Giulio B. pre-practice journal

  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92719 by Giulio B.
Giulio B. pre-practice journal was created by Giulio B.
I was uncertain whether to copy-paste the old thread or to start anew, synthesizing stuff. This is because my threads are usually quite moody lol, so they get messy.

I've been in the dharma field since five years ago, and discovered the pragmatic dharma community two years ago. Done things on-and-off. I wasn't able to achieve tangible results. This is due to an intricate psychopathology (deeply-rooted depression, an extremely tenacious ocd, and consequences) that opposes most kind of meditation approaches. I am pre-nana and my concentration faculty is untrained. My road-map is as of always to set up the conditions for a trasformative practice to take off and get awakened, through doing the same things you do.

My favorites are noting, concentration on the abdominal movements, and something i call "writing". "Writing" is about writing down and trying to map the emotions that arise. It has the power to trigger in me interest instead of frustration, so It's what brought me to acquire the most self-knowledge.

Actually i'm somewhat confused, don't have a fixed (mandatory) practice schedule and any momentum. This is because it's five years that i'm constantly trying to set one up but have always failed at it. So I recently stopped to consider whether a more libertarian approach would be better. Rough out though i do something at evening time, and as an average it may be every other day.

I mentioned a strong ocd: let me just name it, even though being &quot;content&quot; is not that important for the sake of vipàssana. I have a spinal problem (a kind of hunchback) that causes me chronic pain, so i cannot sustain long-time sittings and also 20-minutes sittings can get troublesome. So I prefer to meditate lying down on a carpet. Being a hard surface and my eyes open, i can preserve a fair amount of attention, and i have to work with that anyway. &quot;Writing&quot; is done at a table instead, preferably in the library. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> it does not always work though, so it's not the holy grail.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92720 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
1) Noted for 15 minutes. Frequent: &quot;hearing, pressure, seeing, knowing, thinking, remembering, speculation&quot;. Less frequent: &quot;fear, dryness, pulsation, image, judgment&quot;.

2) Easy notes like &quot;hearing, seeing, pressure&quot; are used very frequently, particularly when spacing out. It looks as they are used robotically to prevent moments of speechlessness, that would lead to what I call *fear of failure*, one of my most recurring fears.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92721 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Noted for 15 minutes. Same dynamics as yesterday, except more sleepiness. Started out with counting 3x10, focusing on the mechanical movements of the abdomen with good dedication.
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  • Russell
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8 years 1 month ago #92722 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
When i used to suddenly not have anything to note (the speechlessness you mention) I would note 'hunting' or 'nothing' or simply just go back to 'rising' and 'falling'. Keep at it. Hope that helps.
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  • kennethfolk
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8 years 1 month ago #92723 by kennethfolk
Replied by kennethfolk on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Giulio, I'd like to hear more about the pulsing. Where do you feel it? How big is the area involved? What is the frequency of the pulsing? Does the size, location, frequency, or strength of the pulsing change over time? How does it change. Track it like one of those moving weather maps you see on the evening news. Become the world's foremost authority on your own pulsing. Tell us about it here.
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  • JLaurelC
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8 years 1 month ago #92724 by JLaurelC
Replied by JLaurelC on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Good work practicing with a sore back. As for the depression, people continue with their medical interventions as they pursue practice. I wish you all the best.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92725 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I read this now. Thank you infinitely. This evening 15-minutes noting, like the previous times but noted &quot;emptiness&quot;, &quot;void&quot;, &quot;hopelessness&quot; in addition.

&quot;Russell&quot;:3uz110nm wrote: When i used to suddenly not have anything to note (the speechlessness you mention) I would note 'hunting' or 'nothing' or simply just go back to 'rising' and 'ft it here.[/quote:3uz110nm]
This time I noted &quot;speechlessness&quot; and &quot;fear&quot;. I can tell that when this happens there are thoughts and fears going on.

&quot;kennethfolk&quot;:3uz110nm wrote: Giulio, I'd like to hear more about the pulsing. Where do you feel it? How big is the area involved? What is the frequency of the pulsing? Does the size, location, frequency, or strength of the pulsing change over time? How does it change. Track it like one of those moving weather maps you see on the evening news. Become the world's foremost authority on your own pulsing. Tell us about it here.[/quote:3uz110nm]
It's mainly in the abdominal area. It is the heartbeat resonating through the lungs to the abdomen. The frequency is more or less stable. Sometimes it changes qualities, for example it may start vibrating or giving a sort of &quot;empty stomach&quot; feeling. Sometimes it gets powerful, and feels like a subwoofer.

&quot;JLaurelC&quot;:3uz110nm wrote: Good work practicing with a sore back. As for the depression, people continue with their medical interventions as they pursue practice. I wish you all the best.[/quote:3uz110nm]
TY for the remainder. Although I must say, Me, drugs and psychotherapies, as well as depression and western approaches in general, we have a long passionate story of hate. <!-- s:mrgreen: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_mrgreen.gif" alt=":mrgreen:" title="Mr. Green" /><!-- s:mrgreen: -->

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  • kennethfolk
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8 years 1 month ago #92726 by kennethfolk
Replied by kennethfolk on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Keep investigating the pulsing, Giulio. I need to hear more about it. Are there sub-pulses? Flutters? Say more about the changes and vibrations. Don't be satisfied to float in the froth on the surface of your experience. Stay with something for a while, be persistant. Become the world's foremost authority on Giulio's pulsing. Report back here. Give us lots of detail.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92727 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal

&quot;kennethfolk&quot;:1k9dubn3 wrote: Keep investigating the pulsing, Giulio. I need to hear more about it. Are there sub-pulses? Flutters? Say more about the changes and vibrations. Don't be satisfied to float in the froth on the surface of your experience. Stay with something for a while, be persistant. Become the world's foremost authority on Giulio's pulsing. Report back here. Give us lots of detail.[/quote:1k9dubn3]
I like the task and have taken it up. Thanks. I'm going to answer some questions by myself.

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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92728 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I'm currently doing 15 minutes of noting (choiceless, silent) followed by 15 minutes of concentration on the pulsing sensations (hearthbeat) at the abdominal level.

Noting: this evening there have been some harsh manifestations so i'd be better off not saying anything. But anyway. Perceiving 'decay' I sometimes ask myself what would feel like being agonizing, so i find myself picturing the panicking, maddening feelings of gravely ill people, and start to resonate. So in the end i noted &quot;despair&quot; and &quot;fear&quot; for the first 10 minutes. This is ok.

Conc. On Pulsing: feels relaxing. Althought Kenneth put it in terms of doing a sort of vipassana centered on this set of sensations, i feel more like they're solidifying and the focus polarizing on a small area of the abdomen. This happened naturally, or maybe because of lazyness.

I'm taking it slowly to avoid burnouts.
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  • Ona
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8 years 1 month ago #92729 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
The advantage of applying vipassana instead of just thinking about your mortality in graphic detail is that it gradually helps untangle one from the obsession with mortality by revealing it to be a habitual set of thoughts and images that are reactions to physical sensations.

A physical sensation arises, the mind thinks &quot;yuk, I don't like that&quot; and then it goes into the database and starts churning out imagery of death and illness, which then produce a reaction of fear, which generates further physical sensations and so forth. Through vipassana-like observation of the original physical sensations, one can start to see this pattern. It's quite interesting once one has untangled a bit and can observe how it works. Then it becomes more like the difference between watching a scary movie when you are a kid and it totally scares you, versus watching one when you are older and you and your friends just shriek and laugh each time a monster jumps out, because then you know how these movies work: guy goes into dark room, spooky music starts up, monster jumps out, etc. &quot;Yeah, that was the best monster scene ever. Did you see how good the special effects were this time? Better than that other movie.&quot;
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92730 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thank you Ona. Today there has been the same pattern, consistently arising in the first half and more occasionally in the second, although less intense. There is a set of a few physical sensations as a trigger, then a reaction of *not liking it* that comes very fast (almost contemporary) and, in terms of emotional charging mildly charged. The violent reaction comes afterwards and it can be infused with as much strenght as is needed. I saw that before the actual *movement away* is set there usually is some kind of image or reference to the object. The object in this case is my throat: lying supine and so straightening the spine where the weight is, the curve fluidly moves to the cervical tract creating cervical lordosis, so the larynx gets pushed upwards and swallowing is impaired. This creates the continuous set of sensations that go to fish for bad assotiations to which there are the emotive responses. I should probably use a higher cushion, this one is almost flat. At the last third of time noting started to flow. It degraded again the last minute.

I started the concentration time saying &quot;i'm going to grab it like a rabid dog...&quot;, not exactly what has happened lol. Drifted heavely from the second half. While right at the beginning concentration spiked, sort of.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92731 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Pulsing is an event that develops in time. It resembles a wave or a piston cycle. Sometimes is pleasant sometimes unpleasant. It's mostly localized in the abdomen, but when the abdomen is inflated it moves to the upper chest. When breath is hold or the abdomen flattened it gets very powerful. The first part of &quot;the wave&quot; is hard to dissect. The last part looks like micro-waves propagating. If the pulsing cycle was a whip lash (that's one of the mental Images that were created to picture it), they would be the tip of it. They create a sort of tingling-numbness feeing. The micro-wave phase is mostly localized in the very lower abdomen. The &quot;numbing&quot; part is unpleasant, while the very end of the cycle when the micro-waves wane near the pelvis is usually pleasant. Fear component sometimes. It would be possible to note &quot;touch&quot; or &quot;movement&quot; because flesh moves up. One time they seemed to vibrate, like they were formed by tiny little dots. 10 minutes total (recorded). Continuing.

Noting (15 min., loud, recorded) I used a higher cushion so the **** associated to the throat was less disturbing. This time noting got faster than usual, for like 1-2 minutes at about half the time. At that point the frequency was 1 note / second. On average, instead, it should be around 1/1.7 seconds. Good variety of notes overall (probably around 20-30 notes). As it got fast it got scary, probably (in part) because i was fearing to lose it. Also because nothing was happening (&quot;wow it got fast but this is it? not tripping into the hyperspace or getting wiser or anything? are we sure this works? it doesn't, so i'm really hopeless.&quot; - kind of thoughts). When noting gets intense it gets troublesome, and 15 minutes can get definitely troublesome already (noted a lot of &quot;wanting to escape&quot; and &quot;wanting this to end&quot;). Continuing.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92732 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
1) There is an event that i called &quot;switching off&quot;, it is when you lose the ability to note anything else than physical sensations and feeling-tones. I've seen it happening in two occasions: a) when i let go of effort for a few minutes; b) when i reach a peak of noting speed, even lasting a few of notes only, then there is a kind of &quot;suspension&quot;, like when stock prices rise too much too fast and at the top they seem they 'can't breathe'. In that suspension is usually present &quot;seeking (notes)&quot; and fear. Then comes aversion to noting, probably due to fear of failure i don't know. Since i don't see this stuff well i can only wildly speculate that from that moment on there is this aversion (that i can feel sometimes) hidden below that acts as a stopper and prevents the system to appercept new things. Physical sensations are totally visible instead. I remember having said that sometimes i went into &quot;only physical sensation notes&quot; - mode, and it was the same thing. I remember a person on the DhO who said that he was stopped this way for an entire retreat (several weeks). He was experiencing extremely strong aversion and resistance to noting, frustration, suffering etc. it is the same thing. I've been switched off like this yesterday evening. It really feels like &quot;not seeing anything&quot; other than physical sensations and some feeling tones.

2) Another event, perhaps a precursor of the first one, is when mind goes in &quot;seeking&quot; mode. It starts &quot;trying to see&quot;, and entangles in some way. There is some fear inside.

3) I've stopped for now mapping the emotions because it is getting too theoretical and too difficult.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 month ago #92733 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
These are 20 minutes of noting transcribed. Just curious about the cloud that would form.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 4 weeks ago #92734 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
1) My current practice is 20 minutes of noting (choiceless, silent), preceded by a 3x10 counts of breathing felt in the abdominal area (mechanical sensations only) done with maximum concentration. I have eliminated everything else (including the task of focusing on the pulsing sensations) because doing more than one thing was becoming too much stressful. When Kenneth told to me to focus on pulsing he also added, [i:3q1p3qml]&quot;Don't be satisfied to float in the froth on the surface of your experience. Stay with something for a while, be persistant. Become the foremost authority on...&quot;[/i:3q1p3qml] ...On single mental formations, as close as close may be? I want to be persistent with noting. I hope it is Ok.

2) Two days ago i realized that i wasn't noting almost any mental state (3rd foundation or 3rd type as defined by KF, and as I can see from his clouds because they're the absolute majority of his notes). So yesterday i decided to note only those. I copies all the notes from Kenneth's clouds, read them before beginning, and started. The result is that i have been speechless for about 20 minutes. The only notes have been: &quot;FEAR, WORRY, judgment, self-judgment, self-loathing&quot; and a very few sporadic others. Very slow speed at the beginning (could have been 1/10s with enormous approximation), degraded rapidly, 3-4 minutes past the beginning i wasn't noting anymore (if not extremely sporadically) until the 15th minute or so, when for 30 seconds there has been a sudden increase, then decreased again to zero until the bell. I was a little drowsy but it wasn't just that, there is a sort of interdiction.

3) One could go on noting ph. sensations even while half-sleeping. There must be a reason why physical sensations and feeling-tone are clear, while most thoughts and mental states are sneaky.

4) The problem are distorting formations. &quot;Distorting&quot; is a terminology i borrowed from a book by Shinzen Young. They literally flex and bend the stage to their own will. I don't think they are physical sensations (theoretically, they can't be charged with energy or anything). They can be either feeling tones, but really really strong ones; the subsequent drive to end those (a sort of very primordial drive, like the reaction to a wild bear charging towards you, which doesn't even seem to be fear or if it is, it would be a very pristine and perhaps ancient form of fear), and more specific, better formed and sometimes object-oriented fears. Mental images, hopelessness, dispair etc. arise in between. I don't know much else about them aside that I Hate them.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 3 weeks ago #92735 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Reading my old posts at wetpaint and the DhO i can see that my shape is generally better (the famous last words... lol). It can't be attributed to anything else than self-inquiry. This usually happened oustide of noting in the form of questions, but noting has been the engine or the main traction element that put things in movement. Sometimes i hate it and sometimes i love it, but even hate is like a lover's hate <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->. Tonight there have been quite a few formations of love and self-compassion, as well as curiosity and some questions that arose about the strange nature of the mind in real time. This means that, statistically, given the alternating nature of this stuff, i'm going to see the Gates of Hell either tomorrow or saturday (getting prepared already).

&quot;Practice&quot; is always only 15-20 minutes of noting on the evening.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 2 weeks ago #92736 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I have been terribly undisciplined in the previous days. Skipped one appointment, but that's physiological; the problem is that i always have done it too late. Yesterday, for example, i started at 1.30 AM. It should have been at 22.30 PM. I was under Ritalin, so i thought that i could sustain 50 minutes. So 5 minutes of concentration on breath, which went pretty well (i'm getting close to completing 3x10 counts without getting distracted), and 45 of sleeping, i mean noting.

Ok. This evening activities will stop at 19.45 and meditation starts at 22 pm. Usual scheme conc. + silent noting.
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  • kennethfolk
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8 years 2 weeks ago #92737 by kennethfolk
Replied by kennethfolk on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thanks for posting the wordcloud format on April 5th, Giulio. I really like the format as it allows me to see at a glance whether the yogi is noting properly (you are) and gives me a quick window into that particular session. I'm hoping more people will try it, at least as a supplement to their usual reports.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 2 weeks ago #92738 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thanks Kenneth.

&quot;Giulio B. , Thursday 11 april&quot;:1uw9jvom wrote: Tonight there have been quite a few formations of love and self-compassion, as well as curiosity and some questions that arose about the strange nature of the mind in real time. This means that, statistically, given the alternating nature of this stuff, i'm going to see the Gates of Hell either tomorrow or saturday (getting prepared already).[/quote:1uw9jvom]
- Ok, between the past friday and sunday a sort of aversion-to-noting cycle started. The peak was Wednesday and yesterday evening probably faded. So now I should have a few days or noting low on aversion. Interesting that the peak (an incredible depressive low) happened right at the middle of those 7 days.

- I still don't know what to do with the distorting fears that follow triggering ph. sensations. It's like those that would arise if you get ripped open alive (just less intense). I can only continue with noting-vipassana.

- Some of the things that arise are difficult to name, and in the case the name doesn't fit them very well, strong judgment and self-loathing, sense of failure arise concerning the noting itself (this paricularly happens with &quot;hot&quot; formations such as those in the previous point)

- I'm going to leave for a car trip which is about 30 min, and note for 30 min.

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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 1 week ago #92739 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Most of the time the situation is terrific. This evening though the mood was uplifted and I was unusually concentrated. I have decided to start noting (15 minutes, choiceless, silent) postponing the concentration part of the session (10 minutes, abdominal breathing focus) in the end, to shake things up.
Started by noting very fast. It was almost effortlessly fast, 1 every second or more. One major arrest point lasted 3-5 seconds in which i couldn't note anything. Not many fear and aversion formations (I am usually dive bombed). Completed with little effort 9x10 breath counts, mistaking only the first one.

Rant: It's sad how practice(s) outcomes are so mood-dependant. I would like to reach a dimension that lies beyond these things. I can tell that i'm scared of the frail nature of this body and mind, and that life could **** me anytime in general.

Current practice is always a couple of minutes of conc. + 15-20 minutes of noting in the evening. From when i started this new diary up to now it's 40 days. I think that I have skipped 1.5 sessions per week on average.

Although i sometimes get curious about mind in real time, i'm still not really interested in it, so I do it only because &quot;I must&quot;, in some sense.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 5 days ago #92740 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
The last post was 5 days ago. I have had 4 days doing completely nothing (in terms of practice), while i re-began today's evening. Reasons in order of importance: low self-efficacy perceived towards meditation, fears linked to feelings of hopelessness and so unconscious avoidance of med. , i was mentally and physically busy with things.

This evening 10 min of conc. On breath followed by 15 minutes of noting. I wasn't very sharp. There is a lot going on though.

Tomorrow i'll have a 40 minutes drive and will note for 40 minutes. (Choiceless, silent). Tomorrow evening med. Starts at 22. In the next days hopefully i will take this thing more seriously and write some more meaningful posts.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 4 days ago #92741 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I was sharper this evening. Still, sharpness in noting is so much conditioned by external factors...

Two times, at the beginning of the session and distanced abou 30 seconds each other, it seems that i have made some &quot;discovery&quot; which made me think &quot;i have to tell this at kfd&quot; and &quot;i better not forget this&quot;. I got all excited (for nothing anyway), and forgot a bunch of seconds later.

Tomorrow evening at 22.
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  • Giulio B.
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8 years 3 days ago #92742 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Noting 15 minutes (choiceless, silent), evening.

Minutes 2-6 (more or less): A growing speed, sharpness and &quot;catching it&quot;. Positive emotions about it.
Minutes 6-8: Slight decay of the previous sharpness. Fears about it.
Minute 8-15: Stabilization to this lesser degree. Negative feelings of various kinds (mostly hopelessness and sadness) kick in. &quot;Fog&quot; phenomenon: a sort of mixed sleepiness, mind slowing down, generaly unclarity.

Extremely common notes: &quot;hearing, pulsing, thinking, sensation&quot;. Very common notes: &quot;seeing, judging, worry, fear, self-reference, image, imaging, knowing, fantasizing, pressure...&quot;. Other: &quot;contact, unpleasant, laughing, grief, hopelessness, sadness, seeking...&quot;. I also had the feeling &quot;to be locked on a superficial level of experience&quot; or something like that. I note stuff like this &quot;thinking&quot;.

10 mins of concentration afterwards. Didn't concentrate, i think because 20% I was a little shaken by the last part of the previous noting, 80% the pulsing (heartbeat) was a little intense and the sensations of the abdomen going up and down too feeble. So i immediately thought to switch to heartbeat as object. But then i thought that i would have acted according to the usual whim, which i didn't want to indulge (again and again), so i stayed on breath.

Tomorrow evening at 22. Saturday morning at 8 am (first time in the moring after years!), and then at 22.

(thank again for letting me write here).
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 11 months ago #92743 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
The last post was 15 days ago and the practice in the meantime has been zero. I'm closing the journal, perhaps for a few months. I don't know what's going on (of course - if i knew i would be enlightened or something like that). Very very very very very very very very very very basically though, the aversion, frustration, fear of failure, hopelessness and that kind of stuff have been too strong and BENT my motivational circuits into fearing vipàssana. Experience has showed me that this is beyond whatsoever control. Now I can feel this is the end of a down-cycle and a new up-cycle began (probably lasting a week minimum - and - i'm not bipolar, i'm talking about cycles of aversion to meditation), however i'm probably not going to update this journal again until i've made extremely and inarguably tangible progress. I'll most likely continue with noting, and some other things that I have in mind. Anyway, the general future direction is: [i:mc3aiepn]see[/i:mc3aiepn].
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