Day 11 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 11

Today started out with rain, ended with rain and had lots of rain in the middle. It’s unbelievable that it could rain every single day for weeks at a time. It’s more unbelievable that there are so many people with motorcycles here that just ignore it. I have trouble ignoring it sometimes since drivers are not very courteous or skilled here in Thailand – especially around the crowded tourist areas.

The other thing about rain is that it affects my eating times. I don’t want to drive in it – so I just sit here on the computer until it stops. I have no refrigerator or stock of food in the house, but that will change today. I realized last night as it was pouring down rain at 8 pm in the dark on the way back from picking up my g/f (commonlaw wife) that I really need to be smarter about having food IN the apartment that we can eat so we don’t need to drive another 6 km out of our way to get to a restaurant in the rain to eat. I’ll load up on things we can eat today… tuna in cans, instant noodles, maybe I’ll splurge and get a Skippy Peanut Butter jar – since I seem to be having protein cravings a lot over this past year. We have cheap versions of RITZ crackers that go well with the pb.

(note 27 Feb 2019 – we were living on $300 per month from my wife’s job at a local travel agency. I was making little as I was trying to ramp up some websites to provide income. We had very scarce food!)

So – I worked on the web sites a bit today and finalized the sales pages for the sites I want to get rid of. I am not much into writing blog posts and they definitely take me away from other things I could be doing – namely, writing books. I have this idea that I’m a book writer, not a blog writer. We’ll see if that’s true or not if I can sell these blogs and get out from under them. 🙂

I went to the temple around 3 pm. There was no rain at that moment. I ate som tam at the stand there and she gave me day old sticky rice which was really lame. I left it for her to reuse if she wants. I made a mental note not to go there anymore for som tam. There are only two good som tam places in the whole area, that was never one of them but it was convenient if I hadn’t eaten – again, because of rain!

So – I grabbed 2 cookie packs for 5 baht (15 cents) each, 2 raisin breads for 10 baht each and headed up the mountain. At the top, I met with many people who were in the mood to talk. Girls from Poland, Czechoslovakia… wow. A young couple from New Zealand.

Then, I was walking down to my private meditation spot and I saw my favorite monk – Pra Pornpitak. He’s a 44-year-old monk that has been at the temple for 17 years I believe. He loves to practice English with me – but usually we end up speaking much more Thai. He’s a good teacher – but WOW does he speak fast. I have a lot of trouble understanding when he forgets to tone it down a bit and goes warp-speed.

With him today was a young, 20 yr old monk that was a monk for 3 days. He would be a monk only for 7 days. Apparently, he was going to be married and it was a good idea for him to ordain for a week. He spoke no English but enjoyed my speaking Thai as he could finally converse with a foreigner!

We talked over an hour and it was getting dark. It was really cold and windy. There was rain surrounding the mountain – on all sides. Amazing to watch the bands of rain moving with the wnd over the countryside and town.

I walked down the steps in mindfulness and told some people that were going up that it was going to be dark in 30 minutes – they might want to rethink their trek because they’d get stuck in pitch black on the steps – not a good idea, they’re pretty treacherous.

I drove back to the room, put on some warm clothes and raincoat and proceeded to get soaked through while picking up my friend. Her name is Nou. Like new. But with a rising tone at the end. It means mouse.

Day 18 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 18

It has been nice weather here for the past week. I spent a lot of time walking up the hill at the park (mountain). Once I tried running it and made it 3 km up only to be stopped by a splitting headache. I never get headaches when I run. There’s a slight chance it was a caffeine headache – but I don’t always drink more than one cup after breakfast and haven’t had one in a long time – a year? It started at 2 km. I ran through it until 3, and that was that. I walked a bit up, and still – was pounding really hard. Turned around and walked down in mindfulness.

I’ve spent a lot of time in mindfulness and a lot of time questioning things without coming up with anything in particular. The note I showed you a few posts ago (see below)

Is still on my table here where I do my writing. I’ve taken the hint and only really focused on the mental objects that come and go in my mind for the last week. “Mind” and “Mental objects” are the only two things legible anymore. It’s a good place to focus I guess considering meditation where I’m sitting down and watching breath – seems pointless. So, instead, I go through my day catching myself (making myself aware of) the mental objects that are there.

There seem to be less and less mental objects going on as time passes. Once I note one – it drifts away… not returning often. Sometimes not at all.

What are mental objects? You might ask…

Sensory inputs – Sounds. Touches. Emotions. Thoughts. Urges. Judging. Attachments to something (liking something, or thinking it necessary that it continue to bring happiness or keep pain away…).

Things I see – if I’m looking at them for any length of time and I realize it – I ask – what is it I’m looking at and why? I note the mental action that was taking place… and it goes away.

Things like that. Just things that are occupying the mind I make a note of.

Other than that – I’ve been thinking about starting a period of quiet to go along with this period of intense mindfulness, or meditation if you want to call it that.

I notice that when I talk I’m usually joking too much. I’m sarcastic and trying to be funny all the time with my girlfriend. Sometimes she takes it the wrong way – especially if she’s stressed from working. She has a lot of responsibility at work. A lot of people count on her to do things a certain way and to help them get through their stay. Sometimes I notice I’m not helping ease her mind any – I’m providing more anxiety… less peace and calm.

I think I’m going to try to shut up for a while. See how that goes. I think the added benefit of having me look inward more could also result. Maybe? Not sure. Let’s see what happens. Not sure if I’ll write or chat or do anything like that really. A week of quiet – that sounds about right. Let’s see if I can pull that off…

🙂

Day 3 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 3

Today went well. I had a lot of things to do today but I still found time to meditate (sitting) for about an hour in one of my favorite spots at a temple nearby. This temple has some meditation spots above the tree line after a short climb. It’s peaceful and, though it’s usually warm – it was perfect because it was drizzling rain all day.

I sat in mindfulness of the moment. Little thought intervened. It was a very nice session with some back pain – but overall much less than I’ve had recently. I think my efforts to maintain a straight posture while standing, sitting, and riding the motorbike are starting to help. Who knows? 🙂

I noticed that there is quite a bit of the feeling in my mind – or, rather, thoughts in my mind revolving around the “what are you doing this for” type subject.

I don’t answer – I just watch the questions. Do I know WHY I’ve restarted meditation? Yes, in a way. I’ve restarted to stop all reactions and negativity that exists as long as the ego exists. I’ve started again so the ego that’s left will be changed and leave once and for all. I’ve built the ego up to be very strong again after stopping meditating so many years ago. It’s a shell of what it was, and yet it’s still there and still causing hurt to some that I love. I see the reaction the instant it happens and I know it’s wrong – sometimes I can say – wow, that was wrong, and apologize profusely. Sometimes it takes a few seconds. Few minutes. Sometimes a half hour.

It’s that I need to stop. It’s such a silly thing to let run about unchecked. No sense in it anymore. I’ve seen the ego go almost completely before – and then built it back up. This time after it goes – it won’t be welcome to return!

🙂

So, that’s the why – but other than that – no real reason, guess that’s reason enough!

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 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 rain water. 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 1 – Intensive Meditation Practice

I thought for a couple minutes – what to call this that I’ve started. I’m calling it intensive practice for lack of a better phrase coming to mind. Is it intensive – I guess. But I’m not really intent on anything. If that makes sense. It’s intensive just because I’ll make it a focus now. It’s been in the background for so many years, I’ve not regularly sat much at all in 10 years. This will be a more intensive practice than I’ve had in 10 years, that’s all.

Starting today I want to focus daily on being mindful of the present moment and probably do some sitting and walking meditation everyday.

The mind – thoughts and ego, are nearly absent lately. When I’m quiet. When I’m not quiet and listening to the mp3s I brought from home and singing or thinking about the past – mind is there. It’s here when there are things going on – when I’m quiet, it’s gone. When I try to focus on the breath as I was able to in the past – I cannot. “I” cannot. There seems not to be an “I” when I want one – when it’s quiet and I want to focus on breath. So meditation becomes almost the same as mindfulness of the present moment, there is no mind and only direct experience – unfiltered by the mind.

I differentiate the two – mindfulness of present moment and meditation because the level and length of time I can stay mindful of the moment is extended during meditation. I’m doing nothing but just sitting or walking during meditation and it’s much easier to remain in a thoughtless, mindless state for a longer period of time than if I’m going about daily activities.

So today I did some sitting meditation. My back was extremely sore and yet after 15 minutes or so I was able to see it for what it was – nothing – and watch other mind objects or sensory objects going on. Birds seemed to be all over, I heard chirps of many kinds. The cicadas have come back after a short time away during the rainy season. They are like mindfulness bells. They have a gentle sound when they’re far away. When they’re 20 feet away it’s like fingernails on chalkboard. People would talk, cameras would click. The wind was very strong – 40mph gusts that sometimes were sustained for a minute or more.

After the pain wasn’t the main focus the arms and feet disappeared. Meaning – there was no feeling that they existed. If you haven’t read any of my journal articles or seen video or listened to mp3’s about what happens during meditation this is a routine experience. It usually starts in the feet or hands and goes inward, numbing everything… sometimes the entire body feels as if it’s not there anymore. Like I don’t have a body. It’s strange to write, but the experience is quite ‘normal’ now since it has happened many times.

In this case it didn’t progress to cover the body – it just stayed – arms, hands, feet and sometimes legs were absent. The wind was so strong that it was felt with the hair on my arms and legs. I said somethign about that in the video – but didn’t finish. I started to talk about bicycle racing – when I was shaving my hair on my arms and legs – and how it made me feel so slippery while facing a headwind. Any wind, wasn’t felt at all. It’s a great morale booster when cycling or swimming, not to feel the resistance, but more so – not to have the mind create mental resistance. The wind is not much to overcome, but the mind makes it into this wall pushing you back – and it’s quite a dramatic effect a little bit of wind could have.

So, I thought about that as the wind was blowing so hard it felt as if it’d take me as a kite off the top of the mountain. I wished for it for a brief second.

I will probably shave my arms and legs today or tomorrow if my razors are sharp enough. I anticipate sitting at same spot a few times a week and it would be nice not to feel the wind so much.

Anyway, so – I made a video about the experience… I’ll try to make a video each day – and pull out just the audio for those of you that just want to listen. The video portion won’t be of anything spectacular. Today’s video was taken just walking through the jungle in the foothills area of some limestone karsts here in Krabi, Thailand.

Day 1 audio only (3.5Mb)

After the videos were made I went to a quiet walk through the forest that I know of away from the temple. It’s only a couple hundred meter walk, but it’s almost always free of other hikers and cars, trucks and motorbikes aren’t heard.

At the end of that trail it leads to a stream. I sat on the raised wooden walkway and watched the crabs below. There were so many different types. In Florida we have a couple kinds of crab that can be seen if you sit down near the beach. There must have been 20 different kinds in the small area around me.

Thailand is like that… the variety of wildlife is amazing. Just yesterday I saw a walking stick that was about 11 inches stretched out (pic below) and another colorful blue-green beetle that I’ve not seen before. Oh – I also had a spider jump on me in my room that I’ve not seen before. Oh wait, I saw another spider on the steps at the temple that I’d not ever seen before. And yet another I just remembered – a very large mosquito – as big as my hand, I think a mosquito – I took a photo – also below.

If you’re looking, you’re going to find unique bugs in Thailand. Just one of the bonuses of living here. To me anyway!

So I noticed as the day went on – the mind started to rebel at being mindful so much. There was some anger that it was being made to be present in the moment all the time. Yes, not joking. It was as if it was rebelling. There was still ego left – and it didn’t want to be subjugated like this for so long. I think that will increase as time goes on here, at least for a little while – then it magically disappears. I had a similar thing happen so many years ago. The mind furiously rebelled at being made to be quiet – it was much more difficult then – but, it reached a point where the ego dissolved enough that it offered no resistance anymore. Every sitting session or period of mindfulness was without resistance of that type after that point…

So, interesting to see it arise – and it was difficult not to just throw in the towel and say – Oh, forget it! What am I meditating for again? WHY? What is the point? Where is this going?

I watched those reactions arise and let them stay as long as they did – and then they went. Amazing mind processes… good to start to get to know it again on this intimate level… as a subject… an experiment.

Photos from today below:

Buddhist shrine at Wat Tum Sua foothills, Krabi, Thailand.
The foothills area is where 8 monks live in kutis (huts) and also in makeshift
rooms inside the caves. This shrine pictured is at the base of a 800 foot
(270m) limestone karst. Kids always run around on the marble floor here.

 

Huge mosquito or other bug, Thailand.
This was the massive bug. I think it’s a male mosquito – not sure though.
It was as big as my hand – this pic is not lifesize, it’s too small!

 

Rambutan, exotic fruit of Thailand.
It’s a happy time when rambutans come into season! I bought a kilogram
of them today – they were so delicious. But, the sweetest and biggest ones
are coming in the next month or so. The best rambutans come from Ban Na San
District, just south of Surat Thani. They have a rambutan festival there yearly.

 

Walking stick on wire above Krabi, Thailand.
Here is the largest walking stick I’ve ever seen – 11 inches I’m guessing.
This is 2nd walking stick I’ve seen at the top of the mountain.