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Hello & a Q about long retreats at MBMC

Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi group, first let me introduce myself. I'm commonly known as wildlings but my conventional name is Cam if you prefer to use that emoticon

I've been interested in Zen since the age of 15, when I first picked up my Dad's copy of Alan Watts's "The Way of Zen" (which I realise now has a very academic take on things but at the time was refreshingly down-to-earth compared to my Dad's other books). My meditation practice started in earnest about 12 months ago, altho I suppose you could say it began 5 years before that when I joined a yoga an Ashtanga school and was lucky to find that focussed on mindfulness during practice. It was my instructor there who encouraged me to attend a 10 Vipassana retreat (Goenka-style) over the 2008-2009 New Year. I can't go into details of my experience here, although suffice to say I was not a model student and wrote a lot of journal entries which are against the retreat Code of Discipline.

I recently separated from my wife of 7 years, "whom I love with a love as deep as the miru-growing ocean" (to quote an ancient Japanese poet, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro -- one of my literary heroes). She also attended a 10-day retreat six months ago, and I think may have crossed A&P territory. Not that I blame it necessarily for our breakup, although the timing is interesting. Anyway, I am digressing. Again it must simply suffice to say, that I have a lot of what Daniel terms "stuff" rolling around between my ears at this stage.

Continues ...

RE: Hello & a Q about long retreats at MBMC
4/30/09 7:57 AM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
Continued ...

(I will get to the point of my question shortly, I promise!)

Having started out with a diet of Zen literature, I shrank at first from the goal-oriented approach in MCTB, but have come to perceive some wisdom in allowing the natural curiousity of one's intellect to also engage in the progress of insight, rather than focussing exclusively on the physicality of it. We all carry around with us an ego, a dualistic mind, a planning brain. While I certainly don't clam an intimate experiential awareness of such things, it seems to me that the interplay of these aspects of ourselves make up the present moment in the same way as our physical sensations do. Which is one reason I am attracted to the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition. Although I have not tried the noting technique formally, from what I understand it is more than just noting physical sensation but includes also noting discursive thought, projections, fantasies and assumptions.

I felt that these were not addressed directly by the Goenka-style body-scanning technique (although I have a lot of respect for that technique also and it may be that after sufficient experience in body-scanning, the continual awareness of sensation acts as a conduit for observation of the mental states as well).

Continues ...

RE: Hello & a Q about long retreats at MBMC
4/30/09 7:58 AM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.

I know people say this a lot, especially here in this community, but I consider it highly likely that I have been a Dark Night yogi for around 17 years (since the age of 14). But whether or not I am in fact being gripped by the Dukkha Nanas, or simply have a dark bent to my naturaly personality (always a possibility!), projections, negative fantasies and hateful assumptions constantly arise and challenge my equilibrium. They can interfere with my ability to relate well with others, as I can and do change rapidly from a kind and patient man to a disturbed and nihilistic one. I wish to attain to a less reactive stage of insight, and become more willing or able to tolerate what I currently, in the arrogance of self-doubt, perceive as laziness or stupidity on the part of those around me who do not understand what I am saying to them about the impermanence of everything around us.

I feel a strong need to get closer to my practice and am considering a retreat at MBMC for a month, perhaps two months.

So, on to the question, finally. I'm humbly asking for any advice from those on DhO who have experience of long retreats, and who understand that "stuff" can really throw one's practice if the dedication is lacking (mine is not, but I do have quite a lot of "stuff" going on right now).

Given that it is a time of some turmoil in my personal life, would it be wise to undertake such an ambitious retreat? Instinctively, I feel that it would not only quiet the racing thoughts of having had a marriage breakup, but also may help me come unstuck from the general racing thoughts I live with every day.

Sorry for the really long post. I guess I got a bit carried away opening up about this stuff finally emoticon I have been lurking on this site for weeks, and I have to say I am filled with gratitude that this community even exists.

Thanks again,
wildlings (Cam)