Frusterated during practice, need assistance.

Sumatra, modified 7 Years ago at 11/19/14 4:49 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/19/14 4:49 PM

Frusterated during practice, need assistance.

Post: 1 Join Date: 11/19/14 Recent Posts
I apologize, but this is going to be a rather long post. To anyone who takes the time to read this: I thank you in advance. I've grown lazy and frustrated in my practice, and I think this is mostly do to fundamental questions I have about Vipassana and Mahasi style noting. If someone could clear up these questions I would know my practice was sound and I would ramp up my dedication. As of now I feel like I'm making no progress.

My goal, at least for now, is to obtain stream entry. I'm still not sure if enlightenment exists, but I am sure of this: I've become aware of a fundamental suffering that I experience in every waking moment. Sometimes I can cover it up, but usually not. It isn't depression or anxiety or some physical pain. More like a chronic unsatisfactoriness, like a splinter in the back of my mind. If 'enlightenment' or whatever the changes this meditation causes, can alleviate it, then my time here was well spent.

I've been trying insight meditation for around a year now. Although I've been going on and off. Often times missing entire weeks. I used to practice an hour a day for a month and I felt like I was making real progress, but lately I have plateaued and I've only been giving it around 30 minutes a day. After this post I am going to try an hour a day again, and try my hardest not to miss days. I know I should probably go on retreats, but I'm not sure how critical to my practice they are.

I use the breath at the ridge of my nose as my object of concentration. I can begin feeling vibrations and they usually dance across my face and onto my bottom lips and/or cheeks. I often times can no longer feel the breath but vibrations remain on my face. I also constantly get muscle spasms in my scalp and on my lips, jaw, etc. These are somewhat irritating because the micro-spams can be mistaken for vibrations...or perhaps they also are vibrations from the point of view of my sensory perception.

I'm still not sure if I have access concentration. I think I do. I can perceive raw vibrations on my face for some time without my thoughts drifting. I used to feel like I got into the first Jhana months ago in my practice. I could feel my mind being pushed towards it and my concentration stabilizing. It used to be a very jarring experience but it hasn't been happening recently. I'm not sure if I no longer enter it, or if the process of entering it is so subtle that I no longer notice it.

Which brings me to my next point. Noting. During my practice I rarely ever note. I don't need to keep track of the breath (in, up, out, down) to begin perceiving vibrations. I just need to relax and let my attention focus on my face and breath. However I am not sure if noting is necessary, should I keep noting?

I don't know if I should pay more attention to the vibrations on my face or to all my perception. For example I often tune out other feelings and sounds when focusing on vibrations, in order to see vibrations more clearly. Should I note whenever I feel the physical sensations of my feet for a split-second? Should I note whenever I hear background noise in the room, during the space 'between' the vibrations on my face? Should I try to note the vibrations themselves, noting each one until I can note them extremely quickly?

Noting is constantly re-emphasized in my readings, so I'm not sure if I should have given it up. In any case I would really like some input on my practice, and where I should go from here. I would appreciate any pieces of advice or comments on my progress (if any).

Thank you.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 11/19/14 6:30 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/19/14 6:30 PM

RE: Frusterated during practice, need assistance.

Posts: 1448 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Sumatra:
Noting is constantly re-emphasized in my readings, so I'm not sure if I should have given it up. In any case I would really like some input on my practice, and where I should go from here. I would appreciate any pieces of advice or comments on my progress (if any).
Thank you.

I assume you have read and reread MCTB+ and have a grasp on the progress of insite.
Stop chasing vibrations for now. Notice which of the 6 senses your attention is on and give it a label. Hearing, feeling, thinking, seeing, smelling tasting. You can make the labels more detailed if you want to in the future but just start with the basics til you get it down. You only really need the first 4 as you rarely smell or taste. If you feel a vibration note feeling and then move on to the next thing. If you are sticking to only one thing you are doing concentration practice not insite. Just let your attention move from thing to thing and note what the sense door is. After a long time of this you may drop the labels and just notice. The word/note is to stop the mind from making a story about whatever you perceive. If you don't start making stories stay with noticing....but depending on where you are at in the cycle of insite you will find you will inevitably have to go back to using words off and on.
Look at the wiki button at the top of this web site....lots of good links to mahasi books if you wish to do this thing that particular style...
Inertia and diligence seems to be the best predictor of success in my opinion....each time you stop meditating it takes a time to get back to your cutting edge and move forward.
Good luck,
~D

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