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What's next?
Answer
5/2/20 3:41 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm writing in hope for some advice.

I am recently struggling with the feeling of being stuck. I'm a begginer, went to 3 Goenka retreats and after getting back from the third, decided to practice 2 times a day for 1h as advised during the retreat. Basically what Goenka advices is "pure" vipassana consisting of scanning the body and sensations and three characteristics. 

What I am struggling with is the feeling that it leads nowhere. It's been 3 months since the retreat. I just sit, scan, then sit, scan and so on. My mind wonders. Sometimes I manage to concentrate, sometimes I get the feeling of relief and peace, but nothing really resemble any progress. Nothing seem to deepen, resemble even basic insight (if I correctly understand insight?). I loose concentration, do it mechanically. I'm affraid that I will stop the practice as nothing really seem to change and there's a lack of motivation knocking on my door.

Please let me know your experiences - what kept you motivated? How to know if what you do, or how you do it, is right? Is there any sign of progress which I may seek/try to recognize?

I know that it's a newbie question and maybe I shouldn't ask it before I do not spend few years on a cushion, but I really need to avoid the feeling of "sitting on a cushion like an idiot" (as read in MCTB to be Zen's Master saying).

I start to doubt if Goenka's vipassana is a good starting practice for me, but Goenka is the only well organized retreat where I live (Poland), so decided to give it a try. Maybe I should start focusing on more samatha practices first? Goenka doesn't put too much pressure on anapana and advices to "do 5 minutes of anapana every day, and then swich to vipassana, and treat it as main practice"? 

Any advice highly appreciated.

Karol

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/2/20 4:21 AM as a reply to Karol.
Hello Karol,

Maybe you want to check this thread: some views on the technique in the Goenka tradition.
It is kind of too much information maybe, but I hope it explains the technique a bit in an understandable way before flying too high! It was really an attempt to go against the culture of silence and not analyzing or reflecting on experience in this tradition...
When you perform the scanning, you work on several levels:
one is that you train your mind to feel subtler and subtler sensations all over the body. You have this pain in the knee, is it one single big sensation or is it composed of several more minute ones? This is a good avenue of exploration.
Another, very important one, is to understand through your own experience the relationship between attention and its object (the object being the sensation you are attending in this moment), which will lead to questioning such as "what is a sensation?" or "what is attention?". Sounds endlessly fascinating to me!
Also, you should use different ways (and speed) of scanning your body. Don't get stuck on one that does not give you time enough to see what you intend to see ("what is intention?"). There are various reasons to move around (one is to feel sensations everywhere, not just in the easy places ("what is a location?" it all happens in your mind, this processing of the contact with matter...), one is that if you go too slowly, you might get bored and loose the mindfulness of body. But staying a little while in some places is certainly ok, and important!
It is notoriously difficult in the first years of practice to maintain the scanning away from retreats, so don't be hard on yourself if you find it difficult. And if things get boring, put in more investigation, it will reveal the three characteristics organically...

I hope you don't give up on the path. I am no one to tell you to change technique or not (others might chime in tot tell you that you're loosing your time, but I don't think so), but I feel while
reading you that you still have some fascinating time ahead of you with that particular technique.

I wish you all the best with your practice
with metta
smiling stone

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/2/20 8:19 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hi Smiling Stone,

Thank you for all the explanations. I read the majority of the thread you provided, it was really deep and informative, but I will need some more time to digest it.

Honestly, I still do not feel I know where it (the technique) is heading.
Maybe it's my "western inclination" to understand intellectually before commiting?

There is a chapter in MCTB, named "A Clear Goal", which starts with:
"Many of the possible reasons that people can get so into “Buddhism” in every way except clear, well-defined, focused, and precise practice are directly related to not having a clear goal. If you have no clear idea of what you want or why you are doing something, then the results are likely to be just as murky, vague, and fragmented. Why are you doing all of this? This is a very important question."

I was introduced to Goenka method by my girlfriend. I went to retreats. Felt this "peace" which I had not felt for long and thought that it may be a sign of something even more relieving and supporting day to day life. I thought that maybe my lack of commitment to daily practice caused this peace to gradually die out. But now I sit every day and my "normal" level of stress gets back in. So I start to have this significant "cost" of spending 2h on a cushion and no benefits. I can stand this routine, but need some motivation and assurance, that my effort is "worth it" in the long run.

So what I am searching for, is something which will guide me to some "peaceful state of living" and the longer I search within Goenka's framework, the more lost I am.

Is there any sort of "goal" which may be set here? What would that be? How to get there?

I understand that observing sensations may be interesting and sometimes even fascinating, but is that all there is?

Karol

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/2/20 10:40 AM as a reply to Karol.
A peaceful state of living is probably best achieved through a diligent practice of morality off cushion and concentration practice when you do meditate. 

If you do an insight practice while wanting a peaceful state of living, you will gain insight into suffering among other things. Sounds like it is working emoticon it does have value but it may not align with your goal in the short term anyway...

Note that is hard to do concentration only practices so there might be bleed through. Maybe a metta based concentration practice would be conducive to what you are looking for. Experiment and post your results.

Be careful that a peaceful state of living is your real goal. If the goal behind the goal is perpetual blissful sensations, they always be too fleeting. 

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/3/20 4:06 AM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Thank you Jason,

I take your and Stone's words seriously, really. I read every answer few times to really "get" what it conveys. Really appreciate your input.

I do not seek for wishy-washy, superficial "peace of mind", rather for something what Goenka tries to express when saying "may all beings be happy, be peacefull, be liberated" during metta at last day of retreat. I understand that this "different way of relating to things" called enlighment is something like that "peace of mind" I'm looking for. But please do not read me wrong - I do not care that much about "being enlighted" as something which adds some label to my list of achievements. Rather I feel that this "peace of mind" is achievable by learning how all this mental stuff works and perceive it as a way to grow and to be happier (which in my terms means less suffering).

I do not mind effort and even suffering on the path, especially because we do not really have any choice whether to suffer or not in our lives. So getting to know suffering consiously in order to liberate from it is perfectly fine for me.

What I seach for is something resembling MCTB's Progress of Insight Map. I do not find it clearly defined in this tradition. I feel doing something, being bit borred, seeing no difference or progress and even not knowing how to make a progress, and thus lack of motivation creeps up. It all would be ok for me if I knew, that this is what should be expected, and that I am not feeling that way because I'm lost or I do not understand something correctly (sometimes I feel like citation I found in MCTB's - Zen Master's saying: "Do not sit on a cushion like an idiot", which means to me - know what your doing while sitting).

I'm looking for signposts, a way to know if what I do is right. That's it. 

Is there anything like that in Goenka's tradition?

Thank you,
Karol

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/3/20 9:19 AM as a reply to Karol.
Goenka talks about the progress of insight. I have experienced it with the technique. It is harder to see off retreat. 

If you simplify the map, it goes: I like it, I no like it, I like it, I no like it, I like it. That makes it easier to see where you are. There have definitely been time where I have made progress but it felt like a regression. 

I am all for doing different techniques. It is likely you will have the same problem after the newness wears off though. I would switch techniques for pragmatic reasons not because some hinderances have come up.

Or switch to noting as outlined in practical insight meditation with a strong intention to face these hinderances if they come up again.

Maybe read the section in mctb2 on the 5 spiritual faculties and 7 factors and bring them to your practice.

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/3/20 2:57 PM as a reply to Karol.
Hey Karol,

Of course, if you are here and have read MCTB, maybe you'll switch to noting right away. This is my advice if you don't.
Having sat three retreats, you have a grasp at the scanning technique and can use it without learning everything from scratch. You will learn by doing it. If you cannot complete a scan, go back to awareness of the breath. If you find anapana is very difficult at home, just be aware of the breathing without locating it. Or count. You need to build up quite a bit of concentration to perform the scan.
I believe it is an efficient method to relieve suffering as soon as you start seeing through sensations, because you learn by yourself (by trial and error, it's ok) what a sensation is. In the long run, it will help you tremendously to deal with all kind of intense feelings, and it will eventually change the nature of your experience altogether. Hum, it looks like I am a salesman, sorry for that. The technique has some downsides but they are more obvious (to some) much later on the path. I noticed some change for the better from the first retreat onward...
Body scanning also has a very strong concentration component (much more than noting, imho, where it seems you spend a good part of your practice with the mind scattered). It is actually easy to miss on the insight component (noting impermanence, as the characteristic of choice here).
The reason Goenka advices for two hours of practice a day is to keep the momentum of the retreat in daily life. If you are three months off, starting by yourself is quite difficult, it is normal. Does it mean you should switch technique? I'm not sure, I think the technique is really efficient as a starter (for a good ten years in my case, Jason would say it's way too long, but the benefits are quite tangible for me). It will walk you through the progress of insight until the A&P (and further into the dukkha ñanas, some will argue, with equanimity as a goal from the very beginning ), but the retreats are really the foundation on which you build up your home practice.
Sooo... no retreats these days, what to do? If you feel so inclined, you could try a one day retreat at home to ramp up your practice. The format of these retreats (when organized by a center) are:
- 9 am to 11 am : anapana
-11 am to 12 pm : introduction to vipassana
lunch
1pm to 3 pm : vipassana
3pm to 4 pm : discourse + metta

Six hours total, it is hard on your body but doable. What you want is to notice the changing nature of the perceptions. Is a sensation the same as it was five seconds ago? How big is it? Is it solid?

The progress of insight delineates the changes in the way you relate to experience.
The primary goal of this method is to develop equanimity (that's peace!) and awareness. It will give you a good foundation for further practice if you want to change further on.

Well, I hope I didn't get carried away too much... Jason? comments? corrections?
with metta, wishing you well on the path
smiling stone

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/3/20 9:03 PM as a reply to Karol.
Hi Karol,

It sounds like you could do with something to make your practice more enjoyable, which would give you the motivation you seek.

What you can do is find a pleasant sensation in the body, anywhere you like. Could be a tingle in the hand or a warm feeling in the heart or the feel of contact on the chart, anything which feels just a bit nice. Once you've found a sensation, just focus on that and try to enjoy it. Try to really get a feel for the pleasantness of it. It really helps if you put a smile on your face, even if it feels totally fake and forced. Just stretching those muscles will help you start enjoying the pleasantness.

Then you can either try to expand the pleasant sensation or else find another one and try to join them together. The sensation you are looking for is a bit like when you sneeze and get a rush of tingles all over your body. This sort of practice can quite quickly become intensely pleasurable. I learned it from Leigh Brasington's book Right Concentration and it really helped me to enjoy meditating after a bit of a dry start with vipassana. The two can work well together - samatha when the vipassana gets too dry/tiring and vipassana when the samatha gets blocked by hindrances. The pleasant physical sensation is called piti and the most powerful source of it I find is in the abdomen.

Good luck
agnostic

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/4/20 2:47 PM as a reply to agnostic.
I've had success with this technique, and I am a noob, so I think it's a fairly accesible way to get started. I do think I spent about a month of daily hour-longs on breath concentration before I tried it though.

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 2:24 PM as a reply to Brandon Dayton.
Jason, Stone, agnostic, Brandon,

I’m really, really grateful for all the advice. Thank you!!! 
It really is a relief, that someone “out-there” is responsive and gives support in all this effort.

It has taken me a while to gather my thoughts.

I noticed that (among other great advice) one thing which your answers have in common is – “better concentration”.

That is more than correct. Actually I feel that my concentration is totally scattered and week. Quite frustrated I returned to MCTB and found a paragraph about Jhana (which I must have missed previously):
“As with all concentration states, it is generally quite easy to concentrate on something that is very enjoyable. Thus, one’s concentration skills may improve rapidly and easily after attaining the first jhana and tend to basically flounder until one has attained the first jhana. Thus, attaining the first jhana is really, really important. (funny, but I did not find this paragraph in MCBT2).

That was the solution I was looking for – I thought. I even recalled reading somewhere in MCBT that David himself started with insight practices and practiced it for five years, instead of attaining first jhana first and he claimed it was a mistake. 

Do you see it same way? Do you agree? How can you tell, that you have concentration strong enough for insight practice?

@Stone – would you elaborate a bit more what you mean by “seeing through sensations”? I can notice things flickering, tingle, but what “seeing through means”?

@agnostic – thanks for the “piti” method. I will definitely try it.

@Brandon – what do you mean by “having success” with this technique? Any attainment? How long/with what intensity do you meditate? How do you know, you are making progress?

Thank you,
Karol

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 2:33 PM as a reply to Karol.
emoticon
I noticed that (among other great advice) one thing which your answers have in common is – “better concentration”.

That is more than correct. Actually I feel that my concentration is totally scattered and week. Quite frustrated I returned to MCTB and found a paragraph about Jhana (which I must have missed previously):
“As with all concentration states, it is generally quite easy to concentrate on something that is very enjoyable. Thus, one’s concentration skills may improve rapidly and easily after attaining the first jhana and tend to basically flounder until one has attained the first jhana. Thus, attaining the first jhana is really, really important. (funny, but I did not find this paragraph in MCBT2).

That was the solution I was looking for – I thought. I even recalled reading somewhere in MCBT that David himself started with insight practices and practiced it for five years, instead of attaining first jhana first and he claimed it was a mistake. 

Do you see it same way? Do you agree?
Hell yes.

How can you tell, that you have concentration strong enough for insight practice?

one of this lot will either ask you hard questions until they like the answer, or someone will appear out of the blue and suggest an insight technique for you. If no one tears that guy a new asshole, you can assume you're probably on solid ground.

Welcome to DhO, my friend. You strike me as the best kind of seeker, highly motivated, scrupulous, earnest, and committed. I just jope you have a fucking sense of humor to match. emoticon

love, tim

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 3:06 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks Tim,

No sense of humor before enlightenment emoticon

Cheers,
Karol

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 3:18 PM as a reply to Karol.
Karol:
Thanks Tim,

No sense of humor before enlightenment emoticon

Cheers,
Karol

i knew it!

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 4:05 PM as a reply to Karol.
When you are stuck just try new things.
And even more importantly if you want any progress in this meditation business: when something works well for you just drop it and try new things.

Why people are stuck? Why meditation seemigly does nothing?
It is simply because these practices are more for creating opportunity to sit with yourself during which time you and your mind/brain might get the stupid idea to try different way of doing things, different way of being. But if you start practice the same way as you would do other repetitive task (like any kind of manual labour) concentrating on efficiency from the start to finish and just improving on how you do it to meet your KPI's then there is actually little chance your brain will do it in any other way than just the one right way it already knows works well, which, which should be suprise no body, is exactly the way you live your whole life.

Brain knows how to operate in certain was and is efficient in doing so. Any new approach will most likely be very inefficient and thus will be quickly discarded and you will return to state "normal".

So for an excercise just try doing it differently. Feeling differently, like some kind of experiment that you are undertaking. If you find way of being that is somewhat different do not discard it just because you cannot perform your meditative labour with the same efficiency as before. Try to make it work and treat meditation instructions as more of a opportunity to do something engaging with which you can train your brain with this new way of being than that there is some prize to be won when you are able to scan enough three characteristics per second. Also give yourself breaks during meditation. Exploration of your own mind, just getting familiar with yourself, how you are including all other ways mind coulr possibly work (or can even work but seemingly inefficiently) is very important, if not the most important thing you can do while on cushion.

BTW. As for goal... if you could exactly pinpoint it, the enlightenment, you could get it during one five second session. The whole path to enlightenment is to find it. So go find it emoticon

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 9:52 PM as a reply to Karol.
Concentration vs insight can seem like a tough choice at the beginning, but they go hand in hand all the way. Insight reveals what's going on inside your mind but it is tiring and can get harsh or boring at times. Then you need concentration (samatha/serenity/jhana) which is enjoyable and relaxing, but it can get sticky and then you need insight again. You can start with whichever one feels right for your mind when you sit. Wandering/diffuse/distracted mind better suited for noting. Calm mind better for serenity. Mind will tell you which way it wants to go and you can sit back and watch. Shargrol has a lot of good posts on this. You don't have to worry about "attaining jhana" like it is an all or nothing thing. You can get into soft jhanic states on low concentration.

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/6/20 11:17 PM as a reply to Karol.
By "having success" I just mean that it has worked for me as described by Agnostic. I focused on piti and it increased and was enjoyable.

Reading something like MCTB is great 'cause it gives you a sense of how far you can go with the practice, but it can sometimes give you a sense that you need to be hitting benchmarks that might be farther in the horizon, but when starting, you want some easy to hit goals. Shooting for jhanas or stream entry right out of the gate is a bit too high of a target. Just establishing a consitent practice is a sign of progress. Practicing consistently while not feeling motivated or feeling like you are progressing is also a sign of progress. Seeing your concentration improve or being able to increase piti are also little goals that can help you to see progress.

That having been said, in the midst of tough sections of practice, it can really help to have the support of other practicioners. I basically started my log here when I was going through a rough patch of practice. It helps to have support and acknowledgement that you are on the right track.

Maybe you can try some different techniques, but remember the point is not to feel great all the time and plateaus are part of the practice. 

Agnostic linked to the compilation of Shargol's posts. That's another great resource for getting into the right frame of mind for long term practice. A good companion piece to MCTB.

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/7/20 4:28 AM as a reply to Karol.
Karol:
Hi everyone,

I'm writing in hope for some advice.

I am recently struggling with the feeling of being stuck. I'm a begginer, went to 3 Goenka retreats and after getting back from the third, decided to practice 2 times a day for 1h as advised during the retreat. Basically what Goenka advices is "pure" vipassana consisting of scanning the body and sensations and three characteristics. 

What I am struggling with is the feeling that it leads nowhere. It's been 3 months since the retreat. I just sit, scan, then sit, scan and so on. My mind wonders. Sometimes I manage to concentrate, sometimes I get the feeling of relief and peace, but nothing really resemble any progress. Nothing seem to deepen, resemble even basic insight (if I correctly understand insight?). I loose concentration, do it mechanically. I'm affraid that I will stop the practice as nothing really seem to change and there's a lack of motivation knocking on my door.

Please let me know your experiences - what kept you motivated? How to know if what you do, or how you do it, is right? Is there any sign of progress which I may seek/try to recognize?

I know that it's a newbie question and maybe I shouldn't ask it before I do not spend few years on a cushion, but I really need to avoid the feeling of "sitting on a cushion like an idiot" (as read in MCTB to be Zen's Master saying).

I start to doubt if Goenka's vipassana is a good starting practice for me, but Goenka is the only well organized retreat where I live (Poland), so decided to give it a try. Maybe I should start focusing on more samatha practices first? Goenka doesn't put too much pressure on anapana and advices to "do 5 minutes of anapana every day, and then swich to vipassana, and treat it as main practice"? 

Any advice highly appreciated.

Karol

Why do you we desire calm mind and happiness? Why do i want to feel better? Why do I desire change? And change from what? 
Im noticing that "I suffer", "I feel stress". 
1st Noble Truth. This is the main motivator in my practice. There is Suffering. 

Then I wonder what leads to Suffering. Clinging (of any kind) leads to Suffering. 
2nd Noble Truth. I'm now interested to see this Clinging this Urge to Cling. This leads me to the 

3rd Noble Truth. The Path leading towards the Cessation of Suffering. I practice ardent, always mindful and ...

see that "in seeing there is only the seen, referring back to no one" 
4th Noble Truth. When profoundly mindful I forget to suffer as in that profound mindfulness (read awakeness) there is no sense of self (unless I think-it forth into an idea/image). 

This is my interpretation and might not be accurate or even traditional. 

So what choice do I really have? Be ignorant to it all or light up that bright torch of mindfulness and get to know myself? 

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/12/20 4:10 PM as a reply to Karol.
Hello Karol,

I hope you are doing well with your practice!

Sorry to be a little late at the party, I feel like the uncool sad friend that comes to kill it... of course you come here to get some advice to get out of what I'm kind of loosely defending here.

"Seeing through sensations": In this method, the sensations themselves (or the way you relate to these sensations) are the gateway to insight. The way you perceive them changes with time (it changes all the time!). So the sensations, which at the beginning seem to be large solid objects, are "seen through" as a myriad more minute sensations (that's the tingling, you start to notice a vibratory quality to the sensory field, very good) with different qualities to it (changing, changing). At a deeper level, you will see how your mind works as it reflects itself in the sensations, and this could take you a long way...

Focus on pleasure, that's a nice way to see how powerful the mind is, if this instruction makes sense to you (I find it is not that easy to isolate a quality like this in the beginning, you should not strive for it). When you come down from your pleasant dwelling, you are bound to get confronted with the not-always-so-pleasant reality. So it is good to balance that with attending to all kind of sensations by coming back to a body scan.
Attaining first jhana might be important, but it might not be easy, depending on your style...

Note, note, note and you will run through the stages of insight. The less focus and the more open awareness, the less you stabilize states and stages. The risk of "dry" insight is to get more than you can take. It is the main technique advocated on this forum, though, and it is efficient (thus have I heard...).
I tend to believe that the Goenka method offers a middle way. You stay grounded as you attend to body sensations (it has its limits, but they are far away), meaning the development is slow but really oriented towards balance. Balance is the main prerequisite of peace. And the fact that you move your attention around teaches you to maintain balance in a moving environment (as in life).

Well, my two cents today
I wish you the best
with metta
smiling stone

RE: What's next?
Answer
5/13/20 4:14 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Hello Karol,


Well, my two cents today
I wish you the best
with metta
smiling stone

Karo, 2 cents from people like Papa Che and Smiling Stone converts off the scale in euros.
Sorry to be a little late at the party, I feel like the uncool sad friend that comes to kill it... of course you come here to get some advice to get out of what I'm kind of loosely defending here.

He asked for noise, you're supplying it, Stoner. No harm, no foul. Have another one on the house. Two for our friend Karol here, he needs to get Very Fucking Drunk tonight.
"Seeing through sensations": In this method, the sensations themselves (or the way you relate to these sensations) are the gateway to insight. The way you perceive them changes with time (it changes all the time!). So the sensations, which at the beginning seem to be large solid objects, are "seen through" as a myriad more minute sensations (that's the tingling, you start to notice a vibratory quality to the sensory field, very good) with different qualities to it (changing, changing). At a deeper level, you will see how your mind works as it reflects itself in the sensations, and this could take you a long way...

Focus on pleasure, that's a nice way to see how powerful the mind is, if this instruction makes sense to you (I find it is not that easy to isolate a quality like this in the beginning, you should not strive for it). When you come down from your pleasant dwelling, you are bound to get confronted with the not-always-so-pleasant reality. So it is good to balance that with attending to all kind of sensations by coming back to a body scan.

This is why they pay SS the big bucks, Karol
Attaining first jhana might be important, but it might not be easy, depending on your style...

and even if you do "attain" it, you're going to have fifty people up your ass within moments of mentioning that, telling why it just ain't so, according to shri lama rinpoche anagami so-and so.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. Stick to your guns ib any case, Karol.

I personally wouldn't know a jhana if it bit me on the ass.

Well, qualifying that, I do recognize the "Bite-me-on-the-ass jhana" every time, by the objective standards supplied in the sutras.

Note, note, note and you will run through the stages of insight. The less focus and the more open awareness, the less you stabilize states and stages. The risk of "dry" insight is to get more than you can take. It is the main technique advocated on this forum, though, and it is efficient (thus have I heard...). 

I tend to believe that the Goenka method offers a middle way. You stay grounded as you attend to body sensations (it has its limits, but they are far away), meaning the development is slow but really oriented towards balance. Balance is the main prerequisite of peace. And the fact that you move your attention around teaches you to maintain balance in a moving environment (as in life).

"noting" is God's just punishment for spiritual ambition.

love, tim

RE: What's next?
Answer
8/18/20 10:47 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:


"Seeing through sensations": In this method, the sensations themselves (or the way you relate to these sensations) are the gateway to insight. The way you perceive them changes with time (it changes all the time!). So the sensations, which at the beginning seem to be large solid objects, are "seen through" as a myriad more minute sensations (that's the tingling, you start to notice a vibratory quality to the sensory field, very good) with different qualities to it (changing, changing). At a deeper level, you will see how your mind works as it reflects itself in the sensations, and this could take you a long way...



This helped me a lot! Many thanks. Been playing around a bit with the insight side of things these last few days. 

RE: What's next?
Answer
8/18/20 12:32 PM as a reply to Karol.
Karol:
Hi everyone,

I'm writing in hope for some advice.

I am recently struggling with the feeling of being stuck. I'm a begginer, went to 3 Goenka retreats and after getting back from the third, decided to practice 2 times a day for 1h as advised during the retreat. Basically what Goenka advices is "pure" vipassana consisting of scanning the body and sensations and three characteristics. 

What I am struggling with is the feeling that it leads nowhere. It's been 3 months since the retreat. I just sit, scan, then sit, scan and so on. My mind wonders. Sometimes I manage to concentrate, sometimes I get the feeling of relief and peace, but nothing really resemble any progress. Nothing seem to deepen, resemble even basic insight (if I correctly understand insight?). I loose concentration, do it mechanically. I'm affraid that I will stop the practice as nothing really seem to change and there's a lack of motivation knocking on my door.

Please let me know your experiences - what kept you motivated? How to know if what you do, or how you do it, is right? Is there any sign of progress which I may seek/try to recognize?

I know that it's a newbie question and maybe I shouldn't ask it before I do not spend few years on a cushion, but I really need to avoid the feeling of "sitting on a cushion like an idiot" (as read in MCTB to be Zen's Master saying).

I start to doubt if Goenka's vipassana is a good starting practice for me, but Goenka is the only well organized retreat where I live (Poland), so decided to give it a try. Maybe I should start focusing on more samatha practices first? Goenka doesn't put too much pressure on anapana and advices to "do 5 minutes of anapana every day, and then swich to vipassana, and treat it as main practice"? 

Any advice highly appreciated.

Karol

Since you seem to be getting  nowhere on your current practice (the sweeping), I am going to suggest something different. I spent 7 years getting nowhere until I read Daniel's MCTB and came here. I looked at all the people having success with MCTB, Straight Vipassna and a lot of them Noting. Now I've had a considerable amount of sucess and achieve relaxation and calm regularly in my meditation as well as having moved (slowly) among the POI stages.

I would suggest that you read MCTB2 and start doing Noting practices. Papa Che can be a great source of info on Noting as well as shargrol's compilation of postings. As SS said, "Note, note, note and you will run through the stages of insight.". Also MCTB2 can show you how you can add Concentration practices. Start a practice log here and report daily on what you did and what happened so you can get close advice. That's my 2 cents.

RE: What's next?
Answer
8/18/20 12:46 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Thank you Sam for suggesting me but I'm not really the best source of knowledge on this subject. I only have my own experience to pull out knowledge from which is not that rich. 

Since I've re-joined DhO I have come to understand some things. I assumed that ALL people who decide to sit down in meditation automatically work on calming and relaxing the body while Noting. I kept suggesting folks to go full on Noting Aloud and yet not realizing that they might not be calming and relaxing the body while also Noting. Calm and relaxation is the base in my practice. I guess I established that back in my Shamatha days. It's not something I need to do.
If people go heads in plain noting with only SE as goal in their practice ... well ... that's not a nice place to be in. Noting supported by calm and relaxed body is the way to go. 

In your case no big damage is done by me suggesting noting aloud as you also found a teacher who quickly realized what you might benefit from like concentration and calm-relaxation coupled with noting. 
You are much better source of knowledge than me. I'm serious emoticon 

RE: What's next?
Answer
8/31/20 7:44 PM as a reply to Karol.
I need to go read the body scanning thread that was linked to, but I just wanted to throw in some general advice quickly based on my experience with Goenka courses.

As someone else mentioned, Goenka does teach the progress of insight, and if you go through literature from his tradition, you can see his predecessors talking about the stages of insight in more detail, but in the beginner course, Goenka describes knowledge of dissolution and it stops there. On my last course, I talked with two students who had sat dozens of courses, 3 month courses, etc. for whom bhanga nyana was still a major goal and they didn't really get it. The one guy was really cool about telling me "insider" stuff, and he said in certain advanced courses they just ask for everyone who's gone through bhanga nyana to come see the teacher for more guidance.

Anyway, my two gripes, which are also my advice:
  1. The beginner course starts off telling you you're going to do surgery, but by day 10 your being setup to think it's more like physical therapy
  2. Goenka emphasizes not being religious, but the people I've talked with are quick to make a religion out of Goenka's teachings and they're afraid to experiment.
  3. There is not enough emphasis on concentration

So my advice is to get solid concentration and experiment with the body scanning technique, use your judgement. I've gotten really great results (I think) with Goenka-style body scanning, there are many fine points that you need to discover for yourself, it's just not possible for a recording from decades ago aimed at complete beginners to cover all of the fine details that you pick up as you advance. At  some point, you are slicing your body apart from every direction into tiny pieces and causing sensory havoc and then it cleans up and it feels like you're doing nothing, but something is definitely happening, and so on.

To Goenka's credit he kind of says everything in the beginner course, Goenka doesn't do anything to hold anyone back, but you need to take initiative, it's just the nature of the thing with all of the beginners there. My courses got way better after I read MCTB.