Freaked Out

Brett Bangerter, modified 5 Years ago.

Freaked Out

Posts: 5 Join Date: 3/23/15 Recent Posts
I went to my first retreat just over a year ago.  It was a very difficult experience for me.  Other than the usual stuff that comes up during retreat, I had a very hard time having such a controlled schedule and diet.  This was a small issue in the beginning but by about the 6th or 7th day it was really an issue for me.  By the end I was pretty freaked out. I vowed never to go to another retreat again and just figure this out on my own.

In studying up I am realizing that retreats are a major part of insight practice so now I am wondering what the hell I'm going to do.  Just the thought of being locked up for another 10 says gets me agitated.

 Did a Goenka 10 day in Twentynine Palms.  And I was lucky enough to get a private room.

Maybe also relevant is that I was in incredible pain almost all of the mediation time.  The pain just built and built and really only stopped when I stopped meditating.

So I'm looking for some advice on where to go from here.  Maybe a shorter retreat or one that is less controlling?  I honestly have no idea why the feeling of being locked up bothered me so much and why my anxiety increased by the day but I feel like it will probably happen again.
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
hey brett,
that's really common.  i hated the schedule on retreats and lots of the other detritus that comes with anything organized for many people.  i do home retreats now and can't reccomend them enough.  it requires a place and preparation but its not that difficult.  strangely, i can put in even more hours when alone.  the public pressure on retreats was not beneficial for me.

re the pain thing..that too is very common, especially for people not used to sitting and can also be exaggerated by the stages one tends to hit on the first retreat. (eg: 3Cs is commonly painful).  that said, learning to deal with the less comfortable aspects can get us much insight and some of the pressure of retreat can motivate some people to put in the extra effort to get past / integrate those experiences.

i would suggest that if you don't have the option of a self-retreat you plan a retreat well in adance, practice like hell before hand so that the long sits are no problem in and of themselves and try to get into the mindset of dealing with whatever comes up during the retreat as an object of investigation.

defintely read the slackers guide to stream entry ahead of time.
Brett Bangerter, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 5 Join Date: 3/23/15 Recent Posts
Thanks Tom.  Have you seen a post where someone has put together some tips for a self retreat?
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
hi brett,
hmmm.  not really.  first you have to cover the basics: keep the rain or snow off, stay hydrated and fed. i have a little house in the woods where i can freeze meals ahead of time and with a little stocking up beforhand am thoroughly self-sufficient and can keep the meal logistics simple.

more importantly though is a clear plan and goal as well as a simple schedule to rely on. if the goal is to reach a path and one is using noting as a vipassana technique it is a good idea to nail that simple goal down and make your plan accordingly.

in my case that means making sure that the technique i plan to use is a solid , trusted anchor.  this is won by practicing in an increasing way building up to your retreat.  during the retreat i get up early and alternate sitting and walking meditation all day long and into the night with the goal of staying CONSTANTLY mindful throughout the entire retreat.

here is the link to Tarin Greco's take on the thing.
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/ReformedSlackersGuide/en

this definitely helped me.
Jack Hatfield, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 99 Join Date: 7/5/10 Recent Posts
The link to Reformed Slackers Guide doesn't work. Any suggestions?
Jack Hatfield, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 99 Join Date: 7/5/10 Recent Posts
Shinzen Young has monthly virtual retreats where you can participate while staying home. It it too late for December but this will give you an idea: https://mail.aol.com/webmail-std/en-us/suite?lang=en&locale=US
Neil, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 3 Join Date: 12/6/15 Recent Posts
Jack is right, Shinzen's Home Practice Program is great. And Shinzen is an excellent teacher. He also knows a ton about how to work with difficulties like you described.
Here's the direct link - http://basicmindfulness.com/
C P M, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 219 Join Date: 5/23/13 Recent Posts
Jack Hatfield:
The link to Reformed Slackers Guide doesn't work. Any suggestions?

Dream Walker recently appended it to the end or Tarin's post here:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/305448
Neil, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Freaked Out

Posts: 3 Join Date: 12/6/15 Recent Posts
Hi, Brett. I'm sorry to hear your experience. It takes a while, though, to grasp what is truly appropriate for you - when to push harder, when to ease off. That is ultimately up to you and you alone. Good teachers will help you learn how to navigate this.
I've only done one Goenka retreat but have been on many other retreats up to a month long. Goenka's technique is very powerful and valuable but a 1st timer is certainly being thrown into the deep end. Although fine for most, that can be discouraging. It can also cause serious problems and at my retreat I was less than impressed by the staff's ability or willingness to support those who needed it.
There are plenty of teachers and retreat opportunities out there with varying levels of support from coddling to total hard core. You may want to shop around for one that's more in tune with your current practice.
Personally, I usually go for the middle way in this regard. I find that supports my practice better than either the austere or the pampered - but that is just me. One thing I have learned, though, is that you can gain excellent concentration and insight at retreats that also serve great food  ( :