The Mind Illuminated, a journal: Day 4

TMI4

These are reflective notes on my experience of practicing Culadasa’s 10 stage meditation system. The notes in this post are from my fourth 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 4

1 hr sit:

  • I think my brain is getting the message to my eyelids to close. Left eyelid closed & relaxed but the right one won’t go down yet. The eyelid twitching & effort is distracting. It’s unusual for me to experience something as ‘distracting’ in meditation. I’m so used to the practice encompassing all sensation, sound & experience into the field of awareness, following the idea that nothing need distract. It’s interesting to me that narrowing my field of awareness to concentrative focus on an ‘object’ is creating an experience of distraction. The same is happening with sounds in the house – noisy heating, for example, not normally distracting, just sound arising in the field of awareness. Now with this concentrative focus, there’s a kind of distinction made between the centre and periphery of awareness, with the idea that the focus should remain concentrated at the center, my breath. My awareness sometimes moves to the sound and back to the breath. 
  • Mostly calm, a little bit dull at times, but less so than yesterday. 
  • Getting over the cold, respiratory tract less snotty.
  • Weird body experiences seem to be settling, not much of that today. 

I’ve decided not to read beyond stage 6 in the overview until I’ve dialled in the practice a bit more. I don’t want to pre-empt my experience. I’m skipping the framework chapters for now, as I think I already understand what that is. I’ll come back to it in my writing after practicing the system, once I can experientially relate the practice as distinct from the framing (or not). I’m going to read through the stage chapters up to the end of stage 6, then come back to the overview. 

1 hr sit: 

  • Getting more used to the concentrative style, awareness experience is somewhat more ‘clear’. Doesn’t have the same bright, expansive quality as né-pa.
  • More body twitching, much more localized, like tiny muscle spasms, occurring in my arms, wrists, torso, base of spine. 
  • Experienced the top of my spine do a big stretch out at the back. This seemed to do some sort of psycho-physical realignment that made the concentrative focus easier to maintain without much effort. Feels like this realignment has further to go yet. 
  • Experienced what seemed like CNS related zingy sensations around my torso for a while after the practice. All good, I think this is heading in the right direction for the full MI experience. They’re not dissimilar to some sensations I associate with rTsa rLung* practices but feel more ‘solid’, more dense, less light, less movement in comparison. 
  • Still waiting for my right eyelid to close. Oh well. I suspect it will relax & feel good at some point, but who knows? Maybe I’ll end up having my mind illuminated with only one eye.

During the daytime, outside of meditation practice:

I was mildly irritated all day.  I’m experiencing a pleasant, mild, physical response in one-on-one conversations with friends, I would say ‘waves’ of sensation in the body, but they’re not waves of sensation moving around the body so much as staying in one place and expanding, e.g.: starting in the top of the head and back of neck, expanding throughout my body from the one point. 

*rLung is the Tibetan word for ‘wind’ or ‘breath. Tibetan yogic practices give rise to some non-ordinary physical experiences, sometimes referred to as ‘subtle body’ sensations.

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