Vipassana (Goenka): first experiences and some doubts

Pablo R, modified 8 Years ago at 10/25/13 8:53 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/25/13 8:53 PM

Vipassana (Goenka): first experiences and some doubts

Post: 1 Join Date: 10/25/13 Recent Posts
Hi all,

I've finished my first 10-days Goenka's Vipassana about 1 month ago. I've been practising, since then, every day (2 and even 3 hours/day). And I'm writing in order to have the advise of those more experiences on this technique because I have some doubts about my practice.

I'm sorry if, for logic reasons, I don't use the "technique" (Pali?) right words to express myself but I'm just a beginner.

Before exposing my doubts, I would like to tell you that I understand perfectly the idea of observing the sensations equanimously and I think that I apply it pretty much all the time.

In general I think that for being a beginner and discovering this technique for the first time I manage to reach an acceptable level of concentration pretty fast (I don't even need to start by anapana and I can start directly with body-scanning... some times being able to directly feel a free flow and sometimes needing to start by part-by-part scan). Sometimes I even manage to feel these kind of vibrations across a big part of my body at the same time (and sometimes even through my entire body at the same time!).

So, here are my doubts:

1) Since the moment when I started practising Vipassana (3rd-4rd day) that I'm having "the same" (I know... I know... not the same but you know what I mean...) kind of solidified gross sensations in the same area of the body: always in my forehead, from my eyes upwards and covering even part of my head. Sometimes those sensations "appears" as soon as I close my eyes and start to get relaxed. The sensations changes from one time to the other even if they are located on the same region: sometimes a very solidified sensations, sometimes a kind of pulsation, but the most often they are like "worms" moving across my face and head. Even if I'm able to feel some vibrations underneath these "worms" or those gross sensations they stay always there and I'm able to feel it even if I'm continuing the scan and that I am observing my feet... those head sensations are still there. I don't react on a particular way to them and I just continue my body-scan, I know also that ANICCA and that this will pass away but it's been a while since these sensations are still there on almost every sitting. Sometimes even after finishing my sitting some of those sensations persists along the day... it's annoying even if I try to just continue observing it even if I'm not meditating, but it's difficult tonot feel the famous aversion or something similar when you have the same strange sensation on your face during the whole day. So, the question is: is it normal? did anyone experienced things like this? do you think that maybe there is something that I am not doing correctly? how long can a sensation last before "passing away"?

2) The next question is also connected with the previous one and, even if I understand that the goal is to just observe and develop the equanimity, these sensations makes me wander if there is any kind of interpretation that we can do from those sensations depending on where they are located and the kind of sensation (pulsation, strong solidified, heat, "worms", etc, etc).

3) Regarding the "procedure": if I understood properly the idea is that, even if you are able to feel the free flow all along the body, after 2 or 3 scans its advisable to come back to the part-by-part scan. Regarding the speed: when doing the free-flow, how fast should we scan the body? And also for the part-by-part... how many time should it take to scan the whole body?

I thank you very much for your help!!!

With Metta,

P.G.
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Sweet Nothing, modified 8 Years ago at 10/26/13 2:03 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/26/13 2:01 AM

RE: Vipassana (Goenka): first experiences and some doubts

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
Pablo G R:
Hi all,

I've finished my first 10-days Goenka's Vipassana about 1 month ago. I've been practising, since then, every day (2 and even 3 hours/day). And I'm writing in order to have the advise of those more experiences on this technique because I have some doubts about my practice.

I'm sorry if, for logic reasons, I don't use the "technique" (Pali?) right words to express myself but I'm just a beginner.

Before exposing my doubts, I would like to tell you that I understand perfectly the idea of observing the sensations equanimously and I think that I apply it pretty much all the time.

In general I think that for being a beginner and discovering this technique for the first time I manage to reach an acceptable level of concentration pretty fast (I don't even need to start by anapana and I can start directly with body-scanning... some times being able to directly feel a free flow and sometimes needing to start by part-by-part scan). Sometimes I even manage to feel these kind of vibrations across a big part of my body at the same time (and sometimes even through my entire body at the same time!).

So, here are my doubts:

1) Since the moment when I started practising Vipassana (3rd-4rd day) that I'm having "the same" (I know... I know... not the same but you know what I mean...) kind of solidified gross sensations in the same area of the body: always in my forehead, from my eyes upwards and covering even part of my head. Sometimes those sensations "appears" as soon as I close my eyes and start to get relaxed. The sensations changes from one time to the other even if they are located on the same region: sometimes a very solidified sensations, sometimes a kind of pulsation, but the most often they are like "worms" moving across my face and head. Even if I'm able to feel some vibrations underneath these "worms" or those gross sensations they stay always there and I'm able to feel it even if I'm continuing the scan and that I am observing my feet... those head sensations are still there. I don't react on a particular way to them and I just continue my body-scan, I know also that ANICCA and that this will pass away but it's been a while since these sensations are still there on almost every sitting. Sometimes even after finishing my sitting some of those sensations persists along the day... it's annoying even if I try to just continue observing it even if I'm not meditating, but it's difficult tonot feel the famous aversion or something similar when you have the same strange sensation on your face during the whole day. So, the question is: is it normal? did anyone experienced things like this? do you think that maybe there is something that I am not doing correctly? how long can a sensation last before "passing away"?

2) The next question is also connected with the previous one and, even if I understand that the goal is to just observe and develop the equanimity, these sensations makes me wander if there is any kind of interpretation that we can do from those sensations depending on where they are located and the kind of sensation (pulsation, strong solidified, heat, "worms", etc, etc).

3) Regarding the "procedure": if I understood properly the idea is that, even if you are able to feel the free flow all along the body, after 2 or 3 scans its advisable to come back to the part-by-part scan. Regarding the speed: when doing the free-flow, how fast should we scan the body? And also for the part-by-part... how many time should it take to scan the whole body?

I thank you very much for your help!!!

With Metta,

P.G.


Hello Pablo,

There should be a weekly half day sitting near where you live. Usually it is on Sundays. You should go there and talk to the Assistant Teacher to clear your doubts. Doubts are also one of the five major hindrances, and you're doing well for yourself to try to clear them here. However, a real teacher is the best person to seek for clearance of doubts. I will still try to resolve what I can as I have some decent experience in the same tradition.

1) This is completely normal. Do not evaluate sensations. Do not develop a preference for any sensation. Do not even have an aversion for "blind spots" or areas where there are no sensations. As your mind becomes more equanimious more deeper things reveal themselves. Dont become irritated or create aversion, as it will make it last even longer and you may become little frustrated mentally. You're practicing correctly, so keep going at it. If things become little rough, then do anapana or breathe little fast for a minute. When you scan, dont miss any part and stay at blind spots little longer.

2) Dont evaluate sensations as this will only confuse you. You cannot get any "interpretation" from this other than ANNICA. As you make progress you will notice that when you are seeing sensations, your mind automatically goes into events of the past that have left a deep impression on your mind. When this happens, as soon as you realize mind has wandered, bring it back to the sensations. When you develop in equanimity, deeper knowledge/insight arises on its own.

3) Exactly. Since you are a beginner, you should not complete 1 round (from crown to toe) faster than 3-5 mins. During free flow, do 1 full body sweep up and down and then again do part by part. Keep repeating this until there is free flow. Afterwards examine your spine to see if there are any blind spots and patiently work on those areas. Then again do part by part and sweep. If possible also try to do two parts at the same time such as two shoulders, then shoulder to elbow, then elbow to lower arm, then lower arm to wrist and finger tips and same with legs. Lastly, dont keep doing the same sequence again and again as it will become mechanical/boring. Keep making some changes in the sequence.

Metta,
SN
Erasmas II, modified 8 Years ago at 10/26/13 10:22 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/26/13 9:40 AM

RE: Vipassana (Goenka): first experiences and some doubts

Posts: 10 Join Date: 9/19/13 Recent Posts
I'd direct these questions at whichever center you did your retreat at. There's usually, if not always, an assistant teacher answering emails about technique.
Pablo G R:
So, the question is: is it normal? did anyone experienced things like this? do you think that maybe there is something that I am not doing correctly? how long can a sensation last before "passing away"?

It's very normal. Not that I'm a good example (I was practicing for very much the wrong reasons), but I had solidified sensations along my entire back for a year... Just try to notice what's present there as many times per second as possible; check out TJ Broccoli's incredible post about seeing impermanence in Goenka body scanning.

~j

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