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2nd Vipassana Retreat Experience

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2nd Vipassana Retreat Experience
Answer
3/16/19 11:11 AM
Last time I talked to you all I was diagnosed to be in Dukkha Nanas.I can't show enough gratitude and compassion showed by the community.
With a strong desire to cross it and get into Equanimity and even Stream Entry I went to 2nd Vipassana retreat (Goenka ji tradition).
Here are a few experiences / observations which can be shared :

* The practice was Mahasi Sayadaw style noting more than Goenkaji since that allowed for more focus and less distractions by thoughts.
(Certain amount of moral issues plagued me)
* A&P seemed to be immediate as soon as I sat , focus promptly shifted to observing pain and Dukkha.
* 3rd day I laughed for the first time during majorly painful sits (physically  and emotionally ), felt like I had accessed some sort of Equanimity for the first time.
* 4th day was back to intense pain in right leg (coincidentally same part which pained intensely during first retreat) and mind wentt on some wild goose chase trying to deal with childhood issues.
*5th day realization of wandering and back to humor / smiles with intensee physical pain. It was actual goofiness and dance after 8-9 hours of sit late into evening.
* 6-7 day realization that leg pain to be observed ( 4-5 hours a day pain / itch was being observed with flickering of visual field mixed in       between) is not a chore , need to truly accept and seen instead of noting and running away. Found the wave pattern in pain, vibrations , energy  current in the pain now . ( Pain never entirely went away but I was friends with it now).
* Kept building anticipation of something big happening for a few days but somehow was OK cycling between Dukkha and Equanimity(thats what it felt like not so much suffering) and did not feel strong need to meet this or that goal.

After coming home interesting episode of pain happened. I had terrible back pain which left me so debilitated that I couldn't even bend to   put on pajamas. It went from level 9 pain to 2-3 in a week but somehow I was able to mostly observe it with some pain-killer without getting too upset or even going to Doctor.
Talked to a Meditation friend about general confusion and suffering and his kindness had impact. Felt a strong sense of gratitude, did a bit more Shamatha practice ( Have been reading Mind illuminated) out of compassion for self and suddenly reealised targets are unnecessary. Things will unfold by themselves, observing the truth as it is, is good enough reason for practice. Getting to Equanimity or  Stream Entry or this / that Jhana does not matter.

Feel a wierd paradox. Somehow being in Dukkha or Equanimity doesn't seem very important anymore and that feels ver Equanimous.

Metta to All.

What do images of getting killed indicate ?
Answer
3/17/19 10:22 PM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
Few more repeating themes during and after retreat :

* I kept seeing images of getting killed in many different ways during retreat. Stabbed, crushed by stone, impaled in various parts of body, falling ... various and creative. Initially effected then just kept noting and after some time mind would come up with images like others getting killed or some other real life sad incidents which actually impacted a lot more. Mild curiousity what do these kind of self death images indicate ?
* Discovered tendencies of Self-sabotage and feeling of not being good enough. It was very much a set of psychologist sessions apart from being a meditation. Tried best to extend Metta (particulary to self) and forgiveness to all involved.
* Had a sense of scrapping the bottom of barrel of Dukkha.
* Easy to see the Body is not self but Mind not so much, got a feeling that Mind / Self was Observer as well as Observed. So Self felt split and it was a bit confusing. Sometimes self talk included 3rd person , sometimes it went to 2nd and 1st person as well.
* There is lot of sadness but feels like root has been cutoff or edge has been taken off.
* Feel clear loss of centre (even though not entirely gone) , nothing to really hold on to, no anchor.
* Got glimpses into mind playing games to keep self engaged. Also noting tendency to grab on to things.
* Clinging towards Spouse and Child feels stronger than self. Have some issues with spouse but he is clearly the most positive thing in life to hold on to, so starting to see the glimpses of  internal conflict.
* Cant fully trust the feelings, not sure if thats the truth or it changes after peeling few layers or mind is playing games.
* Sits are still not easy or effortless or disciplined but very clear that Meditation is all I have, thats the only anchor till it lasts.

Metta.

RE: 2nd Vipassana Retreat Experience
Answer
3/18/19 6:08 AM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
Sounds like a dukka nana trip with a bunch of reobservation thrown in. I hope you will explore the pain in the leg and ideally fix it or at least find a more restful way to sit. Intense pain can prevent settling into Equanimity. (Forcing yourself to endure pain can be self-sabotage.)

No one completely dis-indentifies from mind, it sort of comes and goes in waves where you are your thoughts and then you are observing your thoughts. The goal is not to find some third place to camp out and observe everything, but rather notice how the mind works. Some people find it useful to simply notice that regardless of the experience, the framework of observation, experience is simply "known". 

It's okay to really love and appreciate child and partner during difficult times. The support and love of family is a real thing.

The "psychology sessions" are really really important. The whole point of meditation is to sit in a comfortable place, in a comfortable position, with nothing to do... and then notice how we make it very very complicated for ourselves. "I have no right to sit" "I am not perfect, I need to become perfect" "I have feelings, I should have no feelings" "I care for my family, I should be more objective"  --- many many goofy ways we try to be good to ourselves or find happiness with bad thinking. And once we see that (or see it a few times) we realize what an unhelpful habit those thoughts/attitudes are.

Overall, I would say you got hit by Reobservation (going through the worst stuff) and learned a lot of tough lessons --- which is exactly what reobservation is supposed to do. So you are on the doorway of Equanimity if you can be good to yourself and not self-sabotage. 

For what it's worth, now can be a very good time to keep practice going. Equanimity is something that can easily be accessed during home practice, it isn't some mythical high state that is only accessed on retreat. EQ happens when we get out of our own way, let things be as they are, stay curious, and apply the lessons we learned about all the ways we needlessly make things more difficult. So, consistent daily practice with no pressure to get anywhere or accomplish anything. If it sucks, enjoy the sucking. If it is great, enjoy the greatness. Both states are known as they are. Don't try to fix anything on the cushion, there is plenty of time to try to figure things out later. Just sit and let things be exactly as they are.  Sit for your normal productive length of time (some people it's 45 minutes, some people it's closer to an hour) and let everything from the retreat and whatever is on your mind bubble up. More "psychology sessions" but sessions of gentleness and acceptance and reintegration.
 
Best wishes!!

RE: 2nd Vipassana Retreat Experience
Answer
3/18/19 7:34 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for your Wise and Kind Words Shargrol.
Based on finding humor and reduced intensity of Dukkha it felt like I had atleast  access to Equanimity but somehow u telling me Reobservation ( and trusting you ) did not disappoint me. Gave me a sliver of hope that Equanimity will be better. So practice goes on. The leg pain ( and upper back pain which feels like a knife stuck in back ) only shows up during retreat sits and goes away once position changed / observation off but comes back again quickly. Have a strong sense of it not being physical. Multiple observations of hours did bring the intensity way down. I is a bit lost oberver / observed or 3 rd party .. there is sense of confusion and ungrounding. Will just observe / note since I have no clue.
Went ahead and read MCTB Reobservation chapter after reading you response, does make sense. Once again can't thank you enough for ur support.

RE: 2nd Vipassana Retreat Experience
Answer
3/18/19 8:22 AM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
One thing you can do for sitting (and I did this for most of my hardcore practice years) is to simply change positions every twenty minutes --- but do it ssssssllllllloooooowwwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyyy (slowly), almost like you are a ancient person and can barely move. Slower than tai chi. Really really slow. That way you change positions but maintain mindfulness throughout the change.