Questions by a Yogi at Meditation interview
Q1. Ven Sayadaw, when I try to be mindful during walking meditation, I can note the intention to walk, before I note the actual act of walking. But in noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, I can not find the intention with either the rising or the falling of the abdomen. Why?
A. In walking meditation, an effort or exertion is required before the initiation of walking. However, breathing is a natural process that is happening by itself. It doesn’t need any special effort. So, when you note the rising and falling of the abdomen, which is relating to breathing, there is no effort or intention to note.
A. In the exposition of Maha Satipatthana Sutta by the Venerable Mahasi Syadaw, it was mentioned in the Sutta that ‘Breathing in long breath, he knows, ‘I am breathing in long; breathing in short breath, he knows ‘I am breathing in a short breath’. The meditators sometimes happen to breathe long breaths and other times short breaths. Important thing is always to be mindful. Knowing the quicker and sometimes slower movements of the abdomen in relation to the breathing means the concentration of the yogi is improving.
Q3. Ven Sayadaw, while noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, I noted that the mind wanders more often at the beginning. At first, I became disheartened as I could not be mindful continuously on the movements of the abdomen. Later on, I realized that I can note immediately as soon as the mind wanders off which boost my morale. Does that make sense?
With the deepening concentration, the yogi’s mindfulness will become sharper and can be mindful thoroughly on many objects.
Q4. Ven Sayadaw, in the booklet that I received, it says that, while noting and labelling the ‘lifting’, ‘pushing’, and ‘dropping’ of the foot during walking meditation, one must also be aware of the sensations of lightness, heaviness, tensions, movements and so on. Should we be noting these separately as well?
At the beginning, it is easier to label and note the conceptual name attached to the object. However, following progress in mindfulness and deeper concentration, and with the development of insight knowledge, the concepts will disappear automatically with the realization of the ultimate truth.
At the beginning when the concentration is not strong, you may have to stop walking at the moment of noting the sound of the clock ticking. The consciousness or the mind can only perceive one object at one particular moment. Later on, when the concentration becomes stronger, there will be less and less disturbance from the outside sound and the yogi’s mindfulness will stick firmly to the primary object of meditation.