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Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:16 pm
by rajitha7
Goeka's "Body Scan" explained.
IM: You teach a meditation practice that involves moving the mind through the body and focusing on physical sensations. This technique has become widely known as the “body scan,” and sometimes is called “sweeping.” What is the origin of this technique?

SNG: Buddha is the origin! (Laughs) Nobody else can be the origin. In the Satipatthana Sutta there are the words, “Sabbakaya-patisamvedi assasissamiti sikkhati… passasissamiti sikkhati.” (Feeling the whole body I shall breathe in… feeling the whole body I shall breathe out.) One should learn how to feel the entire body in one breath, breathing in and breathing out. Perhaps I am responsible for calling it “sweeping,” but this is the Buddha’s teaching.

The whole technique of the Buddha is to move you from the gross level of reality to the subtle. The apparent truths are always gross and solidified, full of illusions and delusions. The purpose of vipassana meditation is to penetrate the gross and go to the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth of mind and body is nothing but vibration, and that is what you are observing when you practice this technique.

http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/M ... hamma.html

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:10 am
by practitioner
Passive vipassana is equanimity and observation of 3Cs in one sitting, so more efficient. Further, it is awareness without the inducement from an active mind.

In passive vipassana, you observe sensation arising, changing condition, and disappearing.

In body scan, you sense your ear is there then you move on to the next block. Obviously, you are not seeing any sensation of ear changing. Just using ear as an example. You feel sore in lower back, it is still sore when you revisit. Anicca is not looking at sensation from spot to spot but seeing what happens to the sensation over time.

The mind knows one sensation in one spot then another sensation in the next spot. That is not anicca because the mind reasons that, of course, another spot would have different sensation. When you re-visit the spot on second scan and experience a different sensation. That is not anicca, because few minutes have elapsed. Satipatthana is knowing as is without intention in the present moment. Anicca becomes wisdom when the mind sees that every arising sensation has 3Cs. Before a sensation disappears, you move to selectively know the next spot is not seeing anicca.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:08 am
by ganegaar
practitioner wrote: In body scan, you sense your ear is there then you move on to the next block. Obviously, you are not seeing any sensation of ear changing. Just using ear as an example. You feel sore in lower back, it is still sore when you revisit.
My apologies to you @practitioner that I have to dispute you again!.
No, the way you have mentioned above is not really correct, because one will look at the body part by part only when the mind is "not calm enough", there soon comes a state where the mind is calm enough, and the sensations in the body becomes "a flow", then the scan is rather, like a water bucket flowing from tip to toe of your body, and the one who practices do not really identify a body part., rather just experience the sensations alone, by sweeping tip to toe and toe to tip.

There also came another stage, where the whole body was just a bubble of sensations, where even sweeping was not necessary!. To me personally, beyond that was just a void with no body!, no sensations!, so not really sure what is there after that!,

but anyway, what you say about this technique seems not correct, can it be that you need to give another fair trial to this technique?

Also, my apologies for disputing, and I myself is also not a die hard practitioner of body sweeping as at now!.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:28 am
by practitioner
ganegaar wrote:
practitioner wrote: No, the way you have mentioned above is not really correct, because one will look at the body part by part only when the mind is "not calm enough", there soon comes a state where the mind is calm enough, and the sensations in the body becomes "a flow", then the scan is rather, like a water bucket flowing from tip to toe of your body, and the one who practices do not really identify a body part., rather just experience the sensations alone, by sweeping tip to toe and toe to tip.
It is fine. We are discussing not debating.

The instruction begins with block by block. Another student of U Ba Khin, who founded international meditation center retreat, teaches area by area as in whole cheek instead of block by block. I remember the AT asking each one of us what size is our block. If there is no need to teach block by block, then don't start with block by block, which sometimes he calls it part by part. Everyone that I know who has gone through Goenka's class has never experienced the wave you talk about despite of many years of meditating his technique and many retreats.

I know the wave. I can feel the wave motion in my arms when I go to sleep at night. Just by relaxing and having your mind being aware of the arm wave motion will start. This is in accordance to what Lao Zi taught in Taoism. Mental intention to be aware will cause qi to flow which then cause blood to flow to that location. In body scan, you are putting mental intention on the spot, especially when there is blank sensation. This will cause qi to flow followed by blood which would create sensation. This is more like created sensation rather than naturally arising sensation.

Upon coming home from the retreat, body scan only made my mind noisier. No matter how calm my mind is at the beginning the body scan always makes my head tense and talkative. Now, I learn that in Goenka's 30 days class people are taught to just be in awareness - passive awareness.

That is just plain silly. A goenka student has to go through so many retreats to be taught passive awareness. I am glad that I quit body scan after 2 months. Through my own practice from reading about other vipassana techniques and dhamma principles, progress is much further along than if I were to do Goenka technique.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:15 am
by thepea
@practitioner,

There is no change in technique from the 10 days course to the longer courses. Each student must work with that which is available to them at each moment. You are not to try to reach this stage or that stage of sensation whether it is gross the touch of cloth to skin or subtle blood flow or spinal current.
Equiminity is the practice, awareness of the changing nature of phenomenon. Seeing this as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not self.
If there is no flow, then student is to work in larger parts, if this presents difficulty then observation of breath. It does not matter just remain aware and equanimous.
I'm sorry you had a difficult first retreat, perhaps go back for a period of service, different, less intensive, but very good for development.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:08 am
by ganegaar
practitioner wrote: Upon coming home from the retreat, body scan only made my mind noisier. No matter how calm my mind is at the beginning the body scan always makes my head tense and talkative.
This noisy talkative mind, I had that experience everyday night on retreat, and I suppose, rather than my mind become talkative, it had always been like that, just that the intense meditation and calmness during day caused the my own mind to be "aware" of the annoying person withing me who talks always :)). It was also like, not allowing a person who always talks to shut up for a period, and then after this period, the person tend to talk much more to catch up with the silence !.

My mind was not calm to practice the body scans at home off retreat, it just kind of impossible, and the basic fallback - anapanasati - is also difficult for me., which left me with no body scanning at home :(.

About the energy flow thing you mentioned, it may be something else., nobody spoke to me of it with respect to Goenka technique before, and Goenka himself did not mention such a thing as well in his afternoon talks.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:29 am
by practitioner
Energy flow is not something Goenka is aware of. It is not something Buddha talked about.

It exists. Chinese call it Qi. Indian call it Prana. Wilhelm Reich calls it Orgone.

It is a matter of fact. Upon awareness of my hands I feel sensation of Qi.

When I meditate, with hands in mudra position and relaxed and when hands are in my awareness, there is Qi movement in my hands.

My mind is calm. I practiced 10 months of mental noting of thoughts before having gone to the retreat. My mind is calm so I attained access concentration in early February because I saw nimitta sign. This happened after I quit body scan near the end of Dec.

So, my mind was talkative because the body scan made the mind active by visiting different spots in the body and deciding if a minute is up for blank sensation and time to move on.

Eventually, after dozens of retreats, you will finally be told to do passive awareness of body. After having devoted all that time off from work for those retreats you end up doing what I have done for the past year, passive awareness of bodily sensations, feeling, mind, and mind states.

What is the point of body scan when Goenka ultimately teaches what I am doing that is in accordance with satipatthana?

Why say body scan is the vipassana that Buddha practiced then switch to satipatthana which is what Buddha taught? So, body scan is not what Buddha practiced. If so, why change technique to what Buddha really taught?

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:59 pm
by thepea
The body scan is done part by part until you can feel sensation in different places simultaneously. I have been taught to work independently according to what presents itself. You are meant to progress eventually to the stage where the entire body is experienced simultaneously. Just a mass of wavelets and bubbles, no solidity anywhere. In this stage you then move awareness in different ways as before probing to make sure there is no blind spots anywhere. Not craving for anything to be different simply seeing that all this sensations so pleasant so subtle are not satisfactory they are dukkha and are not you.
When we start we mostly work with gross unpleasant sensations(aversion) when we progress we begin to work with subtle pleasant sensations( craving) it doesn't matter what we observe the practice is the same to see three characteristics.
You seem very concerned with visual Nimitas we are taught to ignore them as they are a distraction and to focus on sensation to progress into jhanas.
It is taught that the chain of becoming can only be severed between sensation and reaction. I don't see what visual nimittas have to do with this technique. I would be careful not to mix techniques as you may end up looking for something in your meditation and fueling craving.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:56 am
by practitioner
Nimitta is from concentration meditation, anapanasati. It is a sign that one has attained access concentration. Little longer meditation would lead one into jhana. With access concentration or better jhana, one then practice vipassana.

Of course, ATs at Goenka retreat knows very little about dhamma other than what Goenka teaches them. I asked the AT when is Goenka going to talk about access concentration before starting vipasssna. He told me day 7 which is a lie. If he didn't know much about about meditation other than what Goenka taught he should have told me so instead of telling me day 7 which Goenka never mentioned through day 10.

I am not concerned with nimitta. If fact, I stopped the meditation session because of nimitta. At that time I had no idea what that was. Nimitta is from anapanasati nothing to do with vipassana.

I know the theory of body scan. I have been to the retreat and read his Art of Living. The point is that on day 4 Goenka started with block by block. My point is that there is no need to start block by block when part by part is sufficient. Further, there is no need to start part by part when awareness of what arises is sufficient. I am totally aware of bodily sensation with each breathe.

Many Goenka's body scan practitioners waste years of time when other practice is far more effective.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:44 am
by thepea
I'm not going to try and convince you of this technique your mind seems made up. The first 10 day course the new students receive a set of instructions when you return you receive another set of instructions. As you progress with this technique you are instructed to work more independently and to scan as you see fit at a particular time.
You say you experience the whole body in each breath, but from my experience I see anicca with regard to levels of concentration/depth of awareness. This is normal to see that no state we are experiencing from moment to moment is permanent it is all impermanent as we experience different Lokas . We are not to crave or suffer aversion to one Loka or another. Every experience that occurs is exactly what is required to observe at that moment.
As concentration deepens we move into jhanas but again these states are impermanent, dukkha and ultimately unsatisfactory and not self. Seeing this we let go of craving these states and can move into deeper jhanas and ultimately let go of suffering completely.
We can't remain in jhanic concentration at all times, so we use what is available gross breath, subtle breath, touch of cloth or atmospheric sensation, always focusing on the subtlest sensation to penetrate to deeper levels but always keeping equanimity and balance. The goal is not to merely penetrate to the deepest Loka and experience this state it is to experience what is in front of you at this moment and see this with a calm balanced and equanimous mind.
Nimittas are simply signposts that are commonly experienced by meditators as we practice with sensation with this technique we are instructed to observe nimittas related to sensation and to disregard those such as lights and colours.
It is all anapanasati at the end of the day we move our awareness to subtler aspects of breath experiencing different sensation and breaking the bonds which lead to our identity with these sensations, seeing them as they truly are, this is however a lifelong practice as these bonds are very complex.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:55 am
by ganegaar
practitioner wrote:Many Goenka's body scan practitioners waste years of time when other practice is far more effective.
Are we not attaching to our own view (or rejecting a certain view) even here in this discussion, not just you @practitioner, even me myself, and some others as well?
I see myself inclined to the Goenka technique as something that works and certainly can be many who would agree with me, and certainly there can be many who feels like @practitioner to a more or a lesser degree too.

I would certainly rather imagine this practice as a Path, rather than a Goal.
And as a similie, say we travel from tip to toe of Africa, we may need different vehicles at different times, based on their availability, suitability to local conditions, and our likes and dislikes. I would rather prefer a camel to cross an open dessert than a car, and certainly a car than a camel on a normal road. Carrying the car on the camel (as baggage crossing desert) is as stupid as carrying the camel in car on road. Getting attached and increasing baggage is equally bad as not knowing to switch vehicles at right time!
Yes, I purposefully choose car vs camel here, you may cross deserts with certain cars, and argue over camel is a bad choice :). But it all depends on circumstances at that point.
Interesting video here: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/videos/ear ... esert.html

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:04 am
by practitioner
Not clinging any view. Just that I have seen many jump into body scan without having done research to find one that best suits them. They end up wasting years and decades then give up. There is a tendency for them to think there is only one type of vipassana.

Vipassana modeled after satipatthana is practiced when sitting and practiced throughout the day the same way. Beginners can know this without going through many retreats before learning this technique. How many people can go to retreat more than once a year and have to go through many retreats. After that, they have to do a 30 days retreat to learn satipatthana vipassana when that information is already available to them.

Full information for people to make wise decision.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:08 pm
by Maxime
This message is not good. Doubt is one of the biggest enemy and we don’t have to compare our experiences.

Vipassana brings a lot of changes in my life but still doubt exist. And will always exist....
And your message will feed those doubts and many other doubt of many other people. Each one is walking in his own path. For me you clearly didn’t understand Vipassana although you attended so many courses when you say “my purpose was Nibbana”. No. As the moment you say that you already in cravings.
You didn’t understand neither that Sankhara was an children image to explain what’s going on for westerners. Of courses mind doesn’t work like that, mind is way more complicated. You didn’t understand neither how to apply in a daily life. Sitting 2h a day is not to apply in a daily life. You do it automatically without understand what happens in you.
Please try to understand well and not to spread doubts for everyone.
With Metta,

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 4:06 pm
by budo
Great post by OP! Shows the downsides of momentary concentration. Vipassana movement methods show the suffering (1st noble truth), but not the escape of suffering (2nd, 3rd, and 4th noble truth). They assume if you see the first noble truth you'll automatically know the rest, but that's not true. You can't stop fire with more fire. The escape is explained in the suttas, it is concentration, it is stillness, it is cessation, it is signless concentration and other forms of vimutti.

Re: Insights from my 21 years of practising Goenka style

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:54 pm
by Maxime
You clearly didn’t understand what is Vipassana. Whatever the sensations, Wave or not wave, that is not the point. I can feel the wave since my second Goenka retreat but again that is not the point. Impermanence and equanimity are the two things you need to develop. And respiration and the sensations are a good objects for that.
Yo can use them whenever in the daily life to train.
I have never done any 30 days retreats but, if don’t understand what you’re doing, any Technic will be automatic and useless. Or developing craving as you seem to do....