid this issue by keeping everything extremely concrete and physical. It doesn't matter if you are "struggling"...what matters is if you are doing the correct physical action or not. And if you get distracted, that is always 100% perfect, because you are only responsible for what you're doing at those moments when you notice that you have control over your physical action. I feel like I've constructed the exercises in such a way that you really can trust them to teach you. In meditation, I'm not really always clear on when I'm following the instructions and when I'm not. The instructions are vague. I can either resolve the issue on my own by clarifying the ambiguities, or I can just go day-by-day with whatever interpretation I happen to have at the moment. I could ask a teacher for clarification, but they would almost certainly introduce more ambiguity, or just tell me to persevere (persevere doing WHAT?) and then I run the risk of getting discouraged and quitting.

I'm not expecting anyone to resolve this for me or help me with it. I just wanted to write down my thoughts on this, because I have been to this place many times before. Someday, it may be useful to have a record of what I was thinking at this particular point in time.

In my metta practice, I could not keep my attention on the phrases. Literally not a single one. I kept losing my place in the middle of the sentence.

Yesterday, I had the idea of focusing more intently on physical sensation when I get distracted. For some reason, I didn't want to try this today. It seemed like it wasn't actually in accordance with the instructions.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/9/18 10:43 AM as a reply to spatial.
Some thoughts, FWIW - please ignore if useless or not on target:

Have you looked into the source of your dissatisfaction?

Why is not having a "good" meditation session bothersome?

Is there such a thing as a "good" or a "bad" mediation session?

Why?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/9/18 2:17 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Some thoughts, FWIW - please ignore if useless or not on target:

Have you looked into the source of your dissatisfaction?

Why is not having a "good" meditation session bothersome?

Is there such a thing as a "good" or a "bad" mediation session?

Why?


The fear is that I will either go in the wrong direction, or I will get stuck in a loop. As far as good or bad sessions, no, I guess there is no such thing. There are sessions that make me happy, and sessions that irritate me, but one would have to expect those types of fluctuations even under the best of circumstances.

I made a list of situations that come up frequently in my meditation which cause me to question myself, and for each one, I listed some possible ways of dealing with it, and then picked one that I think will lead me in the right direction. That seems to have been productive. I practiced for a bit more this afternoon, and I think I understand a couple things better. Here's my current line of thinking:

The areas of intense sensation on my face have a lot to do with where I have been putting my attention. It is like I have trained my mind to observe certain spots, and to ignore other spots. So, as far as my mind is concerned, there is indeed something pressing against my face (for example), because I simply am not noticing how large of an area that particular sensation is covering.

The sensation of the breath on my upper lip changes at times, and disappears sometimes when I get more concentrated. My previous thinking was that this is because I am straining too much, and it is causing a blockage in my nasal passages. I'm reconsidering this. I think what I interpret as backed up pressure in my nose may just be the normal pressure generated by my breathing, and what I interpret as pressure on my lip may actually be the sensation of the air itself, but my mind has not been fully conditioned to see it that way at this fine of a resolution. When I focus on the pressure intently enough, suddenly my breathing clears up. It's like I can "see through" the pressure, and find the air inside there.

I think I just need to go through this process. I'm going to mess it up at times. I think it has to be that way, because my reality is changing as I observe more, so whatever mental rules I generate are going to eventually fail sooner or later.

I think the answers to all my uncertainties are: "Do whatever leads you to observe more sensation. Don't do whatever gets you stuck in your head." That sounds simple, but it's tricky because the same behavior that led me to observing sensation yesterday gets me stuck in my head today. That seems to be because the sensations I observed yesterday changed me somehow, so now my base reality is different, and thus what I consider to be the same behavior is actually different now. Thus, there needs to be reevaluation at frequent intervals to make sure I'm still on the right track emoticon

So, yes, I will end up craving those experiences where my body starts to dissolve and I start seeing light. I'm not going to resist that. I'm going to keep doing what seems to be working, until it stops working. Then, I'll figure out what to do next, with whatever new information I have then. I think this is doable.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/9/18 2:20 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:

Try and see how relaxed you can be while still being aware of what's happening. A more relaxed position lying down or reclining could help support this. Observe intentions and desire to optimize, control and tinker with your practice during sits. Really let go of any sense that there is anyone here doing the practice and just see what's going on. 

Thank you, I think it is good advice to observe my desire to optimize things. I'm starting to feel like the posture doesn't even matter so much. I will find things to tinker with no matter what posture I'm in. I think once the timer starts, my priority needs to be observation, not "fixing" anything.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/9/18 5:33 PM as a reply to spatial.
Hi Spatial,

I like to read your posts, Thank you for taking your time and write!

Meditation is just a practice, so, I'm wondering if it could be possible to share some generic base similar to learn/practice piano. Maybe this view can help you to use something you already know that works.

Going into too much thinking is not good for any practice, what about using the same good conditions (or mind states) you sugget to your students?: enjoy it, don't expect anything, patience, relax and get into the flow, etc.

Maybe you have already mention this and I didn't read it.

Anyway good luck!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/10/18 1:07 PM as a reply to spatial.
A lot of light and vibrations today. While doing metta, I kept losing my train of thought. I started saying a phrase in my mind, and by the time I got to the end, I was somewhere else entirely. I thought I was falling asleep. I tried really hard to stay concentrated. Sometimes I got distracted even from that.

It seemed I was putting in too much effort. I tried to broaden my focus a bit. Sometimes when I did, I felt like I broadened too much, and almost lost consciousness entirely. When that happened, there was a very bright flash of light, and I came back. This happened at least three times. Eventually, I had the idea of going very slowly. One syllable at a time, I made my way from the beginning of the sentence to the end, checking after each syllable to make sure I still had contact with the breath, and that I was still aware of what sentence I was saying. It took several tries, but I eventually made it. I have no idea if all of this was because I was falling asleep, or if it was because my focus was at a level that was just much slower than my thoughts normally go at. It was a very odd experience.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/10/18 1:09 PM as a reply to Nicolas G..
Nicolas G.:

Meditation is just a practice, so, I'm wondering if it could be possible to share some generic base similar to learn/practice piano. Maybe this view can help you to use something you already know that works.

Going into too much thinking is not good for any practice, what about using the same good conditions (or mind states) you sugget to your students?: enjoy it, don't expect anything, patience, relax and get into the flow, etc.


Yes, I think that is the way to go. It's not easy, though! I think meditation is a better place to practice this stuff, actually, because there's no outside pressure.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/13/18 8:25 AM as a reply to spatial.
In some sense, I am having a much easier time sitting still. In another sense, there is more turmoil, because I am even more sensitive to all of the urges that are trying to prevent me from sitting still.

A couple times, I saw a small black dot in the center of my vision. There were a couple other patterns that came and went, and are hard to describe. There's a pulsating circle (what I described in another post as a "black hole"...this is nothing like the "black dot" I just mentioned) that gets bigger and smaller, and which seems to appear when I am very concentrated. Faint white light started to appear about halfway through. Sometimes there was bright light, for one instant, and then I would try to investigate it and it would disappear (very frustrating). There is vibration, which seems to go through certain stages, depending on how sharp my mind is: 1) unnoticeable, 2) fast when I am inhaling and exhaling, slower in between, 3) fast and even, 4) erratic, sometimes freezing for a moment (filling me with some sense of momentary dread when it does this).

I understand why people think they can contact spirits and otherwordly realms while meditating. At one point, I felt like there was a woman walking by me. I could feel the air brushing against my right side, and I could see her clearly. It lasted just an instant, but it was very pronounced.

There was a moment where I felt very detached from all of it. I could watch my body struggling subtly, and I could watch myself evaluating all of it, and I could watch myself feeling like I was doing it wrong, and I had this sense like "Here I am over here, and I can just observe all of that over there. Yes, there is struggling, but I'm not the one struggling." It lasted just for about one second. The same thing happened yesterday (or was it the day before?)

One thing that is driving me crazy is the clear awareness that I am enjoying many aspects of my meditation. I notice myself trying to recreate certain experiences (tingling, light, concentration). I almost wanted to scream in frustration at one point when I was thinking how every teacher on earth would tell me I'm doing this wrong. WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO??? I CAN'T HELP IT! I DON'T EVEN NOTICE I'M DOING IT UNTIL IT'S ALREADY DONE!!! I went through the same thing with my piano playing, and the only thing that helped me was to take a stance of complete and utter acceptance towards anything my body or mind happened to do while sitting at the piano. I am considering taking the same approach with meditation.

I have a greater sense that my attention span has certain junctures. There are moments where things can go one way, or they can go the other way. I have some amount of control over this, but my mind has to be sharpened to a certain resolution before I can do that. There are certain things that seem to encourage this sharpening:

- Focus on subtler sensations of the breath.
- When I observe a blank area on my body, try to observe the breath simultaneously.
- When I'm trying to focus on one part of my body, and I feel a tension elsewhere in my body, do not relax that tension.
- As much as possible, try to broaden my awareness, seeing as many different things as I can.

There is a balance between trying and not trying. It's hard to tell when I'm trying too hard and when I'm not trying hard enough. And sometimes I try too hard to stop trying. How can I make sense of this? I'm thinking "getting frustrated and wanting to quit because I can't stay focused," is an indicator of trying too hard, and "not meditating at all, or meditating and totally forgetting what I'm even trying to do" is an indicator of not trying hard enough. I think it can tip from one to the other very very quickly, though.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/13/18 9:01 AM as a reply to spatial.
Quick FYI:

Dots and holes and round pulsating colored things in the middle of one's field of vision generally accompany the jhanas. When I access various jhanas I almost always get the same round-shaped, pulsating patterns and colors that are associated with specific states.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/13/18 5:52 PM as a reply to spatial.
Hi Spatial,

I hope this could help! if is not your case, please, discard the post.

My experience was: that perfeccionist/obssesive people reinforce a try-hard pattern that get worst over the time. And at the end, you have success doing things at for example: work,  but at cost of generating alot of stress and tension. This try-hard habit is the opposite of letting go, and meditation is all about letting go!

try-hard = loop of not accepting until done = tension
letting go = accepting -> release = relax

In some point, trainning the mind in letting go is equal or even more important than development of the attention.

What worked for me was, to sit for weeks doing:
- Sitting without any expectation (this means: not looking for wow experiences, fireworks, jhanas, etc).
- Set the main goal of the practice as: letting go, everthing that happens: note, accept, then release.
- Second goal: attention of the object (breath).

Accept is the key: We don't have realtime/direct control of what's going on in the nervous system/subminds, not accepting what's happening make things really worst.

The wonderful thing about this is that you will start to see the effects of letting go out of the cushion! and everything starts to improve!

On the other side, I also have tension in the forehead, and it has improved alot with:
- Alternated walking meditation with sit meditation.
- Starting the sit meditation, relaxing body/mind paying attention to the breath at the belly (samatha), and when the mind is calm, move to the nostril.

Send you a big hug!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/15/18 9:08 AM as a reply to spatial.
I think certain things need to be welcomed:

- Distraction, noise in my mind, rapid/half-formed thoughts
- Forgetting what I'm doing
- Doubt: am I doing this right? Am I screwing myself over by practicing this way?
- Discomfort: muscle tension, nausea, constricted breathing
- Feelings of imbalance: will I fall if I let go? am I leaning too much to one side?
- Frustration: am I craving too much? Irritation with those who tell me I'm doing it wrong

There doesn't seem to be any use in fighting them. It doesn't matter if I experience them. I can always return to bodily sensation at any point. And it gets easier with practice.

I think perhaps the appearance of many of these factors is a sign of progress. When I started meditating years ago, closing my eyes for one minute led to a ton of agitation. But this isn't from the meditation...it's from taking the time to be aware of what I'm actually experiencing. I think this process just gets deeper and deeper. As I get better at meditation, yes, certain things become more tolerable and even pleasant at times, but that steadiness only paves the road for new restlessness to emerge. This isn't a bad thing.

I believe I experienced this many times this morning. The sensations are so subtle that it's difficult to put into words actually what happened. Several times, I would get deeper, and then something distracting would show up, and I would get irritated, and have an urge to attend to that new thing. At times, this would make me feel like I was regressing in progress, but I'm not sure that's it.

There was a moment when I felt the amount of tension in my head change abruptly, and my vision took on a certain glow after that. It seemed very significant at the time, like I had discovered something about how to physically sit, but I can't even remember exactly what it was.

Several extremely disgusting images went through my head at times. I observed them, and observed my physical reactions to them.

Some more philosophical thoughts:

The object is not to think less. It's to experience more. The thoughts aren't what they advertise themselves to be.

The meditation routine itself is wrong. The body scanning is wrong. The way I focus on the breath is wrong. It all needs to be recalibrated over and over. This isn't a bad thing. As I practice, I change, but the technique remains the same. If I insist that I am the constant one, then from my perspective, the technique is always changing.

Not related to meditation, but I wanted to get this down:

I think the pain I experience while standing up after sitting for such a long time is not related to my joints. I think it is due to the fact that my muscles have shortened, and I am trying to stretch them. Over the past couple days, I have been considering this, and after I sit, I have been extending my legs very very slowly, giving the muscles time to lengthen on their own. This has led to a lot less pain. I am hoping that over time, this process will happen faster, and I will be able to stand quickly with no pain. I am also stretching the backs of my legs before sitting. I suspect this is all neurological, despite what I have been told my whole life by pretty much everyone.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/15/18 9:11 AM as a reply to Nicolas G..
Nicolas G.:

In some point, trainning the mind in letting go is equal or even more important than development of the attention.

 
I think this is the key point. It's hard to remember at times, but it seems to occur to me over and over. Struggling with attention is just a recipe for frustration. 

Thanks for the advice! 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/15/18 9:14 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Quick FYI:

Dots and holes and round pulsating colored things in the middle of one's field of vision generally accompany the jhanas. When I access various jhanas I almost always get the same round-shaped, pulsating patterns and colors that are associated with specific states.
I suspected as much. I'm not sure how many jhanas I have been able to access, but it does seem like I can much more reliably get into these states nowadays.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/16/18 6:42 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
 the only thing that helped me was to take a stance of complete and utter acceptance towards anything my body or mind happened to do while sitting at the piano. I am considering taking the same approach with meditation.
Wisdom. But then the question or koan seems to be around the role of agency/goals/intentions. 

I guess in this case your intention is to allow whatever is going on to be exactly as it is. As Jason Siff says, "Whatever happens in meditation, that's meditation." 

Different from the framework I'm working with now, which involves trying to cultivate stable attention. I'm sure I'll eventually come right back to this approach of just letting be and dropping techniques.  

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/21/18 7:40 AM as a reply to spatial.
How's it going, spatial?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/21/18 8:08 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
How's it going, spatial?

Thanks for checking in emoticon

My meditation has been pretty uneventful over the past several days. Basically more of the same.

Over the past two days, and especially this evening, I had the distinct sense that I'm not the one meditating. There is a guy sitting there, and I'm watching him meditate. I decided to go with it.

Not sure what to make of it. It made it hard to focus. I didn't feel any urgent need to interfere. It's very easy to let go. Anytime some uncertainty rises in my mind about what I should do, I can just say "eh, I'm not going to deal with that. I'll just watch what happens instead." I didn't even want to stop this evening, and ended up going 6 minutes past the timer.

So, as a result, my attention was really scattered. I did not have any consistent focus. I think there's no point in trying. I would drive myself crazy if I tried to push through this. I had the sense that there was the breath, and there was my attention, and sometimes they would sync up, and sometimes not. The sensations are there whether I notice them or not. If I don't notice them, it's because my attention was elsewhere at the moment.

I'm not going to bother. I don't have the energy for that. This is just out of my hands. I have a feeling that it's going to be a little hit-or-miss for a while in terms of steady concentration. But, there seem to be only two options: 1) identify with the guy sitting there, and stress out about every little thing, or 2) go along for the ride.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/22/18 7:07 AM as a reply to spatial.
Nice update, thanks.

We're all just along for the ride  emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/22/18 9:51 AM as a reply to spatial.
Help...I'm trapped inside a giant robot!

I'm very small, and very fast. The robot is lumbering and awkward. I don't even know exactly how big I am. There's a force that makes me want to connect with the robot. It's like I'm walking through a maze with sticky walls. If I get too close to the edge, I get stuck, but if I stay in the center, it's not hard to keep walking.

It's tempting to think that I am here somewhere in my head behind my eyes, but that's not it. I say that because I am clearly detached from both the sense of being in my head behind my eyes and the images and thoughts associated with it.

I have control over myself, but I don't really know how to use that ability. This is slightly new territory for me. It is like trying to control myself in a dream. I can't use the body, because the body is the robot, and will only encourage me to get stuck. I can't use my thoughts and feelings, because they are from the robot too.

I see flickering light, slowly pulsating light, black holes. I feel parts of my body dissolving. I feel excited that I'm making progress. I feel frustrated that I'm not getting it completely. I hear "Eye of the Tiger" playing on and off. I feel trapped in my body. I feel parts of my body move. I feel myself reacting to all of these things.

But, after each one of them, I can see that I'm not the one doing these things or feeling them, because I'm too small and light to really exist on that level. I marvel at the ease with which I can observe physical sensation, when I'm not weighed down by any of that stuff. It's like I'm going deep underwater, and I am able to survive fine as long as I remember that I don't actually need to breathe. The moment I try to take a breath, I come back to reality.

I could imagine some people might be really disturbed by this sort of thing, if they are very invested in their identities (several people come to mind). I realized some years ago that self-concepts are a major source of suffering in my life, so I have always been eager to dissolve them whenever possible. We'll see what happens.

I feel like the amount of concentration skill I built up until this point had a price attached to it. It requires way too much effort (even physical effort). I am pretty sure concentration can happen with far less effort, because I've been getting glimpses of that, but it will require re-learning a bit.

My meditation so far has taken places in certain "modes" (are these stages of insight?). When they first occurred, they each seemed like "ah, here's the way it *really* is!" I'm starting to have the sense that none of them is really real, and that I am learning to be able to call them up almost at will. I think it's just a matter of what level I want to zoom my concentration to. I was noticing that a lot this morning. It was almost getting easy to be able to flip back and forth between the sense of "being my body" and "watching my body". The light doesn't excite me as much as it used to, because I have more of a sense that it's just caused by something rather mundane that I'm doing, and if I hit the right spot, it happens. But I'm clearly learning something, because I'm finding layers I didn't know existed before.

I feel like I'm just writing philosophy, instead of actually describing what happened in my practice. Oh well.

I've been going to a couple meditation groups as well. However, no one seems to want to talk about this kind of thing. They would rather discuss their relationships and jobs. Then, I am left feeling like a weirdo (or perhaps a show-off) if I mention anything. There's my self-concept causing misery again emoticon (isn't meditation supposed to *increase* compassion...?)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/23/18 9:13 AM as a reply to spatial.
I'm noticing that a new perspective is starting to emerge once in a while. I'm not sure if it's "brand-new" exactly, but I've never seen it as a distinct perspective before, or given it a label.

Perspective 1 (the old perspective):
- I am glued somewhere behind my eyes
- I control the body
- Sensations in the head are closer to me, and sensations elsewhere in the body are farther away. Thoughts and feelings are closest of all.
- Sensations happen to me
- Concentration requires physical effort

Perspective 2 (the new perspective):
- I'm not glued anywhere in particular. I can even leave the body.
- The body moves by itself
- Sensations feel close if I happen to be near them. Thoughts and feelings seem like part of the body, and aren't any closer to me than other sensations are.
- Sensations happen to the body, not to me, but I can perceive them even more clearly than in Perspective 1.
- Concentration is less predictable, but requires no effort (because effort is something the body does)

Perspective 2 seems completely superior to Perspective 1 in every way. I feel more detached from my body, but I am also able to experience the body even more fully, so I don't see the disadvantage. I don't feel as stuck, as heavy, and as responsible for making sure the body does what it's supposed to do.

I've been flipping back and forth between these two perspectives over the past couple days. Most of my time is spent in Perspective 1, but sometimes I flip over spontaneously, and sometimes with some effort. I believe what triggered it was the decision to stop forcing my attention so much (itself prompted by the realization of how much frustration and physical discomfort that causes). Not sure exactly how to explain it. This ground is certainly not new intellectually, but this experience is a bit more tangible somehow.

---

Meditation last night was a little freaky. I swear I heard a creak in the floor next to me and had a vision of a murderer behind me. It took all of my strength not to open my eyes and look. I got chills through my body several times. I was meditating as the sun was setting, and as the darkness became apparent, I was really creeped out. There was no light in my vision, just really profound blackness. It did not help that I was home alone last night. I noticed wanting to do things that would reassure myself, but I thought "This is just what the body does when it's afraid. It's fine to experience it." Later that night, as I lay in bed, I heard extremely realistic sounds which I am certain were only inside my head, and started imagining really scary things.

---

No fear this morning. Concentration was all over the place. I have not been able to complete a body scan for a couple days now. I can barely stay with the breath. This doesn't bother me. I have a better sense of how fragile concentration is. My intuition tells me that I will need to go back to the beginning and learn anew how to concentrate on the breath, and how to scan the body, now that I have released some of this weight. I have very little desire to move, and the body mostly disappears. I see a great deal of light. Towards the end, there were waves of pleasure running through my body.

I am thinking about the recent Culadasa podcast, where he talks about "dullness". I am a bit worried that perhaps I am cultivating dullness now. Meditation has always been so difficult, and then it became easy (but I could concentrate even better...I felt like a highly-disciplined soldier...I could just "force" it, and it would work). Now, I seem to have slipped into a point where I just don't freaking care about the concentration as much as I did in the past, because I am more interested in exploring the nature of sensation itself. Is this somehow hedonistic or avoidant?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/23/18 9:58 AM as a reply to spatial.
There were times when I felt that the things mind was doing meant it was just toying with me - showing me illusions of different types, making me believe stuff was present that wasn't, performing tricks that were meant to show me how little control I had over it, and how ridiculously fast it could process and present information. This was all normal stuff but at the time it was freaky! These things still happen on occasion, too.

You're moving right along, spatial.

... I am more interested in exploring the nature of sensation itself. Is this somehow hedonistic or avoidant?

There's nothing at all wrong with this. Knowing the nature of sensation itself called "wisdom."


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/25/18 10:02 AM as a reply to spatial.
If I detach my "self" from my "body" too much, I go into this weird place where thoughts become very fragmented. It is like when I'm starting to wake up or fall asleep, perhaps like sleep paralysis. I see things and hear sounds, but nothing is really connected.

If I keep letting go, I feel like I fall asleep for an instant, and get startled by that and wake up. Or, maybe I'm not really falling asleep, but just going far enough that I get startled. I'm not sure exactly how to deal with this, because I feel that the desire to avoid this makes it harder for me to let go. Do I actually need to let go more? I feel like there should be a way to somehow maintain consciousness but also let go of the body entirely. What is going on here? Am I falling asleep, or am I just dissolving enough to the point where my mind scrambles to put itself back together?

Sounds of my girlfriend making breakfast in the other room really annoyed me. Every time I would get deeper into meditation, I would hear something, and it would startle me. I think the issue is that my field of awareness is not broad enough. Those moments are a good time to realize that.

I just cannot complete a body scan. I completely lose my place and get lost in thought. I'm not sure if I should deliberately work on this, or just spend more time right now focusing on the breath. I seem to have no problem getting to the place where I can feel subtle sensations all around the body, and where body parts start disappearing, and where I see light, by trying to focus only on the breath. This previously required scanning the body. But you know, I also notice myself investigating other sensations too, even if I'm not "intending to".

---

I had sorta forgotten that when I was 13, I became interested in astral projection, read a book on the subject, and practiced the exercises quite a bit. I had one moment where I was lying on my bed and suddenly felt myself shoot up out of my body. It really surprised me, and I opened my eyes, and said to myself, "well, at least I know this stuff is real now!" I could never replicate that experience, and came to believe that had probably just fallen asleep and dreamed it. I think I might be rediscovering some of this territory.

---

As I was writing this, I closed my eyes and tried moving my consciousness out of my body and over to the air purifier. I think the startle responses can guide me a little bit. When I get startled, I think it means I was focused too much on one thing. The head and the chest need to be integrated. They are not separate things. As long as I insist on making them separate, sensations in one are going to make me freak out if they don't comport with the sensations in the other. This applies broadly.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/25/18 10:19 AM as a reply to spatial.
 I feel like there should be a way to somehow maintain consciousness but also let go of the body entirely.


I'm curious: Why are you trying to separate your mind from your body?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/25/18 10:34 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 I feel like there should be a way to somehow maintain consciousness but also let go of the body entirely.


I'm curious: Why are you trying to separate your mind from your body?


I realized that "concentration" comes with physical effort attached to it. If I want to focus on something, I have to moves my eyes in that direction, squint, slow down my breathing, etc. 

Then I realized that I don't have to do these things in order to perceive the sensation.

Then, I noticed that if I catch myself doing these things anyway, it freaks me out and I try hard to relax, and then get obsessed with that project.

Then, I realized that even if I do these things, I can still direct my attention (independently of where my eyes are pointing, whether or not I'm squinting, whether or not I'm freaking out about it, etc.). 

This seems to me like moving in the right direction, and that's what I'm calling "letting go of my body".

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/25/18 11:39 AM as a reply to spatial.
Ah, I misunderstood. It's about how you direct your attention. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/26/18 9:27 AM as a reply to spatial.
I don't know how to sit comfortably. I think that kneeling might be bad for my knees. Maybe it's possible to fix this with more flexibility in my legs, but it would be a process. There is no other position that is comfortable, either. I can feel subtle twisting in my knees no matter how I sit. I don't know if it's really harmful or if I'm just being paranoid about it.

So, halfway through my session this morning I decided to try standing. That actually seemed to go OK for maybe 10 minutes until I started to have what I think was a vasovagal reaction. I felt nauseous and began sweating. So, I lay down on the floor for the rest of the time (where I could then obsess over my neck and back).

I did have some good realization before my knees started bothering me, though. I was just noticing something about how much pressure I put on myself to meditate correctly, and how difficult it is to follow instructions, and bad it feels when I realize I'm not following instructions, and how none of that has to interfere with my focus on the breath. I'm repeating myself, because I've said this kind of thing many times before, but somehow I keep rediscovering it on deeper and deeper levels almost everyday.

Sometimes I have the sense that I'm not actually discovering anything new, but just going over the same ground. Maybe the illusion is that the discovery I made yesterday should still be active today, just because I remember having made it.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/26/18 4:37 PM as a reply to spatial.
Hi spatial,

The cushion is very important, you have to try what's the best height for you, I use this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015NV34OO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Patience.. It took me 2.5 years to get the full lotus position (and I'm not 100% comfortable!), starting slowly from burnese, then quarter, half and finally the full:
https://zmc.org/zazen

Hatha yoga flow is an excellent complement, it's good for elongations and at same time as a pre-meditation:
https://ar.pinterest.com/pin/132645151505436685/

A time lapse of 15-20min is good enough (for slowing down thinking and balance energy)  before shamatha practice. You can do it by yourself in your house (there are ton of videos on youtube).
This is a good way to start:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9bAXk5VEQI

Add to the yoga this stretching exercise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnUluhSXx6w

If you can spend some money buy a good mat:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000DZFXZ?aaxitk=uh216XJUZWKnSTL1vZD8Rg&pd_rd_i=B0000DZFXZ&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=3930100107420870094&pf_rd_s=desktop-sx-top-slot&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_i=manduka&hsa_cr_id=8269001310101

and don't forget to enjoyyyy the process!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/27/18 8:53 AM as a reply to spatial.
Whatever stage I'm in now is certainly weird.

The past week or so has been fairly difficult. It's like I've realized that there's actually a fair amount of concentration and perception that can be attained through force, but if I actually want to expose myself to the experience of being me, it's quite unpleasant. There's a ton of noise in my head that just isn't going away, large amounts of shame, restlessness, panic, etc. Maybe I'm exaggerating... who knows.

I think a lot of my current worries about posture are due to the fact that I have a retreat coming up in 4 weeks and I feel pressure to find a sustainable seated posture before then.

Found more ways to let go today. "Eye of the Tiger" started playing in my mind again. I stopped resisting. I started moving to the beat.

I noticed my attempts to adjust my posture, to get more comfortable and prevent injury. I just let myself do them.

I noticed the urgency I felt to take this seriously. Whatever. The breath will still be here when I'm ready for it.

Things got really noisy (in terms of thoughts, music, movements, flickering of my attention back and forth, physical sensations...sometimes almost dream-like thoughts where I really feel like I'm having an actual experience). I don't think I have to do anything about any of this.

I almost started laughing at one point, because it felt like such a release. Then, I started worrying that I was getting attached to feelings of release. So sue me...

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/27/18 9:04 AM as a reply to Nicolas G..
Nicolas G.,

Thanks for the links! I do yoga, but I am just so inflexible that I think it will take a long time to make big changes in how I am able to sit. I can't imagine how I would ever be able to get into lotus position. I can't even find a comfortable way to do Burmese. I'm interested to watch that Gary Weber video.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/27/18 9:06 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
Different from the framework I'm working with now, which involves trying to cultivate stable attention. I'm sure I'll eventually come right back to this approach of just letting be and dropping techniques.  

It seems that I keep going back and forth between these. Maybe that's what has to happen. I'm not sure.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/30/18 10:04 AM as a reply to spatial.
I think the Goenka technique is pretty brilliant, actually. Nonetheless, with an ADHD brain like mine, it is difficult to master. So, I make my own modifications to it.

Teachers freak out when I say stuff like this. I can understand where they are coming from, but I also think they are not used to dealing with students like me. They are used to students who will take what they say literally, without trying to understand the rationale behind it, and thus feel responsible for keeping the student on track. They are used to students who, when faced with discouraging thoughts, will make a big deal out of it and possibly quit. I am accustomed to looking at my discouraging thoughts, and I don't have a problem experiencing them without trying to eliminate them.

I probably come off as arrogant by writing this. I just don't know how else to say it.

---

I had greater concentration this morning. I was able to complete several body scans without getting distracted. My body did not dissolve as much as it often does. Maybe it started to towards the end.

What does "body dissolving" even mean? Sometimes I literally feel like my body is dissolving. Sometimes I'm just not thinking about the body. Sometimes I examine a body part and find that it's just not a solid entity, but I never noticed it disappearing; I just see that it's not quite connected.

I had a strong sense yesterday that I could see chains of thoughts. I would notice something, and then it would trigger a thought, and then that would trigger another thought, etc. Like a rock skipping over a pond. I can feel the process of myself getting distracted and lost in thought. It doesn't just happen suddenly.

I have a lot of skepticism about the stages of insight. What are these stages all about? How can you be in one particular stage over the course of days or weeks or years? Are they not moment-to-moment experiences? If I don't have a flexible body, and I try meditating starting in an uncomfortable position, I'm not going to be in any of the "pleasant" stages, regardless of how well my meditation is going looking at the week as a whole.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/30/18 10:18 AM as a reply to spatial.
Are they not moment-to-moment experiences?

In my story of being alive, everything is a moment to moment experience.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/30/18 4:23 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Are they not moment-to-moment experiences?

In my story of being alive, everything is a moment to moment experience.
Well, take for example the stage of "being 20 years old". It lasts for one year. It really has nothing at all to do with your experience, actually, but more to do with how much time has elapsed since a specific event (your birth). 

This is sounding too philosophical. Maybe it's not very helpful right now for me to be reading about stages of insight. It's just too confusing. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
6/30/18 5:07 PM as a reply to spatial.
Well, take for example the stage of "being 20 years old". It lasts for one year. It really has nothing at all to do with your experience, actually, but more to do with how much time has elapsed since a specific event (your birth). 

I'd argue that the experience of "being 20 years old" is a construct and it's actually only experienced from moment to moment as it arises in your mind from time to time. You don't go through that entire year holding the concept of being 20 years old in your mind, do you? Not only that, but you're only really 20 years old for a nano-second, and then you're more than 20 years old. We artificially carve things up into what we think are long lasting, even seemingly permanent concepts, when our actual experience is something quite fleeting

I think of the stages of insight like things we experience while driving along a road. They're experiences we have along the way. Being at any particular stage is sort of like saying "I'm in Kansas." Kansas is a concept, too. A place on a geographical or road map. A stage of insight is a "place" on a map of insight experiences.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
7/3/18 5:33 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I think of the stages of insight like things we experience while driving along a road. They're experiences we have along the way. Being at any particular stage is sort of like saying "I'm in Kansas." Kansas is a concept, too. A place on a geographical or road map. A stage of insight is a "place" on a map of insight experiences.

Yeah, something like crossing the A&P for the first time can almost literally feel like this. You have this amazing experience with all of these fireworks. You say to yourself, "OK, I've really arrived. My effort and maybe even my good karma have led me somewhere." You think you're enlightened, but suddenly it's slipping through your fingers, fading, fading. It's like you've rounded a bend. That whole A&P thing is in the rearview mirror. You thought you had stopped but you never really did. You were driving the whole time.   

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
7/5/18 11:16 AM as a reply to spatial.
What I'm writing may be a bit scattered. I just wanted to get my thoughts out. Here is what I have been experimenting with in terms of vipassana technique:

For each body part:
- Do I feel sensation here?
- If yes, move on to the next one.
- If no, there are three options:
a) keep asking the question until something appears or until a short period of time has passed
b) understand that any sensation I am currently feeling anywhere is the sensation in this body part, so move on when I notice anything
c) when something else appears, acknowledge it and continue trying to observe sensation in the current body part

I've been experimenting with all three of these. Not sure how different they are from each other.

I've been experimenting with the following ways of scanning the body:

1. Moving my attention fluidly from top to bottom.
2. One large part at a time (top of head, face, neck, torso, back, arms, etc.)
3. One small part at a time (very top of my head, front part of the top, forehead, eyes, etc)
4. Moving through the whole body in one breath.

Not sure if I should be more systematic, or keep experimenting like this. I'm not really seeing the disadvantage of experimenting.

---

I've also been experimenting with sitting in the Burmese position. I am not really flexible enough for this to be comfortable. I got the cushion recommended by Nicolas G. I think it is still hard to sit high enough. I got into a comfortable, stable position once, and even took a picture of it, but I can't seem to find it again. I am just going to keep experimenting. It's hard to meditate when I can't sit comfortably, so you could just say I should use a chair, but a) my feet start to fall asleep after an hour of sitting in a chair, and my back gets tired, and b) I think it's worth spending the time trying to figure this out, especially in the 3 weeks I have before my retreat. I can meditate while I am adjusting my posture, too.

---

I've noticed a progression of mental states. I'm not claiming these correspond exactly to stages of insight, but it is a progression I have noticed several times. I might need to perceive more nuance.

1. Trying to sit comfortably. Trying to get straight in my head about how I'm going to do the meditation today.
2. Realize that all I need to do is observe physical sensation.
3. Everything feels solid, but whenever I spend more than a moment looking at something, I can perceive subtle vibration in it.
4. I see faint or bright white light. Body parts begin to dissolve. Cool sensations on my skin, entire body buzzing, have a sense that some things are solid, but they don't stay solid when I actually bring my attention to them
5. Shivers occasionally through my body, horrifying images, sense of danger. Have a sense that I really *want* to experience negative things, because it makes me feel more alive.
6. Visual field suddenly stops being pleasant. Patterns appear chaotic and *very close to me*. Have the sense that it is really dangerous for me to let myself get absorbed into them. I lose the sense of anything specific that is threatening me...it's all very vague.

Going from 1 to 2 to 3 is very easy if I am seated comfortably, difficult if I am tired or worried about my knees or whatever. Going from 3 to 4 seems to be just a matter of staying in 3 for long enough. 4 to 5 is less predictable...it *seems* to require letting go of the vague pleasantness of 4, and deliberately broadening my attention to include *everything*.

The transition from 5 to 6 happened only twice, during one sit a couple days ago. It happened once, I noticed it, and then I went back to 5. I decided to try for 6 again, and was successful, so that's why I'm writing about it. Going from 5 to 6 seems to require letting go of the fun of 5, and observing that there is an observer separate from the one who is observing the sensations of 5.

Most of the time, when I am seated comfortably, I end up in stage 4 and stay there for the rest of the time.

This is a broad description of my experience. There are also progressions I have noticed relating to:
- speed of vibrations
- visual field
- width of attention
- stability of attention
- contents of my mind
- sense of being "here"
- sense of being "awake, conscious"

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
7/10/18 9:48 AM as a reply to spatial.
I've been meditating in a chair over the past couple days. Maybe I'll get used to it.

There seem to be 3 modes I can be in regarding concentration:

1. Able to keep my attention in one place with no real distractions coming up.
2. Distractions arise, but I can pretty easily notice them and still keep my attention where I want it.
3. Distractions arise, and they pull me away, and I can't seem to remember what to do about them, and I get completely lost.

I don't know what causes one or the other. Today was mostly in mode 2. I feel in control when this happens. It seems easy.

---

My meditation today was simply watching the breath at the nostrils. I'm not really sure why this is not a complete vipassana technique. The breath does not solidify when I do this. I go deeper and deeper, noticing more and more aspects of it. As I do this, distractions arise, and they begin to de-solidify as well, as I bring my attention back to the breath. Everything is constantly changing. I'm not really sure how I can stare at a single object for any length of time without this happening. So, why is anything else needed? Can't you develop equanimity simply by watching the breath?

Any other vipassana technique (including the Goenka technique) has a certain amount of stress to it, because it requires remembering what "instructions" I'm trying to follow. I am wondering if my attraction to simple investigation of the breath is representative of some avoidance on my part, which may be preventing me from going further.

So, I could spend more time with the Goenka technique, exploring that discomfort, but I know it will cause me to get lost in thought and worry. Is it worth deliberately exposing myself to that, or should I stay in a place where I know I can observe a greater amount of physical sensation?

I am pretty sure I witnessed the transition from stage 5 to 6 that I mentioned in a previous post. However, there were no terrifying images in stage 5. I felt myself go from the warm pleasant feeling of stage 4, to the more "real", disconcerting feelings of stage 5. Then, at some point, my visual field got really close to me. It's hard to describe all of this. I will just explore it more, and hopefully the lines will become clearer.

---

My biggest doubt seems to be related to the fact that what I feel "works" for me is not the same as the way teachers and books describe it. Am I limiting myself by doing it my own way, or is this just a difference of language?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
7/10/18 10:07 AM as a reply to spatial.
Can't you develop equanimity simply by watching the breath?

You can. That's what I did - watch my breath as it entered and left my nostrils. My version of this is that you can get through all the insight stages by using just this one method, and with any object.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
7/16/18 9:00 AM as a reply to spatial.
I have the feeling that if I could track what stages I am in better, I could know how to modify my technique to progress at any given moment. I have recognized many times that certain things seem to work at certain times and not at others. It's all very confusing, though. I'm going through the same circles over and over.

I wish I could track the order in which events occur during a session. In an attempt at trying, I noticed the following things this morning, in roughly the following order:

Tried to find comfortable position
Tried to allow breathing to govern my posture
Stressed out that I couldn't concentrate
Decided to focus on breath despite whatever was going on
Started trying to figure out why I couldn't see that earlier
Felt a lot of pressure to be still, conflict between that and the knowledge that I could focus on breath even while moving
Noticed how breath can dissolve other things

Sometimes I think about running an audio recorder while I meditate, and calling out events as they happen, so I can analyze later.

---

I had the sense a few days ago that I had this concentration thing figured out. Here are my thoughts:

There are two types of effort:

Effort 1: the effort of trying to focus on something
Effort 2: the effort of trying to take the attention away from something

I think Effort 1 is the one that needs to be exercised. Effort 2 completely gets in the way.

When the mind wanders, dial up Effort 1 and dial down Effort 2.

The object is to have a steady stream of Effort 1, a constant pressure.

The trap is to think that when the mind wanders, you should dial up both, but that doesn't work.

When there is too much noise in your head to really have a steady sense of the breath, dial up Effort 1. Really push. This is not about letting go. It's about digging in.

If you think there's only one kind of effort, it will only work half the time.

Now, I think there's another way of looking at it, which is that Effort 2 is really of the same substance as Effort 1, and that when you try to take your mind off of something, it is equivalent to trying to put it on "not that thing." So, then you have a conflict between on "breath" and on "not the distraction". So, you are really splitting your attention. Better to keep it entirely on the breath

---

After I realized this, concentration was easier for a while. I seem to have lost touch with it a bit, though, and I'm not sure why. I wonder if this way of looking at it only works when I'm in a certain stage. Or, maybe it's still working, and I'm just taking it for granted. Oh well.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
8/29/18 8:58 AM as a reply to spatial.
I tried a little bit of an experiment this morning. I said, "what would happen if I just try to power through everything with intense, exclusive focus on the breath, even after the point where it feels impossible?"

This led to interesting results. First, it is more possible than I thought it was. That doesn't mean it was always possible, just that it's possible right now. I think there is no sense in evaluating success based on what percentage of time is spent observing the breath. If the attention keeps returning, even if it takes 30 minutes, it's still a success, because it's a first approximation. The mind seems to consist of nothing more than cycles. There's no real continuity.

At one point, the distractions became so intensely uncomfortable. A few processes were quite apparent:
- The sense of failure
- The sense of frustration
- The checking to make sure that I was *really* aware of the breath
- The sense of having the attention glued to the breath
- The feeling of apprehension at the idea of letting go of checking

I could feel these in my body (I suspect that if I had tried this type of manipulation back when I could not feel these types of sensations, things would not have gone so well).

So, I decided to try letting go of the checking, and just glue my attention to the breath, trusting that it will work. Is this any different from "let the attention wander to wherever it wants to go, and just wait for it to return to the breath" or "forget about the breath completely and just observe"? Not sure. But, I also think it may be a good idea to try experimenting with all of these different permutations, because they do all represent different threads in my mind, anyway, and it may be useful to investigate all of them.

This seemed to lead to greater awareness of some things:

- I had a song stuck in my head, and I could see it clearly: the cycles of attention, the sensations in my body, the way it simplified and disappeared entirely as I became aware of these processes.

- I felt like I had a very great sensitivity to exactly where every subtle emotion was located in my body. Every time I felt like I was doing it wrong, or afraid that I was straining my back, or happy that I was feeling peace, it was pretty easy to feel the corresponding physical sensations.

I have a sense at this point that there is no real way for me to do any of this wrong.

I just want to make note of a phenomenon that I have observed many times:

I believe this is when I transition from DN to EQ. Things are a bit hectic, and then seem to calm down. Then, there is a bright flickering light, a sense of anticipation, and a feeling like someone just opened a huge window to give me a panoramic view of the whole landscape. It's always very disconcerting, because what leads up to it is a lot of work on letting go of things, and then when it happens, I feel an intense need to make sure it goes well, which then makes me feel I have just failed completely at letting go... As the meditation continues, I generally pass through several more of those transitions, and I notice that I start craving them, but I guess that's just more stuff to watch.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
8/30/18 4:58 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:


I have a lot of skepticism about the stages of insight. What are these stages all about? How can you be in one particular stage over the course of days or weeks or years? Are they not moment-to-moment experiences? If I don't have a flexible body, and I try meditating starting in an uncomfortable position, I'm not going to be in any of the "pleasant" stages, regardless of how well my meditation is going looking at the week as a whole.


I do shikantanza and recently went thru misery, disgust, desire for deliverance,  Re -Obeservation and EQ  in a very sequential way.


Tought it only applied to vipassana meditation.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
8/30/18 5:23 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
I wish I could track the order in which events occur during a session. 
Jason Siff's approach to this is kind of interesting. I've meaning to get back to it myself (haven't journaled any sits for weeks now, in part because I've been slammed at work but also out of laziness).

You might already be aware of Siff's approach, but the idea is to finish a sit and then immediately journal whatever you can remember, using zero Buddhist jargon, maps, etc., but instead just writing about your direct experience. Part of the idea is that, if you do this right away, you'll often get a sense that you're recording a lot of stuff that otherwise would have been forgotten. 

He talks about it here... https://soundcloud.com/jason-siff/why-recollect

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/1/18 8:25 AM as a reply to spatial.
Morning of 8/30 (Didn't feel like writing in complete paragraphs):

Maddening

Right leg falling asleep
Shifting positions

Shifting is an opportunity to watch breath

Breath is used to dissolve objects

Stick with whatever comes up
Try to see the breath through it

Oscillations
Was trying to get rid of them
Then tried sticking with them

Had the sense that if I just had enough time, I could get somewhere

Irritation when bells go off

Skipped metta
Feels like a distraction from vipassana

Can one get enlightened through metta?

Calmness and peace in visual field towards the end

Alternating between:
- I need more peace so that I can deal with individual oscillations
- it doesn't really matter how much is going on, because what I'm really training myself to do is dis-identify from it.

The moment of realizing that the attention is not on the breath needs to be rewarding.
- let myself get distracted
- let myself return to physical sensation whenever it happens
This is all relatively pleasant stuff

Is this different from encouraging psychological breakdown? What's the alternative?

- try to keep things calm

What leads to real breakdowns?

Insight from the other night:
- it is fine to observe any behavior of mine
- it is all conditioned
- it is all loops and cycles
- even if it feels like a one-off thing, it is still a cycle
- so, absolutely anything I observe is getting my foot in the door

There are patches of stuff around my body.
They can be observed as large areas simultaneously
They need to be unified

The object is to find blind spots where the breath isn't being perceived. These are good things to find, and should be rewarded. If I feel stressed when it happens, that is the result of some other weird conditioning, and it should be observed as any other sensation.

Solid objects:
- don't try to break them down
- instead, let the attention stick to them, and also simultaneously perceive the quality of vibrating objects
- if the solid objects break down on their own, great, and if not, no big deal, because the attention remains tuned to subtle sensation
- it's not the strategy of "breaking down object" that is the problem, but rather the way it causes me to rapidly shift gears.

Anxiety about not being able to remember exactly what happened during the session
While sitting, I kept thinking about how I would report
Impossible to separate my insights from my experiences from my interpretations and evaluations
I think I'll just write whatever and see what happens

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/1/18 8:25 AM as a reply to spatial.
Last night was horrible. It was just complete hell with no break. Probably because I sat with my right leg in front of the left (I've been alternating every day because I want to make my hip flexibility more symmetrical).

---

This morning was probably the easiest Re-observation yet. After last night, I spent some time reading the sections on Re-observation and Equanimity in MCTB2. This gave me some inspiration.

A few thoughts as a result:

- There's no need to be a hero, and try to sit with absolutely every single vibration. Aim for the ones that are fast and irritating.
- The ones around the edge of the object, and the ones "here" as opposed to "there", are particularly interesting.
- The slow and irritating ones should not be sat with. I think they are the ones that lead to the truly awful experiences.

I don't know how to put this into words, exactly, but I have for a while been struggling with what to do with the immense mental and physical pain that occurs here. Up until now, my only two options have been:

1. Sit with it and observe it
2. Let it tell me what to do, and observe that

I don't think either of these is wrong. My observations lately have been that both are fine in that they both lead to greater awareness. But, Option 1 has the downside that it leads to discouragement over time. Option 2 leads to doubt. There is a third option, though:

3. Notice how much it hurts. Notice how much that sucks. Notice how much more it hurts than other parts of my body do.

This seems to change things in a subtle way, that lead much faster to EQ without compounding problems.

A lot of these slow painful vibrations can be eliminated by a simple shift in posture, actually. It is incredible to realize how that feeling of complete hopelessness toward life seems to be nothing more than a twisted feeling in my abdomen resulting from constricted breathing. So many of the fast irritating vibrations are just the result of my reactions to that one sensation. However, it is impossible to realize this while following the slow vibrations, since they do crazy things to my attention. It is thus necessary to observe something faster, from a more stable place. That is my current interpretation, anyway.

---

I wonder if DN and EQ are basically presenting me with the same problem: how to observe what is without adding to it.

In EQ, I noticed myself trying hard to label exactly what I just experienced. I think this isn't necessary. It's enough to simply observe it. Words are not needed here. Understanding is not needed. It's all there, right in front of me.

It's just really irritating when the bell goes off and I'm still working! (Ha...I remember a time when I was so happy to hear that sound.)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/1/18 8:29 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
spatial:
I wish I could track the order in which events occur during a session. 
Jason Siff's approach to this is kind of interesting. I've meaning to get back to it myself (haven't journaled any sits for weeks now, in part because I've been slammed at work but also out of laziness).

You might already be aware of Siff's approach, but the idea is to finish a sit and then immediately journal whatever you can remember, using zero Buddhist jargon, maps, etc., but instead just writing about your direct experience. Part of the idea is that, if you do this right away, you'll often get a sense that you're recording a lot of stuff that otherwise would have been forgotten. 

He talks about it here... https://soundcloud.com/jason-siff/why-recollect
No, I'm not familiar with his approach. Thanks for the link, I will check it out! 

In my first out of two entries today, I tried doing that a bit. Just writing down whatever I remembered, without interpretation. For some reason, the thought of doing that fills me with a lot of hesitation and doubt. Almost anger, actually. Reminds me of my childhood, somehow. Probably worth investigating.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/2/18 1:07 PM as a reply to spatial.
For the last couple days, the predominant feeling in meditation has been that my attention is being pulled constantly from one spot to another. This is no longer a painful experience. I feel sensations of pressure and tingling throughout my body that seem to correspond with the moving attention.

My mind is interested in questions (and the sensations provoked by them) such as:
- How do I know I'm here and not there?
- How many different things are going on right now?
- How do I know they are different things?

It seems to have been very fruitful (although not fruition-producing...) to say "I resolve to have a fruition" at the beginning of my sit, and then just sit back and watch things unfold. It seems to relieve me of any responsibility to do anything except watch.

I have sensations of peace, and at times apprehension. 

I find it interesting and easy to examine my senses one at a time and see what they are experiencing.

My vision often has a warm glow. Things seem more symmetrical and closer to me.

There is a knot of tension in my head that moves around a bit, seeming to correspond to my attention. There is a knot of tension in my abdomen that seems to correspond to "emotions". 

I have much more sensation in the back of my head, neck, and back.

Over the past couple days, I have had the feeling of being pulled into meditation a few times, just in my daily life. It's like little things that come up, movements others make, etc., trigger waves of sensation in my body, and I am fascinated by observing those sensations. 

Here's a fear that has come up many times: Suppose I do enough practice, and eventually all of this novelty of hyper-awareness wears off, am I just going to go back to feeling like I did before I ever started meditating, with the sense that I am not aware of anything at all? Maybe it's better to prolong this excitement as much as possible...

I believe this fear is holding me back to some degree (and I have the sense that if I wanted to, I could just investigate all of the sensations around all of the complex emotions here, but I don't want to, because I don't want it to change me....)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/6/18 9:22 AM as a reply to spatial.
This morning:

Pulsating waves of blackness in my vision

Feeling of excitement

Sense that there were many thousands of things going on, I couldn't remember them all, but it felt like I was observing them.

A lot of agitation for the first half hour.

Intense pain in my legs and hips.
Noticed that if I slowed down and zoomed in with my mind, I could sit with it.
Reality feels very thick
The thinness is what seems to cause suffering

---

Last night, had the sense that attention either contains "something" or "nothing", and either way, it's basically the same thing. Rejection of this fact is what causes frustration with attention. If there is "something", then you can observe that something, and if there's nothing, then you are free to observe whatever is NOT in attention.

Last night was hell, though. It felt like I unlocked another level of awareness (I'm telling you, zooming in hard on the nostril area has a tendency to do this), and a ton more stuff came to the surface.

Part of me reacts with absolute existential dread at this. But part of me says "been there, done that" and just doesn't take it too seriously. It's just a change in the atmosphere.

Spent a long time trying to simply observe sensation. Wanted it to go away so badly. Tried to feel that wanting. It's hard when the attention is "empty". It makes things feel really hopeless. But I think it eventually worked itself out.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/7/18 8:51 AM as a reply to spatial.
The last couple days have been very difficult. I think there was some new territory this morning, however.

Had a sense that there are "big pains" and "little pains".

The big pains are the ones that cause me to worry that I am injuring myself. They generate streams of thoughts. The sensations can be investigated, around the edges. Don't try to attack them all at once.

The little pains are the maddening ones, because they come and go before I can do anything about them. They seem to correspond to tiny thoughts. I think nothing can be done about these at all. Just investigate sensation in general, and hope that they work themselves out, I guess?

For the first time today, I think I really had a clear sense that I was actually seeing the "end of phenomena". At some point, I became aware of a thought, and saw that it was about to end. I then saw that as the thought vanished, sensation took its place. I saw that I could orient my mind towards this process, and from that point on, I felt like I could clear see sensations arise, thoughts arise, thoughts pass away, sensations pass away, in that order. I was even able to apply this manner of investigation to this thought process itself. This was very freeing.

I think the trick is not to argue with thoughts, and not to "put up" with sensations, and not to manipulate the attention in any way. The trick is only to get to the point where thoughts and sensations can be perceived individually, rather than feeling like thoughts trigger more thoughts.

I feel like I understand why it's called "awakening". There is definitely a sense of waking up from a dream. But is there an end to this? Am I just going to keep waking up more and more and more? Will I ever feel awake? (Did I feel this once before?)

The mind is like a TV, switching rapidly between channels (sometimes once every few seconds, sometimes once every 10 minutes, sometimes several times per second). Each channel is its own unique reality, with its own rules. The goal seems to be to blend them all into one reality. Should this be done by:

1. Feeling the dissonances between the different channels, trying to forge a new channel that resolves those dissonances?
2. Resolving the dissonances within each individual channel, and worry about unification later? If the mind is switching slowly, this seems like probably the better strategy, but maybe it works even in the faster cases.

I don't think I have fully mastered the transition from Re-observation to Equanimity. I think that will be the key to the whole thing. I have a list of techniques that seemed miraculous when I discovered them, but for some weird reason I always find myself in situations where they don't seem to work.

I feel like I have so much psychological garbage that I've accumulated over the years. It is very painful trying to work through it. Meditation seems to be doing the trick, however. But it's slow and makes me hate the world.

This is all speculation, but is it not worth capturing? I can just list more physical sensations that I experienced, but will that give any clear sense of what's going on? It might help me, though.

In no particular order:

Tingling sensations inside my mouth and throat. The clarity of these is a bit new.
Pressure in head
Throbbing and tingling in face
Burning in hips
Pains have fluctuating shapes, hard to describe
Center of chest has a sensitive knot that corresponds with most negative emotions

Waves of blackness
Pleasant glow
Steady vibration at perhaps 5 Hz (seem to be developing an aversion to this)
Areas of whiteness in my vision, for brief moments

Warm feelings on face after pleasant thoughts disappear
Thoughts stick around for several seconds. I don't always have the sense that they are vibrating like sensations do. But they aren't solid.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/7/18 8:58 AM as a reply to spatial.
"The little pains are the maddening ones, because they come and go before I can do anything about them. "

Don't worry about things that come and go. Just notice that they do, that's it. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/10/18 2:54 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
"The little pains are the maddening ones, because they come and go before I can do anything about them. "

Don't worry about things that come and go. Just notice that they do, that's it. 

Thank you.

I'm noticing small tensions that are related to the sense that "I" have to do "something". Sometimes I get wrapped up in them, and then they turn into big painful tensions. But usually, they have been staying very small and subtle lately. I can feel them spread over large areas of my body, and feel like they are right on the surface, almost hard to see if I look directly at them. Or, they are tiny knots in the center of my body, in places I haven't really ever noticed sensation before. 

It feels like when I try too hard to grab onto things, it is easy to forget that I'm meditating, that I'm observing, and that I can observe the meditating and the observing. But, if I stay very light, then things can present themselves without me interfering. It's like I'm sitting there and things are brushing against me. I think this is the key to the whole thing. Just sit there with each moment that arises, and let its content bump against me as slightly as possible. Then, I can sit there and not get stuck to any of the walls of the rooms that are presenting themselves. It's like every single experience, every single observation, every single thought, etc. is its own universe. The struggle comes from trying to force these universes to be on the same wavelength as each other. It's better to just ride the waves and let the gear shifts happen with zero interference.

Occasionally, I notice something interesting (a thought, a sensation), and feel myself getting sucked into its universe. The background starts to disappear, and whatever I'm noticing gets *really* interesting, and it's almost like I enter into a dream about it (I experience rather non-sensical but life-like imagery). Then, I feel a vibration, a tiny sense of anticipation, a twitch in my body, and I'm suddenly back to a sense of spacious awareness. What is this? Is this progress? Is it the result of being too eager? Am I falling asleep briefly? I would love to investigate this event, but it happens so unpredictably and quickly that I can't seem to do that.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/10/18 7:26 PM as a reply to spatial.
"But, if I stay very light, then things can present themselves without me interfering. It's like I'm sitting there and things are brushing against me. I think this is the key to the whole thing. "

Yes, exactly right. This is the attitude that makes 5, 10, 15, 100 day retreats possible and all the insights that go along with it. A combination of intimacy (it touches) and equanimity (it slides off, it doesn't "stick", and now the next experience can brush against you).. Intimacy and equanimity. 

"Occasionally, I notice something interesting (a thought, a sensation), and feel myself getting sucked into its universe. The background starts to disappear, and whatever I'm noticing gets *really* interesting, and it's almost like I enter into a dream about it (I experience rather non-sensical but life-like imagery). Then, I feel a vibration, a tiny sense of anticipation, a twitch in my body, and I'm suddenly back to a sense of spacious awareness. What is this? Is this progress?"

Yes, I think so --- basically, you have to let your mind do these things while saying curious about it. It's progress when you can watch your mind go in an out of the trance, both being entranced but also being aware it is happening. That's a good sign of well-developed mindfulness. (Mindfulness is not being so ridgid and controlling that you never fall into trance --- that's a common mistake. What you want is the middle path between apathy and hyper-vigilence, right in the sweet spot.) 


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/11/18 8:24 AM as a reply to spatial.
Things felt very difficult this morning. Couldn't find a comfortable posture.

Noticed a few times:
  • Mind going in and out of trance.
  • Inability to focus on my intended object, and the resulting struggle.
  • Strong sensation of "my attention is empty, blank" (hard to describe what this felt like, but it was palpable).
  • Elaborate chains of cause and effect throughout my body and attention.
  • Felt a lack of control and completely scattered attention, but simultaneously felt that mindfulness was not a problem.
This is all very encouraging, even though this sit was highly unpleasant. Sitting for an hour in misery is not bothering me the way it used to. It feels like it's actually the gaps in my experience that cause the real suffering, and the more aware I am, even of pain, the more I am able to find a way to be with it.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/14/18 6:48 AM as a reply to spatial.
This desire to achieve a fruition is making me absolutely insane. It's a very slow, creeping form of insanity. More like a restlessness at the center of my being, which I keep bumping into every time I feel like I'm getting close. There were 3 hours of meditation yesterday, one hour spontaneously happening while sitting in the parking lot in my car after having the sudden thought that "I think I know how to do this". That has happened a few times recently.

5 months ago, I had no idea that enlightenment was a "real thing", and thus was not working towards any sort of goal. Was that a better situation? I don't think so.

I feel like I'm trying to build a car while driving it. I know how to focus on an object, and how to pick it apart into little pieces. I know how to let my attention wander freely and observe connections between things. I know how to see when I'm experiencing the five hindrances. There are no thoughts or emotions I am unwilling to sit with while meditating. I think that what I really need to do is get out of the way and trust that all of that stuff will work when it needs to.

So, that's what I did this morning. I sat down, pointed my attention at my nostrils, and just watched what happened for an hour.

It's really funny how all of the same stuff happens. I still obsess over my posture, still make the same adjustments, still feel the same vibrations and other sensations, still see the same things, still have the same thoughts about how I'm doing it wrong. Something is obviously different, though, because I don't have the same sense of being responsible for making sure it all happens.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/14/18 6:57 AM as a reply to spatial.
I think that what I really need to do is get out of the way and trust that all of that stuff will work when it needs to.

Major insight!


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/14/18 9:47 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I think that what I really need to do is get out of the way and trust that all of that stuff will work when it needs to.

Major insight!


+1

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/15/18 8:31 AM as a reply to spatial.
Thanks for the encouragement, guys!

I feel like in some sense, this insight has set me back. There has been a lot of pain and discomfort in my last two sits. It doesn't bother me as much, because I have a diminished sense of being involved in the whole thing. I can see my mind trying to work on the problem. I can see when strategies are working and when they aren't. Since "I" am not part of the process, it is up to "my mind" to find the right solutions, and sometimes I'm just sitting there marveling at how long it's taking. I think maybe this kind of cycle has to repeat over and over, until I finally shed enough weight to make it through. Not really sure. I keep going through the same terrority, but it's different every time. 

(Example: At the core of pain is that tiny tiny knot in the center of my body that seems to represent "I don't like this". I think maybe the shift into Equanimity happens when I can find that knot. Normally, I have gone looking for it myself, but now I'm not doing that. However, my mind did eventually stumble upon it this morning towards the end of my sit. Presumably, this is how it happened the first time I found it, since I certainly wasn't looking for it then...)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/15/18 10:32 AM as a reply to spatial.
Yeah, you can think of the entire process as an exercise in finding all those knots. They are at first big and obvious but they get more subtle and harder to find. The so-called last one is a "killer."

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/17/18 10:51 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
"But, if I stay very light, then things can present themselves without me interfering. It's like I'm sitting there and things are brushing against me. I think this is the key to the whole thing. "

Yes, exactly right. This is the attitude that makes 5, 10, 15, 100 day retreats possible and all the insights that go along with it. A combination of intimacy (it touches) and equanimity (it slides off, it doesn't "stick", and now the next experience can brush against you).. Intimacy and equanimity. 

"Occasionally, I notice something interesting (a thought, a sensation), and feel myself getting sucked into its universe. The background starts to disappear, and whatever I'm noticing gets *really* interesting, and it's almost like I enter into a dream about it (I experience rather non-sensical but life-like imagery). Then, I feel a vibration, a tiny sense of anticipation, a twitch in my body, and I'm suddenly back to a sense of spacious awareness. What is this? Is this progress?"

Yes, I think so --- basically, you have to let your mind do these things while saying curious about it. It's progress when you can watch your mind go in an out of the trance, both being entranced but also being aware it is happening. That's a good sign of well-developed mindfulness. (Mindfulness is not being so ridgid and controlling that you never fall into trance --- that's a common mistake. What you want is the middle path between apathy and hyper-vigilence, right in the sweet spot.) 



Great post Shargrol, answered some of my own questions.

Thanks

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/18/18 7:43 AM as a reply to spatial.
Here's where I am now. Maybe this stuff will only make sense to me:

The sensations are exactly where they are. There is no way to bring them closer. There is no need to chase them down. The chasing is what causes the misery. This requires letting go of the "certainty" that comes from really seeing things clearly.

The pain in my leg is in my leg, but the aversion to the pain is not in my leg. The urge to change my posture is not in my leg. If I think this is all in the leg, then I will search the leg for those sensations, and I will be thrown off balance.

Searching itself causes pain. It is in the center of my head. All mental activity seems to cause pain in this spot. It is very subtle, but it's there. When I keep my attention in this spot, interesting things happen.

Awareness needs to be as close to the self as possible. There is no sense in trying to figure out the whole universe from a distance. The further out I get, the further away I am getting from real reality, into a world that is constructed by the process of searching itself.

All of this, even though it seems obvious when I think about it, is exactly contrary to everyday intuition. So, it seems to take some coaxing for this perspective to emerge, each time I sit.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/18/18 1:58 PM as a reply to spatial.
Wow, that's truly impressive!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/27/18 8:42 AM as a reply to spatial.
I skimmed the section on the Seven Factors of Awakening in MCTB2. I think I need to work a bit on rapture and tranquility, perhaps.

I sat this morning, really trying to enjoy every single experience. It's probably possible, with practice. There is a lot more enjoyment to be found in the pain than I normally think there is.

Meditation for me these days seems to alternate between 1) extremely irritating, like I am barely holding on and trying desperately to figure out what I am doing wrong, in order to get the pain to go away so I can get on with the real work, and 2) being in a state of pleasant bliss, but with an undercurrent of impatience and urgency.

I'm repeating myself, but I'll say again: I think I can work more on letting go of the mindful investigation. My mind seems to do it automatically at this point, anyway. There is part of me that is extremely reluctant to do this, because I don't want to waste my time and daydream.

I feel like I have all the tools necessary, but it's just a matter of finding the right balance. I almost wish I had a teacher who could just tell me what to do at this point.

(Added: It's like, I don't need to go looking for pain. The pain is already there. The problem is not that I'm not aware of my experience, but rather that I am trying really hard to change that experience. I can see this happening. If the experience is stabilized in front of me, I naturally start investigating it. But sometimes I just think, "this can't be the one I'm looking for...I can't get enlightened unless I am in a more comfortable posture, or unless there is fluttering in my head, or unless there is a bright glow in my field of vision, or unless my back is straight, or unless I understand how that sick feeling in my stomach is connected to my frustration, or whatever. So, I try to change those things. I think if I work on enjoying them more instead, my natural investigation powers might then have a chance to work on them.)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/27/18 12:42 PM as a reply to spatial.
First disclosure: didn't read the whole practice log above, as time is somewhat limited due to other projects, but general advice:

People often go into meditation seeking stability, pleasure, peace, and an enhanced sense of self. Vipassana delivers instability, a knowledge of suffering, and a deconstruction of a coherent, separate, stable sense of self, so it is understandable when people run into a conflict between what they want and what they get.

Thus, it is very common for people to complain that they investigated and found instability and suffering. Yet, it is a mark of understanding, though convincing people of this is hard, as is convincing them that it can lead to something that is much better than their current way of viewing experience.

That restlessness, disgust with your experience, and desire for deliverance, and continued re-observation of that deep frustration regarding your experience are likely stage diagnostic. Standard advice applies.

It is common in stages such as these to try to circumvent these painful insights entirely through jhanas, which is not impossible, just quite difficult for most, as it typically requires a degree of concentration that most can't manage in daily life. If one can do this, such as simply passing through these stages in realms of fluxing complex sacred geometric images, it is possible to bypass much of the pain and difficulty. Still, that is rare air stuff, and most people find that, with reassurance that they are on the right track, they get through it just fine without having to resort to the time and resources it takes to cultivate that degree of concentration power, and it ends up being a lot faster and not as bad as they feared it would be. One of the messages that these stages can send is that things will always feel this way, which is not true.

I recommend you read Practical Insight Meditation, pages 29-32 or so, found here https://books.google.com/books?id=M2S-7-lWzHIC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hope that helps. Best wishes,

Daniel

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/28/18 8:52 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you for the advice, Daniel, and the link. It seems like there is a lot of good concrete advice in Mahasi's book, and I will have to read it more carefully. I am totally open to shattering any illusions I may hold about how this is supposed to go.

It is very interesting what you said about "Thus, it is very common for people to complain that they investigated and found instability and suffering." I wonder if that's what my complaints are, in general...

To me, the Dark Night feels like there are hundreds of tiny islands of stability, each a completely coherent reality. Each one contains suffering, yes, but suffering I can deal with. The speed, however, makes it impossible to find a coping strategy that works for more than one island at a time. So, the problem is that I am being pulled randomly and chaotically from one to the next (there is a lack of synchronization).

I feel like every time I end up in EQ for long enough, I eventually kick up another DN which takes several hours of meditation to clear up. And, I don't know how I do it. I feel like if I could somehow figure out how exactly to make this DN->EQ smooth, it would simplify my life a great deal. Does the fact that this happens mean that this isn't "real EQ", or that I am somehow screwing it up when I get there? Or, is this just the process I have to go through?

In DN, is the idea to:

- Simply wait it out?
- Feel the maximum possible discomfort?
- Feel the maximum possible comfort?
- Actively try to synchronize things?
- Allow my attention to be pulled wherever it goes and try to be present with all of it?
- Try to carve out a position of stability from which I can observe the chaos from a distance?
- Try to observe the chaos as being merely physical sensation?
- Observe how the fluttering in my head seems to correspond with other physical and mental agitation "elsewhere"?
- Observe how the islands of suffering are localized and have boundaries?
- Observe solid phenomena? Observe vibrating phenomena?
- Try to dis-identify with the whole process?

I feel like each of these strategies has worked at one time or another, which is why they are on the list. But, they seem contradictory. Of course, these descriptions are simply words, which can't fully capture the complexity of the actual experience.

Mahasi says to avoid changing posture. This is still a difficult concept for me. Even if I resolve to sit still, I find myself clenching my eyes, or leaning backwards, or starting to relax a muscle that does not need to be tight. Do I stop myself from doing these things? If I notice they are happening, do I let them happen? Do I just observe all of this and know that it is not "me" who's doing it? What's the purpose of the instruction to avoid changing posture? I often feel like instructions like this are simply encouraging me to hold on to my sense of self.

Sometimes, I get very solid pain, which seems more like Three Characteristics than Dark Night. Does this mean I am being kicked back in terms of progress? Is this just a natural purification process that I have to go through? Is it a result of choosing a bad posture for my inflexible body to begin with? Even if it's a "bad posture", does working through this help me build resilience that will benefit my meditation in the long run?

This morning something interesting happened, which may be useful. It occurred to me to observe the feeling of stability that I get from each of these islands, rather than the feeling of suffering. Then, it suddenly became obvious how transient the stability is. I also observed the feeling of stability I got every time I felt I happened to land on a good strategy for dealing with this, and the feeling of uneasiness that seems to underlie all of that. I think this might be a good direction to go in.

No pressure to answer all of my questions. I just wanted to get it all out of my mind and into words.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/29/18 7:55 AM as a reply to spatial.
I was reading through Mahasi's "Practical Insight Meditation", and was struck by the following:

"One must recognize the fact that cherishing an inclination towards such phenomena, like a brilliant light, etc., and being attached to them, is a wrong attitude. The correct response that is in conformity with the path of Insight is to notice these objects mindfully and with detachment until they disappear."

Specifically, the part about "until they disappear"...

I think that there has been a bias in my meditation toward investigating vibrating objects and ignoring solid objects. Whenever I encounter something solid, I do recognize it, but I tend to immediately try to get my attention off of it, in order to comprehend "more things". Perhaps this is why I feel like I am always jumping randomly around through the ñanas. I think this is unneccessary. It is possible to investigate both solid and vibrating objects simultaneously, as I have been proving to myself last night and this morning. This might be a game-changer.

When there was a glowing light, I noted "glowing" every couple seconds or so. And in between notings, I observed tons of other vibrations and a few other solid objects. And eventually the glowing did go away (and I was surprised to have a more evident knowing of its disappearance). This happened several times, and seemed to open up a few things. Last night, there were rather uncomfortable, but freeing, jolts of energy. I had trouble sleeping.

In any case, it's something new to add to my toolkit, so I will continue to investigate it.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/29/18 8:32 AM as a reply to spatial.
There's a story I remember from grade school about the way some people catch raccoons. The make a trap out of a bottle with a narrow neck, just big enough for a raccoon to slide its paw into. The raccoon grabs the bait inside the bottle and makes a fist. You can imagine the raccoon thinking, "Got it!" Once the animal has the bait in hand it's trapped because it won't let go, even to get free.

I think this works on raccoons using shiny objects , too. And, I know from my own meditation practice that it works with shiny human mental objects.

emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
9/30/18 4:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
There's a story I remember from grade school about the way some people catch raccoons. The make a trap out of a bottle with a narrow neck, just big enough for a raccoon to slide its paw into. The raccoon grabs the bait inside the bottle and makes a fist. You can imagine the raccoon thinking, "Got it!" Once the animal has the bait in hand it's trapped because it won't let go, even to get free.

I think this works on raccoons using shiny objects , too. And, I know from my own meditation practice that it works with shiny human mental objects.

emoticon
Right! (It took me 3 hours of meditation to understand how this story is related to what I'm dealing with...)

Here are some observations from this afternoon, which I am writing down in order to hopefully prevent myself from repeatedly going off track again and again with these matters:

  • The point of noting is to develop sensitivity to notice without noting. So, there's no sense in trying to note correctly.
  • If the object disappears, that's exactly what is supposed to happen. It doesn't mean I should go after it.
  • The recognition that the object has disappeared is itself an object that needs to be noticed.
  • The point of concentration here is to get the mind quiet enough so that I can easily notice the arising and passing away of objects. It is not to try to hold on to anything.
  • I am already aware of the objects in my awareness. I only need to notice the objects that present themselves automatically.
  • Solid objects, especially, are already in my awareness. The point is to understand my already-existing awareness of them. If they start becoming hazy, that is exactly the point.
  • I don't need to go looking for abstract objects like "balancing", "striving", "thinking", "sitting over here", etc. If I recognize them, they are already there. I only need to investigate what it means to already be aware of them.
  • Pain is fine if I'm willing to sit and investigate it, otherwise no.
  • Thoughts, especially, do not need to be chased and figured out. Either I'm aware of the thought, or I'm aware of some sensation, or I can just notice something I am aware of. It's all just about what's right here.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/2/18 8:18 AM as a reply to spatial.
Here's my latest stab at the Grand Unified Theory of Meditation.

There are two separate things that need to be practiced:

1. How to investigate the field of sensations.
2. How to let objects come and go in the field of sensations.

They need to be kept apart somehow, I think.

When a solid object appears, it should be investigated.
When that object starts to break apart, the breaking apart should be investigated.
When the objects disappears, rather than clinging to it and trying to make it reappear, the disappearance needs to be investigated.
When the object is gone and there is a feeling of loss or instability left in its place, those feelings need to be investigated (because they are new solid objects which have arisen).

When I'm just sitting, and don't have anything to investigate, don't try to go looking for something. Always investigate whatever is right there. The feeling of not having anything to investigate is a solid object.
When the mind wanders and then returns, don't try to "get back on task". The feeling of urgency is a solid object.
When the mind is agitated because it's too hard to get a handle on what's going on, don't try to get a handle on it.

This is all obvious, of course. Why does it feel like I keep rediscovering it?

So yeah, you need to "be mindful", and "let things happen", and "let things go". I think the misery happens when you see these as being contradictory, somehow. Or, when you think that only one of them is important, and prevent the others from happening.

This morning, it was rather interesting watching my failures to let things come and go. I try very hard to stabilize the resolution of my attention. There's no sense in this. Sometimes the attention is filled with solid objects, sometimes vibrating objects, sometimes streams of indiscriminate sensations, sometimes strong emotions, sometimes not much in particular, and sometimes transitions between these. It's about letting things be as they are. Not trying to recreate the past, or anticipate the future. Just like whatever they print on a Thich Nhat Hanh calendar.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/2/18 10:36 AM as a reply to spatial.
You're making me think of Kenneth Folk's take, pasted below. Don't know if you've ever seen it.

What he basically said elsewhere was that a person naturally starts shifting into Second Gear and Third Gear after realizing the limitations of First Gear. Seems to me that you're seeing these limitations very clearly, spatial. For example, knowing that the feeling that there's nothing to investigate is, itself, a solid object that can be investigated. Likewise, looking/investigating is, itself, an object (mind state). I guess the "surrender entirely" part comes in when a person finally groks that, as Kenneth put it, "none of this stuff works"? 

In my sit this morning things seemed to come to a place where it was clear that there was nothing to be done--just let it be. The visual field became very, very bright, flashing like a Humboldt squid, and then I fell asleep or became mired in dullness somehow. That's a big no-no in The Mind Illuminated world. A lot of 'shouldn't be' stuff there--'shouldn't be' forgetting the object, or succumbing to gross distraction, or resting in dullness while thinking it's a high state of clarity, etc. Hmmm...

Anyway, great couple of posts. I'm really appreciating these insights you're sharing. 

What would I say if I had just five minutes to give comprehensive instructions for awakening?

You are unenlightened to the extent that you are embedded in your experiences. You think that your experiences are you. You must dis-embed. Do that by taking each aspect of experience as object (looking at it and recognizing it) in a systematic way. Then, surrender entirely.

Do these practices, exactly as written:

First Gear:

1) Objectify body sensations. If you can name them, you aren’t embedded there. Notice sensations and note to yourself: “Pressure, tightness, tension, release, coolness, warmth, softness, hardness, tingling, itching, burning, stinging, pulsing, throbbing.” If I am looking at something, it is not “I”.

2) Objectify feeling-tone. Are sensations pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? If you can sit there for five minutes and note pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral every few seconds, you are not embedded at that layer of mind.

3) Objectify mind states. Investigation, curiosity, happiness, anxiety, amusement, sadness, joy, anger, frustration, annoyance, irritation, aversion, desire, disgust, fear, worry, calm, embarrassment, shame, self-pity, compassion, love, contentment, dullness, sleepiness, bliss, exhilaration, triumph, self-loathing. Name them and be free of them. These mind states are not “you;” we know this because if there is a “you” it is the one who is looking, not what is being looked at. Below, we will challenge the notion that there is any “you” at all.

4) Objectify thoughts. Categorize them: planning thought, anticipating thought, worrying thought, imaging thought, remembering thought, rehearsing thought, scenario spinning thought, fantasy thought, self-recrimination thought. Come up with your own vocabulary and see your thoughts as though they belong to someone else. The content of your thoughts is not relevant except to the extent that it helps you to label and therefore objectify them.

Second Gear:

5) Objectify the apparent subject. Who am “I”? Turn the light of attention back on itself. Who knows about this experience? Are you causing this experience in this moment? To whom is this happening?

Third Gear:

6) Surrender entirely. This moment is as it is, with or without your participation. This does not mean that you must be passive. Surrender also to activity.

May you awaken now. (If it takes you another twenty years it will have been worth every minute.)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/3/18 8:51 AM as a reply to spatial.
I feel like investigation is something that is done to the sensory field, not to objects. It seems like when I try to do it to objects, that's when I get stuck.

What's the difference between getting attached to an object (lost in a train of thought), and investigating that object? It's not the level of absorption. I think it's only question of whether or not I am investigating the sensory field at the same time as I'm being absorbed. It's tricky, because that train of thought can lead to other trains of thought, making me think I'm getting attached or losing focus. But I think that's the point. As long as the "investigation switch" is in the ON position, there's no issue.

I sat motionless for an hour, despite pain and numbness in my left leg. Not sure if that's safe, but I really wanted to test things out. I noticed those sensations, urges to move, thoughts of horrible consequences, fear, etc. Upon investigation, I saw chains of sensation leading through my body to my lips, where it melted away. It feels almost as if the pain in the leg is really the consequence of conditioning that has taught me not to move my lips. I think this is what "self-compassion" entails: following the pain until you can find that spot where you can simply hold it gently. Maybe an hour is too extreme (or maybe it will become easier with practice), but I think periods of strict motionlessness might be a good idea.

The front of the face gradually seemed to open up. My consciousness seemed to occupy more volume inside my head, rather than a single point. This sort of thing changes a lot. Then, I noticed that I was getting attached to trying to create sensation in my lips. No big deal.

What has been amazing over the past few days is the realization that (and you would think this should be obvious) I am already aware of the sensations I am experiencing. When I am feeling impatient, I don't need to ask "what does impatience feel like?" I already know the answer. It feels like *whatever is happening right now*. When I'm lying in bed and can't sleep, I don't need to wonder where the agitation is. The agitation is in the act of knowing that I am agitated. It is both frustrating and fascinating to watch myself struggle to look for more. I think this will open up doors as time goes on.

(Question of the day: is the process of awakening simply the process of disentangling eye movement from thinking?)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/3/18 9:14 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
You're making me think of Kenneth Folk's take, pasted below. Don't know if you've ever seen it.


I have seen it, yes, but it's nice to have a reminder. Thanks for sharing!


What he basically said elsewhere was that a person naturally starts shifting into Second Gear and Third Gear after realizing the limitations of First Gear. Seems to me that you're seeing these limitations very clearly, spatial. For example, knowing that the feeling that there's nothing to investigate is, itself, a solid object that can be investigated. Likewise, looking/investigating is, itself, an object (mind state). I guess the "surrender entirely" part comes in when a person finally groks that, as Kenneth put it, "none of this stuff works"? 


I also recall hearing him say in a podcast that he used to believe Third Gear was the one you should ultimately try to stay in, but that he no longer believes this, and that all three are valuable, even at the highest levels of practice. I find this very confusing at times, because I can see myself wanting to shift into all three gears, and seeing the limitations of all three. It would feel great if I could just find one and stick to it emoticon


In my sit this morning things seemed to come to a place where it was clear that there was nothing to be done--just let it be. The visual field became very, very bright, flashing like a Humboldt squid, and then I fell asleep or became mired in dullness somehow. That's a big no-no in The Mind Illuminated world. A lot of 'shouldn't be' stuff there--'shouldn't be' forgetting the object, or succumbing to gross distraction, or resting in dullness while thinking it's a high state of clarity, etc. Hmmm...


I think Culadasa's language sometimes comes off as being judgmental, especially if you're the type to be overly self-critical. That might just be a biased reading of the text, though.

There's a passage I like (Stage Two):

"The way to overcome mind-wandering is by training this unconscious process to make the discovery and bring it into consciousness sooner and more often. Yet, how do you train something that happens unconsciously? Simply take a moment to enjoy and appreciate “waking up” from mind-wandering. Savor the sense of being more fully conscious and present. Cherish your epiphany and encourage yourself to have more of them...

Also, avoid becoming annoyed or self-critical about mind-wandering. It doesn’t matter that your mind wandered. What’s important is that you realized it. To become annoyed or self-critical in the “aha!” moment will slow down your progress. You can’t scold the mind into changing, especially when dealing with entrenched mental patterns like forgetting and mind-wandering. Even worse, the negative feedback will get associated with the most recent event: the spontaneous arising of introspective awareness, and you’ll end up discouraging the very process that stops mind-wandering. It’s like telling your unconscious you don’t want to have the mind-wandering interrupted..."

To me, the implication of this is that rather than viewing hindrances as being obstacles to avoid, they should actually be actively encouraged and rewarded. You need to investigate them, after all, if you are going to overcome them. As he says, what you are really trying to reward is the introspective awareness (the part of you that says "damn it, my mind wandered again!"), so even though it's painful at first, you want to encourage that event to happen over and over.

There are people for whom "insight" meditation is not about exploring their actual experience, but rather about solving their psychological problems. They maybe need to be reminded that mind-wandering is a sign that they are doing something wrong (because they probably don't understand that the idea is to look at the thoughts themselves, rather than get absorbed in the content). I don't get the sense that you are one of those people.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/4/18 4:59 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
What has been amazing over the past few days is the realization that (and you would think this should be obvious) I am already aware of the sensations I am experiencing. When I am feeling impatient, I don't need to ask "what does impatience feel like?" I already know the answer. It feels like *whatever is happening right now*. 


Yesterday, as I was driving to the meditation group, I decided to goof around: "OK, I'll keep noting until I get there." It was about a 20 minute drive. So it was "seeing, hearing, touching, pressing, aching," etc. 
These were all echoes, though. They were after the fact. So when my mind would flash into an imagined scene for a second, I'd find myself wanting to note "remembering imagining thought." The remembering of the imagining thought was a little closer to what had happened--what Culadasa would call introspective awareness had, on its own, noticed that the mind had flashed into the imagined scene; then attention returned to the intended investigation (noting), which led to the labeling and categorizing of what had occurred, by now, in the relatively distant past. 

I think Kenneth Folk would probably say that when we're deeply embedded in conventional, conditioned experience, this kind of "brute force" (his term) noting can help us get some space around all of that. But the approach that you're describing seems much more conducive to flow.

I guess the question I have is, "How important is it to know, categorize, understand, analyze what's going on?" This is what we think of as mindfulness but it's a process that always seems to lead to an infinite regress or a feeling of trying to paint yourself into a corner, isn't it? Again I think of Sayadaw U Tejaniya who will clap his hands sharply and say "OK, note that," the point being that the phenomenon has long since passed. 

Maybe I need to see what it would be like to really only notice and watch, to drop all of the labeling. But what exactly is investigation, then? How active should it be? 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/4/18 5:05 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
There's a passage I like (Stage Two):

"The way to overcome mind-wandering is by training this unconscious process to make the discovery and bring it into consciousness sooner and more often. Yet, how do you train something that happens unconsciously? Simply take a moment to enjoy and appreciate “waking up” from mind-wandering. Savor the sense of being more fully conscious and present. Cherish your epiphany and encourage yourself to have more of them...

Also, avoid becoming annoyed or self-critical about mind-wandering. It doesn’t matter that your mind wandered. What’s important is that you realized it. To become annoyed or self-critical in the “aha!” moment will slow down your progress. You can’t scold the mind into changing, especially when dealing with entrenched mental patterns like forgetting and mind-wandering. Even worse, the negative feedback will get associated with the most recent event: the spontaneous arising of introspective awareness, and you’ll end up discouraging the very process that stops mind-wandering. It’s like telling your unconscious you don’t want to have the mind-wandering interrupted..."

To me, the implication of this is that rather than viewing hindrances as being obstacles to avoid, they should actually be actively encouraged and rewarded. You need to investigate them, after all, if you are going to overcome them. As he says, what you are really trying to reward is the introspective awareness (the part of you that says "damn it, my mind wandered again!"), so even though it's painful at first, you want to encourage that event to happen over and over.

There are people for whom "insight" meditation is not about exploring their actual experience, but rather about solving their psychological problems. They maybe need to be reminded that mind-wandering is a sign that they are doing something wrong (because they probably don't understand that the idea is to look at the thoughts themselves, rather than get absorbed in the content). I don't get the sense that you are one of those people.
Thanks for that. Yeah, the 'shoulds' are coming from a certain meditator, not the book, eh? If you go on Reddit for The Mind Illuminated there are dozens of posts (including some from me) either questioning or railing against Culadasa's approach as the instigator of over-striving, and yet all the cautions and caveats are there from the very beginning. Obviously, the same kind of dynamic can be at work in other forms of practice.

With respect to getting absorbed in content--I've definitely got a few subminds that are down with that! :-D  

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/12/18 8:58 AM as a reply to spatial.
I have been playing around with the Goenka body scan again. I think it works well when I avoid getting attached to the contents of my attention. If I intend to focus on the top of my head, and nothing appears, I just stay with the experience, whatever it is. Then, I move onto another part. Sometimes, I deliberately look for blank areas.

Deliberately looking for blank areas seems to work well no matter what kind of meditation I'm doing. That feeling of blankness tempts me to freak out about my mind-wandering, but I think that's something I need to explore.

When I experience anything and don't seem to have a good handle on what it is, I am finding it helpful to just move slower. Move my body slower, move my attention slower, everything. This seems to make it easier to tune into whatever is motivating the movement in the first place.

The moments where I "wake up" from thoughts are extremely important, I think. They need to be explored and appreciated as much as possible. There is a tendency to be a little disturbed in those moments, either because I feel like I let my mind wander, or because it feels like my meditation was just interrupted. They need to be understood as they are, without trying to shape them into something I would like them to be.

It seems extremely productive to pay attention to the sensations of attention itself.

Also trying to explore any sense of wanting to feel "grounded", and any discomfort at being "ungrounded". 

Still feels like I am alternating between Dark Night and Equanimity every few days. Or, maybe I'm just misdiagnosing myself altogether.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/17/18 8:48 AM as a reply to spatial.
My sits have been filled with a great deal of equanimity for the past week or so, which is perhaps a new record. I think I'm on to something here.

This morning, I spent a lot of time observing sensations of attention. When my mind wandered, I observed what it felt like to:

- be in the wandered state
- let the attention slip away from the nostrils and to whatever it wanted to wander to
- bring the attention back to the nostrils

I was able to track these sensations over large parts of my body, often feeling them as movements inside my head, and occasionally as tensions within a tiny point in the middle of my head.

I was motionless for the whole hour, and yet it was remarkable how much movement I felt in the middle of my head. I suspect that this movement is going on constantly throughout my day, but I normally don't notice it, because my body is moving so much.

(is this just movement of the eyes...?)

Towards the end of the hour, I started feeling pain in my left leg. The equanimity started to diminish a bit, but I managed to stay mindful to a much greater degree than usual. Eventually the pain went away.

It is so important to remember that there is literally nothing that does not involve sensation. The sensations need to be perceived. The mind tries to hide this from me. Even when I pause to think for a second about what I'm typing, my attention travels 1000 miles away, and that can be perceived as an enormous movement in the center of my head, if I just tune into it. 

I've also been having a few interesting insights relating to my real life. I have become much more perceptive of my need for approval, and the mechanisms behind procrastination. 

I keep having this recurring fear that if I somehow manage to get to the center of all of this, that I will "disappear" or perhaps die. It is a very intense fear, but it only lasts for a brief instant, and only surfaces rarely. It is as if I am finding a great deal of comfort in movement, and the meditation is inviting me to stop moving, so what will happen if I just....stop....? (like a wind-up toy)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/17/18 1:23 PM as a reply to spatial.
Good practice! 

(You won't die. Whatever disappears wasn't you in the first place.)

Best wishes!!

RE: spatial's practice log
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10/17/18 2:52 PM as a reply to spatial.
Fantastic post. You are finding out for yourself, investigating your own way. It really highlights the difference between a question like "Am I following the technique correctly?" or "What about [such-and-such] related to stream entry?" versus "What's actually going on here? How does my mind actually work?" Sincerity and depth of investigation. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/19/18 9:20 AM as a reply to spatial.
Thanks guys for the encouragement! It is great to have a community like this where I can share these kinds of things. This isn't exactly the kind of topic I can discuss with most people I know...

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Wow, this morning was really interesting. I had 3 "insights", the first happening right as I sat down.

Insight 1: IT'S NOT ABOUT KEEPING THE ATTENTION ON THE BREATH. It's about noticing how the attention goes away from the breath, and about how it comes back to the breath. (nothing new here, but for some reason it really hit me this morning)

The mind constructs stable states such as:

A. I am focusing on the breath and feeling the sensations at the nostrils.
B. I am hearing the air purifier over there, and I am sitting over here.
C. I am really feeling a sense that this meditation is going well, and I'm having all these great insights.
D. If I could just figure out how to really nail this, my life will be so great.
E. Oh no, I'm losing it...I'm not being mindful right now.
F. There is a fluttering in my head, sensation in my leg, a sense of energy in my spine.

and so on...

Each and every one of these is stable and comforting, in the sense that I am attracted to it. I can alternate quickly between them, based on whatever stimulus appears. Every single time when the attention suddenly appears to jump is an opportunity to comprehend more of my experience.

I start at A, and then suddenly I'm at B. My task is to notice how I got from A to B. So, go back to A, gently. The mind then pulls me back to B. No problem, go back to A, gently. Notice the rapid alternation between A and B.

Great, I can see how the mind constructs these states! Then, I started stressing out about how I'm getting stuck in my head, trying to interpret my experiences.

Insight 2: There's no problem at all. I don't need to see how the mind constructs these states, to "interpret" my experiences. If I simply tune into the alternation on at the level of sensation, it is just a physical tension. Just like my body pressing against the cushion.

Now, that is interesting. Mental tensions are now just physical objects in the environment...

So, I let that sink in a bit more. At some point, I was left with:

A. Sensations at the nostrils.
B. Practically everything else.

Insight 3: There is a tension between "here" and "not here".

I had the sense that I could really viscerally feel this tension. Between me and my environment. Between the spot at my nostrils and everything else that I thought was real. And I could feel the alternation between those realities, as physical tension. At one point, I felt myself suspending on the cushion in a state of what felt like pure tension. And it didn't bother me. I'm trying really hard to put this all into words, but it's tricky. I think I'm probably abbreviating this for the sake of writing it down.

I don't think my sense of "not here" is complete yet, and I don't think my sense of "here" is small enough. But, I think this is the direction to explore.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/26/18 9:12 AM as a reply to spatial.
The theme for this morning's practice was learning to find the pleasure in every experience.

Every once in a while, there is a sense of disappointment and frustration that things aren't progressing well or fast enough. I realized I could tune my attention to those sensations. Then, there is space to be found in them, and pleasure.

There are places of uncertainty and ungroundedness, which I tend to avoid. When I locate them, and make a deliberate effort to reside in them, weird things start happening.

It seems useful to deliberately tune to:

- Impatience, frustration, failure
- Instability
- Movement
- Dissatisfaction

It seems that the point here is not to change or understand "experience" in any way, but rather to learn to tune the mind. I think this is at the heart of the paradox of "effort vs. letting go". The effort that derails practice seems to be effort directed at the outside world, in an inefficient, futile manner. The effort that works seems to be effort directed only at the functioning of the mind (treating all outside experience as simply "data").

At one point, I noticed I was falling deep into a trance, and I noticed my mind reacting (somewhat violently) and pulling me out of the hole. "Pulling out" was clearly observed as being a sensation of moving from the center of my head towards my nostrils.

I set an intention to observe whenever this happens. I caught a few of them, and gradually, my sense of location settled further back into my head, and I felt the front of my face "seal up", and I could watch the sensation of breath at the nostrils without actually "going there". This lasted a number of minutes.

I am constantly reminding myself that the point is to learn to be OK with this moment right here. I seem to rediscover this point on deeper and deeper levels every time I practice. I feel like I reach a place of deep equanimity only when I have about 5 minutes left on the timer. One hour certainly feels different than it used to! I sometimes have the urge to just sit down and anounce "I am not standing up until I've got this all sorted out." It almost feels like that could be possible.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
10/26/18 9:25 AM as a reply to spatial.
Excellent report!

RE: spatial's practice log
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10/26/18 10:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Excellent report!
Indeed. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/1/18 8:43 AM as a reply to spatial.
There appear to be only two moves I can make in this game:

1. Direct the attention somewhere. (without expectation of results)
2. Watch what happens. (again, without expectation)

I get the sense that a lot of struggle is the result of trying to do more than this.

This morning felt particularly easy. It's like the mind is a spinning top. I can spin it, and I can watch where it goes. When I'm noticing it is veering off course, I can gently try to spin it again, but the timing has to be right.

I think this is about rhythm, and resonance.

I tried directing the attention to the nostrils. And then watched what happened as sensations cascaded through the body. Then, directed to the nostrils again. And let it cascade again. Every in-breath, and every out-breath. The trick seems to be allowing whatever happens during the "cascade" phase to just come and go, and then being willing to simply drop it when it's time for the next breath.

The problem is that what comes up can be extremely disturbing. When it is seductive enough to make me forget completely about the "directing", then the whole system goes out of whack and into a feedback loop. But, I've gotten really good over the past few weeks at dropping things before that happens. One big shock I had a few weeks ago, which I am still learning how to get used to, is the idea that I can strongly direct the attention, even when the mind is completely unstable (I don't have to wait for feedback that it "worked"). 

It seems to be basically a matter of increasing the resolution. When the attention starts at the nostrils, and then proceeds to cascade away, the more clearly a chain of reactions can be perceived which links back to the nostrils, the easier it is to drop whatever comes up.

When I sat down this morning, my resolution was "try to observe whatever comes up, as it comes up, in real time." This seems to have made things work nicely.

What is bothering me right now is: Why is it that every time I meditate, I have the sense that either a) I have suddenly, for the very first time, stumbled upon the right way to do this, or b) I was mistaken this whole time and actually nothing is working? And then when I write about it, I know that whatever I'm writing is just another way of phrasing something I've written before. Somehow, I feel like I'm being led in circles, and I have no idea why I can't see this clearly.

RE: spatial's practice log
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11/1/18 8:52 AM as a reply to spatial.
Nice, spatial!

What does it mean to "direct my attention?" This is a serious question about the mind. How does that process play out?

Somehow, I feel like I'm being led in circles, and I have no idea why I can't see this clearly.

What is leading you in circles and what's doing the following?


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RE: spatial's practice log
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11/1/18 9:47 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Nice, spatial!

What does it mean to "direct my attention?" This is a serious question about the mind. How does that process play out?

Somehow, I feel like I'm being led in circles, and I have no idea why I can't see this clearly.

What is leading you in circles and what's doing the following?


emoticon


Those are very interesting questions. I will explore them a bit and get back to you!

RE: spatial's practice log
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11/2/18 8:19 AM as a reply to spatial.
I had an insight right away when I started this morning: "Directing the attention" is an instantaneous action. It happens, and then immediately I'm no longer doing it. There's no sense in trying to hold on.

So, I spent almost the whole hour simply observing. I had a lot of curiosity around observing:

- What happens as attention is directed
- What happens right before attention is directed
- What makes up the whole process of what I tend to identify as "directing the attention", but is really a lot of clinging and effort around trying to make it happen
- What it feels like to observe directing
- What it feels like to observe observing
- Trying to really slow down these processes so that I can see every little detail
- Sensations that make up "I need to observe right now"
- Sensations that make up "I need to direct right now"
- Sensations that make up "I shouldn't move too much or I will ruin my concentration"
- Sensations that make up "That sound over there is ruining my concentration"
- Sensations that make up "My attention is empty, and I need to fill it with something"

and probably a few others.

Almost no pain in the body the whole time. It's remarkable that when I really tune into the moment-to-moment sensations like this, the pain goes away, and my body isn't even stiff after sitting completely still for an hour.

I had the sense at times that there is no attention. Attention is merely what it feels like to move the muscles in such a way that the mind is encouraged to generate certain objects.

I had the sense a couple times that there is no awareness. Awareness is merely what it feels like to have the mind generate a certain object based on what the senses happen to be firing at that particular moment.

Not sure if that's obvious or just my intellectual interpretation of what I experienced this morning. But, it seemed somehow simpler than it usually does, so I'll go with it for now.

I had approximately one second of "real equanimity", where I didn't feel any need to do anything. Then, it disappeared.

Despite all of this deep stuff, there is still the constant worry about whether or not I'm sitting up straight, and the recognition that I am putting too much effort into maintaining my posture. I'm not sure if I should deliberately try to find a more comfortable way to sit (things have definitely gotten a lot more comfortable already...), or just continue to observe all the sensations around that issue. Sometimes, there is the sense that "I'm being too stubborn and this would all go faster if I just gave in to what I know my body needs".

Last night, while sitting, there was a moment of intense fear, accompanied by a horrifying image of a decapitated body hitting the floor in front of me. I had a strong intense of wanting to just quit meditation altogether, because of how disturbing that was. It only lasted for a brief period, though, and I found it interesting to observe how those reactions played out.

RE: spatial's practice log
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11/2/18 9:00 AM as a reply to spatial.
I had the sense at times that there is no attention. Attention is merely what it feels like to move the muscles in such a way that the mind is encouraged to generate certain objects.

I had the sense a couple times that there is no awareness. Awareness is merely what it feels like to have the mind generate a certain object based on what the senses happen to be firing at that particular moment.

Worthy of continued investigation.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/3/18 8:56 AM as a reply to spatial.
A little more than a couple years ago, I had this amazing insight that taught me something about the true nature of things. Despite all my ups and downs since then, it convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that meditation is a path worth following. If I had not had that insight, I don't know where I would possibly find the faith necessary to keep trudging through this BS.

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I think that what I referred to in previous posts as "universes" or "islands of stability" are possibly what Daniel calls "formations" in MCTB.

This experience was prevalent this morning. I think it is necessary to really be with each and every one of them. There's no need to hurry on to the next one. The following pattern seems to repeat itself:
  1. Resolve to watching what happens
  2. Get really frustrated that I can't seem to get a handle on things
  3. Notice that the experience of being frustrated is a complete universe, in the present moment, complete with a sense of body and sense of location, etc.
  4. Notice that this universe is incomplete, in the sense that it doesn't include certain aspects of body, location, etc.
  5. Notice that the next experience is more complete in some ways, and less complete in others.
  6. Notice that my attention has shifted to a higher resolution (because I can see this universe-shifts one-by-one), and that the frustration now is object rather than subject, and that I'm back on the right track.
  7. Resolve to watching each universe as it presents itself.
  8. Eventually, the universes start to coalesce, and moment-to-moment I have a more unified sense of body, etc., and feel like I'm regressing (because not as much is "happening").
I think that maybe this is not a sign of regression, but rather a sign of progress.

It's ironic that I get upset when not enough is happening, but I also get upset when so much is happening that I can't keep up with it. It's like I have a sense of what "perfect meditation" feels like, and I keep searching for that. Then, when I realize this, I get upset that I am craving some specific sensation...

RE: spatial's practice log
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11/10/18 9:08 AM as a reply to spatial.
To sum up what has happened over the past week:

- I made a resolution to simply refuse to chase sensations. That is, I resolved to observe whatever was happening here, and if I noticed myself trying to go "over there", to just find something about my present experience here to focus on instead. This opened up a bunch of new stuff.

- 1 or 2 days later, inspired by one of shargrol's posts, I started focusing on making my mind more "slippery", by focusing more on sensations of pleasure and ease. This proved very fruitful for several days. I was feeling very grounded in equanimity, able to see both the positive and negative aspects of my experiences without reacting much. My zeal for enlightenment considerably lessened. My body awareness and sense of connectivity throughout my spine has been increasing. I'm noticing subtle muscle tensions in my daily life much more (I think because I have tuned in more to the feeling of relief that comes from letting go of them). I suspect that I had trained myself to a certain degree to focus more on suffering and to deliberately block out observations of pleasure ("corruptions of insight"???).

- Last night, I had some great insights into how to balance my practice, and I was feeling extremely equanimous. Later in the evening, I had to speak unexpectedly in front of a large audience, introducing a show. While I was sitting through the show, I was extremely embarrassed about what I had said, and about how awkward I must have looked and sounded. I could feel waves of sensation running through my body this whole time, and I made every effort to experience them without defense. This lasted at least an hour.

---

My sit this morning was difficult emotionally. The first half hour was basically a loop of all the people in my life, thinking about how none of them understand me, or how they are taking advantage of me. There was a lot of anger, loneliness, and agitation. 

I did, however, manage to unstick myself quite a bit. At some point, I began noticing sensations behind all of these thoughts (tension in my head, sick feelings in my stomach, stiffness in my neck).

I noticed how much I want a feeling of stability. I think I need to just give in to this. Both the feeling of needing it, and also the feeling of letting it slip away. I've noticed that over the past several months, my thoughts have seemed more "fragmented". That is, I will have some train of thought, and then suddenly it will disappear, and I will frustrate myself trying to recreate it. I'm encouraged that I have become more aware of when this happens, and of my mind's reaction to it, and of the possibility of simply dropping it whenever it happens.

I've been having a harder time replying to emails and texts, I think because really, I don't actually care as much as I thought I did. The feeling of desperate panic over needing to be liked by everyone is not as strong as it once was, and I suspect that this feeling is what motivated a lot of my "keeping it together". Lately, I have been getting more and more glimpses of how easy and exciting my life could be, if I listened more to my immediate experience.

I really do hope I am making progress and heading somewhere. I can easily see how this sort of thing could be destabilizing and really mess up someone's life, and why a long retreat is perhaps a safer environment in which to do serious practice. However, I think I'm over the worst part of all of it, because I am generally pretty good at disengaging from content (and getting faster at it), no matter how intense the content is. But for brief moments, sometimes that content can be very discouraging.

RE: spatial's practice log
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11/10/18 10:44 AM as a reply to spatial.
I vote "progress." It's damned hard to find our way to living right now and right here. It's a long road to the effective dropping away of the chatter that we want to listen to because, well, we might otherwise die!


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RE: spatial's practice log
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11/13/18 10:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I vote "progress." It's damned hard to find our way to living right now and right here. It's a long road to the effective dropping away of the chatter that we want to listen to because, well, we might otherwise die!


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This seems to be the issue...wanting to listen to that chatter...

---

I was listening to a Joseph Goldstein podcast last night, and he referred to a mantra: "Already aware". This seemed to have done something beneficial for my practice last night, as I sat for an additional 45 minutes past my intended 1 hour.

The tightness in my head has been moving and shifting more. I'm feeling it more on the top and back of my head, both places where there was little sensation before.

I noticed that I tend to have a habit of striving to release the pressure that builds up in my eyes. I experimented with refraining from doing this, and I think it was fruitful. There is a common pattern:

1. I get absorbed in some object
2. I suddenly snap out of it and realize that there is pressure in my eyes
3. I adjust my attention to relieve the pressure
4. I get frustrated that I wasn't mindful of what was going on during the absorption

So, I experimented with allowing the pressure to continue. I think this had the effect of actually keeping me absorbed. I think what is happening is that I am actually pulling myself away from the object, because it doesn't feel "right" to me. I think the "snapping out of it" is only the shift from being caught in the mental content, to seeing the mental content as object itself. Not sure.

---

This morning, I was very aware of sensations of attention. It's like there's a camera in my head, and I am pointing it at different objects. Sometimes, the camera lands on an object, and can follow it for a good period of time. Other times, many objects pass in front of the camera, and it can't lock on to anything. But, the camera is still a solid object, either way. I've had glimpses of this perspective before, but it really seemed strong today. I tried playing around with turning the camera on itself, which is definitely possible, but I ran out of time before anything terribly interesting happened.

There is a nagging issue: am I supposed to let myself get totally absorbed in whatever I'm "looking" at? How is this mindfulness? While standing in line at Starbucks, I played around with this. I let myself stare at something, noticed the urge to stop staring, and then asked "what is this force that is pulling me away from this object?"

What is stopping me from being enlightened? Is it possible that it is simply the fact that I don't let myself get fully absorbed?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/13/18 12:26 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:

I let myself stare at something, noticed the urge to stop staring, and then asked "what is this force that is pulling me away from this object?"

What is stopping me from being enlightened? Is it possible that it is simply the fact that I don't let myself get fully absorbed?

I think I might know what you're talking about here. It is a very powerful force at times. Someone on the forum quoted a great Krishnamurti line the other day: "At first the little girl sees the bird. We teach her the word 'bird.' After that, she sees only the concept."

Staring, looking, listening, paying full attention until the conceptual filters start to fall away...it might not be the whole shebang but it's certainly part of the awakening picture. But at times it's like the whole system resists that breakthrough. 

The pat evolutionary answer is that we have to constantly scan for threats or else it would be Om Mani Padme 'Chomp'! and we'd get eaten by Tigers, etc. 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/13/18 1:41 PM as a reply to spatial.
What is stopping me from being enlightened? Is it possible that it is simply the fact that I don't let myself get fully absorbed?

One quick comment, continuing with your camera metaphor-- your "camera" is still a solid object. There is no such thing. You're conceiving of it that way from life-long habit. Trying to turn the camera on itself will very likely lead to new insights. You may also want to think about what that camera actually is as you conceive of it. A camera requires an operator, right?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/13/18 2:09 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
This morning, I was very aware of sensations of attention. It's like there's a camera in my head, and I am pointing it at different objects. Sometimes, the camera lands on an object, and can follow it for a good period of time. Other times, many objects pass in front of the camera, and it can't lock on to anything. But, the camera is still a solid object, either way. I've had glimpses of this perspective before, but it really seemed strong today. I tried playing around with turning the camera on itself, which is definitely possible, but I ran out of time before anything terribly interesting happened.

There is a nagging issue: am I supposed to let myself get totally absorbed in whatever I'm "looking" at? How is this mindfulness? While standing in line at Starbucks, I played around with this. I let myself stare at something, noticed the urge to stop staring, and then asked "what is this force that is pulling me away from this object?"


For this sort of territory, I found Douglas Harding/Richard Lang's "Headless Way" experiments to be a fun little practice. I occasionally tack on one of the experiments to the end of a sit to see what happens.

http://www.headless.org/experiments.htm

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/13/18 4:57 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
What is stopping me from being enlightened? Is it possible that it is simply the fact that I don't let myself get fully absorbed?

One quick comment, continuing with your camera metaphor-- your "camera" is still a solid object. There is no such thing. You're conceiving of it that way from life-long habit. Trying to turn the camera on itself will very likely lead to new insights. You may also want to think about what that camera actually is as you conceive of it. A camera requires an operator, right?

Oh yes, I understand that there is no such thing. Let me try to be clearer about what I experienced. It's as if, when I focus my attention on something, I can feel the muscles in my face contract into a certain configuration. Normally, when my attention then focuses on something else, I can feel the muscles reconfigure.

This morning, however, I had the distinct sense that the muscles stayed exactly where they were, even though I was no longer "aware" of the object that I had initially focused on. So, it was like I was still pointing my attention at something, even though that something wasn't there. This is why I say that the "camera" (the act of pointing, itself) felt like a solid object. 

If I hear a sound on my left, I feel myself focusing on it. If the sound stops, I can feel myself continuing to focus where it was. If I then hear a sound on my right, I can choose to either focus on my right, or leave everything where it was, and continue to focus on the left.

This is new, somehow. Before, I would have said "When I hear a sound on my left, I can feel myself focusing on it, and when a sound appears on the right, I can feel myself moving over to the right." As if the sound is what caused the movement, rather than the movement being independent of the sound.

I need to play around with this some more...

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/14/18 9:34 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:

The pat evolutionary answer is that we have to constantly scan for threats or else it would be Om Mani Padme 'Chomp'! and we'd get eaten by Tigers, etc. 


I think this may actually be a useful way to think of it, since then "scanning" can be recognized, without having to deal with each individual threat. Thanks!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/14/18 9:37 AM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:
spatial:
This morning, I was very aware of sensations of attention. It's like there's a camera in my head, and I am pointing it at different objects. Sometimes, the camera lands on an object, and can follow it for a good period of time. Other times, many objects pass in front of the camera, and it can't lock on to anything. But, the camera is still a solid object, either way. I've had glimpses of this perspective before, but it really seemed strong today. I tried playing around with turning the camera on itself, which is definitely possible, but I ran out of time before anything terribly interesting happened.

There is a nagging issue: am I supposed to let myself get totally absorbed in whatever I'm "looking" at? How is this mindfulness? While standing in line at Starbucks, I played around with this. I let myself stare at something, noticed the urge to stop staring, and then asked "what is this force that is pulling me away from this object?"


For this sort of territory, I found Douglas Harding/Richard Lang's "Headless Way" experiments to be a fun little practice. I occasionally tack on one of the experiments to the end of a sit to see what happens.

http://www.headless.org/experiments.htm

Thanks for the link! Those look like very interesting exercises to add some variety.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/15/18 7:14 AM as a reply to spatial.
 As if the sound is what caused the movement, rather than the movement being independent of the sound.

Truly independent? If the sound doesn't cause the re-focusing of attention (movement) then what does? This is a great thing to investigate as it is key to the process of dependent origination. It seems to me from observation and investigation that attention is far, far less subject to will and intent than we habitually assume. In many ways, it's the perfect object of meditative investigation (after a certain point in our practice) because it's so intricate and so, so hard to pin down.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/16/18 8:36 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 As if the sound is what caused the movement, rather than the movement being independent of the sound.

Truly independent? If the sound doesn't cause the re-focusing of attention (movement) then what does? This is a great thing to investigate as it is key to the process of dependent origination. It seems to me from observation and investigation that attention is far, far less subject to will and intent than we habitually assume. In many ways, it's the perfect object of meditative investigation (after a certain point in our practice) because it's so intricate and so, so hard to pin down.
I think what I'm trying to say is that the reason I even notice the sound is because my attention is already configured in the direction of the sound, ready to receive whatever is there. I don't know to what extent this is completely true, but it does seem like the first hint of a sound causes me to "move" in that direction, making further perception of the sound easier. So, even though the sound might initiate the process, it's not pulling me along the whole way. I don't mean it in the sense of "will" exactly, but rather that the attention is controlled more by internal forces than external.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/16/18 8:37 AM as a reply to spatial.
I've been meditating a lot (too much?) over the past couple days. 4 hours the day before yesterday, and 5 hours yesterday. Last night was very interesting. I have been having the sense that

- The mind goes where it wants to go, and I am able to follow
- I can reside in the flickering of reality for longer periods of time without getting too excited
- At one point, for about 5-10 seconds, I had a strong sense that my experience was completely "flat". That is, no sensation was closer or farther away, or more or less important. It was all just one thing happening at a time. This got me excited, and I quickly lost it.

---

Every time I find myself in Equanimity for too long, I end up kicking myself back into the Dark Night (I'm using these terms loosely, I'm trying not to be too attached to any specific way of mapping my progress, but this seems useful for now).

Until yesterday, this seemed to be a random process that was totally out of view. But, I think I'm starting to understand it better now. I am applying too much energy. I'm trying to investigate too much. There is a difference between "being with what is there" and "trying to uncover more". I need to be much more gentle with myself. Otherwise, I create feedback loops.

I'm afraid of "being lazy", or "not following directions", or "not trying hard enough", or "solidifying jhanas", or whatever. And then when I push more, I'm afraid of "not being in the present moment", or "trying too hard", or "being too goal-oriented". So, there's no way out of any of that.

This morning, my sit was about observing whatever suffering was there. There's a ton of it. There is minor physical pain, worries about practically everything in my life, embarrassing memories, eagerness to be enlightened, etc. It's just a constant stream of it.

I felt like what I needed to do was tune my mind to observe the arising of this suffering. "Whatever is subject to origination is subject to cessation." These words have been echoing in my head a lot lately. When you observe the arising of an object, you attune to it on a not-quite-solid level. I think this skill needs to be practiced.

Most of the time, when I observed the arising of suffering, it either went away, or I was able to sit with it in equanimity for a good period of time. The trick seems to be accepting the fact that these objects are not always "clear", but that the fact that I am aware I am suffering is already enough awareness.

At one point, I came to a very raw core of suffering somewhere in my torso that wouldn't go away. The question arose "What do you need?", hoping for an answer. I'm not sure if I got an answer, but I feel like this suffering eventually went up my spine into my head, where it seemed to be able to take more control of my consciousness.

---

So, I have no clue why I write any of this stuff. My fantasy at one point was that I would be able to read back through it and find patterns or get a clearer idea of what works and what doesn't. But, my experience seems to change so much every day, that I'm not sure if it even makes sense to do that. Maybe someday it will just be fun to go back and read it all.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/16/18 11:51 AM as a reply to spatial.
... my experience seems to change so much every day...

Maybe that's a really important takeaway.


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/16/18 12:00 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:

- The mind goes where it wants to go, and I am able to follow


What phenomena present as "you following the mind"? What happens when you don't follow the mind? 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
11/16/18 12:58 PM as a reply to Zachary.
Zachary:
spatial:

- The mind goes where it wants to go, and I am able to follow


What phenomena present as "you following the mind"? What happens when you don't follow the mind? 
By this, I mean:

- I notice a steady stream of objects occupying my attention one after the other, with no apparent gaps in my awareness
- I don't feel a need to stop and attend to any of them
- I am simulataneously aware of sensations that seem to be about attention, about the body's reaction, about where we all are in space, and about the meditation process itself
- I don't have the sense that I am the one deciding where my attention goes (that is, it's easier to "follow the mind". I do have the sense that if I wanted to get absorbed in something else, I could)

This is in contrast to:
- I feel like I am suddenly absorbed in an object with no clue how I got there
- The sense that I need to try to be mindful
- The sense that if I stop paying attention, my mind will get ahead of me, and I will have to struggle to catch up
- The sense that I have a choice between paying attention to what I am currently interested in and paying attention to whatever my mind is actually aware of

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/12/18 8:55 AM as a reply to spatial.
I haven't been posting as regularly, but I have kept some logs on my own. I wasn't satisfied with how clearly I was writing, so I didn't post them. In the interest of completeness, I will just post what I wrote now, followed by this morning's log.

November 22

On Saturday, I felt like I hated the whole world. I had to spend the whole day around people and it was just a constant stream of negativity in my mind. That night, I felt like I wanted to explode with energy. I had the sense that I was very much in touch with all of the suffering in my body. Meditation that night involved a lot of movement. A totally different feeling than normal.


Over the next couple days, I felt like I integrated a lot of that into my daily life and my practice. I feel slightly more aware of my reactions in real time, and have slightly less patience for BS.

I was listening to a podcast with Shinzen Young. He described an exercise where you imagine an arrow going through the object in your awareness, and then trace the arrow back along its path to where it originates.

This exercise has been *extremely* interesting for me. The arrows generally originate in the center of my head. I tried imagining arrows that go into those points as well, and tracing them back. So, I get a sense of "the observer", and "the observer of the observer". When I go for "the observer of the observer of the observer", I can't seem to locate it, but I get a sense of wild instability. After a couple hours of this, I feel like I have much more direct ability to access those sensations in real time, and a higher tolerance for that instability. What used to take 20 minutes now seems to take a minute or so.

I have been having these weird events when I get really absorbed. They happen randomly and without warning, and I feel like I can't investigate them. Sometimes, it feels like I am being startled. Sometimes, they are accompanied by a loud "sound", which I know is just in my mind. Sometimes, I feel a twitch through my whole body. They are normally followed by a sense of release of tension. It's like waking up from sleep, but not quite.

I started having the clear sense that my experience was one thing after the next.

I noticed that I had a body, and how cool it was to experience having a body. Then, I noticed I could hear the sound of the air purifier, and how cool it was to experience hearing that sound. Then, I felt tension in my face, and noticed how cool it was to experience that tension. Then, the timer went off and I stopped.

November 28

Dissolution

Spacing out

Subtlest aspects of motivation

Moving away from things

Mindfulness
Break chains

Phenomena:
Urge to swallow
Urge to catch my breath
Light chills
Pressure and release in eyes
Brightness in visual field
Symmetry
Asymmetry correlated with scattered attention
Sense that thoughts appear briefly and then flicker before disappearing
Eagerness
Anticipation
Fear
Trying to find the solution
Sense of identifying with the body
Sense of being right behind the body
Seeing the body as an image
Sense that I am no longer aware of my surroundings
Sense that I am simultaneously aware of the whole body
Sense that I am only aware of one part of the body at a time, following a chain reaction through the body
Can perceive 6 sense doors clearly
I am in control
I am not in control
I am watching
I am watching myself watch
Watching is just happening with no watcher

December 1

Whatever is subject to origination is also subject to cessation


Arising is contraction
Feel contraction

Something is contracting a lot
Be with it

Mindfulness is Equanimity. Same thing, two different perspectives.

Seven Factors of Awakening is a process to transform Mindfulness (self-as-subject) into Equanimity (self-as-object).

Mindfulness
.....Investigation
..........Energy
...............Rapture (suffering becomes compassion --- this is what metta seems to target)
..........Tranquility
.....Concentration
Equanimity

Energy becomes Tranquility
Investigation becomes Concentration
Mindfulness becomes Equanimity

December 12

On Saturday, while waiting for my sister, I closed my eyes for a few minutes and had what felt like a deep insight:

The physical sensations and the mental images are of the same substance. They are both products of my consciousness. My conscious awareness does not have any access to what is "really happening." Observing physical sensation is the same exact thing as being "lost in thought."

What is happening right now is what is happening right now. There is nothing else that is happening. If my mind tells me that something more is going on, and I need to investigate it, it's just not true. This is true for physical sensations as well. That is the deep part of this insight. If I feel a tingling in my leg, there is nothing more going on in my leg that requires investigation. The tingling is as much of a "lie" as is a complex narrative about how my circulation is being cut off and my leg will need to be amputated after years of intense meditation.

---

Over the past several days, I've been easing into my sits by doing a few minutes of very mindful yoga. This seems to have made a big difference. I have felt much more awareness of my whole body while meditating. It is easier to notice when my posture is causing trouble for me.

---

I had another insight a couple days ago:

The reason I get upset with other people is only because I am not interested in experiencing the sensations that arise as a reaction to their behavior. Furthermore, rather than trying to get them to change their behavior, it may actually be easier to simply practice being OK with those sensations.

This is not a "new" insight. Why does it feel new?

---

Last night, my meditation seemed to have cause a horrible headache. This hasn't happened before. Possibly it is related to the yoga, and the fact that I've been stretching muscles that haven't been stretched in a while.

My focus on meditation over the past several months has had the unfortunate side-effect of causing me to engage in much less physical exercise. I want to change this, because I believe a lot of my frustrations in meditation are caused by...(by what??? something physical...not sure)

---

Is there an end to this? I would love to reach a point where I could say "OK, this chapter is closed", and then have the option of continuing or not. I feel there must be, since there's got to be only a finite number of these layers. Am I actually progressing through layers, or is meditation just causing mood swings? It's hard for me to point to a tangible way in which this practice has been benefiting me of late. Nonetheless, I feel I must proceed. Many things in my life seem to not make as much sense as they used to, except in the context of viewing them merely as conditioned experience. So, it seems pointless to stop here, where I am half "self" and half "no-self".

---

This morning, no headache. I found it very easy to focus on the body. I did not seem to get "hooked" by anything the mind generated, and found myself aware of both mental images and full-body sensations that accompanied those images.

(P.S. The editor in this forum software is a complete joke.)



RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/12/18 8:57 AM as a reply to spatial.
Fantastic report!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/12/18 10:33 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
+1, really good stuff. Straight ahead!

and yes, the forum editor software is aweful emoticon 

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/12/18 5:25 PM as a reply to spatial.
Very interesting, Spatial. The "arrow" meditation sounds intriguing. Can you elaborate on your experience while looking for the observer of the observer of the observer?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/13/18 7:25 AM as a reply to Milo.
Just a quick personal experience note -- a long time ago during my early vipassana practice I tried to see how deep the layers of observer go. Are there one, two, three... just how many? I could only find two. My theory is that this is how we're wired. We have awareness of what we're experiencing (subject-object) and we have awareness of being aware of that experience (self-awareness). That's all we can do. This is backed by psychology and neuroscience. There are only so many levels of recursion our minds are capable of handling effectively.

Developmental psychologists sub-categorize awareness into four or five groupings showing a progression of awareness as we mature:

0. Confusion - no self-awareness
1. Differentiation - simple subject-object
2. Situation - deeper subject-object
3. Identification - "me" versus "other", the realization of the conceptual self in the present
4. Performance - "me" versus "other" in time and space, past and future
5. Self-awareness (meta self-awareness) - being aware that we are self-aware, how others perceive us

Then it stops - no levels beyond self-awareness.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/13/18 8:42 AM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
Very interesting, Spatial. The "arrow" meditation sounds intriguing. Can you elaborate on your experience while looking for the observer of the observer of the observer?


Suppose I hear a sound. I can be aware of the sound. That is awareness of the object.

Then, I can be aware that I am hearing the sound. I can feel it catch my attention. I can feel the muscles in my face and my eyes slightly orient towards that sound. That is the awareness of the observer.

Next, I can notice that I am watching the muscles in my face orient toward "something", whatever that "something" is. I can feel other muscles orienting towards those muscles. I can feel my eyes looking at my eyes. This is awareness of the observer of the observer.

It's hard to go beyond this point. Each step moving up this hierarchy seems to require shedding some layer of what defines "me" here in space (physically, it feels like I need to go "out"). If I try being aware of what it feels like to look at my own eyes, I lose the sense that this is tied back to the original sound (physically, I don't know how to go "out" any further at this point...this move feels like it needs to go "in"). Everything just collapses and I start over, but with a different sense of body. It might be worth playing around with this more, because it does seem to bring to light a bunch of new sensations. But, it seems impossible to hold all of those levels in awareness at the same time.

The language here is really confusing, and maybe I haven't described it accurately!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/13/18 8:46 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Just a quick personal experience note -- a long time ago during my early vipassana practice I tried to see how deep the layers of observer go. Are there one, two, three... just how many? I could only find two. My theory is that this is how we're wired. We have awareness of what we're experiencing (subject-object) and we have awareness of being aware of that experience (self-awareness). That's all we can do. This is backed by psychology and neuroscience. There are only so many levels of recursion our minds are capable of handling effectively.

Developmental psychologists sub-categorize awareness into four or five groupings showing a progression of awareness as we mature:

0. Confusion - no self-awareness
1. Differentiation - simple subject-object
2. Situation - deeper subject-object
3. Identification - "me" versus "other", the realization of the conceptual self in the present
4. Performance - "me" versus "other" in time and space, past and future
5. Self-awareness (meta self-awareness) - being aware that we are self-aware, how others perceive us

Then it stops - no levels beyond self-awareness.

This is interesting. I wonder how much these groupings correspond to what happens in meditation. 

Is this biological? I have a hard time making sense of this, because I can't tell the difference between what is just constructed by the mind, and what is hardwired. Is "observing the observer" really a thing, or is it just a sensation? Is it just a way that I have learned to talk about my experience? In other words, how do you reconcile all of this with the insight that experience is basically "flat"?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/13/18 8:47 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the encouragement, Chris and shargrol!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/13/18 8:53 AM as a reply to spatial.
Is this biological? I have a hard time making sense of this, because I can't tell the difference between what is just constructed by the mind, and what is hardwired. Is "observing the observer" really a thing, or is it just a sensation? Is it just a way that I have learned to talk about my experience? In other words, how do you reconcile all of this with the insight that experience is basically "flat"?

I didn't express myself well. All of experience and perception is flat, yes, but we can infer or deduce from those experiences things about the nature of our capabilities and how the mind processes perceptions. I'm certain my vipassana meditation explorations revealed real perceptions of subject-object and meta subject-object. I could not even manufacture or imagine a real experience consisting of three levels of awareness. I know the difference between real and imaginary perceptions. I think we all know that.

Hope that helps.

I wonder how much these groupings correspond to what happens in meditation. 

I'm going to say all of them at various times (this could vary by person) but mainly 3 and 5.


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/14/18 8:52 AM as a reply to spatial.
Last night, tried the following:

- Focus attention on breath at the nostrils
- Try to be aware of the slightest intrusion of anything else
- Tune into whatever physical sensations arise along with that something else
- Nudge the attention back in the direction of the nostrils

This got me into a pretty deep state. For a few moments, I saw some of the same kaleidoscope visuals I saw on my retreat this summer.

--

I think I'm at a point right now where I need to work on concentration.

My reality is like:
- Bubbles in foam
- Multiple universes
- Harmonics of a vibrating string
- Thousands of individual TV/radio stations that can be tuned into one at a time

I think this is the same thing as the expansion/contraction that Shinzen Young talks about. Maybe these are manifestations of the sub-minds of Culadasa.

I did not realize until this morning how attached I get to those individual stations.

This happens:

- Focusing on the breath
- X intrudes
- The channel changes to X.
- Try to bring it back to the breath.
- Feels like a great deal of effort is required for this.
- Realize there's no need for the effort. The breath is actually present on the X channel as well. Just tune into that aspect of it.

I did this many times this morning. Quite interesting. I think the object is to smooth it over. The channel-switching mechanism needs to be easier. Is my goal to make every frame of reality its own channel, and learn to change between them with no friction?

This also happens:

- Focusing
- Feel the channel wanting to change
- Everything starts flickering wildly
- Suddenly, everything stabilizes

I tend to want to force the stabilization to happen quickly. Not sure why. I found that, this morning, it was a bit easier to rest in the flickering for longer periods of time. I really think it will be productive to practice not being in a hurry to get anywhere.

The yoga definitely seems to be helping. When I sit down to meditate, I am starting from a place of being more in tune with my body. I treat the yoga as meditation, basically doing vipassana while I am going through poses.

I'm not going to repress these emotions of eagerness and frustration and irritation and all the rest of them anymore. Instead, I will allow them to intensify, and use them to give me material to investigate. Not sure how I fell into the habit of doing anything else. The present moment, as it is, is intense. Why deny that?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/14/18 1:57 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:

I'm not going to repress these emotions of eagerness and frustration and irritation and all the rest of them anymore. Instead, I will allow them to intensify, and use them to give me material to investigate. Not sure how I fell into the habit of doing anything else. The present moment, as it is, is intense. Why deny that?

=D =D =D

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/19/18 8:37 AM as a reply to spatial.
I'm rethinking something.

I can keep my attention on the breath fairly well, but if I try really hard, it produces tension in my body. However, I think maybe I'm misunderstanding. Maybe these sensations of tension are simply the result of increased awareness.

For the past couple days, I have been experimenting with this. When I sit, I focus with all my might on the breath at the nostrils. When the feelings of tension and straining appear, I just let them come, and find a way to live with them.

This came about because I was thinking about the Seven Factors of Awakening, and realizing that there was a level of concentration that I seemed unable to achieve.

I wish I could put into words even 10% of what I experience while meditating. Maybe then I could get more useful advice. I wish I could draw pictures that would illustrate what happens. There is just so much going on, and most of it is so subtle and hard for me to understand. I don't believe that anything I'm writing is really able to convey anything substantial.

I seem to have regained some levels of concentration that I thought were gone after my retreat this summer.

I want to understand how the jhanas play into what I experience. It's very hazy for me. Here is a crude attempt at describing what kinds of states I found myself in this morning:

  1. Mind is captured by whatever it thinks is important. Awareness of the breath is in and out. Not much tension in the body.
  2. Intense focus on the breath, any time something else arises, I can see it happening and return right to the breath. Requires effort. Feel tension, and the tension bothers me.
  3. Sense that the attention is moving freely, and everything else has the quality of the breath imbued in it. No effort required. Feel tension, but the tension doesn't bother me.
  4. Not sure what I'm aware of and what I'm not. I just know that I'm aware of lots and lots of things. I can bring the attention back to the breath, but it feels pointless and doesn't last very long anyway. When I am aware of tension, I can see the awareness itself arise and pass away.
  5. Feel like I am aware of many things simultaneously. The breath does not seem important. What catches my interest here seems to be my full body posture, my position in the room, images of myself meditating, the sense of "observer vs. observed".
  6. Then, there are very murky states where I am entranced by what's going on in my visual field.

I feel like these correspond to the jhanas somehow. I wonder if the "strength" of the focus at the beginning is what determines how the rest of it plays out. There is the sense of putting in lots and lots of fuel at the beginning, and then letting it burn itself off.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/19/18 11:22 AM as a reply to spatial.
May I ask you what you believe the difference between attention and awareness is? I think you may be using these interchangeably but I'm not sure. Are they indeed interchangeable? Can you nail down what you believe awareness to be?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/19/18 11:48 AM as a reply to spatial.
I can keep my attention on the breath fairly well, but if I try really hard, it produces tension in my body. However, I think maybe I'm misunderstanding. Maybe these sensations of tension are simply the result of increased awareness. 

For the past couple days, I have been experimenting with this. When I sit, I focus with all my might on the breath at the nostrils. When the feelings of tension and straining appear, I just let them come, and find a way to live with them. 

This came about because I was thinking about the Seven Factors of Awakening, and realizing that there was a level of concentration that I seemed unable to achieve. 

I wish I could put into words even 10% of what I experience while meditating. Maybe then I could get more useful advice. I wish I could draw pictures that would illustrate what happens. There is just so much going on, and most of it is so subtle and hard for me to understand. I don't believe that anything I'm writing is really able to convey anything substantial.

Spatial, are you straining to maintain focus on your breath? It's going to cause tension when you strain. There's no way around that.

When you say "When the feelings of tension and straining appear, I just let them come, and find a way to live with them" what is the process you use to find a way to live with them? Why? Is this something you believe is necessary - to cause tension and then find a way to relieve it - or are you avoiding it?

Have you had experience with any of the jhanas? What you are describing sound to me like what I'd describe as "near" jhana experiences, things like not wanting to concentrate on a specific object but on a larger segment of your experience (posture, what's in the room, where you are in space, etc.). When this situation happens in your meditation how do you feel about it? Happy? Tense? Buzzy and nebulous?

If you can provide some answers we can probably help you better.

Thanks in advance.

BTW: Most folks think of concentration as being a single-pointed kind of thing using
 laser-like attention. That WILL cause tension. Jhanas are thought of that way a lot. But jhanas really aren't like that. They are a widening of attention and a much more of a relaxation. The mind finds what I'd describe as an "attraction" to a feeling, sensation or another object. It's like falling into a strange attractor in chaos theory - it's a natural inclination, not a struggle at all. Struggling will help you avoid the jhanas. Jhanas feel good, not bad. Happy, not sad.

emoticon



RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/22/18 9:15 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
In the interest of describing my experience honestly, I want to say that your comments filled me with a lot of anger and frustration for a while after I read them. I don't blame you for this. I know that you are trying to help, and I appreciate that. My reactions are surprising to me, but I also think it is good that I am seeing them for what they are. Obviously, this is my problem, because you didn't say anything confrontational.

Chris Marti:

Spatial, are you straining to maintain focus on your breath? It's going to cause tension when you strain. There's no way around that.


I don't know how to answer this. Having constant, directed attention on the breath causes feelings of pressure. I don't know how to distinguish between mental pressure and physical pressure, because the more I meditate, the more equivalent they seem.


When you say "When the feelings of tension and straining appear, I just let them come, and find a way to live with them" what is the process you use to find a way to live with them? Why? Is this something you believe is necessary - to cause tension and then find a way to relieve it - or are you avoiding it?


"Finding a way to live with them" means that I let go of the need to eliminate them. I relax the pressure on myself to make my meditation feel effortless. I investigate them and see if they can soften on their own. I try to notice gently how they may be parts of larger patterns throughout larger areas of my body, rather than fixate on how they immediately present themselves.

I don't know if it's necessary to do this. There seem to be only two options:

1) Try to eliminate tension whenever it appears.
2) Allow tension to appear without eliminating it.

Option 1 feels like I am running away from the tension, and seems to make me irritable and unfocused. Option 2 (what I have been describing now) feels like I am deliberately creating tension, since I know it will appear when I just sit and observe anything.


Have you had experience with any of the jhanas? What you are describing sound to me like what I'd describe as "near" jhana experiences, things like not wanting to concentrate on a specific object but on a larger segment of your experience (posture, what's in the room, where you are in space, etc.). When this situation happens in your meditation how do you feel about it? Happy? Tense? Buzzy and nebulous?


Now, let me say that I am trying to use the word "jhana" in the way that MCTB talks about them as being "modes of attention". This seems to make sense to me, because I definitely do feel that my attention goes through modes as I meditate, regardless of how intense my concentration is.

I don't really know what experience I've had with the jhanas, since I have never deliberately done jhana practice. In my vipassana practice (I count simply focusing on the sensations of the breath as vipassana), I have experienced pleasant feelings, glowing light, slow rhythmic pulsing in my visual field, the sense that I am "falling into a strange attractor", as you said. When this happens, it is very relaxing, not tense. However, the sense of "physical tension" may still be there, although it doesn't feel negative.

My hypothesis here is that this intense concentration is causing me to either:

1) Let go of mind states that have been previously blocking perception of physical tension caused by bad posture. In this case, I suspect it would be helpful to reside in that awareness, and let my mind figure out what is going on with my body.
2) Activate nerves in specific patterns that my mind is erroneously interpreting as being actual physical tension. Here too, it seems like it would be a good idea to explore this.

I'm not in a rush to fix this. My intuition tells me that I am on the right path with it. That path seems to be very long and windy, however...

Thanks again for your help!

(PS: This morning I spent a good portion of my sit doing metta directed at myself. This seems to be helpful. I feel like what I need at the moment is to develop the awareness of the subtlest tensions that I am overlooking.)

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/22/18 10:28 AM as a reply to spatial.
In the interest of describing my experience honestly, I want to say that your comments filled me with a lot of anger and frustration for a while after I read them.

I'm sorry, spatial.

I didn't mean to make you mad or frustrate you. I used to get really, really pissed off at various times at the friends who would comment on my practice thread. My anger was usually due to an inference that I might not be "getting" something. That would make me angry for a while but on further reflection, those friends were quite often right. They were actually helping me.

You do have to find your own way, and the path is not a straight line with a positive slope. I felt from reading your comments that you were making a mistake that I've made and that I've seen many others make - pushing, straining, to maintain attention.

Being aware and using attention is automatically going to cause some amount of tension (suffering). It's work, after all. One of the most productive insights is to realize this truth of our existence and relax into it. That's what I was trying to point you to but I probably overdid it with all the questions I threw at you. Ultimately, the point of the path is to realize and understand what suffering, tension or dissatisfaction is.

Just let me know if you want me to back off.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/22/18 11:16 AM as a reply to spatial.
Maybe this guided meditation could help:

https://www.dharmaocean.org/meditation/learn-to-meditate/learn-to-meditate-a-daily-practice-session/

best wishes for you spatial!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/22/18 11:38 AM as a reply to spatial.
I’m no expert in this, and I don’t know if it is helpful at all or just confusing, but... When I notice a tension that is the result of my practice, I find it helpful to shift my focus to it and surrender to it completely. That often helps the tension to dissolve into something else. It was my resistence that caused the tension.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/22/18 6:14 PM as a reply to spatial.
Also, Rob Burbea's guided meditations are pure gold.

Check "the Art of Cocentration" series:

https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/?page=6

Unfortunately, I didn't find Rob audios before!

metta.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/22/18 7:00 PM as a reply to Nicolas G..
Nicolas G.:
Also, Rob Burbea's guided meditations are pure gold.

Check "the Art of Cocentration" series:

https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/?page=6

Unfortunately, I didn't find Rob audios before!

metta.


There are entire retreats recorded as well, such as this one: https://dharmaseed.org/retreats/2678/

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/28/18 11:14 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
In the interest of describing my experience honestly, I want to say that your comments filled me with a lot of anger and frustration for a while after I read them.

I'm sorry, spatial.

I didn't mean to make you mad or frustrate you. I used to get really, really pissed off at various times at the friends who would comment on my practice thread. My anger was usually due to an inference that I might not be "getting" something. That would make me angry for a while but on further reflection, those friends were quite often right. They were actually helping me.

You do have to find your own way, and the path is not a straight line with a positive slope. I felt from reading your comments that you were making a mistake that I've made and that I've seen many others make - pushing, straining, to maintain attention.

Being aware and using attention is automatically going to cause some amount of tension (suffering). It's work, after all. One of the most productive insights is to realize this truth of our existence and relax into it. That's what I was trying to point you to but I probably overdid it with all the questions I threw at you. Ultimately, the point of the path is to realize and understand what suffering, tension or dissatisfaction is.

Just let me know if you want me to back off.
It's no big deal, I was just sensitive about this issue for some reason. I'm not sure if I am straining or pushing, to be honest. Right now, it doesn't seem all that important to me. I think I've made some more progress, which I will post about in a bit.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/28/18 11:45 PM as a reply to spatial.
Yesterday, I was pondering how difficult it was to do some of my work. I have a tendency to get sidetracked and put off projects and not finish them. I started contemplating this more, and decided to work on something while basically just observing whatever showed up in terms of motivations. I made a list, really determined to write down every motivation that I noticed for every action that I did related to the work I was doing.

I became quite aware of a lot. Ways in which my inability to stick to my resolutions is the result of a somewhat tangled mess of contradictory impulses inside. There was something of a snowball effect at one point, and I began feeling a great deal of physical sensation (tingling throughout my body).

Meditation this evening:

Focus on breath
Hard to stay in one place
Agitation:
  • Unbearable eagerness to be enlightened
  • Frustration over the sense that I could almost "get it", but I keep losing my focus when something new pops up
  • Fear: hard to explain, but the sense that I am playing with something dangerous. The sense that this is not a game. I might really disappear.
Clear sense of where that agitation is spread out through my body
Able to stay there for a while
This happened a few times
I realized that I could truly hold this suffering with self-compassion.
Suddenly, I noticed that everything had just calmed *way down*
Tingling throughout body
No difficulty focusing
There are several other phenomena that I know I observed, but I just can't list them all.

I think I've unlocked another layer. How many are there?

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/29/18 7:02 AM as a reply to spatial.
It sounds to me that you are accessing the nanas off cushion, which is a very good sign.

You'll notice that a lot of frustrations and distractions build up and go away in a kind of 3 Characteristics to AP kind of way or in a REOBS to EQ kind of way. There is no need to ffigure this out exactly, just notice how these kind of purfications are released by initially going into them, holding them in attention, seeing them as mind objects and holding them with compassion, and then the situation opens up and often with a kind of subtle bodily release.

In EQ this becomes more and more subtle until you are doing the same sort of thing with barely formed thoughts. You'll notice the subtle dukka of the thinking/judging mind and will notice that if you simple hold "the mindstream" in attention even barely formed thoughts go through this releasing process.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/29/18 8:29 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Oops --- Spatial, this is Shargrol, looks like I now have moderator rights and I accidentally edited your post instead of quoting and replying to it! I'm very sorry.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/29/18 9:01 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
Oops --- Spatial, this is Shargrol, looks like I now have moderator rights and I accidentally edited your post instead of quoting and replying to it! I'm very sorry.


No problem, I have the original post in my email:


Yes, this sounds a lot like what I have experienced. What irritates me is that I feel like I have gone through this process several times over the past few months. I get to a point where it becomes very subtle, as you describe. I can see thoughts and feelings before they actually form. I feel I can detect the slightest push and pull of my mind. Then, I find some part or parts of the body that is holding tension I never noticed before, and I am suddenly faced with the decision "keep holding that tension" (which is uncomfortable) or "relax" (which is mechnically unstable). And the process starts over again.

So, I'm left wondering: did I miss the opportunity that presented itself in whatever form of EQ I experienced, perhaps by pushing too hard, or not hard enough? Or, is this just the purification process I must go through?

To which somebody (it doesn't say who...I assume it was you?) replied: 

spatial:

Or, is this just the purification process I must go through?:



This.

There really is no way to make things go faster, except consistent daily practice and staying curious off cushion. As you have probably notice, the drive/wanting to go faster is yet another subtle tension that can be softened.


To which I reply:

I guess I'll just keep going...This whole process is going to tear me to pieces!


RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/29/18 9:29 AM as a reply to spatial.
Thanks for restoring the thread!

To which I reply:
guess I'll just keep going...This whole process is going to tear me to pieces!



And as far as the quote above goes... what the whole process does is tear everything that is not-you to pieces emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
12/30/18 2:03 AM as a reply to spatial.
Hi Spatial!

I will encourage you to keep going with the off cushion practice/awerness you can develop insight very fast doing this. Sitting practice is very important too, form me is 50-50% work. 

You talk about the "eagerness to be enlightened", I had this also and can be very annoying to deal with. My humble adivce is do your best to drop totally the idea of being enlightened, that means if hypothetically in this life you couldn't achive stream entry you will be in peace and ok with that. If that idea of enlightened comes with tension and stress move your atention to the stress and tension, discard the drama of the thoughts, then feel the tension/stress/ whatever with a compasion observation of it, embrace these feelings in a kind way not try to shut them down, just be with them with love and compasion, like a mother handling her baby when is crying, For what I read you are start doing this, so thats really good!

Going back to the enlightened thing...just focus on the benefits that the practice is actually giving to you and feel the gratitude about it. See on retrospective when you started to meditate and observe you right now, see the progresion all the insights you develop, feel gratitude again. See how this feeling of gratitude is more bigger, nicer, larger than this ansiety of wanting something in this case stream entry, Drop the rock!

Good practice and keep going on!! emoticon

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
1/1/19 10:55 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Jordi:

You talk about the "eagerness to be enlightened", I had this also and can be very annoying to deal with. My humble adivce is do your best to drop totally the idea of being enlightened, that means if hypothetically in this life you couldn't achive stream entry you will be in peace and ok with that. If that idea of enlightened comes with tension and stress move your atention to the stress and tension, discard the drama of the thoughts, then feel the tension/stress/ whatever with a compasion observation of it, embrace these feelings in a kind way not try to shut them down, just be with them with love and compasion, like a mother handling her baby when is crying, For what I read you are start doing this, so thats really good!

Thanks for the advice. This is very difficult to do. I think part of the problem is that this eagerness comes when my mind is extremely reactive and unsettled. I think part of my eagerness is from a desire for that not to happen. As a result, it is hard to be OK with never achieving this, and feeling like my mind will be spinning for the rest of my life. So, there's an urgency to make it settle down. 

I think that might be something for me to look at. To just sit there with a spinning mind and no attempt at fixing it. There's a lot wrapped up in this.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
1/2/19 6:10 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:

I think that might be something for me to look at. To just sit there with a spinning mind and no attempt at fixing it. There's a lot wrapped up in this.


Yes!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
1/2/19 8:55 AM as a reply to spatial.
Spatial,

Nice advice from Jordi!

I would like to add what's help me in this situation is to cultivate gratitude. to being thankful that we are not lost, that we are walking the right path. So many dependencies need to happen to be here, we are sooooo lucky!

Set the intention to start the day with gratitude, and try to remember it a couple of times more during the day.

These intentions are like seeds, eventually they will grow.

metta

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
1/2/19 8:57 AM as a reply to spatial.
This morning, I decided to just sit and observe whatever happened. Just let myself soak in all of the details of every experience. I didn't really use any object as an anchor. Is there a downside to this?

There were two separate moments where I felt like I was quickly progressing through the dukkha ñanas. Not sure (I just say these things because I read about them). One time I noticed fear, and the other misery. Then, it seemed like I noticed the others following in rather quick succession (maybe 5 seconds each).

This seems to coincide with a progression of the scope of attention moving from narrow to wide. It is as if the emotions that arise are a result of attempts to prevent the attention from broadening in this manner, followed by acceptance of it. The stage that seemed to be Re-observation is as if the attention has fully broadened (which brings with it a sense of relief), but my mind has not yet made the connection between the physical pain I am about to experience, and the suffering that instigated the attempts at shutting down the attention.

I hate to describe things with this kind of vocabulary, because I don't want to script my experience, but it feels somewhat useful, and I also don't know how else to talk about it. My experience while meditating is so incredibly rich, I can't begin to convey even 1% of it. What comes across is probably more about my own biases and preconceptions than about my actual experience.

There were a couple times I caught myself during state transitions, attempting to speed up those transitions. I think I see why traditional teachers have a tendency to discount and minimize all interesting experiences. Labeling an experience as "important" can have the effect of preventing you from experiencing it and investigating it.

When I'm focusing on an object, and the object disappears, when should I refocus on the object, and when should I just let it go? This seems to be one of the most fundamental issues in meditation. I don't see the answer as being obvious, since it seems that both options have proven quite useful in the past.

Sometimes an object is a small thing, like a sensation on my skin. Clearly defined.
Sometimes, it's more complex, like the sense of the relationship between the tension in my neck and the pressure in my legs.
Sometimes, it's more conceptual, like the feeling that "I'm sitting here."
Sometimes, it's total nonsense (maybe a brief image or sound or feeling that makes no sense in this context).
Sometimes, it's more comprehensive, like the sense of where everything in the room is in relation to everything else.
Sometimes, it's about the awareness or attention itself, and other times, those objects seem out of reach.

And, it can be anything in between. I'm only aware of one of these at a time, but they change in unpredictable ways. It feels like there are "tracks" my mind gets locked into, where I am aware of one of these objects for an extended period of time, and I can hold onto it as it changes. But then, my mind will sometimes jump to a different track. The new track can be similar in scope (e.g., moving from a sensation in my leg to one in my arm), or it can be radically different (e.g., from a sensation in my leg to the sense of the frenetic activity of the mind itself). I am trying to come to terms with all of this. I am also trying to see the difference between "jumping to a totally different track" and "getting lost in thought and spacing out". I think they are different, and I think the failure to see this consistently is the cause of a lot of frustration. It seems it is possible to maintain mindfulness even while the object is changing radically.

I am trying to really feel everything that happens. The eagerness, the impatience, the frustration, the planning, the strategizing, the peace, the observing. I realized I don't want to let go of my desire. I don't want to be OK with not progressing. That seems boring and too mundane for me. I want to be special and have super meditation powers that no one else has. The thought of letting go of this and just being a normal guy who sometimes meditates makes me feel a little sick.

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
1/2/19 9:01 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I’m no expert in this, and I don’t know if it is helpful at all or just confusing, but... When I notice a tension that is the result of my practice, I find it helpful to shift my focus to it and surrender to it completely. That often helps the tension to dissolve into something else. It was my resistence that caused the tension.

Yes, that does seem to be useful. It can, however, be infuriating when surrendering to one tension leads to another, and so on, in a loop. I think at that point, the loop needs to be surrendered to, but it's hard to see that when you are stuck in the loop!

RE: spatial's practice log
Answer
1/2/19 9:04 AM as a reply to Nicolas G..
Nicolas G.:
Spatial,

Nice advice from Jordi!

I would like to add what's help me in this situation is to cultivate gratitude. to being thankful that we are not lost, that we are walking the right path. So many dependencies need to happen to be here, we are sooooo lucky!

Set the intention to start the day with gratitude, and try to remember it a couple of times more during the day.

These intentions are like seeds, eventually they will grow.

metta

Thanks, I might try that. Something about "gratitude" seems to turn me off, though...