Joint Meditation Journal

Post Reply
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

My friend and I have kept a shared meditation journal for the past few weeks that has been really helpful in terms of communicating common experiences, sticking points, epiphanies, etc.

We decided to begin posting here instead to hopefully get more quality feedback and perhaps a bit more accountability to be consistent as well.

A little background: we've both read MBT and a lot of Tom's other content as well as a bunch of other meditation/mindfulness books. We've both been meditating somewhat consistently for the past few years and both seen somewhere around the same level of progress, albeit with different kinds of challenges and experiences.

Personally I've found journaling to a really helpful compliment to learning and progressing, so hopefully it'll serve the same purpose here.

One quick note: a lot of the language and framework we'll both use to talk about on experiences and progression comes from the book The Mind Illuminated. It essentially details the typical stages of meditation progression, what kinds of obstacles are present at each stage and how best to address them. For reference for those reading, the stages are basically like this: 2) Dealing with persistent mind wandering, 3) Dealing with forgetting the breath, 4) Catching gross distractions that lead to forgetting, 5) Dealing with subtle dullness, 6) Catching subtle distractions before they become gross distractions, 7-10) working with focused attention and subtle experience in various ways.

8/11

Meditated 1 hour this afternoon + some mindful walking earlier.

Spent the first 40 minutes or so in Stage 2 (mind wandering periods were usually brief but pretty frequent). I mainly experienced mild boredom, impatience and dullness during that period. These are the most common experiences for me when I feel unfocused; I get bored and impatient because I feel like skipping this phase and enjoying meditation states that feel more productive and pleasant. I get sleepy because of boredom and resistance.

The last 15 or 20 minutes were easier. The boredom, sleepiness and impatience mostly disappeared and I was able to focus more.

Thoughts:

  • I'm going to keep working on establishing consistency over longer stretches. On one hand, I know it's good to just accept where you're at and work with whatever comes up as best you can; in fact, that's all you really can do. But when I'm more consistent over long stretches, I feel like I can actually start to work on things, learn things, notice new things and bring my elevated level of mindfulness into challenging situations outside of meditation and be productive there as well. I do feel much better and more excited once my awareness passes that critical threshold where it starts to feel useful and exciting.
  • At the same time, I'm trying to be as non-reliant as possible on my initial state of consciousness. Perhaps the biggest mistake I made up until recently was to simply sit and wait until my mind and body finally calmed down, or to really try to force that calm state through extreme effort. My mind does inevitably become more calm and easier to work with from just sitting, but I think it's definitely productive to work with it before I reach that point -- after all, that baseline is where most of my life is lived from right now.
:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/14

Meditated an hour this morning.

I was basically in the intermittent mind-wandering state the whole time, which is more or less to be expected when I've been inconsistent for the past week. I experienced some sleepiness and impatience today but it wasn't too bad.

As I alluded to in my last post, it seems like there are two parallel processes going on. One is my mind and body slowly relaxing (which happens almost automatically as long as I stay still and awake) and the other is a deepening of my concentration. The former helps with the latter, but it feels unproductive when the only reason I eventually become rather focused is because my body has been calming down for 50 minutes.

One of my goals is to be able to bring stronger mindfulness to my reactions to situations throughout my day, in which that slowly cultivated body calm won't be there. And so far, the only way I've been able to be really concentrated without that is to have a really consistent practice.

Goals for the next few days/weeks include being extra diligent about daily practice and being willing to happily work with whichever stage I'm at. I'd also like to bring more enthusiasm to my practice.

:)

*edit*

This isn't necessarily meditation related but I'll post it here because it will be useful to track in this way:

I've felt really good all day today. Peaceful, calm and centered. I feel this way relatively often; a rough guess would be between 1/8th and 1/4th of the time. Yet it's often really hard to figure out why. Sometimes I'll feel like I've done all the right things that "should" set it up, but feel off, and sometimes I'll do the opposite and I do feel it.

Either way, it's clear that there is still a lot about myself and my mood that I'm not conscious of and/or don't understand.

Anyway, the major things that might have had an effect on today are:

-A long overnight hike/camping trip yesterday and the day before, which was difficult but peaceful.
-Lots of time socializing with friends during that period
-Mentoring several people last night and today
-Getting a lot of validation
-Very long sleep last night + normalizing circadian rhythms
-Difficult meditation this morning

Perhaps as this happens more I can get a better idea of what is causal.

:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/15

Another hour upon waking up.

I still spent most of the time alternating between focus and brief periods of being lost in thought. Felt a bit sleepy too so I ended up doing most of the meditation with my eyes open.

I did transition into that calm and focused state pretty quickly today. I felt really good after 20 minutes or so and by the end it had almost become interesting enough that I wanted to keep going.

Like I've mentioned in previous posts though, I don't think it's ideal to just wait until it becomes easy/pleasurable and then start investigating one's mind. I think it's important to work with the difficult stuff that's present early on.

I'm still trying to find the best way to do this. Today it helped to try to force more nuanced attention of breath sensations and then later skip ahead to looking for distractions as they arose. I guess my mind was just too bored with catching mind-wandering until it stopped.

Anyway, I feel good. My sleep has been really good the past few days which may have something to do with it. I'd like to get another 20-60 minute meditation in later today + some mindful walking.
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/16

Another hour this morning. Similar to the last few days, I've generally felt calm and focused, and that feeling deepens throughout the sit. However, mind-wandering has been present virtually the whole time.

It's strange how hard it can be to get stuff like this to stick; it's definitely not like riding a bike.

Regardless, the best thing for me to do is just keep at it.

When my meditations are pretty surface level, I'll work with that. When they're deeper, I'll work with that.

:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/19

Two shorter meditations today (~15 and 20 minutes).

For the second one I got to work a bit with the emotion of frustration. I noticed:

1. I could feel myself perpetuating it, like some part of my mind thinks I need it

2. I could feel myself really wanting to get away from it, as in finish up the meditation asap and do something to take my mind of that feeling

3. I could feel how disjointed my mind can be in general, with one part rooting for fed-up, frustrated action, one part rooting for distracting unconsciousness and one part wanting to just be present and work with the emotion.

When I find myself in this state of mind, it feels like being stuck in the middle of a giant maze with no clues as to which way is out, but only having a few minutes left to make it. It's like I badly want to do something to rectify the situation, but have no idea what to do. Or, perhaps more accurately, I have all these ideas of what to do and I'm being pulled in 5 different directions.

I guess that's just part of growing up, learning to deal with these things slightly better every time.

:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/20-8/21

30 minutes yesterday and 60 today.

Both sessions felt more like decompressing/getting back into the swing of things/gaining momentum rather than actual progress. That's really how it goes though; a lot of the time you're just doing the best you can when things are so-so, so that you can reach further when things are good.

:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

I still really go back and forth on that -- sometimes it feels like the solution is simply to sit and make no effort whatsoever to force concentration, while sometimes it feels like the answer is to bring stronger intent while avoiding frustration and impatience.

When my meditations are deeper, the two aren't really incompatible, but when I'm less focused it feels like they are.

That's been a big point of focus for me: how to most productively work one's mind when it's hanging out in the bottom quartile of one's personal spectrum.

8/22

45 minutes so far today. Still a bit distracted but with stretches of focused attention.

My main focus right now really just needs to be consistency. On one hand I don't want to be reliant on momentum, but on the other hand the first part of improving at anything is doing it often enough. I wouldn't expect to be a virtuoso musician by practicing for 20 minutes a few times a week; so too with meditation.
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/24

1 hour today.

Today was really interesting because I woke up exhausted and a little frustrated, and felt sort of "stuck" in it, but during meditation I just watched it all unravel. It's interesting to be able to separate thoughts and sensations from how I feel or what I do, because when I'm less conscious they're a lot more causal.

During meditation today, I could feel the sleepiness in my eyes but didn't need to react to it and I could see the frustrated thought patterns and just let them be and let them go. When I'm tired or unmotivated, it seems like those things are the issue, but it seems to be more my reaction to those things that causes problems.

I'm also starting to notice more and more how much the things I do affect me.

Staying up all night seeing someone Tuesday -> exhausted Wednesday and continued to totally mess up my sleep -> didn't do some stuff I wanted to do that day -> sleep still messed up today despite spending several more hours sleeping -> frustrated mood due to not liking the "down cycles" of my motivation/quality of consciousness spectrum.

I guess that's what happens when we don't bring enough awareness to the things we perceive as pleasurable; we don't notice how we can cause ourselves a cascade of dissatisfaction for a few moments of pleasure.

:)
SpiegelSpike
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by SpiegelSpike »

8/26
Meditated an hour this morning right after a stressful phone interview. It was much more difficult to meditate after having an adrenaline rush. I was distracted a lot and shifted my body position pretty frequently. It was hard to settle down and concentrate on my breath because I felt a strong feeling in my chest from the interview. I think I tried too hard to focus on the breath instead of placing my awareness on my chest where I felt a strong feeling. It felt as though I was too forceful in trying to place my awareness on the breath.

As a side note I'm really interested in developing a better relationship to feelings caused by social anxiety, fear of rejection, and performance anxiety. This is something that's been difficult but I'm trying to feel and experience nonjudgementally/welcoming whatever strong feelings/sensations occur in my day to day to see if my relationship with those events changes. Very similarly to how sometime I can feel pain (like at the gym) yet not associate any type of suffering to the experience.

In the past when I have felt strong emotions or noticing strong visceral reactions I've noticed that trying to use thoughts or trying to change what I'm experiencing or just forcing yourself to do it makes it worst. So I'm trying to get better at feeling the raw sensations of my emotions hoping that it will help me become emotionally more resilient and more willing to face my fears and live from a more expansive state. I'm not sure if this is the best way to do it but I'm not sure of anything else that's been more helpful. I've done a lot of fear exposure type stuff and I don't feel my fears or my relationship to my fears have gotten much better from just doing scary things except in the short term.
User avatar
Ted Vollers
Curator
Curator
Posts: 11788
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:16 pm
Location: Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Ted Vollers »

Spike Spiegel,

Do you think your return to the board after banning is not noticeable with so many similarities? What is your purpose this time?

Ted
SpiegelSpike
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by SpiegelSpike »

No I wasn't trying to hide anything. I didn't realize I had done anything wrong. I have never posted anything in the past. I first created the SpikeSpiegel account which when registering wasn't activated so I couldn't use it. I tried to message someone to help me through the "contact us" option but no one got back to me. Then I created the Brother account to try to reach someone who could help me with the SpikeSpiegel account not being activated. However I talked to you and another member and then for some reason that account was inactivated. So then I created this account because I thought there must be technical issues going on because I don't see why I would be banned before ever having posted in this forum.

My intentions are to post and talk about my meditative experiences, Spry and me are both friends, and we were doing a journal in everyday life to keep ourselves accountable and we thought we would do it on this forum because we both read My Big Toe and have a lot of appreciation for Tom's work. We thought it could be very useful to track our progress on this forum and interact with people very familiar with Tom's work.

Let me know what the problem is? I'm not trying to be a rebel, I would just like to post from an account that works. I'm more than happy to change my username if it is not appropriate to this forum if that's the issue.
Last edited by SpiegelSpike on Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/25-8/27

Meditated 30 minutes each day. Still trying to build consistency over longer periods.

:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/27 (2)

Meditated 45 minutes this evening and then stayed present for the next hour or so and just did each task as it presented itself. It felt really good.

It's particularly interesting because I notice that, when I'm in a non-present state, I feel anxious about the future and what will happen. However, if I just manage to stay in the moment, each appropriate next task DOES seem to present itself at just the right time.

I'll have to experiment with this more, and see how I react if I come to a juncture where it really is completely unclear what to do in the present moment, but tonight I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it flowed.

:)
Spry
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:55 am
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by Spry »

8/28

1 hour this morning.

Feeling like I'm starting to gain momentum again which is exciting. Still a bit tired and distracted.

Sleep is still a key issue for me. There are a few things that I want to do right now that inevitably keep me up late so I'm not sure the best way to handle those. However, 4-5 days a week there's nothing keeping me from sleeping at a reasonable time, which will help with meditation and everything else.

:)
SpiegelSpike
Power Poster
Power Poster
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Joint Meditation Journal

Post by SpiegelSpike »

8/28

I meditated 30 min today. Still feel resistance to doing it consistently especially for an hour. I might go for 40 min.

Felt a lot of energy in my frontal cortex. Not sure if this is dullness or not because I felt very awake and alert. I could also ear that clear white noise almost right away even though at times it is overlapped by a lot of thoughts. My whole body also felt like it was vibrating.

It was hard to focus on the breathing sensations at the nose or in the belly area because I had a lot of energy coursing through my body. As previously mentioned it felt like there was a lot of energy at the head level so the sensations in the nose area seemed really sensitive. I also felt the navel area very contracted and it felt like there was a lot of stuck energy(fear I would say) there which made it hard to just relax and let the breath go. The stuck energy/ contraction were there before I started meditating.

Lately I've been putting a lot of attention/awareness on what emotions/sensations are present in my body throughout the day. I am trying to be more in touch with how I feel prior to the decisions I make and the thoughts I have. I wonder if the contractions were covering unfelt emotions but they made it hard to relax and deepen my breath.
Post Reply

Return to “Wud I Say? (The place for free form ad lib communication.)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests