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I have been practicing samatha for five years now and have rarely done any other kind of meditation. I have tried to practice vipassana in the past but get confused with how to do it.

  1. First of all you place your attention on your abdomen,when i'm more used to my attention being on the tip of my nose. Is there a way to practice vipassana with your attention on the tip of your nose? I can avoid getting too concentrated with a technique I found by accident, by widening my focus to the entire nostril instead of just a point. This helps allow for thoughts, etc. to arise. Because I notice during samatha thoughts are minimum to none.

  2. Please describe a method of practicing vipassana with the base/anchor being the tip of the nose not the abdomen.

Many thanks.

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A hammer has two ends for a reason; one end is great for pounding nails, but not at taking them out. The nose is avoided in Vipassana for a reason; it is too apt to lead to calm.

That being said, it is of course technically possible to cultivate insight at the nose, if you insist. Vipassana takes as its base the four elements, earth, air, water, and fire. As per the Visuddhimagga:

But one whose vehicle is pure insight, or that same aforesaid one whose vehicle is serenity, discerns the four elements in brief or in detail in one of the various ways given in the chapter on the definition of the four elements.

-- Path of Purification XVIII.5

So, you have to find the elements at the nose; there is some faint pressure, which is the air element, and there is heat and cold, which is the fire element. The breath itself is a concept, so you can't use that as an object of Vipassana. You might note "hot, hot" or "cold, cold" or "hot, cold", as it presents itself. Also, "feeling, feeling" for the pressure.

Having taken that as a base, you would then note whatever other experiences arose, based on the four foundations of mindfulness, as per the instruction given by a teacher.

And, what Anthony said :)

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It doesn't really matter which object you use, but there are traditions built up around using the nose or the abdomen. The point of vipassana practice is to help you become totally aware of reality in the here and now.

I'll try to answer this from the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition, as I've been taught.

The confusion you experience, and the desire to practice Vipassana from the nose; this is not an accident. Vipassana practice is designed to expose these feelings. When these feelings arise, they should become your meditation object. The abdomen is just a convenient anchor that we come back to again and again; it is not special (as far as I have experienced).

If you are trying to figure this out without seeing a teacher, you can probably make some progress if you understand the general point of the practice and just how broad we are being when we say to meditate on this or meditate on that. When the mind says, This is too difficult, in our tradition we meditate on the feeling by making a mental note of each experience as it arises, so if it's frustration we say to ourselves: Frustrated…frustrated… or if it's a desire to practice a certain way we just say to ourselves: Wanting…wanting… and then we return to the abdomen: Rising…Falling…

My point being that any experience you're having right now―whether it's a sense object or feelings about that sense object―should be the object of your meditation. This is much easier said than done, but with persistence you will see some gains in your ability to simply be aware of each moment as it arises, instead of being caught up in concepts, or past, future, thoughts, feelings, etc.

Hope this helps.

  • Great answer thank you. Could you explain how long you observe an object. Do you observe e.g. a thought until its gone so that the dissolution part can be seen or do you go back to the abdomen before the object has ceased to exist? – Lanka Apr 17 '15 at 15:13
  • I'm no expert, so I generally experiment in order to find what works best. I have no idea about dissolution. If the object produces disliking, as in the case of itching, music in the head, loud noises, etc., then I try to note the object until it no longer produces disliking. For more ordinary things like passing thoughts or not-so-loud noises, I note the object for one in-breath or one out-breath. Again, however, I'm no expert and this question would be an excellent full question for this site. – Anthony Apr 18 '15 at 19:10
  • Also, just to clarify: my main intention is to be pragmatic about it. I don't stick to arbitrary lengths of time for noting an object; rather, I just try different things and go with whatever seems to help me see things as they are. – Anthony Apr 18 '15 at 19:14
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    I really like your experimenting and refreshing approach to this. I have been wondered about it for a while now. I read somewhere which i dont remember now, that one should keep watching the object until it ceases in order to see the disintegration-step of the process and thereby also the impermanence. But then what if that object leads to disliking as you mention, shouldnt one go to that instead. I think i will post it as a question on the forum then we might find out about it. Thank you for your answer:) – Lanka Apr 18 '15 at 20:38
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  1. First of all you place your attention on your abdomen,when i'm more used to my attention being on the tip of my nose. Is there a way to practice vipassana with your attention on the tip of your nose? I can avoid getting too concentrated with a technique I found by accident, by widening my focus to the entire nostril instead of just a point. This helps allow for thoughts, etc. to arise. Because I notice during samatha thoughts are minimum to none.

I can avoid getting too concentrated with a technique ...

What I do is I keep the area small and regularly change the point after while until I know I can instantly sense each point in the nose.

Anapana is not necessarily Samatha. It has all 4 foundations of mindfulness.

  1. You start with Body mindfulness as the breath is the body fabricator.
  2. Then you move to Sensation
  3. Then Mental objects
  4. Then Mental content

Each of the 4 triads corresponds to the above.

In the process you have to calm all the fabrications.

  1. Please describe a method of practising vipassana with the base/anchor being the tip of the nose not the abdomen.

The focus should be around the mouth as in the Suttas. This can be the spot below the nose and upper lip. (As interpreted by certain linages) The tip of the nose of the the under side of the nostrils are also fine if this point takes you into excessive Piti too fast. But at some point come to this place.

Refer:

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