self retreat

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

self retreat

Postby befriend » Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:40 pm

i practice the noting of in and out breathing taught in the mahasi sayadaw method. if i were to meditate for a day or 2 as a self retreat, how would i set up my time schedule, meaning how much walking to sitting would i do, this question is for people that practice this method. thanks, metta befriend i also would practice some brahma vihara bhavana.
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Re: self retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:39 pm

Hi Befriend,

The usual approach would be to alternate walking and sitting.
I start by alternating 30 minutes walking 30 minutes sitting, and build up to 1 hour walking, 1 hour sitting after a day or two.

In a communal situation you need to work this around meals and so on. If I'm at my local Wat we have morning Chanting 6:30-7:00, then 30 minutes group meditation, then breakfast.
Lunch at about 11:00.
Evening Chanting at 6.
Discuss what I've been experiencing with one of the monks at about 7:00.
To fit in with that, I usually get up at either 4 or 5 and go to bed at about 9:30 or 10:00.

If I were doing it completely solo, I would probably make use of something like Patrick Kearney's retreat recording: http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html which generally have a morning instruction/discussion and an evening talk.

On the first day I sometimes use metta for the sitting meditation to build concentration and settle down. After that I would do it at the end of the day.

:anjali:
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Re: self retreat

Postby befriend » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:58 pm

thanks mike, do you practice the mahasi method?
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Re: self retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:16 pm

befriend wrote:thanks mike, do you practice the mahasi method?

Yes, that's my main approach. It's what the monks at our Wat teach (though, of course, they are happy to discuss other approaches...).

If you look around the internet you'll find some Wats that have particular schedules:
http://saddhamma.org/html/daily-retreat-schedule.shtml
and others that are more free-form:
http://www.dhammathai.org/e/meditation/page30.php

:anjali:
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Re: self retreat

Postby befriend » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:31 pm

cool, thanks.
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Re: self retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:38 pm

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Re: self retreat

Postby befriend » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:25 pm

is it ok to alternate between vipassana and brahma viharas? like 30 minutes vipassana, 30 minutes metta etc....
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Re: self retreat

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:37 pm

befriend wrote:is it ok to alternate between vipassana and brahma viharas? like 30 minutes vipassana, 30 minutes metta etc....

I think a self-retreat without metta meditation would be a hard thing indeed!

A semi-steady cycle of 30 minutes walking meditation, followed by 30-45 minutes sitting meditation, bookended on both sides by metta meditation is a great schedule. Just remember to not overdo it; even two or three days can burn you out if you don't compassionately examine your limits and work within them.

Wish you the best!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: self retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:26 pm

Hi befriend,

As LonesomeYogurt says, a little metta will make things easier. The normal advice would be to just stick with the normal sitting/walking once you are comfortable with it. That's because the brahmaviharas are a conceptual sort of meditation, which is somewhat contradictory to the aim of simply noticing the arising of all phenomena. However, metta can be extremely useful, especially if this is your first attempt at a retreat.

This short description of Mahasi-style retreat practice might be helpful:
http://www.buddhanet.net/imol/retreat.htm
Here http://www.buddhanet.net/imol/retreat/retreat08.htm Ven Pannyavaro notes:
13. The Support of Loving-kindness Meditation

Once the meditator is well established in the basics of Vipassana meditation, Loving-kindness meditation (metta bhavana) can be used to support the more challenging vipassana practice. While this is switching meditation modes to a concentration-based practice, its benefit is that it uplifts and sweetens the mind and helps the meditator to cope with negative emotions that they are not yet able to deal with in their vipassana practice.

Having cultivated sufficient loving-kindness to overcome negative states of mind, the meditator can then switch back to the vipassana mode of meditation. Investigating the particular characteristic of the mind state that was induced from loving-kindness meditation is in effect the reverting back to the insight mode.
...


One thing that my (and all other) teachers emphasise is to maintain continuity. Think of the whole day as the meditation time, and pay careful attention as you change from sitting to walking, and vice versa. Pay careful attention when eating, and so on. Don't fall into an attitude that you should "strive" while walking and sitting, then "relax" in between. The continuity is very important.

:anjali:
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Re: self retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:42 pm

Also, don't be too hard on yourself if you have some problems. Practising alone for an extended period is extremely difficult, particularly if you have not had some personal instruction, or done a retreat before. You might consider working up your time. E.g. do an afternoon, then a day, then two days. That way you'd be able to consider what happened and be better prepared for longer periods.

Metta...
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