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Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice

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Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie to the forums, and also to MCTB, and I have been meditating for a little over 18 months now. I have owned a copy of MCTB for a while, but have never felt ready to read it until recently (great book by the way, Daniel!)

Anyway, I'll keep this brief as it's a fairly basic question. My practice has involved concentrating on the breath for two 30 minute sessions every day, as I have been really interested in the samatha jhanas. I think I'd like to start incorporating some insight practise into my routine. Is this a good idea for a beginner like me? I've been of the opinion that I should stay with concentration practices until I attain first jhana, and then start to incorporate the noting technique. After having read MCTB, I'm thinking that I should have been incorporating noting practice from the start.

I'd really appreciate any comments anyone has about this. If I should start noting practice, how should I go about doing it? Should I replace one of the two daily meditations with noting practice? What would be a good beginner routine?

Thanks in advance.

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/10/13 12:56 AM as a reply to Steven B.
Hi!

So, this is my personal take on this, I'm sure others will disagree; however, I think that you should add noting if and only if you are willing/capable to note about one time per second 24/7 until you get path.
Otherwise, I suggest sticking with jhanas.

Welcome, btw!

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/10/13 1:11 AM as a reply to M N.
Mario Nistri:
Hi!
I'm sure others will disagree; however, I think that you should add noting if and only if you are willing/capable to note about one time per second 24/7 until you get path


Hi would you mind explaining your reasoning behind this?
As a rather new meditator myself I am curious as to why you would forego noting practice if its not 24/7.

For myself I seem to have made some progress in noting twice a day for an hour over the last few months and am thinking about striking some alternating balance between samatha and vipassana...

with love
eelco

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/10/13 7:20 AM as a reply to Steven B.
As a beginner to MCTB-style practice but not to meditation in general, I can say that the effectiveness of my practice has catapulted since beginning noting (I've also catapulted out of depression). Mindfulness all day seems to be a major contributor to the development of insight, and before I practiced noting, it was too easy to drop back to habitual monkey-mindedness between sessions.

Within a week, I began perceiving the world in a different and less stressful way, and I've attained a growing sense of, "oh shit, the path is real," which adds further fuel to practice.

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/10/13 1:12 PM as a reply to Eelco ten Have.
Because if you hit the A&P, then the DN will follow, and you'll need momentum to get out of there.

When you begin meditating you are by default in Mind&Body, wich is very good for psichological sanity, but that's mostly just the first stages of practice, if you get to the A&P you'll getto the DN as well, and it's not going to be good.

You might argue that if you don't note all day long in the first place you don't have much chances of hitting the A&P, or maybe even the 3C. That is probably true, but then it comes the question of why are you doing this. If you are doing it to pursue psichological wellbeing, my suggestion is to develop the brahma vihara and learning to let go of unplaesent mental states; or, obviously, you can practice noting, if it's working for you.

However, the way I see it, noting is intended to get path&fruit, and going 24/7 is basically the only way you can get that, and if you want to get something else out of your practice, i.e. psichological weelbeing, there are techniques that has been developed with that goal in mind, and so they work better and don't have the potentially crushing side-effects that noting can have.

These are my thoughts... bye!

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/10/13 2:51 PM as a reply to M N.
Mario Nistri:

These are my thoughts... bye!


Thank you. your thoughts do raise some questions,but still being new in vipassana or even samatha land. I'll wait and see what comes up for a while yet.

with love
eelco

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/11/13 5:12 PM as a reply to Steven B.
what are your goals?

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/12/13 1:42 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Thanks for the discussion everyone.

So Mario Nistri, are you saying that i should stick with concentration practice until i can remain mindful all day? After reading Seamus O's response, i have tried noting all day. I find that i can be mindful maybe 80% of the time, which is better than when I just try to stay with the breath as a method of mindfulness throughout the day. Surely doing that is helpful, no?

I'd be really curious if anyone had any suggestions as to what a good beginning practice schedule might be that would include both samatha and vipassana for someone with an hour or so to spare each day?

As for my goals, I'm not really sure to be honest! Years ago I got interested in meditation and jhanas from reading works by crowley. About 18 months ago I decided to start meditating an hour a day to see if i could try and reach these states (which I'm starting to think is a huge underestimation of what is actually required). Anyway, about 2 weeks into this new found practice I had a meditation session where i blacked out and 'woke' to see a bright light that was coming towards me. I completely freaked out and opened my eyes, and knew that i wasn't my body or thoughts. Its only after having read Daniel's book all this time later that i realised that I had reached the first nana. I've been trying for a long time now to do it again but haven't done it since!

So i guess that's my goal, to try and reach that nana again. Whilst concentration practice has helped with mindfulness, i can't help but feel that i could progress more if i included vipassana practise into my routine.

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/12/13 7:15 AM as a reply to Steven B.
I'd wait for someone more experienced to tell you for sure, but my recent experience of hitting mind and body was very subtle. I was waiting for something major to occur, and it took a while before I realized I was well past that stage. When you're noting throughout the day, are you able to see thoughts arise and not get pulled into them? For me, the first kind of thought thought that becomes detached, and the easiest to identify, is just the meaningless verbal commentary I make on my day: looking at some cows down the road in the early morning light, I feel happy, and then I hear a distinct "Gosh, what a nice morning!" in my head. Pre-Mind and Body, I am this thought. Totally soaked into it. Post Mind and Body, it arises like an interesting noise that I can choose to attend to or not, but mostly I just watch it float by and note "commentary".

Good job on the noting!

Again, I'm inexperienced, but if I had an hour, I'd do just enough concentration practice to get me to access concentration (maybe try for the first jhana if I'm feeling relaxed about it), and then switch to insight. But my goal is to get stream entry as soon as possible. Yours may be different.

I think an hour a day can be solid. I seem to have hit the A&P in two weeks of good sitting with constant noting, averaging probably 3 hours a day. I'm sure everybody differs wildly, though.

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/12/13 7:51 AM as a reply to Steven B.
So Mario Nistri, are you saying that i should stick with concentration practice until i can remain mindful all day?


Actually, if you are relatively new to meditation, noting 80% of the time is very good.

However, I'm saying, what you do should depend on what you want to achieve.

If you want SE, go for it.

If you want jhanas or somekind of psychological wellbeing, my suggestion is to do something else.

Something that is likely to achieve the last 2 and can be easily practiced 24/7 is the 6R method, expecially if you go with metta (I linked the whole book,but if you areinterested you actually have to readonly the chapter with the description of the of the 6R, the metta variation and walking meditation for daily life)

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/12/13 11:17 AM as a reply to Steven B.
Steven B:

I had a meditation session where i blacked out and 'woke' to see a bright light that was coming towards me. I completely freaked out and opened my eyes, and knew that i wasn't my body or thoughts. Its only after having read Daniel's book all this time later that i realised that I had reached the first nana. I've been trying for a long time now to do it again but haven't done it since!
So i guess that's my goal, to try and reach that nana again. Whilst concentration practice has helped with mindfulness, i can't help but feel that i could progress more if i included vipassana practise into my routine.

Ahhh....chasing the dragon are you? What you describe could be several things or a one time thing. In my experience I have had many one time experiences that do not repeat...they are very cool but as someone pointed out to me the goal is permanent changes not a list of cool stuff. This could also be a preview of things to come that you are not yet at the level to get back to. Either way it is the past and you need to let go of this as a goal and move forward to what is going to unfold next in your personal path. (Not that it isn't important....it is transformative at the time right?)

Steven B:

I'd be really curious if anyone had any suggestions as to what a good beginning practice schedule might be that would include both samatha and vipassana for someone with an hour or so to spare each day?

Here is my practice - start with goodwill and happiness....generate it in the stomach region...move to loving kindness....I feel this in the heart region...I am using the feeling as my concentration focus and this gets me into the 3rd and sometimes 4th jhana. I then let go and switch over to vipassana and note everything. I follow my breath at the nose and know that I am breathing in and breathing out feeling the sensations at my nose...anytime I get off the sensations of breath to any other thing I note it and move back to breath. If there are vibrations I note each one as fast as I can and move back to breath if it fades.
Ratio - 10-15 minutes metta/jhana concentration to 45-50 minutes noting.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Beginner question: Incorporating Insight practice
Answer
9/13/13 1:17 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Yeah, Seamus, I read about you getting to A&P! That's fantastic! I'll definately keep an eye on your log for updates.

I should point out that my noting all day left me with a pretty bad headache by the end! Today i'm finding it a lot easier though. Although i'm keeping it pretty basic, just noting thoughts as 'thought', breathing as either 'in' or 'out', touch as 'touch' and noting rough body movements and basically ignoring sight. And Seamus, I can dettach myself from thoughts, but I figured that was just being mindful, or an intellectual understanding that I am separate from thought. I didn't realise it was a nana.

When i had that experience with the light, i was reading a book by shaila catherine at the time, and she puts a lot of emphasis on seeing a nimitta as an entrance to jhana. The light i saw matches what she describes fairly accurately, so i've assumed that i need to see it again to progress into the jhanas. So whilst i'd say i have been chasing the dragon, i saw the event as dream walker described, in that it was a preview of things to come...

I think i'd like to go for SE, but all this dark night talk is a bit off putting!!!

Thanks again for all your responses. They've been a huge help.