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Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight

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I am post-AP/pre-SE and I'm preparing for a solo retreat next month. Even though I've been back and forth thru the insight stages multiple times, I still seem to have a bit of trouble adjusting my technique as I transition from stage to stage. Would anyone like to share their favorite 'go-to' moves for each stage?

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/27/19 6:37 PM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
Mahasi Sayadaw’s instructions are clear, simple, and straightforward, and don’t change depending on what ‘stage’ you’ve developed a story about being at. The reason people don’t progress in the method is they’re not doing the method correctly. So take another look at Practical Insight Meditation or any other of his works, memorise the instructions, and dive in. The issue is not how to game the technique, it’s how to do it consistently with calm dedication. The rest just happens...

Good luck!

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/28/19 5:47 AM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
What Paul says is very true. However, I sometimes find that some stages screw with my head, and they tend to do that in different ways, so mapping myself helps me to secondguess myself and stay with the very things that Paul mentions. MCTB2 is great help in reminding myself, but then I need to get to learn my own quirks of each stage. Basically, seeing each situation as it is in the here and now is what helps me to move forward. I need to stay away from unrealistic expectations that make me see things in a too favorable light. For me, the maps help with that. For some, the maps are the problem.

In order to manage my practice in tougher stages, I find it helpful to take advantage of the strengths of each stage and compensate for its weaknesses. For instance, in fear I at least have some energy. Knowing that the energy will go away again in the next stage, misery, helps me to overcome the anxiety that otherwise may make me passive. The same goes for reobservation - although the energy there is of the agonizing kind, at least it’s energy. Also, there is mindspeed, that I can work with. In dissolution I need to take care of myself in ways that build up my energy. A short walk in the nature or some light yoga or qi gong can help, but I need to be very determined to do that, because I tend to just fall asleep. In misery, if lots of gulit and shame arises, it is important for me to remember that it is impermanent and not me. Otherwise I may get lost in content, which is bad for practice and very painful in this case. The same goes for disgust. If I find myself suddenly wanting to change methods, it is helpful to check if I’m in desire for deliverance. If so, I should probably just be patient and continue with what I’m already doing.

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/28/19 12:10 PM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
It has been a while since I've read over Practical Insight Meditation and I agree that it is very straight forward and simple, although not necessarily easy. Sometimes it's a foundational instruction like this that you need when you're overcomplicating things. Other times, though, I feel like the ground shifts and following the breath and noting other sensations is almost impossible for whatever reason, regardless of how many times you try to come back to the simple instructions.

Navigating the DN and Equanimity is really where I'm trying to tease out the little shifts in persperctive, like Polly mentioned, that can help move you along rather than get bogged down and stuck. When I first began my practice, my concentration skills developed very quickly. Unfortunately, I think that really hindered my practice for a while once I crossed the A&P because I was still trying to make progress using the strong concentration that I no longer had.

Eventually, after months/years of frustration and doubt, I would periodically stumble upon some perspective/technique shift that would help me make progress. Over time I've gotten to a place where I usually don't get stuck too bad or for too long, but on retreat I feel like some of the tricks of the mind, as well as the frustration and doubt, can be amplified. On retreat is where I find these little tips/tricks/suggestions to be most helpful in pulling you out of the mud.

Anyway, thanks to you both! I will definitely be making notes of your suggestions and taking a copy of Mahasi's text with me!

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/29/19 3:56 PM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
You are very welcome.

I can relate to being stuck because one tries to use resources that one no longer has. I was lucky to get the advice from Michael Taft to be prepared that in the beginning of the next path I would no longer have access to the tools that I had been relying on, and so I should work with these new conditions and trust that I would be able to develop the tools I would need. Without that advice I think I would have despaired, maybe even given up.

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/29/19 9:51 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It's encouraging to hear other practitioners say that they've been there and made it through. My biggest problem was that I felt that if I wasn't making progress then it must be because I wasn't trying hard enough, but the pushing was the exact thing that was preventing my progress. It seems obvious now, but I'm in no way convinced that it won't happen again...I'm especially wired that way!

Actually, I'm running into the same laxity vs. effort issue now, but on a much more reasonable scale...trying to differentiate mindlessness from the spaciousness of the mind in Equanimity. I've always had problems staying mindful with spaciousness practices (open-awareness, just sitting, etc). Currently the mind can become somewhat concentrated (wide/light nearly access concentration) with breath counting for 10 minutes or so, but a few minutes into noting practice things start to get spacey/daydreamy...and I feel the struggle between trying to force more mindfulness and 'staying with the object(s)' vs allowing what arises and 'watching the show'. Anyway, I'm sure it's a delicate balance that I'll have to navigate through trial and error.

Thanks again for your input!

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/29/19 11:38 PM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
I would adjust based on the sensations that present themselves. Trying to do it based on where you think you are on the map is problematic. It is a small distinction but, for me, it helps. Real time mapping is slippery especially on retreat where concentration is real high and sub stages are observable. Striving and dillussion can also feed each other. 

Mapping thoughts are inescapable but as soon as I become aware that i am mapping, i note it. 

Basically, if sensations are presenting faster than I can note, I change it up. Like using more general notes for larger areas while clearly knowing that larger area. If that holds, I'll drop noting and try to know as much as possible in as much detail as possible. Try to get the whole visual, auditory and tactile fields.

Other spots that I change up based on sensations:
- if there is pain/itching/intense sensations, focus on it. Look for the change in it. Where is the perimeter? Is there an oscillation?
-if I am sleepy or concentration is poor, I will note outloud.
-if I am struggling, I will note the sensation and then the hinderance right behind it like "pain; aversion;"
-Speed is a good think to play with. For me, it is usually trying to speed up.

Good luck on the retreat.

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/30/19 7:22 AM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
Walter_Sobchakeit:
I am post-AP/pre-SE and I'm preparing for a solo retreat next month. Even though I've been back and forth thru the insight stages multiple times, I still seem to have a bit of trouble adjusting my technique as I transition from stage to stage. Would anyone like to share their favorite 'go-to' moves for each stage?


Here's my notes from when I was at that stage of practice. My best advice is to make your own cheat sheet that fits on one page and post it where you sit. Write it in your own words, so that it really feels like the voice in your head is reminding you how to practice well.


Motivation for Daily Practice
Insight cant be forced, but it can be nurtured and given the opportunity to arise.
 
Right View of the Path
Experiencing the sensation of the moment is the only experience that qualifies as meditation. Thoughts are linked moments of the sensations of thinking. Stay at the level of bare sensations. Time is a sensation.
 
Right Effort on the Path
Clearly and strongly renouncing speculation and committing to simply attending to the expression of this very moment is the right effort in the beginning. Gently returning again and again to the moment is the right effort in the middle. Letting the moment reveal itself is the right effort for the mature part of the path. Insight is always a surprise and cannot be forced, but it is cultivated by returning to attending to this moment.
 
Noting
* If things look solid: note!
* If you are lost in thought: note!
* If you are feeling ungrounded: note!
* If it all feels useless: note those sensations, too!

Noting is better than floundering.
“Don’t need your wants.”
“If you are looking for a solution, you aren’t seeing the problem.”
“Less is more.”
 
Perceiving Vibrations
* If you are able to perceive vibrations of your object: do so as completely and consistently as possible.
* If you are feeling that you can perceive vibrations of not only your object but also other things simultaneously: do so.
* If you can perceive vibrations of not only your object but broad things like space, consciousness, thought, memory, intention, investigation, effort, suffering and the like: do so.
* If at any point you find that you can't perform at the level you were functioning at, drop back down the hierarchy as far as you need to, perhaps back to noting.

Application to Stages

* When you enter the second vipassana jhana, aka the Arising and Passing Away (A&P), most people can drop the noting, as it is just too slow.
* After this stage fades, many will need to go back to noting until they stabilize, as Dissolution can cause regression as we get used to its wider, more out of phase field.
* When the Dark Night arises, many will need to note at points to keep from getting lost in their stuff.

Tarin's excellent reminder:
the dark night territory - particularly late dark night - has a habit of making me unsure which methods are best to employ in practice. should i note? should i use open awareness? should i pay attention to the wide vibrations? should i go with the discomfort? should i observe the questioning? etc etc. i would feel very dissatisfied with anything i tried. eventually i realised that the nature of re-observation to was to have a cow with anything and everything and when i realised this it mattered a whole lot less what i did since i knew i would have no way of knowing if it was effective practice or not! regardless, my recommendation would be to note or observe frustration, pain, doubt, boredom, distraction, gaming, predicting, expecting, etc etc when and where they arise and make sure - i mean really make fucking sure - that if you're killing yourself trying to meditate that you note that too emoticon

* In Equanimity, people may need to note to keep from spacing out at points until they get used to how panoramic and complete things are.

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/30/19 1:16 PM as a reply to shargrol.
This is great. I always had the habit with my meditation of trying to find some intellectual edge, but I guess there is only so many ways you can reiterate "observe and note" haha. The simplicity of this technique is quite exciting for me coming from the plate spinning of TMI.

RE: Noting Tips for Moving Thru the Stages of Insight
Answer
6/30/19 2:58 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Wow guys! This is a great help! Thank you so much! My retreat room is gonna be wallpapered in great motivational tips and advice!