Author Topic: Has my practice become too systematic?  (Read 1136 times)


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Has my practice become too systematic?
« on: June 06, 2018, 12:05:25 PM »
Hi everyone,

I've noticed since I began meditation that when I sit I will make this arrangement with myself that I'll either do 1 round, or 2, or 3 of Vipassana scans. At the moment each time I sit I work with my breath for a few minutes, then do two body scans of the Goenka technique, this generally takes about 45 minutes but sometimes could be a bit less or a bit more. I just wonder if it's become too systematic and if it's detrimental to practice in the long run? I do feel I benefit from sitting and my practice is deepening in time, so perhaps if it's not broke don't fix it?   

When I go on retreat (I've switched from Goenka retreats to Thai Forrest) I find I can adapt to what they teach and practice, and make some intentions to carry on in daily life more in line with what they practice in that tradition. But it's almost inevitable and automatic that I will slip back in to the Goenka technique after this, i.e. observe breathe for 15 minutes, do 2 body scans and then practice some metta. Has my practice become another "bad habit" or should I just go with the flow and keep doing what I'm doing?

In many ways I feel that what they practice in the Thai Forrest tradition, a more overall, panoramic, all-encompassing approach of breathe, sensations, thoughts, sounds and so on actually makes a lot of sense. They not only sit but also walk, do chores and stand on the retreats also which I find breaks up the day nicely compared to sitting constantly, it seems more practical for lay people. It is quite a gentle approach to the dhamma and it's certainly more suitable for me compared to the Goenka retreats. But afterward.. like I say, I'm going for those bodily sensations, and wonder if I have become rather attached to practicing in this way? Perhaps neglecting other parts of my reality? As well as practicing in this systematic, 2 rounds at a time, sort of way.

Much appreciate being a part of this forum.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your outlook on the above.
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah


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Re: Has my practice become too systematic?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 09:45:23 PM »
Hi Gary,

This is my 1st post. I ll try my best : )

Im a Goenka meditator and never tried other retreats. It seems to me that it is easier/ more simple this technique by S.N.Goenka, as intended.
 That is exactly what it is said in the courses: keep observing the bodily sensations, in sitted position. No more, no less.
The way I see is that during other moments- when walking, eating, etc., - you keep your awarness of these sensations (as you mention of other retreats/traditions). So you are aware while sitting hours and during your day/night.

As for the systematic practice: well, it is instructed to do "flow" scans, when the sensations flow through the body, which go quite fast; then scan bit by bit, as you are doing.Again, there is no more.
  I sometimes also have the feeling of repeating over and over, every morning every night, the same. However, there is not same sitting everytime, just a feeling, maybe coming from expectations etc

It is also advised to sit whole hour, to reach gross sensations. That maybe brings you more "work" and entertainment (sorry, I'm laughing at my own words; Spanish humor).

All the best, Gary.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Has my practice become too systematic?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2018, 06:32:36 AM »
Hi Gary,

Uncanny, I have just gone on a Thai Forest retreat.

I wouldn't get concerned about being "too Goenka" and not enough something else. If you've been practicing Goenka for this long, then there will be a habitual element there, but the core elements are almost universal to most Buddhist meditation. You will need to be aware of your bodily sensations and breathing to help ground yourself. Just relax, and let go, grasping is the cause of suffering and you don't let go of years of tension instantly.


  • stillpointdancer
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Re: Has my practice become too systematic?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2018, 12:04:11 PM »
My meditations were of two kinds, the sort you talk about and the others that explore in a different way. They may be based on mindfulness or vipassana or just something I read about on the internet and wanted to explore. The combination of the two kept the right balance of relaxed meditation and the creative tension I needed to make progress.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka


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Re: Has my practice become too systematic?
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2018, 09:20:31 PM »
Thanks for your responses, folks. I will go with the flow and not worry about it too much, I will try to change up the way I practice depending on sensations like you say, Lotom. Goenka does emphasize about an hour sit and I can sure see the benefits, but at the moment I think I'm building up to that, an hour seems a bit daunting starting out, but in time it may seem like a breeze, they sit 45 minutes in the morning and evening in Thai monastery and it's rather nice.

"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah


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Re: Has my practice become too systematic?
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2018, 12:54:23 AM »
Hi  :)

I think it is not what you do but the way you do. It is not about doing, but being. Observing sensations, why not?
The problem with Goenka is that he overemphasizes the importance of sensations. I have long practiced this technique observing sensations while my mind is non-stop shattering in the background and frequently it is the observation itself that comes in the background and shattering at the foreground. It keeps a certain efficiency but not really bring a deep tranquillity. Trying other techniques helped me to understand that the important is the quality of attention, not the object of attention.



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