Moving into a new phase of the practice -- it seems normal now to get up and clean the shrine and do the recitations and prostrations -- and so of course my attention wanders now, sometimes. Like shamatha when it stopped hurting and being difficult just to sit still -- it was great in one way, because it no longer hurt and I could sit longer; but it also meant that I could completely space out for a longer time. My body was no longer constantly reminding me that I was doing something special. Likewise with the Ngondro. Lost my place in the refuge prayers a couple times; got confused once about where I was with my home-grown "abacus" (six pennies, six nickels, six dimes -- scoot down a penny each time till they're all down, then push the pennies back up and scoot a nickel down, etc.; basically a base-7 counting system.) But also I sometimes got a synoptic, panoramic picture of the refuge tree -- I could see all the buddhas and lamas and bodhisattvas and yidams and texts and guardians at once, whereas up till now I've usually seen them piecemeal, or even just seen bits of them, especially their hands -- Vajradhara's hand holding a dorje, Chenrezig's holding a lotus, the Buddha Shakyamuni's open hand. I trusted that eventually a cumulative picture would arise, and it seems to be doing so.
A question I'll have for Bill is -- should I interact with these enlightened beings? The question is a little silly but I think quite important. Jamgon Kongtrul says nothing about it -- you see Vajradhara blissfully meditating, is all he says -- but my enlightened beings, especially Chenrezig, look right at me and smile sometimes, both encouraging me and, it seems, regarding me as a bit amusing. I find myself grinning back at them sometimes.
Seeing Sarah as Vajradhara -- or Vajradhara as Sarah -- which I thought might be confusing, turns out to be almost eerily easy.
My shoulder started giving me some trouble when I got up to 84, so I scaled back down to 49 per time last week, and having been upping the numbers gradually. At 63 now.