An object other than the breath for insight?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Awarewolf » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:44 am

I've been trying to practice vipassana with my breath focused at the nostrils, and I've had some success with this. But the winter stuffs my nose up from time to time, and I can't stick with the abdomen. Can vipassana meditation still bring great success if the object is not a touch point within the breath?

I understand there are 40 suggested objects, but I like the idea of using sense doors. I followed along with one of Joseph Goldstein's 40 min guided meditations for insight, and after recommending a few deep breaths he said to become aware of sounds, loud and subtle. He later got into the breathe as well, kinda mentioning to focus on both. Most importantly for me, he mentioned if focusing on the breath becomes difficult, just go back to the sounds, the beginning point. I kept my awareness on sounds for most of this sit, and a bit on the breath but I came out of the meditation feeling calm. I think I made some progress.

From this experience, does it make sense that I could make comparable progress in insight meditation using my hearing instead of the breath? Keep in mind music has always come naturally to me, maybe I'm just more attuned to using this "ear-consciousness." Or maybe I'm giving up too easily on the breath?

I also understand that after stabilizing awareness on the sound (whenever that happens :tongue: ) I could expand awareness to include the breath at the nostrils.

Any suggestions would be great, and also if anyone knows any sort of manual for sound meditation that would be lovely too!
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Śūnyatā » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:55 am

Awarewolf wrote:Any suggestions would be great, and also if anyone knows any sort of manual for sound meditation that would be lovely too!

I'm by no means an expert but have you tried Nada Yoga? I've had great success with this technique myself...

http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-arch ... lence.html
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:23 am

Greeting Awarewolf,
My insight exercise is vedananupassana (awareness of sensation).
I recommend it, and happy to discuss further with you if you are interested.
Kind regards,
Ben
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby ohnofabrications » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:36 am

awareness of sound and sight is more common to tibetan traditions. it is equally as effective as awareness of sensations in the body except that the body has the advantage of being slightly more constant, neutral and stable, and also tensions experienced in the body can give one insight into one's thoughts. however the main idea, i.e. developing a certain kind of awareness that doesn't create present karma can be developed in reference to any sensations.
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Awarewolf » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:45 am

Sunyata, I might actually have the ability to do this. Before buddhism I was looking a lot into Out of Body experiences, and although never achieving it yet, you hear an extremely strong vibrational sound within yourself moments before leaving the body, and I can actually hear this sound quite often coming from myself now. It's not super high pitch like that article explains though, it's kind of a medium/deep vibration tone. Is this the same thing?

And thanks Ben, I will look into this method as I've not heard of it. If you have any manuals or reads on it I'd be very interested in reading those. Which sensation do you focus on?

Edit: Ben I searched vedananupassana, and it came up as Contemplation of feelings, not of sensations.. can you clarify?
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Awarewolf » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:56 am

Also Sunyata, I'm reading a bit about Nada Yoga. This sounds very interesting! I very much enjoy one idea I just read on meditation on the SOUND of the breath... this might be my key in linking this practice to anapanasati if I ever need to get very serious into this instead of sound. I may be a bit ahead of myself but I am definitely excited, I think sounds are for me. I'm mostly worried if the progress that can be made will be beneficial to the same caliber as a more common object.
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Mr Man » Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:56 am

If you are used to focusing on the breath at the nostrils. You can also just focus on that area. You can also develop a more "conceptual breath" while focusing at that area. You can have a feeling of breathing in and out which is not associated with a physical sensation sometimes this feeling can be linked with a sound or a sense of knowing.

There is also the sound of silence that Ajahn Sumedho talks about. In my opinion this can be a really great practice, as once you get the feel for it, it's almost something you can tap into (anytime). It really shifts perspective. You could have a look at this http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 78&ref=deb. Some may say that it is not a "traditional" Theravada practice.
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:31 am

W
Awarewolf wrote:Sunyata, I might actually have the ability to do this. Before buddhism I was looking a lot into Out of Body experiences, and although never achieving it yet, you hear an extremely strong vibrational sound within yourself moments before leaving the body, and I can actually hear this sound quite often coming from myself now. It's not super high pitch like that article explains though, it's kind of a medium/deep vibration tone. Is this the same thing?

And thanks Ben, I will look into this method as I've not heard of it. If you have any manuals or reads on it I'd be very interested in reading those. Which sensation do you focus on?

Edit: Ben I searched vedananupassana, and it came up as Contemplation of feelings, not of sensations.. can you clarify?


"Feeling" is an imprecise and ambiguous translation of vedana.
While there are pleasant (somanassa) and unpleasant (domanassa) mental feelings, vedana, particularly relation to vedananupassana, refers to observation of the feeling ofbodily sensation. And in my practice, I observe all sensations.
If you have the time and inclination, I recommend you join a residential retreat, there are a number of centres where you can learn this technique and develop some depth of experience; primarily IMC centres(Sayagi U Ba Khin) or those centres under the tutelage of one of U Ba Khin's students, and my teacher, SN Goenka.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:34 am

Hello awarewolf:

Awarewolf said: Edit: Ben I searched vedananupassana, and it came up as Contemplation of feelings, not of sensations.. can you clarify?


This might help clarify the difference between the everyday labelling of 'emotions' as feelings and what the Buddha taught,which is - 'sensations as feelings:

The Place of "Feeling" in Buddhist Psychology
It should be first made clear that, in Buddhist psychology, "feeling" (Pali: vedana) is the bare sensation noted as pleasant, unpleasant (painful) and neutral (indifferent). Hence, it should not be confused with emotion which, though arising from the basic feeling, adds to it likes or dislikes of varying intensity, as well as other thought processes.
Feeling, in that sense, is one of the five Aggregates or Groups of Existence (khandha), constituting what is conventionally called "a person." The specific factors operative in emotion belong to the Aggregate of Mental Formations (sankhara-kkhandha). Feeling is one of the four mental Aggregates which arise, inseparably, in all states of consciousness; the other three are perception, mental formations, and consciousness.
Feeling arises whenever there is the meeting of three factors, i.e., sense-organ, object and consciousness. It is called the meeting of these three that, in Buddhist psychology, is called sense-impression (contact, impact; phassa), which is a mental, and not a physical process. It is sixfold, as being conditioned either by of the five physical senses or by mind. it is this sixfold sense-impression by which the corresponding six feelings are conditioned. In the formula of the Dependent Origination (paticca-samuppada), this is expressed by the link: "Sense-impression conditions Feeling" (phassa-paccaya vedana). When emotions follow, they do so in accordance with the next link of Dependent Origination: "Feeling conditions Craving" (vedana-paccaya tanha).
The feeling that arises from contact with visual forms, sounds, odors, and tastes is always a neutral feeling. Pleasant or unpleasant feelings do not always follow in relation to these four sense perceptions; but when they follow, they are then an additional stage of the perceptual process, subsequent to the neutral feeling which is the first response.
But bodily impressions (touch, pressure, etc.) can cause either pleasant or unpleasant feelings.
Mental impressions can cause gladness, sadness or neutral (indifferent) feeling.
Feeling is one of those mental factors (cetasika) which are common to all types of consciousness. In other words, every conscious experience has a feeling tone, even if only that of a neutral or indifferent feeling, which also has a distinct quality of its own.
Feeling by itself (if one could so separate it) is, as it was already said, the bare sensation noted as pleasant, painful or neutral. The subsequent emotional, practical, moral or spiritual values attached to that basic feeling are determined by other mental factors that subsequently arise in relation to that feeling, but, by way of classification, belong to the Aggregate of Mental Formations (sankhara-kkhandha). It is the quality of those other mental functions that makes the co-nascent feeling, too, to be either good or bad, noble or low, kammic or non-kammic, mundane or supramundane.
Feeling may stop at the stage of bare sensation in all weak states of consciousness, but also when there is mindful control of feelings. In such cases, there is no evaluation of these feelings, emotionally or intellectually.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#place

with metta
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Śūnyatā » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:18 pm

Awarewolf wrote:Sunyata, I might actually have the ability to do this. Before buddhism I was looking a lot into Out of Body experiences, and although never achieving it yet, you hear an extremely strong vibrational sound within yourself moments before leaving the body, and I can actually hear this sound quite often coming from myself now. It's not super high pitch like that article explains though, it's kind of a medium/deep vibration tone. Is this the same thing?


:thumbsup:
Live in joy, In love, Even among those who hate. Live in joy, In health, Even among the afflicted. Live in joy, In peace, Even among the troubled. Look within. Be still. — Dhammapada

Being a human being is not an end in itself. It’s only a transition. It can never be a perfect state in itself. It’s merely a convention. — Luang Por Sumedho

Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing. — Euripides
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Śūnyatā » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:55 pm

Awarewolf wrote:Also Sunyata, I'm reading a bit about Nada Yoga. This sounds very interesting! I very much enjoy one idea I just read on meditation on the SOUND of the breath... this might be my key in linking this practice to anapanasati if I ever need to get very serious into this instead of sound. I may be a bit ahead of myself but I am definitely excited, I think sounds are for me. I'm mostly worried if the progress that can be made will be beneficial to the same caliber as a more common object.


Check out #46, entitled Ajahn Amaro - GM The Nada Sound:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ajahn-amaro-2011-10-08-1-ajahn/id520409553?i=126358960&mt=2
Live in joy, In love, Even among those who hate. Live in joy, In health, Even among the afflicted. Live in joy, In peace, Even among the troubled. Look within. Be still. — Dhammapada

Being a human being is not an end in itself. It’s only a transition. It can never be a perfect state in itself. It’s merely a convention. — Luang Por Sumedho

Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing. — Euripides
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Awarewolf » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:16 pm

Thanks so much for the podcast link, any more sources on nada yoga and the like would be appreciated!
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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby anando » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:10 pm

Hello,
Watching the breathing is only the irst step, if you do the four pillars of insight or the 8fold path. When you loose your thoughts inbetween, just take up your breathing again, so you can have the concentration you need.

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Re: An object other than the breath for insight?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:53 pm

Awarewolf wrote: From this experience, does it make sense that I could make comparable progress in insight meditation using my hearing instead of the breath? Keep in mind music has always come naturally to me, maybe I'm just more attuned to using this "ear-consciousness."


I sometimes use natural sounds like the wind, and occasionally a blue disc ( one of the kasinas ). Though to be honest I think it's because I get bored with the breath sometimes and want a change. ;)
Well, oi dunno...
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