Author Topic: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?  (Read 9561 times)

humanoid

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body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« on: February 16, 2009, 07:19:28 PM »
hello,
i've never attended a (goenka) vipassana course but i have read a book about it some time ago.


i do not practice vipassana, but i do continuously practice a personal blend of "watching/being the breath" and "Not this, not that-yoga" (as taught by Nisargadatta)
if i understand correctly an important part in goenka vipassana is to "scan the body continuously in order to increase awareness of subtle sensations".

one thing i don't understand about this though,
is why does awareness to all little subtle sensations need to be increased?   ???


i'm good at keeping my attention on the breath continuously,
and i have a rather full awareness of my whole body all at the "same time"...

if i want to, i can focus on feeling subtle sensations such as those around the nose or wherever else in the body...
so i guess i'm intuitively doing quite well at being able to feel these subtle sensations.

i'm sure that scanning my whole body for sensations every day would make me even more aware of these subtle sensations,
but i really don't understand what is the benefit in this?  :-\
« Last Edit: February 17, 2009, 09:49:32 PM by humanoid »

Flipasso

  • Guest
Re: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2009, 10:01:57 PM »
Vipassana in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta consists in four basic practices:

Kayanupassana: Kaya beeing the body breath - You observe the breath, or the body in general.

Vedanupassana: Vedana beeing feelings or sensations - You observe the sensations that arise and pass away in your body. (I don't know if Vedana also means emotions)

Chittanupassana: Chitta is the mind - You observe the mind.

Dhammanupassana: Dhamma beeing either objects of the mind, i.e., thoughts, or the dhamma as in the truths the buddha taught. - There is much debate on this last issue.

Goenka's body scan Vipassana consists mainly on Vedanupassana, observing the sensations you have in your body-mind.

There are other practices of Vipassana that have other ways of looking at objects.
There are different traditions and different teachers, the body-scan vipassana isn't the only type.

alex

  • Guest
Re: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 11:51:34 PM »
Doing the body scans is just a (formal) way of awareness of sensations. Different schools put strong emphasis on this and the breathing part, particularly the tradition of s.n.goenka. I asked this question what the body scans are good for to several people of the goenka staff (including assistant teacher), and what I understood was about the following:

In your body you have certain parts which are manifestations (products, results) of past experiences, which influence your current consciousness. These are called sankharas, and their manifestations come and go and change as bodily sensations. By the description I would compare them to traumas, or psychosomatic illnesses, only they can also come from positive experience (e.g. a craving for it).

By scanning your body systematically part by part, your awareness will sooner or later perceive one of the locations where a sankhara is ascending. If you maintain equanimity while observing the sensations from this sankhara, which can often be painful, there is a chance that the sankhara will dissolve. This is usually followed by a feeling of liberation, or even bliss, but there is no way of telling which sankhara was gone, or if it is gone forever.

Sankharas from the upper layer of the consciousness(?) materialize themselves as gross sensations, whereas sankharas from a deeper level, like from experiences long ago, are subtle sensations, so subtle that they can't be felt without practice (a tingling flow, like electricity). To be liberated you have to dissolve all sankharas, and body scans make it possible to perceive even the subtlest sensations.

Personally I've enjoyed the body scans, but now I consider them to be too "mechanical". I wonder if in the goenka courses for advanced students they teach awareness of other phenomena, not only body, because in the standard courses you do nothing but breath watching and body scans (and a little metta).

greetings,
alex
« Last Edit: February 23, 2009, 12:00:47 AM by alex »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009, 09:18:46 AM »
Vipassana in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta consists in four basic practices:

Kayanupassana: Kaya beeing the body breath - You observe the breath, or the body in general.

Vedanupassana: Vedana beeing feelings or sensations - You observe the sensations that arise and pass away in your body. (I don't know if Vedana also means emotions)

Chittanupassana: Chitta is the mind - You observe the mind.

Dhammanupassana: Dhamma beeing either objects of the mind, i.e., thoughts, or the dhamma as in the truths the buddha taught. - There is much debate on this last issue.

Goenka's body scan Vipassana consists mainly on Vedanupassana, observing the sensations you have in your body-mind.

There are other practices of Vipassana that have other ways of looking at objects.
There are different traditions and different teachers, the body-scan vipassana isn't the only type.

The form of Vipassana I studied one works with all or any of these at one time. Tuning out any of them constantly would be detrimental as unbalanced.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

humanoid

  • Guest
Re: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2009, 12:32:42 AM »
The form of Vipassana I studied one works with all or any of these at one time. Tuning out any of them constantly would be detrimental as unbalanced.

Matthew
this sounds right, so what exactly is the name then of the form of vipassana you have studied?




«««««««««««««« :-* :-* :-* »»»»»»»»»»»»»»»
« Last Edit: February 24, 2009, 12:35:06 AM by humanoid »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2009, 08:39:07 AM »
humanoid,

I learned Shamatha Vipassana in the Tibetan Tradition. With some higher teachings from the Karma-Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.

But I stick to Shamatha Vipassana, no mantra, visualisations or tantra for me thanks - S-V is all you need in my humble opinion.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

bartleby

  • Guest
Re: body scans to increase awareness of subtle sensations, but why?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2009, 08:51:49 AM »
hey bro... here is how i understand it...

The sensations are important, yes... but they are not everything... if you start playing a game of sensations, then you end up craving which further increases your problems... ask yourself, if for some reason, you are not able to observe any sensations for the next 3 days while practising, will you get frustrated?

That aside, you have to keep in mind that Awareness of the sensations is only one side of the coin, albeit a very important one... the next one is Equanimity... this has to be your primal goal... indifference to the sensations... as in, you should not give a damn whether the sensations you are feeling are those of pleasure or discomfort... good or bad... even whether you are feeling sensations at the time or not... the essence of the technique, i guess is to accept the truth of the moment, as it is and not putting labels on it...

Cheers...

 

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