Antero's practice journal

Awakening of an office monk

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Visual Processes

On the cushion, gazing is more stable with little need to blink, colors and forms slowly developing brighter. During the day, the unification of the senses continues to develop to something more translucent.

Closing my eyes when going to sleep, colors similar to sitting practice often start to emerge and move around. The insides of the eyelids become a living canvas and it is hard to believe that the eyes are not fully open. This effect seems somehow connected with those moments when in formal four lamps meditation the mental process of seeing is cut off and despite having the eye open, I see only blackness. Very hard to believe that the eyes are open. It seems to me that high activity of the visual field with the eyelids closed can prevent the normal cutting of of visual processes when going asleep and on the other hand, the visual processes can be cut off with the eyes wide open if the brain happens to interpret the visual stimulation as unimportant.

Recently I accidentally came across Ganzfeld effect or perceptual deprivation, phenomenon that is caused by uniform stimulation field. Brain starts to amplify neural noise, that is interpreted by visual cortex, giving rise to hallucinations. It is easy to find instructions in Youtube, so I made DIY goggles from ping-pong ball halves, watching diffuse red light while white noise was playing in my earphones. The experiment produced some visual imagery in the form of moving colors and shapes, buth they were less interesting than my normal gazing practice and no hallucinations occured.

Dreams have once again become brighter, lively and easy to recall. Sometimes after waking up I remember meditating in dreams or seeing colors and shapes. The connection between the gazing practice and dreams has become more evident. Lately the colored canvas is sometimes activated when falling asleep, producing accelerating swirling forms or a kind of slowdown version of Star Wars hyperdrive effect that eventually transforms itself into recognizable objects and dream characters as the hypnagogic state develops further.

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Last night I became aware of visions in a dream. I was lying on my back on the floor watching space filled with moving colors and little rainbows. The energy of the practice was was very bodily and made by me slide across the room. The visual show was a lot more interesting than in my regular sitting practice.

Strange dreams and occasional lucid ones have been more prevalent recently and a new quality of fluidity is coloring the daytime experience.

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Gazing develops

The sitting practice has developed on two fronts. On one hand there is a greater degree of trusting the process, letting go and as a result the energy coursing in the body, sense perceptions and especially the visions are more seamlessly integrated in the view of unbouded wholeness. On the other hand the actual physical gazing technique has improved and this seems unfold the visions faster. Positioning of the eyes when doing the gazing technique causes some strain in the eyes and that felt like a distraction in the beginning so I did not apply it before. I am still working on finding that delicate balance between intense focus of applying the four lamps and letting everything be as it is.

The colors have been intensifying and have become more stable and the view deepens faster and more reliably. Some new effects have started to appear in addition to the old rolling disco clouds and flashes, like a surprisingly bright whitish area much bigger than thigles. If thigles are planets of the night sky, this one is the size of a moon in comparison. The edges of this liquid light ripples when shining on a canvas of colors, or more like a reflection of a full moon on surface of a multicolored liquid. Unlike previously, today it was not stationary and round but irregular in shape and frantically trying to swim across the horizon like a very bad swimmer in a hurry, it’s transparent inner structure clearly visile and moving.

At times there is deeper space, slowing down of movement, everything becoming tranquil, purified and clear. Just some small groups of white thigles swimming to the surface and then submerging again.

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Note to self:

In future, please notice when off the cushion practice becomes a routine without freshness from the lack of plenitude, from partializing aspects of experience (both unpleasant and pleasant noes), from boundaries created within the unbounded wholeness, from the subtle sense of dissatisfactoriness and neediness, from the subtle sense of restlessness, from layers of contraction in space, from being separate from guru Kuntu Zangpo, being separate from the universe, being separate from the three buddha bodies.

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Guru yoga, Tummo and Four Lamps Meditation

There was nice warmth during Tummo. Today was one those days when the colors were brighter and it seemed like I was seeing a new layer made up of tigles, like tiny transparent lenses hanging in the air, visible only when illuminated by the shifting lights. I can see them only partially, I guess I need to wait for the glow to intensify some more. Sense of wonder.

There has been a lot of unpleasantness off the cushion, feeling of self consciousness, like I am playing a some role during the day and there is a fear that others will notice it. Flow and naturalness taken away by the harsh energy and a tendency to contract the space. Apparently thoughts no longer have real power to distract, they are fragments that can barely fly, it is more of a question of seeing the real nature of this heavy energy that becomes separate from unbounded wholeness. Intensity of the experience is increasing and it calls for deeper level of letting go. Another one of those cycles to clean up the system.

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Lamps update

The movement and brightness of the colors has been slowly developing. Recently they have started to appear quicker, more intensive and animate with bright spots and tigles. Complete blackout of the visual field still happens from time to time. The main theme seems to be an integration of the four lamps instead of any spectacular change to the visual effects.

Just a little while ago activating the lamps one by one at the start of the sit felt like juggling, using effort to keep several balls in the air at the same time, trying to make sure various parts of the meditation are in place. In short, too much conceptual activity. This changes as the sit progresses and the visions come to the foreground of seeing. The lamps merge with the view of leaving-it-alone and it is possible to let go of most of the deliberate mindfulness. Little by little this has led to semi-automatic approach, using intention and guru yoga instead of actively setting up the lamps which has greatly sped up the early parts of the meditation.

I have not had many opportunities to sit for longer that 45 minutes at a time. Nearing the end of my longer sits there has been a new kind of ease and stability that seems to be a result of this integration process. I look at a wall in a dimly lit room illuminated by a couple of candles and the moving colors are overlayed on the wall. At the very end of the sit the colors encompassing the visual field become calmer or disappear and some undercurrent of tension drops away. Sometimes there is a kind of zooming effect, like adjusting the lens of a camera  and a new quality to seeing is revealed. It is more naked like a layer had been removed, colors and textures are brighter and different, not from this world. The wall is gone, no more overlay. There are just moving colors and that is all.

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Longer Sit Than Usual

This morning I had a chance to sit for 90 minutes being the Lamps, looking at a wall in the candle light. The vision went dark several times and cleared again between the rounds. During the dark periods there was practically nothing to look at, while the rest of the time there was that usual veil of changing colors with some odd tigles popping up here and there.

It is still strange to sit with the eyes open, but seeing nothing at all, an illusion that is only very slightly betrayed by a small glint of candle light at the far corner of the right eye. The first times this started to happen some weeks ago, I had play with the eyelids and test if I had accidentally closed them without noticing.