Noting - Open vs. Anchored

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Jake, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 9:49 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 9:49 AM

Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 135 Join Date: 4/18/13 Recent Posts
Following and noting the breath feels clunky during my sits recently. Doing open awareness noting without using the breath as an anchor feels like I am not doing the practice correctly.

Does it matter if I use the breath as an anchor? I am leaning towards just sitting, noting anything that arises. The problem with this is that my attention shifts constantly, for example: feeling > hearing > hearing > hearing > thinking > thinking > feeling. This feels like I am not concentrating enough on one particular object, not giving myself time to investigate it clearly.

I have no teacher and little guidance, and do not trust my decisions these days. Looking for some reassurance that I am doing the practice correctly just to restore some faith to keep my practice going strong.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 11:33 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 11:33 AM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Jake WM:
Following and noting the breath feels clunky during my sits recently. Doing open awareness noting without using the breath as an anchor feels like I am not doing the practice correctly.

Does it matter if I use the breath as an anchor? I am leaning towards just sitting, noting anything that arises. The problem with this is that my attention shifts constantly, for example: feeling > hearing > hearing > hearing > thinking > thinking > feeling. This feels like I am not concentrating enough on one particular object, not giving myself time to investigate it clearly.

I have no teacher and little guidance, and do not trust my decisions these days. Looking for some reassurance that I am doing the practice correctly just to restore some faith to keep my practice going strong.

Noting the 6 senses is just fine. Just go at the speed that you can to see the attention shift from one sense to another or the same one again. See what results you get from this. If you want to do some ping pong noting on google hangouts I'd be willing.
~D
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 2:27 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 2:27 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Hi,

I trained in the Ajahn Tong tradtion, which is an adaptation of Mahasi technique.
There noting is taught roughly like this: (Ajahn Yuttadhammo explains it better than I could)
note "rising, falling" all the time.
When some distraction arises, note that three times. after that return to the breath (i.e. the rising, falling).

My teachers there told me:
Students' most common problem is that they don't return to the breath. One teacher advised me to note at max 3 different things before going back to the breath. If they don't come back, they fail to develop enough concentration and don't progress. It usually happens with people who haven't learnt the technique properly.

My own experience is that this method is very simple and works good. There's not much you can do wrong, and it would reliably develop insight&concentration for me. I also noticed that concentration declined when I failed to come back to the breath regularly and then stay there.

Why do you not use breath as an anchor if it doesn't feel right otherwise?
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Jake, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 4:15 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 4:15 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 135 Join Date: 4/18/13 Recent Posts
Question again about the breath that I am still confused about...

When I notice the breath, do I note...

"iiiiiiiiiiiiinnn" - "ooouuuuutttt"

Or do I note...

"in" - actually feel / notice the breath - "in" - notice - "in" - notice - "out"
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 4:31 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 4:31 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
I speak the words "rising" and "falling" rather slowly, so they align with the movement of the belly. (Not sure if this is according to the instructions, now I think about it. I would guess that it is a problem if it makes you playing around with the words instead of focusing on the body. Now I think of it, I'm not sure if I keep stretching the words, when the movement is very slow. Hm.)
(which you probably mean by "iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn")
I try to watch the movement from the beginning to the end.
So I do those two things at the same time. The main focus is on the body.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 4:32 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 4:32 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Noting the 6 sense doors is fine. The danger is that you can become ungrounded or lost in all the sensations, but if your concentration is good you should be fine. 

Some folks do better with focusing on a single thing to note, such as the breath, but others are better at a more open practice. 

When noting the breath, there are different approaches, but I believe Daniel recommends noting "ininininin outoutoutoutoutout" because it helps impermanence to show itself. Also bear in mind that the breath is actually more than just the breath, it's made of a bunch of smaller, faster sensations, including mental impressions of the breath. It can involve all six sense doors if you really get down to business.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 6:16 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 6:16 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Jake WM:
Question again about the breath that I am still confused about...

When I notice the breath, do I note...

"iiiiiiiiiiiiinnn" - "ooouuuuutttt"

Or do I note...

"in" - actually feel / notice the breath - "in" - notice - "in" - notice - "out"


I used to do it verbally (silently) then on retreat I learned to feel the actual sensations....they get more and more subtle as you get concentrated which makes you have to focus more and get more concentrated....kinda cool. Use a finger to block one nostril to really feel the sensations....lock onto that feeling of air rushing past. Then let go and just breath a little harder then usual to lock onto the sensations...gradually stop manipulating the breath in any way and just stay on the sensations...move from one nostril to the other to switch it up. This will take a bit of time to get it...but once you do it's worth it.
~D
Derek, modified 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 6:30 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/19/14 6:25 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Wait a minute ... are we talking about watching the breath at the nostrils or at the abdomen here? If at the abdomen, Mahasi Sayadaw uses the terms "rising" and "falling," but he says not to use the actual words. The awareness is what matters. See Basic Exercise I on pages 5-6 of Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Vipassana Exercises:

"
Never verbally repeat the words, rising, falling, and do not think of rising and falling as words. Be aware only of the actual process of the rising and falling movements of the abdomen."

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/mahasit1.pdf
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bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 9/20/14 3:49 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/20/14 3:49 AM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Derek Cameron:
Wait a minute ... are we talking about watching the breath at the nostrils or at the abdomen here? If at the abdomen, Mahasi Sayadaw uses the terms "rising" and "falling," but he says not to use the actual words. The awareness is what matters. See Basic Exercise I on pages 5-6 of Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Vipassana Exercises:

"
Never verbally repeat the words, rising, falling, and do not think of rising and falling as words. Be aware only of the actual process of the rising and falling movements of the abdomen."

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/mahasit1.pdf


Clarification: Yes, I am talking about watching the breath at the abdomen.

Also I'm talking about the instructions I received from teachers from the Ajahn Tong tradition.
The instructions aren't identical to those from Mahasi Sayadaw, that's true. It works nevertheless. Probably it works better for many people, otherwise they wouldn't have introduced it.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago at 9/20/14 12:28 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/20/14 12:28 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Okay, so the abdomen is usually recommended in the Burmese tradition becaues anicca tends to be more obvious there, but the nostrils are recommended in other traditions (Pa Auk Sayadaw?) because concentration tends to be stronger, with it being a more restricted area of awareness.

Both are perfectly fine for insight practice, but the abdomen is the most common in the Mahasi tradition and on this message board. I think the OP is talking about the abdomen but his use of "in/out" is perhaps more appropriate for the nostrils, or the entire breathing process.

Sayadaw U Pandita recommends "verbally" noting the rising and falling, so I don't think it's an impediment to practice as long as one is mindful of what is going on.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago at 9/20/14 1:23 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/20/14 1:23 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Jake WM:
Following and noting the breath feels clunky during my sits recently. Doing open awareness noting without using the breath as an anchor feels like I am not doing the practice correctly.

Does it matter if I use the breath as an anchor? I am leaning towards just sitting, noting anything that arises. The problem with this is that my attention shifts constantly, for example: feeling > hearing > hearing > hearing > thinking > thinking > feeling. This feels like I am not concentrating enough on one particular object, not giving myself time to investigate it clearly.

I have no teacher and little guidance, and do not trust my decisions these days. Looking for some reassurance that I am doing the practice correctly just to restore some faith to keep my practice going strong.

The breath is a great anchor and it saves me a lot of the time because it's simple and concentration on the breath is a factor of awakening.  I think that you need to look at the 4 foundations of mindfulness and pick different foundations to work on.  It's helpful to notice some of the repetitions in it.  Most of the important hindrances, mind states and fetters are different names for greed/lust/desire and hatred/aversion. Delusion would mesh well with ignorance in dependent arising.  By treating objects as separate from cause and effect (inherent existence) this leads the brain to try and grasp or avert away from those objects with a push and pull of "objects/self object".  Another simple way is to include any desire trance or aversion reaction and note it as "fixation".

Note "absent greed", "absent hatred", "absent delusion".  When those things are absent you are about as free as you can be.  When those experiences start up again you can note "greed", "aversion", and "delusion" and let them be because mindfulness by itself prevents stories from feeding those states.  Continue noting anything else arising but in daily life focus particularly on greed, hatred, and delusion. Delusion about objects -> Do I like or dislike them? -> greed or hatred.

I like Daniel's old quote below:
Things happen due to conditions.

Intentions cause actions.

Sensations cause mental impressions.

Start with those. Notice them again and again and again, thousands of times, arising causally, lawfully, with conditions leading to more conditions that lead to more conditions.

It is that simple, but beyond the theory, you have to get good at seeing it in real-time, in your field of experience, in your body, in your mind, and, when you get really good at that, it is clear: intentions arise causally, lawfully, not due to some self. Mental impressions arise lawfully, causally, not due to some self. All is seen as it is, happening naturally, based on the laws of reality, not on the whims of some imagined independent entity that is somehow outside of lawful causality. This is a transformative insight.

Helpful?

Daniel
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Jake, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 11:18 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 11:18 AM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 135 Join Date: 4/18/13 Recent Posts
I should have been more specific, I am referring to the focus of the breath near the nostrils and not on the abdomen, hence the usage of "in" and "out".

I am going to try using the abdomen as an anchor today and see how that works out. My concentration is weak and sloppy at the moment, focusing on the breath is a challenge and leaves me feeling frustrated.
Derek, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 12:13 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 12:13 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Counting the breaths from 1 to 10 helps develop continuous attention.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 2:47 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 1:15 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

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Counting did help me lots when I did jhana practice.  I especially counted forwards up to ten and then backwards down to one to keep the mind alert.  In-breath "just" out-breath "one", "just two" etc.  If my mind wandered and I lost count I would start over.  If I went past 10 from having a drifting mind then I started over.  

I used the breath because I can feel my whole body move with it so the rapture could spread farther than my skull.  Noticing the nostrils was more difficult whereas the breath has more detail.

The Dalai Lama's instructions that got me to my 1st jhana were to not analyze the practice when the mind wandered but to return to the breath as soon as possible.

Something I just found after reading about actualism and PCE's and how they are thoughtless:

http://actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/pce.htm
Pure Consciousness Event: During meditation (...) one may become utterly silent inside, as though in a gap between thoughts, where one becomes completely perception- and thought-free. One neither thinks nor perceives any mental or sensory content.

I tried going as far as I could (first time in awhile).  This isn't a PCE because there's sensory contact, but I purposefully pushed thoughts away and went back to the breath and I shifted higher and higher up to the 4th jhana with much more ease than in the past.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 3:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 3:50 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:

Something I just found after reading about actualism and PCE's and how they are thoughtless:

http://actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/pce.htm
Pure Consciousness Event: During meditation (...) one may become utterly silent inside, as though in a gap between thoughts, where one becomes completely perception- and thought-free. One neither thinks nor perceives any mental or sensory content.



Hi Richard, just thought I'd point out that the pure consciousness event (as described above) and the pure consciousness experience (which actualists aspire to) are two completely different things. When actualists talk about a PCE, they're talking about the pure consciousness experience, not the pure consciousness event described above. The latter doesn't feature in their practice at all (despite it appearing in their library/ glossary).

The pure consciousness experience (the one that actualists aspire to) is not characterised by an absence of sensory content or thought.
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 4:22 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 4:22 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

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John Wilde:
Richard Zen:

Something I just found after reading about actualism and PCE's and how they are thoughtless:

http://actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/pce.htm
Pure Consciousness Event: During meditation (...) one may become utterly silent inside, as though in a gap between thoughts, where one becomes completely perception- and thought-free. One neither thinks nor perceives any mental or sensory content.



Hi Richard, just thought I'd point out that the pure consciousness event (as described above) and the pure consciousness experience (which actualists aspire to) are two completely different things. When actualists talk about a PCE, they're talking about the pure consciousness experience, not the pure consciousness event described above. The latter doesn't feature in their practice at all (despite it appearing in their library/ glossary).

The pure consciousness experience (the one that actualists aspire to) is not characterised by an absence of sensory content or thought.


I know it's not the same but the instruction helped me move up the jhanas faster because I relaxed the thinking faster.  It's just the wording that helped me, not that they were the same.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 4:24 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 4:24 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:


I know it's not the same but the instruction helped me move up the jhanas faster because I relaxed the thinking faster.  It's just the wording that helped me, not that they were the same.

Oh, fair enough. Sorry to side-track you.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 5:02 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/21/14 5:02 PM

RE: Noting - Open vs. Anchored

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Counting works with a lot of people, but for me it made things a bit difficult because it always felt like "the voice in my head" was interrupting continuous concentration somehow. The same is true for verbal noting, I have to use fast monosyllabic noting ("beep") or else I just get frustrated with my mental voice. It's a person quirk, I guess.

What helped me the most with following the breath was Munindra's instruction to be aware of each in-breath as if it were your first, and each out-breath as if it were your last.