Meditation Journal – Day 43 – Alone in silent darkness

Vipassana Meditation Day 43

Alone in silent darkness
Making no effort
When effort comes, soon to cease
Alone in silent darkness
No attempt to be aware
Awareness takes care of itself
Alone in silent darkness
No control
When I am controlling I give it up
Alone in silent darkness
No advice or teachings to follow
When I do it’s soon the wrong path
Alone in silent darkness
Breath steady, no guidance
Posture firm and relaxed
Alone in silent darkness
No direction toward the good or the bad
No direction away
Alone in silent darkness
Daring, caring, together
Alone in silent darkness

(2x 20 mins)


Meditation Journal – Day 42

Vipassana Meditation Day 42

am 20 mins

Feeling fear, in the heart, a fizzy tingle, then down into the solar plexus, and in the belly a tightening. Is that all fear is? Is that what I have been trying to avoid all this time, mere sensations? Added to the sensations are layers of thought of ‘what could happen’, and ‘better to avoid that whatever you do’. The thought seems more powerful than the sensation but it seems a bit tricksy, insubstantial, and certainly inaccurate in its projections. To project it has to use imagery from the past, twisted to pretend to be the future. It’s a scam and I’m onto it.

pm 20 mins

It was asked: Must we go through all this – the practice, the struggle, the reactions? This is the tradition, to try to do something about our predicament, to respond to conditioning with a conditioned approach. Is even calling it a predicament a traditional response? Could very well be. Yet there I sit, two times a day. I don’t know if I’m practising or being traditional, probably I am, yet I am providing an environment where these questions can be asked and answered in reality rather than as a mental theory. And at times, no, there is no practice and there is nothing traditional about it. Within a traditional practice there can be revolution.

Regardless, my body has changed. My back s stronger, I can sit straight with ease, my muscles are softer yet no weaker, and the lines on my face are smoother. My mind is clearer, less chaotic, less reactive. These are all positives that come regardless of the ‘must we sit, must we practice?’ questions.

Meditation Journal – Day 41

Vipassana Meditation Day 41

2 x 20 minutes

Nothing to report today. Short, restful sessions. I’m continuing the shorter sits for the time being, then in a few days our staff retreat begins, with two half hour sits per day. After that, I plan to continue the full vipassana two hours. I will however continue to report any observations and insights (if these aren’t too grand words) here.

Meditation Journal – Day 38

Vipassana Meditation Day 38

am 1hr

After two Christmasy days of shorter sits and a relaxed slobbing out, it’s back to the cushion. The days of entertainment and good company have allowed some kind of integration to take place of all the inner work of the last month and more, just being myself in front of the TV, during meals and conversations. On the cushion, a sense of familiarity and a quickening peacefulness in the corner of the bedroom used for nothing else. Even when sitting for 20 minutes or less I noticed it.

Right hand went like a claw, later stretched out, starfish fingers. In the claw, deep working into each knuckle. Some nausea from richer foods of late. Face contorting. In the extremities of expression I am that expression, it’s not me looking on; awareness. Does awareness need an entity to be aware? I thought so, but then ‘I’ would think that. It’s not necessarily true. Ended up folded forward, forehead on the floor, quick breathing, face pulling all kinds of faces.

pm 20 mins

Followed the run-run-run energy for quite some time before losing it in a fog of thought.

Meditation Journal – Day 36

Vipassana Meditation Day 36

Two 20-minute anapana slots. This evening, very clear that no element that thinks it is ‘me’ or in control is really in control, at least not for long. Begin to control and there is inevitable tussle. The former controlled becomes the controller real quick. The game was seen and it dropped away.

Meditation Journal – Day 35

Vipassana Meditation Day 35

am 1hr

At some point during the 10-day course, I chose to move quicker because the technique seemed to demand that and it ‘solved’ an argument with myself on how to best proceed. In a way I left something of myself behind at that point, and the movement through the body became less total in its awareness, less together. Not always but often. If the technique becomes pushed on by part of me, impatient, other parts get left behind, parts of the body and the psyche, and it gets very tiring and tiresome. This morning, exhausted, fearful, pushed into a corner by fear and fatigue, I had to find a way to move. And that was very, very slow, but as complete as possible. So, moving down, I’m thinking of something. (Is thinking a reaction?) Instead of carrying on, I stopped, included the thought, included the sensation in the area I was in, then together we, I, attention, inched along, part blending into part, and including the fear, the fatigue, the objections, the bright light of wellbeing, the attention seeker, the attender, the doing as I am told and the rebel. A feeling that if this isn’t an integrated practice, imbalance occurs and perhaps further distress and confusion is caused. After the excitement of the physical releases and blisses, there is real inquiry to be made, but not by racing ahead. It is inclusive. Same goes for off the cushion. Just because there is understanding in the mind, it doesn’t mean much of the heart isn’t sad, or belly isn’t afraid.

pm 30mins

A long-term tiredness, fatigue in every fibre. This isn’t something due to how I’ve slept this week or what I’ve eaten, but due to carrying so much for so long. And the work involved in holding and the decision-making involved in avoidance. These things, more than the carrying itself, are draining and use such a lot of energy. I can feel it as I go round the body, not rushing anymore, but sensing, and seeing the thoughts that come, the imagery tied with each sensation. Such torture. One striking image was a man trying to pull a World War one tank up a muddy hill, alone, not giving up, just relentlessly tugging. It is interesting to keep aware right down through the tension, through the tiredness, through the associated thoughts, through the imagery and beyond. In the beyond, something else takes place within all that has proceeded. Yet at the moment I am rather immersed in the drudgery itself, caught up, of it. And yet the actual movement and awareness is (totally?) without effort or trace of this work. Work in awareness continues to be work. Awareness is perhaps a default state and needs no doing.

Meditation Journal – Day 34

Vipassana Meditation Day 34

am 1hr

Including, for the first time ever, a toilet break. Included this in the meditation: so many sensations! And a reminder that I am not the master of most of my body. Or rather, it knows what to do without me. I don’t know how to digest food, being involved in just the top and bottom ends.

I’m kneeling for a couple of days as my left inner thigh is tender. Because I’m still getting used to the cross-legged position, it’s vulnerable when so much else is happening – all the shaking and leaning – so I’m giving it chance to heal up. The exploration into the observer of sensation and sensation itself continues. I’m up to so much, all of the time. Creating time, probably.

pm 1 hr

Lying down. An area of tension in the head. From the ‘outside’ it’s very familiar from over the years. It usually repels any advances quite quickly, or sends me to sleep. Today, on nearing, it felt like I would cry. Before long I was asleep. Each time on coming back, I’d feel the tightness, get a little nearer and fall asleep once more. Something unwound by so little awareness in there in the dark of the body and of sleep. Had a sense of deep rest, which is what I needed today.

Meditation Journal – Day 33

Vipassana Meditation Day 33

am 1hr

A rather barren, beat up, nervy landscape within. I had awoken at 5-something, full of jealousy, my lover sat too close to another, their arms touching, one leaning their head on another’s, while I sat over the way, in some kind of partitioned area glancing across, alone, deserted.

On sitting, there’s none of the lubricating bliss, the ecstasy dried up, no well to be tapped. Still, there I was, sitting in the early morning, as I am. There’s no other me or other body so this is it, however it is. Fear pulsating, aches in the body and heart, brain sore and raw. Yet thoughts not rampant, a feeling throughout that the old tricks don’t work, and that I’m going to be sitting for an hour, and again later and again tomorrow, so there’s no scheming for alternatives or delays. To start again in the New Year, for example. That was how it used to work: I’d listen to the ‘not now’. But now it is. And again. And again.

pm 20mins

Twenty minutes, like it used to be for a year and a half. And even then I’d often chop it to 15, or lie down. Following the breath. How tricksy that is! I want to do something about it, not just follow it. When doing something about it, it’s easy to have a smooth breath, nice and elongated and relaxed. And when managing while pretending to only watch, it tends to make it go all strange, with funny little inhalations, bumpy exhalations, emotional somehow. At other times there seems to be a cleaner watching, where the breath is allowed it’s own way, and the awareness just follows it. Open the door and follow it in, open the door and follow it out. That is, when I’m not daydreaming.

Meditation Journal – Day 32

Vipassana Meditation Day 32 – The Caretaker

am 1hr

The usual ten minutes or so of thinking through things, behind which there’s a settling down. I don’t remember too much about this stage, what the thoughts were and the mini battles that go on with shoulds and shouldn’ts, because what came later kind of wiped the slate clean and was overwhelmingly intense. So after ten minutes, vipassana begun, moving down through the body. Right arm shaking, into the wrist, arm above my head at one stage. Moving steadily down, deep aches and tension in the lower neck and shoulders. The blind spots of the back of the pelvis can now be felt. The tingles and strongly pleasurable feelings around the loins and perineum. Into the legs, sciatica pretty much cleared up, some tightness in the inner thighs up to the groins. The calves are quite blind, and shins and ankles. Feet arches, still a lot going on there, tightening as I pass by. On the way back up I feel like a caretaker, checking in on each part, and it’s clear that I can be a rather grumpy one, cursorily checking in, then slamming the door on the area and moving on begrudgingly. Not slamming the door because I don’t like what I see but because there’s a feeling that there’s so much to do: go to get on. Seeing these things, aspects of the observer, in this setting means they don’t have to stay like that, and after that the observation was much lighter, spiralling around the torso, rising up, and by this stage, there’s movement everywhere, from the pelvis up. Energy rising up through the spine, and shoulders hunching like they’ve never hunched before, reaching deep into the big muscles of the upper back and neck, head forward, head back, to one side, the other, no systemised stretching but a free-form movement unter my gaze, whatever I am. It’s surprisingly, pleasurable to touch so deep, painful, yet I’m not reacting, okay with all to happen in the thick of it. The arm has another go, the legs tense and release, breathing shallow and fast, rushes of energy up from the loins, washing through the brain. All this is exhausting and enlivening at the same time. I feel I need deep rest yet I am due to care for the chickens soon, then in the office. Such is the life of a householder-monk. After lunch I had an hour’s deep sleep.

pm 1hr

Again a steady evening sit. No shakes! Strong sensations in legs towards the end, tight aches. Early on, thinking about something and then: ‘oi, you’re not supposed to be thinking’. This ‘oi’ has been there since the 90s since I first read things about meditation. The idea of it stuck and there’s part that manages my mind like that, sitting or not. For years, a bit of a bully. In this, though, anything non-equanimous attitude is very apparent, so although the ‘oi’ stopped the thought, the thinking said, no, actually something was being worked out here. The compromise solution was to think about it later. Maybe thinking sessions are needed too, to go over things purposely, those things that need thought. Thinking about things of the day subsided if not ceased and body awareness began, cycles of thought coming every now and then. Overall, feeling quite content to be sat. I noticed an agitation in observation, an impatience, making attention unable to be complete on an area, flitting about. There’s a lot of flitting. I’ve been trained in it. TV is flitting about, as are people, as is my attention. In the crucible of sitting still, these flits can be understood.

Meditation Journal – Day 31

Vipassana Meditation Day 31

am 1hr

Eleven hours later and it pretty much picked up right from where it left off. Like the evening and night were just a pause in what’s occurring within my system, the sitting seeming more real than the drives, the conversations, the sleeping and return home, which seems something like a dream. The hugs were pretty real though. So I’m back on the cushion the next morning, the right arm going for it big time, almost immediately, shaking like crazy, a deep ache in the wrist. Left arm too when its turn came. The right arm does’t even wait for it’s turn, it’s just off as soon as it gets the chance. Step out of the way and the body and brain will start to fix itself, in unexpected ways. It may be weird and weird things will happen but there’s a sense that weird is what’s needed and that it’s all OK, nothing to be afraid of. Once the energy started moving at the base, a beast called desire arose, a vast shadow through the mind, demanding and craving satiation and attention. It wanted to run things, to guide decisions, have it’s way. Powerful but ultimately somehow… immature and baseless. It soon passed. More subtle are the more ‘innocent’ cravings for certain feelings to come, comparing to other pleasurable feelings previously. Subtle directors within: go this way, this way is good, that way is bad. No. See them all, all the movements and urges. Don’t react. Don’t force non-reaction but don’t react and there’s entry into another mode of existence. That sounds too grand. It’s just different.

Deep tightness in the neck undoing, body feels soft all over, most problems seem a mile away, not really relevant anymore. Nothing is solved but things are truly changing.

pm 1hr

The restfulness, peace and clarity of the absence of thought. Sublime bliss. This was the steadiest meditation yet, after the storms of this morning and last evening. I was expecting the same but no, a relaxed time, awareness steady throughout, even with the lapsing into dreams and back again, the switch from thinking to dreaming, a mysterious jump although not so different in basic quality. Time-based shenanigans either way. Yet the ‘times’ when it drops away, the thinking or doing, there is a quality of freedom, space, delight, ecstasy. We can only handle so much, or the organism can. Something shuts it down, or the habit of thought, of doing reestablishes, and it’s over. Yet towards the end, the ‘it’s over’ was very short as there it would be again, suddenly. This inquiry includes all that I am. I am so grateful to have found this ‘practice’. One month after finishing the 10-day course and things are really happening, shifting. Much of the initial reluctance to sit down has gone and these two hours are often a highlight of the days, steeped in some authenticity I don’t see so much of it modern life. Maybe this will bring authenticity into life.

Meditation Journal – Day 30

Vipassana Meditation Day 30

am 1hr

What Would Buddha Do?

It’s coming up on one month after the 10-day course ended. Recently I’ve been trying to resolve with my mind, meditate with my mind, waiting for the clear head, the lessening of thought, and then I will see clearly what is going on, see the nature of suffering. Sort it out my own way. I know best.

No. There’s a technique given and it involves the body. I’d been trying to do it too perfectly, make sure every part was felt, too fully, too effortful, and in this trying I wasn’t actually doing very much. Lots of zoning out, daydreaming and cursory scans. Rebellion, sat down and in life. Today, after some obsessing about work issues, I just began moving attention, in the state I was in. Down and up, down and up, cursory yes, but in a sustained way, more loops, more consistency. And things really started to shift. Thought naturally quietens in the face of the sheer physical phenomena. Arms shaking all over the place, knocking something nearby – ow! – neck moving this way and that, face contorting, deep ache in the inner eyes, jaw clicking and yawning so very wide. Energy moving from the base of the spine, however it wants to, in an organism and mind as it is, not waiting for the perfect time to practice perfectly. Sobbing at times. This is messy and yet it’s the cleanest, most genuine way.

Thanks, Buddha.

pm 1hr

Oh my fucking gosh. That was something else entirely. Thoughts thinking, criticism criticising and them a steady, real, quietening, naturally, gently yet quite rapidly, before vipassana began, moving through the body, down then up, at first a bit higgledy piggledy and then with more attention and flow and inclusion. I can’t recall the chronology of it all but at some stage an immense ecstasy started to build from the base of the torso. The whole body began to tingle, buzz, a curious numb yet vibrant sensation over the face and head. All the while continuing to move attention throughout. At the bottom and the top of each scan, resting with a sense of the whole body, a direct connection from crown of the head to base of the spine, including all the limbs and extremities and male titties, and not forgetting the ears. Thoughts coming, and when they go – whoosh – some other level. Not a gradation of levels but – suddenly – higher, deeper, beyond, nearer. More bliss than any sex or drug, body and mind calm and in wonderment, overwhelmed. And then the body started releasing: mega shakes in both arms, one at a time, shoulders hunched way up, the big muscles of the upper back and into the neck full of it, all the stuff, head bowed forwards at times, then kind of arching back, then into the sides of the neck, extreme tension and then release, then head shaking this way and that, feet flexing and pointing, arches crying, sobbing as it all goes on, and at the same time as the sobs an incredible all rightness pervading. Nothing wrong here. Up into the jaws, ridiculous expressions, face and head still tingling despite the full expressions made the the face without my involvement. What am I doing in all this? I’m not sure. Watching. Feeling. Not even that at times, just there in it all as it all happens without me. Humbling. Full breath. Slowly, slowly returning to normal, body still, heavy breath, head clear. It’s like being operated upon from within and without, touching even beyond what I think of as my body, like I’m a few inches larger (lightly large) than I thought I was. In the post-ecstasy I glance at my watch – 54 minutes. I come to the heart: may I be free, may I be happy, may I be liberated, may I be well, may I be fortunate. And to those I know, may they be happy, may they be well, may they be fortunate, may they be peaceful. And to the whole world, all the people, may they be well, may they be happy, may they be liberated, may they be free. Not forced wishes, just wishes. Then an om.


Perfect adjustment to an abnormal society

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” –  Aldous Huxley

Meditation Journal – Day 29

Vipassana Meditation Day 29

am 1 hr

The cave floor had become a little uncomfortable at some point in the past, so clay had been brought in to smooth it out, filling in the lower parts, cracks and grooves, and rounding off the craggy points. I’d gotten used to this smoother floor but forgotten about what had been covered up and not knowing what the original floor was like. Was it really so uncomfortable, or was it what I’d put on it that made it so? Was it the floor that needed smoothing or to mask my own lumpy and messy accumulations? The artificial floor itself had gotten uncomfortable. A fine layer of straw and then linoleum and then carpet. Better and better carpets ended up being sickening in comfort, and still certain artefacts insisted in making uncomfy bumps or poking through the layers. Let’s peel it all off. Let’s not rip it up because that might damage the original floor, although I imagine it is tougher than I imagine it to be, or untouchable by what I do. But on the original floor, underneath the finery and clay, are tender spots, things I didn’t want to feel at the time, unfinished items not allowed to roll or be put away in the right place. So they lie where left and I’m gently lifting the rug, scraping the clay with the tool of vipassana and the fine brushes or awareness and equanimity, like the fine haired brushes used in archaeology.

Legs tensed, feet tensed, right arm shook. There was great fear and a general discomfort and tearfulness nearby.

pm 40 mins

Resistances are fighting back, with a few sittings recently at 40 minutes. Two planned that way but today, left leg dead and low in overall energy, I just quit it. Decided in a flash, not without some sort of disappointment, and not really with any relief as I know by now that nothing is really relieved or changed by quitting sitting. Just more opportunity to distract and continue the sort of game of living being played out in the 21st Century. And no doubt it’s not ever been any different over the ages. We are either aware in equanimity of the changing nature of existence (to put it in vipassana terms) or we are not. But it felt good to stop still even if I didn’t feel like it. And it feels fine to stop early. There’s no great shakes about it and I’m not under pressure from myself. Yet something of discipline is required else habit takes over and I’ll just hang about or get busy instead of sitting still. Discipline is not enforced but comes with interestedness and the understanding of what’s important.

Meditation Journal – Day 28

Vipassana Meditation Day 28

am 25 mins

Not to do anything is the easiest and hardest thing. Easiest: how can it be hard when you don’t have to do anything? No effort, striving, doing, thinking, solving. Hardest: I’m doing all those things, or they are happening. Sitting still, it becomes clearer what I’m up to and easier to let it go. I don’t think ‘letting it go’ is how it ceases, it’s more like the doing realises it is doing, and retires in that instant. And so in doing something, cessation results, breaking the chain, whereas doing always has led to more doing, a reaction, and from the reaction doing something about that too, and so the loops and chain continues. The cessation seems to come from nowhere, out of the blue as it were, and with it this delightful sense of freedom and space unrelated to what has gone on before. This may sound high and wondrous but it isn’t really, taking place as it does within the mundane, the ordinary, of a mind and body sat with its content brought to the cushion from the activity just before, and from the night’s dreams, and from many years.

pm 1hr

On point. Awareness of breath at the nostrils was clean. Little drama thought or daydreams, probably because had slept beforehand. Movement through the body: right leg tensed as I reached the forehead at the start; at feet, tensed right up; mouth tensed, lips tensed, jaw tensed, to the back at the joint, and it moved side to side in full range. Lips tight and slow movement of full-on expressions of pouting for a good few minutes. Right bicep pain. A delicious ecstasy teasingly nearby for the whole hour, stronger when nearer to each part.

Meditation Journal – Day 27

Vipassana Meditation Day 27

am 1hr

This is where I usually quit, or turn back, or suspend, or run the fuck away. The sheer uncomfortableness of it is enough to make you think ‘this isn’t working’, try something else. But it is working in the sense that it’s led to a place deep anguish and stuckness, aches and pains ignored or hidden for year, emotions not finished, troubles unresolved. Wanting to shout, cry, wail, fall to the floor. But instead to sit still, nobly if seen from the outside, and tormented within. Uncomfortable in this body. How strange! Understanding that the practice isn’t causing this, but revealing it, and in non-reaction is allowing something different to happen. This time round.

pm 1hr

Wired, wired, wired. Which is fine-ish when at work, clicking, typing, scrolling, reading, organising, meeting. And then, not long after: so still, eyes closed, nothing to click, do, work out. Wired? Strung out maybe more like it. Some kind of internal bracing for some future event imagined from the past. No idea what it is but better protect myself, tighten up. Something might happen boy so ready yourself. I’m ready – look how ready I am, all tensed up and ready to spring! Probably ready to run. Or fight it. So is this primal, the good old fight or flight? Not really needed in today’s office and home environments, but there I am, ready for it. Include this feeling. Include the bracing, the readying, the buzzy wired feeling. Include it all. You can’t just hope it’s going away. It will fade but it’s not going away without some kind of understanding of what’s going on in direct perception.

Meditation Journal – Day 26

Vipassana Meditation Day 26

am 1hr

It started as a slow drift back towards sleep. It turned into an inquiry into action, an action where there is nothing else that should be being done right now. It was obvious when I was skimping, sliding across sensation instead of contacting it, shooting past instead of stopping to listen. This is so very familiar in the outside world. When there is contact, movement in it’s correct timing, something else happens. Action. Otherwise things remain as they have been. It’s as much about the listener as the thing being listened to.

pm 1hr

No technique, method, system, just laid down for one hour wondering about what (the hell) is anger. I’m none the wiser. Something to do with imposition. And a boiling pot of water.