Day 4 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 4

In the evening I sat in the back of the apartment on the floor. I put a candle there so at least I could see the roaches or spiders if I felt one on me. I don’t know how (or why) meditators in caves in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc – tortured themselves by not moving if they felt some creature on them. There are stories of monks with cobras crawling across them that didn’t move or bother to open their eyes. How is that possible? Only in the very advanced states of meditation could I see it possible… most times, out of the question.

I’ve been experimenting with a more strict half-lotus position to see if it helps my back pain. Surprisingly – it really does make me more stable and lessen the pain. Of course, the pain in my foot that’s pulled far up my thigh has increased quite a bit. Still, I’m able to sit for 30-40 minutes, more I guess if there was a want to. There’s no want to.

I felt during some parts of the meditation that an expansion of mind was starting. There was relatively good concentration – I could choose to focus on the breath for 6 or 10 breaths if I chose to – and did sometimes. As I’ve said – focusing on breathing is not really something that feels right at this time since the mind is calm and nearly still. Watching the breathing is a great tool to reach that point – once there – I usually drop it.

Instead, I focused on the pain in my back, in my foot. I focused on totally relaxing. I noticed again tonight a couple times that there was tension in my face and neck when I checked on them. That’s strange – but, it reflects the fact that I’ve not meditated much in so long. I’ve forgotten how important it is to completely relax EVERYTHING about the body – even the face. Maybe especially the face.

Once I relaxed those spots – the mind expansion started. It’s almost a vertigo feeling. As if the mind, head, body are all separating from each other and it gives one a feeling of going over a small hill on the road – you know the one kids say – WHOA!!! when it happens? Yeah, that’s a little bit like what it feels like – but it lasts for seconds, even minutes.

Sometimes it will go forward and start an expansion of the mind – a feeling that the mind is expanding to fill all space… this time, no. This time just a little taste and uncertainty about what it was doing. I was attached slightly to what was going to happen – and that’s always an experience killer.

The reason I was slightly attached to the outcome – and curious whether it would lead to a jhana or other state is because since I’ve had this very quiet mind over the last couple months and I haven’t focused on the breath to gain the concentration usually necessary to enter the states, I haven’t been able to understand what goes on before entering the deeper states.

It is as if I’m skipping the earlier states – bliss, joy, the mild concentrated state. It’s as if no matter how I slow the breath now – on purpose – it doesn’t necessarily lead to the deeper states like it did so many times before. I felt like I had a little control over going deeper before when I was able to focus on the breath. Now, without that – not sure what the process is…

So, I just sit and experience the virtually still mind.

Tonight was a peek at one of the deeper levels – and yet my attachment to have the experience stopped the state from taking over. Attachment on any level kills the deeper states. Funny that it’s there – this is rather new. I’ve not been attached to any state for so long. Now that I’ve made this decision to go forward and meditate regularly I guess there’s some want for the process to go just like before.

Something to think about.

Sorry, no audio or video as I noticed I’m saying the same thing writing and speaking. Better to do one or the other! Today it’s writing. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try to do a MP3.

Sawasdee krup…

Day 5 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 5

Today I woke up feeling well. There was some left over peacefulness from the night before as I went to sleep in a very relaxed state. The mind was exceptionally quiet.

I’ll do an mp3 and talk rather than write – my fingers hurt from typing so much!

Day 5 MP3 (10:57, 2.5MB) (I will find this – Ihave it somewhere!)

Sawasdee krup…

Day 6 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 6

Today I awoke without any back pain at all. None. It was surreal. Not only that but there something even more ridiculous… I felt as if I was in a meditative state most of the day. I didn’t even meditate because there was no point at all – everything I did today was meditation. I was in the moment most/all of the day.

I couldn’t feel the body well. It was numb, but not unfeeling – more like tingling numb if that makes sense. I felt similar to what it’s like in meditation when I lose feeling in legs, feet, arms, legs… and most of chest. It was like that nearly all day. Every time I looked at it anyway.

My mood was light and relaxed. It was as if in one of the early Jhana’s… the joy, the ease of mind, of body – no stress… just in a good place mentally.

An amazing day… not at all sure, why… it just came. That’s what it does – comes on its own schedule…

Oh, it rained all day and in the evening the frogs were everywhere in the back, more than the other day when I recorded them… here’s a short mp3 clip of their amazing sound… (- lost this temporarily. :P)

Day 10 – Intensive Meditation Experience

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 10

Unending Mindfulness

I thought of changing the title a couple times – as it just spilled out and wasn’t very well thought out. But, the more I look at it – the more it makes sense. It was as if mindfulness was there anytime I checked. It was almost like a full day of mindfulness. It started in the morning with a ride on the motorbike. Then transitioned into a few hours on the computer. I found that the plastic chair I type on is a really good place to sit and close my eyes. Very comfortable. Maybe sitting on the floor during meditation is for people in India without chairs or something flat to sit on up off the ground.

I noticed various times when I checked in with the mind and body that the body was already tingling in my hands, arms, feet, and legs… as if ready to go into the numb state where I can’t feel them. It’s days like these that are best spent meditating all day – but I had so much work to do on the computer that I forced myself to sit and do it for a couple hours. After I ate 6 bananas and drank some water I thought I was ready for a trip up the hill. I rode over on the motorbike and found few people there. The sky was threatening to open up with showers for the 47th time in about 5 days. The rain has been unpredictable lately with the remnants of the cyclone that went through Burma. I’ve not seen it rain so hard here in May. We’re not even in the harsh rainy season yet and already I’m sure we’ve had 2 feet of rain in some places in May.

Well, there was no chair at the mountain top today so I sat on the concrete as the wind howled. It had just finished raining hard and everyone had climbed back down the steps – including the two monks I spoke with for an hour. I was all alone at the top. I cherish those times as I really enjoy sitting there to meditate. It’s very quiet. In Thailand, that’s hard to find as it’s a pretty noisy country. As I write this there are 3 young guys in their late teens two doors down chatting loudly and being teenagers. It’s 9:15 pm and in an hour I’ll be ready to sleep. They won’t – but hopefully, they’ll go inside and shut the door. Don’t they get eaten by mosquitoes? I shut my door at 6 pm because there’s far too many outside. Some people just let them feast.

So, I sat for maybe 40 minutes on the ground. Then my back began to hurt a bit. I headed over to another spot where I can sit on a raised concrete slab that’s maybe 16-18″ off the ground. I sat there for about 15 minutes – and still, some back pain. I decided to do some walking meditation… that went well. Very peaceful with nobody running around at the top of the mountain!

Then I sat for a while as the numbness really started to take over as I walked. I sat another 15 minutes and then sat with eyes open and relaxed – just enjoying the present moment.

What an amazing day, as I think back on how peaceful it was… A day spent in mindfulness is an amazing thing. I thought very little today, a nice change of pace.

Day 28 – Intensive Meditation Practice (Last 10 Days)

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 28

It’s Friday. I spent about 10 days of being quieter – not talking when I usually would have. Going inside instead of moving the mouth for no good reason. I realized early on in these 10 days that I needed to speak just to be cordial to people I met during the day. So, I spoke when I had to and not when I didn’t have to. ‘Have to’ meaning whether or not someone expected a response from me and wouldn’t understand if I didn’t give one. My friends understand. But, strangers?

[was a photo here]

Large queen ant – really nice colors and it was as long as my thumb is wide.
I found it under my motorcycle seat and put it in my helmet for some pics.

 

There were a couple of moments of profound stillness while sitting recently. Previously I believed, or, never questioned really – that I needed to sit in a certain posture in order to meditate, focus on the breath, or be still. I’ve experimented with some other positions and found them to be much more comfortable than sitting in a half-lotus on the concrete or tiled floor, as is usually the case in Thailand. There aren’t rugs anywhere here.

As I said in a previous post – I found a flat concrete step that I sat at a few times. Like sitting on a small chair, my feet on the ground and my butt on this raised (14″?) step and lower back supported by a square column behind me. I placed my hands in my lap similar to what I do as I sit in the half-lotus – and it’s a really comfortable position.

Then I found a better position. There is an altar at the highest spot on the mountain at Tiger Cave temple… It has a Buddha, a Ganesh, and a Chinese or Indian saint of some sort – he’s memorialized various places around the temple but I don’t know his name. They are all on a raised platform about 4 feet off the level one stands at. If you walk around to the back there is a small place to sit behind the altar which faces some sheer limestone rock faces and if it’s cloudy it can be shady and a cool breezy place to sit. In the past, I’ve sat in a half-lotus here and been comfortable enough.

However, recently I started just sitting in a normal sitting position, legs hanging off the platform. Dangling off I guess you could say. I rest my back fully flat against the vertical wall and close or open my eyes and watch as the body goes relaxed… then the mind stills. It’s a really nice position. I was able to sit like that without much back pain for an hour and 20 minutes once and a few times around 40 minutes. In the past, I’ve not sat much past 30 minutes.

I still don’t know if there’s any reason to sit longer than 30 minutes. Well, there isn’t. But, if I have the time I allow myself to really relax and recuperate from my trip or trips up the mountain.

I’ve been speaking in Thai quite a bit to the monks and visitors I see during the day. Originally I studied vocabulary words and got the first 1000 words down pretty well. But, for the past 18 months, I’ve not tried to learn new words. I realized I probably should as it’s difficult explaining some things to people with what few words I know. General conversations go fine – but it’d be nice to go a bit deeper, especially when talking with the monks about states of mind and things.

Again I’ve been offered a chance to see the private meditation platform that exists on a small hill (40m vertical elevation) close to the foothills area. Every time I go up the padlock is locked – sometimes from the other side – so I know someone is meditating there and it’s an active spot. Pra Pornpitak offered to take me next time we meet at the bottom of the mountain – the problem is, we’re always at the top when we see each other.

My friend is going away for a couple of days so I’ll have a chance to stay overnight at the top of the mountain. I’m looking forward to that. It’s the quietest place I know of to sit or do walking meditation. Would be nice to go for hours without seeing anyone up there. Sometimes, like this week especially, there’ve been few tourists. Farangs (western tourists) have gone home for the most part and it’s become almost a ghost town in some areas. I like it better like this.

I don’t know if my mind state is the same as it’s been or if I’m just noticing differences more… It’s really still. It’s an effort to bring up thought for most things except those that get me emotional. I have a couple of things I notice that bother me and fire up the emotional fire and those things come up quickly and though I see them for what they are – they continue unabated for a minute, five minutes or so and then finally go away. There doesn’t seem to be anything that has the power to affect me much longer than that. Nothing.

I’ve had some trials and nothing affects my mind for more than 10 minutes. Most things are gone in an instant. An example is driving as I’ve said many times before I think in my journal already. Some Thai people are clueless and that is the reason I see the results of so many accidents each month. I’ll be during the average month I see 5 horrible accidents just after the fact. I see one happen once every two months maybe. During some months – especially rainy months I see 10-15 accidents.

Anyway, so the prospect of becoming the victim of one is high in my mind because I’m on a motorbike and most of the accidents involve a motorbike and a car, truck or dump truck. If someone does something stupid to endanger me on the motorbike my temper flares instantly and in that moment I could whack someone on the head with a stick I’m so enraged. Thai people as a culture don’t value life very highly, not their own and not others. It’s fate, it’s karma if death or accident catches up to you. A Thai might, in all seriousness just think of it as outside his/her control. They drive as they wish, some of them, without a thought in their mind about their own driving habits affecting others. I see it on a daily basis.

So, while I don’t value my life so highly – it’s neither here nor there for me, I do value staying out of pain highly. That hasn’t gone away. I still “avoid pain and seek pleasure” like Freud postulated… Death, if it came quick and without a highly painful experience is welcome anytime. It’s not something I think about. Pain is something I think about sometimes. 🙂  But, pain as an experience has changed for me recently too. There is something about pain that is temporary now – it’s not all-consuming. It’s as if I’m able to step back from it… like it’s external to me in a sense. I realized this picking up a hot pot of soup by the metal. It was extremely hot – but I didn’t react – I just continued to put it on the table where I was going. Previously maybe I’d have screamed and dropped it or thrown it on the table. It was kind of taken like, pain is – so, just continue what you were doing. In this case, it didn’t have the power to cause the mind to ripple much at all… much less react.

So, while I’m ready to beat someone senseless in the instant someone drives like a nut endangering me and immediately afterward after a few minutes it’s gone and I’m driving without thought again – nothing really stays, emotional or not. Nothing has the power to produce much thought on its own. The underlying state is stillness. Emptiness I guess you might say. I seem to be operating on just memory. Another example.

I went to the restroom. I used it. I sprayed off. In Thailand, we spray the bottom of “us” with a dishwasher type spray nozzle. It really cleans one up. I then washed some plates in the back area. I walked toward the front of the apartment and as I passed the room with the towel I grabbed a towel and wiped my backside until dry. I hung the towel and went to the front to put dishes in the spot they usually are.

I realized as I was wiping my butt, that I didn’t think anything – I’m just operating straight from memory. Thought is not part of the general goings-on now. I respond according to what memory tells me I usually do.

As I write this there is very little thought going on. I am writing straight from memory. I’m not actively thinking, playing with ways to say something, or trying to come across in a certain way, style, or with a certain effectiveness… I’m just putting down digitally what is in my memory – almost without thought at all. When I stop typing – there is no thought. I’m aware of other things going on when these fingers stop typing something – cars passing, saws running for construction in the back… birds chirping, the fan going… but there’s no thought about any of it.

Sometimes I put music on – my favorite group of all time must be “The English Beat”. They have complicated music full of beats and changes to the beat. It’s really fun music that I never tire of – even after 20 years of listening to their same 50 songs. In the past, after I’ve listened to great music, it stays in my head. I mind hum it, sing it or find it playing in my head on auto-pilot for hours… maybe at night when I’m sleeping – It is replaying over and over in my mind.

Now? Nothing. When the music stops, it stops. Nothing carrying over – no thought continuing it… it’s just done.

It’s a fascinating state to be in – and yet, while in it – it’s nothing. It’s not fascinating, scary, weird, or fun.

It just is as it is.

I realize though if I were looking at someone else functioning like this – and I was my normal thought-filled self that I would find it very strange that someone was operating like that. I’d wonder if they were OK. If the person was normal…

Here, now, as it is – I don’t ask myself those questions – it just is. Nothing to judge about it. Nothing to compare to except when my memory realizes in a split second that “usually” I have thought running through my mind – pointless thoughts, my voice asking me questions, comparing things – finding the best way to go about something… planning some future event… dissecting some conversation…

When I talk to the monks at the top of the mountain – the most conversation I get all day – sometimes an hour or more… and I stop, they go back down the stairs or need to pray or collect donations from the donation boxes… I’ll go to sit and sometimes I realize – my memory tells me – usually, in the past – this was impossible. Your mind would be ruminating over dozens – hundreds of parts of the conversation to see what you could have said better. Asking yourself, What did he mean by this…? by that?

But the mind is perfectly still now – none of that. I can have the most engaging conversation with someone  – a monk or someone from Poland, Czech Republic or wherever… and go sit with a blank mind 3 minutes later and not have to calm the mind – it’s calm like a cup of mercury. Nothing much can make it vibrate to produce thought…

I remember that this is strange. But right now – as I experience it – not strange at all. Just is. It’s fine. It’s normal. ‘Tamada’ Thais’ say. Normal operating procedure… or, ‘usually’.

There is still some thought… it can come up. I can force it up. I can question in my head – or ask questions of myself and answer them. But, the impetus to ask them doesn’t arise often at all. I think the most common impetus or invitation to start thought comes from asking myself – now what?

Once I’ve chosen something to do whether it’s shower, write a journal entry, clean the motorbike, go to the store, get some exercise, or something else… thought will probably be absent during that activity… and then the question might come up – what next? Or maybe, I just operate on memory from there – If I go to exercise then memory tells me after I exercise I shower… so I might return to the apt. to shower. I might then feel hungry. I’ll go to eat. I might need to pick up my friend after work – I’ll go do that. Then, I can just follow what she ‘needs’ to do… I don’t need to ask myself anymore. I’m following her plan – and that’s just as good as any plan.

So – this is what I’m experiencing lately…

Just now I looked around the room to see if memory was jogged for anything I should do today. I saw the VCD’s – movies on cd-rom that we rented from the store I need to return today. I don’t have any cash so I’ll withdraw 500 thb to use for food, gas, and oil change for the motorbike…

So, I’ll do those things. I will also outline some chapters of a book I’m writing at some point today. My friend comes home late tonight – 9:30 pm so I’ll go to the temple from 4 until 9:00 perhaps, bringing some rambutan to snack on while I’m there. Maybe I’ll write the book on the mountain when it’s quiet. Probably will feel the state of mind that is conducive to sitting … maybe not sit – just stand open-eyed and experience things in the field of view without naming them… without thinking about them – just looking and seeing…

I’ve just produced a lot of thought to guide me during the day… It doesn’t hurt to produce thought now – it is difficult though. Usually thought just pops up as a result of things that are bothering us, things we notice, things we question, things we like or dislike, things that we feel a need to do…

Without any of that – how to produce thought? That’s what I mean – strange – it’s hard to get it to come…

Ok then – bye for now… Maybe more photos coming. I remembered I haven’t shown any for a while here, though I’ve taken some.

sawatdee krup

Update 27 Feb 2019

I just found this ‘draft’ in my wordpress dashboard. I found a lot of them. This is the first day of the flat-mind experience I think. I mean, there had been minutes and hours of it at times before, but this is when it became permanent. Unfortunately, I didn’t copy over the exact date of it happening to this new draft. These posts were published on one of my other websites previously. I’ll have to see if I have the info somewhere else. This was sometime in 2008 or 2009. Probably 2009.

It’s funny because for the last few years I’ve asked myself a few times – what happened to bring this on, and I couldn’t think of anything. I had completely forgotten about this series of days I called “Intensive Meditation.” you can read all that I wrote during that time here.

I just asked my wife if she remembers that time, and she does. She said I was in a different state of mind with all the meditating. Funny… I haven’t remembered for years, but now that I read these posts I wrote back then, it comes back to me.

So, yeah, there was some preliminary ‘event’ that brought on this process. Or, the process was coming on anyway, and it compelled me to meditate often over this time period.

***

Photo of newborn gecko.

A baby gecko just minutes old after hatching from egg.
It could already run and climb walls. HOW did it know how?

Buddha at top of Tum Sua mountain.

Some sharp clouds the other day.

A Ganesh – Indians hold this symbol in high esteem…
so do Thai Buddhists (Theravada)

Lotus ready to bloom…

A meditation spot I use that’s hidden
(top layer of brick has a flat spot).
It’s cool and shady before 4 pm.

A dog at the top of the mountain.
He jumps all over me until I give him his box of milk.
He devours it.

Nou has been cooking at home on the weekends
now since she has 2 days off a week.
This new job is good for her. For us.

Group of statues at the base of a Boddhi tree.

Tum Sua from the top looking down. The chedi is still under
construction. Maybe another 6 months?

Not sure you can see the chedi and Buddha at the top of the mountain.
It’s 270m vertical – about 810 feet. It seems much higher as you walk it
in Thailand’s heat and humidity. Bring water for the trip up. There’s
usually cold water at the top for free.

 

Day 7 – Intensive Meditation Practice

After yesterday I didn’t know what to expect today. Today was just a regular day, but there was no stress about anything all day. Like yesterday, but no numbness. No feeling that I was already in a meditative state, just a balanced feeling… relaxed, no stress and an easy day.

Even when my backpack fell onto the street from my motorbike, I had no stress about it. It was raining and I’d left my backpack on the motorcycle while I went in and talked to a friend at her business. As we were talking she noticed the pack had fallen onto the street, close to the curb. It had rained before – and yet I didn’t see any streams of rain… Sadly the streaming water was hidden by the curb – out of my view!

I had put a waterproof bag on top of my backpack – and it’s quite a good rain-cover. It has an elastic drawstring that enables me to make it really tight – so the pack is almost completely surrounded with it.

But not quite.

I looked at the pack and said, oh, “mai pen rai” in Thai – meaning, never mind – no worries, it’s fine. And I kept on talking to her… Well, after 20 minutes when I was leaving as I came up to the motorcycle I saw that my pack was sitting in a stream of water close to the curb. The pack had blocked the water so it built up and poured into the backpack!

Hmm. Still – no stress in my mind at all. I knew my notebook computer was wrapped in another waterproof diving bag – that has a slight hole in it – but, usually is ok. My camera – I thought, was ruined – but it was only $133 over 2 years ago and I had dropped it off the motorcycle at 35 mph before – it wasn’t doing well anyway. Then I thought about – phone. Jeez. That was another $166 and wasn’t working so well either… At the worst – the camera and phone were soaked through. Maybe the phone would work after drying out. The camera – was likely lost. I had no important documents in the bag – so – there wasn’t that much to worry about.

As I picked up the pack – it was VERY heavy. Darn. The water soaked through and pooled in the bottom. I drained it as best I could. Checked the laptop – it was fine. I didn’t even look at the phone and camera – no matter I thought. I checked it later when I found a place to eat. They were both wet. I removed the batteries and dried them off as best I could.

I ate in mindfulness of the great food.

I wasn’t attached to the things that might have been ruined by the rainwater. It was a really nice feeling to not really care what had become of the things. Not that I can afford to buy a new phone or a new camera – I’d have just done without if they were ruined. But, it just didn’t matter in the big picture.

End Result: Phone display is pretty garbled – but it’s functional. Camera works fine. Notebook – fine. The only thing that was really ruined beyond fixing was this paper on which I wrote something I was considering focusing on during periods of calm… and during meditation after coming out of Jhana…

What did it say before?
impermanence
Anicca
suffering
dukkha
not self
anatta

I’m not sure what line 4 says – except “mind” (citta) and “Mental objects” are clear enough to read.
Is that great or what? It’s as if it’s reflecting reality…

Impermanence – yeah, the paper is impermanent. What I thought might be important, these phrases, are not important at all.

Suffering – there would have been suffering if I cared about this paper and what it said, what it stood for. The Buddhists think this is so important – to focus on these things during a focused, concentrated mind…

Not self – I wasn’t upset or even phased by anything getting wet in the bag – “I” wasn’t really there in a big way… not self, no self…

Strange but this is the only thing in the whole back that was ruined. The other thing that had the most water was a Buddhist amulet give to me by the abbot of a temple here after we gave a donation in a friend’s name. A friend we met online as a result of this site sent us money to donate for him because he couldn’t make it here. We did it and the abbot gave us this nice gold amulet for him. I kept it in the bag because I didn’t want it stolen from the room and need to replace it. When I found that amulet at the bottom of my bag it was full of water! The amulet was in perfect shape – as it’s all metal – but, it was full of clear water… Better take a photo of that too so you get the idea…

It’s surrounded by a plastic or glass cover – so, when the water came in, it stayed. It was like looking at the monk (Ajarn Jumnien) in a fishbowl.

Well, the water emptied – and the amulet appears fine.

It’s funny to me that these are the two things – out of 100 in my backpack that got the most water.
Anyway, it rained the entire day and all night last night. Maybe will get to do some exercise if it stays a little bit dry.

Sawasdee krup…

Day 2 – Intensive Practice

Meditation Journal

Today began with rain, ended with rain, and as I sit here the next morning – it’s raining. That’s the south of Thailand. It rains more here than Kauai, Hawaii which is saying a lot. At the top of one of Kauai’s mountains it rains more than 300 inches a year. It’s the wettest spot on the face of the earth!

So, apologies for no photos today – and the video I’ve cut out since it would just be the darkness of the backyard. I pulled the audio track and turned it into mp3 so you can hear the frogs croaking a chorus…

I showered in mindfulness, the cold water – which usually I have an aversion to, hit me and was accepted all at once. No aversion came up – though the memory of the aversion did come up. I didn’t feel any emotion toward the cold water – it was just experience as it hit my skin. There was no chill in the body – it just accepted the cold water without emotion. But, the thought – hey, i’m usually averse to this kind of thing did creep into consciousness. It was noted – and I went back to showering. What a great way to get over things not usually ‘liked’.

I did some internet posting – for the Day 1, Intensive Practice blog post you found yesterday. I decided I’d make a specific effort to be mindful of my posture since that must be aggravating my back condition. I try hard to sleep in a way that keeps my spine aligned – but even so, I wake up with pain from it each day lately.

At mid-day I went to one of my favorite hiking spots and walked up the road. It’s an 8km hike (almost 5 miles) and while my ankle was bit sore I thought I’d do it anyway since dull pain tends to go away as I exercise and then afterward there’s only a 50% chance it returns to make it worse. Well, today isn’t worse but I definitely still feel it.

You might get the impression I’m an old man with all these aches and pains… hahah. I’m 42 and I think in reasonably good shape! I’m 5’11” and about 163 lbs. I do some kind of exercise daily – usually a walk up one of the mountains – the stairs or the road with my heavy backpack. I seem to push it though – running up some of the stairs or on the steep inclines of the road – like yesterday. Silly me.

I parked the motorbike and started walking up the hill. I left my backpack at home with my friend and it was nice not to have anything in my hands – but soon I picked up a long stick to ward off ravenous dogs that I might come upon. Dogs are everywhere in Thailand and they don’t always like foreigners. As I walked I balanced the stick in my right hand on one finger (horizontally) and the mind was blank. I maintained that state as long as I could before some thought would come up… I then noted the thought when I realized it – and went back to nothing… Again I maintained that as long as possible – it does take some effort.

Many times thoughts started to germinate… and, once realizing a thought was starting – it stopped. Many little clipped thoughts happened during the walk. A clipped thought is something like this…

I hear my mind voice say something like… “Do you think….” and then I realize it’s going to be a thought, and it stops.

If I’m fast I can see them that quickly. Perhaps it will happen 3 times in 20 seconds and then calm down for some minutes without any thought starting. Sometimes it happens more, sometimes less. There are brief bursts of thoughts that want to come out… to be formed as a whole thought, but, when mindful of it – they stop short of becoming complete, long, drawn out thoughts that lead to full-time thought activity that could take one on a mind journey for minutes at a time before realizing it.

The sooner I recognized the thought and it stopped – the less chance it had of turning into anything at all. If I wasn’t so quick and more of the thought was formed, like, “Do you think there is anyone at the first lookout right now?”

Then – anything could happen. Maybe I keep thinking… “No, probably not – there’s not been anyone else on the whole road so far – and it is raining everywhere – probably there won’t be anyone up there. If there is you can go to the 2nd viewpoint…”

And so on. Once caught in a long thought – a conversation with yourself – it’s more difficult to notice it going on – because now the whole state of the mind has changed – it’s in mind conversation mode and being mindful of a still mind isn’t the predominant state anymore. So, it’s more difficult to realize and get back into that state. It’s not difficult – but, more difficult than if I’m able to catch the thought as it’s beginning to form in the mind.

So – the walk was 2 hours, up and down. It rained a little bit and overall the 2 hours was spent in more mindfulness than yesterday’s trip up the steps with all the tourists and visitors to the temple.

The rest of the day was peppered with brief periods of mindfulness – but maybe I need to get a simple watch that beeps every 10 minutes like I had so long ago. It’s a great mindfulness bell.

I sat for 20 minutes in the evening and found the pain in my back to be very strong. I was anxious about – thinking about the pain and didn’t find a comfortable position. The mind could remain still much of the time – but sitting just wasn’t a good idea at that time so I stopped, went outside and listened to the frogs…

Vern 😛