Meditation log, Mar 9 – Mar 19
For those curious, basically all of my meditation has been tranquility meditation.
Friday, March 9th. 30 minutes. Attempted to meditate while lying on my back, figuring that I wouldn’t fall asleep since I’d just had my morning caffeine. Not very successful. I was maybe a little too relaxed, my thoughts wandered and I had difficulties feeling my breath in order to concentrate on it.
Sunday, March 11th. 20 minutes. Attempted to meditate in the morning, noticed that I was basically just falling asleep, then took a cold shower and tried again. Felt nice, though not particularly exciting.
Monday, March 12th. 50 minutes. I had the timer on 30 minutes, but I just ignored it at first. Somebody had recommended drinking green tea about half an hour before meditating, so I gave it a try. I only had bagged tea at hand, but I put two bags in the same cup to get a stronger effect.
Something happened, though I am not sure what it was. I ended up concentrating on various feelings of pain and bidding them welcome – not in a masochistic way, but rather in such a way where I genuinely welcomed pain and didn’t consider it something that would cause suffering in the first place. I dug up memories of various situations where I’d been embarassed or ashamed, and each such memory seemed to make the state of concentration deeper. It felt nice.
From this point on, each of my meditation sessions has been preceded by a cup of green tea, made using 2-4 tea bags.
Tuesday, March 13th. 60 minutes. I sat meditating with my fingers crossed, and at one point relatively early on I freaked out as my fingers started feeling incorporal. They also felt like they were drifting to be inside each other. Then the frightened surprise pulled me out of that state, and although I tried to reach it again, I could not.
Wednesday, March 14th. ~45 minutes. I started gradually losing feeling in my fingers and feet, after which the numbness spread to the rest of my body. Only my head and part of my chest (where I was too conscious of my breathing) retained feeling. Then at some point I realized that although large parts of my body were without feeling, I still remained aware of where the borders of my body parts were. After I realized this, feeling pretty quickly returned to them.
After that, the lack of feeling came and went for the rest of my meditation session. There were moments when I noticed, noted, and let go of feelings whose existence I hadn’t even realized before. I started to get a small inkling of what the complete cessation of sensation that’s said to come with the deepest meditative states might be like. I became aware of having a sense of time, a feeling of presence in my own head, and a feeling of moving my attention around. I attempted to focus on those to make them vanish as well, but was for now unable to do so.
I also felt really good and happy for the rest of the day.
Thursday, March 15th. 20 minutes of meditation, bathroom break, 40 minutes of meditation. At the end of the second meditation session, I got a clear feeling of something happening, but I don’t know what it was. After it had happened, I got a sense of this session’s leassons had now been learned. It told me that I could stop meditating now, since I wasn’t going to learn anything more before the next time. My concentration seemed to grow considerably more shallow at the same time.
Whether that feeling actually meant anything or whether it was just a trick of my brain is an interesting question. I’m presuming that it was just a random feeling: to use a computer metaphor, meditation practice seems to be about exploiting some accidential glitch in the brain which likely never played an actual evolutionary role. Given that, whatever subconscious system produced that “this lesson is now over” sensation is probably just as clueless about what was going than the rest of me was.
This turned out to be a “let’s practice meditation / concentration all the time, everywhere” day. Pretty much no matter where I went or what I did, I used the opportunity to do concentration practice and dismiss unwanted thoughts or feelings. When waiting for a bus, for instance, I picked the feeling of impatience and pretty much just got rid of it. I started thinking that if somebody could learn to do this reliably and for any feeling / emotion, it would let them have complete control over their own mind, only suffering from the fears and dislikes that they wanted to suffer from. I don’t know whether that’s actually possible, but the possibility is exciting to think about.
Friday, March 16th. 20 minutes, break, 40 minutes. Nothing particularly exciting happened on this day.
Saturday, March 17th. 60 minutes. At one point, I noticed that my meditative state was failing to deepen because I was clearly waiting for it to deepen, and the feeling of expectation messed things up. I then tried to rid myself of the expectation, and I was kinda successful, though through an unexpected route: by visualizing and looping in my head the Sean Den Förste Banan video. (Yes, you may point and laugh at me now.) As I did so, I felt my concentration clearly deepen.
After a while of doing that, I switched to counting numbers. Suddenly I realized that I was not experiencing them as raw numbers, but as my age. For instance, when I visualized in my head the number 15, I also saw images of myself when I was 15. As I got past my current age, the images grew more abstract. As I approached age 100 I felt/saw myself get older, but then apparently radical life extension was invented and my body stopped getting frail. Past age 100, there was a feeling of having lived for a long time and having seen everything, and of living in a drastically different world than pretty much anyone who wasn’t as old. I think I died, presumably in an accident, around age 180 or so, but I kept counting until I reached 300. “While I was dead” I think there was a feeling of stillness and a lack of motion, possibly combined with a sense of things continuing to happen all around me.
Eventually I concluded that nothing more was happening and started exploring impermanence by studying the various sensations of my body and trying to break them into smaller and smaller components. Most of it I did to the sensations from my feet. Soon my feet started feeling odd, as I had no idea of whether my muscles were relaxed or tense – they felt like they could have been both.
Monday, March 19th. 65 minutes. Mildly altered states of consciousness, nothing particularly special. Again, I noticed that I was expecting something interesting to happen, and that expectation prevented me from just being a neutral observer of my own mind. I tried to get rid of the feeling of expectation, but then I realized that this too implied an expectation of change – trying to will something gone involves expecting that it will be gone. So then I tried to just let go of it without specificially trying to let go of it. (Yeah, I can’t explain it any better than that.) Not too good at that yet – I think I might have had momentary successes, but each time they caused an “oh, I did it, something’s happening now” feeling which ruined it. I’ll just have to keep practicing.
Since last Wednesday, meditation has frequently led to me losing feeling in my fingers and feet, but I haven’t experienced the almost-whole-body lack of feeling again.