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About ardacigin

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  1. If you are a beginner or struggle like this, don't do SDS sits. Or do them in short sessions like 10-20 mins. The idea is to change your relationship to pain or unpleasantness. But it is obviously challenging and potentially traumatic. Try to prioritize comfort as much as possible in daily sessions. Smile frequently. Make this an easy going and enjoyable practice.
  2. I haven't done a proper Strong determination sit in a year or two. After having developed more equanimity, joy and insight attainment with jhanas and overall samatha development, I've decided to do my first SDS sit yesterday. The rule was not to move, obviously. But I also was to refrain from any overt generation of pleasure in my body. The whole purpose was to experience pain with as little pre-processing as possible, with clarity and accuracy. Without self-bias. And boy was there a lot of pain suffused in the entirety of my body. Well, it was a failure. So let's wrap up the mat, right? Well...not exactly. This SDS sit was the most profound SDS sit of my entire life. Here is what happened. To understand what happened, we need to back up to 2 days ago. For some reason I can't remember, suddenly, my mind has shifted its operating system to no-self in my visual perception. Attention to any given object is crystal clear and the peripheral awareness of the visual field is also spacious, clear and large. Well, guess what happened after this shift? My sense of self observing the object has reduced, my mental energy and daily focus while doing anything has increased significantly (while watching videos, listening to people etc) and equanimity towards sensations and life has significantly increased. My self boundaries didnt completely dissolve but it was an incredibly distinct and noticable reduction in self perception of the world. This is called an insight experience. Thankfully, I could easily get into the same mental perception and repeat this insight many times through out the day. Then I've inquired and reduced this sense of craving for things to be different and that also reduced my sense of perceiving and controlling further. Now I was like: 'Cool! This is very liberating. I don't crave for joy or pleasant sensations at all. And this no-self shift is very stable' Then I remembered Shinzen's litmus test. When you spend a lot of time working with a certain flavour, it is always important to work with the opposite one. So it was time to get intimate with excruciating levels of physical pain. Lets see how my unconscious mind responds to such stimulus after this subtle no-self shift. Again, just to clarify, my entire self perception haven't absolutely dissolved. But my mind can reduce it significantly by dynamically playing with attention and awareness along with equanimity. So let's give it a go. Since it was my first SDS sit after close to 2 years, I wanted to go slow. I set the time to 2 hours just in case I decide to go further. But I was completely content just doing 20 mins. I had no expectations. I dropped into a cross legged posture and instantly felt a difference. I don't seem to experience too many pain sense percepts. But that was only a facade. As time went on, since I wasnt intending for pleasure, significant levels of leg pain started to come up. My back started to hurt, my hands were sweating, lots of agitation and by the end of it, I had close to fainting levels of physical pain. This all sounds close to what everybody experiences in a SDS sit. Nothing special. And I only meditated around 1 hour and 40 mins. Nothing overly crazy or inhumane. I'm sure many people achieved 90 min SDS sits here and there even with a lot of pain etc. So haven't I learned anything in the last 2 years? Well, yes. First of all, the way I was experiencing pain was mediated by equanimity in the sense that; 1- Pain sensations arrive. 2- I experience its solidity and thingness for a while. 3- I zoom out and contextualize it with no self. I do the visual attention and awareness shift and get my mind to reduce craving. 4- The pain has a tendency to flow and move which reduces suffering and self-clinging instantly. This is not something I could reliably do at any point in my 2+ hour sits back in the day. It was always about grinning my teeths and trying to bear through this stupid leg pain until the bell rings. Holding for dear life hoping for some revelation to save me. That wasn't needed anymore. The no-self shift allows me to do this process naturally. The second watershed moment is that the amount of pain I'm experiencing at the 1 hour and 30 min mark is significant. Due to wrong posture sit, I was putting a little too much pressure on my left leg the entire time. Since I can't move, I didn't adjust for it. If I could, I would easily go beyond 2 hours. That particular pressure created a block of pain in my left leg. It was solid and unchanging. The rest of my body has already transmuted a lot of pain and it subsided again. But this leg pain occurs due to pressure on nerves. I also kinda got scared. So I've decided to finish it here. But I don't like to end things on a sour note. I had to break up this block of pain prior to ending the sit. So I developed some joy in my head area (only place I could at the time) and rest my attention on there. Since my attention has an exclusive quality at this point, the block of pain fizzled in and out and started to move. I could continue at this point, but I didn't want to overly exert myself since this is my first SDS sit in a long time. I felt like my legs were going to so sour a few days if I push further. Now, I could end the sit on a pleasant note The final difference was that the amount of suffering I experienced was extremely and I mean EXTREMELY low. Especially compared to fainting levels of physical pain I was experiencing. The end was basically torture levels of pain but I had a smile on my face. My entire body was relaxed. I could still generate some low degree of pleasure in my head. But I didnt even need to do that. This no-self shift was making this pain just fine. I didn't crave for a pleasant state. I was so not there that the pain sensations all over my body didn't impute as suffering as their nature. They were just as non-alluring as sitting in a chair. Just neutral. Easy to deal with. Even the part where the pain was really becoming torture levels, I was like: 'That is all right. It can stay in the background'. The no-self ensued while a shitstorm was happening back there. ---- This helped me to see that the length of an SDS sit is not important. At least not while learning these insights. I have done these sits longer and more frequently back in the day and none of these insights had occured. I was just in abject suffering. In fact, those SDS sits did create psychological issues and physical digestive issues since I was dealing with a lot of pain. It also doesnt condition the mind well prior to some sort of insight. Pain can become perpetual and ever lasting without realizing. It is a traumatic experience to do SDS and one's skill level also needs to be on par to glean benefit let alone deal with its negative after effects. I don't recommend it to beginners. Absolutely not. It will just make you hate meditation and develop negative habits like agitation and tension. But if you are developing well with samatha and ready for some insights through pain investigation, it is a great technique. Just take it easy for a little while afterwards. Don't injure yourself. Both physically and psychologically. These are my experiences. This entire no-self shift in visual field needs its own explanation but thanks to that, I had my most profound SDS sit of my life. My unconscious mind has for the 1st time, realized how torture levels of pain can be equanimzed into 'No big deal. Let's smile and rest as no self' perception. I didn't think so much pain can be transmuted like that for extended periods of time. So, that changed my assumptions about what is possible on the spiritual path. Anyways, hope this was useful. Let me know youe thoughts below. Much love, Arda
  3. The first game was fantastic as well. But it only explored one main theme throughout and its fruits arrived at the end of the journey. It was more linear but concentrated story which was effective for what it tried to convey. But the second game has much bolder structure, character progression and explored multiples themes into revenge, trauma, hatred, empathy and regret. The game shocks you not only at the end but has its moments in the beginning, middle and end, unlike the first game. It also has more refined combat. Both are fantastic in my opinion. I respect your opinion though
  4. I enjoyed Journey but I've played it many years ago in a time I couldn't perceive games as an art form. It was a forgettable experience at the time since I couldn't immerse myself in it. I'd feel very differently if I played it now though.
  5. All these themes have inspired me to work on myself on a deeper level. I've started an enquiry into no-self in each moment since this problem of selfishness and lack of empathy is a big problem to solve. I'm experiencing constant self-enquiry with this samatha technique I've started in daily life. LoU 2 suggested to me that this was an issue I can't postpone any longer. Once I get deeper into it, I'll explain how to do the technique in another post. All in all, I'm glad to have introspected and played this masterpiece :))
  6. I definitely agree here. Combat was significantly improved with pistol silencer mechanic imo. I played it on hard. The ammo was scarce enough for me to focus on headshots but spare enough so that I could get into combat in each encounter. I loved grabbing someone, shooting the last person with a headshot and then executing him. As to story telling, I always say that originality is never quite the issue. It is how the narrative is structured and characters are developed throughout the experience. I think LoU 2 aces that most important part. Even the most cliche of stories can be turned into masterpieces with the right execution. But of course the best mix would be originality + execution What sort of stories do you create?
  7. Great to hear! Make sure to brush up on LoU 1 details. In fact, I recommend replaying it again prior to LoU 2. It will seriously enhance the experience.
  8. @Nos7algiKI haven't played a high budget game yet that explored regret, pain, suffering, trauma psychology, love, empathy, revenge as deeply as LoU 2. I also love Detroit Become Human a lot but this is a very unique experience one gets with LoU 2. The risk that Neil took was well worth it. I'm planning a 2nd playthrough few years down the line prior to LoU Part 3 comes out. The game is full of subtle details one can explore and glean insights from. There are only handful of games where this sort of post-analysis is necessary to extract its essence. I also loved Ghost of Tsushima which I've completed just before LoU 2. Definitely one of my favourite open world games of all time. It was jaw droppingly amazing. Sony is basically firing on all cylinders. Can't wait for this generation. I agree that very high levels of emotional intelligence is needed along with post analysis to understand what Neil Druckmann was trying to say. Streamers like Pewdiepie etc have given this game a bad rep. I understand the challenge of fully connecting with certain story beats, structural decisions and ambiguity of open ended interpretation. But those are what makes this game into a masterpiece in my eyes.
  9. Unfortunately no. This is an experience you need to have as a player. That interactivity is the point. You'll probably get bored just watching a lets play or no commentary walkthrough. It is a very different story-focused game than normal. My recommendation would be as follows since you are a beginner to gaming: 1- Try to look for cheap PS4 consoles you can buy. Ask the seller if it is in good condition etc. You can also buy a PS5 but that can be more expensive and harder to find these days. 2- Buy Last of Us 1. Set the difficulty to easy and experience it without taking long breaks to save its immersion. It took me 18 hours to finish. So finish it in a week or two. 3- Take a break for a few months, play other awesome games on PS4 so that the experience doesn't get stale. Or jump right into Last of Us 2. Depends on you. Again set the difficulty to easiest depending on how much challenge was frustrating in Last of us 1. 4- Enjoy!! Don't look at videos about this game. It is full of spoilers. Just follow these instructions whenever you have the cash and the time to experience this franchise.
  10. No spoilers! Don't worry I've recently played The last of us 2 on PS5 which is a Sony exclusive AAA game on vengeance, regret and empathy. It was one of the most psychologically and spiritually profound gaming experiences of my life. This will be a quick no-spoiler post on the themes of the game and why you should play if you are on the spiritual path. By the way, you should play Last of us 1 prior to this game. See, video games are an interactive medium that has the potential to provide a narrative above and beyond what movies or books can do. IF done right. I think LoU 2 did just that. Created a unique experience that requires Stage Yellow paradigm (in spiral dynamics) to even appreciate it as a baseline. It requires doing deliberate psychoanalysis to understand each character and their motivations. To empathize with each and concurrently piece together the puzzle parts into a coherent whole as the narrative is broken up into non-linear chapters and flashback. This is not an easy experience to digest and understand. You also need good skills as a player to enjoy the combat. It is so easy to just slice up zombies and call it day. This is not a game you can enjoy with a casual gamer mindset. It is a realistic story that has grey characters with no perceptible villain. It requires some deep understanding of how trauma psychology works to get a sense of why characters do the things they do. The themes of vengeance, regret and empathy is explored in such a way that since it is an interactive video game, it makes the package so profound and deep. Something that can't be experienced with a movie or a TV show. This is all I can say without spoiling anything. Do yourself a favour and play this game with an open mind. You'll come to see all the hate and negativity that surrounds this game is absolutely unfounded which is a testament to its core audience which are high conscious individuals. And this is rare thing in an industry where each high quality AAA takes about 100-200 million dollars to create. Taking such risks in a beloved franchise is very bold. And for that, I congratulate Naughty dog. And that is why I loved this game miles better than Last of Us 1. I personally took a deep look at my life and saw how the self-other duality was getting in the way of true compassion and empathy towards the 'other'. That bias towards 'my life' is such an entrenched thing that it made me loosen up some of my self boundaries and approach my close friends and family with significantly more empathy and understanding regarding their suffering and problems. Especially towards people I don't subtly like or secretly judge. It made me see certain traumatic underpinnings of my pscyhe and I'm looking into working through them as well. If experienced deeply, this game is a great trigger to do deep spiritual, psychological and philosophical investigation. Definitely one of my most profound cinematic story experiences of my gaming career. It took me a good 7 days after finishing the game to digest and explore its themes deeply within myself and internalize some of its lessons. Let me know your thoughts down below and how it impacted your spiritual evolution. Without spoiling anything. Much love, Arda
  11. I'd actually regard what I've explained here as a beginner-level practice, nowhere near as deep as what is possible. I really liked your post. Loving whatever arises requires deep equanimity and insight. Keep it up and continue to share your insights with us. Much love, Arda
  12. Hey everyone! We are going to make it practical in this post. Recently, I've been researching this very debilitating disease called 'CRPS - Complex Regional Pain Syndrome' - an immune system disorder where the autonomic nervous system constantly sends pain signals in muscles and organs without any physical origin even after whatever injury had occured is fully healed. Imagine your body is constantly generating 'you've been hit with a car' pain signals 24/7 everyday, long after your surgery is over. And it slowly goes whole body even if the pain starts small in a certain location like your legs. Since this is a disease of a mental origin (primarily), I've realized that what I've been experiencing in my practice can in very broad strokes as 'Complex Regional Pleasure Syndrome'. Obviously, this is made up but its exact mechanisms are occurring in my body with pleasure, joy, tranquility and equanimity rather than pain. This is basically the same mechanism that occurs in any form of satisfaction or jhana practices. The good news is that I've figured out how to systematically practice this and understood why it will eventually be successful if you stick with it. Well, to be honest, Shinzen already taught this in a video. I'd just regurgitate the same instruction. However, I feel it is inadequate in some ways. So I'll add my commentary for successful execution right below it. Watch the 2nd part as well. Part 1: Part 2: 1st insight: This 'Focus on Positive' technique works because you train 2 different circuits in consciousness. Both are important. - Consciously generating sensations of pleasure, pain, neutrality with forming intentions. (This is under-developed in 'Just observe what happens' sort of techniques.) - Consciously utilizing observation with monstrous levels of equanimity and eliminating the observer leading to non-duality. 2nd insight: Whatever feeling tones - neutral, pleasure, pain - you focus on intentionally, makes it easier and deeper for the next exact moment to experience the same feeling tone. That is why, as Shinzen eludes to, attend with your consciousness the subtlest forms of pleasurable sensations in your body and train your mind to stay with it. Regardless of how small and subtle that pleasure might be, intending to stay with it will condition the mind into this vicious positive feedback loop where it will slowly grow and grow until it is felt in each cm of your body. This consciousness feature called 'positive feedback loop on feeling tones' is how any form of satisfaction meditation or jhanas are effective in the first place. In other words, do not attend to (ignore and reduce) the painful sensations and voluntarily attempt to stay with & amplify the subtlest of pleasure and relaxation. If agitation and painful sensations arise, relax fully. In fact, drop your posture and lay down to minimize pain from postural reasons. Your entire focus should be satisfaction and pleasant sensations on this particular way of working until you develop enough equanimity. Not only this will build stable attention and concentration, it will eventually build equanimity, tranquility, full body pleasure and joy. This will enable you to work with pain. In fact, this brings us to the 3rd insight. 3rd insight: In one of Culadasa's interview, I've heard that he got so skilled at this that he was naturally down-regulating any pain sense percepts and consciously amplify pleasurable sense percepts as a result of his practice. So much so that even when he had a painful and serious back condition at some point, he naturally down-regulated the pain so much that he realized he couldnt stand up after a sit without getting physical support. He wasn't consciously experiencing the suffering from the painful sensations at all. I'm sure his doctor would be pretty shocked Anyways, this is the process it occurs with this positive feel technique Shinzen teaches as well. Eventually, your ability to down-regulate pain and amplify pleasure will increase due to monstrous levels of equanimity you'll generate as time goes on. I've just down-regulated the pain of cross-legged posture so much that it spun into pleasure-ish sensations and turned on 10x equanimity as a result. 4rth insight: You'll practice self-enquiry and ask 'Who am I?' in this heightened state of joy, tranquility, satisfaction and equanimity. And boom! Then you'll see how dry insight is so frustrating. The investigation of reality at this state of consciousness is multiple times deep and effective compared to normal non-meditative sober consciousness. --- That's it for now. Hope this helps. I plan to do a long 3 hour SDS sit soon to put these skills into test once I integrate these insights a little more. I'll let you guys know how it goes. Let me know youe thoughts. Much love, Arda
  13. All we have access to in life, are various mental and physical states our unconscious mind projects to as the conscious experience. Sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts and taste are binded in each moment by deeper aspects of your mind to give the illlusory perception of a world, self and suffering. This is your life in a nutshell. In any style of spiritual practice, the method is always to, 1- Experience a specific 'state change' which will enable you to more easily experience something directly without pre-conscious processing through your unconscious mind. One uses methods like Psychedelics, Samatha annd dry contemplation to facilitate tranquility, joy, contentment and/or move directly to step 2. Even when you do dry insight, you tend to experience a profound state change for a second before the insights arise in the mind. 2- This is the crux of the work. You use the mind faculties you've developed like equanimity, concentration and introspective awareness in this higher state of consciousness which becomes an easier access point for a profound insight into the nature of reality and so forth. State changes are important in so far as they enable you to practice consistently and help your mind to investigate reality. Feeling deeply fulfilled and happy is also an incredible perk to state changes as well. You are also doing deep emotional work too. This means that you are never wasting your time. (After a certain level of meditation mastery, of course) Yes, you are churning away at this 'Who am I?' or 'What is love?' insight problem but also develop dopaminergic circuits in your brain. Actual physical pathways that will produce contentment, equanimity, reduce self-clinging and increase joy in the future. However, as time goes on, you'll start to see that one can glean insights from 'any state' IF you are skilled enough to do it. This is a rather bitter pill to swallow. The key is actually having these skills. To develop them first through state changes which will make your job easier. Pleasant states will make your job significantly easier than painful states. That is why people tend to practice Samatha-vipassana and jhanas before they do insight practices. But see, this is a bitter pill to swallow which only becomes apparent after insights mature. You don't need to experience a certain state to glean insights. These insights are so profound that they exist in each moment regardless of your state and if you have enough introspective investigation skills, you can momentarily taste them. States are still important but are now recontextualized into a more equanimous worldview. The reason is that even for a monstrously enlightened person, dealing with physical torture continuously everyday will drain their energy after awhile. Yes, they will momentarily see through the emptiness of each sensation devoid of self-clinging, suffering and permanence. But that is a lot of work. It makes your job harder to investigate deeper parts of reality. Pleasant states will give you a breathing room. Help you lay down your options and see what avenues can be explored. It will make your life sweet and provide you ample opportunities to go deeper. Keep this 2 step model to spirituality I've simplified in the beginning. It will help you to see your practice more clearly. You can never escape states but can go beyond them. They will remain important. But in a contextualized paradigm. Hope this was useful. Let me know your comments below. Much love, Arda
  14. Let alone entrepreneur-minded people but all people will be utterly crushed by the insights into impermanence, no-self and the nature of reality. Their survival agendas will take a hit just as much as anyone.
  15. Hi Ethan. I haven't heard him say that and it is very intriguing. Can you send the link to me if you can find it :)) Your progress is going really well. Great and deep insights are maturing. I live in Turkey. There are no retreats here and I can't go abroad for retreats right now and haven't had the oppoırtunity due to work, family etc. So I've been doing all this practice at home with maybe 1-2 day retreats at most. I'm curious about online retreats. If it was effective for you, can you send me Shinzen's link I also recently watched Shinzen's interview here on dopamine circuits. You might find it interesting: I'm not doing 2-hour sessions for awhile now. I'm focusing on quality in each moment but soon go further with endurance training. I'm doing somewhere around 45-60 mins but put the emphasis on daily practice. Especially when this whole body pleasure becomes second nature, I'll attempt 3-4 hour SDS sits. But I'm not quite there just yet. It is definitely on my to-do list when I feel ready :))