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Burma. Panditarama. 1 month retreat! Review!!!

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Hi everyone, Im new at this forum. Frist of all I want to say thank you for all the information and knowlege I got here, you guys are amazing, what im going to do its thanks all the information and inspiration i got here!

background:

I dicided to travel thailandia to do a workaway and also go more deep in meditation.

I meditated for the past 2 years 20 minuts in the morning 20 minuts evening. Also I did the 10 days goenka vipassana a year ago and now I just finished the second one here in thailandia.

This travel helped me a lot to learn and still learning to open my mind and just get rid of a lot of worries about myself, about my future and be conected more in the present, on whats going on, Im learning to flow, I realized that I have time and I have money and I dont have big responsabilities going back home  so I diceided just do what I like, what I love without expecting anything in exchange, an thats meditation emoticon

At frist my travel was only 2 months and ends at 24 octuber but I dicided to not going back home and just keep traveling and focus in practing meditation. The next step to my travel is 21 day retreat in a monastery thailand, they also do the Mahasi style of sitting, walking meditation, so it would be my frist step in the technic.

After that, at frist I wanted to go to Panditarama in Nepal but it seems complicated a lot of booking so I tried Bruma and I got acepted for november.

A part of mine really want to do this and go 100% other part of me is more cautious, becouse i know myself and Im a person that at sometimes I need my space and my times, and I get worried to get burn. for this I have some doubts and insecuritys and before I go I need to clear my mind and be 100% secure to where I go and what Im going to do.

Im open to any advice related to Bruma meditation center and the day to day life of practing this technice and flowing with the ups and downs in a long term retreat. Also I had some questions..just need to clear my ignorence and have objective point of view!

The daily schelude...you do it for your own? Or you do all the sitting-walking in group? Can you make your own schelude and work with discipline in your own rtyhm?

How is the interview thing? Are they like rigid practical instructions and dont talk about how you feel? I feel if I gonna stay 3 months with nobel silence I need a teacher that is able to hold me in the bad moments and open to listen me and no only get stuck to the formal instruction. Also I would like to learn and go more deep in loving kidness meditation, that helps me a lot..its correct to ask for it before I go to the center?

I worked the past years in factorys and warehouse my back its a mess. Can you use a chair for meditate? I also doing streching and yoga exercice for strong my back and step by step be able to sit in the floor again without insane pain, is it ok if I do yoga and streaching in the retreat or they gonna call my attention?

Do you recomend to have a diary? I did in the last goenka retreat and was so good to write all the insights and learnings i had. But also mybe can effect your practice, whats your point on that? 

Well I think thats my struggles, thanks for taking your time for reading, big hug!

RE: Burma. A. Panditarama. 3 months retreat!
Answer
10/1/17 3:37 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Jordi Fernandez Ventura:

Im open to any advice related to Bruma meditation center and the day to day life of practing this technice and flowing with the ups and downs in a long term retreat. Also I had some questions..just need to clear my ignorence and have objective point of view!

The daily schelude...you do it for your own? Or you do all the sitting-walking in group? Can you make your own schelude and work with discipline in your own rtyhm?

How is the interview thing? Are they like rigid practical instructions and dont talk about how you feel? I feel if I gonna stay 3 months with nobel silence I need a teacher that is able to hold me in the bad moments and open to listen me and no only get stuck to the formal instruction. Also I would like to learn and go more deep in loving kidness meditation, that helps me a lot..its correct to ask for it before I go to the center?

I worked the past years in factorys and warehouse my back its a mess. Can you use a chair for meditate? I also doing streching and yoga exercice for strong my back and step by step be able to sit in the floor again without insane pain, is it ok if I do yoga and streaching in the retreat or they gonna call my attention?

Do you recomend to have a diary? I did in the last goenka retreat and was so good to write all the insights and learnings i had. But also mybe can effect your practice, whats your point on that? 

Well I think thats my struggles, thanks for taking your time for reading, big hug!

1. I would advise you, if possible, to go to Panditarama Lumbini instead of Burma - it appears from the experience of many yogis that it is as a Westerner better to go and practice there for instructions and a teacher who is better equipped to handle Western yogis and understand them.

2. The schedule is posted but aside from Breakfast, Lunch and dharma talks, you could mix it up though the teacher may request that you sit in the hall with everyone rather than practice on your own, as a beginning yogi.

3. Interviews are informal, you report on your experiences and receive instruction however it is not a therapy session and time is limited, you are expected to be self-sufficient mostly.

4. You could use a chair and do yoga if you have your own room and do it mindfully, disturb no one.

5. It is recommended to have a diary to write down the dominant experiences to report to your teacher during interviews.

Feel free to ask anything else, I sat retreats at Panditarama Lumbini twice - 2months and 3 months.

RE: Burma. A. Panditarama. 3 months retreat!
Answer
7/19/18 9:34 AM as a reply to Jordi.
Hi, just wanting to share my expirience meditating in Panditarama Forest Meditation Center!

Fast review: 

Do you recomend going to Panditarama Forest Meditation Center?
Yes, if you know what are you doing and have solid practice and you can go on your own and and also you are a big fan of Mahasi tradition and going to the main center is for you some kind of spiritual quest.

No if you are “new” at meditation or your practice is not well established and you think you will need solid guidence, going there is mostly you go on your own, the teachers english is very basic and the instruccions are few, seems they supose you already know how to do the job.

Also I would prefer going to Mahasi Thai Center near Chang Mai or other centers  for clean conditions and accessibility.

How was the food? Really good!

How was the bedroom?
There are two beds in any bedroom but I was alone all the time I went, didn’t need to share room.  Also there are bungalows for long term meditators, monks or special guest. I had an “issue” with cleaning one night I wake up and my bed and mosquito need was full of  little bugs, the wood of the bed was rotten or not disinfected was a very disguting expirience and got paranoid with a lot of ichings thinking that got baited, also was having a strong Dark Night at that moment so was a beautiful Synchronicity. Also the pillowcase, sheets and blankets were dirty like they have some fungus and I need to ask them to give me a clean ones.

How is the discipline?
Is expected from you to follow the schedule. A monk usually is cheking (hitting at the door) in the morning (3:30am) the bedrooms to weak up who felt sleep and you need to go to the dhamma talk ( cassates of Mahasi talking in older retreat ) every day. I followed the schedule 90% of the time, but I saw meditators that meditate more in their room and nothing happened so probably you can also go on your own. Also you are not meditating with the teacher like goenka retreats, there is the meditation hall and all the meditators are there all day following the schedule.

Other stuff? 
There are mosquitos, got baited, but in this area there isn't malaria. Also if you are afraid of spiders dont come, there are very BIG spiders all around. Hmm for me was very cool exprience, have bad and good things, but looking back was totally worth it!
 
The experience was challenging but the results I got was really really good!  I came to meditate 10 days in goenka retreat, basically psycological insights and a lot of mind wandering, nothing special. Then I went 21 days in a thaliandia monastery lost in the middle of the mountain in the Udon Thani area, it was a very good experience, I was working on my concentration skills ( my concentration was really bad) and I also learned a lot about love and kindess with the monks and nuns,was an open heart expirience but at insight level did nothing, I was working on my own and I did my best, meditating like 6-7 hours at day, just trying to get a solid acess concentration and trying to achive frist jhana. Did it a couple few times with a really strong piti and suhka, so was good but at that time didn’t have to much information and how jhana works. After that I went to my travel to Myanmar at there is the real and solid work was done.

If I’m honest I was very lucky. I was in contact with the nun at Yangon to order a taxi to go to the forest meditation center. She was organizing everything to everyone and she ask me if a monk can join to the taxi ride, not problem for me. That monk was Bhante bodhidhamma an english monk who has a center in England called Satipanya. He was for me very important in this meditation process and if not was for him probably I just left at the frist week. In the very bad moments we had little talks that he helped me a lot give me very good adivices, emotional support and a more open view of what I was going on. I feel very thankfull and lucky to be able to counted on his support, so..thank you!!

I say that becouse if you spect to have a western oriented teaching going to Panditarama in Bruma probably you will feel disappointed. The way “they teach” is hmm…diferent, the interviews that you have with the teacher is only to check how are you doing, how is your noting going and that’s it, don’t expect more from them. They are not interested and open to listen your expiriences or if you are having a bad moment, you will not have a “converstaion” with them, they want you to go to the point, and if you are not doing what they expect they will totally ignoring you. If you enter and start trying to descrive a cool experience you had or how bad you feel and the hard time you having holding what medtation show up they will ignore you, they will look at the window, they will check they smartphone or start reading a book. I saw that for myself and others meditators and I can feel the frustration mine and others.

The only way to “be friends” with him is follow the protocol of interview. Sitting, bowing 3 times, don’t look at his face directly and start with how is your sitting noting, how is your breath noting, how is your walking noting, and how is your daily life noting and then maybe he will say something to you like : “ok, concentrate more” or “ok, now work on be more mindfull” this is the kind of advices you will get for them, they are obious adivice but I tried to put them on practice if he say concentrate more all my meditation go in concentrate more, every moment put my intention in “concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, go in, go deep”. And yes it works, maybe westerns we need a lot of cognitive explanation to put something to practice and need to undrestood everything cognitive before we put in practices, but following this very simple and obius adivices I also had really good progress.

So, here is my advice you are doing 3 meditations : sitting, walking and teacher interview. Take this also as a meditation. You enter there trying to keep what you was doing in your sitting or walking meditation, go slow, mindfulness and focused, say how you are noting, then listen, be thankfull and just leave and keep going with your meditation process. I got very mad and trigged with the frists teacher interviews and didn’t know what he expected from me. It was my fault becouse when you start the retreat they give you a little book with clear instructions and protocol of the interviews, but you know you go so hyped for whats going on in your meditation that you forget, also I saw I had something unresolved with authority figures and needed to fix it.

Before going how was exactly my practice I would like to share this anecdote that happen with the teacher that I found really funny and after that we can say we “make peace” with each other. So as I said the frists interviews with him were very confusing and not constructive in a healty way, I always end up mad and he little by little start losing his patience.

At one point I hit a very strong A&P, I was looking a pain I had, very deep on it, looking the impermence of it, the no self of it, the pain and the suffering, look the sensation up, looking it down, looking from the sides, going milimeter to milimeter exploring, deconstructing it in little pieces, as I said very deep on it…I was “having fun” and totally unexpected I start feeling like a lot of little dots arrising and passing away very fast from that painfull sensation and then this just expanded with all the body. I just can feel numerous little dots arround all the body arrising and pasing away really really fast, feel like popcorn but at very high intensity followed by partial disoultion of the body and just feeling strong waves of bliss, feels like I was the univers or univers was inside me or these two things at the same time, very very powerfull and cool experience.

So, there I am trying to explain this to the teacher, ( I didn’t want to use any kind of framework words  so I didn’t use words like 3characteristics or A&P event etc ) and he looks at me like it was the dumbest person in the world, like he had enough of bullshit, really pissed off,  and he says to me : “ the breath, how is the breath going?”  Oh, man I got triggered so hard, the anger, the frustration, the impotence I had in this moment was so high I just shout to him “Im telling to you I can see the 3 characterstics and I had and A&P event, who fucking cares about the breath!”. He also got mad and shout me something “You not mindfull!” I stand up looking at himn and I said “I’m mindfull, now noting: anger, anger, anger!” Then I realized the out of control of the situation and I just sit again, breath, calm, bow, say thank you for his time, and leave the interview.

In sitting meditation was dealing with a lot of and a lot of pain in my back. The other retreats I went I asked for a chair. I been working in warehouse and factorys for years also had very bad habits and my back spending to much time in front of computer, my back was really a mess, just sitting give me a lot of pain, was not able to hold 2 minuts sitting. When I arrived to the center I asked for a chair and they told me “No chair here, only one chair for all men, and is for old people, you sit on the floor, if you don’t like, you leave” My face was like WTF man, so well time has come, time to deal with that pain, so I went 100% for it.

So, my back pain was my object of meditation for the frist 15 days I was need to be very concentrated becouse if my mind wanders I just stop meditating/not able to sit( concentration breaks), the pain was so high that I really need to stay moment to moment observing it to be able to stay with it. Learning the diference of pain and suffering in a direct way. Pain comes for a particular body sensation, suffering comes from mind reacting  to a particular sensation. The image that comes from that is a little boy going to the doctor for his vaccination, he only see the syringe (the object) and start crying, suffering and having aversion.

If you can see clear you can observe a lot of painfull sensations emotions without need to run away from them, so that was main training at the retreat, invesitigate aversion, investigate suffering, investigate pain…Pain is part of life, embody that expirience is important. Don’t run away from pain/suffer don’t cling to pleasure etc. You know the story...

 But the thing is, when I was doing walking meditation I don’t know why I entred spontaneously in a deep trance states/altered states of consciousness, being so in in the walking that everything arround me disappears and just feeling the moment to moment sensations of the body and the feets like little frames of a movie showing up, I had bizzare experience like feeling the weight of the air been not able to move, or open my eyes and see like sparks of light or electricty around my arms and hand, also full of blissfull shit and the most disturbing thing was seeing rug changing color to blue to green and green to red, also the texture of the wood was moving ondulating like if was alive very trippy thing in front of me and see it like totally normal and just keeping note it, etc. Seeing  this events with prespective is like What. The. fuck.

The thing is, I got really mad with the interview so I dicieded I don’t gona spend my time and energy writting notes to share with the teacher  and losing my time wondering how to explain to him what is goin with my meditation and breaking my mindfulness to be at time, waiting wondering etc. As I said, I found a new meditation “Teacher meditation”!. So, next day  I just went one hour before interview time at the interveiw location and I was doing my walking meditation and I got one of this trance states, really powerfull one, I entred to the room as I can, my eyes were blinking really fast in uncontrolled way. I sat in front of the teacher. I was in silence, becouse saying, labeling a word was really hard for me and had to put a lot of effort “to break the trance” and be able to say something.  Of course he began to worry, and ask me if I was okay. I just nod and put effort to label and start noting what I was expirencing right now, was fucking awesome. While I was noting I just got a very strong frist jhana and I noted it in front of him. Was like, “breathing, feeling, sitting, feeling, feeling, feeling good, feeling good, feeling really good, bfff…extasis” Again not able to labeling and be just in silence, I can just nod afirmaitve or negative, so he was asking me some questions, I had to put a lot of effort to try to understand becouse also the hearing of cognitive words get distorted. like hearing the sounds but not the words, dont know how to explain it ^^u.

After that day the interviews with the teacher got better and we didn’t discuss or having troubles, also I undrestood the importance of following the protocol of interview, anyways you are guest in their home, so lets play their game.

Im not the best discriving phenomenology becouse my english is not my main language but I like to draw and I would like to share some draws I did when I was on retreat than maybe can express better than word for what I was going on or how my practices was:


 
This retreat for me was really powerfull and I got a lot of insight about the nature of things but have to say a lot of insight go more in the body area more related to feelings, sensations, emotions and be able to deal with equanimity with whatever arrise, but still keeping the idea that was someone dealing with it but also seeing that they weren’t an intherent part of me.

Also I go in spiral of having peak expriences followed from very nasty, dark, bad feeling like shit expirience and I was cycling on that every day I had this little cycles going on an also had like two or three big cycles that ended in equanimity.

The frist days of retreat was really challenging as I said before, the pain was so high I put all my will and effort to be able to handle it, so the only way I found to make this posible is stay with the pain moment to moment making it my object of meditation, I don’t know if recommend this to other people, sometimes I’m little kamikaze but I was full motivated and I have not come to the other side of the world for nothing.

Also, I have to say at one point ( was like day 13) I was pushing so much that I burn out really hard,  I remember that night,was the last meditation of the day I been feeling terrible at all levels for all day, mental, emotional, pyshical and just keep pushing investigating and meditating  instead of just take it easy and rest. Every sensation was starting to shake and buzzing hard in a way that not feels very healthy and I have that feeling if I keep going I gona lost my mind and become crazy and start feeling a lot of fear.  I was not able to handle this skillfull, also that night when I was trying to sleep I heard a voice inside me that was not fucking me, I got really scared and disturbed. Was not prepared for this kind of expirence aslo when I weak up the bug thing  I explained at the start happened. I took a day off to relax myself and do very light meditation, I spend almost day just walking arround the center and sitting outside feeling nature. That help me and was the start of a new cycle in the meditation process.

Next time I formaly sat, 60% of the back pain was gone and I was experiencing some kind of equanimity, I just sat and enjoy being sat, I saw the thoughts and let the thoughts be thoughts and like their where clouds for they own they pass away with any kind of effort and only "blue sky" remaind, for the frist time of the retreat I was expirencing total silence, I was not even noting (“wrong haha!”), this state of everything is ok, don’t need to push, let them be on their own, fades away and I start again with the peak cycles and down cycles. Now, a lot of the back pain was gone and that means I lost my main meditation object, I didn’t need to stay ultrafocused  on the pain to be sit, I was able to sit without feeling to much pain so then mind start to wandering a lot, it was a new chapter and now I had to direct my attention and effort again but this time in the breath.

I will say focusing in the pain is “so easy”, is so big and is there calling you like “hey! Focus on me, Im here!” But focusing on breath…is other story ,subtle and easy to get lost in your storys, so need to put really effort on build concentration again. So the last 10 days was more solid expirence, was slowly bulding a more strong and natural concentration and mindfulness the highs and downs start to stabilizing and the proces of insight flow more organic, I have to say the frist 16 days was a total crazy shit, last days still had some huge expirience but as I said felt more organic, The frist 15 days was climb the mountain jumping like a crazy goat now was climbing the mountain more steady and calm way, but climbing it too. Also had very cool expirience, not that hardcore like the past ones and the bad ones slowly learn how to handle with more equanimity, kindess and compassion. I felt more objective and emotionally stable.

Also going back home I saw that a lot of emotional stuff related to diferent past expiriences and areas of my life just got fixed without working on it in a direct way, also I felt with more objective mind and not getting triggred with stuff, spontaniusly wanted to do some chairty work and also I was able to sit on the floor almost without any pain for long periods of time! ( like 40min-1h)

But I have to say things like strong mental clarity and  very strong emotional stability slowly start to fade away when I come back but others thing makes perment shift. So yeah, I was totally worth it do that retreat and Im really happy and greatfull for what I learned and experienced!

Thanks for take your time for reading! Here, some photos of the meditation center ^^.

Peace and Joy!

RE: Burma. A. Panditarama. 3 months retreat!
Answer
7/23/18 1:59 AM as a reply to Jordi.
Jordi, absolutely awesome review! Thank you! I’m going there in a month or so, so this info is really helpful. Sounds like you had a really intense - and insightful - retreat. Good for you! Thanks again. 

RE: Burma. A. Panditarama. 3 months retreat!
Answer
7/25/18 4:52 AM as a reply to Jordi.
What an inspirational report, thank you! And wow, sitting as a fellow 'student' with Bhante Bodhidhamma - he must be the foremost Mahasi teacher here in the UK. Very auspicious! 

RE: Burma. Panditarama. 1 month retreat! Review!!!
Answer
9/30/18 2:54 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Awesome read, definitely tempted to go on retreat myself someday in Asia!

RE: Burma. Panditarama. 1 month retreat! Review!!!
Answer
10/3/18 9:27 AM as a reply to Simon.
Hey folks, my review at the link below is not as colourful as our friend’s here, but it gives all the details and a load of photos. Just left there today. Hot and humid place this time of year!

https://placestomeditate.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/panditarama-forest-meditation-centre/

I hope this is helpful...