Author Topic: Old vipassana student, still suffering from long-term tension, what to do?  (Read 24353 times)

Matthew

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Mik1e

There is no objection to you linking to information on your website and never has been. The opposite is true - I have proposed you do this.

Promoting your paid for consultancy services either directly or through private messages or emails to members is not acceptable, and - as you well know - this is what I have asked you to refrain from. In the context of this forum it amounts to spam.

Please do not misrepresent my position.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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TomThumb

  • Member
Dear MEDITATOR,

I have been battling with tension and pain in my back and neck which has made it hard to meditate (or even work for that matter). I have found the information on these pages to be of great help:

http://www.drbookspan.com/NeckPainArticle.html

http://www.drbookspan.com/SittingHealthy.html

But if things are really bad and your muscles are in spasms, then you should see a doctor to refer you for some physiotherapy. I have also found the Alexander Technique (search for a practitioner near you on Google) to be helpful.

Good luck,

TT
Before you claim any absolute truth, remember you see only 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear 1% of the acoustic spectrum. 90% of the body’s cells carry their own DNA and are not you. Your body’s atoms are 99.9999999% empty space. Humans have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.

MEDITAT0R

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Dear Friends,
thanks for all the support!
I practice now 1-2 hours a day observing breathing on the whole body in kneeling (in Seiza-like position mostly, but sitting on cushions not heels, it really helps relaxing the stomach). In the morning I apply a short abdomen massage.
I will go on with this for maybe a month and find out if it helps me.
Today I took a one day Yoga course which at the end really gave me some calm and relaxation - I still need much longer than "normal" people, but it is very encouraging that such calmer states are possible :-) even when thoughts are still running wild most of the time and a lot of tension is left.
What else can I do else then continuing the practice and developing patience and metta to myself instead of buidling up more tension... In good days I think like this, in bad days black thoughts keep on overwhelming me.
I might go for more Yoga as I am in a Sabbatical in Asia anyway and can use the whole time for developing in Dhamma. I know a good Alexander Technique teacher, but in my home in Europe, so I will meet only after the Sabbatical.
With metta from Asia - Meditat0r.

Matthew

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When I say he is a sell out I am referring to the fact that as his regular business he will personally only lead meditation retreats on a regular basis only for rich businessmen who can pay a large fee.


Dear Matthew,

You've made this point once before as well and now, as then, I would like to ask you to cite any one instance where a large fee was paid by rich people for a meditation retreat.

If you can establish this fact as you claim it is, I will withdraw my argument.

Warmly,
Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace,

I apologise and take back my words - in part. I had misunderstood something.

Mr Goenka offers to teach business executives and government officials, in person, on courses. There is no fee but the same donation methods as usual ten day courses. The courses are lead by him personally or one of a small number of AT's and only open to business executives and governmental officials - with extra teaching aimed at those audiences.

I still think his weight is indicative of indulgence, but we all have our faults.

Warmly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 05:44:54 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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Matthew

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Dear Friends,
thanks for all the support!
I practice now 1-2 hours a day observing breathing on the whole body in kneeling (in Seiza-like position mostly, but sitting on cushions not heels, it really helps relaxing the stomach). In the morning I apply a short abdomen massage.
I will go on with this for maybe a month and find out if it helps me.
Today I took a one day Yoga course which at the end really gave me some calm and relaxation - I still need much longer than "normal" people, but it is very encouraging that such calmer states are possible :-) even when thoughts are still running wild most of the time and a lot of tension is left.
What else can I do else then continuing the practice and developing patience and metta to myself instead of buidling up more tension... In good days I think like this, in bad days black thoughts keep on overwhelming me.
I might go for more Yoga as I am in a Sabbatical in Asia anyway and can use the whole time for developing in Dhamma. I know a good Alexander Technique teacher, but in my home in Europe, so I will meet only after the Sabbatical.
With metta from Asia - Meditat0r.

Meditat0r,

Am glad you are finding solace and peace through your reinvigorated practice.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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unprevadedrapture

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Quote
I still think his weight is indicative of indulgence, but we all have our faults.
haha
Quote
a fat feast for a fat teacher
~Goenka, requesting metta from the world
he used to be an opiate addict, hardcore business man.
his wife is the enlightened one. she's the one i always used to listen to. even if she never says anything...
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 10:54:01 PM by unprevadedrapture »

36

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Goenka is [...] overweight, indulgent [...]

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew

The original question is what brought me to this forum - but it was this unfortunately all too typical example of harsh language that has led me to sign up for an account here this evening. It's nice that this forum exists. When I read such words, my impression is that it says more about the person saying them than it does about whoever the object of the trash-talking is.

The original post here was a good one, I thought. I started reading the thread because at least some of it resonated with me. I have my own experience, which is somewhat different (from everyone elses, of course)... but at least some of what was said seemed a little familiar. Mostly I liked what I perceived to be the humble tone. Anyway, I've been practicing using Goenka's method for about six years, have done about a dozen ten day courses, volunteered full time at a dozen more, and have been helped immensely by that practice. I also have a history of depression and anxiety, and continue to struggle with these issues. I appreciate it when people with different experiences than me gently and kindly offer suggestions for how I might help myself... and I perceive that this forum might have a number of such people, and be a worthwhile place to spend some time reading. i hope that expressions such as this "Goenka is fat and indulgent... (blah, blah, blah)" can kept to a minimum, because they really aren't very helpful. If you have a problem with him giving special attention to rich CEOs, I suggest your problem is rooted in politics, philosophy, and ego. It reminds me of much of some of the criticism I have heard from a number of relatively new students of Goenka (young left-wingers) reacting to an pamphlet put out by one of Goenka's appointed teachers, psychiatrist Paul Fleischman, about September 11, 2001. (The Buddha Taught Nonviolence, Not Pacifism - http://www.midamericadharma.org/cdl/DPP/Nonviolence.pdf ). Fleischman is from the (very economically conservative) University of Chicago, and I and many of my meditation friends have struggled with the tone of some of his writing, (particularly that essay) and I think it is because a different kind of politics than what we are used to seems to seep into much of his writing. I have heard several young meditators say some things about him and his writing, which were not quite as harsh as "he eats too much" but none-the-less rubbed me the wrong way, in a similar sort of way. I don't have a problem with expressions along the lines of - "such and such teacher doesn't quite work best for me, and here's why I think that is"... but it is really better if that sort of discussion doesn't lead to trash talking teachers. Goenka has brought an incredible amount of good to this world, his method has proven very helpful to many thousands of people, he radiates love and compassion, and it does no one any good for anyone to slander such a person.

kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Part of me really just wants to comment on the original impetus of this thread, but I just have to comment on all the Goenka bashing going on here. I can't help but think it all sounds a bit goofy. Any implication that Goenka is somehow profiting from his centers is completely unfounded (it seems like this thread has already conceded that). However, since the issue has been raised, I think its only fair to acknowledge one of Goenka's remarkable contributions to the way dhamma centers are conceive...

Please consider that that he is a lay teacher who has founded a system in which neither he nor any of his teachers (yes, he has authorized a few), nor any of his assistant teachers can receive any payment for teaching. Period. Think about how unique that is. They devote their time to leading these courses, and do not (cannot) receive a penny. Of course, this means that to be a teacher in this tradition, you have to be sufficiently successful in the world such that you can freely give your time. This raises its own problems, but seriously, its special.  What other lay teacher claims that as a fundamental principle? No profiting from the dhamma. Doesn't that just sound radical? Its one of the key reasons why these centers operate so cheaply, and can afford to have a significant number of people attend who either don't pay, or make a donation far below cost. .

So, to summarize the accurate criticism of Goenka that this thread has generated so far: he's fat. Seriously.  That's it! Personally, I don't think his weight disqualifies him from teaching dhamma. And anyone who wants to argue otherwise has issues that have nothing to do with Goenka. I do think there is room for an awesome discussion about whether his unique style of vipassana can lead all the way to liberation (and how much that matters), but folks, this kind of lame slander isn't going to get us there! ;)


Anyway, as for MEDITATOR's original post, I wanted to congratulate you for exploring other options to alleviate your tension. It obviously sounds like Goenka's style of vipassana isn't doing that, and you are wise to be flexible in exploring other options. The other techniques sound fascinating, and I'll be curious to hear more as time progresses.

Your issues do seem to point to a more fundamental issue that TIB has pointed out many times before in this forum: most all meditators need alot more shamatha (tranquility) before proceeding to insight practice. And this is especially true for people using Goenka's style of vipassana.  It really makes sense for someone who is feeling alot of tension to devote themselves to calming the body and mind before proceeding further. I don't think you can go wrong if you lay off the body-scanning for awhile (even a year or two), and just devote yourself to cultivating a calm, quiet, and kind awareness. And you should feel free to do that in any way that works for you (whole body breathing sounds sweet)

Also, I was really struck by your comment: 
Quote
When sadness comes up, it gives me some relief from the tension (means by weeping)...
This makes me think that perhaps this is not a tension that can be resolved entirely by impersonal processes of observing the body. I can't help but wonder if maybe you have some life-issues to really face and work through. Shamatha practice will certainly help you get there, but you may also find great benefit by resolving any questions/experiences you have had through conversation, introspection, writing, or possibly even therapy. If I have misread your comment, please ignore this suggestion. But I thought I would at least raise this idea.

I wish you all the best on the path. With metta.

P.S. I'm pretty sure that line unprevadedrapture mentioned:
Quote
a fat feast for a fat teacher
is actually "Fat fees for a fat teacher."  The "fees," in this context, are your metta practice. In my interpretation, Goenka is basically laughing at himself and the whole warped world of guru-dom where people pay for enlightenment. More importantly, he is making a very wise point: Without metta, your practice is never really going to transform your heart. Goenka then goes on to further joke that there is no need to even give metta specifically to your teacher, since when you wish for the happiness of all beings, your teacher is automatically included.
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.

soma

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Indulgence or too much anapana at the belly?
We will never know...

unprevadedrapture

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no man i've seen it like 30 times: a fat feast. and goenka ATs prohibits anapana at the belly.  :P

soma

  • Guest
... and goenka ATs prohibits anapana at the belly.  :P

Yes I know but as far I know the Buddha never attended a vipassana course as taught by Goenka  :D
All the vegetarian food can produce gases though and the belly can fill up like a baloon.

Matthew

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Guys,

Meditat0r asked us not to thread-jack his thread about meditation. Perhaps if anyone wishes to concentrate on Goenka issues they could start a new thread.

Warmly,

Matthew
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MEDITAT0R

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Dear Friends,

thanks Matthew - please keep  the arguing about Goenka out of this post or open a new thread.
But it seems we also have to accept these dynamics as it is the reality of the moment :-).
My reality at the moment, on a rainy afternoon in Nepal, sitting in the balcony garden of my hotel, is the following: for the first time I can remember for long time (at least i a sober state) I feel quite easy and relaxed. The tension in belly and shoulders is reduced, the mind is calm and the intensity of thoughts much lower, especially the depressive thoughts.
I don't  know where it comes from, might be the Samatha-practice, the yoga, the writing I did today, the help of a spiritual teacher here or the support and good-will coming from friends in this forum and at my home or alltogether - I feel myself, and my body, my heart, and even though I know this state will also pass it is very encouraging to me to go on on that way.
So instead of using Vipassana as a means to escape life with an almost sectarian intensity (a tendency which was 100% lying in myself, so there is no teacher or technique I blame for!!!, even Vipassana ATs warned me from taking courses after courses, but I didn't or couldn't listen to them), I now direct my efforts in coming into life. I keep you on the current, and can only encourage others who may have similar difficulties not to throw in the towel and keep on searching and practising with whatever technique is helping them to come out of misery. Than you and wish you all the best with Metta.

Matthew

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Meditat0r,

Glad you are having such a positive experience. It may also be that your Vitamin D levels are being lifted by being in Asia and a warmer climate - especially if you travelled there recently from Europe. Low Vitamin D is directly related to depression - so all the sunshine will, for sure, make you feel more at home in yourself and happier. Not to deny the benefits of good practice, good spiritual friends and etc. but this is also an important aspect.

Warmly,

Matthew
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MEDITAT0R

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@ Matthew, it can't be the vitamin D as I am in Asia already for some months.
@all: During Samatha, I found out that meditating part of the time in lying, even with sometimes breathing through the mouth and also from time to time with one hand on the abdomen, this helps me to realx much more and releases the tension in neck ,shoulders and stomach. So, I meditate about 20-30 minutes in sitting and then in lying. Even if I might get a little drowsy sometimes, it is much more relaxing and calming.
What do you think, friends - is this a good way to go on or am I searching too much for pleasant experiences?

Morning Dew

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Quote
I practice now 1-2 hours a day observing breathing on the whole body in kneeling (in Seiza-like position mostly, but sitting on cushions not heels, it really helps relaxing the stomach).

Good man Meditat0r  :)  I too sit in Seiza since it reduces tension in my back, abdomen and legs. Earlier on I would not use any cushions under the bum but now I also sit on a rubber ballon which enables me to sit longer without becoming stiff.

Quote
What do you think, friends - is this a good way to go on or am I searching too much for pleasant experiences?

What ever you do try and remember ONE important thing; Do not beat your self over things you feel might be "wrong"  :)  Experiment, observe, be mindful about it, remain relaxed.

Shamatha is simple. Do it for 10 minutes if you feel like it, but do it as many times per day as you can, and then with time try and prolong this time to 20 min, then 30 min, until you reach the hour. No rush! Rushing to achive something is an Ego based stuff  :).
When I am off work I sit up to 3-4 times a day for 30 minutes and 10-15 minutes just before bed time.

Meditation is not a technique but a state of conciousnes  :) this said it doesn't matter if you lay or sit or walk or kneel  :) as soon you are practising all this mindfuly  :)
Do not chase the "right technique" you will only get cought up in ideas my friend  :)

Simply be aware of the whole body breathing (no matter what posture you use)o without self hypnotising and even if you feel you are self hypnotising it is all OK  :D no need to beat your self over it, just simply go back to whole body breathing.

Remain relaxed,  :)

Matthew

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When I read such words, my impression is that it says more about the person saying them than it does about whoever the object of the trash-talking is.

And exactly the same goes for your words. It is not slander or trash talk to suggest someone who is obviously grossly overweight may have an indulgence issue. You slander me by calling a simple fact "trash talk".

Think about it.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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Matthew

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@ Matthew, it can't be the vitamin D as I am in Asia already for some months.
@all: During Samatha, I found out that meditating part of the time in lying, even with sometimes breathing through the mouth and also from time to time with one hand on the abdomen, this helps me to realx much more and releases the tension in neck ,shoulders and stomach. So, I meditate about 20-30 minutes in sitting and then in lying. Even if I might get a little drowsy sometimes, it is much more relaxing and calming.
What do you think, friends - is this a good way to go on or am I searching too much for pleasant experiences?

Do what you have to do. The Buddha often meditated laying down. Just be sure you are maintaining awareness and not getting drowsy and it will not lead to any harm.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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MEDITAT0R

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Update - improving with the speed of ants :-)
« Reply #43 on: July 04, 2010, 05:26:40 AM »
Dear Friends,
I just like to give you a little update how things developed the last two months,
After some time of practising breath observation on the whole body I came back to keep the concentration below the nostrils - Anapana as I learned it in the Vipassana courses. I cannot really concentrate better if I look at the whole body, and I do not share Matthew's opinion that it would be mere self-hyposis.
Pranayama (in the style of Ram Dev) helped me a lot to dissolve tensions. I do Kabalbhat ind Anulom Vinulom for 20 Min. in the morning and sometimes in the evening. Followed by 45 - 60 Min. Anapana. Sometimes I change to Vipassana, but quite rarely, as I really want to imrpove my concentration first.

So far for the technical part - emotionally, I feel much, much better. The dark hours get less frequent, the days are brighter and I found myself a very supporting environment. I might go for serving a Vipassana course in some weeks, and maybe sitting one later if I feel well. But I will surely not go on with taking course after course as before.

So, folxs, it seems as the storm didn't throw me out of the boat and I row on with patience and dilligence to reach the other shore.

Greetings from India and thanks for all the kind support

Meditator.

Fabrice

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EDIT: Ah nevermind, I see someone already commented along the same lines  :D
« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 03:24:08 PM by Fabrice »

Crystal Palace

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Dear MEDITATOR,

Its great to hear from you again  :) 

The title of your topic reminded of one of SN Goenkaji's sayings, "One who starts walking on the path and takes ten steps will be ten steps closer to the final goal. One who takes a hundred steps will be a hundred steps closer to the final goal. And one who takes all the steps on the path will reach the final goal. But the one who hasn't even taken one step, how can it be said that he will reach the final goal?"

So even though you're taking ant steps, you're still that many ant steps closer to the final goal my friend!

Regarding pranayam, even I practice it in the style of Ram Dev. I reckon it is an extremely good tool for maintaining physical health. Pranayam can be good physically and may also calm the mind down but it does not take out the deep rooted mental complexes responsible for our suffering. Therefore, since mind precedes matter, my topmost priority is always Vipassana.

Its good to know you are in India. Welcome to my country! Since I live here, if you ever have any probles or queries feel free to contact me.

Best Wishes  :)

Warmly,
Crystal Palace



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

Buddha

MEDITATOR

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Dear Dhamma Friends

I can't believe it is six years since my last post.
All I can say is: DHAMMA WORKS.

2010 I had a "spiritual crisis", stopped meditating daily and didn't take courses for two years.
But if one has tasted the sweetness of Dhamma, one cannot resist to go on.
And that's what I did: I kept on taking courses and am now back to daily practice.

The difficulties have not disappeared, but they have become weaker. I am now able to handle a full time job as a teacher, found a wonderful wife and became a father. Not bad for someone who had been a drug addict, diagnosed with ADHS and depression and even had a psychotic episode twenty years ago.
I found peace with my difficulties. I use them to progress now.
And I do now know that they weren't due to a sensation, a sitting posture, a vitamine D or other defieciency nor anything else; no, these difficulties are and were simply manifestations of sankharas. And the only way to come out of them is by keeping on working.
Patiently and persisently, as Goenka uses to say.
There is no real short cut. There is no other way out.
And there really is no meaning in comparison. Even if I were the person with largest accumulation of Sankharas in the whole existence, the first step would be to accept this and keeping on working.
If you'd see me in daily life, you would maybe not think that I am a meditator. You would maybe think that I am a little nervous and tense. But if you'd see the same person 12 years ago, you would see a huge difference in behaviour. I would be dead now or in a mental hospital if I hadn't started to meditate.

So, again, dear friends: DHAMMA WORKS! I feel so happy about having found this wonderful path which brings more and more lightness to my life. So: Keep on going, keep on working, whatever difficulties you experience!
 ;D :) :) ;) ;D

Laurent

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Sankharas are a very amazing thing.
Nice feedback, dear friend.

mdr

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Dear Dhamma Friends

I can't believe it is six years since my last post.
All I can say is: DHAMMA WORKS.

2010 I had a "spiritual crisis", stopped meditating daily and didn't take courses for two years.
But if one has tasted the sweetness of Dhamma, one cannot resist to go on.
And that's what I did: I kept on taking courses and am now back to daily practice.

The difficulties have not disappeared, but they have become weaker. I am now able to handle a full time job as a teacher, found a wonderful wife and became a father. Not bad for someone who had been a drug addict, diagnosed with ADHS and depression and even had a psychotic episode twenty years ago.
I found peace with my difficulties. I use them to progress now.
And I do now know that they weren't due to a sensation, a sitting posture, a vitamine D or other defieciency nor anything else; no, these difficulties are and were simply manifestations of sankharas. And the only way to come out of them is by keeping on working.
Patiently and persisently, as Goenka uses to say.
There is no real short cut. There is no other way out.
And there really is no meaning in comparison. Even if I were the person with largest accumulation of Sankharas in the whole existence, the first step would be to accept this and keeping on working.
If you'd see me in daily life, you would maybe not think that I am a meditator. You would maybe think that I am a little nervous and tense. But if you'd see the same person 12 years ago, you would see a huge difference in behaviour. I would be dead now or in a mental hospital if I hadn't started to meditate.

So, again, dear friends: DHAMMA WORKS! I feel so happy about having found this wonderful path which brings more and more lightness to my life. So: Keep on going, keep on working, whatever difficulties you experience!
 ;D :) :) ;) ;D

Congratulations, MEDITATOR! Well done! Keep up the good work! Thank you for sharing your story  :)

Matthew

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Hello MEDITATOR,

Long time no see :) .. happy to hear you have found a much more fulfilling and peaceful life.

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