Message Boards Message Boards

Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)

Toggle
Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)
mahasi mahasi sayadaw vipasana
Answer
11/8/17 9:19 PM
I have a bit of a problem and was hoping someone who is knowledge able about the Mahasi method can weigh in on...

So I have a Mahasi meditation center near my house (Tathagata meditation center) and I wanted to do a retreat there so I started to practice the method of focusing on the rising and falling of the belly. 

It was summer time and hot so I did it with my shirt off all the time. After 4 or 5 months of daily practice, I started to feel like the practice was really taking off. 

I was doing 4 30-minute sessions a day, and I could feel a different in the quality of my concentration with each addition session. With the 1st session of the day, I woulnd't really feel the belly that much. But by the 4th session, my belly seemed to "come alive". I could feel the rising and falling very vividly and I could even feel little tingling sensations on the skin (a glimps at impermanence?) Some times, the sensation was so strong it felt almost like my stomach was cramping up or tightening up. 

Anyway, it was great and I was really excited that my pracice was progressing. 

But then I realized that I won't be able to do a retreat with my shirt off! Also, I was started to get cold and I had to put clothes. Obviously, I could not continue to practice this method with my shirt off. 

So I tried to practice with my shirt on. But it just wasn't the same. The feeling of the shirt touching my skin was distracting. Part of the shirt would be touching me, part of it would not, and it made it hard to feel the rising and falling. 

I was better when I wore a tight cotton shirt that made constant contact with my skin... but still it was not the same as just having my bare skin against the air. 

I tried to practice like this for a while (maybe a month?) but just could not get an traction and eventually gave up and switched to another technique (focusing on the air going in and out of the nostril).

Anyway, I still really want to do the retreat, but I don't know how strict they are about having to do the technique that they teach. 

Am I doing something wrong here? Should the clothing (or lack thereof) that you wear and how loose or tight it is matter when focusing on the rising and falling?

Any advice on this would be much appreciated. Thank you!

RE: Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)
Answer
11/9/17 12:59 AM as a reply to Hien Nguyen.
Hien Nguyen:


Am I doing something wrong here? Should the clothing (or lack thereof) that you wear and how loose or tight it is matter when focusing on the rising and falling?

Any advice on this would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Hi Hien, it is a problem because you think it is a problem. When you let go of the distraction, it will cease to block your progress. You can continue to practice at home with your shirt off and advance further till your mind can let go of this clinging OR you can start wearing all kinds of shirts and stop letting it distract you. It seems that you are having raptures (Piti), which is a good sign of progress. Keep going and stay calm! emoticon

RE: Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)
Answer
11/14/17 12:09 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I guess I knew I was just being crazy but I need to hear someone say it :-) I'll keep practicing with my shirt on and see how it goes. Thanks!

RE: Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)
Answer
11/14/17 1:22 PM as a reply to Hien Nguyen.
Sounds like good work on the practice!

I reckon practising with your shirt off was good for helping you develop that particular kind of sensitivity, and sounds like when you put your shirt on, the sensations were just different. It makes me iimagine another situation in which you could have developed very heightened sensitivity to the sensation of the shirt on your belly, and then you had to take your shirt, and you couldn't get the same feeling again.

It reminds me many years ago of my driving instructor showing me how to feel the vibrations of the engine through the clutch pedal without shoes on to make it easier to feel. Obviously I drive with shoes now.

Either way, there are all kinds of other sensations of rising and falling inside your belly you can focus on, and I would imagine that since you've developed the sensitivity with your shirt off already, it shouldn't be too difficult to just find different rising and falling sensations and gain the same sensitivity, although the feeling would obviously not be the same. I reckon you'll probably find other more serious "problems" at the retreat that you would probably don't need to worry about anyway.

Man, you've got a Mahasi meditation centre near your house??? Not bad. A bit nearer than a long-haul flight to Burma innit.

RE: Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)
Answer
11/14/17 6:03 PM as a reply to junglist.
Thanks! Yea, it definetly the feeling of the shirt that is throwing me off. Without it, I can feel the bare skin against the air and really hone in on the sensation more, with the shirt, sometimes, it's touching me, sometimes not, so it's a bit distracting. 

But I've been trying it with my shirt tucked in (so that it's apply a contant contact) and it helps. And the more I practice and try to get used to the new sensation, I'm starting to feel the momentum build back up again. 

And yes, I am very luck to have a meditation center right next to my house. I'm been working my self up to do a retreat there (and will for sure) but the schedual is a bit scary. (They make you wake up at 4 AM!!!) I struggle to stay awake as it is when I mediate sometimes so I can imagine. But it'll probably not be as bad as I think. 

RE: Rising and Falling of Belly (with shirt off?)
Answer
11/15/17 3:44 AM as a reply to Hien Nguyen.
Hien Nguyen:
Thanks! Yea, it definetly the feeling of the shirt that is throwing me off. Without it, I can feel the bare skin against the air and really hone in on the sensation more, with the shirt, sometimes, it's touching me, sometimes not, so it's a bit distracting. 

But I've been trying it with my shirt tucked in (so that it's apply a contant contact) and it helps. And the more I practice and try to get used to the new sensation, I'm starting to feel the momentum build back up again. 
Perhaps also consider the fact that mindfulness that does not extend beyond the sensations of your belly, and not even beyond with your shirt off, well, is that enough for you? When you go on retreat you'll most likely receive instructions for sitting, walking, eating, washing, scratching... That's at least what Mahasi Sayadaw says in his book. Any and every sensation should basically be noted, as far as I understand it. It'll probably be a bit intense, but just like waking up at 4am, I'm sure you'll get used to it after a while. Waking up early's easy anyway, just go to bed earlier. I don't think there's anything really that good on TV in monasteries anyway.

Good luck!