A big smile to you, too. Actually, I was the only westerner there but given 
we couldn't communicate with each other I guess it didn't matter much. The 
with the sitting arrangements - it doesn't matter how you sit. After an hour of 
sitting in *any* position (without moving) the pain becomes unbearable. In the 
end you give up trying to get comfortable and just accept the fact that the 
is going to come eventually no matter what you do. 

Ah yes, I know exactly what you mean about listening to the sounds of the night 
on a long retreat. I remember seeing some fire-flies (the retreat in Kyoto is 
deep into a forest) and watching them dance around for what seemed like hours. 
Even a breeze on the skin feels like a drink of ice-cold beer on a hot summers 
night. The senses are tuned-in in a way that can't be experienced ordinarily. 
everyone would go on a retreat, I'm sure that many of the world's problems 
be sorted out overnight.


From: Maria Lopez <>
Sent: Fri, 15 October, 2010 17:53:17
Subject: Re: [Zen] New member.

This of yours is a valuable sharing to me.  Thank you for it. I wish I could 
attend a retreat as the one you give description about. 
It also sounds as this retreat was a big boost to yourself practise zen.  I 
across years ago the sutra of the breathing translated by TNH. I had an 
away affinity to it.  Then, some years later I had the chance of attending that 
21 retreat about the sutra of the breathing . In spite of being an overcrowded 
retreat and not particular silence,  it was a big boost into the practise.  I 
slept very little on that retreat, perhaps between two, three and some lucky 
days four hours.  The reason of this was because when all the monastery was at 
sleep,  the silence of the night was overwhelming magic and so I spent it 
listening to the sounds of the night, sensing all those fresh spring smells, 
looking at the clear sky with so many stars...It was marvellous. So the sutra 
the breathing between the day and the night kicked by the passing days like a 
gentle rain. 

Were there many people in your retreat?.  Were you the only westerner attending 

It was wise of the ones who guide the retreat not to put a particular emphasis 
in the way attendants would sit down.  As you know I suffer from a disability 
that deteriorated and can't do a sitting down on the floor.  I can sit down in 
some chairs.  Not as easy as sitting down, though some people think that in a 
chair is much easier.  But it's not. It's actually very challenging as it takes 
much longer to have the oxygen going into smoothly and circulating in harmony 
through all body.  It takes patiente and much longer time to achieve that while 
sitting on a chair  that it takes when sitting down.  To make matters worse, 
chairs from the monastery were not good chairs and took me several days in a 
row before I could make my little throne and sit down for as long as I wanted 
there. And then yes, free from, what a pleasure to feel my breath 
going out and out!.  Do you think were the endorphin es too?.
How did you manage not to fall into sleep after such long hours?.
A big smile to you


--- On Thu, 14/10/10, mike brown <> wrote:

>From: mike brown <>
>Subject: Re: [Zen] New member.
>Date: Thursday, 14 October, 2010, 12:28
>Well, a 10 day vipassana course is pretty much like an 8 day sesshin except in 
>the following ways. The vipassana course goes for 10 days and there is 
>absolutely no talking, reading, writing or any form of communication 
>Wake up at 4am; last meal 11.30am; lights out at 9.30pm. Mediatate all other 
>times. There is no emphasis on how you sit to meditate and you can use 
>you like (any number of cushions etc). The first 4 days just gets you to 
>concentrate on the air moving in and out of you nostrils with the 4th day 
>concentrating only on the space below the nostrils where the breath 
>enters/exits. On the 5th the Vipassana 'technique' proper begins which 
>a kind of 'scanning' of the body (from head to toe) or subtle sensations. This 
>has the effect of pushing the consciousness into very subtle levels. On the 
>or 6th day you're expected to not move for one hour - not one movement! This 
>realllllllllllllly difficult and pushes you into levels of pain you cannot 
>to imagine! However, an amazing thing happens. You can be in intense pain 
>the 40 minute mark (if you haven't moved), but suddenly the body/mind 
>experiences a letting go of the pain and changes to intense bliss and euphoria 
>and I mean ecstasy (personally, I don't think this is anything 'spiritual', 
>just the effect of endorphins). The lesson learnt is that nothing lasts 
>(pleasure - pain) and so not to cling to/avert anything. Equanimity is 
>the state 
>that walks that middle line. Now, this may all seem pretty obvious to those of 
>us aquainted with Zen and Buddhism *but* reading or imaging pain/pleasure is 
>thing, but the intense experience of it (try not moving *at all* for one hour) 
>is another. Furthermore, the course is absolutely free of any religious 
>icons/paraphenalia and is also completely free of cost (incl. accom. and 
>An amazing experience. The SAS of the meditation retreats!


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