What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Andrew P 4/13/08 3:29 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Florian 4/13/08 11:28 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Vincent Horn 4/14/08 8:09 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Andrew P 4/14/08 1:58 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Martin Mai 4/17/08 9:45 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Hokai Sobol 4/17/08 12:26 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Ed clay vannoy 5/11/09 5:22 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Ed clay vannoy 5/11/09 5:54 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Nicola Joanne Dunn 5/13/09 12:59 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Wet Paint 6/19/09 5:05 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Wet Paint 6/30/09 6:10 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Florian 6/30/09 7:50 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Florian 6/30/09 8:02 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? J Groove 7/9/09 8:20 AM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Marcello Spinella 9/7/09 3:30 PM
RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time? Marcello Spinella 9/7/09 3:37 PM
Andrew P, modified 14 Years ago at 4/13/08 3:29 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/13/08 3:29 PM

What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Forum: The Big Issues

I just read the chapter from Daniel's Book regarding How Maps Help and a potential mapping out of spiritual progress. Of course such concept is frought with subconscious expectations of the "planning mind". Nevertheless, since the book makes attainment so practically possible, there arises a feeling of being "torn" between family and spiritual commitments.

I do not believe I can participate in a retreat longer than a week for at least a couple of years (have a beautiful 3 month old at home).

What would you recommend as a basis of solid practice with this situation?

- Torn - AP
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 4/13/08 11:28 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/13/08 11:28 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Andru,

Being torn between family life and spiritual commitments - I know how that is.

The noble eightfold path has this big emphasis on everyday life built right into it - see the chapters on morality in the book you're reading. "Solid practice" is not just insight meditation, it's also about developing the skills of moving gracefully in society.

However, for the meditation parts of the path, I found that rising early I have about an hour in the morning, and when our daughter is in bed at night, there's another hour I can use for sitting. Then there's lunch break at work, which I often use for walking meditation along the river. Depending on circumstances, I also tend to do a lot of tranquility meditation - it has a stabilizing effect: I was a bit edgy and irritable from insight practice around Christmas... bad timing, with lots of complex family diplomacy going on over the holidays. emoticon

There's a neverending supply of opportunities for applied Dhamma in everyday life - just keeping the five precepts in mind is a full-time occupation.

It's tempting to divide between family and practice, inside and outisde, holy and profane. I found that while it's useless to take daily worries into meditation, it doesn't hurt to practice sila all the time.

Hope that helps a little.

Cheers,
Florian
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Vincent Horn, modified 14 Years ago at 4/14/08 8:09 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/14/08 8:09 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Hey Andru,

I agree wholeheartedly with what Florian suggested, in terms of making plenty of time for practice in everyday life. One of my friends was able to get stream-entry by practicing 2-3 hours a day and then going on a week long retreat. He got stream entry on the 5th day, largely because of all the moment he brought into the retreat. That being said, I always suggest to people that they take a good period of time to practice (at least 2 weeks and more if they can) to go for stream-entry on retreat. After that progress seems to be a little easier to make, even off retreat. It's kind of like getting over a big first barrier, and after that the practice has more of a tendency to "do itself." All of that being said, there seems to be a lot of variation from person-to-person on how quickly attainments can arise (assuming one is doing the practice correctly) and so all of what I just said should be viewed as such. The main thing seems to be concerted effort and commitment, whether on or off retreat. emoticon

Best,

-Vince
Andrew P, modified 14 Years ago at 4/14/08 1:58 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/14/08 1:58 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Thank you both for your thoughts. Even though I try not to compartmentalize life into practice/non-practice sections, when I don't pay attention it divides itself into that way. Coming in contact with Daniel's writings and this website has reinvigorated my practice. I hope to keep this momentum as long as I can, and I appreciate your tips in regards to realistic retreat time.

People emphasize variation among achieving attainments between individuals, but real life examples are hard to come by. 2-3 hours is an involved but doable practice. I have done a week at IMS and I hope to be able to do at least that in the next year or two.

Would you have any advice regarding self-created retreat, sort of like an observance day? I could see doing something like that in addition.

Thanks.

- Andrew
Martin Mai, modified 14 Years ago at 4/17/08 9:45 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/17/08 9:45 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Hi Andrew,
this is a very important topic for us dads that you brought up. My solution for this problem is sitting whenever it´s possible, even if it´s just 20 mins and getting up earlier, to bed later. In addition I´m working on keeping the noting going the whole day in all circumstances. This was really hard in the beginning but it get´s easier and easier. I think this really speeds progress up.
I hope you find your middle way,
Martin
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 4/17/08 12:26 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/17/08 12:26 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Most if not all here have jobs and others to consider in our lives on daily basis. I believe this enrichens our view, and makes our experience of Dharma more balanced and comprehensive. If the specific question is "What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?", the solution seems to offer itself - regular daily practice becomes even more important. The path of meditation not being accessible at some times, one should follow the path of action, doing every single thing properly and fully. While in meditation it's essential to be clear about periods of practice and after-practice, in the path of action everything presents an opportunity to deepen one's commitment and receive inspiration. One gets to tread the path AND change the world while doing it. Some types of practice blend more naturally into such circumstances than others.
Ed clay vannoy, modified 13 Years ago at 5/11/09 5:22 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 5/11/09 5:22 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Hi Andrew,

I think that a "self-created retreat, sort of like an observance day" would be a fine idea. Make sure that you give your wife gets a similar amount of downtime, too. You don't mention if she is a practitioner or not so her time might be spent in a different way. It is very important that she not feel that you are dumping the kid on her so that you can disappear into your naval! :-)

That is the main thing, negotiating the time with your wife. Then you can just do more of what you are already doing in your daily practice. Maybe mix in a long walk between two long sittings. I used to go on very long walks, three, four, or more hours long. I did mantra practice, so I would be doing my mantra in time with my steps with my breath in sync as well. Om Mani Padme Hum Om Mani Padme Hum. By the way, that is six syllables, but I said it in five beats so that I would start with Om on a different foot each time. Otherwise I would start walking funny! I am not saying you should do this, just relating my own practice.

Ed
Ed clay vannoy, modified 13 Years ago at 5/11/09 5:54 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 5/11/09 5:54 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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As others have said, make as much time for formal sitting as possible while incorporating mindfulness into your daily activities.

Martin mentioned that he is keeping noting practice going all through the day. That is excellent. Smelling, smelling, sniffing sniffing, oh, no! oh, no!, opening opening, stinking stinking, wiping wiping, removing removing, new diaper new diaper, powder powder, taping taping, Happy baby Happy baby!

Just don't forget to make happy baby talk at the same time.

Try to anchor mindful clarity to as many things that you do through the day as you can. That way those things, as they come up, will remind you to practice. As Hokai put it, "doing every single thing properly and fully" Start with some things that you can do on autopilot. Say, washing dishes. Anchor it to mindfulness by making a resolution. "Washing dishes reminds me to be mindful. When washing dishes, I will wash each one properly and fully, with focus and intent. I wash dishes for the sake of all beings. May all beings everywhere be happy!"

One other thing, practice keeping a gentle smile on your face and be always ready to let it grow into a big smile. I think there is a danger that trying to be mindful all the time can make us serious/take ourselves too seriously. You don't want the people in your life to think you are some slack faced zombie!

Ed
Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 5/13/09 12:59 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 5/13/09 12:59 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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I have a lot of problems in this area. Not for family reasons, but because I'm severely disabled and have care needs and major medical needs, and simply cannot cut myself off from the world at all, let alone be apart from my boyfriend who is my carer and who I need constant contact with for my mental health to be stable.
However, I've put a LOT of thought into this, and I'll be posting a very long post either later today or tomorrow (still kind of composing it), about how to do self retreats around family, work, illness, etc. I'm about to embark on a month long 'retreat' but around my illness and with proper study schedules, yet still maintaining contact with the world, my boyfriend, the internet, etc.
So I'll put together a long post about how I intend to do it and my thoughts about this.

Nicola
Djon Ma
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 6/19/09 5:05 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 6/19/09 5:05 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: EnikhanJohorns

Correct me if I'm wrong. Is it not included in the 27 ways of the Bodhisattva to abandon not only family but also to abandon friends and your homeland? Those first three months you've had with your new born should have been experienced during a paternity leave like is done traditionally in Matriarchal societies. Now that time is passed. Perhaps the more time you take away to practice, the better you can help your child in the long run. Is this not how Siddhartha Gotama felt before he became Sakyamuni Buddha?
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 6/30/09 6:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 6/30/09 6:10 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JuliaMay

When do you spend time with your partner? As someone who is in a relationship (no children) with a non-practitioner, I have found it difficult enough to make time for meditation and talks and retreats while making sure my relationship stays strong.
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 6/30/09 7:50 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 6/30/09 7:50 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi JuliaMay

We spend lots of time together, my wife and I. But then, people often remark how we appear to be glued to each other.

The main impact on our relationship actually was not my meditation schedule, but rather, emotional bleed-through from my practice. Trying to contain that, while definitely a good idea, is only part of the (ongoing) solution. We've had a few arguments, but also profoundly connecting talks. Repulsion and attraction, the stuff relationships are made of.

Any relationship is under constant pressure to adapt to all kinds of circumstances. In that respect, meditation is not much different from one partner taking up any other activity.

But from another angle, meditation is quite unique, because it will bring the practitioner to re-evaluate their sense of self, which in a relationship immediately translates to a painful questioning of the very "sense of us" underlying the partnership. After all, the self under scrutiny by the practitioner is something their partner has quite a large interest in. This should be treated with gentle care and respectful consideration, in my experience. "I want the old you back" is a typical expression of the fears and feelings of betrayal that can result from not doing so.

Cheers,
Florian
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 6/30/09 8:02 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 6/30/09 8:02 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Oh, and check out the "Toxic evangelism..." page and associated thread in the "Big issues" section to the left. There's lots of good stuff to be found there.

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/page/Toxic+Evangelism%2C+Hardcore+Dharma+and+Relationships

Cheers,
Florian
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J Groove, modified 13 Years ago at 7/9/09 8:20 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/9/09 8:20 AM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for the post, AndruP. I have 5-year-old identical twins, so I can relate. One thing I've tried to do lately is to be clear-eyed about how much time I actually do have for practice. I've found that being ruthless about excuse-making is a big help. For example, there have been plenty of times when my wife and kids were in bed, and yet there I was still watching TV, reading, picking the guitar, etc.

If you haven't yet heard them, I would highly recommend the two interviews with Stuart Davis on Buddhist Geeks where he talks about the value of being a parent from the perspective of waking up.
It's at...
http://tiny.cc/E99cg
Marcello Spinella, modified 12 Years ago at 9/7/09 3:30 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/7/09 3:30 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
Read Amy Schmidt's book on Dipa Ma. She was extreme and uncompromising in her pursuit of meditation. Many of her students had families, jobs, etc.

We can't put more hours in a day, but we can find ways to use the time differently, more efficiently. In that book, it's reported that Dipa Ma said that one could sleep 4 hours a day and meditate the other 4 instead of sleeping 8. I don't know if I could do that much, but I started looking into shifting my sleep/meditation schedule a little bit. The deep calm of meditation seemed to make me need a little less sleep. One hour more of meditation and one hour less of sleep worked for me. On the other hand, if I tried to watch an extra hour of television or surf the web in exchange for an hour less sleep, then I just feel sleep deprived. But not so for meditation.

This path definitely requires a little creativity.
Marcello Spinella, modified 12 Years ago at 9/7/09 3:37 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/7/09 3:37 PM

RE: What if family committments limit involvement in longer retreat time?

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Addendum:
Shinzen Young has something he calls "bringing the monastery home." Since most of us cannot spend extended periods of time in retreat or a monastery, maybe we can bring the monastery to us. A monastery sets up very challenging situations which a person navigates through with mindfulness and makes progress. However, one can use the challenges of everyday life for the same purpose. It's just a matter of having a technique down pat so that when the opportunity arises (i.e. the doo-doo hits the fan), the techniques can be put into action.

"But the monastery will come to each of us when we have to confront our fears, losses, compulsions and anxieties, or process the aftermath of trauma. The monastery comes to us in the form of emotional crisis, illness or injury, a phobia or a failed relationship. The question is whether we will be in a position to recognize and use it as such. If there were a way to help people maintain continuous quality meditation through intense real world challenges, anyone could experience insight and purification comparable to that of traditional renunciates’ regimes. Basically it boils down to this: Intensity of Challenge multiplied by Sharpness of Mindfulness multiplied by Depth of Equanimity equals the Rate of Psychospiritual Growth. When things are most challenging, we have the opportunity to leap forward in our spiritual development, provided we make use of the challenge."

http://www.shinzen.org/shinsub3/Bringing%20the%20Monastery%20Home.PDF

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