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.

Meditation Journal 7 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation Feb 7

Needing less sleep. For so long, I have demanded more sleep. ‘If only I had enough sleep, things would be so much better.’ Now it seems I don’t need so much but this puts me up against the old demand for more. The irrational demand for more sleep is basically terrified, escapism, wanting comfort, more comfort. If I’m not sleeping, what shall I do? 

Awake at 0430 as if it was 0830, I sat for an hour, body still unwinding all sorts of tensions and aches. Now into the shoulders. Deep tinges and holdings there, into the neck. This is where I stopped before xmas, and haven’t really got back to it in the depth of the muscles there. And my face is still contorting, jaws, cheeks, lips, even the gums have an ache in them. It seems we dont want to carry this around, and previously I was only vaguley aware that I was doing so: ‘Oh, that old ache in the upper back, it’s nothing, it’s normal, I’ll live with it.’ You can’t get away with it with a meditation practice. But practice is not real life, they say. Yes it is. You are not different in practice than elsewhere. It’s certainly not an escape; quite the opposite.

Meditation Journal 6 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation 6 Feb

Equisite agony, pleasure riddled with pain, bursts of ecstasy, the poor body wracked with aches, the face stiff from society. Staying with the breath, staying with the breath, and in the staying, the one staying getting cleansed, observing more truly. All the while appreciating the realness of it, the simplicity of sitting still and listening, breathing, watching, feeling. I really appreciate this in a world of incessant action with such value and emphasis on doing. It’s so very overrated.

Incredibly centred and energetic throughout the day, completing work tasks with ease, mind clear. And for the first time I was looking forward to returning to the cushion this evening, to resume this ‘work’, despite the agonies of this morning. The feelings are real and I want more of this genuine experience. To come out of suffering, what more is there to do? A rather peaceful session this eveing, drowsy in the middle of it, body not moving very much. Some facial changes, into the mouth and lips where there’s often a deep soreness. Otherwise, staying close to sensation and breath, explosions in stillness.

Meditation Journal 5 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation 5 Feb

It’s easy to think that the watcher is the ‘real me’, my ‘true self’, pure, and that feelings and thoughts are ‘not me’. What gives the game away is the conflict in this situation, the friction between me and what’s going on. How could there be a friction if it was pure watching? No, the watcher, full of ‘should’, likes and dislikes and is subtly distancing itself from sensation and preferring something else, or approving. Today’s agitation turned out to be resistance and dislike to a feeling of nausea  Previously I would spend the day fleeing from something, not really sure what, resorting to agitated escape, muddled. Now that I am not who I thought I was, not the pure and true self, even if there is such a thing, and seeing that I am the same as sensation neutralises it.

Meditation Journal 4 Feb 2013

Vipassana Meditation 4 Feb

It seems it’s more about the body than the mind at the moment. I really did not expect such strong bodywork in this practice. Not bodywork in that I am manipulating the body or energy in some way but bodywork as in the body is working something out. Left alone in an hour of silence, not doing anything outwardly, no movement, it seems to take the opportunity to unwind. This is taking the form or shaking, rotation, juddering, tensing and releasing, swinging, clenching, expressions. Bringing awareness into the head and face set the right arm off immediately, a deep ache at the wrist, arm shaking faster than I can shake it. The lower jaw jutted out. The head shook, mouth slackjaw, the torso rotated in circles until I thought I was going to be sick, the head rotated, the shoulders arched forward, the legs, buttocks tensed, the feet flexed and released. Not all of these simultaneously, but sometimes so. All the while maintaining some kind of equanimity, and sometimes thoughts remembering or planning. Nothing too unusual in the mind and very cathartic in the body.

130131

Wrote to all the staff to warn about someone’s email account being used by hackers, asking for £2000 for a kidney operation for a relative. It’s obviously a scam but I’m afraid some won’t see it as one because they want to help a friend in need. Coincidentally the email came from the account of RZ, who featured in the latest Brockwood ePost, having donated photos to the archives.

Copying a 3TB drive to another 3TB drive, wondering without solution why what fits on one drive is 4GB too much for the other supposedly identical drive. At the same time, filling another drive with video data from the LTO-4 tape machine which whizzes at such a high pitch we have to close the door on it. If one wants to be warm at this time of year, just go to the back room where it’s a balmy 26 degrees. While all that copying was copying, working on edited summaries of talks.

The centre team are back from their breaks and having a staff week and clean-up ahead of the reopening in a week’s time. More facilities staff cutting the overgrown laurel and feeding it to a chipping machine. Amazingly powerful! Crunching substantial branches in seconds, spitting out the chips we’re going to use to pave the paths over to the school. Meanwhile the air conditioning company were here replacing the compressor they replaced two weeks ago, it being too powerful for our needs in the archive vault. CC said there was so much going on, people working everywhere, including up in on of the flat. I said all we need now is the washing machine to be delivered. At that exact moment, along the path that curves through the trees came the washing machine delivery!

We decided not to go surfing. Too windy and the place at Croyde with the sauna and hot tub was booked up. So it’s postponed until March. CS came round at lunchtime and we had a snooze together before I went back to work and she for a walk with a friend. It was so sweet seeing them walk off, arms around shoulders. Women are like that, men not so much, except in India.

Meditation Journal 30 Jan 2013

Vipassana Meditation 31 Jan 2013

The mind naturally goes back over the day when it has the chance, while sitting, or when lying in bed before sleep. If there is no current concern, there is more space for the day to re-live or relieve itself and of some order to come. The no-current-concern state can come by simply being aware of the breath for a while. In meditation the approach and attitude seems to be far more important than the content. If the approach is right, the content changes on it’s own. If the focus is on content, without an equanimous approach, the content wins out and gets twisted up and gets to continue its reactionary and habitual pattern.

Meditation Journal 30 Jan 2013

Vipassana Meditation 30 Jan 2013

It’s very simple, listen to each part of the body. It’s not simple because of what the body has been through, what the mind has been through, and suddenly the body is being listened to and the mind is learning how to listen. It’s very simple, each sensation is happening right now. It’s not simple because the brain has ideas about each sensation and decides to like it or dislike it. We are encouraged in this response – like; dislike – so much so that it seems a natural response, healthy even. It’s very simple, you don’t have to do that, to respond in any form of judgement. It’s not simple because even though we don’t have to, the habit of doing, of judging, subtle or not, is ingrained. It’s very simple, habit can be seen within this quieter time, and has chance to understand itself and even to retire. I am a habit and I’ve been given permission to retire. It’s not simple because the brain and nervous system is the most complex structure in the known universe. It’s simple, it has its own intelligence.

120822

Woke up in the bed of my love, the day lightening outside, the daylight alarm light bright on the left. We lay around a bit, no real hurry, and then while she brushed her teeth I put my legs up the wall, stretching them out after the cycle the evening before. For breakfast we ate homemade yeast free, wheat free bread fried in coconut oil

On leaving I cycled out to Sun Lane then right towards the south, over the bypass and out past the golf course, a 40 minute 8am cycle ahead of me. My first time in that direction. It went well but somewhat too soon after eating. After Cheriton, seeing the open gates of Hinton Ampner House I took the easier route up the hill through parkland but found no way through to the church and the lane beyond. So lifted the Marin over a gate and sped past the front of the house, only then remembering it’s a private home as well as National Trust. Morning! Then it was the country lanes, past estate cottages, farms, and to the long straights of Joan’s Acre and Brockwood Bottom. Back home I felt my heart return to resting and some inner swaying as I sat still to arrive back. Shower. To work.

The contact for paying the ransom said we had 48 hours or the price doubles. In something like a panic, I reiterate the instructions to the Americans, knowing that there are hours until the Californian morning but wanting it fixed now. Come the evening I am still waiting on word. Afterward, answering emails and reviewing remastered audio. Lunch outside hearing stories of Malaysia – hideous insect bites, perfect beaches – and Paris – cut toe and blood on the Eiffel Tower.

The water supply was turned off most of the day, still is, as they fit a new tank in the Edwardian water tower, taking longer than they hoped. Never take for granted free flowing indoor water. Never. We’ve not had it long, us humans, and it is a true luxury.

In the evening, read some letters I’d written 12 years ago, loaned back to me. Correspondence of love. So in some way it ended like it began.