John H. Practice Log II

  • jwhooper
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8 years 1 month ago #93136 by jwhooper
John H. Practice Log II was created by jwhooper
It had been a long time, but I sat for a few hours. Breathing in, just breathing in. Breathing out, just breathing out. It was very comfortable. At one point I had the sensation of cool wind on the left side of my face, even though I was indoors. The mind was quiet, very few distractions. I sat eyes closed for a long while, then opened my eyes and did some HAIETMOBA, which induced a lot of clarity, but not quite to the PCE level. Then I got into questioning whom was asking the question. In what was the question arising? What was seeking? The questions stopped, and I was left in awareness. The time passed quickly.
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  • kennethfolk
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8 years 1 month ago #93137 by kennethfolk
Replied by kennethfolk on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Hi John,

Can you say more about what you mean by being left in awareness? What does that feel like? See if you can describe it using simple vocabulary of the five senses.
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  • JLaurelC
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8 years 1 month ago #93138 by JLaurelC
Replied by JLaurelC on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Hi, John, glad to see you back here. Keep practicing and posting. Laurel
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 1 month ago #93139 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Hi All,

By "left in awareness" I mean that there is just seeing, just hearing, just the sensory input of what is. There is nothing going on. The mind is not telling a story or trying to do anything. It feels spacious and timeless. It feels like the familiar surroundings are new from moment to moment. There is a timeless freshness to what is seen and heard. Like a PCE, only not as intense and absorbing as the full blown ones I have experienced.

I had some time Saturday so I spent five hours in meditation. Four hours was compassion work, based on variations of:

May all beings be free of enmity
may they be free of affliction
free of distress
and live happily

Of course I start with myself and move outward to encompass all beings, trying to radiate as much compassion as I can, first in one direction, then eventually all directions. It becomes rather exhausting after a while.

To rest, I spent an hour just focusing on the breath in open awareness. Again I felt the cool breeze on the left side of my face. Again there was serenity and silence. Occasionally the mind would run through a story, a little drama of some kind, and I would watch but remain focused on the breath, letting everything run its course.

I hope your practice is going well, Laurel.
I can still feel the effects of all that compassion meditation right in the middle of my forehead. I would have expected it to be felt in the heart, but it is in the middle of my forehead just like when I first started working with the kasina over a year ago. I have moved, so now I don't have a private meditation room where I can keep a kasina on the wall. I felt the kasina work was done anyway.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 1 month ago #93140 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
I have been sitting regularly for 2, 3, and even 5 hours one day. I stopped using a timer. Chatter comes and goes. Focus comes and goes. I do NS until everything is dark and void and I have almost no breath. I go up into PL and feel the blissful waves raining down. I feel a cool breeze on my skin sometimes. Can't say that I notice vibrations much anymore. The time passes quickly. It is all very easy. I make no effort and let everything pass.

Sometimes I do some inquiry. If my mind chatters long enough I get curious. Who is speaking? Who is listening? Why would my mind need to talk and listen? Don't I already know what I am about to say? Who is asking questions? If I can answer a question with my mind, why do I need to ask it with my mind? Why am I talking to myself? It just doesn't make sense that I ask questions and give myself answers, feeling as though both the questioner and answerer are me. Weird.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 3 weeks ago #93141 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Still going with the long sits on most days. I do metta for sure, usually some noting, some kasina, some mantra, advaita. It is all very effortless and pleasant. If I didn't have things to do, I could probably sit all day. Most of the time I feel very pleasantly detached. The type of practice doesn't seem to matter much. Sometimes I fall asleep for a while. Occasionally I go through some altered state or another, probably jhanas. I'm not very goal oriented at this time.

To put it in the vocabulary of the five senses, my sight goes from softly focused to PCE-like clarity. I don't really notice smelling or tasting much of anything. I hear ringing in my ears all the time, as always. Sometimes I feel a cool breeze. Most of what is happening seems to be changes in the feeling of expansiveness, which is sort of tactile. Expansiveness and focus seem to change the most. By focus I mean the clarity of my eyesight, and also the perspective shifts into different spaces, narrow or widened focus, and so on.
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  • Ona
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8 years 3 weeks ago #93142 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Pleasant meditation states are not a bad thing - refreshing, relaxing, helping one to rest from stressy life stuff. If you do feel "goal oriented" at some point, bringing investigation to your sits will potentially yield some interesting insights. For example "don't I already know what I am about to say?" - actually no. "What will the next thought be?" can be an interesting question to rest with.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 2 weeks ago #93143 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Thank you for your suggestion, Ona. I am still sitting hours upon hours. Sometimes I just note positive or do PL to raise my mood, but I have dedicated quite a lot of time into investigation now. I keep coming back to here and now. This is it. It is already here. There is nothing to seek. Abide in awareness. Everything becomes really crystal clear. Everything is just exactly as it is. I sit with that. Then, no matter how much time has passed, shortly thereafter the same old self re-asserts itself. A self that I know is just a story. A self that I understand to be the cause of endless suffering. Yet there it is. It just drifts right back in and takes over, and before you know it I am emotionally hurt or frustrated by something related to the "me" and it seems so real. Sure, I can deconstruct whatever is causing me pain and get over it, but then the self creeps right back in. I dig at it, expose it ... but it just comes right back. Maybe I should forget about annihilating it and just try to make it less sensitive and more positive.
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  • Ona
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8 years 1 week ago #93144 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Remember the old clinging and aversion thing? That's the cause of suffering. The "self" is what generates the clinging and aversion (or, they are inextricably intertwined in any case). But what an irony. Battling the sense of self/contraction with aversion... it's like sending the arsonist to investigate the arson. The very act of trying to get rid of it simply feeds the process. As long as one tries to get rid of things one doesn't like and hold on to things one does like, one plays the self's game. So what to do? The workaround: simply allow everything that arises and passes to arise and pass, noting/noticing it as non-judgmentally as possible. The "here and now" may contain any variety of experiences, not just nice ones. If judgment arises (like/don't like), just notice that in the same way: it is simply more phenomena arising and passing. It seems non-sensical - if the point is to "get rid of the self," why "allow" these contractive or unpleasant experiences? But you can't win the game by playing by those rules. You have to change the rules. It's almost like using reverse psychology.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 1 week ago #93145 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Thanks Ona. I sat for many hours with "What will the next thought be" and then just looking with curiousity. Sometimes there wasn't a next thought, but most often some random thought popped in. I was using a string of beads and just constantly asking "What will the next thought be?", waiting to see, and moving a bead. After a few rounds I would do something else, like inquiry, no-thought, metta, or focus positive.

At one point I felt the insights breaking in. I thought of all the Zen koans I used to practice, and there seemed to be a breakthrough on some of the ones I could never get before. I finally understood the commentaries that said "Watch out! Big thief!" The only new thing to come up was that everything became spontaneously dark for a short while. It was dark, but like outer space. Dark, but luminous somehow. Empty, but not empty. I suppose I should try to describe it better using the five senses, but it didn't seem to involve any of the five senses. In fact, I think my eyes were open, but I was experiencing a void, more or less.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 6 days ago #93146 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Several days of poorly focused mind wandering meditations. When all else fails, I resort to noting or mantra, mostly noting. Then I did some advaita inquiry. Very restless. This time however I can report the five senses: restless energy stiffening the back, ears ringing as always, vision normal without altered states ... mostly too much energy and no ability to focus.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 3 days ago #93147 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Many more hours, probably at least two hours a day. PCE-like experiences in meditation and sometimes spontaneously throughout the day. I say "PCE-like" because, like jhanas, these seem to be a soft version of a PCE. To describe them, there is a lot of clarity and immediacy, silence, peace. Everything is more vibrant and alive. There was a period of vibrations which I usually don't get during meditation, but a lot of other people seem to have them. The excess energy is gone. Some of the restlessness is still there, but not as much. Lots of energy pressure in a band across the top of the forehead -- like the third eye pressure I used to feel, but now all the way across.
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  • jwhooper
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8 years 3 hours ago #93148 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
I wondered if somehow I wasn't putting forth enough effort, so after 2 hours on Friday I sat for 7 hours on Saturday. This time I just did noting, quickly noting everything in my awareness. It was like an ordinary sit. It did not take any effort. Nothing notable happened. The only thing I noticed was disgusting images occasionally flitting by, which either isn't normal to me or I normally don't notice. I would get a few of these every once in a while, so I suppose I was cycling. The long sit didn't seem to build up any "momentum" or do anything other than eat up a lot of time. I think I'll just cut back to an hour a day, max. It would be nice to say sitting for 7 hours was an interesting experiment, but it really wasn't very interesting.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93149 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
50 minutes yesterday, plus two 30 minute walking meditations. The sit started with a focus on the breath until I was well concentrated, then some metta, then inquiry. Eventually I became curious to see if all thought could stop, not just inner dialog, but everything, even the awareness of sensations. That seemed to lead pretty quickly to a lot of darkness and a pulsing, dropping down sensation ... which might be NS, only I didn't blank out completely. That has only happened once. Maybe I fell asleep. Then again, I never get any the blips that are cited as fruitions. Although I seem to reach the jhanas by description, I don't seem to feel a lot of great bliss. They are pleasant altered states, that's about it. I guess it doesn't matter. Maybe I haven't even cross A&P yet. Who knows. Ron thought that maybe I was stuck at the end 3rd path, where apparently it can be very hard to advance. Anyway, the 50 minutes was up in no time. My first walk I did with my old Zen training of "put it all down", meaning every time my mind grasped on any thought I gently put it down. It was very pleasant. My next walk I did using some AF pointers for inducing a PCE. Since I've had a lot of PCEs, I recalled them as I walked along, paying attention to the beauty of the trees and birds, pushing all of my senses out. I didn't reach full PCE, but it was definitely enchanting and delightful. I know that my practice is all over the place, but it doesn't really seem to matter what I do. Everything is good, but nothing seems to move me past equanimity, which is where I assume I am.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93150 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
I did an untimed sit which went 1:15. Followed my breath to deep concentration. Lately, almost all the time, I feel energy at the third eye moving up, and this became very pronounced as it moved up towards the top of my head. There were a lot of vibrations, which is unusual for me. Eventually, the energy was right at the top of the head, and felt like it was shooting upward. When I wasn't fully absorbed, I did the three characteristics. There was a strong feeling of anticipation, which I let go. Then I realized that there was really no one there to let anything go, or to do anything at all, not even to surrentder. I sat with that. At one point I felt very chilled, just for a few seconds. I was interrupted by the phone, but for a long time afterward and even today I can still feel the effects of the energy, like a helmet on my head. The focal point of the energy is now about at my hairline.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93151 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
50 minutes. Got concentrated, and then did no-thought for the rest of the sit. Very high nervous energy, so much that a loud noise made me almost jump out of my skin. Pressure above the third eye, at about the hairline, halfway to the crown. The vibrations were there, but I did not give them any attention. Just no-thought, then a subtle thought, then back to no-thought. I was sitting eyes closed, and at the end when I opened my eyes I was surprised to see the room in extra sharp 3-D, from an impersonal space as though I were not in my body ... not anywhere really. It was almost like being merged with the room. There was no me looking at the room. This continued for a few minutes even after I was finished and stood up. The time had passed very quickly, as usual of late.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93152 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
1 hour Friday, 30 minutes Saturday, several short sits on Sunday. My daily mindfulness has increased a lot, so most of the time when I am driving, cooking, eating, and often when I am working I am not in the story, the self, and instead I am just an observer, or sometime just part of the scene as a whole. I catch myself throughout the day, particularly when emotions arise, questioning "who is upset?" "who is frustrated?" or whatever. It is very instructive. There are all kinds of little rules that my illusory self seeks to enforce upon reality. Every like or dislike brings its own suffering. I note how automatically my self takes control and draws me back into the story. It is amazingly subtle, amazingly sticky. My meditations remain very pleasant and easy. The time passes quickly. For now I am keeping my focus on the characteristic of no-self. This is the only thing that simply will not release. It comes back over and over and over. It poses as the one who will get rid of the self. It poses as the one who will surrender. It refuses to be seen as simply unreal, imaginary. So that is my practice. More and more, I am having PCE-like experiences during the day.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93153 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Unintentional 2 hour sit yesterday. I settled into deep concentration and then started on "who am I" "what am I" which eventually led to no-thought. I was thinking my time might be getting close to being up, when I don't know what happened. Maybe I just fell asleep. I don't remember anything, but it was obviously darker outside when the sound of the front door closing brought me back. I thought it was my wife leaving, but actually she was returning. It was an hour later than I thought. I seemed to be sitting in exactly the same posture as always, and my head wasn't nodded when I came to. Anyway, I felt fine but nothing special, so I'll just assume I fell asleep. I tried very hard on this sit to notice as I moved through the cycle, and I do think I noticed very subtle and quick transitions through fear, misery, disgust, ending in equanimity as always. There were some vibrations but it didn't feel like high equanimity to me. Very pleasant as always. Time passed quickly.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93154 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
50 minutes, plus a 30 minute walking meditation. It happened again. I was sitting, just letting thoughts do whatever without interference, and then I came to and 50 minutes had passed. I must have been out at least 30 minutes. In my walking meditation I was trying to take "infinite consciousness" as a kasina object as I walked along. This caused a strange stobing effect, like awareness was trying to be aware of itself. My walking motions seemed to be jerky and disjointed, and I noticed how my vision dipped up and down with every step.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93155 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
1:15 passed in no time. Peaceful, effortless. Vibrations, energy moving from the third eye to the crown and resting at the crown. Silent, still -- an occasional though floats by. Sounds arise throughout the house. Sensations arise in the body. No effort is made, not even to be mindful. Just sitting.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93156 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Practice continues the same every day, at least an hour, no problems, excellent focus, fine vibrations, energy moving from the third eye to the crown, very few thoughts, time passes quickly. Thoughts are being noted more like sounds or anything else that arises in awareness now. Thoughts once had a special significance as "me" or "mine" but more often now they are just thoughts. In everyday life I get caught up, but then there is awareness again that they are just thoughts, and emotions are just emotions. They arise and pass away like sounds or anything else.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93157 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
What can I say? Everything is the same. Sometimes I get very sleepy, but that is because I haven't been able to get enough sleep lately, so it wouldn't appear to have anything to do with the meditation. Maybe the one difference is that there is a dissatisfaction creeping in. The sitting is easy, the time passes quickly, not much arises ... but there is a sense that it is not satisfactory.
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93158 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Well, after several days of very flat sits with no focus at all, I sat for an hour yesterday and it was very intense. I was actually physically shaking with the vibrations and my breath was heavy like I was running ... not the whole time, but for five or ten minute stretches in the hour long sit. I focused on the crown area, noticing any pleasant sensations. Actually there seemed to be a little pain, but I found the pleasant part of that. Then, oddly enough, a nimitta arose while I was focused on the crown area. That's a first for me. The other odd thing is that instead of the darkness I usually have with my eyes closed, I seemed enclosed in a cone of whiteness. Then the whiteness spread out in all directions to infinity, or seemed so. There was all kinds of energy going up my spine and tingling, prickling sensations at the crown, sometimes feeling like it was a cool flame flickering from the top of my head. The nimitta stayed for a while, changed colors, moved around.

I just kept my focus on the crown and whatever pleasant sensations I could find, allowing the energy to expand.

Later in the sit, things went very dark, and for the first time I really noticed how concepts form, arise, and take on the sense of reality in the mind. It was like they were laid out in slow motion. Things that I took for granted, like a fan blowing, I noticed that only from the sensation of air passing over my skin the mind created the conceptual fan. One by one I went over what I saw in my mind and dropped the conceptual objects, leaving me only darkness, some sounds, and a few sensations. That was interesting.
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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 11 months ago #93159 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II

"jwhooper":143wihy3 wrote: Later in the sit, things went very dark, and for the first time I really noticed how concepts form, arise, and take on the sense of reality in the mind. It was like they were laid out in slow motion. Things that I took for granted, like a fan blowing, I noticed that only from the sensation of air passing over my skin the mind created the conceptual fan. One by one I went over what I saw in my mind and dropped the conceptual objects, leaving me only darkness, some sounds, and a few sensations. That was interesting.[/quote:143wihy3]


That is interesting, and important, i think. Nice.

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  • jwhooper
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7 years 11 months ago #93160 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: John H. Practice Log II
Thank you, Bill. I sat for an hour again. It was full of emptiness and joy. Seeing the formations of conceptual thought from the simplest noise or sensation has brought an emptiness into what had seemed to be "real" but was only thought. Then thought became equally as "real" as anything else, and the insight that all things both exist and do not exist, simultaneously, brought an emptiness to all things while not negating them in any way. Further, the insight that "form is emptiness and emptiness is form" was suddenly very clear. I don't know why it wasn't before. Smiling, laughing -- joy. All of my serious efforts were somehow very amusing.
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