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Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Randon comments/questions on Mahasi style noting

I've been doing it fairly consistently for about six weeks. 30-60 minutes morning/afternoon; longer and more sessions on weekends, working out ways to practice not on the cushion -- these methods are varying right now.

Subtle change creates large difference:

I've been using rising and falling of abdomen while breathing as primary object. I just realized that I was basically "commanding" myself to breath-in by noting "rise" and then making myself breath out by noting "fall." So, see what I mean? I was directing the action with my notes. So, recently I tried to instead just let the breath happen naturally and not note anything UNTIL IT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. This must be correct method because it feels much more effective and creates more space to let in other sensations to note. But,

I'm getting those energy surges up my spine that cause my neck to twist one way or the other:

The surge usually forces my head as far to the left as possible and creates a desire to simultaneously shout. This doesn't hurt but I wonder what it is all about. As soon as my noting of the breath is relaxed and concentrated the surge will happen.Then, when I relax there will be a subtle surge of those little spiritual "chills" or goosebumps to different parts of my body, mostly my scalp (I note "chills"). I know it is supposed to be "awakened kundalini" energy or some such thing (though I wonder how much of that terminology is really accurate and how much of it is mythology)
This is just temporary, right? And, is it at all a sign of one of the first three insight stages?

Clearly in every one's life there are pauses in which we are not speaking or really doing anything, however briefly. I think just a simple noting of breath right then along with whatever other sensation arises is helpful, right? The practice doesn't have to always be continuous to be beneficial, correct? One could do this all day and even carry it over to times of activity and human interaction. I find that when I am talking to people the breath really changes and I feel a lot of sensations in my chest and stomach area.

This website is very helpful. As I practice I will read new and old posts here and very often will see just the thing I need to either inspire me to keep going or to help me with some technique. This makes me motivated to try to keep up and remain a part of this community.

RE: Randon comments/questions on Mahasi style noting
Answer
9/14/09 4:00 PM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike,

The twisting/contorting can happen in several stages. I believe most often in cause&effect, perhaps some in 3C & various stages of the dark night. I never really got them though, so I don't remember for sure. Regardless, best to just observe, note and continue on.

Personally, I noticed the crown chills in varying degrees based mostly on concentration strength and as a response to insight practice. I'm not sure if this is something everyone experiences, but I used it as a type of feedback mechanism for insight. If I read or tried something and I got the tingle, I took that as a sign I was doing something right and continued or tweaked my approach based on the responsiveness. If I remember correctly, this began showing up for me after the 1st crossing of the A&P and still happens some to this day. Although the way the tingle is felt now is much less intense and as such, hardly the same sensation at all. So, in my experience it's comes and goes, changes in how it is felt and its intensity, and MIGHT be useful as a real-time feedback mechanism. Warning, however: don't get caught up in the sensations themselves; they're only a byproduct and perhaps a green flag. Thus, worthy of noting and perhaps investigating a bit, but ultimately unsatisfying, empty, impermanent, etc.

Practicing at any time is beneficial, so long as it doesn't mess with your daily life in a detrimental way! Some of the most powerful insights I tripped into were done at work while I waited on various programs to doing their thing. I think there's a certain point where many of us become so obsessed that we literally find every instant possible to practice, and that's the kind of determination that gets it done.

Trent