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Sensations and the 4 Found of Mindfulness

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In Mastering Core Teachings, there is a sentence or two about being at the sensate level during meditation. Is this only the five physical sensations? It also mentions the mental follow on to a physical sensation. During rapid fire noting of physical sensations, I don't sense this mental follow on. Can you say more about this practice (not the theory) especialy about the arising of mental phenomena not due to any physical sensation? During this rapid fire noting, I also don't notice vedana. Lately I have had put aside separate meditation sessions to go back to my old way of putting an emphasis on vedana, mental contents and mental condition with a secondary emphasis of being mindful of body sensations. How have the rest of you dealt with these seemingly left out aspects of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness in Mastering Core Teachings?

Jack

RE: Sensations and the 4 Found of Mindfulness
Answer
11/1/10 9:48 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
Can you say more about what you mean by "mental follow on"?

When you open up to sense impressions, do you not perceive any thoughts arising at all?

And regarding vedana, as I read your post, you find it difficult (impossible?) to note the feeling tone of the sensations that arise while you're in perceiving mode. If that's right, I can only offer my limited experience -- that what works for me in getting from sensory/thought perception to vedana perception is by starting in sensory perception mode, and then taking a slight "step" back from the perception to the feeling. Sometimes it's a lot like a bombardment, but that half-step backwards allows me to manage the attention-grabbing nature of the sensory rainstorm enough to perceive the feelings of the various raindrops hitting awareness. (Sorry for too many metaphors.)

Does that make any sense?

RE: Sensations and the 4 Found of Mindfulness
Answer
11/2/10 1:47 PM as a reply to Sean Lindsay.
Sean Lindsay:
Can you say more about what you mean by "mental follow on"?
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Sean,
Page 18 of Mastering says >Coming directly after a physical sensation arises and passes is a separate pulse of reality that is the mental knowing of that physical sensation, here referred to as “consciousness” (as contrasted with “awareness” in Part III). By physical sensations I mean the five senses of touch, taste, hearing, seeing, and smelling. This is the way the mind operates on phenomena that are no longer there, even thoughts, intentions and mental images.<
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When you open up to sense impressions, do you not perceive any thoughts arising at all?
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Yes. When I used to do vipassana by opening up to whatever comes up, the ratio of thoughts to physical sensations was maybe 60% to 40%. In this new rapid fire noting I learned from Mastering, the ratio is maybe 90% physical sensations to 10% thoughts.

If I understand the meditation method in Mastering, this emphasis on physical sensations is favored.
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And regarding vedana, as I read your post, you find it difficult (impossible?) to note the feeling tone of the sensations that arise while you're in perceiving mode. If that's right, I can only offer my limited experience -- that what works for me in getting from sensory/thought perception to vedana perception is by starting in sensory perception mode, and then taking a slight "step" back from the perception to the feeling. Sometimes it's a lot like a bombardment, but that half-step backwards allows me to manage the attention-grabbing nature of the sensory rainstorm enough to perceive the feelings of the various raindrops hitting awareness. (Sorry for too many metaphors.)
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I will have to think more to fully understand this 1/2 step back thing. By the way, thanks for responding.

In my old way of meditating, I was very aware of vedana as it arose. In this new rapid-fire noting mentod, I am not aware of vedana at all.

I repeat that I still do my old type of vipassana every day as well as this new form of rapid noting in a separate session.

jack

RE: Sensations and the 4 Found of Mindfulness
Answer
11/2/10 4:35 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
When you open up to sense impressions, do you not perceive any thoughts arising at all?
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Yes. When I used to do vipassana by opening up to whatever comes up, the ratio of thoughts to physical sensations was maybe 60% to 40%. In this new rapid fire noting I learned from Mastering, the ratio is maybe 90% physical sensations to 10% thoughts.
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Let me correct myself. The above ratios are outside mindfulness of the breath. The ratios should be: in my old way, mindfulness of breath is 40%; of the rest of the body is 35% and of thoughts are 25% including awareness of vedana. The ratios for the rapid fire noting practice is 10% breath, 80% rest of body and 10% thoughts.

RE: Sensations and the 4 Found of Mindfulness
Answer
11/2/10 5:25 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
hi jack,

if you're noting the three characteristics, it doesn't matter which object of meditation/which category of experience/which foundation of mindfulness you note. to repeat for emphasis: while doing noting practice, whichever object is being noted does not matter.

now, every single vipassana teacher of mine told me this, for years, and i simply wouldn't listen because i was too busy looking for the right object/right objects/right balance of objects/etc that would get me enlightened. it took me close to a decade to get it through my head, essentially, that whichever object is noted does not matter. when goenka instructed me to observe the impermanence (anicca) of whatever sensations came up without preference or prejudice toward any sensation, rather than understand that what he was instructing me to do was to experience the impermanence of this sensation (the one happening right now), i looked for more subtle/more interesting sensations to observe (and wondered if i was missing some magic ones). when ajahn ratt instructed me to keep my attention moving whatever should arise, i looked for ways of determining whether the right things were arising or not (and wondered how i could get the right ones to arise). when i was vascillating between the primary object i was given in the instructions on the first mahasi retreat i sat (the breath at my abdomen) and the object that my mind would naturally take as primary (blood moving through my blood vessels), u thuzana told me POINT BLANK that whichever primary object i pick does not matter because whichever object is noted does not matter ... and still i insisted on wondering what i was doing wrong and why i couldn't experience other objects (say, any mental objects, or the echo of consciousness that follows a contact) as clearly as i could the vibrations that suffused my experience. and the several times that dan ingram shouted at me and threw his hands up in frustration when i asked him various versions of the same question about which object(s) i should be noting (despite him having told me only just the day before or two days ago that whichever object is noted does not matter), i thought he was being unkind, and unnecessarily irate, and so i continued to look, (by then quite despairingly) for the right object/objects/combination of objects that, when observed in the right way, would cause path-moment.

then laying at home one day about half a year after my last retreat, i suddenly had the insight that whichever object is noted does not matter. so i went back on retreat, noted all the objects that occurred one after another, kept my attention moving, purposely kept my interviews short, reminded myself whenever i started getting caught up in the content to just keep going with this single-minded no-brains-required noting task (because it did not matter which object i was noting), and got stream-entry after 9 days.

in short: it is the noting, done right (with an appreciating of the three characteristics), that will make for successful insight practice... and nothing at all about what specific things are noted.

tarin

RE: Sensations and the 4 Found of Mindfulness
Answer
11/3/10 2:21 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Tarin,

Very imformative and useful answer. Thanks you. It helps that part of my practice that is rapid fire noting.

However, I think there is still room for meditation sessions that are devoted to mindfulness of one of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness. For example, I think my previous sessions devoted to mindfulness of vedana or the ones devoted to mental contents are very useful. At times I will go back to them. They make my practice of observing anything that comes up so much more useful. Once I was able to see vedana, for example, in previous sessions devoted to observering it, I am able to see vedana without effort at times in my off the cushion life.

The Buddha taught several meditation techniques. Any one by itself can probably take you to enlightenment which is what I think is one of the suppositions you might hold. But, for me, a more varied approach makes more sense. At least, today, right now, I might change in the next moment.

Jack