Difficult experience at Goenka 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.

Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Sekha » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:46 am

Ben wrote:Over the last few years, the way I've worked my retreats has been to convert all of my break times to time in the cell so that apart from 30 minutes for breakfast and lunch, it is an undisturbed period from 4.30AM to 6PM in the cell for meditation.


how do you deal with digestion, then?

I need to have a walk after the lunch, and to lie down for at least 5 minutes about 45 min after eating in order to get my stomach settled. Otherwise I feel very drowsy and my digestion can get perturbed.

or is it that you eat so little you already got everything digested within 30 min?
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:16 am

Hi Dukkhanirodha

I eat very little. Breakfast is a cup of herbal tea and maybe two pieces of toast. Lunch is just a very small portion. I eat less in one day than I would normally have in one meal. If you're not moving, you're not burning calories and if I get hungry - its just another sensation. Eating less means that I have a clearer mind during retreat.
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Sekha » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:49 am

Ben wrote:I eat very little. Breakfast is a cup of herbal tea and maybe two pieces of toast. Lunch is just a very small portion. I eat less in one day than I would normally have in one meal. If you're not moving, you're not burning calories and if I get hungry - its just another sensation. Eating less means that I have a clearer mind during retreat.


But do you loose weight during the course?

my problem is over time (last several years) I'm getting ever skinnier, it begins to freak me a little bit.

For example I spent one month in Dhammagiri (Goenka's one) last summer, reducing my food intake and since then my cheeks have become hollow (which had never happened before) and they're not getting back to what they were previously.

Besides the constant remarks I get all the time from everyone, this is not very easy for me in my job as I work with teenagers.
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:16 pm

Hi Dukkhanirodha,

Sometimes I loose weight. Weight loss isn;t my objective during a course.
With regards to your weight loss, I recommend that you get some advice from your doctor or get a referral to a dietitian. Perhaps you already have.
I wish you all the best with your practice!
metta

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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:23 pm

I wanted to pop in and offer a comment for those who experience the phenomenon of awaking unable to move and experiencing what seem to be hallucinations. This is known as sleep paralysis or hypnagogic experience, and has been linked to anomalous behavior of the temporal lobes. Basically you're awake but the body is not, so you're still in a dream state and unable to move. Google it and read about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis

Actually per usual Wikepedia has a lot of specious information on it but gives the basic idea.

I know quite a bit about it because I have experienced these very intensely since I was a small child and continue to do so, though not as frequently, to this day. I wake up and see people in the room with me, sometimes not human entities, quite often standing around my bed looking at me. Used to scare the living crap out of me. Then one day I began talking to them and I wasn't scared of them any more. :lol:

I don't thing the hypnagogic event has anything to do with meditation artifacts as it occurs during the waking portion of sleep. But if it occurs during meditation it might be very interesting to investigate, as apparently according to brain scans, the temporal lobe is affected by long-term meditation.

Which makes me wonder--speculatively of course--are those entities really imaginary--or does the temporal lobe act as a "flashlight" enabling us to sometimes see the denizens of the other realms?

J
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Sekha » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:01 pm

Bubbabuddhist wrote:Basically you're awake but the body is not, so you're still in a dream state and unable to move.



could it be lucid dreaming?

It has a tendency to happen to me during vipassana courses
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:36 am

Ben, thank you for your kind and warm response. Trust me, the male manager did not scare me off, I am hooked! (In a non-attached way, of course.)
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:48 am

Great to hear it Monkey Mind!
metta

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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:02 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
Bubbabuddhist wrote:Basically you're awake but the body is not, so you're still in a dream state and unable to move.



could it be lucid dreaming?

It has a tendency to happen to me during vipassana courses


no thats quite a different yet pretty common experience.
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Freawaru » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:44 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
Bubbabuddhist wrote:Basically you're awake but the body is not, so you're still in a dream state and unable to move.



could it be lucid dreaming?

It has a tendency to happen to me during vipassana courses


Are you sure it isn't astral projection? It has a lot of similarities to lucid dreaming but is not exactly the same state. It is what one usually reaches via meditation techniques rather than lucid dream. Some enter it rather naturally.
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Freawaru » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:50 am

Bubbabuddhist wrote:
Which makes me wonder--speculatively of course--are those entities really imaginary--or does the temporal lobe act as a "flashlight" enabling us to sometimes see the denizens of the other realms?

J


I don't know. I have heard arguments for and against both theories. But I do think that in past times experiences like these were regarded as a door to different realms indeed.
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Ben » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:11 am

Anyway...
time to get back on topic ladies and gentlemen!
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Freawaru » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:50 am

Ben wrote:Anyway...
time to get back on topic ladies and gentlemen!
kind regards

Ben


Hi Ben,

thought we were. After all, body scan Goenka style techniques are like some hatha yoga exercises or "energy work" as Robert Bruce calls it. The Tibetans also call it "energy". It is well known that these techniques lead to astral projection and other "astral" phenomena as remote sight (third eye) and remote hearing (hearing things from near and afar) as well as seeing (hearing etc) beings of light and so on.

I would say it doesn't come as a surprise when the same techniques lead to the same experiences.

What surprises me more is that in the Visuddhimagga these experiences are linked to visual objects (kasina, nimitta) rather than to the tactile ones. In Hatha yoga (both Hindu as well as Tibetan) the tactile elements are often linked to colors (white, red, gold, etc). Is there a direct connection between the tactile and the visual? Or are all senses interconnected in this way, and some practitioners simply tend more to one sense and others to another?
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Re: Difficult experience at Goenka retreat

Postby Sekha » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:00 pm

Freawaru wrote:What surprises me more is that in the Visuddhimagga these experiences are linked to visual objects (kasina, nimitta) rather than to the tactile ones. In Hatha yoga (both Hindu as well as Tibetan) the tactile elements are often linked to colors (white, red, gold, etc). Is there a direct connection between the tactile and the visual? Or are all senses interconnected in this way, and some practitioners simply tend more to one sense and others to another?



meditate...

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