I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Network

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
thepea
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by thepea »

MisterRunon wrote:
but if you continue meditating and don't see any results, should you continue doing it or move on?
Unless we fully accept what presents itself this moment how can we move on?
Your stuck with it.

The biggest difficulty I see with meditators is this trying to achieve some type of experience (bhanga for example), as if this experience will fix everything, instead of just being with this moment as it unfolds.
MisterRunon wrote:
That is what I meant about stagnation. If I were to listen to that adage, and after 18 months I have not noticed much difference, then that would be me heading towards a fruitless path (or at the very least, ineffective one).
Invite some stillness into your life now, never mind 18 months from now. The future is uncertain, death can come at any moment, observing this moment as it is now, guarantees one a future birth where they will have the capacity to practice Dhamma.
MisterRunon wrote:
A few other students I have met from the center have been to 20+ 10 day courses and they still struggle with the same issues, and I think this may be rooted in the poor/erratic/impersonal quality of the ATs.
AT's are chosen if they give off a certain vibration, and also meet the lifestyle requirements. Some have years of experience teaching and are better suited relating with students, and some may be chosen after a few years within this tradition and are new to dealing with students questions.
Remember Mr. Goenka is, and always is, the teacher. The AT's are not guiding you from form to formless, this is why they can come off as impersonal, they are most likely trying to get the student back to the depth of practice and not allow their practice to surface to much with a lot of discussion. Simple blunt straight forward answers are usually given, most find these answers unsatisfying. :tongue:

You can try other techniques, the bridge between form and formless is this life energy Mr. Goenka points us towards experiencing. As your practice matures you can observe this energy in different ways.

Much success to you on your journey!
Dan74
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Dan74 »

MisterRunon wrote:
Dan74 wrote:I think expectations get in the way of actually doing the practice. As for results I don;t know if they magically appear - we exert effort to clean up our lives, bringing mindfulness and spacious awareness to our habits. This is a long-term project.

Sorry if what I wrote above wasn't clear..
Yeah, this is a debate I had with other students who say "don't expect anything," and I think I still have to generally disagree. Expecting certain things can definitely get in the way of your practice, but if you continue meditating and don't see any results, should you continue doing it or move on? That is what I meant about stagnation. If I were to listen to that adage, and after 18 months I have not noticed much difference, then that would be me heading towards a fruitless path (or at the very least, ineffective one). A few other students I have met from the center have been to 20+ 10 day courses and they still struggle with the same issues, and I think this may be rooted in the poor/erratic/impersonal quality of the ATs.
I agree to some extent. It may be better for you to move on rather than forcing yourself to persevere if many things rub you the wrong way and the practice doesn't bear fruit. On the other hand, it may be good to stick with it, like you stuck with practice even though you probably had a lot of pain in that first retreat. It's hard to know what will be more efficacious in the long run, but one thing for sure - it is very important to pay attention to these expectations, these cravings for results, for attainments, etc. That's preparing the ground for equanimity, clarity and insight right there.

All the best!
_/|\_
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Goofaholix
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Goofaholix »

MisterRunon wrote: 4 10 day retreats since April 2013. I don't think that was too much for me, but that depends on the person. Perhaps I wasn't clear in my explanation, so it would be a good time to clarify here: I am not talking just specifically about my sitting, but also my non-sitting day-to-day life. I have not noticed any marked changes, as one would expect. I know the common adage among meditators is "not to expect anything," but I disagree with that notion. No one meditates without any sort of goal or aspiration (otherwise, why would you even do it?).
I think the problem might be that you are expecting a meditation technique to do all the work for you, unfortunately this is something that a lot of people who have only done Goenka's retreats come away with because he doesn't emphasise other aspects of the path so much and so meditators expect too much of technique rather than seeing it as just a part of the whole.

How's your sila? that is one aspect Goenka emphasises.
How about attitude? my teacher emphasises attitude as being far more important than technique.
How about mindfulness throughout your daily activities? this is just as important as sitting on the cushion.
How do you reflect on not self throughout your daily activities and meditation?
How do you look out for craving and aversion throughout your daily activities and meditation?
What about generosity?
What about your life goals? are they about gaining and improving or letting go, renunciation, and contentment?

In my experience over many years the vast majority of my time on the cushion has been spent doing it wrong or with the wrong attitude, this is how you get the right attitude and learn to do it right, unfortunately that's the way to learn and patience is the key.

It is also good to take the opportunity learn from other teachers with other techniques.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Mkoll
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Mkoll »

Goofaholix wrote:How about attitude? my teacher emphasises attitude as being far more important than technique.
If you don't mind saying, I'd be curious to hear what your teacher says about right and wrong attitude.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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Goofaholix
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Goofaholix »

Mkoll wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:How about attitude? my teacher emphasises attitude as being far more important than technique.
If you don't mind saying, I'd be curious to hear what your teacher says about right and wrong attitude.
Here's a link to a leaflet on right attitude http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j& ... 2063,d.dGc

It's not just about having the right attitude and avoiding the wrong it's about monitoring your attitude, being aware of the affect your attitude is having on your perception of experience, on your energy, on your equanimity etc.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Mkoll
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Mkoll »

Goofaholix wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:How about attitude? my teacher emphasises attitude as being far more important than technique.
If you don't mind saying, I'd be curious to hear what your teacher says about right and wrong attitude.
Here's a link to a leaflet on right attitude http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j& ... 2063,d.dGc

It's not just about having the right attitude and avoiding the wrong it's about monitoring your attitude, being aware of the affect your attitude is having on your perception of experience, on your energy, on your equanimity etc.
Thanks. That sounds like the right attitude. ;)
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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mikenz66
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by mikenz66 »

See also this thread: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=7155

The leaflet is available in several languages here: http://sayadawutejaniya.org/teachings/

:anjali:
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dhammarelax
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by dhammarelax »

For long years I followed a teaching than went like this:
1.- Be a witness of your thoughts, feelings or breath, do not judge
2.- Do it without a target without a specific purpose
3.- Do it like its a game, playfully
4.- Be patient

After about 5 years of normal practice of about 30 min meditating a day I got nowhere had some nice experiences but was unable to stabilize them, then I started practicing much more ardently meditating many hours per day, after a few months of this practice I reached the 1rst jhana and then the 2nd jhana, this I was able to stabilize and use in daily life as well, I stayed in this stage for about 3 years but I couldn't make any further progress, then I started dedicating myself almost exclusively to meditation and looking into Theravada practices and practiced Anapanasati (from the sutta) for about a year, I occasionally reached the 3rd, 4rth jhana and some arupa here and there, but I wasn't able to stabilize this, then I came accross Bhante Vimalaramsis teachings and started practicing the brahmavihavas combined with mindfulness of breathing (a practice of my own crop I am afraid) my mindfulness was very strong and I reached perception- no perception but I wasn't able to manage hindrances I did this for a few months then I started practicing exactly as he teaches and on the first day I did it I reached cessation of perception and feeling and saw the links of dependent origination, after that I kept experiencing a steady progress.

Now I guess that different lessons can be drawn from this story but the one that keeps coming back to me is that is possible to make huge progress in a short period of time following the right method.

With Metta
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5
MisterRunon
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by MisterRunon »

Goofaholix wrote:
MisterRunon wrote: 4 10 day retreats since April 2013. I don't think that was too much for me, but that depends on the person. Perhaps I wasn't clear in my explanation, so it would be a good time to clarify here: I am not talking just specifically about my sitting, but also my non-sitting day-to-day life. I have not noticed any marked changes, as one would expect. I know the common adage among meditators is "not to expect anything," but I disagree with that notion. No one meditates without any sort of goal or aspiration (otherwise, why would you even do it?).
I think the problem might be that you are expecting a meditation technique to do all the work for you, unfortunately this is something that a lot of people who have only done Goenka's retreats come away with because he doesn't emphasise other aspects of the path so much and so meditators expect too much of technique rather than seeing it as just a part of the whole.

How's your sila? that is one aspect Goenka emphasises.
How about attitude? my teacher emphasises attitude as being far more important than technique.
How about mindfulness throughout your daily activities? this is just as important as sitting on the cushion.
How do you reflect on not self throughout your daily activities and meditation?
How do you look out for craving and aversion throughout your daily activities and meditation?
What about generosity?
What about your life goals? are they about gaining and improving or letting go, renunciation, and contentment?

In my experience over many years the vast majority of my time on the cushion has been spent doing it wrong or with the wrong attitude, this is how you get the right attitude and learn to do it right, unfortunately that's the way to learn and patience is the key.

It is also good to take the opportunity learn from other teachers with other techniques.
I try to be more mindful during the day, and I am a little more effective at that.. so I at least have that much achieved. I do admit that I have not been as mindful during the non-sitting hours as I should be, but I do remind myself to be more present.

Being that ATs are a bit impersonal, or at least so far I haven't been able to establish a relationship with any of them, I'd say I don't really have a teacher (I don't consider Goenka my teacher since I've never met him and he was never even aware of my existence). I guess that is part of the problem. I sort of felt envious after listening to a Joseph Goldstein/Sam Harris podcast, and Joseph mentioned how Sayadaw U Pandita would have sent Sam on the right course if Sam had only spoken to him about his issues.

This reminds me - I am actually pretty close to Thanissaro Bikkhu's Wat Metta Forest monastery. I do like the vibes I get when I hear about his talks.
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Goofaholix
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Goofaholix »

MisterRunon wrote: This reminds me - I am actually pretty close to Thanissaro Bikkhu's Wat Metta Forest monastery. I do like the vibes I get when I hear about his talks.
I would think you are pretty lucky if you are in California, a lot of options there.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
MisterRunon
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by MisterRunon »

Ben wrote:The aversion is natural, and again, very common experience. You are after all attempting to change a lifetime or lifetimes of habituated response to sensory data. The technique itself is merely a skilful means to develop equanimity in the face of any experience, including the experience of aversion and craving towards the practice itself. I think for many people, myself included, it was a shock to learn that meditation is rarely blissful and often uncomfortable. In time, the technique is dropped.
As for the quality of the Assistant Teachers - I couldn't agree more. That is why I have only a few people who I confide with.
One is an area teacher in this country and others are senior practitioners from other traditions. I have been involved (and continue to be involved) with the tradition. I have at times served Goenkaji and have been the trustee/secretary for the local meditation centre. These days I tend to (to paraphrase the Rhinoceros Sutta) walk alone.
As for the criticism from the monk who said that it leaves a significant amount of the Buddha's teaching out - it's understandable but an incorrect observation. The ten-day course is an introduction to the Dhamna. Goenkaji mentions more than once that the ten-day course is "the kindergarten of the Dhamma". It is a gradual training and more detail (both theoretical and practice related) are revealed in the special courses that are available to old students. After practicing in this tradition for nearly 30 years, I have not found it lacking.
But the other people who weighed in on this thread are also right - take the opportunity to explore other approaches to the Dhamma.
Whatever you chose to do - I wish you all the best.
With metta,
Ben
Hey Ben.. I am genuinely asking you this (no rhetoric here), but I believe I remember what the monk told me: Goenka's teachings leave out 3 out of the 4 applications of mindfulness found in the Satipathanna. His teaching focuses primarily on the 2nd, which is Vedana. I remembered he said that Goenka omits 1 out of 4 "something," but recently stumbled upon this site http://themiddleway.net/?p=98
Sanjay PS
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Sanjay PS »

MisterRunon wrote:
Ben wrote:The aversion is natural, and again, very common experience. You are after all attempting to change a lifetime or lifetimes of habituated response to sensory data. The technique itself is merely a skilful means to develop equanimity in the face of any experience, including the experience of aversion and craving towards the practice itself. I think for many people, myself included, it was a shock to learn that meditation is rarely blissful and often uncomfortable. In time, the technique is dropped.
As for the quality of the Assistant Teachers - I couldn't agree more. That is why I have only a few people who I confide with.
One is an area teacher in this country and others are senior practitioners from other traditions. I have been involved (and continue to be involved) with the tradition. I have at times served Goenkaji and have been the trustee/secretary for the local meditation centre. These days I tend to (to paraphrase the Rhinoceros Sutta) walk alone.
As for the criticism from the monk who said that it leaves a significant amount of the Buddha's teaching out - it's understandable but an incorrect observation. The ten-day course is an introduction to the Dhamna. Goenkaji mentions more than once that the ten-day course is "the kindergarten of the Dhamma". It is a gradual training and more detail (both theoretical and practice related) are revealed in the special courses that are available to old students. After practicing in this tradition for nearly 30 years, I have not found it lacking.
But the other people who weighed in on this thread are also right - take the opportunity to explore other approaches to the Dhamma.
Whatever you chose to do - I wish you all the best.
With metta,
Ben
Hey Ben.. I am genuinely asking you this (no rhetoric here), but I believe I remember what the monk told me: Goenka's teachings leave out 3 out of the 4 applications of mindfulness found in the Satipathanna. His teaching focuses primarily on the 2nd, which is Vedana. I remembered he said that Goenka omits 1 out of 4 "something," but recently stumbled upon this site http://themiddleway.net/?p=98
The last paragraph of the below quote from Goenkaji , sums it up very well . It is understandable that many will find lacunae's and pit falls , however , their are multitudes who have benefitted :-) and the country is now slowly limping back in learning to respect and be inspired by its Mother and Father , that is the Dhamma :-) All thanks to Goenkaji's herculean efforts :-)


"The Dhamma is like a brimming vessel; nothing more is required to fill it, and any addition will be at the sacrifice of what the vessel already contains.

Often the urge to add may be well-intentioned, in the hope of making the Dhamma more attractive to people of various backgrounds. “What harm is there in adding something which is itself good?” someone may ask. Understand: the harm is that the Dhamma will eventually be relegated to the background and forgotten. Additions may offer mundane benefits, but the goal of Dhamma is supramundane; liberation from suffering. Something may be harmless in itself, but it becomes most dangerous if it causes us to lose sight of this goal.

Equally insidious are moves to abridge the Dhamma in anyway. Again the intention may be good; to avoid offence to people who might find aspects of the teaching hard to accept. Against such urgings we must recall that the Dhamma was not devised to suit any particular set of views; it is the Law of Nature, rediscovered by the master Teacher 2500 years ago. Every part of it is needed to lead on to the final goal. Omitting an aspect that some find controversial—whether sīla, samādhi, or paññā—may be a good way to curry favour, but what is that worth if the efficacy of the Teaching is lost? We seek not popularity but liberation for ourselves and others.

Given a bowl of nectar, someone cries, “It is too sour!” Another says, “It would be sweeter with a little sugar.” Very well, mix a little sugar with it; there is no harm in doing so. But if the next time the bowl is offered, more sugar is added, and more every time, eventually the taste of nectar will be lost. Then people will mix together sugar and water, and drink that mixture calling it nectar, and wonder why their thirst is not slaked. So with the nectar of the Dhamma; imbibe it in its pure form, without any alteration, in order truly to benefit from it."


Pasted from <http://www.vridhamma.org/en1990-91-01>
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
MisterRunon
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by MisterRunon »

Sanjay PS wrote:
MisterRunon wrote:
Ben wrote:The aversion is natural, and again, very common experience. You are after all attempting to change a lifetime or lifetimes of habituated response to sensory data. The technique itself is merely a skilful means to develop equanimity in the face of any experience, including the experience of aversion and craving towards the practice itself. I think for many people, myself included, it was a shock to learn that meditation is rarely blissful and often uncomfortable. In time, the technique is dropped.
As for the quality of the Assistant Teachers - I couldn't agree more. That is why I have only a few people who I confide with.
One is an area teacher in this country and others are senior practitioners from other traditions. I have been involved (and continue to be involved) with the tradition. I have at times served Goenkaji and have been the trustee/secretary for the local meditation centre. These days I tend to (to paraphrase the Rhinoceros Sutta) walk alone.
As for the criticism from the monk who said that it leaves a significant amount of the Buddha's teaching out - it's understandable but an incorrect observation. The ten-day course is an introduction to the Dhamna. Goenkaji mentions more than once that the ten-day course is "the kindergarten of the Dhamma". It is a gradual training and more detail (both theoretical and practice related) are revealed in the special courses that are available to old students. After practicing in this tradition for nearly 30 years, I have not found it lacking.
But the other people who weighed in on this thread are also right - take the opportunity to explore other approaches to the Dhamma.
Whatever you chose to do - I wish you all the best.
With metta,
Ben
Hey Ben.. I am genuinely asking you this (no rhetoric here), but I believe I remember what the monk told me: Goenka's teachings leave out 3 out of the 4 applications of mindfulness found in the Satipathanna. His teaching focuses primarily on the 2nd, which is Vedana. I remembered he said that Goenka omits 1 out of 4 "something," but recently stumbled upon this site http://themiddleway.net/?p=98
The last paragraph of the below quote from Goenkaji , sums it up very well . It is understandable that many will find lacunae's and pit falls , however , their are multitudes who have benefitted :-) and the country is now slowly limping back in learning to respect and be inspired by its Mother and Father , that is the Dhamma :-) All thanks to Goenkaji's herculean efforts :-)


"The Dhamma is like a brimming vessel; nothing more is required to fill it, and any addition will be at the sacrifice of what the vessel already contains.

Often the urge to add may be well-intentioned, in the hope of making the Dhamma more attractive to people of various backgrounds. “What harm is there in adding something which is itself good?” someone may ask. Understand: the harm is that the Dhamma will eventually be relegated to the background and forgotten. Additions may offer mundane benefits, but the goal of Dhamma is supramundane; liberation from suffering. Something may be harmless in itself, but it becomes most dangerous if it causes us to lose sight of this goal.

Equally insidious are moves to abridge the Dhamma in anyway. Again the intention may be good; to avoid offence to people who might find aspects of the teaching hard to accept. Against such urgings we must recall that the Dhamma was not devised to suit any particular set of views; it is the Law of Nature, rediscovered by the master Teacher 2500 years ago. Every part of it is needed to lead on to the final goal. Omitting an aspect that some find controversial—whether sīla, samādhi, or paññā—may be a good way to curry favour, but what is that worth if the efficacy of the Teaching is lost? We seek not popularity but liberation for ourselves and others.

Given a bowl of nectar, someone cries, “It is too sour!” Another says, “It would be sweeter with a little sugar.” Very well, mix a little sugar with it; there is no harm in doing so. But if the next time the bowl is offered, more sugar is added, and more every time, eventually the taste of nectar will be lost. Then people will mix together sugar and water, and drink that mixture calling it nectar, and wonder why their thirst is not slaked. So with the nectar of the Dhamma; imbibe it in its pure form, without any alteration, in order truly to benefit from it."


Pasted from <http://www.vridhamma.org/en1990-91-01>
How does that paragraph relate to what I said about Goenka omitting 3 out of the 4 pieces of the 4 foundations of mindfulness? *I made a mistake and said he omits 1 out of 4.. I meant 3 out of 4*

And I never implied that Goenka's method is false and does not work. All I'm saying is that his approach does not seem to fit what I prefer. It's already well established that Goenka's technique has been effective for many people.
randall
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by randall »

MisterRunon wrote: How does that paragraph relate to what I said about Goenka omitting 3 out of the 4 pieces of the 4 foundations of mindfulness?

Hello, have you thought about attending the Sattipatthana course that's available to old students? There is also a published book of this course available as well.
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Goofaholix
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Re: I think I'm not compatible with the Goenka Technique/Net

Post by Goofaholix »

MisterRunon wrote: Hey Ben.. I am genuinely asking you this (no rhetoric here), but I believe I remember what the monk told me: Goenka's teachings leave out 3 out of the 4 applications of mindfulness found in the Satipathanna. His teaching focuses primarily on the 2nd, which is Vedana. I remembered he said that Goenka omits 1 out of 4 "something," but recently stumbled upon this site http://themiddleway.net/?p=98
The first foundation of mindfulness is the body, I think it's pretty obvious Goenka's method is based on mindfulness of the body.

The second is vedana feeling, and as you've noted Goenka's method also covers this.

The third is mind, most teacher don't encourage taking the mind as an object of mindfulness initially, you really need a grounding in body and feeling first. I would expect this would come in later either as the meditator progresses with or without the teacher guiding.

The fourth is dhamma, it's about reflecting on what you observe with regards to the other foundations and how it relates to what you understand of the dhamma, this happens naturally when you are working with the other 3 foundations of mindfulness together with being taught the theory, I think he has this covered.

I would have said Goenkas method was more based on the body sensation, and less based on actions and activity ie moving, thinking, hearing, intending, daily activities etc
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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