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Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences

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After crossing the A&P for several times using the Goenka body-scanning technique on a few retreats (about 5 so far), I've been having the feeling that I'm stuck and not going forward much, and also I've been wanting to give noting a try though I've been 'afraid' of learning something new, which is funny.

So anyway, today I've gone through quite a bit of 'In This Very Life' by U Pandita, which gave me tremendous amount of motivation to give noting a try.

This evening I sat down for an hour, and started noting the rise and fall of the abdomen. Because of the previous body-scanning practice, vibrations are felt all over aswell, and very fast.

I started noting rising and falling, as many times as the sensations of rising were there, i would note them ('rising rising rising rising', 'falling falling falling falling'), though not 'loud', but quite silently (inwards), trying to concentrate on the experience itself.

I also tried noting any mental phenomena which interrupted my continuity, which was quite hard - I found that I would notice that a thought or image or imagination took my attention only after it disappeared, but was getting better at catching them earlier.

I was quite unsure whether I should stay with the rising&falling even though I felt very fast vibrations throughout the body (nothing unpleasant), those were easier to note with very fast 'beep beep beep beep' because they were very fast - so at times I would go into other physical vibrations and then return to the rising & falling.

At some point, I decided to try observing the breath at the nostrils for a bit, something I'm used to, and after about 10 seconds of strong concentration on that - an altered state arose - probably a Jhana but unsure which.

The body felt completely different, pleasant but not intense pleasure, more cool, and the actual feel of the body felt different, the sensations were 'heavier' - also these sensations reminded me of some state I've had many times in my dreams as a child. This state is quite hard to put into words but it felt very nice.

I gave into it, enjoyed it, but after a bit I decided to continue dissecting, so I began to note again, rising & falling and trying to dissect this experience into its parts, it disappeared after a bit.

I'm finding that noting is seriously helping me 'objectify' mental phenomena (such as intending, expecting, self loathing, self grandeur, and many more) which are not seen through as anatta when I do body-scanning.

Would love to hear any suggestions since I'm very new at this.

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/6/09 6:39 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
I'm not as far along as you but I've also been surprised at the effects of adding noting. For some reason I used to think that noting was "artificial" or something, that by volitionally thinking, deciding, and adding a word above and beyond the sensation that I was being kept a step back from "reality." Make sense?
But after finding that nearly all of the people whose practices and insights I actually respected and belived in were Mahasi-style "noters" I decided to jump in last June.
And, for some reason (and the reason doesn't matter at all to me) the noting brought me closer to "reality" than I'd ever been before. It's almost like the sensations and other perceptions that noting brings aren't "real" until I've noted them. Everyting in my sensate experience becomes amplified and more and more is allowed to appear. Nice. (Nice, because I know this is how to get it done)

Now, that said, while sitting and noting a lot goes by that I miss and don't note but I still seem to get a good impression of -- the trick for me seems to be to make noting the main activity while still taking in everything in the experience.

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/7/09 3:52 AM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike Monson:

And, for some reason (and the reason doesn't matter at all to me) the noting brought me closer to "reality" than I'd ever been before. It's almost like the sensations and other perceptions that noting brings aren't "real" until I've noted them. Everyting in my sensate experience becomes amplified and more and more is allowed to appear. Nice. (Nice, because I know this is how to get it done)


Exacly my experience,

Sat for an hour this morning and I'm finding that adding noting is revealing deeper insight into anatta, that is - all is just happening on its own, motivation to do something, swallow, etc, and then it happens, everything is simply arising on its own and vanishing, including expectation, desire, etc.
Also I'm finding that noting is allowing for deepr insight into anicca since when I'm just sweeping vibrations the illusion of solidity is mostly still there, but when I'm noting really fast I can see how each moment is completely separate from the other.

Still finding noting hard though emoticon

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/8/09 9:43 AM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike: just try it for a month or so and I think all your questions will be answered and/or the results will be so strong that you'll stop being concerned with "doing vs. being."

And really, do you want stream entry? This seems to be the most direct way there.

I pondered all this yesterday while sitting. It feels like each time I note one sensation I've essentially invited in the next one. The more that is noted the more that is invited and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger and more illuminated. So simple. And so easy because one just has to note only what one can experience in each moment. And that can be from nothing at all, and then to weak, slowly appearing sensations and on to huge vibrations coming hard and fast. Doesn't matter, as long as it is what is really happening NOW.

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/8/09 9:45 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
I had a big long message typed, and Liferay hosed it (grrr!). But the meat of my comments, questions on noting practice, really, turned out to be addressed by the following thread I just found:

Detailed question about Mahasi-style vipassana


So rather than type my questions in again, I am just going to link to that thread because if you are reading this thread, you may be interested in that one.

But I will reiterate my concluding remark, which is that I am frustrated that something as simple (conceptually) as noting can be so hard. But you cannot argue with the success of that technique, so I will keep at it.

-- tomo

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/10/09 9:47 PM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike John D:
I have always opperated under Suzuki Roshi's principal that meditation is not something you do, rather meditation is something that you are. It's an expression of what you are, in form and sensation. I have defintely had some great experiences with this approach, but not much insight per se.

For me the problem with noting is that I feel that as soon as I look at meditaiton as something that sets up a "do'er" and a "doing" I am essentially driving a wedge into the practice.

I went to the source and read PRACTICAL INSIGHT MEDITATION, by Mahasi Sayadaw, it explained the process very well, but I am still stuck with this question about "doing vs being". It seems like the noting practice will require a big shift in the way I look at things. Maybe that's a good thing. But I'd really like to know: how is bringing a "do'er" into the picture going to help; especially when experiencially it feels so counterintuitive and awkward?


This may seem artificial, or it might be helpful to you.
You already believe that noting can be useful for making rapid progress in meditation. Part of insight is seeing that there isn't really a doer, but the entire universe is simply being, with no other process occurring. So, if you use the tool of noting to supercharge your practice, you will get to a place where your sense of a self that "does" something goes away. Then you won't be fooled by any illusory duality between "being" and "doing." There is no duality. Consider the sentence "The universe is." The subject (note that there is no distinct object) is "the universe." The verb is "is." which is a form of the verb "to be." What is a verb? It's something that's done. So what is the universe doing? The universe is being. The thing that is "done" is "being." So, you can see that "being" and "doing" are not truly distinct. The illusory distinction probably comes from the nature of human language. Languages have different verbs for attributing qualities to things and for attributing actions to things. (Linking verbs versus action verbs.) This distinction creates, in the human mind, a duality between actions and qualities. But there is truly no difference.

At any rate, whether or not any of the above is helpful, try noting. If it makes your practice more effective, and you come to a realization that there is no doing, then the problem is solved. Skillful means seem counterintuitive sometimes, but that doesn't make them any less skillful.

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/10/09 10:35 PM as a reply to J Adam G.
J Adam G:
Mike John D:
I have always opperated under Suzuki Roshi's principal that meditation is not something you do, rather meditation is something that you are. It's an expression of what you are, in form and sensation. I have defintely had some great experiences with this approach, but not much insight per se.

For me the problem with noting is that I feel that as soon as I look at meditaiton as something that sets up a "do'er" and a "doing" I am essentially driving a wedge into the practice.

I went to the source and read PRACTICAL INSIGHT MEDITATION, by Mahasi Sayadaw, it explained the process very well, but I am still stuck with this question about "doing vs being". It seems like the noting practice will require a big shift in the way I look at things. Maybe that's a good thing. But I'd really like to know: how is bringing a "do'er" into the picture going to help; especially when experiencially it feels so counterintuitive and awkward?


This may seem artificial, or it might be helpful to you.
You already believe that noting can be useful for making rapid progress in meditation. Part of insight is seeing that there isn't really a doer, but the entire universe is simply being, with no other process occurring. So, if you use the tool of noting to supercharge your practice, you will get to a place where your sense of a self that "does" something goes away. Then you won't be fooled by any illusory duality between "being" and "doing." There is no duality. Consider the sentence "The universe is." The subject (note that there is no distinct object) is "the universe." The verb is "is." which is a form of the verb "to be." What is a verb? It's something that's done. So what is the universe doing? The universe is being. The thing that is "done" is "being." So, you can see that "being" and "doing" are not truly distinct. The illusory distinction probably comes from the nature of human language. Languages have different verbs for attributing qualities to things and for attributing actions to things. (Linking verbs versus action verbs.) This distinction creates, in the human mind, a duality between actions and qualities. But there is truly no difference.

At any rate, whether or not any of the above is helpful, try noting. If it makes your practice more effective, and you come to a realization that there is no doing, then the problem is solved. Skillful means seem counterintuitive sometimes, but that doesn't make them any less skillful.


That is exactly what I wanted to say but couldn't quite mange. emoticon

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/18/09 9:02 AM as a reply to Mike Monson.
hello. i just came back out of my first 10day retreat. it was also Goenka style. so from Noting, i switched to Goenka style body scanning, other way around in these 10 days

i find the technique nice coming back home becoz of my new reactions coming from my body. i am more aware of all my body parts, unlike before. but less of my thoughts

i get the impression that this style is "healthier", because it deals with more body parts and as goenka describes "peels away layers of sankharas".

so, slower, but healthier, and actually hitting suffering at a big target, in the touch sense.
Im starting to try to apply being conscious of my touch-sense-feelings at real time, especially in reacting to situations, when i am restless. ill still see if after ive readjusted to daily life, theres a contrast to my behavior and subconscious perceptions and if it is for better or worse.

How has it been for you Yadidbee? while doing body scanning, did u have less thoughts? a clearer mind? more aware of your body, etc. do u see any contrasts to ur behaviors

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/19/09 2:09 PM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike John D:

For me the problem with noting is that I feel that as soon as I look at meditaiton as something that sets up a "do'er" and a "doing" I am essentially driving a wedge into the practice.


Hey,

Not sure that this will add much to the responses already posted, but I've had this problem as well (quite recently in fact). The solution for me was to focus on a larger or different area of experience, esp. one which includes mental phenomena. So I can start out with just being aware of whatever arises (all six senses), which doesn't give rise to the "do'er" or "self-ing" problem, because any feelings of self are included in the field of attention. I believe this is called "choiceless awareness." Then I can add in noting to make things more focused and precise. I can note anything I want, not just (say) the breath. As this progresses, I find that much of the time I naturally incline toward examining narrower fields of experience so I can do it with greater precision and speed, more clearly differentiate between mental impressions and sensations, etc.

What is reality? As long as I'm investigating this as precisely and thoroughly as I can on an experiential level, the problem doesn't come up. It's the reason I practice anyway. It just so happens that noting has really clarified my practice and made it much less sloppy, and gives me a clear path for improvement. Having just figured this out about a week ago, it seems pretty awesome right now. (Haha, hopefully it will stay that way.)

Chris

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/23/09 10:21 AM as a reply to Dark Night Yogi.
Mitch Jacinto:

How has it been for you Yadidbee? while doing body scanning, did u have less thoughts? a clearer mind? more aware of your body, etc. do u see any contrasts to ur behaviors


Hi mitch, sorry for the delay I've only noticed your reply as of late.

At the present I'm doing mostly Goenka style daily (hour when I wake up and hour in the evening).
Haven't done Mahasi style since then, since I am now focusing more on other parts of development in my life (second year of Uni started, developing healthy relationship to my body etc).

I find the Goenka technique highly useful in all waking hours since when I am confronted by suffering I immediately notice the vibrations to which the aversion is developed, or the pleasant vibrations to which the attachment is developed, which helps remain balanced in the face of it all.

How was the course for you?

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/24/09 7:39 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
thanks yadidbee = ) it works well with daily life for me. its been working for me!


-Goenka style using breath as anchor, great style. It's actually not being here and now. i feel less alive or engaged, yet more at peace. i miss lots of outside stuff without noting, but mostly useless outside stuff. So far, i was concerned with losing creativity, but 1 week back and creativity is Ok, doing good. i guess noting can give big progress but as a technique to merge into daily wellness to help engage with life, i like goenka style of focusing on body sensations and focusing on the stability of the breath as the gauge.

i have only done about 1 hour total of body-scanning after being back from retreat, but continually be aware of my breath as an anchor. Sometimes im able to do the anapanasati at the nostrils, and sometimes, only at the stomach.
i dont know however if my take on it is "just me", or related to where i am right now at the path, or is the same even for beginners, or enlightened peeps alike.

RE: Switched from body scanning to noting - interesting experiences
Answer
10/24/09 7:45 PM as a reply to Dark Night Yogi.
on being less alive. i wouldnt say its a negative thing. i think it just means 'more grounded'. less stimulated, less useless stimulation. but also not repression, which was a habit that i had before (i do not know if my habit of repression was becoz of NOTING or of using OUTSIDE STIMULI as an object of meditation like in more choiceless awareness approaches like when in Equanimity stage that u need to note a more wider field. On the other hand, even in Goenka Technique, Sweeping is used in Equanimity stage: Wider range, but still Limited to the body.

So, before, since i had so many thoughts and outside stimuli hitting me, i had a lot more to suppress and repress.