nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hello There,

i have a lot of doubts on my concentration practice. After 8 month of different Meditation Retreats im still not abel to get to acess concentration. The longest i can stay with the Meditation object is about 1 or 2 minutes before my mind wanders of. (exceptions where 10 minuits or so, but that happened only a few times). even though im experiencing states of nearly no mental activity during those 1 or 2 minutes.

I started Meditation about 9 years ago. since that i was doing an all togeter of 3 month retreat time in the Mahasi tradition but i realized that my concentration was to weak. so i went to Burma and visited the Pa Auk Meditation Center and stayed there for 4 Month. Im also doing daily meditation practice of about 45minutes at the moment.

It seems that im making nearly no progress in increasing the time i can stay with the meditation object. The only progress i observed is that my Meditaion is more quiet / silent than at the beginning. I also tried that usual stuff like counting the breath or other meditaion object without being abel to stay longer with the meditation object.

At the moment im doing anapanasati with watching the breath at the anapana spot (between nostril and upper lip), or just creating silents in my mind and focusing on that silents. that last one is the most pleasant to me.


I would be happy to get some tips how to manage to get more stable concentraion / acess concentration. I would like to go on retreat for a couple of month again (maybe years if necessary), but im scared i will waste all the time and make no progress in my meditaion. thanks for ur help.

with metta. Stefan (from Germany)
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
You surely have enough concentration to get to stream-entry, why not do that?

This would involve doing a momentary concentration style of insight practice, such as mahasi noting.

For most people, concentration becomes much easier afterwards.
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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hey Bruno,

thanxs a lot for ur reply,

Bruno Loff:
You surely have enough concentration to get to stream-entry, why not do that?

This would involve doing a momentary concentration style of insight practice, such as mahasi noting.

For most people, concentration becomes much easier afterwards.



my first plan was to get to stream entry, but after my last retreat in mahasi style i thought i need more concentration to do that.
when im doing the mahasi noting i can stay with the noting for a few minutes (1 or 2) but then my mind wanders off, sometimes only for a few seconds but often for several minutes after im realizing that im thinking instead of doing the noting. This is why i had a lot of doubts if it is possible for me to get to stream entry with so much interruptions going on in the noting process !?

what do u thing ?
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Nipuna Ross A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 123 Join Date: 6/15/11 Recent Posts
the more you doubt it the further away results will be. maybe you should try this instead of using the anapana spot.
This is Method Two By Ajaan Lee:

There are seven basic steps:

1. Start out with three or seven long in-and-out breaths, thinking bud- with the in-breath, and dho with the out. Keep the meditation syllable as long as the breath.

2. Be clearly aware of each in-and-out breath.

3. Observe the breath as it goes in and out, noticing whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable, broad or narrow, obstructed or free-flowing, fast or slow, short or long, warm or cool. If the breath doesn't feel comfortable, adjust it until it does. For instance, if breathing in long and out long is uncomfortable, try breathing in short and out short.

As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body. To begin with, inhale the breath sensation at the base of the skull and let it flow all the way down the spine. Then, if you are male, let it spread down your right leg to the sole of your foot, to the ends of your toes, and out into the air. Inhale the breath sensation at the base of the skull again and let it spread down your spine, down your left leg to the ends of your toes, and out into the air. (If you are female, begin with the left side first, because the male and female nervous systems are different.)

Then let the breath from the base of the skull spread down over both shoulders, past your elbows and wrists, to the tips of your fingers, and out into the air.

Let the breath at the base of the throat spread down the central nerve at the front of the body, past the lungs and liver, all the way down to the bladder and colon.

Inhale the breath right at the middle of the chest and let it go all the way down to your intestines.

Let all these breath sensations spread so that they connect and flow together, and you'll feel a greatly improved sense of well-being.

4. Learn four ways of adjusting the breath:

a. in long and out long,
b. in long and out short,
c. in short and out long,
d. in short and out short.

Breathe whichever way is most comfortable for you. Or, better yet, learn to breathe comfortably all four ways, because your physical condition and your breath are always changing.

5. Become acquainted with the bases or focal points for the mind — the resting spots of the breath — and center your awareness on whichever one seems most comfortable. A few of these bases are:

a. the tip of the nose,
b. the middle of the head,
c. the palate,
d. the base of the throat,
e. the breastbone (the tip of the sternum),
f. the navel (or a point just above it).

If you suffer from frequent headaches or nervous problems, don't focus on any spot above the base of the throat. And don't try to force the breath or put yourself into a trance. Breathe freely and naturally. Let the mind be at ease with the breath — but not to the point where it slips away.

6. Spread your awareness — your sense of conscious feeling — throughout the entire body.

7. Unite the breath sensations throughout the body, letting them flow together comfortably, keeping your awareness as broad as possible. Once you're fully aware of the aspects of the breath you already know in your body, you'll come to know all sorts of other aspects as well. The breath, by its nature, has many facets: breath sensations flowing in the nerves, those flowing around and about the nerves, those spreading from the nerves to every pore. Beneficial breath sensations and harmful ones are mixed together by their very nature.

To summarize: (a) for the sake of improving the energy already existing in every part of your body, so that you can contend with such things as disease and pain; and (b) for the sake of clarifying the knowledge already within you, so that it can become a basis for the skills leading to release and purity of heart — you should always bear these seven steps in mind, because they are absolutely basic to every aspect of breath meditation.


Also Here is an alternate Translation of anapanasati (only 1st Te-trad or first 4 steps or Kaya-nupasana-sati ie Mindfulness of the body as a frame of reference/foundation of mindfulness, anyway):
Mindfulness of In-&-Out Breathing (Thanissaro Bhikkhu Trans.)

"Now how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be of great fruit, of great benefit?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore.(1*) Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.'

[2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.'

[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.(2*)' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.'

[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication (3*).' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

(1*)To the fore (parimukham): The Abhidhamma takes an etymological approach to this term, defining it as around (pari-) the mouth (mukham). In the Vinaya, however, it is used in a context (Cv.V.27.4) where it undoubtedly means the front of the chest. There is also the possibility that the term could be used idiomatically as "to the front," which is how I have translated it here.
(2*)The commentaries insist that "body" here means the breath, but this is unlikely in this context, for the next step — without further explanation — refers to the breath as "bodily fabrication." If the Buddha were using two different terms to refer to the breath in such close proximity, he would have been careful to signal that he was redefining his terms (as he does below, when explaining that the first four steps in breath meditation correspond to the practice of focusing on the body in and of itself as a frame of reference). The step of breathing in and out sensitive to the entire body relates to the many similes in the suttas depicting jhana as a state of whole-body awareness (see MN 119).
(3*)"In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications." — MN 44.

also what are your intentions/ motivations/ expectations. It is possible to be too persistent. the Buddha gives a couple well known similes for this. One is not having a lute string "neither too tight or to loose" basically he's referring to the two extremes of self mortification (excessive persistence is like self mortification light) and overindulgence in sense pleasure.
I hope something here helps, and, that you get the results from the practice that your heart desires, and beyond.
Metta
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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hey Nipuna Ross,

thanks for ur post.
the Technique of Ajahn Lee helped me a bit when i tryed it the first time a year ago, i even visited his monastery in Bangkok ;) kind of a strange place with aligators and other funny animals in the mud! but somehow i get tired of directing the breath trough the different parts of the body. It was not really calming my mind. emoticon
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Stefan F:

I started Meditation about 9 years ago. since that i was doing an all togeter of 3 month retreat time in the Mahasi tradition but i realized that my concentration was to weak. so i went to Burma and visited the Pa Auk Meditation Center and stayed there for 4 Month.

perhaps you can describe, in some detail, what exactly you were doing on retreat. when you were on the mahasi retreats, were you making a total and continuous effort to practise during every single second from when you woke up until you fell asleep? if not, that may explain why your concentration was too weak. otherwise, it would be interesting to hear what your experiences were, as this may shed some light on your situation.

Stefan F:

I would be happy to get some tips how to manage to get more stable concentraion / acess concentration. I would like to go on retreat for a couple of month again (maybe years if necessary), but im scared i will waste all the time and make no progress in my meditaion. thanks for ur help.

is there something you would rather be doing instead of going on retreat, whether or not you make progress in meditation?

the ideal length of time to go on retreat is the length of time that you can expect to put 100% of your energy into practising 100% of the time, with no time given to slacking off or being discouraged/feeling sorry for yourself whatsoever. if that period is 1 week, then you should go on retreat for 1 week and no shorter or no longer. if that period is 2 weeks, then you should go on retreat for 2 weeks and no shorter or no longer. if that period is 1 month, then you should go on retreat for one month and no shorter or no longer. setting a long retreat period is not necessary helpful towards your practice; if it causes you to feel that you have plenty of time to make progress in the near future so you don't have to practise so seriously right now, it is directly harmful.

welcome to the dho, by the way.

tarin
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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hi tarin,
thanks for welcomming me emoticon

tarin greco:

perhaps you can describe, in some detail, what exactly you were doing on retreat. when you were on the mahasi retreats, were you making a total and continuous effort to practise during every single second from when you woke up until you fell asleep? if not, that may explain why your concentration was too weak. otherwise, it would be interesting to hear what your experiences were, as this may shed some light on your situation.


Ok, so the monastery / meditation center in the mahasi tradition i went to was in Thailand near Chiang mai. Its called Wat Chomtong. The Abbot of that monastery is Ajahn Tong ,people say he is an Arahant. He was a disciple of Mahasi himself, but he is teaching now a slightly different style. My meditation teacher sayed its about 80% the same as in the original mahasi tradition. One special thing is that they encourage u to do the last 2 nights of the retreat without sleeping. So the 3 month i spent at the center i was doing 12days normal retreat, than 2 nights without sleeping, Than a few days break and than starting a new retreat again.


one thing that seems also to be different than in the original mahasi tradition is that the teachers at the Center dont have to be stream entry.

I had the intention to do the noting 100% the whole day from the moment i wake up until i fall asleep at night. But i just couldnt do it. Im always drifting away into thinking, especially at the meals or between the meditaion sessions. But also during the formal sitting time im always drifting away in thoughts, sometimes for several minutes before mindfullness kicks in and brings me back to the noting. so after a while i was getting frustrated and i gave up the idea of doing the noting 100% of the time, i relaxed my effort a bit coz i was getting to stressed trying to do the noting 100% of the day.


...wise advice on retreat time, thanxs for that! Do u thing this also applys on concentrative meditaion as well, coz maybe a more relaxed, easy going attitude is better than over doing things?
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Stefan F:

I had the intention to do the noting 100% the whole day from the moment i wake up until i fall asleep at night. But i just couldnt do it. Im always drifting away into thinking, especially at the meals or between the meditaion sessions. But also during the formal sitting time im always drifting away in thoughts, sometimes for several minutes before mindfullness kicks in and brings me back to the noting.

here, the thing to do is to note 'mind wandering' and immediately get back into the swing of things.

Stefan F:

(...) so after a while i was getting frustrated and i gave up the idea of doing the noting 100% of the time, (...)

and here, the thing to do is to note the frustration, note the giving up, and get back into the swing of things.

Stefan F:

i relaxed my effort a bit coz i was getting to stressed trying to do the noting 100% of the day.

and here, the thing to do is to note the stress, note the relaxing, and get right back into the swing of things.

...did you note all the above things? if not, what did you miss? the answer to that question will almost certainly indicate what threw you off the simple path of practice, which led you to conclude that '[your] concentration was to weak' to practise in the mahasi tradition.


Stefan F:

...wise advice on retreat time, thanxs for that! Do u thing this also applys on concentrative meditaion as well, coz maybe a more relaxed, easy going attitude is better than over doing things?

the intensity of mindfulness useful to insight practice is just as important in concentration practice as in insight practice, and the balance which must be struck between energy and tranquility remains the same. what differs is the role of/the amount of investigation that is required.

as far as (pure) insight practice is concerned, investigation is into the three characteristics (or some other dhamma theme), and must be discerned constantly, continuously, at every moment, from moment to moment. however, for the purposes of a (pure) concentration practice, the only investigation necessary is whatever reflection is needed in order to get right the balance of the faculties (mindfulness, energy, tranquility, confidence, understanding) so that the hindrances (sensual desire, ill-will, laziness/dullness/boredom, restlessness, and doubt) do not arise, so that the jhanic factors can arise. thus, the continuity of mindfulness remains ever-useful.

tarin
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Meggo mu, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 29 Join Date: 3/26/11 Recent Posts
four tips
1) alternate noting with concentration: do 10-15min of concentration before every 45min of noting
2) use quadruplett noting as explained here: http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/page/Detailed+Noting+is+Better active searching instead of wating for something to arise could help you
3) make yourself a noting reminder timer: use a mp3 file on your mp3 player/ smartphone --> record beeps for e.g. every 5 seconds --> note when you here the beeping sound and note as fast as you can in between the beeps --> when your mind wanders it will do this for a maximum amount of five seconds
4) if even this doesn't help you, maybe you have attention deficit disorder --> go to a psychatrist an talk to him, see if ritalin, wellbutrin, adderall or reboxetine will help you to shut your thinking down
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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hey Meggo

Meggo mu:
four tips
1) alternate noting with concentration: do 10-15min of concentration before every 45min of noting
2) use quadruplett noting as explained here: http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/page/Detailed+Noting+is+Better active searching instead of wating for something to arise could help you
3) make yourself a noting reminder timer: use a mp3 file on your mp3 player/ smartphone --> record beeps for e.g. every 5 seconds --> note when you here the beeping sound and note as fast as you can in between the beeps --> when your mind wanders it will do this for a maximum amount of five seconds
4) if even this doesn't help you, maybe you have attention deficit disorder --> go to a psychatrist an talk to him, see if ritalin, wellbutrin, adderall or reboxetine will help you to shut your thinking down



i will try point 3, sounds interesting!

to point 4: I already thought about that but im skeptical to use "drugs" to improve my concentration!? what if it works and i get used to the good concentration that comes with ritalin, and get mentally addicted to it. do u know anyone how has experiences with that?

Stefan
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Meggo mu, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 29 Join Date: 3/26/11 Recent Posts
Stefan F:

I already thought about that but im skeptical to use "drugs" to improve my concentration!?


You are already using drugs to improve your concentration, they are called neurotransmitters ;). Also i am sure you know that the arising of the so called jhana factors improve concentration. E.g. piti which generates interest in the concentration object, thus inhibiting mind wandering = dopamine. Sukha is said to be endorphine.

Stefan F:

what if it works and i get used to the good concentration that comes with ritalin, and get mentally addicted to it. do u know anyone how has experiences with that?
Stefan


To adderall you could develop some form of addiction. I have experience with wellbutrin and reboxetine, but drugs affect everybody in a different way. I remind you to speak to your doctor. If you don't have ADD they will make your brain spit out even more thoughts (which you don't want).

Or you could try nootropics, like pea (don't use it while on a mao inhibitor) or lithium (which will decrease your emotional response too) which you can buy over amazon.

But... speak to your doctor speak to your doctor to your doctor ;)
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Yadid dee, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 258 Join Date: 9/11/09 Recent Posts
Personally, I was prescribed Ritalin for my ADHD but I find it easier to meditate without anything,
actually, I hate Ritalin's effects, on or off the cushion.
Meggo mu:
Or you could try nootropics, like pea (don't use it while on a mao inhibitor) or lithium (which will decrease your emotional response too) which you can buy over amazon.


I seriously don't think your advice here is spot on. The guy came here for meditation advice not asking on all the different psychyatric drugs he could take.
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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hey,

tarin greco:

...did you note all the above things? if not, what did you miss? the answer to that question will almost certainly indicate what threw you off the simple path of practice, which led you to conclude that '[your] concentration was to weak' to practise in the mahasi tradition.
tarin


i was noting all of that stuff like "frustration, doubt, thinking, wandering mind" 100times a day. But still i had a lot of seconds sometimes minutes in a row where my mind drifted away or where i just forgot the noting, after i became aware of it i was noting again "forgetting" or "thinking" but i did not saw much improvement, my mind still wandered away very often.

So the reason why i want to do concentration practice is that i can keep up the noting for long periods of time without my mind wandering away. Or do u think that my concentration is already good enought for doing the mahasi style to come to stream entry ?

Stefan
upa sika, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 16 Join Date: 11/14/10 Recent Posts
Stefan F:


i was noting all of that stuff like "frustration, doubt, thinking, wandering mind" 100times a day. But still i had a lot of seconds sometimes minutes in a row where my mind drifted away or where i just forgot the noting, after i became aware of it i was noting again "forgetting" or "thinking" but i did not saw much improvement, my mind still wandered away very often.

So the reason why i want to do concentration practice is that i can keep up the noting for long periods of time without my mind wandering away. Or do u think that my concentration is already good enought for doing the mahasi style to come to stream entry ?

Stefan



Hey Stefan, this hits very close to home, I spent a lot of time and putting in a lot of effort but always feeling I didn't have enough concentration, eventually I contacted Kenneth Folk and did some out loud noting sessions with him over Skype. Those worked well, for me.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 3192 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Tried candle flame or another kasina practice?

Daniel
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Stefan F, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 28 Join Date: 7/8/11 Recent Posts
Hey,
Daniel M. Ingram:
Tried candle flame or another kasina practice?

Daniel


yes i tried candle flame a few times, but with the same gaps between my concentration/mindfullness as with other objects.emoticon


Stefan
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Alvaro MDF, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 18 Join Date: 11/11/10 Recent Posts
Hi Stefan,

Have you tried exercising before meditation? Physically exerting yourself shortly before sitting can help to tone down the waves of thought that derail concentration.

In additon to your 45 minute practice have you tried very short meditation sessions? I take 3 minutes out of every other hour to do samatha. With 3 minutes you don't have the opportunity to goof off. Either you engage fully for that brief time or you blow it. The feedback is instananeous and a useful compliment to a longer daily practice.

Tarin's remarks about noting everything that comes are crucial. I floundered for 4 years of practice because I was discouraged about being discouraged. Note it and carry on.

Alvaro
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Nipuna Ross A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 123 Join Date: 6/15/11 Recent Posts
Stefan F
the longest i can stay with the Meditation object is about 1 or 2 minutes before my mind wanders of. (exceptions where 10 minuits or so, but that happened only a few times). even though im experiencing states of nearly no mental activity during those 1 or 2 minutes.


This is good, actually great! Having smaller more manageable goals is not a bad idea. Its good to think back when you first started meditating. and look at now. and, see how much of a difference there is. I bet you've made significant progress.
I have a lot of friends that are not enlightened, that sit every day and have sat for every day for decades and if they can get 10 mindful breaths they are doing great. Doing the practice at 100% 'your ability' is just fine, even if that means 2 minutes on and 2 or 10 minutes off wondering. Have persistence without expectations. if you fall pick yourself back up and if you fall again, pick your self up again, and again, and again. Don't just stay lying on the ground and say, I'm tired of walking. everyone who walks falls.

trying and putting in effort is better than not trying and not putting in effort. You are going to places to practice that a lot of people are just plain scared to even try. So, congratulations on your 'progress' from your very first sit till right now!
Peace- Ross
Bernardo Vasconcelos, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 40 Join Date: 11/19/09 Recent Posts
I think Tarin said everything you needed to hear in order to get stream entry. I never had great concentration - and I still don't thing I have - but I had the a overwhelming desire to get stream entry which kept me noting everything obsessively: including the many times my mind would wonder, the beating myself part afterwards, all the I'm not good enought / this is not doable thoughts, etc. It is a very simple intruction: you just keep doing it. All the time.

While on retreat note everything. Before getting out of bed you start, and you stop only when you're no longer counsciouss. While eating note seeing. Note reaching out for the fork. Note touching. Note lifting the fork. Note chewing. Note liking or disliking. Note swallowing. Do anything and everything in a very deliberate fashion, and slowly if you can. Note 'the guy that thinks he doesn't have enough concentration'. Note pain or sorrow, if there's any. Give your frequent patterns, and mind states, particular names and note them mercilessly.

There's a center in Bayern from the Ajahn Tong's tradition. Check it out: it's called Dhammacari. I did exactly what I just described to you while staying there and it worked. So, good luck!

Bernardo

P.s.: The instructions on the sleep depravation exercice is, I belive, for a fruition - which happens right after a path - not nirodha (no point in giving instructions for nirodha to a stream enterer).

P.p.s.: Perhaps I should also note that on my experience, meditation was very seldom pleasant. Maybe 9% of my overall time on the cushion would be described as mildly pleaseant, and 1% as very pleasant. The rest was contemplation of struggle. Still, and like that, things got done.

You don't have to fix anything to wake up. You just do it.
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carolin varley, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Question for Bernando;
I was looking at the website of the retreat that you posted and they have a retreat from the 1st to the 21st. Would 20 days be a bit overwhelming for someone who has never been on retreat before, has only been meditating for one year and doesn't have so much experience with noting?
Or is retreat supposed to be overwhelming and shock you into something?
John Freeman, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: nearly no progress after 8 month of Retreat time

Post: 1 Join Date: 8/24/11 Recent Posts
Hello Stefan
Take heart because you are not alone.... I can relate well to your frustrations and I hear of this as a frequent experience of people.

I think the obstacles that come at us from the back of our own minds that prevent us from the rock solid relaxation and stability that defines samadhi must be dealt with first and not in meditation ..... but with psychotherapy or the like (things like holotropic breathwork, psychedelics done with reverence and responsibililty) to get our mental agitation and instability down to a low level .... then we can get more stable meditation far far more quickly .... that is my experience.

Twenty years ago after working closely running retreats over a few years with one theravada teacher from Spirit Rock and years of contact with a variety of others, I walked away noting nothing really strong of interest happening. It seemed to get nobody anywhere. I got to know those folks pretty well. A big retreat center and one book after another does not always mean good training and attainment also.

More recently I met a teacher (Alan Wallace) with much more in depth training (decades of close instruction direct from the Dalai Lama and other senior Tibetans the DL connected him with) and I began to have deep. profound. compelling experiences .... ie samadhi, right away. Two years later after several weeklong retreats and up to two hours practice a day I was a completely different person.

In my opinion I went to deeper experience almost immediately only because I worked to quiet my afflicted emotional states thru other means first. Meditative techniques are the "capstone" ... the final polish and are far far more effective if we are mentally quieted down to an extent first .... quieter than most westerners .... before we try to meditate. We westerners are mostly, not all of us but most, too kookoo to meditate right away.

We must learn deeper meditative techniques from someone who is up to the eyeballs in samadhi .... it is a huge change in the way we function ... so we must learn from someone who is imbedded in it and, importantly, who understands the obstacles westerners face .... I strongly suspect learning from Asians may be more difficult because they do not experience the same obstacles .... better to learn from a westerner who has been saturated for decades and who understands the western psyche. Asians face far fewer up front obstacles.

In summary he moral of that part of the story is: quiet extremes of mental emotional agitation first before meditation then find a teacher with who is deeply saturated ..... deeper meditative states are a very very different way of functioning.

It's about getting the mind really really quiet without suppressing anything ... one becomes transparent to everything. If we are too agitated we truly cannot do it ....

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