Assuming I’m going to vanish into blissful nirvana in about 50 years, it’d be a good idea to leave behind some documentation. I guess I checked in for the first time about a year ago, so it’s not a bad time to try again.
So I’m two years into daily practice now, starting at Burning Man 2009 with the BuddhaCamp, a group of Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhists, who I chanted with for a few months. After that I kinda did my own meditation thing for a year, inspired by the bits of zen and vipassana I’d picked up. For about January to July this year I’ve been guided by Ven. Dhammadinna, who runs Bodhiheart Sangha in Seattle along with Tenzin Jesse. Did my first retreat with them for three days in July. In August, I’ve just been keeping up the practice.
Some things I’ve noticed:
- I can sit quietly for 20-25 minutes, no problem, it is an easy thing, if I just let my mind wander.
- Meditating for 20-25 minutes, however, is still not easy. I’m talking about something along the lines of vipassana or insight or mindfulness meditation: focus on your breath, and note and know anything that comes up.
- Getting myself to sit down and meditate for 20-25 minutes is still not easy either.
- Sitting cross-legged like that for more than about a half hour in a day, as in a retreat setting, hurts my knees.
- I notice fairly regularly in real life when I am being not so mindful, or causing myself extra suffering. I can’t do much about it usually, and I don’t try to. Just note it and understand the feeling. And I don’t get caught up in mental loops so much, like “argh I shouldn’t feel this” or “why do I feel this” or whatever.
- Sometimes I’ll be creating all these thoughts like “this is good” or “this is bad” and then there’s a nagging doubt in my mind like “hey there’s something else you should be thinking about here” but I lazily push it away.
- I feel pretty peaceful about the whole deal. I’m no longer looking too hard for external signals that I’m on the right track, because I realize that they will usually come too gradually to notice, and I trust that this is a good way to a better life.
- Similarly, I’ve disengaged it from my work a little bit. There’s no sense trying to write software to help us be … somehow mentally better … before I actually have a better sense of what that means. So, when I’m working, it’s less mysticism, more trying to focus on somewhat more concrete research tasks. Like designing for better focus/concentration/attention control.
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