The Hungry Brain gives off a bit of a Malcolm Gladwell vibe, with its cutesy name and pop-neuroscience style. Stephan Guyenet is no Gladwell-style dilettante. He is very serious about what he does and his book is exactly as good as I would have hoped. He writes The [calories in, calories out] model is the idea that our body weight is determined by voluntary decisions about how much we eat and move, and in order to control our body weight, all we need is a little advice about how many calories to eat and burn, and a little willpower.
This will be a long review since there is a lot to say!
The Rules There a few strict rules that you have to follow during the retreat: There are 2 times each day when you can ask an assistant teacher questions if necessary, but otherwise the entire retreat is completely void of communication.
Goenka teaching about the meditation and his philosophies on lifeand a couple breaks, the day is full. A side note on food: You only get breakfast and lunch, and then fruit and tea for dinner — but surprisingly it is enough, I suppose because the physical activity is so minimal.
The first 2 days you do nothing during meditation but concentrate on your breath. This is to relax and focus your mind and get yourself in tune with your body — you also discover how out of control you mind actually is, but you get better at focusing and controlling it.
For the next 1. Then for the rest of the retreat you take your now somewhat tamed and focused mind and focus it part by part throughout the rest of your body, with tweaks each day on how you do that. They say that your body and mind are very closely related, and the effects of everything that happens to you are stored in your body as some sort of tension, or some sensation, or something.
For example, say you experience a painful rejection by an audience while doing an oral presentation when you are young.
The effect of the rejection would be stored in your body somehow. From then on that affects you, and you feel nervous doing presentations. When you are meditating, and relaxed and in tune with your body, and equanimous indifferent, just observing yourself objectively, feeling neither craving nor aversion to anythingthe Sankharas start coming up to the surface.
The idea is that when you just observe the physical manifestations of the Sankharas with equanimity, and they arise and pass away, the Sankharas get eradicated, along with their effects on you.
Before going on the retreat, I though that this meant I would start feeling various emotions, or having memories come into my mind, etc, but actually you only feel physical sensations. You continue doing this until you are free of all your conditioning takes a lot more than 10 days — it could take many lifetimes — but 10 days is supposed to be a good first step.
On the retreat you do cultivate some other good skills and attributes, such as equanimity, etc, but really the goal is to undo your conditioning. Interesting But Not Really Relevant I had a hard time getting to sleep at night, because I could not turn the sensations off, and they were very distracting and kept me up.
They say that what the sensations are that you are experiencing are irrelevant. What matters is that you simply remain aware of them and equanimous to them. Most of the sensations I experienced were the mundane types of sensations I described above. I did however have a couple unusual sensations.
One was the sensation of tears running down my face. Other times, I felt like I had a big gash in the middle of my forehead, and there were drops coming from it blood? Very interesting, but as they say, meaningless, because the point is to just remain aware and equanimous as the various sensations arise and pass away.
The food was excellent. The accommodations were quite nice. Most of the discourses videos in the evening were excellent. The retreats are free, and are financed exclusively by donations. They do not allow you to donate any money until after you have completed a retreat, and even then they do not put any pressure on you to give them anything.
This, along with their apparent desire just to help others, is what impressed me most of all. The Negatives Although they say all over their website that they are not a religious organization and are not sectarian, and they repeat the same thing a few times during the retreat, the fact is that they really actually are quite Buddhist.
Upon my insistence, they bent the rules and let me read a translation of the chanting, so I decided to stay. There were many other religious aspects that troubled me also.
If you are going to do a retreat I encourage you to be aware of this. The Major Negative For me, the major negative was simply that I did not get any apparent results from the retreat.
Therefore, unfortunately, I cannot say that the retreat was successful. Essentially, I am the same, and therefore I am disappointed. In one of the discourses, the teacher S.Pearson Prentice Hall and our other respected imprints provide educational materials, technologies, assessments and related services across the secondary curriculum.
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