Author Topic: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat  (Read 170848 times)


  • Member
    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #125 on: February 06, 2015, 06:17:03 PM »
Hello Quantum  Mystic,
It is as you supposed: DJ Shaka is no longer active on this forum. He had not been for quite a while, otherwise I would remember his name - I suppose. Sorry for that.
Apart from that, you are free to ask questions or tell your story if you feel it would help you or others.
Be well,


Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #126 on: February 09, 2015, 10:52:07 AM »
One thing I learnt early on in my practice is that meditation is not a fix. It is not just another thing you can use to "feel good" and distract yourself.  Meditation is about taking responsibility for your own mind. Learning equanimity and cultivating peace and clarity.  Perhaps these bad feelings you experienced need to be faced? Perhaps they have been buried deep and this meditation brought them to the surface?  Meditation is not easy for anyone. It's a hard road. It's the road less traveled, it can be lonely and painful at times but it's worth it. Ignorance may be bliss but it is not liberation. I hope you continue your practice and find a way to find peace with the difficult emotions and thoughts arising for you.


  • The Marvellous Omannobazong!!!
  • Member
  • love is the key
    • Vipassana (Goenka), Freestyle, Family, God
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #127 on: February 16, 2015, 07:18:29 PM »
In a way it is like detoxification. Noone feels good while throwing up. But still it is better than to keep the poison inside.


  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #128 on: February 17, 2015, 01:15:54 PM »
Welcome back, Stefan!
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?


  • Just Matthew
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #129 on: February 25, 2015, 02:33:01 PM »
Welcome back, Stefan!

I'll second that.

:) Good to see The Marvellous Omannobazong back ...
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~


  • The Marvellous Omannobazong!!!
  • Member
  • love is the key
    • Vipassana (Goenka), Freestyle, Family, God
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #130 on: February 26, 2015, 06:11:33 PM »

 :) missed you all, too!


  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Sayagi Ubakhin & S. N. Goenka Tradition
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #131 on: April 05, 2017, 12:37:13 PM »
This is quite an old post now but has some shockingly excessive views. I just joined the group, but I think it still needs some positive inputs. I am not sure if DJ Saka is out of his trauma or not (May be not) but I still wish him best luck and Metta. Found some quite dangerous and I can easily say absolutely baseless views about the courses from the staff member Matthew and some other guests and members about the technique of Goenka Vipassana which is actually the second patthana of the Mahasattipathana Sutta by the Buddha himself.

"And how does a monk remain focused on feelings in & of themselves? There is the case where a monk, when feeling a painful feeling, discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling.' When feeling a pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.'

Yes we all have freedom to have our own views about anything. However, the point is our views are based on our perceptions, assumptions and fears which mostly are incorrect and immature. The wisdom is what liberates and that comes from experience based on this it can be deducted that all views are wrong views till they are replaced with understanding or WISDOM.

I see some people writing about Goenkaji Vipassana have not even attended a single course to be able to talk about it. How can one make outrageous claims about moon if you have not been to one or have not even seen one :-).

I am happy for the people who attended the course and then they have some constructive feedbacks and some negative experiences about the course. However, something that you find is negative can be positive or may be life changing for others. It is all based on our minds and up to some extent culture we come from. Like adults living with parents is normal and respectable in East, where as in west it is laughed upon.

All I can say is the forum for now sounds demeaning one method of meditation which works for hundreds of thousands of people and glorifying other which can be equally good for all and may be for some special set of people like respected Monks.

If this is the case then where are we leading ourselves to. Are we learning from each other or just indulging in endless fights and arguments??

« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 12:41:49 PM by Vishal »

Manohar Shrestha

  • Member
  • Let's explore our mind and body
    • Vippasana ( Sayagi u Ba Khin tradition) student
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #132 on: April 05, 2017, 05:59:37 PM »
Thank You Vishal for your more balanced post.

In fact, each and every normal person has defilement (old conditioning) related to aversion, craving and ignorance. Vippasana is a practice for developing awareness and remaining equanimous for eradicating defilement.

Initially, a meditator has to deal with old conditioning related to aversion i.e.  gross sensations. During the retreat, one develops awareness but if a meditator is not equanimous or do not have ability to become equanimous then he or she may react like DJ.
There is no doubt that the course is very demanding. One need do get more information prior to participating in the course. In fact, guidance from old studeent would be very helpful. Moreover, a person should check whether he or she is mentally and physically fit to participate in the course or not.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 06:01:12 PM by Manohar Shrestha »


  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Mindfulness
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #133 on: March 19, 2020, 09:05:25 AM »
Just in case anyone else has had a rough experience. I have been practising mindfulness meditation for a long time, using plant medicine in ceremonies and study psychotherapy yet I also had a traumatic experience coming out of the Goenka retreat.

The full article can be found on the Philosotree website.

Here is an excerpt:

Vipassana is a reckless approach to ‘connecting with your true nature’ because you may uncover some very dark parts of yourself and bring them into consciousness. It is a crash course for something you should spend your life doing and they are not called ‘crash’ courses for no reason.

This course is for the mindless that have zero inclination about their true nature and affords them the opportunity to touch themselves. But offering a quick resolution to something that requires a lifetime of work is as useful as any pyramid scheme advertised online.

Having such a successful and wide-reaching organisation fills us with a false sense of security, yet look at the oil companies and rubber manufacturers we all benefit from in our day to day lives, yet they destroy lives in the process. Even the schooling system benefits many but is not necessarily a perfect process and not fit for everyone, it requires ongoing refinement to suit that generation. Just as the main monotheistic religions are now seen as archaic by many, so to will this as people discover the flaws in their approach.

Another danger of the practice is that they ask you to surrender without providing any form of support or containment. The risk of ‘searching for inner peace’ means going down a dark path, which if you are honest with yourself can be extremely testing and perhaps rewarding and if you’re not honest can be extremely superficial.

I’m angry that I went against my intuition and even more angry that I succumbed to their cult like indoctrination. Telling someone that they’re broken and that they must commit to this method whole heartedly in order to save them is abuse of the most intense nature, unless you have an inclination to sado-masochism. Imagine your therapist telling you that, they’d be struck off instantly and for good reason. Even if that approach may be suitable for some people, only a therapist that understands their patient and what they were doing would be very hesitant before exploring such a radical approach.

Yes, I had a rough ride and yes many followers experience very positive results but my brief anecdotal research shows that the entire process divides opinion and people should be aware of the risks of submitting their agency to a ‘higher power’ that seeks to remove them from reality.

This practice did hone aspects of my practice and my sensitivity significantly. I could not only hear the buzz of a fluorescent bulb from outside the meditation hall, but could experience it in my body.

The process is binary but I am a human and anything but binary.


  • Member
  • May we all fulfill our deepest wish for happiness
    • Vajrayana/Qigong/Theravada
    • Everything is somehow just fine!
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #134 on: March 19, 2020, 05:56:08 PM »
How does a Goenka retreat center different than a Vipassana meditation retreat at a Theravadin monastery, for example? I do vipassana. And while it is amazing, it does bring all kinds of complicated emotions to the forefront from the subconscious.

I practice Theravadin, Zen and Tibetan. Some criticize me for this, but I have yet to find a specific school that I want to devote myself to 100%. But I do some visualization meditations (Tibetan), but mostly Vipassana.

I am very sorry to hear that people have had such traumatic experiences at Goenka retreat centers.

Peace and enlightenment.
May we see the emptiness of all phenomena


  • Member
  • Practicing vipassana meditation 🧘🏼‍♀️
    • Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #135 on: March 31, 2020, 02:38:37 AM »
Hello DJ and everyone there
I want just to share my experience with Goenka and Vipassana.
The first time I went I had very difficult time especially on day 7 and 8.
I wanted to leave but because of money issue and also I was not in my country etc.. I had to stay until the end. I understood the reason why I was there probably on day 10. The rest of the course was so painful and I cryied everyday. Although as I went back home I have to say I saw change in me. My family saw changes. I have to admit that it gave me a better understanding deeply of impermanence and I a different view of death. So I wish you well. If you went there it’s good anyway as you practice but obviously a lot of stuff came out like me. Better outside than inside. Take care. And do what feels right for you. It’s the most important. We are our own guru when we listen to ourself deeply. With metta. Chaska
My life is a stepping stone for something bigger


  • Member
  • Vipassana meditator
    • Vipassana
Re: TERRIBLE and TRAUMATIC experience at Goenka retreat
« Reply #136 on: December 29, 2021, 02:15:38 PM »
The impure mind begins to purify, the proper performance of the technique makes the reactions increase in some way. This happens due to long sitting in meditation. Goenka keeps saying watch, watch, do nothing but watch. DJ Shaka did the exact opposite, which is not the case with Vipassana. It's not Goenko's fault, it's not Vipassan's fault that you had such a strong reaction of resistance ... It's to be observed and in time it would disappear. I have a lot of Vipassana courses behind me and I can tell you that I have benefited a lot from this technique, it just couldn’t get any better. But I was able to go through everything you say. . I don't think you understand correctly how the technique works. Meditation is not ugly or beautiful, it is as it is. Most think she will enjoy sitting. First the mind has to be cleansed, sometimes the mind is very heavy and gives demanding tasks ... but to become happy is the only condition for all this impurity to be cleansed, there is no other way. During the course itself, it can be harder than before, but in this case you take a short walk, relax, ... you don't force yourself into something, you just observe.
Be happy


Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
14 Replies
Last post March 26, 2010, 03:45:43 AM
by Matthew
9 Replies
Last post September 07, 2010, 11:47:31 PM
by kidnovice
12 Replies
Last post December 26, 2010, 02:36:44 AM
by Lokuttara
12 Replies
Last post April 14, 2012, 05:53:30 PM
by frepie
25 Replies
Last post June 12, 2015, 07:26:10 PM
by Matthew
5 Replies
Last post June 17, 2015, 04:35:08 AM
by Pacific Flow
2 Replies
Last post August 29, 2019, 04:07:27 AM
by Dharmic Tui