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Insight and Wisdom

Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?

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Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/16/20 10:34 AM
Hey friends,
Planning a very short self-retreat this weekend, Friday (tomorrow) thru Sunday, aiming for somewhere between 6-8 hours of practice per day. It's my first retreat and a self retreat at that so I'm trying to keep it kind of a minimal commitment.  My wife is going to be there too but probably not practicing with me, so I need to leave room for meals, and breaks throughout the day.

I have a good idea of what I think it's going to look like but thought I would open it up here in case anyone may have a suggestion and also so that anyone else doing something like this might get some ideas.


So,
I've been researching schedules and the one I keep coming back to is something like this:

https://plumvillage.org/retreats/visiting-us/sample-schedule/

Though I am thinking to do a slightly modified schedule so I don't have to wake up at 5am:

7:30am: Wake Up Bell - begin noting
8:00am: Sitting Noting Meditation 
9:00am: Breakfast
10am: Dharma Reading / Meditation
11:30am: Walking meditation (outdoors)
12:30pm: Lunch
1:30pm: Rest / Optional Guided Relaxation
3pm: Service Meditation (Sadhana or prayers session + breathing and concentration)
6pm: Light dinner
8pm: Personal study time, Sitting Meditation or other practice
10pm: Lights out

As it always help to state a goal and intention, my goal for this retreat is to improve my concentration so that I may be able to progress on the path for the benefit of all beings including myself.

With that said I want to focus a lot of energy on concentration practices whether that is fire kasina, mantra/prayer recitation, or simple breathing practices.  However I do also want ot spend a good amount of time doing more straightforward noting and vipasanna sessions, perhaps some body scans, and leaving a decent amount of time that's just not planned, so that I could allow for my meditation to happen however it wants, choiceless awareness if you will.  

So the general idea here is to begin noting as soon as I wake up, through breakfast. Then do some reading and meditate on any potential insights gained from that reading.  Afternoon break to make lunch and hang out with the wife.  And then I'm thinking at night could be a good time to do some fire kasina and really work on my concentration.

Any thoughts, suggestions?  A little background on me, I've been meditating for a couple of years now, averaging 30mins-2 hours a day right now.  Like I mentioned this is my first retreat.  

Thanks!!

John



RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/16/20 11:05 AM as a reply to J W.
Hey John,

This looks like a good plan. I agree - you totally don't have to wake up at 5:00am. I did a home retreat last week and slept in a little. I practiced between 4-6 hours a day, so it was a pretty relaxed schedule. Believe me, with 6-8 hours a day of practice, if you practice well and consistently, you're really going to amp up your practice and can make some progress. Especially considering you say your typical practice is about 30 minutes - 2 hours.

One big recommendation and I don't know if you were already planning this, is to make sure you keep up the investigation between timeslots scheduled for sitting/walking. You want to carry the momentum forward, rather than having to ramp back up every time. That momentum of continuing to investigate the 3 characterstics even while eating, reading, relaxing, etc. is super duper helpful so please make good use of it.

If you're planning on posting at all during the retreat, feel free to ask any questions here if you feel like you need any pointers during it. Let us know if you have any other questions beforehand too.

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/16/20 11:24 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

One big recommendation and I don't know if you were already planning this, is to make sure you keep up the investigation between timeslots scheduled for sitting/walking. You want to carry the momentum forward, rather than having to ramp back up every time. That momentum of continuing to investigate the 3 characterstics even while eating, reading, relaxing, etc. is super duper helpful so please make good use of it.



Hey Steph, thanks, it is something I thought about briefly but didn't really think about how important this might be. It's a great thing to bring up and I'll make sure to keep the momentum going.

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/16/20 4:00 PM as a reply to J W.
Some practices are more or less conducive to alternation with other practices.  For instance, mindfulness of breathing, metta & noting are probably all fairly complementary in a day's schedule.  In contrast, fire kasina is notoriously a high-dose-needed practice to really get the benefits.  I would consider either doing all fire kasina or just leaving it out.

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/16/20 9:40 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks for the insight Noah. So would you say just 1-2 hours of fire kasina per day would be better spent doing other more complementary practice? Sounds like it would be.

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/17/20 3:34 PM as a reply to J W.
Hey John,
Really nice that you manage to sit three days at home. It is hard not to get distracted, so don't be too hard on yourself (or on your loved ones if you do not meet the expected amount of comprehension)...
I would add on what Steph was saying : try to have some formal practice during the day as well so you don't spend too long (like more than three hours?) without sitting, and lose momentum. Continuity of practice...
And I would not incorporate too many techniques, and maybe explore the depths of the one I am most intimate with (to get the best of my three days). The little I know of fire kasina is that it's really fun from the start, but then needs strong dedication to evolve. Well, so does awareness of the breath or noting. It seems short to split between techniques.
Well, maybe not so helpful advice (as I suspected when you asked me).

I wish you the best with your retreat
Love and metta
smiling stone

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/17/20 3:52 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Hey John,
Really nice that you manage to sit three days at home. It is hard not to get distracted, so don't be too hard on yourself (or on your loved ones if you do not meet the expected amount of comprehension)...
I would add on what Steph was saying : try to have some formal practice during the day as well so you don't spend too long (like more than three hours?) without sitting, and lose momentum. Continuity of practice...
And I would not incorporate too many techniques, and maybe explore the depths of the one I am most intimate with (to get the best of my three days). The little I know of fire kasina is that it's really fun from the start, but then needs strong dedication to evolve. Well, so does awareness of the breath or noting. It seems short to split between techniques.
Well, maybe not so helpful advice (as I suspected when you asked me).

I wish you the best with your retreat
Love and metta
smiling stone
Hey Roca Sonriente (hope you don't mind me using the spanish), I appreciate the thoughts. Been following your self-retreat logs actually! 

Yeah, I think fire kasina is out for this one.  Going to just try and do a lot of breathing and noting, with some prayers and mantra and see how that goes.

I'll let you all know how it goes, starting after dinner tonight!

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/17/20 3:56 PM as a reply to J W.
Goodluck then,
Make the best of it!

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/17/20 4:48 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Also,
I would start the day with concentration, if I used several techniques...
Be well

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/17/20 5:12 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Agreed that starting with concentration is a really good idea. 

One last tip. HAVE FUN! Go at it with a playful attitude. emoticon

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/18/20 8:52 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hey y'all. Thanks for all the tips, been very helpful.

Just wrote an entry for today, you can read it on my log if you wish, linking to it so as to not clutter things up here.  It's going good so far!

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/20180195


-John

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/18/20 10:04 PM as a reply to J W.
John W:
Thanks for the insight Noah. So would you say just 1-2 hours of fire kasina per day would be better spent doing other more complementary practice? Sounds like it would be.


Yeah.  Fire kasina uses the novelty of the visual system in a very specific/unique way so it's harder to cross over those gains to other practices.  In contrast, metta, noting & anapanasati all have a lot in common & you can see in real time how they synergize with each other in building mindfulness, concentration, relaxation, energy, etc over time.  

RE: Planning 3-day self retreat, advice?
Answer
4/20/20 10:46 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Hey y'all, just wanted to let you know the mini-retreat went well although it was very short.  I would definitely recommend that anyone thinking about doing a stay at home retreat during this time to do it, with no expectations, especially if you're like me and haven't done any real retreats before.  I do think it is kind of limited what can be accomplished or attained in such a short amount of time, but well worth it nonetheless and I feel that it's given me the confidence to ramp up my daily practice.