Author Topic: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana  (Read 13032 times)

RajeshKumar

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Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« on: November 17, 2007, 12:03:34 PM »
I attended Vipassana 10 day course last week and myself and a few members who attended didn't get the subtle sensation (except pain in legs and back due to sitting for long hours) that we are supposed to observe. Some people were able to get the free flow as well. We got gross sensation but not the subtle sensation that the Guru told us. May be our concentration was not too good enough.

Do such cases happen? What is the solution now to get the subtle sensation and continue getting the benefits of Vipassana. Do I have to go to another class or can i practice at home with ana pana for a little longer time to increase concentration and it will work for me? Has anybody been successful later in getting the subtle sensations later after class or have failed to get subtle sensation in class. Please let me know how I can proceed further to make it work for me. I believe strongly in the training as I understood the logic.
Please let me know if subtle sensations are really necessary? Am I doing vipassana properly and is it working for me in case I do it with equanimity? What can I do to get the subtle sensations?


Thank you.
Rajesh ???

Paul

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2007, 12:36:36 PM »
Hi Rajesh,

Its really no problem!  First don't expect to get the subtle sensations -- as long as you're expecting them and waiting for them you can be sure they won't come.  I personally don't think they're necessary either, although I might stand corrected on that.  I recommend you continue practicing at home, just do the mindfulness on breathing,, then go onto the body scans when you feel calm and concentrated, like you did in the course.  If you can get 30 minutes per day that's great, but more time is even better!  If you find it difficult to concentrate on the breathing you might like to count the breaths, up to 10, then go back to 1 again, this can help focus on the breath in the beginning.  I'd also recommend reading Breath by Breath by Larry Rosenburg if you can get a copy, this book is a trly excellent support in Vipassana practice.

The insights will come in their own time, all you have to do is focus on the moment, this moment and sit as regularily as possible.  As we say where I come from "look after the mickles, and the muckles will look after themselves" - look after the small money - cents/pennies etc - and the bigger units (dollars/pounds) will look after themselves.  This relates to money, but you can really apply it to meditation too :)

Paul




mettajoey

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2007, 02:55:19 PM »
Hi Rajesh,
Try to work for feeling the subtle sensations by working with what you do feel.  Say you are focusing on your shoulder, feel the material from your clothes for a starter, maybe you can feel that light sensation as the fabric touches the skin, what does that feel like?  Relax and just sense...just focus on a small spot, maybe you can feel the hair on your skin reacting, almost itching as the cloth lays on your skin.  Or maybe you can feel a coolness, or warmness on the surface of the skin, that's enough, just notice.  Then again, maybe you feel something and then quickly it goes away, that's enough, move to the next area.
Another direction or experiment to try, hold your hand out, comfortably, in front of you not touching anything.  Close your eyes and without thinking logically (like, I just saw it there a minute ago), how do you know it is there?
Please try these things and let me know how it goes.
Warmly,
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

yadidb

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2007, 02:11:14 AM »
Paul,

I understand your suggestion is a result of good will but verbalization is strictly forbidden in this specific Vipassana tradition as taught by Goenka..

He explains it quite throughly throughout the discourses.

Matthew

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2007, 08:53:50 AM »
Paul,

I understand your suggestion is a result of good will but verbalization is strictly forbidden in this specific Vipassana tradition as taught by Goenka..

He explains it quite throughly throughout the discourses.

yadidb,

This forum is home to persons not only from only Goenkas tradition and we don't work to anyone else's rules.

In the Dhamma,

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

Stefan

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2007, 04:51:02 PM »
... and I cannot remember that Goenkaji ever tried to forbid anything. All he does is explain & explain again why certain things are not a good idea for a Vipassana Yogi (like verbalisation). Verbalisation is a crutch to meditation, and it works, but I believe the essence of all vipassana schools is to learn to walk without crutches - therefore verbalisation is contraproductive to Vipassana.

But for the main topic:

It is not unusual not to get the subtle sensations in the first course - same goes for the free flow. Paul is absolutely right: If you long for the free flow, you cannot experience it. The craving for subtle sensations causes gross sensations, and these gross sensations superimpose the subtle sensations ... only thing you should do is to go on with meditation. Be thankful for the gross feelings: they are sankharas that you can get rid off now! And when you will have removed enough of these sankharas, then you will feel the subtle sensations without any effort.
And then, having experienced the free flow, still you will have days without anything but grossest sensations! Equanimity is the clue, not the type of sensations you experience. I know a case of a dentist who did well with the free flow, and then he stopped meditating for half a year. When he attended the next course, he had ten days of gross shit only. No free flow in ten days, although he was an old student!! His comment was something like "how fine it is to get rid of this karmic waste".
And the subtle sensations (as well as the gross ones) are not "necessary or unneccessary", but they simply are there. They exist. All the time. That's why they are a great object of meditation ... but they are not the main thing.
The main things for us Vipassana-Newbies are equanimity, awareness, concentration, loving kindness, humbleness.
That's how I understand it.

Metta to you, Stefan
« Last Edit: November 29, 2007, 04:53:26 PM by stefan »
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yadidb

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2007, 01:28:47 AM »
Hey there,

I know this is not a forum just for people who practice Vipassana as taught by Goenka,

But the guy who wrote the original message was referring to his experience from a Goenka course...

Anyway, verbalization does help concentrate but in order to continue from developing samma-samadhi (right concentration, which cannot be obtained by using verbalization) to panya,

it's crucial to concentrate on the breath as it is, without adding to it..

anyway, to each his own :)

Matthew

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2007, 06:24:32 AM »
I agree with your last sentiment. I would say rest in what arises, without fabrication.

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

RajeshKumar

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2007, 03:28:47 PM »
Thank you very much to all of you. My comfort level with the method has increased very well and I am doing good now. Practicing vipassana has changed my thinking. I also browsed the vipassana newsletter archives and realized some of the mistakes I was doing, like concentrating on the gross sensations.

With lots of respect and love for all.
Rajesh

Paul

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2007, 09:19:54 AM »
Anyway, verbalization does help concentrate but in order to continue from developing samma-samadhi (right concentration, which cannot be obtained by using verbalization) to panya, it's crucial to concentrate on the breath as it is, without adding to it..
yadidb - I agree with that totally.  In fact the counting method I was taught was only meant to be used when one is having difficulty concentrating on the breath, and you are only meant to do it at the beginning of the sitting, after changing the focal point of the counting 3 times you stop counting completely.  I do find it very useful when I have difficulty staying with the breath and therefore suggest it to other people sometimes. 

Rajesh I'm really pleased to hear that its going well now  :)

Stefan

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2007, 10:57:40 AM »
... some of the mistakes I was doing, like concentrating on the gross sensations ...

Dear Rajesh,

I don't think it's a mistake to concentrate on the gross sensations. I learned that you work with what you have: if you feel subtle sensations, you focus on these and stay equanimous, if you feel gross sensations, you focus on these and stay equanimous, if you don't feel any sensations, you stay equanimous, and if you can't focus on Vipassana at all, you go back to Anapana (breath), and you stay equanimous again. So ... gross sensations is pretty good actually! On "my" course, there were some people who couldn't feel any sensations at all for several days ...

as for the counting, I go with yadidb ... I told a teacher that I was going "in-out-in-out" for my breath concentration because it's easier, and after having a good laugh he explained that Anapana isn't meant to be easy. Actually it's the point to learn to focus on the breath without any crutch, even if you use it only for the first twenty seconds. But of course, as Matthew keeps on pointing out, you have to find out for yourself, and right he is!

Metta, Stefan
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RajeshKumar

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2007, 01:43:26 PM »
I was moving primarily from gross to gross and not concentrating well on the other parts. This link http://www.vri.dhamma.org/newsletters/en/en2003-09   , please see below question and answer from Guru S N Goenka.

Question: Why do we move our attention throughout the body?
Answer : When you are working on one part and you jump to another part with a gross sensation, you will be moving from one gross sensation to another gross sensation all the time. And when you keep on feeling only the gross sensations, your mind also tends to become gross, it cannot become subtle.

Thank you for your comments. Let me know if my understanding is incorrect.


Stefan

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Re: Not much of subtle sensation felt during Vipassana
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2007, 09:47:28 PM »
yes I read this in a book, too.

I know two ways of Vipassana:

1) you jump from the grossest sensation in your body to the next sensation that is the grossest then ... Goenkajis comment is about this kind of Vipassana

2) as taught by Goenkaji (and from what I gathered also by other teachers): you move throughout the body in a determined order (for example shoulder -> upper arm -> elbow -> hand), no matter if there is a gross sensation, a subtle sensation, no sensation or maybe a fly sitting on your hand ... you stick to your order.
Like this you learn to feel gross as well as subtle sensations, and you learn to stay equanimous whatever happens (as somebody pointed out before: it can be creepy if you feel nothing where your shoulder should be)

Goenkajis comment was about the jumping thing, not against having gross sensations in general

so I think your understanding is correct now (but be careful! I'm a disciple, not a teacher ...)

metta to you, Stefan

so I think your understanding is correct n
anicca