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from anapanasati to MS noting at Panditarama Lumbini

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I've been practicing according to the anapanasati sutta for about three years. Anytime I'm sitting relatively still, like now as I type this, or when I'm reading a book, I seem to settle into some kind of pre-jhana state where each inbreath seems to deliver another dose of pleasant feelings. The pleasant feeling of well-being can get pretty strong even when I'm not formally practicing. It feels like a low dose of MDMA. If I deliberately practice then I will probably feel like C-3PO (as if I am made out of glittering gold) on a big dose of MDMA. (I don't use drugs anymore -- I just don't know what else to compare my experiences to)

I plan to practice at Panditarama Lumbini in February and March. It will be my first serious retreat. I haven't done Mahasi Sayadaw-style noting, but I've read chapter 5 of Practical Insight Meditation and listened to the instructions Ven. Vivekananda gave at a recent retreat at IMS Forest Refuge.

I'm looking for more information about how to transition from anapanasati practice (breathing sensitive to the whole body, sensitive to rapture) to noting. Is there overlap? Is it OK if the rapture feelings happen? Can I follow the standard noting instructions in the midst of jhana feelings?

RE: from anapanasati to MS noting at Panditarama Lumbini
Answer
1/21/19 6:05 AM as a reply to Brian.
Brian, the short answer is there is a lot of overlap --- it's always the same human mind at the base of the practice! emoticon 

It's totally okay if rapture feelings happen. In MS noting practice, you would simply note the different sensations, feelings, and thoughts which make up the rapture experience. For example, you might notice tingling and pleasurable sensations, you might notice joy and prideful emotions, you might have thoughts about trying to hold onto the experience or trying to make it stronger or wondering about what is next. Simply note these sensations, emotions, and thoughts so that it becomes clear that "the real you" is the observer of all of these things. Tingling and pleasure and joy and pride and clinging and ambition and wondering all occur within your mind.

The type of concentration that occurs through noting practice is called "momentary concentration" -- it's basically the same jhana feelings but they arise by following where attention goes, rather than holding attention on a narrow aspect of experience. When jhana feelings arise during noting practice they are called "vipassina jhanas".

All of this is described in "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha".  Hope this helps! Best wishes for your retreat!

RE: from anapanasati to MS noting at Panditarama Lumbini
Answer
1/21/19 10:11 AM as a reply to Brian.
Here's something I sent to a friend recently who was considering doing a retreat there, slightly modified. Perhaps you will find it helpful:

"The schedule is intense, up early, breakfast and lunch provided, no dinner, hours of sitting and walking alternate all day long. One is expected to note every single thing one does and experiences at least once per second from the moment you get up to the moment you fall asleep.

There is little to no psychologizing, unpacking of issues, philosophizing, or touchy feely anything, they may not be your friends, and basically it is just about doing the technique of grounding you in exactly what is going on moment to moment in extremely high dose. This produces powerful effects, many of which are surprising. Reading the Progress of Insight in my book, Chapter 30, would be of great value. Not everyone can handle that sort of intense environment dedicated to one thing and one thing only, and it clearly is not for everyone.

They won’t tolerate map terminology or complex dharma theory at all, so, when meeting with a teacher, just describe things very simply and straightforwardly that result from following their instructions exactly, and never use any fancy map terms, such as the stages of insight.

If one can go and just follow instructions exactly, keep things simple and immediate, and deal with the intense effects that come from staying that grounded, all is well. If one wants a social worker, a place to process issues, a mommy or daddy, a religion to think much about, or anything like that, they won’t find it there, and this results in conflict.

Never mention my name, the DhO, “pragmatic dharma”, MCTB, or anything like that ever unless directly asked about it, and then be truthful, as lying is bad karma. There is politics, and you want to avoid politics at all costs, as it just exacerbates yogi-mind. If asked why you wish to go there, the only reasonable answer is, “To learn and gain the benefits of Mahasi-style vipassana practice and follow the instructions of a competent teacher,” as that is basically all they are offering.

Avoid projection. Avoid basically anything but doing the technique and reporting results simply. That can include things like “fear”, “sadness”, “frustration”, "analysis", or whatever, but one would be expected to simply note and notice the sensations that make those up, one by one as they occur in experience.

Many get into real trouble when they push hard for some future goal rather than just noting what is going on right then. Read A Clear Goal in MCTB about 10 times, and note "mapping", "striving", "comparing" and the like simply when they arise as sensate experiences that just come and go.

That should give you a flavor of the practice. It is in one sense extremely simple, very dry, and unreligious (except perhaps for bowing to Buddha statues, perhaps a bit of Pali chanting, and a few other small bits of ritual being about it religion-wise), and yet, by doing it, all these powerful experiences may arise and deep insights may occur that are transformative in some who do the technique well as instructed."

Definitely know Practical Insight Meditation VERY well, particularly the part where it talks about when to transition from noting to noticing when things get faster and more clear, and when to go back to noting if one needs to.

Best wishes,

Daniel