Author Topic: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat  (Read 100300 times)

DJ Shaka

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TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« on: February 04, 2010, 04:41:12 AM »
This is such an irresponsable and dangerous retreat. I can't believe this CRAPOLA. This Goenka guy is an idiot.

I was ready to take on Vipassana to help me be more disciplined and peaceful. I previously read Mindfulness In Plain English and practiced some meditation here and there and always felt good afterwards.

I went to this retreat after viewing several videos in YouTube. Seeing how big this organization was and how the website always came first in Google I decided to give it a chance, even though I always had a bad vibe and feeling coming from this organization.

I lasted 7 days before finally running away. During those 7 days I never felt good, never, not even for a minute. I felt like I was buried alive and couldn't do anything. I cried many times. During the stupid body scan technique I had extremely disturbing images popping up in my head. I almost had a panic attack. I had strong anxiety. I felt that this retreat literally friked up my mind.

How can this be good? How can this be responsible? The mind is something very serious and should be treated gently.

Meditation is NOT supposed to be a "brain surgery" as Goenka says, nor it's supposed to be dangerous to leave in the middle of a retreat.

There is tremendous social pressure to finish the course no matter what. "It's part of the process" they say. Excuse me? How is feeling extremely bad, having a lot of anxiety and having very disturbing images popping in your head (even during the non-meditation times) part of mindfulness meditation?

This method can easily cause trauma and damage to people's minds. I am so mad at this guy and this RELIGIOUS SECT. It's a sect and it's not scientific whatsoever.

Please stay away from it even if you've read that people had good experiences. I for one am mentally healthy and had a terrible experience.

If you want to meditate, start gradually at your home, please. I do not recommend this kind of torture and I'm feeling very bad right now. Don't go even if you're going through a tough moment in life.

Some encouraging words would be greatly appreciated. I need your help please.

And don't even try to defend this Goenka organization because you don't know what I'm going through right now.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 02:48:48 PM by Matthew »

Crystal Palace

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2010, 08:14:41 AM »
DJ Shaka,

The retreat is neither irresponsible nor is it dangerous if you practice correctly. You might have had a different experience, but for me it was very fruitful.


If you think the technique is not good for you, practise freely any other technique that you find suitable. But please don't brazenly run down the technique in this manner.


And I do think that you need to practice a lot more calm-abiding meditation or Shamatha before you start vipassana.

Quote
I am so mad at this guy
I do not recommend this kind of torture and I'm feeling very bad right now.

Here's my suggestion:

Now you are feeling really bad, and angry at this person and the technique,so use this oppurtunity to develop tolerance and compassion towards him and his technique. This way, you will be able to utilize this anger into constructive anger. And everytime the rotten memories of the course come to your mind, give the guy metta for he has given you a wonderful oppurtunity to generate compassion and tolerance. This way, you will be grateful you went on the 'dreaded' course  :)

Best,
Crystal Palace



"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

mik1e

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2010, 09:46:11 AM »
DJ Shaka,

I would say that you were totally unprepared for such kind of retreat or you were unlucky enough to meet with bad combination of circumstances.

You see, during such kind of collective practices, strong collective fields are generated. And if your body and energy system are not pure and strong enough, you have just the bad experience as you described. In good case (when you meditate with experience practitioners) the collective field may literally burn you, but this is good, because it burns the dirtiness in your mind and body.

There is also a probability that you were incompatible with specific collective field which was created by other participants. In this case I would propose you to sit in the last row, so you were not covered by the cloud of collective energy.

pamojjam

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2010, 10:43:27 AM »
Hi Shaka,

I'm sorry to hear about you're bad first Goenka retreat experience and totally agree that the social pressure - all this talk how you would harm yourself by leaving earlier, or that only weak minded people couldn't complete such a course - are hurtful indeed, or completely superfluous at the least.

I would like to try to explain - not justify - why such bad course experiences do occur to a few first-time participants specifically at Goenka courses:

These retreats are intentionally fashioned - by depriving one of usual social contacts and temporal limitation of food much like in a prison (though Tihar jail prisoners would assess their jail more comfortable than these courses!), for some the terrible chanting is already enough to get in rage - to provoke the worst emotional reactions in participants for them to learn not to get caught up and get out on the other side more happier. So if you would - for example - really be taken hostage, or had a fatal disease diagnosis in real life - you wouldn't struggle but be enabled to smile despite such possible adversities.

If this retreat format works for someone, she or he will be able to die peacefully. That's why there are those who indeed feel only gratefulness for this guy, you call an idiot now.

Due to our different makeup we all bring to these course it can't work for everyone - as in your case - and as it is the case with any meditation techniques not adjusted to such differences.

Quote
This method can easily cause trauma and damage to people's minds

I have repeatedly witnessed how first time student came out mentally imbalanced (in more detail). However, never with participants who continued this practice and came to more courses. Therefore, I don't believe the method itself is creating trauma, but is very able to re-traumatize.

That's why I wished the AT's at Goenka courses would be more experienced and had some basic emotional/mental emergencies handling skills..


People are people and sometime do really hurtful things out of ignorance.

What you could do now is to be kind with these remaining hurt, appreciate where it is coming from, see what it is doing and how far it's really yours.


best wishes..


Matthew

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2010, 11:22:36 AM »
D J Shaka,

You are not alone in having experienced a bad retreat and also Goenka is not alone in having faults (and you are not alone in being aware of these faults).

I'm glad you empowered yourself by leaving after 7 days. Other people have similar experiences with different organisation, it should be noted, however I feel for you.

This is such an irresponsable and dangerous retreat. I can't believe this shit. This Goenka guy is an idiot.

I'm not sure I would agree an idiot yet I do have serious reservations about his teachings and method.

I was ready to take on Vipassana to help me be more disciplined and peaceful. I previously read Mindfulness In Plain English and practiced some meditation here and there and always felt good afterwards.

That's a good start. Let's get back to that. Your anger over Goenka is a poison to you and you only if you examine it. This is one form of Karma, the immediate results of your state of mind.

I went to this retreat after viewing several videos in YouTube. Seeing how big this organization was and how the website always came first in Google I decided to give it a chance, even though I always had a bad vibe and feeling coming from this organization.

Should have trusted your bones brother.

I lasted 7 days before finally running away. During those 7 days I never felt good, never, not even for a minute. I felt like I was buried alive and couldn't do anything. I cried many times. During the stupid body scan technique I had extremely disturbing images popping up in my head. I almost had a panic attack. I had strong anxiety. I felt that this retreat literally friked up my mind.

Well it probably hurt a bit so I recommend getting back to Shamatha meditation plain and simple. But not Anapana at the nose as Bhante Gunuratana describes. Do is as described here: http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,674.msg5302.html#msg5302


How can this be good? How can this be responsible? The mind is something very serious and should be treated gently.

Meditation is NOT supposed to be a "brain surgery" as Goenka says, nor it's supposed to be dangerous to leave in the middle of a retreat.

Some people find Goenka's technique helpful. Less than 2% return to do a second retreat with the Goenka organisation, however. The idea it is dangerous is in some ways real. You have been left with much unresolved anger and somehow you need to transform this for example. For some the hangover has been worse, suicides and hospitalisations. Goenka's organisation is not alone in having people have "bad retreat" experiences.

If I were you I'd try and put the energy of the anger into practice.

There is tremendous social pressure to finish the course no matter what. "It's part of the process" they say. Excuse me? How is feeling extremely bad, having a lot of anxiety and having very disturbing images popping in your head (even during the non-meditation times) part of mindfulness meditation?

This pressure is cultist. Sitting down with another adult and discussing reasonably what is going on without dogma or "company lines" is helpful in these circumstances but I doubt that's the norm.

This method can easily cause trauma and damage to people's minds. I am so mad at this guy and this RELIGIOUS SECT. It's a sect and it's not scientific whatsoever.

I would agree that the organisation displays cultist aspects and that these are worrisome to me.

Please stay away from it even if you've read that people had good experiences. I for one am mentally healthy and had a terrible experience.

As I said for some it works but I think your next advice is a better place for a beginner for sure than a Goenka retreat:

If you want to meditate, start gradually at your home, please.

Read this for an explanation of Shamatha practice. The place to start.

I do not recommend this kind of torture and I'm feeling very bad right now. Don't go even if you're going through a tough moment in life.Some encouraging words would be greatly appreciated. I need your help please.

And don't even try to defend this Goenka organization because you don't know what I'm going through right now.

I do think I understand a little of what you're going through. Myself I have been a vocal opponent of Goenka's system for the reasons you describe and because of flaws in the technique. Where above I have said some benefit from these retreats that is an accurate reflection of people's experiences. Myself, I don't think the method is valid, the implementation good or the organisation benign. Goenka is a guru who teaches rich business executives for fat paycheques. And his method clearly doesn't work very well or there would be enough people to teach it, and no need for whining 20 year old VHS cassettes.

Welcome to the forums. Try and sit quietly at home, relax - and get over the anger.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Crystal Palace

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2010, 01:14:25 PM »

Goenka is a guru who teaches rich business executives for fat paycheques.



False.
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

DJ Shaka

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2010, 03:31:56 PM »
The retreat is neither irresponsible nor is it dangerous if you practice correctly.

With all due respect, you don't know this.

It CAN be dangerous even if practiced correctly (prove me wrong with an accurate scientific explanation of the brain) and it IS irresponsible to say that it is not dangerous after all the bad experiences people have had with the course.

But please don't brazenly run down the technique in this manner.

I will stop calling him an idiot, but I will warn people about this.

Here's my suggestion:

Now you are feeling really bad, and angry at this person and the technique,so use this oppurtunity to develop tolerance and compassion towards him and his technique. This way, you will be able to utilize this anger into constructive anger. And everytime the rotten memories of the course come to your mind, give the guy metta for he has given you a wonderful oppurtunity to generate compassion and tolerance. This way, you will be grateful you went on the 'dreaded' course  :)

I'm not really mad anymore, I am worried. I'm having anxiety and trouble sleeping and my mind is not focused at all. Disturbing images are popping up in my head also.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 03:32:14 PM by DJ Shaka »

DJ Shaka

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2010, 03:39:46 PM »
DJ Shaka,

I would say that you were totally unprepared for such kind of retreat or you were unlucky enough to meet with bad combination of circumstances.

You see, during such kind of collective practices, strong collective fields are generated. And if your body and energy system are not pure and strong enough, you have just the bad experience as you described. In good case (when you meditate with experience practitioners) the collective field may literally burn you, but this is good, because it burns the dirtiness in your mind and body.

There is also a probability that you were incompatible with specific collective field which was created by other participants. In this case I would propose you to sit in the last row, so you were not covered by the cloud of collective energy.

Collective field? Sitting in the last row? Are you serious?

I'm sorry but I don't believe in that.

DJ Shaka

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 03:44:07 PM »
These retreats are intentionally fashioned - by depriving one of usual social contacts and temporal limitation of food much like in a prison (though Tihar jail prisoners would assess their jail more comfortable than these courses!), for some the terrible chanting is already enough to get in rage - to provoke the worst emotional reactions in participants for them to learn not to get caught up and get out on the other side more happier.

And this is exactly why it's dangerous.

I have repeatedly witnessed how first time student came out mentally imbalanced (in more detail). However, never with participants who continued this practice and came to more courses. Therefore, I don't believe the method itself is creating trauma, but is very able to re-traumatize.

What do you mean by that?

DJ Shaka

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 04:08:06 PM »
That's a good start. Let's get back to that. Your anger over Goenka is a poison to you and you only if you examine it. This is one form of Karma, the immediate results of your state of mind.

I'm not angry anymore but I don't feel good. I'm having anxiety and my mind is disturbed. My heart rate goes fast. My body is shaky. I'm having trouble sleeping.

Should have trusted your bones brother.

I know man. I always felt the method was wrong but decided to give it a chance until I literally freaked out on day 7.

The whole method doesn't make sense anyway. Training the mind to be unreactive must be done gradually.

Also this "brain surgery" thing and opening your subconscious mind so that fears come to the surface and you can erradicate them is religious blind faith at its best.

The idea that scanning your body will open up your subsconcious so that samkaras (or whatever) can rise up is laughable.

Well it probably hurt a bit so I recommend getting back to Shamatha meditation plain and simple. But not Anapana at the nose as Bhante Gunuratana describes. Do is as described here: http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,674.msg5302.html#msg5302

Will do.

Some people find Goenka's technique helpful. Less than 2% return to do a second retreat with the Goenka organisation, however. The idea it is dangerous is in some ways real. You have been left with much unresolved anger and somehow you need to transform this for example. For some the hangover has been worse, suicides and hospitalisations. Goenka's organisation is not alone in having people have "bad retreat" experiences.

If I were you I'd try and put the energy of the anger into practice.

Like I said above, my last problem right now is anger.

This pressure is cultist. Sitting down with another adult and discussing reasonably what is going on without dogma or "company lines" is helpful in these circumstances but I doubt that's the norm.

Exactly.

I would agree that the organisation displays cultist aspects and that these are worrisome to me.

Very worrisome.

I do think I understand a little of what you're going through. Myself I have been a vocal opponent of Goenka's system for the reasons you describe and because of flaws in the technique. Where above I have said some benefit from these retreats that is an accurate reflection of people's experiences. Myself, I don't think the method is valid, the implementation good or the organisation benign. Goenka is a guru who teaches rich business executives for fat paycheques. And his method clearly doesn't work very well or there would be enough people to teach it, and no need for whining 20 year old VHS cassettes.

It's not a matter of thinking if the method is valid or good or safe. It's not safe, this is a FACT, as evidenced by my experience and the experience of those ending up in hospitals and commiting suicide.

Period.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 04:17:34 PM by DJ Shaka »

pamojjam

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 07:38:46 PM »
Some people find Goenka's technique helpful. Less than 2% return to do a second retreat with the Goenka organisation, however.

Matthew, where did you get this percentage?

Because according to statistical numbers published by Igatpuri itself in 1997 - after about 30 years of such courses being offered - of around 200.000 first time participants about 20.000 came back to a second course, which are 10%. And according to a personal message, in the west allegedly 15% have returned.

Goenka's organisation is not alone in having people have "bad retreat" experiences.

It's not a matter of thinking if the method is valid or good or safe. It's not safe, this is a FACT, as evidenced by my experience and the experience of those ending up in hospitals and commiting suicide.

Period.

Shaka, I understand that you now have made up your mind, view this the way you do and I'm not intent on convincing you otherwise. Likewise, there are many others who have benefited from these courses, therefore have their particular view and couldn't be convinced otherwise either. Why is it so difficult to respect each others decision after having given a particular method a trial and simply have the integrity to agree to disagree in this point?

Is it really laughable? - Only because you can't imaging how anyone could ever overcome deeply rooted anxiety, anger and disturbances of mind by quietly observing their nature of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-ownership?

After having come across a number of first-time students having been hurt, I asked various western Vipassana teachers of different Vipassana methods. They all knew of this problem of meditators going off balance, the difficulty to spot this early enough so they could be prevented to go any deeper in meditation, or if necessary, being immediately brought into psychiatric care.

Therefore this isn't a trademark of only Goenka's Vipassana at all, but as much common in any other Vipassana tradition. One hears of this much more often from Goenka retreats, since they offer almost hundred 10-day retreats at any given time all around the world. No other Vipassana tradition gives such easy access to hundred-tousands for participating in such serious retreats.

The idea that scanning your body will open up your subsconcious so that samkaras (or whatever) can rise up is laughable.

Well, I believe many who have done body-related therapy could confirm that in one's postures, tensions - the tissues of this very physical body - indeed past experience, or unluckily, traumas, have been stored.

And many who have done energy work could confirm that by concentration on one small spot on the body energy is building up there. - You don't just scan, you drive this accumulated energy through your bodies blockages, natural defenses against past trauma, and simply blow them up!

The results of this could be just how you describe your bad retreat experience.

These retreats are intentionally fashioned - by depriving one of usual social contacts and temporal limitation of food much like in a prison (though Tihar jail prisoners would assess their jail more comfortable than these courses!), for some the terrible chanting is already enough to get in rage - to provoke the worst emotional reactions in participants for them to learn not to get caught up and get out on the other side more happier.

And this is exactly why it's dangerous.

Or beneficial. Where those benefiting are still the majority compared to those harmed. Leaving aside the vast majority for whom it doesn't do anything.

I have repeatedly witnessed how first time student came out mentally imbalanced (in more detail). However, never with participants who continued this practice and came to more courses. Therefore, I don't believe the method itself is creating trauma, but is very able to re-traumatize.

What do you mean by that?
[/quote]

If the method would create trauma, those who have done most of such retreats would be the one's most traumatized. But I encountered only such who have been seriously harmed by a first retreat only. Therefore something else at work seems much more plausble.

But as I said, I don't want to convince you of something which is unthinkable to you: that your anxiety, which is disturbing you so much now, wasn't created but has only been unearthed through this, sometime too powerful, method.

kind regards..

DJ Shaka

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2010, 08:23:22 PM »
I understand that lots of people have benefited from these retreats.

My point is that the mind is a very serious thing and even if most people benefit from Goenka the fact remains that there is a small percentage that are damaged by it, therefore I do not support these intense retreats and would rather have people start meditating in a gradual manner.

There's no need for these intense retreats and definitely no need for extreme rules and cultish environment. If people are having problems in their life there are better and safer ways to handle them.

I have nothing against mindfulness meditation.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 09:22:44 PM by DJ Shaka »

pamojjam

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2010, 09:33:20 PM »
Quote
... but I will warn people about this.
Quote
If someone is having problems in their life there are better and safer ways to handle them.

Absolutely true. Though I can't help and also mention the various advantages of such retreats, in personal conversations with persons willing to do their first and enquiring about it, I always also point to this danger of emotional difficulties - maybe only latent but somehow sensed - becoming greatly aggravated.

Quote
.. therefore I do not support these intense retreats and would rather have people start meditating in a gradual manner.

There's no need for these intense retreats and definitely no need for extreme rules and cultish environment.

Well, everyone is different. And for my own practice extented periods of solitary retreats very not only absolutely necessary (before retreats I simply wouldn't keep daily sittings up), but such a huge gain (in being able to let go).

However, there is a third alternative to harsh Goenka retreats or starting with daily sittings alone:

There is a growing number of western Vipassana teacher with much a gentler approach in their retreats, which additionally often have experience with emotional emergencies through a psychological profession in daily live.
Then their are IMC's, meditation centers of the teacher of Goenka, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Though teaching almost the same method, they do it much more gentler and with less rigidy on rules (for example: no group sittings where you're not allowed to move your possture, hands or eyes; no recommended 'slightly' hard breathing during difficulties with distractions, instead your asked to relax and go for a walk instead).

DJ Shaka

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2010, 12:54:15 AM »
Oh man I've been reading a lot of goenka reviews today and I'm definitely not alone.

I could write a huge essay explaining why these goenka retreats are dangerous, wrong, religious, faith based, deceitful, cults, etc, but I really need to let this go.

I do want to clarify that I am aware that Goenka's intentions are probably good and that meditation retreats, IF DONE CORRECTLY, can be totally safe and beneficial to people.

This will be my last post to this thread.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 05:51:15 PM by DJ Shaka »

Matthew

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2010, 11:28:09 AM »
I could write a huge essay explaining why these goenka retreats are dangerous, wrong, religious, faith based, deceitful, cults, etc, but I really need to let this go.

That's the healthiest thing for you - learn your lessons and move on, keep up the practice.

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Jhananda

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2010, 02:10:37 PM »
Hello DJ Shaka, I am sorry that you had such a negative experience at a Goenka retreat, but then I too had a negative experience there and it was after practicing meditation daily for 25 years.  And with now more than 3 decades of daily meditation practice, and having studied the earliest literature of Buddhism as a linguist, I can say the organization and its leaders have a very poor understanding of what the Buddha most likely taught. 

I also agree with you that meditation should really be developed through a gradual process of daily practice and not coercively in a boot camp-like setting, which typifies the Goenka meditation retreat model.  So, I applaud you in leaving the retreat.  Now, go back to the cushion and practice meditation again and again, and know that skillful meditation indeed takes you through your mind, which might just be as difficult as you experienced at that retreat, but might not.  But, ultimately meditation is supposed to liberate one, fill one with good feelings, etc.

You may find reading the following suttas in translation useful to your understanding of meditation as taught by the Buddha: The Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118) “Mindfulness of the breath” is the sutta that describes Anapana, or breath meditation.   The Kayagata-sati Sutta (MN 119) “Mindfulness of the Body” is the sutta that describes meditation upon the body.  This sutta is closest to what Goenka teaches, but for some reason he does not seem to refer to this sutta, most probably because it refers to jhana.  The Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) “the Four Paths of Mindfulness” uses the aggregates as a vehicle of meditation. The Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22), “Larger Discourse on the Four Paths of Mindfulness” is an extension of the Satipatthana sutta, but it includes a description of jhana.

Best regards, Jhananda

China Diapers

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2010, 04:13:42 PM »
I lasted 7 days before finally running away. During those 7 days I never felt good, never, not even for a minute. I felt like I was buried alive and couldn't do anything. I cried many times. During the stupid body scan technique I had extremely disturbing images popping up in my head. I almost had a panic attack. I had strong anxiety. I felt that this retreat literally friked up my mind.

I had some similar experiences, I seriously thought I was going to go crazy. I put it down to it being the first time I had probably ever been alone with my thoughts without anything to distract me, so I rode it out and eventually the feelings went away. I think that in itself was really beneficial to me and I left after ten days feeling the most peaceful I had in many years.

I heard a few people at the end saying it wasn't for them, I can imagine that it's not for everybody.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 04:15:52 PM by China Diapers »

Matthew

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2010, 04:59:46 PM »

Goenka is a guru who teaches rich business executives for fat paycheques.


False.

Crystal Palace,

It's quite brazenly advertised that he is available for corporate bookings. I don't think you can easily write this off as false.

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Crystal Palace

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Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2010, 05:49:23 PM »
Matthew,

I object to the context and the tone in which it is written. If you re-read your post, your statement makes it look like Goenka teaches only rich business executives for fat paycheques. The biggest problem with this is that it underlines a remarkable quality of the method of teaching which is that there are no charges whatsoever for anything.

If your point was that he is available for corporate bookings attended by rich people then it could have been written as just that.

Even the Office of the Dalai Lama seeks private audiences for him. But if I come up with a statement saying, "Dalai Lama is a guru who teaches rich business executives for fat paycheques" don't you think I will be taking it out of context?

And can you please provide sources that make you claim he has accepted 'fat paycheques' to teach 'rich business executives'? Because my knowldge is that not even a single penny is charged either for selecting private audiences or for conducting the Special Corporate Courses.

Warmly,
Crystal Palace   


"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Here and now forever.
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2010, 06:58:00 PM »
Crystal Palace,

The point is he only does corporate bookings with most of his time. It may still be "paid by donation" - but my guess is, if so, they are no small amounts.

I'm sorry if I offended but I don't really think this is a very important point so don't wish it to become a point of divisiveness. We can have different opinions.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2010, 10:25:19 AM »
Matthew,

Divisiveness can only come up if we let it come up. I appreciate the fact that we can all move on the path taught by the enlightened one together, even if our ways and methods are different.

Let everyone on this forum decide on their own what technique works for them and what doesn't and then practice it (which is far more important.) Fellow members and meditators can show them their point of views and ways. And the concerned individual after having applied his/her own intellect and analysis can conclude the correct way of going about it. And if the method starts giving results, stick to it.

This seems to me the only way to resolve this long standing dispute about Goenka's technique.

With humility and good wishes,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

mindful1983

  • Guest
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2010, 10:48:46 AM »
i feel ive experienced what you went through but also doing another tradition, as TIB noted in his first reply.

I think regardless of the technique, the bad reactions are as much to do on a subjective personal level. I think Goenka's approach sucks and I can understand why (Im talking about the way he explains dharma and the course itself) people would get pissed because of it.

I was hesitant to take the course but took it because it was 'a rare opportunity'. So, i took in what was good about it, and left the rest behind.
I took it with a previous understanding of Dhamma that enabled me to better handle it and take it as it was. Congratulations for having experienced this retreat and learning what you need to know.

Take it easy.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 10:53:43 AM by mindful1983 »

kidnovice

  • Member
    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2010, 12:53:33 AM »
Hi Dj,

I noticed that your post sparked another heated debate around Goenka, and as a result you didn't really get what you asked for: advice and encouragement.  In fact, the controversy is probably counter-productive to your own healing because it just creates more fuel for your anger, and keeps it tied to the object (in this case, Goenka). As indicated by some of your comments, you already know this. As we all know,it takes a lot longer to heal if you stay mired in a sob-story.

Anyway, I'm not going to defend Goenka's style of retreats, but you should know that I have sat and served many retreats, and have even managed a couple. So, suffice to say, I feel that the rigorous schedule (and emphasis on subtle aspects of the body) brings out the best in me. However, for many years, I have also felt that the Goenka retreats are not for everyone, and carry the risk of unleashing "challenging" aspects of the mind. In fact, I rarely recommend it to people. The other day, my friend, a fairly serious meditator who has done a few retreats with other (more "gentle") vipassana teachers, mentioned that she was planning to go to a Goenka retreat, but that she was scared. My answer? "You should be." I think that says it all.  Even though I believe the seriousness of a Goenka retreat would be great for her, I also think that people should enter the retreat with a much deeper sense of the challenges that they will likely face when pushed to meditate so intensely. Its not about Goenka or the retreat itself, but the forces hidden just below the surface of our consciousness.

Now, as for your own experience, let me start with a cliche: "This too shall pass." Seriously. I have known a few people who unlocked extremely unpleasant mental states on retreat (and on the flip-side-- seductively pleasant, but also dangerous states). And trust me, they all fade away. Eventually, you will be your same self again. How long these states last depend on alot of factors, but more than anything I think it has to do with the habits of mind that you have previously cultivated, how you choose to relate to your experience, and what you do with your mind in the present moment.

First of all, I would actually suggest you take a break from meditation. Unless when you meditate at home you have some sense that it is somehow a "safe harbor,” its probably a good idea to take a holiday from sitting on the cushion. Or if for whatever reason, you are really don't want to take a break, find a good group of people you can sit with. That helps alot. And as someone else mentioned, if you do choose to meditate again soon, consider taking an entirely different approach. For example, the Mahasi Sayadaw style of vipassana could be good for you at this time (i.e., gentle noting of your moment-to-moment experiences). Or maybe try to just cultivate a kind awareness of anything that arises in your field of consciousness (sounds, etc.). If you decide to focus on the breath, perhaps try observing it more generally or even just at the abdomen. And of course, walking meditation is a reliable palliative for many practitioners.

Aside from meditation, its worth mentioning not to forget all the other emotional resources you’ve cultivated over the years. Now would be a good time to indulge in some (healthy) comfort activities. Go for a run. Play some basketball. Watch a good movie or check out a favorite band. Have lunch with a friend, and just shooti the breeze. You get my drift.

Most importantly, don't take yourself (or your meditation experience too seriously). There are tons of meditators who have had awesomely amazing experiences and swore they had tasted nibbana, only to realize that they were still the same jerk that they had always been. You're on the other side of the pendulum, where it is easy to believe that you have somehow caused yourself irreparable harm. Don't give the meditation practice so much credit. Your feelings may be highly amplified right now but, they are transient. And you will eventually (probably sooner than later), be your same old self. 

Finally, let me just offer this friendly reminder: the story of your experience at the Goenka retreat is not over. You may no longer be there, but you are still writing the narrative that will frame how you see the experience from now on. This difficult experience really can become the fertile soil of great insight. How you relate/interpret it is EVERYTHING. I know you probably don't want to hear this right now, but the more you can see the experience as something that your mind did to you (and not what the retreat or Goenka did to you), the more you will be able to regain your bearings on the path. 

With that said, I know this is a difficult time for you. And there is no easy fix. But trust in yourself, that you can get through this. I wish you all the best.

Metta,
Dylan


May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Here and now forever.
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2010, 01:30:06 AM »
Hi Dj,

I noticed that your post sparked another heated debate around Goenka, and as a result you didn't really get what you asked for: advice and encouragement.  In fact, the controversy is probably counter-productive to your own healing because it just creates more fuel for your anger, and keeps it tied to the object (in this case, Goenka). As indicated by some of your comments, you already know this. As we all know,it takes a lot longer to heal if you stay mired in a sob-story.

Metta,
Dylan


Dylan,

Thank you for your well thought out response and welcome to the forums. If you read my first reply you will find it contained validation of DJ Shaka's experiences, positive suggestions and encouragement. If some of that has triggered others strongly held beliefs I am sorry for this suffering.

I was careful to point out that other groups had similar stories as it would be unbalanced to not say so. My words I stand by, however - including, and perhaps most importantly, my recommendation to DJ Shaka that he relax at home.

In fact it's a good thing for us all to do.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 01:36:11 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

DJ Shaka

  • Guest
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2010, 01:45:06 AM »
Hi Dj,

I noticed that your post sparked another heated debate around Goenka, and as a result you didn't really get what you asked for: advice and encouragement.  In fact, the controversy is probably counter-productive to your own healing because it just creates more fuel for your anger, and keeps it tied to the object (in this case, Goenka). As indicated by some of your comments, you already know this. As we all know,it takes a lot longer to heal if you stay mired in a sob-story.

Anyway, I'm not going to defend Goenka's style of retreats, but you should know that I have sat and served many retreats, and have even managed a couple. So, suffice to say, I feel that the rigorous schedule (and emphasis on subtle aspects of the body) brings out the best in me. However, for many years, I have also felt that the Goenka retreats are not for everyone, and carry the risk of unleashing "challenging" aspects of the mind. In fact, I rarely recommend it to people. The other day, my friend, a fairly serious meditator who has done a few retreats with other (more "gentle") vipassana teachers, mentioned that she was planning to go to a Goenka retreat, but that she was scared. My answer? "You should be." I think that says it all.  Even though I believe the seriousness of a Goenka retreat would be great for her, I also think that people should enter the retreat with a much deeper sense of the challenges that they will likely face when pushed to meditate so intensely. Its not about Goenka or the retreat itself, but the forces hidden just below the surface of our consciousness.

Now, as for your own experience, let me start with a cliche: "This too shall pass." Seriously. I have known a few people who unlocked extremely unpleasant mental states on retreat (and on the flip-side-- seductively pleasant, but also dangerous states). And trust me, they all fade away. Eventually, you will be your same self again. How long these states last depend on alot of factors, but more than anything I think it has to do with the habits of mind that you have previously cultivated, how you choose to relate to your experience, and what you do with your mind in the present moment.

First of all, I would actually suggest you take a break from meditation. Unless when you meditate at home you have some sense that it is somehow a "safe harbor,” its probably a good idea to take a holiday from sitting on the cushion. Or if for whatever reason, you are really don't want to take a break, find a good group of people you can sit with. That helps alot. And as someone else mentioned, if you do choose to meditate again soon, consider taking an entirely different approach. For example, the Mahasi Sayadaw style of vipassana could be good for you at this time (i.e., gentle noting of your moment-to-moment experiences). Or maybe try to just cultivate a kind awareness of anything that arises in your field of consciousness (sounds, etc.). If you decide to focus on the breath, perhaps try observing it more generally or even just at the abdomen. And of course, walking meditation is a reliable palliative for many practitioners.

Aside from meditation, its worth mentioning not to forget all the other emotional resources you’ve cultivated over the years. Now would be a good time to indulge in some (healthy) comfort activities. Go for a run. Play some basketball. Watch a good movie or check out a favorite band. Have lunch with a friend, and just shooti the breeze. You get my drift.

Most importantly, don't take yourself (or your meditation experience too seriously). There are tons of meditators who have had awesomely amazing experiences and swore they had tasted nibbana, only to realize that they were still the same jerk that they had always been. You're on the other side of the pendulum, where it is easy to believe that you have somehow caused yourself irreparable harm. Don't give the meditation practice so much credit. Your feelings may be highly amplified right now but, they are transient. And you will eventually (probably sooner than later), be your same old self.  

Finally, let me just offer this friendly reminder: the story of your experience at the Goenka retreat is not over. You may no longer be there, but you are still writing the narrative that will frame how you see the experience from now on. This difficult experience really can become the fertile soil of great insight. How you relate/interpret it is EVERYTHING. I know you probably don't want to hear this right now, but the more you can see the experience as something that your mind did to you (and not what the retreat or Goenka did to you), the more you will be able to regain your bearings on the path.  

With that said, I know this is a difficult time for you. And there is no easy fix. But trust in yourself, that you can get through this. I wish you all the best.

Metta,
Dylan




I cannot express how grateful I am for this post.

You understand very well what I'm going through.

Thank you very much Dylan.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 01:46:41 AM by DJ Shaka »