Where should I go retreat in Burma based on my Goenka background?

Ulrik, modified 2 Years ago.

Where should I go retreat in Burma based on my Goenka background?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 1/6/19 Recent Posts
I come from the Goenka tradition and have benefitted immensely from this technique of body-sweeping, but I am very keen on practicing more intensely and am a bit disheartened of the high criterias for the long courses of this tradition. I have done some 13 courses (plus 25 serving of courses) in this tradition, including a 20-day course.

I am in Burma and would like to do at least a 45-day intensive retreat, possibly longer if I can handle it/feel this is not overdoing it given my capacity.

I am 23 years old, have no responsibilities in life, emotional support from my family to do this, all the time in the world with the possibility to continue practicing in Myanmar or elsewhere if things goes well, but little money (maybe 3000$).

I love sitting practice, I can sit quite comfortably for about 3 hours (off-retreat) without having to move much and am able to feel most sensations (although not with great subtlety) in the whole of my body when focusing intently on it. I have no idea of what sort of 'stage' my practice is at and I don't really mind too much not knowing it either. Sometimes what I Imagine to be piti and sukha (very pleasant and sometimes even tranquil sensations) appear in my body and stays for quite some time, but I don't know if this has anything to do with Jhana, or not. Anyways I just observe it.

On retreat with a 4am - 9pm schedule I can quite easily stay awake in a meditative way for all of that time and often I sit untill 10pm after sitting period is over. I sometimes feel more guidance in my practice would be very helpful.
So with this sort of practice background - where do you think it would be wise of me to go for a long intensive retreat? Maybe could you also just ellaborate a bit on the benefit of walking meditation, or if it's even nescessary compared to a solid sitting practice?

Hope it's okay with all the detail and description.

Much gratitude for your time and expertise beforehand.
Andromeda, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Where should I go retreat in Burma based on my Goenka background?

Posts: 393 Join Date: 1/15/18 Recent Posts
Hi Ulrik,

Have you considered Panditarama? They teach Mahasi noting there, but they'll be able to introduce you to the technique. This is the tradition that Daniel Ingram (who runs this forum) trained in and so if you haven't read his book MCTB2 yet (or at least the chapter on insight) it would probably be helpful. Actually, the first monk I spoke to there told me he had started off in the Goenka tradition as well before switching to Mahasi and there are probably plenty of others who do the same. Panditarama is probably full until the end of the month because they do an annual 60-day winter retreat, but after that there will likely be plenty of space. I did my retreat there during the off season and was one of just a couple of Westerners while the rest were Southeast Asian monastics which was quite nice. They are dana only so it will fit your budget. You'll have short interviews with teachers, who are quite knowledgeable and experienced (the Mahasi tradition is quite strict about who they allow to teach), about every other day.

As for walking meditation, it is an extremely powerful insight practice and so you should definitely not underestimate it (some of my most important insights have come while walking). It's also good for energy regulation and keeping the body in shape, and for helping you learn to stay mindful off-cushion. Sitting is extremely important, but if you lose mindfulness during transitions it will set you back and walking meditation is excellent training for the continuous mindfulness necessary for good insight practice. If you can only be mindful and awake while sitting on a cushion, what good is it? You really want to be pushing for dedicated 24/7 mindfulness on a Mahasi retreat, no taking breaks to think about your life or the person sitting next to you or whatever. Walking meditation is a huge help for that, and the skills will carry over to the rest of your life. 

Best wishes and feel free to let me know if you have more questions!
Dear Andromeda, thanks for the response, I did consider that place, but noticed they have the 60-day retreat going on now. I am reading the book now and already found it quite helpful and inspiring. With metta/ Ulrik
Change A., modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Where should I go retreat in Burma based on my Goenka background?

Posts: 793 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
Body sweeping technique is very good. Don't do any physical exercises with it though other than slow walking.

Walking meditation would help you feel more sensations with greater subtlety and less focus.