Author Topic: Goenka style vipassana  (Read 3798 times)

JMatlack

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Goenka style vipassana
« on: September 08, 2014, 07:02:02 PM »
Can someone go into detail as to how Goenka does vipassana? I'm not able to go yet until after March 2015.  But my anapana is very proficient and I would like to begin practicing.  I know it is a series of body scans or sweeping as he calls it.  Can you tell me what parts of the body he scans particularly so I can begin. I would imagine I would stay at one particular part of the body for about 1-2 minutes ad then move on.  Also, what is a fast scan. Does it correlate to the breath or is it just a faster scan?
"THE ALL (god) is MIND; the universe is mental" written in The Kybalion

Goofaholix

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2014, 09:01:28 PM »
I think it's difficult to learn outside of retreat conditions and you are better off sticking with awareness of breathing for now if you are planning for something in March.

You could try being more aware of the body though, either during your meditation, or during daily activities.  It's good to start a sitting by checking out the body, moving attention through it making sure you aren't holding tension etc.  You could also do it whenever you find anapana gets too "tight".

Tobin

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2014, 10:19:24 PM »
This is how we were taught when I attended a Goenka retreat:

1) Start by focusing on the top of the head. This could be a 1 or 2 inch diameter area, or larger. The idea is to start with larger chunks if you have trouble feeling sensations. Sensations can be almost anything, he stresses this. Don't get caught up in trying to feel "special" sensations. It may be heat, cold, tingling, pressure, tightness, lightness, etc. If you have trouble feeling a sensation, go for the more superficial sensations like air touching your skin, or the fabric against your body.

2) Once you have felt a sensation in that area, move to the next chunk on your head/body. You might break your head up into: crown, the area in front of the crown, the back of the head, one side of the head, the other side of the head, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, triangular nose area, area above the lip, lips, area below the lips, left cheek, left ear, right cheek, right ear, etc and so on for the rest of the body. Remember, keep the areas larger until you able to notice more and more subtle sensations.

3) Try not to spend more than a minute on each area. If you don't feel a sensation, move on and try again the next sweep. Goenka mentions it should probably take 20 minutes to finish a body sweep when you begin and will eventually become less as you become more sensitive.

4) Once you've reached the tips of your toes, you can either start from the top of your head again, or work your way back up in reverse.

Like Goofaholix mentioned, it can be difficult to learn this technique outside of the course. There was so much information given during the retreat, it would be very difficult to explain it all. I hope this helps you a bit and if you have any more particular questions, I'll try my best to remember what was taught.

Metta :)
Regards,
Tobin

JMatlack

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2014, 11:45:03 PM »
Thank you so much for the thorough explanation. It motivates me to go even more.  I will begin sweeping the body in particular for body awareness itself. During this time when thoughts arise and feelings do I pay attention to them or just continue like I would with anapana on the breath?  Some methods say that paying attention and watching the life of the thought fulfills its purpose and allows it to be finished with its karma.  Then I can move on with mine! Is this what Goenka teaches?
"THE ALL (god) is MIND; the universe is mental" written in The Kybalion

yossarian

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 05:13:25 AM »
In Goenka's courses, anapana and vipassana are directly linked. This is important since as you practice anapana you also practice vipassana lite. The idea is that you progressively notice finer and more subtle details of air contact with the upper lip until you become aware of the underlying sensations at that point. You then bring this awareness of sensations out from that spot and move it across your body as Tobin described. Awareness at each point in the progression is supposed to signify a deeper stage of concentration. The progression goes something like:

- Awareness of breath moving in and out of nose
- Awareness of point where breath contacts the nose
- Awareness of different temperature of air coming in (cold) and going out (warm) of nose
- Awareness of flow of breath across upper lip
- Awareness of underlying sensations at that point

This isn't 100% correct but it's close. You should be able to get the right progression from his discourse videos on youtube.

FYI, it is very important that you do not try to feel the breath, just let go of thought trains as they arise and the deeper levels of focus should come naturally.

KingMe

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 03:35:16 PM »
The idea of equanimity is important. But for me was hard to get. This is "objectively" experiencing the sensations while not trying to control them. So if there is a discomfort in your lower back, just feel that as if you have no ability to move your muscles or adjust to make it feel better. Feel it and notice it as say an "intense" sensation. Notice the shape of it, how it moves and changes. And if something feels good, stay equanimous and don't try to produce more of that. This is the whole craving/aversion thing. Practicing this is powerful. I've noticed how in daily life my craving and aversion has subsided and this I believe is directly the result of practicing equanimity in Vipassana.

I try to suppose that I have zero control of the sensations, as if I was a doctor peering into the sensation of a patient but with no means to do anything about it. They'll go into all this at the retreat. I bet you're going to love it.

Regarding thoughts, I think you just notice them and then go back to the sensations. Certainly don't get lost in thought!

JMatlack

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2014, 04:07:41 PM »
In Goenka's courses, anapana and vipassana are directly linked. This is important since as you practice anapana you also practice vipassana lite. The idea is that you progressively notice finer and more subtle details of air contact with the upper lip until you become aware of the underlying sensations at that point. You then bring this awareness of sensations out from that spot and move it across your body as Tobin described. Awareness at each point in the progression is supposed to signify a deeper stage of concentration. The progression goes something like:

- Awareness of breath moving in and out of nose
- Awareness of point where breath contacts the nose
- Awareness of different temperature of air coming in (cold) and going out (warm) of nose
- Awareness of flow of breath across upper lip
- Awareness of underlying sensations at that point

This isn't 100% correct but it's close. You should be able to get the right progression from his discourse videos on youtube.

FYI, it is very important that you do not try to feel the breath, just let go of thought trains as they arise and the deeper levels of focus should come naturally.

I used this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvOvRy2M7Wg to get started with anapana. It is Goenka guiding you through a short meditation. 
"THE ALL (god) is MIND; the universe is mental" written in The Kybalion

yossarian

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2014, 06:13:31 PM »
I used this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvOvRy2M7Wg to get started with anapana. It is Goenka guiding you through a short meditation.

That's a great source if you're doing anapana for the sake of anapana. Since you inquired about "vipassana" (literally insight) as taught by Goenka, I tried my best to clarify that technique. What Tobin described is correct but missed one of the (IMO) central themes of the course. The gradual progression assures that you're not imagining or fabricating anything, just dealing with the physical reality of the body and it's sensations on a progressively more subtle level. For a skeptic like myself, this was a very important point of emphasis.

Obviously this technique isn't meant to be learned outside of Goenka courses. Otherwise you wouldn't have to come here and ask what it's all about. If you want to simulate the course and learn the technique as it is taught, I suggest you watch the discourse videos... at least up to day 4. They're all posted on youtube and I believe are available for free HD download from pariyatti.org. The guided "Vipassana" meditations are also available through youtube. It would also be helpful if you could become a recluse for a few days and try to adhere to the course schedule. I've done this at home and managed my meals solely with cereal and frozen dinner so no real preparation was required.

The intro to anapana is similar to what's taught on Day 0 so just move forward to day one and attempt to fully realize each step before jumping into body awareness. In my experience, achieving a strong, calm concentration was vital in order to achieve the "insight" that Goenka teaches as "Vipassana" (to paraphrase, "how the mind influences the body and, in turn, how the body influences the mind")
I suppose that you might grasp this reality without first having achieved a very, very calm and focused mind but, considering the number of people I saw go all the way through the course without ever getting "IT", I'd say it's doubtful.

Best to try it one step at a time.  ;)
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 06:21:57 PM by yossarian »

JMatlack

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Re: Goenka style vipassana
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2014, 07:05:49 PM »
Thank you all for your replies. I know this is no replacement for actually doig the course but I will be ready and get more out of the course if I begin now.  This makes a lot of sense to me and I will watch the videos up to day 4 as you have suggested.
"THE ALL (god) is MIND; the universe is mental" written in The Kybalion

 

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