Meditation Journal – Day 60

Vipassana Meditation Day 60

Two months into home practice. Mind. Body. Sensations. Reactions.

The key is to sit down before getting involved in other activities. If other activities begin, the habit of avoidance kicks in and the momentum is so strong. Of course, it is still possible to stop but I’m looking at the path of least effort and still maintain discipline. Discipline needs no effort. So I woke at seven, got up, brushed my teeth, splashed some water about then sat down. What could be simpler? Except: Terrified. The terror of yesterday that I kept at bay through occupation right there in my heart. Okay. It’s okay. Settling into my seat, I noticed my breath. Good old breath, always new. Moving awareness over the body I noticed the sensations and reactions in each part. After a careful down and up journey, the strongest sensation was still the terror, perhaps unsurprisingly, so I drew nearer, noticing any reactions to flee or try to force some kind of change. Nausea, and a hive of activity in there, energy buzzing in such conentration in the centre of the chest, heart, solar plexus, upper belly. Is this fear itself? What is it without the mind’s response of labelling and reacting and pretending it knows all about it? Whatever it is (if it is an ‘it’ at all) it’s been around for a long long time. I don’t recall life without it. I’ve learnt to manage it, keep it in it’s place, lock it down, or let it express within confined groves, but I have never understood it. This sensation is why I have been afraid to sit still without occupation, ever since I heard of such a thing. In my later twenties at the yoga ashram, the meditation sessions were largely avoided. In yoga, a brief spell of stillness only, and still ignoring it. In yoga nidra or other relaxation, staying in the head apart from superficial tours. Stay in the head at all costs. And now I am not; I’m in a practice that doesn’t allow it. Otherwise, I know it is perfectly possible to avoid sensation one’s whole life. I’ve done it all these years and I know how to continue to. This is about unknowing. And listening. And patience. And life itself.


Meditation Journal – Day 58

Vipassana Meditation Day 58

am 10 mins

Overslept. Then sitting in the rip tide of forward momentum, threatening to sink into the deep waters of sleep.

pm 1 hr

Following breath as the mind went through the day at work, thought softening it’s grip as the hour progressed. Unfolding of wrapped up incidents, perhaps purely symbolic, but valid in its raw expression. Exposed at last and undoing in a brief flash of emotion wrapped in mind-created scenario. The feeling of missing something, that I should be doing something else right now, vanishing as the breath became all there was.

Meditation Journal – Day 57

Vipassana Meditation Day 57

am 1hr

It’s about wholeness, it’s not about getting rid of. Through some terrible mistake I thought it was about ‘getting rid of’. It’s not. After recent stormy sessions and then yesterday’s stuckness, today was careful, complete, relaxed. Although feeling exhausted I was able to rest within the grounded strength of the body, gently tending each small area of it, feeling how it felt, including all thought, sensation, emotion and tension. No more running, no more dashing through activity, there’s no need.

pm – Iyengar yoga class. More tending to and caring for the body. It’s important.


Meditation Journal – Day 56

Vipassana Meditation Day 56

am 30 mins

Thought takes on a different action in the arena of equanimity and non-response. It’s like the old game is broken. If there’s nothing to bounce off, it cannot continue its chain of cause-effect-cause. I notice a biting criticism and instead of a response of flinching, rebuttal, justification, further criticism or self-depreciation, it’s as if the criticism is criticising its very self, because that’s all there is. And that hurts the criticiser rather than another party, like shooting yourself in the foot. The criticism and the pain of it is of the same nature, and the same process and of the same thing, so it is seen by the criticiser itself that it is pointless and ultimately powerless. This breaking of the setup that allows the continuance of thought allows thought to bubble, express, but ultimately wither. It needs two and the second isn’t playing ball. Where thought is valid is in planning and preparing, bringing necessary data and working out – in terms of practical, rational matters. But when it is dreaming or biting, it has no real value or place.

pm 30 minutes

Mind very hazy, unable to connect with body, daydreams coming and going. Peacefully. Felt like I could float off into sleep yet with an awakeness. Vaguely with the breath. Unanswered questions about work projects getting clear without deciding to think about anything in particular. Later, some more body connection but movement more and a few inches and I was off again.

Meditation Journal – Day 55

Vipassana Meditation Day 55

am 1hr

Avoided it all morning, finally sitting still at midday. Yet sitting still isn’t how it was: so much movement again! As soon as I closed my eyes, an intense pressure came between the eyebrows, centre of forehead, face scrunched up, tears. Every part of the body tensed, released, tensed in different ways, arms in different configurations, fingers pointing like steel rods, wrists at strange angles. Then the movement really started, head rolling round, shoulders folded, body moving in circles. Then head shaking side to side dribbling all over, across my face, dropping on the blanket, mat, beyond. Not that I opened my eyes to see. I must have looked quite mad, possessed, and yet the mind incredibly calm, thought going off a little, coming back; no thought during the most intense passages. Again, spent, afterwards, collapsed in bed. During most of the time, breathing very fast and shallow, often through the mouth. And like in the early days, such pain in the lips, spiked by a thousand needles.

pm 1hr

Far less movement this evening. Very still for the first half hour. Fears: if I continue this, where will it take me? Insanity? What if I can no longer function? Is there social security for meditation casualties? And a sense that it will all be OK. After this I felt myself ascending somehow, walking upwards, and another aspect of myself was waiting for me, caring and wise, and a kind of merger took place between us. In the second half hour, areas of tension made themselves more apparent. Around the mouth, not so much the lips but a deep ache around the fleshy parts and into the jaws. A point on the right foot near the arch. The inner eyes. So, like on the course with the knots in my back, I stayed with each, noticing the subtleties of sensation, and how sensation shifts under awareness, forever changing. Then another sensation would come along, even an itch, and attention naturally moved on, until an itch became a tickle and I could smile. Later, a certain contentedness and peace that despite having a free day I took time for this. It’s easy not to but very unsatisfactory.

Meditation Journal – Day 54

Vipassana Meditation Day 54

am 1hr

The move from daydreamy supposed freedom to the practise of the meditation showed the resistance and reluctance of the mind to look, listen, feel; preferring to continue in its own groove, feeling all right but only within its own protective boundaries. Conditional alrightness. The change of aspect into sensing the body offers change, a change demanded and yet feared. I felt fear in my chest, not fear of change in particular but fear of some potential future event, the event itself imaginary, vague, bundled together from past images, but enough to give the centre of the chest a fizzy bubbling. The beginning rounds of moving through the body were very steady, listening to each area, feeling how each feels, sliding from one area to the next. Later, the sliding got rockier, with perfect tension coming into all limbs, belly, upper back, neck, face, releasing as attention moved on. Upon reaching the very top of the head, some sort of dissipation of everything I’d felt before, then a direct line from the head to the base of the spine, light and white close by. By the end, my head was rotating, then the whole torso from the base, circling round and round until I thought I was going to puke. And that was enough for it all to cease for this morning.

pm 30 mins

Waiting at the train station, anapana, light shows, not from any internal fireworks but the passing cars dropping off and picking up. A simple, relaxed awareness of breath amidst the rush hour.

Meditation Journal – Day 53

Vipassana Meditation Day 53

am 1 hr

It felt so good to be back in touch with my body, to feel each area as it was, the close contact and a responding ‘thank you!’ for coming back. Some resistance to beginning but I realised that I was still afraid whether I sat down or not, so there really wasn’t anything else to do but stop still for an hour. Distraction doesn’t really cut it as a way to spend the day. So there I was, moving awareness over different parts of the body, feeling any sensations, listening to any responses, letting thoughts do whatever they wanted to do, go where they go, and feeling closer and closer to the actual experience of having a body and a brain, what that’s like and what it means. By the time I was at the legs, they stiffened as awareness passed over them, and into flexing feet, first time round. No particular pain, more of a tensing and release, naturally, without volition. On the way back up the back arched forward, sobbing came, my left hand turned claw-like and the arm went into an armlock behing my back. The arching forward continued some time as my face contorted and stretched, exaggerated expression not found in everyday life, unless I happened to be a mime artist or something, body operating not to my will but to its own needs. It’s a curious situation and entirely without concern, even when the positions are so spasticated or unusual. Sometimes even comical: right arm in the air, pointing stiffly, like I’ve just finished a 70s disco routine, face in some kind of manic grin, left arm still locked behind me, twisted and hard, yet relishing this configuration, the master out of the way, the body at play. Or release, or whatever is going on. Again, I am not willing it, I’m just sat on a cushion for an hour. It seems to need to happen. Glad to be back at it after the Xmas and New Year shortening to 20 minutes. Glad to be back to the full vipassana sensation-based practice.

pm 1 hr

A bumpier ride this evening, even more contortion, tension, spastication, and not much evidence of any kind of release, ending the session exhausted, still tight, body, face and head aching. I am no longer sure what exactly is going on in the depths of a session like this: no thought, intense thought, bliss and agony mixed indecipherably, energy rushes, timeless states and then an incredibly time-conscious, all within the steady minimal occupation of moving attention over the body.

Meditation Journal – Days 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52

Days 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 – at staff retreat

Once the door is opened one forgets how to close it. This means ordinary situations become situations of great learning and authenticity. One feels how one is feeling, and there’s not much else to can do. The game is over, in a way. Not entirely; there are still tricks available such as technological escapism, using the infinite supply of media, but even then there’s a presence and genuine sensation isn’t far away. The things that haven’t felt fully have been offered a welcome and begin to arrive through the open door.

Experiences almost like injections of fear, direct into the area just below the heart or above the solar plexus. So many times during the week I felt this squirting sensation of fear, or adrenaline, or excitement, something injected on a thought of the near future. This when sat still or doing. Much outward doing ceased during the week, replaced by meals all provided, discussions (supposedly dialogues), video and audio recordings of Krishnamurti talking of a total education. For us as well as the students. In discussion, I spoke more as the week went on, despite this door being open, to fear or whatever else. The important thing is the reaction has changed to it. I’m not fleeing but seeing, feeling, with a sense of ‘it’s okay’. Not acceptance exactly. Acceptance seems rather bland, but something like acceptance-awareness.

Quiet sitting sessions twice a day, at seven thirty and at three. Log fire burning in the foggy dawns and again just before dusk, a few more of us but still less than half the group. And in the last discussion: why is it uncomfortable to cease activity? Can we have more leisure? Why this filling up of space and time? I feel very lucky to work at a place where we are given a week off to spend going into the fundamental issues and questions of life.

I’m looking forward, with some trepidation, to continue the solo hour sitting sessions, starting tomorrow.

Meditation Journal – Day 45

Vipassana Meditation Day 45

am 20 mins

Thought slips away and the mind is left as a sensation receiver. So what’s going on? A fizzing in the heart area, sugary nervous sensation at the solar plexus, tightening of the belly. This is feary. In the receiving is there any reaction, subtle or gross? What am I doing with these sensations? Can I allow full expression and can there be a total listening to it?

Very short evening sit while vegetables roasted.

It’s our staff week from tomorrow for one week. I will make some notes, but am going computer free until next Wednesday. Included in the programme are two half hour sits per day and the whole week will be centred on inquiry, questioning, listening. Thanks for reading so far, and happy sitting!

Meditation Journal – Day 44

Vipassana Meditation Day 44

Shortening to 20 minutes has allowed a steadiness to return, and an integration of the wilds of the first 30 days. Now I’m itching for more. At 20 mins, it’s just getting going, settled into position, mind quietening. Stretched beforehand today, some early morning wake up stretches. It’s been a while and I was reminded of the luxury of a good stretch.

pm 20 mins

Thinking about all sorts. Or should I say: all sorts of thinking – as I don’t seem to be doing it. Perhaps it has a nature of its own and can’t help but do it’s thing – bubbling away with concerns and fantasies and familiar grooves. Then something happens. I become aware that I was elsewhere, then I think a little about thought and while doing so another energy comes so that by the time I am done with the few thoughts about thinking, there’s a vast space and energy. Later, as a matter of course, thought in its nature has filled this space. The space wasn’t mine, so no loss.


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.