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1st 10 day Goenka Retreat
Answer
5/4/13 12:58 PM
Hello everyone,

I'd like to start off by thanking Daniel and everyone who has contributed to this website for their help and wisdom on my spiritual journey. I am going on my first 10 day Goenka retreat in a little less than 2 weeks. (May 16th to 27th in Chestertown, MD) I have some questions regarding what to expect on the retreat and the specifics of it, and it would be nice to get some input from people who have already done a Goenka retreat. I think it might be wise to provide some background as to what my sits are like so people can understand my current progress through the stages of insight as I'm not really 100% sure myself. I think I might place myself at Re-Observation, but it hasn't been as intense as others have described it on the site. I've been formally meditating for a little less than a year, and recently started doing insight practice about 3 or 4 months ago. I'll describe my 1 hour sit from this morning to provide some context into my progress.

I sat down and did the standard rising falling exercise for vipassana. My intention was to feel every sensation that made up each individual in and out breath. When I first sat, my chest felt tight and it was hard to maintain my breath. I felt "suffocated." I took a few deep breaths, and the proceeded to put my attention on my breath no problem. For the first 20 minutes or so, my mind would wander every so often, and the only thing I could feel was the breath. I tried to note thoughts as they came up and any sort of "emotional state." The main emotional states I would encounter were being peaceful(content with the moment) and restless(wanting to get up and stop practicing). After the first 20 minutes or so passed, I started to feel sensations in various parts of my body. I found myself able to focus on my breath, but also be aware of 1 or 2 sensations at a time. At this point, thoughts started to become more "vivid" and I was able to observe them in more "detail." For example, if I thought about an event happening, instead of just getting a fleeting mental impression, I would very clearly see in my mind's eye some physical object involved with the thought and "hear" the words of the thought. I'd say the maximum time I'd spend with my mind wandering at this stage was between 3 and 4 seconds before I brought it back to the breath. After some time in this phase, when I shifted focus to the "overall" frequency of the moment, I could start to feel vibrations throughout most of my body, but was not able to maintain it for any longer than 3 or 4 seconds at a time. Throughout the latter part of my sit, I did notice certain sensations would appear and then disappear at different points in time, and that there was no "solidity" in the sensations.


Here are some of the questions I have about the retreat itself:

What size are the beds? It says to bring a bottom sheet, so I'm assuming it's a twin size bed.

What kind of clothes do males bring to these things? I was going to bring a couple of pairs of sweatpants, flannel pants, and a bunch of old t-shirts that are loose fitting, but I don't know if I should try to avoid t-shirts with graphics on them.

Are the bathrooms private? It doesn't bother me if they are or aren't, I'm just wondering so I'm not caught by surprise.

Is there anything thats not on the standard list of things they tell you to bring that you guys would reccomend bringing?

Is it necesarry to sit in full lotus for the majority of the retreat? I am not very flexible, and I have trouble sitting with my legs crossed, let alone in full lotus. I tend to practice sitting in a chair. I can try to become flexible enough so sitting cross legged is comfortable for me.

How many of you have obtained SE on a goenka retreat and what advice would you give me to help me make as much progress as possible on this retreat?

RE: 1st 10 day Goenka Retreat
Answer
5/4/13 2:21 PM as a reply to Maher K.
Maher K:
Hello everyone,

I'd like to start off by thanking Daniel and everyone who has contributed to this website for their help and wisdom on my spiritual journey. I am going on my first 10 day Goenka retreat in a little less than 2 weeks. (May 16th to 27th in Chestertown, MD) I have some questions regarding what to expect on the retreat and the specifics of it, and it would be nice to get some input from people who have already done a Goenka retreat. I think it might be wise to provide some background as to what my sits are like so people can understand my current progress through the stages of insight as I'm not really 100% sure myself. I think I might place myself at Re-Observation, but it hasn't been as intense as others have described it on the site. I've been formally meditating for a little less than a year, and recently started doing insight practice about 3 or 4 months ago. I'll describe my 1 hour sit from this morning to provide some context into my progress.


Here are some of the questions I have about the retreat itself:

What size are the beds? It says to bring a bottom sheet, so I'm assuming it's a twin size bed.

What kind of clothes do males bring to these things? I was going to bring a couple of pairs of sweatpants, flannel pants, and a bunch of old t-shirts that are loose fitting, but I don't know if I should try to avoid t-shirts with graphics on them.

Are the bathrooms private? It doesn't bother me if they are or aren't, I'm just wondering so I'm not caught by surprise.

Is there anything thats not on the standard list of things they tell you to bring that you guys would reccomend bringing?

Is it necesarry to sit in full lotus for the majority of the retreat? I am not very flexible, and I have trouble sitting with my legs crossed, let alone in full lotus. I tend to practice sitting in a chair. I can try to become flexible enough so sitting cross legged is comfortable for me.

How many of you have obtained SE on a goenka retreat and what advice would you give me to help me make as much progress as possible on this retreat?


Hello Maher.

I cannot comment about where you are on the maps since I am very new to the concept, and also the Goenka retreats infrastructure varies from center to center. I have been to two such retreats in Mumbai and Igatpuri, both in Maharashtra, India, and I am responding in the context of my experience.

1) Both retreats I did had Single beds in my private accommodation.
2) Its best to dress as simple as you can, and always better to avoid graphics as they will distract your mind and also those around you.
3) It is not necessary to sit even the half lotus. You can sit cross legged or even sit on a chair. However, I feel sitting on floor will provide better results.
4) Toilets are usually private unless you are given a shared accommodation. Best get in touch with the center about this.
5) I recommend taking with you meds for complications like diarrhea, itching in groin area, or anything else you can expect to come up. Use the meds only if the problem gets too intense.
6) This is pretty speculative. It's always most beneficial to focus only on your own self practice rather than comparing with others. Each individual is a compilation of countless Sankharas (mental patterns) that are limited and unique to that individual. Eliminating Sankharas from their roots is progress and you'll definitely be doing this to a good extent.

All the best.

RE: 1st 10 day Goenka Retreat
Answer
5/5/13 1:27 AM as a reply to Maher K.
Maher K:
Hello everyone,

I'd like to start off by thanking Daniel and everyone who has contributed to this website for their help and wisdom on my spiritual journey. I am going on my first 10 day Goenka retreat in a little less than 2 weeks. (May 16th to 27th in Chestertown, MD) I have some questions regarding what to expect on the retreat and the specifics of it, and it would be nice to get some input from people who have already done a Goenka retreat. I think it might be wise to provide some background as to what my sits are like so people can understand my current progress through the stages of insight as I'm not really 100% sure myself. I think I might place myself at Re-Observation, but it hasn't been as intense as others have described it on the site. I've been formally meditating for a little less than a year, and recently started doing insight practice about 3 or 4 months ago. I'll describe my 1 hour sit from this morning to provide some context into my progress.

I sat down and did the standard rising falling exercise for vipassana. My intention was to feel every sensation that made up each individual in and out breath. When I first sat, my chest felt tight and it was hard to maintain my breath. I felt "suffocated." I took a few deep breaths, and the proceeded to put my attention on my breath no problem. For the first 20 minutes or so, my mind would wander every so often, and the only thing I could feel was the breath. I tried to note thoughts as they came up and any sort of "emotional state." The main emotional states I would encounter were being peaceful(content with the moment) and restless(wanting to get up and stop practicing). After the first 20 minutes or so passed, I started to feel sensations in various parts of my body. I found myself able to focus on my breath, but also be aware of 1 or 2 sensations at a time. At this point, thoughts started to become more "vivid" and I was able to observe them in more "detail." For example, if I thought about an event happening, instead of just getting a fleeting mental impression, I would very clearly see in my mind's eye some physical object involved with the thought and "hear" the words of the thought. I'd say the maximum time I'd spend with my mind wandering at this stage was between 3 and 4 seconds before I brought it back to the breath. After some time in this phase, when I shifted focus to the "overall" frequency of the moment, I could start to feel vibrations throughout most of my body, but was not able to maintain it for any longer than 3 or 4 seconds at a time. Throughout the latter part of my sit, I did notice certain sensations would appear and then disappear at different points in time, and that there was no "solidity" in the sensations.


Here are some of the questions I have about the retreat itself:

What size are the beds? It says to bring a bottom sheet, so I'm assuming it's a twin size bed.

What kind of clothes do males bring to these things? I was going to bring a couple of pairs of sweatpants, flannel pants, and a bunch of old t-shirts that are loose fitting, but I don't know if I should try to avoid t-shirts with graphics on them.

Are the bathrooms private? It doesn't bother me if they are or aren't, I'm just wondering so I'm not caught by surprise.

Is there anything thats not on the standard list of things they tell you to bring that you guys would reccomend bringing?

Is it necesarry to sit in full lotus for the majority of the retreat? I am not very flexible, and I have trouble sitting with my legs crossed, let alone in full lotus. I tend to practice sitting in a chair. I can try to become flexible enough so sitting cross legged is comfortable for me.

How many of you have obtained SE on a goenka retreat and what advice would you give me to help me make as much progress as possible on this retreat?


Hi. Sounds like pre-A&P to me. One thing the Goenka courses are really good at is getting people to the A&P though. Follow the instructions and you should make good progress.

Good luck!

RE: 1st 10 day Goenka Retreat
Answer
5/10/13 4:19 AM as a reply to Maher K.
Howdy,
welcome. so, if you haven't read the reformed slackers guide you should. building up your practice time will help in the transition to the 11 hour per day sits. in goenka's courses the emphasis is on sitting as opposed to a mix of sitting and walking which can be a trial for some.

try not to worry about the peripheral things like food, bed and bathroom facilities.

your job is to go in with the can-do attitude of spending every waking second of your time working toward your goal. don't look at the time between sits as breaks. there are no breaks. you will have highs and lows, try to be objective in both, not being carried away. take the long view. when things seem tough kinow that this too is a part of progress.

good luck and make the most of this rare and valuable time.

tom