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TOPIC: Bill's Notes

Bill's Notes 17 Dec 2011 18:06 #85448

Hello,

I'm going to be putting my practice notes here from now on. For those who'd like some background info: kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/47...6/6th+Stage+Question

My current practice is to attempt to keep my awareness stable in the body at all times and note/ground mind states as they arise. I spoke with my teacher tonight about what he referred to as "working out the kinks after awakening" and this practice seems one among many that can be used to those ends. I started practicing this way tonight, At first there was some resistance when trying to bring the attention into the body, but the attention quickly settled in. I noted things like "happiness, fear, shame, remorse, calm, warmth, appreciation, sadness, etc." After some time the body and mind became very relaxed and the grounding seemed to be happening quickly. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I got bumrushed by some anxiety. For several minutes, I was torn between being with the sensations and being compelled to analyze/think. Eventually the attention became sustained upon the sensations. The sensations still seemed to continue in much the same way as they would if there was a story beside them. Even without the story, it was uncomfortable and there was a lot of tension that died down the greater space I allowed for it. Tonight was a mixed bag. I seem to have hit the extremes of anxiety and peacefulness all in one night. I did notice however, there was a very natural warmth and appreciation when the attention was sustained in the body. Possibly it is being obscured by the pull of emotions/thoughts.
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RE: Bill's Notes 18 Dec 2011 18:44 #85449

Spent most of the day practicing full body awareness/noting emotions. When I came out of the direct mode I noticed at some points that there seemed to be a lot of negative physical energy moving about the body, but it was not noticed as negative in direct mode. The grounding of emotions at their starting point already seems to be getting easier. Emotions were less likely to spin into stories, but at one point I was pulled away by an intense feeling of guilt along with an irrational story line. I resolved to open in complete surrender to the sensations as they presented themselves and I maintained the mindfulness on the body until eventually the physical tension subsided. I've been playing with Kenneth's "I don't know" practice that he talks about in the direct path videos and this opens the door to a vast feeling of peacefulness, relief and presence. I ended the night with some metta. I've been experimenting with a more body-centered way of practicing loving kindness and the results were nice.
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RE: Bill's Notes 20 Dec 2011 08:24 #85450

Continuing metta practice and body awareness/noting: I seem to be shuffling back and forth between a state that feels very A&Pish (high energy, sense of well being, presence, low aversion) to a state that feels very dark nightish(persistent physical tension, non-specific anxiety, dread, deep anger). It seems that much of this grounding practice is about surrendering the story line and associated thoughts that keep much of what is underneath at bay. So far it feels like surrendering to what is deeper and more true, that is normally covered over by stories and distractions, and much of this is painful. The mind states seem to be getting into deeper, more repressed stuff, but there seems to be less tendency to carry that off into a story and the mind states are getting grounded sooner. Sometimes it is nice just to bathe in deep sadness undivided. Physically I have been getting frequent involuntary jerky movements of the head and arms like I did shortly after I began practicing only these seem more intense and frequent.
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RE: Bill's Notes 22 Dec 2011 20:34 #85451

My attention seems to be shifting more into the body. Yesterday, grounding was continuos and smooth as I had ample free time. It doesn't feel right to say that I am grounding the emotions, as they still flicker as usual, but rather that I am surrendering and attending to the feeling before the associated story line and the reactions to that story (i.e- anxiety, dread, resentment, insecurity) arise. So, fear arises and it is grounded. It seems to transmit into peace and calm, or sadness into compassion, peace, warmth. And sometimes I don't and am lost again. I am finding that this practice is not what I thought it was, but have only been doing for it a few days and still have much to learn. I have always had a sort of clenched fist of anxiety in my stomach and was amazed yesterday when this clenched fist opened up and the belly was actually able to breathe deeply and naturally. I'm not even sure I knew what this felt like before. Just the feeling of the sensations moving freely through the stomach was very pleasurable. Today I haven't had as much success with the grounding due to running around during the day and because I had friends over whom I won't see for a while and wanted to keep my attention on them rather than what was going on in my body in a deeply investigative way, but I look forward to having a chunk of free time tomorrow to practice.
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RE: Bill's Notes 05 Jan 2012 11:11 #85452

Haven't had a chance to update this in a while. I'm staying out of state for the month with no internet except when I come to the library. I have been continuing with the grunding practice sometimes alternating to what I would describe as resting completely in the body for extended periods. In the latter there is no sense of separation between me and the body and thoughts feel like an extension of physical sensations are aren't invested in. After the holidays and a couple of weeks practicing grounding I went through a very intense dark night where I was not able to sustain the grounding and it felt somewhat unnecessary as I was going through a process of releasing a lot of tension from past trauma anyways. Since then my mind has been quieter and there are longer periods where th unwholesome mind states aren't arising, but they are still arising at periods, just not as intensely. I have also been investigating the sense of self contraction while grounding which has been liberating. This practice has been very difficult and very rewarding and seems to involve a deep surrender that is difficult for those who are more emotionally identified (I suspect I am one).
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RE: Bill's Notes 06 Jan 2012 20:28 #85453

I've got internet now and should be able to update this more frequently. These are confusing times: I seem to be oscillating in between a state of non separation where the body states and mind states feel like one and the typical pattern of a sensation becoming a thought and then a story does not arise and at other times I seem to be split between something near this this state and a lot of painful conceptualizing moving back and forth in rapid succession. In the latter experience the choice between awareness and conceptualization has never seemed so stark: I see that I can either be here in a state of deep, mysterious peaceful awareness or I can be in the world of painful storytelling. The choice should seem obvious but the tendency to think and create plots(the way I am with this post) is more addicting than I've realized before. In a sense this is not new territory and is the choice I've had to make all along the way, but now it is as if it has been put under a microscope and the pain that comes from leaving awareness has never felt so, well, painful. That being said, I am still finding this practice to be very rewarding. Now as I write there is a knot of tension at the stomach that would usually be connected to anxious thoughts and further contraction, but my feeling is mostly contentment and relaxation. I have also been experiencing hours where the general feeling is a sense of deep relaxation and contentment in a way I have yet to experience besides perhaps the shift to third path or after imbibing some chemicals years ago.
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RE: Bill's Notes 06 Jan 2012 23:15 #85454

' I seem to be shuffling back and forth between a state that feels very A&Pish (high energy, sense of well being, presence, low aversion) to a state that feels very dark nightish(persistent physical tension, non-specific anxiety, dread, deep anger). It seems that much of this grounding practice is about surrendering the story line and associated thoughts that keep much of what is underneath at bay.'

This is a beautiful description of a typical Direct Mode practice cycle. Being vulnerable to those deep undercurrents is the key! You are doing it just right.

Sometimes emotions that result from being vulnerable is just too much to handle and you get blown out of the Direct Mode, but that is inevitable. As the resistance-to-what-is gets less over time, it is easier to become more immersed in whatever comes up. Great job!

'These are confusing times: I seem to be oscillating in between a state of non separation where the body states and mind states feel like one and the typical pattern of a sensation becoming a thought and then a story does not arise and at other times I seem to be split between something near this state and a lot of painful conceptualizing moving back and forth in rapid succession. '

Sounds like you are getting closer. Once your baseline seems to become mostly stable with no major ups and down, you might be able to take one more step closer.

(cont.)
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RE: Bill's Notes 06 Jan 2012 23:16 #85455

Something to try:

Note all mind states as they arise
Try to do this as fast as you can
Once you get into the rhythm, zoom in on them
Instead of riding the mind states, BE the mind states
They are coming in on you so fast that you might not be able to note them anymore
Just notice how the body sensations change as they go by rapidly
Mind states become one fast vibration felt in the body
Practice that until you can tune into it any time you want
Then you are able to keep it on throughout the day
Continuously being the vibration
Until'¦
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RE: Bill's Notes 07 Jan 2012 07:52 #85456

Antero,

Thank you for taking the time to read my post/message and respond. I very much appreciate the help. Your suggestion to "BE the mind states" struck a chord. Thanks again.

Bill
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RE: Bill's Notes 07 Jan 2012 18:29 #85457

Taking Antero's suggestion I have been practicing noting mind states throughout the day. Before I was trying mainly to maintain just continuous awareness of the body/mind in an undivided way and was having some success, but since keeping the attention on the body was seeming to happen fairly automatically and with Antero's suggestion, I focused on noting the mind states today and it seemed to make a big difference in terms of keeping the initial mind/body state from developing into a story. Most of the time noting there has just been this feeling of mental openness that I've noted as calm or peace. It is occasionally punctuated with things like "fear, happiness, joy, doubt, judgment, relief contentment" and seems to play out in 3/4 fashion at this point, so for every moment when the mind is a non-contracted state (peace, gratitude, compassion, calm) I seem to be noting one contracted mind state (doubt, judgment, fear). Even my dark night stages were peaceful, but were read as such because of the physical tension and the persistence of negative thoughts that quickly dissapeared into calm.
There doesn't seem to be as much diagrammed regarding some of these techniques or stages compared to the technical 4 path model so hopefully some of this will become useful for others who might be interested. An interesting thing I've noticed: Beginning this practice when grounding for the first couple of weeks the physical tension was felt to be quite intense as was the sense of physical release when the mind/body state had been grounded. With continued practice the physical tension feels less and so at times the sense of release feels smaller though not in any diminished way. It is as though the body recognizes the harmfulness of the story line and no longer wishes to pursue it as frequently,
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RE: Bill's Notes 08 Jan 2012 00:43 #85458

"so for every moment when the mind is a non-contracted state (peace, gratitude, compassion, calm) I seem to be noting one contracted mind state (doubt, judgment, fear). Even my dark night stages were peaceful, but were read as such because of the physical tension and the persistence of negative thoughts that quickly dissapeared into calm.

- Bill"

This is very important point. If you are noting compassion and aversion or peace and restlessness all within one split second, it is quite hard to continue believing in the validity of that information is it? :-)

As you have noticed, the peaks even out after some time of practice and the AP '“ Dark Night type of cycling starts to diminish. Sometimes it might even seem that your mind states are completely flat approaching the point of indifference, but that was only temporary phase for me and may be part of the process as Kenneth warned be about it.

Excellent job Bill!

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RE: Bill's Notes 08 Jan 2012 06:24 #85459

Thanks for this. You're motivating me to note mind states, which I haven't been doing much. My baseline has been vague, where it seems like labeling it as a mindstate is a stretch or just solidifies it. Once I get going though, it's easy to note 1-2 per second, but the mindstates still lack some definition.
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RE: Bill's Notes 08 Jan 2012 19:42 #85460

Antero- Thank you for the encouragement. Your practice journal was my main inspiration for this particular practice so the assistance is appreciated.

Nadav- No problem. I understand what you mean by the noting of mind states. I used to think it was the body energy coupled with the thought, but now I've seen my body can be mostly unpleasant and my mind states can be consistently pleasant. So I really have no idea.
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RE: Bill's Notes 08 Jan 2012 19:54 #85461

Not sure what to write. These continue to be confusing though mostly pleasant times. If I am noting mind states I get mostly "calm, contentment, relaxation, metta" with the occasional fear thrown in, but mostly the fear is noted because I have connected the note to a sudden tightening at certain areas of the body. Sometimes a thought doesn't even form. Other times I notice a thought that previously would've brought a shock of anxiety and it doesn't happen or seems to ground automatically. That said there were a couple of periods during the day when anxiety took over for a few minutes and became the dominant focus of my mind. I am also still ocassionally noting things like "judgment" or "anger" but they seem to be less me and the contraction is less than before. Often times a contracted body state starts to form into a sentence and the attention almost immediately comes back to the body and the train is derailed midway. Sometimes it's just a half formed word or two. Sometimes I am not paying attention and it becomes another tale of woe, but that's O.K.
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RE: Bill's Notes 09 Jan 2012 18:43 #85462

My practice has now become primarily being with the sensations in the body without noting and the grounding has been seeming to happen fairly automatically. I am used to wake up feeling relaxed and then being hit with anxiety pretty quickly. Even with the grounding practice early in the morning is a time when I typically get carried away. Today when waking my attention seemed already stable in body and I was just aware of the mind states as body states. An occasional thought would appear and there was a physical contraction along with it, but it did not become the sting of anxiety. For most of the day mind states and body states seem to occur in sync. Occasionally a thought would appear but it would quickly be grounded seemingly without my having to intend to do so and the thought itself seemed to lack the usual self-identification that stings. At one point my attention strayed from the body into a story that would normally induce guilt. There was a physical pain along with these thoughts, but not the me feeling guilty. Strange.
Tonight I found myself having physical sensations of anxiety along with thoughts of impending doom and death. I was not able to sustain the practice from the morning and found myself getting a little carried away by these thoughts. To say that I wasn't anxious would be a lie and yet the sense of self within the thoughts seemed very thin, as though they were not truly my own. I'm not sure how to explain it. I surrendered entirely, repeatedly, which made the fear dissolve, but I found the persistence of them to be repeatedly taking me away from being present in a way that had not happened all day. While noting at this point I got "calm, calm, safety, relief", but if I stopped noting I was soon carried away by the story and did not feel calm or relieved. What finally helped was that I got into child's pose, took some deep breaths and allowed a feeling of metta or security to relax the tension in my body.
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RE: Bill's Notes 10 Jan 2012 17:22 #85463

Spent most of the day observing the vibration in the body that seems to be the mail carrier for self-referential mind states. In this mode of practice the attention is locked onto the vibration in the body that seem to translate into mind states. In this mode of attention the mind stays locked onto the body and as long as it remains there the mind is not translating the body states into self-referential emotions. At certain points I found that I had a generally dysphoric feeling as was evidenced by the thoughts I was having. If I noted mind states I got "calm, happiness, release, compassion". If I noted "fear" I noticed there was no thought attached to it, just a tightening in the throat and chest I've connected to fear. At one point I noted "resistance" in connection to a thought, but the thought quickly dissapeared into the body and the sense of identification with it was thin at best. When I arrived home at night I felt the same growing unease as yesterday. I sat down and began to follow the vibration. It felt like a very energetic string of vibration (electricity on a downed telephone wire) that seemed to be moving through my torso and into my lower neck. It was following the same pattern over and over again and was shaking my upper body and arms a little. It seemed like it had a lot energy to it, but there was no sense of unpleasantness or anxiety about the experience. After some period the energy seemed move to the head and I had a gigantic fruition followed by two smaller ones, like hiccups that left my mind feeling very restful. I sat slumped over in the chair in an almost half stupor before a feeling of wakefulness picked up. Mostly now I just feel kinda worn out. Will keep practicing and see what develops.
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RE: Bill's Notes 10 Jan 2012 20:16 #85464

An interesting development: After the fruitions I tried to be with the vibration in the way I have been practicing. Instead of the feeling of a solid, continuous vibration there is now the feeling of open air and spaciousness and if I try to lock down on the vibration it is difficult. The feeling is that something previously solid has opened up or broken apart. It's like I cant find the vibration in the way I was previously. Mentally noting I am only getting "calm, happiness, gratitude, metta, compassion, security". Shortly after the fruition, I felt a ton of metta vibrating in the chest area in a way that normally takes quite a bit of conscious and consistent effort. When I am thinking of past experiences that normally cause a sinking sort of depressed feeling I feel the sadness but it turns into a strong feeling of compassion. I am an anxious person but in trying to call up one of my usual phobias there is a tightening feeling/thought but no real sense of anxiety, the fear feels dumb and melts quickly. It feels as though some sort of push/pull struggle has been lifted for the last couple hours and a sense of lightness entered what has generally felt solid and heavy. I am making no claims just reporting what is happening because I have never seen this before.
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RE: Bill's Notes 11 Jan 2012 02:31 #85465

I kind of expected this kind of development after your previous post (#15) :-)

What you are describing happened to me too after Kenneth's sixth stage when unwholesome emotions went away for good after a spectacular rapturous event. For me metta and compassion were rare before the shift, but started to flow spontaneously after the event.

Sounds awesome and interesting to see how it will develop. Keep us posted!
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RE: Bill's Notes 11 Jan 2012 10:35 #85466

Thanks Antero, your help has been essential. Things have felt the same today as they did last night following the fruition minus the abundance of metta which is still felt, but not with the magnitude it was last night when it felt it might knock me over. It did seem that following the fruition there was the sense of a subtle shift just like with the paths, just a subtle feeling that something was different and things were somehow lighter. I didn't expect this. I hardly notice fruitions anymore, if at all, and this one felt enormous. The general sense is a feeling of relief. There is a sense that things are different but I am going to give it some time to develop and see what comes. There is a lot of habitual thought patterns and minor contractions still running through. In this way if I notice the story it would be possible to note fear, but there is no feeling of me being afraid, or anxiety, it's just a story that I would habitually associate with fear. If I turn my attention to mind states I am getting "happiness, calm, openness, pleasure, metta". One of the typical anxious or resentful story lines will begin to appear as I'm noting mind states, but it just melts mid-sentence and even as it's appearing it doesn't feel the way it used to. I think this is just habitual and will take some time to lose steam. Still taking a wait and see approach, but I have to acknowledge that what I have seen so far is unexpected and would've seemed near impossible a month or so ago. My practice for today is allowing the body to relax and appreciate. Gratitude.
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RE: Bill's Notes 11 Jan 2012 10:39 #85467

Sweet!
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RE: Bill's Notes 12 Jan 2012 11:08 #85468

Thanks, Nadav. Yesterday was filled with a profound sense of relief like waking from a bad dream to find oneself in bed and safe. Today there has been a consistent and heavy feeling of sadness, but it is expressing itself in the body and does not get connected to mind states and doesn't seem to connect much to thoughts either, though occasionally a thought will seem to reflect the feeling of heaviness in the body. In this way I seem to be able to feel it more without the overlay of conceptualizing the body into persistent stories. It feels neither pleasant, nor unpleasant, just alive, human, simple. When noting mind states I am getting "compassion, acceptance, relief, trust, warmth"..., I have been experimenting with trying to solidify the body/thoughts into negative mind states. I can get the beginnings of the mind states, so I can get the beginnings of a typical story of resentment along with the corresponding body signals, but it seems to crash and burn quickly before it can solidify. Somehow I almost feel a little upset by this, as though there were some pleasure I was deriving from the solidification and story line.
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RE: Bill's Notes 13 Jan 2012 12:28 #85469

Hey guys,

Does there have to be some witness-type contraction to note mind states? I'm getting long periods of "blank...." then maybe a "curiosity, confusion, interest, searching, blank....." and then my attention will often go to my body and I'll note "body anxiety" and then go looking for mind states again and basically just cycle around in this general "blank....confusion, curiosity....blank, body tension...confusion, etc." My eyes are often searching around the room looking for a mind state.

Ideas?
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RE: Bill's Notes 13 Jan 2012 14:51 #85470

Hey Justin,

My own teacher never spent much time talking about the witness, so although I have seen it referenced and surely ran into it in practice it is not something I spent much time developing. My practice has tended to be dominated by 1st or 3rd gear so I can't answer your question intelligently. I did have periods when doing this practice when my mind state seemed to be noted mostly as "openness" so this may be what you're referring to as "blank". What has been useful is to watch Kenneth's Direct Path videos and then ground as he describes while noting. After some period of this and a heavy dark nightish phase, the mind seemed to become more even and I was able to note the beginnings of mindstates rapidly. After this I was able to bring the attention into the vibration in the body and just follow this vibration that would usually result in unwholesome mind states. There may be some kind of witness in this as I mentioned to Antero when doing this that there was a change in the feeling of the observer and sometimes it seemed to vanish completely. Hope this has been a little helpful or that someone else is able to give you a better answer.

Bill
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RE: Bill's Notes 14 Jan 2012 12:15 #85471

Some notes from Antero that may be useful for yogis interested in exploring the practices Kenneth associated with his 6th and 7th stage.


"a. Finding what is pulling me from being awake every moment
b. Noting that phenomena until I am seeing it clearly
c. Zooming in and feeling the phenomena as a continuous unsatisfactory bodily sensation
d. Grounding the sensations until it is automatically dropped
e. Repeating the formula

After 6th stage you could try the following:

1. Lock onto the Witness to really feel what it is like to exist in a constricted physical location.

2. Ask "Who am I"; and pay close attention how each time the attention contracts to a particular point behind the eyes. See how that contraction is an actual physical sensation that is inherently unpleasant. Once you get familiar with this feeling, it might even feel painful. This feeling of contraction is the reference point of the practice.

3. Start to investigate how the contraction happens every time there is a self referencing thought arising. You can do it by using binary noting Yes/No answering the question "Is there any self referencing going on?"; This will bring the self contraction into the focus and you will be able to see it every time it happens during the day."
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RE: Bill's Notes 14 Jan 2012 12:22 #85472

I never understood what a supple tool the body can be for transformation. My practice today is simply keeping attention on the body and noticing when I am resisting experience.
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