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Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat

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Hi, total newbie here, and currently on a month long Mahasi retreat, approaching 10 days. Don’t want to be on my phone but I could use some guidance.

After getting kicked in the ass for being goal oriented and giving up that mindset several times, at least currently I’m at a place where I’m just noticing what’s in the present moment. Not trying to get streamentry or figure out where I am in the maps anymore or whatever (if you believe me). “A Clear Goal” is a lot, lot more relatable now.

The problem is my concentration has completely tanked. I was doing great on the first few days and got my longest rapture yet if that’s any measure (~30 sec), but I’m just not able to stay focused, or even gain focus at all. No matter how many times I make the strong resolve “okay, I am going put everything I have into concentrating on the abdomen for the next ten breaths”, I get lost at like the second breath. I keep getting unknowingly lost in thoughts, and haven’t been able to build up any momentum for days.

No matter what I’ll stick it out and continue, and I’m trying to work with it, but at this point it feels like I’m just wasting time. My attention is simply not functioning at all, and at least currently I don’t see how I could be putting in more effort.

My questions are:
1. Would it be in some way bad or not worth it to stop noting and just concentrate during the sitting meditations, using the walking sessions and the rest of my time for noting?
2. Would it be in some way bad or not worth it to switch to focusing on upper lip rather than abdomen? I’m thinking it might be better because it’s more subtle, so it would seem to better cultivate focus?
Or would these two be treason and for some weird supramundane reason cause me to explode or something? Any other tips?

Perhaps my body and mind still need to adapt to all this effort. I’ve been a slob for a while.

I’d also like to note that I don’t think that I’m at dissolution, in case anybody wants to blame it on that. Have had a blazing migraine and when that disappears I start vibrating, and then I flip back and forth between those two experiences. Been like that for several days. So, sounds like between 3C and A&P.

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/8/19 9:28 PM as a reply to Cherubi.
And maybe doing some loving kindness for a few minutes before each session would prime the mind for concentration?

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/8/19 9:31 PM as a reply to Cherubi.
#2 is a good idea if there is no rule against it. My own focus is right inside the nostrils. This works better than the abdomen, because the object is more well defined yet requires more effort to perceive.

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/8/19 9:42 PM as a reply to Ward Law.
Thanks for answering!

Hmm. Back home I was focusing on the little pad between nostrils and upper lip, but I don’t sense anything at all on the in breath. Maybe nostrils would be better. I think I’ll play around with these.

Theres no explicit rule against it, but if I asked one of the monks I seriously doubt they’d encourage that. That’s part of why I ask here.

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/8/19 10:39 PM as a reply to Ward Law.
Are you doing specifically Mahasi noting with the nostrils rather than the abdomen? If so, have you been seeing progress with that?

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/8/19 11:37 PM as a reply to Cherubi.
The Mahasi method takes you along a path that changes frequently from day to day, even sit to sit. Such features as your degree and quality of concentration, mindfulness, etc, as well as aches, pains, lack of them, as well as mental states like being totally cool with meditation all the way to hating every minute of it and looking for a face-saving way out. Change is the very currency of progress in the Mahasi method.

So, to get to the point, you shouldn’t change a thing and should push on doing as the teachers say. Mahasi Sayadaw was very highly respected for a bunch of reasons. Push on doing exactly what he asks you to do (i.e. note and observe predominant objects, easy!), and you’ll eventually find out why ;-) All the best with your travels along that constantly changing path. With metta. 

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/9/19 12:17 AM as a reply to Paul.
Paul,

Thank you so much for your reply.

It really helps a lot to hear from someone else that all of these variables change so frequently and drastically. You’re absolutely right, my mindfulness and concentration have been varying by quite a lot from day to day and sit to sit. I guess I didn’t consider it possible that I’d be in such an unconcentrated state in course of using the method, barring the maps and all. I felt like it was “my” fault somehow, despite what feel like high efforts.

I suppose I’ll continue on in the same way then.

Thanks again for your kind insight emoticon

RE: Concentration lapse on Mahasi retreat
Answer
6/9/19 9:25 AM as a reply to Cherubi.
No; my practice is mostly TMI-based.