Broad somatic vs. narrower focus

Lucas, modified 6 Years ago at 12/9/16 11:14 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/9/16 11:14 AM

Broad somatic vs. narrower focus

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/8/16 Recent Posts
I was hoping I could get some guidance on the direction of my practice.

I have been practising for a few years, but only came across MCTB a little over a year ago which was great for many reasons, but especially to give me a framework within which to practise.

MCTB/Mahasi style noting, noticing the rising and falling of the abdomen as well as when the mind strays has been my main practice since. I haven’t been religious about the labelling aspect of the nothing always, but have found it especially helpful when I’m tired or particularly distracted for whatever reason.

I have also been heavily influenced over the last year by Reggie Ray’s style of practice; I listened to his audiobook ‘The Practice of Pure Awareness’ and a number of his other guided meditations on the Dharma Ocean website and have found them incredibly interesting. His somatic style heavily emphasises attention to be given to the central channel. Focusing on this region I’ve found leads to incredibly vivid experiences of the impermanence of my sensate experience, often quickly getting me to a place where I experience the 3D pixilated field of energy to quite an uncomfortably intense degree. This also feels the most like it’s sort of ‘getting somewhere’, as in the draft of MCBT2 Daniel mentions that people may not practise a particular style of meditation because they are fearful of how disconcerting the experience is. For me this practise is certainly that.

My dilemma is basically that I don’t know which practise is more fruitful for me to dedicate my time to, or whether a combination would be best. Noting, whether with or without labelling seems to be the best way of remaining mindful for longer periods, however I find narrowing the range of focus to just one area of the breath to be nowhere near as ‘vivid’ as the somatic meditations taught by Reggie Ray. And then with Reggie’s practises although I get to a very intense presence, without the noting a narrow range of sensations I am not as able to notice when I get caught in stories.

What are people’s thoughts on whether I should either keep on practising both styles separately, or perhaps mix the techniques together? I have tried periods of sitting which seem to be fruitful where I take the central channel along with the kind of amorphous energetic breath as the focus (being aware of the impermanence of the sensations that make it up), and whenever my mind strays I note where it goes and bring it back. I just wonder whether I’m diluting either practise by cross-pollinating and I’d be best keeping them separate.

I hope I have been clear enough! Any input would be much appreciated
Stirling Campbell, modified 6 Years ago at 12/9/16 12:13 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/9/16 12:13 PM

RE: Broad somatic vs. narrower focus

Posts: 611 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Do you have a teacher yet? If it is your intention to take this seriously I would definitely advise finding one. 
Lucas, modified 6 Years ago at 12/9/16 4:36 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/9/16 4:36 PM

RE: Broad somatic vs. narrower focus

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/8/16 Recent Posts
It is indeed my intention to take this seriously. As far as finding a teacher goes I've only been half-heartedly looking for one over the past few months, but am not quite sure what exactly I'm looking for. I am booked into a Mahasi style retreat in the Summer which I'm looking forward to in part for that reason.