ardacigin

Why I Don't Recommend Beginners To Attend Mainstream Vipassana Retreats

24 posts in this topic

Vipassana was great for me. I think if you can do 1 hour "do nothing" without moving you are ready to go there, so a retreat is going to be beneficial.

You also need to like challenges and living in a commune to enjoy it.

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, Freakyboo said:

I agree with some aspects of the OP, such as the long hours for beginners - this can become very gruelling and it can become increasingly difficult and annoying when you hear the bell at 4am to get up.

Having done 7 Vipassana's (and they were my introduction to real meditation) years ago, the best part was always the  10 days of silence, which I think was more of a motivator for me to continue attending than even the meditation itself.  By the 7th day I would  be bathing in the silence and coming back to speaking was always difficult and jarring.

 In my experience, you were allowed times to speak with the teachers every day at set times - it is not true that the silence was absolute with no questions to teachers.

Vipassana in my experience is certainly not as effective a technique as Advaita or Tantra techniques and it did not lead to me meditating daily, but the retreats themselves taught me what inner silence feels like and probably the biggest thing I learnt was that all suffering is only the reaction to a sensation in the body.  Sitting for long periods and experiencing pain eventually turned to simply sensation and that realisation has stayed with me since.

You can also choose to serve others and cook/clean up rather than meditate and that is also a beneficial experience.

Contrast to your first retreat, how were your latest ones? Have you experienced the difference of skilled perspective and beginner perspective one gets as I've described in the post? A retreat is fundamentally VERY different for various skill levels. Understanding that difference and working towards more growth per retreat must be a meditator's overarching strategy. That is what I've wanted to say in this article. 

Edited by ardacigin

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Posted (edited)

Just 1 hour of sitting? But that is not the issue. Most meditators do 1-hour sessions as a daily practice. The challenge is doing 1 hour sessions 10-12 times back to back with little to no breaks in 24 hours. Just doing 1 hour do nothing doesn't prepare you for this marathon challenge. If you want to have serious awakening experiences by utilizing the intensity in retreats, you need to be comfortable with doing long sits back to back. If you train yourself like this, THEN you will REALLY be ready for retreat practice.

This must be one's challenge:

'If I can do 60 mins sits back to back (with breaks like a retreat) 10 times in cross legged posture, AND go through the most of the sits with little to no suffering, high concentration, awareness and equanimity, THEN I'm ready for a retreat. 

If I can do this 1 day, then I can do 10 days back to back and have A LOT of growth in this retreat.'

That must be your metric for skilled retreat practice. You are still talking about the beginner training metric.

 

Edited by ardacigin

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I agree with you, did a 10-day vipassana retreat when i was a beginner and it was 80% hellish, so much physical and emotional pain almost all the time. Had some cool blissful moments but it was rare and when i came out of there i suffered a huge ego backlash that made me anxious, depressed and i couldn't meditate for months. 

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