NickP's practice notes

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8 years 1 month ago #93440 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-11

Today I had a sit that blew my mind, one with the heart racing and the mind anticipating a path moment (jumping the gun). It’s been a while since I had a sit like that. It’s funny, but it happened after I understood that noting is not THE way to go (as I induced from here), it’s just one practice with its merits but one that needs to be used when it’s appropriate, rather than always. In the last month I tried to use noting almost exclusively, with poor results: feeling farther than before from SE, getting fewer sits where progression through ñanas is clear, getting poorer concentration, etc.

I’m confused about the merits of noting when it doesn’t feel right. And I’m confused about which is a better marker of progress: an hour where I’m able to note (or follow the breath, or whatever) nonstop, or an hour during which I see a clear progressions through the ñanas and finish the sit seeing everything vibrate, lapses notwithstanding. I’ve heard arguments for both of them, and my intuition says that the latter is more reliable. But it might be scripting.

After giving up noting as “the” technique, and only using it when it feels right, I think I can progress faster. Maybe spending some more time noting on average than before post #1214, but not nearly as much as after it.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93441 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-11 reply from JLaurelC

Okay, NickP, I am going to answer you. The first thing I’m going to say is that your diligence and perseverance with the practice is absolutely amazing. I remember myself from my own SE days and the seeker was on all the time, in high gear. You are doing exactly what one does. The ups and downs are all there. You are working your little heart out with the noting. I would suggest that you could, at the point where phenomena are just arising and passing with amazing rapidity, or the vibrations are happening, just sit back and watch. SE may come if you’re a little “lazier”–meaning, pushing yourself not so hard. If noting doesn’t feel right, for example, then try not doing it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’ll have just sat there for an hour. It’s not the end of the world. Or else maybe the practice will just take over and you can let it do itself.

A more advanced yogi than I once told me not to be too concerned about sleepiness. When you’re first starting out, trying to get a practice going, it’s just plain torpor, and you need to find ways of combating it to get into the game. But once you’ve been doing the kind of quality work you’re doing, going under here and there and then re-emerging is fine. I do it all the time. Sometimes I push myself a bit to get out, but it’s better if I just let go. Sooner or later I resurface. If I’m really tired, then I need the sleep. If my energy is too low for the level of concentration I’m getting, then what I need to do is some energetic practice, like qi gong, to get it revved up. I had my acupuncturist work on me after I got back from a brief retreat in which I was sleepy a lot of the time. Low energy responds to diet and exercise and all that good stuff.

I hope this helps. SE has a way of sneaking up on you, so give yourself over to the process and let it happen. As for memories of the past: that happened to me too; I’d get flashbacks to weird times in my life that I hadn’t thought of in years. It’s interesting to see what the mind comes up with. All the best to you.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93442 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-11 reply from JLaurelC

I skimmed your last post too quickly about the noting–it seems you’ve arrived at that conclusion yourself. I second that emotion.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93443 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-13

Thanks for the encouragement. Much appreciated.

Just sat for 15minutes, lunchtime at work. Clear progression through the ñanas up to dissolution, might have gotten all the way up but unclear. Insight of the sit: around the last couple minutes I realised that I have a subtle fear of SE. Time to let go of it.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93444 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
2013-03-13, later

Since I gave up noting as the foremost technique, I’m finding it easier to stay mindful off the cushion. I also have less need for sleep, higher energy overall, and no aversion to sitting, whereas before it felt more like a chore (not too much, but noticeably so). Consequently, sits have been longer, now I set the timer for 60 minutes instead of 45 if life affords. Sits are less dominated by physical sensations and progress through the ñanas is a bit clear, though it used to be clearer at some point in the past.

Just sat for an hour. Very little impatience, or desire to check the timer, until the last few minutes. Progress through the ñanas clear up to reobs, reached around 20 minutes into the sit, and I think that ñana was the cutting edge of the sit. The last half an hour was dominated by anticipation, with the heart thumping badly all the while. Not particularly fast, but very strongly. This got annoying and scary soon enough, and I started to feel strong aversion to it. I tried to accept, let go, see it clearly and make friends with this sensation but to no avail. The aversion was there all the time. Time to accept that I can’t just decide to let go, and expect the mind to comply with my will. To give this process more time to unfold, until EQ arrives without any special fanfare or expectations. Things got very vibratory early in the sit and never stopped, particularly my whole right hand and forearm, and my right foot. Those were vibrating all the time, while other spots vibrated on and off. No noticeable vibrations in other sense doors. During the last half an hour, I got distracted with increasingly longer trains of thought during which I wasn’t mindful.

I still consider it a good sit, and I like the current momentum better than anything I had last week.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93445 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Mindfulness off-cushion is taking off. Not linearly, it seems, but on average it's getting better and better. And the ability to see mind states is getting better as well. The noting vocabulary is expanding and subtler mind states are seen clearly. But only a small part of the time. Since the shift a week ago my faith that Path can be attained is renewed. Sitting has been easier and I'm more motivated.
On the cushion, I think I'm back at my cutting edge, seemingly hitting the Equanimity trap again, as in last December when I was at my best. Today I practiced for 4 and a half hours, getting to EQ and staying there for most of the time, seeing sensations clearly, noting physical sensations, vedana, thoughts and (newly) mind states accurately. Then less and less happens, all the physical sensations calm down and get boring and repetitive, vedana gets neutral/slightly pleasant, the predominant mind state is an immovable calm, and thoughts also calm down. Then I note the subtlest of mind states (as in level 7 here: [url:2d82sm36]http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1982081[/url:2d82sm36]), try to identify what else can be let go of, and allow consciousness to identify the source of the investigating mind. All the while, trying not to space out or think totally random thoughts, as this stage is so slippery.
Noting impatience, desire for Path, acceptance, calm, investigation, theorising, spacing out, accepting, fantasizing, faith. And looking forward to my upcoming retreat in Easter.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93446 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
I don't know if I found THE thing that's wrong in my practice, but I found one thing that was wrong. I wasn't giving continuity of attention the importance it deserves. It dawned on me yesterday, reading Tarin's advice ([url:1okwe1op]http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2468036#_19_message_2468896[/url:1okwe1op]) for equanimity. I don't know why I ignored the previous 100 times I had read about it, but anyway.
Giving importance to continuity of attention rather than specific techniques, allowed me to follow a simple protocol to decide what technique to use. The technique of choice is silent noticing. If that's not enough to maintain continuous attention (due to tiredness, spacing out, persistent thoughts, DN or whatever), then switch to silent noting. If that's still not enough, then out loud noting. The chosen order is like that because, if I can manage it, noticing allows subtler sensations to be identified. This protocol makes complete sense to me, and in my practice today I saw myself switching between noticing and noting automatically, adjusting to the energy level of the stage.
Off the cushion, this allows me to be more aware of stuff. I continue to increase the proportion of time I'm aware of the present during the day.
A couple hours ago, I sat for 45 minutes in the office after work. I was very tired after the whole day and had doubts on whether I'd just fall asleep. So I started noting silently but aggressively to ward off the torpor. Felt very engaged, climbed through the stages, all of them mild but still recognisable. After hanging out in deep calm for some 10 minutes, but without letting myself space out, I found myself back at A&P in an instant. Immediately after that instant, some 10 bliss waves passed over me, going up my spine, maybe one every 3 or 5 seconds. No noticeable discontinuity. Afterwards, I went home and felt empathy for many people around me, on the tube and on the street. Even for the drunk girl who was dancing noisily in the carriage, and for the old lady full of plastic surgeries who was looking down at her. Nothing bothers me now, not even my bad habits. I wouldn't mind staying in this state for a long while.
This bears a suspicious resemblance to an experience I had on my last retreat ([url:1okwe1op]http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3777616#_19_message_3777616[/url:1okwe1op]). If I hadn't seen it before, I'd be tempted to wait and see if it was Path. So I won't slack off as I did last time.

<unproductive rambling>
I'm a bit confused about the theory (but not bothered about this confusion, nothing bothers me now), and how it doesn't fit with this experience. Supposedly, the only way to instantly go from EQ to A&P is via a fruition. So, if this experience wasn't Path, the only way for it to fit the theory is that I got Path at some point in the past and never noticed. Or that I'm terrible at mapping. But I'm pretty sure about both the EQ and A&P diagnosis. So, neither explanation satisfies.
</unproductive rambling>
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93447 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Didn't have much continuous time to sit today. 10 minutes at lunchtime in the midst of much turmoil (and consequent mental agitation) in the office and my personal life. Then 20 minutes at the local vipassana group, guided. And 10 minutes on the tube.
Not much to say about progress of insight, but a few reflections on the day:
- Off the cushion, it is very easy to become aware of stuff but it has been hard to keep continuous attention. I haven't found much motivation to do so, but perception seems a little bit more direct than usual.
- On the cushion, a few seconds (maybe 30) after I sit I notice warm energy in my visual field and third eye area. The pressure at the right temple is moving quite a bit.
- Energy levels are normal, I'm coping surprisingly well with fewer hours of sleep.
- Quite a bit of turbulence in my personal life. I'm making efforts, and actually having some success, at getting this situation to be my teacher. But this is a reminder that if sila land isn't peaceful, samadhi and pañña take a hit.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93448 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Continuity of attention now seems like a no-brainer. Still, maintaining it is pretty hard throughout the day and largely depends on the energy level. That, in the last couple of days has been pretty low, I haven't slept well, God knows why. Not wanting to bring the maps to explain it. On the other hand, I get to remember to be mindful at a lot of moments when I'm not doing a brainy task. Just that it's not continuous. And when I have (say) 10 continuous minutes of downtime, like walking on the street, there's no way I can keep attention continuously. I give my best though.

Just sat for an hour. Not much happening at the beginning. Little in the realm of sensations, real time mapping mind at full steam, and random thoughts about the day, the news, and various weirdnesses happening. After the first 10-15 minutes, thoughts are either seen clearly or zoom by as proto-thoughts without getting fully formed. Early ñanas unrecognisable, lasting some 10 minutes. A&P mild, lasting some 5 minutes. Dark night mild, lasting some other 10 minutes. Low EQ then set in. Pretty much continuous attention, few and short lapses. One weird thing I noticed about A&P/DN/low EQ this time, is that the physical sensations were the same, only the way they were perceived changed. During DN, there was a moderate desire to end the sit early. Spent most of this half of the sit doing noting.
From the point of Low EQ: got there while still feeling the ugly sensations of the DN, but the desire to get up was gone and I instead found a desire to concentrate deeper. Soon thereafter, most physical sensations of pressure at the temples (mild this time), around the eyes and third eye (not so mild) and visuals disappeared, and I was left there with deep calm and nothing to note. Then I dropped the noting and just sat in awareness, ramping up attention to prevent boredom from setting in. After a couple minutes I noticed that the verbal brain was gradually shutting down, and soon verbal thoughts - or notes - didn't appear at all. Great contentment. A few more minutes spent in awareness, and noticed that my whole pelvic area was buzzing continuously, maybe in an area covering a 20cm circle centered down there. The areas where I had previously felt pressure were now buzzing too, and the visual field was covered entirely with a light strobing in a variable and very high frequency. The fingers, which I normally feel vibrating the most, had only mild vibrations going on.
The feeling was like I could feel all the vibrations at the same time, no sensation of having the mind "travelling" from the pelvis to the head, to the visual field as it usually feels. This was certainly pleasurable, and the next thing that happened was that a "bubble" started to form beneath the crown area and grow and grow exerting pressure from within. The pressure became pretty intense, and soon a feeling of anticipation kicked in and the heart rhythm increased massively. The heartbeat became so strong that it disturbed the process. I found myself trying to get back to the previous point but it was gone. Also, I realised I was expecting to feel frustrated about the setback, but didn't really feel like that, I was rather grateful and engaged, though not so mindful. I spent the last 10 minutes of the session "just sitting", without attempting any technique and allowing myself to wander between mindfulness and spacing out.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93449 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Sat for 65 minutes tonight, at home, after going to the gym. I normally don't need to fight any strong pains during meditation, so this time it took me by surprise and derailed the sit. I kept worrying that the pain I was feeling in my hip was a combination of posture and the recent exercise, and got worried about making it worse if I stayed in that position for long. So I kept changing positions every 5 minutes or so, making every effort not to lose continuity of attention through the changes. I still think I might have hurt myself if I hadn't done so, so I don't regret it.
I still saw progress through the stages of insight, all of them mild. When I felt the transition to low EQ, around 50 minutes in, I decided to stand up for the rest of the session. The soles of the feet in contact with the floor started vibrating continuously shortly thereafter, and kept doing so until the end. Time passed incredibly fast.

One note about time: I think I shifted my attitude towards the timer in meditation shortly after dropping doing exclusively noting. Whereas before my measure of success was "do noting for X minutes i.e. until the timer goes off", which many times got me struggling to finish and usually checking the timer earlier, now the measure is "get to my cutting edge and push it forward before the timer goes off" which inverts the role of the timer. Now time passes fast almost always.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93450 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
In the last few days, practiced the bare minimum (45 minutes sitting each day) and felt like backsliding. Little motivation to sit, and I can't concentrate well. Mind turns towards samatha when given a choice. When I sit, very soon a very strong tension in the third eye area is felt, and it gets stronger for some 5 minutes before my attention starts to wander and I need to get it back endlessly. Right now, that tension is there, and I last sat 8 hours ago.

Resolving to miss my next two gym sessions to use the time to gather momentum in my practice, so I can be better prepared to make significant progress in my upcoming retreat. Unfortunately I don't have enough time to do both gym and >1hr meditation, so I'll aim for 3 hours each day I miss a gym session.
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8 years 1 month ago #93451 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Came home early and practiced for 2 and a half hours. 1 hour sitting, 45 minutes walking, 45 minutes sitting.

Continuity of attention has improved compared to the last few times I practiced for a long time. The whole practice became really energy-driven. I sat and within the first 10 breaths I started feeling tension/an adrenaline knot in the third eye area, which only got stronger as time passed. I changed to that as my primary object as soon as I was done counting breaths. Started noting but dropped it soon, and a few minutes later I felt dipping into some indeterminate jhana, with verbal thought suppressed. Spaced out a few times, but it wasn't much of a trouble. I didn't see the stages passing by clearly.
After some half an hour I felt much calmer and sensations were easier to pick out, easier to stay with, and the tension was as high as always. Certain spots in the body started to get more and more vibratory. They would vibrate for some 5 seconds, then stop. As time went by, those spots spent a larger proportion of the time vibrating, but always in that pattern. Same intensity on each repetition. Quite a few little insights as well, into the pattern of my reactions to stuff.
In the walk, spent the whole time focused on the sensations in the third eye area, which only got stronger during that part. The quality of experience was dominated by touch (that tension) and thoughts, and slightly less by mind states. Sight and hearing were completely in the background. Thoughts came up very slowly, and thus were very easy to note. At this point spacing out and trains of thought didn't last for longer than a few seconds, and weren't appealing. There was a lot of craving for Stream Entry, which I noted repeatedly and saw waxing and waning. I also saw that the tension in the third eye area was being met sometimes with clinging (as a progress marker) and sometimes with aversion (when it got too strong) so I relaxed and let it ebb and flow as it would, and spent a while observing passively without trying to control it, "fascination" I noted at some point, at how it changed in intensity without my involvement. Mini insights kept coming in, little aha moments one every 5 or 10 minutes.
In the last sit, things started off very vibratory, particularly visuals, and the same spots in the body that had been vibrating before. At some point some tingles generalised in the lower part of the body. This sit was complicated, I kept applying too loose a technique (open noticing) as I started to space out. Roughly I spent half of the sit lost in thought and la la land. In hindsight I think I should have noted earlier on. The last 5 minutes I noted out loud and felt engaged again, but then the bell rang and I called it a day.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93452 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Sat for an hour today, high energy to begin with. Felt like I was in Equanimity from the beginning. No strong tensions in the third eye area this time. No discernible markers of either the A&P or DN, but many vibrations all throughout the sit which became more pervasive. Not more intense. Rather, intensity would increase and decrease. It began in my big toe, then expanded to my arms, then pretty much everything was vibrating. The visual field was vibrating. A ringing in my ear was modulated by a vibration. I don't know how a thought could vibrate, but if it could, it would have been vibrating as well. As the sit went on, I noticed a pattern of coarse vibrations and fine ones superimposed, and both were increasing and decreasing in intensity out of phase.
Again, too much excitement and anticipation by the middle of the sit, which stayed until the end, and trumped mindfulness. Couldn't bring acceptance to this feeling of anticipation. Couldn't make it go away. I presume neither of those are the right thing to do with this feeling, and the right thing is gradually learn from it so it just doesn't arise or it does with an intensity that doesn't derail the practice.

After that, had my first session with Ron. We went over the noting technique, and he also gave me some advice for problems like the above, and for my upcoming retreat. To prevent the feeling of anticipation from derailing the practice, generate metta in the first 10 minutes of the session. Metta while the anticipation is being experienced, is also useful (OTOH, that would entail turning the back to vipassana when big things feel really close).
On retreat, to keep energy going and prevent spacing out as a result of overexertion, he suggested I do 20 minutes of concentration every 60 minutes of vipassana. I'll give it a try and see how it goes.
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  • Dan G
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8 years 1 month ago #93453 by Dan G
Replied by Dan G on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Nice work Nick. You heading on retreat soon? You doing a 10-day? Seems like a good time. The third eye area is interesting. I have experienced it coming and going as well. I appreciate you posting about your practice, as I find it of great benefit. May you have much success on your retreat!
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93454 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Thanks Dan! I'm going on retreat tomorrow morning, it's a 4-day, over Easter. At the moment that's all my life affords, and that doesn't seem likely to change. I will try to make good use of the time I do have, which is not so little.

Just sat for 80 minutes. Energy is not that high today, but excitement still is. Tried out Ron's suggestion to do 20 minutes samatha then 60 vipassana. Went gradually from access concentration to 1J, then 2J set in abruptly around minute 15. By minute 20 the bell rang while I was in 2nd jhana, and I started to note more slowly than usual. I realised that there was no intention to break the jhana to do vipassana, so I just noted from within it. It's tricky to maintain, but overall I think it utilises more bandwidth than just vipassana, therefore bringing about better continuity of attention, ease and one-pointedness.
This exercise extended the second jhana from its natural duration of less than 10 minutes, to around half an hour. Now that I think of it, it reminds me of somewhere that I read that pigs' orgasms last 30 minutes <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D --> Things didn't get too vibratory, just a few tactile ones here and there. The visuals flashed a lot, rather than vibrated. Nothing noteworthy happening in the hearing door.
In the last half an hour of the sit, things settled down a lot more. I was invaded by a profound calm that I don't remember having happened recently, while everything was easy and natural to note. That doesn't mean I didn't space out, but those episodes weren't long and I didn't feel frustrated when I came back. I intuitively felt that I was still using more bandwidth than usual. The anticipation waves did come at this stage, but they were less of a hindrance and didn't break the concentration. At some point I felt much tingling at the crown area, which stayed for some 5 minutes, and then felt an upward pull at a point beneath the crown, for a few seconds. After that, deeper inside the brain but still beneath the crown (where I felt the &quot;bubble&quot; a week ago) I felt the exact opposite from a bubble, it was as if matter was being sucked into that point. That lasted some half a minute. The excitement did start to build up, and I just decided to incline to samadhi at that point to avoid losing concentration altogether. Eventually I returned to noting, and kept at it until some 10 minutes before the bell. I finished with 5 minutes of concentration and 5 minutes of just sitting.

Life is normal, and I'm the same guy as always.
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8 years 1 month ago #93455 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Retreat report. From Thursday 28th afternoon to Monday 1st noon, so 4 days, silent at Gaia House, with Jake Dartington and Kirsten Kratz.

Goal: stream entry
Result: epic win. But no stream entry <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->

Day 0
Arrived in the early afternoon full of energy, and even when the retreat was starting formally at 6PM, I used the extra time before that for walking meditation with the intention to set up some good momentum for continuous attention throughout dinner, which wasn't to be held in silence. Noting out loud for 45 minutes with good flow, with much pressure at the right temple and vibrating visual field towards the last half of the walk.
Hard to keep attention continuous through dinner and improving slightly during the dharma talk later. Sat for 45 minutes after that, with fireworks similar to the walk towards the end.

Day 1
The general feeling of this day was that of a struggle. Started the day with some samatha and was able to get into a strong 1st and 2nd jhanas, and then didn't try to go further on the samatha side so I started noting. The energy ran out very soon, and I found myself battling sleepiness and dreaminess big time, during most of the sits. To top it all, I decided that during the rest period after lunch I'd use the time to do walking meditation. About the worst thing I could have done for my energy. The walks were relatively mindful but still much more distracted than I would have liked. No recognisable progression through the ñanas.

Day 2
Woke up with much more energy, and most meditations were spent in good mindfulness, but still was sloppy off the cushion. Good concentration up to 2nd jhana in the first sit. Then did pure vipassana and managed to climb up the ñanas throughout the morning, at the apparent pace of one vipassana jhana per period of practice (30 minutes). Also used the rest period after lunch to do walking meditation. The sit after that was very sleepy, but only for that sit. Mindfulness good, and for the rest of the day I kept feeling strong pressure at both temples, intense tension at the third eye area and also a lot of tingling at the crown that soon morphed into pressure, like someone trying to drill a hole into it. In one of the last sits I felt this sucking sensation under the crown. All this activity was met with much excitement and the heart was often beating very fast when the energetic activity at the crown unfolded. Lots of Path thoughts, progress thoughts, and trying to figure out what is missing from my investigation before I can get Path. Spending some time caught in trains of thought about that before reacting and noting them as just one more phenomenon. Beating myself up after reacting to them, but that bit was seen immediately. Towards the end of the day, concentration waned somewhat and I found myself wandering in thoughts about random stuff. But path thoughts and frustration about not getting it were big.

As an aside, since about two months ago, pretty much ALL of my sittings feature a thought about different moments of my trip to Dublin in February last year. It wasn't an important trip for me, it lasted only a weekend, and I never think about it off the cushion, it's just something random that comes up. I've done other weekend trips but they never appear during my sits. It's so random. The retreat included its fair share of them.

Day 3
I woke up full of energy after a pleasant night's rest and noted from the moment I woke up for the first time. It was really easy to do it, as the thoughts at that time were so gross and obvious. Got into the first sit while already noting, and I got the same pattern of sensations described in Day 2, but less intense and with extra warmth added on the whole left side of the face. Path thoughts were less pervasive and I felt more accepting of reality just the way it was. At 11 I had my only individual interview with the teacher, where I described my experiences and striving and asked &quot;what's missing from my practice to get Stream Entry&quot;, to which he answered &quot;what's missing from the present moment?&quot; and &quot;see if you can balance your thoughts on the future and the developmental approach with more of a sense of acceptance of what is already here&quot;, and finally recommended I do a longer retreat. I took in really deeply his advice on letting go, although my initial thought about it was &quot;but I'm going for stream entry not rigpa!&quot;. During the rest of the day I gradually let go of my intention to &quot;get&quot; Path and the mind grew increasingly separate from those thoughts. Path thoughts kept arising, but I wasn't invested in them any longer. Together with this, more thoughts started to arise about the after-retreat life. By the time I fully internalised this acceptance, my mindfulness was already getting weaker. Physical sensations towards the middle and end of this day were of the same type and intensity as on Day 2. The were quite a few moments when I asked myself, both during and outside meditation, what was missing from the present moment, and I found all was perfect. A few seconds later, a nagging mind thread would kick off along the lines of &quot;isn't that called Conformity? Why am I not enlightened yet?&quot;. That thought took progressively longer to arise as the day went on.

Day 4
Very little (around 45 minutes) formal meditation and silence broke quite early, so little to comment at this point. Integrating the effects. Mainly, craving for Path has diminished noticeably. It is still desired by the thinking mind, but the gut has definitely let go of it at some level. Unsure about the extent of this letting go, and the extent of just scripting it because I rationally know it's needed, but I guess time will tell.

End of the retreat report.

Some overly intellectual reflections on what I thought was a requirement for Path, spun on purpose when in bed after my last meditation yesterday (also lying down in bed, a nice samatha practice which helps greatly for sleep when not sleepy) :
1. Continuity of attention (source: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discu...#_19_message_2468896 "> www.dharmaoverground.org/web/gue ... ge_2468896 ). I initially aimed hardcore for 100% mindfulness throughout the day and all I got is burnout. I realised I needed to be gentle, even at the expense of some lapses. But then I got more lapses than I would have liked.
2. Trying to figure out what core process of the mind I hadn't noticed yet (source: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discu...ards/message/2472907 "> www.dharmaoverground.org/web/gue ... ge/2472907 , search for "land a Fruition"). That led me to intellectual, conceptual enquiry, but I couldn't find any way to do a direct investigation of that question.
3. Balance concentration and investigation while powering up both of them with energy.
4. Letting go.
5. Particular experiences, like energy patterns shifting from the third eye area to the crown (got quite a bit of those, see various practice logs in DhO around Hi EQ) and seeing the mind inclining to investigate the empty parts during the vibrations, like silences while the hearing is vibrating or dark frames while the visual field is flashing (got a little of those as well during day 3 but could as well have scripted them massively. Source: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" alohadharma.wordpress.com/the-map/equanimity-2/ "> alohadharma.wordpress.com/the-map/equanimity-2/ , see "tapping").
6. An amazing insight (source: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/progress.html#ch6.12 "> www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#ch6.12 , and also various practice logs). But also some other logs don't feature this, so I wonder if it's universal and fixed at ~15 minutes before the Path moment.

It seems to me that 1, 2, 3 or 4 or some combination of them is required for Path, but I'm not sure what the relative importance of each is. And that 5 and 6 are just markers expected to arise en route to Path, and one can't do anything direct to experience them, they are just byproducts of this development. But I'm not sure if they are necessary, sufficient or both, for a Path moment to occur.
Reflect less and note more? Maybe. But also figuring these things out intellectually will help me better understand how to best allocate these efforts.
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  • JLaurelC
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8 years 1 month ago #93456 by JLaurelC
Replied by JLaurelC on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Thanks for the detailed report, Nick. What's required is for the time to be right, I think. You're doing everything you can as far as I can see. Stuff is working itself out during this process. What happens is that the mind opens up more and more as you go through it and then, one day, it's done.
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  • PabloP
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8 years 1 month ago #93457 by PabloP
Replied by PabloP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Hey, I hope you'll soon tell us about your path moment!
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  • Dan G
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8 years 1 month ago #93458 by Dan G
Replied by Dan G on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Thanks for sharing your report Nick. I really think you have a great attitude about your practice which seems like such a powerul ally.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93459 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Thanks all for your kind words.

Yes Laurel, probably that's what's required. After reading your answer, I realised that my conception was that once you get it all right, the Path moment happens right there, in that instant. And it follows logically: if I didn't get Path, then I didn't get it all right, therefore I was doing something wrong. And my quest was to find out what that was. Now I understand that I am doing all I can, and that will make the process unfold. By applying a gentle effort and not getting in the way, I will allow Stream Entry to happen...eventually

I am more convinced than ever that Stream Entry can be attained. At the same time, I am more doubtful than ever about whether I'm scripting my own experience to follow the mixture of sources I read. Fortunately, a fruition can't be scripted that easily.

Yesterday I had a rough comeback, stressed, mindfulness low, energy low (slept few hours the night before). My computer blew up at work and I had to reinstall everything at the replacement they gave me while still delivering what I had committed to do. I ended up doing all that without working longer hours, by ruthlessly multitasking, but that stressed me out and drained me of energy.

In the evening then I had a session with Ron, we did a 30-minute guided meditation going up the ñanas, ending in high EQ. A&amp;P appeared almost instantly, and I spent the last 25 minutes or so, in either low or high EQ. A&amp;P for me, as Ron confirmed from my real-time reporting, was a very intense pleasurable eye fluttering with bright visuals. Low EQ was a fixed strong pleasant sensation in the third eye area and dancing pressure at the right or both temples. High EQ was a dancing pleasant tingling or pressure or coolness in the crown area, sometimes concentrated around the crown and sometimes forming a dancing curved line starting at the crown and ending directly above the third eye area, bright visuals, the same dancing pressure at the right or both temples, and sometimes feeling like my Axis vertebra is being pulled up. I kept moving back and forth between low and high EQ, spending a greater proportion of the time at high EQ as time went by. The practice he recommended then is [i:41w8qn4x]keeping at observing the dance around the crown, become absorbed in it as in jhana, see it intensify and unfold on its own[/i:41w8qn4x].

Today I sat for 15 minutes at lunchtime, started at A&amp;P immediately, went straight to high EQ in less than a minute and stayed there, watching the dance. Very little desire (or ability) to control any of it. Feeling I couldn't do a samatha sit if I tried, given that this crown activity is so intense. Time passed very fast.
Lots of crown activity off the cushion. It's there without me even thinking about it or doing anything or meditating. Some third area activity off the cushion whenever there is no crown activity, but that's not new.
In the afternoon I had a meeting with my manager. The last half of it was spent in witness mode, watching as &quot;it&quot; spoke, empathised, listened. I didn't plan or aim to do it, it just happened. In fact, I was trying to jerk myself back to &quot;normal&quot; mode, with little success, as I thought he could notice and it might seem weird.

Meditation is happening on its own, at last! I found myself vipassana-ising at times I'd normally not think of meditating. The flipside is that when I do want to meditate, I get distracted very easily, it's so slippery. It's like whether I'm sitting or not, the mind meditates a fraction of the time.
After a session in the gym: Intention to recall locker number --&gt; mind grabbing the memory --&gt; memory being represented as a number --&gt; number being brought to the foreground of attention. A process that took less than a quarter of a second overall, was SEEN in real time as it unfolded.

Just sat for an hour, intending to do 20 min samatha, then 40 min vipassana. Sensations as described in low &amp; high EQ were so much more intense than the breath, that I just spent the whole hour doing vipassana (technique in italics above, no noting), watching those sensations dance. Mind slippery, lapses and periods lost in thought were progressively longer as the sit went on ( &gt;50% towards the end). When I realised I had been lost, just went back to watching, but strangely enough, there was zero frustration. At some point the thought arose: no frustration doesn't mean I'm equanimous, it means I became complacent. I was amused at that thought.
No Dublin thoughts today.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93460 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Energetic activity is calming down in intensity. Distractedness off the cushion is higher than usual, but when I focus for 3 seconds straight I get these energy patterns again. In the last couple days these patterns are either pleasant energy in the third eye area or dancing coolness at the crown, the two patterns don't usually appear together, and it's split evenly, about 50% of the time each. They don't appear in the morning, i.e. before my lunchtime sit. Markers of ñanas lower than EQ haven't appeared since yesterday@lunchtime.

Mood is quite normal, I keep thinking about Stream Entry quite a lot but without being invested in it.

Lunchtime sit (15m): breath counting for the first couple minutes, then focusing on the energy patterns. As soon as I sat I was in Low EQ (per the definition in the previous post) and went to High EQ in less than a minute and stayed there.

Evening sit (1h): 20m samatha anapanasati, then 40m vipassana, focusing on the energy patterns. No noting. If I got into any jhana in the samatha part, it was a very weak one, but concentration felt good. It carried over to the other part of the sit, probably I spent 30% of the time distracted compared to 50% yesterday. Still higher than usual but I don't get worked up about it, it's just the way it is. That doesn't mean I don't make an effort to stay present.
Vipassana part of the sit: energy patterns were probably 90% high-EQ-like, and 10% low-EQ-like. The high EQ patterns are still dancing as I type this. Anticipation built up a couple times, with a higher heart rate, but now it doesn't last as long, thumping doesn't get as intense, and it doesn't trump mindfulness. For a couple minutes, the dancing coolness gave way to downward pressure at the surface of the crown, like a finger pushing down. At some other point, feeling the Axis vertebra pulled up as if by a hook. At some other point, feeling like a bubble growing in the pineal gland area, while at the same time feeling that the air pressure at the Eustachian tube next to the nose is higher than the external pressure. That bit gave way to a wave of anticipation that lasted around a minute. Lots of thoughts on how I'll report the sit.
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  • NickP
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8 years 1 month ago #93461 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Just sat for 60 minutes, back to noting. Comments:
- I've got the Cirque du Soleil performing on top of my head and around the crown. If there was any hint of unpleasantness to it, it would be unbearable, so constant and intense it is.
- If the thinking mind is Japan, thoughts are earthquakes and the vipassana-ising mind is a seismographer, then tonight I saw thoughts measuring Richter 4+, whereas normally it feels like only Richter 6+ thoughts register in the seismographer.
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  • Rod1
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8 years 1 month ago #93462 by Rod1
Replied by Rod1 on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Nick, you must be so close. Fantastic.
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  • NickP
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8 years 4 weeks ago #93463 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
I hope so!

Just meditated for 4 hours, as follows:
- 1h sitting 15m anapanasati samatha, 45m noting
- 30m walking, noting
- 45m sitting, noting
- 45m walking, noting
- 1h sitting, vipassana freestyle

Comments:
- Very engaged, feeling like exploring a vast new territory, feeling like a beginner. Little SE anxiety and more calm and contentment, feeling like I'm finally doing vipassana. Time passed really fast. Well, except in the last half an hour, which was plagued with lapses, aversion, and lack of clarity.
- Richter 6+ continues to be the baseline, but was able to get into longish periods of awareness at Richter 4+. And a few Richter 3s were noticed as well. What I mean by that is, I'm starting to see, but only when very engaged and attentive, how memories are collected and transformed into thoughts, how attention goes from one object to the next (and there's a weird infinitesimal gap when attention is moving between objects), how vedana becomes intention, and how intention becomes action. Those subtle processes are best seen when not noting, but when I stop noting I space out too easily. Trying to balance the two. A reflection: If I need to make that my baseline level of attention before I can reach Conformity (see Hierarchy of Vipassana Practice, level 9) then there's a long way to go. But I'm not bothered in the least, I'm happy to stay at this level of EQ for a long while.
- Energy wise, crown activity is what happens 85% of the time, and the other 15% is third eye tension. Pineal gland bubbles, crown tingling and pressure, Axis vertebra pulled up, Eustachian tube pressure differential, pressure on temples, curved line of coolness from the crown to the third eye, all of them have repeated ad nauseam. I.e., to the point that they don't kick off a wave of anticipation anymore.
- In the last sit, I saw clearly, and many times, that while the visual field was flashing extremely fast, one or two of those vibrations were &quot;played&quot; in slow motion so as to show a continuous variation in luminosity, interspersed with cycles that otherwise seemed discrete (light/dark). I don't think that's the same as the tapping in the retreat report above (see 5.), but it does seem the same thing as the &quot;chop, chop, chop&quot; described by Russell ([url:2nn7gedv]http&#58;//kennethfolkdharma&#46;com/forum/viewtopic&#46;php?f=5&amp;t=2&amp;start=70#p82[/url:2nn7gedv]). The &quot;slow motion&quot; speed and duration weren't always the same, and didn't seem to be converging to any value.
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  • NickP
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8 years 4 weeks ago #93464 by NickP
Replied by NickP on topic Re: NickP's practice notes
Just meditated for 3 hours, as follows:
- 1h sitting: 15m anapanasati samatha, 45m noting
- 30m walking, noting
- 45m sitting, noting
- 45m walking, noting

Comments:
- Physical sensations were the same as described yesterday, and the peak level of vipassana clarity similar. Crown/third-eye proportion was ~75/25. This time, the sittings were very engaged and noting all phenomena down to a great level of subtlety (not more than yesterday), while the walks and a small part of the second sitting felt like a mini-DN. Not much clarity, little subtlety, noticeable aversion to both the various phenomena and to meditation itself. And I got hungry. No change to the Cirque du Soleil activity during this mini-DN.
- Had 2 or 3 moments where I got some insight into aspects of impermanence, no-self, and my thought patterns. I'd do them little justice trying to put them into words, but didn't seem earth-shattering.
- There are thoughts/thought patterns that seem to be on the edge of my awareness, they are very subtle and pass away too fast. Another layer of phenomena that needs to be investigated.
- Finding more OK-ness as a default reaction to things that used to be reacted to with craving/aversion. Not sure what things in particular: I found this during rapid-fire noting and didn't want to slow it down to take a mental note.
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