This is part of my meditation journal. See the first post for additional details.
If you are weird enough to be reading my meditation journal here, you may have noticed that I am doing a lot of hearing-based meditation, and you may be wondering if that's all there is in Shinzen's The Five Ways. No, there is a lot more variety, that's for sure! I am just focusing on the hearing options in preparation for a guided course which covers the hearing options in particular next weekend. Shinzen had requested that participants at least be familiar with the hearing options in preparation for the class.
If you are interested, Shinzen is also doing a 4-hour session on Saturday afternoon (east coast time) covering the various "feeling" options where absolutely no experience is necessary. Just call in on the conference call number, and give it a try. There is a $20 fee to participate. I haven't taken one of these sessions yet to say that they're worth it or not, but if you are interested, you can join me on the call this weekend. More information is here. Just click on the "REGISTRATION" link on the left, followed by the "August 10-12, 2012" link which appears in the center for more information.
Anyway, so I tried "Hear Rest" tonight, which is part of "The Way of Tranquility." The idea is to focus on the absence of sound or noise. This combines "Hear Out" and "Hear In," so you are trying to recognize that silence both in reality (the physical world) and in your head (voices and sounds in your mind).
Focusing on the absence of physical sound was difficult, because it seemed that there was always some sound around. There were some directions from where no sound was coming from, and Shinzen says that you can focus on those particular directions, but that is harder than it sounds. Our hearing is naturally drawn to something, not nothing.
On the other hand, listening for silence in my head was relatively easy. Unlike in my Hear In practice, this time I had no problem with noting. My mind didn't string together "hear rest, hear rest, hear rest..." I can't help but wonder if that is precisely because of the focus. In Hear In, I was listening for mental noise, but noting created mental noise. In Hear Rest, I'm listening for silence, and as soon as the noting is done, there is silence again.
I did have a couple near-slips into unconsciousness, nearly entering sleep. Focusing on "rest" seemed to open the door for real rest a little more than before.
Once again, the half-hour session flew by. It didn't seem like I had been sitting there for that long. I'm sure that had I been waiting in line doing nothing for that long, it would have seemed like an eternity.