RE: Long-term solo retreat

Laurynas Plisas, modified 1 Year ago at 5/7/21 8:47 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 5/7/21 8:47 AM

Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Hi all, 

I'm about to go on a solo retreat for 3 or so months. I don't know the exact plan or time I'm about to do that, just trusting the process and will see how it goes. Maybe after some time, I'll fly to Malaysia or some other retreat center. Depends on few factors. In the meantime, looking for advice for my solo retreat. 

Did one before, 8 days solo, 10h per day, sitting and walking. "MCTB2" and Mahasi "Practical Insight Meditation" were my references. Started somewhere in Dark Night (and generalized anxiety) territory, hit EQ during the retreat, and cycled few times between Re-O and EQ. 

Now I'm again in Dark Night (and generalized anxiety) territory. Ideally, the goal would be to flip the switch and enter the Stream. emoticon) Then start practicing concentration jhanas. Will use the same references for the upcoming retreat too. Sit and walk at least 10h/day, cook my own food, make trips to the grocery store when needed. 

So... Plan is to wake up at 4.30 am.
Is it ok to dedicate the first two hours of the day to workout /or stretch + prep for the day & eat breakfast?
Is it ok to write the journal here and there?
Make a call or meet face to face for some time?
Do a minimal reading of those two books (basically to re-read relevant chapters)?
​​​​​​​Or it would hinder my progress in some way?

Any other general advice, tips, agendas, ideas would be much appreciated. 

Than you! 
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Pepe, modified 1 Year ago at 5/7/21 9:48 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 5/7/21 9:48 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 557 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi LP, welcome to DhO!

Probably others will chime in later, but for the time being, check Shargrol's posts below. 

- 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years
A general rule for retreats 
A month long retreat is not for beginners 
Five classic negative habits that show up on retreat 
Pacing is everything on a long retreat 

There are many threads in DhO dealing with retreats (check below), but I would recommend searching in the Practice Logs section, as there many ask for advice and answers have more meat, as the original posters are better known in the community.

Long Term Retreat Advice 
1 Month Noting Retreat Good or Bad Idea for Formerly Fearful Person? (check last post)
- How long to achieve stream-entry on retreat? 
Recommended Places for 1-3 Month Meditation Retreats? (in Covid era)
How should I practice to maintain my progress after retreat? 

Then you have a whole section in Daniel Ingram's best posts compilation dealing with "Teachers & Retreats".
Laurynas Plisas, modified 1 Year ago at 5/8/21 4:41 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 5/8/21 4:39 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Pepe, thanks for the welcome and on-point resources! You really heard me emoticon

Shargrol is gold, read what you've recommended and some more. Gave some reassurance and valuable pointers.

I'm meditating for almost two years now, 30min to 2hours daily. Thanks to daily anxiety and dry insight retreat experience, I've learned to accept everything as it is. I don't care too much about the content of my experience. Physical and mental discomfort or comfort - is the same opportunity to note and see 3 characteristics. So my idea is to be in whatever is, gain insight, shift perception, and the anxiety will cease itself over time through allowing it to be and desensitizing nerves. From a zoomed-out perspective, it's working and I'm getting better. emoticon How long it takes - doesn't matter, the focus is on the present moment.

Back to the question - 4:30 am and sports. I'm trying to understand what is the point in waking up that early. That seems common on retreats, so maybe there is a point? Really, I'm more of an owl. Mornings are tough, but I'd be willing to give it a try. And do sports first thing to wake up and because I love it and I feel it's a moral thing to do. Or is there a point to sit through that grogginess first thing in the morning? Just want to be efficient with my energy and time.

Still have one month before the retreat, will increase my practice a bit, do one to few days mini-retreats and figure out the framework of it. emoticon
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Pepe, modified 1 Year ago at 5/8/21 2:04 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 5/8/21 2:04 PM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 557 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hey, my longest retreat was 4 days, so I'm not of much help... That's why I provided the links. Waking up 4.30 am is too early IMO, specially if your are an owl. Check Niels' practice logs (the last one or the previous one), also Brandon's, where he starts at 10 am and then extends the sits till midnight. A one month retreat is serious business, I wouldn't undertake such a challenge if I weren't well stablished in EQ for months, to be completely honest. Regarding sports, what do you mean? Running, gym, cardio, etc? I would say stretching and walking would do the trick and if you know yoga or taiji/qigong, that would be better, never heard of anyone doing heavy stuff during a retreat.

Well, I hope someone would add something. Otherwise, check https://www.reddit.com/search/?q=long%20retreat as there are more threads about the topic.

Metta!
​​​​​​​Pepe
Laurynas Plisas, modified 11 Months ago at 6/8/21 1:30 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 6/8/21 1:29 PM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey, 

I've called off the search and the answers came, haha. As usual, things are falling into place on their own. Just the mind needed to know how to make everything best. 

I was thinking about jogging, but since I'll do a lot of walking meditation, it's gonna be enough physical activity. Might add some bodyweight exercises here and there, and stretching. 

Today did day 0 run and seems like I'll go with a schedule that goes something like this:

6:00-6:30 Wake up, stretch
6:30-7:00 Walk
7:00-8:00 Sit
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:00-10:00 Walk
10:00-11:00 Sit
11:00-12:00 Walk
12:00-13:00 Sit
13:00-14:00 Lunch, rest, write, etc.
14:00-14:30 Spiritual Autolysis (Jed McKenna thing)
14:30-15:30 Walk
15:30-16:30 Sit
16:30-17:30 Walk
17:30-18:30 Sit
18:30-19:30 Dinner
19:30-21:30 Cook, clean, stuff, etc.
21:30-Sleep

Tomorrow will pull the plug from the internet and go in. Don't know for how long, idea is around one month but will see. 
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Pepe ·, modified 11 Months ago at 6/8/21 3:11 PM
Created 11 Months ago at 6/8/21 3:11 PM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 557 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hey, good schedule! Best of luck and metta to you! Let us know how it went. Pepe
Platu •, modified 8 Months ago at 8/24/21 7:32 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 8/24/21 7:32 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
The retreat ended up being 21 days long, ending up in Stream-entry. BAM! Right off the bat, because that's what I'd like to know. Though on an easier note, understand that nothing has been confirmed with a teacher, including attainment and descriptions. All that follows is a first-hand experience, so take it with a grain of salt and feel free to call out anything you see fit. I'd be interested to discuss and deepen my understanding too.

Here you'll find general tips for a solo retreat, techniques I've used, struggles and insights 'from the field', integration vibes after the retreat, and conclusions, so you can tune in to what you are looking for. I just feel the impulse to describe this experience from the many angles I can. Note that this is what worked for me, though it might resonate with you in some way as it did with me reading a YouTube comment that is still helpful. So you never know... emoticon

General tips for the retreat 
  • Prepare food for as many days as you can before starting the retreat. Freezing different sauces for pasta or stews is great! I prepared breakfast only, lunch and dinner needed heating only. It was great. The last (3rd week) I had to cook everything. It took a lot of energy. Being in dukkha, intensely anxious, high in sensitivity and concentration, confused and doubtful - made cooking food much more complicated. The indecisiveness was also there. Taken all - it was too much to note. That doesn't mean it will be the same to you, though you cannot expect where you'll end up. My take is that it is better to sort this kind of decisions as much you can upfront. More room to be still is better.

  • Don't abuse coffee. It blocks the bodily signals of when rest is needed. It's good to see those and take a nap after lunch or go sleep earlier. I'd say one morning coffee is sweet. More will distort the lunch time signals. At least it did for me. Though if sleepiness comes after lunch, I'd shoot a coffee instead of noting sleepiness. It's all about listening to the body what it's sensitively telling to do at the moment.

  • Have a schedule (the one I posted before worked fine for me) though be flexible. Setting a timer for the meditations is fine, though trying to fit the schedule seems meaningless when you're alone. Doing things one after another in a relaxed manner, in tune with the signals from the body - felt natural.

  • Block as many distractions in advance, though if some come - allow them. Takes less energy than fighting them. And again, it's a more natural flow of events. Might even present a lesson. I had to talk here and there. Had to negotiate, buy, and ride back a dirt bike. I'm happy that I did, instead of sitting now knowing that I had an ideal retreat.

  • Don't blow the blisters from all the walking. In few days the calluses get solid and you can walk without pain again.

  • Have super comfortable shoes for walking meditations, running type worked well.

  • Stretch at the end of the day and/or foam roll your muscles. At least the ones involved in walking. They tend to get stiff from 5+ hours walking per day.

  • Try to make the sleep/wake schedule around the time it's most natural to you. I mean - your circadian rhythm. Are you a lark or an owl? When do you wake up naturally without an alarm? Go with that instead of 4:30 am waking. You will not transcend your biology.

  • Perfect the practice on the retreat. Not the best time to learn something new. At least in a long-term retreat.


The technique

The base of all my sits before and during the retreat was 'Allow to be everything as it is' by Adyashanti.

https://adyashanti.opengatesangha.org/teachings/intro-teachings#ot_true-meditation-the-natural-peace-of-awareness1

For me, it works like a charm universally in all stages of insight. Easy to come back to the base during the meditation once getting lost somewhere, and a solid base to build on top another technique.

The way I know that I'm 'allowing to be everything as it is' is by releasing any tension from the body & mind until there is nothing more to release or allow. It all just is. Simply put, with out-breath release your anus and all with it.

So for sits, I 'Allow & notice what is'. Mahasi style. When I do that long enough I get into a meditative mode where the 3 characteristics (3C) present themselves naturally. So intentionally I'm not reflecting on what is, not trying to notice the 3C or somehow change what is. All just happens naturally. If it doesn't, I pick one of 3C and investigate it only or surrender completely all effort by keeping only the intention to be in 0 effort.

For walks, I 'Keep all sense doors open, allow & notice what is'.

Seemed like with this kind of universal approach I could sit forever, it's enough to go through any experience, and see the true nature of it, what could go wrong? Yea, but see in 10 days...

Also, Spiritual Autolysis by Jed McKenna blew my mind. Did 30 min. daily. Cuts through the bullshit, as close to the truth as possible. Allowed me to think for myself and question other opinions. I can share instructions from the book if anyone wants. Or Google can help.

Day 1 to 10

It all started very smoothly and calmly. The sits were easy, peaceful, open, and spacious, occasional to frequent head nods, little effort was required to notice the sensations. Broad focus on the whole field of experience. Pretty Equanimous. Just enough energy, mood, perceptual clarity, steadiness of focus, and motivation to practice and look forward to it off the cushion. Similar was with walking meditation too, had my gaze locked in forward, head lightly bouncing on the neck, body relaxed, effortlessly noticing lots of little sensations that make up walking, from the feet to the cheeks jiggling (on the face...). Sometimes could go for an hour with minimal distractions.

Also since the beginning been 'falling back' to the contracted mode of being, with poor sensory clarity, chaotic vibrations, huge aversion to meditation, low mood, and energy on & off the cushion.

These state shifts have been happening on and on, sometimes a few times per day, and as the days progressed, I happened to be less and less in the expansive and Equanimous state.

That set in the doubt and confusion that there is something I'm not getting or doing wrong in my practice because I'm not sticking in Equanimity. Started losing trust in my practice, which seemed to work all the time before. Had to notice worrying and restlessness more and more to a point where I found myself spiraling down in weird mental pathways, followed by a state of fear and terror, where I had to do something to ground myself. Acupuncture mat, cold shower, and listen to guided anxiety talk downs till I fell asleep.

The peak of doubt, confusion, and physical anxiousness created by the indecisiveness aspect of my generalized anxiety was on day 10, where I logged in to ask for help and reassurance in the forum. Thank God the message was not sent. Mods, admins - if you see it hangin' - BURN IT! emoticon 

Nevertheless, after writing it all down, I felt more at peace. I took it as a reminder from the Universe that 'it's SaulGoodman', everything is taken care of, just trust the process, the practice, and now you can surrender. 

So I did.

Day 11

10 hours of 'Do Nothing' meditation by Shinzen Young.

Helped me to settle, look at the naturally arising ludicrous thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts would laugh at themselves of the nonsense it was saying, sometimes they got ashamed of themselves for the absurd stream. Till the end of the day, they ran most of their steam and I felt more accepting to whatever arose.

During one walking meditation I was noticing the analytical thought stream about the experience and what I'll write in my journal. Then I thought to myself - why the fuck am I writing? To whom? Do I need it? Does it disturb my peace now and keep me analytical? At the same moment I realized that I don't need it. And I could drop it for now. At the same moment I felt lightness. I felt I'm taking a step that is going out of history the same moment it happens, completely unimportant. Went like 50 meters like that before the thoughts came back. But lighter. Maybe that's not a very mature approach, cuz you can notice the analysis too, but that was what worked for me at the time.

Day 12 Absolute impermanence or Stream entry

Resumed to 'Allowing & Noticing what is'. Since the first sit noticing went pretty smooth. The focus was resting steadily on sensations - mostly inner body flickering, contacting the breath in different places, noticing the thoughts and allowing them to be. The clarity would naturally change depending on nana. After steady resting for some time on the sensations, the focus would broaden and include the whole field of experience, on which I could rest then and gently allow the 3C to present themselves. The experience was full of anxious vibrations though.

Few meditations in, during a sit, felt that all the experience is ending the moment it happens, and disappearing to a blank space, which before was called the past. But now there was a direct understanding that there is no past. After opening my eyes, the understanding came that all the existence, all matter is ending moment by moment. And that there is no before. The now is ever-present, the matter is ever-changing. I.e. the cup is on the table now. I take the cup and move it to another place on the table. Now the cup is in another place on the table. It is the same now in both locations, though the cup from the first location is gone from existence. There is no cup before in a different location than it is now. So the continuity of things and self were seen as an illusion, as an idea, that things are in a linear way, and mostly felt down. And if you skip a workout, the only thing you lose is the ability to identify yourself as a disciplined person, because you broke the illusionary continuity that ego so much likes. I can bust it now easier, when I find myself making stories about how I am, and getting upset if that's not matching the ideal. Sleeping in is sleeping in, eating junk is eating junk, it's not attached to a mental construct early riser or healthy eater.

I'll leave the more technical descriptions to my practice logs that I might start later, to develop a skill to see and describe the phenomenology more clearly, to keep it technical, practical, and reproducible. For now, I'll go with more general insights and descriptions to make a point.

Since the 'sense' of absolute impermanence was different than what I've experienced before (lack of rapture, faster cycling A&P to EQ, calling stages of insight by will), I assumed now I'm in the stream. And here landed on me a huge cloud of not knowing what to do next, because of all I have read what I should be able to do, and all I have read what I should do was just theory to what was happening now. Only later I understood that I cannot know everything at once. It unfolded one after another. This knowing would have spared me some peace. However, went asking for guidance here, in this post: [.]https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22886952].

Day 13

That was the day when I understood the importance of a teacher most. I was looking for answers to my practice in MCTB and Practical Insight Meditation. All the information about the review phase, doors, fruitions were bringing me anxiety because I was trying to grasp it. I was trying to experience everything that was in the books. Though getting even more questions about what should I do first, how long, what to look for, etc. At the end of the day, I felt tense, confused, frustrated because I couldn't juggle so many stakes in my head. Who was trying to have the experiences? The reality was still the same with or without them.

That again was a great reminder from the Universe to surrender in what was happening now. To trust the process. All is happening that needs to happen. Just relax in it and allow everything to be as it is. And listen to the body. What is it telling me? When most pain is created? What feels next natural thing to do?

Day 14-18

I let go of all the expectations and allowed my body to tell the direction to take. Doing one thing after another. The practice naturally shifted to more shamatha, zero effort surrender, and loving-kindness. Went to sleep when tired, read a book here and there, practiced 8-9 hours per day.

The body and nervous system were recovering. The general anxious energy was closing, feeling mostly anxious vibrations when going through dukkha nanas. A feeling of peacefulness was more present, sometimes joy.

When I felt recovered enough, naturally arose the topics of review, doors, and fruitions. And I felt the impulse to return to noticing the sensations and see what I can experience (or non-experience).

Day 19-21

Back to 10h per day of noticing. Sitting & walking, with the intention to catch a Fruition. I couldn't distinguish it up until this point so that was the thing I wanted to do - gain skill to get repeated Fruitions. I let go of intentionally trying to be in a certain insight stage, allowed to be everything as it is, and noticed what is. I figured - if my mind, body, or whatever needed to spend more time/learn in a certain stage, it will do it itself, and I won't try to change anything, and just investigate what is.

Some sits were spent in contracted, dark mode, some sits I could see the dukkha stages flying by quickly, and landing on flat, peaceful, easy, and Equanimous ground. At which point I would mostly surrender the effort and gently be with what is, with attention sometimes investigating where the doors are.

I couldn't see it. I couldn't find or define the 'blip' moment. At the end of day 21, I felt that it's enough of looking. And that I'm good to end the retreat sooner than I initially planned. I was content with where I was. Trusting that the path is unfolding as needed. Being excited to come out of the cave with a new understanding of reality. Seeing all existence as impermanent. And the Fruitions will come as needed.

+60 days - Post retreat vibes

Well, the biggest difference is that I'm not overwhelmed all the time. Sometimes I feel light, enthusiastic, joking around, telling stories, and conversating deeply with 'full character'. The spontaneity is coming back. The thinking got more congruent and clear, thoughts are not breaking in the middle of a conversation. Bodily pain/anxiousness is not always there. That was what I've probably missed most being in Dark night - feeling like a normal human being. Though it's not always like that. Some times per day, sometimes most of the day, I feel contracted, anxious, and not in a very uplifting mood. Maybe that's got to do with the cycling through dukkha nanas, and/or generalized anxiety, triggered by some false threat. That being said, the general level of suffering has decreased, because it's easier to deal with what is right now than a generalized mental construct (I'm feeling anxious all day/week, etc.).

Anyhow, I don't expect too much out of myself now. I do what I feel like and that's all. It helps that I've quit my job in May and I don't need to do anything. At least a few more months before I run out of money. emoticon But yeah, I don't cling to ideals that I have to be an early riser, workout X times per week, read books X time per day, or whatever. I sleep until I wake up naturally, go to sleep when tired, do something or do nothing. I feel I could go like that forever, this kind of living doesn't take much effort or struggle. Taking into account that morality game is on point (overtime (9 months) dropped alco, cigs, drugs, coffee, sugar, social media). No high highs, no low lows. I don't plan out of habit (unless I need to), but the plan comes to me. I just dance with it. Or freak out and run away from it. emoticon 

The clarity of the present moment is more defined. I can come back to this moment easier. Intuitively knowing that what I experience is (and can be) now only. Somewhat effortless knowing of the present moment. This helps to ground myself during any activity and meditation. Being aware of objects contacting any of the sense doors is enough to know that I'm in the present moment. Besides what I wrote on day 12, it's difficult to describe this 'sense'. And I don't think it's very necessary to do that. I've read that there is a variation of the 'sense' between different individuals. The shift in baseline perception has not been dramatic, but I'll take that! Almost every day is unraveling some interesting reflections, feels truer.

I guess, what I'm getting to - is that I've come to this point on a very bumpy, painful, dry insight meditation ride. Giving up or pressing pause for many things. Many scenarios. Some I think are not coming back, some will later, maybe in different quality. However, the change is for good. I'd say it was worth it. Now I feel the impulse to focus on the path with heart a bit more, loving-kindness, shamatha, and doing things I love. And continue gaining insights into 3 characteristics...

Conclusions

Hierarchy of retreats (how I would prefer them):
  1. Group retreat, with a teacher.
  2. Solo retreat, having a remote teacher with whom you could discuss meditation in the same language.
  3. Solo retreat, having someone close (that you know well) to call if shit gets wild.
  4. Solo retreat, having someone distant to call.
I'd say the aim of the retreat duration could also be related highest - lowest.
​​​​​​​
And shout out to Daniel Ingram, he's a fucking beast! If taken the 'student ready - teacher comes' thing, his book was the closest experience to the saying. Like 5 times. What a gift that we can turn to this work being at home. What a beauty that we can see different facets of the jewel as we mature. Thank you!
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 8/25/21 3:33 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 8/25/21 3:33 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 2382 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Nice job following your intuition emoticon​​​​​​​
Platu •, modified 4 Days ago at 5/12/22 4:34 AM
Created 4 Days ago at 5/12/22 4:34 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey,

Did two more retreats: one in Jan of 32 days and second on April of 27 days. The practice consisted of Contemplation through writing, Meditation and Walking Meditation. Here I’ll focus on the Contemplation part, cuz surely that was the blind side of my practice back in the days when I was subscribed only to the MCTB style technical practice and searching for the next pointer, next description to fit my experience in the books or videos. Some general insights of doing solo retreats might pop up here too. 

Or fuck it, let’s start with the general retreat insights first to set the scene a bit. The rigid structure of a ‘hardcore’ retreat started falling appart in the Jan retreat. To follow a schedule of any kind felt artificial and un-natural. Though letting go the schedule was extremely scary too. It happened in chunks of letting go sleeping and waking times, throwing the timer away for the practices, letting go which practice is done when and for how much time per day, the straight-back positions for practices changed to comfy bed or couch full of pillows mode, also letting go the intention to notice or be mindful or somehow monitor the experience while doing things like cooking, cleaning, etc. Along with slow and sure loss of schedule (and control) for the practice itself. One word which describes it all well is Surrender. At the end of the day and two retreats the average time for practice increased to 11 hours per day compared to the previous ones (used toggle to track it emoticon). However when the sleeping time shifts to 8 am and waking up to 3 pm together with ceasing of any known conceptual framework for doing shit, Fear sets on fire whole array of thoughts related to the loss of control or whatever. That’s where Contemplation interplays beautifully. 

To deal with Ignorance aka Delusions aka Beliefs aka Wrong-Knowing aka Believing to be True what is Not True aka Identities … that comes up in the content of thoughts and images and obscures the surrendered flow. Which is all powered by the bitch called Fear. And that bitch is calling to be entered. She’s not attractive, but sinking in fully and getting done with, holds a huge release…

This can be done through writing. The one which Jed McKenna calls Spiritual Autolysis. It can be found in his first book ‘…The Damnest Thing’ which I recommed to read to get the full vibe. But really it’s very simple. Core idea is figuring shit out yourself. Figuring yourself. Through Questioning. Where true answer is ceasing of the question. If answer is statement, question the statement. What is true? Who am I? These questions goes in variations. I guess the final ceasing is the exact question itself, but this statement needs verification from someone who is done. Or not, cuz that would be another belief. Left to figure it out Looking Within, myself. emoticon)

Amazing topics to contemplate is Death and as you already know - Fear, which pulls together the illusion of self. But most important topic is the one that’s buggin’ ya right now. Only you know what it is. And you can figure it out. In the last 7 months of doing Autolysis there was not a single topic I could not figure out and needed help or advice from books, teachers, or videos. If you care to read further, I’ll bring these months back to life which might give some idea of the process and probably be just another story to let go of. emoticon 

Or fuck it. If you care to know, let me know, and I’ll write it. Sufficient to say is that this is a process of unbecoming false (as Jed McKenna says), un-knowing, un-believing what is not true, killing the emotional attachments to false content of the mind, slicing identities, un-becoming more and remaining less and less… 

Surrender is essential. Be aware of misreading Figuring shit out yourself and attaching a sense of control or some responsability to do it in a forceful and pushy way. Just sitting down and letting the thoughts flow until the fingers starts typing themselves is enough.

When I revisited the video of Shinzen Young where he explains ‘Do Nothing’ meditation and put the words under the microscope of contemplation, it appeared probably as the most accurate conceptual framework for describing this non conceptual Surrender non-thing.

I was amazed to see how much fear is attached to not doing. 
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Arena Heidi, modified 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 11:09 AM
Created 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 11:09 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 52 Join Date: 4/16/22 Recent Posts
If you care to read further, I’ll bring these months back to life which might give some idea of the process and probably be just another story to let go of. emoticon 

Or fuck it. If you care to know, let me know, and I’ll write it. Sufficient to say is that this is a process of unbecoming false (as Jed McKenna says), un-knowing, un-believing what is not true, killing the emotional attachments to false content of the mind, slicing identities, un-becoming more and remaining less and less… 
Thanks for sharing your story. I would like to hear more of the details of your past months. I think that those who follow something that arises from within that differs from the maps and traditions that most are following, have something valuable to contribute. (I confess that I am biased in this regard as I am also following an inner path.)

 One word which describes it all well is Surrender. Surrender is essential.
I agree. Happy to hear of your success!
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Sigma Tropic, modified 4 Days ago at 5/12/22 12:15 PM
Created 4 Days ago at 5/12/22 11:57 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 283 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
I think your View is excellent and the general sense that I get reading your latest post is a clear mind, logical, open, honest, genuine. You give me the impression of someone who understands self. If we had a conversation and the vibes I was getting from you would be consistent with this, then regardless of the phenomenology and abilities I would say you have right view and right concentration. 

deal with Ignorance aka Delusions aka Beliefs aka Wrong-Knowing aka Believing to be True what is Not True aka Identities … that comes up in the content of thoughts and images and obscures the surrendered flow. Which is all powered by the bitch called Fear. And that bitch is calling to be entered. She’s not attractive, but sinking in fully and getting done with, holds a huge release…

This shows the limits of your view, there is still aversion it seems toward a mental state- but this is very good because rather than aversion or craving for objects the aversion and craving is for a mental state. And in my view this also makes sense to call it fear. You recognize fear as a fundamental motivating force. This reflects a higher level of understanding. It's the same thing that happens when we practice- there is always a self-other dynamic and fear of damage to the self is a more fundamental drive, earlier in the chain of dependent origination. That you're recognizing the more basic mental states as objects to which there is craving or aversion - that's good. 

Or fuck it, let’s start with the general retreat insights first to set the scene a bit. The rigid structure of a ‘hardcore’ retreat started falling appart in the Jan retreat. To follow a schedule of any kind felt artificial and un-natural. Though letting go the schedule was extremely scary too. It happened in chunks of letting go sleeping and waking times, throwing the timer away for the practices, letting go which practice is done when and for how much time per day, the straight-back positions for practices changed to comfy bed or couch full of pillows mode, also letting go the intention to notice or be mindful or somehow monitor the experience while doing things like cooking, cleaning, etc. Along with slow and sure loss of schedule (and control) for the practice itself. One word which describes it all well is Surrender. At the end of the day and two retreats the average time for practice increased to 11 hours per day compared to the previous ones (used toggle to track it emoticon). However when the sleeping time shifts to 8 am and waking up to 3 pm together with ceasing of any known conceptual framework for doing shit, Fear sets on fire whole array of thoughts related to the loss of control or whatever. That’s where Contemplation interplays beautifully. 

I like your mental state but I'm sensing something missing - there's no sense of impermanence, where's the buzzy stuff, buzzy stuff means you're not dull ;) Usually I would consider clear seeing to involve some degree of impermanence in experience on a fine grained level. You mentioned that you were gonna provide some phenomenological details. I'm not assuming you don't see subtle phenomena, but maybe if you said more about the practice and what happens when you sit, that would be good. 

The insight before where you describe the absolute impermanence aspect- that's crystal clear good knowledge but your log doesn't seem to see the importance of that insight. If that was stream entry you would use that insight as a template for "ideal mind" basically and you would kind of start to develop more and more subtlety of it. It seems like you have Right View and Right Concentration because just how you describe thing it sound like it comes from a pleasant mind state. 

If I were you I would ask myself the following questions:
  • How are my meditative baseline skills in removing gross hindrances
  • (i.e. sloth and torpor, doubt, aversion, craving, ignorance)
  • How has the shift changed your ability to remove hindrances on the spot and the ease with which that happens
  • Jhanas or states of peace, bliss, disorganized states of subtle bliss that is still healing, or simple states of non-grasping, equanimity. How easy is it for your mind to attain such states?   
and for stream entrant they should have access to supramundane states that allow direct mechnism to stop dukkha. For some they get a lot out of cessation/fruition. Others jhana, others just do spacious awareness. Or a combination. But a stream entrant / sotapanna will have abilities such as these, they are directly correlated to insight because they are ways to look at subjective experience that reduce clinging fabricating and suffering. 

From reading your post it seems like your mind state is consistently pretty good so that's a good sign. My feeling is that to further clarify where you are on the map you should describe the sensate experiences you're having, how they show you in the moment the mechanism of dukkha, and your practice at noticing dukkha in the moment and using the knowledge of mind to stop dukkha now. If that isn't a focus of your practice, then you're not doing Buddhist practice, and you won't suffer less as a result of your practice by just having cessations and cycling and Dark Nights. You seem to understand that the path is kind of a holistic thing, so that's Right View. 

I will write a post here about cessations when I get a chance, but my overall impression is good stuff, you might have some dullness and you would benefit from some simple excercises to strenghthen your mind. And from the looks of it you haven't had any consistent teachers. 

[My teacher asked me to teach]
*he has deconstructed Buddhism and 3C's - well beyond Arhat
Platu •, modified 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 8:24 AM
Created 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 8:24 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Sigma, thanks for ya effort.

Your comment provided some meat to Contemplate on. Did that on the parts that cought my attention. The rest have just flushed without friction. This will serve as an example of how I do the Contemplation. It's a freestyle thing really, always Looking for the answer Within.

​​​​​​​Is it necessary to be able to identify the phenomena of the experience?
Who is doing the identification?
Is the identification true?
Seems pointless activity to put a lable on a sensation that is gone already. The more interesting question is What is the nature of the sensation? What is the sensation? Are labels necessary to realize the true nature of the sensations?

Are the hindrances true?
Do I need to do something to remove something?
Do I need to attain something?

Who needs to be identified where he is on the map?
Is the identification on the map true?
Are identifications of others true?
Is it true that I am on the map?
Is the map true?
Is it true that I am on the path?
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Sigma Tropic, modified 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 8:53 AM
Created 3 Days ago at 5/13/22 8:53 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 283 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
I like direct communication. But good luck with whatever youre doing. 
Platu •, modified 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 10:29 AM
Created 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 10:29 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Hello Arena Heidi, sure, with pleasure. Happy to hear you’re following inner path too. 

So, two months before the Jan retreat I have started doing Spiritual Autolysis (SA) daily. The revelation started opening up that I am full of shit. Just uppon sitting down and opening the notepad would start pouring out various conceptions, assumptions, ideas, beliefs, and other thoughts of which none could have been verified as true from direct experience. I thought that this is a cool addition to my meditation practice, surely not making anything worse, just bringing in some clarity to the current thought patterns.

Jan retreat started with the identification of myself being in the first path’s equinimity zone. Core of the practice being focused around Culadasa’s TMI, loosely moving to noticing sensations Mahasi way, recreating intentions to investigate 3C’s, dropping in some choiceless awareness (Surrender) and self enquiries here and there. And progressively spending more and more time doing SA. Until it clicked and realization became evident that I don’t need anything more, anytime later, anywhere else. If shit can be discovered it can happen only here and now. What can be discovered? What is being covered? What is the cover? Can external knowledge uncover it? Can some learning add up to it? What is here? What is true?? Who am I??

The self-annihilation or suicide mission was turned on. I’ve started shredding layers and layers of wants, needs, plans, expectations, likes, dislikes, character traits, friends, family, conceptions, paths,… Everything I knew, everything I learned was being questioned and each time no inherent truth were found. Looking for what’s true only uncovered what is not true. But what makes it clear that this is not true? Isn’t the truth itself doing the looking? (shrug)

In the meanwhile all kinds of phenomenlogy were happening including blimps, twitches, glitches, that some lead to change of paths, followed by volatile cycling, some to wild enterings to jittery A&P, some was just glitches of electricity (room lights) of which I initially was not sure what it was and I didn’t care really. Each time in my mind I have resolved to go further immediately after the occassion. Couldn’t see that there is something to learn. From the direct experience I could not distinguish some door moment and I could not remember what was described in the books. I have let go the need to grasp it mainly because of the reason that it was not coming up naturally and I could not find the right reason why I should try doing it. At the last week of this Jan retreat the experience was switching back and forth contracted and open, namely Re-Obs and EQ. At that time it was still hard to let go the idea that truth or awakening or whatever waits after EQ, so it was sort of an object for clinging. Meditation practice remained just a freestyle letting go practice aka Surrender. Left the retreat lighter, having less clouds present interacting with the world.

Long story short between the retreats was a perfect example that the world itself brings up lots of opportunities to let go of emotional attachements to various objects. Triggers in other words. When processed with deep Contemplative thinking, it haven’t remain a trigger anymore. Emotional charge from various thoughts got removed. Meditations and general sense of being became more natural, effortless and clear. Books and videos felt like serving the function of escapism mostly. 

Then blimp, immediately ‘body’ felt more empty or transparent. Cycles, steady/neutral states, high states and the April retreat started on low states. Emotional turmoil was huge. That pushed going deeper into unconditional uncompromiseable Surrender also bringing to consciousness through Contemplation various identifications, descriptions, labels, subtle stories and comments attached to the current experience and seeing them as not true or not me. Because sensations themselves are silent, none of them are saying I am this or that. That reduced clinging by a lot which created more Equanimity regadless of experience and sorta killed the mental distinctions where one is more prefered over the other. Sensations themselves does not want to be different/other than they are. The retreat endend judging by the mental states in Re-Obs - EQ territory. The internal experience is shifting from burning to cooling. 

Few times spontaneously the whole sense of self started zooming out forming like a bubble which seemed to comprise everything around, making a loop and repeating. Then it died down. Nowadays spontaneously the zooming out sense happens, usually without the bubble. Also one night got catapulted out of the dream with that zooming out and uppon waking up that sorta loop thing got on full display and gone the next moment. Body was bursting of shampagne showers.

All in all, right now as I am, none of my direct experience is saying: this is X path and Y stage of insight. So my take is to let go the whole notion of paths and labels and just see what’s true right now. In this story I just wrote I might have misidentified something so why should I carry that false weight around?

It’s amazing to sit with a topic confused, doubtfull or whatever, not knowing how to move further. Totally Surrendered. And the sort of Aha moments just comes. Step by step. Through these internal steps various realizations and breakthroughts arrived that some were recognized as being seen somewhere in the books or heard in the videos. Just the effect was way stronger than just reading a realization of somenone else. Cuz that realization came directly through this experience. It really feels like my vocabulary have shrank down by a significant degree, cuz terms like choosing, responsability, expectations, importance, striving, better/worse, appearance identifications, comparing,… and so on does not ring any bells, cuz it’s obviously not true. That’s why it feels more like un-learning, un-becoming false. 

Jed McKenna coined the term dropping emotional baggage. Some baggages are dropped in a session. Some takes multiple sessions like hate, conceit, parents, aversion to negative feeling tones, etc. Varies on the individual delusion I guess. Usually it feels like sticking a finger in the wound and moving it around, but once the bullet is removed, it heals quick. 
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Arena Heidi, modified 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 6:34 PM
Created 2 Days ago at 5/14/22 6:34 PM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 52 Join Date: 4/16/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing more details!

It’s amazing to sit with a topic confused, doubtfull or whatever, not knowing how to move further. Totally Surrendered. And the sort of Aha moments just comes. Step by step. Through these internal steps various realizations and breakthroughts arrived that some were recognized as being seen somewhere in the books or heard in the videos. Just the effect was way stronger than just reading a realization of somenone else. Cuz that realization came directly through this experience. It really feels like my vocabulary have shrank down by a significant degree, cuz terms like choosing, responsability, expectations, importance, striving, better/worse, appearance identifications, comparing,… and so on does not ring any bells, cuz it’s obviously not true. That’s why it feels more like un-learning, un-becoming false. 
I can relate to this unfolding of internal steps.

Are you continuing with your practice? Will you do another retreat in another month or so?
Platu •, modified 1 Day ago at 5/15/22 4:26 AM
Created 1 Day ago at 5/15/22 4:26 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
Are you continuing with your practice? Will you do another retreat in another month or so? 
I am, now it happens to be at least two hours per day. Not determened how much it should be. What practice I do also depends on what befalls. No plans for a retreat too. I guess the 'plan' needs to mature. Right now got some things to do on earth. Like earn money. Cuz a year of mostly practicing got me empty pockets emoticon 
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Arena Heidi, modified 1 Day ago at 5/15/22 8:20 AM
Created 1 Day ago at 5/15/22 8:20 AM

RE: Long-term solo retreat

Posts: 52 Join Date: 4/16/22 Recent Posts
Sounds good. I understand about living simply in relative poverty because other things are more important. But one does need some money to survive here on earth. Hope that you find ways to earn money that enhance your practice, too!

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