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:
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.
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!
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.
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.