The Mind Illuminated, a journal: days 14 to 16

TMI14-16
The Mind Illuminated, Stage 7, p. 277

These are reflective notes on my experience of practicing Culadasa’s 10 stage meditation system. The notes in this post are from three consecutive days of practice in the system, a fortnight in. 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 14

30 mins sit:

  • Moving in & out of the concentrated state. I felt somewhat less deeply, internally focused than I have been in my sitting practice recently.
  • Had the sense that I was naturally giving up intentional effort, but that released out of the concentrated, deep, internal state, so my mind was kind of alternating between a light, expansive state and a more intentional, internal focus.

Spent the day hiking in the mountains. I had long periods of resting in a peaceful, thought free, very calm state of mind while walking, enjoying the expansive view, flowers & rocks, particularly the animals & birds. Everything seemed kind of ‘soft’ and still. It started raining toward the end of the day. Enjoyed the sensation of cold wind on my skin and getting soaked with blood and mud dripping down my legs from getting scraped up by the terrain.

Second sit, 1 hour:

  • Took about 20 mins to get into a peaceful state of mind.
  • Once I was there, decided to just sit still & stay with breath, not engage in any of the support practices.
  • Tingling around top of head, not so obvious & marked as previously, pleasurable, soft sensations at top of neck, otherwise quiet. This state seemed more ‘introspective’ than this morning.

Day 15

1 hr sit:

  • Became deeply concentrated quite quickly, intentionally following an ‘internal’ direction, allowing external sounds to become more peripheral, keeping focus close in.
  • Became aware of a sort of high pitched, internal ringing sound, not very loud, but persistent. I was able to move into & out of experiencing this sound intentionally. The experience of it was more concentrated & internal. Moving out from it widened my sphere of awareness.
  • Followed the concentrated internal focus and the sound became louder. Had a moment of mild nausea, then another momentary experience like a weird head zing, then sat in still, deep concentration for the rest of the hour, with the internal ringing sound constant. Moved at one point into a body related kind of humming/vibratory experience inside my chest. This didn’t last long. Mostly the focus was free of any proprioceptive sense of physical body, though it was a concentrated deeply ‘internal’ experience, like the whole of my awareness was defined by being ‘inside’.

Second sit, 1 hour:

  • I was not feeling too well when I started to sit. Ongoing bugginess. Decided to sit in one of those nice pleasure jhanas. Not sure what grade pleasure it was. Anyway, I became totally absorbed, maintaining awareness in the sensation.
  • To be honest this seemed like taking quite a nice easy break. Not sure if this counts as cheating 🙂
  • Very light, pleasant ‘cool’ sensation all over my body, more surface area than internal. It was even, there were no strong waves of sensation or tinglings or any of that movement that is highly pleasurable. Just sensation of light all over and quite quickly the intestinal oog and buggy feeling were superseded by light, pleasurable sensation.
  • Light, pleasurable sensation continued afterwards for some time. Bugginess returned later in the day.

Day 16

1 hr sit:

  •  When I increased the effort of concentration, so that I felt like I was concentrating hard, I got a sense of my whole body pulsing, alongside the same light, cool sensation I had in the last sit yesterday. 

Second sit, 30 mins:

  •  Had that internal ringing sound again, most of this session.

One thought on “The Mind Illuminated, a journal: days 14 to 16”

  1. I am a pretty novice meditator who started with TMI about 5 or 6 months ago, and now do something between TMI and Zen meditation.

    I think I’ve always had a quiet tinnitis, and kind of assumed that everybody would if they listened.
    Sometimes when I find trying to focus on the breath to be frustrating, I instead listen to and analyze my tinnitis. I find this pretty enjoyable. Once, while I was doing this at night, in the dark, high on cannabis (not a common practice of mine), the tinnitis got louder over the course of perhaps a minute, while my visual noise turned up substantially. The tinnitis was seeming larger and more distinct, but in a pleasant way. Then there was a rapid THWOOOMP sensation as what I usually experience as two distrinct persistent sounds, one in each of my two auditory hemispheres, merged, and my attention vertiginously plunged in with the creation of the illusory centrally-located sound-source. Basically a perceived-motion illusion from the outside to the center. Everything became blacker for a moment, and I felt dizzy and sort of nauseous.

    Your blog post reminded me of this experience. Thanks very much for the blog btw, very interesting.

    Perhaps unrelatedly, I find that trying to analyze the breath sensations in great detail unavoidably involves trying to shape my attentional experience of the breath into visuo-spatial images/imaginings. Similar to when I seem to see the outline of my hand when I wave it in front of my face in complete darkness. However, in the case of shaping my experience of the breath, I am trying out different potential paradigms. I sometimes do this in an exaggerated way to motivate interest in the breath if I have a hard time working up the diligence to focus on it.

    I would love to meet you and David sometime if possible and learn more about your practice, and other things.

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