1st Retreat - 10 Day Goenka

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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

1st Retreat - 10 Day Goenka

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
This thread will serve as an outlet to get thoughts out about practice and help me form any questions I have for myself or for posting in other threads, focusing on the retreat at first and later perhaps being periodically updated with more thoughts as life goes on.

My practice has unfolded in an interesting an unexpected way on retreat and in daily life this past week being back home. I'm glad I went, I was really scared but I can tell that this (contemplative practice) is what I want more than anything in the world. The fears I had about the retreat dissolved by the time day 1 was over and I was in the thick of it. Much of the time, I forgot about daily life and was focused only on what was happening right now. Then I would remember daily life and realize how much fun I'm having just practicing contemplation (having "I can't believe I'm here" thoughts). I went into the retreat dreading life most days, if not at least for part of the day. Now I know what my purpose is. A personal practice in contemplative science/fitness/whatever interspaced with religious experience some days. That being said I didn't get stream entry even though I went in with that as my goal. Now time for brass tax...

I read the article on the Hamilton Project Going For Stream Entry On A Goenka 10-Day Vipassana Course, I read the Collection of tips to get stream entry on Kenneth Folk Dharma, and some other stuff that I can't remember right now. The first three days I focused on my breath and practiced broad concentration with counting each series 10 breaths settling into a relaxed state. When not sitting I would always focus on my breath when I was aware. The next seven days I did the sweeping method mixed with a relaxed open awareness with some noting and noticing the 3Cs when I could and then appling Kenneth Folk's neat 3 gears transmission model. I would also stay aware and open when I was walking around, eating, pooping, etc. I kept remembering the above articles. I thought of the slakers guide and at one point felt that I was too much of a slaker even for that guide. I just can't rapidly note a bunch of sensations in rapid fire mode. I can't even do the detailed noting method mentioned in the yogi toolbox at once per second. I can take a gentle open awareness and gently pick apart sensations and occasionally note things. I don't think I'm cut out for any form of noting involving 1 note per second or more right now but I think it may be possible if someone systematically taught it to me how the sweeping method is gradually applied in the 10 day course.

Progress-wise, I'm very happy with the results. I strove like mad for stream entry. I saw the raw experience of my desire. I wanted it so bad and kept telling myself "that's not how it works" while accepting it and watching the desire arise and dissipate many times over. I'm pretty sure I got to high EQ and even may have had one or more near misses at SE, but I'm not sure since I'm new to the territory. I was relived when the thought "the map is not the territory" came up because I was way more relaxed and chilled out, even though the sense of seeking still remains from not getting 1st path, I'm waaaaaaaay better off (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay) than before, noticably happier and more concentrated.

I really got burnt out those last few days on retreat and gave up. Defeat was welcomed. I've been a lot more lax in daily practice this past week but have been getting in more sit time than pre-retreat and have been paying attention more off cushion as well. I think I'm taking a break from "striving with dilligence" for "being here now" and incorporating more concentration meditation in than before. I'm also experiecing more compassion, even though I rarely practice metta, but I may inadvertandly practice compassion in daily life as a natural inclination. I have been doing more training in morality type stuff, like a vegetarian diet and working with my concern for a sustainable global society internally on an intellectual and emotional level (even though I have yet to contribute in a physical way).

I'm not really sure what's next. I think I will pay more attention to concentration. There is a 9 day jhana retreat I wouldn't mind doing here in a month. In terms of SE, I really don't care as much as before. I'm feeling pretty lazy with vipassana. I still do it but just not the prescribed 2 hours per day usually. I practice as if I'm in the equanimity nana and don't mind the re-observation phase when it is present. I don't know if I'm really more equanimous about this if it is a fake defense mechanism. I wish I had the answers but I will remain gently applying my attention and hopefully something comes of it as this is what my intuition (or fake intuition) is telling me to do. Otherwise I will just be greatful for finally being able to relax and enjoy life without the nagging-anxiety that was so present in my earlier developmental dharma phase.

The practicalities of the retreat itself varried. I definitely got something out of Goenka's discourses because I'm relatively new to the dharma but didn't like the chanting all that much. I got to sleep in till 6 after the assistant teacher mentoned that he does and tons of other people do as well. Before that I kept nodding of all day. The teacher was really compassionate and helped me out with my sleeping problem by prescribing concentration meditation and a little practical theory on why it will help you feel refreshed in the morning even if you don't fall asleep. It was really useful. She even was kind enough to move me into a quieter area. Overall I was really pleased with the practicalities of the thing. I don't think I will go back because, even though I loved the people on day 10, I couldn't talk about any other vipassana technique in the detail that I wanted to and most people were new to the stuff. I also got to see my nuerosis regarding the social complexities of my mind but specifically pertaining to my nuerosis around practice. It's still kind of confusing, and will wait till post SE to deal with it but I'm glad I know it exists so I can apply more compassion to myself and others. It was also 20 only minutes away in a quiet location. Can't beat that!

That's about it for now and where I'm at. At some point I hope to engage with my fellow pragmatic yogis in a meaningful way but for the time being I must remain comfortable with the confusion that prevents me from doing so. I think this part just calls for non-intellectual practice, gentle or dilligent when called for, with continued faith and wisdom that this shit will work itself out so long as I continue to dedicate myself to the practice. I know this stuff works because subjectively, the day I got out of retreat was twice as long as the day before retreat. Time has sped back up a little bit but the days are still actually shorter than before! More time to meditate. I think it had something to do with impatience/anxiety.

I'm very greatful to be where I'm at. Gratitude and metta to all known and unkown people and forces that have allowed me to be happier. Thank you for listening.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: 1st Retreat - 10 Day Goenka

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Excellent recap. I enjoyed reading it. Sounds like it was a beneficial in many different aspects and a great learning experience overall.

Alex E:
I don't think I'm cut out for any form of noting involving 1 note per second or more right now but I think it may be possible if someone systematically taught it to me how the sweeping method is gradually applied in the 10 day course.

You know that you can go at any speed you want to start with? In fact you never have to go faster than you are actually noticing what the predominate sense is at the moment. You might try going to a busy place with lots of sounds instead of a quiet room. A somewhat busy road is excellent training. As soon as you hear a car in the distance note "hearing", as soon as you notice the sound has changed in any way note hearing again. The volume and pitch will be different moment to moment. See how often you can notice that difference. Once a second? Once every two seconds? Go as slow or as fast as you need to notice reality as clearly as possible. Once you get good with sound do the same with seeing and the other senses. Take it one at a time and then combine them. This is a skill like any other and it takes a while to master....each stage in the progress of insite has different speeds and each day you are different too.
Most of all be easy on yourself.....this is a game you are playing for enjoyment....not an horrible task you have to do and by gosh do well.
Good luck,
~D
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Alex E, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: 1st Retreat - 10 Day Goenka

Posts: 55 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
This is helpful. I used the sound noting for a while. Then switched to the body for a few minutes. Then switched to any visual occurances and back to sound. Cycling like this made it easier to concentrate because it diminished impatience because I knew I wasn't forced to sit with one sense door for a seemingly overwhelming amount of time. How to apply noting practice has been becoming clearer gradually.
 Most of all be easy on yourself.....this is a game you are playing for enjoyment....not an horrible task you have to do and by gosh do well.
Thank you. (breathes out in relief) This is showing itself to me more and more. The impatience has been showing itself more and more to be what it is. I've let it masquarade as "hardcore practice" when really it's just impatience. A "game I'm playing for enjoyment" can be matched up the the 7 factors of enlightenment. (thanks buddhist geeks # 205 Gaming as a Spiritual Practice). I especially like investigation as synonymous curiosity.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: 1st Retreat - 10 Day Goenka

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Alex E:
I'm pretty sure I got to high EQ

Reread these -
MCTB 11 Equanimity
contemplativefitnessbook Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11
The danger of equanimity is that the relief of being there causes many to stop practicing then the inevitable slide back in the progress of insite to earlier phases....
We have all done this and learned from it. Also the 'retreat buzz' fades and you get back to your regular baseline which may or may not be where you want to be.
2 hours seems like a lot of practice and for many it is, but getting a diligent daily practice going regardless of length is very very helpful. The habit will help immensely during stages where the last thing you want to do is sit....you just shrug and sit anyway cause it's just what you do.
Good luck,
~D

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