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Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

Noting Practice Questions

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Noting Practice Questions Florian 2/26/08 7:44 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Daniel M. Ingram 2/26/08 8:20 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Florian 2/26/08 5:00 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 4/9/08 2:11 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Nathan I S 4/9/08 4:13 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 4/14/08 9:38 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 4/24/08 10:33 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Daniel M. Ingram 4/24/08 8:08 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 4/24/08 10:18 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 5/6/08 4:38 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 5/14/08 2:10 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Florian 5/14/08 9:27 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 5/15/08 2:01 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Sven Hansen 6/29/08 9:04 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 8/19/08 12:58 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Nathan I S 8/19/08 4:06 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Florian 8/19/08 6:49 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Nathan I S 8/19/08 12:29 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 8/19/08 6:45 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions beta wave 8/20/08 9:41 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Wet Paint 8/20/08 11:13 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Mike L 8/30/08 8:31 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Wet Paint 8/30/08 12:19 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Martin Mai 11/20/08 8:24 PM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Chris Marti 11/21/08 1:16 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions beta wave 11/21/08 1:47 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Chris Marti 11/21/08 4:44 AM
RE: Noting Practice Questions Florian 11/21/08 9:28 AM
Noting Practice Questions
Answer
2/26/08 7:44 AM
Forum: Practical Dharma

I've been experimenting with noting practice for a few weeks now. Up until now, I would just pay attention without consciously forming words. Some questions:

Which kind of words do you use? Nouns or gerund verbs (i.e "in-breath" or "breathing in")? Does it matter? I found that short words more useful.

Also, for longer sensations, do you note repeatedly or in a drawn-out fashion? "itch, itch, itch" or "iiiiiiiiiitch"?

When a sensation "overlays" the breath, do you alternate between noting the breath and that sensation? "itching, rising, itching, rising..."? Non-verbally, I could watch both without a sense of alternating, but perhaps there was (very quick) alternation after all.

When a memory or an anticipation arises, verbalizing "memory" or "anticipation" seems to stop it quite abruptly. My previous practice of non-verbal attention allowed me to watch it sputter out.

All in all, noting practice has a very alert, active flavor, and I'll stick with it for now. I tried non-verbal attention again the other day, for comparison, and found that my thoughts would wander far more often. But maybe that was just the state I was in that day.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
2/26/08 8:20 AM as a reply to Florian.
Good questions. Here is my take on them.

As to words: as you say, short is clearly better, with one syllable words being best most of the time. When things get fast, I have tended to strip it down to just "dat" or even some basic thought pulse that is even more primitive and basic than that.
For longer sensations: every time you notice a new pulse of it, repeat the note, as fast as possible. That said, one can sometimes get the longer note to pulse with the sensation, so you would get "i i i i i t ch", and this has an effect similar to shorter notes.
If you notice a new sensation that is not what you are noting, there are different schools of thought. One says to just stay with the main object unless the other object begins to intrude a lot. Another says note every little thing you notice as accurately as you can. I tended to prefer the first school when beginning to build concentration and the second when I am a bit stronger and starting to expand that base of concentration out a bit. If you can directly perceive each one come and go rapidly, you are beginning to move to the point where the question of dropping the notes in favor of direction perception comes up, and that too is a judgment call as to exactly when to do this. Noting just helps you get to the place where you can do it faster and more completely than notes could ever go.
I agree with the notion that noting makes a big difference in not getting lost in thought, as this has been my experience also, and is one of the reasons I am such a fan of this technique.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
2/26/08 5:00 PM as a reply to Florian.
Thanks, very useful advice.

Another question, regarding walking meditation. I find that in order to note the sensations in each foot, I had to walk extremely slowly, or I would only be able to note the "contact" part of each step in any detail, not the swing through the air. Should I put the emphasis on detailed noting, or the entire movement of both feet?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
4/9/08 2:11 AM as a reply to Florian.
The same question arouse in my practice, too. Mahasi sayadaw says to note the swing as far as I know but I don´t think it matters so much as long as vibrations are noted properly.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
4/9/08 4:13 AM as a reply to Florian.
I don't always do noting while walking--much of the time I simply follow the diaphragm moving. The noting practice leads to me slowing down. For what it's worth when i am noting I use "lifting, pushing, moving, placing", with a lot of alteration between moving and pushing since my attention tends to move between the supporting foot and leg and the one moving through the air. I need to be moving slowly, however, to capture this.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
4/14/08 9:38 PM as a reply to Florian.
Not really a practical question but anyway...Daniel mentioned noting like "i-i-i-itch" or just dat or beep for everything when things get fast. Is this what they tell you to do in the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition? I read some instructions of Mahasi s and this is not mentioned as far as I know. Does anyone know?

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
4/24/08 10:33 AM as a reply to Florian.
Can anybody give some advice on exactly when to quit noting in favour of bare perception? Recently I have been finding the notes helpful to tune into vibrations but cannot make them fast enough to follow everything, especially interferences between several sense-doors. I think that Mahasi Sayadaw advises to note in a more general manner but I´m not sure about this. The noting is also followed by arduous physical feelings in the head region which I thought would have stopped a view weeks ago. In general, it seems to me that the noting itself is consuming much more energy than perception and concentration, which is contrary to Mahasi Sayadaw´s instruction of "90 percent perception, 10 percent noting" (not quite sure if I´m quoting correctly).
Does anybody know these problems?

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
4/24/08 8:08 PM as a reply to Florian.
What a great question! Here's my take on this:

If things look solid, or you are lost in thought, or you are feeling ungrounded, or you don't yet have the ability to perceive things vibrating: Note! Also, when in doubt, noting is better than floundering.
If you are able to perceive vibrations of your object: do so as completely and consistently as possible.
If you are feeling that you can perceive vibrations of not only your object but also other things simultaneously: do so.
If you can perceive vibrations of not only your object but broad things like space, consciousness, thought, memory, intention, investigation, effort, suffering and the like: do so.
If at any point you find that you can't perform at the level you were functioning at, drop back down the heirarchy as far as you need to, perhaps back to noting.
More stage specifically: when you enter the second vipassana jhana, aka the Arising and Passing Away (A&P), most people can drop the noting, as it is just too slow. However, after this stage fades, many will need to go back to noting until they stabilize, as Dissolution can cause regression as we get used to its wider, more out of phase field. When the Dark Night arises, many will need to note at points to keep from getting lost in their stuff. In Equanimity, people may need to note to keep from spacing out at points until they get used to how panoramic and complete things are.
Helpful?

Daniel

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
4/24/08 10:18 PM as a reply to Florian.
Very helpful! Thank you, Daniel. I will keep up the noting because things really slowed down (hope it´s only the dark night), but now I´m confident to drop the noting when they speed up again.
Thanks again,
Martin

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
5/6/08 4:38 AM as a reply to Florian.
Things speeded up again and I keep noting because it feels a bit strange not to be noting. However, I would like to know at which frequency you usually drop it.
Martin

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
5/14/08 2:10 AM as a reply to Florian.
A view days ago I watched Chanmay Sayadaw explaining noting-practice on google.video and I started to do the noting in this manner which is saying the whole words and in a calm, casual manner. Before I was noting more rapidly only using letters in order to increase speed. Strangely for me I find my attention being more continuous and vibrations faster with the whole word notes. Can anyone relate to this?

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
5/14/08 9:27 AM as a reply to Florian.
In a very general way I have noticed a similar thing: every now and then, I have to tweak my technique. It's as if something - the defilements or whatever - "learns" or "adapts" to my approach, and I have to use a fresh angle or else my progress just bogs down.

Ven. Thanissaro has an interesting translation for the last of the four bases of success (desire, persistence, intent, discrimination): he sometimes translates it as "ingenuity". So after wanting to practice, keeping up the practice, and keeping the goal in mind, there come a phase of evaluation and shrewd adjustment, and then the whole thing repeats.

I hope this is useful to you.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
5/15/08 2:01 AM as a reply to Florian.
What you´re saying is very useful, Florian. Ever since I practiced Kung Fu I ran into this problem of one aproach working for a time and then getting contraproductive (especially the approaches relating to how to relax and concentrate). With this new way of noting I have got the feeling of fixing the attention on one object in a more general manner, letting the mind some space to breathe and vibrations show up effortlessly and fast. But this is probably a phase, too, so in a few weeks I might be noting like before again.
I think in the end it doesn´t really matter so much as long as one is doing what one is supposed to do (that is noting).

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
6/29/08 9:04 PM as a reply to Florian.
Hi monkeymind,

>I've been experimenting with noting practice for a few weeks now. Up until now,
>I would just pay attention without consciously forming words. Some questions:
>Which kind of words do you use? Nouns or gerund verbs (i.e "in-breath" or "breathing in")?
> Does it matter? I found that short words more useful.

I found a "noting practice" from a Christian mystic (Karl or Karel Weinfurter). It is a kind of body sweeping combined with noting. To me this technique was very useful because it was very easy to dissolve the body shape into sensations.

A short description:
1. you lay down in bed
2. you fix the awareness on your toes (of both legs, later if the toes are dissolved you go step to step upwards)
3. You note IEOUA, IEOUA ... (this means Jehovah, because it is meant to be a Christian technique)
(the best speed for noting was round about one IEOUA per second to me.)

My conclusion after doing it was, that the noting has more to do to hinder the mind to wander than to fit with and describes the sensation itself. It seems that there is no need to find a correct word of the sensation and fit it with the time of the sensation. Awareness alone is sufficient.

The best way to understand this is to try this easy technique for round about 5 minute once.

Paticca

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/19/08 12:58 AM as a reply to Florian.
During the last days I have been practicing anapanasati in order to increase samadhi before switching to vipassana. I found noting to be too slow to follow the stream of sensations but at the same time not noting somehow lacks the presense. What I find really interesting is using "visual" notes like tiny sparks which are much faster than words or single letters. This reminds me very much of Daniel´s metaphor of "shooting aliens".
What do you do when noting is too slow but you don´t want to switch it off?

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/19/08 4:06 AM as a reply to Florian.
Hey mai, on a retreat I went to way earlier this year I found that when the speed of sensatiosn which I could detect got faster and faster, I'd often either pick a single object--the breath, the steam coming off my tea cup, or a spot on a wall and the resulting after-image--and practice a bare attention to each fiber of the sensation. Since I was extremely one-pointed this was more useful while practicing informally, e.g., during meals, my unassigned work period, etc. Other times, usually while sitting, I'd work up to a certain speed while noting and use the breath and the body as a primary object in a loose manner, and from there then expand out into choiceless awareness, which I usually hate.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/19/08 6:49 AM as a reply to Florian.
Hi Nathan,

intriguing - do you then investigate the aversion to choiceless awareness? I did some experiments with investigation of dukkha - mainly the impulses to scratch an itch, to shift posture, to wonder how much longer etc.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/19/08 12:29 PM as a reply to Florian.
Oh, I don't have aproblem with engaging in "Choiceless Awareness" formally or informally, though I tend to stick to the body and the breath rather than "choicelessness" , and find it a fine technique--my teacher and his teacher both don't like it--but I'm wary of how popular it is, why it's always taught first, etc... but that is irrelevant to the thread.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/19/08 6:45 PM as a reply to Florian.
Nice advice, Nathan. I really liked your suggesting of limiting the investigation to a more restricted set of sensations when things get fast. I can understand your point redarding choiceless awareness. When things get fast interferences show up naturally for me so I end up noting quite everything which is very chaiceless. The problem with this is that concentration does not hold up yet during these chaotic phases. I will try now to stay with one set of vibrations in order to get to faster levels of it instead of letting other ones come into the field of attention.
Thank you,
Martin

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/20/08 9:41 AM as a reply to Florian.
Thanks for writing this post. Last night I was paging through the site and re-read it and decided to give slower noting a try.

Oddly, I'm doing it for almost the opposite reason. Lately things are arising more gently and seem to have become more seamless - not very vibrational, so to speak - which had made fast "this, that, this" noting seem really contrived. At the same time, I have been more prone to daydreaming. Last night I gave slower noting a try, using full and complete words, while still watching everything occuring very panoramically. What happened is I instinctually started noting those moods/thoughts/sensations which seemed to hang around longer than just normal "the moment is changing" type stuff. What wound up happening is I was noting things that felt much more identified with. Those were the things that stuck around. Hard to describe it, but I was looking much more deeply at how 'I staked out my claim'. Very interesting and pretty humbling. Of course, I'm still experimenting with this...

Anyway, hope this is useful to someone at some time in their practice.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/20/08 11:13 AM as a reply to Florian.
Author: ccasey

Does anyone have a reference for noting practice from Dogen?

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/30/08 8:31 AM as a reply to Florian.
Shobogenzo is online http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma12/shobo.html if that helps.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
8/30/08 12:19 PM as a reply to Florian.
Author: ccasey

Yes, thank you.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
11/20/08 8:24 PM as a reply to Florian.
Hi everybody,
I just reread Mahasi Sayadaw´s "Practical Insight Meditation" and again was confused by the sentences "Never verbally repeat the words rising, falling and do not think of rising and falling as words." . This seems to go against the noting practice I did so far which uses the words. If you´re not supposed to do this, what´s noting then?This always confused me and now I want to know what this is about. I hope somebody knows.
Martin

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
11/21/08 1:16 AM as a reply to Florian.
Martin, you will no doubt get a better explanation from someone else, but I had that same confusion. Some of it stems from the word "noting," which you can easily take to mean "verbalizing." But by verbalizing mentally we are invoking that part of the mind that engages with concepts and stories. I've taken to not expressing my experience in mental words and images as much as I possibly can, but that's terrifically difficult to do because the mind automatically goes there - we want to name everything and then wrap it in a story. Naming objects and making stories is what human beings do! To a large degree I think this is exactly what noting practice is meant to reveal to us.

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
11/21/08 1:47 AM as a reply to Florian.
Good answer!

For me it's helpful to think of noting as a matter of degree, ranging from labeling/naming with verbal words... to things like non-verbal "recognizing" "acknowledging" "understanding", etc. In any one sitting, the whole range of noting happens, more or less.

Also, just an observation: sometimes it feels like you are noting the object with your mind, other times the object feels like it touches your mind, doing it's own noting for you.

"What is noting" might be a pretty good Koan!

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
11/21/08 4:44 AM as a reply to Florian.
"... other times the object feels like it touches your mind, doing it's own noting for you."

Right, because there's no separation. Again, I think that's the purpose of noting practice. You begin to see the process of perception in tiny parts in real time and thus realize that objects aren't separate "things" at all. Of course, there are other ways to express that - like "... the object touches your mind."

RE: Noting Practice Questions
Answer
11/21/08 9:28 AM as a reply to Florian.
In my opinion the emphasis is on "never REPEAT the words" - i.e., they shouldn't become a litany that begins ticking on it's own (unless one wants to observe such a ticking process in action, but that's a different practice), and the words shouldn't start telling a story (well put, Chris).

Similar to what Mark describes here: http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/1970207/meditating+correctly+on+autopilot

Each note should be triggered by noticing what is noted. I find it useful to ask myself (quite verbally), "what's going on here? How does this work?" once or twice per sitting: it invigorates my curiosity.

Sometimes I note with full words, sometimes with "dit", sometimes I just maintain awareness of the flickering, but the "autopilot" phenomenon can start up in any of these modes. Might be a symptom of lopsided concentration, but I'm not sure.

Cheers,
Florian