Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Digity
Posts: 1309
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:13 am

Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Digity » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:19 am

Does anyone else here find the Mahasi Sayadaw style of meditation difficult? I've tried doing the walking meditation where you note everything like lifting the heel, lifting the foot, moving the foot, touching the foot, placing the foot. I find that it's just too much to track and it's actually kind of stressful for me to try and do it. This seems weird, since if it's done properly it should help you become more concentrated, but it's not having that effect on me. Should I just drop this style and say that it's just not for me. In contrast, I was just doing normal sitting meditation in the morning without a lot of noting and had a good sit. Maybe the "noting" style isn't for me.

SarathW
Posts: 9037
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by SarathW » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:29 am

I used to teach walking meditation to some of my friends based on the following video.
The all love it.

“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15658
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:31 am

Hi Dignity,

Yes, perhaps you're trying too hard. I'm not sure it's easy to learn any approach without some personal instruction, but if you are interested in this approach, the next best thing might be to listen to one of Patrick Kearney's retreat recordings, which I've linked here:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=341#p6695

The advantage of those recordings over most others is that they include extensive Q&A and discussion with the participants, so though you can't ask questions yourself (obviously!), the participants may well ask some of the questions you would have.

:heart:
Mike

Digity
Posts: 1309
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:13 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Digity » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:42 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:31 am
Hi Dignity,

Yes, perhaps you're trying too hard. I'm not sure it's easy to learn any approach without some personal instruction, but if you are interested in this approach, the next best thing might be to listen to one of Patrick Kearney's retreat recordings, which I've linked here:
viewtopic.php?f=41&t=341#p6695

The advantage of those recordings over most others is that they include extensive Q&A and discussion with the participants, so though you can't ask questions yourself (obviously!), the participants may well ask some of the questions you would have.

:heart:
Mike
Yeah, I think my issue is two-fold. First, it's the trying too hard as you mentioned. Not sure how to best combat that. Secondly, it's the doubts I have about whether I should be noting or not. I often wonder if we should be following that sort of method or just walk and pay attention without the noting. I have this skepticism about it, if I'm being totally honest here.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15658
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:46 am

PS, listening to just the first talk here:
https://patrick-kearney.wetransfer.com/ ... 522/1aba65
"Introducing Method"
may clarify things a lot.

The noting (or "naming" as Patrick calls it - he uses the term "noting" for simply deliberately paying attention to something) is an aid to focussing attention, not an end in itself. It's like any other "trick" (counting breaths, chanting bud-dho on the in and out breaths, etc), an aid to mindfulness, not something with any particular Dhammic significance. Some find these tricks useful, some do not. As Patrick says in that talk, its up to you to find out what works for you. It's not up to you to find the "one true method". That doesn't exist!

:heart:
Mike

Digity
Posts: 1309
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:13 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Digity » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:54 am

Thanks, I'll have a listen.

User avatar
dylanj
Posts: 631
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by dylanj » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:17 am

susukhaṃ vata nibbānaṃ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṃ;
asokaṃ virajaṃ khemaṃ,
yattha dukkhaṃ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ panītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15658
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:22 am

Good post!

Ven Nananda's "Insight in the Promenade" instructions (p13) are based on the Mahasi approach, but with his own insightful spin...

:heart:
Mike

Dinsdale
Posts: 5515
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:56 am

Digity wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:42 am
Yeah, I think my issue is two-fold. First, it's the trying too hard as you mentioned. Not sure how to best combat that. Secondly, it's the doubts I have about whether I should be noting or not. I often wonder if we should be following that sort of method or just walk and pay attention without the noting. I have this skepticism about it, if I'm being totally honest here.
Noting doesn't work for everyone, though of course there are different approaches to noting, and it doesn't have to be continuous. And as Mike observed, noting is intended as an aid to mindfulness, rather like counting the breaths in meditation.

It's fine to try different methods, experiment and explore, see what works for you.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 15658
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:34 pm

Posts arguing about meditation approaches have been moved to this thread:
Arguing about Mahasi Sayadaw and Goenka Meditation
Please use the current thread to post constructive advice.

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
aflatun
Posts: 803
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:40 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by aflatun » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:22 pm

Hi Digity

If you like the general framework of Burmese Vipassana but find that noting makes you racey and stressed out, besides heeding Mike's advice and that of other's that are experienced with this approach, I would recommend exploring the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya. His basic approach is more 'relaxed', 'open', 'objectless,' with less (no) emphasis on noting, tracking and dissecting experience. For example:


The Daily Tejaniya Jan. 25, 2018 wrote: If you're aware, that's enough. No
need to focus, no need to try hard.

I think some people will thrive on a more "formless" approach, and some people will end up just zoning out. Some people will thrive with a more directed and focused approach, some people will become scattered and agitated. It all depends on your constitution, where you are on a given day, etc.

PS: I have no formal experience with Mahasi's approach, but I have played with it in the past, and noting did indeed stress me out. Noting as such doesn't anymore but many things have changed in between, which have nothing to do with his approach per se so I can't advise you there, I just wanted to say I think this is not an uncommon reaction (in the beginning).
Digity wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:19 am
Does anyone else here find the Mahasi Sayadaw style of meditation difficult? I've tried doing the walking meditation where you note everything like lifting the heel, lifting the foot, moving the foot, touching the foot, placing the foot. I find that it's just too much to track and it's actually kind of stressful for me to try and do it. This seems weird, since if it's done properly it should help you become more concentrated, but it's not having that effect on me. Should I just drop this style and say that it's just not for me. In contrast, I was just doing normal sitting meditation in the morning without a lot of noting and had a good sit. Maybe the "noting" style isn't for me.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6182
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by bodom » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:03 pm

:goodpost:

I absolutely agree with aflatun. I had tried Mahasi method a few times and each time gave it up because of the doubting over the noting practice. I switched to Sayadaw Tenjaniya's method which is basically the Mahasi method minus the noting.

His teachings can be read here for free:

http://ashintejaniya.org/teachings

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

dharmacorps
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:33 pm

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:37 pm

I tried the Mahasi method some years ago and found that after a certain point I had trouble "finding" the breath.

Sobhana
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:34 pm

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Sobhana » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:02 pm

bodom wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:03 pm
I had tried Mahasi method a few times and each time gave it up because of the doubting over the noting practice.
This is from the Venerable Analayo's 'Early Buddhist Meditation Studies', p. 21:
Regarding the early Buddhist conception of mindfulness, a point worthy of note is that the instructions for satipaṭṭhāna meditation make use of conceptual labels to facilitate recognition. The actual instructions for contemplation of feelings or of states of mind, for example, use direct speech to formulate the conceptual labels to be used when practicing.4 In the case of a mind with anger, for instance, the task is to know a mind with anger as being “a mind with anger”.5 This unmistakably envisions that satipaṭṭhāna meditation involves the use of concepts. A practice like the labeling technique employed in the Mahāsi tradition does in this respect seem to reflect quite well what the early discourses suggest actual practice to have been about.

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6182
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by bodom » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:44 pm

Sobhana wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:02 pm
bodom wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:03 pm
I had tried Mahasi method a few times and each time gave it up because of the doubting over the noting practice.
This is from the Venerable Analayo's 'Early Buddhist Meditation Studies', p. 21:
Regarding the early Buddhist conception of mindfulness, a point worthy of note is that the instructions for satipaṭṭhāna meditation make use of conceptual labels to facilitate recognition. The actual instructions for contemplation of feelings or of states of mind, for example, use direct speech to formulate the conceptual labels to be used when practicing.4 In the case of a mind with anger, for instance, the task is to know a mind with anger as being “a mind with anger”.5 This unmistakably envisions that satipaṭṭhāna meditation involves the use of concepts. A practice like the labeling technique employed in the Mahāsi tradition does in this respect seem to reflect quite well what the early discourses suggest actual practice to have been about.
I have no doubt that the practice works for some and is in accord with the suttas, it just didn't work for me.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Saengnapha
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:09 am

bodom wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:44 pm
Sobhana wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:02 pm
bodom wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:03 pm
I had tried Mahasi method a few times and each time gave it up because of the doubting over the noting practice.
This is from the Venerable Analayo's 'Early Buddhist Meditation Studies', p. 21:
Regarding the early Buddhist conception of mindfulness, a point worthy of note is that the instructions for satipaṭṭhāna meditation make use of conceptual labels to facilitate recognition. The actual instructions for contemplation of feelings or of states of mind, for example, use direct speech to formulate the conceptual labels to be used when practicing.4 In the case of a mind with anger, for instance, the task is to know a mind with anger as being “a mind with anger”.5 This unmistakably envisions that satipaṭṭhāna meditation involves the use of concepts. A practice like the labeling technique employed in the Mahāsi tradition does in this respect seem to reflect quite well what the early discourses suggest actual practice to have been about.
I have no doubt that the practice works for some and is in accord with the suttas, it just didn't work for me.

:namaste:
I have no formal training in this approach but have toyed with it in the past. It seems noting is nothing more than recognizing what your internal state is at any given moment. If you are angry, you're angry. If you're blissful, you're blissful. What is the 'problem' doing this? Why would it stress someone out if they simply recognized a mental state? Aside from this, are you asked to do anything else in this method? Are you asked to try to change what is noted? Manipulate it in any way?

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6182
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by bodom » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:11 pm

I have no formal training in this approach but have toyed with it in the past. It seems noting is nothing more than recognizing what your internal state is at any given moment. If you are angry, you're angry. If you're blissful, you're blissful. What is the 'problem' doing this? Why would it stress someone out if they simply recognized a mental state? Aside from this, are you asked to do anything else in this method? Are you asked to try to change what is noted? Manipulate it in any way?
This thread echoes some of the difficulties I experienced using the noting method:

viewtopic.php?t=8263

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Hiheyhello
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:10 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Hiheyhello » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:33 am

Admin, please deactivate my account. TIA
Last edited by Hiheyhello on Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Saengnapha
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:41 am

bodom wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:11 pm
I have no formal training in this approach but have toyed with it in the past. It seems noting is nothing more than recognizing what your internal state is at any given moment. If you are angry, you're angry. If you're blissful, you're blissful. What is the 'problem' doing this? Why would it stress someone out if they simply recognized a mental state? Aside from this, are you asked to do anything else in this method? Are you asked to try to change what is noted? Manipulate it in any way?
This thread echoes some of the difficulties I experienced using the noting method:

viewtopic.php?t=8263

:namaste:
Are the questions that I asked indicative of what your problems were with this method? Is not stress related to thinking and some kind of opposition?
Please bear in mind that I am not advocating using this method.

Digity
Posts: 1309
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:13 am

Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Digity » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:10 pm

aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:22 pm
Hi Digity

If you like the general framework of Burmese Vipassana but find that noting makes you racey and stressed out, besides heeding Mike's advice and that of other's that are experienced with this approach, I would recommend exploring the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya. His basic approach is more 'relaxed', 'open', 'objectless,' with less (no) emphasis on noting, tracking and dissecting experience. For example:


The Daily Tejaniya Jan. 25, 2018 wrote: If you're aware, that's enough. No
need to focus, no need to try hard.

I think some people will thrive on a more "formless" approach, and some people will end up just zoning out. Some people will thrive with a more directed and focused approach, some people will become scattered and agitated. It all depends on your constitution, where you are on a given day, etc.

PS: I have no formal experience with Mahasi's approach, but I have played with it in the past, and noting did indeed stress me out. Noting as such doesn't anymore but many things have changed in between, which have nothing to do with his approach per se so I can't advise you there, I just wanted to say I think this is not an uncommon reaction (in the beginning).
I'm a big fan of Sayadaw U Tejaniya. His teachings and attitude have resonated with me a lot over the years.

I think I find the noting tedious and it gets in the way rather than being an aid. Yeah, I think some people prefer one style over the other. I think I'd be more weary if people were teaching that "noting" is the only right way of doing meditation rather than saying it's just one technique available.

I do like using "Buddho" in breath meditation. I've noticed that it helps me focus more on my breath. So, it's not too far off from noting in-out.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests