Continuous mindfulness v Intensive retreats

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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Continuous mindfulness v Intensive retreats

Post by Thisisit63 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:17 pm

I am new here, this is my first post.

Have been practicing Vipassana meditation for many years and wanted to poll the readers on this interesting question:

What do you find more effective - Being continuously mindful as my main practice (with zazen twice a day) or attending week/month long intensive retreats ?

Of course, the first answer is do both since each offers its particular benefits.

I have done both but find continuous mindfulness a more stable and effortless way to establish a permanent ground of being.

I compare this to having a bad posture: to correct it I need to do two things:

Continuously stand, walk lie in a good posture. Establish this as a habit where my body keeps falling into alignment. Match this to continuous mindfulness where the natural state is to be aware, resting in this state permanently. I used to carry this into sleep states but found this too exhausting and did not get a good nights rest.

The second additional approach is to exercise to get a good posture. Strenghthen front and back muscles, neck, spine and so on. Match this to Zazen where mind practices are more intense. You need both of these to balance the good posture.

OK, so let me compare the Intensive retreats.

This is a tradition since time immemorial, aiming to reach a breakthrough to a deeper practice. Comparing this to exercise I run into a problem. If I devoted a week to intensive exercise I will not make much progress and may even be injured. I am not discounting the intensive approach, I am trying to elicit your comments on more reasons why an Intensive retreat makes better sense.

Also Exercise and Meditation are not equal, this is an analogy to contrast the approaches.

I have found, again using the exercise analogy, that Interval training where you coast for 3 minutes then 1 minute push all out and back to 3 minute coasting has been proven to be more effective. Matching this to Continuous mindfulness (Coasting) to Zazen(focused interval) seem to work for me best.

Also there are many other techniques, prostrations, worship, recitations, etc but wanted them out of this discussion so we can achieve clarity on the two approaches.
There is not black and white answer to this, what are your thoughts ?

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Re: Continuous mindfulness v Intensive retreats

Post by stevie » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:43 pm

Thisisit63 wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:17 pm
what are your thoughts ?
you know best what is conducive for you.

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Re: Continuous mindfulness v Intensive retreats

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:17 pm

If you don't mind me asking - what kind Vipassana & what kind of zazen? The reason I ask is some people say what i practice is closer to Samatha than to vipassana & i can guarantee there's no problem sleeping & using it for relaxation whatsoever. It's also called "Calming" meditation...

Zazen is a broad category, but in the Japanese context it is group sitting that is regulated as to posture, mudra, maybe using breath, maybe not, maybe very similar to samatha, or maybe just shikantaza, or possibly Silent Illumination. Others sit with their koan.

It sounds as if you are crafting your own curriculum, ah, nothing wrong with that i suppose since you say you've been at this a long time.

Establishing a daily practice is mandatory and cannot be over-emphasized. This is how we live. Currently i'm doing about 45 minutes sitting (not enough in my opinion) and i double that every year at Vassa "Rains Retreat" even although the weather is nice here except for the occasional hurricane. I always feel like there's a new dimension that opens up when you go on retreat. It does not have to be a residence course, it can be done at home with more zazen, stricter diet, and less worldly interruptions.

Residential retreats with guest teachers and your sangha are irreplaceable. You come away feeling like you've lived with these people all your life. It can be a very supportive bonding with your sangha.

One suggestion is to get a yoga teacher for a one-time consultation to give you a set of asanas to help support the body getting into half-lotus or lotus for stretches of time.

Welcome to Dharmawheel!

"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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