The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Samma
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Post by Samma » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:19 pm

Insight meditation is incessant work -- meditate whenever you see, hear, smell, taste, touch or think, without missing anything. But to beginners, to note everything is quite impossible. Begin with several. It is easy to observe the moving form in the rising and falling of the abdomen. We have already spoken about it. Note without a let-up “rising, falling, rising, falling.” As your mindfulness and concentration grow stronger, add the sitting and the touching and note, “rising, falling, sitting, touching.” As you note on, ideas may come up. Note them, too: “thinking, planning, knowing.” They are hindrances. Unless you are rid of them, you have not got purity of mind and will not have a clear understanding of mind-matter phenomena. So, don’t let them in. Note them and get rid of them.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Fun ... ntals.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
You might check out Mahasi's Forty, which mentions the objects for contemplation, including an anapanasati, though a commentary influenced take:
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Forty/forty.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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mikenz66
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:35 pm

Hi Mojo,
Mojo wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Mojo wrote:I checked out both resources and like the YouTube presentations.

The method seems kind of chatty. Is Anapanasati as chatty?

Thanks, Jon
What do you mean by "chatty?"
Alot of internal dialogue. You note everything. Sound sound sound thinking thinking itch itch itch itch itch pain light odor itch...
This is a common misunderstanding. The noting is not the point of this method, the noting is merely a technique to focus on the experiences rather than just thinking or imagining the experiences. If it becomes chatty then that would indicate that it is not being done correctly, and one should drop it (or, more usefully, notice that one's mind has become chatty...).

To me the key idea in the Mahasi approach is to set up a continuity of attention, and develop samadhi at the same time. This is done by having a "primary" object (motion of feet, motion of abdomen, whatever), but switch attention to "secondary" objects when they become prominent (pain, thinking, distraction, etc).

Patrick Kearney's introductory retreat talks give a good summary of the ideas:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/BMIMC% ... BMIMC.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
01 (AM) Introducing Mahāsī method
We look at the origins of the modern insight movement in Myanmar, and at the characteristics of Mahāsī Sayādaw’s approach to satipaṭṭhāna vipassanā (insight based on establishing mindfulness). We see how Mahāsī Sayādaw divides the meditator’s experience into “primary object” and “secondary object;” and how the three fundamental movements of the practitioner are “noting,” “naming” and “noticing.”
If you decide to do the "naming" part (giving the experience a label to aid attention), in my opinion you need to practice it for a while (weeks) to get the hang of it (preferably with some feedback from a teacher, or at least with some careful reading/listening of the resources posted here). Like any other technique, it takes some practice to get the idea.

:anjali:
Mike

Samma
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Post by Samma » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:52 pm

Good points mikenz66. It is not internal dialogue. As dialogue has the meaning of a conversation -- self-talk, mulling things over. This is not a practice in narrative thought. But it is incessant work, and mental repetition.

To use Kearneys terms, Noting is more important, but here Mahasi wrote about the drawback of not naming:
For particular attention it may be mentioned here that the words ‘rising’ and ‘falling’ should not be repeated by mouth, but they should be repeated mentally. In fact, words are not of real importance. To know the actual movements of the abdomen and the bodily motion present therein is of real importance. However, if the contemplation is carried on by the simple act of mental observation without the act of repeating the words mentally, the contemplation will be casual and ineffective and with many drawbacks such as that the attention fails to reach closely enough to the object to which it is directed, that the objects are not clearly distinguished and perceived separately and that the necessary energy deteriorates. Hence it is directed that contemplation should be carried out by repeating mentally the necessary words on the respective objects.
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/For ... tml#Direct" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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mikenz66
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Re: The Householder: Anapanasati vs Insight Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:15 pm

Hi Samma,

I certainly agree. The first Buddhist meditation instruction I received used this technique, and that is what I primarily practise.

However, any technique needs time to understand and get used to, and if one wants to evaluate an approach, I would recommend following the instructions from one reputable teacher (be it Mahasi, Buddhahdasa, Brahm, or whoever) for some time (months). As far as I have observed, flitting between approaches, tends to lead to confusion and dissatisfaction.

:anjali:
Mike

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