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Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Noting and Vibrations

Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 7:04 AM
Hi everyone,

I have a confusion that I hope some of you will be able to clarify: how does the "vibration watching" that is often described in MCTB relate to Mahasi-style noting? The vibration periods are obviously way too fast to note individually. Does one just note the vibration phenomenon as a whole while investigating it? Or does one just not note it at all?

Is this vibrations business a traditional part of the Mahasi method, anyway, or is this something that Daniel discovered as useful for himself and added to it?

RE: Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 1:30 PM as a reply to Manuel.
Nice question!

Noting doesn't seem to be all that helpful in sensations that assume some measure of longevity. I have vibrations in suffering, like a deep low humming or droning sensation sometimes in large areas of the body which hang around sometimes for days. It seems silly to note when it's there for such a long period. What I try to do with this is to move my attention into parts of the vibrations and, with a high degree of discernment, look for tiny gaps between the vibrating sensations or particle-like movements. Often, the place where I place my attention becomes empty of vibrations. So, what I'm suggesting is that you turn the attention inwards, look for the impermanence, and squeeze out as much experiential knowledge from that observation. One does not need to note, 'gaps', or 'particles'. Just pure raw awareness is enough for something somewhere to learn of their true nature, that being: their emptiness or impermanence.

Sometimes it reminds me of white noise like this here from an old television set. If you look at those particle fragments in the video, they shift, move and flicker. The vibrations in the body have precisely the same characteristics and this is what you're looking for when placing your discerning attention inwards. Also, bigger areas of vibrations can move in wave-form in parts of the body.

RE: Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 3:43 PM as a reply to Manuel.
The vibration periods are obviously way too fast to note individually.
That may be the case for now, but keep practicing. MTCB characterizes slow, fast, narrow, wide etc types of vibrations. The breath is composed of apprentice level sensations that anyone can pick up so its best to use that. If you can recognize the breath as waves in motion try to follow it as precisely as you can from the nose and down the larynx and passed the trachea. Be conscious of whether you are using the diaphram or the belly, or whatever you do. Alternatively, you can also study the respiratory anatomy and use each organ as an object in your meditation. Realize every space that is being filled in one before moving to the next. To put it one way, the breath is a collection of vibrations and as concentration improves you'll be able to separate and differentiate them... I advise you to NOT meditate with "the mind", the mind is its own object of meditation. Use your experience of it as the practice first before shifting to that.
Daniel states every vibration leaves a mental impression, that's where Mahasi's mental noting comes in. See the pleasure in the sensations, the warmth they bring, or just not associate them with anything and just simply note them as they happen. Raw sensate clarity. Individually we're talking about making sense of a single atom oscillating back and forth which you can mature into. 
Daniel came up with a great model but I've heard this vibration business from several folk over the years, though most of them hardly understood it themselves unfortunately

RE: Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 4:07 PM as a reply to Mista Tibbs.
So let me be a bit more explicit about my background. I'm quite familiar with the vibrations - various kinds of them - as a phenomenon and object, having reached up to what I think is the third vipassana jhana practicing in the Goenka/U Ba Khin tradition. I may have been bastardising the technique a bit even, influenced by my prior reading of MCTB. So watching vibrations of various kinds, their speed, their quality, and even the gaps between them is something I've done quite a bit of. I found them a great object to recognise the three characteristics in.

The reason why I'm asking myself the question about the relation to noting is that I'm considering switching to that practice and trying to find out how to integrate certain things. Do you mean to say that a noting practitioner, when reaching A&P, can really not the 10+ periods per second each individually? Perceive them, sure - and if you tell me flat-out that yes, you can actually note 15 events per second if you've been practicing noting, then I'm inclined to believe you. But it's just really hard to imagine for me. What I can imagine, of course, is noting the perception of vibration - as opposed to the individual periods/oscillations. So the vibrations would then be treated as just another phenomenon one can note (and then investigate more closely), like any of a myriad of others.

What you say about the breath is interesting because that's the one thing I've been having a very hard time perceiving disintegrated into vibrations. The perception of the abdomen, I can sometimes see vaguely punctured, but never with remotely the same clarity as vibrations on the skin, of an its, or just "reality itself" if you so will. However, that may be because watching and investigating the breath as an object for insight meditation is just not something I've been doing.

RE: Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 4:34 PM as a reply to Manuel.

Do you mean to say that a noting practitioner, when reaching A&P, can really not the 10+ periods per second each individually?

Perhaps my approach is slightly different from how Daniel describes in book. The thinking mind only moves at the rate of language pronunciation. I recall Daniel mentioning shortening the noting to one syllable words like dat.dat.dat.dat, but for me that is still too slow. So, I relinquish the linguistics in favour of a deeper faster level of processing that is able to bring awareness to the finer vibrations. Therefore, my noting falls away at this level leaving behind sustained attention on the object while holding to the notions of impermanence. 

RE: Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 4:56 PM as a reply to Manuel.
I have also been wondering. I'm not that fast in my conceptualization, and if I don't conceptualize, then I don't know what to count. I assess that I'm somewhere between second and third path, but I could of course be wrong. I'm guessing that we all have different strengths, and mine just isn't counting vibrations per second. I can distinguish between different kinds of vibrations but I cannot count that fast. It's great to hear that I'm in good company. 

RE: Noting and Vibrations
11/29/19 8:46 PM as a reply to Manuel.
I always find it tedious starting from a sober baseline. But once I arrive at A&P territory it shifts and becomes much easier, almost second nature to see vibrations as they "occur". There have been times where millions of vibrations become clear to me. In reality, everything is made up of things that are happening and vibrations don't "occur" because they just always are.
So for this I've adopted the television static analogy... closing my eyes is like turning the tv off, a blank screen, but the static sound is still emanating. Noting one sensation is similar in ways to turning on just a single pixel on the screen. Provided that attention is kept on that point, it will stay on. As long as I maintain this intuitive knowledge of that "pixel" of information apart from another, I can move on to the next. This goes on "turning on"/noting sensations until I'm able to perceive collections at once. There's no need to conceptually imagine a name, address, and birth certificate for every sensation that arises because cognition itself is a process of association.

Mahasi's approach is good because it establishes metta and applies concentration, but for me it is like a catch 22. If I try to personify each sensation then they become faster and faster until thoughts themselves become fleeting experiences. I'm so centered on them that at that point, my concentration breaks and I hit a sort of reset. I think if that happens one is supposed to "let go". Noting the perception of vibrations using the mind as a mediator sounds like a good tool as long as you don't get attached to it. Eventually, the middle man should be cut off to perceive sensations through sensations.
As for the three characteristics... isn't it said they are present in everything? You should definitely try as many methods as possible but once you know how to meditate, just meditate.

RE: Noting and Vibrations
3/14/20 9:13 AM as a reply to Manuel.
I am going through something similar: When I focus on the rising and falling of my belly, after 10 mins, it feels like my stomach starts to vibrate (it feel almost like there a little vibrator inside me and it's sending subtle vibrations from belly outwards.) If I shift my focus on other parts of the body, I can start to feel that area vibrates too. 

I feel like this is a significate milestone, but I'm not sure how to work with it to progress deeper. I've tried really focusing in on the vibration and try to discern the individual flickering or pulsing and see in between the vibrations, but it seems too fast and subtle. 

The best I could do so far is to keep my attention on the vibrations at a broad level (just notice that they are there and feel them the best I can) and whenever my attention is distracted by thoughts, notice that and bring it back to the vibrations as quickly as I can. Basically try to maintain continuous attention on the vibrations. 

Is this a good strategy? Will I be able to eventually see the vibration much more clearly if I keep paying attention to it? What is the goal here?

Also, when I focus on the vibration for an extended period, it seems to cause muscles throughout my body to start twitching. Sometimes I can feel like there are quick, sharp, sensations of pain shooting in my back. Is this the "insight into dissatisfaction" that everyone is talking about?

Thank you!