Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me

TOPIC: Is retreat necessary for progress?

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 11:44 #97060

Hi there,

I have sat many 10 day retreats, although I never really wanted to but felt like I had to in order to make progress. Every one of them felt like a drudgery and I was pretty miserable and relieved when it was over.

A little background- shortly after my first 10 day in 2011 (which I hated, but felt like I needed much more of!) I embarked on 9 months of pretty much only sitting and serving courses, with a few days off every month or so to be away from the center and see friends, etc. and have since sat 1 ten and served 1 ten day up until May 2014, which was my last 10 day.

Now that I have been practicing at home for almost a year without going on retreat, I am actually enjoying my meditation, and I look forward to it. I feel like going to a 1 day or 3 day long retreat sounds good now, but I still really don't feel inclined to do more than that, and honestly I could be very happy just not going on long retreat again.

My question is, does anyone out there think it is possible to make serious progress on the path without ever going on retreat? I have heard a lot of people say that they really enjoy being on retreat, but are there others out there like me, who really don't like it/feel any desire to do it?

Thanks,
Derya
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 12:13 #97061

I never went on any retreats until after the breakthrough insight. I'd expected they would provide access to someone senior in study and insight to further clarify matters. On a couple of occasions, that was true. But more often than not, it was a mixed bag of social interaction on some level or other. I am probably a total anomaly, but nonetheless-- that's my experience.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shaun Elstob

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 13:18 #97063

In my experience, going on retreat has been like taking a look into the future of where my practice is going to go. After you get back, it lasts for a little while, then you're back to dealing with similar stuff you were dealing with before going, except a few steps ahead this time.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kacchapa

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 17:35 #97064

I have never been on a retreat except for periods at home where I practiced more than usual for holidays. For me all progress and insights etc occurred through the meditation and utilising all the daily experiences at work etc for insight practice. Might be fun to do one but just never felt the need.
Last Edit: 10 Jan 2015 17:41 by Rod.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Tina

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 19:14 #97065

It's not necessary to do retreats in order to "make progress," but retreats can be fun for a variety of reasons, such as:

-you hate meditating but feel a sense of accomplishment when you survive an unpleasant activity
-you love the vacation-like aspects of being away from home in a peaceful and unfamiliar location
-you love being around a lot of strangers and talking to them/not talking to them (depending on whether it's silent, etc.)
-you love seeing old friends, ditto
-you like the physical challenge of very austere and hardcore meditation practice ("we sat ten hours at a stretch with no food and water!")
-you like retreat food (is it possible?)
-you admire the teacher who is leading it and want their mojo to rub off on you
-you want to learn something new in a focused environment
-you want to spend way more hours meditating than you can do at home where family and life stuff constantly distracts you (though you will probably find you can keep up the same level of distraction all by yourself)

and so on. I've hated about half the retreats I've been on, and loved a few. I left one once, after an angry squabble broke out over clarinet music. Based on my own experience I'd say avoid Latin American centering prayer retreats? Not sure that was the critical factor. I think it may be silence. Christian retreats seem to be hit or miss on whether they require silence. If they do, it filters for people with more devotion and deeper practice, or at least people who aspire to deeper practice. if they don't require silence, it tends to turn into a "weekend away with friends" social thing and the retreat quality gets lost. "Optional silence" is the same as no silence.

I'll go on retreat for Carnival. That's the tradition here. If you aren't a booze-it-up-in-the-streets person you go on a spiritual retreat. Every last church, cult, sect and institution has Carnival retreats for those who are desperate to avoid the noise, heat, crowds and pee. I went with the Carmelites the past two years (favorite retreats ever). This year I may go with a different Catholic group, though also a silent retreat. Nobody has things organized til the week of, so I'll get to make a last-minute decision.
Last Edit: 10 Jan 2015 19:26 by Ona Kiser.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, every3rdthought

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 20:19 #97066

To answer the main question, no, I don't think it is absolutely necessary. I can say without reservation, however, that every retreat I have ever been on (from 3 to 14 days) has given my practice a great momentum, and many markers of progress have occurred while on or within months after a retreat.

My impression has been that a number of people on this forum have made incredible progress without doing much in the way of retreats.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kacchapa

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 21:47 #97067

The crux of the matter is what is the most direct path at the time for a given individual; for you-- absent any sudden insight about the aversion you've developed, and the need to cut through it-- it sounds not so direct. Indeed, strewn with obstacles. :unsure:
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Is retreat necessary for progress? 10 Jan 2015 23:28 #97071

Derya,

I've never been on retreat. I've been practicing nearly 10 years. I've noticed many positive changes, and have developed increases in capacities and skills which I value deeply.

So yes, if my own case study example is any indication, it is possible to make progress on the meditative path without retreats.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Tina

Is retreat necessary for progress? 11 Jan 2015 00:01 #97072

Thank you all so much for your responses- it is VERY inspiring to hear that people feel they have made progress without going on retreat.

I often think about sitting longer hours on quiet weekend days, but for some reason don't because I feel like it's not a "real" retreat, but I think I will try it now, I mean why not?

funny side note- literally less than 2 hours after I posted this thread I went for a short hike and decided to listen to a talk by shinzen young while walking, and it just so happened that the first thing he talked about was the importance of incorporating both daily sitting as well as some kind of longer sitting time, he recommends 1 long retreat a year, or a few days every month or so. Just had to laugh to myself (which weirded out some other hikers seeing a girl walking alone laughing to herself, hehe)- I guess when you ask the universe for something you get it!
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen

Is retreat necessary for progress? 11 Jan 2015 05:01 #97073

I think retreats are useful....it allows you to sprint up the mountain past where you usually practice at....after the retreat you move back and work your way up again. If you have never been on a retreat I think there is much to learn but you have done many so you got all that.
I have done only one retreat after SE to try to get second path work started....it did good things for me but did not start second path.
I put a lot of stock in diligence. Daily practice every single day keeps up the momentum and allows forward movement with less sliding back and the time wasted to regain momentum.
Is it necessary? No, depending on who you are. Useful? Yes, and it seems most people who have made great progress got it thru retreats.
~D
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Is retreat necessary for progress? 11 Jan 2015 11:59 #97080

Retreats can be very helpful.

But anyone who can look at those sensations of wanting, needing, craving, and hoping to be on retreat... anyone who can see how sensations of inadequacy trigger a whole proliferation of self thoughts... anyone who can explore holding the raw sensation of "inadequacy" and investigate it as an object in awareness... anyone who can see into how our inability to fully experience negative sensations as sensations results in the creation of an ideal future self and a sense clinging to becoming that future self... anyone who sees that sensations themselves are impersonal and >within< awareness so not a self and can allow the sensation to simply exist and end/nibbana on it's own... that someone is going to make a lot of progress, whether they can attend a retreat or not. :)
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Kacchapa, Tina, Dan, cedric reeves, Kristijan

Is retreat necessary for progress? 11 Jan 2015 13:02 #97082

Shargrol- whoa I had to read that a couple of times! Lots of good stuff in there.

I thought it was interesting how a few different people described retreat as a way to accelerate your practice, but then after retreat you come back down a little and have to work back up. It's like 10 steps forward, 9 steps back. This is an important point that I hadn't really considered when I was doing a lot of retreats- it is not really practical to think that I can maintain the level of practice that I attained by the end of the retreat, but it took me a few retreats to understand and accept that after a course there would be a pretty rapid feeling of regress, which initially was pretty disappointing but now I understand that is just how it goes.

I have heard about conference call retreats that you can do from your home and call in with a teacher and some other students, they usually go a day or through the weekend, or even just a few hours. that may be practical for me- has anyone done anything like that?
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 01:02 #97122

I did a Buddhist Geeks 'online retreat'. I thought it was better than nothing, but nothing like a retreat. Considering the dough, I wouldn't do another except, it does come with an hour a week of solid discussion with the teachers.

I had great expectations about my recent retreat, but what I had to learn didn't have much to do with the goals I went it with. So, I'll be much more careful about how I plan my next retreat.

Matt
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 01:34 #97124

matthew sexton wrote:
I had great expectations about my recent retreat, but what I had to learn didn't have much to do with the goals I went it with. So, I'll be much more careful about how I plan my next retreat.

In my experience that might often be the case... in the same way that the goals we have for where our meditation will take us don't work out according to the script we had in mind :) For what it's worth, I think the main thing that a retreat gives you that you can't get anywhere else, is solidly staying with things that are uncomfortable, without distraction. Derya, it sounds like you have experience with that with your already-existing retreat experience...
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Ona Kiser, Derya Anderson

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 09:58 #97130

every3rd- yes definitely had to deal with some gunky stuff and it was not at all what i expected! In retrospect I can see that it was really purifying, but at the time I was like, "what the h** did I sign up for???" hehe.

So I was thinking, I am having trouble teasing out whether it is maturing or meditation because I feel like I am at a time in my life where a lot of my peers seem to be going through simliar upheavals of their life and the way they think about things- so I am wondering for those of you who are a little older and wiser-- did you happen to notice a way of being that was pretty static for a long time and then after meditation it began to shift? Or am I just being incredibly naiive and do others who are older feel that they are still constantly growing and changing and the 20s aren't more magnanimous in perspective shifts than other decades? I thought of this because a friend of mine related that her 20s were incredibly turbulent and in their 30s things got a "lot better."

Secondly-I wish I could see a bizarro world version of myself- how I would be now in an alternate universe if I never started meditating!
:P
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 10:48 #97132

My question to you, Derya, would be -- does this question matter to your practice? I think it's cool to ponder, like the question of nature or nurture - is "who" we are a product of our upbringing or our DNA? But it's not a practical question with a practical answer. It's person specific and really, really nebulous and nuanced.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jackson, shargrol, every3rdthought

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 10:54 #97133

@Derya - Do you have doubts about whether your practice is working? Would being sure that any changes in behavior are due to meditation, not age, reassure you?

These sorts of questions about our questions are very useful in the long run.

Questions are often worth examining to discover what they are really expressing.

LOL- cross-posted with Chris. Doh.
Last Edit: 14 Jan 2015 10:55 by Ona Kiser.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: shargrol

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 15:59 #97134

@ chris and Ona Hmm- well the topic is something I have often thought about- mostly curiosity as to what other people think. On another level- I do have a little doubt sometimes, more so like what if i am doing is "right" and if I am wasting my time and not really getting anywhere. I think I have a more wholesome and peaceful life now, and I attribute that to meditating but I don't know if it really correlates. I have noticed that if I don't meditate for a little while, I am more reactive- but I still don't know if that is just my subjective view. I guess it doesn't really matter, because at this point there is no way I am going to stop meditating- it's just so integrated into my day-to-day.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen

Is retreat necessary for progress? 14 Jan 2015 16:38 #97135

Practice is life, life is practice....is.
:)
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Derya Anderson

Is retreat necessary for progress? 19 Jan 2015 00:40 #97220

Another thing I noticed recently. I felt like my impending retreat gave me great energy for ramping up my home practice in anticipation of my retreat, and that was an exciting time!
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol

Is retreat necessary for progress? 19 Jan 2015 11:36 #97223

matthew sexton wrote:
Another thing I noticed recently. I felt like my impending retreat gave me great energy for ramping up my home practice in anticipation of my retreat, and that was an exciting time!

I love hearing this. During January of my first serious year of practice, I was gearing up for the possibility of attending a retreat with Ajahn Amaro at a dharma center in Portland. I thought, shit, I better get it together before then so I can really make use of the time and make some progress. So my practice got a boost, and I completed my first progress of insight cycle the next month :lol: Never attended the retreat!
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen
Time to create page: 0.251 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum