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TOPIC: Comparing Notes on Noting Vedana

Comparing Notes on Noting Vedana 29 Jan 2015 13:26 #97406

A friend recently asked me to talk about my approach to noting vedana. Vedana used to be a really difficult thing for me to note, but eventually I worked out a way to do it. That being said, I would like to check my understanding with the group here.

Here's what I wrote:

Noting vedana is something that I've struggled with. I eventually hit on a method that seems to work for me, and I'd be curious if it might translate to anyone else.

Vedana can be found with all sensations if you look for it. This includes contact with any of the six senses (including thoughts). However, it might have been easier for me if I had initially tried it in a domain where the experiences were clearer. So for me, for example, noting the vedana of feelings was much clearer than that of thoughts.

So, when I first went looking for it, I was putting too much thought into analyzing if what I was experiencing was or wasn't vedana. Sensations go by pretty quickly so by the time I'd decided, the experience was long gone. Also, labeling something as pleasant/unpleasant/neutral was a stumbling block, since it wasn't natural terminology for me. Instead, I went with like it/don't like it/don't care (other terms might be yes/no/maybe). For me, this moved it out of the realm of thought and into the realm of instinctive gut reaction. 

This seemed to make sense, since vedana comes right after contact (phassa) in the chain of dependent origination. That means it arise out of sense contact. So, the instinctive reaction helped me place it correctly.

I then looked at it from a different angle. I had trouble noting feelings, so I practiced with that, by simply noting as follows: "I feel (single feeling word)" every five seconds or so, making sure that the feeling word was an actual feeling rather that a statement like "I feel like smiling" or "I feel like I could cry".

Once that was flowing, and I was able to notice and soak into the feeling, I added a separate noticing for the vedana of the feeling. Things unfolded more easily from there, since I was able to easily identify whether I liked or didn't like a feeling. Interestingly, it was rare to find one that I didn't care about. So this method helped separate out vedana a bit.

Armed with some of this new experience of noting vedana in feelings, I then went looking for vedana in other sensations.



So, this is my way of looking at it, but I've never actually talked with anyone about it to see if I'm on the mark or not.

What do other people think?
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Tina

Comparing Notes on Noting Vedana 29 Jan 2015 15:34 #97408

Simply labeling 'pleasant/unpleasant/neutral,' just at a steady pace about the speed you could speak it, was a really powerful practice for me at one point on my path (and, similar to standard noting, trying not to worry about whether you've caught everything as it happens, whether you've labelled correctly, etc). 'Like/dislike' would've been similar, I think, though for me I don't think 'don't care' has the same quality as 'neutral.'
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Andy

Comparing Notes on Noting Vedana 29 Jan 2015 19:44 #97413

Here's the way I think of it, heavily influenced by Ken McLeod

At the moment of experience, there is either complete experience or a partial experience which becomes overwhelming.
The first aspect of being overwhelmed is a quick reaction of greed, hatred, or delusion, which feels instinctual positive, negative, or neutral orientation, or more primally: "Want!", ""No!", or "but-what-about?"
At first this seems to be the same thing as the initial experience, but actually is something that follows and lasts just maybe a tenth of a second longer.

If that feeling has enough "energy" it will become one of the 5 element reactive patterns: Territorialism, Aggression, Obsession, Suspicion or Depression
Each of the 5 elements lasts a few seconds, maybe half a minute at most.

If that pattern has enough energy, it create a "birth" in an identity and worldview consistent with one of the 6 realms: Hell, Hungry Ghost, Animal, Human, Titan, God.
Each of the 6 realms is a psychological trap, a complete tautology, which experientially can last minutes or hours.

This framework is very powerful for uncovering causes of suffering. The goal is to be able to completely experience any of the above sensations of reactions. If you can do that, they lose their energy and their ability to "lead onward" and take you places you don't want to be.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Andy, Tina

Comparing Notes on Noting Vedana 30 Jan 2015 11:51 #97426

shargrol wrote:
Here's the way I think of it, heavily influenced by Ken McLeod:
[good stuff here...]

I really like the way you've described this. It's a bite-sized snapshot of the parts of the process of dependent origination that we can most easily recognize and change, and the timeframes along which we find the pieces playing out. I would have loved to read this back when I was struggling to wrap my thinking around it.
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Comparing Notes on Noting Vedana 30 Jan 2015 11:53 #97427

[bump]

I'd like to point out a couple of things about what I wrote that I may not have described so well.


First, the problem I was trying to solve was that I was trying to note vedana, but didn't at the time understand what the experience of vedana actually felt like. I thought I understood the chain of dependent origination, but was having trouble actually locating the experience of vedana in it:
So, when I first went looking for it, I was putting too much thought into analyzing if what I was experiencing was or wasn't vedana. Sensations [went] by pretty quickly so by the time I'd decided, the experience was long gone.


Second, there seemed to be a lot going on in an experience: contact, feeling, craving, clinging, etc. Finding the vedana component was a bit tricky, but I found it useful to use the specific wording of like/don't like/don't care. This seemed to focus more precisely on vedana, rather than on other parts. I had experimented with "want/don't want/don't care," but found that it more easily described tanha (craving) rather than vedana, while "holding/pushing away" seemed to more naturally fit for upadana (clinging):
Also, labeling something as pleasant/unpleasant/neutral was a stumbling block, since it wasn't natural terminology for me. Instead, I went with like it/don't like it/don't care (other terms might be yes/no/maybe). For me, this moved it out of the realm of thought and into the realm of instinctive gut reaction. 

These days, I rarely note in that kind of detail. Primarily, I drop into it as a skillful means of increasing energy to balance out dullness. Otherwise, I mostly just rest in whatever experience is coming up.

That being said, I'm particularly curious how others got to the recognition of what part of their experience was, in fact, vedana, as opposed to say, clinging.

For that matter, I'm curious how others might describe the experience of vedana.
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