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Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures Jean B. 10/4/15 5:08 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/21/14 1:54 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/22/14 5:31 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Richard Zen 2/22/14 12:22 PM
RE: Jean's practice log nicolas C 2/23/14 5:10 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/23/14 4:56 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/23/14 4:05 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Richard Zen 2/23/14 8:39 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/23/14 9:47 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/23/14 4:54 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/24/14 5:46 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/25/14 9:29 PM
RE: Jean's practice log nicolas C 3/2/14 3:34 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/2/14 8:48 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/2/14 8:36 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/9/14 11:04 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/11/14 9:47 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/13/14 6:42 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/13/14 10:36 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/16/14 11:56 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/17/14 10:12 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/17/14 10:24 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/18/14 7:40 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/18/14 10:17 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/18/14 11:56 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/19/14 8:10 AM
RE: Jean's practice log John Wilde 3/19/14 8:27 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/20/14 6:16 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/19/14 9:20 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/23/14 11:54 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/24/14 5:38 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/25/14 7:49 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/26/14 6:54 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Richard Zen 3/26/14 7:54 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/29/14 9:28 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/30/14 6:29 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/30/14 9:47 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/18/14 7:05 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 6/19/14 10:44 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 6/22/14 11:34 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 6/23/14 6:18 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 7/3/14 6:49 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Richard Zen 7/4/14 10:50 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 7/10/14 8:29 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Richard Zen 7/10/14 10:28 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 7/17/14 10:46 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 7/29/14 1:13 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/10/14 2:05 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/17/14 5:18 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/19/14 10:05 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/20/14 10:36 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/1/14 5:31 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/1/14 6:50 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/1/14 8:00 PM
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RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/3/14 7:57 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/4/14 6:49 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/6/14 4:22 AM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 9/9/14 9:22 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/23/14 1:12 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 9/24/14 6:59 PM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 10/28/14 7:34 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Colleen Peltomaa 10/29/14 10:29 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 11/3/14 9:21 PM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 11/3/14 9:36 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 11/25/14 9:32 PM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 11/26/14 11:52 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/4/15 5:39 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/10/15 7:40 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/13/15 4:37 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Bill F. 1/13/15 5:46 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/13/15 6:42 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Bill F. 1/13/15 6:57 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/13/15 7:13 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Bill F. 1/13/15 7:39 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/14/15 4:37 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Bill F. 1/14/15 7:34 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/14/15 7:51 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Bill F. 1/14/15 8:16 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/16/15 5:23 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Bill F. 1/17/15 1:06 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/17/15 3:27 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/19/15 5:52 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/23/15 8:25 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/29/15 2:16 AM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 1/28/15 11:44 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 1/29/15 6:05 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/22/15 4:37 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/22/15 4:43 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/28/15 6:57 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 2/28/15 7:07 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/1/15 4:41 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 3/2/15 5:27 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/1/15 7:48 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/5/15 3:16 AM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 4/5/15 8:22 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/6/15 3:43 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/6/15 9:35 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/7/15 1:24 AM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 4/12/15 9:50 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/12/15 11:05 PM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 4/13/15 9:48 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/15/15 2:26 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/15/15 8:10 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/15/15 9:27 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/16/15 9:07 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/18/15 11:14 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/19/15 1:17 AM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 4/19/15 4:31 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/19/15 5:47 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 4/20/15 8:45 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/20/15 4:29 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/20/15 7:49 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/22/15 2:01 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/22/15 2:01 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/22/15 2:10 AM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 4/22/15 9:32 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/22/15 9:49 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/26/15 5:48 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/26/15 3:09 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/26/15 9:23 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/27/15 5:15 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/28/15 12:13 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 4/29/15 12:48 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/3/15 10:34 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/4/15 7:16 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/5/15 1:14 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/5/15 8:36 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/6/15 10:31 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/8/15 3:53 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Teague 5/9/15 8:07 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/10/15 3:13 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/14/15 11:15 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE SeTyR ZeN 5/14/15 11:32 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Noah 5/15/15 12:23 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/15/15 12:51 AM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Noah 5/15/15 12:16 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 5/16/15 6:09 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/16/15 6:19 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Noah 5/17/15 4:45 AM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/17/15 2:04 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/17/15 5:29 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/17/15 9:32 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/17/15 5:44 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/17/15 11:19 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/19/15 9:38 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/20/15 4:29 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/20/15 4:36 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/20/15 9:08 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/22/15 8:02 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/23/15 8:48 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/24/15 8:04 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/24/15 10:02 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/26/15 7:48 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/28/15 10:41 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 5/28/15 10:59 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE SeTyR ZeN 5/28/15 11:06 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/31/15 9:08 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 7/19/15 10:15 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Noah 7/20/15 8:57 AM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 7/20/15 4:03 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Noah 7/20/15 4:14 PM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/5/15 1:36 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/9/15 11:02 PM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/10/15 2:38 AM
RE: Jean's practice log Jean B. 8/10/15 3:58 AM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/10/15 4:29 AM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/10/15 9:49 AM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/10/15 12:04 PM
RE: Jean's practice log SeTyR ZeN 8/10/15 8:16 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 8/13/15 6:12 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/13/15 8:58 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 8/20/15 12:38 AM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/1/15 3:29 AM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/1/15 6:12 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/1/15 10:02 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/4/15 4:00 AM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/5/15 3:43 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/5/15 5:12 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/7/15 10:37 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/8/15 11:57 PM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/9/15 12:58 AM
RE: Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures Noah 10/9/15 2:06 AM
RE: Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures Jean B. 10/11/15 4:14 AM
RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE Jean B. 10/11/15 4:31 AM
RE: Jean's practice log katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/23/15 7:30 AM
RE: Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 10/4/15 5:48 PM
RE: Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures Jean B. 10/4/15 6:03 PM
RE: Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 10/4/15 6:19 PM
RE: Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures Colleen Peltomaa 10/5/15 7:54 AM
Jean's Self-Inquiry Adventures
Answer
10/4/15 5:08 PM
I'm French so I apologize for my english...

After 1 year of serious practice (20 min meditation session, twice a day), it's been two months I meditate inconsistently, and I'm not satisfied with my practice and how things are progressing. I am seriously considering doing a retreat in the coming year, next year max. I feel that without it, I will stay still, being inconstant in my practice. My life as a young father does not seem to allow me the time needed for rapid and effective progress.

I practice anapanasati and my goal was to reach the first jhana, without success so far. I've been thinking for some time that I should start my sessions with concentration, then to switch to investigation when I feel my mind is calm and clear enough for that.

Tonight I meditated more time than I had done for some time, 70 min whereas these days I reach painfully 30 minutes. I sat beside the bed of my son who had trouble falling asleep Sitting, I fairly quickly went through the usual steps: I keep my attention on each in- and out-breath, without forcing attention. It is rather easy and the thoughts do not pollute my attention enough to permanently deviate from breathing. Pretty soon I have a first shift in my perception, attention to breathing becomes quite easy and effortless, and I draw attention to the nostrils, still fairly diffuse but localized enough so that the mind does not wander. Then I hit the same wall as all the latest sessions: numbness and thorpor came over me and I get lost in daydreams, I'm back on the breath when I realize it, but the attention remains on nostrils just a few seconds before I go back in some flow of thoughts.

After a while, I regained some vitality and clarity of mind, and I decided to begin to notice the sensations that arise. For that I rely mainly on pains that is felt around my body: lower back , feet, etc. focussing my attention to pain, and whenever possible, mentally note " pain , pain, pain " while detaching precisely every perception. I does not only make the pain more bearable, but after a while the pain dissolves in vibrations which are diluted in nearby areas of the body. Doing so on all the pains of my body, it begins to vibrate pleasantly and bliss begins to invade me starting from legs, then back, etc. and my attention goes back to the breath which amplifies the feeling of well-being. Then this wave of bliss faces a new obstacle, a new pain on which I undertake the same work of notation. I am so going back and forth between concentration and investigation, and my body becomes more and more vibration while bliss gradually invades me. The main tension, not really a pain, lies at my third eye. Bliss grows more and more, and my eyes feels attracted to look upwards and towards the center. I see light and sometimes it flashes like a strobe.

After a moment I lose patience, I want to stop but again I note that feeling of impatience, pains are back and I feel that everything is confused, it's hard to concentrate on and note anything accurately. I push forward a few moments before deciding deliberately that the session is completed. I open my eyes, check the time, 70 minutes have passed and I am surprised I've have spent so much time sitting.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/21/14 1:54 PM as a reply to Jean B..
45 minutes of meditation this morning. Certainly, meditating upon awakening does not seem very relevant to me. Attention is loose, it is very difficult for me to keep it on anything more than a few moments. Nevertheless I managed to achieve a satisfactory level of relaxation, I did a little investigation into the usual pains (lower back and feet) but with no sustained attention, it was not very successful.

I will try again meditation in the morning, maybe after a shower and a coffee the morning session will bear more fruit if I'm more alert. Otherwise, I rather feel that it is a waste of time; maybe should I investigated this feeling next time?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/22/14 5:31 AM as a reply to Jean B..
During the day, I noted as much as possible, focussing mainly on the sounds perceived by cutting them into discrete units, noting "hear , hear, hear" about 1-2 times per second. I also did this exercise on touch sensations (wind , pressure, etc...) and a widespread feeling of anxiety that I very often have at the chest. But I have trouble noting for more than a few minutes, I'm back as soon as I see that I've lost it, but I digress quickly, often because I have to manage external events: my son is crying, a friend is talking to me ... And I feel deeply that I do not take the exercise seriously because I fail to see how this simple procedure can bear fruit.

Can anyone reassure me or direct me on this?

I did another 40 min session of meditation tonight. Conclusion: torpor is really penalizing I think. Again, after about ten minutes, my attention was really inconsistent, I felt like I fell asleep for 20 minutes before coming back to a clearer mind, and did a little investigation over the last 10 minutes. Less than 1 to 1.5 hour by session, and I feel like wasting my time, unless there are things that occur during this period of torpor ? I have serious doubts about it, which makes me not serene in my practice, especially since I rarely have 1 hour or more to devote to my practice every day.

Argh...

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/22/14 12:22 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Jean B.:
During the day, I noted as much as possible, focussing mainly on the sounds perceived by cutting them into discrete units, noting "hear , hear, hear" about 1-2 times per second. I also did this exercise on touch sensations (wind , pressure, etc...) and a widespread feeling of anxiety that I very often have at the chest. But I have trouble noting for more than a few minutes, I'm back as soon as I see that I've lost it, but I digress quickly, often because I have to manage external events: my son is crying, a friend is talking to me ... And I feel deeply that I do not take the exercise seriously because I fail to see how this simple procedure can bear fruit.

Can anyone reassure me or direct me on this?

I did another 40 min session of meditation tonight. Conclusion: torpor is really penalizing I think. Again, after about ten minutes, my attention was really inconsistent, I felt like I fell asleep for 20 minutes before coming back to a clearer mind, and did a little investigation over the last 10 minutes. Less than 1 to 1.5 hour by session, and I feel like wasting my time, unless there are things that occur during this period of torpor ? I have serious doubts about it, which makes me not serene in my practice, especially since I rarely have 1 hour or more to devote to my practice every day.

Argh...


You should be doing practice during daily life. That can include noting with verbal notes or just bare attention. Secondly, the brain cannot do the practice when you're processing more information. The pupils dilate when filling up your working memory. The practice can continue when you have more spare capacity available.

There's a ton of good information I unloaded in this thread that will cover attention more:

Thinking fast and slow

You should also just focus 100% on your tasks as part of the practice. You can find an example of that in
"The Method of No Method" by Sheng Yen where those who bundle sticks as an activity well usually just pay attention to the task completely and get it done without fuss and delay.

The problem with meditation is that what it's trying to teach you is something more subtle and that's how perception and clinging occur. Everything else is just a template to work off of.

To simplify, stress is when perception views something as likable or dislikable and clinging is when the brain ruminates continuously on why those objects or likable or dislikable. The brain releases stress hormones when that happens and this is true when you rate your meditation as likable and dislikable.

Eg. Perception: "C'est merde!". Clinging: "C'est merde, parce que, parce que, parce que, parce que ... à l'infini"

When doing work and talking to people just interrupt the mental habits with a "Pourquoi?" and continue on with the tasks. You may have to ask "pourquoi?" many times before the brain lets go.

Gil Fronsdal - Mental Noting

Remember noting is about what you notice, not the mechanical verbalization.

I hope that helps!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/23/14 5:10 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Hi Jean !
ça fait plaisir de voir quelques français dans le secteur !
Anyway, for a very long time I've been switching between concentration and insight and I lost a lot of time and energy doing this, because you end up being frustrated at not getting results and so on. It's only when I really sticked to a technique that things started to really move (I'm still prepath tough).
I always thought practice in the morning was easier for everybody but reading your testimony makes me wonder if you sleep well ? When you wake up do you feel energised and clear minded or dull ?
For the retreats I've been to a few places in Belgium and France and I'm gonna try another place this summer in Germany. Let me know if you want to join in.
By the way I live in Paris.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/23/14 4:05 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
You should be doing practice during daily life. That can include noting with verbal notes or just bare attention. Secondly, the brain cannot do the practice when you're processing more information. The pupils dilate when filling up your working memory. The practice can continue when you have more spare capacity available.


I'm trying to find daily practices that do not feel artificial, at least not too much as it's clear that any practice meant to provoke a cognitive shift won't feel natural at first. Sometimes mental noting feels right, but generally bare attention is easier to sustain while interacting with tasks and people; easier to sustaint but also easier to lose, when mental noting needs more effort but is harder to forget.

I don't know if it's a good strategy to switch from one practice to another, from mental note to bare attention and reciprocally.

Richard Zen:
The problem with meditation is that what it's trying to teach you is something more subtle and that's how perception and clinging occur. Everything else is just a template to work off of.


I can see what you allude. From what you say and after reading your "insight log" thread, I got quite a shift in the way I perceive meditation. I can say I enjoyed much more the 3 last sessions in that I considered it as a very valuable source of information about the way I'm functionning. For instance, until now I considered torpor very much as an annoyment, but lately I was able to see how powerful an hindrance it is, and to actually feel some respect to it. It feels much less an obstacle (note "dislike", "unpleasant") than simply a phenomenon (and a powerful one) worth to be considered and felt in all its power.

Richard Zen:
"C'est merde!". Clinging: "C'est merde, parce que, parce que, parce que, parce que ... à l'infini"


I truly appreciate the effort emoticon

Richard Zen:
When doing work and talking to people just interrupt the mental habits with a "Pourquoi?" and continue on with the tasks. You may have to ask "pourquoi?" many times before the brain lets go.


Is "Pourquoi ?" a genuine question, or is it a way to interrupt mental routines? The fact I should ask then continue with the tasks seems like the latter to me, but I'd rather be sure.

Richard Zen:
Remember noting is about what you notice, not the mechanical verbalization.


Sounds obvious but I think I could have missed the point without those last days insights I just wrote about.

Richard Zen:
I hope that helps!


A lot, thank you.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/23/14 4:56 PM as a reply to nicolas C.
nicolas C:
Hi Jean !
ça fait plaisir de voir quelques français dans le secteur !
Anyway, for a very long time I've been switching between concentration and insight and I lost a lot of time and energy doing this, because you end up being frustrated at not getting results and so on. It's only when I really sticked to a technique that things started to really move (I'm still prepath tough).
I always thought practice in the morning was easier for everybody but reading your testimony makes me wonder if you sleep well ? When you wake up do you feel energised and clear minded or dull ?
For the retreats I've been to a few places in Belgium and France and I'm gonna try another place this summer in Germany. Let me know if you want to join in.
By the way I live in Paris.


Salut Nicolas !
Quelle surprise de lire du français en ces lieux, mais j'en croise régulièrement sur les forums anglophones. Faut dire qu'il n'y a pas grand chose en français à se mettre sous la dent sur ces sujets.

I like to begin sessions with concentration (15 to 20 minutes) then move on to insight when I feel clear minded and strong focused. Don't know if it's a good call, though. I've read a lot of testimonies which led me to think it's a good strategy, but maybe I've misunderstood them.

By the way I live in New Caledonia, a small island lost in Pacific Ocean (not very far from Australia and New Zealand), so I won't be able to share a retreat, but thanks for proposing emoticon
There are no actual retreats over here, an association was organizing Vipassana retreats (Goenka style) but they don't do it anymore. I'm thinking about going to Australia, New Zealand or even Thailand.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/23/14 4:54 PM as a reply to Jean B..
The two Sunday sessions were interesting, but I write a little too late about them, so I 'm struggling to remember them in details.

The first at the end of the morning lasted a bit more than 1 hour. It was very clear, no torpor or fatigue to report. Attention was sustained without too much effort, and quickly located to the nostrils without forcing. It was sometimes drawn out by thoughts or other parts of the body, but without it being annoying or breaking the attention to breathing.

It also seemed that finally emerged pity, it's been a moment I had not felt it during a session. It came and went in waves, sometimes growing quite powerfully, maintaining a few seconds or a few minutes, then reflux. I watched the mechanisms that could explain this phenomenon of ebb and flow, and I realized that this is the result of increased desired for pity that stopped it and caused the recession. When I wore my attention with a little too much effort and commitment, the counter-effect was a clear break and recession.

The conditions that caused the increase of pity :

  • noting "pleasant, pleasant, pleasant" while focusing on breathing.
  • remain as observer: keeping in mind that the jhana factors arise and evolve according to natural laws, and my role is to maintain the conditions necessary for their emergence.


This seemed to work pretty good, I felt swept up in a pre-jhanic state, but I felt that this increase in jhana was located in front of me. More specifically, the rise in jhana was physically located on the front of my body, and my attention was located in the back of my body. Don't know if it's normal, but somewhat it prevents from enjoying the phenomenon and maybe even prevents a genuine first jhana. Maybe I should drop any preconceived idea or expectation about what is jhana, where it should be located and so on.

I spent the last 20 minutes to oscillate between pure attention, and short phases of rapid notation (1 Hz) to intensify my presence. Notation focused primarily on pain that are usually felt me after 1 hour of practice, especially in the feet and back. Pure attention was more diffuse throughout the body, and mainly focused ont the vibratory nature of the different sensations that compose it.

The second session in the late afternoon was shorter, about forty minutes, and I especially deepened impressions of the first morning session. The concentration was dissipated and more difficult to maintain, suddenly this session seemed much less constructive, but I still had the opportunity to consider those obstacles to meditation, and for the first time I felt some sort of respect to their power and autonomy.

---

Short session this morning, about thirty minutes after spraying some cold water on the face. Good idea, no slumber to report! I mainly focused my attention on the breath and nostrils, but I did not really have time to immerse myself when my son woke up. It was time to put on my SuperDaddy costume.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/23/14 8:39 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Jean B.:
I don't know if it's a good strategy to switch from one practice to another, from mental note to bare attention and reciprocally.


Verbalizing the noting is just a feedback loop to remind you to keep noticing. If you can keep noticing consistently and can bring yourself back quickly without verbal noting then you don't need verbal noting as much. Though most advanced meditators have to bring back the awareness now and again with verbal noting even if their habit is to be in the present moment. Verbal noting is also good to use when you are trying to notice the sensations involved with thinking and paying attention. Those things can feel like a "controller"/"self" when it's just the intention to pay attention and just thinking.

Jean B.:
Is "Pourquoi ?" a genuine question, or is it a way to interrupt mental routines? The fact I should ask then continue with the tasks seems like the latter to me, but I'd rather be sure.


How you think affects how you feel. How you feel affects what choices you end up making. You ask the question "why?" to interrupt the thought stream because much of our thought stream is habitual thinking. The happy chemcials that are released from thinking about pleasant things and the unhappy chemicals from negative thinking often will guide most people like a robot program.

Every time you interrupt the habitual thought stream you decondition that habit just slightly. The more you do it the less force the mental habit will have. The next thing is to develop new habits to replace the old ones. Concentration practices like in the Brahmaviharas are the general advice. I would also recommend just looking at your life goals and breaking them down into smaller pieces. A quick way to develop motivation to achieve your goals is to daydream on purpose only the benefits of what you are trying to attain. Motivation is dopamine. Demotivation is cortisol.

Just like advertisers make their products seem like they have no downside to create appetites in prospective customers, you can direct your motivation yourself by rejecting old modes of being and paying attention to only the upsides of your goals. When you get the benefits it's important to then bask in them so the brain doesn't take it for granted and go negative. This way you are gardening your habits and removing the weeds and adding the flowers.

Inside every one of us is a garden, and every practitioner has to go back to their garden and take care of it. Maybe in the past, you left it untended for a long time. You should know exactly what is going on in your own garden, and try to put everything in order. Restore the beauty; restore the harmony in your garden. If it is well tended, many people will enjoy your garden. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh


Noting is another way of interrupting the "perception -> clinging" habit trap. Sometimes is nice to just let go and have nothing to do for a period of time but at some point you'll want to fill the time with your main values and goals. Much of our addictions aren't because we like something but because it's a way to avoid what we don't want to face. Meditation has to have a purpose beyond just feeling better but also being more functional and involved with your life.

Make sense?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/23/14 9:47 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Make sense?


Plenty, although I should digest what you wrote and get back to it from time to time.

I think a common trap among meditators is to think that by meditating, things will be handle by themselves, as if a supreme force is gonna take control and lead each of us on their personal path. Actually I'm getting used to the contrary: it's all about maintaining self-discipline, making choices and taking responsabilities.

I've always been someone unable (not willing?) to make personal choices, curious about everything but not actually getting anything 100% done. Practice is leading me to understand that no-self does not mean "no intention, no choice, no responsability"; quite the opposite actually.

Done with the off topic emoticon

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/24/14 5:46 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I did a short session this morning directly when waking up, after a few minutes of drowsiness I sat in my bed and I immediately focused my attention on the breath. Attention was difficult to maintain, I felt quite muddy as it is usually the case in the morning.

I soon realized that it was useless to force concentration, so I decided to put my time to good use and to investigate the sensations. So I practiced pure attention, trying to keep a global awareness of lights, sounds and sensations in the body that occurred to me.

The session was particularly interesting in that mentally, I really wanted to go back to bed and enjoy the remaining time to doze a little, so the seat and immobile posture sometimes seemed impossible to hold, so I took the opportunity to note these feelings of weakness, aversion, fatigue and ras-le-bol. The simple fact of noting gave them less weight and I could again move on for a few more seconds.

I "struggled" throughout the session, and when I left, it was a surprise to see that 35 minutes had passed, when I had the impression of being seated for maximum fifteen minutes only. I was also surprised to have been able to remain attentive despite the fatigue, because usually my morning sessions are rather hazy and sleepy.

---

Along with my seated sessions, I did my best yesterday to remain in pure attention as much as possible. Back to pure sensory perceptions is a good anchorage in the present, which allows me to identify quite quickly when I'm gone in daydreaming or thoughts that disconnect me from the present.

It is difficult for me to note when I am active, eg at work or when I interact with people. In such cases I come back as soon as possible to pure attention in a back-and-forth movement between my interactions and "the source". When truly outstanding phenomena present themselves to me, I note them, if possible several times when I detect changes over time.

In this way it seems to me that I sometimes perceive the vibratory nature of phenomena. Not all of course, but for some it is pretty obvious. For example with a little concentration, I will identify in widespread pain patterns of vibrations, each pulsating rhythmically (sometimes unsynchronized which makes their identification more difficult) and interfering with each other. Often it's a bit frustrating because as soon as I barely recognized a pattern with a frequency, it disappears. It is not unusual so I often can rely only on my intuition of having felt something vaguely vibratory.

But unless I take the time to take a break and focuse intenseively, perceptions of phenomena are still coarse, diffuse, especially as I feel waves of energy through my body. I also have difficulty perceiving the vibratory nature of sound and visual perceptions; of course the scenery or sounds change all the time, there is granulation to be found, but no real vibrations to report. Although this is sometimes the case with the view, when I get out of a particularly deep meditation, I open my eyes slowly and everything seems to vibrate in my environment, my attention is panoramic and broad but yet I see every leaf and grass and insects and so on... moving individually. Maybe this is it?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/25/14 9:29 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Again a short meditation this morning, a little more than thirty minutes during which I worked to sharpen my concentration.

Morning torpor finally seems to be an ally, meaning that it allows me to look for ways to stay focused without it being too intense an effort. For example, I realized this morning that torpor can be approached differently than frontly and violently. I can also deal with it, find byways, ensuring that the focus remains on the breath without it being a struggle.

To anticipate waves of torpor, surf them and just let them do their stuff without breaking contact with breathing, then tighten the attention when the torpor withdraws and allows me to do so. In the end, I spend almost all my meditation without breaking the thread of my attention on the breath, modulating its intensity depending on the intensity of torpor.

Besides this, a few reminders to allow me to stay calm and relaxed, like to think regularly to relax the face that tends to tense up when I make too much effort.

---

On the pure attention and noting side, during the day, it is not yet systematic (far from it!) and I have regularly to come back when I realize that I've lost it, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours.

Speaking of the granular perception of my environment, I think it's with the sound that it is the easiest. The sounds are always evolving, modulated in their pace or intensity, and only if I focus on the state n, then state n +1, then n +2, etc... to cut them in pieces. Sometimes it is easy, effortless, and it feels like entering in a steady stream of small discrete units, but it does not last very long.

I noticed that this "cutting" is often accompanied by involuntary jumps at sight level, like moving abruptly, changing the focal point, etc... As if these automatic changes in my vision enabled to support the entering of the granular nature of sounds. It feels quite artificial actually, sometimes I don't know if I'm doing it on purpose, or if it's just being done. It kind of bothers me sometimes.

This also happens when I do the same work on the emotions felt in the body, or pain.

Also I have no problem, with some attention, to notice physical and mental phenomenon are separated from pure attention. Looks like Mind & Body uh? But it's not automatic, I must pay attention, or else I miss the point (although it's much more easy to know physical phenomenon than mental ones as distinct from pure attention).

From what I know, I think I go through Mind & Body, Cause & Effects (eg. the "jumping sight" effect), 3C (pains and stiffness, one side of a body feeling different from the other side, and so on) and A&P (bliss, flickering lights, sometimes the sensation of entering a stream of discrete units of perception). Only some guess though, I try to not be preoccupied that much with mapping.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/2/14 3:34 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Salut Jean,
sorry for this late answer. What I meant was alternating between periods (weeks or months) of concentration and insights. This has been in general a bad move for me. As far as I can see you're doing pretty good right now. Me too I like to add a little concentration time in my sessions. Anyway I must say you have really good descriptive skills, I hope I'll be able with time to describe as well as you my experiences.
Keep up the good work

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/2/14 8:36 PM as a reply to Jean B..
The last 4 days sessions were short, when not existant as for saturday. When I have the opportunity to meditate at least 15 minutes, my strategy is rather practice concentration on breathing, in order to stay focus and concentrated for the practice of pure attention and notation for the rest of the day .

In everyday life, the return to pure attention is more easily and more frequently done throughout the day, as if it's becoming automatic. It is still far from being constant and steady, but there is a continuity increasingly significant of being present.

I also feel a notable difference between the state of being lost in thoughts, and the state of being beck to pure attention. The transition from the former to the latter is accompanied by the sensation of a weight being lifted, and a subtle wave of bliss. I focus on this feeling of bliss so that my brain registers the interest of not clinging to thoughts.

I also had a strong feeling of directly perceiving the causal relationship between body and mind. It happens at a time when I was a little worried, and I started to feel vaguely uncomfortable, I identified it as a coarse tension in the chest, immediately my breathing automatically amplified, and a feeling of well being suffused my body, followed by a much calmer state of mind. It is at this point that I thought, "Damn! must be the famous relation of Cause and Effect!" This is still a fairly crude and coarse approach, but I understood it with an evidence not yet experienced .

For now I'm still struggling to find time for seated sessions that could last more than twenty minutes, so I try as much as possible to get back to pure attention (or notation) throughout the day, so that it becomes more and more a habit.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/2/14 8:48 PM as a reply to nicolas C.
nicolas C:
sorry for this late answer. What I meant was alternating between periods (weeks or months) of concentration and insights. This has been in general a bad move for me.


It's ok! Indeed I think that a well-conducted blend between concentration & insight practice is much more constructive than switching from big period of one to big period ot the other.

nicolas C:
Anyway I must say you have really good descriptive skills, I hope I'll be able with time to describe as well as you my experiences.


I write those descriptions to keep track of my progress, so I try to be as precise as possible. Sometimes I have valuable insight by just reading descriptions I wrote a few days ago. Plus I thought it could be fun to read them in a few years!

nicolas C:
Keep up the good work


So do you :-)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/9/14 11:04 PM as a reply to Jean B..
It's been tough to keep writing the meditation journal last week! Blame it on a lack of will toward meditation sessions, always with nice excuses and pretexts.

So I took the firm resolve to stick to at least a 45 min morning session. If I can, and this will be as much as possible, I will double it with a 45-minute session in the evening. According to my schedule, I will do also a 30 min session during my lunch break. The idea is to make at least 45 minutes of meditation daily, and up to 2h30 whenever I can.

Speaking about actual meditation, the last-3-days sessions have been very interesting. I really had the feeling of getting close to the first jhana. Until recently, I needed a good 30 minutes before really letting go, keep the attention on the breath and come to a satisfactory state of concentration. Lately, a few minutes are enough to find the breath and amplify it until my whole body feels light and spacious. I also feel the attention focus. In terms of feeling as if it "collapses" into a smaller and smaller space. In terms of perceptions, after an initial period where things seem to build agitation and confusion, everything becomes more spacious, bright and clear once the thing is stabilized.

At this stage it's still a bit frustrating for me. I feel piti sometimes increases, sometimes sluggishes, sometimes disappears. One thing is sure, if I want to increase it or if I want to focus on it too soon, then it disappears. I must resist to give it too much attention, being indifferent or ignoring it, and continue concentration on the breath at the tip of the nose. At this time only, piti grows and invades me in waves of well-being of increasing intensity. Unfortunately this requires a letting go, a welcoming and a composure that I do not yet have obviously, and I usually stay there with a little taste of it.

I remain in this state rather equanimous in which I hardly feel my body if not in the form of rather slight and subtle vibrations. I take this opportunity to note what comes to my attention, everything seems finer and more subtle, easy to carefully consider .

Before yesterday I had a kind of unexpected "revelation", while I watched my breath, I noticed that I lacked air at the end of expiration, I had too much air at the end of an inspiration, I regulate air in spurts between both, and I had the distinct feeling (not expressed in words at first) that dukkha is everywhere, even in the breath. I have not analyzed it that much since then, but it hit me with a lot of evidence.

I just saw Avi Craimer saying in another topic :

I recommend starting with 1st jhana to investigate effort.


And it feels just right because fingering 1st jhana takes me a lot of effort before it settles down --- but I don't think I reach it because there is no obvious stable piti in the mix.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/11/14 9:47 PM as a reply to Jean B..
March 11, 2014

Meditation last night was unconvincing. I took paracetamol with codeine and I spent my time daydreaming, unable to stay with the breat for more than a few seconds. I spent one hour in the codeine glow, it was pretty nice but not at all constructive . Definitely better to avoid substances (weed, codeine) for meditation. A good reason to avoid them as much as I can.

Meditation this morning was torpor, lethargy and even more torpor, and the last vapors of yesterday codeine certainly did not help despite the cold water which I sprayed on my face before I sit on the cushion. 40 minutes of fighting against torpor before my son woke up.

Two very frustrating sessions.

Evening meditation a little more convincing , I drank two beers earlier in the evening but no significant effect at the time of the session. Again a torpor that made me difficult task, I constantly lost the thread of my attention, I was able to get a little more depth but remained still quite superficial.

March 12, 2014

Meditation this morning: still torpor! I struggled to stay focused on the breath for a few seconds, a few minutes at most. Sometimes I had some depth in it, at one moment I was able to keep a steady attention on breathing, I felt very intimate with my breath, with a face-to-face savor to it, a particular impression which does not leave me in doubt about the fact that I was very focused. But I lost it along the way and I was not able to return to that state.

I noticed that there are specific times when I lose the thread of attention to breathing. This is often when I gain some concentration, I relax a little and I must be even more vigilant in these times. I force myself to remain attentive to the breath, to savor the slightest fraction of a second, but sometimes that is not enough for reasons I still can not identify.

I think that that I have sometimes gone to the second jhana, after a rather hectic phase of pleasant sensations (movements of eyes upward, waves of bliss, etc.) I find myself in a calm and clear space. Let's continue the practice and see where it goes.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/13/14 6:42 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Salut Jean,

Bienvenu. Il y'a d'autres francophones ice (j' suis pas une). Bon, mercis pour tous ces notes.

Meditation last night was unconvincing. I took paracetamol with codeine and I spent my time daydreaming, unable to stay with the breat for more than a few seconds. I spent one hour in the codeine glow, it was pretty nice but not at all constructive . Definitely better to avoid substances (weed, codeine) for meditation. A good reason to avoid them as much as I can.
Ouai, c'est ça, comme vous le dites: avoid them.

Voici j'admire cette petite vidéo: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/panic-attack-live-television-22856018, l'homme explique (courageusement) comment non seulement les drogues n'a pas calmé son esprit ni rendent habile, mais les médicaments susceptibles créé son problème de santé mentale (à environ 3m22s, et ie ne promote pas son livre (je ne le sais pas; c'est son commentaire personnel J'ai aimé).

"L'engourdissement/la torpeur" (torpor) et la paresse sont super-normale. Je pense vous savez cela. Et en plus vous êtes "Papa". Ça se peut que vous devez bien dormir. Pourriez-vous faire une petite sieste (disons, 15-20 minutes), puis se lever et faire, par exemple, 20 squats peu profondes et, après ces activités, puis faire 15-20 minutes de anapanasati attentif? Juste une semaine, juste un test. bon sommeil, c'est important.

Okay, ton anglais c'est mille fois mieux que mon français, désolée. Ben.. on essaie... =]

Noting:
And I feel deeply that I do not take the exercise seriously because I fail to see how this simple procedure can bear fruit.

Can anyone reassure me or direct me on this?
Pourquoi faites-vous cela alors?

I'm trying to find daily practices that do not feel artificial,
Qui et qu'est-ce que vous a inspiré pour développer la méditation compétence, en premier lieu, si je peux vous demander?

I soon realized that it was useless to force concentration,
Exactement. C'est comme forcer un enfant à marcher peu après leur naissance: cruel et inefficace et il ruine la pratique qui pousse naturellement dans le temps.

It is difficult for me to note when I am active, eg at work or when I interact with people. I
Êtes-vous familier avec anapanasati? Cela fonctionne en fait sur le tronc cérébral et la réduction de l'anxiété au cours du temps. Par exemple, je me sers maintenant comme je panique quant à mon français étant dans le pétrin.

I also feel a notable difference between the state of being lost in thoughts, and the state of being beck to pure attention. The transition from the former to the latter is accompanied by the sensation of a weight being lifted, and a subtle wave of bliss.
Cool, utile...


I also had a strong feeling of directly perceiving the causal relationship between body and mind. It happens at a time when I was a little worried, and I started to feel vaguely uncomfortable, I identified it as a coarse tension in the chest, immediately my breathing automatically amplified, and a feeling of well being suffused my body, followed by a much calmer state of mind. It is at this point that I thought, "Damn! must be the famous relation of Cause and Effect!" This is still a fairly crude and coarse approach, but I understood it with an evidence not yet experienced .
Oui,J'ai presque oublié: cette tension en début de formation anapanasati" est tout à fait normal. Personnellement, je pense que vous avez un aperçu utile ici (et que vous avez observé ci-dessous), cependant, le souffle change également comme objet de méditation et devient un outil subtil sympathique, aussi.

I will do also a 30 min session during my lunch break.
La,il ne serait pas erroné de s'allonger sur le dos et juste souffle doucement. Si vous vous endormez, c'est correct. Cette pratique est très utile, très sympathique, la formation gentil, et ne dure qu'environ 12-20 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scqFHGI_nZE

Meditation last night was unconvincing.
Qu'entendez-vous par "convaincant" par rapport à votre formation?

Okay, good luck =)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/13/14 10:36 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
"L'engourdissement/la torpeur" (torpor) et la paresse sont super-normale. Je pense vous savez cela. Et en plus vous êtes "Papa". Ça se peut que vous devez bien dormir. Pourriez-vous faire une petite sieste (disons, 15-20 minutes), puis se lever et faire, par exemple, 20 squats peu profondes et, après ces activités, puis faire 15-20 minutes de anapanasati attentif? Juste une semaine, juste un test. bon sommeil, c'est important.


I can deal with laziness, but torpor is much more insidious and hard to fight back. I can practice early in the morning and/or late at night, when my little is sleeping, but I'm much less alert and awake at those times.

It drives me to be quite tense because I want to keep a steady and disciplined practice, but sometimes it seems just not possible (or I don't have found the right solutions yet).

15-20 minutes of apanasati seems too short, I don't see the point sitting sessions shorter than 30 minutes at least. Maybe that's wrong view from me.

But when I meditate at noon, I'm pulled in absorption much much faster than when meditating in early morning or late evening. Mayve 15-20 minutes of good and aware apanasati is much more worth than 1 hour of bad and asleep apanasati.

katy steger:
Noting:
And I feel deeply that I do not take the exercise seriously because I fail to see how this simple procedure can bear fruit.

Can anyone reassure me or direct me on this?
Pourquoi faites-vous cela alors?


I know that vipassana practice is good, that noticing bare phenomenon is worth it. I just didn't see how such a practices could lead to valuable insight. Now I've read some theorical works about how it works and it gives me much more reassurance about the efficiency of this procedure. I just needed some intellectual foundations in order to be able to spend time doing it with confidence.

katy steger:
I'm trying to find daily practices that do not feel artificial,
Qui et qu'est-ce que vous a inspiré pour développer la méditation compétence, en premier lieu, si je peux vous demander?


Let's try to keep that long story short... I was a very rational and scientist young man who stepped on cosmology and quantic physics vulgarization, realizing that we don't know nothing and that consciousness and the mind play a large part in our relation to the universe. Then I had a LSD trip 6 years ago which allowed me to get in close touch with an all-pervasive layer beyond everyday perceptions. Then I spent a few years reading a lot about all metaphysical and spiritual systems : philosophy (Badiou / Deleuze / Nietzsche / Platon / etc.), kabbalah, soufism, alchemy, christian orthodoxy, hindouism, etc, etc. Then 3 years ago I had a strong tension between my intellectual comprehension of where all these traditions pointed to, and the lack of perceptual changes in my everyday life. So I looked for a practice, at first following AYPsite.org deep meditation, then took initiation for Kriya Yoga and practiced it for a year, then back to AYP. A few months ago I read a lot about buddhism, which I had wrong ideas about, and it suited so well my own approach that I choosed it to be my main practice. So far, so good.

katy steger:
It is difficult for me to note when I am active, eg at work or when I interact with people. I
Êtes-vous familier avec anapanasati? Cela fonctionne en fait sur le tronc cérébral et la réduction de l'anxiété au cours du temps. Par exemple, je me sers maintenant comme je panique quant à mon français étant dans le pétrin.


I'm becoming quite familiar with anapanasati, as I've been practicing it daily for 3 months now. Indeed the breath is good "home sweet home" where I like to focus my attention back as much as I can.

katy steger:
I also had a strong feeling of directly perceiving the causal relationship between body and mind. It happens at a time when I was a little worried, and I started to feel vaguely uncomfortable, I identified it as a coarse tension in the chest, immediately my breathing automatically amplified, and a feeling of well being suffused my body, followed by a much calmer state of mind. It is at this point that I thought, "Damn! must be the famous relation of Cause and Effect!" This is still a fairly crude and coarse approach, but I understood it with an evidence not yet experienced .
Oui,J'ai presque oublié: cette tension en début de formation anapanasati" est tout à fait normal. Personnellement, je pense que vous avez un aperçu utile ici (et que vous avez observé ci-dessous), cependant, le souffle change également comme objet de méditation et devient un outil subtil sympathique, aussi.


I had this little insight outside of the cushion, in the bathroom when brushing my teeth actually emoticon

I had one of the most subtle and nice feeling with breathing when I first started practicing anapasati, but generally it's still quite coarse and not very subtle.

katy steger:
I will do also a 30 min session during my lunch break.
La,il ne serait pas erroné de s'allonger sur le dos et juste souffle doucement. Si vous vous endormez, c'est correct. Cette pratique est très utile, très sympathique, la formation gentil, et ne dure qu'environ 12-20 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scqFHGI_nZE


Do you mean that during my lunch break, I should get some light focus on breathing for 15-20 min rather than a actual anapasati session?

katy steger:
Meditation last night was unconvincing.
Qu'entendez-vous par "convaincant" par rapport à votre formation?


Torpor, presence very hard to maintain, I can't help but find those sessions pointless and useless. Maybe I'm just too hard with myself (my wife thinks so! but she doesn't share my will to progress and get enlightened).

katy steger:
Okay, good luck =)


Thanks katy, for your advices and for taking some time for me.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/14/14 11:11 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Hi Jean,

In your OP,
My life as a young father does not seem to allow me the time needed for rapid and effective progress.
yet
A few months ago I read a lot about buddhism, which I had wrong ideas about, and it suited so well my own approach that I choosed it to be my main practice.
and
I'm becoming quite familiar with anapanasati, as I've been practicing it daily for 3 months now. Indeed the breath is good "home sweet home" where I like to focus my attention back as much as I can.
This all seems effective and efficient so far, to me.

So torpor (physical lethargy, fatigue; distinct from mental dullness, sloth):
Torpor, presence very hard to maintain, I can't help but find those sessions pointless and useless.
So this is like the breathing insight you had while brushing your teeth. Just with breathing, it's hard to be too critical of that action, right? Because basically breathing goes on if you do, so you also know breathing as an ally (say, while doing athletics) and also as just an action that is overlooked/ignored.

So, too, is torpor: it's just part of the physical body, an indication the body needs its daily repair time. But there may be a tendency to think one can just, voila, somehow somersault past the brain's sleep drives (which we don't do for breathing drives). For how long have you been a new dad? As you know the first few months are ridiculously sleepless and the first few years can be a big relationship-life adjustment and be subtly exhausting.


[Link I recommended]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scqFHGI_nZE

Do you mean that during my lunch break, I should get some light focus on breathing for 15-20 min rather than a actual anapasati session?

No, because this noon experience seems to be what is personally gratifying as well as giving you direct experience of absorption:
But when I meditate at noon, I'm pulled in absorption much much faster than when meditating in early morning or late
evening.


I was thinking three things
1) since you want to train with physical torpor, Daniel Goleman's video is a nice way to start working with the mind when it's exhausted and still looking for actual sleep. So for me, I used to wake up, have my coffee, do something like this video and have an alarm set for 20 minutes. I anticipated that I'd probably enter a light doze, but I'd do this practice with just attention on the breath. Then when 20 minutes past, I'd get up (though my body wanted more sleeping), do something to boost my circulation, then I'd sit. There were several benefits:
a) I didn't create a fight between "my" mind and the body's state at the moment,
b) I reduced a budding arrogance and attachment of seemingly-personal (mind,executive function) consciousness over body consciousness (which in turn gave me more gentleness with others, though subtle),
c) my mind would be loose but then mind was also wakeful and willing to just follow the breath then for 20 minutes/to gently be brought back to the breath again and again (It would be less inclined to do/ to "know" /to over-reach its direct knowledge (which can be similar to the mind that reads, your examples here, Badiou/Deleuze/Plato and may be using those authors to insist on knowledge/clever framing/excess control in/premature/over-reaching understanding of existence -- which is totally fair use of philosophy and logic, too ))
I still use this sometimes use this approach in the morning (i- reclined relaxed with an alarm, ii- get up and circulate (e.g.,yoga), iii-anapanasati.) Torpor is still sometimes an issue; sometimes I can "attention" my way through it; sometimes I just see that's arrogance and the body needs sleep (which is a time when the mind and body gets some biological repair anyway).

2) And, yes, what you said here is true for me:
Mayve 15-20 minutes of good and aware apanasati is much more worth than 1 hour of bad and asleep apanasati.
But there's no bad anapanasati. Sometimes when I've been falling over with sleep, the mind jerks to alertness on its own. Sometimes I just have tipped over and realized, "Sleep is what's skillful here". I get up and go to bed/to the couch and just take that actual nap.

3) And lastly, how you treat yourself is likely to be how you may treat others. It's totally okay if you like to and have succeeded with "pushing through" physical limits, however, those same "successful" seeds of consciousness have downsides (can build oneself up too much at the expense of oneself and one's own practice and in regards to friends and family, too. It's natural to have superman ideals, these are useful drivers of effort. One day, these also are seen as impeding tools. So I'm not saying that you're doing this. I'm relating my own practice, efforts and experience for your consideration : )


Thanks katy, for your advices and for taking some time for me.
Thank you for investigating your mind and sharing your practice!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/16/14 11:56 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Katy,

katy steger:
In your OP,
My life as a young father does not seem to allow me the time needed for rapid and effective progress.
yet
A few months ago I read a lot about buddhism, which I had wrong ideas about, and it suited so well my own approach that I choosed it to be my main practice.
and
I'm becoming quite familiar with anapanasati, as I've been practicing it daily for 3 months now. Indeed the breath is good "home sweet home" where I like to focus my attention back as much as I can.
This all seems effective and efficient so far, to me.

So torpor (physical lethargy, fatigue; distinct from mental dullness, sloth):
Torpor, presence very hard to maintain, I can't help but find those sessions pointless and useless.
So this is like the breathing insight you had while brushing your teeth. Just with breathing, it's hard to be too critical of that action, right? Because basically breathing goes on if you do, so you also know breathing as an ally (say, while doing athletics) and also as just an action that is overlooked/ignored.

So, too, is torpor: it's just part of the physical body, an indication the body needs its daily repair time. But there may be a tendency to think one can just, voila, somehow somersault past the brain's sleep drives (which we don't do for breathing drives). For how long have you been a new dad? As you know the first few months are ridiculously sleepless and the first few years can be a big relationship-life adjustment and be subtly exhausting.


That's is very right. I guess I know all you say, but somehow I'm not able to apply it unto myself. I should definitely be less harsh with myself. Breathing is natural, torpor is natural. All of this is natural, not an enemy against whom I should struggle. I need to find the right pace and lead my practice in good balance with my husband-and-father responsabilities.

katy steger:

[Link I recommended]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scqFHGI_nZE

Do you mean that during my lunch break, I should get some light focus on breathing for 15-20 min rather than a actual anapasati session?

No, because this noon experience seems to be what is personally gratifying as well as giving you direct experience of absorption:
But when I meditate at noon, I'm pulled in absorption much much faster than when meditating in early morning or late
evening.


Indeed and as far as I can say, noon sessions (even short ones like 15 or 20 minutes) are very profitable. I can enter pre-jhanic states pretty fastly, and feel refreshed for sometimes after. Today I was focusing on breath, then on the tip of nostrils, then on the light pressure waves I have at third eye, then on the pleasantness of those waves... I think I lost myself for a few seconds and then Boom! I entered a space of light and bliss, it's like I've been sinking in the third eye spot only to resurface in a ocean of light and bliss. But I got excited and this state immediately vanished, with a quite appreciable after glow nonetheless. Definitely encouraging.

katy steger:
I was thinking three things
1) since you want to train with physical torpor, Daniel Goleman's video is a nice way to start working with the mind when it's exhausted and still looking for actual sleep. So for me, I used to wake up, have my coffee, do something like this video and have an alarm set for 20 minutes. I anticipated that I'd probably enter a light doze, but I'd do this practice with just attention on the breath. Then when 20 minutes past, I'd get up (though my body wanted more sleeping), do something to boost my circulation, then I'd sit. There were several benefits:
a) I didn't create a fight between "my" mind and the body's state at the moment,
b) I reduced a budding arrogance and attachment of seemingly-personal (mind,executive function) consciousness over body consciousness (which in turn gave me more gentleness with others, though subtle),
c) my mind would be loose but then mind was also wakeful and willing to just follow the breath then for 20 minutes/to gently be brought back to the breath again and again (It would be less inclined to do/ to "know" /to over-reach its direct knowledge (which can be similar to the mind that reads, your examples here, Badiou/Deleuze/Plato and may be using those authors to insist on knowledge/clever framing/excess control in/premature/over-reaching understanding of existence -- which is totally fair use of philosophy and logic, too ))
I still use this sometimes use this approach in the morning (i- reclined relaxed with an alarm, ii- get up and circulate (e.g.,yoga), iii-anapanasati.) Torpor is still sometimes an issue; sometimes I can "attention" my way through it; sometimes I just see that's arrogance and the body needs sleep (which is a time when the mind and body gets some biological repair anyway).

2) And, yes, what you said here is true for me:
Mayve 15-20 minutes of good and aware apanasati is much more worth than 1 hour of bad and asleep apanasati.
But there's no bad anapanasati. Sometimes when I've been falling over with sleep, the mind jerks to alertness on its own. Sometimes I just have tipped over and realized, "Sleep is what's skillful here". I get up and go to bed/to the couch and just take that actual nap.

3) And lastly, how you treat yourself is likely to be how you may treat others. It's totally okay if you like to and have succeeded with "pushing through" physical limits, however, those same "successful" seeds of consciousness have downsides (can build oneself up too much at the expense of oneself and one's own practice and in regards to friends and family, too. It's natural to have superman ideals, these are useful drivers of effort. One day, these also are seen as impeding tools. So I'm not saying that you're doing this. I'm relating my own practice, efforts and experience for your consideration : )


That is very valuable advices and I think you made me realize some things, I've been reading it a few times over last days and I certainly appreciate your words even if I'm not a 100% sure how. Sounds encouraging and reassuring, driving me to put right efforts where they should be: in sitting sessions of course, but also on loving kindness and presence with my relatives, on mindfulness during everyday life, etc.

I've built some kind of reflexe to regularly take a step backward during the day, observe the state I'm in and "atomize" it in componing factors : bare physical sensations, felt emotions & mental representations. Yesterday I focused on my jaws vibrating, I know there are a lot of tensions building over here, so I tried to feel these tensions with a growing subtlety, then it was like I could feel all vibrations, then I could feel tiny vibrations componing these first vibrations, and so on... and the goal was not to stop or freeze those vibrations, but to allow me to be with them, to accompany it so there it no more tensions, because I became those vibrations. It results in a state of relaxation and bliss very enjoyable. I could also see mental shaping of these vibrations, like living curbs and graphics, but I could tell what was bare physical sensations and what was mental images built on them. Don't know if I'm relating well, but it made sense to me.

katy steger:

Thanks katy, for your advices and for taking some time for me.
Thank you for investigating your mind and sharing your practice!


Then thanks to both of us!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/17/14 9:28 PM as a reply to Jean B..
18/03/2014 - So close to first jhana on a toilet seat

Today at noon I did a 30-35 min anapanasati session on the toilet seat where I work. Sounds weird, but we have 4 WC rooms so I'm quite sure I won't be disturbed when I'm there emoticon

I got locked on the tip of the nose pretty quickly, then I felt the arising of a nimitta, some piti came by and I focused on the pleasantness of that feeling, which grew and grew quite intensively. I had some rush of excitment but I managed to keep them down and to focus back on pleasantness as much as I could. On the verge of being overwhelmed by piti, a flow of thoughts occured about how it was going to be marvelous, how it was going to be a good story for DhO forum, and so on and so on....

Aaaaaand I lost it.

BUT! it's been several times I've been able to get closer and closer to 1st jhana, I think it is a matter of days before I can enter a quite solid 1st jhana.

Aside from that, I'm still investigating my moods and perceptions during the day. No big insight to share, but I'm seeing rather like an habit I'm slowly building.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/17/14 10:12 PM as a reply to Jean B..
good balance with my husband-and-father responsabilities.


Who better to teach absorptive calm than your sleeping baby in the lap? Here one can sit in shared heat and breath and ease, so basically. Your sleeping, content baby in the lap is an ideal teacher. Who is more qualified to ask the Badiou-Deleuze-Plato-et-al-chasing mind than an infant reminder of one's first condition in life? This practice every day, resting, comfortable, breathing at a window together.


Does it make sense that when the time is right, a rigorous, effortful practice will naturally occur (edit: or spontaneously or very naturally as I now see you describe up-thread)? This rigor can happen on one weekend hour when you have the house to yourself, or it can happen naturally for months on end just because energy returns, small mental shifts occur. What do you think of just having your son in the lap at least once a day say, a daily practice at the window together for the next three weeks, his nap & your wide-angle soft-focus attention through the window at sky or tree tops, wide-view..., when he is sleeping, you both at the window where you can let your gaze goes very wide and just be five-sensate and share this with your small teacher?


_________
edit: I am so tempted to delete this post on the basis of your clearly relaxed WC jhana. So useful!

[edit 2: simplified..]

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/17/14 10:24 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
What do you think of just having your son in the lap at least once a day, say, a daily practice at the window together for the next three weeks, his nap & your wide-angle soft-focus attention through the window at sky or tree tops, wide-view...


Since a few days I like to practice in the evening, sitting next to his bed when he's sleeping. Sometimes he has trouble sleeping and I'd just keep his hand in mine and listen to his breath fading and widening slowly, it's a good intro for my own practice.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/18/14 7:40 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yesterday evening session was quite curious. Locked focus on tip of the nose took place quite rapidly. Concentration was fine. I felt waves of release coming down my body, from third eye to feet. I was able to focus and zoom on a pain in the foot, to feel it as actual vibrations, and to release it just by watching it closely and watching all mental images and emotions that arose in the process.

But piti never arose, and although I found myself going deeper and deeper into myself, feeling my body lesser and lesser with each breath, keep a clear and undull mind in the whole process, everything felt neutral and void of any feelings. It was quite disturbing, I tried to focus on pleasant sensations but found no one. I wondered why everything was so cold and neutral at this point, it bothered me quite a bit. I felt stuck, unable to move further. It was neutral but not equanimous because I was disturbed and thinking and wondering.

I had an insight, telling me that I felt that way because I was short of warmness myself, so I decided it was a good moment to do some metta practice (which I never did). I called for mental images of loved ones, my son, my wife, trying to feel warm and loving about them, but nothing came. Everything remained neutral, cold, still. I was at peace physically, with a calm mind but with thinking obviously occuring.

I don't know if it's normal, wrong, unimportant, food for further investigation... Does someone has experienced such a state? Does it mean anything?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/18/14 10:17 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yesterday evening session was quite curious. Locked focus on tip of the nose took place quite rapidly. Concentration was fine. I felt waves of release coming down my body, from third eye to feet. I was able to focus and zoom on a pain in the foot, to feel it as actual vibrations, and to release it just by watching it closely and watching all mental images and emotions that arose in the process.

But piti never arose, and although I found myself going deeper and deeper into myself, feeling my body lesser and lesser with each breath, keep a clear and undull mind in the whole process, everything felt neutral and void of any feelings. It was quite disturbing, I tried to focus on pleasant sensations but found no one. I wondered why everything was so cold and neutral at this point, it bothered me quite a bit. I felt stuck, unable to move further. It was neutral but not equanimous because I was disturbed and thinking and wondering.

I had an insight, telling me that I felt that way because I was short of warmness myself, so I decided it was a good moment to do some metta practice (which I never did). I called for mental images of loved ones, my son, my wife, trying to feel warm and loving about them, but nothing came. Everything remained neutral, cold, still. I was at peace physically, with a calm mind but with thinking obviously occuring.

I don't know if it's normal, wrong, unimportant, food for further investigation... Does someone has experienced such a state? Does it mean anything?
In my opinion formed from my own ongoing experience, Jean, if "you' were in this mediation, if you were perceiving this stuff, then this is your own personal awareness having an experience of dukkha nanas, or in perhaps a Tibetan tradition 'excess wind'-- Just the mental object of "anxiety" and "cold-remove" active in a form that is personally compelling for something personally generated.That is useful; it is like a nightmare pointing out something you do, but that you may find special/gratifying/energizing even by its alarm.

You are right I agree with you about fourth jhana being without disturbance, but I will add (for my experience) that the way the mind is magnetized to the object, even the absorption of equanimity has something like a solutions-mind, a well-being mind/non-harm mind. So if EQ-mind faces a suffering it is also perceiving cause-and-effect simultaneously and identifying the cause to be removed (to end the effect (or just experiencing the causality clearly, almost proprioceptively)). So in this case, if EQ jhana had been present, then the seed generating this disturbing mental formation, in my limited experience, would have been seen clearly and the EQ-mind would dissolve that harmful cause, like spotting a sharp tack on the floor and putting that back in the cork board, away from a harmful potential.

Also: for me cold feeling is very, very typical when my mind is going through or about to experience dukkha nanas.

You thoughts?

Your meditation hand and hand with son was a fine tip, thank you.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/18/14 11:56 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
In my opinion formed from my own ongoing experience, Jean, if "you' were in this mediation, if you were perceiving this stuff, then this is your own personal awareness having an experience of dukkha nanas, or in perhaps a Tibetan tradition 'excess wind'-- Just the mental object of "anxiety" and "cold-remove" active in a form that is personally compelling for something personally generated.That is useful; it is like a nightmare pointing out something you do, but that you may find special/gratifying/energizing even by its alarm.


Not sure I'm accurately understanding your point here. Are you saying that "I" (my awareness) was itself experiencing "anxiety / neutrality / coldness", a mental formation which it finds gratifying--- worth grasping ---despite its not-so-obvious unpleasantness?

Could it be that this mental formation appeared with a particular purity because it was detached from physical and/or emotional phenomena which it is usually blended with? Actually I was wondering where this neutral coldness came from, and it hits me that it came from me, and only from me.

Maybe I'm over interpretating here. I try to express what your words made me feel.

Next time I think I should investigate all the componing feelings, and see how they are impermanent / painful / not-self, rather than focus on the content.

katy steger:
You are right I agree with you about fourth jhana being without disturbance, but I will add (for my experience) that the way the mind is magnetized to the object, even the absorption of equanimity has something like a solutions-mind, a well-being mind/non-harm mind. So if EQ-mind faces a suffering it is also perceiving cause-and-effect simultaneously and identifying the cause to be removed (to end the effect (or just experiencing the causality clearly, almost proprioceptively)). So in this case, if EQ jhana had been present, then the seed generating this disturbing mental formation, in my limited experience, would have been seen clearly and the EQ-mind would dissolve that harmful cause, like spotting a sharp tack on the floor and putting that back in the cork board, away from a harmful potential.


I'm quite shocked to read you speaking about fourth jhana. I don't think I've been able to reach even the first one! Maybe I don't recognize piti for what it is. I'm looking for some quite orgasmic rising sensation, but if piti is a sensation of well-being when sinking in one's own depths, then definitely I've found piti.

But the one-pointedness of the breath is not that stable and I often found my mind wandering, thinking about this and that... although I must admit it's quite effortless to cut them and get back to the breath.

So on the one hand I think I've not reach first jhana yet, on the other hand you're speaking about fourth jhana... I'm confused, especially as I was able to reach this neutral/cold/almost-equanimous state in half an hour. I would be rather surprised if it was a genuine fourth jhana.

katy steger:
Also: for me cold feeling is very, very typical when my mind is going through or about to experience dukkha nanas.

You thoughts?


If you're right, then "bring it on" emoticon

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/19/14 8:10 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Not sure I'm accurately understanding your point here. Are you saying that "I" (my awareness) was itself experiencing "anxiety / neutrality / coldness", a mental formation which it finds gratifying--- worth grasping ---despite its not-so-obvious unpleasantness?
Well, yes, in my experience, there are many ways I can be asserting myself in meditation, versus training the mind to be singularly attentive to its object.

Basically, I could be sitting with a mild unwillingness, so maybe I have thoughts of chores and work coming up.

Or I could be sitting with excess-yearning-for-something-"meditative"-to-happen: this kind of yearning, a pressing for something to happen could cause me to create mental formations that were anxious/tense/expectant and cold (sometimes both mentally and physically, sometimes just mental aloofness/cool remove, sometimes just physically cold or chilled) or conversely, ecstatic and warm and exhilarating-- neither of these are jhana, they are just me wanting something and so, yes, some sort of mirage experience is created, like a sci-fi movie builds a great monster or fairy by showing an incomplete and an only-hinted-at picture: that is a wonderful movie trick.

It's excellent to notice these suggestive stories and the sensations. And then to just return to the object, as in the breath, if one is practicing anapanasati (or on another being if one is practicing metta,etc).

____
Could it be that this mental formation appeared with a particular purity because it was detached from physical and/or emotional phenomena which it is usually blended with? Actually I was wondering where this neutral coldness came from, and it hits me that it came from me, and only from me
I agree with this: these are created mental formations.***

That's normal and it's good to see what's happening. However, if the mind is not willing to return its object of training (say the breath, either body wide or at the nostril-lip area) then clearly the mental formations are more gratifying than the training in mental stabilization and absorption.

It's okay. It is very normal that the way of using the brain that has gotten one through life ~ a director ~ is not quite ready to stand down and release the steady streams of gratifications it gets from directing itself and framing everything.

So to go into meditative training, one is asking the the directing brain to sort of go get a massage and not tell the masseuse what to do. Just keep asking the mind to lay on its object, so to speak. Just stay at the object: breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out.

This is not a trance. This is steady attention and lessening any straining to do cultivate steady attention (sometimes by using with countermeasures like gentleness, friendliness, gratitude, etc). Anapanasati is a whole remedy system to countering tension/strain: training the mind in a pleasurable way to come to equanimity.

It is very normal for the mind to rebel against this: it is a very simple game, not the usual constant directing-&-gratification cascade the mind usually coordinates for itself around objects. Still mind is asked to truly welcome just laying its attention in the object, like someone very agitated receiving a massage is asked not to keep jumping up from the table, but to enjoy just the simple activity, just relax and stay with the object.

This is also why I respect and really like your practice of holding you son's hand during his nap. Just breathing. just breathing, just breathing. Director-mind may, too, decide to take a nap into the hammock of its attention-object. breath.


I'm looking for some quite orgasmic rising sensation, but if piti is a sensation of well-being when sinking in one's own depths, then definitely I've found piti.
I think piti is a very athletic feeling. Sometimes the energetic sensations can actually seem to accumulate in the groin because a) that's gratifying and the mind is used to directing traffic (experiences) in ways that it knows are gratifying and b) because the sitting posture certainly has the groin just wide open.

But if that doesn't happen and the energy is allowed to build, sometimes the energetic sensations seem to accumulate in the head area and that can be alarming: is my head doing to explode?

Finally, piti can just be allowed to become suffusive, fully saturate the body everywhere and that, to me, feels "athletic"... but everyone has their words for this.

Eventually, that arising of energy will pass and like a high tide and stormy water going back down, what is left behind is a very comfortable, even low, steady, suffusive comfortableness; one may not even know where hands and feet are; like high tide and storm waves that have washed away sand castles, piti leaves behind deeply, calm sukkha and can seem to have washed away mind's connection to its own body markers (locations of hands, feet, knowing where arms and chest are, etc). Now with sukkha, one is experiencing deep calm, maybe even breath is very subtle--- and this can be very provocative for the mind anew ("Where's my breath!?") or maybe one is not worried about finding the breath now, just letting the mind steady itself here in subtle "terrain", ***like a small boat on a black night drifting: one doesn't want to fall asleep, but also one does not want to sense the darkness in a way that would fabricate sound-sight-feeling-other objects from the just-darkness. Here one just gets accustomed to losing the breath and letting mind be okay with not having that subtle object, and so on.


Anyway, just my thoughts. Clearly you know the practice is yours, training with mind-to-object, not looking for anything people have said or written for themselves.

I'm quite shocked to read you speaking about fourth jhana. I don't think I've been able to reach even the first one! (...) on the other hand you're speaking about fourth jhana.
I just raised that because you wrote: "I wondered why everything was so cold and neutral at this point, it bothered me quite a bit. I felt stuck, unable to move further. It was neutral but not equanimous because I was disturbed and thinking and wondering." By raising the word "equanimous" I thought you were raising the topic of jhana that is suffusively equanimous -- just raising it, not suggesting it had happened. So I just wrote about it in general and in support of your point: equanimity doesn't have disruptedness in it

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/19/14 8:27 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:

So to go into meditative training, one is asking the the directing brain to sort of go get a massage and not tell the masseuse what to do. Just keep asking the mind to lay on its object, so to speak. Just stay at the object: breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out.

This is not a trance. This is steady attention and lessening any straining to do cultivate steady attention (sometimes by using with countermeasures like gentleness, friendliness, gratitude, etc). Anapanasati is a whole remedy system to countering tension/strain: training the mind in a pleasurable way to come to equanimity.

It is very normal for the mind to rebel against this: it is a very simple game, not the usual constant directing-&-gratification cascade the mind usually coordinates for itself around objects. Still mind is asked to truly welcome just laying its attention in the object, like someone very agitated receiving a massage is asked not to keep jumping up from the table, but to enjoy just the simple activity, just relax and stay with the object.


I really like that. Just the right words to ease the transition from contemplation to a more concentrated but relaxed and pliable meditative mode. Thanks.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/19/14 9:20 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thanks again for your words, Katy. I agree with John Wilde, they make sense and are a great help.

I can see how this is all a game, and I truly like that game. So much to learn about ourselves, how exciting. Sometimes I just forget that this whole thing needs time to setup, and that my mind will rebel and play tricks along the way. Each new experience is just so surprising and unexpected that I can't help but wonder what's going on.

Indeed the mind rebels against anapanasati practice, that evening it was very hard to focus back on in-and-out breath. It was like there was no point in getting back to the breath, it took too much effort. I think noticing componing factors of such a state and gently but firmly coming back to the breath could be a good strategy. Can't wait for the next session!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/20/14 6:16 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
Jean and John,

Thank you both, too. By sharing with each other from our respective practices, it helps me a lot too.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/23/14 11:54 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I got a nice insight recently.

Before I would consider my mental states as a block, as a solid amalgam of thoughts.
Then I would see it as a set of thoughts, closely interacting each with others, with a few breakthroughs to a state of blank calmness.

Since a few says, without effort or willing so, I've been sometimes perceiving my mind as a space, rather calm, and whenever I watch attentively, I can see a thought entering that space, and shut it down if it's not useful. I see that thought arising, have the intention of stopping it, and see it passing away. Of course it requires vigilance from my part, but it has happened automatically, without trying anything or thinking about it ; I just noticed I could do so.

Apart from that, I follow my habitual set of practices, with at least 20 min of daily sitting practice, with say 10-15 of concentration then bare attention with some noting to stay focus.

I have strong pressures since a few days, sometimes diffused in the forehead, sometimes very narrow focused at third eye level. It's annoying when it's strong, which is quite often. I try to watch these sensations closely and notice as much details as I can, seeing each component arise, sustain and pass. I don't know if it's leading anywhere but sometimes it helps to ease it all. When going to sleep, I would focus on these sensations, and feel them diffusing more and more through the head, then the torso, then the whole body. I would feel a peak of pressure narrowing more and more in the head, with the strong intuition that going to full intensity would release all that tension. But I can't go that further, so it's still just a guess.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/24/14 5:38 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I've been watching those head pressures lately, and it's quite clear to me that it remains like that because of some grasping and/or inability to let go. When I watch attentively the vibrations componing these pressures, the knot unties slowly but it requires I let go of everything and just let things happen, and I can't help but tense and get in the way.

Yesterday somehow I was able to go further in untying the knot, I felt the "I"-sense dissolving in the process, I tensed and jerked a few times but was able to let go a bit more than usual, and I felt a big release which lasts until now.

Those pressures are definitively teaching me some lessons here...

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/25/14 7:49 PM as a reply to Jean B..
More on those pressures.

Investigating them, I feel first a very coarse sensation of a big wave a pressure thumping on my forehead, sometimes centered, sometimes above the left or the right eye.

Then, by watching it closely, I can see it is componed of 2 or 3 smaller vibrations, still very coarse though. Watching closely even more, I can feel smaller vibrations, all interacting one with another, and doing their thing completely out of sync.

The more I'm able to relax and let go, the more they synchronize, and the more the sensation gets diffused in the whole head, smoothing.

Everytime I step in the way, the tension gets back and remains until I'm able to let go.

It's like everything get out of sync when the " I " sense gets in the way. When I allow things to do their stuff, it all fits and the vibrations are much much subtler and smoother. But for that to happen, I need to allow myself to get lost in the process, and I feel like I'm grasping on the " I "-sense which triggers the pressures back.

Yesterday evening I would feel-- at last ! --my jaws dropping with a big release of the tension stocked inside, it was so good I could not believe I would feel my jaws so relaxed one day. But the remaining tension gathers in the forehead and upper at crown level, and I can feel my whole face relaxing more and more, but the intensity of the vibrations at crown level grows bigger.

So I feel a bit stuck regarding the whole thing. Should I continue with this investigation, is it a good thing to have this tension building at crown level? The release I felt on my face and jaws was so good, I can't help but thinking that the more I practice, the more it will settle eventually.

I imagine the day these vibrations will sync and the tension at crown level will release, I could cry for joy because these pressures in the head have been there since 2 years now, sometimes subtle and sometimes very present and annoying.

I know it gets back, one evening I release tension and it's back in the morning, but with time and practice it should settle down progressively. Should be careful with lust of results though.

I don't know is this whole thing make sense to you readers, if anyone can relate to this, I would appreciate any comment!

Have a good day everyone.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/26/14 6:54 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Pressures, pressures...

But not only ! Also I feel tired, I procrastinate a lot and have to be very effortful to get my things done (especially at work which is a bit of a problem). I feel tired, uncomfortable, sometimes quite anxious about social interactions (espacially at work as well).

Lots of tension in the jaws, forehead and crown. Upper back is often tensed, I have to acknowledge it and consciously relax my shoulders. The whole thing builds up to those head pressures.

It still in the foreground so sometimes I can't notice much more.

I haven't been practicing much lately, it seems like concentration or insight practice just make the pressures worse. I only do some relaxation, and watch and decompose the pressures in my head to diffuse them and get some relief.

When I have this relief in my jaws and face (but still strongly present at the crown), I can imagine how equanimous I'd feel if this relief could be complete at last, with everything synchronizing & smoothing.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/26/14 7:54 PM as a reply to Jean B..
If there's tension in the head make sure you relax your face and body from time to time.

In daily life it may be better to let go of ALL thoughts so any strategizing or analyzing about the practice can quiet down. When there's relief then act.

Try and get that feeling of wanting to meditate, and the relaxation that happens when people anticipate they are going to meditate, and relax the thoughts in the middle of daily tasks instead. It doesn't matter where your body is. It's what the mind is doing. For example: When meditators are going to isolate themselves in a room and meditate there's some relaxation of thoughts and relief just before they start. Try and bring this up in between daily tasks. When the mind is truly quiet, notice how much more functional you'll be.

Sometimes there's major aversion to doing a task (perception) and preparing your brain for meditation first and then acting second should relieve a lot of stress. Drop all strategizing about the practice (including what I'm telling you) in order to get a quiet mind. It should feel like the perception muscle in your head is relaxed (kind of caved in) while you are doing your tasks. When thoughts interrupt (which they will because they are habits) then relinquish them and return to that relief like you're about to meditate except you're doing this while washing dishes.

Of course keep practicing!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/29/14 9:28 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Saturday, March 29, 2014

Meditation in the late morning , 55 minutes. Relaxation and wellness arrived very quickly. Then things became confused with torpor. I return to breathing when I realized having deflected, continuously, with calm and patience. Then I got to a stage where I was here, really here and now, but with a lot of boredom. I had physical sensations rather unusual, weirdly bright and vivid compared to what it was. Agitation came up and I stopped meditation.

Hypothesis: the feeling of boredom and restlessness is mental formation, I must observe with detachment and neutrality , consider how it arises and persists. This is another hindrance.

---

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Meditation in the late morning, 75 min . First coarse relaxation of each body part, then focus on breathing. Deep relaxation, well-being. Attention to breath easy and continuous. Then, as usual, come torpor and confusion. Daydreaming, thoughts, return to breath when I realize I'm off.

After 45 min (estimated) , things become clearer. I'm here, right here, good to be here. No effort to stay present and relaxed. Boredom overtakes me, I watch this boredom. Among other transient sensations of pain, itching and restlessness, nagging foot pain back regularly annoys me. I draw attention to the nostrils and observe this pain every time it is too strong. This relaxes me and the pain can become an object of attention, which deepens my state of concentration. I come back regularly to breath.

I make sure never to force attention on the breath. I prefer to come back if I left, without tension or guilt. I feel that it is much softer, longer to settle but easier to maintain, and I do not feel pressure at the third eye.

Towards the end of the meditation I can be focused on the breath at the end of the nose, the concentration becomes deep, dizzying, I feel my body become warm and very relaxed. At long, foot pain becomes difficult to bear, so I decided to move the leg slowly and mindfully. Despite my precautions, it breaks the concentration, and the pain does not really disappear despite several attempts to take another position, so I decide to go out quietly in meditation.

I do some stretching to warm up before getting out of my room. I feel fine and refreshed.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/30/14 6:29 PM as a reply to Jean B..
You from 3/23:
I see that thought arising, have the intention of stopping it, and see it passing away.


and you from 3/29:
I feel my body become warm and very relaxed.


Does the letting things pass away feel comfortable (as if to move would be heavy and effortful and the inhale, automatic though it is, is quite a big "showy" action?), that to just sit/sink/feel the ease of the exhale is comfortable, that the mind is inclined towards the passing away side of the breath?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/30/14 6:52 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Does the letting things pass away feel comfortable (as if to move would be heavy and effortful and the inhale, automatic though it is, is quite a big "showy" action?), that to just sit/sink/feel the ease of the exhale is comfortable, that the mind is inclined towards the passing away side of the breath?


Indeed, breathing in is much more effortful, "showy" and tensing ; while exhale is much much easier, comfortable, no tension or even "self" participation involved. I can totally relate to what you're saying.

What is your point?
I guess that noticing the easiness and comfort of exhale (ie. breath' passing away) could incline the mind toward more letting go and cultivate the appreciation of the "goneness" of things.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/30/14 9:47 PM as a reply to Jean B..
What is your point?
I guess that noticing the easiness and comfort of exhale (ie. breath' passing away) could incline the mind toward more letting go and cultivate the appreciation of the "goneness" of things.
Indeed.
With you and another practicing friend I am provoked (of myself) to bring attention to the passing away, the ease in the passing away. I'm not saying it's "right", but a friend here did this for me a few years back ~ he pointed out that I was inclining naturally towards the cessation side of meditation objects, like the exhale in breathing meditation or the setting down of the foot in walking meditation: the ease of the cessation, the attraction of the passing away, the cessation. Had Tarin not called out my own observations of the relaxation and the passing away, I would have kept inclining to investigation and arising, the life-long habit of arising, searching, the provoked side of mind seeking again fresh provocation, the anticipation, the vigilance, the searching, the efforts, the looking for something, the trying. So I called out two of your sentences in this thread that regard the mind's natural movement to the ease of passing away, the ease of cessation, the ease of setting things down physically and mentally.

It's your practice and I respect you as most knowledgeable and best suited to guide yourself, but I do want to call out these points in your practice log: relaxation and cessation, letting go.

A monk recently gave the analogy to another practitioner like this: "When we stand on a bridge over water, we often look at the water rushing at us and then we look at the water rushing away, back and forth: water coming at us and flowing under the bridge and water flowing away from us. At some point, in meditation, the mind will start to incline to the passing away (the water flowing away). The mind will incline towards being relaxed through its attraction to the passing away." The body then goes automatically into more minimal action as the mind goes to the ceasing side of its objects, the non-lifting, the non-effort, the just settling, just-enough-alertness/attention to the settling, the calmest, the least effortful in the body and mind. The mind starts to go to the exhale, the non-motion, the dropped foot.

So I am wondering if your mind and body are relaxing, if your mind is actually willing and interested now in the passing away, the exhale, not lifting anything excessively. The diaphragm drops on its own as much as it needs to and the mind can go into the exhale, the letting go.

So, I'm curious about your practice this way.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/1/14 9:36 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Monday, April 1st, 2014

Meditation in the evening, 1 hour. Hard to focus on breath. Had to struggle against waves of torpor and dullness.

After 40 minutes, I regain some clarity but was tired and not willing to pursue. I decided that was another hindrance and to stay sitting and just watching sensations as they came.

I did more noticing / noting, than concentration. Watching the breath, I focused mainly on the breath-out, even more on the end of the exhale, noticing how easy and nice it is to just sink in with the breath.

Boredom was there at some point, and I watched it and concentration increased. Boredom passed.

I had pains in the upper back, but maintained my position and watched closely each wave of pain, focusing furthermore on the decreasing and/or cessation of those waves of pain. Each decrease or cessation brought of relief, to the point where the cessation of pain, even incomplete, was noticed more than pain itself. So I was surprised to find myself rather comfortable (all proportions kept) with the pain.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/2/14 6:29 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2014

Meditation in the evening, 30 min.

Focus on breath hard to maintain. I decided to quit struggling and to dedicate my session to noticing/noting. I remind constantly myself to keep being aware of everything, my awareness feels like being in the background.

Soon, I feel a myriad of unpleasant sensations, crawling all over and inside me. My entire body seems unbearable. I can see my mind trying to espace by daydreaming, but I wouldn't let it do that and would focus back on those sensations, diving in it, sinking in their unpleasantness and ugliness.

How much reality can you take?

The pain in my upper back arises after a few minutes only. I can notice very precisely a mental formation trigerred by the sensation arising immediately, the word "Déjà ?" ("Already?") with the associated emotion. I let it go.

I notice also that daydreaming is a strategy my mind uses to cope with the intensity of the unpleasantness of the session. Twice I would find myself daydreaming, otherwise I could see in real time my mind grasping a thought but wouldn't allow it to happen. Back to bare sensations. Such unpleasantness...

A moment comes when I notice my body-and-mind as a bunch of sensations very fastly arising and passing away. I feel like a Chrismas tree loaded with blinking lights. I can't find anything that would last. Even my back pain feels now like a myriad of little peaks of pain, staying closely with these sensations there are some times where I don't suffer anymore; there is pain, but suffering sometimes vanishes.

Then come bare vibrations. They are not sensations anymore, well they are but there is no more specificity. At a lower level, everything vibrates very fastly, it's very subtle and any effort to feel them more vividly would cause them to vanish. So I'm doing my best to do nothing, wei wu wei style, and they gain in intensity to a point where my body is almost only vibrations (I can't let go of pains which remain vibrations + suffering).

Vibrating, the body feels like widening and relaxing a lot, all vibrations are slowly and progressively syncronizing, and a grosser vibration is gathering strength at the forehead / crown level.

Another impression was that concentration and insight practices are closely linked, because concentration is also gained by noticing and noting. I would find myself sinking in jhanic states by cultivating constant presence and bare awareness.

After what seems at least a very intense 1 hour session, I decided it's enough fo today and open my eyes. I'm astonished to find out I've been sitting only 30 min!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/6/14 6:29 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I didn't practice last friday & saturday. I think last thursday session shook me a little. It was hard to find some motivation to find myself back in a very unpleasant moment.

I did find some very useful material about magick, which is a Western Path I've been interested in without knowing how to practice it. Now I think I've found a way to practice magick in addition to daily samatha / vipassana. I did some vizualisation with Kabala tree of life, at Malkuth level, and had a very interesting encountering.

Yesterday evening I sat for 40 min. I don't see the point anymore to oppose samatha and vipassana. Just being constantly aware of everything that pass seems enough to keep me concentrate and to deepen concentration. It's hard to not identify to some thoughts and sensations (like anger, irritation, bliss, strategizing, planning, etc.) but I can notice them and desidentify each time faster.

I did another 30 min session this morning just being aware of any sensation, feeling or thought passing by. I can see how it leads to desidentify awareness from a Self.

The hardest part is to bring that in the tumult of everyday life.

I think I'm gonna stick with it for a while, and add some magick practices to it (mostly exploration of tree of life, sigiling and calling my HGA).

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/8/14 10:52 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Last 2 days meditation : quick and quite easy focus on the breath. Body and mind soon relaxed, pervaded by subtle bliss. Mind is often wandering, but I see it in a matter of 1 or 2 secondes before getting back to the breath. Wandering is not a bother, no tension or irritation toward it.

After 10 min of concentration I switch to pure awareness. As far as I can tell, every observable phenomena seem in the foreground, and my awareness like a "screen" in the background. I have the strong sensation that phenomena occur in a "mind-space".

I could express it that way : when awareness becomes really all inclusive, I feel like being pulled in the background and everything is being displayed in a foreground space. This is quite pleasant.

Apart from that, there are mostly boredom, itching and pains. I'm quite amazed how fast they pass after arising, if I just witness them without getting involved and overthinking them. I just try to watch as many components as I can, and they vanish. They come back eventually, but it's not as bothering as before.

I felt refreshed and quite happy when coming out of meditation.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/10/14 9:05 PM as a reply to Jean B..
30 min this morning.

Following Richard's advice, I first take some time to relax my face and body muscles. It feels like starting on good foundations, being relax and mindfull before going further.

Nice and pleasant concentration on the breath. Quite easy to maintain. Some wandering but no struggling, just going back to the breath when noticed.

I feel I'm learning something these days: attention and focus can be maintained without tension. It's powerful even without grasping tightly on the breath. I just need to notice the breath, stay with it, but it does not imply struggling and being tense.

So this morning, concentration was very sweet and pleasant.

After 15 min I switched to vipassana, noticing everything that would occur. I was able to use the "tensionless lesson" on noticing, which was very much like touching lightly every phenomenon occuring without grasping any of them.

It felt like low equanimity, because I could bare pains and itching and unpleasant stuff without feeling involved. After last sessions which have been very unpleasant, confused and boring, it looks like switching from DN to Equanimity;or 3C to A&P? Don't know for sure and does not matter that much.

But I feel that missing one day of practice blunts my sensibility to subtle phenomenon, I really need to keep on practicing at least once a day if I want to gain enough momentum.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/23/14 11:00 PM as a reply to Jean B..
My practice seems to have reached a plateau lately.

Always the same pattern : first concentration is easy, bare attention is easy and wide open.
Then torpor comes in, I notice how it feels until it passes away.
Then easy bare attention comes back, not much at first, then a lot of sensations come to awareness: itching, pains, gross vibrations which become subtler and subtler, until everything seems to vibrate in every place. I usually focus on 3C at this point, no-self being my favorite: I feel how each perception eventually points to a sense of " I-ness ".

No big fuss, no fireworks.

Beside meditation, I'm conducting a work of active imagination with the tree of life, for now I stay in Malkuth. It's not really convincing but I think I'm learning a lot in the process, especially about expectations and frustration.

Also I do some centred prayer with a sigil-mantra I designed.

And working with the tarot.

Aaaand... that's it. I like it how magick work bring material from every plan to awareness, material which can be watched during insight practice.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/17/14 5:54 AM as a reply to Jean B..
I've been following Alan Chapman's Contemplative Challenge for 8 days now, consisting in 10 weeks of practice, with specific guidelines for each week.

WEEK 1

Perform MIND, HEART, BODY for 30 minutes a day, everyday.
Sit comfortably with the eyes closed.
Notice that moment to moment many different sensations arise, persist or disappear within your awareness.
If you notice a sensation that has anything to do with the body - this includes the 5 senses (including the darkness of closed eyes), any of the desires (such as hunger, sleepiness, sexual arousal, restlessness), and subtle energetic phenomena (as pressure, vibrating, tinging, spontaneous physical movements) - mentally note the sensation as ‘BODY’.
If you notice a sensation that has anything to do with the heart - the full range of human emotions, such as joy, sadness, anger, gratitude, etc - mentally note the sensation as ‘HEART’.
If you notice a sensation that has anything to do with the mind - such as thoughts, visions, images, memories, etc - mentally note the sensation as ‘MIND’.
If you notice two or more sensations at the same time, such as a thought with an emotional component, simply pick one of the appropriate labels to note.


07 May 2014

At first things were confused, then it 'clicks' after a few minutes of noting. 'Heart' is the hardest to notice. After 15 min, I felt drowsy and forgot the practice several times. Awareness lost during the last 5-10 minutes.

08 May 2014

LBPR and invocation of HGA before the sit. I gradually experienced a quite strong clarity in noting Mind, Body & Heart separately. 'Heart' is still the hardest to notice, manifesting mainly in the chest and easy to confuse with 'Body'. 3 breaks with Awareness lost for a few seconds, but great clarity and awareness overall.

09 May 2014

LBPR and invocation of HGA before that 2nd sit of the day, just before going to sleep. Too much drowsiness, & awareness very hard to maintain. A lot of long breaks or a lot of small burst of awareness, depending on the point of view. Struggling to remember what to do when awareness regained. Nothing much to say!

10 May 2014

Done late at night. Astral LBPR and invocation of HGA. Strong feeling of presence. Bathed in a smooth golden light. Sensations of spaceness, clarity and awareness. Could not follow 'Mind, Body, Heart' instructions, so the sit was mainly focused on bare attention.

11 May 2014


LBPR+HGA. Had a short night (sick children) and was really tired. Hard to keep on noting, so I did as much as I could and at times just relaxed at bare attention level.

12 May 2014

Woke up at night. Did LBRP+HGA mentally before. Noting seems artificial and inadequate, eg: wondering if that chest-located oppression feeling is 'Body' or 'Heart' makes me thinking about it, which is 'Mind', and I lose track of the present moment... Bare attention seems more natural and flowing, but I stay with noting as much as I can.

13 May 2014

Start with LBPR+HGA. Still hard to distinguish 'Body' and 'Heart' sometimes; 'Heart' has definitely a strong 'Body' component to it, and vice versa. Same for mind but it's more subtle and not as much a for noting. Generally speaking, awareness is quite clear and focus, & noting much more easy done than late at night.

14 May 2014

Had to wake up late at night. Mental LBRP+HGA (with strong vision by the way). Too much drowsiness for actual noting, but I did it as much as I could remember. Did the rest with bare attention & lot of wandering.

14 May 2014

Start with LBPR+HGA. Still struggling sometimes to distinguish 'Body' and 'Heart'. I made a commitment to choose fast and move on, there's no need to ponder things for ages. Clear and focus awareness overall.


WEEK 2

Perform MIND, HEART, BODY for 10 minutes of the sit as a preparatory practice, then NOTING 'LIGHT' for the remaining 20 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes a day, everyday.
NOTING    LIGHT
Pay attention to the middle of sensations. When you notice the persisting of a sensation, mentally note ‘LIGHT’.


15 May 2014

LBPR+HGA. First 10 min of 'Mind, Heart, Body' felt right and constructive. Clear awareness. 20 min of Noting Light were very nice, persisting phenomenon easy to spot. I stayed with at a 0.5 to 1Hz rate, in a nice flowing stream of noting 'Light'.

16 May 2014

'Heart, Body, Mind' confused at first, then awareness becomes spacey and all become clearer. 'Noting Light' is harder than yesterday. I can't find persisting phenomenon, they arise and pass away, componed of smaller phenomenon, but none of them last. Watching, I can find a few persisting ones : knots in head, chest and lower belly; a constant (and quite energy-consuming) vigilance about what's going on at awareness periphery; & awareness itself. Then things feel like melting down, and every perception arise and pass away at high rates in a broader-focussed awareness.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/18/14 7:05 PM as a reply to Jean B..
18 May 2014

I was very tired. Very confused & drowsy sit, with a lot of wandering. Several times I did manage to follow instructions for a few seconds each time, before wandering again.

19 May 2014


I did a fast scanning 'Heart, Body, Mind', focusing on each perception rather than losing time to attribute the right labels. Keeping a steady flow I would enter a state of being present and suffused with bubbling perceptions. I kept the fast scanning approach for 'Noting Light' and soon I felt lighter, with a bright light in my head. Overall the session was pleasant and easy.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/9/14 8:02 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I've been struggling with keeping a regular practice lately. I felt for doing too many things, and it was counter productive at the end.

Now I've been back to a daily practice, with a short (20~30 min) mantra meditation twice a day. Last year I was practicing AYP' deep meditation with the AYAM mantra, and it seems very effective with me so I'm gonna stuck with it for a while.

The main phenomenon I have to handle (or to un-handle) has always been strong vibration in my head-- at least for the past 2.5 years. It is located mostly at forehead, but it moves sometimes to the crown or the jaws... As I sink deeper and deeper with the mantra, I can feel the vibrations dissolve in higher tones but it remains (even faintly) whatever I do. Sometimes it feels like it's gone, but just thinking about it brings it back.

I think that is the main obstacle for me before being able to let go and enter first jhana, but I can't be quite sure. Maybre I'm just focusing too much on it? But I can't ignore it as it captures a large share of my attention.

Also I'm having strong unpleasant feeling toward people and notably-- and even worse --close relatives, with irration and anger which are difficult to manage. I'm wondering if metta practice could help develop more patience and loving compassion, but I don't want to keep on switching techniques every week or so. These periods of susceptibility and anger have been cycling for some time now, and I don't know how to break them. Maybe a constant and dedicated practice would do it.

Any insight or help would be greatly, greatly appreciated!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/10/14 6:00 PM as a reply to Jean B..
So yesterday evening I did a short concentration session, 20 min focused on mantra AYAM, I did not allow my mind to wander on mundane subjects and/or on considering the vibration in the forehead. Although I had a few wandering here and there, my awareness was strongly focused on the mantra. After a few minutes tightly focused, I had a warm sensation of well being all overy my body ; jaws clenching, eyelids flickering, waves of bliss.

Then half-voluntarily, half-naturally, I switch focus on the pleasure. Gradually the pleasure step back, and I was just there in some kind of low equanimity -- sliiiightly boring actually.

I decided to try some metta, it was my first time and I read I should begin by sending love and compassion to myself, before widening to close relatives and friends, then neutral people, and so on. I pictured myself as a very young boy, approximatively 2 years old -- as my own son is today. I watched him, feeling his need for love and warmth, knowing that he will feel quite alone and unloved in the future, and it made my cry. I sent love and compassion to myself, hoping all the best and very much love to that little boy, which made me cry even more. Then I thought about my son, all the love we give to him, and the loneliness he will certainly feel at some moment in his future, and I wished him to get much much love and understanding. Then I thought about my wife, and I thought about her as a young child, now begging for love and understanding, which made me cry again, and I sent her love and compassion.

Well, I don't know if that was genuine metta. But it was pretty intense. I think I got ovewhelmed by what I felt.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/11/14 6:37 PM as a reply to Jean B..
30 min session yesterday. Still doing samatha practice only, as I need 1/ to get better at concentration and 2/ to be generally more balanced and smooth in my life.

I begun by tightly focusing on the repetition of the mantra AYAM, then after 5 minutes I entered access concentration as I could stay on it almost without any wandering. I switched to concentration on the breath, ample and pleasant breath, then to subtler sensations at the tip of the nose. I could feel waves of bliss coming on, and see a shining white light growing above.

Sometimes I would stay here, just content, then I would realize I was wandering and would get back to concentration on the breath, and the waves of bliss would come back, the light would grow stronger.

After a while I felt very tired and was wandering too much to make any progress, so I check the clock (30 min) and went to sleep.

I think I have a great tool with the mantra, it helps me to get access concentration quite quickly, then I just have to switch the concentration on the breath. Good to know.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/15/14 7:22 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Last days were a bit frustrating, as I wasn't able to enter concentration as deeply as I'd have wished. Starting with a mantra still does the job, then I have a nice access concentration on the breath at the tip of the nose, but then my mind starts wandering here and there, and at that point it seems that a strong dedication is not enough to keep deepening that state.

I then usually spend my time focusing back on the breath, again and again, noticing the frustration and whatever comes to gather some insight in the process.

Yesterday I re-read a post from Ian And which spots the importance of linking the breath with pleasurable body & mind feeling, so I took some time to be easy and mindfull of the breath for a few minutes, gathering interest for the breath itself, and I found that access concentration would follow quite naturally. I reach eventually an enjoyable state of concentration, lightly but certainly blissfull.
Can't wait to see where it leads.

Also, I think it's about time to use concentration for some insight practice -- noting?

I had a few experiences on and off the cushion, the most remarkable being a state where I could feel 2 modes of perception ; one being actual physical perception, the other being a mental representation of my environment. These 2 states would cohabit together but it was not clear enough so I could clearly see the relation between both of them, it was more a strong (but vague) feeling. And there was a third state witnessing the whole stuff.

Also last days I've been able to see more clearly how I would disproportionnately exagerate some little annoyances, and how it relates to deep feeling of ego-worthness and wanting to be heard and feel important.

Still strong pressure feeling in the head and unvoluntary jaws clenching, but that's routine now...

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/19/14 10:44 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I've been experimenting with noting for a few days. The technique is designed for insight, but it is good for concentration too, so let's hit 2 birds with one stone.

Noting doesn't seem natural and still feels awkward to me after 3 days of daily practice, but I'm gaining some ease with it so I think it's a matter of days before I really gain some momentum.

Yesterday was really interesting. I still start with 5 min of focusing on a mantra to quickly gain some clarity of mind and concentration. Then I begin to note everything that my attention is attracted by; mostly sounds and the feeling of my body touching the sofa, thoughts (but I find they are still hard to notice), and sometimes the sight of the black screen behing my closed eyes. After a moment, if I'm not wandering too much, it becomes easier and I can note more and more stuff with an increased clarity. I can note at a rate of 1Hz, faster is still hard to sustain and quickly become confused.

After a while I can see quite clearly that after each sensing perception, there is some sort of a mental equivalence; it can be an image (a dog barking --> I see the mental image of a dog barking), an appreciation (body pain --> a negative feeling and a wanting of that pain to pass away), etc. The converse is true with mental stuff causing physical effects (body pain --> negative feeling --> movement to release the pain), but for now it's less natural and harder to notice. I think at that point I'm noting faster than 1Hz, because nama and rupa interactions are way more faster than a 1-second delay.

So I begin to see how nama and rupa interact, though I have to be careful because I sometimes catch myself trying to voluntary find a mental effect to a physical cause, and the converse; instead of simply noting what presents itself to awareness.

That's all folks!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/21/14 3:29 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Today I did 60 min concentration practice, focusing on a mantra. I had some torpor at first, then after 30-40 min my focus regained some clarity and I was able to strongly focus on the mantra. My right leg hurt like hell but at some point I felt some strong sensations of bliss and rapture, all pain in my body disappeared and I just enjoyed the bliss. I kinda lost the mantra and I felt the rapture fading away, so I focussed back on the mantra and the bliss would come back.

Then I was feeling all good and blissful, the mantra was easy to focus on but at some point it was easier to hear it at the periphery, focusing on it "at the center" was hard and confused, a paronamic feel of it was much more obvious and easy.

Feeling great and clear minded, I decided to switch to noting and did so for 30 min.

At first I could not note so I just tried to notice as many things as I can: hearing, touching, seeing, thinking, at some point I could feel my awareness being physically pulled right and left, there was a space quality to it. Then I forced myself to note, at first it was hard and confused but then I gained some easiness and I could not quite fastly; hearing, hearing, touching, touching, touching, touching, seeing, seeing, hearing, hearing, hearing, etc. It became quite easy and I'd say I did note at a rate of 1 to 3 notes per second.

I could feel there was much more frames because when noting, let's say, "hearing", I felt clearly that there was actually much more to it, there was "hearing" but also "seeing" and "touching" and "thinking" but I couldn't note quickly enough so it was noticed but lost in the noting process. The underlying field of phenomena, however, was still felt as continuous and concrete, although I could chop a lot of frames in it, it didn't loose its aspects of concreteness and continuousity. I might continue daily practice and note faster and faster, and someday something will happen eventually.

Don't know if I'm doing good, could any noting practicioner give me some advice here? It would be much appreciated.

I wish a good week-end to everyone.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/22/14 2:32 AM as a reply to Jean B..
60 min concentration practice this afternoon. I quickly gained access concentration on mantra, it would fill my entire field of awareness, and other thoughts or perception could not last long. My body was very relaxed, sitting was easy and feeling good. But I was a bit tired and I had trouble in deepening that state, after a while I could not go deeper in the mantra and it was frustrating as I felt like being stopped at the gate.

Well I was concentrated and calm enough so I decided to go on noting, but that was also very difficult to do, I was wandering and daydreaming a lot like falling asleep and waking up all the time. Very frustrating, I did note "wandering" and "frustration" and all I could note but I could not follow the stream in a continuous way so it felt pointless somehow.

At least I know that I can gain access concentration quite quickly now, but still have to pass through strong drowsiness before things start to move on.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/22/14 11:34 PM as a reply to Jean B..
30 min practice this morning before going to work.

Concentration is still quickly gained on the mantra, with daily practice it's easier and easier to reach access concentration with light bliss, 5 minutes is enough. But then I still have to go through strong drowsiness and struggle for approx. 30 min before reaching the gate to 1st jhana.

I have read Practical Insight Meditation (not the whole stuff, I only found chapter 5) on Google Books and it's quite clear about how noting should be done, notably the importance of a primary object of contemplation to anchor the practice.

But it seems designed for retreaters, and I don't know if it will lead to great results in my case, with only up to 1 to 1.5 hour of practice a day. It's a bit discouraging as I've been trying to be mindful and note whenever I can and my work and family duties allow me to do, but apparentely one can't gain momentum by noting 15 min now and then. Still I do it because it's good practice and it can't do no harm, but I'm kinda doubtful about gaining stream entry that way.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
6/23/14 6:18 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yesterday evening, I've read "Light on Meditation" written by Upasaka Culadasa. I think I might be mastering step 2 (Interrupted Continuity of Attention to the Medit ation Object ) and developing some ease with step 3 (Extended Continuity of Attention to the Meditation Object ). I might even have had some glimpses of step 4 (Uninterrupted Continuity of Attention to the MeditationObject) as I'm often struggling with gross distractions and strong dullness. Seems to fit.

I've been speaking about acess concentration lately, I don't know if step 2 or even 3 can be considered to be close to Access Concentration. It's a bit confusing to see how each map matches one with another. However, this "Light on Meditation" sheds some precious light on the progress of concentration practice, and helped me in measuring how much work still needs to be done.

I did 30 min concentration practice yesterday. Tight focus on mantra is now strong and quickly gained. There is still awareness of thoughts and physical perceptions, but they don't disturb the concentration on the main object. I can change the object, from a mantra to breath for instance, and the concentration remains strong.

Now I know when my mind is going to wander, and I can take actions before wandering occurs. When I feel sleepy, I concentrate even more on the object, showing strong interest for any details; with the mantra for instance, the way it echoes, the texture of each syllabe, and so on.

Off cushion, with daily practice of concentration, I see I've gained some skill at concentrating on single tasks, and my mind remains clearer even during stressful situations. There is an overall feeling of mental calm and clarity.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/3/14 6:49 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Practice has been frustrating lately.

I still do my daily practice, from 30 up to 60 min, but lately I've been quite reluctant to just sit down and start. Concentration is really hard to maintain. My mind is wandering here and there, so many thoughts; even taking a strong resolution to remain with the mantra is not enough, after 1 min I would find myself daydreaming. Although before I would enter quite easily a lightly blissful and focused state of mind, now it's like I've lost the way and can't find the door to Wonderland anymore Also, I have a burning intense pain spot in the upper back which does not help to relax and sink deeper.

The only thing that works is to remain in a bare awareness of everything that comes. The main object is the mantra, but I would follow my mind wherever it goes, acknowledges the perception, then go back to the mantra. There is no way I can stay focused on the mantra only, so I go with the flow and stay with the stream.

Looks like I'm forced to do insight rather than concentration practice!

Is this normal? Does anybody recognizes a pattern here? I'd love to get some help or advice on this one.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/4/14 10:50 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yes this is normal.  The perception of not liking your meditation is a negative perception.  If you dislike your meditation and then add dislike of the dislike you'll spiral in aversion and not continue.  

Bringing your mind back with complete acceptance of a wandering mind will reduce irritation that the mind wandered and your concentration will improve because you'll get back to it right away instead of spinning in aversion.  Adding stress when the mind "behaves badly" will slow you down.


http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/20/talk/18314/
The above talk is more about mindfulness but you can use this to improve your concentration.  The practice is about doing it so if the wandering mind interrupts it then just nudging it back to the object (mantra, breath) you're exercising the muscle.  You don't want to strategize or analyze too much about the practice.  Just be with the object.  This develops patience.

Concentration is a temporary relief whereas mindfulness and insight create a disenchantment with desire so the mind wanders less.  Concentration will benefit you in that you will see more detail for insight.

If you want to develop your concentration further you need to take the insight that everything is cause and effect and you need to create the environment (causes and conditions) for concentration to develop.

One of the important things you need to develop good concentration is enjoyment.  You need to relax the muscle tension in the body and face before you start.  Having a positive attitude and creating a resolution to stay with the object will push the brain in a nice way where things aren't too loose or too tight.

In the below instructions I would just focus on 1st jhana so you don't think too much about all the steps.  The brain can naturally jump to other jhanas as certain conditions are ripe for it to do so.

http://www.leighb.com/jhanafac.htm

  • applied thought (vitakka)
  • sustained thought (vicāra)
  • joy/rapture/happiness (pīti)
  • happiness/pleasure/bliss (sukha)
  • equanimity (upekkhā)
Rupa Jhanas

  1. "Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind -- one enters and remains in the first Jhana which is with vitakka and vicara and is filled with piti and sukkha born of seclusion.
  2. "Further, with the stilling of vitakka and vicara, by gaining inner tranquillity and unification of mind, one enters and remains in the second Jhana which is free from vitakka and vicara and is filled with piti and sukkha born of concentration.
  3. "Further, with the fading away of piti, remaining imperturbable, mindful, and clearly aware, one enters the third jhana and experiences within himself the sukkha of which the Noble Ones declare, "Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness."
  4. "Further, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain -- as with the earlier disappearance of joy and sorrow -- one enters and remains in the fourth Jhana which is beyond pleasure and pain; and purified by equanimity and mindfulness.
Arupa Jhanas

  1. "With the complete transcending of bodily sensations, with the disappearance of all sense of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, thinking, 'space is infinite,' one enters and remains in the Sphere of Infinite Space.
  2. "With the complete transcending of the Sphere of Infinite Space, thinking, 'consciousness is infinite,' one enters and remains in the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness.
  3. "With the complete transcending of the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness, thinking, 'There is no-thing,' one enters and remains in the Sphere of No-thingness.
  4. "With the complete transcending of the Sphere of No-thingness, one enters and remains in the Sphere of Neither Perception nor Non-perception."

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/10/14 8:29 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thanks Richard for your answer. It helped me a lot, now I can wander and come back and at the same time, get some more fuel and interest for my practice. So far, it seems to "push the brain in a nice way where things aren't too loose or too tight" indeed.

I also listened to the podcast by Andrea Fella on dharmaseed, and got the habit of noticing the feeling and flavor of the state of mind I "wake up" into after wandering.

All of this helped me finding back a lot of interest and pleasure in meditation.

I've also been experimenting with Reichian techniques of body losening, thanks to another topic here on DhO. For instance this morning I was able to note tensions I no idea of, for example when I open my eyes widely and move from side to side, I felt a tension that is tied into my neck. Same with shoulders to the ears then dropping, after 2 or 3 times I felt my neck was very tense and releasing shoulders losened them a bit more each time. During legs exercise, my body trembled and twitched in every way, I also had visions of landscapes shaking (it was inner vision and not what I saw with my eyes). And finally during hyperventilation, fleeting sensations quite intense (but too fast to be sure) of body heat and also well-being and euphoria.

After that I sat in meditation and my body was so relaxed and at ease, I was quickly able to focus on my breathing, in 5-10 minutes my attention was properly set and I began to feel spacious, light and heavy at the same time. I could not go further because I had to go to work, but it has nicely set all the previous work in that brief moment of silence.

Last night as I sat thirty minutes my attention was quickly installed. I really need to find time to meditate longer, like 45 min to 1 hour, because I feel that there is a lot of cleaning done, it made me think of the immobility which clean sulfur (the agitated body) in alchemy.

Actually, lately I've been feeling a new dynamic in my meditation. I can identify a new subtle mental layer that comes in part from physical discomfort, and also subtle technical strategies, objectives & identifications. And as soon as I notice them, whenever there is disidentification from them, there is always such a great light and quiet and undifferentiated space behind, of which I can feel the subtle but strong presence.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/10/14 10:28 PM as a reply to Jean B..
That's great!

A lot of people benefit from letting go of judging meditation. Just know that you can go very far in meditation and in daily life by letting go of irritated perceptions.  They will naturally happen and by welcoming these bad perceptions you can let go of a cycle of reacting to bad perceptions of bad perceptions.  There's no need to go into a vicious circle of disliking dislikes. emoticon  The first dislike passes away on its own.  The practice becomes more of a paying attention and waiting for conditions to change instead of getting angry at what's there.  When the awareness comes back on it's own you can then (without judgment and blame) nudge it to the object of your concentration.  It's the nudging that creates the long-term habit of concentration just like exercising a muscle.

Keep practicing the jhanas and remember the secret that analyzing and strategizing too much about meditation is just more rumination/clinging.  Just hang in with what's there and keep coming back to the breath.

Another thing to notice about perceptions is that they involve memory.  You can only react to perceptions when the mind goes into the memory banks to recognize the perceived objects as good or bad.  Because this happens so quickly it's easy to see the brain will get caught up again and again.  Everyone should accept the speed of reactivity.  Not accepting is more reactivity to the original reaction and that just slows the conditions down for awareness to return.  It's all causes and conditions.  If you have the attitude that you're trying to develop the conditions that allow the fruits of concentration to manifest then they will.  It's like scientists trying to mix the right chemcials together to get a specific reaction.

Have fun with jhanas

Richard

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/17/14 10:46 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Daily concentration / insight practice.

I'm focusing on the mantra AYAM, not clearly heard, more like a vague sound in the background filling my whole field of attention.
I feel like sinkening in the mantra, with a growing pressure at the third eye, and I constantly manage to dissolve that pressure in space so that it doesn't become unpleasant.

Everytime time a thought or a perception drives my attention away, I notice and make a quick note of it, then go back to the mantra. Sometimes I note a chain of phenomenon (eg. thought > body perception > sound > body perception > thought) before being able to come back to the mantra.

Comes a time when all become confused. My attention fades out, everytime I'm back I can't really say where I've been going, there was not really an identifiable train of thoughts, it's like I was just... lost in the Zone? Don't know how to call it. I go back to the mantra with a firm will for not losing it, but again and again I would go in the Zone until the end of my session.

I try to note (or at least notice) as much as I can, whenever I can.

I've been noticing other perceptions than body & thoughts; stuff like "sense of I", "sense of space", "sense of time". Though I'm not sure if it comes naturally, or if I look for them because I heard about them.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/29/14 1:13 AM as a reply to Jean B..
These days, concentration practice has been quite ordinary, though two phenomena have stand out lately :

- first I've been able to watch emotions birthing, diffusing then leaving the body. It's been more obvious with anger, felt as a wave of heat pouring in the upper body (torso / shoulders particularly) then slowly fading away. It was not pleasant but it left so much less tension than when I keep it all inside. I saw then that there was no reason to contain it or to be afraid of it; just let it do its not-so-pleasant stuff then leave.

- second, during my last session I've been struggling again with that tension ball in my forehead, watching it closely, trying to find a way to dissolve it, then after 20 min I just gave up. I said to myself "ok it's here, it won't go, so let it be" and instantly I felt the strong vibration of that spot spreading in my whole body. It's like I've tried for months to dissolve that ball, but instead it's my body that needed to be attuned to it. So it's still there but it sort of turns my point of view upside down.

And globally, I'm more frequently aware of my state of tension, and take regularly some time to check and untense my body and face. Throughout the day it helps me to unbuild useless tension that I could be stocking for nothing.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/14 2:05 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Last days concentration and insight practices have been closely intertwined. I'm experimenting with Jesus Prayer as a mantra, quite different than the simple mantra AYAM I was used to, with the need to focus closely on a string of words. The sav(i)or of it is very different too.

So there is still this strong pressure at forehead, which grows stronger and stronger but I stay with it as unconditionnaly as I can. At the same time I'm disengaging more and more from the whole field of experiences.

There is a moment when every vibrations and pressures and bodily perceptions are seen as if there are played on a screen in front of me, and I am standing in the back.

Then comes a "switch" when I have the same thing with mental perceptions as well; it's like I'm still thinking and daydreaming, but I can see those thoughts and visions on a screen and my attention stays untouched, in the background.

Sometimes everything seems on the way to to sync nicely, but there is always some kind of "control spasm" and it all gets messy again. Maybe I'll be able to let it sync with regular practice.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/17/14 5:18 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Mantra Ayam
Growing warmth and pleasure
Switch to breath at the tip of the nose
Focus easily sustained
Release in left neck. Felt like unlocking
Sensations of flickering all over the body
Notice every flickers lead to growing vastness
Sense of I fainting
End of session

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/19/14 10:05 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Last days meditation is mainly about releasing tensions. I have had this constant thumping pressure / tension in the head for 3 years now, with which I've been trying to deal in numerous ways, and what seems to pay off lately is... to simply drop it.

So last meditations start with awareness of uncontrolled breath, mindfulness about what is going on at physical / emotional / mental levels. Then I slowly direct my awareness on the tip of the nose, but without focusing it strongly. Just kind, gentle, light awareness, so that the tip of the nose is the main object but there is still plenty of room for the rest. That's how I'm finding out that gentle and light awareness is enough, efficient and much more pleasant and sustainable than tight and strong focus.

With the rising calm and relaxation, I've been able to identify subtle tensions due to grasping and will to control how meditation goes. So I'm also learning to recognize that breath and awareness can go on their own, with no need for me to control them.

One strategy I've been using it to drop everything, no story, no desire, nothing, just pure witnessing of that present moment. Emptying mind that way, I let room for more calm and relaxation. My head fills with light. But there is still that little tension coming back, then aversion for that tension which creates even more tension, then I'm aware of it and I can drop it. It all takes place very fastly, in a fraction of a second.

Also I'm voluntarily trying to control what's going on, and at once I clearly feel tensions creeping in. So the difference is very clear, and definitely it is control that sucks.

I've also find 2 "sweet spots" in the head, at eyes level, where I can rest somehow and just go with the flow.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/20/14 10:36 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Currently reading "With each and every breath" by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Such a mine of gold for anapanasati meditators! It rings so many bells regaring my own practice I'm glad this book has been written. For those looking for a clear and easy-to-read "cooking book" for meditation, this is definitely worth a read.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/1/14 5:31 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Still working on dissolving tensions mainly, and sometimes pure bare awareness. Sitting, I'd concentrate on energy knots felt as tensions in the body, sometimes very strong like I've been havig in the head.

Feeling tensions in my head lately I've been mainly focusing on the breathing belly as an object of concentration. I had an interesting experience as I did experience belly breathing as a succession of movement frames, clearly dissociating it from the mental image I had of it all. It was clear that this body perception was suddenly and clearly detached from any mental image.

Yesterday I did concentrate on a tension strongly felt on the right side of the head, at cheek & jaw level, and which have been bothering me for 2 or 3 days. I was concentrating closely on it, and vibrations would grow sharper and sharper before dissolving. Then I would feel subtler vibrations in which I would sink even deeper, and so on.

I did notice that vibrations were dissolving by the fact that their "goneness" was becoming more and more the center of my attention. Looking closely at the way they were arising and passing away, I was more and more able to rest in the "space" (better word anyone?) where they were gone.

Tensions were slowly collapsing on a very little but intense knot, and then suddenly it all took a life of its own, then the central knot dissolved in the entire body breath and bliss was diffused in my head and my body, I was really nice and pleasant.

Then I decided to check each chakra and I worked on the knot at belly (svadhisthana) level, I felt a knot here and concentrate on it until all my belly felt spacious and blissful.

Then it moved itslef at crown level and there was a lot of bliss an light everywhere as I felt a knot dissolving up there, but I was a little scared by the intensity, I tried to slow down the process but everything stopped. I was still very relaxed and lightly blissful but the "work" was over.

Then I stayed in pure bare awareness, experiencing everything as little drops of experiences, dozens of them arising and passing away.

I think I could try a diagnostic at this point. I did experience quite clearly the difference and dissociation between mental and bodily phenomenon, which is very Mind & Body. I also experienced (and actively working with) the fact that there are related in a chain of Cause & Effect. Regarding the 3C's, it's subtler although impermanence is quite clearly experienced and is my favorite focus thing when it comes to Vipassana; no-self being the second, and suffering the least obvious for now. Last days experiences of bliss, vibrations dissolving, experiences of goneness, etc. seems quite A&P related to me.

Does anyone could help me to hint where I'm at?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/1/14 6:18 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Becauses it's blissful I would put it more into A & P territory but you don't want to get scripted into the dark night since looking at gones should likely lead to that understanding.  For some people it's not as big a deal.  Keep looking at "gones" or alternatively look for the present moment as a solid thing.  You'll just find vibrating gones.  This has to develop naturally but you don't want to making things disappear. Keep in mind that the brain is a perception creator that simplifies the universe into perceptions of objects for the brain to like or dislike.  With bare awareness look into those perceptual boundaries and see if they really are all that solid.  Objects happen through time so where is the time for these objects to be in? Sticking with the analysis over days and months should get you to equanimity and equanimity towards all experiences has a chance of stream-entry.  Again it's all about the non-conceptual analysis proving the understanding.  What we see is much larger that what physicists can test for. The more you can continue with the awareness with less interruptions of mental stories the more the brain is learning.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/1/14 6:50 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thank you for your time, Richard.

Experiencing the goneness was more a conceptual framework for what I perceived, but I'm trying not to get attached to that. I'm not concerned with insight maps when sitting for meditation, but I was brought back to it after last days' events. Plus, some sense of progress is inspiring and good for motivation.

I aim to keep noticing with as much focus and precision as I can, no more no less, because it has been going well until now and, as you put it, "The more you can continue with the awareness with less interruptions of mental stories the more the brain is learning."

Richard Zen:
Becauses it's blissful I would put it more into A & P territory but you don't want to get scripted into the dark night since looking at gones should likely lead to that understanding.


Just to be sure, do you mean that looking at gones is a sure way to get past beyond A&P and to (cross) the dark night?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/1/14 7:07 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yes.  Looking at arising and passing away leads to the A & P as it's called.  Focusing on the passing away triggers the dark night because the brain starts noticing how anything that it's attached to is impermanent.  This creates disenchantment and weaning on addictiveness.  Basically withdrawal symptoms.  Most advanced meditators feel that concentration practices and metta are good ways to reduce the shock of the dark night so if you use those practices when you are in negative moods it should balance you.  Concentration on the breath is good with letting go of agitation and metta is good with letting go of enemies swimming in your mind. Metta is also good in creating a pleasant abiding that makes it conducive to jhanas.  Use concentration to blow away hindrances and insight to see the 3 characteristics.  The weaning process is impermanent and continuing to tolerate the passing away of phenomenon eventually gets the brain to be accepting of reality and then equanimity appears and it's definitely worth it. Equanimity as a baseline habit reduces a lot of stress and you'll know it when you get there.  Keep practicing and include any thinking as sensations to see their cause and effect relationship (dependent arising).  Lastly don't cling/ruminate over the practice or cling/ruminate on how the practice should play out.  Just continue to investigate all experiences and watch the disenchantment create a letting go on it's own.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/1/14 8:00 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Also lately I'm feeling confident, brave, with a mystical touch, which also sounds quite A&P.

Richard Zen:
This creates disenchantment and weaning on addictiveness. Basically withdrawal symptoms.


I'm subject to addictiveness, I guess we all are but I have a history of love/hate relationships with some substances such as cannabis and opiates. I smoke weed on a regular basis, although I have been slowing down to a few joints per month. Is there a particular risk regarding drug consumption? Should I avoid any substance intake, or is keeping reasonable enough? Because I don't feel like quitting smoking.

Richard Zen:
Most advanced meditators feel that concentration practices and metta are good ways to reduce the shock of the dark night


The concentration on body tensions and its relation with the body of breath, that I've been doing lately, comes with huge relaxation and tension releases, which are pleasurably lasting off the cushion, and sure it will be of great help when dark night will occur.

And again, thanks for your time and kind advices.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/1/14 10:55 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Jean B.:
Also lately I'm feeling confident, brave, with a mystical touch, which also sounds quite A&P.

Richard Zen:
This creates disenchantment and weaning on addictiveness. Basically withdrawal symptoms.


I'm subject to addictiveness, I guess we all are but I have a history of love/hate relationships with some substances such as cannabis and opiates. I smoke weed on a regular basis, although I have been slowing down to a few joints per month. Is there a particular risk regarding drug consumption? Should I avoid any substance intake, or is keeping reasonable enough? Because I don't feel like quitting smoking.

Richard Zen:
Most advanced meditators feel that concentration practices and metta are good ways to reduce the shock of the dark night


The concentration on body tensions and its relation with the body of breath, that I've been doing lately, comes with huge relaxation and tension releases, which are pleasurably lasting off the cushion, and sure it will be of great help when dark night will occur.

And again, thanks for your time and kind advices.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N7A5kAESTQ
You keep practicing so that disenchantment takes over and you want drugs less.  It's also important to understand that once you start on the wrong choice in a particular day you don't have to continue it.  You can stop in the middle of it.  If someone is addicted to alcohol and they just opened a bottle, it's okay to pour it down the drain.  Of course making sure not to criticize yourself. Criticizing yourself leads to more stress hormones.  What do we do when we experience stress?  We look for short-term relief in short-term pleasures.  It's more about embracing the disenchantment because you keep seeing that equanimity is better than any pleasure.  Remember that the dark night has pleasant qualities to it. When I was in the worst of it there was still a glimmer of freedom.  The brain could start to see the beginnings of that freedom.  Keep cultivating it until equanimity is your baseline habit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKrJIV2OEMg
You start enjoying purification when you enjoy equanimity.

If you want to forcibly get rid of drugs before disenchantment then you'll have to create environments where it's hard to get it (meaning no drugs at home) and staying away from people who enable those habits.  Otherwise the long-term way of getting rid of an addiction is to disenchant enough that the desire isn't there anymore because the downsides to drugs make it less attractive than equanimity.  The brain always goes towards what it thinks is better and if you experience better the brain will want the cutting edge instead of the old stale habits.

Good luck and keep using concentration and insight to bring yourself out of mental stories and be with presence.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/3/14 7:57 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Obviously meditation has "taken off", and seems to have a life of its own. There is a natural desire to sit and explore that I could not gather before. For each and every minute I am off, there is a natural tendency to check body & mental tensions, especially that pressure in my head, and to dive into them, discerning subtler and subtler vibrations.

I let them go in a way that reminds me a Hamilton Project article : http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/01/yogi-tool-box-letting-go-approach-to.html

With each dissolving step there is huge release of tensions all over my body, often so subtle that I was not aware of them before feeling the release. Yesterday watching TV, I would drop tensions and sink deeper and deeper into subtler and subtler vibrations, fading out in uprising bliss, unknoting tensions in the head, in the heart, in the belly, in hands and feet, everywhere I could spot one and let it go. I spent 2 hours on my couch, just enjoying this growing and pervading rapture, feeling more light and spacious than ever.

I think I might have reached a 2nd (vipassana) Jhana.

As much as I could, I did focus on vibrations, their frequencies, the way they arise and pass away, the sense of gone; but sometimes it was just too good and I would sink in a dull bliss.

Even now, sitting and working at my desk office, I can feel I'm naturally inclined to investigate vibrations and decompose them in subtler vibrations, with some bliss from the process. It's like I've found a key to a door and I'm taking much more confidence and pleasure in opening the door wider and wider.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
9/4/14 6:49 PM as a reply to Jean B..
The last 48 hours have been mystical, I could not say better.

I've been doing insights throughout the day, effortlessly; I've been praying; I've been full of gratitude; I sat twice in a cathedral in which I had never put a foot since I've been living here. There is a bliss pervading my whole body and it's easy to "suckle" more bliss with only a few deep breaths. Feels like opening to a large and infinite space, espacially at chakras level.

Over and over I break coarse vibrations into subtler vibrations, deepening and widening my field of awareness, experiencing the delightful process of untying and being released. The vibration waves are felt and perceived, and the mind inclines in passing away because it feels good and peaceful and relaxing.

I see that literally everything that is brought to the attention causes the mind to focus and get hooked like phished, and I have to make a conscious effort of "undoing" to free myself and remain at rest. But a precise and repeated compareason between "slightly tensed mind" and "totally relaxed mind" clearly shows that any tension comes with its part of suffering.

I'm watching myself because I read that such a mystical surge is part of A&P -- and I'm feeling quite sure and confident that we're talking about A&P now. It's hard somehow to keep focus because it makes me feeling good, actually.

RE: Jean's practice log
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9/6/14 4:22 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Sitting feels good and easy.

Concentration comes quickly, surges of energy in my body, pulsating knots of vibrations here and there. Untying, untying, untying... A few minutes later, I'm bathing in bliss.

The throbbing spot in the head is still here, but with bare awareness I investigate my whole reality to find other phenomenon vibrating at other paces. I can feel deep slow vibrations but it's hard to stay focus and not lose awareness. I have to remain as untouched as possible but the naturally inclining mind keeps being hooked again and again.

I alternate a slightly drowsy but refreshing bliss, and methodic investigation on patterns.

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9/9/14 9:22 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Hi Jean, i hope you're doing well emoticon

RE: Jean's practice log
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9/23/14 1:12 AM as a reply to SeTyR ZeN.
Quite good, thanks :-)

Last phenomenon experienced :

---NOT SO NEW---
  • strong concentration on breath, after a few minutes it becomes very interesting and pleasant, with a lot of details. I am aware of my surroundings but the attention on breath is predominant.
  • gross vibrating / pulsating patterns in the head, jaws, body
  • vibrations sync and dissolve in the head = release of tensions in the body

---NEW---
  • then tiny spams all over the nose, forehead and jaws, which become growingly powerful, fast and intense. I'm in a watcher mode and I allow these vibrations to be. I feel like my all face is covered by tiny intense spams. I can feel my lips and nostrils jumping at a very fast rate.
  • feeling of sinking in my forehead, then suddenly it is like there is a huge black space; feels like my field of vision widens.

Still digging...

RE: Jean's practice log
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9/24/14 6:59 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Meditation is definitely going on by itself these days. At work, or during a lunch or whatever, I will just reckon a pulsating pattern (mainly in the head), lightly focus on it, then watch / feel it widen and -sometimes- dissolve.

I don't always have the time to sit everyday, but it's always a pleasure to dive in; unlike before, when meditation was relaxing but often quite boring.

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10/28/14 7:34 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Hi Jean, how are you? long time no see; hope it still unravels quite well for you; Cheers

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10/29/14 10:29 AM as a reply to SeTyR ZeN.
Yes, Jean, was enjoyed to read your reports of bliss.

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11/3/14 9:21 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I'm fine, thank you emoticon
I've been on vacation for the last 5 weeks so I was not very much on the internet, and not willing to answer from my tablet.

I did not seriously sustain any daily practice, but I did 30 min up to 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes I did a lot more, thanks to more than 40 hours spent in a plane (and some more in trains and cars).

This being said;

Intellectually and symbolically, I've been attracted a lot by catholocism theology. So when I was in vacation, I did visit a lot of cathedrals, basilics and churches, sometimes taking some time to pray and meditate. I'm using Jesus Prayer as a mantra and the more it deepens and becomes familiar, the more I feel it good for me.

Phenomenologically, I'm still experiencing patterns of vibrations, mainly in the head. I'm trying to focus on patterns all over the body and involving my perception of surroundings, but head vibrations are so strong that I'm being attracted to it and it's 99% my main object of focus and investigation.

Here is the sequence of the session of yesterday, significant of what I generally experience :
- I start by repeating and focusing on Jesus prayer
- Quickly, my body relaxes and my head feels like widening, more and more.
- Sometimes I'm attracted by passing thoughts; I have periods with strong focus on prayer, and periods when I'm engaging with thoughts. Overall, I'm sinking deeper and deeper in the prayer.
- I feel like I'm sinking in a small spot between the eyes, a little deeper in the head.
- I feel some tensions gathering there, and concentrating on them I can see there are vibrations.
- I kinda sync with those vibrations --BECOME those vibrations-- and then they dissolve and sometimes it's like I'm freeing huge spaces of ease and bliss.
- Coming back to the prayer helps to re-focus and deepen the observation of vibrations.
- Globally, I feel the way to release these tensions / vibrations is to move the energy upwards, to allow it to go up to the crown and be released.

Since now I've been able to release all tension only once; it felt like my entire body dissolved and I was bathing in void and bliss and light. But it's been weeks ago and generally, there are still some tensions remaining --although a lot less gross and intense.

But these tensions enventually came back in the following hours.

I don't know if it's practice related, but it seems worth noting: last weeks I've been very aware of some of my flaws. The ways I'm lying, to others or to myself, the self-esteem and importance I'm subtly according to myself. That kind of things. I've been feeling kinda fake and it's been quite hard to handle. I've been able to grow some detachment towards it, but the process seems going on with new sparks of lucidity occasionnally.

Also I can see the fractal nature of progress in practice, with new insights at each nana levels from M&B to DN.

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11/3/14 9:36 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Fantastic news ! emoticon

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11/25/14 9:32 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Some news from New Caledonia : still practicing every day, 20 min in the morning and 15 to 20 min at noon when I can, and 10 to 20 min in the evening.

My catholic surge has passed, now I'm reading Spinoza emoticon
Still, it was very interesting and I've learned a lot.

As I said in the third eye pressure, practice today could be sum up to a subtle blend of no codein intake, light concentration, inclusive
awareness and story droping (or, as I like to call it, "not giving a shit").
  • No codein intake : because it just makes things worse (cannabis is still ok though)
  • Light concentration : at the tip of nose, does not mean I have to keep hard focus but just keep the sensation at the first plan
  • Inclusive awareness : being able to notice (or even note) every phenomenon which imprints awareness, then leave it where it is and go back to the tip of the nose.
  • Story dropping : that's the main realization I've had recently. A growing pressure in the head will NOT lead to a bigger pressure UNTIL I'm focusing on it with a "no no no please don't grow" state of mind. If I would just notice it, then move on, for instance by noticing the pattern it follows throughout the body down to the feet then go back to the tip of the nose, then there is no pressure building and everything keeps smooth.
No insights to relate, just some deep nice states of calm, and feelings of "entering the flow" due to inclusive awareness. When everything is treated equally, ie. noticed and released, I'm feeling all floaty, syncronized in and out.

Off cushion, as much as I can (and remember), I practice this state of no-choice awareness, just being with things and noticing as much as I can : sounds, sights, touch, position in space, position in time, confusion, grasping, auto-satisfaction, self-depreciation, and so on.

RE: Jean's practice log
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11/26/14 11:52 PM as a reply to Jean B..
a delight to read emoticon cheers Jean

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1/4/15 5:39 PM as a reply to Jean B..
It's been a while... 1.5 months without practicing, than a call for daily practice in 2015 -- answered for the last 5 days! Keep on, keep on! Looks like I need a break from time to time, in order to get back on tracks with greater motivation and self-confidence.

Meanwhile I've been playing with OBE, lucid dreaming and hypnagogic states, for the fun of it... Some nice experiences and an overall better memory of dreams.

Last days, my sessions pattern has been looking like this :
- attention to the breath
- growing concentration on the breath, switch to the tip of the nose
- growing concentration on the tip of the nose, switch to details in breath pattern (waves / vibrations / breaks / breath-in or breath-out ignition / etc.)

The concentration comes with various phenomenon :
- sensation of "diving in" a point located inside my head, at the forehead level
- which builds intensity
- which I diffuse in space around me, dissolving my boundaries
- etc.

Then comes a time when I'm bored with concentration, my attention flickers here and there, I become lost in thoughts. So I use the momentum to switch to vipassana and welcome every perception :
- watching how I build a self-image based on fleeting sensations, for instance : pain in my foot, followed very closely by an image of my foot, then a vague and very fast vision of my body seen from the side of the hurting foot, then a quick "spacey" perception of how my foot is located in relation the rest of my body, etc.
- seeing all of this as a block of phenomenon, which is not me (the watcher). Sometimes I canl really FEEL it as it is an objective stuff floating in front of me (in glorious 4D resolution).
- seeing the impermanence of it; each perception comes by then disappears at a growing rate, proportionnaly to the concentration strength.

KNOWING is BECOMING. If I want to get all the details of on observed phenomenon, I somehow need to sink in it, to let it penetrate me, to become one with it. But there are a lot of resistance; when my, myself and I are lost in the process.
In the process, there is more and more knowledge gained, with less and less of me to gain it. If this is correct, then it's not a surprise that absolute knowledge can't be experienced by anybody.

These days I've been falling asleep while syncronizing with internal vibrations. It's a very relaxing way of starting a night of sleep. After 20 to 30 minutes, I find myself with not much body awareness, just at ease while floating in space.

Yesterday it was rather impressive, as my eyeballs suddenly turned up to the top of my skull, quite violently and abruptly. For a moment I stayed shook by the intensity, it was like being cross-eyed and forcing too much on it. I diffused the intensity in space, dissolved, until I could stay with it comfortably.
Actually it was better then comfortable; it was great and blissful.
Then my eyeballs turned up again, I could not believe it, how could my eyes remains facing up the top of my skull so effortlessly? I thought I could hurt them, mid-joking mid-astonished.
But there was bliss, and a strong yellow-white light coming from the top.
Then I was looking to a black screen, with a 3D depth (I could face it and watch it as if there was a huge black space in front of me), and some colors and lights were swirling in that space. Then a wave of bliss, coming with the vision of a natural landscape. My inner eye was activate, flooded with visions. I watched it with delight as I fall asleep.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/10/15 7:40 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I think I just found my way to a real good genuine 1st jhana!

I was meditating for an hour, attention more an more easily focused on breath, than I had some pleasure in my legs and I focused my attention on the pleasure sensation, it grew up in my upper legs than belly than chest. My head was full of light, I was barely aware of my body, and the pleasure kept growing and growing.

Then my son came screaming in my room, jumped on my bed and that was it. But I was still vibrating with light bliss, and even now I'm writing these words my body is covered with chills.

I had not enough time to stabilize, it was kinda overwhelming and confusing, I kept telling myself "it's ok to enjoy bliss, it's ok to feel confused, everything is ok as it is, just keep on focusing on pleasure". But I felt there was an upper plateau with much more clarity.

Also there was a light but unpleasant nausea before entering what I think was 1st jhana, and after the end of the session. Is it something which is sometimes associated with jhana practice? 

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/13/15 4:37 PM as a reply to Jean B..
These last days, access concentration is quite easy to reach. In about 15-20 minutes I'm focused on the sensation of breath at the tip of the nose, then in the whole body. Thoughts come and go, sometimes I cling to them for a second then switch back to breath.

Sometimes there is a sensation of pleasure. I still have some difficulties to keep my attention on the pleasant sensation, and jhana would not arise.

After a while, if there is not pleasant sensation or no jhana arising, I start to feel agitated and physically uncomfortable. The only solution is to drop that discomfort, which works but only for a few seconds then it comes back. But once it starts, even if the attention remains on the breath, there is no more pleasant sensation to find and I'm kinda stuck there.

So now I think I need to deal with this aversion, by dropping, dropping and dropping again until it's over for good.

Any thoughts?

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1/13/15 5:46 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Jean: Hi. What is your goal in practicing? Building concentration, insight into how tension comes about, etc? I didn't read your whole log so if it's already included I apologize.

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1/13/15 6:42 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
Jean: Hi. What is your goal in practicing? Building concentration, insight into how tension comes about, etc? I didn't read your whole log so if it's already included I apologize.

My main goal is to build concentration, and more precisely to regularly enter first jhana. Once first jhana is reached with a satisfying regularity, I'd like to aim for 2nd jhana.
When I feel stuck in building concentration, or sometimes without thinking about it, I switch to insight practice and notice as diligently as possible the impermanence and no-self-ness of as much perceptions as I can. But this is not my main practice, and I'd like to build concentration first so that insight is more efficient (and to cushion some of its painful side effects as well).

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/13/15 6:57 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yes, I understand. Have you worked with metta at all? That would be one way to build concentration and lessen aversion. If you are not fond of doing it the typical way I've used a different method that is useful for building concentatrion and leads to deep and sustained jhana given you dedicate the time.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/13/15 7:13 PM as a reply to Bill F..
I've tried metta 3 or 4 times, clearly not enough to assimilate the practice. I've spent some times to build access concentration at the tip of the nose so I didn't want to scatter.
Now that I understand some of the basic mechanics behind access concentration as far as I can reach it on a regular basis, I think I might be able to change the focus and invest this experience on metta practice.

The fact is, I'm attracted to metta, especially as I have sometimes strong bursts of anger and contained violence, but I don't know where to begin. So any advice would be appreciated!

As for dedicating the time, I can't rely on a regular practice given my duties as a father of a young child, but I do at least 20 minutes once or twice a day and an average 1-hour-long sit every 3 days.

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1/13/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Jean B..
O.K. Cool. Some instructions for the way that I have practiced metta to build concentration can be found here Metta

However the basic instructions are:
1) Breathe or feel into the whole body
2) Recollect or imagine a feeling of deep happiness/notice the resonance in the body
3) While breathing in, and keeping the awareness on the whole body, silently say "May I"
4) While breathing out, silently "Be happy" or " Be peaceful"  -Use just one phrase, don't alternate, easier to build concentration-
5) As the feelings of well-being build, on the out breath after the word "happy" or "peaceful" allow the attention to fall into and enjoy the physical feelings in the body as long as the attention allows. If you notice you keep falling out of the pleasant feelings then more recitation will be useful.
6) As concentration develops, the phrases will become cumbersome, and the pleasant physical feelings will become dominant, at which point, drop the phrases, keep the attention on the whole body, and enjoy the feeling.

Perhaps the most important thing to build concentration in this practice, is to not look at it like practice. Instead, look at this as recreation or a pleasure. When the feelings develop it is really nice and enjoyable in a way few things are. It also has really nice residual, effects, but looking for the residual effects rather than simply enjoying the practice seems to lead to diminishing returns and takes you out of the directness of the experience.

If these instructions don't work for you there are a lot more traditional metta instructions all over the internet, and those have been useful for me as well. If you need some assistance locating those, let me know. 

Bill

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/14/15 4:37 PM as a reply to Bill F..
I did experiment twice with your method.

First time, I was stuck at step 2, unable to recollect or imagine a feeling of deep happiness. More precisely, I was unable to keep it alive, having only bursts of this feeling. I kept trying and trying for 20 min, then I switch my attention to the tip of the nose and entered rather quickly a state of mild/strong concentration. I had not time to push further.

Second time, once more I had difficulties at step, but after a few minutes only I switch to awareness at the tip of the nose. I waited until being concentrated and relaxed enough and then switch back to step 2. It was much easier then to recollect a pleasant feeling of happiness, growing mostly at chest level. I focused on that area and said silently "May my body - Be happy" while breathing in and out.

Then my attention started to flicker between the breath, the pleasant sensation and the mantra, and it was bothering enough to prevent me from deepening that sensation.

But the pleasant feeling was undoubtly there, 2 or 3 times I could feel it deepening and widening, mostly during the short break after breathing out, and I'm looking forward next sits to gain some ease with this method.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/14/15 7:34 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Nice. Finding a way to calm the mind before entering the phrases is useful. Do whatever works for you, and it is normal that the feeling may be foggy at first, and then grow deeper/stronger with time. If at times it is not there at all you are still orienting the mind in that direction for the future so there is nothing wasted if you don't experience strong feelings at first. If you find the opposite feelings arise, that's normal too, and it's just to be your own friend in that moment and respond to them as such. If you have a way of incorporating the phrases into the other parts of your day it gives the practice more depth as well. But most important is just to take on the attitude of relaxation and friendliness.

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1/14/15 7:51 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Thanks for your answer.

Bill F.:
If you find the opposite feelings arise, that's normal too, and it's just to be your own friend in that moment and respond to them as such.


I'm not sure I understand that part. Do you mean I should focus on the feeling arising, whatever it is?

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1/14/15 8:16 PM as a reply to Jean B..
You're welcome.
Yes, it wasn't very clear. I'll be more explicit. It is common in the practice of metta that feelings that might seem opposite to what we are trying to generate come up. There are some useful ways to work with this:
1) Rather than seeing this as a failure, use this as an opportunity to practice metta by sending the feeling of metta or the intention of well-being towards the feeling. This is the opposite of denial. Acknowledge that it's there, and that it is a painful experience, and acknolwedge that what makes the most sense rather than recoiling from the feeling or wishing it away -which only makes it bigger- is to meet it with kindness. This is not "may I/the body be happy rather than in pain" but may this feeling of kindness extend in an open-ended way towards the pain that is present physically/psychologically. This builds equanimity as well.
2) Feel directly into feelings as a physical presence, in a relaxed but attentive way allow the storyline to fall away, and meet the negative emotion as a physical presence happening in the immediacy of the body, looking into the body for the edges of the feeling to see if you can discover where the emotion begins and ends physically, if it is a permanent, stable presence or if it's changing, try to look directly into the feelings to discover if they have a center. This may be more useful once some level of concentration is established.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/16/15 5:23 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Yesterday evening - 40 min sit

After a few minutes, rather easily, attention comes to rest on the breath. I consciously diffuse the breath in the body, scanning in search of tensions to dissolve. Progressively I relax and feel expanding. In 10 minutes I'm very comfortable and breath is easily kept at the forefront of my awareness.

I play with that. Watching thoughts and perceptions going and passing by, feeling very little pushed or pulled by them. At every moment I can drop them without effort. Sometimes I watch the watcher and it deepens my concentration a lot. Like looking in the abyss or something, deep stuff.

Then I recollect a feeling of happiness (my son is involved) and I can cleary feel it, at chest level ; upper chest more precisely, as I look closer to it, trying to feel the area it occupies. I start mantralizing "May my body / Be happy" and after each breath out, in this moment where time seems suspended, the feeling of happiness grow stronger and stronger. But for now, I can't rest my attention on it long enough, so when I feel I'm loosing it for good, I switch back to breath. I keep on going and coming from one to another, switching to breath to strengthen concentration, and back to feeling of happiness when I feel more stable.

In 30 minutes or so, my body feels very light, my head is full of light (maybe my wife's iPad actually emoticon) and tingling, and I feel the bodily tension slowly gathering at the top of the head. Here a knot stays undissolved, but I try not to bother too much as it seems to unknot faster when I let go of doing it by myself. It's not easy and I can't let go enough.

It's okay though. I am able to achieve a deeper state of concentration and relaxation than ever, in a shorter time than before, and that's great enough for now. There's a subtle mix between concentration and insight which seems to develop naturally.

Then I feel stuck. I'm in a pleasant haze, I keep gathering some motivation to stay with the breath but I keep falling back in a foggy state. I think it might be tiredness and a call for a good night of sleep. I open my eyes and stay still for a few minutes, enjoying feeling that good in my body and mind. Then I speak with my wife who is in the bed next to me, feeling all joyful and caring. We laugh and everything feels great. This state will remain for a good hour until I finally go to sleep.

So I'm really looking forward next sits to explore it all.

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1/17/15 1:06 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Sounds great, Jean. Keep up the good work, and have fun. Look forward to reading more.

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1/17/15 3:27 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Morning sit, 40 minutes long.

A lot of wandering. My right foot hurts and it bothered me throughout the session, no position would calm down the pain.

After several trials I chose to stay with the breath, as with practice the mind seems to rest more easily on a already practiced object of concentration.

So I spent my time loosing and going back to the breath, tooking care to drop any aversion toward wandering. At the end I had a lot of thoughts like "how much time have I been sitting?", "what time is it?", "I want to stop and get up". So I spent the last few minutes dropping and dropping those thoughts and its feeling of restlessness, until it was difficult to bear it anymore.

Let's say it was pure workout.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/19/15 5:52 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yesterday another short sit, 30 minutes long.

I was like, if it's going to be short, let's have the most out of it.
So I took a firm resolution of being with the breath no matter what until my family gets home, and put my attention upon the breath.

Breath in, breath out.

Diving in my own head, step by step my awareness collapses in a small dot, which then widens and becomes a comfortable place to stay in, until it collapses and awareness dives in a smaller spot, again and again and again.

In the same process, mental and bodily tensions fade out, and soon I'm in a state where I can watch thoughs arise, even the subtle movement (like a vibration to which I cling reflexively) before they actually take form and sense. I play with that, watching closely how a thought announces its coming, how it becomes invasive and distract attention from the breath. I must remain vigilant because even only a small part of attention clinging to a rising thought can quickly lead to loosing the breath completely. I try to watch how far I can go with a thought before it becomes prominent comparend to breathing.

Focusing at the tip of the nose, I also feel little fast and subtle vibrations running through my nose and upper lip, dozens of little perceptions by second.

But mainly, I remain with the breath samatha-style.

Breath in, breath out.

Recently I read a thread here on DhO, saying that the perfect sit report would be just that : breathing in, breathing out. It's so simple it sums up perfectly what I'm trying to achieve during this sit.

In a matter of 10 min my body feels much more relaxed than what I would reach in a hour a few weeks (even days) ago. Being one with the breath, suddenly there is a deep and intense rising of pleasure in my lower belly, I turn my attention to it but it fades out (due to excitment I think). Still, there is a pleasant feeling that remains in the background and as I focused on it, concentration grows deeper, the pleasant feeling creeps all over my body and mind, I feel at ease and relax and my head is full of light, it feels good, I could stay like this for hours.

Then my relatives come back home and I finish my session.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/23/15 8:25 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Last days were busy so not much time to practice.

I did my best to stay with the breath during the day, as much and often as I could, but mindfulness is hard to maintain off cushion. Still doing it as I'm writing.

I also spent at least a few minutes on cushion every day, so that the habit remains anchored.

Last night I had a fun experience. Lying in my bed in the dark, I was thinking about jhanas, when suddenly I had a rush of energy coming to the head, mostly at crown level. I gathered that energy at ajna level because I heard that overloading crown can lead to nasty side effects.
There, in the third eye area, I was having flash upon flash of light, brief and intense. There was a tension, which upon closer observation was experienced as fast vibrations, and the best way to have them disappearing was to bath in them so that my entire universe would syncronize with these vibrations.
(So in a counter-intuitive way, it's easier to tune the entire universe to a little knot of vibrations, than the other way around!)
Once done, a huge wave of relief would go through my body, and I would observe another vibrating at a deeper and subtler level. And so on, and so on, until I fall asleep.

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/29/15 2:16 AM as a reply to Jean B..
No time (no motivation ? too busy social life ?) for long sits these last days.

I did at least a 5 minutes sit each day, which is certainly not enough to keep momentum.

But meanwhile I do a lot of practices during the day, mainly consisting in adopting points of view based on personal insights and/or on teachings.

For instance : when driving my motorcycle, and given I'm not surrounded by dozens of cars passing by at high speed, I focus on the road and body as an object of concentration. If a thought arises, I check my body to see how it feels like (pressure here, tension there, etc.) then I switch my attention back to the road.
I also try to not "use" my eyes but let them do their job. I let my sight settle panoramically and trust my eyes to do their job. And it works quite well when I'm not too much scared to allow them to do so!
After a while I come to see very clearly that there is no doer, only doing. If a car or people (or, say, a tree) come into my field of view, I notice that my eyes go fastly toward it then switch back to the road. Again and again. Depending on what is seen, my body reacts (check the speed, brake, etc.)
I realize (I knew but never actually experienced) that there is a small delay between the actual action and the moment I'm being conscious of it.
Doing that at work, on the road, at home and so on, it becomes progressively easier to let go and watch the body&mind do its stuff without needing any actual intent from me.
It's quite fun actually!

I'm also reading "Seeing that frees" by Rob Burbea, truly a good reading which insists on the potency of actually adopting points of view born from personal insights, in order to assimilate them more deeply and subtly. Also some good notes about samatha practices, some of them confirming my own experiences which is somehow reassuring.

Cheers to everyone reading :-)

RE: Jean's practice log
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1/28/15 11:44 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Hi Jean, thx for the updates ; its always cool to read you

Looks like you are swaying from active to inactive to active, with shorter and shorter intervals  , if i read your last three month; had you noticed ?

I experience something of the same kind, being much committed on sitting or meditating for a time, then leaving it beside for some time , and then come back to it.  i'd say its a kind of muscle training i guess .. you workout, then you rest a bit, you get back to it, feeling bit sore, then it feels great (greater?) then again, "fatigue"/lazyness comes back and again around, the same cycle.

What interrests me now is finding out what are the factors for quick fatigue, what are the factors for quick recovery and strength back .. i see you are testing constant observer only state. right ?  it helped in a way for me for some time but had great difficulty getting back "grounded" to my body ; looks like with this approach, the detachment persistence quickly comes to play, and i didn't dare , and even felt fear at one point i might have crossed some nonreturning point , and felt absolutely not prepared to be so detached;

i've now adopted "staying" with my body feelings only, not taking care of my toughts, leaving them as muffled voices in a room beside .. as an antidote .. its been a real quick relief ; 3 days later, i really feel really back.

Now i've written this down, it just popped up .. i thing that if i should resume concentration / full mindfulness practice, i must also egaly practice grounding

cheers!
SeT

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1/29/15 6:05 AM as a reply to SeTyR ZeN.
Hey SeT! cool nickname by the way.

It's good to read you as well!

SeTyR ZeN:
Looks like you are swaying from active to inactive to active, with shorter and shorter intervals  , if i read your last three month; had you noticed ?


No but now you say so... Interesting. It's a bit fresh so I had not much time to step back and think about it.

SeTyR ZeN:
I experience something of the same kind, being much committed on sitting or meditating for a time, then leaving it beside for some time , and then come back to it.  i'd say its a kind of muscle training i guess .. you workout, then you rest a bit, you get back to it, feeling bit sore, then it feels great (greater?) then again, "fatigue"/lazyness comes back and again around, the same cycle.


Totally. The way things gradually unfold, meditation becomes more and more rewarding which triggers the motivation to get back to it. I guess like any practice.

SeTyR ZeN:
What interrests me now is finding out what are the factors for quick fatigue, what are the factors for quick recovery and strength back .. i see you are testing constant observer only state. right ?  it helped in a way for me for some time but had great difficulty getting back "grounded" to my body ; looks like with this approach, the detachment persistence quickly comes to play, and i didn't dare , and even felt fear at one point i might have crossed some nonreturning point , and felt absolutely not prepared to be so detached;


I would not say I am testing constant observer only state, though in a matter of fact this is one of the most valuable state of mind I adopt when things need to space out: tensions, energy rushes, or any potentially overloading stuff.

Going regularly through a body scan to watch how my experiences relate to something that happens at a physical level seems to ground. In fact, sometimes it seems like I'm moving toward more reality rather than being lost in stories about it.

But I also feel it might mean putting in perspective a cadre of reference I've been using for ages and somehow it's confusing.

SeTyR ZeN:
i've now adopted "staying" with my body feelings only, not taking care of my toughts, leaving them as muffled voices in a room beside .. as an antidote .. its been a real quick relief ; 3 days later, i really feel really back.


Exactly. Maybe you could try and bring more body awareness in meditation?

SeTyR ZeN:
Now i've written this down, it just popped up .. i thing that if i should resume concentration / full mindfulness practice, i must also egaly practice grounding


In my opinion concentration helps to diffuse and assimilate some unpleasant states of mind, and mindfulness is necessary if one wants to quickly cut unwholesome story making and keep track of what one is going through.

Keep me updated!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/22/15 4:37 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Not much concentration practices these days. No formal daily sit either, more like small frequent breath awareness throughout the day, to keep things smooth.

I've been much more on the insight side lately, with some strong bursts of stuff happening. My favourite way of deepening insight is to spot a layer of tension in my body - in the head mainly, as usual - and just watch it, not being caught in it but watch it as it evolves, moves, grows, arises and decreases. Quickly I feel like syncronizing my whole body vibration at that level in order to suffuse it, and so the drops melts in the ocean. Then it reveals another deep hided layer of tension which I investigate, and so on and so on, with that pervasive sensation of dissolving and widening a lot more at each step.

During those dives I notice - and feel at organic level - some interesting facts.

Sensations are located. In the body, indeed, but much more then that: there are like ballons floating in an empty space, and there is a LOT of space around that balloon. Then I'm all "relatively to what do I perceive this balloon?" (is this proper english?), and I would notice that it does appear at the surface of nothing, that kind of nothing that I can feel somehow everywhere I look.

For an hour now, I've been playing with the goneness of things. Each stuff I notice, is gone as soon as I'm aware of it. Feels a bit like like everything is crumbling down but in a nice, relaxing and vaporous way. I will definitely dig this.

-
Edited: twice.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/22/15 4:43 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Practice note --- A process of insights rising:
  1. Investigate a focus about something, anything;
  2. Then the realization (organic and unforced) that I can focus in another way;
  3. Then after 2 or 3 switches of focus / point of view, the realization that all focuses are relative;
  4. Effortlessly move to a meta-level of focus;
  5. This meta-move is felt physically : widening, burden lifting, dissolution, spinning, whatever. It's organic.
  6. Repeat.
I found out looking at stuff through the 3 C's is VERY potent. Once something has settled through a organic insight, it is then much more easy to notice it during daily life. My favorite are
1/ anatta : a weapon of choice when I had to deal with strong pressures and tensions in my head. Somehow anatta allowed me to take a step back and not being overwhelmed. Now it's quite easy for me to dive into this point of view, and it smoothes things quite effectively.
2/ annica : impermanence of things is quite obvious to notice, but the insights it brings, although tasted, need to settle in much more. Worth practicing, as a annica newbie I like to focus on hearing for this one.
3/ dukkha : the less obvious for me... intellectually I can see the point, but it's much more difficult to actually feel it and perceive it. Sometimes it's obvious (pain, oppressing tensions, etc.); sometimes not.

-
Edited: once

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/28/15 6:57 PM as a reply to Jean B..
(Prologue: ) I start to feel my limits in english writing, which is quite frustrating because I have difficulties to express the nuances and extent of what I experience.

Still concentrating mostly "on the go".

Though yesterday, I've been able to sit for 1 hour twice in a row, alternating between pure concentration on the breath and investigating 3 C's.

On deepening concentration, here is the main pattern I was following: I'd focus on the breath and its way through the body, widening and bathing in the pleasant feeling it gives, looking for tension to be watched and released. I watch tension, seemingly as a block, then I can feel moiré and waves moving through it, then it pulsates in a lot of little dots as pouring rain. Watching it gently but firmly, some part of the tension starts to be felt as a autonomous area, not me / not mine, impermanent, and it's like I'm entering into it / bathing it in higher frequencies and "pouf"... good bye.

There is still this tension in the face that I can't let go for good. At least it condenses in a very narrow area in the jaws but I seem to lose focus when I get there. For a while now, I've been thinking that it prevents me from entering jhana but I'm not sure anymore. Maybe I'm making a much bigger deal of it than it really is. Is there really not a single tension left in jhanas? Can't be sure about that. Plus, I've been reading MCTB again, and I can definitely relate to jhana-like states of mind: first a deepening and pleasant relaxation of body and mind (light 1st jhana), then strong focus and easy concentration wherever I look (light 2nd jhana), then I lose some ability to focus strongly where I look and turns to a cool awareness of all patterns in my body (light 3rd jhana). Maybe I'm actually far away from even 1st jhana. Does anybody have a clue?

For the main part I've been investigating 3 C's lately.

1/ anatta : experiencing with two ways of looking:

- phenomenon are watched so they can't me me or mine: this 1st way does not need that much analysis and is quite intuitive once I start to look for it. Each time there is this sort of "aha!" moment when it is seen. Watching some tension for instance and coming back to it while looking for proof that it's totally not me or mine, it starts to dissolve until it's released for good.
- phenomenon arise from deep and complex interactions upon which I have not much control, and therefore can't be me or mine. This one needs a little more real time analysis but is worth it. I can't understand or embrace the finesse and complexity of all the interactions involved, but it seems to make sense somehow and leads to let go.
I had an interesting experience involving anatta, while looking for it again ang again, suddenly I had a very deep and powerful awareness of an "I" in contrast with the rest of the world, so I turned my focus on this "me" feeling - felt like a string of watchness in the background - and then it started to get weird but I can't say exactly how. Like there was no distinct I to be found but a strong awareness of something watching somewhere.
This is still quite gross and need much more precision.

2/ annica : looking in real time for the impermanence of things. Sometimes perceptions in particular (a pain, a tension, a sound, whatever) and sometimes whole frames of experience - i.e. my entire field of perception, including some light perception of space, watcher, even time although I'm not really sure and need to investigate more on this one. In the same time it freezes (I guess it is a mental echo of bare experience) and its disapearrance is experienced. Repeated over and over, this investigation leads to a feeling of everything slipping through my fingers, of "having-been-but-no-more-being-there".

3/ dukkha : I thought I couldn't find make sense of this one, but upon reading MCTB again I found it it's actually the one I mostly feel. This kind of unpleasant background of unfitness toward reality, this is really it. So I worked on it and looked for unpleasant feeling even in bliss, and I found that dukkha is everywhere. So I watch and watch over and over how each perception is not satisfactory, digging on boredom, pain, restlessness, feeling at much as I can how everything feel nauseous and sickening.

For the most part I investigate my day-to-day reality in real time, looking for 3 C's. I don't know if this is related, but I've been feeling tired and quite disgusted with myself for 2 days now. I wake up tired even with 8-hours long nights, don't have the taste to socialize with friends, my bodily boundaries seem fuzzy... I'm bitting my lips to the point it bleeds, I don't feel very good in my body. Still I try to be present with all these feelings and perceptions, as much as I can, looking for the 3 C's over and over everytime I do not need to concentrate on something.

I'm not sure that investigating 3 C's for some days can lead to DN, that seems too fast in regards to the standard progress of insights, but the coincidence is quite uncanny.

Does anybody have a thought about it? Some feedback could be useful, at least reassuring emoticon

May everybody have a nice week-end!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
2/28/15 7:07 PM as a reply to Jean B..
1-hour-long sit this morning. I focused mainly on the breath, diffusing it in the whole body. Then I hit some kind of wall because my attention would flicker here and there.

So I remember Thanissaro Bikkhu's words about appropriate attention, which consists in being "mindful, alert, and ardent" (The role of appropriate attention), and focused one more on the breath.

This time I trid to notice as accurately as I could every frame and movement and sensations that compone the breath, I had not enough precision to precisely see the arising and passing away of each sensation but soon enough it all began to strobe in and out of reality, it was so weird I could not help but think about it and it vanished. Worth investigating, espacially as it deepened my concentration quite spectacularly!

I also focused on a pain in the foot and I did quite a good job in seeing each sensation arises, climaxes and passes away. In minutes I could see them quite precisely, feeling their impermanence and unsatisfactoriness.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/1/15 4:41 PM as a reply to Jean B..
45 min sit this morning. Lots of wandering, had to compone with early morning torpor. Very hard to focus. Good training for the mind though.

Yesterday I spent half an hour to find the perfect form of a monkey, to trace it on white paper from my computer screen, to report the outline on a black sheet of card board, to cut out the shape. My son just needed 5 minutes to tear it down. Best lesson on impermanence ever.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
3/2/15 5:27 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I'm reading Dipa Ma biography "Life and legacy of a Buddhist teacher", very inspiring in terms of practicing as a householder. It helps me to find motivation and energy to practice whenever I can, even late in the evening or early in the morning, although these are not my favourite periods for practice because I'm much more tired and drowsy. But better than nothing, and I'm taking it as part of a good training for the mind.

45 min sit yesterday evening, 45 min sit early in the morning.

I note "breath in" when breathing in, "breath out" when breathing out. Whenever I find my mind wandering, I note "stories" - or sometimes more accurate labels such as "strategy", "analysis", etc. - and go back to the breath. Whenever my attention is attracted somewhere else I note "sound", "movement", "touch", "smell", etc. then go back to the breath.

There is a "burden-lifting" feeling of release whenever I note and go back to the breath.

When I feel like it I look at the breath much more closely, looking every little components such as pressure, warmness/coolness, tensions, change of pattern, acceleration/deceleration, etc. I'm still not very precise and I often lose it. But sometimes, I can feel something is coming to birth, arises, passes and disappears. It's still a bit muddy though.

My biggest fear now is I'm not practicing correctly and wasting my time! Hindrance: doubt. Noted as well.

Cheers to you, reader!

-
Edit: twice.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/1/15 7:48 PM as a reply to Jean B..
My practice now is mainly concentration on cushion, and noting / body awareness off cushion.

Writing a practice log in English is becoming increasingly difficult, so I switched to a private log in French.
I might post on the forum from time to time to ask specific questions though.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/5/15 3:16 AM as a reply to Jean B..
So to sum up last week's practice, it's been mainly noting. On cushion noting, off cushion noting.

I started with noting at senses gate: hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, thinking. That's how I found out there are subtler phenomenon intertwined in the mix, namely: vedanas (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), mental states (attitudes, feelings) and thoughts pattern (imagining, processing, futurizing, depreciating, etc.)

So for instance, I'd be driving my motocycle and note "seeing/neutral, hearing/neutral, pulsating/pleasant", etc. then see there is also "anticipation", "excitment", "anger", but also "futurizing thoughts", "processing thoughts", "estimating thoughts" (do I have the time to drive between those 2 cars?) etc.

It's interesting 'cause I've been able to catch how my mind works almost in real time, with some subtle states I knew of but wasn't able to experiment as they unwrap.

The mindfulness to note is becoming easier and easier, and I find myself noting without much effort, at least ay senses gate level. But from time to time I have automatic mental states and thoughts patterns noticing which come to the surface and remind me to note, note and note even more.

On cushion there is a most distinct pattern going on: first a feeling of sinking in relaxation, aware of the body of breath but also mindful of my surroundings. Being there. Then some subtler phenomenon come to the foreground, rough vibrations and gross pulsating here and there, mostly at head level as usual. Then pains, stiffness, itching, boreness, restlesness, with which I'd remain present and all-accepting. Then raptures, bliss, gross vibrations decomponing in subtler and pleasant vibrations; syncronisation with these vibrations and releases of bliss. Then some anger, anxiety, strong but very brief surges of fear (like anxiety but much more object-oriented: lack of air in breathing, that kind of stuff). If I remain present and mindful and bathing in the sensations, all-accepting, then there is a calmdown and I feel at ease, just being with contentment. Then I lost it and I start all over again. 40 to 60 min seems to be the standard pattern for such a cycle.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/5/15 8:22 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Hi Jean; good to hear from you emoticon

Beware too much noting , don't forget to have a break because i think i recognize the little sparks of fear coming up you speak about, because of too much/too long running noting practice. ; if they begin to take a toll on you, i would remember to just get back to no-noting , or at least no-active-noting, for a while, few days, just being present, and feeling the body, simply, it should mellow out the hellish surges/"spikes". you might already find it difficult in slowing/controlling or stopping the noting-ferry-boat 's inertia , unless you want to jump head first ! in both cases, take care! emoticon)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/6/15 3:43 AM as a reply to Jean B..
40 min sit ---

Mindfulness in front of me: hearing, touching, touching, hearing, seeing, touching, hearing. Awareness goes back and forth between the sound of the fan, the feeling of my hands touching each other, the pattern unfolding and seen on my internal screen. I want to check if awareness can rest upon 2 phenomenon at the same time, I watch it going back and forth between the touch of my hands and the sound of the fan, faster and faster, until there are 10's of flickering frames of awareness each second, it's not precise enough for me to assert awareness can stay upon both of them at the same time but at very high speed it seems not.

I get back to slower noting, in a range of 1Hz to 5Hz, before it becomes too blurry to note. I feel like sinking in and expanding my body, a lot of subtle tensions appear, my lips, cheeks and nose start to jerk and twist quickly, and by noting physical but also mental perceptions I can both feel them plainly and keep a step back which allows those perceptions to get syncronized and diffused in the background. This is accompanied with releases of tensions and its corollar rapture and bliss.

Step by step things settle down, I now feel very peaceful and there are almost no movements except very subtle vibrations at jaws level, I watch and note them and they fade away but remain, so I watch for mental perceptions that I could have forgot and find I'm going through a lot of mental attitudes: expectation, doubt, fear that those vibrations won't go away, excitment, calm, anxiety, and so on. I note and it gives me more space and eventually vibrations become so small and subtle I hardly feel them.

Now I feel like a rock, my body seems to solidify as a wave of strong energy coming from my forefront creeps all over my body and make me feel like a solid rock mountain, all of one piece, a even deeper calm dawns on me then I investigate that feeling and see it is componed of subtle variations in attitudes, moods, physical perceptions more at a space/proprioception level, and I note that too. Also thoughts creep in, thinking about concepts (verbal thoughts), watching fantasied scenes (visual thoughts), thinking about the upcoming evening (futurizing thoughts) and I note them also.

Sometimes at that point it's hard to remain mindful and I find myself a few times lost in thoughts, but then I note and go back to noticing (physical perceptions are very fast and spread all over my body so I do notice and only note from time to time, mainly to remain disengaged with thoughts).

In the same time there are waves of energy coming though my body, like a block and they syncronize at head level, then another wave follows, and so on. At one time there is a big wave coming with a strong feeling of "this one and we're done", I watch and notice as much perceptions as I can while it rises and syncronizes, and then there is a column of light that comes from inside and goes up along my spine, go through third eye then seems to smoothly explodes at crown level. With this light comes a strong wave of bliss and feeling of easiness, followed by another rise of light, and I feel so good and calm.

I open my eyes and end the session.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/6/15 9:35 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I'm in the middle of a self-retreat, my objective is 5 hours, I've done 2.

Mindfulness with noting at senses gate: hearing, itching, pulsating, touching, shaking, heaviness, pressure, tension, hearing, hearing, seeing, expanding, etc.

When things settle down and boredom arises, I'd note "boredom" then mental states: expectation, irritation, impatience, curiosity, interest, self-consciousness, anger, anxiety, etc.

When things are a bit confused and I don't know what to note, I switch back to senses gate. It helps me stay focused.

I move back and forth between gross and subtler layers to objectify and note.

When I reach some kind of equanimity towards phenomenon, I quit noting and just bath in my own stuff, noticing how perceptions and attitudes and thinking patterns just come and go, arising and passing away.

Apart from some small bothering vibrations at head level (mostly in the upper right of my skull), I can feel I have equanimity regarding phenomenon. There are experienced but there is no pushing and pulling towards them. Only these small vibrations, causing sometimes big waves of energy which get stucked in my head, like knots for which I don't find a way to unknot them.

So during the second sit, after some time struggling with that, I start noting all the analyzing, strategizing, aversion and stuff I generate. Progressively I found myself in the background, looking at my internal screen where I could watch a bunch of impermanent phenomenon, unfolding and resorbing and doing their stuff without the need of any intervention from my part. The three 3c's were obviously experimented as I saw these phenomenon as impermanent, not self and unsatisfactory.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/7/15 1:24 AM as a reply to Jean B..
3rd 1-hour sit ---

This sit was marked by an increase in the head tension, much analyzing and strategizing to get rid of it. I tried to *pop* a way out through the crown but it's like there is a barrier at the top of my head and the energy builts up at mid level and get blocked at the crown.

Then after a moment a feeling of resignation, I let go of the desire to get rid of it -- there was a bit of strategy in that move I have to admit, but I noted it --.

At this moment the pattern started to widen, to get more diffused in space, then a building of light in the head and a surge of energy in my neck and head, I felt almost forced to let it go through, I was frowning and squitting, my head went back and forth quite violently -- in a controlled but energic way --, with each time the feeling that some of the blocked energy was released through the crown. Like pumping it out of my head.

____

4th 1-hour sit ---

This time, not much to say about energy. The knot is still here, but much less bothering than during the previous sit.

I did mainly notice arising and passing phenomenon, with sporadic noting to remain mindful. I lost it a number of times though, a lot more than during the 3 previous sit.

At the end of the session, for almost 20 min I'd say, there was some kind of equanimity towards phenomenon, but a huge boredom -- which I did note -- but the boredom was here for good and never went away, as much as for the first time I checked my clock before the bell rang (which was 6 min before the end).

Oh boy that was boring.

So I was just there, noting the boredom, feeling at ease and kinda spaced out, noticing perceptions / attitudes / arising thoughts everywhere. Bored. Strategizing to get rid of the boredom. Content with the boredom. Boredom everywhere.

But the energy was more fluid and I was able to release some at the top of the head, without forcing. At least that was my impression.

Self-retreat: over. Back to father & husband's duties!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/12/15 9:50 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Hey Jean, how has it gone since your retreat day , can you perceive some differences yet or too early to say ? emoticon
Best wishes;
SeT

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/12/15 11:05 PM as a reply to SeTyR ZeN.
SeTyR ZeN:
Hey Jean, how has it gone since your retreat day , can you perceive some differences yet or too early to say ? emoticon
Best wishes;
SeT

It's fun you ask, I was thinking about writing a log entry, and was notified by your answer when logging on DhO :-)

Since my retreat day, I think I may have reached a new level in my practice. I feel like meditating most of the day. Mainly, my practices have been following this pattern :
  • daily sits (45 to 60 min)
  • keeping mindfulness during the day
  • automatic "The Wheel" flash meditation
I maintain at least one formal daily sit a day, generally during the evening, for 45 to 60 minutes. When I can, I'd do another sit early in the morning, before my wife and son wake up -- for this one, the sitting time can be a few minutes and up to 60 min.


Daily sits

These days, the sitting pattern goes like this :
  1. Bare and open awareness: being present to perceptions, expanding my bodily and mental perceptions with each in-and-out breath. This step helps me to begin and remain as mindful as I can, and to settle things down by cleaning grosser perceptions and agitation.
  2. Riding the jhanic arc: I've identified a clear progression from jhana to jhana.
    • 1st jhana: from the beginning I concentrate mainly at third eye level, and it becomes my main object of focus. It's like a pulsating knot, attracting my awareness without much effort needed. I diffuse the building tension in the body, all along the spine and down to the feet, which feels very grounding and helps my self perception to expand. This is accompanied with a feeling of sinking/diving in that pulsating space, with some feeling of rapture and bliss, and releases of tension in the body. Then I rise to...
    • 2nd jhana: the knot turns on itself, and everything widens. No more effort needed, and subtle vibrations -- mostly in the head -- appear like traces on a sonar. I turn my attention to them, seeing how they are impermanent and neither mine nor me. This is the moment where I can feel a -- artificial but present nonetheless -- difference between internal patterns and external patterns, like a solid screen between what is me and what is not me. It appears artificial because I can push "my" patterns across the screen and make them "external" to me. It's much easier to dissolve vibrations in the world rather than trying to attune myself, so my main practice at this step is to watch vibration patterns, objectify them and "push" them outside to watch them dissolve. Rapture, bliss and body tensions ensue. After a few minutes I rise to...
    • 3rd jhana: a coldness goes down on me. The excitment and raptude go away, and I'm left with a cold awareness with nowhere to really focus on. Vibrations in the head are hard to catch and stay with, or have subsided. A lot of pains and itching and stuff come bothering me. This step is quite frustrating and generally the moment when I feel bored. If I stay long enough in this state, equanimous and at peace with whatever comes to me, sometimes I go to...
    • 4th jhana: I feel at ease, undisturbed. My body perception feels vague, confused, sometimes I feel like a big rock carved in the shape of an octopus. There is still tensions deep inside my skull, moving patterns of subtle vibrations, hard to catch.
  3. Noting: all along the ride, whenever I'm not consciously deepening and expanding my concentration, I'd note. Mostly choiceless awareness noting, or head vibrations noting. 2nd and 4th jhanas are my favourite step points for noting; 1st jhana is too noisy, and 3rd jhana too confusing. I'm sure I could gain a lot by noting in those two as well.
The sits end sometimes in boredom. Sometimes it grows towards a blissful flash of light in my head, which lets my mind feeling clear and relaxed. Very nice.


Daily minfulness

I've been focusing for two weeks on bringing more and more mindfulness throughout the day. It can vary widely depending my activites: no mindfulness at all, bare body perceptions awareness, and actual noting whenever I'm not that much involved in work and/or social relations.


The Wheel

Calling it that way because this practice has been one of my early tool, and I found out somone calling it "The Wheel" on this blog : http://apracticejournal.wordpress.com/. Its definition goes like this :
Directing the attention to the third eye until the sensation of vibration appears. The attention is lowered towards the horizon until ’a sweet spot’ is found where vibration can still be felt without an effort. The union of samatha and vipassana is realized by getting absorbed into the vibration and looking for the hard stops in the random vibration.
Often during the day, I just have to close my eyes and direct the attention to the third eye, and vibrations would appear in a matter of minutes. It's a very convenient practice to dissolve tension and gain insights. Thanks to that practice, I feel like my awareness has naturally widened during waking daily activites, with a sense of space and enlarged horizon.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/13/15 9:48 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Heh ! wanna talk about serendipidity ? =)

Well i bow in awe to your practice assiduity Jean
Thanks for the whell trick, i might give it a try!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/15/15 2:26 AM as a reply to Jean B..
15 April 2015 - 20 min sit

First doing some concentration practice, for a few minutes I focus on the sensation of breathing in and out. Then I switch to noting: senses gates mostly (hearing, seeing, touching, pressure, heaviness, light, pulsing) with a touch of vedana here and there (pulsing/pleasant, seeing/neutral, etc.), sometimes feelings (curiosity, excitement, anxiety, impatience) and, for 3 or 4 times, thought patterns (analyzing, wondering, futurizing, imagining).

It goes like this: first sensations of sinking and expanding, everything seems solid and I have a pressure building on the third eye. Then I zoom in sensations, the body relaxes and the pressure breaks into small movements, then vibrations. They feel chaotic but I can discern a pattern: movements, a break, movements, a break, and so on. (Pre-A&P?)

I continue noting and the vibrations soften, sort of syncronize. The horizon widen. Now I have slow moving wave of pressures in the head, mostly near the right eye, and corresponding wave of colored light dancing on my inner screen. It feels good, although I’d like to get rid of those pressures and just be at peace (noted). There is surge of energy and light going on with pressures in the neck and the third eye, and lot of movements at third eye and crown level (A&P?)

Then I lost it for a few seconds, and I found myself back on tracks but feeling spaced out. (Dissolution?) I regain the conscious that I’m sitting at my office, and a wave of anxiety stroke me as I think that I might be found by my colleagues and I’d look ridiculous (Knowledge of Fear?). I note that feeling and it passes away. Then I watch my perceptions, I feel itches and spikes and pulsations all over my body, but at the moment I notice them, they are already gone and I can investigate any of them. (Back to Dissolution?)

Then I find myself back in a light blissful state (A&P?), then everything is back to a solid block (Pre-A&P?)

I concentrate again and feel I’m heading back to A&P, but my bell rang and I end the session.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/15/15 8:10 PM as a reply to Jean B..
15 April 2015 - 30 min sit

I was chilling, lying on my sofa, eyes closed, going through the jhanic arc when I feel a large opening at forehead / crown level. So I sat down and got deeper while noting: pressure, pulsing, throbbing, itching, hearing, touching, etc. The pressure waves kept on growing upper and upper, "pushing" the opening further. My internal sight was widening at the same time, and sometimes it was too sudden and I'd felt dizzy or nauseous, but things settled down quite fastly until the next big wave.

I might have been to a state of Dissolution at a point, when I felt spaced out and dreamy, with lots of sensations lacking of precision. Then I felt that fear sensation, as yesterday, with a recollecting of where I was and what I was doing, and a sudden burst of fear of getting caught meditating. Then rapidly I falled back to A&P, which went out faintly. I end the session.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/15/15 9:27 PM as a reply to Jean B..
16 April 2015 - 30 min site

Start with a few minutes concentrating on the breath. Relaxation, sinking sensation and pressure building at third eye level. Then pressure breaks into movements, then vibrations with patterns. I focus on them, noticing how impermanent they are. Whenever anything else attracts my attention, I note: hearing, seeing, touching, itching, analyzing thoughts, impatience, anxiety, and so on.

Waves of pressure come and go around my left eye, then some balance is found between both eyes, then it moves to right eye mainly. Some patterns are objectified and I watch them diffuse and dissolve with bliss, releasing body tensions at the same occasion.

Watching that I become spacey, I lose track often, everytime I find myseld spaced out -note- I get back to noting, but noting is hard to maintain and quickly I just let go of noting and dive into those pressure waves. Everything is muddy, I have a hard time remaining mindful. Dissolution mixed with a heavy lunch I guess!

I stay in that state until the end of the session.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/16/15 9:07 PM as a reply to Jean B..
16 April 2015 - 1 hour sit

I did this sit before sleeping, and it had been broken 3 or 4 times because I had to check on my sick son.
So I had to lose and gain back some momentum each time I'd go in his room and back to my bed.

Few rounds of breath. Noting. Senses gate mostly.
I still have a hard time to note feelings, I do not find label easily. Same for thoughts.

Quickly, pressure build at third eye/face level. I watch and note them as they wave here and there, inserting some feeling/attitudes/thoughts in the mix.
Pressure fades layer by layer, with the usual body relaxation, bliss, and internal horizon widening.
I'm amazed at how scalpel-like my attention becomes; so focused and precise, I can watch very fast and subtle vibrations in very deep and small areas.

Noting is now harder. I'm at ease, watching vibrations doing their stuff, more prone to go with the flow rather than noting.
Finally all tensions in the face are released, and it feels like a cap has been lifted from my skull. Openness felt mostly at crown level, and a bit in the throat.
I bath in the sensation, feels great. Still not noting. Samatha flavored.

Then I get back to noting and spread the awareness to the body as a whole. I feel sensations (pulsing, itching, pressures, etc.) all over it. I do not choose and watch any of them closely, rather I stay open to whatever comes and note it.

I pay attention to the sensations that compones the "I" sensations, and other perceptions with no apparent "I", until I feel my attention fastly going back and forth between these 2 types of perceptions. For a moment I have a faint but strong perception of what "I" is. It passes away too fast and I can't remember what is was. Can't state it in words. I play with that flickering between "I" and "not-I" for a moment.

I ask the question "I wonder what my next thought will be" and my mindfulness become very strong in a second. Impressive. It feels like I've taken a step back, watching more than actually experiencing, with a very strong awareness of what's going on. I repeat the question from time to time, amazed at how deep and fast its effets are.

Then I feel pressures coming back in waves, losing the paronamic awareness I was in, and end the session a few minutes later.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/18/15 11:14 PM as a reply to Jean B..
No formal sit yesterday. As usual, I did The Wheel whenever I had a few minutes to spare, watching fast vibrations.

Off the cushion, I feel at best indifferent, at worst edgy and cranky. Hope it won't last too much, because I'm spaced out most of the day. I'm often drawn to my third eye, wheeling with the vibrations and bliss.


This morning - 45 min sit

Few minutes focusing on the sensations of breath. Pressure building at third eye. Focus on that pressure knot, and watch it starting to wave. Moving from 1st to 2nd jhana. I was noticing, not much noting, just here and there to not get sucked in stories.

Pressures release progressively, the skull cap remains though.

Then I might have moved to 3rd jhana: my attention seems more panoramic, I feet at ease but bothered by the pressures that remain at forehead and crown. Like it stands in the way of further jhanas / nanas, the path of total release and easiness.

Pressures keep waving here, waving there. I watch them closely, trying to feel them framing at high speed. It is now easier to see feelings and thoughts arising in the mix. There is some noise in my house, irritation and a bit of anger start to arise, and as I note them I'm able to see there are actually frames of the total experience, giving them much less weigth.

I end the session, feeling undone.


This afternoon - 45 min sit

Same pattern than in the morning : concentration / pressure in the head / vibrations arise / noticing but not noting very mich / skull cap remains.

Again I think I might have cross A&P, to me it starts when solid blocks start to move in waves and vibrations. I have some Dissolution symptoms but it's a bit vague and confused. The paronamic awareness is nice though, I can embrace perceptions coming from my surroundings.

Then I feel unpleasant sensations: itching mostly, some pain here and there. I remain equanimous as much as I can, noticing them then moving to other sensations.

There is some rising energy and light coming in the head, pressure releases but not that much.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/19/15 1:17 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Also off-cushion, I practice 2nd gear a la Kenneth Folk, asking "who is doing this or that?"
It tends to space things out, and sometimes strong bursts (of sadness for instance) would arise.

And I've found a place at eyes level, in the middle of the head, where it "moves" (energy worms!) whenever I identify with perceptions. If I just stay here and watch it staying unmoved, I'm not (or much less) drawn in mental stories. I feel both more present and more spaced out. Weird.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/19/15 4:31 PM as a reply to Jean B..
HI Jean B,
Also off-cushion, I practice 2nd gear a la Kenneth Folk, asking "who is doing this or that?"
It tends to space things out, and sometimes strong bursts (of sadness for instance) would arise.

I am glad you added this parenthetical comment on sadness burst coming up.

This is how I relate to your parenthetical comment: some teachers/traditions advise against the study of anicca, anatta-- sunyata-- while young, raising a family, creating livelihood, because there can be direct insight into conditions of being alive that can cause momentary nihilism, sadness, complete disorientation (not that anyone is advising this here, I'm just remembering this).

But if one lets that saddness/disappointment/"Now what?" just happen without acting against it nor on it strongly, this is where I feel the brahmaviharas (compassion, friendliness, empathetic joy, equanimity) naturally arise as a reliable sanity and reliable pleasure, become authentic, native choices to the mind that still must take actions in living; it's not an not omniscient mind, not a perfect mind, just a regular person's mind who's seen maybe something like a strong and silly pattern in the cosmos: arising and passing, and self-awareness, a whole cosmos of this activity and then more that isn't even known.

And so I feel the Pali-called brahmaviharas (which have other names in other traditions and langues) become the natural base of mind as a reliable spark of action in conditions, artistic even.


And I am not advising, just sharing my experience; your burst there may be totally different.
Truly, two cents =]
_____
editx4

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/19/15 5:47 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
And I am not advising, just sharing my experience; your burst there may be totally different.


Who knows? emoticon

I do notice them, they are deep but faint, strong but short. They arise and pass away. I do not attach that much importance to them, but they definitely exist and personnaly, I find them a source for awe and wonder. Life is truly a mistery.

Anyway, thank you for stopping by and giving some advice. The path is lonely and one among biggest causes of suffering is not being able to share my practice with relatives and friends, much less a teacher or avanced practicionner. Well, some of my relatives are curious but none of them practices.

Globally I feel there is a lack of sharing and support among meditants, that I thought I could find here on DhO via a practice log. I've been reading old logs from Kenneth Folk forum on awakenet.org, recently, there were meditants sharing and supporting each others, commenting progress of earlier paths meditants, giving them advices and stuff. If anyone knows a good active forum with that kind of spirit, please let me know!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/20/15 8:45 AM as a reply to Jean B..
I'd love to use the Hangout more regularly[1] which Daniel set up. I still get to meet some of the people I meet here in Hangouts in 2013, both in person and in hangouts now and it's really nice. For one, we get to know how our lives actually are and how our practices relate. 

And Hangouts can avoid snafus of written-only communication.

Thanks for sharing this long practice. I think you and Nikolai have new infants about the same age and I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that Hangout. Sometimes I get to see how Nikolai applies his practices with his little one on another site and I love it.

Merci, jean.

___
Edit [1] which I can't do these days due to streaming issues

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/20/15 4:29 PM as a reply to Jean B..
20/04/2015 - Noon - 30 min sit

I did what I haven't done for a while, now: just rest my awareness on the breath, counting a few times each round up to 10. Access concentration is gained quite rapidly now, I can stay with the breath with not much effort. A few thoughts and daydreams slip in from time to time, not often and not for long.

For 15 minutes there is pressure building at forehead level. There is no much effort needed and a light pervading rapture, so when wondering if I'm in 1st or 2nd jhana, I check where does my sight point to. If it's a few centimeters ahead of the eyes, then I'm in 1st jhana.

Then I forgot all about this, and suddenly after a few seconds of lost mindfulness, I feel a "switch" and find myself in 2nd jhana: the horizon has widen, I can remain in this state without any effort, and rapture/bliss are more felt (still light but there).

This is also the moment where I can feel pressures ot third eye / nose level starting to move in waves, which are made of smaller vibrations when my attention zooms on a small area. I watch those vibrations closely, noticing as much data as I can, mostly how impermanent and not-mine they are.

I feel I'm on the verge of moving to the next jhana, like something big is about to happen -- or to get dropped. There is energy building and pushing upwards in my neck and head, with some light in the head. My eyes turn upwards, and energy gather at the crown followed by some releases with a silent *pop*.

The bell rings and ends the session.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/20/15 7:49 PM as a reply to Jean B..
20/04/2015 - Evening - 30 min sit

Unexpected session, as it occurs rather often these days.

Sit report:

As I was chilling on my sofa, my attention went to the breath. After a few rounds, I was feeling good and slightly blissful. Pressure built at third eye and top of the head, so I start watching waves of energy coming and going, until they break into faster vibrations.

I start peeling the pressure like an onion, layer by layer.

It goes like this : I watch vibrations, and after a while there is a clear distinction between vibrations on that side, and pure, still and unmoved awareness on this side. I clearly Then the moment when my identification inclines towards and abides in that awareness, the "pack" of vibrations is seen as an external object that I can drop, and it fades away out there.

Peeling the onion is easier at each step, until layer of vibrations would simply vanish almost by themself, without much effort from me for letting them go.

For each big layer dissolving, I would feel energy building in the head, going upwards to the crown. It comes with a strong light, going through my head up the crown, my eyes would roll upwards and flicker, I feel my eyes rolling and twisting as the rapture grows stronger, up to a point when there is a letting go, the energy loops at the crown and immediately I feel a huge opening at crown level, my body relaxes A LOT, my head feels clear an spacious, with a ongoing stream of energy going freely from the crown to the perineum. I had 5 or 6 of these nice cleaning and healing surges. Best skull cap solvent ever!

Even this morning, although the skull cap is back, I feel much more spacious and the "cap" seems located higher than usual.

A few interpretation notes:

I clearly felt like I was riding the jhanic arc. I felt clearly the switch from 1st to 2nd (like a zoom in / step back when vibrations start to appear); then 2nd to 3rd right after I got rid of head pressures; then 3rd to 4th by diving deeper in remaining vibrations. Surges of energy, described earlier, drove me to drop body sensations, and I think I might have been on the verge of 5th jhana.

I think this is the first time I clearly felt I was "crossing" something, namely A&P (the abyss!) in my opinion, and went to the other side where there is much more peace, and where one can notice (organically) the frontier between still awareness on this side, and phenomenon arising and passing away on that side.

There, I had the feeling of abiding in a still spot while watching reality moving and vibrating, with my mind inclining naturally to that spot, and after a while there was only phenomenon disappearing, I'd watch them passing away, noting "gone". Truly, I was surrounded by the ghosts of past perceptions.

I think this might be the most obvious experience of Dissolution I've had until now (just guessing).

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/22/15 2:01 AM as a reply to Jean B..
21/04/2015 - Morning - 30 min sit

I kept coming back on the breath, with a lots of thoughts and daydreaming. 30 minutes past very quickly, with not much development. Overall, this sit was quite dull.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/22/15 2:01 AM as a reply to Jean B..
21/04/2015 - Noon - 30 min sit
21/04/2015 - Evening - 45 min sit
22/04/2015 - Morning - 30 min sit

Not much to say, the usual stuff: pressure building, vibrations, watching stuff. Noting here and there. Trying to see as much as 10+ frames in vibrations. Reality seems to flicker sometimes. Surges of energy and light in the head, eyes go upwards, flickering, tension too strong to handle and release. Crown opening. Bis repetita.

I've been edgy / cranky / indifferent these days. I don't want to meditate, still the only thing I think of and I'm interested in is meditation. Messy. My poor wife is having a hard time with me!!

The great thing is I might have found a french-speaking teacher, a former student from Kenneth Folk. First videocall this saturday morning.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/22/15 2:10 AM as a reply to Jean B..
22/04/2015 - Afternoon - 40 min sit

I counted each round of breath from 1 to 10, for 10 rows. A few thoughts and daydreaming, but there was always a part of my awareness remaining on the breath. I'm sure I have lost it for good a few times, but these periods were too short to be noticed - like really fast blackouts lasting a fraction of second.

Then when I was relaxed and concentrated enough, I switch to noting. Senses gate mostly, with some recognition of thoughts typology. Not very much feeling/attitudes noting in the mix, still hard for me to notice and label them.

I felt like sinking further and further and I'm quite sure I did it to 1st jhana then 2nd jhana. There was energy waving and small faint vibrations, nose and lips shaking, but I kept it smooth and slow, often relaxing my face, and there was much less tension and pressure building in my head this time. It felt less "efficient" (not sure that's the case though), but also much more bearable.

Also there was nice feelings of lightness, heaviness, feeling solid and plain as a rock... Overall I was pretty relaxed and feeling good. Whenever I felt impatient or wanting thins to change, I noticed it and it helped to relax even more with an expansion feeling.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/22/15 9:32 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Hi Jean, hope you are well; i see you are pushing it hard ;)

I got stuck several time with that compulsion/aversion with many subjects, not only mediation / thinking about meditation; let it cool down.
What i heard/read at one point in time that definitely helped with this pingpong was: "don't be a barrier to yourself" (yeah but which one ? i let you guess ..)

Cheers!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/22/15 9:49 PM as a reply to SeTyR ZeN.
SeTyR ZeN:
Hi Jean, hope you are well; i see you are pushing it hard ;)

I got stuck several time with that compulsion/aversion with many subjects, not only mediation / thinking about meditation; let it cool down.
What i heard/read at one point in time that definitely helped with this pingpong was: "don't be a barrier to yourself" (yeah but which one ? i let you guess ..)

Cheers!

Indeed and that was a thought I had yesterday: in 2 or 3 sits I developed an aversion to meditation, so I offered myself a few samatha-oriented sits so meditating is seen as fun and pleasure again. It worked so far because for the last 2 sits, although very insight / noting oriented, I've not been bothered by aversion -- and still looking forward my evening sit with excitment :-)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/26/15 5:48 AM as a reply to Jean B..
I didn't write after my thurdsay and friday sessions, and did not practice (apart 10 min of concentration in a car) on saturday.

Saturday morning I had a very intersting chat with Abre Chan -- a former student of Kenneth Folk --, a very kind person by the way. She diagnosticed me at A&P / DN level, with a more jhanic than "nanic" savor to my practice, and told me to deepen my exploration of four foundations of mindfulness by noting systematically each of them. So this is gonna be my main practice for the next weeks, at least until our next session in 2 weeks.

26/04/2015 - Noon - 45 min sit

I sat and concentrated and breath for a few minutes, just enough to relax and gain some access concentration. Then I switched to noting at senses gate at a 1Hz rate. Mostly hearing, touching and seeing. Sometimes more precise labels like pression, movements, itching, pain, light, imagination. From time to time I'd not "thinking", and once I noted "wanting to quit".

It was the first time ever I noted out loud, and the monotonic flow and sound of my voice was conductive of a concentrated and straight state of mind. Interesting as my feeling so far, although I don't know why, was that inner noting was "better" in some kind of way. After this first time noting out loud, I must admit that it certainly has its strength.

I was a bit tired so I'd note very seriously and systematically for 30 seconds, then be lost in daydreams for 10-20 seconds, then note "thinking" or "daydreaming" as soon as I noticed I was gone, continue noting for 1 min, get lost in thougts for 10-20 seconds, get back to noting, and so on.

At one moment, constantly noting, I had a very short but strong impression that I was disembed from what was noted; a clear distinction somehow, but it was so short I couldn't tell what it was about. Can't tell much more, but I know I've been noting at 1Hz for 2 or 3 minutes straight when it hitted me.

I did manage to keep noting until the end of the session, to my great surprise because I thought time was passing very slowly and I was feeling drawn to my pillow for a good nap :-)

Then for 10~20 minutes I had the weirdest dreams, with incessant back and forth between dreaming and being awake, without feeling the transition.)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/26/15 3:09 PM as a reply to Jean B..
27/04/2015 - Morning - 45 min sit

Mindfulness of feelings: 95% of my noting consisted in saying out loud "I don't know" or "confused". Also there was some "determined", "relaxed", "feeling nice", "wanting to scratch" (due to itching), "sore", "annoyed".

From time to time I switched to breath and noted "beginning", "middle", "end", "pause". Both for resting and deepening concentration, while keeping momentum in noting.

Overall I have issue for labelling feelings, for the most part I don't know what I'm feeling. Also there were lot of itching and pain.

But I managed to note at 1Hz rate without much breaks, just have to keep on keepin on.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/26/15 9:23 PM as a reply to Jean B..
27/04/2014 - Noon - 30 min sit

I wanted to note mind states, but it was very hard to label any. I think I need to check a bit about what are mind states first, then it will be easier to recognize and note them.

First I did focus on the breath, noting "beginning - middle - end - pause" etc. I did make it up to 2nd jhana and switched to noting, at an easier level for me - body mondfulness. So there was a lot of "hearing", "touching" and "seeing", until I felt a drowsy. After a while, out loud noting felt coarse and akward, even whispered noting didn't feel right, so I switched to subtler mental noting.

Not much more to say, except I need to increase my capacity to note feeling and mind states -- vedanas are OK -- but I don't know how. Do I have to spend a few 30 or 45 min sessions noting "I don't know" before it starts to work??

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/27/15 5:15 PM as a reply to Jean B..
27/04/2015 - Evening - 30 min sit

Feeling tired and edgy, I decided to sit for a samatha session. I focused on breath, switching back and forth between the whole body of breath and a small area at the tip of the nose. I reached a light 1st jhana, remained there for a while, then I looked at the sight behind my eyelids and progressively the horizon widens, the effort dropped and I was in a light 2nd jhana. I hanged there until the end of the session.

There was a strong and narrow tension at the corner of the right eye where I rest my attention, until it broke in waves which themselves broke in vibrations. I watched those vibrations, feeling dull and tired, had a bit of daydreaming.

Nice relaxed session overall, I quit feeling drowsy and rather annoyed by any external stimulus. Went to bed early.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/28/15 12:13 AM as a reply to Jean B..
28/04/2015 - Noon - 30 min sit

First 15 minutes were spent focusing on the breath. Felt the transition to 1st jhana, then 2nd jhana. Nose / forefront start to wave and vibrate, I watch for a few moments then switch to noting.

I noted at senses gate, mostly hearing/seeing/touching. A few "thinking" and "pain". I entered a state of concentration on a continuous flow of noting, and felt I was kinda drawn apart from perceptions; there was awareness on this side, and noted perceptions on that side. Nice feeling, but I'd lose it every time I noticed and thought about it.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
4/29/15 12:48 AM as a reply to Jean B..
29/04/2015 - Morning - 45 min sit

Focus on breath, went to 1st jhana, start noting, felt a transition to 2nd jhana. At times, when noting went constant and became kinda automatic, I felt dissociated from the stream of noted perceptions. I'm watching, feeling, but I'm certainly not them.

29/04/2015 - Noon - 30 min sit

Same as in the morning. My sit pattern is quite the same. I reached that state where there are perceptions, there is noting, feels like a stream but no watcher -- and just when I notice that, this state fades off.


--
Everyday insight: off cushion, I'm often feeling edgy and irritable. But I've noticed that if I note the perception that triggers me, stories and stress just drop away. For instance if there is too much noise, I'd just note "hearing, hearing, hearing" and although I'm still very much aware of the noise, it's not stressing or annoying anymore.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/3/15 10:34 PM as a reply to Jean B..
I've not practiced a lot for the last 3 days, only one sit.

03/05/2015 - Morning - 30 min sit


Nothing much to say. I did ride the jhanic arc up to 3rd jhana, back and forth, and I ended up with a clear spaced mind and covered with little stings as if there were needles all over my skin.
Noting is becoming much more interesting, now that the practice feels less awkward, I'm more able to see automatic patterns as: hearing a sound > annoyance > recognition of annoyance > intention to stop being annoyed > hearing > etc. That's not that clear in real time, but I guess you understand my point.

___

Off cushion there have been few insights. Like I was driving my car, following a friend, then two other cars got on the road between the two of us, and for some weird reason I felt annoyed by that. Then I suddenly realised I had rearranged my world relatively to my position in relation with my friend's car position. I played for a while between both vision: I do/don't care about when I am relatively to my friend's car. The huge release of stress and widening of my awareness when in "don't care" mode was so spectacular I was astonished I didn't have noticed that before.

Anyway I had a few experiences like that with which I realized how much one can re-organize one's view of the world, just by attributing value to such things as location in space, location in time, and the distance between what is factual and what one expects that "should be".

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/4/15 7:16 PM as a reply to Jean B..
04/05/2015 - Evening - 30 min sit

Focus on breath, a few rounds. Sinking / expanding feeling. Letting go, letting go. At first effortful, sometimes I thing I'm in 1st jhana but then my sight widens a bit, I feel a lot of tension at third eye level, it's like I'm looking at a point a few centimeters in front of my eyes, and I feel my body and mind relax a lot with light rapture and waves of bliss. Now I know I'm in a first light jhana.

Then I let my sight rest, looking mostly at the view behind my eyes, and progressively I feel like I'm crossing the energy ball at the center of my forehead. It's like stepping in a place with much more space. Efforts drop, not completely but a lot. I could stay here without forcing, whereas I need to stay focus to remain in 1st jhana. Also the energy ball in my forehead breaks in waves, movements and vibrations.

At this point, sometimes I stay stuck here, and sometimes the movements in my head keep widening and dissolving, progressively pushing the skull cap up to my crown until there is a build of tension, a surge of energy and light in my head, my eyes roll up and flicker under the power of this kinda-electric current growing in intensity, until I can't handle it anymore and there is a surge of energy going up and looping to the crown, immediately followed by a sense of dizziness and ease, and great opening. After a few surges of that kind, I'd feel open, empty, at peace, with sometimes a strong sensation of energy passing up and down from perineum to the crown. Yesterday I felt my tongue was pulled back and I placed it in kechari mudra, and suddenly the current felt much stronger.


05/05/2015 - Morning - 30 min sit


I was a bit sleepy but I was able to navigate through at least first 2 jhanas, then things became muddy, until I was in a state of uneventness and -- let's face it -- boredom. So I did my best to remain there, equanimous and welcoming all perceptions, even the restlesness that I was feeling creeping on me.

Off cushion, I felt very edgy, lacking any patience, and had bursts of anger for 1 hour. I was unkind to my wife and to my son, but did apologize after each bad word or action.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/5/15 1:14 AM as a reply to Jean B..
05/05/2015 - Noon - 30 min sit

First few minutes, strong pressure in the head. I did manage to reduce it by paying a constant-but-not-so-close attention to breath, gently, and getting a sense of space as much as possible.
Went to 1st then 2nd jhana.
Start noting but it felt awkward, I felt better just noticing and keeping bare awareness. Noting from to time to keep disembeded from stories and daydreams.
I was feeling fine but bored. For the last 10 minutes I kept thinking that the 30 minutes session would come to an end soon, the time was passing slowly -- I write it down because it's been quite rare lately that I want a session to end.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/5/15 8:36 PM as a reply to Jean B..
06/05/2015 - Morning - 30 min sit

I started with gentle but wide open awareness of my surroundings. After 1 or 2 minutes, I switch a part of my awareness to the breath, counting from 1 to 10 for a few minutes.

My attention was divided: let's says 25% of my attention were on surroundings (touching/hearing/seeing), another 25% were distracted by thoughts, and the remaining 50% were on breath. It felt ok and I did not try to gather and forcefully point my whole attention on breath. Much less pressure and tension on cushion, and I think it conducted to a much better and relaxed mood after practice off cushion.

I moved to 1st jhana quite smoothly and nicely, not feeling tensed or whatever, just enjoying the ride; then 2nd jhana as my horizon widened and the sense of effort dropped. I went back and forth between 1st and 2nd jhana, feeling the differences between both states.

I started noting at senses gate, and this time I saw clearly the mental remanence of perceptions, eg: my dog walks > hearing > mental image of my dog > seeing > etc.

I started to note feelings as well, quite slowly -- at a rate of 0.2Hz maybe, and only semi-obvious ones: bored, amused, surprised, curious, etc. But most of the time I would stay there watching, not knowing of I felt. That's when I'd switch to noting types of thoughts, which felt well suited when thinking about how to note: analyzing, strategizing, futurizing, past-erizing (?) and so on. I ended with a mix of the four fundations, gearing down to senses gate when feeling and/or thinking could not be noted at 1Hz rate, and gearing up every time I had enough momentum.

I went to 3rd jhana, feeling spacey and empty, my awareness became panoramic and I felt overwhelmed with perceptions from everywhere. At this point noting out loud felt tedious so I switch to internal noting, then to bare awareness with noting every 5 sec or so. I ended the session feeling spacey, nicely in touch with myself and my environment.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/6/15 10:31 PM as a reply to Jean B..
06/05/2015 - Evening - 1 hour sit

Not much to say. Focus on the breath, lots of wandering and daydreams, but also some episods of being in touch with the breath, some episodes of noting (which felt tedious), some episodes of just being there, equanimous toward sensations coming from everywhere. The session was quite dull, globally. I had a feeling of stagnation, no jhanic arc riding, etc. Maybe I'm wrong but I had the impression that nothing really happened.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/8/15 3:53 AM as a reply to Jean B..
08/05/2015 - Morning - 45 min sit

I sit and turn my awareness on the sensation of space around me, then I turn a part of my attention to the breath. I go back and forth between the breath and space, never leaving one of them really, just adjusting intensities. The sense of space and diffusion and awareness grows wider and stronger.

A pressure rises at third eye level, and I dive into it in order to widen my awareness at that level. A few adjustments later and things syncronize, and smoothly I go through the jhanic arc. I feel 2nd jhana taking place, with its obvious presence and sweetness. I experiment rapture and quite strong bliss, then as I lose interest and chill out.

Attention turns panoramic and I step in 3rd jhana. I feel cool and start noting. Then quickly I gain some momentum and I drop constant noting, and decide to witness as much perceptions as possible. I use the foundations of mindfulness to remind me that I have to check body perceptions as much as vedanas, feelings and thoughts.

I investigate everything I can and see that everything is indeed impermanent, not-self and unsatisfying. I understand how each one relates to the other two. A pain in my foot start wavering, I feel vibrations creeping through my leg as the pain dissolves, then everything goes quiet and I feel my lower body relax a lot.

My lips and nose starts shaking very fast, I watch that without taking any part of it, just watching the all process unfolding. I start grimacing, frowning, sometimes a small area on my face vibrates strongly, then vibrations spread to other part of my face. It goes for 5 min. As I watch that and see it as impermanent, not-self and unsatisfying, my awareness widens even more and I feel I'm on the verge of a deeply state of calm and equanimity toward all that happens.

From time to time along the process I would come back to the breath and increase concentration, generating waves of bliss and deepening perceptions.

The bell rings, I stay there feeling just fine, not wanting to move. I open my eyes, I feel great.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/9/15 8:07 PM as a reply to Jean B..
This sounds good.  Keep it up!

:-)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/10/15 3:13 AM as a reply to Teague.
Teague:
This sounds good.  Keep it up!

:-)


Thanks Teague, I'm all in for stream entry so count on me for keeping on keeping it up! emoticon

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/14/15 11:15 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Just to keep track of my last sits :
May 14 2015 - Morning - 45 min
May 13 2015 - Noon - 20 min
May 12 2015 - Morning - 30 min
May 11 2015 - Evening - 30 min
May 11 2015 - Noon - 25 min
May 11 2015 - Morning - 30 min
May 10 2015 - Afternoon - 45 min
May 09 2015  - Morning - 25 min
May 08 2015 - Afternoon - 45 min

--- No report for them.

May 15 2015 - Noon - 45 min

Keeping track of the breath, closely, watching it ebbing and flowing, I dive through concentration layers deeper and deeper. Lots of tensions loosening in the body and mind. I feel as mechanic pieces in my head fall in place and fit together nicely, releasing more tensions.

First I'm close on the breath, seeing embryons of thoughts arising as small intentions/movement in mind space. Sometimes I see it very quickly and go back to the breath; sometimes I struggle as I'm overwhelmed with a myriad of thoughts arising, but I keep coming back to the breath fraction of second after fraction of second. I think this is access concentration.

Then there is a moment when I feel a switch and I'm deeply anchored on the breath. Effort is still needed but the breath has taken the center of the attention, with an inherent interest. The vision field is still quite small but wider than before. I think this is first jhana level, with a sense of absorption rarely felt before as I'm watching the breath very close (but still aware of my environment).

Then I feel as there is cinetic energy, some speed or momentum gained and I emerge in a wider vision field. No more such effort is needed to keep watching the breath. I widen my attention to the body of breath, watching it arising and passing away in my whole body. Now I feel vibrations at third eye and nose level. To me this is second jhana level.

At this point I start noting, senses gates mainly to build and keep momentum, mixed with feelings because this is what I need to work on mostly. Thinks quickly become muddy and dreamy, I have trouble to keep noting, I wander and daydream a lot but manage to resume noting everytime I notice I've been away.
Pattern of noting : out loud > at low voice > murmuring > internal.
Hard to keep noting out loud -- or even at low voice -- as it feels progressively awkward and misfit.
Some pain, guilt, tension, stress, self-denigrement.
IMO this is symptomatic of third jhana level -- Dukkha nanas.

Then FINALLY there is a sense of regained clarity. I feel fine, my body and mind relaxed. I can keep track of noting as it becomes much easier, almost obvious. Things arise fast and although I keep noting out loud, I do note and notice a bunch of perceptions in-between. My attention seems to go everywhere like crazy, up to a point where my whole reality seems to flicker with frame upon frame at a very high rate. I have a sense of something big coming, but manage to note the excitment somehow. I have the intuition that there is not much left of me to be totally dispersed, and look for what steps in the way of Stream Entry. And there I find the big "I", a huge block of "me myself and I" at the middle of everything. So I focus my attention on that sensation and it starts to decompose in a myriad of perceptions. My face starts to jump and vibrate, my mouth twists in all directions, my eyes pucker violently, my head turns to the right and left, I feel torn to pieces.I look at all this with detachment, as observer. I also see the emotions and thoughts that comment on all this, and I incorporate them to my observation (as mere sensations as they pass too quickly to be more than noticed).

My timer bell rings, I can't stay longer because I'm at work and I have an appointment soon. I would have liked to practice a bit longer to see where all of it leads, but hey! next time :-)

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
5/14/15 11:32 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Nice update Jean ! resonnates strongly with my experience, nearly to the letter emoticon

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
5/15/15 12:23 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Wow sweet, so your like, right there.  Sounds exactly like my own experience of high EQ.  My door seemed to be suffering, as most of my work in this territory has been to notice and drop the desire for anything else to happen other than my current perception (rather than the no-self or maybe impermanence door which you seem to be leading up to).

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/15/15 12:51 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Thank to both of you! It's good to hear you acknowledge similarities with your own experiences, as sometimes I'm afraid I'm scripting my progress due to too much theory reading and desire to walk the path.

I really feel like there is only ME that prevents Stream Entry to be allowed; and the more I step back and let the process unfold, the quicker I'll get to it.

Noah S:
the no-self or maybe impermanence door which you seem to be leading up to

Noah, I can't tell for sure, but I think that might be the impermanence door. That's the characteristic I mostly watch things through when I need to disembed further more.

Anyway, this whole thing is very exciting. Lots of learning and, well, fun!

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
5/15/15 12:16 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Yea, sorry, inspired to re-reply, although not trying to hijack.

Once in cutting-edge, High Equanimity, try just being perfectly okay with where you are.  Try not giving a shit about enlightenment or lack of enlightenment.  Notice an increased clarity and therefore sensitivity to the normal subtle effort it takes to be in the moment.  Stream Entry is a subtle shift, just two inches to the right or left.  Step slightly out of the way by dropping into an abyss of complete ease that is revealed only after you realize how you have been making effort just to be a mind in a body.  It sounds like this is exactly what you are doing anyway.  Sometimes other words help, many times they don't.  First Path is inevitable for you at this point.

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
5/16/15 6:09 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
Yea, sorry, inspired to re-reply, although not trying to hijack.

Once in cutting-edge, High Equanimity, try just being perfectly okay with where you are.  Try not giving a shit about enlightenment or lack of enlightenment.  Notice an increased clarity and therefore sensitivity to the normal subtle effort it takes to be in the moment.  Stream Entry is a subtle shift, just two inches to the right or left.  Step slightly out of the way by dropping into an abyss of complete ease that is revealed only after you realize how you have been making effort just to be a mind in a body.  It sounds like this is exactly what you are doing anyway.  Sometimes other words help, many times they don't.  First Path is inevitable for you at this point.

No need to be sorry. I'm glad I have some feedbacks on this thread, at last. Sometimes the path feels so lonely, any insight or feedback or encouragement is truly welcome.

Thanks for your advice on where is SE in relation to Hi-EQ. When I say "I" am the only obstacle to SE, indeed there is a sense of effort which remains to be droped. The more I include in my observation, the less effort there is to just be fine and okay with where I am. Even what compone the Witness mode is to be noticed and acknowledge as arising and passing stuff. I think that digging in that should lead to First Path.

I don't know if there remains "a shit about enlightenment or lack of enlightenment" when in Hi-EQ. The maelstrom of perceptions is so overwhelming sometimes that there is no room left for consideration for that subject. But there must be, at a subtle state, and maybe I should debunk that as well.

More to come :-)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/16/15 6:19 PM as a reply to Jean B..
May 16 2015 - Noon - 45 min

I followed a remarkably similar pattern as the previous sit. Not much more to say, although after a slight longer Hi-EQ, things settled down and I felt as I ride the nanas down to 3C's -- I thing that because of sharp pains in my feet which I could focus on. So I thing my current cutting edge is Hi-EQ, in which I remained longer than previously.


Off cushion, although sometimes I do feel equanimous and okay with everything, I've been feeling mainly anxious and tired lately. I think I do cross quite strong dukkha nanas during the day. I don't want to see people, be social, even with my relatives. Sometimes I don't want to meditate either, not avoiding it though. Just want to be alone and peaceful. I noted that recently I've been expecting SE to drop a lot of stress and suffering -- as in "the hell with all of this! just want things to be done at last". Is that normal at this point of progress?

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
5/17/15 4:45 AM as a reply to Jean B..
I'm not sure about 'normal' because I don't have enough data points (my teacher, Ron, would probably know if it was a pattern).  However, I definitely felt sort of unstable while in High Eq.  Meaning, trippy, reality bending effects whose strength I felt that I had to surrender to in order to complete the circuit.  This wierdness while in the cutting edge cast a shadow on the rest of my life during that time.  The shadow was also strengthened by the impatience and striving in my attitude (although I don't think these things are bad, or that they should be 'dropped').  

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/17/15 2:04 PM as a reply to Jean B..

Is that normal at this point of progress?

I say, "Yes". Without the aggitation of perceiving dissatisfactoriness/dukkha, everyone would stop there; there would be a one-path model. And some do stop there. 

A suttic description of sotapanna is that one has the smell and visible stains comparable to dung and lye stains on a cloth (cleaning materials, first "cleaning", the initial release. 

Path delinations are useful, created forms; eitherway, the perceived/recognized dukkha is the cause of willingly investigating/istening anew to mind again: what is mind doing, wanting? What action and what mind preceding action serves the condition of non-dukkha?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/17/15 5:29 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:

Is that normal at this point of progress?

I say, "Yes". Without the aggitation of perceiving dissatisfactoriness/dukkha, everyone would stop there; there would be a one-path model. And some do stop there. 

A suttic description of sotapanna is that one has the smell and visible stains comparable to dung and lye stains on a cloth (cleaning materials, first "cleaning", the initial release. 

Path delinations are useful, created forms; eitherway, the perceived/recognized dukkha is the cause of willingly investigating/istening anew to mind again: what is mind doing, wanting? What action and what mind preceding action serves the condition of non-dukkha?

Ok but I don't understand how that relates to my situation, being pre-path. I might have misunderstood your point though.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/17/15 5:44 PM as a reply to Jean B..
17/05/2015 - Evening - approx. 60 min sit

I did that sit right before sleeping. To sum it up: wandering, daydreaming, sleepiness. I only managed to focus on the breath every time I'd come back to myself. Although I programmed my timer for a 45 min session, I did sit for almost 1 hour and realized the time was up when, tired and drowsy, I checked how long I had still to go.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/17/15 9:32 PM as a reply to Jean B..
People come to the practice because they learn that it teaches an end of dukkha (not per se an end to painful sensations).

So from the very beginning that cessation of dukkha (with maybe a notion of some reliable peace/happiness of mind) becomes a rightly identified "target"-- what is the cessation of dukkha?-- with maybe side interests along the way: concentration, well-feeling, siddhis. And then the progession is honest awareness of dukkha, causes of dukkha and practicing letting go while being alert, looking at the arising urges and natural impulses.

So  a practitioner comes with acknowledgement of dukkha, "paths" or no "path", attracted to perhaps many things of medidation, and in buddhist meditation, the cessation of dukkha. "Pre-path" one could say there is learning to open up to being with that dukkha as a thing to receive and observe.


This dukkha becomes obviously the treasured flashlight of own-practice, even if the dukkha starts as the thing to be rid of, I think.

____


If you need a support then I would go to the senses now My two cents only.

____
6 edits, I think.
Simplified.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/17/15 11:19 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Thanks for giving such details, now I understand your point and it's very interesting which makes it even better emoticon

Indeed there comes a moment when observed perceptions, although not becoming suddenly pleasant, are just seen as arising and passing away without further attachement -- well, at least not that much.

18/05/2015 - Noon - 40 min sit

Focus on the body of breath, not that close, and for 10-15 minutes I was zooming deeper and deeper, crossing layer upon layer, with amazement as the depth of concentration I could reach without feeling constricted or doing any effort. Just falling in myself (center of the head mostly) and enjoying the ride.

At first the field of vision is mainly in front of me, a small area but with a relaxed gaze. Then the concentration deepens and I have the feeling of crossing a border and the horizon widens but my gaze is somehow bothered by a few tensions. I feel surges of energy building at the center of my head and rising to the crown, and my gaze relaxes further more after each one, until I feel relaxed and wide.

At this point I thing I am in second jhana / A&P, but the state I'm in feels solid and without vibrations so I concentrate on something (can't remember what exactly) and it starts vibrating slowly at once. Okay so I'm back to concentration, deeper, deeper... Things became muddy, I start doubting and thinking that I'm all wrong with that map of progress of insight and stuff, how can I think my cutting edge is EQ, I must be one of these practicers thinking they are much more advanced than they actually are, bla bla bla and bla bla bla.

Also, visions of my son lying dead in a coffin. At first not wanting to see this, then just watching with mild interest while not being touched. (not sure these visions came at this exact moment)

Then I cut things short and resume practice, rationalizing that wherever I am on the map there is no point to think about it and practice will do the trick. I switched to internal noting mixed with periods of just noticing, fastly there are too much things to keep labelling them so I switch to noticing only and decide to include as much perceptions as I can to my attention field.

I widen the field of my attention to include as much -- physical and mental -- phenomenon as possible, there is merely the time to watch a bunch of stuff passing by. It's hard to really notice that THIS phenomenon does THIS stuff, and THAT one does THAT, etc. It's just awareness jumping everywhere like crazy, and the increased possibility to find the only spot where "I" can remain untouched by this maelstrom. I regularly feel overwhelemed and sucked in identification with this or that, but I manage to remember to step back further and further more.

There is perceptions  at the core of the "I" feeling (mainly tensions in the chest and the head) which I do notice as well. Everytime I feel overwhelemed there is a opportunity to step back in a "sweet area" where perceptions are not felt as me/myself/I, and from that spot I watch them as being impermanent, which gives me more space to include even more perceptions -- or at least to keep noticing what was already there.

In the process the "I" is shrinked more and more as its components are syncronized with THAT reality out there, and there is a moment where I feel like something HUGE and VERY IMPORTANT is coming right at me, and the excitment mixed with fear is so strong that I drop noticing and everything is scattered.

I felt chilled out but also kinda anxious, and I felt my heart pounding very hard in my chest.

But I resume the practice and it builds up once more, I feel sucked in a maelstrom of perceptions and at the peak of intensity there is a HUGE (bigger than any ever experienced) release of tension in my whole body, so strong that I feel shaken up. I immediately think that could have been a near miss stream entry, but I've been there all the time actually so that can't be (I might not have been even close to it, how could I know...)

Then for the remaining few minutes of the session I felt very good, my body was loosen and deeply relaxed, I could just sit there with contentment. I tried to resume noticing but I felt kinda exhausted (more emptied than tired) and not willing to do much more than being there, watching things do their stuff.

The bell rings, I stand up and feels very light, floating.

--
Edit: twice

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/19/15 9:38 PM as a reply to Jean B..
18/05/2015 - Evening - 45 min sit
19/05/2015 - Morning - 35 min sit


Last two were... confusing.

Lots of activity in the head, at third eye level mostly. Like blocks of energy, I had to frown my eyes a few times and look internally to push theses tensions up and out in a flash of light.

Concentration came easy, but there was too much to notice. I coulnd't keep up with the rhythm of things arising, each time being drawn in thoughts. Very hard to stay focus and centered.

No obvious progression or staging to relate. It was a mess.

I have to say I'm a bit lost with what happens. Maybe it's just temporary. Practice will tell.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/20/15 4:29 AM as a reply to Jean B..
I have to say I'm a bit lost with what happens.

So I feel this is useful.
Maybe a comparison is to birdwatching without any attempt to name birds or organize the experience, just watching, just being there.
In fact, letting go of all naming and forming tendancies. Letting pass all naming and forming tendancies, being there, alert (Edit: as you wrote earlier: "and not willing to do much more than being there, watching things do their stuff.")

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/20/15 4:36 PM as a reply to Jean B..
20/05/2015 - Evening - 30 min sit

I felt like experimenting "Nanas for dummies".

So I went for birdwatching, as advised by katy. I could tell in which strata I was, passing from on to the next, acknowledging symptoms at each step:
Seeing physical perceptions, seeing mental perceptions: M&B
C&E: unclear, morte felt at a empiric level rather than rationalized.
Odd twiches in head and body, pain in the back: 3c's
Zoom in, vibrations start, rapture, body relaxes: A&P
Slight confusion, doubts, with an overall sense of humour ("here you are, self-denigrement! "): DN
Back to clarity, sense of space, untouchable: low EQ
Reality pulsating, frame of perception upon frame of perception, increasing rate: high EQ
Bell rings- end of the session.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/20/15 9:08 PM as a reply to Jean B..
21/05/2015 - Morning - 30 min sit

I've been feeling sick lately and went to the doctor this morning. Waiting for my turn I meditated there.

I quickly rised to A&P and got stuck for a while in a muddy state, then regain clarity until things started to strobe but remained completely disync and faint. I stayed there, cycling in confusion / equanimity / a few strobing.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/22/15 8:02 AM as a reply to Jean B..
I hope you're feeling better and getting solid rest, that the family hasn't caught the bug.

About this shift to alertness and attention without the naming and forming, which naming and forming is natural and inherent in the trainining system one starts with; the studied application of structures (natural to adult and older child minds, so helpful in a safe/prepared life, such as maps and meanings) which are developed before, during and after the sit (the period of deliberate mental training), for this shift, I think Daniel has described this shift in attentional training as like a hand resting on the surface of water without breaking it.

So I think you know you can put your finger on the surface of the water in your cup and watch the surface tension meet your finger without breaking the water surface-- to me, this is the mental attentional skill being developed here, when one lets go of structuring before and during the training and develops attention with is alert and clear, yet non-naming and non-forming of the mental phenomena which are arising and passing.

Best wishes

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/23/15 7:30 AM as a reply to Jean B..
And now depending on where you are, but particularly if you're recovering from illness, when the mind has not yet re-complicated (re-formed, evolved) things (though this is certainly not "bad"), but mind (consciousness, your consciousness) is deeply relaxed hopefully from the solid sleeping of sickness and mind now being in a bare-minimum form, now can be a useful time to attune to elemental motions of energy in everything/oneself/the objects and beings around:

- temperature movements (warmer - cooler)
- fluidity (viscous - fluid)
- solidity (reified - ephemeral, softer - harder)
- air and space (stillness - vibrating)

Then like watching your baby over his first year, watching consciousnes come up through its stillness of sickness, that heavy sleep, and newly move again elementally, which thought, like primary plants on a glacier morrain (or lava field or old parking lot, etc), start to take root and form complex little lichen then forests of mind. 

Best wishes.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/23/15 8:48 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
I hope you're feeling better and getting solid rest, that the family hasn't caught the bug.

About this shift to alertness and attention without the naming and forming, which naming and forming is natural and inherent in the trainining system one starts with; the studied application of structures (natural to adult and older child minds, so helpful in a safe/prepared life, such as maps and meanings) which are developed before, during and after the sit (the period of deliberate mental training), for this shift, I think Daniel has described this shift in attentional training as like a hand resting on the surface of water without breaking it.

So I think you know you can put your finger on the surface of the water in your cup and watch the surface tension meet your finger without breaking the water surface-- to me, this is the mental attentional skill being developed here, when one lets go of structuring before and during the training and develops attention with is alert and clear, yet non-naming and non-forming of the mental phenomena which are arising and passing.

Best wishes


katy steger:
And now depending on where you are, but particularly if you're recovering from illness, when the mind has not yet re-complicated (re-formed, evolved) things (though this is certainly not "bad"), but mind (consciousness, your consciousness) is deeply relaxed hopefully from the solid sleeping of sickness and mind now being in a bare-minimum form, now can be a useful time to attune to elemental motions of energy in everything/oneself/the objects and beings around:

- temperature movements (warmer - cooler)
- fluidity (viscous - fluid)
- solidity (reified - ephemeral, softer - harder)
- air and space (stillness - vibrating)

Then like watching your baby over his first year, watching consciousnes come up through its stillness of sickness, that heavy sleep, and newly move again elementally, which thought, like primary plants on a glacier morrain (or lava field or old parking lot, etc), start to take root and form complex little lichen then forests of mind.

Best wishes.


Thanks katy. Your advices and insights are always precious and must welcome.

I've been practicing 30 min on friday evening, then 45 min + 1 hour yesterday. Although I've not read your messages before, I'm amazed how relevant your words are to my practice as it is lately. When I go through nanas, I feel more and more disembeded from anything experienced. It's like I'm watching everything from a distance, and "resting on the surface of the water without breaking it" is a very good analogy.

It's like being at the center of the experience and aware of the slightest and subtlest of mental movements, without being drawn into them - at least, not that much compared to a few weeks ago. I can relate to the notion of elemental motions, I did not think about it then but now a posteriori, I can see what you mean when speaking of these 4 aspects of energy.

Truly my practice lately as been riding through the nanas: 3c's and a&p are easy to spot, low&hi-EQ also, dukkha nanas a bit less but I know when I'm entering and leaving them. Just watching, noticing and noting to disembed further more and move on. Generally it ends with a lot of activity and movements at the crown, like worms of energy moving and flickering there, eyes flickering, surges of energy... and then back to A&P. In 45 min I'd cycle 2 times: from the start to hi-EQ, then back to a&P and up to hi-EQ again.

Well, this is as far as I can say... as usual, I could be totally wrong about all this.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/24/15 8:04 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Well, this is as far as I can say... as usual, I could be totally wrong about all this.

Jean, Thank you so much for keeping a thread of practice now which is over one-year long.

I would like to say that this, finally: This sentiment of yours excerpted above is kin to the reliable "Don't know" and non-verbal/non-formable insight often found in Zen traditions.

So once there is clearly seeing --- you have a year of (this) training in studying own mind, its moving fluidly between traditions and maps, sensations, feelings, thoughts, and year-or-so with your newest family member (what a awesome time to start this thread, frankly) --- now that there is the attunement into the energetic gradients and elemental causality, like seeing how planets and consciousness form from ashes and dust --- in this, to me, there is a near-risk of conceit, a holding of what has become directly known over practice, insight, that excludes/prevents also its peer, authentic, reliable, receptive 'don't know'.  If there's subtle conceit, there is a useful discomfort or negativity pointing a light on this in one's own practice, I think.
 
Best wishes and thank you again.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/24/15 10:02 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Well, this is as far as I can say... as usual, I could be totally wrong about all this.

Jean, Thank you so much for keeping a thread of practice now which is over one-year long.

I would like to say that this, finally: This sentiment of yours excerpted above is kin to the reliable "Don't know" and non-verbal/non-formable insight often found in Zen traditions.

So once there is clearly seeing --- you have a year of (this) training in studying own mind, its moving fluidly between traditions and maps, sensations, feelings, thoughts, and year-or-so with your newest family member (what a awesome time to start this thread, frankly) --- now that there is the attunement into the energetic gradients and elemental causality, like seeing how planets and consciousness form from ashes and dust --- in this, to me, there is a near-risk of conceit, a holding of what has become directly known over practice, insight, that excludes/prevents also its peer, authentic, reliable, receptive 'don't know'.  If there's subtle conceit, there is a useful discomfort or negativity pointing a light on this in one's own practice, I think.
 
Best wishes and thank you again.

Ok so I have to admit there is a little of conceit. I would not have considered it as "conceit" really, but I see your point.

The fact is, every time I've thought "this is it! now I know how this stuff works, what it's made of, why it works that way, etc."... everything went nuts and all my slowly built confidence just crumbled (which is not unpleasant by the way).

I think that now, I have to cycle in nanas again and again, and just watch the process.

26/05/2015 - Noon - 35 min sit

Closed eyes, I watch. I feel movements in my head and body, and everytime I just watch them passing away. Gone, gone, gone. Like very tiny movement is just to be witnessed, and there is nothing to be made of them. Just witness them, watch them come and go away, and nothing remains.

Actually, there is less remaining: each movement passing away is followed by less tension, less grossness, less and less. It's like watching a cards castle slowly decaying away, card by card. In 10 minutes, all tension is gone. I feel like I'm at the bottom of a lake, almost untroubled.

I'm just sitting there, with subtle movements leading nowhere. And then, I find myself daydreaming. I wander a lot. I'm amazed how many thoughts I have given that I'm in a place of calm and stillness. The paradox hits me. I can't stay aware enough and often I find myself lost in the zone; not always thinking or dreaming, sometimes I've just been... not here (for loss of a better word).

I remain like this, watching as much as I can, until the bell rings.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/26/15 7:48 PM as a reply to Jean B..
26/05/2015 - Evening - 60 min sit

Session started at 9 pm, I was a bit tired. I watch stuff arise and pass away, trying to discern the beginning and the end, seeing the impermanence of them in the process. I had a strong tension in the face and mostly worked with it.

There was a mix between periods of high clarity, and periods of deep daydreaming. I did not have the feeling of moving through stratas or stages or steps. Just being there.

At one moment, I lost track of time and I wondered if I had much left. I checked the timer, stoped it by mistake, and go on for another 30 minutes without knowing how much I've already done. Turned out I did 60 min anyway :-)

The last 20 min were a pain in the a**: I was restless, keeping sit and still was very hard, so I noted as much as I could while focusing on the sense of space, in order to make it to the end.

This feeling of being lost, after a few weeks when I was getting better at reading the map, is quite confusing! It's like I've lost all my progress, but I know this is not true because the quality of presence is much deeper than before.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/28/15 10:41 PM as a reply to Jean B..
27/05/2015 - Evening - 45 min
28/05/2015 - Morning - 15 min
28/05/2015 - Noon - 40 min


As soon as I sit, there is awareness of a lot of micromovements and vibrations, mostly (90%) in the head & face area as usual. The clarity is quite strong, and my main tool is watching all these items arising and passing away and being impermanent.

When a block of vibrations is dissolved, the focus zooms in to a subtler layer of vibrations.

From time to time I alternate by including a sense of space in order to widen the perspective and diffuse tensions.

Step by step, the vibrations move up to the forehead then to the crown.

From time to time I lose focus and wander, but as soon as I realize it, the great clarity is back.

Nothing much happens. Feels like being lost in some kind of fourth dimension. I'm OK, a bit bored, but there are always stuff to watch so I keep going on.

When I walk out of the session, my third eye feels like a boiling marshmallow. Dor a few minutes I see a strobbing light as if there is a strobe on top of my head.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/28/15 10:59 PM as a reply to Jean B..
29/05/2015 - Wake up - 20 min sit
29/05/2015 - Morning - 15 min sit
29/05/2015 - Noon - 20 min sit

I've realized that there is not much drowsiness during my sits, now. I was still struggling with that until a few week ago, but now it's gone, even early in the morning or late in the evening. There is still wandering, though, but as much as I can remember there is always clarity.

A standard sit goes like this: remaining still and (nearly) untroubled while a bunch of perceptions arise and pass away. Hello, tension! Goodbye, tension! Hello, noise! Goodbye, noise! Hello, sudden fear! Goodbye, sudden fear! and so on.

Lately it feels like my environment starts to buzz, but not in a flickering way; more like a sweet and smooth, almost liquid "hum".

Ponctually, things start to speed up, I feel overwhelmed by bubbles of perceptions undistinguishable one from another, and just allow it to be while remaining in the witness seat. If I do not put myself in the way, my eyes start to flicker fastly with strobbing lights, there is a sort of energy rise building up, it grows up to the crown then explodes coming with squinting eyes and small acute pain in the head.

And then back to the quiet, still presence in a buzzing environment.

To say it short, meditation has been quite uneventful lately, but nice and sweet.

This morning while walking a few minutes after my second sit, I had the strange sensation of seeing myself from a distance, like my awareness was split from my actual body. Can't really put this into words.

Generally speaking, there is a sensation of calm and distance that remains between sits, as long as I keep a minimum level of mindfulness throughout the day.

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
5/28/15 11:06 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Following closely ;)

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
5/31/15 9:08 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Drawing on your reference to Badiou at the outset, his framework, and your previous forehead pressures and watching the recent dissolutions of phenomena, I would like to say the natural tendency for practitioners can be that "being and the event", the being of the event, the being on the event.. etcetera. This imposition is dropped; that is the value of meditating as soon is one is ready to after sickness: there's no energy to prop up a being and an event. So, again, that arising skill is not being and event, is a hand-on-water-surface attentional development not breaking tension (analogy via Daniel, works well with Badiou's event/being frame); not being and event; fluid attendance, energetics, non-verbal, non-forming.. even unification of mind (4th jhana) can arise this.

Anything can arise in this. It's a chance to see nature of mind without the right/imposed angles of being and event. 


editx1
editx2:
Jean B.
(...) a bit bored, but there are always stuff to watch (...)

Being there; this changes as the perspective 'being' changes. 'Being' is often our perspective from a central location, me; it is a new shift when there is getting used to experiece without this centricity all, yet attention. This can be a wild surf, so to speak, at the outset.

Nothing special though; still life is wash dishes, do laundry, as they say. Very good :]

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
7/19/15 10:15 PM as a reply to Jean B..
After 2 months without update, some news from ongoing practice. I have a lot of stuff to write down, sorry if there is no real logic and I keep jumping from one topic to another.

The big change is I've been working with a teacher for 2 months now, which has been a great help in progress, identifying shadow spots and, more futilely, just talking about integrating practice and walking the path as a daily concern.

I've not written very much about practice, mostly because my teacher uses a matrix where I have to grade a few criteria after each sit (eg: quietness of the thinking mind, faith, intention, energy, etc.) ; a useful tool to spot where there are strengths to nurture and obstacles to overcome.

Lately it's been tough to keep up with a regular pace of sitting practice, so I managed to have at least one session of 20 min a day, and focused on a way to bring mindfulness and noticing/noting to daily life. Although deep, long and regular sits helps very much in witnessing stuff rather than being embeded, it's getting easier each day to remain aware and mindful, and now even noting sometimes occurs automatically.

Regarding formal sits, I've been cycling in DN / EQ territories for a few weeks now. I've been going through quite tough DN stuff, I think it was mainly because my life has been a bit messy with a few personal dilemnas to handle (job opportunity, children, personal projects, the stuff lifes are made of).

To get the best of each sit, I take some time to just be with the breath and gain concentration. Almost half of the length of my sits is dedicated to concentration building, as it is much more easy to focus and be with phenomenon when I switch to insight.

Now nanas are quite obvious to me. I can say when I'm in mind and body, cause and effect, 3 c's, A&P, dissolution. Then it's quite muddy, and I just know for sure when I'm in desire for delivrance / reobservation. Then by landing in low EQ, things get clear again.
The progress in nanas is felt mostly at a energetic level. There is still this feeling of sinking deep and meeting subtler (and more intense) blocks of energy along the way. I can tell I'm gaining concentration by the sensation of zooming quite dramatically at third eye level.

* Mind and Body : I note physical things, and I note mental things.
* Cause and Effect : Physical things trigger mental things, which trigger physical things back. And so on.
--> These "insights" are not looked for, they arise from the depth and in all their evidence.

* 3 C's :
--> Things start to "bubble" and noticing/noting takes a life of its own. I can "see" big blocks of energy at the horizon. Brace myself.
But mostly I know I'm in 3C's because my back and legs are painful.

* Arising and Passing Away :
--> A feeling of going through a thick, dynamic membrane of energy. Like a wall with elasticity.
The more I witness things doing their stuff, the less time I spend there.
There are a few rounds of energy waves which I have to cross.
Tensions in the upper back and neck until the membrane is crossed, then a huge release both physical (tensions) and mental (stress).

* Dissolution :
--> A rainfall, how refreshing! How sweet after the A&P hard (but fun) work!
It's like watching hundreds of fireworks falling down to the sea.
Concentration grows but dream states arise.
I have to put more energy to remain alert and cross the DN.

* Fear / Misery / Disgust :
--> Muddy zone.
I think Fear might be that moment when I "wake up" from the "dreamstatiness" (...) of Dissolution, with a vague feeling of being caught, and emergency. Then follows a period where there are distractive and perturbing thoughts, physical uneasiness and/or pains, sometimes a loss of faith in meditation (aka the old "I'm-not-doing-the-right-thing" friend).

* Desire for Deliverance :
--> This one is more obvious. I'm just fed up with the uneasiness and messiness. There is a longing for them to stop.
At this point I remind regularly that I'm crossing DN and it's all good, I just need to be with all that arise and watch it go away, over and over.

* Re-Observation :
--> DN last act of bravery, a tidal wave of annoying stuff but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

* Low EQ :
--> At energetic level, the work is done mostly at a forehead / crown level.
Feels like releasing energy block, caps upon caps, with surge of energy rising to the crown.
At the same time, the sense of space widens, and there are a lot of micro-releases of tensions; for instance, I could feel 5 or 6 releases of micro-tensions just in my wrist, and it occurs everywhere in the body.
The sense of body loosens. Light and floating feeling. Awareness seems to pervade everything, everywhere.

* High EQ :
--> Being at peace at the bottom of a lake. The sense of being one piece of body and mind is lost.
I watch thoughts arising, touch them lightly and "seal" them.
Natural inclination towards inquiry: mostly sense of self and sense of space.
Regularly, the feeling that something huge, hidden in the depth, is going ot happen.

So lately it feels like I'm cycling in those territories again and again, and gaining some knowledge about each nana's specificities.

And I'm tired writing so I stop for now :-)
See you soon!

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
7/20/15 8:57 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Wow, sweet observations, Jean!  I predict that having this level of knowledge pre-SE will skyrocket your progress throughout.

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
7/20/15 4:03 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thanks for taking some time to write a few words, Noah.

Noah S:
Wow, sweet observations, Jean!  I predict that having this level of knowledge pre-SE will skyrocket your progress throughout.


Do you mean that gathering knowledge about nanas pre-SE could speed up the progress post-SE?

RE: Jean's practice log - aiming for SE
Answer
7/20/15 4:14 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Absolutely!

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/5/15 1:36 AM as a reply to Jean B..
After a few weeks with no proper sitting practice (20-30 min a day, here and there...) I've been back to serious dedicated practices for a few days now. Which means at least 2 sits per day among 20 to 30 min in the morning, 30 to 60 min at noon, and 40-80 min in the evening.

And after 2-3 days I feel my previous momentum is back, with much more sits going up to and remaining in equanimity.

I'm going to write more regularly because I've missed writing a practice journal, it helps for motivation.

So lately, I've been naturally attracted to self-inquiry, especially when reaching a deep and stable equanimity where there are not much more layers to peel, my attention -almost- automatically turns to the sensation of "I" and investigates, looks after it, decomponing every little perceptions that constitutes the I-sense. The funny thing is when I look right at "it", it seems to evaporate and then I suddenly find it back elsewhere (well, "elsewhere" but there is not really a sense of space, more like internal space... don't know if that makes sense). But during that time, finding nothing solid seems to trigger an emotional response, quite deep and intense (although subtle), a kind of sadness or melancholy or nostalgia, I don't know, and even sometimes I have tears in my eyes.

Sometimes also I feel I'm on the verge of disappearing, but my teacher told me I'm not on the verge, I was there and this feeling is when I get back.

During the day I continue to notice and note as much as I can, and sometimes I can even remain effortlessly in a state where I'm watching myself, thinking "see how he walks", "see how he's checking his watch", "see how he remembers that", etc.
I also try to remain as much as possible with the Witness state at the foreground, and physical/mental perceptions in the background.

It's hard to sum up these last days, too much things happening and I don't remember them all, so I 'll be back with more frequent reports.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/9/15 11:02 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Since my last post I've been sitting 1 to 2 hours a day, and clearly I've gained some momentum. Now I reach equanimity in 20 to 40 minutes, it depends if my monkey mind would just shut up.

So now I'm wondering, what more can I do when in EQ? I feel fine, chasing thoughts occasionnaly so to not be sucked in, and mainly investigating the sense of self and building some concentration on a wide panoramic level (= embracing the whole stuff with clarity and steadiness), switching from one focus to the other, dealing with some occasional boredom and wondering what to do next (and noting that). Maybe I should just keep on doing just that, and be patient.

Sometimes I'd quit meditation while stile in EQ ("make me react if you can"), sometimes I'm back in Dissolution (feeling coooooool BUT! touchy) or A&P (my 3rd eye pulsates like a tumble dryer).

Another (good) point is I'm getting much better at identifying and noting mind states. Before I'd just stay aloof, thinking "how do I feel now?" and feeling awkward for not knowing how I feel. Now it's pretty obvious that I feel determined, or frustrated, or wanting things to go faster, or just feeling unsure about how I'm feeling. It's really disembedding to be able to note mind states. I don't know how it clicked but somehow they became quite obvious.

So: I keep doing weighlifting, waiting for what comes next. Thankfully, sitting and navigating nanas is still a wonder and a pleasure, but I can deny I'm longing for 1st path...

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/15 2:38 AM as a reply to Jean B..
Jean B.:
Since my last post I've been sitting 1 to 2 hours a day, and clearly I've gained some momentum. Now I reach equanimity in 20 to 40 minutes, it depends if my monkey mind would just shut up.

So now I'm wondering, what more can I do when in EQ? I feel fine, chasing thoughts occasionnaly so to not be sucked in, and mainly investigating the sense of self and building some concentration on a wide panoramic level (= embracing the whole stuff with clarity and steadiness), switching from one focus to the other, dealing with some occasional boredom and wondering what to do next (and noting that). Maybe I should just keep on doing just that, and be patient.

Sometimes I'd quit meditation while stile in EQ ("make me react if you can"), sometimes I'm back in Dissolution (feeling coooooool BUT! touchy) or A&P (my 3rd eye pulsates like a tumble dryer).

Another (good) point is I'm getting much better at identifying and noting mind states. Before I'd just stay aloof, thinking "how do I feel now?" and feeling awkward for not knowing how I feel. Now it's pretty obvious that I feel determined, or frustrated, or wanting things to go faster, or just feeling unsure about how I'm feeling. It's really disembedding to be able to note mind states. I don't know how it clicked but somehow they became quite obvious.

So: I keep doing weighlifting, waiting for what comes next. Thankfully, sitting and navigating nanas is still a wonder and a pleasure, but I can deny I'm longing for 1st path...

"So now I'm wondering, what more can I do when in EQ?" So I think you see for yourself that this is not actually equanimity: It's being stuck and feeling overall more calm than agitated.  Yearning and frustration, with increased patience and understand of how mental states cycle around like an animal on chain.

The "weightlifting" now, steadily, regularly, without striving, just sitting, making the effort to just be there for the regular "weightlifting" can help keep strong negative mood changes a) apparent to oneself (as you say for yourself that "Now it's pretty obvious..") and b) from outgoing to one's family. One can see in starting the day with even a committed 10-minute practice, "This is an aggitated day so far, I'm striving and frustrated; the minutes pass annoyingly; look how mind is today before even the rest of the family wakes up." Likewise, "Just sitting, nothing can be done, just stting," and one can recognize, "okay, very placid, maybe a little melancholy, yearning, nothing can be done, but this". Likewise, some days the mind starts inexplicably "Alert and focused, content.."

So one can know all these mental states by just showing up to the weightlifting, seeing how own mind is even before dawn, before anyone else interacts with us and we might blame others/conditions for mind states-- there's the chance to see own mind state.

It is just like with a very young child, no one can say, "This child will say their first words today," or "this child is not ready to say their first words today" or "this baby will discover rolling over today," or "this baby is not ready to discover rolling over today." Not even a parent knows when this will happen and how.  One can just see the natural effort and exploration and moods and skill happening again and again. 

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/15 3:58 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Jean B.:
"So now I'm wondering, what more can I do when in EQ?"
So I think you see for yourself that this is not actually equanimity: It's being stuck and feeling overall more calm than agitated.  Yearning and frustration, with increased patience and understand of how mental states cycle around like an animal on chain.
Well... that makes sense, actually. Thanks for that. What could it be then, if not equanimity? Some kind of light dark night?
The overall feeling is just being fine with everything, with nontheless a persistent itch of having something more to be done.

So your advice would be to keep weightlifting and let things occur naturally without any expectations?

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/15 4:29 AM as a reply to Jean B..
(So I'm trying to be aware here that in language, any language, there's approximation, there's a new object that is not actually the object...) 

So in a sense there is a practical and balanced mind developing: a) Like, you're saying the cycles of mind are recognizable, b) up thread --- in this long thread I think anyone could find helpful --- one can see changes in life, happy conduct and hard conduct, for example.

So in practical terms there's mental balance happening. One can use the word "equanimity".



However, in a meditative practice, there is also such an alert placidity of mind that has no affect. It is a bit like watching a movie about dust. All mental formations/sensation that arise are like dust.

This equanimity is not 'cold' disassociation, nor conceited/pride of alertnes; it is just sitting plainly like the body sits plainly.

The affective mind that "wants" some specialness, wants something special to be found --- that quality of mind has subdued itself through 'giving up'-- that yearning part of mind just realizes it is like a splashing fishing partner who scares all the fish away --- so the yearning mind is more than willing to just go to sleep or lends its attention want-lessly to watching the mental "dust" arise and pass.  

This kind of watching, affectless and alert at ease; you would know for youself that you have not 'created it' (that creating it would defeat the purpose anyway); it is just sitting.


So there's that sort of equanimity and it looks like to me (as a person who, like everyone else, can never be as close to your own mind as you are nor as knowledgeable as you are in regards to your own mind and being and conditions) --- it looks like to me your development of balanced mind, seeing cycles, is giving a useful letting go, a useful understanding that these mental states and bodily sensations come and go, that there is no reason to act on them nor pounch on them during practice. Rather, increasingly there can be just sitting and watching or even not watching, just sitting and experiencing without need to 'watch', nor to 'catch it all'. To me, yes, like you said ("weighliftging" being the present word), just doing the practice.

editx2

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/15 9:49 AM as a reply to Jean B..
 Well... that makes sense, actually. Thanks for that. What could it be then, if not equanimity? Some kind of light dark night? Some kind of light dark night?

This is how I see it, yes: Equanimity occurs and re-occurs at each "stage" and naturally a person wants to cling to EQ, because no one wants the "dark night of the soul" even in mild form.

Edit: So one can easily end up in a "dark night" mitigated by on insisting that one is still, please, please, please, in EQ-- and conceit, snarkiness, all sorts of unpleasant troublesomeness are hallmarks..

So one has to even know this about their own teachers: a teacher is often on a path as well, not 'finished' and is still cycling-- but that act of teaching, wanting to teach, to identity as "teacher" distracts them from own work, own "itch" and such an identity can sustain false 'equanimity', irritated/provoked 'equanimity' for a long time, till students peel away or age and sickness work naturally on conceit. 

So  person who sincerely self-identifies as "student" and/or "learner" can more easily avoid a long life in false/irritable equanimity-- they have the self-identity of "student", naturally driven to ask "what is the itch?", "What is this?" "What more?" "What less?"
{*} Here I am again.. the learner mindset =]


{*} edit: and if theses questions go away, okay.  Then there has been an underlying cause for restlessness/itch/unease to subside'; also okay. These can be periods of equanimity, brief or ongoing. Sometimes a brain may miss the chemistry of gratifying changes in mood, angry and happy, entitled and humble, etc. and that brain can feel frightened or threatened by placidity, a less dramatic terrain. (This is akin to addiction chemistry.) Sometimes a person experiments with affecting equanimity, a cool dissociation and may think, "This is dull, why would anyone want this?" The open not-knowing alertness of 'high-equanimity' is different, based in trying to see things as they are and cultivate a reliable well-being, not imposing, not lonely, not clinging. This is living before dying in a place with conditions.

{**} edit 2: I am speaking of something helpful and normal; this is stream-entry: one can start to see things as they are, particularly own faults, own troublesome habits and slowly or quickly address them to align with conduct that is more pleasant and / or apt. I am not speaking (I am not able to directly speak) of the massive understanding that we can see in a few people world-wide who have such a great understanding of the way things are that they work to really change horrible conditions for whole regions and masses of sentients. Those people are obviously in a tremendously skilled heart/mindset; but I personally think their skill and insight comes from some prior understandings at some point and, in my opinion (clearly influenced by Buddhist cosmology), that they understand both a limited view and limitless view of a human life and potential, and for various reasons they are emboldened to cause kind change despite cost to their own well-being. In Buddist cosmology, these people would be 'bodhisatva path'. This is not to co-opt your thread, Jean. Other of people read your thread and I want to be clear about my obvious limits and meaning.

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/15 12:04 PM as a reply to Jean B..
Candidly, it may take the feeling of giving up on all teachers, all peer advice -- here and anywhere-- digging into the lessons and role model examples that are meaningful to you, knowing that no one can offer you anything at a certain point -- that in fact is something to tell you: no one can make insight happen for another.

It will be your own insight on the cushion or off, anywhere, any time, a result of your efforts and honesty, and no one can validate your experience for you (that autonomy and clear personal, reliable understanding of a shift is entirely known by oneself with no need nor benefit in anyone else's assertion to 'confirm' you). You will just know your mind produced some unexpected shift and initial automony, something reliable has happened, which the person will need no one else to confirm.

Thereafter it's clear a person is chasing down their own causes of dukkha and looking at wiser neighbors / examples for skillful and well-being means in life in various conditions. So-called beginner's mind.

edit 1: typo

RE: Jean's practice log
Answer
8/10/15 8:16 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Jean, Hi Katy;

I've been circling around that same general attitude for several month now, like what you say Katy; and it feels good; Thank you for sharing your view, it is really nice to read someone sharing the same view, out of  "nowhere" on the internets