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Is a retreat like a boot camp ?

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Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/25/19 6:03 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 3/25/19 6:46 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/25/19 11:28 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? spatial 3/26/19 12:06 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 3/26/19 9:27 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? curious 3/26/19 12:01 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/26/19 6:53 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Jordi 3/26/19 7:56 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? curious 3/26/19 10:23 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/27/19 8:21 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? curious 3/27/19 12:52 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/27/19 1:44 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 3/27/19 2:06 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/27/19 3:10 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Anicca Dukkha Anatta 3/28/19 8:46 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 4/8/19 10:39 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Ernest Michael Olmos 4/8/19 2:44 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 4/14/19 5:35 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/29/19 5:33 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Jyet 3/26/19 3:13 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/26/19 7:08 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Jyet 3/26/19 10:08 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Jordi 3/26/19 4:44 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/26/19 8:29 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? F V 3/26/19 12:12 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? o x 3/26/19 6:40 PM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Ernest Michael Olmos 3/27/19 10:09 AM
RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ? Stickman2 3/27/19 1:43 PM
Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/25/19 6:03 PM
I've never been on a retreat. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on discipline - get up early, keep quiet, do as you're told, put up with and overcome mental and physical discomfort, perform when tired, no sex, no drugs.

It sounds like other disciplined activities like pro sport and military life. Do you really get anything from this that you wouldn't get in the army ? Do you get anything that isn't just the result of discipline ? Is discipline really essential for realising no-self ?

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/25/19 6:46 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
I haven’t been to one yet, but I imagine that many of them also offer valuable teachings and at least some one on one time with a teacher. If they don’t, I guess they at least offer the opportunity to meditate undisturbed, which is something that can be achieved in other ways but may be tricky in some life situations. I suppose there is little time for meditation in a boot camp. When it comes to the discipline per se, I think there may be differing opinions about its role in the equation. It probably differs between individuals, too, both how much discipline is needed (depending on other preconditions) and how much discipline the person can cultivate on their own.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/25/19 11:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Some of the accounts I've been reading sound quite austere, in the sense of going through pain and discomfort, which is something I thought the buddha gave up as a path in the typical buddha biography.
I mean, sitting through your aching foot examining the discomfort sounds like an exercise in bodily control rather than extinction of the sense of self. If the idea is to examine the feeling, why do you have to examine the feeling of discomfort, why not examine the feeling of moving your foot and making youself comfortable ? Does it make a difference ? When is enough examining the discomfort ? Wht if you need more discomfort than can be provided by sitting still for a long time ?

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 12:01 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
So, what's up Stickman2?  Why all the questions?  Is this because asking questions is better than sitting and practicing?  emoticon

Happy to answer (although I don't know much about retreats), but I wonder if there is some meta-question lurking behind all this?  If so, haul it out, and let's have a look.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 12:06 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
I've never been to boot camp, but I've been on 10-day Goenka retreats. I heard from a military veteran who had done a retreat at the same center that boot camp was easier. Personally, I'm a little skeptical of that, but I will say that my first retreat was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life up to that point.

They have very strict rules, but the purpose of the rules is not to break you into submission. The rules are there to help you meditate. You should agree of your own free will, not just because everyone else is doing it. No one is holding a gun to your head. I can also imagine that someone who is attached to the idea that "extreme discipline builds character" could easily get themselves into a lot of trouble in this kind of situation.

Stickman2:
Some of the accounts I've been reading sound quite austere, in the sense of going through pain and discomfort, which is something I thought the buddha gave up as a path in the typical buddha biography.
I mean, sitting through your aching foot examining the discomfort sounds like an exercise in bodily control rather than extinction of the sense of self. If the idea is to examine the feeling, why do you have to examine the feeling of discomfort, why not examine the feeling of moving your foot and making youself comfortable ? Does it make a difference ? When is enough examining the discomfort ? Wht if you need more discomfort than can be provided by sitting still for a long time ?

In my experience, gently forcing yourself to sit still for a long time can make you more aware of discomfort that you weren't aware of before. I've noticed that staring at anything for a long enough period of time eventually seems to cause some pain to arise. I don't think there's necessarily a point in causing pain for its own sake, but pain can be instructive.

You could certainly try moving your foot in a comfortable way and examine those feelings. However, a lot of beginners have this funny habit of denying that there is any discomfort when they clearly are uncomfortable, and so they quickly get bored of that sort of exercise (and stop meditating altogether). Perhaps it is useful to smack those people on the head with a bit more pain, just to make sure they are paying attention. I think maybe it takes a somewhat more advanced level of meditative skill to realize that "boredom" itself is actually a significant indicator of pain.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 3:13 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
It depends, I've done something similar to a boot camp in the military, obviously not in US so can't speak to that. 3 days without food and hardly no sleep. But as we where constantly given things to do, places to march to, work as a group, accomplish this and that task. You are not left to your own misery like in a meditation retreat.

Goenka and Mahasi is defiantly hard retreats in the Mahashi/Tong tradition they cut your sleep as the retreat progresses. I speculate that less sleep makes you maintain mindfulness constantly. As I've noticed many times at retreats how you build up a certain power of the mind during the whole day and then it falls back, not to base but quite a lot during sleep. No dinner here either which comes from the monastic code of the Buddha. It defiantly can be beneficial. One big difference between these two is that at Goenka you are basically left to fend for yourself the teacher is hard to access in fact I've never even gone to a teacher interview at these reretats. Because from what I've heard you get no more support/instruction than what Goenka says in the tapes anyway. At the Tong center I was at you met with the teacher everyday. Not for hand holding but to describe your meditation and get new instruction. I think this creates more safety for the practioner besides for obviously being beneficial.

With Leigh B we where told to get enough sleep and sit comfortably as he said that was crucial for right concentration for jhana to develope , we also got dinner.

With Sat Shree/ Hindu inspired teacher many people sit in comfortable camping chairs for the 2h sits as he says relaxation helps to receive the transmission. We also got dinner and plenty of free time to just be /rest during the days.

As you see different traditions/retreats are different and have different ideas of how a retreat need to be structured. So research and pick one you think you can stick with. My two cents is that Mahasi is best for beginners progress if they can stick to it. But why not join weekend retreats to begin with? A great way to get a taste for the tradition.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 4:44 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hi Stickman,

I think at the start one of the main points to be sitting a lot of hours x day is to investigate aversion and see how the mind works toward it. Usually A&P event is triggered when you just let it go and accept the pain, the disconfort and you are just open to feel the sensation.

When your body are more used to sit for long periods of time then you can develop strong  and peaceful concentration focusing on your meditation object constanly for long periods of time.

For me doing retreats always have been really good, did 2x goenka, 1 month mahasi, and then 2 weeks in other center. This in like 2 years. If you apply yourself and take advantage of the oportunite of going on retreat the benefits can be high. Dont waste your time complaning when you are on retreat, focus your energy on doing the practice the best you can!

good luck and have fun! 

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 6:53 AM as a reply to curious.
I've sat and practiced. In the bus queue, in the job centre, in a riot (I didn't start it). I've dispassionately observed itches, pains, fevers.
yada yada.
I don't get why ignoring our body signals about it's own condition is a path to wisdom. Yeah if you want to achieve a goal then working through discomfort is part of it - but that's just obvious to most people pretty early in life. Playing through an injury is part of many sports, resisting picking an itchy scab is something your mother tells you. OK sometimes ignoring discomfort is good, but ignoring itches is also a path to malaria.
Learning to sit for a long time may be good body conditioning in some ways, but that's all it is isn't it ?

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 7:08 AM as a reply to Jyet.
Thanks. So some retreats are less austere than others. Does Leigh Brasington encourage working through discomfort too ? Which do you think was most effective ?

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 7:56 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
I've sat and practiced. In the bus queue, in the job centre, in a riot (I didn't start it). I've dispassionately observed itches, pains, fevers. 
yada yada.
I don't get why ignoring our body signals about it's own condition is a path to wisdom. Yeah if you want to achieve a goal then working through discomfort is part of it - but that's just obvious to most people pretty early in life. Playing through an injury is part of many sports, resisting picking an itchy scab is something your mother tells you. OK sometimes ignoring discomfort is good, but ignoring itches is also a path to malaria.
Learning to sit for a long time may be good body conditioning in some ways, but that's all it is isn't it ?

Hi, daily observation is really good and you can achive great progress.

Discomfort paths/restrain - facing pain or cold and fasting etc at some degree can be very powerfull. Is a direct way to transcend oneself and "break" the mind. If you dont like anyways you can find some meditation center that allow chairs to meditate, or do a self retreat. But If you meditate for long periods of time some degree of discomfort will arise yes or yes is also part of de nanas. at more maestry you can pass this stage more easy.

The point is to be able to meditate for long periods of times, when you go retreat you dont go to face pain, you go to meditate, to be aware, if pain is what arise you observe pain, if tranquility arise you observe that. But you keep going with your mindfulness/awerness hour after hour, day after day and slwoly something starts to build for itself. Finally you are not meditating, you are being meditated, the process takes you.

For me all the retreats I did had been very benefical and helped me a lot in my life, the deep you can go on retreat is not comparable to daily life practice, but everyone has to find their way. For me the best is mix, time to time I try to do a retreat like once a year.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 8:29 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Maybe we should listen to those signals ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/26/long-sedentary-periods-are-bad-for-health-and-cost-nhs-700m-a-year

"Sitting or lying down for long periods during the day is not only bad
for your health it could be the cause of almost 70,000 deaths and cost
the NHS at least £700m a year, new research has revealed."

... hm maybe I'm getting caught up in FUD.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 9:27 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
As has been mentioned, there seem to be different approaches to enduring pain. I think there is a point to learning not to act on every impulse of ”creature comfort releases” (as it is called in some research traditions on social interaction), because relief is only temporary. If you programme your brain to seek relief, you will be very busy. That can interfere with the progress of meditation. On the other hand, I’m sceptical of dogma (as was the Buddha, as I understand it). If I want to reach a certain degree of concentration, I need to be comfortable. I see no point at all in damaging one’s knees, back or neck. Balance is the key, I think.

I have booked myself on a retreat where we will practice QiGong between the sittings. That will probably be much more comfortable than a Goenka retreat. Not very hardcore, perhaps, but the teachers seem competent enough, plus the teachers are actually alive and attending in person. I appreciate that.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 10:08 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Leigh B encourage you to reach right concentration=Jhana then use that concentration to examine your experience. If that experience happens to be discomfort it should be examined just as anything else arising.

They were beneficial in different ways. Simplified version below..

Goenka = takes you to the AnP

Mahasi = moves you through the insight knowledges hopefully culminating in first path

Leigh B = good for learning jhana and thereby what amazing inner states we are capable of.

Sat Shree = not good for beginners interested in Buddhism, probably should not have included him. 

So there you go, three choices, make your pick emoticon

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 12:12 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hi Stickman, great questions - good to hear you are curious about retreats! 

I've only done 2 myself, but my 2 cents is that they are completely invaluable for progress.  My belief for this is that there is definitely something to be said of continuity of mindfulness.  When you go to work everyday, have social interactions, etc. it is very difficult to maintain a deep stream of mindfulness and continuous awareness (not that it can't be done!).  Your mind is pulled in different directions and the amount of activity we do on a daily basis makes the conditions difficult to develop progress.  I've heard many say that momentum is crucial, and being on retreat focusing your mind only on one task, meditation, allows you to develop that momentum and move deeper into the practice.

Different retreats are structured differently and are conducive for different things.  Goenka retreats are notorious for only allowing sitting meditation and no walking meditation, but other traditions do allow a mix of sitting and walking.  Even when you aren't on retreat, you still encounter pain and discomfort throughout the day, no?  Pain and discomfort are good opportunities to see what the mind does in the face of a challenge.  When you get old and sick, you are bound to encounter even more discomfort than you would experience on a retreat, so in my eyes it's an opportunity to come to terms with that (without hurting yourself!) and learn to understand the relationship between physical pain and mental suffering.

I would say why not give it a shot and see what you think yourself?  But only if you think you could truly give it a fair shot emoticon

Again, I truly believe that there is no opportunity that can be as beneficial to one's meditation and spiritual growth as a retreat.  It is a rare opportunity and something to be grateful for and not wasted.  With this being said, I have heard many say they have made much progress off retreat, or never doing them!  How could you know for sure without trying though?

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 6:40 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hi Stickman2, and indeed everyone else. I've enjoyed reading stuff here over the years, thought I'd jot some thoughts down - prompted by the mention of 'boot camp'.  


Retreat


1

 
I first noticed days marked off with a pen in a toilet cubicle; then, deep, desperate carvings - denoting the remaining time until freedom - out of tree trunks, in the area designated for mindful walks.
    
Enwombed within a private estate, broken souls masochistically mooch about in silence, aiming for enlightenment. That's why I'm here, I think. I imagine that's what these people are here for, too. We occasionally nod or smile, but we're not supposed to. It's hardly what you could call a holiday, more a spiritual boot camp. At 4am a gong sounds, then it's on to the serious task of sitting cross-legged like we really mean it.
 
We spend the majority of our impossibly long days in the main hall. Row upon row of mute yoghurt-weavers. All wrapped up in blankets, agitation, and intrusive thoughts. It's day three of twelve and I've started to notice, whilst in group sittings, a series of knocks and coughs that I believe conceal some meaning. Sounds ricochet around the sparse pinewood flooring and high bright white walls like the audio equivalent of an absurd tennis rally within a reverberant abyss. Ohmm… thwack!
Zafu's are increasingly left vacant after our midday meals. I'm beginning to question the commitment and intentions of others, and, subsequently, my own. I've taken to writing in this notebook, it helps. I must remember I'm here of my own free-will. Ok, there are rules, and gongs, and passive-aggressive stares from blissed-out baldies, but what's the harm in having a proper look around? Just to see where the boundaries lie, to know what's beyond the scarified silver birch.
 

2

 
Out strolling a circuit that snakes through peaceful gardens, an elaborate unspoken competition unfolds amongst us. The aim: walk as slowly as possible, with absolute certainty and conviction (extra points for arms/hands behind backs). If you can incorporate a believable look of serenity and wisdom you've basically nailed it. After a few days of this I'm getting pretty good. I'm feeling pretty confident and even have a few moments of forgetting all about the game entirely. That is, until I see a guy reaching up to caress the leaves of a tree between thumb and forefinger, tip-toed, perfectly poised with a stupid satori grin. I don't know how many points he's getting for that manoeuvre but it's pretty inspired. Such is my absorption at watching his radical dismissal of rules, wondering how it's going to affect this imagined hierarchy of who's really getting it, that I jump a little upon hearing an unscheduled gong ring out in the distance.
 
No one proceeds with any urgency, to do so would violate code. Best not to look too eager. Though, the rapid clank of felt on bronze causes even the most placid to pick up pace, homing in on what now appears to be a distress beacon. Within closer proximity to the hall, and thus the source of this now frantic attack on our cotton-wool souls, a solemn and resigned voice can be heard underneath the metallic din.
            “You’re all trying to find answers, but there are no questions. No damned questions.”
 
The evening sit after such a commotion was admittedly more unsettled than usual. Worried glances met with confused and distant stares, revealing the realisation that the weird glue that bound us collectively together had come unstuck. It was noted by nearly all in attendance that the zafu reserved for the teacher in residence was empty. Not in a sunyata sense, in which emptiness is perceived as the base of all things, the fundamental ground of being, but rather, in a literal sense, gone. There was no teacher. For all intents and purposes there may never have been a teacher, such were the quality of his previous responses to serious and sober questions of the upmost importance.
            “What are these flashes of light that appear whilst my eyes are closed?”
“Nothing important, just remember the instructions”
            “Why, after pushing through immense pain, whilst sitting perfectly still for over an hour, was I engulfed by a full-body dose of MDMA-like euphoria that lasted all night?”
            “Sensations arise of their own accord; we aren’t in control”
            “How many points are awarded for a leaf caress?”
Silence

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/26/19 10:23 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
...
I don't get why ignoring our body signals about it's own condition is a path to wisdom. Yeah if you want to achieve a goal then working through discomfort is part of it - but that's just obvious to most people pretty early in life. Playing through an injury is part of many sports, resisting picking an itchy scab is something your mother tells you. OK sometimes ignoring discomfort is good, but ignoring itches is also a path to malaria.
Learning to sit for a long time may be good body conditioning in some ways, but that's all it is isn't it ?
Nope. You also learn to control the urges that arise from the pain. Once you can do that, you can look at the precursors to those urges, from the initial sensation right on through to the final urge to move/scratch/groan. Then you get to deprogramme yourself from being a plaything of the unthinking grasping reactions to sensations.

It is potentially a very profound practice. 

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 8:21 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Stickman2:
...
I don't get why ignoring our body signals about it's own condition is a path to wisdom. Yeah if you want to achieve a goal then working through discomfort is part of it - but that's just obvious to most people pretty early in life. Playing through an injury is part of many sports, resisting picking an itchy scab is something your mother tells you. OK sometimes ignoring discomfort is good, but ignoring itches is also a path to malaria.
Learning to sit for a long time may be good body conditioning in some ways, but that's all it is isn't it ?
Nope. You also learn to control the urges that arise from the pain. 

- but.... yup, that's the body conditioning bit, no ?

Once you can do that, you can look at the precursors to those urges, from the initial sensation right on through to the final urge to move/scratch/groan.

- but you can look at the precursors and still scratch the itch can't you ? Why sit there going through it just to show you can sit on cushions for a long time ?

Then you get to deprogramme yourself from being a plaything of the unthinking grasping reactions to sensations.

- I know this will be a bit pedantic, but strictly speaking these are thinking reactions not unthinking ones, aren't they ? Why is making yourself comfortable being a plaything ?

It is potentially a very profound practice. 

- I do believe that looking into the origins of urges can be a useful skill. In the book about Wim Hof by Scott Carney, Carney writes about the Wim Hof method as a path to finding those spaces in our experience between normally involuntary actions lke sneezing, getting underneath the autonomic nervous system.

But that doesn't mean that sneezing (scratching, moving uncomfortable limbs etc) are indulgent or superfluous behaviours.

But I guess that's one of the basic things about buddhism - we're full of bad habits and superfluous desires.

Can you explain why we have pointless urges to itch and sneeze etc ?

- edit - Carney's a good writer so I'll quote him
"Unable to stem the flow of allergens, my itchy eyes begin to water and I start to feel the irresistable urge to sneeze. It doesn't  take long for the sequence ceaseless nasal explosionsto turn irritating, so I decideto make it stop. Call it what you want: willpower, focus, or concentration. The mental state you go into while trying to delay a sneeze is a sort of wedge between the autonomic and somatic nervous systems at the point where an environmetnal stimulous meets an innate response...
...It seems like a small thing, but it's a window into the root of human power, and a place that, if exercised, can help unlock the body's hidden biology...
...Not every reflex is an ideal candidate for training. Allergic responses might make for interesting test cases, but like many autonomic functions they exist for a reason."



RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 10:09 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Yes. It is like a boot camp. It does require discipline.
There are many people in retreats (up to a 100). Without discipline, things would get out of hand quickly.

The goals are pretty different though.
In a retreat, all things are set so that you can meditate successfully.

About "put up with and overcome mental and physical discomfort, perform when tired, no sex, no drugs", yap, they are usually requirements to get results in meditation that can't be achieved wihout a retreat.

The duality process has been running all the time, all our life, so it is a part of us.
It's not that easy to consistently find the pain in the distortions in it (AP) or even convince ourselves that it must stop (path).

If you can't tolerate any pain (mental or physical), or you can't live without drugs, sex, heavy food, etc, all day long, maybe a retreat is not for you. Even meditation may not be for you (there is a warning in MCTB you know.....).

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 12:52 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hey Stickman2 - you have to investigate the source of the urges to answer all the questions you are asking.  The point is to make them thinking (mindful) rather than unthinking (being in control of the passing urge). The resistance of the physical urges is just a means to an end. The real payoff is when you can apply this mindfulness of the sources of urges to other things in your life.

Do you have a regular practice?

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 1:43 PM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.

About "put up with and overcome mental and physical discomfort, perform when tired, no sex, no drugs", yap, they are usually requirements to get results in meditation that can't be achieved wihout a retreat.

Assuming those options have been exhausted.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 1:44 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Hey Stickman2 - you have to investigate the source of the urges to answer all the questions you are asking.  The point is to make them thinking (mindful) rather than unthinking (being in control of the passing urge). The resistance of the physical urges is just a means to an end. The real payoff is when you can apply this mindfulness of the sources of urges to other things in your life.

Do you have a regular practice?


I would think your thinking would depend on what jhana you're in.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 2:06 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Maybe it would be helpful for you to note your mind states when you are processing these kinds of questions, for instance doubt.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/27/19 3:10 PM as a reply to curious.
No I don't have a regular practice any more.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/28/19 8:46 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hello Stickman2,

I have done 2 retreats in last 5-6 months with no established practice before and I was the one observing leg pain for days (at retreat) then a week of back pain (at home). I am a relative newbie meditator but based on the assumption that my point of view might help, I'll try to share my experience :

* Even if theoritically it seems like boot camp, somehow most rules were very easy to follow. No talking - no problem, waking at 4 - not the easiest but not irksome either, 10+ hours of sits - again uncomfortable but not unbearable, as a pre-diabetic it was hard for for me to eat lunch at 11 then survive on lemon water in the evening - I added a piece of fruit, was OK after that, missed my family but not to the point of distraction. The drama mind creates was quite an entertainment for me to miss any TV or internet.There was certain simplicity and peace in the routine even though majority of time meditation experience was dominated by physical and emotional pain.
* Now lets get to pain - Slowly there was realization that pain was not physical, changing position only provides temporary relief. Only way to stop it might be to step back and distract myself , ignore the pain instead of observing it. I guess thats what people do in life as well. Even though there was lot of aversion and desire for the pain to go away and very limited equanimity there was a choice to observe and face the pain (which I believed was psychosomatic) instead of running away from it.

The intention is to observe whatever comes up without prejudice -it may be pain or peace or whatever else that is unimportant.

Metta ..... 

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
3/29/19 5:33 PM as a reply to curious.
Curious, I found a talk by Scott Carney on that point of control and insight, and a boot camp. The good bits are in the last quarter.

Identifying the Wedge and Wim Hof Method at Aspen Brain Lab

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
4/8/19 10:39 AM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
Anicca Dukkha Anatta:
Hello Stickman2,

I have done 2 retreats in last 5-6 months with no established practice before and I was the one observing leg pain for days (at retreat) then a week of back pain (at home). I am a relative newbie meditator but based on the assumption that my point of view might help, I'll try to share my experience :

* Even if theoritically it seems like boot camp, somehow most rules were very easy to follow. No talking - no problem, waking at 4 - not the easiest but not irksome either, 10+ hours of sits - again uncomfortable but not unbearable, as a pre-diabetic it was hard for for me to eat lunch at 11 then survive on lemon water in the evening - I added a piece of fruit, was OK after that, missed my family but not to the point of distraction. The drama mind creates was quite an entertainment for me to miss any TV or internet.There was certain simplicity and peace in the routine even though majority of time meditation experience was dominated by physical and emotional pain.
* Now lets get to pain - Slowly there was realization that pain was not physical, changing position only provides temporary relief. Only way to stop it might be to step back and distract myself , ignore the pain instead of observing it. I guess thats what people do in life as well. Even though there was lot of aversion and desire for the pain to go away and very limited equanimity there was a choice to observe and face the pain (which I believed was psychosomatic) instead of running away from it.

The intention is to observe whatever comes up without prejudice -it may be pain or peace or whatever else that is unimportant.

Metta ..... 

Hi ADA, I still don't get why ignoring a pain is part of spitiual evolution, or how you detirmine which pains you should ignore and which you shouldn't, which count as craving and aversion and which don't. I think everyone is familiar with sitting through discomfort. At primary school it was standard to sit cross legged and sit through discomfort, and shuffling could bring a reprimand. The purpose was pretty similar - discipline and attention, rather than comfort.

If I was to be extra cautious I would read stuff like this, and wonder if that discomfort is there for a reason. But I suppose it's a cost/benefit thing - I doubt that going on a few retreats is going to cause a heart attack.

https://www.businessinsider.com/why-sitting-sedentary-lifestyle-is-so-bad-for-you-2018-5?r=US&IR=T#many-studies-have-shown-that-exercise-alone-cant-compensate-for-the-harms-of-sitting-3

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
4/8/19 2:44 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Managing pain and disconfort is usually needed for many activities (sports and work come to mind).
A lot of the disconfort is psychosomatic.

Of course, you don't want to get injured, so caution is advised when strong pain arises.

Like you say, everyone is familiar with sitting through discomfort.

About sitting for long periods of time in retreats, I'm sure it's not so bad for your health.
At some point the body relaxes and the posture tends to be vastly better than at work or watching TV.

You said: "Ignoring a pain is part of spitiual evolution".
It's not like that.

It's more like, when you move your body, your mind moves a lot (making it difficult to know what it is doing). So, if you are still, it's easier to know what it is doing. But you can track it when your body is moving (for example walking).

Eventually, pain and disconfort are ingredients of anything that require a lot of work or any serious endeavor.
You know, like running a marathon, doing a difficult routine at the gym or sitting for hours reading to pass an exam,or working all day to get a promotion.

Unlike those activities, the mind reacts to "everything" (movement, speech, most activities) so retreats tend to be more like boot camp.
But again, that follows the logic that what you are trying to achieve is really difficult because you are dealing with such a reactive thing.

Also, not practicing meditation doesn't mean that you are out of the hook.
The unconscious mind will forever try to solve the problems of duality and will lie to the conscious mind distorting reality.
All that effort and lying will forever feel oppresive, tiresome, disconcerting.

In the end, meditation is not about doing something, it's about stopping something that you already do all the time.
If you don't meditate, you will just keep doing it.

Your conscious mind will not be aware that you are doing it, or that there is a solution to it, or the pain that it brings. But the unconscious mind will.
Some part of you will always feel that pain (and trust me, pain is a very good description of the thing), every moment, every second, all your life.

RE: Is a retreat like a boot camp ?
Answer
4/14/19 5:35 AM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
Well, many sensible words there I think, thank you.

I found Goenka videos on youtube, are they the ones used in retreats ?