...I read the Shamatha instructions on the homepage. I'm not quite sure what the difference is between that method and Goenka's, could you elaborate? Is it that in Goenka's method you only pay attention to the sensations of breath, whereas in this method you pay attention to the sensations with also the intent to calm the body?...
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'
i) Breathing and Relaxing.Breathe in paying attention to bodily sensations as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe. Breathe out paying attention to bodily sensations and calming the body as you breathe.Notes: Do not intellectualise where you pay attention to or try to "follow the path of the breath in the body" or any other such thing - these are fabrications. Pay attention to the actual sensations in your body, wherever they are. Do not interfere with the natural breathing pattern, just pay attention to the sensations in the body as you breathe.
iii) Always return to the sensations in the body as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe.Notes: Thoughts will occur. You will suffer "follow-through" thinking so notice when it has happened and your mind has wandered from the sensations in the body as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe, then return the focus of the mind to those sensations and calming the body. When you notice you have got caught in a "train of thoughts", you can, at the beginning, make a mental note of this if you wish: just say "thinking" to yourself in your mind. It is not encouraged to do this for an extended period as it will be a new habit, but for some beginners it helps to "kick-start" the practice.This returning of the attention to the bodily sensations and calming the body is the first stage of training in calm-abiding meditation. If you force quiet on your mind and avoid this stage you will never progress beyond a mild hypnotic calming trance. This trance can bring peace and relief yet it will not deeply change the way your bodymind works.Only by repeatedly failing to keep the attention on the sensations in the body as you breathe and calm the body, then by noticing/becoming aware you have done so, and then gently (and without self-criticism - just another form of follow-on thinking), returning the attention to those sensations and calming will you train yourself in the first skill in concentration: maintaining the focus on an object (the bodily sensations).
I see the difference now. In Goenka's method we were concentrating on the breath with respect to senesations above the upper lip and below the nostril. In this method it is sensations from the breath on the whole body.
But it neither precises the opposite.
This is why it always have been a source of sterile opposition between those who want to practice on a short area to increase focus and those who want to observe bodily sensations relative to respiration to relax.
Don't be a scripture fundamentalist.
In buddhism, you never condemn other people beliefs when they are good for them ...
... you should aven recognize benefits in other traditions and accept that some people are in different degrees of knowledge.
So, one more time... Goenka ... blah blah blah ... insert standard instructions from 20 year old recording of Goenka here .. blah blah blah
"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to debates such as these — 'You understand this doctrine and discipline? I'm the one who understands this doctrine and discipline. How could you understand this doctrine and discipline? You're practicing wrongly. I'm practicing rightly. I'm being consistent. You're not. What should be said first you said last. What should be said last you said first. What you took so long to think out has been refuted. Your doctrine has been overthrown. You're defeated. Go and try to salvage your doctrine; extricate yourself if you can!' — he abstains from debates such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
Right now, I am at a period of my life where a lot of changes are about to happen, and I will need to be present and calm. While I believe the process of Vipassana (body scan) to be very important, I don't know if it is right for me at this time in my life. It makes me more aware of my anxiety, and I find it harder to accomplish the many tasks that give me anxiety which I need to do.
Laurent, brother I'd also be keen to get your opinion on my question!