NickP's practice notes

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8 years 1 month ago #93415 by NickP
NickP's practice notes was created by NickP
2013-01-13

Sat twice today, first one for 2hrs, untimed. Started off with breath counting, aiming to get some concentration and then switch to vipassana. Out-loud sparse (as in post #4) noting for the first 50mins, then noticing. Mins 30-50 included prompting à la “I wonder what my next thought will be”.

Notes up to min 50 (notation: x means repetition, T means “thoughts”): touching, vibrations, pleasant, coolness, hearing, visuals(x), waves(x), touching(x), tingling, itching(xxx), heartbeat(x), touching(xx), vibrations, tension(x), itching(xxxxxxxx), tension, seeing, tension, flashing(x), tension(xx), focusing, remembering T, energy waves, itching(x), flashing, heartbeat, future T, jerking, anxiety, jerking, timer T, focusing, itching(xxx), imagining T, vibrations(xxx), visuals, neutral, floating, crown tension, energy waves, itching, waves rising, tingling, jerking, floating, reporting T, throbbing, flashing lights, jerking, heartbeat, tension, unpleasant, tension(xx), reporting T, throbbing, tension, practice T, daydreaming, pain, desire to think, breeze(x), tension, speculation, reporting T, pleasant, reporting T, restless, desire to stop noting, throbbing, restless(x), pain, pain dissolving, pleasant, remembering T, itching, posture T, remembering T, visuals, yawning, aversion to throbbing, itching, searching, calm, desire for something to happen, vibrations, itching-unpleasant, vibrations-neutral, restless-unpleasant, energy waves-neutral, floating-pleasant, itching-unpleasant(xx), frustration-unpleasant, calm-neutral, mapping T, practice T, timer T, swaying(x), pleasant, calm, leg going to sleep, back pain-unpleasant, floating-pleasant, noting T, tingling, remembering T, wondering T, engaged, pleasant, remembering T, pleasant, engaged, coolness, stopping swaying, pain, heartbeat, itching, posture T, timer T, itching, planning T, timer T, tingling. [Checked timer.] Anxiety, desire to end, tension(x), pleasant, tension, pain-neutral, tension-pleasant, swaying, reporting T, tension, spacing out, pain-unpleasant, mapping T, heartbeat, timer T, itching, space.

After finishing breath counting, found myself in a weak concentration state, started fast silent noting for a minute, then sparse out loud up to min 50. The primary object was the visual sensations rather than the breath. After some 25-30mins of sitting, I started to experience postural discomfort and started to sway to ease it rather than recognising it and just sitting with it. Only realised that after quite a few minutes, and noted it. That physical discomfort and a foreground mental feeling of unpleasantness was on top of a background mental feeling of calm/OKness. After 45 mins I checked the timer and committed to keep going until 1 hour had elapsed. But then after settling down for 5-10 more mins I experienced a bit of space, then more space (although pretty sure it wasn’t 5th jhana), then something shifted and practice became really easy to sustain and I ended up sitting for 2hrs. Mins 55-100 were just seeing thoughts and feelings unfold, which happened in a very transparent and obvious way. At some point (min 75?) the mind naturally leaned towards bystander noting, which ended up showing me a lot of stuff too subtle to see without. Things like being very happy with my perceptual abilities, and how I was striving to focus on space and get a taste of the immaterial jhanas. The final 20mins were just calm abiding and spacing out.

A humbling lesson for the real-time mapping mind is that whatever stage I was in up to min 50, it wasn’t EQ, although I believed it was before the shift. After this experience of the second hour, I now think I’m closer to my cutting edge.



The second sit was 1 hr, timed, pure concentration practice. The jhanas feel different every time, showing different combinations of markers. 1J was pretty standard, with tension in the 3rd eye area and flashing lights, also with muscle contraction around the neck and a grimace.

In 2J the tension was somewhat more diffuse and intense, with joy more prevalent, the grimace, visual energy waves rising and the tactile sensation of energy crawling in two ways: first upwards from the 3rd eye area to the crown, and then backwards from the 3rd eye area to the throat and then from there to the crown. This is the first time I’ve ever felt any energetic activity in the throat. Also it’s great to know there’s no way I could have scripted this (which I’m always fearing, sometimes justifiably so), I just looked up the chakras in Wikipedia and there seems to be one at the throat, didn’t know that.

3J, the grimace lessened and the visual energy waves started to go downwards. Neutral tingling. Fewer pleasant sensations of floating, very prevalent in the first two jhanas. During this jhana I focused on an itch on my nose and saw it started vibrating. I’m not sure when this jhana ended but between the pleasant sensations felt here and the EQ of 4J, there were quite a few unpleasant sensations including pain, boredom, mind spacing out/wandering away with its corresponding self-loathing when coming back, desire to check the timer, etc.

Eventually 4J arose and all was very peaceful and silent. Energy waves still going downwards sometimes, although most of the time visuals were just diffuse or nonexistent, looked like a partially cloudy moonless night. Very easy to focus on anything, but soon I became bored and started trying to visualise space to get into 5J. That didn’t work out but I ended getting even calmer. After some 25-30mins abiding there the timer went off, but I always get bored in 4J and feel that I should be doing something other than just abiding.
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8 years 1 month ago #93416 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-14

Sat for 15 minutes doing samatha at lunchtime at work, reached a weak version of 1st jhana and surprisingly I didn’t care. I was able to concentrate on the breath and the visual sensations for nearly the whole period and was quite happy about that. I think that ability to focus is a healthier metric than the jhana number or hardness that one gets, but so far hadn’t managed to make my gut understand it. Today it clicked.

After the gym I tried walking meditation to the station, and then from the station home. Was totally focused on the sensations on the soles of my feet, and felt so much as a default, as the monkey mind normally feels. Whenever something distracted me, the mind returned to those sensations on its own. I “sat back” and observed the process completely amazed. It’s been a while since I last experienced it. At some point this thought occurred “tomorrow I’m going to cling to this experience”.

Then came home and sat for 82 minutes, untimed. As soon as I sat started counting breaths and already felt itches arising and becoming masses of tingling and vibration. After finishing the counting there was neutral intense pressure at the temples (which didn’t last long) and pleasant intense tension in the 3rd eye area (which did). Sensations and thoughts were very easy to follow and I just kept practicing with those sensations, really engaged and uplifted, sometimes noting, sometimes just noticing, with very few hindrances. After some 15 minutes the tension subsided and I just felt good for a few minutes, then the hindrances came back, and I was trying to navigate this by noting (a little) and concentrating (more than a little). It felt like all the hindrances came together, there was torpor, dreamlike images and thoughts complete with incoherence, spacing out. Then I spent the last 40-50 minutes in a calm state where noticing was easy again, and sitting was effortless. It felt like I was going deeper as time passed.
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8 years 1 month ago #93417 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-15

Woke up with a lot of energy today, although I hadn’t sleep that many hours, just the usual 7. This energy lasted until about lunchtime, when I had a 15-minute sit at work. In the evening I sat 2×15 minutes with a local vipassana group.

The momentum that was apparent in the previous two days is not that obvious, and didn’t manifest in the sits, although it might be related to the fact they’re so short. In all three sits I was just tired of directing my practice labeling it “samatha” or “vipassana” beforehand, and just let it do their thing. The mind drifted to vipassana in the lunchtime sit and to samatha in both group sits. I’m doing almost no noting, instead mixing anapanasati with choiceless noticing. Or actually not that choiceless, as the visuals are still my main focus.

Had to fight the hindrances a lot today, many timer thoughts, mind drifting off in chains of thought, and more pain than I would expect from such short sits. For half of the time on these sits, itches changed to tingling as soon as focused on, and on one occasion I felt generalised tingling on both forearms (on the same side as the palms) for about 15 seconds. Also some ringing in the ears, slightly different in pitch, intensity and laterality each time I focused on it.

Also did some involuntary practice of “mindfulness of remotely helping grandma fix her computer while my own laptop fan was making very loud noises”. Felt increasingly irritated until both the noise and the mutual incomprehensibility with grandma (effort to avoid bleedthrough) were unbearable for a couple minutes and then something shifted and kindness to grandma was more natural, and the loud noises felt just OK. A couple minutes later I was able to solve grandma’s problem, and the noises calmed down – it seems that my laptop shares my EQ
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8 years 1 month ago #93418 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-16

Thanks for your support.

No lunchtime sitting today, no walking meditation to speak of, it was a bit of a busy day at work. Went to the gym and then sat for an hour at home, untimed. The bit about the gym is relevant because I came back very tired and then torpor/dreaminess was a persistent issue in this sit. Much initial aversion to sitting, just wanted to eat and go to bed. Started counting the breaths, and lots of stories came up about the work day, it was hard to stay focused on the counting. Tried to focus on the visual sensations. Through the sit I felt tingling in random spots in the body. After a few mins trying to bring the mind back after it made up stories nonstop, I started to note aloud and that seemed to work. The noting seemed comprehensive, and when I stopped and returned to bare awareness the stories were fewer and easy to spot. No ñana markers I could perceive, until around half of the sit when a nice calm appeared. Still, there was much restlessness in the calm, and I noted its manifestations: a lot of path T, practice T, reporting T and expecting, more than usual, but also remembering T, planning T and social T which hadn’t been hindering my practice recently. Towards the end I noted a lot of timer T and desire to end the sit. When I finally checked the timer 57 mins had elapsed, and just sat in awareness until 1 hr mark. At some point when things went subtle, I tried bystander noting but that didn’t last long, maybe 2 minutes. Asked “Where is the self looking from?”. Asked “How am I feeling?”, the “answer” I got was a bunch of 10-15 notes competing to fill up the space at the same time. “Thanks, but how am I feeling?” …another bunch of notes. Repeated that a few times. Also at some point I found I didn’t care about getting path. Did some repeated enquiry to find whether I was just deceiving myself. Couldn’t answer conclusively, but the familiar path obsession returned soon enough.
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8 years 1 month ago #93419 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-19

Yesterday was also a bit busy, and I only sat for 15 mins, good sit. Although to be fair I can’t blame the circumstances this time, it was just aversion to sitting.



Today I just sat for 45 mins. Silent noticing with sparse noting. It took a while to settle the mind, as it was constantly chatting about one topic for about 10 mins. Pressure building up in the 3rd eye area, and at one point it _suddenly_ got slightly bigger, much more intense and the narratives stopped almost completely. Visuals: circle on the right of the visual field irradiating energy towards the left. Noticed distractions at play during most of the sit, most of the time in the background, while the noting of those distractions was in the foreground, while noting the sensations that appeared. The real-time mapping mind is still very active, but this time it didn’t pester me with narratives, it was just non-verbally “saying” 3C, DN, EQ. The stages of insight appeared very clearly, and they’ve done so so many times that it’s no longer exciting to label them. After the pressure subsided and pain/restlessness/uncomfortable tingling started to be apparent, the visuals were luminous circles on the center of the visual field escaping forward (as in 3D). After some 25 mins I saw a shift to this expansive calm, but also had great doubt on what to do in this territory. Didn’t know whether to note, to just pay attention, to relax into the moment, or to start asking questions like “who am I”. Didn’t note the doubt, but chose to just pay attention. At min 28 checked the timer and stretched. Sat for 15 more mins, and an itch in one eye mapped to a luminous patch in the visual field. Chased it for a while and enjoyed watching how it escaped. It disappeared, and so did the itch, leaving great calm and some spaciousness.



<What’s below was originally a reply to Rob_Mtl, I lost his original post>

Hi Rob,

you’re pointing right at the missing piece in the puzzle. I try to stay mindful during the day but to be honest when I do that it feels like I’m just being obsessive about meditation, and I back off (i.e. just get embedded), can’t “note my arse off” or at least, not for too long. During most of typical day I’ll be either focusing on a left-brainy problem which requires me to be 100% embedded to solve, or interacting with people. Staying mindful while talking/listening to someone probably looks very weird and I avoid it.

Normally what I do is to be mindful of the sensations on the feet when I’m walking from A to B, of the breath when I’m just sat waiting or in a lift, and sometimes Bahiya meditation even if for a few seconds. On my commute I read, normally either dharma books close to the pragmatic approach, or other people’s practice logs. I tried to meditate in the train a couple times, sometimes with good results, but it’s much more mental effort than sitting at home/lunchtime at work so I don’t normally do it.

All that said, I think my off-cushion practice waaay behind that on-cushion. I will eagerly accept any advice people here might have to improve mindfulness levels because in daily life, because I’m kinda lost on that one.

Mood has been very EQ-like in the last 5 months except for a few week-long lapses. Sits are generally good, but I’m looking for the much needed prop to get to the other side.
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8 years 1 month ago #93420 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-20

Today I had a good chunk of time to devote to practice, and did so for 4 and a half hours: 30 mins walking, then 1hr sitting, then 30 mins walking, then 2hrs sitting, then 30 mins walking, with 5-min breaks in between. Mainly doing silent noticing (50% of time), out-loud noting (20%) and silent noting (20%), the other 10% is anapanasati, bystander noting, and asking tricky questions (who am I? who is this happening to? who feels sensations? who looks out of these eyes?).

Lots of vibratory activity throughout, but the novelty is long gone. The first walk was just settling in, good mindfulness, although with some lapses. The 1-hour sit had some activity and hindrances at the beginning (particularly narratives) but the mind settled and there was much peace for the last 45 mins. Thoughts kept intruding, but were relatively easy to note. In the second walk I was very distracted and I kept making an effort to stay mindful but the mind was hard to tame; did no noting during this walk which in retrospect sounds silly. In the long sit, originally timed for 1 hr, after 50 mins I checked the timer and as I was really engaged, I set it to 2. Much peace and calm, some vibrations, feeling of normalcy, and the usual thoughts about practice, maps, SE and reporting. Noted many of those with bystander noting, which feels spot on for disembedding but is sometimes too verbose (almost like a narrative). Tried to visualise space and got very concentrated, with very few thoughts thereafter. (Maybe because of that, ) towards the end of the 2 hours, boredom was crushing. Noted it, kept noting it, switched to anapanasati and tricky questions, but boredom was boring. Made it to the end in a heroic effort. The last walk felt very ordinary, out-loud noting throughout, repeating the same patterns as before except that I had some papañca on SE at some point, going on for minutes.
<What’s below was originally another reply to Rob_Mtl, and I also lost his original post>
Hi Rob,

I think I’ll try to ramp up my off-cushion mindfulness, because TBH I wasn’t putting much effort in it. I must have subconsciously thought of it as a lost battle and was trying to get SE purely based on on-cushion momentum. I do see my experience changing second-by-second…until mindfulness is trampled by some thought that I don’t resist or even recognise. I’ll try to pay more attention in that area.

Regarding autopilot vs. fully engaged: many times when working on the left-brainy tasks I’m after the experience of flow, as defined by Csikszentmihalyi, which is very rewarding and productive but is the opposite of mindfulness, it’s probably more similar to what you’d refer to as autopilot.

I hear what you say on doubt, and SE not requiring perfection, but right now all sits feel the same and I feel stuck in EQ. I can’t avoid doubt. I can only note it. But AFAIK the only way out is through, so I’ll keep practicing.



Thanks for your advice.
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8 years 1 month ago #93421 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-24
After these posts, WetPaint blocked KFD and I didn’t keep a log for myself. I’ll try to reconstruct what happened in these few days.

So, I tried to ramp up the mindfulness off-cushion a little bit, and it is sometimes easy, sometimes hard. I try to do a combination of things, not just noting, as noting tires me out too fast. I try to notice things as they happen, but in a relaxed way. When I’m in some form of downtime (walking, waiting, etc) I switch techniques liberally to whatever feels better in the moment.

To give an example, today I walked half an hour from work to see some friends, and I thought it was a good time for walking meditation. I can’t really meditate and cross the street at the same time, but I’m not worked up about that anymore, I’m a lot more relaxed, flexible and accepting for these things and that might be a reason why I’m doing more walking meditation than before, as I’m less strict on conditions.



On Monday I was at the gym and tried to be mindful during the whole session, with some success. By the time I went in, real-time-mapping-mind had ruled “dukkha ñanas”, and when I went out it said “high EQ”. (If that was right, then it is) very interesting that one can move through the ñanas so significantly off-cushion (thanks Rob!). I use what the mapping mind said, as a shorthand for the phenomenological description, but hey, it was 3 days ago and I forgot the details What I do remember was that noting everything, fast, was very easy and the mood was very calm.

A couple insights from the gym:

Awareness wasn’t being that choiceless. When I’m doing that technique, it really needs to be choiceless, rather than being “searching” for sensations. As in, it’s not body scanning!
I wasn’t really noticing frustration when things got boring in EQ.



Then I got home and the narrative “I’m going to get SE in the next sit” kicked in big time. Then I sat, having formally resolved do get it (second time I do it, I think). I didn’t get SE but what I did get were very energetic 1st and 2nd jhanas, and then a full-blown A&P event (similar to this post but without the space), the third one since I started practicing. Then the dukkhas were very clear, and by the time I got EQ I was interrupted and had to stop (after 37 minutes sitting).

On Tuesday, I had one 15-min sit, noting, at lunchtime at work, then 2×15-min samatha sits with a local vipassana group.

Yesterday I only sat for 15 minutes, samatha. Reached 3rd jhana, all 3 very energetic.

Today, I one 20-min sit, jhana, at lunchtime at work, reached 3rd jhana, all 3 very energetic. And then this 30-minute walk after work, alternating between attention to the soles of the feet, and relaxed noting/noticing. Attention wandered much more on this one but I was able to get good practice, I think.

I’m observing this fact that since this event on Monday the mind has leaned towards the samatha side (and I’m following it), and also the jhanas have been so energetic and intense, including 3rd which isn’t normally intense for me. Haven’t really reached 4th as I did all short sits since Monday.

I’m a little bit more accepting of the fact that SE will come when it must, but again, this acceptance comes and goes as well. Tomorrow _I_ might want-it-now.
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8 years 1 month ago #93422 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-27

Didn’t practice much on Friday and Saturday, I think the total sitting time was about 12 minutes. On Friday, it was due to a crazy workload in the office. On Saturday, I just let other things take priority.



One thing I hadn’t written about is that lately (last 3 weeks maybe) my mind seems to pick distant memories of places I’ve been to, completely at random, and throws them to the foreground. I don’t know what to make of it so I generally just smile when that happens. Most of the places featured in these memories are places I’ve been to once in my life.



Today, I sat at home for one hour, then walked half an hour and then sat for half an hour, timed.

The first sit pretty much followed the usual sequence, similar to recent days. Good, relaxed, concentrated start, reaching something like a peak in attentiveness, followed by a while when I’m very distracted and get frustrated at this fragility of mind, then calm and openness coupled with very few thoughts and general easiness to spot them and spot mind states. In this state, I still usually find that the odd thought or story falls through the cracks and I bring myself back after 15-60 seconds distracted. It doesn’t bother me when it happens, partly because it doesn’t happen that much, and partly because I tend not to get worked up.

Some differences compared to other sits:

- Persistent fine vibrations in a few fingers of my right hand throughout the sit, and other fine not-so-persistent but easily noticeable elsewhere, including left hand fingers, forearms, face, even the sole of my foot for a few seconds while sitting.

- In the EQ stage, in this sit I noticed that the visual field was bigger and wider than usual. No 3D quality, but it felt bigger.



The walk and second sits were plagued by distractions. If I hadn’t been so calm from the previous sit, I would probably have gotten frustrated, which actually happened for 5 minutes or so during the walk. I noted it.



Off cushion I’m trying to note/notice whenever I remember, but I still feel I suck at it.
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8 years 1 month ago #93423 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-28

How disgusting is grasping onto Stream Entry as another gold star for Me. How boring ends up being, the mind’s response to each new cue about progress, spitting up more grasping thoughts. Seeing them clearly is starting to let go of them.



I have seen this process over and over, its different steps at different times:

Clear seeing leads to progress. Progress manifests itself with cues such as fine vibrations, jhana factors, equanimity and so forth. The mind immediately grasps at them as My attainment. The grasping is observed, and a reaction to the grasping ensues, be it amusement, annoyance or acceptance. That reaction is seen, sometimes prompting another immediate reaction. That reaction is also seen.

I’ve never made it through all these steps in real time. It takes me a while to jump from one step to the next, and the less time it takes, the higher the level of attention. But I’m starting to see the slow but continued improvement in that regard.

Lunchtime sit, 15 minutes, rose to some concentration state and then did some noting and noticing. Pretty distracted throughout, invaded by thoughts about work.

After a very long day I went out of the office frustrated about not being able to manage my own time. But the “me” wasn’t in the frustration, it rather felt that the “me” was watching the frustration. Good start. Did I just say “good start”? Noted.

Then at home I sat for an hour, and the sit didn’t follow the usual pattern. Instead I was calm and engaged from the beginning to the end. Fine vibrations in random places, feet, upper lip, right side of the face. Fine but more intense than usual. Lately, vibrations don’t manifest so much as tactile waves moving through my body (as they did before), but as some persistent electricity that varies in intensity while staying put in one place.

Some periods with wave after wave after wave of shuddering, probably attributable to the cool temperature in the room. The first half an hour was very visual and around minutes 10 to 20 the visual field had a 3D quality, even colours for a couple minutes (light shades of green and blue), while I was sitting I thought it was like watching a movie, but now I say it’s more accurate to say it was like a screensaver. Deep calm throughout the sit. Who wants Stream Entry? What do “I” gain from it? What is it that I’m actually grasping at? Grasping was clearer than usual. Maybe it took me the same time as usual from the grasping to the realisation of it, but it felt clearer, more transparent. Very little timer anxiety, less aversion to anything, even to the grasping mind. That, and pain, and itches, and thoughts on maps and how to report on the sit, were treated with noticeably less (but by no means zero) aversion and more curiosity than before.

PS: There was a point about 40 minutes into the sit, where it was difficult to work out which door a given piece of sensory input came from. Initially, touch was mixed with hearing, and thought was mixed with seeing (smelling and tasting never really came into play), and then all 4 senses were tied together and I had to make a conscious effort to determine what was what.
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8 years 1 month ago #93424 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-01-29

Feeling under the weather today, with a bit of fever, also had a pretty busy day at the office, and the spell isn’t over.

Just sat for 34 minutes, initially timed for an hour but gave up. Energy level is low. Practicing immediately after eating makes the heartbeat sounds infinitely louder. Yet I’m impressed I sat at all, 6 months ago I just didn’t bother if I had a fever. Technique was a couple minutes of breath counting followed by choiceless noting. Nearly invariably unpleasant stuff, featuring itches, pressure on the temples, some pain, sleepines, a bit of spacing out. Many times during the space-out trips, I knew I was supposed to note and was actually focus on one sensation but the note just didn’t materialise, so sometimes I noted “confusion” and sometimes I kept injecting energy until the actual word appeared. Feeling a bit more distant from these sensations than last time I had a sit like this, which was a while ago. And as no noticeable progress through the ñanas this sit, I had an always-welcome break from the mapping/grasping mind. A bit of relief towards the end, where the hindrances ceased for a little while, only to come back later with the same fury.

Feeling tone during the day was pretty calm, and although I’m happy that I don’t feel constricted as in the ol’ days before starting meditation when there’s lots of pressure at work, maybe the body still reacts against the crap and gives in.

Trying to use all the intervals between busy times as opportunities for mindfulness, not using any technique exclusively, but mostly four foundations noticing, a bit of noting, and when feeling like it, Bahiya.
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8 years 1 month ago #93425 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-03

It’s been a while. Mindfulness off-cushion has been absent these days.

I’m starting to think about booking a retreat in Gaia House over Easter. Would be 4 days. My first one was a weekend retreat in December, same place, very happy with it.

I was ill on Wednesday and Thursday, and didn’t meditate.

On Friday I was back to the office, nice calm day so I was able to meditate at lunchtime. 15 minutes as usual. Breath counting then fast noting. I was amazed at the speed I was able to note, nonstop, note after note flowed effortlessly and very fast, energy level was high. Then I didn’t sit in the evening, I got carried away configuring a couple widgets I bought, for hours and hours until I was too tired to sit

Then yesterday I sat for an hour at home. Very difficult sit, having to cope with distractions all the time, the mind was really volatile throughout and I think I never really settled into a productive state. I went from breath counting to jhana (1 or 1–>2, not sure), and from then on story after story after story proliferated. Other hindrances were present as well, pain and torpor in particular. It seemed to last forever.

Today I did 30m sit, then 30m walk, then 1h sit. Again distractions were very prominent, particularly in the first hour. During the 1h sit, I enjoyed a few oases of calm clarity. Technique was changing according to what I judged correct in the moment: silent/out-loud noting, choiceless noticing, and one-pointed concentration (for jhana) were the three techniques I switched. Towards the end of the sit, after a period of noting, I finally saw things opening up where the experience wasn’t irritating. Hindrances still happening, but I wasn’t getting frustrated over that. Remained there until the end of the sit, no further progress to higher EQ. But I guess I can’t complain after 4 days where the total time spent on practice was 50 minutes.
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8 years 1 month ago #93426 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-05

This week is going to be crazier than usual at work. Longer days, as I’m on call, will even work a fair bit during the weekend. Trying to sneak in some sitting here and there but it’s proving a challenge.



Yesterday I set the timer to 30 minutes. A new timer. I ended up sitting for 35 or 40 minutes, as it never went off. I think I’ll revert to the other timer. Same as recently, lots of distractions with a few short times of clarity. I’m doing more formal Four Foundations noting (as opposed to relaxed, sparse noting of whatever arises when it seems worth a note).

The sit followed the same pattern as other recent ones: breath counting, settle into some nice concentrated state, anapanasati at the nostrils, settle into some more intense concentration state, focus on the joy brought by this, it starts getting more intense and soon after lots of hindrances arise, lately a mixture of pain (late in the sit), dreaminess, torpor and narratives. When I realise this, I do noting for one or two minutes until I get enough clarity of mind and the objects become obvious, and noting becomes redundant. Then I stop noting, keep observing, and the hindrances come back. I spend some time embedded in them, then realise I’ve been there and go back to noting. I have no idea what, if any, ñanas I get to traverse in this cycle. It doesn’t feel like I’m having much progress. Energy levels are low, low, low. Noted: aversion to this week’s working hours.

Today I sat 2×15 minutes with the vipassana group. Same pattern, although in the first sit I unexpectedly got to 2nd jhana, pleasant surprise. Basked there for one minute and then the bell rang.

Off-cushion energy levels are also low, but in a less dramatic way. I remember less often to be mindful, but when I do remember it, it flows more naturally and with less effort compared to a couple weeks ago.
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8 years 1 month ago #93427 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-06

Booked a 4-day retreat at Gaia House over Easter
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8 years 1 month ago #93428 by NickP
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2013-02-07

Yesterday, tough day. No sit, no practice. Energy level low. Mindfulness low. Aversion high. Desire for deliverance, if not from suffering, at least from tiredness. Got home from a long long day, had dinner, crashed into bed, fell asleep in 8.2 µs. Slept enough and recovered energies.

Today, woke up with too much energy. Energy level high. Mindfulness low. Yesterday the mind couldn’t grasp at the object, today it overshot it. Tried to keep mindfulness during the day though, with more success than yesterday, although I’m not at my best. No aversion to speak of this time. Very little conventional stress although I was still on call and being pulled to different tasks all the time. At some point in the past it would have left the office drained. Energy level still high, mood OK.

Got home and sat for one hour. Counted 5×10 breaths, then one-pointed anapanasati at the nostrils for 5 minutes until safe into 1st jhana. The jhana’s stability waxed and waned for some 10 minutes, then go to a brief peak of 2nd (maybe 1 minute duration), went to 3rd for 2 or 3 minutes and then gradually lost concentration. Mapping mind said DN, so I started mixing periods of Four Foundations noting (trying to focus on the 3rd foundation – mind states, which is my weak point) with choiceless noticing (when mindfulness was high enough). This DN period, with growing aversion and with desire to end the sit, peek at the timer, move, etc. must have lasted from minutes 25 to 50, and then something shifted and I was OK for the rest of the sit. The shift came about as a result of repeatedly asking the question “who is feeling this aversion?” for a minute or so. Aversion still came but I was able to watch it as just another object. No powerful visuals in the whole of the sit. All shifts in this sit were sudden (access–>1J–>2J–>3J–>DN–>EQ), this has become the norm in the last few months.

Desire to get back a more normal schedule so I can sit more/more regularly.
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8 years 1 month ago #93429 by NickP
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2013-02-09

Yesterday, no sit. Same reason as usual.

Today I sat for an hour. Much sleepiness immediately before and after the sit, but while I was sitting it didn’t appear. Going up in the same way as last time: access–>1J–>2J–>3J–>DN–>EQ, with all the shifts being gradual and average energy much higher. Much clarity to see the sensations. Lapses were much shorter this time, I still didn’t see them in real time but mindfulness was pretty sharp. A few guys were standing near my window, having fun and laughing loudly all the while, and my reaction to it as time passed was a good gauge of where I was. Early in the sit I just powered up my concentration, and in the last half an hour I did more investigation, mainly noticing with a little noting.

A couple memories appeared, coming back from my early childhood, earlier than any others I’ve seen before. Probably just stuff.

Crazy days at work are over. Now it’s going to be more tolerable it seems.
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8 years 1 month ago #93430 by NickP
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2013-02-10

Today I did 30 min sitting, then 30 min walking, then 1 hr sitting.

First sit was oriented to samatha, but ended up seeming like a waste of time. Lots of intruding thoughts and it took forever to get the mind concentrated. Walk was noting all the way up to a space of clarity, then kept noting sparsely. Vibrations abounded. Then the hour-long sit was at that level, with less clarity as to what ñana I was in, but ended up definitely in EQ (probably low).

After so long having a shitty schedule, it seems I’m back on track. I hope I can get some better momentum this time than what I built for my previous retreat in December. The horizon seems clearer this time, and usually after a week or so practicing post-shitty-schedule, the baseline seems to get consistently in EQ (that is, I can work up to EQ in each sit, NOT that I’m in EQ as soon as I sit) and before my practice got derailed I seemed to be able to go to high EQ quite a few times. I’m confident I can get my practice back there.
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8 years 1 month ago #93431 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-13

I’m very happy, I raised my bar. I just had my longest sit ever noting out loud continuously. 45 minutes of which the last 40 were noting out loud. Clear progression through the stages of insight all the way to EQ. And I think the noting has been responsible for much of that clarity. It’s been an hour since the sit, and there’s a vibration in my right temple that doesn’t go away. Mind keeps spewing aversion and tiredness, but that is seen clearly.

Noting requires a lot of effort. It seems it will take a lot of striving to get to the point where it’s effortless, and where it’s my default mode of looking at reality (which I’d like to do at least until SE).

On Monday I sat for 45 minutes in the evening at home. Yesterday I sat 2×15, the first one at lunchtime at work, the second one at the vipassana group. On both days, I found it hard to concentrate, and the mind is invaded by tiredness, dreaminess (not necessarily together) and trains of thought more than a few weeks ago. And when I did get concentrated, the mind leaned towards pure samatha and if I wanted to do any investigation I needed to strive to pull the mind from the default mode of basking in the jhanas.
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8 years 1 month ago #93432 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-16

These days I’ve been working on changing my default method from noticing to noting, out-loud whenever possible. I found that at this stage in my practice, regardless of my energy level, I’m prone to spacing out and thinking long chains of thought if I’m not guarding against it very aggresively. In both noticing and silent noting, I see that the mind spaces out a lot. When I note out loud I can keep continuous mindfulness practically without interruptions. The drawback is that it’s very demanding and draining. If I was free to do a personal retreat where I could do whatever technique I pleased, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to sustain out-loud noting as a technique for 15 hours a day.

On Thursday I sat at lunchtime at work, 15 minutes, doing anapanasati, noticing and silent noting. Then 35 minutes in the evening, originally timed for 45. Started noting out loud, had to continue silently after some 15 minutes because my flatmate came in. The last 20 minutes were spent pretty much in la la land and I gave up in frustration.

Yesterday I sat at lunchtime at work, 15 minutes, noting out loud (actually, whispering). Time flew by. This is one of the big advantages of this way of noting: it’s a lot easier to catch the mind when it gets impatient/bored and thinks about the timer. In the evening, did 60 very productive and mindful minutes where I noted out loud for almost all of the sit. Man was it draining. Mood pretty calm throughout, even though there were some raptures I was observing them with some distance.

Today I sat for 60 minutes, then walked 30, then sat 30. Anapanasati and samatha the first 15 minutes, then mainly out-loud noting for the rest of the first sit, but changing to silent noticing whenever the coarse stuff was obvious, the mind was focused and noting conflicted with the subtle stuff. Overall 50-60% of these last 45 minutes must have been out loud noting. In DN for much of the later part, broke into EQ with 2 minutes left on the timer. Then the walk was pretty much all in EQ, with the same mixture of techniques. During the whole practice today and also in previous days I’ve noticed a pressure in the right temple that shifts, becomes a bunch of vibrations and shifts again into pressure (as I’m typing, 5 hours after practicing, it’s a lot of vibrations that I’m feeling there). During the walk, I kept mindful of that process, which also applied to itches, particularly in the face, itch–>vibration–>itch–>vibration. Had some 5 or 10 minutes in that walk where the sense of “I” was markedly reduced, and the feeling and the noting seemed to be done on their own. Also had a rapture during the walk, that didn’t break the feeling of EQ. At some points the carpet felt extremely irregular under my feet, although it doesn’t feel the same right now. During the last sit, I tried to apply the same mixture of techniques but there was a lot more spacing out and less energy available to note out-loud. A part of it seemed like a waste of time. The timer went off as I was pondering options for dinner. Still felt easier to complete the sits than when I was just doing noticing.

It amuses me how during meditation the mind keeps spewing old memories of all kinds of places I’ve been to, that I had no idea I still remembered. And it doesn’t repeat places
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8 years 1 month ago #93433 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-18

Things are getting better, I think I’m getting nearer my cutting edge.

Yesterday I sat for 22 minutes on the tube in the morning, pure samatha. I just saw I got a seat and didn’t feel like reading so I just closed my eyes and saw what happened. Powerful 1st and 2nd jhanas, and a hint of 3rd by the time I had to get off. The sensation of tension in the 3rd eye area that accompanies the rapture was really strong.

At home in the evening, I sat for 30 minutes. I don’t remember it in detail but it felt like progress, chancing into some flavour of EQ. Had to battle sleepiness and dreaminess, and felt mild vibrations in some spots of the body (like the right outer thigh or the sole of the right foot) that kept coming back in the same places every few minutes.

Today I sat for 15 minutes at lunchtime, noting à la KFD in whispers, things presented themselves easily but I feel the 3rd foundation is my weak spot. There’s this persistent doubt as to whether I’m doing it right. My distribution of notes if probably like: physical sensations 70%, thoughts 20%, vedana 8% and mind states 2%. And if I just went for the mind object taking centre stage in the present moment without inclining the mind in any way, mind states would probably take less than 1%.

A couple hours ago I sat for one hour, noting aloud most of the time but doing a bit of silent noting and silent noticing when things went subtle. No clear progression of insight, but a lot of the sit felt A&P/EQ (wouldn’t take my chances deciding which), very few hints of DN. There were a lot more and stronger vibrations than yesterday. Dreaminess less present. There were a few moments that felt deep in EQ, including a few moments of strong anticipation. It felt like some of the deepers sits around the end of January, but reading my logs from back then I now have a much more consistent practice.

Right now, 2 hours after the sit, the pressure on my right temple is still hanging around, very coarse and shifting endlessly. There’s also something new: the tension (not pressure) between my eyebrows is still there, and if I focus on it it gets really intense. It’s the same kind of tension I feel when in 1st/2nd jhana.

Mindfulness off-cushion is at an all-time high, but I still feel I have a long way to go before it gets decent.
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8 years 1 month ago #93434 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-24

It’s been a while since I posted, but I’ve been meditating every day. Between 45 and 75 minutes each day, split up across 2 to 3 sits.

Pressure at the right temple and a pleasant adrenaline – like node at the third eye area increased in intensity from sit to sit, on Thursday it came to be a feeling like having my head crushed by them. That intense. I just observed the whole process, wondering how far it would get. In the last 2 days, curiosity gave way to aversion to sitting, and yesterday the pressure and the tension node started up mild but I had an itch fest on my face and elsewhere. Managed to sit for the whole hour through that torture, I remembered why they call it courageous effort.

Today it was very mild as far as physical sensations go. Very calm, kinda bored. Vibrations, subtle and otherwise, keep appearing at many spots in the body. Dreaminess and torpor as well.

Yesterday I had a micro – dream during meditation, where I saw myself meditating from behind, and I approached my body to merge with it, and it became transparent / dissolved /disappeared. Weird, entertaining and encouraging stuff. Noted: encouraged by dreaming on anatta.
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8 years 1 month ago #93435 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-25

Just sat for an hour, and this sit felt insightful. I realised that all the time while I meditate, there’s a background thread going on in the mind, monitoring the stuff that comes up, clinging to things it considers progress (like vibrations, as MCTB and many practice threads point out), while shying away from things not considered progress. It’s like an overlay for the default mode of clinging to the pleasant/feeling aversion for the unpleasant. All pleasant, neutral and unpleasant things can be/not be considered progress and this is an additional clinging/aversion factor. This thread is trying to relate every single sensation to the maps. So subtly, so hard to see it’s there at all.

A good part of this hour was spent in an unorthodox, bespoke technique. Finding threads like the one described above, and letting go. Finding craving and aversion for sensations, and letting go. And when I finally let go of the mapping thread which was working on the right temple pressure (which came back with a vengeance, BTW), I allowed myself to feel it fully. And the feeling of it felt so much truer than before. Didn’t get into any kind of concentrated state, just fed the third-eye tension for a few minutes at a time but didn’t break through it.
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8 years 1 month ago #93436 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-02-28

Been sitting consistently lately, I think I’m just emerging from a couple days of Reobs.

I was irritated at everything, on the cushion and off, and even though I kept thinking “this is Reobs, this is Reobs” whenever something annoying appeared (rather, whenever annoyance appeared at an object), it still felt real. Also, it was easy to get carried away (in thought only, not in speech/action) if I forgot for a while that this pattern of reactions is to be expected in Reobs.

Just sat for 45 minutes, energy was high even when it wasn’t at the highest after the work day. A lot of calm at the end, and the energy ran out and I started getting more intermittent in my out-loud noting. During those last 15 minutes, whenever I wasn’t noting aloud, the mind stepped into dreaminess. Didn’t like that.

Also, I’ve struggled with the question “so what else needs to be objectified?”. And the answers given in [url:34mgdnvs]http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4029727[/url:34mgdnvs] and [url:34mgdnvs]http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2472907[/url:34mgdnvs], “the vipassana-izing mind”, “the sensations that make up attention itself” still don’t make sense intuitively. Although I can grasp the concepts, I can’t see how I could perceive them directly or note them.
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8 years 1 month ago #93437 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-05

I’ve kept consistency, as in, I’ve meditated every day for at least 45 minutes. I got a little bit less strict on what I count as meditation though. For instance, on Saturday I guided a meditation for someone else for 45 minutes, and I counted that. It felt like meditation, but nowhere near as concentrated as when I’m doing my own thing. If I do 3×15 minutes, that still counts, but I know that 1×45 is/feels usually much more productive.

With this somewhat flaky discipline, concentration levels have gone down. Haven’t been getting into any clear jhana for the past few days. Have used out-loud noting for a little less than half of the time spent practicing. I’ve seen a lot of off-cushion cycling, identifying the stages clearly: have seen A&P, have seen DN, have seen EQ. On the cushion though, it’s much harder to map, and not much seems to happen.

The mind is way more distracted/distractable these days, and every meditation seems to be an endless and boring repetition of the same notes: the same 5 or 6 physical things, the 3 vedanas, then mind states that don’t seem to be associated with or influenced meditation, and thoughts which are much more mundane, about my daily life. It feels like you could ask a random Joe who doesn’t meditate, ask him to note for a few minutes, and he’ll come with the same notes. Well, except for some physical stuff (pressure in the right temple, the pleasant adrenaline node between the eyes, the vibrations in random places in the body, and the itches that turn vibratory when focused on).

An intuitive insight today from my walking meditation: I’ve seen how much effort I’m putting all the time, to master this whole meditation thing. I need to relax more, and allow stuff to happen. That’s what I did in the next sit 10 minutes later, and I completely spaced out/fell into dreaminess. That begs the question, how to allow more and do less, while keeping alive the effort that prevents sleepiness from setting in. My tentative answer is, catch up on sleep. I’ll do exactly that.
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8 years 1 month ago #93438 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-06

Today practiced 15 minutes at lunchtime in the office, then 45 minutes after work, also in the office. Logistics to sit undisturbed at home are going to be a concern for the next couple of weeks, so I think I’ll do it in the office when I can.

In the second sit, felt a significant shift compared to the recent ones. I felt a lot easier to allow things to happen, and when the mind tried to control, to master, to attain, I just noted it and kept in “allowing mode”. It’s been at least a week since the last one where I felt this. Energy was just high enough to allow that mode to get sustained, the out-loud noting to be continuous (1 note every ~3 seconds, with a few 30-second bursts of >1 note per second). I still noted lots of physical sensations and few mind states, but it felt right, there was no forcing. In the last 15 minutes, energy started to run out and I spaced out, felt dreamy and might have even nodded off. After the sit felt very much “nothing to do, nowhere to go”-like and there was no anxiety in the way of “I’m not perceiving the right stuff, I’m not investigating reality the right way, or as hard as I could”.

Subtly clinging to this state.
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8 years 1 month ago #93439 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-10

Discipline still good, managed never to get below 45 minutes a day, even on hectic days.

Today I practiced for 3 hours, with this schedule:

60 minutes jhana practice, sitting
30 minutes noting, walking
30 minutes noting, sitting
45 minutes noting, walking
20 minutes choiceless noticing, sitting

It feels it’s been so long since I had done formal jhana practice, and I realised how much I’m shying away from it at it seems a waste of time compared to pure insight. I’ve seen so many people saying they landed Path without good concentration, that it feels that the dry approach has its merits.

The jhana practice was very productive though slightly harder to map than usual. Jhanas progressing 1J–>2J?–>???–>4J, as in, no doubts regarding 1J and 4J, but the middle ones were hard to identify by their factors.

During the vipassana practice, I noticed vibrations varying in intensity throughout. Specific spots in the body were vibrating almost all the time, while others had vibrating spots appearing and disappearing. The sense of sight seemed to vibrate also, noticeable during the walking, and the hearing sometimes vibrated but to a lesser extent. Distractability is still relatively high, I think some more jhana practice is in order to stabilise that on a more productive level. Ability to note mind state is still a weak point.
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