Intention and Vipassana practice

Gabe, modified 3 Months ago.

Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 28 Join Date: 11/23/20 Recent Posts
Lately I have been noticing intentions arising more and more. For instance if I have an itch, an intention arises composed of a mental image (lifting arm up and scratch) and some type of potential energy in the muscles is felt, regardless of whether or not the hand actually is lifting or not. It's very brief and ephemeral, and hence the non-self nature of intentions is felt.

I have also been noticing a pattern in my sits (the connection to intention I will make clear later) as follows: quick settling and progressive unification of mind to the process of meditation growing from t=0 minutes to t=~20 minutes, with strong stability and concentration (can notice sensations of rising and falling abdomen with brief interuptions that are noted as non-self also). Then after a "peak", gradually the mind becomes less and less unified, I can't "stabilise" on any sensations long enough to penetrate them, concentration is relatively poor with attention jumping from this small sensation to that sensation to thoughts leading to a cycle of brief forgetting to practice and returning and so on. I do my best to note all (aversion, jumps in attention, chain of thoughts, clinging, striving, tension) but it feels futile. I can't penetrate or stay with anything.

I believe this is linked to intention as follows: the stronger the intention to meditate, generally the more unified the mind becomes, the more stability on any object can allow to penetrate the object. This is my gut feeling. Intention is strong at the start of a sit, but as sloth and boredom arise, intentions weaken gradually, leading to the afforementioned pattern. But since I am noticing more and more that intentions arise on their own, I cannot control intentions, what is there to do? Naturally the mind desires a strong, unified practice that penetrates every object well, is this not the essence of vipassana. My mind does not seem satisfied with the "poor" quality of meditation later in the sit, and it wants to quit the meditation before the hour has ended.

My question to the more experienced practicioners than myself is: what does one do when intentions falter, and we naturally move down Ingram's heirarchy of vipassana practice? Do we strength intentions somehow, or do we note the dissatisfaction related to lack of control and the clinging and desire to control?
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 1888 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
You could just be be passing from A&P into Dark Night (third vipassana jhana) where attention naturally becomes more diffused and you feel like you can't penetrate objects properly.

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/34-the-vipassana-jhanas/

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iii-the-samatha-jhanas/27-the-concentration-states-shamatha-jhanas/

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/30-the-progress-of-insight/11-equanimity/
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Re. intentions, if you're doing samatha with an intention to stay on the object then you need to keep up the intention until attention locks onto the object automatically and intention falls away. If you're doing vipassana, you start out with intention to note/investigate everything, but eventually intention itself comes under the microscope and you see that it's conditioned and unsatisfactory/not-self/impermanent, then you cede control and again the meditation ends up "doing itself" :-)
Gabe, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 28 Join Date: 11/23/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for the response, as far as my understanding of A&P goes, I think if I had mine, it was some many months ago, in the sense it felt like a peak experience I haven't gotten close to for some time now. So perhaps my sits start with low EQ, then cycling down to the lower DN stages. IDK if this is possible, in general it's hard to place exactly where I am in daily practice outside of retreat so I don't give it much thought.

As far as samatha/ vipassana I always start my sit with samatha on the belly, then move to noting while returning back to belly (or noting "centered" with the breathe), then if mind is sufficiently equanimous and penetrative I move to free flowing noting (using labels for solidified sensation) and base awareness on subtle sensations.
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 1888 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds possible!
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 294 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I think that just noticing what is going on might get you the biggest bang for your buck. How does that happen that intention changes, again and again? What is the difference between intending to continue and intending to quit? Where does the intention come from? Where does it go? Juicy stuff! 
Gabe, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 28 Join Date: 11/23/20 Recent Posts
Martin
I think that just noticing what is going on might get you the biggest bang for your buck. How does that happen that intention changes, again and again? What is the difference between intending to continue and intending to quit? Where does the intention come from? Where does it go? Juicy stuff! 


Yes. You are right, there is nothing else to do. It was fustration that drove me to write this post hoping for a way out.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 3995 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
 This is my gut feeling. Intention is strong at the start of a sit, but as sloth and boredom arise, intentions weaken gradually, leading to the afforementioned pattern. But since I am noticing more and more that intentions arise on their own, I cannot control intentions, what is there to do? Naturally the mind desires a strong, unified practice that penetrates every object well, is this not the essence of vipassana. My mind does not seem satisfied with the "poor" quality of meditation later in the sit, and it wants to quit the meditation before the hour has ended.

You're creating a rabbit hole here, and then running down into it. The "out" is to observe, no matter what arises. Overthinking these things is a favorite game the mind plays. The effect of listening to this is to get the opposite of what we're trying to do with our practice. It's another kind of story-telling, and you're falling for it  emoticon

Just pay attention to what's happening in each moment.

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Gabe, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 28 Join Date: 11/23/20 Recent Posts
Chris Marti
 This is my gut feeling. Intention is strong at the start of a sit, but as sloth and boredom arise, intentions weaken gradually, leading to the afforementioned pattern. But since I am noticing more and more that intentions arise on their own, I cannot control intentions, what is there to do? Naturally the mind desires a strong, unified practice that penetrates every object well, is this not the essence of vipassana. My mind does not seem satisfied with the "poor" quality of meditation later in the sit, and it wants to quit the meditation before the hour has ended.

You're creating a rabbit hole here, and then running down into it. The "out" is to observe, no matter what arises. Overthinking these things is a favorite game the mind plays. The effect of listening to this is to get the opposite of what we're trying to do with our practice. It's another kind of story-telling, and you're falling for it  emoticon

Just pay attention to what's happening in each moment.

​​​​​​​Yes, my mind has a tendency to look for and create patterns, many of them nonsensical. "The out is to observe", might make that a mantra for use when doubt and frustration arise.

Today's meditation had very strong concentration and stability throughout, despite there arising agitation and anger at times. How any of this works, is beyond me, all there is, is to observe.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 1985 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
KISS emoticon 
Gabe, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Intention and Vipassana practice

Posts: 28 Join Date: 11/23/20 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko
KISS emoticon
You really like those smiley faces lmao