Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

nothingherenow, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 4:31 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 4:31 AM

Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/29/16 Recent Posts
In september 2015 I went on a 10 day Goenka retreat and since then I have been practicing an average of 40 min/day noting technique, or what I understood of it. 
Two weeks ago I decide to do a 15 day retreat so I went for it, but on the 10th day I have decided to leave and here are my reasons for it.:
I have been having a difficult time falling asleep for the past years but I wasn't qute an insomniac. So the first day at the retreat it took me 20 minutes to fall asleep, then half an hour, one hour, and so on until the 9th day when it took me 3 hours to fall asleep. Also I would wake up a lot during the night. I wasn't feeling too tired during the day but I was pretty sure that this was not healthy for my body.
On day 5 i started feeling this neutral sensations on my face  like I was wearing a mask ( I have been feeling it from time to time bedore retrreat as well )  while doing the sitting meditation and when going to bed. The teacher said that it's because I am not practicing correct, that I am focusing too much and I wasn't doing Vipasana and advised me to igore those sesnastions. So I have for the next days but they only kept increasing in intensity. Also this gave birth to some doubting toughts about  the teacher, doing the memditation correctly, not seeing any progress, that kept building up. I have stopped practising for 2 days but the sensations are still here and I still can't sleep well.
The walking meditation seemed to be going pretty well, even if the teacher said I was doing concentration practice but the sitting was discourageing me. In the sitting I was supposed to note the rising and fallling of the abdomben, then "sitting" , " tocuhing " ( 18 points in total ) and keep doing this cycle. My only distractions were the sensastion of the mind trying to control tre breath, to make sure that I'm still breathing and those neutral sensations on my face.
What keeps you motivated to practices, how do I gain confidence that I am doing it right, how can I know I am doing it right if I see no progress. Maybe I am having some expectations about how meditation should be.
What do you think I should do ? Keep practicing sitting and walking ? When I would sit, should I just note rising fallng and then when something arises go there and note it ? How long should I stay there before coming back to the rising and falling. For example if I fell disgust in my throat, should I label it and come back to the mai meditation object or should I investigate it longer ?
neko, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 4:49 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 4:46 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
nothingherenow:

I have been having a difficult time falling asleep for the past years but I wasn't qute an insomniac. So the first day at the retreat it took me 20 minutes to fall asleep, then half an hour, one hour, and so on until the 9th day when it took me 3 hours to fall asleep. Also I would wake up a lot during the night. I wasn't feeling too tired during the day but I was pretty sure that this was not healthy for my body.

Alterations in sleep patterns, particularly a marked reduction in need for sleep, are to be expected on retreat and not a cause for concern. Particularly if the retreat only lasts 15 days.

What tradition was this retreat you were participating in? The duration (15 days) and points makes it sound like Ajahn Tong. If this is the case, reduction in sleep is an integral part of the method, at least as practiced in a centre that I know of.

(Sorry for the multiple edits.)
nothingherenow, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 4:55 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 4:55 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/29/16 Recent Posts
Yes, you are right. It's Ajaan Tong tradition and it is part of the process to reduce the sleeping hours. It started with 6, but I would only sleep about 5 then it reduced to 5 where I could only sleep about 3h and it was going for 4 hours when I got to the point where it took me 3 hours to fall alseep
neko, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 5:24 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 5:24 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
You are not the first person to go there and burn out around day 10 on the first attempt. I have never been to an Ajahn Tong retreat, but I have two good friends who are very much into that tradition, and they seem to be getting benefit from it. You could consider going back and giving it a second shot, trusting the instructors' advice until the last day, when you get to have a frank discussion about what it was that you had been going through.
nothingherenow, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 5:52 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 5:52 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/29/16 Recent Posts
I could, but I heard that in the last 3 days you get no sleep at all. Do you think that could be a good idea ? Also when I asked the teacher about how I can see progress or if they use any maps all she seemed pretty evasive about giving any answers. All she told me was that I have to keep practicing and be mindful during the breaks. 
Do you have any toughts about the other things I have ssaidin my first post ? 
I know its not a good idea to keep switching practices but i need to find something thst at least gives me the impression thst i am practicing correctly because if you don't it might just be a waste of time. And the fact that in 10 days I have practiced more tan 100 hours abd I still wasn't sure I was doing it right orif it had any positiv efects on me was pretty descourageing.
nothingherenow, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 6:12 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 6:12 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/29/16 Recent Posts
Also I have been repressing a lot of feelings since childhood and sometimes I get this feeling that something is about to manifest and I just strangle it and block it. My first tought when I left the retreat was that this might be impediments in my practice and tought about having a psychedelic experience with mushrooms maybe. I havent done thst yet but I heard some people talking about how benefical it was to them and some even said it helped them with thier practice. But I m not so sure about this
neko, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 6:35 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 6:35 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
nothingherenow:
I could, but I heard that in the last 3 days you get no sleep at all. Do you think that could be a good idea ?


No personal experience with that. My friends seem to like it, and sleep deprivation is practiced in other traditions too.


nothingherenow:

Also when I asked the teacher about how I can see progress or if they use any maps all she seemed pretty evasive about giving any answers.


It is likely that they will discuss the maps only once you finish the course.



nothingherenow:

I know its not a good idea to keep switching practices but i need to find something thst at least gives me the impression thst i am practicing correctly because if you don't it might just be a waste of time. And the fact that in 10 days I have practiced more tan 100 hours abd I still wasn't sure I was doing it right orif it had any positiv efects on me was pretty descourageing.


It is normal for effects to be bad before they are good. And then bad again, and so on, in cycles, with a general upward trend that you definitely cannot see over the course of 10 days.
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bernd the broter, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 9:53 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 9:53 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
nothingherenow:
I could, but I heard that in the last 3 days you get no sleep at all. Do you think that could be a good idea ?
You only get to do the determination exercise if the conditions are right. I did this type of retreat 7 times, and did the full sleep-deprivation determination days only twice. Still, I fell asleep on both of those occasions. Determination exercise is difficult, but it is not that brutal.

About your lack of sleep during the retreat: can happen. sometimes does not happen. nothing too unusual I guess. Could be totally different on your next retreat.

Also when I asked the teacher about how I can see progress or if they use any maps all she seemed pretty evasive about giving any answers. All she told me was that I have to keep practicing and be mindful during the breaks.
What neko said. There is a brief discussion about maps only after you finish the basic course.
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Yadid dee, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 12:01 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 11:45 AM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 258 Join Date: 9/11/09 Recent Posts
Hey there,

Just a few points of advice that came to mind from reading your post:

1. When on a retreat, and you start to feel really bad, strong difficulties (confusions, doubts, sensations, emotions, sleep issues, anger, craving, etc etc), these are coming up precisely because you are practicing well. Pat yourself on the back and realise that these barriers are coming up to stop you from continuing your practice to awakening. If you stop (by leaving retreat, dwelling on thoughts etc), they win.

2. You cannot make progress. You cannot move up the stages of insight. This happens naturally when both the mind/body/brain/heart/universe/whatever is ready. All you can do is continue to practice well every second that you can.

3. Always see desires to leave retreat early as something that is coming up due to a good strong practice. Remember your determination to take part in this retreat to its end, remember the benefits of the practice, and remember that there's nothing "out there" more important or that will solve whats going on here.

4. Practice letting go of thoughts, as soon as you notice that the mind is ruminating on some kind of thought, immediately recognise the underlying mental state (doubt, anger, sadness, loneliness, confusion, desire, etc), feel it fully. Continue to develop the ability to let go of thoughts as soon as you notice that the mind is ruminating. Every second you spend ruminating on thoughts, is a second that you are not seeing the true nature of the object (thought).

5. In regards to technique, I personally found that paying close attention to the rise and fall, as well as quickly noticing any other predominant mental phenomena arising, and then going back to rise-fall, works well. The specific way in which you practice is not that important, and it will also continue to change as you experiment with different ways of working with the practice. What is important is that you keep on practicing in the face of difficulties.

Hope this is helpful.
nothingherenow, modified 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 1:39 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 4/20/16 1:39 PM

RE: Left retreat 10 days / 14 in. Could use some waypoints

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/29/16 Recent Posts
Thank you so much for all your answers ! 
I will definitely keep practicing everyday for an hour ( half sit half walk ) and try to be as minduful as possible during daily activities and maybe in the near future I will probably go do this retreat again.

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