Journal 2 June 2013

Woke up at 4, just as the birds began to sing.

Cleaned teeth at the open window, fresh air.

Sat on my little stool.

Watched the breath.

Watched how I controlled the breath.

Let that go.

Stillness soon came.

Travelled around the body, sensation, sensation.

Travelled some more until the organism had its own intelligence.

And it let loose.

No method or technique remained.

Awareness and action.

An hour was soon over.

Then Structural Integrity mobility drills and exercises.

Balancing out the muscle groups.

That took over an hour.

Back to bed for an hour and a half.

The best dreams.

The ones that undo and liberate as they unfold.

I was running, slow mo.

Only very lightly touching the ground.

In doing so, flying higher with each bound, I was no longer able to see.

Bounced into some ropes and rebounded back.

But all was well in my slow motion.

And on landing securely I could see again.

Back up; sun salutations.

Fried rye bread breakfast, with St Dalfour spread.

To work after saying goodbye to my partner and best friend after a long weekend.

The lowdown on the recent trustee meetings.

Excitement in the air for the opening of the school pavilions.

Email catchup. Postcards to family from our camping weekend.

Finding photos for a trustee to gift to a donor:

Krishnamurti smiling in the grass.

Fed the fish on a sunny break, chatting with a friend.

Lunch: risotto rice of two varieties, asparagus, diced roast spuds.

After lunch a short nap.

Then the opening ceremony.

Met on the south lawn, mingling and photographing.

Here’s the project manager looking at stages of the build:

Pavillions Opening 01

The oak beams still very visible in the almost-finished buildings.

Walked over en masse to the site.

Songs, speeches, ribbon cut, naming ceremony, high teas, tree planting, chats.

Took many photos for Friends of Brockwood.

Here’s one:

Pavillions Opening 35

All the pavilions are named after trees at Brockwood.

Afterwards, supper of potatoes and rye bread.

French Open, the last last set of the Federer match against a plucky local.

Cut my own hair with clippers.

Wrote this.

Aim to sleep by 10.

Meditation Journal 17 April 2013

Vipassana Meditation April 17

1 hour

Deep in the early hours of the morning, white fire in the right calf. Same in right wrist. Head shaking side to side in sweeping movements and in tiny micro vibrations like a power plate. Eyes scrunched. Right foot arch cramping. Belly drawn in and up, pulling the colon in tight, massaging inside. Moans. Dribbles. Coughs. Hand taught. Lips contorted. Neck sharp, up under the skull. Even a brain pain. All this not at the same time, thank goodness, but often one or two concurrent. Not much of the subtle awareness and deep release today. Then back to bed for a good sleep.

Meditation Journal 16 April 2013

Vipassana Meditation April 16

1 Hour

My body feels relaxed, muscles soft, shoulders and face less concerned. The ongoing ‘work’ is still very physical: deep into the neck and shoulders, and at the inner eyes and into the forehead. Right arm, wrist and feet, but these to a lesser extent than previously. Resistance to sitting: I don’t want to feel anything, just get on with the day. But I know how that goes. And I know that it’s not strong resistance, rather more like a child’s excuses not to do something perceived as slightly less fun than… watching TV or something. A few minutes after sitting down it’s gone, but there’s the ‘all over the place’ attention, scattered, dashing here and there in thought and memories. Suddenly it’s unwound and there I am, awake, daydreams over. A strong nausea soon passes and I can begin passing attention from head to feet and back again. All this is about half an hour. Then the aches, pains, tensions, tingles are immediately apparent; I don’t have to look for them. And when that’s all there is, a high-pitched pain in the neck, for example, that’s all there is. There’s no room or need for thinking at all. And it moves, the pain, so I follow it carefully, slowly, up into the skull, down into the shoulders. Then from the wrist, up the arm, back to the same spot until, suddenly, there’s no sensation – gone – and then there’s another in a different place. Repeat as necessary.

Meditation Journal 15 April 2013

Vipassana Meditation April 15

Then towards the end of the hour I find that my eyes are open and it’s over for now. Previously, moments of there being nothing but the sensation. It starts out as what I call ‘pain’ but by staying with it, or noticing any moving away, it’s no longer pain but something else, something I don’t know about – I could call it intensity but that’s still fixing it as a thing. And it’s moving, changing, evolving, doing it’s thing of it’s own accord. And the essence of this practice is that it can’t do it on it’s own – express naturally – it needs ‘me’ as a watcher, witness, observer, or beyond these ‘doing’ states, it needs awareness. It needs awareness because without it it’s locked down, alone, isolated. Tenderly I approach and in my approach it’s clear where I am not moving with care, where I’m moving with ambition or a goal, or using force, and the seeing of the non-tenderness is its undoing. Even tenderness itself may be contrived and if so that too ceases. It’s a natural dropping of the unnatural, and only then something new can take place. In the context of the pain, this ‘new’ is release, change, ending.

Meditation Journal 14 April 2013

Vipassana Meditation April 14

That’s where it’s at. Shutting up. Sitting still. Listening, watching, attending. What could be simpler? That’s probably why it’s not so common: it seems the answer, the thing to do is elsewhere, in the doing, in the experiences to be had, in the life to live and sheer gettingness of worldly life. Not to ignore worldly life, but worldy life without inner work is hollow and all to fragile in its successes and fun.

I’ve been practising lying down, about every other day. But it’s not the same. Sleep is too close by. The body is too relaxed, has to do too little. The slight work in sitting up changes a lot. The energy too is more awake, more daytimey. It’s not like sleep where there’s nothing to do, it’s not like daily activity, it’s between the two, but it’s a step away from bed relaxation. And while there, sat still this morning there was the certainty that there is nothing else to be doing at that moment. Nothing I am missing out on, nothing I should be doing, no experience grander or learning deeper. This is it. Of course I then start scheduling it in: more of this please. Or even just working out when I have time. Again, it’s simpler: if there is nothing else more valid, just do it. Once or twice a day, for an hour each time. No scheduling or persuasion needed.

Meditation Journal 4 April 2013

Vipassana Meditation April 4

am 1hr

In the stillness, the root of a stance, the origin of a snarl, the basis of a tension or an ache, the origin has a chance to change, rather than the usual chain reaction of dislike, aversion. In the stillness, ecstasy bubbling away, different day by day. One day intense sexual bliss, another day as though sex doesn’t exist, celibate  Changing changing. Deep aches at the back of the neck under the skull. Tight mouth causing the disapproving expression I see in so many others and feel emerging in my own face muscles. Right foot tight from the ankle, across the top of the foot, and sharp in the arch. And then in the stillness my attention fluttering here and there, that which isn’t still is highlighted, pinpointed, and here is my very attention, my very attitude and it’s… squirming. Writhing like an injured worm or eel. Been hurt, spiked, and now squirming in some kind of agony. Watch, feel, it’s okay. I don’t want to put it down – put it down like a sick animal, no, nor put it down and forget about it, as I know how that goes: an unsettled day, flitting from thing to thing, ability to listen or focus shot to pieces. So I watch gently, allowing things to change naturally as is their want.

Meditation Journal 28 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 28

This takes such care, delicacy, to trace the movement of the self, or of neuroticism, as it flits from subject to subject, looking for security. Care to see it as it is, not to steer it but follow it, hold it, in a loving, curious way. I call it an ‘it’ but it’s not clear it’s an thing or an entity, and if we’re not careful we get into thinking that ‘I’ am different from ‘it’. Somehow in the care and attention the two are not two, but a clearer watching of the quality of desperation, the craving, the demanding, the seeking. At moments an unwinding of this two, leaving thoughtless non-moments of joy, bliss, stillness, unity.

Meditation Journal 26 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 26

Oh the freedom! Nothing to do! Just rest and watch. And even the watching isn’t something to do. It can be, of course; it depends how you are watching, the quality of it. This might be the meaning of letting go. Not of something else – how can you do that? – it tends to equal some sort of suppression – but letting go of any ‘doing’ in the watching. Then there’s a different kind of action, direct, now, no delay, no ‘I will do’ but seeing and action together in the now, in the simplicity of sitting there. In this quiet observation, the body and mind express, have freedom to unfold and tell their story. In safety and under a listening ear. ‘Under a watchful eye’ sounds a little rude, like the eye has an attitude. No, ‘a listening ear’ is better. Poor shoulders! Taking the brunt of it, this life. Doing the best they can, storing up fears and tensions. What else could they do? And now I’m introducing the possibility of them not having to do that. Is this what karma is? The previous incomplete or ‘wrong’ actions are stored up in the organism, and they have an effect in unease and tightness, to say the least. We can’t get away with anything; there’s no cheating or escaping. Any action has a consequence, and it’s all stored up, remembered somewhere within, in the brain or body, or energetically if you prefer, and there it is, karma, waiting for you. There’s no avoiding it for ever, nor for a day really. And in the simplicity of sitting still, there is a possibility of learning not to add to it, and in the not-knowing attitude of listening to sensation, there’s a different kind of action, one that doesn’t add but allows change. A change in action, a change in mind and body right there.

Meditation Journal 24 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 24

Where are you going? Why are you pushing in that direction? What if you don’t push or do? What is the quality of doing, and of direction? What is effort and where does it come from? Is it necessary here? How subtle does doing get? What is letting go? What is letting it go on? What ceases as the new begins? Can I allow the organism free reign while in the safety of a seated position? What is pain? What prolongs it? What is pain to me? What am I doing about it? What am I up to? 

Meditation Journal 22 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 22

So angry and irritable as I sat down after a morning walk. Long term frustration, not really to do with any one thing, but very ready to fight or at least bicker. Sat down, felt it, listened to it. Upset digestion, perhaps the cause? Often the belly would draw right back toward the spine, squeezing the insides. A deep feeling of exhaustion close by, occasionally washing over my whole being and it felt like I could sleep for years. Many years of not enough of the right kind of rest and relaxation. Shoulders scrunched up toward the ears, head bowed as the neck and shoulders tensed as tight as they could, then waves of release, breath returning to normal after quite a pant. Somewhere in all of the physicality and exhaustion, the irritation lessened, the wanting to fight a thing of the past, for now at least.

Meditation Journal 21 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 21

am 1hr

Noticing the internal struggles, the sides against sides, it’s easy to think of multiple voices, each having an entity behind it, but it doesn’t seem to be that way. As we have a head and a body, a being, to put to voices externally, it’s probably the case that we think there is a ‘person’ behind internal voices. One of these we think of as ‘me’. It’s not clear though that there is any entity or entities at all. Currently it seems more like a series of reactions of thought and feeling, all taking place within this particular body and brain. To say ‘it’s mine’ or ‘me’ is a bit of a leap, a very very common leap.

Sat with the body quiet after an early morning walk. Nearby to the thoughts and wonderings was an area of intense tiredness, frustration, a bundle of pissedoffness. Thought stemming from and skirting this area, seemingly at any cost. ‘Over here,’ thought calls, skipping along, nervously or confidently. But there’s no avoiding the area for too long, and it begins to open up and the body starts responding. A new one today: the throat. Lower jaw open wide and a stretch through the jowls and into the front neck, while mentally this darker area becomes all there is. There’s not much to say about it now, no words there yet, but a scrunched face, intense forehead centre and multiple colours, with a sense that there is nowhere other to be.

Meditation Journal 20 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 20

am 1hr

All about the right hand, arm, wrist. Not so much shaking this time but minute by agonising minute, tight in a fist. Images of schoolboy fights but mainly white light as my face scrunched, a kaleidoscope of limited palate: whites, yellows, greys, shiny grey stars. In the hand such inground pain, right in by the bones, even white fire in there. I no longer know what’s in the hand and what’s in the mind. Deep tension. Held. Is it the hand holding or the mind? Both. A mutual pact that is now being renegotiated by this neutral observing newcomer. Of course the pain isn’t from fights but from the use of the dominant hand on mouse, trackpad and keyboard over the years. Before that, wrapped around a pen or pencil or joystick or controller. And now, only now, it has a chance to change. And I’m letting it as best I can. Same for all so-called gross sensations. Not so many thoughts at three-something, deep in the night at my girl’s house.

Meditation Journal 19 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 19

am 1hr

The sense of returning to myself continues. In touch with parts of my body it feels like I left behind years and years ago. At the beginning today there was nothing going on, just sitting at 7 o’clock in the morning, breathing, feeling. So I began the practice of moving from part to part. And yet I didn’t want to: part of me felt that would be almost neglect to do that so, to leave an element behind in the mind that asked for attention, more of a younger aspect of myself.  So this feeling of connecting, of integrating for me is the most valuable aspect of meditation. Later, when the time was right, I began the practice of moving through the body and the usual suspects were apparent: right arm, foot arches, shoulders, neck – all had the tension areas which when met with attention faded away. The warm light of awareness. At one point I was curled into a little ball, at another point shaking as fast as I can shake, but without ‘doing’ any shaking. Changes, changes. By the end my right arm was entirely stiff like I could never move it again.

I’m really into this now and I’m no longer scared of it so I’ll endeavour to make time twice a day.

pm 50 mins.

The ‘no longer scared’ comes and goes, of course. The fear of stopping still is stronger in the evening when in full daytime buzz mode and just wanting to kick back for the evening. But there’s this crazy notion not to do that but to sit in silence instead. So, to make the sitting still into the kicking back that I desire. Why can’t it be restful? If I keep it up, maybe the aches and pains cease or settle and it can be the most kicking back of kicking backness. This evening: pains in the back of the right leg, nervy. Intensity in the centre of the forehead, still there. Other pains coming and going, appearing, disappearing. Amazing really how they do that. Mind spending some time thinking about some things I hadn’t thought of. How about that! Making some plans, having some ideas. I can’t fight thoughts. Why would I? Yet there’s an ‘ouch’ as I come back out of thought. So I make the ‘ouch’ what I come back to, the attack on myself itself the object, the sensation. So there’s aches and pains mentally too, all to be explored, gently, gently.

Meditation Journal 18 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation 18 March

am 1hr

Awake at three-something, back to the cushion that’s been waiting for me while I squirm and shirk, and yet somehow I always want to return. It’s the realest thing I know. Not the cushion, the practice. Take away the drama and keep it simple. An inner smile as I sat down, and soon a sense of returning home. Layers I have added over the years, various attempts at an attitude, a self in the world, fading away or seen as superfluous. Almost immediately the right arm, doing some kind of Rod Hull & Emu thing again. Later the neck. Later the head, shaking side to side. That’s always the wildest, not in terms of movement, although it is strong, but it’s like there’s nothing left inside the head but the left right movement of it. Deep tension in right shoulder and neck, and then mostly the lips and mouth. Major pouts seemingly undoing years of reacting to this world. A sense that I don’t need to operate like I thought I had to: some kind of artificial coolness, some kind of fitting in. There’s a simpler way, a truer self – dare I put it that way. Glad to be back at it, this non-at-it-ing. There’s nothing else for it. Left to own devices the habit and the norms sweep me on along. Lay an anchor into the cushion and let it all sweep by a while. 

pm 1hr

Back to the old moving attention through the body from the head, part by part, all the way down to the toes and back again. For an hour. I was reluctant to begin, preferring just to carry on with my routines, which basically means on a free evening: browsing watching listening reading. So I did some exercises for the fitness class that I’m attending and then I was more connected and with my intuition, so I decided, before I could find any more excuses, to just sit down. Why is sitting down the hardest thing? Just sitting still. It’s clear why I’m running, why we are running. Running from ourselves is the cliche, but I’d say we are running from our bodies. There’s so much in the body, so much to avoid, so much awkwardness, so much stored, so much, well, sensation. And this practice is great for learning to observe and not respond. Of course there are responses. I can’t help that. But just to remain equal, to be aware of them all, the many many different sensations, from the most delightful tingles and energy movement through to intense pain in the face around the mouth, in the cheeks, and in the arches of the feet. It amazes me how one minute the shoulders can be the stiffest, most aching they have ever felt, and then, some intensity later, the most relaxed and free. This is real work and I’m not giving up on it.

Meditation Journal 4 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 4

Each pass down the body is different. Feeling each part anew. Each part expressing something. Sensation. And to be in touch with the entire body in this way feels fo very genuine, like everything else I get up to during a day is fritting about, insubstantial. This sitting is substantial. Continually surprised at the depth of the aches and tensions. By being in touch with all of it, there is no longer anything to be afraid of. I thought I was afraid of the things half touched upon. Then there is fear of half of something, I didn’t know what, and imagination as to what it is takes over. It is simpler than that: what is happening now. No imagination. No reaction needed. No resistance required.

Meditation Journal Sunday 4 March 2013

Vipassana Meditation March 3

Strong sensation of fear. Feeling it in the chest but it’s very slippery. Which suggests to me that I am tying to do something about it. After some now obvious cat and mouse, I resume the head to foot practice of feeling sensation in each part of the body. A knot deep in the right shoulder. This time the sensation is way less slippery and my gentle attention is able to penetrate. The sensation gradually builds to a climax until I just can’t take it anymore, an overwhelming fire until it fades rapidly away. Perhaps even a little disappointing when it’s over as I’m back to the everyday. In the direct connection it feels I am really living, that this is life itself. The norm seems to be a game of avoidance and attempted action to do something about the state of affairs. In such close observation, there is nothing to do about anything. Pain in the right calf, which eventually leaves me sobbing. I suspect the reason we are so frenetic is avoidance of sensation. If I stop, I need to start again soon, else I’ll start to feel, heaven forbid.

Meditation Journal 28 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation Feb 28

To what extent am I controlling the breath? To what extent is it natural? A long inquiry into the subtlety of breath. Am I with the breath? Where am ‘I’? Then the body starts to move. Am I moving it? Back off; observe. Am I observing with a motive for things to change? Observe. The arm shakes to a maximum intensity, then ceases. A pain in my right foot. How am I watching it? It’s pain, must be bad. It’s pain, must stay with it. It’s pain, it should change. It’s still there: what is it like, this pain thing? Is it static or shifting? It’s shifting. It’s more intense. It’s actually almost ticklish way inside the pain, not painful. I almost want to smile. Headline: pain isn’t painful! Then it’s over and there’s sensation elsewhere. Building through my neck. How am I aware of it? I want it gone! What’s it like? A deep ache. Terrible. Why say terrible? I don’t want to feel it. Run! Off into daydreams. There’s the pain again. Not pain, sensation. The deep ache spreads into a wider area, dissipates. Energy rushing through the spine into the neck, head. The head shakes wildly until all sensation is focussed on a tense area in the head; the ultimate headache. Shaking, head shaking, into that spot. Intensifying then just as there’s nothing else but the headache, it’s over and I’m still, breath is soft, the body strong and upright, and it’s just another morning.

Meditation Journal 27 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation Feb 27

Following the breath. While with the breath the craze of thought is readily apparent. Upper back and neck arching back. Hands tight, fingers rods. Jaw stiff, jutting. Lips contorting. Feet flexed. Breath steady. The sense of a continuous self is tenuous, a series of moments of attention bundled into a chain of me-ness. 

Meditation Journal 18 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation Feb 18

Coming back to the cushion after nine days I wonder where I’ve been. Awareness is more consistent during the days but its nothing like when sitting still. Back to the cushion, back to sensation after so much distraction. Delaying tactics. Delaying what I don’t and can’t know of, but think I do. Certainly sensation. Gross sensation as they say. And that means pain. And there’s a response to it that can be seen and understood and so pain isn’t what we think. And the pains themselves, forever subtly changing, even if in their intensity it will seemingly last forever. In listening there is shifting, movement, aliveness.

Such deep aches! I’ve been living with this, going about my days, weeks, months, years, carrying so much within the organism. It’s incredible really that the body and mind can do such a good storage job. Hold it and lock it down with thought. And yet there’s really no need. No one wants it, this task, heavy heavy task. It does a very good job but entirely unnecessarily. Just that we were taught this way, how it’s been done. In sitting still I am finding out simply and clearly what is needed and what is not.

Meditation Journal 9 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation Feb 9

The pain takes me to the edge of what I can stand, the edge of myself even. I suspect this is what karma really is: the actions of the past are right here, embedded within us, locked in as stuckness, as ache, stiffness, tension. What goes around comes around, or maybe never left. We cannot get away with anything. But give it space and dare to feel and pay attention, in an atmosphere of awareness and equanimity and it starts to change, unfold, disperse. This is a right action, a karma undoer. You can’t will a pain to disperse, that’s furthering the same action that got you in this situation in the first place, but you can listen, feel, see, and the purity of that attention determines the rate of change. I just made that rate bit up; it’s not clear to me, but it does seem more instant in more complete awareness and slower in partial attention. Take a simple pain in my jaw. If I’m off somewhere else, thinking about last or this evening. In daily life I might not even notice it. In sitting, the experience is of pain, a bother, nothing much. Hone in on it, and allow it to have an expression, reveal itself and it grows and grows in severity. Keeping calm, watching, it gets so strong, overwhelming almost and then *!* it’s over. No pain. I suspect without the watcher experiencing it’s over in a flash, but in this dualistic game this is how it’s playing out.