Author Topic: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions  (Read 189 times)

Blake32

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Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« on: April 05, 2018, 08:57:11 PM »
Hi, I'm Blake and I am 32(incase that wasn't obvious). I am new to the forum today :). I have never spoken to anyone experienced with Vipassana. I discovered Vipassana in 2008 from reading books, including one by S.N. Goenka. I am self taught and for that reason I am sure my technique is lacking. I have been on and off over the years because I hit walls I didnt know how to break through. One particular problem I had is telling myself that "I" am a failure and "I" will fail this meditation attempt and giving these thoughts power. I would fear that if I failed a session I would feel worse off. This time I have been practising Vipassana for 6-8 weeks for 1-2 hours per day. I have run into this same thought process again however I recognize it now for its true nature and do not identify with it. I have days of doubt caused by other life circumstances but I do not let myself view them as any more than a fleeting moment.
The past week I have learned more about myself than the previous few years. I see my addictive personality weakening in all aspects of life. I have lost all doubts about the effectiveness of Vipassana. However I have a bunch of beginner questions.

Please respond with the number of the question being answered followed by the answer. Thank you very much in advance :)

1. Should I travel up and down each finger/toe or do the entire hand/foot at once? I enjoy doing each finger/toe but worry it limits time in more problematic areas.

2. When should I sweep en masse?

3. I do not struggle to feel sensations. Infact they are quite overwheling at times. Should I still return to Anapana on occasion? And when?

4. Personally after doing each arm I go down my chest/belly then upper back/lower back. After my legs I do the back first then front. Does it really matter how I do this? Is there a proper way?

5. Im struggling to keep my newly aquired wisdom to myself and to view anyones problems as they do because I see the roots of these problems. I am trying to be mindful of how my words will be received so I do not engage in unproductive or hurtful conversation. Any advice?

6. Should all deep realizations be held off or reserved until after my meditation session? Or if it seems life altering should I allow my mind to leave the sensations?

7. I use binaural beats most of the time. Is this okay?

8. Sometimes I meditate laying down because I do not care if I fall asleep or actually want to fall asleep. But I can wake up confused in a half dream state. Should I avoid meditating to fall asleep?

Please feel free to share any advice in areas not covered for a person who never learned the technique at a retreat or by an experienced instructor. Thank you :)

Blake32

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2018, 02:08:51 AM »
I cant figure out how to modify my OP.

9. I felt extremely energetic at first and associated this with a positive mind shift. But the past few days I've been tired a lot, especially after meditating. Is this normal or does this mean I may be holding in mental pains?

stillpointdancer

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 11:48:28 AM »

1. Should I travel up and down each finger/toe or do the entire hand/foot at once? I enjoy doing each finger/toe but worry it limits time in more problematic areas. 2. When should I sweep en masse? 4. Personally after doing each arm I go down my chest/belly then upper back/lower back. After my legs I do the back first then front. Does it really matter how I do this? Is there a proper way?

5. Im struggling to keep my newly aquired wisdom to myself and to view anyones problems as they do because I see the roots of these problems. I am trying to be mindful of how my words will be received so I do not engage in unproductive or hurtful conversation. Any advice?

6. Should all deep realizations be held off or reserved until after my meditation session? Or if it seems life altering should I allow my mind to leave the sensations?

8. Sometimes I meditate laying down because I do not care if I fall asleep or actually want to fall asleep. But I can wake up confused in a half dream state. Should I avoid meditating to fall asleep?
1,2,4 These are all about body scanning, to make sure everything is ok and you are relaxed enough from the day to go to the next stage of your meditation. I start from toes up to the top of the head, but it doesn't really matter which order.

5 I would keep on keeping it to yourself, unless you are talking to a fellow practitioner. I've found that people don't really want advice, they just want someone to listen to their problems.

6 Don't understand this one. Isn't the whole point of vipassana to get these realizations? Why would you want to 'hold them off'?

8 Personally I always fall asleep when meditating like that. I only do this now if I have trouble getting to sleep. I usually last about five minutes and then it's morning.

9 Meditation is sometimes energizing, sometimes tiring, but mostly somewhere in between.

As to the 'brick walls' part I assume that everyone who meditates gets to these. You can give up for a while, or try to sit through it, or shift to more interesting meditations for a while. Hope this helps.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Blake32

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 06:26:37 PM »

[/quote]
1,2,4 These are all about body scanning, to make sure everything is ok and you are relaxed enough from the day to go to the next stage of your meditation. I start from toes up to the top of the head, but it doesn't really matter which order.

5 I would keep on keeping it to yourself, unless you are talking to a fellow practitioner. I've found that people don't really want advice, they just want someone to listen to their problems.

6 Don't understand this one. Isn't the whole point of vipassana to get these realizations? Why would you want to 'hold them off'?

8 Personally I always fall asleep when meditating like that. I only do this now if I have trouble getting to sleep. I usually last about five minutes and then it's morning.

9 Meditation is sometimes energizing, sometimes tiring, but mostly somewhere in between.

As to the 'brick walls' part I assume that everyone who meditates gets to these. You can give up for a while, or try to sit through it, or shift to more interesting meditations for a while. Hope this helps.
[/quote]
Thank you for the advice Stillpointdancer! My question about the realizations is if they are only suppose to come after meditating. I thought the idea is to always silence the mind as much as possible while body scanning? I figured the lasting change in brain waves dissolves the minds self defense mechanisms so we can achieve all the insight necessary after meditating. But I really do not know.

stillpointdancer

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2018, 12:07:29 PM »

Thank you for the advice Stillpointdancer! My question about the realizations is if they are only suppose to come after meditating. I thought the idea is to always silence the mind as much as possible while body scanning? I figured the lasting change in brain waves dissolves the minds self defense mechanisms so we can achieve all the insight necessary after meditating. But I really do not know.
I see what you mean. For me it is more that the meditation experience has different stages. Mostly they are about relaxing the body and then going on to work on whatever the meditation is for - mindfulness of breathing, or metta bhavana, or insight, or whatever. These are conscious stages when you are aware of what is happening, but, hopefully, in a state where the mind has quieter (rather than silenced).

On rare occasions the mind goes beyond this and becomes somewhat 'stilled' as you call it, when time and space kind of fade out, as does consciousness. When consciousness returns we are still in meditation, but once again aware of what is going on. We can either carry on with the meditation and think about what happened after we get up from the mat, or we can change the current meditation to think about it there and then.

It may also be that a series of meditations 'sets up the brain' (as I call it) so that 'realizations' arise as we are doing other things. Is this what you mean?
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Laurent

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2018, 11:22:21 PM »
Hi, I'm Blake and I am 32(incase that wasn't obvious). I am new to the forum today :). I have never spoken to anyone experienced with Vipassana. I discovered Vipassana in 2008 from reading books, including one by S.N. Goenka. I am self taught and for that reason I am sure my technique is lacking. I have been on and off over the years because I hit walls I didnt know how to break through. One particular problem I had is telling myself that "I" am a failure and "I" will fail this meditation attempt and giving these thoughts power. I would fear that if I failed a session I would feel worse off. This time I have been practising Vipassana for 6-8 weeks for 1-2 hours per day. I have run into this same thought process again however I recognize it now for its true nature and do not identify with it. I have days of doubt caused by other life circumstances but I do not let myself view them as any more than a fleeting moment.
The past week I have learned more about myself than the previous few years. I see my addictive personality weakening in all aspects of life. I have lost all doubts about the effectiveness of Vipassana. However I have a bunch of beginner questions.

Please respond with the number of the question being answered followed by the answer. Thank you very much in advance :)

1. Should I travel up and down each finger/toe or do the entire hand/foot at once? I enjoy doing each finger/toe but worry it limits time in more problematic areas.

When enjoing to travel fingers and toes, just do it without caring of time or what you will do next. It is important to absorb in contemplation rather than making it  technically good. Keep enjoying.

2. When should I sweep en masse?

It has no importance, you will naturally sweep when sensations become very subtle.You will make it naturally when it is obvious. Continue to enjoy contemplating without any effort. Let things arise.

3. I do not struggle to feel sensations. Infact they are quite overwheling at times. Should I still return to Anapana on occasion? And when?

I feel Goenka vipassana good to "cure" some physical or mental problems so i do not practice it as taught in the courses. I feel more accurate to spend lots of time in a zone with obvious tensions and it is less boring, so that the mind gets easily absorbed and naturally stills. I have had surprising results with this and i recommand to persons with health issues. But i don't think this is the way to liberation. This could be a good practice though.

4. Personally after doing each arm I go down my chest/belly then upper back/lower back. After my legs I do the back first then front. Does it really matter how I do this? Is there a proper way?

It does not matter at all. The important is to absorb in contemplation without any doubt, so that mind stills and let go of what is not here and now. The way you do it, observing sensations or something else, is not important.

5. Im struggling to keep my newly aquired wisdom to myself and to view anyones problems as they do because I see the roots of these problems. I am trying to be mindful of how my words will be received so I do not engage in unproductive or hurtful conversation. Any advice?

I believe that liberating yourself is prior to help others, you will help by being more peaceful.

6. Should all deep realizations be held off or reserved until after my meditation session? Or if it seems life altering should I allow my mind to leave the sensations?

Most of great meditators say that you don't have to evaluate meditation when meditating because you should be completly in present without any evaluation, and that it is good to evaluate meditation after meditation.

7. I use binaural beats most of the time. Is this okay?

I don't know binaural beats.

8. Sometimes I meditate laying down because I do not care if I fall asleep or actually want to fall asleep. But I can wake up confused in a half dream state. Should I avoid meditating to fall asleep?

If you are not able to keep awakened, it is preferable to not do it. Why do you want to practice laying down. You should ask yourself this question.

Please feel free to share any advice in areas not covered for a person who never learned the technique at a retreat or by an experienced instructor. Thank you :

Also, i suggest you to read about other methods and try them. It helps to refine view and deepens understanding of what meditation really is, beyond methods. Meditation is essentially letting go and Goenka's teaching does not emphasize this point, so some people find it and some people wander.



« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 11:26:48 PM by Laurent »

Ottercreek

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 12:58:56 AM »
I agree with Laurent about different methods (maybe staying with Vipassana-mindfulness meditation, which pretty much includes Zen in my opinion and experience, but some might disagree?). Besides, aren't you interested in sitting a retreat? I find that that best answers to my questions I find in my own practice, and I find meditating intensively on retreat makes a huge difference. Of course each person is different, I'm not saying intensive retreats are an absolute must for all... but still I tend to encourage people to give it a try!

Blake32

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2018, 11:57:03 AM »

Thank you for the advice Stillpointdancer! My question about the realizations is if they are only suppose to come after meditating. I thought the idea is to always silence the mind as much as possible while body scanning? I figured the lasting change in brain waves dissolves the minds self defense mechanisms so we can achieve all the insight necessary after meditating. But I really do not know.
I see what you mean. For me it is more that the meditation experience has different stages. Mostly they are about relaxing the body and then going on to work on whatever the meditation is for - mindfulness of breathing, or metta bhavana, or insight, or whatever. These are conscious stages when you are aware of what is happening, but, hopefully, in a state where the mind has quieter (rather than silenced).

On rare occasions the mind goes beyond this and becomes somewhat 'stilled' as you call it, when time and space kind of fade out, as does consciousness. When consciousness returns we are still in meditation, but once again aware of what is going on. We can either carry on with the meditation and think about what happened after we get up from the mat, or we can change the current meditation to think about it there and then.

It may also be that a series of meditations 'sets up the brain' (as I call it) so that 'realizations' arise as we are doing other things. Is this what you mean?
Perfect explanation! Thats what I needed to know. Ive had my mind still enough to forget where I am and have visuals and hear sounds a few times but more often find myself in a quieter place where the thoughts are productive. This makes a lot of sense to me. Im amazed how much equanimity I have developed since I started this post. My meditation has changed drastically in this short period of time. I havent been this happy in 12 years :). Thank you for the follow up response!

Blake32

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2018, 12:09:18 PM »
Laurent:
I see your point about letting go. That was one of my more recent realizations. I felt like I had almost let go enough to transcend my being(if that makes any sense) but it only happened once and really got me thinking about that. I will need to look into other methods. I fear I may be slipping into auto pilot too much anyway.

Ottercreek:
I do want to try a retreat eventually. But I am still struggling to meditate for even 20 minutes when sitting properly without any back support. My concentration is far deeper with back support but I also get sleepy with back support. So I want to make sure I can meditate for hours without back support before going to a retreat. I would hate to be one of the people who leaves. But I certainly could benefit tremendously I am sure. In due time. Im starting a business right now so the time also isnt suitable.

Thank you for your responses  ;)

Ottercreek

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2018, 02:05:53 PM »
I am still struggling to meditate for even 20 minutes when sitting properly without any back support. My concentration is far deeper with back support but I also get sleepy with back support. So I want to make sure I can meditate for hours without back support before going to a retreat. I would hate to be one of the people who leaves

Sure, only you know when the time is right and I certainly don't want to push or force you, just share my experience: I had hardly meditated at all when I sat my first Goenka retreat, and because it went well (I was just lucky, probably!), sitting long periods was not a problem. Pain has a lot to do with tensions, and when your meditation goes well you can deal with it very easily, and actually I find that pain can be a great guide for your meditation! Now on other retreats when I experienced more doubt (didn't feel too well supported, didn't trust the teachers so much anymore), pain was a problem - so sometimes it is, sometimes not, with practice I'm getting to deal with it more consistently, and not depend on the context or teacher so much anymore. One thing for sure: getting over our fear of pain as much as possible helps very, very much!

Blake32

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 02:36:06 AM »
I am still struggling to meditate for even 20 minutes when sitting properly without any back support. My concentration is far deeper with back support but I also get sleepy with back support. So I want to make sure I can meditate for hours without back support before going to a retreat. I would hate to be one of the people who leaves

Sure, only you know when the time is right and I certainly don't want to push or force you, just share my experience: I had hardly meditated at all when I sat my first Goenka retreat, and because it went well (I was just lucky, probably!), sitting long periods was not a problem. Pain has a lot to do with tensions, and when your meditation goes well you can deal with it very easily, and actually I find that pain can be a great guide for your meditation! Now on other retreats when I experienced more doubt (didn't feel too well supported, didn't trust the teachers so much anymore), pain was a problem - so sometimes it is, sometimes not, with practice I'm getting to deal with it more consistently, and not depend on the context or teacher so much anymore. One thing for sure: getting over our fear of pain as much as possible helps very, very much!
I just gave the half lotus another try(3rd time since I started up again). The pain was pretty intense but after 10 minutes I completely accepted it. I stopped at 26 minutes because my foot had gone completely numb and I guess i feared doing damage. I dont know if I need to find a way to bend my ankle less or if it will just adapt with practice. I find that even though my focus is better when feeling blissful, I think the painful sits have a more profound effect afterwards. So i welcome the pain as long as I can keep focus and keep the sensations moving well. I have trouple getting both knees firmly planted so I don't feel completely stable. I may need to get a meditation cushion. My ex gf stole mine so im using a rolled up piece of carpet lol. Its firm and soft so not bad.
I cant imagine going to a retreat with little experience haha. If I had a mild stimulant i could meditate laying down all day long and not desire to stop. Unfortunately caffeine doesnt keep me awake. But sitting up still brings negative sensations. The more negativity the stronger the desire to reach the finish line.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 02:43:21 AM by Blake32 »

Ottercreek

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 11:41:56 AM »
Oh, well, that's the way! :) I find being very stable is important, but I just use a folded blanket with a mini plane pillow on top... I guess it's worth experimentating a bit to find a good arrangement... and still expect to struggle, hahaha!  Enjoy!
with much metta  ;)

Blake32

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Re: Self taught, Introduction and list of questions
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2018, 08:23:37 PM »
Just had my 5th attempt at the half lotus since i started up again and it was like a switch flipped. Sensations were flowing immediately and focus started out decent. I felt myself surrendering to the new position. It was quite a powerful experience. I havent had any insightful thoughts in days and was getting a bit bummed by that but I feel very spiritually uplifted now.  ;D ;)