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Question re Mahasi Style noting

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Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
6/28/11 10:30 AM
I've been meditating for a number of years but I don't really have any experience with Mahasi-style noting, and I'm curious about it. However, in attempting it I find I am a little unclear about the instruction.

At best, I am able to perceive what seem to be discrete perceptions at a rate of 2-3 per second. However, I find that it seems to take me 1-2 second to generate a word label for them. So my labeling cannot keep pace with my experience, not even close. What is advised in this case?

Thanks

Greg

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
6/28/11 12:44 PM as a reply to Greg Z.
Have you read Mahasi's book on noting or Daniel's book (Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha)? They both answer your question. Basically, you can dwindle down actual words to something like "beep". I do something like "da-da-da-da-da-da," and then all that fast noting sort of congeals and I can switch over to the "ardent mindfulness" Buddha describes.

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
6/28/11 1:20 PM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
I did read Daniel's book and I've read some by Mahasi. However, it was not clear to me at what point the "beep" phase would be appropriate - Daniel seemed to imply that it was not until one was around the 3 characteristics stage that one should attempt that - that's why i was asking.

In the prior level (C & E) he says "Remember how I recommended trying to experience one to ten sensations per second consistently, noting which were mental and which were physical? At this stage, the meditator is finally able to do this with a fair degree of skill, confidence and consistency."

My level of awareness doesn't seem to be quite that fine, so I wasn't sure if I was jumping the gun switching to beeps already.

Also, I'm not really able to count things off as "physical" and "mental." When I attempt it, then I feel caught in a super fast ping pong between mental and physical because each moment of registering physical is then a mental event that needs to be registered as such. Or does it?

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
6/28/11 2:33 PM as a reply to Greg Z.
Hi Greg,

Here's some advice:

1. Try to keep your noting simple. The label doesn't have to be the most accurate description ever. The important thing is noticing the sensation and seeing it clearly so don't get to hung up on the label.

2. Try some of the introductory talks by U Vivekananda here: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/186/talk/8718/ he gives a clear description on how to do the practice.

3. You can also check out Shinzen Young. Shinzen includes noting and labeling practice in his teachings although his method may be slightly different from what is practiced by most people here.

4. In the ping-pong situation you describe, it sounds like you're trying to note the noting itself. There's no need to do that as that easily would spiral out of control (note the noting of the noting, etc.) it's quite enough to note the sensation for now.

5. Don't worry about the speed of your noting. You'll notice that this this will change over time, sometimes faster, sometimes not as fast. Just keep noticing as many sensation as you can.

Hope this helps,
Eran.

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
6/28/11 3:19 PM as a reply to Greg Z.
Greg Z:

Also, I'm not really able to count things off as "physical" and "mental." When I attempt it, then I feel caught in a super fast ping pong between mental and physical because each moment of registering physical is then a mental event that needs to be registered as such. Or does it?


while eran suggests that what you've gotten yourself into is a habit of noting the noting (and that you would then be inclined to note the note of the note, ad infinitum...), i didn't read what you wrote in the same way. if he has understood correctly, then his advice is suitable. otherwise, if you are simply noting the 'echo' of noting the physical at every moment you note a physical sensation/movement/happening, then you are doing the practice correctly and at a very in-depth level. if you can maintain this level of thoroughness without being sucked into the content or being thrown off-track, i recommend you proceed with it, however much it may feel like 'super fast ping pong'. noting practice, particularly the beginning stages, can require an enormous amount of energy and effort, or produce it, and this can be unsettling[1]. than the most widely applicable solution is to simply carry on, noting the doubts that arise but giving them no credence whatsoever. at a certain point, that ping ponging may take on a life of its own and you will no longer 'feel caught' in it (not in a way that you would be concerned about, anyway).

tarin

[1] i could tell you a reason why, but learning that the reasons don't actually matter would be a far more valuable lesson (as far as insight is concerned) than knowing what the reasons are.

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
6/28/11 3:22 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thanks all for the advice . . I think I was more noting the noting. I can see why this is a problem and not necessary. Although my noting process sometimes seems to provoke thoughts itself and it is here is where things get a little confused for me.

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
7/6/11 2:30 AM as a reply to Eran G.
Specifically to which of the U Vivekananda talks on Dharma Seed were you referring? (There are 44 talks on the page)

Thanks!

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
7/6/11 12:16 PM as a reply to Robert Stephen Hauser.
Try the following:

Opening Talk - http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/186/talk/9108/20100602-U_Vivekananda-IMSFR-opening_talk.mp3

General Instructions - http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/186/talk/8718/20030514-U_Vivekananda-IMSFR-general_instructions.mp3

Vipassana Phenomenology - http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/186/talk/9212/20100604-U_Vivekananda-IMSFR-vipassana_phenomenology.mp3

IIRC correctly this last one would be especially useful for yogis struggling to find the correct note and for those who need a boost to the investigation factor. The first two are more general and should be enough to get you up and running.

RE: Question re Mahasi Style noting
Answer
7/7/11 2:25 PM as a reply to Greg Z.
First off, I don't think "noting the noting" is undesirable. The goal of insight meditation is to see everything as it is. There are no exceptions. Noting is not an exception. Noting the noting is not an exception. It's better to note the noting than to develop an aversion to noting the noting.

The speed at which your mind produces labels is not all that important. You have to realize that you will never be able to note and label every single moment. All you do when you practice is you try to catch the very first sensation that occurs, then find a label for it, and as soon as you're done noting and labeling, right away catch the very next sensation. It is only natural that you will miss many sensations. That's probably one of the reasons they call it "practice" and not "perfect execution."