Giulio B. pre-practice journal

  • limbic
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7 years 9 months ago #92769 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I wonder what swimming meditation would be like for you
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  • Russell
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7 years 9 months ago #92770 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
NOTE: James, I moved your post to your practice thread. Giulio, see here for post: <!-- l --><a class="postlink-local" href=" kennethfolkdharma.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=61#p1893 ">viewtopic.php?f=5&t=61#p1893
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 9 months ago #92771 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thank you very much L.

About changing position, I've been reminded about the existence of walking meditation by a few people as of now. I'm going to try.

Something that would fit a blog post, but anyway: today, exactly 48 hours after the previous mood-down cycle I had another one starting at approximately the same time (17.45) and ending at approximately the same time (20). The brain then bounced &quot;upwards&quot; like the previous time. This predictability is very interesting and gives suffering a meaning...

Continuing with the 30 minutes. I can feel the &quot;muscle&quot; is getting stronger but at the same time i feel more or less stuck on this (superficial?) layer of mind. I'm self-confident and looking forward to adding another 30' in the morning, and daily practice also. This would happen at the end of the month only if I respect the daily schedule (1-day repaid debit is ok). All of them are of course forced (self/socially imposed), I don't take pleasure in doing it. In the following days I'll be recording my noting and see if there are repetitive patterns (I'm just curious, honestly...).
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  • limbic
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7 years 9 months ago #92772 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
My emerging idea about insight practices is that if they are attempting to observe processes that are themselves atrophied and disrupted without the concern of doing anything about the diminished state, the resulting insight will be much more difficult to obtain. If this is true.. then it's important to notice that sitting and walking meditation are modes of physicality that are close to normal every day activity - sitting down, walking around. Then the solution may be to do meditation with activities that directly observe the impeding area of experience

This comes from the impression that a certain baseline of balance in the bodily experience is pivotal to reliable insight. If one's life is disrupted to the point of much frustration, I think it could be highly advisable for them to seek out new ways of feeling their physicality, ways of exercising their sense of relating to space and breath

I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts concerning this idea
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  • Ona
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7 years 9 months ago #92773 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Limbic - Perhaps a spin-off thread would be good, so as not to clutter up Giulio's journal? The forum could use more new topic-specific threads anyway, and if it's in the General Dharma section everyone will see it and can join in.
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  • limbic
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7 years 9 months ago #92774 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Oh I remember with wetpaint no one seemed to pay attention to that. Maybe I'm wrong but I thought I remembered there being posts in practice journals that while they were an aside, they were relevant to the practitioner. I posted it here because I thought it was relevant to his practice. Sorry for intruding
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  • Ona
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7 years 9 months ago #92775 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal

&quot;limbic&quot;:11mzfypy wrote: My emerging idea about insight practices is that if they are attempting to observe processes that are themselves atrophied and disrupted without the concern of doing anything about the diminished state, the resulting insight will be much more difficult to obtain. If this is true.. then it's important to notice that sitting and walking meditation are modes of physicality that are close to normal every day activity - sitting down, walking around. Then the solution may be to do meditation with activities that directly observe the impeding area of experience

This comes from the impression that a certain baseline of balance in the bodily experience is pivotal to reliable insight. If one's life is disrupted to the point of much frustration, I think it could be highly advisable for them to seek out new ways of feeling their physicality, ways of exercising their sense of relating to space and breath

I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts concerning this idea[/quote:11mzfypy]

Then I'll just reply here. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

So is what your saying more or less this? That if one has trouble being mindful during day to day moments when one happens to be walking, for instance, then walking meditation is particularly beneficial; or if one has trouble being mindful day to day when sitting, then sitting during meditation is particularly beneficial?

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  • limbic
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7 years 9 months ago #92776 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Hmmm, no; I was thinking of something else..

First I want to say that I'm having difficulty finding the most optimal vocabulary for expressing my idea the way I would like to, but I think it will come across mostly.

Part of the thought was that sitting and walking meditation would be an inefficient approach to progress. If someone's experience of life is hemmed in by restricting variables, then simply noting what is there at the moment is a very tall order. I don't think it's true that you should just understand that the practice is about being with the present moment. That may be true at an advanced level, but you have to get there for that to be relevant.

In order to do that you should acquaint your mind and body with a pattern that makes a good substrate for direct insight. If one doesn't experience their every day life in what could somewhat be called a full way, they won't have this. The direct sitting or walking meditation will be plagued with doubt, not about whether insight is real, but doubt about the accuracy of the notes. About the conviction of the realness of the sensations. You can &quot;just note it&quot;...

Or you could try to build your relationship with your physicality so that what you are noting is more convincing. You can do practices that will make your physicality more salient so you will have the resolution necessary to observe it with proper sensitivity and depth. You can impute mindfulness into the difficult areas, overcome boundaries, enhancing your mindfulness in general, and eventually making direct insight practice plausible
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  • Ona
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7 years 9 months ago #92777 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Part of the fun of discussion is to work on developing different ways of saying things to each other, practicing &quot;optimal vocabulary&quot;. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

So what seems key to me from what you said is that when you try to do noting practice, you are not sure what to note or how to note, because you are not sure what you are feeling (in terms of either body sensations or mental activity)? And that doing physical practices like yoga, swimming, exercise, etc may help to develop more awareness of the sensations of the body/mind, so that your noting can be of better quality?

Can you give a concrete example? Such as if you feel an itching sensation on your left knee, noting &quot;itching&quot; seems in doubt? or is the doubt about what to note not related to physical sensations but only to mental activity, such as not being sure if you should note &quot;doubt&quot; or &quot;annoyed&quot; or &quot;impatient&quot; etc because it isn't clear what you are feeling without thinking about it a lot (by which point the moment is gone)?
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 9 months ago #92778 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Edit: changed idea. The questions weren't that important...
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  • limbic
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7 years 9 months ago #92779 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
[quote:bfrsui3a]

&quot;Ona&quot;:bfrsui3a wrote: Can you give a concrete example? Such as if you feel an itching sensation on your left knee, noting &quot;itching&quot; seems in doubt? or is the doubt about what to note not related to physical sensations but only to mental activity, such as not being sure if you should note &quot;doubt&quot; or &quot;annoyed&quot; or &quot;impatient&quot; etc because it isn't clear what you are feeling without thinking about it a lot (by which point the moment is gone)?[/quote:bfrsui3a][/quote:bfrsui3a]

Yeah, it is about the mental activity I think. What you described makes for a pace of meditation that has difficulty apprehending the kernel of the sensations. At least in my experience, it was disempowering. I would have to have decide confidence in what I'm doing in a general way, that my sits would eventually build up.

And I think one way to help is physical practices, but by &quot;physical practices&quot; I mean meditation with those activities. For instance with me I have a tendency to be very tense. I've been doing a fair bit of yoga, but the challenge isn't just doing yoga. It's more like being able to keep up consistency in my meditation and body awareness while doing yoga, and in the process my meditation, or just awareness of consistency in the body from moment to moment, deals with my tendency to be aversive and contractive from doing two things at once on a physical level.

I have to go right now but I'll write more later

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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92780 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thanks again for everybody intervening.

A little change of plans:

Instead of adding another 30' of noting in the morning, I'll start doing 45' minutes every evening from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. starting from monday, 12 august. The first 30 minutes will consist in sitting like always, then I'll get up and do walking. The most important point will be not to discontinue the noting (a note every 1-3 seconds), and not stopping the whole thing whatever happens.

There is another little problem (alluding that the above isn't going to be exactly pleasant but lol, what has to be done...) that is *noticing/noting* in daily life. Kenneth recommended artificially starting it (not relaxing into thinking it would eventually become a natural expansion of formal practice - it would require too much time, depressed time), being particularly watchful for *rumination* and *worry*. Daytime (non formal) &quot;practice&quot; is instinctually perceived as scary. I don't know why (in this very statement there is a failure in trying to conceptualize). It is a fact that there is something very scary about it anyway. I've noted &quot;scary&quot; right now. Ok the starting poiny could be to remind myself that there's this exercise once in a while (completely forgetting about it is an issue too).

This last point is not something I should continuously postpone... yes because that is the natural attitude...

I'll update again monday after the first session.

(Extemporary update)
Little discovery: I don't have to be *not worried*. I can STAY worried. I can stay fearful. That I have to be *not this* is an assumption I had all along and didn't recognize. Although many people mentioned it, i never really understood it because I didn't notice it in myself, seeing the process, finding its meaning (for the sake of transparency, the credit goes to m.j. - &quot;creative mode&quot; <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> ). I'll probably lose it by tomorrow, though (retaining the concept, but losing the sight of what it's pointing to).

(Extemporary update 2)
About the previous question, &quot;what is scary&quot;? The disliking quality hidden in phenomena. In fear and worry, particularly. So do ALL fenomena come with a grade of liking *themselves*? Apparently yes...
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  • Ona
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7 years 8 months ago #92781 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I'd suggest there *may* be a relationship between extemporary updates 1 &amp; 2 - sometimes we are so familiar with the pattern of how we do things (even if it is unpleasant) that the thought of doing anything different is scary simply because it provides this: &quot;What might happen?&quot; which leads to &quot;I don't know!&quot;

I mean, what if you weren't - at some unexpected moment - worried? Then what????
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92782 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal

&quot;Ona&quot;:ix3cj5kw wrote: I'd suggest there *may* be a relationship between extemporary updates 1 &amp; 2 - sometimes we are so familiar with the pattern of how we do things (even if it is unpleasant) that the thought of doing anything different is scary simply because it provides this: &quot;What might happen?&quot; which leads to &quot;I don't know!&quot;

I mean, what if you weren't - at some unexpected moment - worried? Then what????[/quote:ix3cj5kw]
This is somewhat difficult to catch, even if there is some intuitive grasping of it. Thank you.

Update:

&quot;Practice in daily life&quot; is not working. I mean that It's not going on at all. If It keeps like this it'll end up that weeks will pass and I'll find myself having done nothing. So I thought that I could add a little discipline in there too. So to begin with the plan is: silent noting (1-3 notes/s) is mandatory at the times I walk outside (to go for lunch and back, to the library and back, to the adjacent building and back). Not on the insides of any building. If there is exasperation i shall continue to note &quot;exasperation, exasperation, exasperation et c.&quot;.

It also comes in mind that, probably, in the future I will have to rely on daily (non formal) practice more than formal, so a little at a time It's best to forcibly start.

Yet another thing: some of the problems derive from the fact that I have a (somewhat) skeletal vocabulary, and so noticing phenomena that can't be appropriately named starts off a chain reaction of frustration, *sense of failing*, self-judgments, culminating with hopelessness and giving raise to aversion to noting again (talking about the next note). I shall sort these blocking things out more accurately, perhaps reserving a noting time in which I don't note as it classically should be done, but actively think about which note would be best to give to a particular phenomena (so to settle this matter once and for all). This will be a lot of fun because it's my type of thing. I'll think about a daily time to do this in a few days (I'm overloaded right now).

Update: It's partially working. So I'll continue with the plan. (the 'partially' lies in the fact that, after a while, it's really tiring...)

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  • limbic
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7 years 8 months ago #92783 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
I had the same problem for a while with thinking that my notes were too narrow, my vocabulary too rudimentary. I think the best thing to do is forget about it. I think what would have helped me is trying to develop an ability to physically relax. when the body is relaxed, emotions come more clearly and in greater variety.

I was in an irritated state from which it was difficult to slow down and I think it hindered the range of things I could note. I would suggest it could be good to you to develop an interest in trying to feel relaxed in your body, even if it's just the thought occurring to you a couple times throughout the day. when the thought occurs, try feeling your posture for ten seconds and see if relaxing into your posture makes any adjustments to it that might feel good. maybe take a seat for a moment and see what happens, see if you can relax your jaw and shoulders. it doesn't matter if its only 20 seconds at first, but I think inclining your mind to the possibility of relaxation is probably a good thing. try to give space to any tension or irritation in your experience - give those things extra space to flow into and dissolve. so if there's a tension in the neck, try feeling it in association with your upper back and shoulders too
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92784 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal

&quot;limbic&quot;:t87cpdm7 wrote: I had the same problem for a while with thinking that my notes were too narrow, my vocabulary too rudimentary. I think the best thing to do is forget about it. I think what would have helped me is trying to develop an ability to physically relax. when the body is relaxed, emotions come more clearly and in greater variety.

I was in an irritated state from which it was difficult to slow down and I think it hindered the range of things I could note. I would suggest it could be good to you to develop an interest in trying to feel relaxed in your body, even if it's just the thought occurring to you a couple times throughout the day. when the thought occurs, try feeling your posture for ten seconds and see if relaxing into your posture makes any adjustments to it that might feel good. maybe take a seat for a moment and see what happens, see if you can relax your jaw and shoulders. it doesn't matter if its only 20 seconds at first, but I think inclining your mind to the possibility of relaxation is probably a good thing. try to give space to any tension or irritation in your experience - give those things extra space to flow into and dissolve. so if there's a tension in the neck, try feeling it in association with your upper back and shoulders too[/quote:t87cpdm7]
Thank you L.
I'll stop thinking about it now, and tomorrow see what it's like.

Addendum: Today and yesterday I got up very late in the morning, and both the evenings I was practically sleeping and feeling no energy (in meditation too). So I'm going to go to sleep quite early this night and tomorrow get up no later than 8.00 am (including the sofa), if not, I'm NOT going to do any meditation during the day both formal and non. Saying this publicly so later I can report.

Little update:

A few depressive thoughts (more or less in a row) were recognized, naturally. Interesting. I can tell it almost never happens.

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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92785 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
- I was successful in getting up at 8.00 am. I'll continue with this (infrangibile) rule then, &quot;If I get up (including sofa) later than 8.00 am, then there will be no meditation whatsoever that day&quot;. This will also oblige me to go to sleep at reasonable times.

- Today I have done for the first time the 45' noting, compounded of 30' of sitting plus 15' of walking, without interruption in the noting rhythm between the two. I slowed down the noting to (I think) a 1 note/3 seconds to begin with, because I was somewhat stressed and resistant to the job. The walking meditation was fast, I mean that I walked in circles in my room at almost &quot;leisure walking&quot; speeds, simply noting what was there whatever it was. Most of the notes at this phase have been &quot;worry&quot;, &quot;sense of failure&quot;, &quot;guilt&quot;, &quot;fear&quot;. It was somewhat awkward but not that hard. In fact the change of posture was a relief.

- For what concerns non-formal practice, i didn't have occasions to walk outside (used the bike to move today), while yesterday I mostly forgot, and when I remembered I was too depressed/lacked energy to do anything at all. So nothing. The rule stays there anyways, noting mandatory during the times I walk outside.

- I started with venlafaxine (an antidepressant) two weeks ago and I'm climbing up to a relatively high dose (thinking about 225 mg/day), at which I'll stop and maintain it indefinitely.
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92786 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
- Two months ago I said that I would have updated the diary on a weekly basis. Now I prefer to do it whenever I feel like...

- Continuing successfully with getting up at 8 am.

- It's the third time that I do the 30+15 minutes noting, and overall It's been 2 weeks of uninterrupted and 2 months of regular practice. Continuing like a train.

- Even when things are really messed up, I have the feeling that staying with aversion is good.

- I absolutely have to expand daily practice. I have the feeling that that will be the trick. Today I went out walking again (to lunch with my mother) but forgot to. After I send this message I'll print a paper to stick on the door saying something like &quot;remember practicing in walking times&quot;.

- Opening a personal toolbox:

Giulio's toolbox

- When feeling without energy, It's ok to switch to silent noting.
- It's more important to note precisely than fast.
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  • Ona
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7 years 8 months ago #92787 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Nice work. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92788 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thank you Ona.

- Saturday I skipped the 45 min session because of a stomachache. for the rest everything proceeded as set up.

- Noting during walking daytimes is becoming easier and less frustrating. The noticing muscle has probably grown a little. Noting in the formal setting is the same.

- I continued to get up at 8 o'clock without fail. Since it worked so well, and in this period I'm dangerously lagging with studies, I'll add a new condition: If on any given day excluded saturday and sunday I study less than 2 hours (reasonably net), then I can't practice in any form for that day. Starting from now.
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92789 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Today I failed at getting up in time, studying, and so practicing. All of that was &quot;voluntary&quot;, and the cause is a video-game I got too attached too (used to be addicted, this is a little relapse/lesson after many years). It is absolutely destructive on me, so I uninstalled it and will never touch anything like that for the rest of my life.

This is the renewed &quot;battleplan&quot; (effective from tomorrow):

- 45 minutes of formal practice in the evening, starting at 6 p.m. precise.
- silent noting at the times I walk outside
- conditions: get up by 8.00 a.m., study 2 hours early in the morning at 9-11 and another 2 hours early in the afternoon at 2-4 (reasonably net time), with the exclusion of sundays. For the sake of completing the 4 hours/day, no different study times are allowed, with the only exception being if i'm travelling for a serious issue (I may entirely skip studying then). If any of the conditions isn't met, then no practice whatsoever is allowed that day. This is all.

The program stays until sunday 1 august. I promise to report any infraction.
(sorry if I use this place for my neurotic stuff, but it influences practice and needs to be taken care of)
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  • limbic
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7 years 8 months ago #92790 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Hey, I want float another possible provision for your practice life in response to the one you've imposed about not doing any practice should you miss studying. Since it seems you're invested in your practice, maybe instead of doing no practice at all should you not study, you could allot the extra time you had for sitting for a period of deliberately mindful studying
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  • Giulio B.
  • Topic Author
7 years 8 months ago #92791 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Thank you very much limbic.

SO what I've been doing is trying to bind an unpleasant activity (study) with the fear of having to skip meditation. It worked incredibly well for the first times, but then the 'binding power' diminished and the method lost efficacy. It really can't work anymore so the plan is canceled <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->. Very well! Honestly, I was very worried about an incoming deadline, and the worry left me very agitated, even unconsciously, and I wasn't in the conditions to study. Now I've settled that thing, so I'm more tranquil and very motivated.

This is what happened: monday i have skipped meditation (forcefully) because I didn't study. So it's 2 days missed in total. I've done the rest very happily. Won't happen again!

Limbic you really had a good idea. For now this method of conditioning one wanted thing to an unwanted exhausted its traction power though. I think I might re-apply it in the future, more intelligently as you put it.

Surprisingly, practice is becoming less stressful, and is somewhat slowly expanding (naturally - without any forcing of any kind) into some daily life activities. For example, I enjoy noting silently most of the times when I walk outside. The last night I was out to take a pizza home and I've noted all the time, sat waiting for it to be prepared, very naturally.

I'm noticing that I perform better in walking meditation than sitting meditation, furthermore, I can note very well during some daily life activities that don't require &quot;processing power&quot; (focused intelligence). I've also quit with loud noting and only do silent noting, because in the sitting position I assume, that is actually a very reclined one, the chest and diaphragm are a little compressed, so talking for half a hour can be a little tiring. Noting silently goes very well though.

&quot;Mindful studying&quot; seems to me to be both a concentration exercise and a vipassana one. The first is the 'return to the object' part, the second, perhaps, being aware of the aversions (and following thought chains) that pervade the mental life during the activity. I'l really have to look towards mindful studying... maybe with the aid of some notes.
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  • limbic
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7 years 8 months ago #92792 by limbic
Replied by limbic on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
well, it's good you're appreciating mindfulness in a general off cushion capacity. The narrow cushion only stuff can be like trying to purify water with a hammer
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  • Giulio B.
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7 years 8 months ago #92793 by Giulio B.
Replied by Giulio B. on topic Re: Giulio B. pre-practice journal
Today's (30 sat + 15 walking, noting aloud):

- At about 10-15 minutes began experiencing a recurring perceptual distortion: &quot;sinking&quot; in the chair and blurred-enlarged field of vision. This time was intense and unpleasant. Actually at other times it was quite pleasant, this time NOT. I started worrying at a time that not enough blood was flowing into my brain. Not many distractions though, noting was fairly good. It worsened a little bit when the most intense unpleasantness kicked in. It was in the form of... A coo-presence of having a heavy and difficult breathing, a kind of nausea and a light to moderate aching of the neck.
It increased in intensity as time passed. At the 30' alarm ring, I got up in the walking position (trying to note something, mostly &quot;fear&quot; during the transition) and the perceptual distorsion disappeared, the unpleasant feelings also reduced. While the first didn't return (it never appears during walking anyway), the compounded unpleasantness began escalating again to a point at which surpassed the peak of the previous one when I was sat. This was at the end of the 15' walking period. After 3-4 minutes the final (45') bell rang.

- I abolished the &quot;thinking&quot; note, because I considered it too general and too large an umbrella. It's not detailed noting. So I tried to break down what was the meaning the thoughts brought with them, and was quite successful in that.

- Kenneth told me to study the seven factors of enlightenment (I was found ignorant about them), to try some relaxation exercizes (also brief), and to dedicate some time to note only physical sensations to boost concentration. I have done nothing of it lol, furthermore quite a few meditations were done in &quot;sleeping mode&quot;, two missed and the general momentum went down. I'm a little nervous because the next appointment it's thursday. So a little plan: Tomorrow morning I'll wake up by 8 o'clock, and before breakfast I'm going to do 10 minutes of homework #3 preceded by 5 minutes of #2.

- I use to end my meditations with a few seconds-long sequence of imprecations, just to cool everything down.


Giulio's Tool Box 2.0

- Both Loud and Silent noting are very valuable techniques. Usually you can assess which of the two at the beginning of the session basing on aversion and energy levels.
- It's extremely important to note detailed, not important to note fast. A note every 1 to 3 seconds is the ideal rhythm.
- Never start formal meditation without having previously rinsed your face and neck with cold water.
- Sleep deprivation or protracting sleep after 8 a.m. is calling for meditation failure. This also includes going to bed after 10.30 p.m.
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