Increasing Mindfulnes / Body Scan earlier

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of David Starflower starflower 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #2212
    Profile photo of David Starflower
    starflower
    Member

    Hello. I am following The Mind Illuminated (TMI) in the earlier stages.

    I saw that stage 5 introduces body scanning and wanted to ask on opinions on doing this practice in earlier stages.

    The book states that in order to develop strong mindfulness you have to develop more overall power of the mind, a foundation built up until that point. In no way do I want to question that statement, I would just be interested if there would be any concerns in developing both in parallel in earlier stages.

    Before starting with TMI I went on a Goenka Vipassana retreat, which is a dry insight practice that uses body scanning as it’s core technique. To me it felt really good. It felt to me that it increased my overall awareness outside of practice. Furthermore, I also do Tai Chi and Kung Fu and found that my body-awareness increased which had a positive influence on my practice.

    #2214
    Profile photo of Michael Dunn
    Michael Dunn
    Member

    Hello, Starflower

    May I ask – in what stage do you think you are practicing at the moment?

    In general, it is perfectly fine to explore the practices ahead as you may actually find yourself in those stages. So if you were considering yourself working in Stage 4 then a Stage 5 practice may be nice to explore, but if you are at Stage 2 then I would suggest a bit more work in the fundamental training of mindfulness. The overall power of the mind increases through all of the stages.

    I have also had positive experiences with Goenka’s technique during retreats. Please note that the objectives of the 2 techniques do differ, and I won’t say that one is better or lesser, just that they have different goals. The 2 versions of the body scan, for example, are not identical and have different purposes leading to different results.

    Regards,

    Michael
    Dharma Treasure teacher in training

    #2215
    Profile photo of David Starflower
    starflower
    Member

    Hey Michael,

    on good days I’d consider myself being stage 3.

    I do understand that TMI is a Samatha technique while Goenka is a Vipassana technique, having only a very rough beginners knowledge of the terminology. I still do visit my local Vipassana groups from time to time, so do you think there is a possibility to using the TMI technique (tied to breath-related sensations etc.) with the Goenka objective (anicca mindset etc.) when visiting their group sittings? Should I rather use the different technique? Or would you even consider doing Goenka Vipassana as detrimental to TMI progress?

    Cheers
    David

    #2216

    Hi David! I was inspired to join the conversation =).

    Many times I have heard Culadasa refer to TMI as a shamatha-vipassana method, not truly two separate beasts.

    While at a Goenka-ji retreat (of which I sat 6 prior to ever hearing the word shamatha), you do make a commitment to not “practise other techniques” – to follow the instructions. I would interpret this to mean sticking with the object provided during the course (the first 3 days it’s the sensations of the breath at the nostrils-for those who have never been) and then the sensations throughout the body for the next 7 days. A vivid awareness of the 3 marks of existence rounds out the practice, followed by loving kindness. (I realize you are talking about group sits, not the whole course- but wanted to provide a framework for those who have no experience with Goenka-ji.)

    I don’t see them as separate techniques- one to be chosen over the other. TMI provides a structure to understanding and working with what happens in the course of a sit. Is attention on the object? You will know with introspective awareness… Is there subtle dullness? Subtle agitation? Forgetting? Am I experiencing the purifications described in stage 4 practice? TMI also provides tools for working with these obstacles at each stage.

    Having a vivid, continuous awareness of the 3 marks of existence while engaging in continuous body scanning is possible as an advanced meditator. On the way there, we experience all the things described in TMI so beautifully. So although TMI offers many techniques for understanding and working with the mind, it itself is not a technique, but a set of tools and a framework which can be applied within meditation practise.

    I remember sitting one particular Goenka-ji retreat where I just gave up. I think it was my 3rd one. I spent the entire retreat engaged in mental craving and fantasy. When I got out of retreat, I thought all my fantasizing was real, and caused myself great suffering within the context of relationships.

    I wasn’t practicing properly and didn’t have an understanding of the whole path, progression and development of a meditative career, if you will. I believe now that if I had internalized the wisdom contained in TMI before that retreat- that would not have been able to occur.

    Yours,

    Meshe
    -Teacher in Training

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Meshe Mooette Meshe Mooette.
    #2219
    Profile photo of David Starflower
    starflower
    Member

    Hi Meshe, thanks for your response.

    Do I get you correctly that you say that as an advanced meditator it is OK to add a Vipassana technique (like e.g. the Goenka body scan or noting etc.) to the practice? What do you mean by “advanced”? The milestones in TMI are called “novice”, “skilled”, “transition” and “adept”.

    #2222

    thanks for catching that starflower! I meant adept (so stage 7- the transition to becoming an adept meditator, and 8+). In TMI, the meditation on dependant origination (a vipassana practice) is found in stage 8 practices.

    On page 429 in the notes, is a passage that answers this, “true Insight practice requires that your powers of both concentration and mindfulness be equivalent to those described for the beginning of Stage 7.”

    #2223

    All that being said, I’m all in favour of testing out practices that are recommended for other stages- and have heard the advice, “80% the main practices for your stage, and the 20% go wild trying out practices recommended for higher stages”.

    Then on page 429-430 is a passage describing the 3 approaches described by the Buddha towards meditation:

    Samatha followed by vipassana, vipassana followed by samatha and samantha and vipassana yoked together. There are short explanations of the practitioner’s abilities that are best suited each approach, and how that approach happens in practice.

    =)

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Profile photo of Meshe Mooette Meshe Mooette.
    #2227
    Profile photo of David Starflower
    starflower
    Member

    I found the passage about what is followed by what rather confusing. But thanks for pointing out that footnote about “stage 7 before insight”. I read this a while ago but had forgotten about it. I also like the application of the 80/20 rule to meditation practices 🙂

    Thank you so much for your elaborations. They clarified a lot to me.

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