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TOPIC: Retreat aversion: when to push

Retreat aversion: when to push 06 Sep 2013 22:52 #14639

So I've been meditating for ~1.5 yrs and doing insight exclusively since last November. My practice is currently 2 widely spaced sits of ~1 hr each. I have done several half day retreats at home, alternating walking and sitting, but almost always end up hating meditation by the last sit. I just get into this zombie state where the only reason I'm meditating is because I agreed with myself to do it for half a day. The one time when I actually enjoyed more than 2 sits a day is when the power went out and I alternated meditating for an hour with reading whatever I wanted for an hour.

So is that general aversion to being in a meditative state for more than 1 hr at a time something I should push beyond? I'm mostly OK with my "progress" on the path of insight though it seems like I've been in varying degrees of EQ since May with a few fall backs that usually don't last more than a day or several days and usually come with a subsequent deepening of my experience in EQ. But sometimes I just wonder when the whole thing is going to be over with and whether sitting a Goenka would lead to more insight.

So have you done retreats? Were they important to your progress on the path of insight or for your awakening? Am I missing something by not pushing through my aversion to sitting a retreat? Also, are there any teachers who are honest about their aversion to retreats besides Brad Warner?

I'm not currently working with any teacher and have pretty much done KFD mahamudra noting to get wherever the heck I am currently. Thanks for any replies.

--Kirk
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The following user(s) said Thank You: every3rdthought

Retreat aversion: when to push 07 Sep 2013 01:34 #14645

Hi Kirk, nice to meet you-

there's a thread somewhere where we had a lengthy discussion of retreats, but I can't find it right now... everyone's opinions differ quite a lot. For me retreat practice was really important, but I don't think it's necessary for the Progress of Insight (model) to take place.

Some will say that the negativity you may experience doing extended practice may be related to 3 Characteristics or Dukkha Nanas stages, and certainly this was my experience, although retreats (at least, the kind I've done, where you're basically expected to practice 24/7) would be hard in any case just because of the actual circumstances,

I had my biggest A&P moment on retreat, and hit second path in semi-retreat, and I think retreats taught me to stay with suffering in a way nothing else could have. But they can also be difficult, particularly if you have any mental health issues (depression/anxiety, etc). As I said, my two cents is that they're not necessary for Progress of Insight, but there's no way I would take back the retreat practice I've done, nor do I see it as unnecessary for my path, and I think I learnt things doing it that I couldn'tve learnt any other way (but they were at times very hard lessons).
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Kirk

Retreat aversion: when to push 07 Sep 2013 06:55 #14647

I tried searching but can't find the thread either. If I recall there was a more or less equal split of people who had and not done retreats, and it didn't correlate with whether they'd made good progress or not. Some people like the discipline and time away from their routine, others don't have the time or interest and just sit at home once a day.

My experience is meditating more tends to intensify whatever stuff is coming up - pleasant or unpleasant - in practice, but not necessarily make it "go faster." Just go more intensely. Paying good attention to what's coming up in your existing practice - such as noting boredom, frustration, aversion, sleepiness or whatever else is going on - is how you make good use of the sessions you have, whether you are sitting once a day or six hours a day. The bored/frustrated/aversive phases come and go. Part of the process. Walk into the feelings and explore how they manifest in the body, how they trigger thoughts, how they shift and change, arise and pass. Then you get good work out of what's presenting itself.

Good luck!
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The following user(s) said Thank You: dharmandy, Kirk

Retreat aversion: when to push 07 Sep 2013 08:22 #14649

Hi Kirk, I picked up early on a belief that you had to go to retreats to be doing it right. So even though I had a terrible time with them for awhile, starting with just worrying about the fact that I wasn't doing them for 3 or 4 years, I was driven by the beliefs I got to keep trying to the point where I could rough them out, and then finally had some of the really nice experiences that likely were DK going to EQ and getting into jhanas. After that I just kind of expected that if I sat through some hard stuff I'd get to the good stuff. Maybe more importantly it gave me some tastes of surrender and letting go. I regard that as all valuable experience that I had to go through but I don't know how to evaluate it in terms of awakening. I never got any enlightenment experiences I hoped for from retreats. Lately, I've been feeling like I'd love to do one again just for a chance to give most of my time and a lot of that kind of attention to some of the things I'm interested to look into more in my practice right now. Interested to hear what you discover!
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Kirk

Retreat aversion: when to push 07 Sep 2013 08:56 #14651

Kirk wrote:
I have done several half day retreats at home, alternating walking and sitting, but almost always end up hating meditation by the last sit.

Honestly, the only thing you need to do right now is work on whatever it takes to not hate meditation by this last sit on a half day retreat. It really makes no sense to do a multi-day retreat if a half day retreat isn't going well.

You could of course, go on a longer retreat, but there are no guarantees on how it would turn out. My best and worst experiences have been on retreat, the worst one was probably due to pushing -- which is my motivation for replying.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Kirk

Retreat aversion: when to push 07 Sep 2013 14:08 #14665

I'm not sure I agree with Shargol, but then my raison d'etre for meditation and the process of doing so is way different than others... There was a retreat for me earlier this summer that seems as though it was invaluable in allowing me the time to observe some sensations in my gut (which were only a mind/body thing, even though I had periods and aspects of 3 characteristics and probably would have said I was working on my cutting edge being at the 3C's). And it wasn't a pleasant thing to do at all, but knowing that I had so much time with which to address them made it bearable, or rather the sensations acceptable, because in normal life they would have been very disruptive and concerning since it felt like I was letting myself die with a cold invisible hand reaching into my gut and clenching, sucking all my life away.

I think it might make a difference if you know you have plenty a time to come to terms with any negative complexes in your sits
Last Edit: 07 Sep 2013 14:09 by Femtosecond.
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