Laurel IV

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8 years 3 months ago #93267 by JLaurelC
Laurel IV was created by JLaurelC
I'm going to repost my journal from the "old" forum. Stay tuned.

EDIT: I've just finished posting my very first thread from the old Wetpaint KFD as Laurel's Practice [url:2iojk9dx]http://kennethfolkdharma.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=28[/url:2iojk9dx]. Stream Entry occurred on January 19, 2012 in post 440 according to that journal's numbering, on the next-to-last page. I will post Laurel II and Laurel III as time allows, and as soon as possible. May all beings be safe, protected, happy, and at ease.
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8 years 3 months ago #93268 by JLaurelC
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January 24, 2013 at 11:12 am #868

JLaurelC
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Now that my picture is here I feel real again. Guess I haven’t eliminated belief in myself quite yet!

Practice has been spotty, but got a glimpse of Pure Land again the other day. This morning I kind of snoozed through 40 minutes. When I was awake I was in access or in a light first jhana.

I miss my old thread, and hope to see the archives back soon.
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8 years 3 months ago #93269 by JLaurelC
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January 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm #980

JLaurelC
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Work on jhana continues apace. Yesterday I sat for 45 minutes, got up to about the 6th jhana, some sleepiness accompanying it but not bad. This morning I decided to work for an hour, set a timer to sound a bell at 20 minute intervals. Spent almost 20 minutes getting good access concentration, the second 20 minutes going up and down the jhanic arc, and the third 20 minutes doing it again. I had good concentration and reasonably good energy throughout. Made it to 8, waited to see if anything further would happen, but when it didn’t I came back down again. Was a little disappointed.

I’ve been reading apperception’s journal with some interest because he speaks of the ease of going from jhana to jhana once he’s established a certain level of relaxation and focus. In my case, there’s a sense of effort involved. At one point I found myself having headache pain, not sure why. Lots of buzzing energy at the beginning stages, lasting up into the arupas just a bit. When I started I had a mild knot of anxiety; that might account for some of it.

Overall, I’m not sure where I’m going or what I’m going to do when I get there (!). I’ve been reading Russell’s posts and will try to chat with him soon. He seems to have gone through a realignment of expectations. I don’t have solid expectations, and for awhile I could even say I was a bit nonchalant about everything. But I’m beginning to want to ramp things up more these days. I can’t quite see the relationship between what I’m doing in meditation with where I might be going. I haven’t had any episodes of spontaneous nondual awareness in a long time (last August). I still have phobias.

Speaking of phobias, I read an article in New York online magazine about the effect of high school on people’s patterns throughout life. It said that any trauma occurring in adolescence or young adulthood has enormous staying power. That would explain the persistence of my particular phobias, one of which was launched when I was 14, the other at 19. It also explains why I’m perfectly comfortable performing tasks that are closely related to the feared activity (I can sing and speak easily before an audience, but can’t play the violin). The violin was for me a source of identity. In adolescence and through the high school years, people go from saying things such as “I like classical music” to saying “I am the kind of person who likes classical music.” In other words, one goes from doing, enjoying, and disliking things to becoming a self that does, enjoys, dislikes. So something that comes along and threatens that self is dangerous.

In my case, playing the violin was my identity. Very few of my peers did it, and none of them as well as I did. So I was the violinist. Things came unraveled when I went to music camp one summer, met a lot of hot-shot New Yorkers, and found out I was nothing special. So then my sense of self imploded on me. Apparently, the imprint of such traumatic experiences is deep and abiding. Knowing this is somehow comforting because my peculiar experience begins to make sense. This self business really is at the root of suffering. I can see the evidence right in my own life.
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8 years 3 months ago #93270 by JLaurelC
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January 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm #981

JLaurelC
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Here’s the link to the article: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" nymag.com/news/features/high-school- "> nymag.com/news/features/high-school-
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8 years 3 months ago #93271 by JLaurelC
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February 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm #1117

JLaurelC
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Nothing much new to report on this front. I went to a half-day on Saturday and slept through two of the three sits, got to about 4th jhana on the third sit. I have been waking in the night for hours at a time; at least I’ve gotten a lot of reading done (Duncan Barford). I alternate between yucky fear/nausea stuff and feeling reasonably okay. I work with second and third gear practice as much as possible. That’s about it. Cheers, everyone.
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8 years 3 months ago #93272 by JLaurelC
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February 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm #1289

JLaurelC
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I haven’t written in awhile. I went to a four-day retreat, got back two days ago. It was intensely interesting to experience a residential retreat with this mind. I became far more deeply concentrated than I ever have before. Unfortunately, I was also (still am) in the recovery stages from bronchitis, so my energy level was down. The result was a lot of sleepy sits. I would sit and descend into concentration, then dreams would hit. I did a bit of struggling against them, at least trying to notice that they were dreams. Eventually I’d wake up, quite frequently in the 5th jhana, thinking WTF? Then I’d go on up to 8 and stay there.

Sometimes I employed my own home-grown vipassana technique of just asking myself what I was doing right now–talking to someone in my mind? But that person isn’t here! Imagining another place? But that’s not here! Reflecting on where my practice was going? But that’s not now! This technique was excellent at catching thoughts at the very beginning stages. I did this over and over, walking, eating, getting ready for bed, whatever.

One wonderful aspect of this retreat was my ability for the first time to manage continuity of practice. There were surprisingly few thoughts that proliferated. I did have one that grew into a sense of annoyance, over the fact that many of my fellow yogis seemed to spend every waking moment they weren’t in the meditation hall wandering around the center aimlessly or hitting the snack table. So I did a bit of internal grumbling and one-upping (“I am so much better than they are”). It was hard to dislodge this particular bit of conceit.

I also experienced a bit of a panic. One night I thought someone was trying to break into my room (a nightmare) and lay trembling in bed. After I got home I experienced a toxic dose of shame and fear (last night, in fact). I can’t help wondering whether I have more of this to look forward to.

In any case, it’s back to work for me. I’ll try to keep updated. Have a session scheduled with Kenneth where I’ll try to unpack some of this stuff.
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8 years 3 months ago #93273 by JLaurelC
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February 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm #1298
villum
villum
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I like the home-grown vipassana technique. I’m looking, but then the object dissolves. For specific investigations, i have used “how is that known”, “where is that experienced”, usually with an open awareness that tends to reveal various “underlying” phenomena.

I don’t really do jhanas in the sense you are talking about here anymore. I tend to find the contractions of attention painful, and there doesn’t seem much point anymore. They were very nice though, and i still think i got a lot out of them insight-wise. I do recommend you also look at other kinds of jhanic phenomena, like the way the arupa jhanas present when you do the practice Nick talks about here. You should be able to get to at least 5th through the earth-element-meditation of taking pleasure and rest in perceptions of solidity, and these jhanas seem to me to show some useful things about the way attention works in everyday life
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8 years 3 months ago #93274 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm #1326

JLaurelC
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Thanks, Villum. At the moment, I’d settle for being able to get through a day without feeling like absolute sh*t at least part of the time. Yesterday I kind of slogged through an hour sit, no idea where I was or what I was doing most of the time, but got some gentle vibrations for the last half of it or so. Unfortunately, after it was over I was a nervous wreck for several hours. I had to face a difficult situation, and I was not secure doing it. Oh well. Since I’ve been back from retreat I have not felt good for the space of a single day. Part of it has been the outside world being bitchy; nonetheless, I’m extremely reactive, paranoid, and wishing I were out of it all. Desire for Deliverance, anyone?

Today’s sit was even worse; I bailed after about 30 minutes. I can’t even remember why (probably because I was coughing so much). I just gave up in disgust, after having tried in vain just to get some basic concentration. Disgust, anyone?

In spite of the cute references to nanas, I have no sense of how cycling is operating in my practice either on or off cushion. MCTB is not helping because it seems to present a system in which one can clearly discern cycle after cycle after cycle on the way to fourth path. This is not true for me; what seems closer to true is a perpetual dark night. Then again, maybe that’s what this is.

Thanks for listening, everyone.
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8 years 3 months ago #93275 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm #1329

Aquanin
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Hang in there Laurel. Don’t worry about mapping anything at this point, it will only frustrate you more. Actually most techniques in your toolbox will probably frustrate you.

Ever tried Shinzen’s ‘do nothing’ practice? Maybe it’s time for some full-on ‘just sitting.’ No expectations, no anything. Just be. That’s all there is.

You got this. If you want to talk, you know how to reach me.
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8 years 3 months ago #93276 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm #1330

JLaurelC
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Thanks, Russell. Tell me: is it typical to feel miserable a lot of the time at this stage?
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8 years 3 months ago #93277 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm #1331

Aquanin
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What if I told you it was miserable? Would that change anything for you? Would it change anything if I told you it was all bliss and happiness?
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8 years 3 months ago #93278 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm #1332

JLaurelC
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You guys are so annoying <!-- s;-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";-)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;-) --> If you told me it was all bliss, I’d feel like a failure. If you told me it was miserable, I’d think, okay, I have company. But I get your meaning–it is whatever it is. Back to the trenches.
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8 years 3 months ago #93279 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm #1334

Aquanin
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You too, can become annoying, grasshoppa.

Do you want me to send you my old practice logs so you can line up your suffering with mine <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->
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8 years 3 months ago #93280 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm #1335

Nadav
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Thanks, Russell. Tell me: is it typical to feel miserable a lot of the time at this stage? -Laurel



Yes.



(is there no quote feature on this forum? damn.)
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8 years 3 months ago #93281 by JLaurelC
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February 25, 2013 at 8:35 pm #1336

Ona
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For many people, Laurel, this part of the process is about a couple of big things. One is honesty. A real honesty about your reactions, motivations, the endless reactive games and habits we’ve cultivated for a lifetime.

Practice-wise, one of the better strategies at this stage is to “just sit” – allow each moment to be just as it is. That moment may well include aversion, anger, annoyance, frustration – the big task is to recognize that those are *not* in opposition to “good practice” or “progress” or “insight” in and of themselves. In other words, anger arises – and only when we grab it and say “no, not you, don’t spoil my practice” does it become a hindrance. Allowed to simply be, it is simply what is, and of no more importance than any other phenomena.

Off-cushion wise, try to be very conscious of this same kind of separation/categorization in your day to day reactions. Someone’s words trigger fear – allow and include it right there, rather than allowing it to spiral into a drama. Be with those root tendencies, step into them, they are not your enemies, they are not a problem. The problem arises the moment we shove an experience into those two big boxes: shit I hate, shit I like.

An overall attitude of inclusion, acceptance and embrace of all phenomena is very helpful, imho. Curiosity, wonder, fascination with the elaborate simplicity of each moment is very helpful. It will unravel some of the tightly held fantasies we have, of being special, of being better than others, of being a failure or a success, of being smart or stupid. All of those things are layers above their root triggers, which are just really gut level fear, most often.

Because a really deep authenticity in experience is naturally beginning to unfold, it becomes ever more painful to resist it by clinging to our fantasies about how things should be. That’s why this phase can be very miserable. The more we fight reality, the worse it feels. More so now, because we *know* deep down that it’s a stupid game. As if our habit of clinging and aversion grates against authenticity like nails on a blackboard. The more we allow, and just relax into the strange and fascinating bumps and turbulence, the less it hurts.

Hope some of that is helpful…
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8 years 3 months ago #93282 by JLaurelC
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February 26, 2013 at 10:27 am #1339

JLaurelC
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Thanks, Ona, and Nadav. Right now the category of “shit I hate” consists of absolutely everything, so that makes me the princess of nondual awareness, right? <!-- s:-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":-)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:-) --> There is the feeling of nails on a blackboard.
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8 years 3 months ago #93283 by JLaurelC
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February 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm #1341
Eric_G
Eric_G
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from the article about high school, I thought this quote was on topic:

“[W]hat seems like unshakable reality,” she concluded, “is basically just a story we learned to tell ourselves.”
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8 years 3 months ago #93284 by JLaurelC
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March 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm #1446

JLaurelC
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Had a good talk with Kenneth, seemed to be in a much better place at that point. I am now having trouble maintaining motivation. When I’m miserable I have no energy, but there is a bit of a prod; when I’m okay, in equanimity, I feel too good to want to bother. When I do bother, it’s great. Been reviving some jhana practice, because it seemed like the right thing to do. I had a stressful weekend, and sitting in samadhi helped immeasurably, even if the effect did wear off after awhile. Just knowing that my mind could go there was comforting. So I’m working on going there every day, as much as possible.

At the moment a good part of my practice seems to be focused on Right Speaking. I read an article about it and watched a you-tube video, and realized just how much of the time I engage in self-promotion, idle chatter, profanity (for the sake of laughs), and gossip. The gossip in particular is something I’m watching out for. Gossip is any situation in which I start carrying on to someone about another person who is not there, for no particular reason other than to size that person up and get feedback. Sometimes it’s necessary to talk about someone’s behavior if there’s a problem to be solved (like discussing one’s kid with one’s spouse), but a lot of the chatter about others is along the lines of can-you-believe-she-said-that and whatnot. It’s actually liberating not to be doing it. So that’s my renunciation these days. Feels good.

Another part of Right Speaking is to refrain from complaining endlessly for no good reason. Describing one’s symptoms to a doctor does not fall in that category, but kvetching about the weather, the computers being down, parking spaces being unavailable, and whatnot is just a downer. Not to mention my depressions that are, like all phenomena, stuff that comes and goes, or feelings of fatigue or anxiety, which happen and then stop happening and then happen again. Or reports on how well I’m not sleeping. Or discussions about the 2 pounds I gained. Oops–I’m beginning, I fear, to sound like those classical rhetoricians who go on and on about all the things they are not going to mention (there’s actually a name for that rhetorical ploy, which I’ve forgotten).

Anyway, there you are. Working on a bit of metta practice as well, with the exception of those people at Wet Paint.
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8 years 3 months ago #93285 by JLaurelC
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March 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm #1454

modalnode
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Hi Laurel,

I’m also presumably working on 4th path, though unlike you I continue to mostly lurk at KFD rather than courageously posting my process. In any case, I’m also finding this path particularly difficult — especially in terms of the bleed into everyday life. For whatever reason, in the previous paths, I found it easier to not believe my own negativity. This time I find myself wanting to quit my job and move to the other side of the planet — as if that would solve something! The negativity often seems stronger than the space/luminosity that surrounds it. (“Yeah, so there’s luminosity. So the )@£$&amp; what!?”) Let us presume that this, too, shall pass! Thanks for your continued sharing, and see you on the other side…
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8 years 3 months ago #93286 by JLaurelC
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March 13, 2013 at 8:43 am #1460

Ona
Member

That’s interesting Laurel – it’s something I’ve also spent time working on at various points. Several times I used a practice from St. Ignatius, where one picks a specific tendency (say, making snippy retorts to my husband during ordinary conversation (like if he asked “Have you seen my glasses?” I might say “Uh! In the bedroom where you always forget them! Duh.” or something like that.). So the morning intention would be “Let me remember to speak charitably and with patience to my husband.” And then each time I accidentally made a snippy retort, I made a mental note of it, keeping count. At midday I reviewed the count (30 times! 50 times!!) and restated the intention. At night I reviewed the afternoon count and asked God forgiveness for the failures and restated the intention to do better tomorrow. And so on. I was really surprised at how quickly I was able to change a specific pattern by paying that kind of close attention to it. (And by keeping count it became really clear that the numbers were dropping.) Obviously there are many ways to approach this (and I’m not saying you should do it any certain way) but this experiment was an interesting one for me to try. In fact I’d be curious if you have any particular method or reminder or way of doing it.

What also became clear in working through these kind of right speech issues was that there was usually a motive underlying the wrong speech. So if I talked to a friend and started making snarky comments about someone else, that usually was coming out of a sense of trying to ally myself with the friend I was talking to by making someone else the opposition – a kind of social status game, like “we’re on the same team because we can both make fun of so and so;” or sometimes a way of getting other people to think I was clever and funny; or just a way to get attention. All of which was also really illuminating to discover.

These investigations help make one more humble, too, I think. Nothing like looking at my own shit to bring me down a notch. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->
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8 years 3 months ago #93287 by JLaurelC
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Wow--that didn't take so long! Now I'm up to date. I have a text version of my first three threads, which I'm trying to figure out what to do with. I'd like to post them all here and link to them. I found that on earlier paths it was tremendously helpful for me to read through another yogi's complete journey, just to see how various people worked through the stages of awakening. It's also occasionally valuable for me now to look back on my old threads and recall how I got here.

&quot;Here&quot;: where is that? Not &quot;there&quot; yet, but daily now I find that everything is less and less about me. My personal drama, my past, even the high school stuff I was posting about a month ago, are fading in significance. It's like a not-particularly-interesting novel that I just finished and barely remember. I still have my phobias, they bother me, but the me they bother is not at the center of the universe, but is a group of sensations with stuff like tension, burning, shaking, whatever added in when I encounter something frightening. I am not altogether content with life a lot of the time. My health annoys me, but bouts of dwelling on it tend to fade into interest in sensations manifesting, whatever they are.

I also used to be extremely empathetic, meaning I would pick up on and feel other people's moods. I'm not doing that so much any more. I can let another person be nervous, angry, or sad without going through all of that with him or her. I also notice a residual tendency to wonder whether I am &quot;to blame&quot; for someone's feeling bad but I no longer believe it, and I don't even think that very often. I don't feel the old pattern of wanting to identify with it out of guilt either, although the pattern still has a shadowy presence. I experience compassion, but not the emotional roller-coaster effect.

I am frustrated by not having enough time to practice these days. Sometimes I fuss over being overextended. But I don't stay in that place for long. That's the news. Lot's of &quot;I don'ts&quot; but I'm doing a comparison here with my past so I guess that's the only way to spell it out.
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8 years 3 months ago #93288 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Laurel IV
Sure sounds almost 'there' to me, Laurel. That's some big changes in a short time. What are you still looking for that you don't see?
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8 years 3 months ago #93289 by JLaurelC
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&quot;Aquanin&quot;:rqztnp26 wrote: Sure sounds almost 'there' to me, Laurel. That's some big changes in a short time. What are you still looking for that you don't see?[/quote:rqztnp26]

I'm looking for &quot;the big bang&quot; <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D --> or else maybe I'm looking at the fact that this state of mind is not continuous. So I wait for the other shoe to drop, for me to have yet another meltdown, of which I've had a few not so long ago (last week, maybe?). So I think I'm still in transition. But the other night I was up almost all night, and tried sitting in the middle of it, and got a surge of energetic phenomena, including not just shaking, but almost thrashing around. Rather unprecedented. Lights flashing, A&amp;P style stuff. I was tired yesterday (managed to eke out a mere 4 hours of sleep toward morning) and napped late afternoon, slept okay last night, feel no Dark Night coming on. Haven't sat since. Want to sit again and see what it's like. I have a bit of a virus, making inner ear stuffy and creating disorientation and sluggishness. That's an additional wrinkle. I'm still in progress here.

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8 years 3 months ago #93290 by kennethfolk
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&quot;JLaurelC&quot;:1pboh0jp wrote: I can let another person be nervous, angry, or sad without going through all of that with him or her. I also notice a residual tendency to wonder whether I am &quot;to blame&quot; for someone's feeling bad but I no longer believe it, and I don't even think that very often. I don't feel the old pattern of wanting to identify with it out of guilt either, although the pattern still has a shadowy presence. I experience compassion, but not the emotional roller-coaster effect.[/quote:1pboh0jp]

Interesting. Thanks for reporting this, Laurel. This tendency toward being able to experience the whole wide range of affect without having anything stick for very long is one of the great benefits of the practice. Teflon mind.

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8 years 3 months ago #93291 by JLaurelC
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Something else that is missing: phenomena are not empty; I still see everything from a reference point (me). I'm doing, at best, second-gear practice most of the time. Which is fine. I'm just answering Russell's question.

My sits have been unsatisfying (I know better than to say &quot;bad&quot;). I had trouble with sleepiness yesterday and the mind fabricated all sorts of business while I was zoning in and out. This morning I was awake but still distracted. I have been sitting focusing on the breath at the nostrils and getting very little by way of settling down. On the other hand, over the weekend I was dealing with fatigue and depression. It's tempting to attribute this to Dissolution or some such, but I think it was just a classic case of anxious depression with unstructured time, which is a long-standing pattern. Today I'm glad to be back at work. Life goes on. There's a lot of pain in my upper back and neck; unpleasant.
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