Archive for April, 2008

Vipassana 10-Day Meditation Retreat Review – Part 3 of 3

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

A FEW MORE POSITIVE ASPECTS:

That last post ended on a negative note, so I’ll try to throw in a few more positive aspects here…

I did learn the value of equanimity and living in the present moment. For example, I experienced the fact that a significant amount of suffering comes from resisting the present moment and feeling aversion to it – for the first few days, when I experienced pain in my legs/back from sitting for so long, I would be constantly wishing it would go away, always wondering when the meditation session would be over. And since it wouldn’t go away, and the session wasn’t over, it caused me a lot of mental anguish. After learning about equanimity, I would do my best to simply observe the pain objectively, without feeling aversion, just accepting it as it was in the present, and not thinking about that past or future, and even analyzing the pain with my mind to see exactly how it felt in different areas, what type of pain, at what point in my body it began fading away, etc – just doing as much as possible to accept it – and I found that that made it much more tolerable. The pain was still there, but my suffering was reduced.

Living in the present moment is easier said than done though, and when the pain got bad enough I couldn’t do it any more, but I did experience the value of being able to do so at least somewhat.

Buddhists say that craving and aversion are the cause of suffering, and they are also contrary to living in the present moment – for example craving is wishing for something in the future instead of accepting the present moment as it is. Somehow this doesn’t mean that you can’t set goals for the future etc – I don’t quite get how that all fits together.

It also takes determination and persistence to complete the retreat – it is not a walk in the park – so I suppose I built up some of those qualities in myself also.

I also gained some sort of control over my mind, so that is a benefit also.

CONCLUSION:

So yes, I did benefit from the retreat, but I feel like they were all minimal improvements – I don’t feel like I actually eliminated any Sankharas and purified my mind or improved myself in any significant way which was the main point.

The “old students” (who had done these retreats before, and many of whom had been doing vipassana for years) for the most part did not seem particularly impressive to me – generally not the type of people I want to become like from what I could tell.

I’m glad I went, because it was an interesting experience and there were many great aspects to the retreat, but since the ultimate goal (improving myself in some way) was not achieved, I was, overall, disappointed because I got very little out of it.

Do I recommend it? Yes, IF you have 10 days to blow with nothing better to do, and IF you have read this entire review and have a realistic idea what to expect.

There is a lot more elaboration possible, but I’ll wait to expand until I get questions about specific things.

I welcome your comments and questions. Please type them in below!

Nov. 2010 Update: I have just opened up the comments again, after having them closed for over a year :)

Feb. 2011 Update: Sorry, comments have been closed again due to spam :(