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.


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.

Meditation Journal – Day 25

Vipassana Meditation Day 25

am 1hr

A complete novice. There is no progress or advancement in this, not really. Each time it’s a man sitting down in a corner of a bedroom. He’s been told a few things, two basically: awareness, equanimity. He’s been taught a technique of moving attention through the body. In a context of: everything changes. And that’s about it. Oh, and someone told me that the observer is the observed, many times. So I found myself sat in a familiar place but unfamiliar with what to do, what happens here. It’s about suffering, misery. Those things I know are true but do my damnedest to avoid. Suffering of the mind and body, of the organism. Why is this? Why is there suffering when all that’s happening is that a body is sat on a cushion of a morning? What’s happening? The first clue was tension. In my mind. Tension and a kind of anxious desire to move, to be somewhere else – asleep? On a beach? In some kind of heaven? Doesn’t really matter where, just move! It’s beautiful how this practice strips that option away, physically at least. One doesn’t move. One can change position. I learnt a while ago that that does nothing. Change position in the mind then. That’s what I’ve been doing for all these years. I haven’t found a position there with no suffering. All the places are the same no matter how pleasuarable. So that’s another beauty of this practice: the obviousness of escape, of craving and aversion, in the light of physical stillness, awareness and equanimity as it is. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, outwardly and inwardly. The agitation, the slight discomfort in the legs, the stiff neck and upper back, the emotion, the parts of me pretending it’s all right but knows it’s not, the part that knows it all is all right but pretends it’s not. It’s all me and here I am, showing up perhaps for the first time, more than half way through the given life expectancy of a man in the UK. Never could be any other way. There’s no other way. Etc.

pm 1hr

Conversation elements from the day reverberating.

Some kind of insistence of coming back to the breath soon dropping away.

Who cares?

Who’s to say come back?

Rather, let it peter out of it’s own accord, the to and fro of thought.

The following of a thought.

A bright idea I had in India once.

And did it.

Then and now.

After many twists and turns, a bumpy ride, the thought led me to a shouting voice, calling over and over like a dog barking.

Shouting words I can’t remember. Pointless words taking a lot of energy.

That finished pretty quick and… I was in.

What was me anymore wasn’t clear but I was in, at the deeper levels of the organism,

Brain and body and whatever else we have.

Moving down, exploring, no pushing, no shoulding.

I was in at the service levels, feeling, staying, sensing, gentle.

Repair work being undertaken, not by me but under the light now there because I was there.

Thoughts rippling in at times carrying, at times not. In from where, to where.

Then stillness in the mind, sustained, while parts of the body called out and were heard.

This is healing, there’s no doubt about it.

Changing. Changing.


Meditation Journal – Day 24

Vipassana Meditation Day 24

am 1hr

Different every time. Awake at 4-something. At just before five in the house in Alresford, I got the thick blanket around me, sat on some cushions, feet on a sheepskin, wrapped in another blanket against the minus five air beyond the window. Mostly in my head the hour long, some problems presented themselves clearly, and otherwise often half dreamed the time by.

pm 1hr

The feeling of reaching out to something else, somewhere I think I’d rather be. The anxiety and instability this causes! Unsettled and grasping, desperate. In awareness, this feeling of ‘elsewhere’ was negated and suddenly here I am, right in the present. Time to breathe, time to move in a very different way, through the body. A feeling that I need infinite time for this, give me more than an hour. For what? Across the tingly scalp and into the deader forehead, eyebrows, bridge of the nose. The nose! Suddenly I am in my nose. I am my nose. It’s become very tense. The entire nose has elongated, seemingly and tightened. A little into the area below the nostrils but mainly the fleshier parts of the nose. OK then. That lasted a wile and then I’m in the lips, and moving into an extreme pout of sorts. This moves and changes, each time ending in the thousand needles feeling. This time the tension/release reached into the gums and deep into the jaws. Then an full open mouth, but not a yawn. Wider. Rounder. Then a kind of Stephen Hawkins thing with the lower jaw. Here, the shoulders hunched and the back arched and the body started tilting forward, forward until the top of the head met the floor. Oh. OK then. And there I stayed, mouth relaxing out, feeling the upper back, breathing deep and fast and full in a kind of exhaustion. Eventually it felt there was a possibility of coming back upright without forcing it, so slowly I came up. What a novelty to be straight again! It had only been some minutes but it felt so new. Soon afterwards it was all over.

Meditation Journal – Day 23

Vipassana Meditation Day 23

am 1hr

Within the discipline of sitting for one hour there is a hell of a lot of freedom. I’m seeing the absolute value of this Goenka-taught technique. It’s tempting to sit there and be somewhat aware of the breath, meanwhile the mind and body continues pretty much as when in sleep, or awake, or a blend of the two, doing it’s own thing. I.e. not so different from just resting. Not that ‘different’ is the point of this. The point is to come out of suffering and that’s not going to happen sitting and daydreaming and being vaguely aware of the breath or anything else. So there’s this simple technique of moving attention through the body from head to feet and then from feet to head. To notice sensation. To be in touch with sensation. To be aware of sensation in equanimity  This sensation is the elusive ‘what is’. Or should I say this sensation, together with the reaction to it, or non-reaction, together with the awareness is the ‘what is’. And it’s there that things change, shift, move, in a way that is way beyond my understanding. There’s a nature there in our organism, that knows what it needs.

So in the freedom of sitting, when the right arm starts shaking I let it shake. I thought, ‘Not again,’ and then the thought went and I was there with the arm as it shook, lifted, moved over to the left, shaking intensifying, tensions through the upper arm into the neck and then my head joined in, moving side to side, wobbling into the low jaw, loose and mouth dribbling as it shook in a way that is beyond my ability to shake by volition. It’s kind of wild. Wild seems genuine. Not enforced wildness but wildness that comes in this setting of sitting. It calms down at some point. I come back, breathing deep, like after sex or running.

Talking of sex, there’s a massive energy down at the base of the torso. I think it’s sexual but it’s not really, that’s just the way its gone before. Where does it want to move, what does it want to do? It moved past the point where the body reacts sexually, into the very low abdomen, where it all tightened up, the energy tingling and oozing so liberally, and then dissipates. Liberal like it has endless resources. And then it’s all over, the shaking, the energy moving, the wildness that I don’t understand, nor want to, and it’s me and my body and time for work.

pm 1hr

After this morning’s wildness, very very smooth. Thought settling down, seemingly to the very bottom of the brain. I’m sure physically that’s not where it is, but that’s what it seemed like. Above that, a vast expanse of the mind, full of energy and vibrancy, very spacious. And this is so very restful, even in the alertness. No shaking this evening. Gross sensations: inner thighs, central upper back, and that was about it. Intense energy around the bottom of the spine, sending shivers of bliss and something like a mini-orgasm up through the back. This without the sex and the genitals beying invoved. Interesting…

Meditation Journal – Day 22

Vipassana Meditation Day 22

am 1hr

Nausea, stomach up the throat, the sick, sweet, expanded feeling.
Right hand tightened to a hook fist, spastic lock through the wrist.
Sciatic nerve, right buttock, hip. Didn’t pinpoint it.
Side of the neck mild tension.
See where I am making an effort and it ceases.
The depths of fear and it’s paralysing lock on a life.
The depths of grief and how the person grieved is of myself.
Yestarday’s headache largely gone.
Is it possible to include all elements of thought and the thinker in awareness?


Yoga class. Pranayama and restorative poses for the penultimate class of the year.