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I know the question may seems a little trivial and superfluous, but rather than being interested in the itching itself, I'd like to know what to do when any kind of unpleasent feeling rises.

I think itching is different from other unpleasent feelings, mainly because one can easily get rid of that feeling -at least temporarily- by scratching the zone (I mean, to scratch is an option when you have the means).

What would an arahant do when itch arises? What do the suttas tell us to do in situations similar to this one? What do you do when itch arises (apart from recognizing the itch as not-self and impermanent, and the scratching as unsatisfying in the long term and impermanent as a solution)? Or am I overthinking the situation, and should I be aware of the feeling, seeing the three characteristic in it, and just scratch?

I ask this because I remember reading some blog entry about a meditation retreat. The blogger wrote that when meditating, itching was a common feeling, but the hosts told her to let go of the craving for scratching and to not get personally identified with the itch. I understand these instructions and they seem totally reasonable. But she didn't tell about instructions in between meditation sessions other than following the five precepts. Basically, she didn't tell if she was supposed to not scratch even after sitting meditation.

I hope you can see the point in my question, because it seems a little dumb in the surface.

Thanks for your time! Have a nice day!

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What would an arahant do when itch arises?

I’m not an arahant but I think an arahant would be just mindful of it without scratching it.

What do the suttas tell us to do in situations similar to this one?

I don’t think there is any suttas that talk about itch but in SN 35.127, the Buddha said we should guard the six sense doors.

"It has been said, sire, by the Exalted One...: 'Come, monks, guard the doors of your sense-faculties. Seeing an object with the eye, do not seize hold of either its general appearance or its details. Because anyone dwelling with the eye-faculty uncontrolled could be overwhelmed by cupidity and dejection, evil and unwholesome states of mind, therefore practice to control the eye-faculty, guard it and gain control over it. [Similarly with ear, nose, tongue, body (touch), mind.] That is how these young monks... can practice the holy life... to the end of their days.'"

So I think you should just be mindful of it and not think about scratching it.

What do you do when itch arises (apart from recognizing the itch as not-self and impermanent, and the scratching as unsatisfying in the long term and impermanent as a solution)?

I just try to be mindful of the itch. I know that the itch is impermanent so I just try to be mindful of it without scratching. I scratch it if I’m not in a sitting meditation session but you should not scratch it during your sitting meditation session.

Or am I overthinking the situation, and should I be aware of the feeling, seeing the three characteristic in it, and just scratch?

Just try to be mindful of it until it cease. You don’t need to note “impermanent” or “not self” because when the itch cease then you will know that it is impermanence.

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apart from recognizing the itch as not-self and impermanent, and the scratching as unsatisfying in the long term and impermanent as a solution? Or am I overthinking the situation, and should I be aware of the feeling, seeing the three characteristic in it, and just scratch

This isn't overthinking, in fact it is correct discernment. Notice, observe and watch with a very gentle overlay of the three characteristics.

My approach is the same but most of the time the itch disappears. Sometimes though after a few minutes I'll need to scratch a persistent itch so that I can move forward with the session. I do this with complete mindfulness noticing firstly my intention to lift the arm, noticing the contraction of the muscles in the arm prior to the action, noticing how the arm moves through spatial reality, all the while noticing minds urgency to want to scratch the itch. While scratching the itch notice the contact between your finger and that part of the body, notice how the itch changes and notice how vedena changes. Mind, mind, mind... always check in with what dialogue the mind is trying to strike up between the experiences of the various components within the action of scratching. They are all impersonal, but that takes a lot of knowings to see.

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During meditation, of course you should avoid scratching your itch.

But outside of meditation, I suggest to follow the middle way.

When you're hungry, you eat. But eat moderately. Both starvation and gluttony are excessive and not conducive to the path.

Similarly, scratch your itch. But do so moderately. Just enough.

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I say, when itching, just scratch.

Huihai Dazhu Huihai (d.788) was asked by a Vinaya master, "When one seeks to follow the Way, is there a particular manner in which he should behave?"

"There is," Dazhu said.

"Please tell me about it," the Vinaya master requested.

"When one is hungry, one eats; when one is tired, one sleeps."

"But everyone does that," the Vinaya master complained. "Your behavior isn't different from that of commoners."

"They're not the same at all," Dazhu said.

"In what way are they different?"

"When most people eat, they don't just eat; their mind are preoccupied with a thousand different fantasies. When they sleep, they don't just sleep; their minds are filled with any number of idle thoughts."

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    This story seems to put almost all of its emphasis on the mindfulness aspect of the Dhamma, but leaves aside the aspect of the uprooting of cravings and sensual indulgence. That was the reason behind my question. – Brian Díaz Flores Dec 8 '18 at 14:19
  • Good answer! @BrianDíazFlores, it is more than just mindfulness. Look at the original question. – user29568 Dec 8 '18 at 14:54
  • If I interpret Huihai Dazhu correctly, the difference in how one should behave when following the way is in 'mind activity' or lack of 'mind activity' or type of 'mind activity' or not paying any attention whatsoever to 'mind activity'... – user14148 Dec 8 '18 at 15:00

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