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In-Home Retreat
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3/21/20 3:14 PM
As many of you, I'm home now, and I will be home for a long time. I want to experiment and see how allocating a whole day to meditation would feel like, and if I like it, I would extend the duration. Bearing in mind that my longest meditation session has been 36 minutes, I have absolutely no idea about how to go about doing this. Since many of you have been to different retreats from different traditions, I figured it would be a good idea to ask you about how you would design this.

I was thinking something along the lines of 1 hour meditating, 1 hour reading, 1 hour meditating, 1 hour reading...but it doesn't seem right for some reason, I think I would burn out pretty quickly would I to do that. Maybe you won't even recommend reading at all! Thank you for your help!

RE: In-Home Retreat
Answer
3/21/20 6:49 PM as a reply to Angel C.
Angel C:
As many of you, I'm home now, and I will be home for a long time. I want to experiment and see how allocating a whole day to meditation would feel like, and if I like it, I would extend the duration. Bearing in mind that my longest meditation session has been 36 minutes, I have absolutely no idea about how to go about doing this. Since many of you have been to different retreats from different traditions, I figured it would be a good idea to ask you about how you would design this.

I was thinking something along the lines of 1 hour meditating, 1 hour reading, 1 hour meditating, 1 hour reading...but it doesn't seem right for some reason, I think I would burn out pretty quickly would I to do that. Maybe you won't even recommend reading at all! Thank you for your help!

Hi there!
Perhaps you can get some ideas by looking at some mainstream retreat schedules. For instance, here is the Goenka retreat schedule:

 http://www.pali.dhamma.org/time-table

Of course you can always customize them to suit your preference. Since your longest session is just over 30 minutes, it may be a good idea to stick to that time period for each session. It's probably a good idea to increase that time towards an hour as you become comfortable sitting for longer periods.

If you're doing vipassana, I will say it's beneficial to alternate between sitting and walking meditation.

You mentioned reading during your retreat and I don't recommend that. All your attention should be directed inwards during a retreat. Reading is not going to help your meditation practice unless you need to refresh your understanding of the practice instructions. 


May you have a fruitful retreat emoticon

RE: In-Home Retreat
Answer
3/21/20 6:14 PM as a reply to Angel C.
I will start with the fact that your longest session was 36 minutes. 

Most retreat centers will have a helpful and inspiring surrounding. Teachers, other meditators. From what I've heard and read. I never did such a retreat. My strength was consistent daily practice but I did organize two 3 day solo retreats. 

I would suggest 30 minutes sitting as soon you get out of the bed. Then do whatever, like toilet activity, like breakfast, and try Noting all you do and body sensations while doing it. 

then sit for 30 minutes again
10 minutes walking meditation (note sensations of each foot, walk slowly but not too slow)
sit again for 30 minutes. 

Then do what you do, like dishes , Hoover your home, walk the dog, clean cat's litter box, whatever. 

Then sit for 30 minutes again. 
walking meditation 10 minutes. 
sit another 30 minutes. 

Some activity like walk outside if at all possible considering this virus thing we all have at the moment. Stay safe. 
if not do some sort of movement. 

Etc ... Don't go over your head with too much. Take only what you can handle. Forcing will only create frustration. 
Also when meditating all day stages will start unfolding with insights. 
It's good to get a feedback from folks who know this stuff. You can start a Journal here on DhO (daily log so you can ask questions). 

My solo retreat was 6 times 1 hour long sessions each day with walking in nature with my dog during the day. 

That said I've got more out of daily 1-2 times 45-90 minutes sits than my solo retreats emoticon This is just my experience of course.

Quality vs quantity. Many sits with lots of daydreaming is not better than 1 sit with strong mindfulness and concentration. 

What is your main meditation practice? 

RE: In-Home Retreat
Answer
3/22/20 4:07 AM as a reply to Angel C.
Thank you both for the ideas! I will probably do it in 30 minutes blocks, as I've noticed that my concentration peaks at what I believe it to be 10 minutes and then it decays quickly around the 20 minutes mark.
I practice concentration exclusively, I don't discard practicing mindfulness later on, but right now I'm just very curious about the jhanas. I do it by focusing on the breath on the inside of my nose.

RE: In-Home Retreat
Answer
3/22/20 4:56 AM as a reply to Angel C.
Sounds like good plan. Just a little tip; if you get too much heat or preassure in the head shift attention from the Nose to the Belly raising and falling instead, or simply the Whole Body Breathing where you hold the whole body in attention while breathing in and breathing out.

Have a good one emoticon

RE: In-Home Retreat
Answer
3/22/20 7:19 AM as a reply to Angel C.
Angel C:
As many of you, I'm home now, and I will be home for a long time. I want to experiment and see how allocating a whole day to meditation would feel like, and if I like it, I would extend the duration. Bearing in mind that my longest meditation session has been 36 minutes, I have absolutely no idea about how to go about doing this. Since many of you have been to different retreats from different traditions, I figured it would be a good idea to ask you about how you would design this.

I was thinking something along the lines of 1 hour meditating, 1 hour reading, 1 hour meditating, 1 hour reading...but it doesn't seem right for some reason, I think I would burn out pretty quickly would I to do that. Maybe you won't even recommend reading at all! Thank you for your help!


This is going to sound crazy but I one option that works better than you might think is to do sitting meditation for ten minutes every hour exept when you are sleeping.

In between meditation sessions, try to avoid anything that will cause stress or mental turbulence. Whatever you do, try to do it mindfully - just be aware of what you are doing as you are doing it. Do this in a relaxed way not with intense concentration. When the mind wanders just bring it back in to focus. (Learn to recognize the gentle realxed state of being in the moment. When it is familiar you will be able to produce it any time you want during ordinary life.)

What happens from these repeated short meditation sessions is your mind gradually calms down and you sink into a constant meditative state that persists even when you are not meditating and the mind becomes very quiet and relaxed. This state gets renewed and deepens every hour.

This requires a lot less will power than meditating all day so you are more likely to do it and get a benefit from it. 

While you are meditating and between sessions, watch your mind and notice what happens that causes mental turbulence or unpleasant emotions that disturb your relaxed state.That is the origination of dukkah. Try to notice how the stress or mental turbulence or unpleasant emotions go away (does doing relaxation exercises help?). This is the cessation of dukkha. Try not to force away the unpleasant emotions, force suppresses them and causes tension and irritability. Letting go can be tricky - usually tension indicates suppression, and relaxation indicates letting go.  When you feel emotions, do you feel sensations in your body that accompany the emotions?

The point is to learn the how dukkha originates and how it ceases (hint: stress & relaxation)

--------------------

A different kind of thing you can try if you have never done it is to to do a sitting meditation session for one hour. Tell yourself  you are going to try for one hour, you never have to meditate that long again, you don't have to do it perfectly, you don't have to have perfect concentration, you can change posture if you become uncomfortable, you just want to try this once. And it's okay to sit in a chair. 

The point is to find out what an hour of meditation is like and to find out that you can do it. After doing it once it is much easier to do it again. After an hour, probably you will feel really great - relaxed in a pleasant mood and you will now understand that meditating a lot can do something good, that it produces a result that you will like.

In general if you are going to do a lot of long meditation sessions one after another, and this is how retreats are done, is to do five or ten minutes of walking meditation inbetween sitting meditation sessions of 30 or 40 minutes. If you just sit hour after hour without moving you can get a blood clot in your legs that can kill you if it gets dislodged when you stand up.

RE: In-Home Retreat
Answer
3/22/20 2:42 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Thank you both! I surely will apply your tips! Jim, you motivated me to try an hour-long meditation session, we'll see how it goes!

As for today I did 3 meditation sessions just to get my toes wet and I'm pretty sure I experienced piti, but I chickened out...it was too much! Actually I feel a little "high" even right now, and it's been more than an hour since it happened! All in all I liked the experience of meditating more, and I'm very motivated to see what effects a whole day of "building up" my concentration could have.