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Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed

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Hello Dhamma Friends and Teachers,

I just left Myanmar after 89 days at Panditarama Forest Center. I spent the last 18 days there as a monk. It was overall an excellent learning experience and illumined some deep psychological and personality weaknesses. Now I am out of the retreat, I can see what happened with a bit more clarity, although it's only been one day so the perspective is still immature.

Here's a basic recap to the best of my estimations. I spent 40-50 days meditating my butt off. Ate quite little (although I did have a couple of sugar binges during this period), lost a bunch of weight, etc. Then, the mind started really rebelling and did not want to meditate. Restlessness, sloth and torpor, sense desire. The special 60-day retreat was coming to an end, and I could feel the energy of the meditation hall becoming the same way. I did not know whether to stay or not. I went to the office on day 45 or 50 or somewhere in there and wanted to leave but a teacher stopped me (thankfully). For the rest of the retreat, it was increasingly difficult for me to meditate and follow the schedule at times. There would be stretches of 4-5 days when effort would be high, but then I would give in to some addiction, and would fall back again. I didn't give up completely, but there were times when I just wanted to quit. The frustration was very high at times. The last 10 days or so were nearly impossible. I started sleeping more, walking more, looking around. After I became a monk, I started eating a lot. It was quite shameful. A lot of kilesas and character weaknesses started arising and sometimes I fueled the fire (only to see everything drop away a few minutes or hours later). This is probably re-observation. I saw many psychopathic tendencies arise, lots of anxiety, sloth and torpor, sense desire, restlessness. Basically, everything I had been suppressing with effort just started to leak through. "I'm a bad yogi" came up as a thought a lot. So did "I don't care" and "Who cares?"

I am in Bangkok now. Trying to decide "What next?" while stay with the presently arising object. It's very difficult. Sense desires are exploding left and right. So...what should I do next? Here are some choices I have thought about:

1. Solitary retreat until I can hit this path.
2. Visit and stay at monasteries. Do service. Meditate lightly. Socialize a bit and ask monastics about their lives.
3. Another sit/serve for a couple/few months at a Goenka center with a pagoda.
4. Another group Mahasi retreat (although my mind is rebelling against the idea of this). When there are lots of people, it seems the mind just can't help but get distracted.
5. Find ordinary work for a while (yeah right emoticon )
6. Get a girlfriend (hahaha!, but seriously, I am 25.)

OK, this post is coming from a bit of a scattered mind and hopefully some of those who have been through this kind of thing before can offer their advice and opinions.

Be Happy!

RE: Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed
Answer
3/13/14 4:26 AM as a reply to Be Free Now.
Say more about what you experienced in meditation, how fast you could note, how fast you could perceive things, what sorts of mediation experiences you had, the order of them, etc. and also what the teachers said at various points.

RE: Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed
Answer
3/13/14 4:37 AM as a reply to Be Free Now.
Hey!
welcome back into the real world! congratulations on your perserverence. you realize that you are being very hard on yourself. lighten up! go eat some of that great food. go flirt or more! take a break, all of the things you "want to work on" will still be there when you are ready.

you have given it a realy good shot and it has brought you forward and the time was not wasted.

you are twenty five, freeer than 99.999% of the people in the world and have many options. i am over 50 and still working on the same questions as yourself...try to enjoy the ride..you are doing just fine.

have a little fun for me.

tom

RE: Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed
Answer
3/14/14 11:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Say more about what you experienced in meditation, how fast you could note, how fast you could perceive things, what sorts of mediation experiences you had, the order of them, etc. and also what the teachers said at various points.


Hi Daniel,

Thank you for the reminder to focus on what happened in meditation. It's a bad conditioned habit to avoid talk of meditation when the progress seems stalled or non-existent.

During strong sits during the middle of the retreat, I would often start out with lots of tension in the body, spent 20-30 minutes bringing mind back to sensations, then I would spend the next few minutes or sometimes 10-15 minutes with much boredom, lots of yawning might occur during this stage, sometimes tears would come out for no real reason except extreme tiredness. Then the mind would suddenly shift to a more motivated, driven state in which there was a determination to see every phenomenon and relinquish it. When this period matured, there would be an investigation into the sense of self, expectation, aversion. Sensations might be relatively unpleasant at this stage, but sometimes there would be slight rapture, and most of the time strong equanimity in the mind. Then the sensations would sometimes start getting really unpleasant, the body would feel terrible, like it were falling to the ground, being pulled to the ground, ripping apart. Restlessness would become intense at this point sometimes, but during the best sits I could overcome the restless thoughts in a few minutes. Then as thoughts subsided, I would start investigating into sense of self, pride, subtle expectation, restlessness, subtle aversion. Sometimes I would open up ear sense door and rest in awareness without strong aiming during different times in the sitting. Sometimes the mind would wander again and then I would return focus to sensations again.

The noting would become progressively faster as the sit went on, until the restlessness sets in, at which point sometimes the noting mind would seemingly get weak. I don't know how many objects, but I could rest in awareness and feel many objects at one time both in the body and in the mind. How is perceiving things different from noting things? Sometimes I wouldn't label, just recognize as soon as I noticed something and drop it.

Does this sum it up a bit? I am quite unskilled in reporting my meditation experiences because there is a tendency to forget or want to forget everything that happens as soon as it happens. The idea of trying to put into words what I experienced and trying to remember and reflect could be stressful for me during the retreat.

The teachers said at various point: More effort, more aiming (when the mind was wandering), stay focused on the primary object (when I told him I was opening up awareness once concentration developed), don't accept unwholesome states, don't give up.

Does this help at all? I don't know anything anymore I've realize. There is still so much self-centeredness in the mind which makes me feel quite unstable as a person. It's as if I've put all my eggs in one basket (meditation) but sometimes there is this utter, overwhelming resistance toward anything meditation or Dhamma. It's the weirdest thing.

RE: Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed
Answer
3/15/14 3:16 AM as a reply to Be Free Now.
Be Free Now:


Does this sum it up a bit? I am quite unskilled in reporting my meditation experiences because there is a tendency to forget or want to forget everything that happens as soon as it happens. The idea of trying to put into words what I experienced and trying to remember and reflect could be stressful for me during the retreat.

The teachers said at various point: More effort, more aiming (when the mind was wandering), stay focused on the primary object (when I told him I was opening up awareness once concentration developed), don't accept unwholesome states, don't give up.

Does this help at all? I don't know anything anymore I've realize. There is still so much self-centeredness in the mind which makes me feel quite unstable as a person. It's as if I've put all my eggs in one basket (meditation) but sometimes there is this utter, overwhelming resistance toward anything meditation or Dhamma. It's the weirdest thing.


It seems like an completely unweird thing to me! Mediation has become something associated for you with pain, difficulty and suffering. And your mind is set up to try and avoid that, which is perfectly natural and healthy! As is being self-centered and unstable. That is just who we are! That retreat sounds incredibly arduous and effectively a form of self-torture. You have a great deal of determination and strength of character to push through it like you did. And you are skilled in reporting your meditation experiences!

This may be a cliché, but brahma viharas?! It seems to be without a lot more wholesome states of minds, and a lot more self-love, you are going to struggle with those unwholesome states. So metta, metta, metta!

RE: Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed
Answer
3/15/14 12:54 PM as a reply to Be Free Now.
Hey,

I second Tom's thoughts that you're being very hard on yourself. You should be feeling amazing at having successfully persevered through such an ordeal. Give yourself some well deserved mudita. I'm sending you some now!

Your post inspired me to get around to writing this long overdue post about working with emotions during vipassana practice. Please let me know if you find it helpful.

Avi Craimer

RE: Being Humble and Seeking Advice for How to Proceed
Answer
3/16/14 1:14 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Thank you everybody for your support and insight. It's given me quite some perspective. 90 days is actually a pretty long time for a sensual Westerner.

I do have a deeply ingrained habit of being extremely hard on myself. I tend to always see what is lacking in myself instead of what is good in myself. I guess this is one of the pitfalls of dry vipassana without intensive metta/karuna mixed in.