Goenka style body scanning

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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago.

Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
For the last month I've tried to keep up a 30 minute per day mahasi style noting practice. So far it has brought me mostly to distraction and frustration. I would like to try a different style of practice and I'm thinking of a similar experiment with Goenka style body scanning. However, I could not find good instructions for this practice online and the DhO wiki page on the topic is still missing.

I would very much appreciate it if someone experienced with this style of meditation would post some instructions and perhaps some tips on what to expect and what some common pitfalls might be.

Thanks in advance!
Eran.
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Tom Carr, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 123 Join Date: 2/17/10 Recent Posts
I found this, which is pretty good:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2101400_meditation-as-taught-sn-goenka.html

Are there instructions on this site for the mahasi style noting practice? If not, does anyone have a good link?
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Tom Carr:
I found this, which is pretty good:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2101400_meditation-as-taught-sn-goenka.html

Are there instructions on this site for the mahasi style noting practice? If not, does anyone have a good link?


Thanks for the link, Tom. That's pretty much what I started with but I'd still love to hear some personal perspective on the practice.

As for noting practice, there's a wiki page on Noting practice and this page, which includes instructions directly from Mahasi Sayadaw.
255
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Clayton James Lightfoot, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 41 Join Date: 1/21/10 Recent Posts
Hey Eran,

I went on a Goenka Retreat this past december. The E How guide actually does a really good job of explaining the method. The only thing I have to add is to tune into the 3 characteristics.. I personally find this method easier than mahasi style because the movement gets into a good rhythm... Give it a shot... Of course my advice would be to go on a retreat if you can... there is no substitute for mediating all day for several days on end... good for the soul... haha feel free to ask any specific questions on here there are others on here who I know have been practicing Goenka style a lot longer than me

Clayton
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Dark Night Yogi, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
what helped me when goenka styling was difficult was seeing impermanence not as whats impermanent, but by trying to create this artificial Solid permanent
self, seeing your body as a solid permanent statue. and then you notice the difference: that its a lie, and that you're moving. so its like switching it around
hope it helps.
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Thank you both for your perspectives. So far I'm finding the structured nature of this practice to be helpful for me. I'm finding it easier to keep my concentration.

I do still struggle with seeing impermanence. I mean I see it at the gross level, as things come and go but not at any more subtle level. perhaps this will change with time.

Clayton, how long do you stay with each area? I've seen it mentioned that if there are no sensations in a particular area one can stay there for about a minute. How long do you stay with one area if there are sensations there? Do you wait for the sensations to disappear completely?
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Clayton James Lightfoot, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 41 Join Date: 1/21/10 Recent Posts
Hey Eran,

It usually takes about 20 minutes for me to scan the entire body... sometimes a minute more or less but about that.... I used to take 30 minutes a scan but I have sped up... its totally your call...I generally focus on an area for i dunno 10-20 secounds not that long... by area i mean from the size of a dime to a large ritz cracker. The sensations never disappear completely (except during a fruition) basically I just watch them come and go... there are no longer any areas on the body where I can feel sensation but of course at different times some areas are more sensitive than others... A real simple way to see impermanence... I know sooner or later you will develop a severe itch in meditation... when it happens... watch it come into existance... watch it hang around... see the suffering your craving to satisfy the urge is causing... then watch it go away... BAM!! this is really at the gross level but after a few weeks of daily practice you should be able to do this with subtle sensations all over your body...

May you learn much from your practice...

Clayton
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Thank you, Clayton, I'm looking forward to that itch ;)
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Dark Night Yogi, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
hello. how is your practice, Eran?

I got off a goenka retreat and found some tricks that worked for me:

While doing body scanning, it is common to get impatient and lose equanimity, therefore I counter this with
the intentional instruction of 'relaxing the body/relaxing muscles'. While doing that, equanimity increases and feeling the sensations becomes
easier.

I also noticed that my arms/legs are the areas which subtle vibrations occur in most easily, and often, at the moment of distraction, i can feel
that my knees or elbows are the most sensitive, and that any time i lose equanimity, i feel it here. Therefore, instead of anapanasati in the nostrils
as the anchor to go back to, it also works for me by feeling the arms/legs, or whole body, depending on where the subtle parts are.

I also tried opening my eyes for body parts which i have a hard time knowing where they are thus had a hard time feeling them. I didn't continue
at the time but I am intending to try this again.

-

I myself am deciding what meditation technique to focus on.
I like the idea of softening particular parts of the body and the 'hardened' body parts having to do with specific sankharas. I.e. My throat, the back of my head
and my gut are places where i often have trouble. Therefore, maybe if i dedicated more time with these, it would serve as a therapeutic approach to certain issues of mine
.Hmm i dont know if this is very effective but just an idea playing in my head.
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Welcome back!

My practice is at about the same place... still struggling to find a foothold, but, at times, I'm becoming more comfortable with that struggle.

I also noticed that my arms/legs are the areas which subtle vibrations occur in most easily, and often, at the moment of distraction, i can feel
that my knees or elbows are the most sensitive, and that any time i lose equanimity, i feel it here. Therefore, instead of anapanasati in the nostrils
as the anchor to go back to, it also works for me by feeling the arms/legs, or whole body, depending on where the subtle parts are.


I definitely feel subtle vibrations more easily in my hands, feet and in my face (especially the sides between ear and cheek and in the forehead). This is very similar to the way I feel piti rise when doing samatha practice which makes me think there is a strong connection between body scanning and concentration. Another observation that supports that thought for me is that subtle sensations seem to arise more easily, frequently and with more intensity when I am more concentrated. I guess it's not really a surprise since Goenka does start retreats with a few days of samatha but it seems like a deeper connection, even similarity between the two practices.

I've heard a brief description from a person who uses jhana as a way to start body-scanning based insight practice. She enters jhana, exits jhana and then uses the resulting sensations in the body (which I think are piti as a jhana factor) as a way to see impermanence.

I myself am deciding what meditation technique to focus on.
I like the idea of softening particular parts of the body and the 'hardened' body parts having to do with specific sankharas. I.e. My throat, the back of my head
and my gut are places where i often have trouble. Therefore, maybe if i dedicated more time with these, it would serve as a therapeutic approach to certain issues of mine
.Hmm i dont know if this is very effective but just an idea playing in my head.


Same here, still trying to find a practice and an approach to practice that works for me. I had an occasion to experiment with noting while keeping my eyes open, it seems that having more input makes it easier for me to stay engaged with the noting. Of course, it could also be the effect of 45 minutes of samatha I did just before that...

I don't think I've done enough body scanning or with enough intensity to notice any changes in the body but it does sound like a practice with many potential benefits and the connections to energy work / yoga seem to be quite obvious.

It's always helpful to discuss practice and to get another meditator's point of view and experience on practice. Thank you for sharing!

Eran.
Hazel Kathleen Strange, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 31 Join Date: 8/18/11 Recent Posts
Hi Eran,

Just in case I can add anything to your information about the Goenka practice:-

He starts with awareness of the breath for 3 and a bit days so that there is some possibility of developing khanika samadhi - moment by moment concentration.

Then the body is scanned top to bottom and then bottom to top - he says about 4 inches by 4 inches- if no sensation presents itself for attention, stay for a little while - a minute is too long and would lead to concentration diminishing, I think. If nothing presents move on. Cover the entire body like this. He gives an order in which to do it, but says that his order is not necessary, you can choose your own and you can vary it, but stick with it long enough so that you know you are not missing out any parts. He calls this part by part and is the technique to use when the sensations you perceive are rather solidified.

As sensations become less solidified and the attention moves easily through the body the he describes this as a flow - ie the attention is flowing over the body easily. The two techniques can be combined as in using flowing attention over the easily perceived subtle sensations and part by part scanning on the more solidified ones.

He emphasises being aware of Dukkha, anicca and anatta at all times - suffering, impermanence and not-self.

If there are recalcitrant solidified sensations in some parts of the body, he says you can stay there for a minute or two just to become more acquainted with the sensation and its characteristics - ie that it is not so solid as it seems.

This is the basic technique - after experiencing 'bhanga' which seems to be A&P and Dissolution the some refinements come in - like exploring the spinal cord, resting attention in the centre ( heart chakra).

Having practised the technique for more than 20 years there are dead ends to avoid! If subtle sensations are readily apparent it is easy to get stuck in the 'bath of warm marmalade' experience and lose the awareness of the three Characteristics. The warm fuzziness is very appealing and a lot of time can be wasted trying to get it back. Rapid body scanning becomes very quick - the whole body in one breath and sometimes it is like having driven a car to a destination and realising one has lost memory of all the places one passed while getting there.

On longer courses, he gives more time to samatha - a third of the length and encourages the development of jhana characteristics like nimitta.

Hope this was helpful.
metta
H
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Eran G, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Hi Hazel,

Thank you for your reply. That was very informative!

Eran.
TJ Broccoli, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
i consider the goenka practice to be very powerful and effective. it brought fast progress in the direction that made most sense to me right from the start, my highest priority being keeping attention as anchored to the present as possible (whatever it took), and doing the scanning techniques second priority. over the years most of my hindrances were things other than the teaching and technique, such as lack of motivation or discipline, laziness, busy schedule, excuses to not practice, etc.

for fellow goenka students going for stream entry:

i think he communicates the characteristic of no-self well, but something about the way he communicates the C of impermanence may not drill into meditators what sense of impermanence they should be looking for, despite his repeated reminders every hour or so that "every sensation is impermanent" and "anicca" and "arising just to pass away" etc., in so many different words. the way he talks about it could be interpreted as something like "remember that everything is impermanent, so don't worry, your pain should go away in half an hour or get better after a few more sits." students are left to rely on their own experiential insight into impermanence to figure out how to incline the mind towards it in a productive way. a powerful and clean a&p period could help, if luck permits. but staring at sensations or the way something feels and thinking "anicca...this will also change" will not help one penetrate impermanence.

the kind of impermanence we want to be noticing is perception broken down into moment-to-moment awareness. goenka also uses the phrase "moment to moment" a lot, but what's a moment? nobody's going to look for the buddha's "trillions of kalapas arising and passing each second" after hearing him talk about that. Ingram's explanations about impermanence in mctb are much clearer and more pertinent to practice, imo. a "moment" of perception is pretty much the smallest fraction of a second that you can manage to break your attention into. every moment of perception is new and different from the last, and to notice this is to notice the C of impermanence.

dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut dut

or
now now now now now now now now now...

or
this that this that this that this that this that...

or (i prefer this illustration):
*.+-^~*-ุ>.*์..>-^.*o.O.o.-ฺ".*,+.*-. o'.

even when sensations feel solid, painful, and unchanging, every moment is still a separate new observation:
pain. pain. pain! pain!! pain...pain? pain@#! pain?? (pain)...

and in what i understand to be Right Concentration/useful anapana practice, it's more like this:
...............................................................--the attention is resting alert on only one object, but peacefully noticing the arising and passing of each moment--not staring, not absorbed in a feeling, not zoned out, not hypnotized.

jill
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josh r s, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 337 Join Date: 9/16/11 Recent Posts
great job putting something so hard to see into clear terms
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
TJ Broccoli:
*.+-^~*-ุ>.*์..>-^.*o.O.o.-ฺ".*,+.*-. o'.

haha awesome. just looking at that makes my brain all scrambled with impermanence
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Jacob Henry St. Onge Casavant, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
TJ Broccoli:
*.+-^~*-ุ>.*์..>-^.*o.O.o.-ฺ".*,+.*-. o'.

haha awesome. just looking at that makes my brain all scrambled with impermanence


ha! nice :-)
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Daniel Johnson, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
TJ Broccoli:


or (i prefer this illustration):
*.+-^~*-ุ>.*์..>-^.*o.O.o.-ฺ".*,+.*-. o'.



One of the best descriptions of vipassana that I've seen. Great!
Eli Lubell, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Post: 1 Join Date: 7/18/17 Recent Posts
Great reply Jill, thank you. I have also found Goenkaji's explanations of the concepts of equanimity and impermancence to be a bit repetitive and lacking for me during times of confusion.

I am interested to check out Ingrid's explanation of impermanence - whats his/her first name? There appears to be a few buddhist Ingrids out there!

As a side note I have spent a good deal of mental energy being afraid to look further than the Goenkaji school for explanations of these concepts for fear that they won't be 'compatible' with his style of practise. But what the heck, in the name of clarity I can risk some confusion!

best,
Eli
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Bailey ., modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Goenka style body scanning

Posts: 267 Join Date: 7/14/11 Recent Posts
If you are serious about meditation a retreat is necessary.