The Mind Illuminated, a journal: Day 1


Foreward: Page xvi, The Mind Illuminated

These are reflective notes on my experience of practicing Culadasa’s 10 stage meditation system. The notes in this post are from my first day of practice in the system. For an introduction to this project, see this page. Occasionally I will post edit the journal. Any post editing is [in square brackets like this].

Day One

“I’ve already read the forward and introduction of the book. Started reading the overview today. 

Walking meditation (described in TMI appendix 1)

Mind mostly thought free during this exercise. I found the attention to physicality made it very easy to let thought go.

10 mins ordinary speed, walking around the house:

  • Before starting, I noticed mild resistance. Thought I’d rather sit. 
  • Noticed the different sensations moving from carpet to hard floor and back. 
  • Started with noting, this happened unintentionally, noting sensations in soles, legs, body.
  • Soon dropped that & focused attention on soles of feet. Maintained attention for the ten minutes. 
  • Noticed slight boredom at some point, concentrated harder on sensation in soles and it was superseded by enjoyment.

Felt good. I enjoyed this. 

10 mins fast speed:

  • Speed and intentional vigor heightened my attention.
  • Not difficult to keep attention on feet soles and body sensations.
  • Totally got into this, sped up as much as I could go without running.
  • Noticed breathiness because I have a cold virus and my respiratory system is all bunged up.
  • Started whacking things around 7 minutes.
  • Soles started to burn from carpet friction around 8 mins.
  • Jumped a bit.

Loved this. It’s the first proper exercise I’ve done for a week, since being ill. Combined speed and sensation heightened presence. Maintained attention on my soles and wheezy chest throughout. I feel great. I think I made some blisters on my right heel. Noticing the sensation now. 

10 mins slow:

  • Noticed a mild sensation of fear in my chest to start.
  • Noticed breath calming, warmth of body.
  • Maintained awareness of sensations throughout, particularly in feet. 
  • Noticed natural, physical inclination to stretch limbs as walking and did so, maintaining awareness in the sensation.
  • Started touching stuff as I passed, noticing all the different textures.
  • Became acutely aware of different textures under my feet.
  • At about 7 mins, put my hand in a pile of grease on the kitchen top that I didn’t know was there. Had a clear, spontaneous thought “I should clear that up later.”
  • Found this practice gave rise to calm, peaceful mind. Heightened awareness of sensations. 

After the walking practice I’m physically enlivened, feel good in my body, a little tingly all over. Feet are warm and buzzing. Cold symptoms are quite nice. I can breathe a bit through my nose & feel the wheeziness more in my chest. 

80 minutes sitting meditation

Stage 2: focusing on the breath, remaining undistracted. 

  • Did so. Noticed every in-breath and out-breath. 
  • Allowed thoughts to come and go without losing attention on the breath. (Wasn’t sure whether to let the thoughts arise or not, but I thought that was probably more appropriate to this stage of the series, so I let them stay around). 
  • The focus on the breath narrowed my sphere of awareness from what I’m used to, seemed to create a foreground with a fading away into a ‘background’. Peripheral sounds seemed duller. Thoughts in the background were somewhat duller than usual. 
  • Wasn’t able to close my eyelids fully without a lot of effort. I’m used to practicing with the eyelids not quite closed, or with open eyes, so I just let the eyelids rest as usual, letting some light in. 
  • About half way through, tingling in the crown of my head. This continued for the rest of the practice. Felt a sensation of pressure building at the crown and connection between breath going up through nostrils in the direction of the crown. Mild, pleasant tingling spread throughout body at one point. 
  • Mind state noticeably ‘calm’ but not so vibrant/clear/open/spacious as I’m used to with four naljors practice. 

Felt light and happy after today’s practice.” 

2 thoughts on “The Mind Illuminated, a journal: Day 1”

  1. Really glad to see these. Very interesting so far. Re: the image above: you might like to listen to the new Deconstructing yourself podcast with Culadasa as guest. At about 45 minutes in he talks about his suppression of emotions on the path and how he has just recently worked with them in a therapeutic context. And that this kind of emotional work should be integrated into meditation training now. May mean a revision on TMI forthcoming.

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