Looking into right discipline, right effort, right concentration. It’s easy to fritter away an hour in loose thinking, rather like the dreamy night beforehand. Meditation needs to be something different, with focus but not with any forcing. This is a fine balance.
Alone in silent darkness.
Alone: sat still,
alone without authority,
alone all one.
Silence: but for the night sounds of the building,
the storage heater buzzing as it charges,
the creak groan grind of the freezer,
wind buffeting the window,
an occasional turning of a human in a bed in a nearby room.
Darkness: it being deep in the night
when the early hours become the early morning,
still winter despite our hopes.
I like the winter,
it’s moods and its inwardness.
Darkness: but the lights of the internet,
a glow of a charger.
Only somewhat alone,
only somewhat silent,
only somewhat dark.
I can easily fix two with a mask and earplugs.
The alone part is where it gets really interesting.
Who is watching?
Who is doing?
Who is meditating?
Who is sensing?
Does he think he is different from the thing sensed?
Is he under any influence and so not truly alone?
Is he a he?
Is who a who?
Alone in silent darkness.
It’s clear that the brain can’t do ‘future’ very well. It can do past; it’s riddled with it; but the future is guess work, projections fuelled by pleasure and fear, attraction and aversion. An upcoming event in the mind seems made of a remembrance of a venue or setting, plus old feelings from last time, or many times, stored in the same ‘me in that kind of situation’ box. This is how it does future, and sat still in the quiet morning, its level of validity and potency fades.
am 1 hr
Excruciating. And yet when directly in contact with the sensation it is different, a pain is no longer a pain but a strange communication, a beacon: ‘over here, something is up’. Mind scattered through the first half, gradually coming together.
Going back to bed a while; it’s now 06:20 at supposedly the most depressing time if the year. I feel like I want to rest for a week, doing next to nothing.
After a resetting relaxation after yoga, a smoother meditation session, a definite unfolding inward, without choosing to go that way, an unfolding through an inner tension of the brain itself, as if awareness is getting closer and closer to the heart of the matter, and almost, seemingly, the centre of consciousness. There, if it is a place, it is black and thought has a great rest. More than black and more than a rest. Deeper, yet not comparable. And it’s a rest yet it is intense. Probably the slight duality remaining, a slight friction. But homely in its unrecognisable cosy intensity.
Every day, sitting up not lying down. Every morning, and a bit in the eve. Otherwise something builds up that needs to undo. Of course, ideally there wouldn’t be any doing up to undo and rules such as ‘every day’ wouldn’t be needed. But there’s London, there’s badminton, there’s Portsmouth, there’s work and there’s obligations, and they all create a winding up and that can and needs to be released.
It’s 04:16 and I just sat for an hour. Layers releasing from holds in the body and at the same time layers of stuff wrapped around the me as the watcher, the doer of scanning, the wanter, sliding away seen and releasing. Release. That’s a good word and even better when it’s actual. Back to bed but wide awake. I need more rest which will come in an hour or so.
Every session different. After yesterday’s gentle lingering on the most prominent sensations, I expected much the same today. But the mind skipped, twisted, danced, skirted, flew and didn’t want to linger anywhere. Awareness of sections of the body, the head, the neck and shoulders, the arms, the chest and upper back, the lower torso, the pelvis, the upper legs and knees, the lower legs and feet. Which all sounds organised and orderly. It wasn’t. Once those general areas were felt, down the body and back up, it was impossible to feel a particular part without skipping about all over it, flitting this way and that. There was no sense of struggle to control this but a strong sense of ‘this is me, this is how the mind is today’. So the emphasis shifted from the body parts to the ‘me’ who was doing the awareness. A strong notion of not stepping over anything to reach something else, some peace, some stillness, but to stay with the fleeting-ness, the skipping, as that’s the actuality, not the beyond. Appreciation of this connectedness, the listening to all sensation AND the bouncing self; appreciation of inclusiveness and inclusion. It can’t be a stepping toward the pleasure over that which is not wanted, but a gentle unflinching embrace of what’s there. This isn’t a doing from the outside; there no longer being a doer, but the me, the sensation, unfolding from itself. In awareness things naturally reveal themselves, including the one being aware, and therein lies the magic.
It’s important to keep starting over, knowing nothing. Initial scanning quite quick, surrounding the body, a few inches out. Noticed it could glide easily everywhere except the lower back and back pelvis where it would get incredibly sticky and would not move. Honed in on various pains: a knot in the neck, one to the left of the spine, the right calf, and sciatic-like nerves below the left buttock towards the end of the hour. All the while noticing my approach to these strong sensations and seeing if it is possible to feel without any cockiness, without any knowing, without optimism or pessimism, to feel so closely that understanding and therefore change is not only possible but perhaps inevitable. This seemed to happen in a few instances, completely focused on one thing, yet somehow feels total at the same time.
Dreams earlier of being slightly mocked by my mother in a kind of lovingly teasing way, leading to a mild shame of myself, while trying to help out with something in the kitchen when very young.
To lose control, such relief from doing doing, minding, watching, concerning. In the safe space of sitting alone, to lose control is easier. Not that it’s something to do: now I’m going to lose control. Nor is it an aim. It comes surreptitiously, in the midst of intensity, with a strange mix of bliss and pain, mixed up together so I don’t know what is what. Controlling has ceased. Even coming back to the breath smells of control, like it’s a good thing to do. But there’s a pain in control, a conflict, a should. It also smells of suppression, like it’s too painful there, so come back. Okay, I’m back, so now what? Stay here. Still control, subtle direction-making. No, to let all this go, without wanting to let it all go. Allow cessation.
An inner argument over how fast to move the attention was soon over, and a natural pace was easily established. It felt like more of a direct connection, relationship, link, between attention and sensation. As I continued downwards a strong anger and a deep sadness, the sadness seemingly coming from below and the anger raging upper right, I would say within the brain but it’s not quite clear if that’s where these emotions really were. On recognition of its actuality rather than thinking anything about it or applying anything to it, the anger was gone and so was the sadness. Any jumps of energy into a reaction of head shaking were in the split second of starting ended in some kind of relaxation response. A deep warmth then started to spread through the left shoulder and upper back. Really very warm, a welcome warmth. Staying closely in touch all the way down the body, the strange nervy numbness of a heavy left leg, a tight holding in the groins. A sharp pain and stabbing in the upper abdomen, on being listened to, addressed, met, unfolded images of being pursued, fleeing for one’s life. But not images from real life but from films, even if the feeling was that it was real. Overall a much more steady approach, without choice.
am 1 hr
An inner sound like a warm wind in the centre of the head and when it comes there is nothing else.
An absence of a decision maker, a body and mind together.
An awareness of the whole body, to split into individual parts is meaningless and unnecessary.
Minimal or no reaction to various sensations manifesting.
I am not different to the sensations.
A going behind the watcher, the system unfolding within a context unusual.
Not an I behind the I, that’s another trick, nor a ‘true self’.
Very existence itself, centred in this organism.
am 1 hr
I wondered why there is this sense of pressure, almost a mild panic, as all I’m doing is sitting here, there’s nothing to do, nothing expected of me. I felt the pressure deep within the mind and came upon a lid of some sort, with a great force the other side, seemingly the source of the pressure. There didn’t seem to be any way to take the lid off, but I left it with the notion that it was undone slightly.
Previously, an agitation and knowing that if not addressed right now, it will continue the whole day through and all I can do is hope that it’s eased tomorrow. Ah, the great tomorrow, master of delaying tactics. Feel now. When I feel as fully as I can, things to do change, shift.
Previous to this, more physiological goings on, head shaking rapidly again, neck bones scrunching lightly like there’s little bits of plastic in there. Strong sensation around the left kidney but towards the spine. Lips like they are coated with chilly paste, no more like injected with the stuff, sharp fire throughout, then they scrunched into ridiculous pouts and grimaces before releasing slowly for blessed relief.
am 1 hr
Head shaking rapidly, intensity at sides of the neck where it meets the shoulders. A spot just to the left of the spine at the base of the neck, sharp. Feet flexed to their maximum at times. Arms waving then frozen in a certain position out to the sides, each different, for quite some time. Let them be. A relishing of being in the body, not just thinking of being in the body or cursory attention, as it can be in yoga nidra which I have been doing for the last couple of weeks while on holiday and afterwards. It has its value but it’s not the same as the purity of sitting.
Now that we are deep into summer, autumn looms and that probably means my third 10-day course, in November. Time to get serious. Not because of the course itself but that’s a prompt, a reminder that this is the real work. Have been reading the rather daft Isobela Losada who went on the 10-day, and through the complaining shone some value, another reminder of the depth of this ‘practice’.
pm 50 mins
It’s a bumpier ride after work, thoughts more active and fragmented, unfinished thinking about emails, conversations, happenings of the day. They fairly soon slid into a gentler pattern though. Some sharp pains in the neck. Some ache in lower back. Some jumping of sudden energy making the head shake, but in shorter bursts than this morning. Feel a little sick and slightly disorientated afterwards.
Again, letting dissatisfaction be my guide, without looking for satisfaction. There’s a nagging beacon within one can sense and draw near, or go near to. Not that time and distance have much meaning once you really go into it, get in there. A disgruntledness, a piece of grit, a concern or worry, doubts and fears, layered and intermingled with each other, seemingly wrapped around the beacon which is still sending its signal, should one not get distracted by all the layers. The beacon, full of energy is perhaps generating the seemingly incessant thought and concerns, images and imaginings. Or these layers are just doing their job of thinking they have to protect something. Nearer still and the boundaries of me and it, of watching and thing watched start to get ambiguous and then in blinding, intense moments without time, there is no difference. I am not and the thing is not. And I am the thing and the thing is me. It’s rather magical and a bit bizarre and at the same time the most genuine, natural happening. This all occurring within a strong yet relaxed physicality, steady breath without control, and a gentle mentality.
Where do thoughts come from? What gives them power, charge? Why are they enticing? When sliding into thought, is it a little bit like falling asleep? Is awareness wakefulness? Does wakefulness need any effort? What is the dizzy, ill area? Can it be dissolved, or allowed to dissipate? Need I do anything about anything? What do I have other than awareness? Is awareness even ‘mine’? Is it a default state? Where is peace to be found? Within that which is not peaceful? Love and awareness seem to go together, with care and gentleness. To be suspicious of any other action, doings. The hardness isn’t something I need to bring, it’s not necessary. Not to deny it but to feel it and hold it in loving awareness. Things start to evolve, shift, change, unfold, in light and delight. Where can light be found? In darkness itself.
Back sitting after a gap while traveling, and then had a strong cold last week. During this time there were vague sessions of meditation whilst lying down. It’s not quite the same. While sitting there is more energy, alertness, and also it’s that bit less cosy, slightly more edgy. And still a feeling of great rest, or cessation, a time for nothing. Nothing to respond to, nothing to answer or to do something about. Something like aware restfulness, akin to peace. And yet the body is not at peace, waves of head shaking, mouth expressions, shoulder scrunching, and then a nausea rising, which I can still feel now. For the brain’s peace to be total, the body has to be at peace too, it seems, and this involves much undoing. I suspect a lot of life’s tensions get dumped into the body rather than going through it fully at the time. Poor shoulders and neck!
Thoughts off on the theme of independence. Body still going through shakes and tightening and scrunching. Whatever I do – just sit, eyes open or closed, follow the breath or not, scan the body or not, within 5 minutes energy starts moving and it manifests physically as head shaking rapidly side to side. Invariably that’s how it starts, for the best part of a year and a half. Mouth contorting into extreme expressions, way beyond the day to day, faces I have never made before. Lower jaw as tight as it seems it can go before rapidly releasing. Felt like it could snap but I suspect there’s a wisdom in this that knows how far it can go, or the body itself knows. Some nausea again.
Woke around 5. Pains in the head, which have been around for a few weeks, quite strong. After some settling in and cursory scanning down the body, it was clear that pain was the strongest sensation, so stayed with it for some time. The sharp pain soon dissipated, followed by nausea, which became the strongest sensation. So I stayed with that some time, never getting to the point where I really would puke. It faded somewhat and the strongest sensation became tightness in the lower jaw, so I stayed with it for some time and it intensified before dissipating. Then I went back to the scanning back through the body. The one doing the scanning was but a humble servant, doing as was asked. It was rather weak and downtrodden, and I could see that my action is often weak and ineffective in the world. I could see a possibility for this to change, for fear to go to its proper place and for action to be purer.
Woke at dawn, which these days is around 4 am. Vipassana retreat would be easier in that respect at this time of year! Even for half an hour, some resistance to sitting. No strain, and I also want to, so it doesn’t take much will to sit myself down around an hour after waking. The reason I didn’t want to sit is fear of pain. So there it was. It’s really only sensation, feeling. I let it be and held it close, going into it without picking it apart. After mere moments I couldn’t feel pain anymore, looking around for it. Then felt lighter but thoughts continuing, along the lines of breaking free, doing something a bit different than usual, and all the planning of such excitement.