Hi nick and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
Depending on who you study under, one's practice is going to take slightly different forms.
The students of Mahasi Sayadaw, I believe, start with Metta Bhavana before then moving on to a form of vipassana that is a little different to that which SN Goenka teaches. A good way to look at vipassana meditation is to look at it as an exercise that helps to cultivate that special wisdom known as 'vipassana'. For some people that is going to involve observing the rise and fall of the abdomen, and for others, such as the students of SN Goenka and others,it will involve the observation of vedana (sensation). And for others - something else.
As for the provenance of SN Goenka's method, he cites that it comes from U Ba Khin. U Ba Khin got it from Saya Thetgyi. Saya Thetgyi was a student of Ledi Sayadaw. As for the particulars of how much time one spent on one technique before moving to another - I think that has been lost in the sands of time but I suspect it may have been a little different for each individual. Early next year I intend to visit the Ledi Monastery north of Monwya and I hope to be able to ask some questions regarding the practices taught by the Sayadaw.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725
(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •
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