NickP's practice notes

  • NickP
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7 years 11 months ago #93515 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Things are stabilising, seemingly where they "should" be at this stage. I think the mood is only swinging according to the quality of the sleep on the previous night, so unrelated to meditation. Sleep As Android comes in handy to figure that out: after paying attention to my general mood of the day, and to the total time spent in deep sleep (as opposed to total time spent sleeping) the night before, there is a pretty consistent relationship between grumpiness/helplessness/negativity, and lack of deep sleep.

On Thursday I sat for 45 minutes, felt a couple energetic markers that would've been EQ in the previous path, said hello to them, and they vanished after a few minutes of paying attention and the meditation continued. Distractable, sleepy, not much happening other than a bright itch here and there. When paid attention to, they start to throb a little (more so if in the face) and slowly vanish. Unremarkable vibrations in the visual field. Boring sit.

Yesterday I could only sneak in 2x15 minutes, one session at lunchtime at work and another one in a bus. Not much to comment.

I just sat for an hour. Checking my log, it's the first time I've sat for this long in 6 weeks.
First 25 minutes: anapanasati. Can't force my attention to be laser focused, but when I pay relaxed attention to the breath it is sustainable. Less distractable, and it now feels that "the watcher" sees the mind as it drifts, but takes some time to react and bring it back. Mildly pleasant.
Next 20 minutes: noting silently. Vedana predominantly neutral. Tension in the visual field. Bright itches in the face, that behaved in the same way as Thursday. A few periods where all was solid (except for tenuous vibrations in a finger, and mild flashing visuals) and nothing happened, kept noting it "touching, softness, [brow] tension, neutral, planning thought, remembering thought, [back] pain", all felt meh.
Final 15 minutes: a bit of out-loud noting, then choiceless awareness. Here, the back pain became more intense and the brow tension became more pleasant and vibratory. Vibrations on the right hand became stronger and more consistent. Still, a lot less intense than in other sessions.
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  • NickP
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7 years 11 months ago #93516 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Interesting stuff going on. In the last couple days I've seen myself less and more distracted during meditation -- at the same tim. There's like two of me there, one meditating, the other observing the meditator. The guy who meditates gets distracted and comes back, and gets interested in energetic stuff and the maps and stages and comparisons between first and second path. The guy observing the meditator isn't observing the meditator from outside, it also feels inside the fictitious barrier between "me" and "the world". But that guy is less distractable (but still not perfect) sends metta to the other guy, does most of the noting and feels at ease. This is not a technique that I'm doing, it's rather something that I see happening naturally. Doesn't feel mystical or anything, just a little fascinating. Off the cushion my mood is pretty normal, lowish if anything, and tired.
As far as stages go, I could be anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes nothing happens and it's solid, sometimes nothing happens and it's vibratory, sometimes I feel like I could spend hours sitting, sometimes I just want to get up and feel like I'm not meditating and I've got no momentum, sometimes I get intense itches and when I focus on them sometimes they start vibrating and sometimes they fade, sometimes I'll feel a bubble inflating beneath my crown, sometimes I'll feel coarse vibrations at the brow, sometimes buzzing at the crown. And a random selection from that list seems to happen in each sit in no particular order. This has messed up with my previous notions of cutting edge and centre of gravity, big time. Can I be back in Review after more than a month of being past it? It doesn't really feel like review, and I'm getting no fruitions. In Review A and B the patterns were clearer than this. At the same time, I don't care and know it will sort itself out.
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  • Russell
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7 years 11 months ago #93517 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Welcome to the knowlegde of confusion <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> it only seems to make sense in retrospect at certain points. Just keep on, keeping on and it will sort itself out.
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  • NickP
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7 years 11 months ago #93518 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Sa?mohañana for the win!

In the last couple days I've been meditating for 30 minutes each, and got nowhere. This is, got somewhere nice in the first 10 minutes, then spent the rest of the sit between dreamland (been very tired lately, due to mundane reasons more than to practice) and embeddedness in thoughts.

Today I sat for 30 minutes as well and had a textbook climb through the arc up to Low EQ, as judged using the markers I used pre-path. Another data point to add to the confusion.
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  • NickP
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7 years 11 months ago #93519 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Sat for an hour today, and went up the arc to Low EQ in the same textbook fashion for the first 35 minutes or so. Things don't vibrate a lot these days, and today wasn't an exception. At this point I changed my technique (choiceless awareness) to noting, so as to avoid the equanimity trap when all feels fine but nothing happens. After a few minutes things got more vibratory and peace deepened, and then the visual field became bigger and had an experience for 2 or 3 minutes that reminded me of what the entrance to a fruition felt like, only without the clarity and fireflies, but with much peace and felt &quot;synchronicity&quot; (can't find any better word). For the rest of the sit things remained EQ-like, more vibratory, and I felt more alert. Intense persistent vibrations at the brow, the most persistent they've been since SE.

Not a path, BTW.
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  • NickP
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7 years 10 months ago #93520 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Just to give an update, what these days are like is much fruit and little path. Meditating very little, skipping days, losing motivation, and having an abnormally crazy pace of life off the cushion. I'm really enjoying the fruit in the form of peace and wellbeing through the madness. At some later point I'm sure the insight disease will come and knock my door.
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  • NickP
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7 years 10 months ago #93521 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
The fruit is growing less, and in real life it feels like I'm dark nighting again. Or not. Motivation is lacking, and my sitting is intermittent, maybe one day I'll sit for 2x15, then skip two days, then 1x30, then skip one, and so on. Life getting more exciting off the cushion in conventional terms, as nice as it is, is taking its toll on practice. And I'm starting to realise that there's still much suffering left, while the focus on whatever suffering disappeared two months ago is starting to fade. Thus, I'm starting to care more about my practice, and the gap between the hours I'd like to practice and the hours I get to sit is growing.

Today I sat for one hour. Got very quickly somewhere jhanic or rapturous and stayed there for an unusually long while. No desire to map my experience to X jhana or Y ñana, and during the first 40 minutes I was just calm and content in my rapture, while still gently investigating my experience. Any attempt to do noting would lose its fuel within one minute, it's just utterly unsustainable. The technique ended up being no technique and all of them. The mind is malleable, attention wanders, comes back, there's sometimes a Witness looking at the movement of attention and sometimes there's just embeddedness, sometimes &quot;I&quot; am OK to have a mind that comes and goes and sometimes I'm not, making no effort and just sitting there contemplating feels like the right thing to do now. For the last 20 minutes I was restless and looking forward to the end of the sit, but that's also OK and part of the game.

There's a sense of guilt behind this guy just sitting and observing. This guy feels like that's a technique reserved for when one's further along the path, whereas now one should note and note and go up the arc and map the stages (in order to optimise the technique for that stage) and eventually reach another Fruition.
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  • Russell
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7 years 10 months ago #93522 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Go with your gut. Just sitting and observing is straight up vipassana just like noting. Nothing wrong with that.
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  • NickP
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7 years 10 months ago #93523 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Thanks Russell, my gut is happy to get some validation.

Just sat for 45 minutes. This time I got to what seemed more like a textbook climb up the arc to Low EQ, mapped at regular intervals by a background thread in the mind. It's amazing how the view and approach changes even from one day to the next. After getting to Low EQ, some 25 minutes into the sit, I pushed on in the same way that had got me unstuck from it in the previous path. I didn't notice any of the energetic markers of the previous path's high EQ, but the visuals started to flicker much faster and at some point I got to something that reminded me of a Fruition, with an entrance with the mind &quot;locked&quot; onto the sensations, the feeling that it isn't really me moving the attention around but rather that it does so on its own, the exit with eye flickers and dropped striving. No discontinuities, and I don't really think it was the real thing, but it's cool to be having near misses like this so soon after getting back just a little bit of motivation. Like this path has a better ROI <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->
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  • Dan G
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7 years 10 months ago #93524 by Dan G
Replied by Dan G on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Hi Nick,

Would you be willing to share/summarize what got you unstuck from the previous path? I believe that you have referenced this before but don't remember reading what changes you made.
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  • NickP
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7 years 10 months ago #93525 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Relaxing the grip on looking for results, and channeling that effort onto my investigation.

Basically the flaw I had in Low EQ which got me stuck for a few months was that at that point my meditation was heavy on mapping thoughts, on thinking that the technique was wrong or that I wasn't doing it right at that stage. Also, I had found it so easy to space out and just float about in that cloud of OK-ness that the investigation often lost fuel fast in the face of added effort. The energy I needed to maintain the acuity in my investigation through Low EQ only became available when I consciously stopped worrying about technique and results.
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  • NickP
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7 years 10 months ago #93526 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Being tired so often isn't a good recipe for progress in meditation. One of the five controlling faculties is sorely missing and I need to figure out my sleep schedule for real.

Feeling pretty unenlightened and often feeling down for no reason, and on the cushion it feels like I can only muster enough energy to keep mindfulness for the first 10 minutes before I start daydreaming and even nodding off.

Just sat for 45 minutes. This time I was well rested so keeping mindfulness was less of a struggle, having one fewer problem to battle with. Nice warmth around the brow after the first few minutes. Good periods of like five minutes of trance-like &quot;pleasure&quot;, once having no thoughts arising, once feeling like perfectly mindful and seeing every single thought arising in an obvious way, once feeling disconnected from my senses and body. Noting still loses its fuel fast but I didn't find aversion to it this time, it just drops. Towards the end, I felt peaceful, more &quot;integrating&quot; and with subtle vibrations at the brow superimposed with the pleasant tension that was there from the beginning of the sit. And feeling aconstant, inconspicuous tension at the crown that went away as soon as I ended the sit. Big tendency throughout, to pay attention to the visual field.
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  • NickP
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7 years 10 months ago #93527 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
These days sits fall into one of two categories. In some cases I start with shit energy and spend the first 10 minutes in some pre-jhanic bliss and the rest of the sit going back and forth between being embedded in daydreaming and paying some attention to the process of daydreaming. In some other cases I start with good energy, spend the first 10 minutes in some pre-jhanic bliss and the rest of the sit going back and forth between paying attention to the breath and paying attention to the sensate field, going up the arc up to some form of equanimity without actively mapping the climb in real time. Feeling that there is progress but at the same time feeling stuck or trapped by having a very unclear cutting edge.
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  • NickP
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7 years 9 months ago #93528 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
It's been a while. These days my sits are pretty uneventful, and I've even had problems keeping to a daily practice. Last week I even skipped 3 days in a row. Overall, until this last week, I was meditating around 80% of the days.
This last Monday I had a session with Ron, a bit overdue since my practice felt like losing momentum fast. He advised me, unsurprisingly, to get back to a daily practice of at least half an hour a day. He also told me to get back to the noting technique rather than just dwelling in awareness or going back and forth between dwelling peacefully and being lost in thought. Mapping-wise, he told me I've probably been going through a late phase of Review B in the last couple of months, and now things are just calming down and becoming uneventful as I settle into the early ñanas of the 2nd path.
This week I kept a daily practice of half an hour a day, except yesterday, which I &quot;made up&quot; with a 1-hour sit just now. Not many things going on, phenomena are muffled, or mild. Some fine mild vibrations at the fingers and some flashing in the visual field. These days, briefly seeing full, detailed random images of things (objects, faces, memories) is becoming common, something that only started happening a couple weeks ago. Towards the end of the sit I had something I'd call an &quot;unusual rapture&quot; in which the area surrounding my eyes felt quite warm and I visually and &quot;energetically&quot; felt like the top of my head was very wide. Part of it reminded me of a fruition entrance, but not quite so. Strange stuff, not paying much heed to it.
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  • NickP
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7 years 9 months ago #93529 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Still struggling to &quot;take off&quot;. So far I've managed to sit almost every day for at least half an hour but sits are boring and I feel like I'm getting nowhere. They come in three kinds: low energy, high energy concentration and high energy insight.
Low energy means I tend to get nowhere, just very distracted with occasional episodes of good attention.
High energy concentration means I get somewhere jhanic and stay there. It's nice, but I haven't gotten anywhere near the breathtaking, world-paralyzing laser-pointed jhanas I used to get into.
High energy insight means I can note steadily for the duration of the sit at one note every 2 or 3 seconds (any faster and I end up exhausted and stopping the noting early), but what I note is often boring. When I get into a groove while noting it becomes self-sustaining for a short while but usually it is an exercise that consumes quite a bit of energy. Things don't feel vibratory or expansive or painful, just dull.
The motivation to practice is quite low, my mood feels very normal, more stable than I've been in a while, and I feel stuck. My need for sleep and the quality of it have both stabilised as well at quite normal levels. It is as if I lost my track and am not sure how to get to the next stage (A&amp;P if I got my map right), or if it will appear out of the blue just by keeping to this sloppy practice. The amount of energy seems to dictate the overall mood of the day, and that is usually determined by how much I slept the night before.
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  • Russell
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7 years 9 months ago #93530 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
More details other than dull can help. What phenomenon are you noting when you are noting?
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  • NickP
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7 years 9 months ago #93531 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
I usually note physical sensations, they seem to be the only obvious things. Some flashing in the visual field, fine vibrations in the tips of the fingers, some mild throbbing here and there, some pressure at the right temple, some pleasant tension at the brow, nothing very intense. Thoughts often slip past me these days, but when I catch them it's more of the usual stuff, planning, remembering, daydreaming, etc. Vedanas and feelings are far from the foregroud of attention.
From what I saw in the last couple of weeks, I do get &quot;somewhere&quot; when I sit continuously for half an hour. During the week that's all I can afford to sit, maybe on some weekends I'll have a whole hour to spare. So far I have been doing mostly 15+15 minutes per day and even sometimes skipping whole days but I realised that's not going to get me anywhere. I need to try and sit for 30 straight minutes every day. When I do that, after 20 minutes or so my attention will go to a visual feature and when I get a glimpse of that I'll land in a sudden almost-too-pleasant one-pointed rapture with the attention centered in the visual field and the pleasure centered in the brow that lasts 2 or 3 minutes and vanishes gradually. At the same time I kind of become a detached observer of that rapture. That seems like &quot;somewhere&quot;, so let's see what it becomes when I get to a better daily discipline.
At some level, I'm kind of disappointed that I seem to have lost my ability to get into jhana.
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  • NickP
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7 years 9 months ago #93532 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
These days I'm not settling for 15-minute sessions anymore, they are a waste of time at this stage. It's either 30+-minute sessions or skip the day. The technique is counting breaths 5x10 times and then noting. If energy is low, then I still try to note as best as I can, though I'll lose track or start to nod off at some point. Not doing jhana practice either.
And things are starting to change. I'm getting earlier and more intense raptures, apparent both in the mind and the body. In the mind, because it's a bit easier to stay focused on them. In the body, because now I feel strong pressure on both temples while I'm in that state. And the overall mood during the day, comparing at equal levels of energy, is noticeably better than a few weeks ago. Noting is getting a bit easier, I have a bit less aversion to sitting, feel less of an urgency to check the timer, and I'm again starting to prioritise meditation compared to other stuff (a bit).
Today I meditated for half an hour and then went to the gym. While I was lifting some weights in an exercise that usually makes me suffer a great deal, it dawned on me: I so happen to not suffer as much if I concentrate in the present moment while I do it, on the present repetition. That, rather than worrying about how many reps I've got left. And then it was effortless for a while, and I kind of understood what some people over here meant when they said they were trapped in the present moment. It's a nice place to be in. Then that eventually vanished and I went back to the usual dukkha mode.
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  • NickP
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7 years 7 months ago #93533 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
I took a break from meditation for around a month, and have restarted about a week ago. I've had some visits at my place and have gone on vacations too, all the while enjoying little privacy and having a tighter schedule than usual.
Motivation to practice is low, but then all is fine when I sit, given enough energy. So far I haven't figured how to make a productive when I'm sleepy, but at least it helps me get to sleep faster and more relaxed. Unlike my pre-path (or pre-break?) experience, meditation appears to have no influence on my attitude or worldview, and probably that doesn't do a lot for motivation.
Today I sat for half an hour and it felt like progressing through the ñanas up to Fear. Their phenomenology is similar to before the break, but without the pressure at the temples, with some more pleasant tension at the brow, and less vibratory.
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  • NickP
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7 years 6 months ago #93534 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
I wonder how to get the old motivation back if there's so much that is good about life. There's this nagging feeling that what needs to be done isn't done by any measure, yet, its intensity stays below the level I'd feel as &quot;suffering&quot;.
The remaining dukkha I see is in the form of my automated behaviours. I carry on doing things that don't bring peace, and the flow of thoughts or actions isn't interrupted by a moment of mindfulness and clarity to cut the toxic chain. But still, it doesn't feel bad enough as to do something.

That must be why I've been meditating so little lately. Around half an hour once a week. And no matter how little I meditate, once I start doing it piti &amp; sukha come fairly fast. And then the lack of practice shows, and the focus on the present moment diminishes, replaced by distractions more and more as the session goes on.
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