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Bill's Notes II
Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:53 pm
I've been off of this forum for a while, checking in occasionally, but mostly staying away, watching movies, not getting enough sleep, reading books, dating. Things I had not been doing as much for the past half a decade when practice was mostly what I thought about, and did, or thought about doing, or thought about while I was supposed to be doing. I'm not sure if there's a way to link up to old topics from the old forum that was active a year or so, but it'd be nice to have some continuity. Does anyone know? Anyways, after several dramatic shifts in my practice, there came another shift a year and a couple months ago. There was a period where it seemed insane to me that I had ever had a self-reflective emotion, ever thought about something personal, and the idea that I had ever meditated seemed most ludicrous of all, after all, to get where, or away from whom, and what to surrender to when it seemed there was just THIS. It felt traumatic and yet at the same time I couldn't seem to feel that bad or that worried about it, but things felt very alien. I remember waking occasionally and not being sure who I was, where I was. It felt that buddhism had died too, at least i couldn't hold it in the same way, as a construct, in the way I had before, and trying to return to it or meditation, just felt odd and painful for a little. My practice had been so self-driven for years, that there was a scarring of sorts around even sitting that it took some months of not practicing to heal. I remember trying to sit about two months after the shift and having the feeling that I might just cry for reasons I didn't understand at the time. At the same time there was a much larger space I seemed to be living in, and a sense of perfection inherent in things when it was allowed, and I experienced this persistently, along with the general sense that things were as perfect as they had ever been and I was as content as I ever had been.
I've returned to practice, recently, though I never left it, but I have been formally sitting again, and I seem to be slowly moving into something new, which as usual, is probably just something old, being seen more clearly and larger and ingrained in a new way. I don't know what this new movement is, or if it's anything at all, but I figured I would keep practice notes here. My practice is much different now than it was before, where before I did a lot of noting and metta, my practice now is primarily based upon resting what is already here. Most frequently I have been "just resting" or returning to the grounding the body practice that I had done previously consistently for some time, and a similar practice that I think of as grounding the environment or dying into space, which is what it feels like. In all of these there is still the fluttering of thoughts, tensions in the body, doubts, a leaning into or against certain thoughts, feelings, etc. These "flutterings" can be signifigant or insignificant given how much space I allow them. Given space they are just another movement of energy out of emptiness, but at times, they can become larger, tell a story that I find myself pondering, etc. It should be noted that self-referntial emotions and thoughts continue to live on in a much subtler form than previously, and also that they continue to grow slowly quieter, although I have no reason to believe this isn't bound to variation. Ok, I gotta go now. I'm watching Lincoln. Good movie. If anyone knows of a link to old forum that would be awesome. (Old forum from a year ago, not the one with the tab at the top of page)-
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:02 pm
My practice for the last several weeks has consisted primarily of focusing on the body, watching for pockets of intensity and resting in these places of intensity. When I do this, the intensity is seen as just an upwelling of movement and it expands into empty space. It is interesting to me to discover again that emotions do not strictly exist,that suffering noes not strictly exist, that in fact no thing strictly exists, just this movement of life. I have also been noting mentally "narrative" when there is narrative thinking going on. While doing this I am watching for movement in the body that comes along with the narrative, most of which is located in the skull space as tension. When a feeling tone is more predominant it might be felt more in the stomach or chest.
When I returned to practice I found myself drawn naturally towards Vajrayana style practice. This is a branch that hadn't much interested me before but it felt entirely naturally, almost choiceless, that I was being led to these teachings. I have been working with a Vajrayana teacher out of Dharma Ocean, and begun practicing tonglen as well. Tonglen practice is bring in a lot of nausea and giving rise to irritability in the form of heat in the chest and a feeling of tension at times. I have become very curious lately about the places where I am contracting still, in fact, the most rewarding part of my practice seems to be when I'm feeling the worst, as I get to really watch clinging in real time and it fascinates me.
Mostly my practice has been about intimacy, nakedness, and all of these things I have been doing are done with the idea of ultimately being most intimate with life. I have been feeling a lot like something is dying again inside of me, some weird distance from some place of solidity I had assumed is growing thinner. It's causing a lot of physical tension at times. That's ok.
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Mon May 27, 2013 2:47 pm
I have been again practicing intensely for the last couple of months, two or so hours a day, after a year of not doing any formal practice. My practice is very different than it was before when my concern was stages, progress, etc. It's a whole different world knowing I can't actually get anything from practice that I can claim as my own. For a while I had been again doing body work and noting of thoughts, at a certain point this just loosened, and it became much more natural to not do anything while sitting, instead of doing, just receiving, or merging, allowing, recognizing, etc. A period of deep peace followed, a very real and natural trust in the awakened state, along with a sense of a deep letting to. I can not locate my old practice journal, but I recovered this from an e-mail sent to someone at Yale who was doing brain studies of meditators, that describes the experience that occured in January of 2012:
"I was walking the dog. I had been practicing intensively and for several weeks had the
experience where the sense of a separate entity just dropped away, leaving only experience.
Each time there seemed to be a fear response and the sense of a separate observer returned.
In the weeks preceding this, there was a lot of fear and a lot of grief. I really felt that I might
just die, vanish into oblivion, with no continuing experience and I felt there was nothing I
could do to stop this. Also my body would frequently become spastic and there was a large
amount of felt energy moving through the body so that I repeatedly would have to go into
the bathroom for a half hour or so at times and just let my whole body shake. Anyways, I was
walking the dog and those words “in the seeing, just the seen” (?) were on my mind and then
instantaneously it felt like any sort of internal observer just vanished.
I remember walking around, just sort of dazed, having to bend down and pet my dog and
almost talking myself through the experience like I had been an amnesiac (“This is my dog.
His name is General. I am petting him.”) I remember too that it felt as though I weren’t doing
anything, as though the petting and the walking that I were doing were happening of their
own accord, yet there was no sort of witness watching it. There was the sense that what
was happening was all there was, that only the moment manifesting was real. It no longer
appears that way to me now as any deification or investment in the outside world as being
real or actual can only be built on some partial belief that there is an inner/outer, but that’s
how it felt then. What I remember most was just how alien it felt, like Buddhism, spirituality,
me and the path I had been walking were suddenly obliterated. It seemed totally absurd that
I had ever meditated, ever had an emotion, ever thought I was on a spiritual journey. It was
very disorienting and kind of broke my heart in a way because I had to allow everything that
had given my life such meaning for the past few years to die. At least it seemed that way to me
at the time, and it was a pretty dark time despite the fact that I couldn’t really ever say I felt
that bad about it."
The foreigness of this revelation for a while felt strange to me and there was a period where I seemed to be trying to hold onto what I had previously taken to be life. There has been a signifigant deepening of this happening over the last month or so, so that what was seen is becoming more and more present and the thoughts, etc. are beginning to feel less and less real or compelling, and reality itself begins to feel much more natural than any interpretation I may place on it, though there is room for the relative too. It feels like another big cycle of dying and being reborn incrementally. Practicing today I could feel chunks of remaining identification losing their grasp, a sense of dread or grief, the thought "I don't want to die" and a tear appearing in the corner of my eye, and then a sense of letting go, coming home, naturalness.
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:21 am
I just came to the Forum and saw your post. I really enjoyed reading it and found it easy to relate to your experiences. Things come and go in cycles, don't they?
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:06 pm
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:19 pm
I had off this past week and have been in self-imposed retreat. It seems to me that the next step in development (for me, at least) may be de-solidifying the body. I have little interest in stages at this point. At a certain point the idea of getting anything from practice lost its power. There's no sense of me getting anything beneficial from any stage, just what I'm bumping up against repeatedly in my practice. I have been using three practices, all of which involve a sense of resting in reality. Due to practicing 10-12 hours a day the openings and resistance have been magnified. The first is somatic meditation, or simply awareness of the body, until the sense of a body dissapears, and the body appears, as it is, just sensations in emptiness. The second practice is earth breathing, which involves being in the body, and allowing awareness to sink below the body into the vast, emptiness below. The third practice is darkness practice. This is formless practice done in a room with all the light blotted out. I do this in the bathroom using towels to blot out the light, and just sit, sometimes looking into the darkness and allowing the darkness to see the darkness. I had a new experience of total innocence and wonder one night doing this practice as every experience appeared as totally new, totally complete in its presentation, even the experiences of tension. Just when I begin to feel its all been seen...This last practice does amazing things to bring emptiness forward. It would be interesting to see how it effects someone at third path.
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:57 pm
Interestingly we have been doing the same kinds of practices recently. I have done Reggie Ray's style somatic practices and Mahamudra recently and earth breathing is one of my favourites. Could you please tell more about the darkness practice? Are there books or other material available on it? Where did you get it yourself? What is the ideology behind it and how it is done?
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:23 pm
Hey Antero: That's cool. Reggie has been a real inspiration for me for the past year or so. I think i may have even mentioned him to you at some point last summer. I do think somatic practices or other practices more focused on release are key at a certain point.
Sure, I could tell you more about the darkness practice but there's really not much to say. It's basically formless practice, no technique practice, done in the absolute dark. So it requires a pitch black room, for me a bathroom is easiest in terms of shutting out the light, using towels or whatever to block the light from the door. You can sit, stand or lie down. From there you could do some body work or earth breathing to settle in, but really its about being open to the darkness. One idea might be to look directly into the darkness once you've settled in for a while and just notice what happens, what the qualities of darkness are, what the qualities of the body are in the darkness, how the body is different than the darkness, where the body ends and darkness begins. All of those might be fruitful inquiries, but I don't want to throw an ideology out there. It's more basic.
My own experience with it has been that there's something about the darkness that brings up resistance as the mind grapples to find a frame of reference in the absolute black. It really can be a struggle for a while. But at a certain point things open up, or did for me, in a different way.
I became aware of it through Reggie's repeated mentions of it, though I think he practices in the absolute black for a month or so each year. I just googled and found this, if you want a little framework.http://www.soundstrue.com/weeklywisdom/ ... rsion=full
Let me know how it goes.
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:33 am
Really interesting, thanks. I definitely have to try it out!
Re: Bill's Notes II
Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:25 pm
It has been a while. And I don't really have much I can think of to say clearly, but for the sake of consistency, here goes:
I have been in an intensive phase of practice for the last month, perhaps month of a half. I could give the reasons I have been practicing for five or so hours a day, for ex.: a ragged curiosity to see how much this can deepen, my only major commitment at the time is a full time job and a few voluntary side projects, but they fall flat. It seems there is a momentum to it that is beyond anything that might be called volitional. It just sort of started and continued.
After a certain point in my practice I dismissed noting because my sense was that it was unnecessary filter. This is after I had used from dark night territory to what was previously ( i dont see much reference of it anymore) referred to as the eight stage in kenneth's developmental model. At a certain point I began to note again in a binary way whether or not I was conceptualizing. Some of this may have been curiosity, but if I am being honest there was some dualism I was implying to the act of thinking, i.e thinking is bad and is obscuring a more continuos presence of clarity. This is not a philosophy that holds up to much scrutiny since it requires a thought and investment in that thought, which if thought is an obscuration then, you get my point.
The more I practiced in this way the more thinking and not thinking lost there distinguishing characteristics. This had been seen before a couple years back and quite clearly while involved in much the same technique, but habits being what they are, and stubborness being what it is...With continued practice there was less investment in thinking or not thinking, and it became obvious their dependence and non-separateness, although even to phrase it that way is to add more than is needed. More and more thoughts and energy are becoming empty, which is a jargony way of waying free from the borders that cause the pain of separation. The body too is becoming more and more empty. For a while somatic practice was primary. It still is, but somewhere in the last month or so it became harder to find the body in the way I was previously, so now frequently the body feels like the whole environment. None of this is seamless it is just the way things have been trending.
My practice itself has been continued darkness practice as mentioned in the above posts, along with noting and interestingly enough, metta. The latter two I had scrapped previously as being too filtered or dualistic, and in a sense they are, but that's ok. I can't practice them in the same way I used to, which is also ok. For the metta practice I feel the area of the chest for a while and then gently drop in words like "happy" "peaceful" "love", and feel the responding vibrations in the chest area. The traditional way "may I be happy" "May you be happy" doesn't have much traction anymore. Similarly with the noting I have been keeping the attention anchored in the body, and noting in a binary way whether or not there is thinking going on.
OK. Time to go watch breaking bad.