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Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Speed slowing down whilst noting

Speed slowing down whilst noting
6/28/15 6:56 PM
I've just started doing the noting practice as described in the first part of Daniel's book and at present I'm mentally saying to myself, 'rise/fall' with the breath. In regards to speed, I'm trying four times a second. I found the section about tapping the finger to 'One one thousand' to be very helpful.

And here we have the problem...

I start off quite quick but after three or four counts of 'rise,rise,rise,rise' I start to slow down until the rate is about 1 per second or possibly even slower. I find it's worse when I'm doing the 'fall' note on the outbreath. I use 'rise/fall' because I've find it virtually impossible to maintain any speed when using two syllible words whilst noting. 

Do you actually have to mentally 'say' each note? What I sometimes do is start off fast, mentally saying each 'rise/fall' but then it sort of goes into a blur. I'm not actually 'saying' rise or fall each time, but with the rapidity of me thinking 'rise/fall', it sort of appears that I am. If that makes sense! Even with this, however, the speed of noting always slows right down.

So is the above okay? Should I not worry too much about actually mentally 'saying' the word as long as long as the general rapid tempo is maintained and I'm aware that the breath is rising or falling? Or it is advisible to actually 'say' the noting word and thus I should slow it down a bit? I have tried slowing it down to about 1 note per second but even with this I still I slow right down eventually. 

RE: Speed slowing down whilst noting
6/29/15 7:12 AM as a reply to Lee.
Hi Lee!

A couple of thoughts to take as you wish...

* If you're in the mood to play a little, try this, instead of simply "rise", note as many sensations as you can on the inbreath (you might note "nose", "sinus" "throat", "chest" "lungs" "stomach"), you might also note the little pauses as your breath changes over from inhale to exhale, and exhale. (The last one happens to be something I've been doing lately, I note "resting" in those pauses.)

* At some point your ability to be aware of the number of distinct sensations associated with the breath will far outstrip your ability to note them with words (which is basically the positive spin on "noting is slowing me down") You'll stop noting, and start a very focused awareness. like which nostril are you actually feeling the breath in at a given instant, or whether you are really feeling the breath swirling in your lungs, or is it just a mental construction laid over the sensation of breathing.

* Personally, I save my noting for 2 things (the rests between breaths being one) and the "interruptions" to my awareness of the breath. I started noting the rests between breaths primarily because I noticed that my lapse in attention at those points was where most of the interruptions and distractions snuck in..

All that said.  much respect for taking on the work, and spending the time. well done.

RE: Speed slowing down whilst noting
6/29/15 5:29 PM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Thanks for that Scott.

I've just coming to the end of Part 1 of Daniel's book so apologies if this is covered later on but another question if I may?

Is not noting as per MCTB a personal preference in you case or is this what one does as you get further into Insight practice outlined in the book.

I've been meditating for 20 mins. per day since March and I've reached Access Concentration (and possibly further if the rather strange mood I felt whilst mediating in the Doctor's waiting room the other week is anything to do with meditating. Although it might just be me being tired having to get up early to make the appointment!) I've only been trying Daniel's noting method for about a week and prior to that I was simply following the breath, not actual Insight meditation. At first, similar to you, I didn't note the breath and whenever I noticed a sensation I noted it twice, eg. 'aching, aching' if my back was playing up. I then put all of attention there until it wasn't the centre of my attention then went back to the breath. 

RE: Speed slowing down whilst noting
6/30/15 6:22 AM as a reply to Lee.
I'm really just implementing the suggestions from Daniel's book and those of "Practical Insight Meditation".  I also implement a number of concepts from other training; on the theme we're talking about now, is the priniciple of stepping down in technique if things aren't going exactly right. What that means is that if in a particular session, the focus on sensations is fragmented or I'm more easily distracted, I could easily step down to "rising/pausing/falling" or "which nostril am i feeling right this second" and work at that level. (that may not be the clearest thing I've ever written, feel free to ignore it if it's confusing).

Just Daniel's suggestion "How many sensations associated with the breath can you be aware of?" winds up being kind of deep and challenging. Certainly there's the movement of air in the nose, throat, and lungs (and there's a lot of detail there), there's also movements of your rib cage, the pressure that diaphragm movements make on your abdomen and other smaller movements. Then you get into whether what you're aware of is an actual sensation or just the mental construct, or an echo.

Every so often, re-read that section of MCTB, as you gain experience, you'll pick up more out of it.