In retreat right now; having spasms; need guidance

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Simon T., modified 9 Years ago.

In retreat right now; having spasms; need guidance

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
I am on my 9th day of a 21 days mahasi-style retreat at Wat Chom Tong. I slipped out to get further advice. The method is progressive and the teachers seems knowledgeable but there is a very strong mushroom factor here. They will go out of there way to remind me how to place my thumbs but there is no chance that I will hear anything about the progress of insight.

There is a very strong emphasis on noting. The canned answer for any question is "Did you acknowledge it?" On the second and third day I got into what I think to be the Passadhi defilement or 2th jhana (from http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html) which the teacher forbid me to explore. I would be able to get there in about 15-20 minutes sitting. There would be no discursive thoughts, it would be extremely easy to move very slowly or stand still. Vision field was large and steady.

On the 4th day I started to experience violent spasms. I get those spasms if I would try to concentrate too much or when falling asleep. At the moment of falling asleep, at the spit second I zone out, I experience a violent spasms that raise my head a feet a few inches and wake up.

I now do 30 minutes walking (4 steps) and 30 minutes sitting with the following acklowledgement: rising [breath], falling [breath], sitting, 'imagine ball in front of forehead', touching [back pain].

When my energy and mindfulness are very good I can concentrate steadily (samathi-style) for maybe 15 seconds on a single object before getting the spasms. When concentration is bad, spasms can arise while simply listening to someone or doing choiceless-awareness.

Should I try to surf those spasms or they are better to be avoided?

From my understanding, I am somewhere between 3th or 4th stage, before the arising and passing away. right? I never experienced an obvious A&P so I might be in this minority of people that rent their house and fly to Myanmar on a credit card without having an A&P. I'm kind of scared to cross the chasm but at the same time I feel on the ride...
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tarin greco, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: In retreat right now; having spasms; need guidance

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi simon,

my advice:

get back to work on retreat. follow the instructions like you would if you were too simple or stupid to think about them or come up with questions about them.

retreat is not the time to be thinking or complaining about the mushroom culture of the retreat centre or instructors. deal with that later. stop asking the instructors questions if you don't find their answers useful. the answers are in your direct experience. if in doubt or struggling, note it and accept the pain.

retreat is also not the time to become obsessed with mapping. analysis is not the same as practice. instead of getting caught in the content, note 'mapping' and go back to following the simple, rote, cave-stupid instructions for every fraction of a second that you're awake. assume that paying attention to sensation(s) now.now.now is the only way you're going to get anywhere.

resolve to not slip out to get further advice again. while you are here online, reading this reply, your precious seconds are ticking away. resolve to not take another break from your retreat, even for a moment, for any reason that is not life-threatening. completely commit yourself to practising continuously for the rest of the retreat and get back to work.

here is a set of good practice guidelines that have gotten a number of people to stream-entry. if you find them useful, write them down/print them out, then get back to retreat.

1 Don't indulge in your crap!
2 When in doubt or struggling: note/hit and accept pain.
3 If you have a question, the answer is in the Three Characteristics.
4 Be mindful during transitions between activities.
5 Analysis is not the same as practice.
6 Practice at all times when awake.
7 Stick to the schedule!
8 Remember how precious these moments are and how much the Dark Night sucks.
9 When alone, practice just as hard; this is for you.

practise well.

tarin
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: In retreat right now; having spasms; need guidance

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
What he said.

One more thing: don't worry about physical movements, spasms, and the like. They happen sometimes, and improve with good practice, though may return at times, they are just side effects, nothing dangerous or bad in any grand sense, and nothing to make a big deal of, and instead are just more sensations to notice.

Practice well and good luck,

Daniel
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Simon T., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: In retreat right now; having spasms; need guidance

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Thanks you for the reinsurance. Considering that few studies have been done on the ill effects of meditation, I started to be quite worried by this. Maybe in the future teachers will be able to say "this is caused by this and this in your brain but the risk of a serious seizure is less than X percent" but we are not there yet and ill effects are still taboo. Only from Daniel book and some other rare path-specific texts did I learn about their possible occurence. Still freaky when it happens

back on the cushion..
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James Yen, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: In retreat right now; having spasms; need guidance

Posts: 270 Join Date: 9/6/09 Recent Posts
Considering that few studies have been done on the ill effects of meditation,


Actually there is an article right here if you're curious, it's not a study though:

http://thehumanist.org/humanist/MaryGarden.html

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