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.
Saengnapha
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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?

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bodom
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Digity
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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Digity » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:13 pm

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:
Yeah, those difficulties definitely resonate with me too. Glad to know I'm not the only one though.

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bodom
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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by bodom » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:40 am

Saengnapha wrote: 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.
Personally I just found the labels to get in the way of direct knowing.

: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
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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:02 am

bodom wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:40 am
Saengnapha wrote: 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.
Personally I just found the labels to get in the way of direct knowing.

:namaste:
Usually, the noting fades away as you begin to let go of your thinking. It is not meant to continue, but to help your attention focus. As this focusing increases, so does the rapture. The conceptualizing fades and the heart begins to open. This is a state of great feeling, sensitivity, centering, so to speak. Citta is not divided, thinking of itself, its problems, its anger, etc. Can you follow what I'm trying to say in your experience?

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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:33 am

Digity wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:10 pm
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.
Sure, there are various approaches and finding out what works can involve some trial and error. It also depends what you're doing - I've found that maintaining mindfulness throughout the day requires a different approach to that in meditation.

I'm curious, do you drop the "Buddho" at a certain point in breath meditation?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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bodom
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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by bodom » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:44 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:02 am
bodom wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:40 am
Saengnapha wrote: 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.
Personally I just found the labels to get in the way of direct knowing.

:namaste:
Usually, the noting fades away as you begin to let go of your thinking. It is not meant to continue, but to help your attention focus. As this focusing increases, so does the rapture. The conceptualizing fades and the heart begins to open. This is a state of great feeling, sensitivity, centering, so to speak. Citta is not divided, thinking of itself, its problems, its anger, etc. Can you follow what I'm trying to say in your experience?
I appreciate your words but this was years ago that I experimented with the Mahasi noting method. I have long since moved on and have a meditation practice that works quite well for me today.

: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

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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Virgo » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:13 pm

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.
In the beginning when you do not have enough concentration it can be too hard/impossible to clearly see each section of the step, that is why it is advised to just note "left" and "right" at first, for whichever leg is stepping, and later after you have developed more concentration (after a session of walking that way and then one of sitting, or simply after walking that way for some time) to begin noting more sections of the step. That is how I was taught.

Kevin

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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:36 pm

Yes, that's how it is taught. I would advise anyone trying any approach to read/listen to the instructions carefully. Just grabbing a paragraph from here or there is unlikely to be much use.

When I started this approach, I think it took a couple of months to actually be following the movements, as opposed to just thinking I was following them. Any technique requires a lot of practice - just dabbling for a few days is unlikely to be useful. Better to stick to what you are comfortable with if you don't have good instruction or a lot of patience.

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Mike

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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by Virgo » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:54 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:36 pm
Yes, that's how it is taught. I would advise anyone trying any approach to read/listen to the instructions carefully. Just grabbing a paragraph from here or there is unlikely to be much use.

When I started this approach, I think it took a couple of months to actually be following the movements, as opposed to just thinking I was following them. Any technique requires a lot of practice - just dabbling for a few days is unlikely to be useful. Better to stick to what you are comfortable with if you don't have good instruction or a lot of patience.

:heart:
Mike
My experience is much the same and I agree, Mike. It took me a lot of meditation before I developed any real concentration.

Kevin

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rightviewftw
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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by rightviewftw » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:56 pm

ill read the thread later, but first thing i noticed is that OP is trying to do 6 step walking meditation to begin with.

Usually this is taught towards the end of 3 weeks of training and given if seen appropriate by the teacher!

"walking, walking" is really enough to begin with ie Kayagata Sutta;
"Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns, 'I am walking.' When standing, he discerns, 'I am standing.' When sitting, he discerns, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, he discerns, 'I am lying down.
Here it is just one of the Postures (mode of disposement) and that is "the base satipatthana"
And further (also next paragraph) one adds other Activities and Events but still retaining focus on the Postures (mode of disposement);
"Furthermore, when going forward & returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward & looking away... when bending & extending his limbs... when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe & his bowl... when eating, drinking, chewing, & savoring... when urinating & defecating... when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, & remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert.
So id guess first "Walking" then "Stepping Right/Left" then lifting heel etc as it appears.

Walking meditation, there is a lot going on, thoughts, sensations, intentions, awareness of the body, movements, stopping, turning, worry and other hindrances etc no need to catch everything and there is something to note every moment of existence...

Not too much and not too little, not too fast and not too slow,
as it appears to you,
i like that

As i see it Mahasi Method may have a weakness (note a weakness, not a fundamental flaw or anything like that) but it is not the noting. It is the way it is taught, very systematic one size fits all cookie cutter method. However it is hard to apply in practice in its full form and potential without understanding the Factors of Enlightenment and personality types. So people are not usually taught (id think) to do the full sequences as one would do them as one saw fit adjusting for dull/excited states of mind.

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Re: Finding Mahasi Sayadaw Meditation difficult

Post by gertjan » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:17 pm

Like the previous post; just do the one step (stepping left, stepping right). It's not about the walking, but about mindfulness.
At a retreat, the six step is only done at the final days.

My teacher once said; the walking is only to fill the time between the noting. I'm not sure if I should take that literally, but it took some pressure of the walking! In my opinion, the focussing on the walking is concentration. The noting is the mindfulness, the moment that you're aware of what's going on. To me that is essential.

I've always found the sitting meditation more important. It took me about 3-4 retreats before I really experienced the walking meditation as (more) beneficial. And now, I find it more beneficial than the sitting. While sitting, you try to create perfect conditions for the meditation. With walking, it's more similar to daily life. In the end, I would like to be more mindful in daily life. So a meditation form which is closer to that, makes it more interesting to me.

At my last retreat, when it was raining, there were some frogs making an incredible amount of noise, continuously. I really didn't know how to handle that. My teacher told me to note it, set it aside, and just notice it when it comes up again. So that was about every step, and therefore I stopped every step to notice, for as long as the round took... It's not about noticing everything, it's about being mindful about what you notice at that moment. There was also a maximum of three notes and take a least one step. And if you don't know what to note, or if there is too much; just note 'knowing, knowing, knowing'.

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