Graduating from nursing school

Today was the last day I spent with my classmates in the nursing program, class of 2013. We finished our final exam a week ago, and—-to the relief of all—-every single one of us have passed. The next step for us is to take the nursing licensure exam. This week, a number of us sat together for the last time in a classroom for our licensure preparation review course. But of course, even with this extra week of studying together, there is no banquet that never ends.

When we left after the end of our last class, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat sad and a little empty inside. True, I may be shy and reserved, but I have come to see my classmates and instructors as family. Looking back this past two years, I am amazed how much we have gone through together, and how every single one of us have grown. I myself think that it is my greatest accomplishment to survive nursing school without repeating. It was a real marathon, and I couldn’t have done it without my nursing family. They have taught me positive thinking, an art I am still trying master, to counter my habitual self-doubt. Why do I doubt myself, anyway? Again and again, I was afraid, and again and again, I made it through. The negativity did make me seriously question my faithfulness to Buddhism, as I thought I’d failed the Buddha’s teachings, but the act of still surviving proved that in the end, the flow of meditative mindfulness (the flow that prevented me from losing it)—-along with the positive energy from my nursing family—-helped me to carry it through.

I admit that I still have self-doubt facing the important task coming up—-the licensure exam. This is it—-the gate to the profession of nursing. The state of New York (the state I live in) increased the difficulty of the exam this year. It may cause more anxieties among graduate nurses, but BRING IT ON! I consider it our solemn duty to the general public. The general public deserves better nursing with higher quality, so it makes perfect sense to raise the bar. We shall not fail the trust of the people, and our hard work shall be our pledge!

Here I am, about to embark on the journey of nursing. I am still not completely free of my self-doubts (perhaps a degree of doubt with remain with us always), but through my own marathon of mindfulness and the support of others, I’ve became stronger and more resilient. Another deep transformation lies ahead. 🙂

 

 

 

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Meditation entry #21

Has anyone explored this level of consciousness in depth before—-the consciousness between being asleep and being awake?

I was not asleep, but I was not completely awake and alert, neither—-my level of consciousness was between full consciousness and subconsciousness (close to subconsciousness), a kind of gray zone—-let’s just call it the half-awake zone—-this zone is the zone of dozing off which I am sure that everyone experienced, and—-if one is slightly insomniac, one is unable to fall asleep completely but is kind of being stuck in a limbo conscious state that is not fully alert (Or, if insomnia is severe, consciousness is full and there is no descending down the half-awake zone).

I’ve mentioned in my meditation entries that I’ve experienced (at least what I believed) how the subconscious and unconscious affect conscious meditative effort. So I paid attention to the half-awake zone, and tried to summarize my experiences and interpretations about it (and I am not sure how well my experiences generalize to the whole population). I’ve also mentioned similar experiences before in my previous entries—-when I meditated while feeling sleepy (but not down to the half-awake zone yet).

I read from somewhere stating that the half-awake zone is a creative state; that’s why someone has a pen and notebook by the bedside because there is always a chance of a bright idea suddenly arising from this half-awake zone so it needs to be written down. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never experienced any creativity during half-awake zone. However, during the half-awake zone, there is limited dissolving of conscious psychological mechanisms and that the mental contents arising and falling during the half-awake zone seemed more…. random? The waves arising and falling in the ocean of the mind at this stage may be continuation of consciousness waves before one descending into the half-awake zone, but it may be developing into more unpredictable patterns. The holding on of these mental contents seemed to be lessened with decreasing consciousness—-OR, shall I say more accurately—-conscious awareness of holding on of these mental contents lessened? (notice the difference: X vs. being aware of X) The result is that the mind seemed… more fluid and flowing. One is still vaguely aware of the flow of the mind despite of being only half-awake; perhaps this experience may be like lucid dreaming while it is happening, but I’ve never experienced lucid dreaming before so I can’t really say anything about it.  People remember lucid dreaming afterwards, but afterwards I don’t remember the contents I was aware of when I was in the half-awake zone, so it may not be like lucid dreaming, after all.

To think about it, when we meditate we strive to develop our awareness to the highest level with the awareness arising from the barest source, but full consciousness may create shackles on the mind, and full consciousness itself may be negatively affected by subconsciousness and unconsciousness. During the half-awake zone the mind is still aware but too sleepy to make any lasting distinctions that might cause it to cling on the mental contents—-therefore, the mind is more fluid, being aware but too sleepy to be held down by shackles. What are this phenomenon’s implications of building and sustaining meditative equanimity during full consciousness and how to realize these implications? I am not sure.

2012 year-end reflections on life

Happy New Year everyone! 😀

I have been absent from this blog for an entire year; it was not planned, life was simply too hectic. Looking past this year, I have to say, without exaggeration, that 2012 was the most difficult and challenging year of my entire life. Psychologically and spiritually, I was unprepared. Compared to who I was in 2011—-the one who enthusiastically and meticulously recorded spiritual endeavors on this blog, I in 2012 felt so overwhelmed. But still, I survived.

2012, for me, was the year of CPEs (clinical performance exams). It is the stage where a nursing student gets really tested at clinical settings. You have a list of critical criteria of all possible areas of care, but you don’t know what patient you will be getting and what the situation in the room would be like exactly. You don’t know what exact areas of care you will be assigned, and you don’t know that if during your exam, there would be sudden unexpected developments which demand your immediate attention (while the clock is ticking). You practice and review your skills in the clinicals and the lab repeatedly according to the critical criteria, watch the skills videos again. You do whatever it takes to boost confidence, yet as you walk toward the clinical unit for your exam, you may still feel anxieties surging up like a tide. Once the exam get actually started you become more calm as your training kicks in, but the clinical instructor’s ever-watchful eyes remind you constantly that it is an exam… One single mistake and you fail the whole exam, no matter how good you are at other areas. Nursing demands perfection. One mistake may literally mean the difference between life and death. 

The academic component of the nursing education is also highly stressful. Compared to the first semester last year, this year’s readings seemed endless. The semester pace is relentlessly fast; quizzes and tests are constant. If you are behind, you better study more intensively non-stop, or you might remain behind for the whole semester. The best way to stay on time is be ahead of time. If you are just on time, you are behind. You need to read smart, because you simply cannot remember every single page of materials.

Needlessly to say, it has been a really stressful year for me. Every student of a professional discipline (be it nursing, medicine, pharmacy, law, etc.) goes through the same trial—-the trial that tests us to the very core with the most rigorous stress to build us into professionals. How do we survive?

I am not sure how exactly I survived 2012. I have to admit that there were times that luck was on my side; without luck, I might have failed. I admit that there were many times my inner demons were so strong that negativity seemed to consume my whole being. I’ve experienced intense negative periods marked mainly by frustration and fear—-fear of failing, and frustrated at my own distorted mind and not living up to reason. It felt as if I lived with a huge knife hanging on my neck. The sad thing was that I still had difficulties to put things into perspective. My life was hard? Well—-what about those athletes who trained so hard for the London 2012 Olympics, but unable to fulfill their hopes at the final moment? What about those people whose lives were thrown into chaos by natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy? What about so many other people who went through far greater difficulties—-those in the war regions, for example—-but still kept their heads up?

Paradoxically, it was at this most challenging period, when I felt like I’ve been pushed to the edge, I experienced my inner most strength. It was the WILL TO SURVIVE. Despite of feeling constantly highly stressed, there was a thought in my mind: it’s all a game of the mind—-a game harder even than the Olympics, a game that every single one of us is playing, a game of not only life, but death, too. A game played ever since the dawn of sentience, a game of reality and illusions. My inner demons may had the upper hand in this game many times, but the hope to win was always there. I never felt such will to survive—-in its raw form—-until I was pushed to my perceived limits. I thought myself as a coward who was too afraid to give my best shots, but it was at my weakest point that my inner most strength was finally summoned. I never knew that I had it within me before—-the instinct of a fighter. Will to survive! I was never a fighter like those who endured immense hardships, but after this year, I realized that the potential to be such a fighter is within me; the potential to awaken is within me. I was afraid to let such instincts to be fully summoned. Why? Because of fear of failure and disappointing myself? Maybe. I am not sure.

I still have a long way to go before becoming a true fighter. 2013  and the following years might be even more challenging. As of now I still look toward the future with a sense of uncertainty. I wish there would be one day that I can be fearless—-to sustain positive thinking always and do everything with confidence. But to be fearless, one must be first be able confront fear with equanimity. How to channel fear as well as other negativity into positive energies? It’s the task I am working on right now.

Meditation entry #20

Almost half a year had passed ever since my last entry. A lot had happened in these months—-in late August, I was informed, at the last minute, that I was admitted into the nursing program. Yesterday, I finished the final exam, and hence completed the first semester of my nursing education. Through these months of fast-paced nursing learning experience, my weak anxious “coward” side was once again exposed in full, as my whole psyche came under the full pressure of all the stress.

I confess that I didn’t resume practicing sitting meditation in an effort to calm myself. It seemed that when I am stressed to a certain level, I just “forgot” all the spiritual training I went through. Stress seemed paralyzed my spiritual calming capacity.

That’s why it was such a surprise that on last Saturday (two days before yesterday the day of my exam), I found myself sitting down, and meditated! I was in a more calm state, however—-I already studied for days and I’d just refreshed myself with a shower.  I didn’t really consciously plan it—-I just sat and let it happen. Although I hadn’t practiced sitting meditation for eight months, the familiar flow returned, as I focused on my sitting form and breathing.  However, the inertia of resistance was big—-my mind was racing in different directions and I was experiencing physical discomfort with my foot. I had to adjust a couple of times before trying to concentrate for a third time. For the third time, my mind was more calmed down, but still not completely stable and not completely concentrated. I discovered that although I didn’t practice for months, it was easier for me to be mindful—-and such mindfulness (observing and letting go) was more evident after meditation. Why? I was doing something during meditation I hadn’t done before—-I was contemplating about Dao—-the Way (key concept of Daoism). Dao, the Way, is the Way of the flow. The flow. Just let it go—-go with the flow. The concept of Dao reinforced the capacity of letting go—-and hence, stronger mindfulness.

On Sunday, I found myself sitting down to meditate again. This time my mind was surprisingly stable, and I was able to sustain my concentration on my breathing and sitting form and just let it flow. Mindfulness remained strong—-things come and go in my mind, but the mind’s eye just watched them like a movie. What a pleasant surprise! The meditative flow—-flowing strongly just like that again, 8 months after last practice!

Mindfulness flowed again on Monday (yesterday the day of my exam), and I sustained it by playing over a relaxing Buddhist chanting music I heard before in my head (to anchor the mindfulness flow with chanting music).  I was able to stay calm (usually I would be really anxious hours before the exam) for two hours with this technique, but then my anxieties creeped up again. I then diverted my attention by eating and relaxing a bit, and was able to study for three hours afterwards with the presence of a classmate (the classmate also stabilized my mind somewhat).  Then, as the exam time approached nearer and nearer, my anxieties got up again. About 15 minutes before the exam, I sat down and meditated again. Calm returned to an extent—-I was able to keep concentration high and mindfulness sustained, but still, yesterday’s meditation felt more tense (in terms of my body and emotions) than two meditation sessions from the weekend. I was able to maintain calm, but anxieties were still there.

Reflections from these past three days of meditation practice? Although I’d ceased my practice for months, the foundation I laid before was still there—-hence, the meditative flow returned rather quickly these few days once I sat down and practiced again. I was able to be mindful and concentrate—-but still couldn’t eliminate anxieties altogether. Although the resistance to practice was still there, practice still restored calm and peace to an extent.

Meditation entry #19

Time flies—-it has been 2.5 months ever since my last entry. Although it has been more than two months with no meticulous day-to-day recording of the mind, it was during these days, I noticed more than ever a particular phenomenon—-being mindful and absented-minded at the same time, and I am not sure if any other meditators have experienced it somewhere along their paths.

I confess, ever since the last entry, I’ve ceased formal sitting meditation. I stopped practicing, feeling lost and disillusioned. I focused back on daily context meditation, trying to be aware as the current of busy modern life flows by quickly. I feel that my mindfulness has become sharper and more present (sustained formal sitting meditation was definitely helpful, after all—-I may have ceased sitting, but the meditative flow carries on). With more powerful mindfulness, I became more aware of limitations of my mindfulness and discovered that many times when I was trying to be mindful but I was also absent-minded (not simply absent-minded—-absent-minded while trying to be mindful). I don’t remember being explicitly aware and reflecting on this phenomenon during formal sitting meditation—-I don’t know why, but it definitely shows the daily context meditation’s potential of covering something that formal sitting meditation may be insufficient to.

What do I mean by saying being mindful and absented-minded at the same time? Back in April, when it was still early spring and trees were growing leaves, there was one time I was looking at the tree outside of my window. I became mindful that I was looking at the tree and its leaves. I remembered the various times I was looking at the tree before and how I reminded myself to be mindful of seeing the tree. Then, at that time, while being mindful that I was looking at the leaves, I was suddenly struck with one question: when did these leaves grow out?

Seriously, I didn’t know. On various occasions as winter transitioned into spring, I looked at the tree, and told myself: “Now I am mindful of the visual consciousness of seeing a tree”. BUT I WAS STILL ABSENTED-MINDED—-I was mindful of the act of seeing but actually miss what I was seeing (the details of the tree, like growth of leaves). I did look at the tree and was aware I was looking—-but still, in a way, I didn’t see, and could not tell when did the leaves grow out.

Ever since that occasion, in the following days during these past a couple of months, I noticed again and again, more than ever, most of the times that when I was trying to be mindful I was really absented-minded. I simply failed to notice the details. Such fact frustrates me. Looking back my entire life, I was absent-minded almost all the time. Only now I became more explicitly aware and reflecting on it.

Sherlock Holmes said something of this effect: everyone sees but may fail to observe. How true. We may climb a certain stairway every day but may fail to know how many steps are there actually on this stairway. It is a lesson valuable to every meditator.

Meditation entry #18

Apr 13: 4 minutes 45 seconds + 5 minutes = 9 minutes 45 seconds

A relatively calm morning today for me, but that does not guarantee a longer meditation, for negativity still remain latent at a subconscious level.  For the first duration, the meditative flow was quite strong with awareness anchored on breathing (still with pauses in between each inhalation and exhalation cycle); there was also occasional visualization of my whole sitting meditative form. Arising and dissolving contents in the mind still disrupted the meditative process, at one point causing attention to almost completely drift away from breathing. Re-focusing efforts were effective, and to stabilize the mind even more, and breathing pattern was switched to the continuous pattern with no pauses in between, so the meditative flow could flow like a smooth wave in the rhythm of breathing. With the wave movement the meditative flow was strengthened.

During the stretching exercise between the first duration and the second duration, the arising of a certain thought planted a seed in the mind, which would manifest as a repeating obsessive thought (which happens, since I still have OCD) during in the second duration. Such thought subsided a bit just before the second duration, and the second duration started well with awareness anchored mainly anchored on breathing. However, after a while the seed re-surfaced, and began generating a disruptive loop of repeating obsessive thought in the mind—-first subconsciously, and then more into consciousness. The drifting of attention resulted was really similar to the drifting of attention during the cellphone conversation as I described before—-try as I may to stabilize the mind, attention kept drifting. Needless to say, concentration and mindfulness were weakened as long as the obsession kept repeating itself. I could feel a subconscious attempt to repress the thought, and not letting-go; such attempt to repress only worsened the situation and led to the arising of more negativity. I tried to be mindful, and just to tolerate the repeating of obsession in the mind—-but I was uncertain if I was completely mindful, since I still feel affected by it and not being completely equanimous. Re-focusing was attempted with techniques such as shifting attention of focus around the respiratory system and letting breathing to be continuous, but the effects were limited and could not be extended. After a while, after letting go a bit in discouragement, the meditative flow strengthened unexpectedly again, once mindfulness was widened to include both breathing and body, resulting in relative stability of the mind. It was then I suddenly realized why mindfulness of both breathing and body felt more effective than just mindfulness of breathing—-there are 2 foci instead of 1 focus. Attention has tendency to drift—-if there is only 1 focus, once such drifting tendency becomes strong, destabilization is highly likely. If there are 2 foci, however—-attention is still relatively highly concentrated, but there is an allowed space to drift between 2 foci. Therefore, for meditation beginners, if they feel that they cannot sustain attention at a single focus, they can practice with multiple foci first—-and then converge on one point as the practice progresses. For now, I still need multiple foci most of time (since the mind is still not stabilized enough and remain vulnerable to distraction). Only rarely did I experience single-focus attention one-pointedly.

Apr 14: 5 minutes 30 seconds + 4 minutes 50 seconds = 10 minutes 20 seconds

I kept spiritinquire’s advice in mind today, and tried to reach deeper into the mind to find out more about the cause and implications of artificiality. Impatience was already began manifesting in latent form even before meditation, and after I sat down for the first duration the feeling of impatience was already strong, as I tried to anchor awareness of breathing. The meditative flow was not strong—-since impatience was pretty prominent, and the feeling of artificiality was also mounting up. I began focusing on it, and asked mentally “What is it about?” The feeling resulted from it surprised me—-annoyance. Ugh, such annoyance—-annoyed that I still have so much trouble with meditation after so many days, annoyed that why I am asking the question but seemed to be unable to get the answer. Frustration than arose. The meditative flow at this point, fortunately, was able to keep me sitting and meditating. I then decided to take a break from looking into deeper any further and after a while. Attention came to be focused on breathing and body and the meditative flow moved on quite smoothly, once the foundation of mindfulness was secure. There were contents still disrupting, but the flow was mainly sustained. The breathing felt mostly… all right.

For the second duration, it started well with mindfulness of breathing and body, and breathing felt well. Impatience and artificiality soon mounted up, and I began focusing on it again and exploring. Once again the negative feelings of annoyance and anger returned—-and then, there was a feeling a unworthiness. YOU ARE UNWORTHY, the mind seemed to be telling me. Frustrated, I asked, unworthy of what? UNWORTHY OF SUSTAINED MEDITATIVE PRACTICE. The impression I got from taking a peek into repressed negativity in my subconscious was that—-my meditation practice might as well be a joke; I am too mentally disturbed and negative to keep practicing, that’s why I could not reach 10 minutes so duration—-therefore, unworthy of meditation. I have to say, I was not surprised—-the feeling of unworthiness has always been accompanying me one way or another in daily life… but meditation… the sustained meditative practice these days made me positive, and I am proud that I’ve not stopped meditating even though it could be very difficult—-so such a feeling of unworthiness led to a feeling of discouragement. By this time, the surfaced negativity led to the destabilization of the mind with ruminations, and the meditative flow weakened and breathing felt uncomfortable. Few attempts were made to stabilize but not really successful. Just sit, breathe, and relax—-I silently told myself and let the worst of negativity pass, after that attention was focused on breathing (shallow, since it felt more comfortable) and body again. The meditative flow strengthened a bit, but not much.

Well, spiritinquire is right—-try as I may to keep positive, open-minded, and letting-go during meditation, the deeply entrenched self-judgment, disgust, and belief are still affecting the meditative experience. On a positive note, even though meditation today was unpleasant, after it, for a short while there was still a sense of peace and well-being, and there was no negative ruminations after meditation—-which is good. Now as I am writing this, however, I feel more negative again.

Apr 15: 5 minutes 15 seconds + 5 minutes 50 seconds = 11 minutes 05 seconds

Another day of meditation with distractions (people talking) around me. Just before meditation I’ve been overhearing a conversation between two people, and that aroused my interest a bit. As I was sitting down, such an arousal of interest proved to be an obstacle of calming and stabilizing the mind. For the first duration, I started with mindfulness of breathing and body. The feeling of artificiality was not really manifested yet, and I felt that a part of my mind was standing by and ready to hear more talking from those two people—-as a result, the mind was especially distracted when those two were talking. Not good. Attempts were made to refocus attention on breathing and body, but the meditative flow was not strong—-as a result, concentration and mindfulness were incomplete. When those people ceased talking, however, with right efforts the meditative flow strengthened again, sustaining concentration and mindfulness at a higher level. Since the mind was mostly occupied trying to be calm and stable, it didn’t really explore the issue of artificiality, but I could feel that artificiality was still manifesting.

For the second duration, it was still mindfulness of breathing and body, but the mind remained vulnerable to external distractions. Breathing became quite artificial after a while, and several adjustments were made to find out a more natural breathing pattern. Artificiality was still there, so I just tried to relax, breathe and not thinking about it. This time, breathing felt more comfortable again. The meditative flow was still not strong, however, and concentration and mindfulness were incomplete. The mind then spent more resources exploring artificiality. Here were some insights: the feeling of being artificial resulted from the disappointment of the difficulties I encountered during meditation. It actually makes sense—-If I’ve mastered meditation, doing it is second nature, right? Some other insights also came up—-unfortunately I can’t remember them at this point, since they just came and dissolved in the mind temporarily. I did remember thinking of unworthiness again. Anyway, during the second half, there were even more external distractions, so it was a test of stability again—-both concentration and mindfulness were incomplete and the mind drifted here and there, but the meditative flow moved on in such a way that I kept sitting and at least some concentration and mindfulness were focused on breathing and body, even though sometimes the level remained quite low. At this point, there was another insight—-fear of meditating not well interferes with meditation itself. Why was the mind more unstable when being stressed and tested? Because there was a fear of failing; this fear created a negative cycle making the mind more unstable. I then just tried to be simply mindful of this fear—-as I’ve done before but for some reason never mentioned it explicitly in the journal—-and kept sitting. More efforts were made to heighten the attentional focus on breathing and body, but the effects were limited.

Apr 16: 4 minutes 20 seconds + 4 minutes 50 seconds = 9 minutes 40 seconds

Today’s experience was marked by stronger feeling of resistance before meditation and more questioning if I shall take a break or not. For the first duration, breathing felt pretty artificial at first, so I got into the “Just relax and breathe” state to let breathing become more comfortable, while anchoring awareness on both breathing and body. When feeling artificial and impatient, I asked the mind why. But the mind kept mostly silent, so I just tried mostly to be mindful of artificiality and impatience.

The second duration was more eventful. Breathing felt more natural from the beginning (slightly slow with pauses), and awareness was anchored on both breathing and body. The mind finally revealed a couple of words when I asked about artificially and impatience—-when I asked about artificiality, the mind responded with PERFECTION. Here is my interpretation: my meditation practice is far from perfect—-hence, it felt artificial. When I asked about impatience, the mind responded with DON”T WANT TO SIT. After a while, I decided to ask the mind even more: WHO DOES NOT WANT TO SIT, IF THERE IS NO I? WHO IS FEELING ARTIFICIAL, IF THERE IS NO I? The mind remained silent. Artificiality and impatience weakened only a bit for a brief while, but persisted. I then decided to practice concentration and mindfulness more, by re-focusing attention on breathing and body. Sustaining the focus at a high level proved to be difficult, but a certain extent of sustaining was still reached.

Summary:

As I am writing this I am feeling even more resistance about continuing to practice meditation like this. “Take a break!’—-originally a whisper, is now turning into a scream. Daily life also contributed to the difficulties I felt. These days, pressure is mounting up as final exams approached, and I also had to train for the new job, so I felt stressed—-it in turn affects meditative experience, although meditation really gives arising to calm and peace when it goes well. Maybe I would take a break, maybe I wouldn’t. I thought I could just let go of everything and “JUST MEDITATE!”, apparently it is harder than I thought, even though I know it is one reason precisely why I need to meditate. I feel frustrated. It is interesting to note that, when the negativity repressed in the mind were revealed bit by bit these days, never once did I meditate on Metta and compassion toward myself. It simply didn’t arise at all.

I still had struggles with natural breathing, but getting better. Why didn’t I read any meditation texts when I was feeling increasingly frustrated with meditation practice? I don’t know. Even now I feel hesitant. Is it fear of failure? Maybe. Because—-if I failed even when reading instructions from the more experienced, that would be so discouraging. In the end, though, it is my experience who is the best teacher. A teacher in need of help from more experienced teachers. Why can’t I just let go of doubts?

Meditation entry #17

Apr 9: 4 minutes 50 seconds + 4 minutes 40 seconds = 9 minutes 30 seconds

The desire to get something right can sometimes be actually detrimental, if it is mis-managed. This is what happened during the first duration today, as I tried to get breathing pattern right. There was a latent form of frustration in me, as I carefully observed the body’s comfort level when I breathed, and sometimes adjusting to see what happens with a slightly different breathing pattern. However, the adjusting itself felt artificial, and during the second half of the duration I just felt that my breathing was messing up. I knew it because every time when the breathing became artificial, the body got this sense of discomfort which disrupts the meditative process. Fortunately, with awareness anchored on the foundation of mindfulness (breathing and body), the meditative flow was sustained.

For the second duration, I tried to relax a bit at the beginning, so the letting-go attitude can sooth over the frustration. After a while, I slightly let the attention wander a bit so for a brief moment so it was not grounded in breathing, and then before the mind was stable again the attention was redirected to breathing and body again but not that much. Once the attention was stabilized on breathing and body, the meditative experience became more of “Just breathe, be aware, and let the body to take care of itself”. Oh, how natural the breathing felt during such an experience! As soon as I began thinking about it, though, the sense of self-conscious artificialness returned. So I just tried to be aware without really thinking about—-just be mindful of the breathing, nothing more and nothing less. The breathing pattern was one of normal breathing with brief pauses in between. Was it as natural as it could get? I was not sure, since I was still not sure if I was just simply being mindful of breathing, or was the mind still influencing the breathing at a really weak level?

I had to let attention to be distracted a bit to get a glimpse of simply being aware of breathing without thinking. Not good. Somehow the experience has to flow naturally.

Apr 10: 5 minutes 20 seconds + 4 minutes = 9 minutes 20 seconds

Another difficult day for me, since I meditated  in 1) the afternoon, and 2) home. The breathing pattern was normal breathing with pauses in between. I was feeling a little sleepy, and it seems that it weakened the conscious grip on breathing a bit without losing mindfulness of breathing. As a result, the experience was like yesterday’s “just being aware of breathing and let the body take care of itself”—-although there might be still a weak conscious influence over breathing. The meditative flow felt weaker today—-the disruptive effects of contents rising and falling in the mind were greater, but once there was the right effort, concentration and mindfulness were re-focused and the meditative flow sustained. To stabilize the mind I visualized my whole sitting meditative form.

I also noticed that my legs and feet were quite discomfortable in my current sitting position if I sat in this position for an extended period of time. Unfortunately it seemed that my stretching exercises these days had failed largely—-my flexibility didn’t improve much, it seemed.

Apr 11: 5 minutes 50 seconds + 4 minutes 50 seconds = 10 minutes 40 seconds

Today’s meditation experience was quite interesting and insightful.

For the first duration, the breathing pattern was still normal breathing with pauses. I was being aware of the breathing without heightened attention—-just being mindful without too much focus—-to see if it does anything to the level of naturalness that the breathing manifests. There was still a sense of artificialness, however. Beginning from the first half of the duration, impatience was mounting up in me already. The feeling of being bored actually arose, followed by the thought that “I am just doing the same thing day after day—-and impatience is still there”. I took the opportunity of feeling bored to cultivate insight. I remembered that when I was studying Buddhist psychology formally in class, the professor said that being bored is actually the beginning of seeing phenomena as they are. I couldn’t remember exactly the professor’s explanation for it, but I believed that it was something in the line of: once we see phenomena as they are, we realize that there is no more clinging—-phenomena just arise and dissolve, impermanent and changing; the aspects of them that let us react in a certain ways are mostly made up by us, and our own reactions are also made up by us. Once we see phenomena as they are—-we are no longer inclined to be react in certain way, hence—-boredom. Does that make sense? I am not sure I remembered correctly. Anyway, I kept the professor’s words in mind, and after a while impatience actually begin to weaken—-once I was contemplating on boredom! The meditative flow strengthened, as a result.

The second duration was a test of the stability of the mind. People were talking near me; one of them was talking on a cellphone and he was especially near me physically. I found his cellphone conversation really distracting. By chance, yesterday I was reading an article online explaining why cellphone conversation seemed more distracting: only a half of conversation was heard, and the brain, naturally directed for puzzle-solving, began to try to follow and make up the unheard half of the conversation—-hence cellphone conversations were especially more distracting. I experimented with this hypothesis, and found that try as I may to stabilize attention, the mind was indeed always drifting to the cellphone conversation, even subconsciously when conscious attention was mostly directed at breathing. The mind was also reacting to the heard half the conversation. The mind was so occupied with efforts to concentrate and distraction of the cellphone conversation that the sense of track of time was really weakened. Later, the cellphone conversation ended, but other people’s face-to-face talking kept going. I had less problems with that—-after all, I’ve been meditating with people talking near me for a number of times now, and if the mind was really stable, their voices were just background stimuli out there. Once the mind was more stabilized, I experimented with stabilizing even more by removing pauses from breathing pattern—-so unbroken breathing would result in unbroken stability of the mind. It worked to an extent, and the meditative flow was strengthened.

So, valuable experience today indeed…. weakening of impatience through contemplation of boredom—-the contemplation had taken place only at a subconscious level, and weakening of impatience was gradual. The test of the second duration showed once again that my mind was still not stabilized completely—-it was still vulnerable to distraction, and the effort to concentrate itself was limited by distraction.

Apr 12: 5 minutes 20 seconds + 5 minutes 30 seconds = 10 minutes 50 seconds

These days, as daily demands like the training for the new job and the mounting school tasks before the exams occupy more of my time, I found it increasingly difficult to keep the daily sitting meditation practice. Today was a quite hectic day for me, I had almost no spare time at all. Between school and work, even though really agitated, I managed to sit down to meditate.

For the first duration, anchoring awareness on breathing, the meditative flow was strong enough to sustain concentration and mindfulness to a certain level. Agitation and impatience seemed to weaken each other, but contents still arose and dissolved in the mind. Still, the meditative flow was strong enough to keep me sitting still and letting go.

For the second duration, agitation and impatience were more manifested, both mentally and physically. To strengthen the meditative flow, the foundation of mindfulness was widened from breathing to include the body as well. After a while, however, the meditative flow weakened as the disruptive effects of contents became greater. The effectiveness of re-focusing was highly limited. After a while, in another attempt to strengthen the meditative flow, breathing pattern was changed—-this time with no pauses in between, so continuous breathing would lead to continuous meditative flow. It worked to an extent.

Although the day overall was hectic, meditation, even under 11 minutes, led to an arising of peace and calm. Good. However, breathing seemed more artificial (probably because of stress in me), although there were also times of naturalness (as meditation brings relaxation).

Summary:

I am glad that I’ve learned deeper about anapanasati with more experimenting. Breathing felt more natural these few days, but not completely. Sustaining anapanasati was more explored, and ways to strengthen it include 1)  widening the foundation of mindfulness (which I discovered before), and 2) changing the breathing pattern, such as a continuous pattern, as long as it fits the body’s needs.

The mind was tested for its stability; limitations were revealed since the mind was still not stable enough. The good news is that the momentum of the meditative flow, even during a hectic and busy day, is enough to keep me sitting, bringing peace and calm.

I am worried that as my days grow more hectic and busy, the formal sitting meditation practice would grow more difficult. Shall I take a break? Shall I meditate before dawn, like other meditators? I don’t know. Let time show what happens…

Meditation entry #16

Apr 5: 4 minutes 40 seconds + 4 minutes = 8 minutes 40 seconds

Another day for which I could not meditate during morning. I felt bad as a result, and after lunch when I got to the meditation spot, few people were talking quite loudly literally just next to the spot. I tried to meditate, again planning to cultivate Metta, but gave up after a couple of tries since I simply couldn’t concentrate and be mindful. Needless to say, the attempt to cultivate Metta was artificial. Deeply frustrated, I sat in a chair facing the horizon outside, just trying to relax. Relaxation itself could be a meditative experience. I was just resting, not pressured, just being… A feeling of peace and calm came.

I returned to formal sitting meditation later, and decided to practice anapanasati—-the mindfulness of breathing. For both durations I tried to be mindful of breathing and physical body. As for breathing, I tried slow and a little deeper breathing with brief pauses between cycles, and it worked relatively well. During the first duration, contents in mind destabilized the focus and mindfulness at times—-but with efforts there was refocusing. During the second duration, although there were still contents arising and dissolving, concentration was focused more with ease during the second half. I took special note of breathing during the second half—-and found it feeling to be quite comfortable.

Not long durations today. There was no chanting for me to take up the meditation time, that’s why.

Apr 6: 5 minutes 55 seconds + 7 minutes 30 seconds = 13 minutes 25 seconds

Continued anapanasati practice today. I need to keep practicing the mindfulness of breathing, since I still haven’t mastered it, and I need to be more aware of the processes of respiration, and to determine how to breathe naturally during meditation to take care of the body’s needs.

For the first duration, breathing was slowed with brief pauses between each cycles. Awareness was mainly anchored at the nostrils when the air flowed in and out. The meditative flow was quite strong—-although there were contents arising and dissolving, the mindfulness of breathing was largely sustained. For the second duration, I began noticing the change of the body’s respiratory needs—-the body seemed to be needing less air exchange. So the lengths of pauses were extended for a bit, and also the breathing was weakened a bit, to see what happens. After a short while, though, the breathing pattern was switched back to a-little-slower-than-normal breathing with brief pauses, while the mind kept being careful with the body’s needs. Anchoring of awareness was alternated between different spots of the respiratory system. For the second duration, perhaps because of changes in breathing, the stability of the mind was impacted as well under disruptive effects of contents, but concentration and mindfulness could both be sustained with the meditative flow.

Apr 7: 5 minutes 25 seconds + 4 minutes 30 seconds = 9 minutes 55 seconds

I noticed more today that when my body is calm (no physical activities before meditation), during meditation my body needs little air exchange. That means the most comfortable breathing for me during meditation seemed to be a-little-slowed breathing with pauses in between. Once the breathing was stable and comfortable, the meditative flow could be quite strong, but there were still disruptive effects from the contents arising and dissolving in the mind. For the first duration, the contents disrupted concentration and mindfulness as usual, but re-focusing was accomplished with the meditative flow. For the second duration, there were disruptions as well, so mindfulness was extended from the breathing to the overall body posture as well—-and it seemed quite effective to sustain the attention on breathing, since the foundation of mindfulness was now wider and strong (breathing and body). Once again, my time perception proved to be unreliable during the second duration—-I thought I meditated more than the actual 4 minutes 30 seconds, probably because my breathing was a little slower. Also, it was difficult for me to just let breathing auto-regulate—-how to be mindful of breathing without exerting a conscious/subconscious influence over it? Apparently, it was NOT true simple mindfulness of breathing for me—-there were still many times that conscious attention toward breathing leading to a conscious influence over it.

Short durations today—-so close from reaching 10 minutes in total! Well, it’s okay.

Apr 8: 5 minutes 20 seconds + 5 minutes 40 seconds = 11 minutes

More experimenting with anapanasati today. For the first duration, I dived right away with mindfulness of both breathing and body. The breathing pattern was still a-little-slowed breathing with pauses between cycles. I didn’t think it was completely natural—-since natural breathing does not have pauses between cycles. So, once again, it was not completely simple awareness of breathing—-I still had influence over it. The meditative flow was quite strong, since the foundation of mindfulness was wider to begin with (on both breathing and body). Perhaps because of the calm cultivated during the first half of the duration, during the second half the meditative flow was heightened.

For the second duration, by being sensitive to the relative levels of comfort and discomfort of breathing, I could detect more sharply the subtle changes of the body’s respiratory needs. For example, when breathing with pauses became a little discomfortable, breathing pattern was switched to continuous—-if there is more comfort resulted from it, then it means that the adjustment has met the body’s respiratory needs. However, I could still not be just simply aware of breathing without influencing it. Or was I actually being simply aware already? Probably not—-if it was simple awareness, the breathing would completely self-regulate without me consciously adjust it, even when conscious influence might be weak.

The meditative flow was sustained throughout the duration; during the second half it was also heightened a bit, but this time there was more disturbance from the contents, probably because of mounting impatience.

Summary of these few days:

I am glad that I’ve returned to practice anapanasati—-I thought I could already do it, but only to realize, more than ever, that it is still difficult for me to just being simply mindful of breathing without influencing it. Awareness without influence—-that’s the key. I’ve asked Rachel, the friend who commented on one of my meditation entries before, on how she practice on simply being aware of breathing without influencing it. From what I understand, her approach to breathing is counting and being aware, then after a while, being aware just becomes second nature and one does not have to think about it. For her, a while might be 10 minutes—-so it take quite a time just to let it flow. My approach is to try to determine the body’s needs and let the body find the fitting breathing pattern on its own, but it was still not completely natural since there seemed still a conscious influence over it even though it might felt pretty weak. Well, still much more practice needed!

Meditation entry #15

Apr 1: 7 minutes 40 seconds + 8 minutes 20 seconds = 16 minutes

Yesterday’s meditative experience was intense, and before meditating today I still had no idea what today’s meditation was going to be like. On one hand, the meditative flow was sustained through the testing yesterday, so it should be able to sustain itself. On the other hand, if expectations of “I” get into way it disrupts the meditative process. I tried not to think about it as I was sitting down to meditate today; just try to let experience lead me. I only had 20 minutes in total before the morning class starts, but I tried not let “hurry and get it over with” feeling to interfere, as usual.

The meditative mode was still Metta cultivation at 5 levels. For the first duration it went well, but the artificialness was still there. The meditative flow was strong, concentration and mindfulness were largely sustained. Yogachara were kept in mind as meditation went on, as experience was trying to get more in touch with “everything is manifested through the mind” instead of viewing them completely as independent realities out there. Besides meditating Metta toward “I” at the hostile level, “I” was included in other levels as well—-such as friend, stranger—-as a recognition of multifaceted nature of “I”, and effort to cultivate Metta toward “I” at all levels. After the duration ended, it was pleasing to see that it lasted for 7 minutes 40 seconds—-quite long for me.

For the second duration, agitation were aroused once again as impatience flared up. It was not as intense as yesterday, but it was still difficult to sit still when all these things were raging inside me. Artificialness was still there; my breathing felt so artificial that I actually gagged. To adjust, I switched breathing to shallow breathing. Efforts of cultivating Metta toward “I” were more intensified, as experience tried to come into peace with “I” who disrupts the whole meditative process. It worked only to an extent. Yogachara was more meditated upon—-but, the feeling of “everything merely compose a mental storm” was weaker, and the illusion of everything as independent realities was still there. Still, such an efforts led me to appreciate more the value of Yogachara. Toward the end of the duration, as impatience was mounting up more than ever, Metta together with mindfulness were what kept me sitting still even longer—-mindfulness led me to be aware and not to be forced act upon, while Metta smoothed ever the disturbance of “I”. However the effects were still limited. Nevertheless, this duration managed to last more than 8 minutes, which surprised me more. I am not sure how time perception were changed during meditation—-but when there is an effort to be patient and while impatience was still raging, if patience prevails, the time duration seems to last longer. If impatience prevails, the time duration would be shorter.

I hurried to class after meditation since there were only a couple of minutes left after the time spent of two durations as well as stretching exercises, and I could feel the meditative effects during class. I am not sure, but I think that for the first time, I got a glimpse of “effortless sustaining of concentration” described by advanced meditators. When I was at the class, I felt that a deep part of my mind was really stable and calm, and I could not help but to let concentration focus on the teacher’s talking. Concentration comes naturally, flowing from the stable and calm part of the mind, with minimal efforts! However, I feel that such a concentrative state was still different from the states experienced by advanced meditators. For one thing, such a concentration was not deep (I’ve experienced much more concentrated states than this). Second, it was unstable: once I began thinking about, “I” got into way, and proceeded to disrupt mental stability more.

Apr 2: 6 minutes 10 seconds + 6 minutes 20 seconds = 12 minutes 30 seconds

Since today’s meditation was in the afternoon, just before it, it felt more difficult for me to sit down (feeling tired to an extent, and also more restless than the morning after part of day had gone by). I thought I was going to take a nap, but nevertheless my body found itself sitting down, and meditation began, still on Metta cultivation at 5 levels. There was somewhat more negativity today besides the usual artificialness (for me, if meditation takes place at afternoon, there is generally more negativity), but with mindfulness there was no negative ruminations, just observing. Why do I feel more negative if meditation takes place at afternoon? I am not sure, perhaps physiopsychological conditions are different from mornings?

For the first duration, nothing unusual happened. The meditative flow was sustained, although concentration still wandered off. After few efforts re-focusing was possible, and the flow was sustained to the end. For the second duration it started well, but impatience began mounting again and concentration started to wander again. This time, the experience decided to look more into impatience as well as other negativity (such as artificialness and frustration caused by it), but no insights were realized besides just being more mindful of the negativity. Even so, more mindfulness weakened the negativity a bit, and the meditative flow was sustained to the end, since concentration was able to be re-focused.

I felt better and more alert after meditation. Good.

Apr 3: 6 minutes 50 seconds + 7 minutes = 13 minutes 50 seconds

Another day of Metta meditation at 5 levels—-nothing unusual happened. For the both durations, it was anchoring chanting on breathing (mostly shallow breathing but still felt artificial), and the artificialness of chanting and impatience led to the destabilization of focus, but then after meditative efforts the concentration was re-focused and the meditative flow kept going. There was a level of negativity (due to frustration at artificialness and impatience), but mindfulness allowed just-observe awareness and patience to arise, so meditation was sustained.

Once again, I was surprised at the duration time lengths for today—-I sat longer than I thought. Time perception really changes during meditation—-this has been shown again. Perhaps it was patience prevailing over impatience which led me to sit over a longer time, as I’ve thought about before.

Apr 4: 8 minutes 30 seconds + 8 minutes 20 seconds = 16 minutes 50 seconds

Today’s meditation demonstrated once again just how crucial the correct breathing is for the meditative experience, even though the primary focus of meditation is Metta. It demonstrated that anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) is one of the most fundamental skill for meditation, since even when the meditative mode is not simply anapanasati, when we are meditating on other focuses we might anchor the focuses on breathing.

I was running a bit before meditation today (rainy outside, had to run to get into the building), so after I sat down for the first duration, breathing felt quite natural—-it was the slower and a little deeper breathing during recovery. Since breathing felt natural, there were less deliberate conscious efforts about it, so the meditative flow overall was stronger. During the second half, once the body had recovered completely, the breathing need changed, too, and I’d to switch to shallow breathing again. Even so, if felt artificial. The meditative flow weakened somewhat, and of course there was the destabilization of concentration and mindfulness due to contents in the mind. After some efforts, re-focusing was achieved.

Experience during second duration was tougher. By this time, breathing was shallow throughout the round, and from the beginning I was also trying to smooth over an urge to gag. There was also an acute awareness just how uncomfortable one leg was, and I shifted a little few times. These factors, as well as impatience, made concentration and mindfulness difficult, and the mind was wandering alarmingly. Conscious efforts to re-focus came in, but the effects were limited, since the meditative flow was only sustained at a lower level. No need to say, the Metta chanting felt really artificial.

The time durations today were one of the longest so far, but the meditative quality was not good. It was a valuable lesson.

A summary of these few days:

I am not sure, but I felt that something had changed ever since Mar 31, after I “burned” during those 8 minutes and meditated on Yogachara. The overall longer time duration lengths these days indicated that patience might had reached a higher level—-but, who knows? Concentration and mindfulness were still subject to destabilization, but could be re-focused if the meditative flow was sustained (the longer the better). Metta cultivation still felt artificial, but there was less reactivity toward negativity as mindfulness strengthened. Strengthened mindfulness led to strengthened concentration. A major event taking place in my life may also play a role influencing the meditative experience. I got a new job and am currently undergoing training, so now I am not feeling as lost about my future as I felt before, although I still found myself worrying if I can’t do this job well (but as a result of previous meditative practices, anxiety levels were not as bad as before). Worried as I may be, it’s better to have a job than not, and it instilled a sense of calm and worth in me, hence may be subconsciously affecting the meditative experience.

In daily life context, Yogachara and Metta improved the daily life meditation. Keeping the teaching of Yogachara in my mind, I noticed that during these few days my reactivity toward mind-destabilizing triggers in daily life was lessened, although far from complete. Keeping Metta in mind also made me realize how arising of Metta was lacking during my daily life and how self-hatred was still in place, which is alarming.

These few days’ experiences also led to more appreciation for the anapanasati practice. It has been clearly demonstrated that I am still unable to breathe correctly during meditation, and more practice is needed.

Meditation entry #14

Mar 28: 6 minutes + 5 minutes 40 seconds = 11 minutes 40 seconds

Continued Metta meditation today, at five levels. It felt better meditating today than yesterday, probably because I’ve returned to the school meditation spot (the past week had been spring break so I was not at school), and once again I came into visual contact with the natural scenery at the horizon, under a sunny day.

The meditative flow was stronger than yesterday’s, although arising and dissolving contents still destabilized attention and mindfulness. There were big spikes of impatience during both durations, but with the help of the meditative flow, calmness returned as the impatience flaring subsided. The artificialness of Metta cultivation was a big factor for the destabilizing of concentration and mindfulness, but recovery comes with meditative effort. Even though Metta cultivation still felt pretty artificial, it prevented the arising of ill-will. After the end of meditation, I felt calm and at peace.

Mar 29: 6 minutes 10 seconds + 6 minutes 20 seconds = 13 minutes 30 seconds

I was in a quite calm state as I was sitting down to meditate, so today’s meditation experience seems better than yesterday’s (both in quality and quantity). The meditative mode was still Metta cultivation at five levels; the experience was similar to yesterday’s—-concentration focused on mostly on the words and also breathing, but got destabilized by arising and dissolving contents, and with the help of the meditative flow it eventually recovered. The meditative flow felt stronger; there was still a sense of artificialness of words but there were no any negative thoughts arising because of it. It can be viewed as a progress—-before, artificialness of Metta chanting make me feel self-hatred more, but now the meditative flow is able to keep it neutral. When I am writing this and reflecting on it, however, I still feel dissatisfied with myself.

While meditating on the Metta toward the hostile, I created the following imaginary scenario: suppose a group of neo-Nazis had surrounded me and began attacking me, would I be still be able to maintain good-will and compassion for them? I have to be honest—-almost certainly not. This is precisely why Metta meditation is needed, and I found that such imaginary scenario may be helpful for Metta cultivation toward the hostile, which can be really difficult.

Once again, I felt peaceful, calm, and uplifting after meditation. It seemed that for me, the state of uplifting euphoria only comes after meditation, and it is different from the meditative flow during meditation. I wonder if anyone else experiences it.

Mar 30: 5 minutes + 6 minutes 30 seconds = 11 minutes 30 seconds

Another agitated state for me today—-I had a job interview, before and during which I was still really nervous (despite of days’ of meditative practice to cultivate calm and peace). Although I meditated only after the job interview, due to time constraints (only 19 minutes before next class starts) I was still agitated. For me to feel really relaxed and at ease for a meditative session, I need about 30 minutes (not just for meditation itself, but also for stretching exercises and just being, staring at the horizon outside, and self-reflection).

Due to agitation, for the first duration it was difficult for me to maintain concentration and mindfulness. The meditative mode was the usual 5-levels Metta cultivation. Breathing was pretty artificial and not natural, so was the chanting. I still tried to really feel the Metta flowing, though, as I made an extra effort to visualize the people to whom I wished Metta to flow, and such visualization recovered concentration to an extent. For the second duration, since I calmed down somewhat during the first duration before, the meditative flow was stronger but there was still a relatively high level of agitation, eventually manifesting more as impatience. Contents still destabilized the focus but with visualization recovery was possible. Breathing and chanting were still largely artificial—-but no negative feelings arising from them, just mindfulness of being aware of them. As I am writing this, however, the feeling of dissatisfaction still arises.

Cultivation of patience from previous meditative efforts definitely helped me of being able to sit through the time duration today—-for a number of times I just wanted to cut it short, but experience led me to keep chanting and just sitting through. I am glad.

Mar 31: 6 minutes + 8 minutes = 14 minutes

Today’s meditative experience was quite remarkable.

Because of the things happening today, it was another day marked by agitation for me—-not just from one trigger but few. The most recent trigger before meditation was that two classmates were telling me they were going to study—-would I be joining them? I was eating lunch, so I said, let me finish eating first; perhaps I would be joining them later, or perhaps not. They then left. Why I was hesitant of joining them? I already missed the morning meditation time earlier, so I was planning to meditate after lunch. They were inviting me to study—-this was important, since I was unprepared for the upcoming exam, but late afternoon meditations were usually more difficult to me, so I wanted to meditate right after lunch. It means missing the study time… Hence, I was agitated again, so agitated that it was manifesting physically. There was also a lack of gratefulness and appreciation for the two classmates for inviting me to study with them since I was agitated—-not good.

I eventually decided to meditate, knowing well that I would miss a good chunk of study time. I tried not to think about it. Honestly, me being so prone of being agitated like this was precisely the reason why I need to meditate, I guess that was why meditation prevailed. I was in a surprisingly calm state as I was sitting down, and the first duration went surprisingly well. It was still Metta cultivation at 5-levels—-breathing and chanting still felt somewhat artificial, but the feeling was weaker than before… The meditative flow was quite strong. Although there was still destabilization of concentration and mindfulness, but overall the meditative flow was smooth. Toward the end of the first duration, as I was meditating on Metta toward the hostile, I included “I” into the hostile as well (since “I” disrupts meditation), and cultivated calm a little more. The first duration lasted for 6 minutes—-quite good.

The second duration was a really intense. Strong feelings of impatience was burning all over, plus the artificialness of Metta chanting and breathing! It was so difficult and felt like torture—-to keep sitting still while the mind was screaming to stop meditation abortively with relentless impatience. Somehow, the meditative flow carried through. There were times that I felt that impatience could just force my eyes open and move me, but only to be surprised to find that I was still sitting with eyes closed, still meditating. It was mindfulness being tested to the limit—-to be just aware and not be forced to act upon. Concentration was really affected, and I found it difficult to focus on Metta chanting, but with the help of the meditative flow it concentration was able to recover. Besides intensifying Metta efforts on “I”, I was also relying on Yogachara (a school of Buddhism) to maintain simply-aware mindfulness while impatience was attacking me from all sides. According to the teaching of Yogachara (as I understand it), everything, in a way, are manifestations of the mind. With the insight of Yogachara, I was trying to realize that it was just my mind raging a storm—-just intense mental phenomena, nothing more, nothing less, no need to be acted upon. Such an insight also weakened the deeply entrenched dualism—-since EVERYTHING is simply manifestation of ONE mind! Once dualism was weakened, mindfulness and concentration strengthened even more, with the right effort. After the duration ended, I was so surprised that it lasted for 8 minutes. Sitting through 8 minutes while being burned with intense fire of impatience? Wow. My time perception didn’t feel it was 8 minutes, though—-maybe it was altered with all those intense activities and efforts to keep meditating.

A summary of these few days:

Largely progresses these days—-there was basically no visible arising of negative thoughts and feelings, even though Metta and sometimes breathing felt artificial. Also, all the efforts of cultivating patience were paying off, as the meditative flow carried me through times of impatience. The intense 8-minutes meditative duration today was especially valuable. Although impatience was flaring intensely, the meditative flow prevailed, thanks to the practice before. Today was also the first time that I meditated on Yogachara—-for the first time, I got a glimpse of the true meaning of EVERYTHING IS MANIFESTED THROUGH THE MIND. We tend to think that we are vulnerable against the “independent realities” out there and/or contents raging inside our mind—-but really, since everything is manifested through the mind, they are all, in a way, just mental phenomena (I am not talking about idealism in the Western philosophical sense here—-think about it). Once the mind is tranquil and clear through meditation—-whole life is tranquil and clear (hence, let whole life be meditation!)! Ignorance could be destroyed (such as dualism), and with the strengthening of the right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration, meditation can indeed eventually encompass whole life.

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