This meditation trains attention to various areas of sensation ranging from the tip of the nostrils back through the nasal passages, then the passage down to the back of the roof of the mouth, sensitized to whatever might be noticed in those areas. Attention continues to scan forward on the roof of the mouth to the gum line and teeth, investigating sensations in those areas. The practice continues with moving investigating attention to the lower teeth and gums, then the lower jaw. Finally, attention is directed to include the lower and upper lip areas, with attention focused eventually on the areas just below the entries to the nostrils. The goal of this exercise is to cultivate investigative awareness and stabilize attention away from any internal mental narratives, to increase skills necessary for vipassana, insight into the basic characteristics of self-awareness.
This Meditation trains the mind to move investigating attention mindfully and systematically throughout the body, sensitive to subtle body vibrations similar to the experience of one’s leg “going to sleep”, but much milder in sensation. The goal of this training is to cultivate a whole body “vibrational” awareness that supports stabilizing attention and the process of vipassana, insight into the transitory and non-self characteristics of experience.
Much of the transformation in the brain during a retreat occurs outside of conscious awareness. We’ve realized over the years of retreat experience that talking about it, “thinking out loud”, with a group of well-informed people helps integrate the learning and insight, making it more clearly understood and accessible in daily life. This dialogue reviewed various retreat participant’s experience during the retreat and upon returning home.
During this guided meditation practice, the participants were introduced to vedanupassana, the meditation practice taught by U Ba Khin and S. N. Goenka. More understood as body sweep or body scan, this involves a systematic, in-depth examination of whatever sensations are evident over the body. Due to the amount of time available for the demonstration, only the areas of the head were explored. The purpose of the practice is to enhance the “aiming and sustaining” process, supporting increasingly precise and insightful awareness of body sensations; this investigation can then be used to bring emerging thoughts and impulses into awareness sooner and with more clarity.
During this guided meditation, the participants were invited to “look closer, to feel the texture, the details of sensation” in the areas of breath awareness ranging from the outer upper lip, through the nasal passages, down into the upper soft palate and hard palate areas, the upper gums, the teeth and inside of the upper lip. The intention of this practice is to nurture a stronger and more continuous practice of investigation of phenomena, as well as to introduce the participants to the dynamics of the body scan practices.