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Burn-out, or just part of the process?

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Burn-out, or just part of the process?
Answer
6/15/17 10:44 AM
Dear sangha,

I started a sort of self-retreat yesterday. The plan was to meditate for 7 hours a day for two weeks, and do a few hours work afterwards. (I'm a freelance marketer, and I unfortunately can't stop to go into 100% retreat.)

7 hours a day is a lot for me. The last two hours of sitting were useless. Afterwards, I felt bone-tired, and my back was stiff, which has never happened before.

I know that with the right attitude, and some compassion, I can power through. But will that just create burn-out? Should I scale it back to maybe 5 hours a day?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

RE: Burn-out, or just part of the process?
Answer
6/15/17 12:10 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
I can't answer your question, but I have had the same questions.

To put it in it's simplest form, I could ask "If X amount of time doing something is good for you, is 2X twice as good or even better?

We now know that lots of people trying to get in shape physically over train.   Rest is just as important as exercise.   A woman working for the New York Times who studied the science behind exercise wrote a book titled "The  first 20 minutes".  The point of the book was that you get your biggest exercise gains when you go from being a couch potato to exercising 20 minutes a day.   The imporvement you will see going from couch potato to 20 minutes exercise a day is greater than the imporvement  going from 20 minutes a day to 2 hours a day.

Most of us have guilt about not trying hard enough, but is  trying harder always better?

I wonder about some of the long hard meditation retreats I have done.  What  were  my motivations?  I think I almost always have mixed motivations for anything I do, and I think some of my motivations for doing the  long hard retreats  were connected wtih the  enlightenment drive, curiosity, and other positive  motivations.  However I can now see that part  of my motivation was  to prove myself and impress others with how  hard I worked.  I was sometimes motivated by a fear that I was lazy or weak.

I  don't know if  7 hours a day meditating on a self retreat does anything better than 4 or 5 hours.   Please keep  us informed as you go through the process.

 

RE: Burn-out, or just part of the process?
Answer
6/15/17 8:18 PM as a reply to Conor O'Higgins.
It's normal to be sore and tired the first few days of retreat.

Consider adding some walking meditation in the mix.

Also, perhaps tone down the effort during the actual sitting. When we have a striving attitude, our minds can tend to get a bit tired. Put enough effort in so the awareness is sharp and clear, but as soon as there is a straining or trying too hard feeling, relax.

The mind will come up with all kinds of excuses in order not to be seen.

Keep going!

RE: Burn-out, or just part of the process?
Answer
6/16/17 9:08 AM as a reply to Chi.
I'm feeling a lot better now.

I would've been a bit of a baby to quit after the first day of course, but I was trying to do what would be best in the long term.

I think lack of sleep and lack of food were also making Day One worse than it had to be.

In my sitting practice, I'm exploring the idea that there a balance between forceful effort and a gentle sort of effort that comes from self-compassion and encouragement. A sort of yin-yang balance.