Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Dhammabodhi » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:06 pm

Hello,

I am going for my first retreat in the Goenka Vipassana tradition next month at the Dhamma Atala centre in Italy. Since I have been doing Anapanasati practice on my own, without any hands-on guidance, will it be an obstruction or cause difficulties in the retreat? I would appreciate it if people can advise me from their own experience of Goenka retreats.

Any other practical advice, inspiration, wishes and metta are humbly welcomed.

:anjali:
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:40 pm

Dhammabodhi wrote: Since I have been doing Anapanasati practice on my own, without any hands-on guidance, will it be an obstruction or cause difficulties in the retreat?


Not at all, as most of your meditation there will be on your own. There are people available to ask questions, but the instructions are done by video recordings.

Any other practical advice, inspiration, wishes and metta are humbly welcomed.


1. If you can, for about a week before, get up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.


You have to get up even earlier than that at the retreat. When I've talked to other retreat participants after the retreat was over I learned that a number of people slept in, missing large portions of the retreat. Others, who were not used to being up that early, who actually did get up, told me they didn't get much out of that time since they weren't used to functioning at that time of day. It wasn't a picnic for me either, but since I had a job that required me to get up at 5:30 I was able to function decently enough to get use out of that time for meditation.

2. Bring ear plugs with you.

You will hear snoring and all sorts of other noise in the barracks, which may disturb your sleep. Your nervous system will adjust to the silence and you will become even more sensitive to all sorts of noise.

3. Give yourself at least a day between coming home and going back to your job

Like I wrote in number 2, your nervous system will adjust to the silence and the reduction in distracting stimulation. When you leave the retreat you may feel overwhelmed by the noise, lights and distractions of a city. It will clear up fast, but it is nice to have a day or two to adjust on your own.
Last edited by Jhana4 on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:09 pm

I second Jhana4's advices, especialy the one about getting up early. I was inefective in a good part of the retreat because of sleepyness.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:38 pm

Hi Dhammabodhi

Practicing anapana-sati on your own before doing a ten-day course will be of great benefit to you.
I have done a number of 10-day and longer courses under the guidance of SN Goenka.
My advice to you is to merely 'work' as per the instructions you are given and be earnest in your endeavours.
The retreat experience isn't always easy or pleasant and many people experience some physical, mental/emotional difficulties - but they are natural.
Good luck with your course!
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby zavk » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:44 am

Try to minimize expectations. Just take things one step at a time, day to day, moment to moment.

All the best!
With metta,
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:39 pm

Of all the things please follow the tenet of silence to the utmost and go on taking a day at a time.
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:43 am

Thank you all for your suggestions!

Jhana4, your suggestions are brilliant, I will try to implement them!

Ben, are the assistant teachers for the courses ordained monks or just lay practitioners?

:anjali:
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.
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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:00 am

Hi Dhammabodhi,
Dhammabodhi wrote:Ben, are the assistant teachers for the courses ordained monks or just lay practitioners?

The vast majority are lay. However, in Myanmar (at least) there are some bhikkhus who are assistant teachers.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

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Re: Going for my first Goenka Retreat

Postby Dhammabodhi » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:30 am

Thanks Ben. :anjali:
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.
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