Thoughts on Dynamic Meditation (so far)

Today’s 20 minutes got me really sensitive to the subtleties of this. I could feel a sliding crystallization of tension in my mind and in my shoulders. I used a specific technique to counter it - relaxation through anchoring. A thought I had day before yesterday was that I should get really technical about it - I should know tension and anxiety like eskimos know snow. Not only will the delineation of different categories of it help me focus, but it acts as Vipassana noting - separating my mind from being entangled in the feeling.

This type of dynamic meditation is very interesting in comparison to Vipassana and other schools of Buddhism. Vipassana is all about the controlled observation of the mindstream in order to gain visceral knowledge (jñanas) that change its (the mind’s) quality. In Vajrayana, visualization and ritual are used for the same purpose, and for some versions of Tibetan Buddhism mucking about with the Bardo - transitory states of consciousness like before death or dreaming - changes the state of the mindstream.

What I’m doing is purifying the mindstream through habit in order to prevent the arising of negative emotions. The more I think about it, the more I think I’ve stumbled on another school of Buddhism…if it works. I’ll have to come up with a name for it…

Either way, that purifying action is an important metaphor to keep in mind while proceeding.

Dynamic Meditation Revisited Party IV - Last Notes

I just did a 20 minute session while doing some work. It was pretty easy to track some of these things. Here’s what it looked like:

biting lip - anxiety - R
x3 minor anxiety arising - R
minor anxiety arising - x4 shoulders - R
x4 fingers - picking, flicking
x2 lip picking R
x2 caught minor anxiety
X5 laughing

As you can see a lot of these things happen in groupings. And a lot of these things have very clear physical markers - lip picking, picking at my fingers, shoulders tensing up.

The “R” was just my short form for Regular - as in I didn’t use any sort of specific technique - I just stopped it - these were all minor tensions in the mind stream.

“X2 caught minor anxiety” referred to catching it as it formed in the mind. And “X5 laughing” referenced that feeling of cheating at life, that true happiness that seemed to arise as I felt how easy it was to change this.

That feeling is really what I’m after - and it IS easy, but like the rest of this project, extending even the simplest things out across months (or in this case over the course of a full day over time) is very very difficult.

Buddhism and Dynamic Meditation

I’ve been reading a lot on Buddhism lately, and it seems as though some people view Nirvana as getting into this state of equanimity - of completely uprooting the possibility to have these negative emotional arisings at all.

In Vipassana, this uprooting occurs through visceral knowledge of the state of the world through repeated meditative practice. Through just observing the mindstream, you’ll gradually come to realizations - like realizing that we are not angry - anger has just visited us momentarily. This eventually (as far as I understand) will get us to this uprooting. 

There are other ways there - in Rinzai Zen you break the bonds of logic to attain sudden illumination, in Vajrayana you use visualization and ritual to get there (again, I’m still researching this stuff so please excuse my lack of understanding - and feel free to correct it). 

My method of dynamic meditaiton through habit formation is the “quit smoking” version of equanimity - that if you counter the urge enough times, the urge ceases to arise at all. The urge has to be countered minutely from second to second in the mindstream, but as far as I understand it, this might just be another avenue to Nirvana. Which is kind’ve cool.

Now all of this is theoretical - I’m very curious to see how (or if!) it will work - especially next to these thousand-year traditions.

The Hardest Thing is Not Doing More

Last week I made a decision not to go on a meditation retreat.

I was really interested in doing a 10 Day Vipassana Course. It’s a silent retreat, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. The only problem is that it involves a lot of uncomfortable sitting on the floor, and most beginners report online that it’s incredibly painful - as Westerners we’re not usually used to sitting on the ground for long periods without our legs going numb. During my year in Korea, I got used to it, but it took many months.

I started to practice sitting for long periods of time, tacking it on o my current list of habits, and it was surprisingly painful. I also felt that weight that to me signals willpower depletion - it felt like when I was doing too many habits - that feeling right before I just gave up on every skill I was trying to acquire.

It really does feel with this program that the hardest thing is not jumping into doing more things. Meditation will help me keep focused. Eating right will give me more energy, and I have so many ideas now for apps for gamification that I have to fight urges not to dive into learning programming.

It was a really difficult decision for me, because I felt like I was copping out of going, of just biting the bullet and forcing myself to do it. But I have to remind myself that this is part of the process - I’m trying something new here, something that has thus far worked at least once - 750 words is now a habit. And I know my previous way of doing things hasn’t worked.

Since making the decision not to go, I’ve stopped my timed sits, which has been a relief, both in terms of the pain involved,and a renewed feeling of endurance with regards to practicing my new habit - and I know it will be easier to continue along the process of habituation without such a huge distraction.

But I’m still eying that retreat - and I will go in the future - just not now.