A total action, a total seeing, an action whole, that has no residue. An action that has after effects of only the possibility of more right action. At some point, due to habit loops, I suppose, the non-total actions resume and thought takes over the game of time, with its memories and projections, fantasies and concerns. And yet in the quiet of sitting, the whole actions can return at any point, from a direction not expected, familiar yet new new new. In these moments there’s an absence of feeling that I should be doing something else, that something else is more important. In these moments there is no where else to be, nothing else to be doing, nothing more valuable or more beneficial than here and now, when I am not, but only awareness is. This is not a state or something to get to, and it’s closer by than I ever imagined.
That thing being avoided, it’s not what I think it is. From a distance it warns me of all kinds of things as to its nature. It’s fronting. Go near with a tender heart and caring attitude and it will start to change. It might get worse in it’s extreme behaviour and intensity, but stay with it, in affectionate yet skeptical awareness, and that intensity can’t last long. The games and the fornting are soon revealed for what they are: layers of protection. Thought wrapped around emotion, round and round. Curiosity allows the connection to continue, the soft listening. The breath may go wild, panting, shallow, fast and ragged. Stay there, without force or expectation. The body may react in shaking, exquisite tensions, all sorts of things, but that’s part of the game: it’s all good. Ultimately, I discover I am it, or I am doing it. For me at least, this inquiry needs quietude, some time doing nothing, sitting still, time to breathe, to listen, to connect, to allow things to change as my reactions change, to see the subtler doings, where my approach is refined and the right awareness is forged in the fire of attention.
Vipassana Meditation May 2
Waking up early now, naturally at 5-something or 6-something, with the birds and the sun. To the stool or cushion I go. Trepedacious but welcoming the chance to… what… make friends with myself. It sounds corny as hell, but how can one be comfortable with life, and allow change, if one is antagonistic within?
Usually the first twenty minutes are breathing and allowing thought to catch up with things it wants to think about. There’s not much I can do about that. I’m not big on the whole ‘bring the awareness back to the breath’ stuff. Thoughts processing, clearing up a few things, running back and forward. Then the emotional side shows up, and this needs a slightly different kind of attention, the mind naturally quieting. A kind attention. An embrace. And then later, the deep sensations of the body begin to express. Today deep into the eye areas, and the gums and teeth. A different attention again, one of the body, with a steady, unjudging gaze of the mind, overseeing operations but without taking control.
This is becoming good fun, and very very good for me. So much so that I even want to continue come evening time for another hour.
Breathing, breathing, thinking, thinking, thinking, thi… thought sees its own doing and is suddenly unwound and a purer presence is apparent, action in the moment unfolding rather than continuing on familiar lines. Sensation, sensation, sensation, sens… where has it gone, that pain which was so dominant moments ago? Waves of bliss, ecstasy, wellbeing, from the base of the spine to the top of the head, a sense of tingling lightness across the sides of the head, an expansion, openness. Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety, anx… it shifts and mutates as it is listened to, touched, let go of, without a purposeful letting go.
Deep rest early in the morning, beyond that which eight hours of sleep can touch.
Vipassana Meditation April 21
Allowing. Accepting. Feeling. Connection. Is-ness. No other place to be. Contact. A blurring of the supposed lines between me and my body, my body and I. The origins being discovered of deep aches, held tensions, hangups. Is it all in the mind? Or at least in the mind’s reactions? Quietly sitting for one hour, having naturally woken with the sun.
Vipassana Meditation April 20
Much milder than two days before. And in the midst of the head rapidly shaking side to side, a sudden bliss, a feeling that all is okay, at least right here. Bliss comes from nowhere known. It doesn’t seem to be caused. Evidence would suggest elsewhere that in fact all is not okay. Yet maybe it is. After all, how could things be any other way than they are?
In this local body, there’s the crunchy tensions in the neck, tightness in the tight foot arches, the tender right wrist and sharp right arm up near the shoulder. There’s slight fear in the mind, lifting as the sitting went on and vanishing in the moments of warm wellbeing during and after the head shaking. The hour passed very quickly.
Vipassana Meditation April 18
It’s getting crazier. After the thoughts have settled and the agitation that I carried forward has ceased, the organism takes over. I maintain a sense of equanimity throughout, quietly watching as the strange ritual commences. A ritual familiar yet variable, never formulaic. Right hand shaking so very fast. I take a peak and it’s really going for it, wobbling, shaking, rotating, flopping – by my side or overhead, over to the left. A deep knot at the right side of my neck, tingling sharply, then suddenly my head is shaking left and right, again very rapidly, up into the lower skull, then inside the skull around the back and right of the brain, shaking, shaking. There’s tension in there? Nothing I can do. I find myself sometimes thinking of unresolved technical problems somehow, while this intensity is going on. When I’m back in attention, the tension sensation intensifies, as do the movements. Then my whole torso is rolling around, rotating from the waist, like an ancient dance, from sitting. Then I’m arched forward on my hands and the head and neck stretched forward. Soon the right arm shakes again and gives way, so the torso takes my weight and brings me back upright and my arm is free to rave. Afterwards, this all feels exhausting and yet enlivening, like some old, old, very old tiredness has lifted, things I’ve been carrying have been liberated. It’s not so conscious, I guess because this is happening in the unconscious arena where the choice to hold, or not to, is taking place.
Vipassana Meditation April 17
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.
Vipassana Meditation April 16
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.
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.
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.
Vipassana Meditation April 4
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Vipassana Meditation March 21
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.
Vipassana Meditation March 20
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.
Vipassana Meditation March 19
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.
Vipassana Meditation 18 March
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.
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.