Retreat recommendations 2022

Shari Tresky, modified 2 Years ago at 1/2/22 6:02 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/2/22 6:02 PM

Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 10 Join Date: 4/9/20 Recent Posts

I just finished reading MCTB2 and feel strongly that I have found my path. Everything Daniel has written has resonated both intellectually and intuitively in the deepest processes of my being. I have been a meditator on and off for many years, and now find myself in circumstances where I am lucky enough to be able to make spiritual development the highest priority in life. I am looking for retreats I might attend in 2022, preferably in the Mahasi tradition, and in the US, but other Theravada retreats in the US or elsewhere are possible for me as well. Right now I am looking for 1 or two week retreats for starters, then as long as a month would be appropriate. I am a mental health counselor so I cannot get away for 3 months right now, but am working toward that level of comittment in the near future. I am grateful for any suggestions anyone here has for me. Mahalo nui, Shari
Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Years ago at 1/2/22 7:28 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/2/22 7:28 PM

RE: Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 511 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I had a fantastic experience doing a 7-day virtual retreat with Unified Mindfulness. Very cost effective and I felt like my retreat experience was as deep as anything I could have done in-person. Very good instruction and support and a flexible degree of rigor based on your experience and interest. A really great way to start doing retreats as you can customize it according to your needs. They can support noting if that's what you want to do.

I have a family member who lives nearby who was out-of-town during the retreat so I was able to use his home. That allowed me to avoid the distractions of my own home. I was also able to consult with my own teacher during this time which was great. My plan is to do two more of these in 2022. Maybe the 2nd one I will do as a solo retreat.
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago at 1/3/22 7:42 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/3/22 7:42 AM

RE: Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 2410 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I'm a big fan of IMS as a sane place to retreat. They don't give a lot of discussion to the maps, but they tend to have very sane and well vetted retreat leaders. they will help you with meditation problems, just describe them as "I'm having this problem/question" rather than "I'm here on the map so I'm having this problem/question" and you can get a lot of good guidance. So the retreat center it's a good "container" for your practice. That's where I've done most of my in-person retreating.

I've always wanted to go to Spirit Rock but never have.

Those place cost more than many others, but I feel like having a non-culty place to practice is priceless. They are also very gentle with enforcing the schedule (as opposed to Zen retreats for example), so you can nap or go for walks if you feel you need to. They want people to take care of themselves. They aren't pushing people to achieve awakening by the end of the retreat.

​​​​​​​For what it's worth! emoticon
Noah D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/5/22 10:03 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/5/22 10:03 PM

RE: Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 1211 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts

id be curious to hear a bit more about what you mean when you say the teachers are well vetted.

For instance, do you mean that they have some specific experience in practice, such as 2nd path as defined in the mahasi system? Or do you mean they're generally ethical, stable, kind people?
Small Steps, modified 2 Years ago at 1/6/22 1:11 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/6/22 1:11 AM

RE: Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 246 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Speaking only from my own experience (probably 7-8 residential retreats at Spirit Rock, and maybe 4 or 5 at Insight Retreat Center (Gil Fronsdal's organization)), I would lean towards the latter, rather than the former. That isn't to say that the teachers haven't realized some level of awakening, as I'm certain many of them are somewhere on the path(s), some probably farther along than others.

Ethics, stability and kindness aside, each of the teachers undergoes a comprehensive multi-year training program before they are able to facilitate or lead residential retreats. I think there is a large emphasis on Thai and Burmese traditions, so PoI is probably a significant portion of the curriculum.

In all, YMMV, caveat emptor and the rest. I do agree with shargrol that these centers are non-culty, sane, safe environments for retreat practice, if a little pricey. This was my experience, leading up to around 2018, when I no longer had the opportunity to attend multi-day residential retreats.
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago at 1/6/22 12:36 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/6/22 5:59 AM

RE: Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 2410 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I agree with Small Steps.... but I think it's easy to underestimate their degree of awakening, too.

Most of all, they are clearly vetted through their teacher training to be stable and sane. They clearly are taught to be non-interventionist, non-cheerleading, non-agenda pushing, with a similar vibe to a therapist that makes a safe space for whatever the meditator brings into the discussion -- rather than pushing an agenda or proactively giving advice. This can be disappointing in some way, for sure. It's much better to have a personal teacher that can give good advice on the path ahead, but for a large retreat center it makes sense. It takes a lot of knowledge of someone's practice to give good advice and even still it's not going to be 100% on point. There isn't a mechanism for truly interactively guiding 100 retreatants. So they somewhat naively and practially assume what happens is going to happen, progess will happen when it does, and they don't try to pry the petals of the flower open.

(It seems like the one situation where it is possible is on the three month retreat, so it definitely is disappointing to hear how Kenneth Folk back in the day didn't get good advice when he was getting close to Stream Entry. I don't know if that kind of non-guidance still happens.)

​​​​​​​So they are providing a safe place for people to retreat.  They have a "do no additional harm" kind of ethic. It's lame, but I find it valuable. It forced me to be responsible for my own practice. (And, as I mentioned, they are very good at answering meditation-specific questions if they are not asked with an assumption of some map theory context.) 

As far as what attainments do they have? As always, depends on how you define it. They all have long  histories of retreat and personal practice. And I think most of all, they all know that the whole debateing attainment ranking thing is a sure fire way to destroy an organization. But I think they have a high bar for teacher, certainly beyond second path (two cycles of insight ending with cessation, basic experiences with the jhanas). Ironically, I retreated with one long-time teacher that was clearly third, hadn't truly figured out fourth. His junior partner respectfully supported him, but it was clear he knew the fuller story. So most likely the minimum at IMS is what I would consider in practical terms as third and fourth path, of course it depends on how I define it! I keep reminding myself that that buddha was a rich kid, who practiced hard, was naturally gifted in jhana, but that didn't get him results he wanted, and he was a hard-headed guy that nearly killed himself through starvation until he figured out to chill out, so not a balanced practioner, but what the heck he was figuring it out himself, but even so... it still only took seven years emoticon IMS teachers are out in the world, in full view of others, living the full complexity of modern life, so the idealism associated with the attainments of those in the days of yore can't be indulged. IMS teachers are still clearly human. emoticon

Hope that helps. It was somewhat tongue in cheek but hopefully that's obvious.
Noah D, modified 2 Years ago at 1/6/22 11:42 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 1/6/22 11:42 AM

RE: Retreat recommendations 2022

Posts: 1211 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Thanks Shargrol & Small Steps.

​​​​​​​I'm glad I asked, just to have teased out more details there.