This publication can be found online at http://awareness.media.mit.edu/pub/first-day.
Setting Forth
Roy D

9/2

Today I faced a choice between continuing my business as usual life mode, or stepping out of my comfort zone and exploring uncharted territory. This framing made this choice easy to make, although listing the responsibilities and duties compared with the measurable promises this path could have easily led to the other choice. Is this framing, a mere trick of the mind, all it takes to set life in one direction rather than another?
I meditated for 20 minutes today. It started out easy enough, I had an insightful thought that I suppressed, my thoughts drifted after some time, and finding focus became harder as time passed, I almost fell asleep (although keeping myself aware of that fact at the time), and back to a unsettling alarm clock to tell me that the time is over. I tried meditating a 2-3 times in the past, in focused guided groups that I did not feel I belonged to, and I did not share their sentiments nor want their experience at the time.
Most events of a day I do not register, perhaps because they are clouded by others worthy of attention, and perhaps from the power of habituation. This is worth paying attention to - what are the reasons some events become the prime consumers of attention and other remain unnoticed?
Seven hours plus change await me now. Paying attention to these details in daily life I used to neglect reminds me of the Jewish ultra-orthodox way of life, where there’s a correct answer to every question and a clear hierarchy in each decision to be made - from some moral choices, through the food you must and mustn’t eat and all the way to which shoe should be worn first and which laced first.

21/2

I thought it would be interesting to start practicing meditation by having a raw experience of what I understand of it. I was meditating roughly every other day since the first class, but this does not come easy, as my thoughts drift and I do not manage to keep myself focused. Twenty minutes seem like an awful lot. I recall this was easier for me when I last tried meditating, although I cannot be sure whether my attention has decayed or my standards changed. This might be a good time to abandon this trial, and seek guidance.
In most sessions, I couldn’t properly relax, since my mind was preoccupied with day-to-day concerns. When these cleared out, I found myself considering issues that are more on the philosophic side. I like those thoughts better, but it is not what I had in mind - some practitioners of meditation report that they do not reflect issues during their practice, but think more clearly when not practicing, allowing for such thoughts to be more effective throughout the day. Is this a stepping stone in that direction, or am I being misled by my brain in some way? In real time, I leaned toward the second option, and dismissed those thoughts. I’m somewhat disappointed that I don’t remember the ideas I had, but retain the clear notion that I had that these were really good ideas…

6/3

I started listening to guided meditation sessions with HeadSpace, but it keeps on being a struggle. As always, during today’s practice I had a hard time keeping my focus, and my mind wandered off from the goal I set to it. At one time I found my thoughts so far off today that I was completely unaware of the voice recording I was listening to, while I was thinking about some unrelated esoteric issue.
I’ve had times in the past when I was entranced in thought that suppressed my surroundings almost completely, but intrinsic to the experience, I am not aware of this until after it ends, usually by having someone snap me out of it for lack of responsiveness or social awkwardness. Today’s experience seems very much the same, but the meta-experience feels different, in the sense that I have a vivid memory of the state I was in during this time, and not only of the subject I was considering.
I cannot access this state of mind on demand, but would think that it having occurred during a session of meditation is a strange coincidence.

9/3

From time to time I have a strange sensation during meditation - I feel like there’s a something moving inside my head that’s thrusting it in random directions. When I notice this sensation I think it’s connected to thoughts that are not supposed to be there during the practice, perhaps trying to make me notice them and perhaps trying to run away. It also seems that this is just how I explain this sensation in hindsight.
I also thought about this journal during the meditation session today, and figured that the public nature of it has a very significant downside - I don’t feel comfortable writing all that comes to mind here. I thought about trading this platform for a private one, but decided against that, since the upside of the publicity is that I draw motivation to write from the group. In the case that I gain the internal motivation to write, I might take this step, or maybe do both, but this last thought seems futile.
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Joichi Ito 4/6/2016
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I also thought about this journal during the meditation session today, and figured that the public nature of it has a very significant downside - I don’t feel comfortable writing all that comes to mind here. I thought about trading this platform for a private one, but decided against that, since the upside of the publicity is that I draw motivation to write from the group. In the case that I gain the internal motivation to write, I might take this step, or maybe do both, but this last thought seems futile.
I thought about trading this platform for a private one, but decided against that, since the upside of the publicity is that I draw motivation to write from the group.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s interesting and also helpful in reflecting on the way I also deal with thoughts and times when meditation is a struggle.