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Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat

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Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Jake 4/22/15 12:28 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Pål 4/22/15 4:16 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Jake 4/22/15 6:03 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Pål 4/23/15 1:33 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Stuie Charles Law 4/22/15 4:56 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Small Steps 4/22/15 6:47 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Jake 4/23/15 5:41 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat M C 4/23/15 5:56 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Jake 4/23/15 2:11 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Matt 4/23/15 2:11 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Matt 4/23/15 2:24 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Small Steps 4/23/15 4:13 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat M C 4/23/15 9:06 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Bill F. 4/23/15 9:17 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Jake 4/26/15 9:38 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Bill F. 4/26/15 3:57 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat M C 7/9/15 1:11 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat elizabeth 4/24/15 12:05 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Pål 4/23/15 8:49 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Matt 4/23/15 1:44 PM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat Matt 4/23/15 12:01 AM
RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat M C 4/23/15 4:52 AM
I am leaving for a 10 day Goenka retreat on the 29th of April, which is exactly one week away. I have been practicing seriously for stream entry for a few months now with some near misses here and there. This is a huge opportunity for me and I want to capitalize on it by digging deep and doing some serious work.

The reason for posting this is to get some advice and feedback on my plan of action. Having attended one Goenka retreat last year I have an idea of what to expect, as well as an idea of what to do differently this time. The big thing is my posture - I am not flexbile enough to sit crossed legged, or burmese style, or half lotus. As much as I would like to sit this way, my back hunches over and after 10 minutes I start to get very uncomfortable. The way I end up sitting is seiza style on a meditation bench. However, last time I was there, I was not high up off the ground and I experienced the most excruciating knee pain. The result of this was two wasted days of complaining and not meditating, after which I got a chair and sat on that the rest of the retreat. This time around I am going to put more cushions on top of the stool so I am more elevated. Sitting seiza is ideal because I can keep flawless upper body posture, which keeps me alert. If my back rests on anything I tend to fall asleep and get drowzy.

A little recap of my meditation history: a&p 3 years ago, dark night yogi, consistently hitting equanimity the past couple of months, falling back down, etc. My teacher thinks that I have laid the groundwork from mind & body all the way to equanimity. In other words he thinks that my mind is accustomed to traveling up and down the nanas. He also thinks this is the perfect time to go on retreat since I am so close to first path.

I plan on following 99% of the retreat rules but this time around I am ditching the body scanning. However, I do plan on following the first three days of concentration on the nostrils. I think this will benefit me greatly for the last seven days of the retreat. Instead of body scanning I will be noting. Noting during meditating, noting during eating, noting before bed, noting during transitions, noting whenever it is possible. Last time around I indulged in my crap around day 5, became a little bit psycho, ran around in the woods and messed around. Last retreat I would say I gave 60-70% effort. This retreat I am giving 100% effort and getting stream entry.

The week leading up to the retreat, aka the time between now and next wednesday, I will be meditating as much as I can and maintaining daily mindfulness. I have a big project I need to get done before the retreat so I am not sure how much sitting time I can build up, but it would be ideal to get a running start. 

Another idea I had was to print out some motivational material - some posts from Nikolai's blog and the reformed slackers retreat guide. Either print these out and tape them to the wall or just keep them tucked away in a folder. I am also going to bring my deactivated iPhone 4s to use around day 6 when we get access to the Pagoda cells. Last time when I was sitting in the cells I freaked out because of how small they were and how I didnt have access to a timer or a clock. This will give me mental stability I am hoping.

Thats about it I think. Wondering what everyone thinks, or if anyone has any advice for me before I leave next week.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/22/15 4:16 PM as a reply to Jake.
Regarding posture:
have you been practicing sitting crosslegged a lot? I'm terribly unflexible but it has been getting a lot better over months of practice. I reccommend trying to sit more on your hamstrings rather than your glutes if you're into anatomy. Maybe this is accomplished by seiza. 

I have some Goenka related questions (sorry): What is the pagoda cells? Why aren't they accessed until mid-retreat? Do all Goenka centers have them? 

good luck! Not that I'm advanced but doing the concentration days seems like a great idea. "No wisdom without Jhana, no Jhana without wisdom" 

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/22/15 4:56 PM as a reply to Jake.
Please don't take this as negative but all i see is attachment, attachment to a goal, stream entry.  Where's the love, the love of the idea of having this wonderful opportunity.  Where is the joy, the joy of just being able to participate.  You've got this far, give yourself soul songs for being as successful as you have been.  Love where you are and enjoy the journey.  That's the biggest flaw in my practice.  The thing i most regret.  I've not "made it" yet, still sitting around in the 11th nana.  But now really digging where i am, what i've done..................Oh, and lastly, Go you good thing!!!

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/22/15 6:03 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Regarding posture:
have you been practicing sitting crosslegged a lot? I'm terribly unflexible but it has been getting a lot better over months of practice. I reccommend trying to sit more on your hamstrings rather than your glutes if you're into anatomy. Maybe this is accomplished by seiza. 

I have some Goenka related questions (sorry): What is the pagoda cells? Why aren't they accessed until mid-retreat? Do all Goenka centers have them? 

good luck! Not that I'm advanced but doing the concentration days seems like a great idea. "No wisdom without Jhana, no Jhana without wisdom" 

I don't sit cross legged ever but maybe I should start practicing it. Do you mean prop the cushion under your hamstrings moreso than your glutes? I might give that a shot, glad to hear you are becoming more flexible too.

No worries with the questions. At this particular center they are building a pagoda with hundreds of "cells" (tiny closet-like rooms) for individual meditators. They are only accessed mid retreat to give the meditators more practice and familiarity with the technique. Once people become more accustomted to it, they open up the cells to allow deeper meditation. I am not sure if all Goenka centers have them, but the one I am going to in MA does.

Thanks Pal!

Stuie Charles Law:
Please don't take this as negative but all i see is attachment, attachment to a goal, stream entry.  Where's the love, the love of the idea of having this wonderful opportunity.  Where is the joy, the joy of just being able to participate.  You've got this far, give yourself soul songs for being as successful as you have been.  Love where you are and enjoy the journey.  That's the biggest flaw in my practice.  The thing i most regret.  I've not "made it" yet, still sitting around in the 11th nana.  But now really digging where i am, what i've done..................Oh, and lastly, Go you good thing!!!

Hey Stuie, I can see where you are coming from based on reading my post. The attachment to stream entry is mild if anything I suppose. It is still there though but during my meditation I make sure to note any thoughts about it. Its funny you bring up loving and enjoying the journey. From my vantage point right now, this is the most difficult thing to do. My teacher has pointed this thing out to me as well, saying I have more of an unwholesome craving for progress than wholesome craving. He has said similar things - love yourself, love that you have this opportunity, give yourself some kudos for the progress. I should practice more metta too emoticon

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/22/15 6:47 PM as a reply to Jake.
If you have access to a chair, just sit in such a way that your back is not resting on it. Much easier on your knees. Liberation doesn't depend on you sitting seiza or cross legged or in lotus position emoticon Practice sitting on a chair now, before you leave for the center.

Also, I would start on the anapanasati in earnest now, and continue on with the prescription at the center. Personally, I would enjoy having that momentum going into the retreat.

Finally, per Stuie's recommendation, I also endorse cultivating a sense of ease. Don't worry so much about stream entry, but focus on the opportunity at hand. A little gratitude can also allow some nice heartfelt qualities to arise.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 12:01 AM as a reply to Jake.
Last time for me, in your same situation, I wanted to talk to the assistant teacher about SE.  He said something like: "come to more retreats, we will teach you about the ten paramis, that will lead you to stream entry".  I found that kinda annoying. emoticon

The pagoda (are you going to Kaufman TX?) is such an echo chamber, especially compared to my basement, I ended up wishing I simply stayed on my pace at home instead of the travel and disruption of the retreat.

Matt

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 1:33 AM as a reply to Jake.
I mean arching the lower back so that the butt points more upwards and you have less of it's space on the cushion compared to the tighs. That doesn't mean the cushion should be more forwards. Hope this makes sense. The back tends to loose the arch after a while, then you can just re-establish it. With practice the arch and glute positioning can be held without effort for longer periods of time. But I realize you don't have much time before the retreat and you should go for the posture most straight and effortless imo.

take this with a grain of salt since I'm not into nana cycling as you know, but: I agree with Small Steps about starting anapana right away! And don't forget to relax, especially the face, while doing it. You could also do noting with the nose rather than the abdomen as a focal point, that way you'll practice both Goenka style anapana and noting.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 4:52 AM as a reply to Jake.
You'll do what you want, but one of the central rules of the retreat is that you don't practice other techniques. 

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 5:41 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:
If you have access to a chair, just sit in such a way that your back is not resting on it. Much easier on your knees. Liberation doesn't depend on you sitting seiza or cross legged or in lotus position emoticon Practice sitting on a chair now, before you leave for the center.

Also, I would start on the anapanasati in earnest now, and continue on with the prescription at the center. Personally, I would enjoy having that momentum going into the retreat.

Finally, per Stuie's recommendation, I also endorse cultivating a sense of ease. Don't worry so much about stream entry, but focus on the opportunity at hand. A little gratitude can also allow some nice heartfelt qualities to arise.


Haha this is my struggle small steps. If I sit in a chair without my back resting on it then I have to use energy to keep my back straight. It is not nearly as effortless as when I am sitting on a stool. This is why I prefer the stool, if I can work out its kinks that is. The effortlessness needed to maintain perfect posture allows me to get deeper into the meditation. 

Good idea on the anapana too.

matthew sexton:
Last time for me, in your same situation, I wanted to talk to the assistant teacher about SE.  He said something like: "come to more retreats, we will teach you about the ten paramis, that will lead you to stream entry".  I found that kinda annoying. emoticon

The pagoda (are you going to Kaufman TX?) is such an echo chamber, especially compared to my basement, I ended up wishing I simply stayed on my pace at home instead of the travel and disruption of the retreat.

Matt

It's funny you mention that Matt because I has some similar encounters with the assistant teacher and other retreat assistants last time. They seem to turn off when you mention things like this and instead give Goenka-esqe advice. Nothing wrong with that but it's not what I was looking for. I am attending the center in Shelburne Falls, MA. They have an amazing facility set up there and delicious food. These cells are sound proof! It's the perfect environment if you don't freak out.

Pål:
I mean arching the lower back so that the butt points more upwards and you have less of it's space on the cushion compared to the tighs. That doesn't mean the cushion should be more forwards. Hope this makes sense. The back tends to loose the arch after a while, then you can just re-establish it. With practice the arch and glute positioning can be held without effort for longer periods of time. But I realize you don't have much time before the retreat and you should go for the posture most straight and effortless imo.

take this with a grain of salt since I'm not into nana cycling as you know, but: I agree with Small Steps about starting anapana right away! And don't forget to relax, especially the face, while doing it. You could also do noting with the nose rather than the abdomen as a focal point, that way you'll practice both Goenka style anapana and noting.

I have a hard time picturing what you are talking about, sorry Pal. After this retreat I might mess around with more postures but sitting seiza on an elevated stool is the most effortless posture for me if I can get the knee crushing pain fixed.

Nick N.:
You'll do what you want, but one of the central rules of the retreat is that you don't practice other techniques. 

I know. I respect their rules and what they are doing and I am following them otherwise, but this time around I need to bend a few of them in favor of my goals. Luckily the rules I am choosing to bend will not disrupt anyone else but me. I am hoping the choices I make do not cloud my mind with regret and things like that.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 5:56 AM as a reply to Jake.
I know. I respect their rules and what they are doing and I am following them otherwise, but this time around I need to bend a few of them in favor of my goals. Luckily the rules I am choosing to bend will not disrupt anyone else but me. I am hoping the choices I make do not cloud my mind with regret and things like that.

It'll also affect the people who are organazing this, since they are accommodating you for 10 days for free believing that you are doing their technique. I'd say they have a right to know if you aren't doing the technique.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 8:49 AM as a reply to Jake.
Sorry, it might be my english. For after the retreat I recommend sitting with the lower end of the glutes, close to the hamstrings, rather than the upper end where the spine starts. 

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 1:44 PM as a reply to Jake.
Jake WM:
I know. I respect their rules and what they are doing and I am following them otherwise, but this time around I need to bend a few of them in favor of my goals. Luckily the rules I am choosing to bend will not disrupt anyone else but me. I am hoping the choices I make do not cloud my mind with regret and things like that.

I wanted to mention it to you but decided to butt out, but now that it's come up I'll chime in.  I personally could not do what I knew was the best practice for me and still feel right about using the facility.  It's one of those 'little' things that held me back.  Banging against that fact was what my last retreat was about, not my goal of SE.

I stuck it out, in a waffling kind of way but didn't get much practice done, or it was a completely differenty kind of practice.  Then I came home, spent about 10 days processing what the heck happened, then finally was able to pick up where I had left off.

Matt

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 2:11 PM as a reply to M C.
Nick. N and Matt,

Very interesting points of view. I am already having thoughts of guilt from reading your responses about the decisions I plan on making at the retreat. I am the type of person that feels bad quite easily, not sure if it is my genetic makeup (lol) or if it's my high levels of compassion and respect.

I'll probably have to use the body scanning technique for peace of mind.

EDIT: I was just reading Chuck Kasmire's thread:
Chuck writes:
For sitting: approach it with a sense of exploration, wonder, and curiosity. Don’t think about getting anything nor about interpretations. Have fun with it. When the body and mind relax, the energy will present itself - trying to do something or force something - to expect something - is not a relaxed mind. If you try to push forward, you block your way. When you sit, give the mind a chance to settle down - this can take 45 min or more. Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t. When the mind is caught up in thoughts, that’s where you are at - so always need to attend to experience as it is happening and not trying to want it to be different. So how is it that thoughts are grabbing your attention such that you get sucked into them? You need to see what is going on here. You need to experience the feeling of ‘abandoning’ - that is a key skill.

Responding to above - this is something that I feel is lacking in my practice. There is no sense of wonder or curiosity. The thing that drives my practice is mainly discontent with my current reality. Perhaps I should follow the retreat instructions to a tee, give body scanning another shot, and see where it leads me?

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 2:11 PM as a reply to Jake.
Jake WM:
Nick. N and Matt,

Very interesting points of view. I am already having thoughts of guilt from reading your responses about the decisions I plan on making at the retreat. I am the type of person that feels bad quite easily, not sure if it is my genetic makeup (lol) or if it's my high levels of compassion and respect.

I'll probably have to use the body scanning technique for peace of mind.
But but but, is body scanning what brought you close to SE? Body scanning was super valuable for me when it took me from zero to AP, but it was not going to take me the rest of the way.

I feel for you, it seems like I was in such a similar spot.  I loved what Goenka did for me, and because of that had a good feeling for the facility (after my first retreat), and so I went back.  But the 'pragmatic' practice was what I needed.

May the force be with you! emoticon

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 2:24 PM as a reply to Jake.
Jake WM:
Nick. N and Matt,

Very interesting points of view. I am already having thoughts of guilt from reading your responses about the decisions I plan on making at the retreat. I am the type of person that feels bad quite easily, not sure if it is my genetic makeup (lol) or if it's my high levels of compassion and respect.

I'll probably have to use the body scanning technique for peace of mind.

EDIT: I was just reading Chuck Kasmire's thread:
Chuck writes:
For sitting: approach it with a sense of exploration, wonder, and curiosity. Don’t think about getting anything nor about interpretations. Have fun with it. When the body and mind relax, the energy will present itself - trying to do something or force something - to expect something - is not a relaxed mind. If you try to push forward, you block your way. When you sit, give the mind a chance to settle down - this can take 45 min or more. Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t. When the mind is caught up in thoughts, that’s where you are at - so always need to attend to experience as it is happening and not trying to want it to be different. So how is it that thoughts are grabbing your attention such that you get sucked into them? You need to see what is going on here. You need to experience the feeling of ‘abandoning’ - that is a key skill.

Responding to above - this is something that I feel is lacking in my practice. There is no sense of wonder or curiosity. The thing that drives my practice is mainly discontent with my current reality. Perhaps I should follow the retreat instructions to a tee, give body scanning another shot, and see where it leads me?

Have you seen the 'guided tour to 13 jhanas' video?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A

The first video is what led me directly to deeper jhana practice, and *that* gave me wonder, curiosity, and SE (or something pretty damn interesting and transformative) within a few months.

Edit: Of course, it was that video on top of Goenka followed by MCTB followed by DhO followed by Buddhist Geeks followed by coorespondance/skype with some very helpful DhO'ers.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 4:13 PM as a reply to Jake.
Jake, however you decide to approach it, just remember that you've given yourself a precious gift. Be open minded and open hearted and whatever outcome at the end of the retreat, it will be appropriate. As I hear so often, "you set up the conditions; you do the work. The rest is out of your hands."

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 9:06 PM as a reply to Jake.
Hope you have a good experience.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/23/15 9:17 PM as a reply to Jake.
Very interesting points of view. I am already having thoughts of guilt from reading your responses about the decisions I plan on making at the retreat. I am the type of person that feels bad quite easily, not sure if it is my genetic makeup (lol) or if it's my high levels of compassion and respect.

I'll probably have to use the body scanning technique for peace of mind.


Jake,

      What's up? Couldn't you do a home retreat and then just practice noting. I hit stream entry at home, working my regular work week at the time, but practicing quite intensely as well. If you can committ to it and set up the same parameters at home that may be a better option.
      Also, totally a good idea to really committ to going for it, and putting all of your energy in that direction. Retreat is a time to really commit to putting forth energy to discern the nature of experience. You can chill when you hit stream entry. Any ideas about wanting it to happen are totally natural and should be treated as another thing to look at squarely. It probably won't be anything like you expect. If you do decide to stay home and want to talk about practice, what is useful at various stages of equanimity, let me know.

Bill

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/24/15 12:05 PM as a reply to Jake.
Hi Jake,

Jake WM:

Responding to above - this is something that I feel is lacking in my practice. There is no sense of wonder or curiosity. The thing that drives my practice is mainly discontent with my current reality. Perhaps I should follow the retreat instructions to a tee, give body scanning another shot, and see where it leads me?


I think this is in incredibly important insight. I try to bring a sense of wonder and curiosity – to my practice on and off the cushion. When I succeed in doing so it is always rewarding – though not always in predictable ways.

Would it be possible to leave the goal of stream entry and the list of all the experiences you hope to have at home and just go into the retreat with just a sense of curiosity and wonder and a willingness to experience what is?

Can you stay in that place of curiosity, wonder and willingness while on retreat? Just being with the experience of the retreat fully and resisting the compulsion to compare each experience to a previous one or to a to do list.

Could it be ok if instead of new territory what came out of the retreat was a deeper understanding and exploration of territory you have crossed before? It doesn’t have to be that way but being ok with that possibility may also increase the possibility of going somewhere new.


Using peace of mind to guide your decision about the body scanning makes sense to me.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/26/15 9:38 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
Very interesting points of view. I am already having thoughts of guilt from reading your responses about the decisions I plan on making at the retreat. I am the type of person that feels bad quite easily, not sure if it is my genetic makeup (lol) or if it's my high levels of compassion and respect.

I'll probably have to use the body scanning technique for peace of mind.


Jake,

      What's up? Couldn't you do a home retreat and then just practice noting. I hit stream entry at home, working my regular work week at the time, but practicing quite intensely as well. If you can committ to it and set up the same parameters at home that may be a better option.
      Also, totally a good idea to really committ to going for it, and putting all of your energy in that direction. Retreat is a time to really commit to putting forth energy to discern the nature of experience. You can chill when you hit stream entry. Any ideas about wanting it to happen are totally natural and should be treated as another thing to look at squarely. It probably won't be anything like you expect. If you do decide to stay home and want to talk about practice, what is useful at various stages of equanimity, let me know.

Bill

That's some solid advice Bill and I think if I were further along the ride with more experience and maturity I would definitely do this. The issue with me at this moment is the commitment and discipline required for a home retreat. There are way too many distractions here that I know I would indulge in. I would end up losing focus probably around the second or third day. Sitting with a huge group at a center dedicated to meditation is the kick in the pants I need at this time. 

Elizabeth P:
Hi Jake,

I think this is in incredibly important insight.  I try to bring a sense of wonder and curiosity – to my practice on and off the cushion. When I succeed in doing so it is always rewarding – though not always in predictable ways.  

Would it be possible to leave the goal of stream entry and the list of all the experiences you hope to have at home and just go into the retreat with just a sense of curiosity and wonder and a willingness to experience what is?  

Can you stay in that place of curiosity, wonder and willingness while on retreat? Just being with the experience of the retreat fully and resisting the compulsion to compare each experience to a previous one or to a to do list.

Could it be ok if instead of new territory what came out of the retreat was a deeper understanding and exploration of territory you have crossed before? It doesn’t have to be that way but being ok with that possibility may also increase the possibility of going somewhere new.

Using peace of mind to guide your decision about the body scanning makes sense to me.

I think it would be a possibility to leave my expectation of stream entry at home. I know though that this is the reason for me going on the retreat, but I think leaving the expectations at home is a great idea. Going into it with an explorers mindset - for example I wonder where I will go, what I will see, what things I will encounter, is a much better idea than going in guns blazing and expecting something big to happen. Thanks for the advice Elizabeth!

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
4/26/15 3:57 PM as a reply to Jake.
I understand. I'm not sure where you live but there are some very cheap mahasi centers in the south and southwest if my memory serves me correctly.

RE: Going for stream entry during 10 day Goenka retreat
Answer
7/9/15 1:11 AM as a reply to Jake.
How did your retreat go?