Antero's practice journal 6

  • Antero
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7 years 11 months ago #94078 by Antero
Antero's practice journal 6 was created by Antero
My old practice journals 1-5 that got lost with the old Wetpaint site have now been moved to a blog format:

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" apracticejournal.wordpress.com "> apracticejournal.wordpress.com
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  • Antero
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7 years 11 months ago #94079 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:34zp8i05]Expansion and Contraction
[/b:34zp8i05]
The awareness expands and contracts continuously like a wave extending to all directions. At times hovering close to the body like a cloud, then becoming diffuse, releasing completely and merging with the infinity. When mindfulness is strong, it’s movements and deformations are felt almost as if it was some phantom limb of the body. Contraction of the awareness/attention cloud is an early warning system before unpleasant tensions start to accumulate in the body. This may have previously developed into a full body-mind contraction of irritation. Now it is just unpleasant tightness, which can still sometimes be pretty uncomfortable and socially limiting.

There definitely are still processes of clinging going on in this system, it is just not so obvious as at the earlier stages. However the cumulative effects are felt only after a long period, like little pebbles accumulating in a boat slowly making it heavier and swimming deeper. This has motivated me to increase the mindfulness and have a closer look at what is going on.

This new sensitivity has led me to see the spiritual path in a whole new light. Smiling, being kind, helping others and all the other positive activities that break the obsessive contraction around the shape of the body and expand the attention outside the normal limits help to dissolve the knot of small self. Previously all this was just theory for me, but now it is felt with the movements of the attention continously.

This system is optimizing itself, the principle of least effort is at work.
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  • Russell
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7 years 11 months ago #94080 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
Beautiful Antero. Rings true for me right now as well.
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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 11 months ago #94081 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
Great to see you back here, Antero. You've been such a help to me in my own practice and I look forward to reading more from you.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94082 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
Thanks, it is good to see you guys here!
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94083 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:f2w4618p]Incomplete history of my recent failures[/b:f2w4618p]

I am trying to write down some of the reasons that led to the decline of my practice last year in an effort to record this time period that is missing from my practice journal. Maybe other's don't have to make these same mistakes or if they do, may they recognize them a lot faster than I did.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94084 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:31lyp7d1]Mistake #1[/b:31lyp7d1]

For a long time I tried to make the Nature of the Mind into a concrete thing, to reify it into something solid and manageable to the mind that could be taken as an object of concentration. Of course if I could find a handle to it and maintain the state by sheer concentration throughout the day, we wouldn't be talking about the Unconditioned at all, but just another transient mind state. It's no wonder I got terrible tension at the head from all that manipulation.

The mind is extremely malleable nowadays and although I did my mind tricks subtly, they we of no use to me and all I got was one big headache. This is one of the useful recent features: there is a kind of allergy to any kind of directing the mind forcefully. There is no escaping the principle of least effort: the only way forward is downhill.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94085 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:vuygaecv]Mistake #2[/b:vuygaecv]

There was a period of dissatisfaction with my current life situation and a wish to find a suitable outer expression to match my inner development, a need to change the course of my life and be more beneficial to other people. This led me to make various plans for the future, including starting to study for another profession which I thought would be more useful for the mankind in general.

Although there could be dozens of professions or activities that would express the inner realization better than my current situation, at some point I realized that whatever course I would take and whatever effort I would put into the expression of the inner reality, it would just be another form of self-expression. It would be another attempt of the self to try to get some concrete foothold at this stage, turn it into it's advantage and get safisfaction from the situation. It is my current opinion that one cannot truly express the awake emptiness by willing it or by any kind of effort at all even if the intentions are noble and altuistic. That is just the small self trying to find another way in. Thebest we can do is live the Uncontinioned as fully as possible and let it evolve naturally and point the way forward.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94086 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:19ow138q]Mistake #3[/b:19ow138q]

Emptiness, the simultaneous understanding of the absence of agency and impermanence of all things, can also be misused. My view on practice was not based on correct understanding and I took the experiences of clarity, stillness and no-thought to be the end result itself. This led to the over-emphasis of still mind at the expense of other phenomena which resulted in applying effort to keep the mind still at all times. I now realize that I was using the emptiness as an antidote against thoughts.

Experiencing the blissful vastness, openness and freedom of the mind at rest is just the prelimary stage. Movement is an essential and inseparable aspect of the mind and seeing the perfection in all it's gross and subtle movements is the next natural stage in development. The more fully this essential nature is clearly seen, the less there is a chance that the inevitable fluctuations will cause any distraction from directly experiencing the basic nature.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94087 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:3a2onxz3]Mistake #4[/b:3a2onxz3]

I had a lot of preconceptions on how awakening would manifest itself. Various interesting experiences and states of mind left me in a state of non-reactivity that was liberating at first but actually proved to be a kind of emotional dullness and even indifference because at times I was unable to meet people where they were at. Although the non-reactiviness made me more tolerant and patient with other people, I was not completely open to all the various experiences of the mind and when I was mistreated it seemed like I was completely okay with it and things just flowed through me without sticking, but something remained unseen and undealt with. Little by little there was a built up of residue in the subconscious that  started to shape my mental processes in the background.

It took time to learn that discursive thoughts and mental images that flash through us loud and clear like some radio broadcast we are picking up, are not all there is to the conceptual mind. Sometimes a big unseen thought can sit on the mind blocking all the other thoughts under it's weight and mind can seem calm and silent on the surface. But it is tight and contracted silence, not open, free and expansive. Although this forced silence can feel like a relief in comparison to the full cacophony of the mental background noise, but it detaches one from fully experiencing this moment of being alive and slowly kills enthusiasm, liveliness and joy.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94088 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:2smy7bph]Mistake #5[/b:2smy7bph]

I had developed ability to investigate the very subtle fluctuations of the mind in stillness, but was unable to see a huge thought that was actually blocking all the other thoughts. I had become very adept at seeing even the smallest little fluctuation of the conceptual mind, but failed to see this category of thought before, because it is not as clear like some narrative storylines or mental images that light up in the mind. It is more like an intention that is shaping other mental activities or a subtle attitude toward another person. 

When sitting on the cushion it can be an unseen mental attitude lurking below the radar of consciousness &quot;I am meditating&quot; that directs the mind but blocks complete surrender. Off the cushion it can be any kind of expectation or intention that keeps the us from experiencing this moment with complete openness and freshness. For example it can be a certain attitude toward another person that prevents us from meeting him/her openly and without prejudice. This prejudice may not even show up as actual thoughts, but will nevertheless affect our reactions in a negative way when we are dealing with that person.
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  • Russell
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7 years 9 months ago #94089 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
This is all pure gold Antero. Thank you for sharing. Keep going!! I am finding many traps where the ego sneaks back in an it takes a while to realize what is really happening. There is also that tendency to get very, very 'neutral' and kind of float away if you really wanted to. There can be too much detachment in a way as well, and that is not what awakening is about.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94090 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6

&quot;Russell&quot;:21n7xlpr wrote: There is also that tendency to get very, very 'neutral' and kind of float away if you really wanted to. There can be too much detachment in a way as well, and that is not what awakening is about.[/quote:21n7xlpr]

Thanks Russel! If not addressed this neutrality can go further and lead to a state of disconnection. In my own experience this is a result of practices that do not fully incorporate the body, including pure vipassana noting and various samatha practices. Although at the first the experiences of the stages of insight that arise through noting are very bodily, as one progresses throught the paths, the meditation can become ungrounded and floaty, especially with the unfolding of the formless jhanas. However IMO this can easily be balanced with the body based meditations and other practices.

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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94091 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:3645inam]Mistake #6[/b:3645inam]

While working on 7th and 8th Stages of awakening, I started to lose the connection with my body. The unbalanced emphasis on no-self and no-thought led me into a disembodied state where the subtleties of my own body and it's relationship to the universe in general and to the other people in particular was no longer felt fully. Phenomenlogically this was manifested in the absence of subtle sensations deep within the body, 'the energy body' if you want to use such an inaccurate term. At times I could not recognize my body as something that belongs to me and in one instance of disorientation I could not even access my own memories which left me feeling totally disconnected from my own beingness.

I do not know if this period of dissociation is some inevitable phase one must go through and then come back to the full spectrum of everyday experience totally transformed, however I do know now that it is a restricted and narrow way and not to be sought after. The more grounded and fully embodied way of being that is currently unfolding for me is much more energising, exhilarating and inspiring and leads to fuller participation and commitment with life.
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  • Nicobobo
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7 years 9 months ago #94092 by Nicobobo
Replied by Nicobobo on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
Hello Antero,

I guess you keep practising Ashtanga yoga and i have a question about it. I currently practise the first and second series in a very old fashioned way (10 seconds inhalation- 10 seconds exhalation). I remember that you had a pretty intense and focused ashtanga practice and that you could enter lite jhanas states during your practice. I just wanted to know on what aspect of the practice do you focus ? Moolha bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, the Ujjayi sound, the thoracic movement on the inhale and exhale ...? Because i have this very slow breathing i can notice easily when my mind is wandering but i can't choose where to rest it...

As always thank you for your inspiring practice ! Keep up the good work !

Nicolas

Ps: with the changing of forums i lost your previous answers which were related to the same subject. Sorry if you feel you are repeating yourself.
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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94093 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6

&quot;Nicobobo&quot;:1647bnsp wrote: Hello Antero,
I just wanted to know on what aspect of the practice do you focus ? Moolha bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, the Ujjayi sound, the thoracic movement on the inhale and exhale ...? Because i have this very slow breathing i can notice easily when my mind is wandering but i can't choose where to rest it...

As always thank you for your inspiring practice ! Keep up the good work !
[/quote:1647bnsp]

Thank you, Nicola,

The choice of focus depends on the width of the attention at any given time. When the attention is narrow, it is good to focus for example on moola bandha or drsti. I would advice against forcefully manipulating the natural scope of the attention. Often it tends to widen during the practice and then it is feels good to use as a focus all the subtle and gross sensations that make up an asana.

I have moved all my old journals to a blog and tagged them, so you will find the posts and discussion on the subject under a Tag &quot;Ashtanga yoga&quot;

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=" apracticejournal.wordpress.com/tag/ashtanga-yoga/ "> apracticejournal.wordpress.com/t ... anga-yoga/

I have have written something on the similarities of meditation and ashtanga yoga, but it did not show up on my blog. I'll see if I can find it.

Antero

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  • Antero
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7 years 9 months ago #94094 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:3tsalem9]Somatic Practices
[/b:3tsalem9]
In my current experience thoughts and other processes of the mind are most of the time seen to be emptiness and movement with no real substance and therefore are not causing much graping. It is often the body and sense perceptions that feel deceptively real and solid and doing bodywork feels exactly the right thing to do for me at the moment.

I have done rigorous pranayama practice in the past, but Reggie Ray’s gentle and very thorough approach feels much more effective. The practice is done lying down or sitting up and it involves very deep inbreaths using the full capacity of the lungs, often doing multiple inbreaths with no outbreath in between. The breath is used together with some simple visualizations that helps to unfold the process of disintegration and ends up in the vastness of the space of awareness.

The somatic experience of breath entering the body tunes the mind gradually to the level of increased openness and boundlessness. In the beginning the body feels heavy, self-evident, and ordinary. With the opening up, the sensations merge into a unified field of perception where no single sensation stands out. The bodily experience loses it’s solidity and becomes vibratory and flowing, consisting of a huge number of very subtle transient sensations. This flow of energy and fluctuation underlies the brick wall of every physical experience.

Going beyond the mosaic of fast vibrations, one finds underneath the body of one huge space, open and flowing to all directions with no limits or boundaries. Body, movement and breath are all merged into a unified ocean of experience where single components or qualities can be no longer be determined. If one is doing ashtanga yoga practice, the breath seems to move the whole body directed by no-one, without any conscious thoughts and despite all the movement and flow, nothing seems to be moving.

The experience is a lot more physical, concrete and dynamic than my previous sitting practices that have been mostly of mental nature. The unraveling of the psycho-physical structures of my own body has been most educational and balancing.
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  • Russell
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7 years 9 months ago #94095 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
I have been doing a lot of this work with Abre lately. Tuning into that spaciousness using the breath at first until the body just dissolves into it. I look forward to hearing more.
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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 8 months ago #94096 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
Antero: My turn. What is the last practice you are talking about, with the multiple in-breaths? It sounds unfamiliar to me.
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  • Antero
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7 years 8 months ago #94097 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6

&quot;Bill29ish&quot;:2xv86cyb wrote: Antero: My turn. What is the last practice you are talking about, with the multiple in-breaths? It sounds unfamiliar to me.[/quote:2xv86cyb]

Sorry for the delay.

In this practice the lungs are filled completely in three successive phases: first the lower belly, pause, then the mid chest, pause, and finally the the upper chest and pause before exhaling. With this practice one learns step by step how to let the air fill the lugns fully and to use the breath to connect to the direct experience of emptiness inside one’s body.

These three phases are first learned separately to loosen up the tension and to connect with space in lower belly, mid chest and upper chest. Then with the long three-fold inbreath these separate spaces merge into a feeling of vastness and openness that fills the entire body from within. The solidity of the body dissolves into a volume of empty space and moving air.

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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 8 months ago #94098 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
Thank you for the explanation. No need for an apology.
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  • Antero
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7 years 7 months ago #94099 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:3i172s2b]The Wind Blowing Inside the Body[/b:3i172s2b]

Doing full body breathing and other somatic practices that fill the body with awareness to the brim have made subtle tickling sensations of electricity that flow throughout the body common phenomena again. The body feels spacious and alive and the sensations can be very much like the movement of air on the exposed skin on a windy day, engulfing the whole body in a shower of cool tingles, except the wind is blowing inside the space of the body.

Right now my practice is all about feeling the body and letting go of all tension and releasing it into the earth. This shatters the normal conceptual body-experience and brings me into direct contact of the nature of reality that is open, vast and in a constant state of flux. The body loses it’s supposed and expected solidity and becomes a transparent tube of moving air that flows through without boundaries.

At times letting go of tension can be so abrupt and dramatic that the perineum contracts, sending a show wave through the central channel that starts to vibrate violently, shaking the entire body. There is a sinking feeling to it that closely resembles Nirodha Samapatti The mind is clear and quiet afterwards.
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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 7 months ago #94100 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
I'm glad the earth breathing is resonating with you. I've found it's a unique practice in some way I can't explain. To echo what you already wrote, my experience is that the more I practice with the body it becomes harder to say what the body is, so that the sensations feel they could be the whole environment, as if the body is outside of the body. Are you doing this practice in a formal way or is it just becoming more a part of your other activities?
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  • Antero
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7 years 6 months ago #94101 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
I could not agree more with you Bill. The more I do bodywork and explore the body from the inside, the more fleeting and transparent it becomes. I am currently starting all my formal meditations sits with some form of bodywork, filling the body with awareness and continuing from there.

Off the cushion, at times when the space of awareness is not so easily apparent, I switch back to sensing the body from the inside. The feeling of bliss arises and soon the conceptual image of the body is penetrated and it's solidity dissolves.
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  • Antero
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7 years 6 months ago #94102 by Antero
Replied by Antero on topic Re: Antero's practice journal 6
[b:30snhvzc]The Body is an Afterthought
[/b:30snhvzc]
50 minute sit
Although recently the body has felt pretty open and transparent and there has been very little gross muscle tension, I still started working with the body first. The silent vastness of the mind has been easily available, but doing bodywork in the beginning opens up the mind further and creates a solid ground for further unfolding.

I used the body as a focus, filled it completely with awareness and finally dissolved the focus into space. At the start of the practice, the body was a transparent membrane that contained some floating pockets of tension. With the shifting of focus into space of awareness, the perception of the body changed into a cloud of high frequency buzzing vibrations with no clear boundaries.

With the dissolving of the body image, subtle layers of mental tension were revealed, but were not entirely let go of. The mind was very quiet and flexible, but there still was some unresolved tightness and background fluctuation remaining.

I looked at the space of awareness more closely, investigating it’s extent and relationship with the body and this enhanced the quality of awareness considerably. The compulsion to anchor the experience to the space of the body dissolved and for a while there was a feeling of profound freedom. The body clearly is just an afterthought.
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