My 1st goenka retreat soon

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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nubbie111
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My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by nubbie111 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:35 am

I'm a bit nervous. I know I'm going to be insomniac for the first couple days too. I've been having a lot of trouble meditating for longer than 15 minutes lately as well. This is going to be very difficult.

What can I expect to experience, aside from the difficulty? I have reports of people experiencing jhana and stuff, but I'm not sure if my mind is even close to that level yet. Most likely I am not really expecting any crazy revelations, just an increase in my discipline and hopefully the formation of a better daily meditation schedule.

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tiltbillings
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:42 am

nubbie111 wrote:I'm a bit nervous. I know I'm going to be insomniac for the first couple days too. I've been having a lot of trouble meditating for longer than 15 minutes lately as well. This is going to be very difficult.

What can I expect to experience, aside from the difficulty? I have reports of people experiencing jhana and stuff, but I'm not sure if my mind is even close to that level yet. Most likely I am not really expecting any crazy revelations, just an increase in my discipline and hopefully the formation of a better daily meditation schedule.
Don't expect anything. All that will do is make stuff in your head that you do not need. Just take what happens as it happens.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

randall
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by randall » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:54 am

nubbie111 wrote:I am not really expecting any crazy revelations, just an increase in my discipline and hopefully the formation of a better daily meditation schedule.
This is good, you should remember this while your sitting all day! The retreat as a whole is an intensive vipassana retreat and will be something that your body and mind may want reject but the Buddha (as well as Goenka says many, many times during the course) says that diligence and effort are needed in order to see proper results. This sort of retreat is like a boot camp for the mind!!

my recommendations:

~ show up to as many 4:00am sittings as you can,the body will adapt. You might not like it but your not there for you.
~ while people rush to be the first in line for food, take your time.
~ set up a meeting with an assistant teacher, they're there to help.
~ don't let all your thoughts of anger, aversion etc. go to waste. You're there to observe the mind, not there to follow what your mind is so use to.
~ with reference to the above, have a sense of humor with your self, and know that these thoughts are showing there true colours, and while your at the retreat (and after) you don't want any part of it, and that they aren't your thoughts and they will be gone soon enough only to be taken over by more thoughts, which is a good realization!
~ smiling helps, it relaxes the muscles, and you can't smile and be angry at the same time!
~ the pain does goes away and pleasure will arise, they're both impermanent and shouldn't be clung to. When you do get attached to them use this and the results of the attachment as a lesson to help further your progress in your practice.
~ don't waste any moment, these ten days are the most important!


wish you the best,

:anjali:

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Zom
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by Zom » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:11 pm

Don't expect anything.
That never works )
Those going on retreats always expect something ))

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by Modus.Ponens » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:29 pm

Zom wrote:
Don't expect anything.
That never works )
Those going on retreats always expect something ))
Yes, as is natural. But I think the only reasonable expectation to have in this situation is that you will learn a tool to handle suffering that will stay for your entire life. That was the best thing I got out of the 10 days vipassana retreat. Expecting exotic, or advanced experiences is mostly an obstacle, since these are too impredictable. You will be craving them during the retreat and maybe even geting frustrated if you don't get these experiences.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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mikenz66
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:46 pm

I think Randall's suggestions are great ones for any intensive retreat. I would add (again for any retreat) that when you talk with the teachers stick to reporting what you are experiencing and/or what difficulties you are having in trying to follow the instructions. Don't speculate on what your experiences mean, the point of the instructions, alternative ways of meditating, etc.... A good teacher will be able to tell from your demeanour and minimal talking what coaching you need...

:anjali:
Mike

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by Modus.Ponens » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:15 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I think Randall's suggestions are great ones for any intensive retreat. I would add (again for any retreat) that when you talk with the teachers stick to reporting what you are experiencing and/or what difficulties you are having in trying to follow the instructions. Don't speculate on what your experiences mean, the point of the instructions, alternative ways of meditating, etc.... A good teacher will be able to tell from your demeanour and minimal talking what coaching you need...

:anjali:
Mike
I would like to add something. It may be a disagreement or not.

It's true that speculation shouldn't be the theme of the interviews with the teacher. But I ran into a "mental barrier" there that could only be solved with a question that's not strictly pragmatic. I saw that there was no suffering in unpleasant sensations if I practiced that technique. But I also saw that there was no happiness. It was a somewhat corrupted insight that damaged the rest of my retreat and years of practice to this day! In retrospect, I should have spoken with the teacher about this.

So maybe it's reasonable to speak with the teacher when there is a serious and substancial doubt that the technique is worth practicing, even if the doubt is less pragmatic. This doesn't mean philosophical speculation, or objections to the technique based on what you read. It means serious objections to the technique as you are experiencing it there.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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mikenz66
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:44 pm

Hi MP,

Would that come under this?
...what difficulties you are having in trying to follow the instructions...
You could say: "I'm having doubts, since I don't feel any joy, and I feel like joy needs to be there". That would be reporting how you feel, and it's something a good teacher could address.

Whereas: "According to such-and-such sutta/commentary/teacher, one should feel joy when meditating, so your instruction are rubbish", isn't helpful and basically shuts down the possibility of meaningful teacher-student communication.

It's not helpful as an internal dialogue either. If I'm doing a retreat with a teacher I don't know, I try to go into it with the idea that I'll follow the instructions for the period, and evaluate the results at the end, not try to second-guess during the retreat ("Hmm, he's saying this, but that's not the right way, he really should have said that...").

:anjali:
Mike

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: My 1st goenka retreat soon

Post by Modus.Ponens » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:31 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi MP,

Would that come under this?
...what difficulties you are having in trying to follow the instructions...
You could say: "I'm having doubts, since I don't feel any joy, and I feel like joy needs to be there". That would be reporting how you feel, and it's something a good teacher could address.

Whereas: "According to such-and-such sutta/commentary/teacher, one should feel joy when meditating, so your instruction are rubbish", isn't helpful and basically shuts down the possibility of meaningful teacher-student communication.

It's not helpful as an internal dialogue either. If I'm doing a retreat with a teacher I don't know, I try to go into it with the idea that I'll follow the instructions for the period, and evaluate the results at the end, not try to second-guess during the retreat ("Hmm, he's saying this, but that's not the right way, he really should have said that...").

:anjali:
Mike
Hi Mike

Yes, I think it would come under that. The doubt I had was much more in the spirit of the first question, as opposed to the second type. The difference was that it wasn't just a temporary doubt. It was similar to a crisis.

Metta
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Ben
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Re: mahasi vipassana vs goenka vipassana

Post by Ben » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:48 pm

Greetings Nubbie
I am a veteran of over 30 ten-day courses and countless shorter and longer courses. I've also participated as a student, organiser, server, and trustee/secretary for a local meditation centre since 1985.
I remember the anticipation and nerves before my first course. Just go, you will be fine!
My advice to you is leave all your preconceptions at the door and work (practice) as per the instructions you are given. Use the opportunity to give this particular tradition a fair go.
Keep in mind also that intensive meditation practice is often uncomfortable, so don't expect being in a state of bliss. In fact, as Tilt suggests, don't expect anything.
With metta,
Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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