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onebir

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There's quite a lot of info about intensive meditation courses, but I was wondering if there are places that have a slightly less restrictive schedule... I've done a couple of 10 day vipassana courses, but found them problematic in several ways:

a) sitting for 10 hours a day just gets painful - and where the rest periods are short, the pain sets in more quickly in second and subsequent sessions. This is distracting, and I think even acts as a form of aversion therapy to meditation.

b ) exercise, yoga etc are banned, and I start to miss this within a few days. For a short period, I agree that practicing non-attachment to this habit is useful. But for longer periods such a sedentary existence is just unheathy.

c) there's real transition between the intensiveness of the course and real life. The final day where you're allowed to talk is helpful in reducing the psychological shock of emerging into the real world, but does nothing to help you practice integrating meditation in some kind of routine approximating your normal life.

So I was wondering if there are centres (possibly non-residential) that allow a more relaxed approach - perhaps after an intensive period/ alternating with them.

I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have...

Edited by onebir

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There's quite a lot of info about intensive meditation courses, but I was wondering if there are places that have a slightly less restrictive schedule... I've done a couple of 10 day vipassana courses, but found them problematic in several ways:

a) sitting for 10 hours a day just gets painful - and where the rest periods are short, the pain sets in more quickly in second and subsequent sessions. This is distracting, and I think even acts as a form of aversion therapy to meditation.

b ) exercise, yoga etc are banned, and I start to miss this within a few days. For a short period, I agree that practicing non-attachment to this habit is useful. But for longer periods such a sedentary existence is just unheathy.

c) there's real transition between the intensiveness of the course and real life. The final day where you're allowed to talk is helpful in reducing the psychological shock of emerging into the real world, but does nothing to help you practice integrating meditation in some kind of routine approximating your normal life.

So I was wondering if there are centres (possibly non-residential) that allow a more relaxed approach - perhaps after an intensive period/ alternating with them.

I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have...

Many wats will allow guests to stay for short periods of time for 'self retreats'. I don't know of any centres as such, other than those that offer intensives.

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The 10 day course at Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiyo does incorporate yoga into their daily schedule. Many wats have afternoon meditation groups. In BKK I've gone to Wat Suthat and Wat Pratum Waranam next to Paragon has many daily meditation sessions and is run by an Isaan abbot who speaks a bit of English. Many courses are weekend and in English.

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Wat Tha Ton in northern Chiang Mai province has 10 day scheduled meditation courses or you can go anytime & do your own course - you will receive instruction but on a flexible, unscheduled basis & they ask that you stay for at least 7 days if you haven't been there before. They teach what's called "Dynamic Vipassana" involving both seated and walking meditation so no long periods of stationary sitting. And qi gong/yoga are more than tolerated - I exchanged qi gong routines with one of the monks. I went there last year for 7 days & found it a very relaxed, welcoming & low-key place. And I also found the technique very powerful. I have been to a Goenka 10 day Viapassana retreat like you described & I found that the experience at Wat Tha Ton suited me much better (different strokes for different folks). At the wat you are responsible for motivating yourself & you can be as disciplined or lax in your practice as you want to be (I practiced about 8 hours per day). There is no vow of silence & at times I wished there was but I could always find a quiet place to practice easily. The website is wat-thaton.org. I highly recommend this wat & plan on going back myself in May for several days. If you have any more questions about my experience you can ask them here or pm me if you prefer. Good luck.

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My own opinion is that the most important thing is to integrate meditation into your daily life. If going to retreats doesn't do this then they are of limited value (in my opinion). My view is that you should do everything you can to integrate meditation into your daily life and you should choose special meditation experiences for the express purpose of their ability to help with this.

Chownah

P.S. I can't overstress the importance of integrating your meditation into your daily life....my view is that the essence of the spiritual quest can only be found in daily life and nowhere else....if one finds that one can only make progress in a temple then being in a temple should be made part of ones daily life.

Chownah

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It sounds like you've been doing Goenka retreats, which is fine and good that you finish the full 10 days but is just one approach among many.

You'll find most other monasteries and retreat centres to be less physically intensive.

Where are you located? Where do you want to go? I might be able to suggest something locally.

I'd recommend you do some retreats in western countries as they contain a lot more teaching than you'll get in Thailand and will help broaden your practice, as Goenka teaching is quite narrow. In Thailand Wat Kow Tahm in Ko Phangan is probably a good start.

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Thanks for the information everybody. As you've guessed, I've done a couple of the Goenka style courses, but never managed to integrate that practice into my daily life - partly due to my own failings, but I think also partly due to the factors I identified in the OP. It seems like there are places in Thailand where I might have better luck!

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My own opinion is that the most important thing is to integrate meditation into your daily life. If going to retreats doesn't do this then they are of limited value (in my opinion). My view is that you should do everything you can to integrate meditation into your daily life and you should choose special meditation experiences for the express purpose of their ability to help with this.

Chownah

P.S. I can't overstress the importance of integrating your meditation into your daily life....my view is that the essence of the spiritual quest can only be found in daily life and nowhere else....if one finds that one can only make progress in a temple then being in a temple should be made part of ones daily life.

Chownah

This is a very good post and exactly what I needed to hear. I tend to meditate formally for up to five hours a day. I have been attracted to intensive practice following a 26 day course at Wat Ram Poeng in Chiang Mai a few years ago. Part of the practice there is the 'determination' where you meditate constantly for 72 hours without sleep.

I find that the more I meditate daily the more equanimity I have throughout the day. The problem is I will probably not be able to maintain this level of practice as my wife is pregnant and so I will need to return to full-time employment here in Thailand. This has been bothering me a bit because I fear losing any progress that I have already achieved. I also get periods where I become antsy (like this last month which funnily enough is the period when I started posting rubbish on TV) and can't maintain the same number of hours of practice.

Thank you for reminding me that the most important practice is in my daily routine. I do in fact get periods of mindfulness throiughout the day and this does seem to be progressing. Some days are better than others though.

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Wat Mahatat, Thanon Maharat, Bangkok does 'drop in' meditation most afternoons and there is often an English talk afterwards. You can come and go as you please. It's in Section 5 - just ask any monk to direct you. The temple sits almost on the banks of the Chao Phraya River next to Tha Chang and Tha Phra Chan

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