My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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LuisR
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:22 pm

My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

Post by LuisR » Thu May 10, 2018 4:23 pm

Hello:


I would like share my experience and get some feed back or advice from people. I have gone to other meditation retreats but this was my first time meditating in this technique and for this long. The first two days were kind of tough. By the third I was able to sit longer and get better concentration. Before we started actually doing Vipassana we were instructed to focus our attention on our upper lip to observe any sensations that came up. I had a bit of trouble with this, aside from my breath I wasn't really feeling anything but the teacher said that was ok. The when we started doing the body scanning, initially I got a lot of sensations all over my head very easily. My head was really sensitive to the scanning except for my upper lip. I really had to focus on the space that is just below the two nostrils. As I scanned down the body I got less and less sensations. As the days went on I was able to focus on areas for longer period of times as instructed and I would get subtle sensations but I had trouble with doing a free flow sweep, specially on my back. I felt very equanimous and concentrated but I still was having a bit of trouble with the body scanning. By the 9th day I started feeling a bit frustrated and I developed a a few problems in my neck. The back of my neck got really tight and tense. It felt like it was going to snap like a twig. I talked to the teacher about this and he said it was my sankaras coming to the surface and I had to stay equanimous and it would all be released soon. By the tenth day nothing really happened. I am still not even sure what exactly was supposed to happen. I actually felt a bit depressed and just wanted to go home right away. On the last day in the dhamma hall there were a few people I could hear crying and one lady I could hear she had some sort of reaction the assistant teacher had to help her out of the room. So obviously some people were having a some sort of experience.

I just felt really confused about the whole thing, By the 9th day i felt a bit beat up. Even now when I meditate I start getting a tense feeling in my neck. I don't know what is causing this. I feel like I failed at what I was supposed to do. I don't feel like have any new insight into "anicca" or learned anything about the way things really are. Maybe I was expecting too much. I really don't know but I tried hard to let go and follow instructions.

Overall my Vipassana course was a good experience. Despite my failure at the technique, I felt that over the days my sitting ability improved. I could sit perfectly still for longer periods of time. I have a greater appreciation for meditation now. The teacher was as helpful as he could be and the manager was really nice and helpful. The food was excellent, much better than I expected. I was worried i was going to get hungry at night but no, everything was fine. Everything was really organized and ran well. I look forward to meditating more. I don't know if I will go back to a Goenka Vipassana retreat. I might try it again I don't know. It might be helpful to read more about Vipassana from the Buddhist teachers of theis particular lineage. I had been looking forward to this for a long time I am glad I did it. I heard so much good things about it. It is clearly beneficial for so many people. It just didn't work that well for me.

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mikenz66
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Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 10, 2018 7:58 pm

Hi Luis,

Any meditation retreat is likely to have its ups and downs. I don't know what previous experience you have, but I did a Goenka retreat about 11 years ago, after a year of so of meditation, and some short, much less taxing retreats. These are tough retreats, and, arguably, the structure leaves no room to adjust for individual difficulties. I think it's important to not think in terms of "success" and "failure" on retreats. Its a learning/development experience.
LuisR wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 4:23 pm
As the days went on I was able to focus on areas for longer period of times as instructed and I would get subtle sensations but I had trouble with doing a free flow sweep, specially on my back. I felt very equanimous and concentrated but I still was having a bit of trouble with the body scanning.
This sounds good. Developing equanimity and concentration sounds like a positive!
LuisR wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 4:23 pm
By the tenth day nothing really happened. I am still not even sure what exactly was supposed to happen. I actually felt a bit depressed and just wanted to go home right away.
Naturally, it would be nice if all our experiences were pleasant, but, also naturally, that doesn't happen in practice. I think many here could describe retreat experiences where things were sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible. There's something to learn from either.
LuisR wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 4:23 pm
Even now when I meditate I start getting a tense feeling in my neck. I don't know what is causing this. I feel like I failed at what I was supposed to do. I don't feel like have any new insight into "anicca" or learned anything about the way things really are. Maybe I was expecting too much. I really don't know but I tried hard to let go and follow instructions.
Give it time. What I found was that some of the (good and bad) experiences I had on my (only) Goenka retreat were really helpful when subsequently listening to talks by various teachers. I don't want to be specific because individuals experience very different things, but see how it goes.

As for the tenseness, I (and others) have found that any meditation that builds up deep concentration can lead to bringing up various pains and other weird stuff. In non-technical terms (since I'm no expert), I think that as some the muscles relax, the body adjusts to a slightly different (usually better) posture. However, this can cause some aches and pains, particularly if you are stuck in the middle a such a "reorientation", and there are tensions on some muscles that are not used to it.

You might find some gentle motion exercises such as Feldenkrais helpful in loosening up the "knots".
Here's an example of the sort of thing I use. One of the members of our local meditation group has taught us some similar moves, that have been very helpful.



Somewhat counterintuitively, movements like this can loosen up the neck quite effectively.

:heart:
Mike

thepea
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Re: My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

Post by thepea » Fri May 11, 2018 2:19 am

Hey Luis,
I’ve sat a bunch of ten days and a few long courses.
Sounds like you did just fine. Big neck sankhara NICE 👍.
Just kidding but it happens to most. My experience is similar working through a neck sankhara it subsides eventually then rears its head again. Each time it’s a little less scary, then it fizzles out completely and a back sankhara pops up. Work through this, get a brief tingle pleasantness, then a groin or knee sankhara pops up.
Been doing this for 10 years, same stuff over and over.
Now I’m older and body is always in some sort of pain.
Ha ha anyway welcome to the Goenka pain train. Try not to worry about other people having experiences, in my opinion they are simply reacting to stuff.
Be well.

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mikenz66
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Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

Post by mikenz66 » Sat May 12, 2018 4:18 am

Off-topic discussion split off to here:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=31885&p=471231#p471231

Mike

LuisR
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:22 pm

Re: My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

Post by LuisR » Sun May 13, 2018 3:51 pm

Thank you for the replies.I have to say that after my course I am able to sit at home for much longer with much more ease. I am able to to concentrate and feel equanimous with more ease now. So that is definitely something good.


Would you recommend that I read more about this particular lineage? Should I read more from Ledi and Webu Sayadaw and also the book by William Hart?

thepea
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: My experience at 10 day Vipassana course

Post by thepea » Sun May 13, 2018 7:00 pm

LuisR wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:51 pm
Thank you for the replies.I have to say that after my course I am able to sit at home for much longer with much more ease. I am able to to concentrate and feel equanimous with more ease now. So that is definitely something good.


Would you recommend that I read more about this particular lineage? Should I read more from Ledi and Webu Sayadaw and also the book by William Hart?
You can read more if it interests you, mostly I would try to meditate at home for the two sits if you can. I would also recommend serving a course if you get a chance. I love doing dhamma service even if for a day or two. It’s tougher for me to get away lately my kids are 11 and 8 and require a lot more attention than when they were little. I imagine when they are teens they won’t want much to do with me and I’ll have another chance to do more service.😄

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