requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retreat

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Balint Pinczes, modified 2 Months ago.

requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retreat

Posts: 34 Join Date: 8/3/18 Recent Posts
Hi Folks,

I have a friend who wishes to do spend part of the coming holiday season meditating, maybe approximating something like a home retreat, but more realistically maybe three hours on the cushion a day for about a week given she has other (work/academic) obligations, too. 

She asked me for some recommendations as to what exactly to do and I was not really sure. 

My inclination would be to suggest she either picks one practice, say TMI or noting aloud or metta and do three sits (&walking) a day for a week or finds recordings from maybe a two-day retreat by someone (Burbea?) and goes with the guided meditations and the instructions.  

Do you maybe have better ideas for her? Or do you have some specific resource in mind that would be wise for her to work with?

She has done some reading, has some experience in meditating with a local zendo, and has done a couple of guided meditations by Michael Taft, among others, (and she does yoga), but as far as I know she has never had a regular practice so far. (Of course, laying the foundations for a regular practice could be one ideal outcome of such an undertaking.)

All suggestions are welcome and any feedback is highly appreciated!

Thank yous, 

Balint
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retr

Posts: 942 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Balint Pinczes:
Hi Folks,

I have a friend who wishes to do spend part of the coming holiday season meditating, maybe approximating something like a home retreat, but more realistically maybe three hours on the cushion a day for about a week given she has other (work/academic) obligations, too. 

...

All suggestions are welcome and any feedback is highly appreciated!

Thank yous, 

Balint

For a beginner ("newbie") (or even a more advanced meditator) I suggest starting the day with one meditation session for 30 mintues and then meditating for ten minutes every hour for the rest of the day.

Inbetween meditation sessions avoid anything that causes mental turbulence. Try to do things as mindfully as possible. It's okay to take a walk, read, watch videos, do chores around the house - as long as it doesn't cause mental turbulence. Reading and watching videos have to be monitored carefully, both can cause turbulence or be relaxing depending on the content.

What you find is that if you avoid mental turbulence the mind coasts along in a meditative state between sessions so that it is really like you are still meditating, with short boosters every hour. Like you're riding on a child's scooter gliding along smoothly but pushing with your foot every once in a while to keep up your momentum.

It might sound ineffective with too little meditation,  but I find it is very, very powerful, very very effective.

It's very easy to do so it doesn't need as much will power. And it helps you learn to live your practice so you can keep up the habit of living mindfully and keeping the mind tranquil even after the "retreat" is over.
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Balint Pinczes, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retr

Posts: 34 Join Date: 8/3/18 Recent Posts
Dear Jim, 

thank you for your kind reply, and please excuse me for taking so long to respond!

My friend said she found your advice useful, and I have decided to take your suggestions to heart as well. I'll probably go with a minimal approach, i.e., do a couple of 5 to 10 min sits beside my regular sits. I like your child scooter metaphor as well!

Yours,

Balint
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Richard Zen, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retr

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Concentration is always a good practice, but there are some areas that are often ignored and could be fun to practice with.

Letting Go: https://youtu.be/iekCpuNqmek

Learning not just to look at things arise and pass away, but like with Upasika Kee Nanayon, to envision drawbacks to desires, it can help to cultivate dispassion much further. The partial reason for this is that just because things are impermanent doesn't take care of the fact that we like what we like in the short-term and the mind doesn't need pleasure or interest to be permanent to see its value. Short-term pleasure is enough. To see short-term pleasures as also having drawbacks can reduce addictiveness.

Dispassion all the time needs help with pleasure in meditation and pleasure in relaxing the body to keep the mind from being so disenchanted and pessimistic. Concentration by itself does a lot, but deliberately enjoying the form of the body and sensation helps to relax habitual rigidity in the body. 

Actualism practices, or my understanding of it, could help to look at taking the Bahiya Sutta and but instead focus on enjoying the pleasure of sensation. This can attenuate the self, or in my understanding, the self becomes more of a sensation-self. The brain finds enough pleasure in the moment that it doesn't need to leap off into the future as much.

This is NOT the Actualism Method: http://psychreviews.org/this-is-not-the-actualism-method/

Another practice is learning a wonderment practice from Heidegger, influenced by Parmenides. Some of this will naturally come from concentration where child-like wonder at existence is developed in the adult brain. This comes with comparing experience to nothing so that a gratitude for the mundane can cultivate. This practice itself has helped with dealing with people, but I still have to cultivate it for some years to make it more regular, though I can bring it on much easier now.

Parmenides: https://youtu.be/dWdVTN5LQKs
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Balint Pinczes, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retr

Posts: 34 Join Date: 8/3/18 Recent Posts
 Dear Richard, 

wow! You have presented an offering that is... quite a mouthful! 

I have started digesting the two videos and the not-actualism article, and seeing what can be assimilated will definitely require some time... but there are clearly lots of useful pointers for practice. To begin with, I was unaware of Upasika Kee Nanayon and her teaching. All in all: thank you very much! (And sorry for the late reply.)

Balint
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retr

Posts: 2417 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Shargrol is exceptionally sane and realistic on retreats: check the relevant sections in his compiliation here ---  A compilation of shargrol's posts at dharmaoverground.org (shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com)
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Balint Pinczes, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: requesting recommendations for newbie holiday home quasi-mini-semi-retr

Posts: 34 Join Date: 8/3/18 Recent Posts
Dear Tim,

thank you for pointing out Shargrol's retreat advice. I am really fond of much of what he says elsewhere, but I have not come across this part of his output so far and I have to say I like it a lot! 

Yours,

Balint