Message Boards Message Boards

Morality and Daily Life

Lying about mental health for Vipassana course

I've just had a frustrating time trying to apply for a meditation course. In the initial questions it asked about mental health, and I wrote depression in my history from years ago, who would have thought this would have asked the questions they ask, regarding hospitalisation, panic attacks, manic episodes, medication etc etc.

I'm frustrated for a number of reasons. In part due to the fact I have experienced my fair share of Dukkha ñanas, and as such, have a vague idea on how I may react to certain states.

Secondly, my history of bipolar, ADHD, sporadic medication etc is just that, a history. Occasionally, I will have evelated moods that throw me off my meditation practice for a few days, but have little impact elsewhere these days, and depression is hardly taken seriously. So it becomes very difficult to convince a course this.

To make matters worse I have just been cancelled due to a lack of reply, when I'm SURE I sent that last form and I had been waiting for 2 weeks to hear back.

My choice is to wait till another life if things swing that way, apply in 10 years and hope there's not the same issues, or lie on my form to prevent this barrage of questions that are meant for my own good.

I am aware the difficulties some people have in this, especially those who are sure of their place in the world, but I am SEEKING to have my ass handed to me by a cosmic sledgehammer. The noble silence sounds like a blessing and I'm finding reaching MCTB 3rd path is requiring a level of concentration that I'm finding hard to foster in my current situation.

It sounds ridiculous to break one of the precepts to enter a course where I would take a vow to follow 10 precepts. And it wouldn't exactly teach me the right message either.

I'm not after advice so much as this is a choice I should make, but if people are happy to offer their opinion, I may find this helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
8/24/17 11:34 AM as a reply to Dom Stone.
I am assuming you are talking about a Goenka retreat, right? Any other retreat centre you might go to? Or perhaps a self-retreat?

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
8/24/17 5:47 PM as a reply to neko.
Yea this one in particular is. I've not applied for any others, but coming to think of it, I'm aware Goenka retreats have had more issues with people with mental health issues and are therefore more stringent with their criteria. (And perhaps due to not being able to leave early)

It's hard to find anything affordable here in UK, though perhaps waiting until next year might be a good idea. 

In the meantime I could go on a personal retreat, though it would require me to go camping and commit the whole time. Maybe this can be done with little distractions, convincing myself to do it at a good time is another thing!

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
8/24/17 8:20 PM as a reply to Dom Stone.
You could reapply to the same place.
To make matters worse I have just been cancelled due to a lack of reply, when I'm SURE I sent that last form and I had been waiting for 2 weeks to hear back.
This sounds like an administration oversight rather than a true rejection. Goenka centres are volunteer run and things slip through the cracks even without complications like yours. I've had a close friend go through the same frustrating process. It's trying, but I think if you can find a way to navigate this and keep your conscience clear that will be worth it.

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
8/25/17 4:06 AM as a reply to Rainbow.
Thanks. I think I just wanted a little push in the right direction lol, I'll try reapplying, and failing that, I'm going to do a personal retreat followed by a non Goenka vipassana retreat next year.

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
8/27/17 10:24 PM as a reply to Dom Stone.
Good on you for taking initiative for practice.  Frankly Goenka retreats sound pretty intense, maybe unnecesarily so.  I personally know it's possible to make progress without running yourself ragged.  The incredibly intensive nature of these Vipassana retreats may work for some people, but it also seems like a recipe for temporary mental illness.  It doesn't sound like that is your concern so much if you already have some experience, but I think it's worth mentioning that Goenka is not the only way and maybe not the most sane way either.

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
8/31/17 6:10 AM as a reply to neko.
I've been admitted to Goenka centres in Europe with all my mental health history listed. Been refused in Indonesia.

Also been refused by MBMC because I was 'too honest' in my application, so it's not just Goenka centres that refuse people, also Mahasi centres.

In Thailand I was at a centre where no questions were asked. Wouldn't recommend the centre though.

It's kind of hit-and-miss when you're honest and have some (family) history.

I've considered lying, but it doesn't feel quite right for the reasons you mention.

The two times I was refused, they did reply to me specifically mentioning that I was not admitted because I was 'not healthy'. Quite frustrating, as that is not really true.

But in case of your story, I would assume that something went wrong technically or in their administration, not that they did not want to admit you because of mental health issues. If that was the case, they would have just told you that.

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
9/2/17 3:31 PM as a reply to T DC.
Thank you for your valid point. I guess with my topsy turvy mental history, less sane has become uncomfortably comforting. However in retrospect, the Goenka retreats appear quite impersonal which may take a bit of Metta out of experience. I'll save Goenka for now and go for a concentration based retreat instead as Insight seems to flow easily enough when I'm ramped up due to a previous longterm habit of self enquiry.

RE: Lying about mental health for Vipassana course
9/3/17 9:39 AM as a reply to Dom Stone.
I think it's far more important to understand whether you are currently mentally stable and to be kind to yourself, rather than whether some Goenka volunteer gives you the stamp of approval or not. 

This could be self insight from knowing your mental states over the years.
E.g. You say it's only "a history", but have you had experience with intense practise or challenging phenomena in a retreat setting? If so, maybe you're already clued up. If not, maybe you could consult someone who's a psychotherapist + meditation teacher, and get their take. There are a lot of these floating around the ether these days. Ron Crouch gets mentioned a lot. 

Goenka rules are to protect you from harming yourself on retreat, which is further up the precept totem pole here.
Someone reading your application only has a few lines to work with, it's crude risk avoidance and a subjective judgement. I've met plenty of people on retreat who were very probably not psychologically stable enough to be there.

From your post alone, and not knowing your history at all, one thing I'd say is you come across as having a striving / get it done at any cost type mindset. That's great, but with it definitely be sensitive to whether practise is becoming psychologically or physiologically destabilizing/depleting and don't just see it all as "grist for the mill" or dukkha nana stuff. Always err on the side of caution and be willing to leave retreat. 

I cooked myself trying way too hard on a long retreat before and it took a while to recover. In hindsight, it was because I dismissed my body's cues to ease off.