Body scan details

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Body scan details

Postby buddhajunkie » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:26 pm

Hi guys, lately I've been emphasizing the Body in my practice and have found that to be tremendously useful. I've recently come across Goenka's body scan technique (from his 11-day talks I found online). I've never been on retreat, and typically meditate for 30-45 mins a day at sporadic times.

Some questions,

1. Do you think Goenka's body scan technique would add value to short meditation sessions, such as 45 minutes, for a person who has never been on retreat? When I say "add value" I mean to take into account that if I am body scanning then I necessarily sacrifice the time I could be doing general mindfulness of body (where I pay attention to the most salient bodily sensation).

2. When you scan, what sequence do you use? I'm at a loss when I go from shoulders to arms to hands, because when I reach my hands, I suddenly have to "jump" to chest. Or do you scan both your upper arms and upper chest simultaneously?

3. Is this mindfulness of breath AND body scan? Or do I drop the breath and focus entirely on the body scan? I tried the body scan for the first time last night using both methods. When I focused entirely on body scan I found my mind wandering very easily. The other method I used was counting the breath and using the breath count to tell me when to move the location of my scan.

4. Do you go straight into body scan, or do you do some preliminary anapana, or something else, to get you warmed up? If so, what and how long?

thanks
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Re: Body scan details

Postby Ben » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:18 pm

Greetings buddhajunkie

My advice to you is to actually do a ten-day course. The instructions are given gradually and step-by-step and you learn in a very supportive environment where you can learn the method and develop some depth of practice. This particular method and the instructions of SN Goenka are only ever given in a retreat environment and this is something that SN Goenka is adamant about.
Until you can attend a ten-day course under the guidance of SN Goenka and his assistant teachers, I suggest you do something else where you are going to have close contact with a teacher who can support you in your practice.
All the best,

Ben
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Re: Body scan details

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:47 pm

Hi buddhajunkie,

I'd agree with Ben that the particular scanning technique that Goenka teaches would be quite difficult to get started on by yourself. I did a single Goenka retreat several years ago, and I don't think the retreat instructions would be very effective without the retreat support.

But that's not to say that some sort of scanning would not be useful. Many teachers use scanning as part of their instructions, often to make sure that one is relaxed and aware of the whole body. When doing walking meditation I usually do a body scan at every turn, which relaxes tension and makes me more aware of how my whole body is responding. Since scanning is a somewhat "active" technique it can be handy if drowsy when sitting.

There's a "body scan" guided meditation here:
http://www.buddhanet.net/audio-meditation.htm
Guided Meditations with Malcolm Huxter
Body Scan gives instructions on bringing awareness to bodily sensations. For the most part this exercise is relaxing. Occasionally practitioners initially feel uncomfortable with this exercise. If it becomes overwhelmingly distressing, merely distract or direct attention to something outside your body until you are more comfortable with the exercise at another time.


:anjali:
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Re: Body scan details

Postby Monkey Mind » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:22 am

I agree with both comments above. More than just method or technique, there were several aspects of environment at the Goenka retreat that were essential to the learning process.

I also endorse the Malcolm Huxter link. These are an excellent alternative until you are ready to attend a formal retreat, whether Goenka or another tradition.
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as others are, so am I."
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Re: Body scan details

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:36 am

I agree that getting help in person from an expert is the way to go but in the mean time I urge you to continue your practice.....even if you are not doing anyone's method expecpt your own you will benefit....just about the only thing that you could do that would be seriously wrong is to think that you have discovered something and then to cling strongly to that view....doing this can make you rigidly attached to some wrong view...It is my opinion that when the right view comes along you will not rigidly attach to it since one of the characteristics of right view is not having rigid attachement to it....whatever you experience stay open to it being something you discover along the way toward better things...
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Re: Body scan details

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:51 am

chownah wrote:I agree that getting help in person from an expert is the way to go but in the mean time I urge you to continue your practice.....even if you are not doing anyone's method expecpt your own you will benefit....just about the only thing that you could do that would be seriously wrong is to think that you have discovered something and then to cling strongly to that view....doing this can make you rigidly attached to some wrong view...It is my opinion that when the right view comes along you will not rigidly attach to it since one of the characteristics of right view is not having rigid attachement to it....whatever you experience stay open to it being something you discover along the way toward better things...
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Re: Body scan details

Postby SamKR » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:56 am

chownah wrote:[...] the only thing that you could do that would be seriously wrong is to think that you have discovered something and then to cling strongly to that view....doing this can make you rigidly attached to some wrong view...It is my opinion that when the right view comes along you will not rigidly attach to it since one of the characteristics of right view is not having rigid attachement to it....whatever you experience stay open to it being something you discover along the way toward better things...
chownah

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Re: Body scan details

Postby buddhajunkie » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:43 pm

Thanks everyone for the input.

Yeah, Goenka's body scan seems to require a very refined mindfulness. I won't be able to do a 10-day retreat for the next year, so in the meanwhile I'll just experiment with more coarse body exercises.
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