Author Topic: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.  (Read 682 times)

garyatblackhouse

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Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« on: April 27, 2019, 04:38:30 PM »
Hey everyone.

I stopped going on Goenka retreats a few years ago, but I still practice the Goenka way, even though I'm fairly certain I need to change my method, or at least diversify. I find the Goenka technique can bring me to some deep, spacious, blissful states within myself, it also helps me ground myself and calm down emotions, and I am definitely coming out of suffering the more I practice, but I feel like I am missing something. Adyashanti talks about how this spacious bliss state can become just another identity, even to a point where it gets boring. I believe I am stuck in that place.

As useful and beneficial as it is to have this connection to spaciousness, I want to bring my practice more toward the heart, toward love for myself and for others. The human element in my practice is lacking. I even stumbled in to a retreat on the heart earlier this year, and it was really powerful, it was as it was something majorly important has been forgotten for me. But since then trying to stay and practice on the heart, I find myself observing sensations and practicing Vipassana, it's as if the Goenka method has become a bad habit, even though at the same time it's helping me in other ways.

I almost think I should scrap any other form of formal practice and set my sights on the heart when I sit. I hear about this phenomenon that occurs a lot with young male monks especially, they attain these high states of consciousness, and it becomes a barrier between other humans. It's like, "I don't need you, because I have this." Anyway, I'm aware of this pattern in myself, and I'm inspired to change it. Any help or guidance would be appreciated.
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2019, 11:56:06 PM »
I think a great deal of working with the heart must be done off the mat.

Goofaholix

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 08:26:20 AM »
This sounds to me like you should have a good sit down and discuss it with a teacher.

It's good to experiment with different techniques though as long as you aren't bouncing from technique to technique each time it gets difficult.

stillpointdancer

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2019, 11:12:30 AM »
Hey everyone.

I stopped going on Goenka retreats a few years ago, but I still practice the Goenka way, even though I'm fairly certain I need to change my method, or at least diversify. I find the Goenka technique can bring me to some deep, spacious, blissful states within myself, it also helps me ground myself and calm down emotions, and I am definitely coming out of suffering the more I practice, but I feel like I am missing something. Adyashanti talks about how this spacious bliss state can become just another identity, even to a point where it gets boring. I believe I am stuck in that place.


Have you tried metta bhavana meditation, which is designed to wish others well? I don't know Goenka styles of meditation apart from concentrating on the body. I found getting the balance between different types of meditation was important, and what you did with them off the mat.
“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

garyatblackhouse

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 12:10:17 PM »
I do a little metta at the end of each sit, one of the reasons I stepped back from Goenka is the lack of time spent on metta, 9 days of intense samadhi/vipassana followed by a brief introduction to metta didn't seem right to me. And the guidance in how to practice metta is very poor, I don't think I'm the only one who left Goenka retreats wondering what metta was.

A talk with a good teacher, sounds like a good shout, I will explore that. In the meantime I could probably do less Vipassana and more focus on the heart/metta both on and off the cushion. I sometimes feel like I have become addicted to Vipassana, however, that is to say, if I don't practice deeply on sensations, I feel like I am missing out on something.

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

stillpointdancer

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2019, 10:28:08 AM »
I do a little metta at the end of each sit, one of the reasons I stepped back from Goenka is the lack of time spent on metta, 9 days of intense samadhi/vipassana followed by a brief introduction to metta didn't seem right to me. And the guidance in how to practice metta is very poor, I don't think I'm the only one who left Goenka retreats wondering what metta was.

A talk with a good teacher, sounds like a good shout, I will explore that. In the meantime I could probably do less Vipassana and more focus on the heart/metta both on and off the cushion. I sometimes feel like I have become addicted to Vipassana, however, that is to say, if I don't practice deeply on sensations, I feel like I am missing out on something.

Thanks for feedback.

Thank you for the feedback. Can you tell me a little more about how Goenka teaches Vipassana as opposed to Samadhi? It doesn't sound like any Vipassana I've done but I could be wrong.
“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

garyatblackhouse

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2019, 10:20:22 PM »
Thank you for the feedback. Can you tell me a little more about how Goenka teaches Vipassana as opposed to Samadhi? It doesn't sound like any Vipassana I've done but I could be wrong.

Samadhi (in the Goenka way) is practiced by observing the breath and sensations, below the upper lip and above the nostrils. The Goenka Vipassana technique is practiced by then scanning the body from head to feet and vice-versa, observing sensations with awareness and equanimity as you move your attention through the body.

In my own practice I observe the breath first but just feel it wherever it seems natural, sometimes stomach, sometimes chest. Then I move on to Vipassana. It feels a little strange to still be practicing the Goenka way even though I removed myself from the organization a few years ago. Even with efforts the change my practice I always seem to just go back to the Goenka way.

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

stillpointdancer

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 01:26:31 PM »
Thank you for the feedback. Can you tell me a little more about how Goenka teaches Vipassana as opposed to Samadhi? It doesn't sound like any Vipassana I've done but I could be wrong.

Samadhi (in the Goenka way) is practiced by observing the breath and sensations, below the upper lip and above the nostrils. The Goenka Vipassana technique is practiced by then scanning the body from head to feet and vice-versa, observing sensations with awareness and equanimity as you move your attention through the body.

In my own practice I observe the breath first but just feel it wherever it seems natural, sometimes stomach, sometimes chest. Then I move on to Vipassana. It feels a little strange to still be practicing the Goenka way even though I removed myself from the organization a few years ago. Even with efforts the change my practice I always seem to just go back to the Goenka way.

Thanks, I think I understand now. First mindfulness of breathing, then mindfulness of body. I guess I did that and then moved on to mindfulness of thought as the next stage in the meditation, changing how long I stayed with the breath or body or thoughts depending on how that particular meditation was going. I used it in conjunction with metta bhavana meditations and the Satipatthana Sutta.
“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

Matthew

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2019, 11:06:26 PM »
...
I sometimes feel like I have become addicted to Vipassana, however, that is to say, if I don't practice deeply on sensations, I feel like I am missing out on something.
...

...
Even with efforts the change my practice I always seem to just go back to the Goenka way.

It does sound as if you have become attached to the Goenka way. You know from seeing previous posts from me that I have issues with the Goenka method and organisation. It seems to me you have hit a limitation that arises from the nature of the practice as you have been taught it.

If you are truly up for making a change I would suggest you take a week off practice on the cushion completely to clear your attachments somewhat. Then try the experiment of working solely with the Shamatha/Calm Abiding practice linked from the homepage for a month. Try not to use anything you learned from Goenka practice during this month (you will slip, yet don't beat yourself up when you do - just note it and return to Shamatha).

You have nothing to lose by trying an experiment.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

garyatblackhouse

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2019, 07:25:14 PM »
It does sound as if you have become attached to the Goenka way. You know from seeing previous posts from me that I have issues with the Goenka method and organisation. It seems to me you have hit a limitation that arises from the nature of the practice as you have been taught it.

If you are truly up for making a change I would suggest you take a week off practice on the cushion completely to clear your attachments somewhat. Then try the experiment of working solely with the Shamatha/Calm Abiding practice linked from the homepage for a month. Try not to use anything you learned from Goenka practice during this month (you will slip, yet don't beat yourself up when you do - just note it and return to Shamatha).

You have nothing to lose by trying an experiment.

This is really interesting, thank you Matthew. I will have to consider how serious I am about making a change. Not sitting for a week seems daunting in one way, as well as kind of a relieving idea, but I'm not sure if that's my ego feeling good about missing a week of practice, or if it's coming from a deeper place. I am currently on some downtime after a busy year, this experiment could be coming at the right time... maybe I need a break from everything!
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

garyatblackhouse

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2019, 09:03:18 PM »
I tried not sitting today with the intention of doing it for a week but it didn't work out, felt like I was missing something by midday so I did a sit, which kind of says it all. I've heard the term "sensations junkies" said by a few people when it comes to Goenka technique, that's what it feels like. I'm an addict so it may have been inevitable that I became addicted to this technique. I will have to figure out how serious I am about changing it.

In a sense, in the short term, the goenka way is helping me connect with my body, quiet my mind and balance my emotions, that's why I'm doing it, and it's not such a bad thing. But in the long term, in terms of actually walking the path, this isn't going to be a quick fix and I'm going to need to reassess everything I've been doing, hopefully with the help of a teacher.
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

Matthew

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2019, 12:24:38 PM »
Try again tomorrow. Failure is one of the quickest paths to success - if one is mindful of the processes involved.

The idea behind taking a week break before starting with Shamatha is to let the habitual stuff around meditation break up a little. This makes the experiment with a different technique less likely to fall back into using the old technique.

You can keep the connection to body by taking a mindful walk in a park or in nature. Feeling the body as you walk and seeing the world you are in as objects of a "light-touch" meditation.
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garyatblackhouse

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2019, 05:57:35 PM »
Thanks Matthew. I think I will have have to build up to this and approach it rather then just dive in and make an attempt at making a change. At the moment my sitting practice is very dear to me, for different reasons, even though I aware of the underlying issues with it. What you described sounds possible but not today.
"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't begun." - Ajahn Chah

Matthew

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Re: Stuck on Goenka and lost in space.
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2019, 12:38:34 AM »
A time for everything Gary. Love the Ajahn Chah quote.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~