Checking in/further difficulties

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  dcurtis 6 years ago.

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    Hello All,

    This is a follow-up/extension of an earlier post

    I’ve been putting into practice those things suggested by Blake, which is basically my using stage three techniques/methods. I’ve become largely comfortable with the use of following, connecting and labeling. I haven’t started with checking in yet, as things still have not stabilized enough for that.

    What’s more, the amount of time that the mind spent wandering or distracted had decreased quite a bit. Both in amount of time distracted from the breath and the frequency. But the last two weeks that has changed. The frequency has increased, and the amount of time that the mind wanders or is distracted has grown longer. As well, it seems more difficult to really clearly sense the sensations of breath at the nostril. I can still sense it, but it seems less clear, not as present. I find it difficult to put the experience into words, but the sensations seem harder to sense.

    Also, there’s been more physical tension as well as a non-physical tension that I sense within. I often spend a fair amount of time trying to release these, as they seem to interfere with putting and keeping attention on the breath sensations. I suspect I should be applying the practice of ‘let it come, let it be, let it go’ in this case. It didn’t occur to me before.

    I’m also finding it difficult to generate or find joy, pleasure or happiness in my sitting. I can almost always bring up happiness just by thinking about it, but part of the problem seems like it’s just that I’m trying to keep so many balls in the air, that there isn’t time for it while sitting. I’m already looking for the beginning and ending of in and out breaths, holding the conscious intention to keep the attention on the breath, following, connecting and trying to remember to keep some peripheral awareness.

    All this to say, I don’t feel I’ve made much progress, and in some ways, feel like I’ve fallen back.

    Thank you in advance for any and all help.


    Although it can be both relieving and frustrating to hear, if you are practicing diligently and regularly, having periods such as the one you are describing is often a sign of progress. (For example, Je Tsongkapa’s description of the early stages of shamatha in the Lam Rim Chen Mo). The stages are not rigidly linear- but looping and cumulatively progressive. Relaxing is essential. Walking, cooking, physical activity, warm baths, singing- these come to mind. So rather than taking a “trying to release tension” stance- perhaps throw it all away and search your heart for a truly relaxing enjoyable way to refresh and renew. Bring a spaciousness to the process- enough room for everything; skill development (which you so nicely described as having all those balls in the air), the increased awareness of mental and physical tensions AND truly relaxing so you can bring a light, curious and playful attitude to the inward path.

    All the best, Meshe



    Thank you Meshe,

    I’d heard that these sorts of things can indicate progress, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. That of course doesn’t mean anything, it’s just how it feels.

    I appreciate your input, I’ve been told before to be curious about the practice. Honestly, I’m not sure how to do that, or how to be playful, but I can try.

    Thank you


    I have also experienced a lot of physical tensions during sits, and so have experimented a lot with my position. I have found that supine (lying down) is best for me. Or meditating after some yoga asana.

    Once there is stability of attention, the sensations of tension can also serve as an object of inquiry- looking to see if they are permanent or not, inherently suffering, constitute a self or not.

    Well, maybe a better way of saying “playful” would be- interested, or engaged. Like, “what the heck is this breath thing anyways?” So that sitting isn’t boring (snore), or overly goal-oriented (gotta bear down hard and get to the next stage!). Touching in with your motivation, again, when things get rocky.

    Training in relaxed, engaged, conscious attention to a neutral object is most assuredly going to illuminate both craving and aversion. Reminds me of a song by Morcheeba, “it’s all part of the process”…

    My all-time favorite practice to lubricate the whole process is the “inner-smile”- =)- never fails to illuminate pleasurable sensations!

    Wishing you all the best, m




    Dcurtis, i am extremely interested to know about your progress. Simply because what you wrote could very well be written by me! Falling from 3 to 2. Physical tension increase. Wow, i am experiecing the very same despite practicing for at least 3-4 hours per day. It’s frustating. I can’t even check in, i forget about it.



    Sadly I’m still in the same place more or less. I’ve wanted to post again to get further advice/suggestions/help/input, but I have difficulty even knowing what to say or how to describe what I experience during meditation.

    What you said about checking in – Exactly. In TMI is suggests checking in about every twelve in/out breaths. I can’t keep my attention (yes, attention, not awareness) on the breath for that long. I’m lucky to keep it there for two or three!

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