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Mixing meditation methods
Answer
4/12/20 5:57 AM
Kia ora,

This is my first post on Dharmaoverground having just discovered it yesterday. 

I live in Aotearoa/New Zealand and have attended two of the Goenka-style retreats at Dhamma Medini and have plans to attend more this year depending on the Covid-19 situation. I am currently practising 2-3 hours a day and feel committed.

I have been reading about other retreat centres in Asia via this website. I feel open to trying other Insight traditions, but also feel some hesitancy. As people on here have noted, Goenka suggests not to mix meditation methods. I still feel like very much a beginner, having only started to develop my home practice this year.

My questions are as follows:
Is it best to develop my practice further in the Goenka tradition before adding new meditation styles? 

For those that have been on multiple retreats teaching different styles, how do you develop a sound home practice?

Two hours of Vipassana a day already feels like a big commitment. Do people practice several styles of meditation at home? Does this not get confusing? Surely it is better to focus on one method? Or not?

I'd especially love to hear from people who have been on Goenka's retreats who have made strides in their practice, as I'm feeling a bit uncertain as to whether I should stick to this path or explore other methods such as a noting.

Many thanks

RE: Mixing meditation methods
Answer
4/6/20 1:39 AM as a reply to Freeling.
The way I remember it is, "it's better to dig one 100' well than ten 10' wells". That is, if you want to try somebody's method, really try it for a while, and don't mix it with other advice. There are weird kind of practice inertias that build up when you practice dilligently every day.

On there being parts you don't like, I'd do them anyway, as advised to by the person teaching the method. If you were doing weightlifting with a personal instructor, there would be days and exercises you didn't like, but the instructor might be asking you to do them because they're beneficial. Many serious monks have been teaching a certain method for decades, and have watched thousands of people undergo the process. They may have very complicated and nuanced reasons for asking you to do things exactly that way.

In my own practice, even when I got advice from a certain monk that really helped my practice, I ignored other parts of what he was advising, because it sounded stupid to me. Later I did more like I was advised to, and my progress improved a lot. I learned my lesson and I try to follow the instructions as given, even if I don't like them. After seeing the method work, I'm able to think why the advice made sense the whole time. I just couldn't understand before actually doing it and seeing it work.

My practice is this: wake up, eat a small amount, enough to actually wake up somewhat, and sit without a timer. Usually it feels like I'm done after around an hour and a half. I take a long walk on my way to and from lunch, and that whole time, I'm doing the "moving around" version of the same practice. For the rest of the day I try to remember to do the same kind of stuff, but usually at some point my brain seems worn out. But its stamina is slowly improving.

RE: Mixing meditation methods
Answer
4/7/20 8:24 PM as a reply to Freeling.
Thank you for your kind and helpful response emoticon

RE: Mixing meditation methods
Answer
4/7/20 10:20 PM as a reply to Freeling.
I've done three Goenka retreats. In general, I like them. My only real criticism is that I don't think Goenka's words always resonate with Western audiences in the right way. The teachers I spoke with on retreats have acknowledged this during interviews. And, just in case anyone thinks this is my own personal interpretation, I participated in a virtual group sitting the other day, and the teacher there said the same thing to 500 meditators, without being provoked by me.

So, my advice is not to take it too literally. I don't think Goenka would want you to, honestly. You know that he says over and over again that you should trust your own experience, after 10 days you are your own master, keep the part you like and throw out the rest, and whatever else he says. I think the Western mind somehow filters this part out and fixates on the rigid parts.

As far as mixing techniques, no, you shouldn't mix techniques. When you do a technique, do the technique.

But Goenka also says that in the beginning, you should try different techniques, until you find something you like. Then, you should stick with it and try to develop it. He says you might even doing multiple 10-day courses while you're still deciding if it's right for you.

The point is not that you should spend your whole life only having tried one thing. Rather, it's that you shouldn't spend your whole life constantly moving from one to the next, without ever giving anything a chance to show results.

(for me personally, Goenka's advice often rings in my ears while I meditate, but I tend to improvise without following anyone's instructions too literally, and I have no problem with this)

RE: Mixing meditation methods
Answer
4/8/20 2:33 PM as a reply to Freeling.
Hello Freeling,
Welcome here, I hope you'll find useful information and advice.
I started a thread that might be of interest to you :
Some views on the technique in the Goenka tradition
where I try my best to share my experience with this technique.

Hope that helps.
Feel free to ask anything that needs clarification.
Best of luck with your practice

with metta
miling stone