Vipassana Meditation

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Vipassana Meditation

Post by Nekoha on Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:05 pm

Hi all!
I went on a 10 day Vipassana Meditation Retreat, but I came home early. This stuff is definitely NOT for everyone!! The good news is that I really think that if you can stick it out for the whole 10 days, you really will get results and there is some pretty strong anecdotal evidence that it helps migraine sufferers. The guru who started most of the Vipassana centers, SN Goenka, suffered from severe migraines until he began doing Vipassana.
So why couldn't I stay the whole time? Well, the first 3 days were great. Yes, they were difficult - no phone, no reading or writing materials, no contact with the outside world (internet, etc), no talking to your fellow meditators. You have to go to bed at 9:30 and get up at 4:00 AM, and you eat 2 meals a day with some fruit at 5 PM. Still, I thought that the technique was good and I could deal with the exhaustion, hunger, and soreness from sitting cross-legged for 12 hours. A lot of what the guru said made sense, too, but some of it was kind of... odd. He has an hour and a half discourse each night where he explains what you have done that day (which would have been MUCH more useful if I had been told in the morning, before starting!) and during this videotaped discouse, he keeps claiming that Vipassana is 100% nonsectarian, but he really says some harsh stuff about each religion. If you are religious, you would probably be pretty offended by what he says. Also, he says that you can't become healthy if you work for pharmaceutical companies, as they make poison and kill people. That stuck in my craw, because my new job is with a pharmaceutical company, and I am super proud to be working on anti-cancer treatments! But, again, it wasn't anything big.
The guru seems pretty cool, but of course he lives in India or somewhere. He has people that he has trained as Assistant Teachers at the site. My assistant teacher was a real piece of work. She sits up on this little pedestal, which is fine during class. But when I went to ask her questions about the technique, she was still sitting there and won't talk to you until you kneel on a cushion in front of her. Then she totally blew off my questions!! She acted like I was the stupidest creature alive. When I started to get a migraine, she told me not to take my medicine, which was fine, because my migraine was mild. The guru told us that night on the video discourse that it is common for new members to get sick, because what we are doing is "brain surgery with no anesthetic" and any headaches, etc, is just pus from the infection in our minds. Okay, that's an interesting outlook, and I accepted it. But the assistant teacher didn't even take a minute to explain that to me, just blew me off again when I told her that I was sick.
Fast forward to the 4th day. That is the day that you start the real Vipassana meditation, the first 3 days being just breathing exercises. Well, when we started doing Vipassana, I freaked out. I had a full blown panic attack and couldn't stop crying for anything. We weren't allowed to leave the room for the 2 hours of Vipassana, and there were people guarding the doors, so I had to sit there sobbing as quietly as possible so as not to disturb other people. I had to use my sock to wipe my nose!! I can't explain why the Vipassana made me so upset, except that I was so completely overwhelmed in a bad way. My brain started to open up a bit, and what I "saw" was not good, and then it slammed shut, hard. We were warned that we might remember unpleasant things from the past, but I wasn't worried because I remember my past and have worked it out. Or so I thought. I can't explain what I saw, but I suddenly knew that my work in therapy these past years has only covered the surface problems. Also, I felt that if I went any further in that situation, with an assistant teacher that was so unsympathetic, I would damage myself. This may be just rationalizing my leaving, but it is how I really feel. After the session ended, I went to the assistant teacher and told her that I needed to leave. She wouldn't let me leave because we had signed a piece of paper saying we would stay for the full 10 days. I insisted and told her what had happened and that I didn't feel safe. She was such a first class BLEEP to me that I stopped being upset and started being angry. She wouldn't let me call my husband or anything, and I started feeling like Vipassana is a little like a cult. Well, the next day I once again insisted that I be allowed to leave, and this time she said "Of course, you should leave, Vipassana is too strong for you." and then called my husband to tell him how weak I am!!! Evil or Very Mad
Well, I am home now, but I don't think I shall be doing any more group retreats of meditation of any kind. I do believe that meditation can help people, and I am willing to go to a retreat if I am with people I know and if I know for sure that the people in charge are caring, compassionate people. Still, it is such a shame that I had to have such a terrible experience! I really thought that this technique would help. The things I learned in the first 3 days are useful for insomnia, at least!
Carla

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Re: Vipassana Meditation

Post by Tee on Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:00 am

Oh Carla I am so so so sorry to read this - meditation taught by spiritual people should not be like this - its true that it can bring up unresolved problems from deep down - that is the purpose of it - but you need your hand held while you are going through this.

I do TM and not Vipassana - mainly because I do not agree with some of what the Guru quotes ie the anti other people.......

The one things which I can see coming out of this - is that there is obviously something deep down which you have not sorted out and this I feel should be the focus of going forward, however, this should be on a one to one basis with someone whom is qualified to help you do this.. It makes me cross that these so called 'teachers' can be so arrogant and up their own asses - kneeling on a cushion !!! please............. the sad things is that good meditation can help you switch your mind off and thus rest the pulses going on in your brain and give it some time off to rest.........

I do hope in time you are able to see that whilst this was not the most pleasant of experiences it has shown that there is more to do with dealing with the past...

Hug

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Re: Vipassana Meditation

Post by pīwakawaka on Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:19 pm

OMG Anyone who says one of their students is "too weak" to undertake the course of study is not a real teacher. An the fact that they kept you as a virtual prisoner is very disturbing. It borders on being a cult in my view. I hope that this particular practitioner is not typical of all Vipassana Meditation teachers. While I think many forms of meditation can be helpful to some people, there is no one "right" form. Different people have different needs. And of course, for some people, meditation is not going to be of any benefit.

Having said that, please don't let this experience put you off looking at meditation or some other form of spiritual journey while looking for answers

I do wish you well in your search wherever that may lead.


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