Did most of my meditations and I seem to be getting back to working off finding an answer after two weeks of slowness. I felt at the time I had to do that and now I think I was right. I’m more conscious of why I meditate but this always happens briefly after a break so I’m hesitant to say it’ll stick though I wish so much it would. I can just see I want to work towards facing the hound of heaven, I want to work towards a clean mental house and when I sit to meditate I feel that more often.

On Saturday I woke up to loud music from my neighbor and so couldn’t fall back asleep the way I normally would to delay the day a bit farther (sleep is productive). While lying in bed the idea hit me I wanted to focus the day on a line of questioning that’d come up in yesterday’s meditation. This is something of a dream for me – to feel inspired to have a priority for a day. I didn’t act on it much but did remember it often. I hope it’ll happen again and I’ll act on it more.

Lots of tension after Sunday PSI meeting. Pity and anger and frustration. Fear. Perfect conflicts. My life is empty and can never be otherwise and I am scared to stop moving. I finally requested time off for retreats and isolations for the year and the company spazzed. I do not see it as unreasonable and think if I ask to see it from their perspective that will be interpreted as asking too many questions.

Worse than usual I didn’t get much done – missed some meditations and not keeping up with my to-do list. I was trying to do what I wanted to, which was reading a personality type web forum I like. Someone sent me an excerpt from John Kent’s thesis which has this line on progress I can identify with this week:

“Rose asserts that Realization is all at once, or not at all: “You don’t go anywhere until you arrive.” Yet, there is a qualifying aspect to this. One can “position” oneself for its happening. The task can be likened to a large balloon tied to the earth by a thousand cords. The balloon cannot fly away until every cord is cut. It either remains bound or it is free; there is nothing in-between. Yet, the work is in the form of severing each cord, one at a time; the cords being ignorance, identification, egotism, delusion, lust, and so on. Until the final cord is cut, it is true that the balloon remains fastened to the earth and it seems to the seeker that no progress has been made, despite all of one’s efforts. Yet, progress can be considered to consist of the continual severance of the bonds, until the last one is finally cut—or the lift of the balloon’s force impatiently tears it out of the ground, stake and all.”

Two conviction states

My mood varied this week: It went from lows of I am making no progress and never will, to optimism. The lowest one came from some combination of feedback that indicated I’m still on beginner stuff (so have 20 years of work left) and seeing my weight has gone up (which undoubtedly contributed to my mood). Optimism would just return eventually as some encouraging fact would show up.

My weekend was at my mother’s house, and on the way down I watched my mood switch from I-want-to-drive-my-car-off-the-road-but-am-afraid despair to maybe-I-am-making-progress optimism. On the drive back there wasn’t as much volatility but in a mood I composed a poem, which is unusual. It’s too embarrassing to post.

It would be frightening and unbalancing how convinced I am in these two opposite convictions states, but I’m currently in the optimistic one.

A month long meditation experiment

I have just concluded a month long meditation experiment and this post is about my plans, experiences and conclusions. The reason for publishing this was to force myself to take a few moments and think about what I got out of the experiment. And I also hope that it will be of inspiration or entertainment to others.

What I planed:
The idea was to go for a walk everyday in the month of May with the aim of looking within.  I intended to follow the instructions outlined by Art Ticknor in his common sense meditation (In short it’s looking at what you think you are till it’s confirmed or denied, if you don’t care to read the entire instruction). He also advice to keep a journal on the progress.  And finally I decided not to set a timeframe for the meditations and just make sure to get out every day.

How it actually turned out:
I somehow managed to meditate every single day of the month, but I did miss writing the journal a few times. Having a daily meditation not only made me look/think when I was walking but also kept my attention on the subject at other times during the day.

The time spend on meditation differed from day to day, but was between 42 and 59min; 13 times, between 1h and 1h 45min; 14 times and both less and more 2 times each (15min, 30min, 2h and 2h 26 min). Total was 32h 48min in 31 days. Timing the meditation has been valuable to get a sense of the amount of time I put into it, but I don’t see a reason to keep this up in the future.

Another thing I noticed about time is that I tend to put more energy and time into the meditation when it’s carried out in the beginning of a day. The quality of the meditation was also lessened by being tired, just having eaten and not getting enough water. And if I walked in crowded places the focus tended to drift more out into the world.

When I first started this mediation I tended to get caught in thinking about the issue rather than just looking. And this tendency repeated itself in the end, when what I observed got more abstract. But keeping at it seems to be the solution to that.

Much of the time for looking was spend with random thoughts that came up. And whenever I noticed this I just led my attention back to the problem. The amount of random thoughts was highly affected by the turmoil in my life and planning for tranquility is probably good to get the most of the meditation. Another thing to note on the random thoughts was that they had much higher therapeutic value during meditation, than during the rest of the day. So maybe the random thoughts weren’t so bad after all.

I experimented with both running and sitting with a pen and piece of paper. Running seems like a good thing for a creative process more than for this kind of intense looking, as my mind kept popping up new ideas. The sitting with a pen and piece of paper was a good way to keep my attention on the subject at hand, but I still prefer to combine it with physical activity. The days, when getting out of the door was the most difficult, was also the days when the break, fresh air and change of environment was most needed. I suspect that part of the positive effect came from the physical activity.

In the middle of the month I noticed myself planning to “do a little more tomorrow”. When I noticed this I did a little more that day and from then on I tried to focus on what to do this very moment.  Remembering why I meditated and keeping the intensity up was not easy to do, but focusing on what I can do right now and having reminders like a journal helped.

Keeping a journal has been valuable in tracking the progress. And writing out what I realized during my meditation helped to make my thinking much more clear. I thought I would skip the journal after this initial month, but I guess I’ll stick to it.

What I learned along the way:
I started out from scratch – believing I am a human being on planet earth, even though I had given the subject some attention earlier and had seen that it might not be the case. But I moved along quickly in the beginning when looking at familiar things, but that soon ended.

First thing I examined was whether the essence of me is a physical thing. And it’s obvious that I would still be if I lost a body part. The only thing I wasn’t sure about is if I will still exist if the brain or the vital body organs are removed. But I decided to take the word of scientists, who have cut away different parts of the brain (in rats I believe), word for not being a specific part of the brain. I realize that it isn’t a very scientific approach to use unverified data, but the wimp in me won that battle.

Next thing was thoughts. And being able to observe them made it clear that I’m outside looking at them. And the same thing goes for emotions. Then I got a hint to look at the sense of self and even though it was very strange to me at the time I quickly accepted that I was looking at it and it wasn’t who I am.

The senses are feeding information to what is looking, so they were disqualified as being what I am. I then had a look at mental identities like being a job title or a citizen in a country – having looked at this before they were just noticed as already ruled out.

I played around with decisions for a while, looking at the process, doing experiments and so on. But I finally came to the conclusion that decisions are just thoughts that pop up and in some mysterious way one decision gets picked over another. Sometimes there aren’t even arguments or comparing of the benefits and negatives.

This led me to look at if I can influence thoughts or in other words if I have free will. Just thinking about not having free will was painful, but I kept going. After looking at thoughts and decisions and noticing that I don’t know how to create a thought, I formed a theory on how this could be that left room for free will. The idea was that I can influence thoughts by setting an intention and that I am able to veto a decision after it has been made. The conclusion to this issue came as a realization of me looking at the mind being torn in two different directions. One part was pursuing my goals and kept leading my attention back on the issue and another part kept trying to lead my attention to anything but the issue. When I saw this it became obvious that it is a natural process like the shift between night and day. And it also showed me that I am outside looking at what’s going on with no way of influencing the process.

This was a big relief but at the same time it made me unsure what to do next. So I spend a few days in confusion and at last I decided to find out what I really want from this. Finding an answer to that question got me back on track. What I really want is to know who I am.

After a few days of identifying with the observer of experience and trying to live life from that perspective a greater percentage of the time I got a hint that it might not be my ultimate definition. So I started to look at the relationship between the observer and the observed. And what happens to the observer during unconsciousness. So far all I got is a lot of unanswered questions.

Another thing I had to look at was what “consciousness” and “awareness” actually are. To me they were just empty words. I understood the definition of them, but was unable to relate them to something in my own experience. And my understanding of these words is that consciousness is what is turned on when you wake up in the morning – the screen experience plays out on. And awareness is what you are looking out from and can be seen with Douglas Harding’s exercises.

Conclusion on the experiment:
Looking back at where I came from and where I am now, I have to conclude that the experiment has been a success. But on the other hand I haven’t figured out who I am yet, so I guess I’ll have to keep looking.