Home Self-Retreat

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Phineas, modified 5 Years ago.

Home Self-Retreat

Posts: 9 Join Date: 11/6/15 Recent Posts
Hi all

I did a self-retreat at home last week, thought I’d share my experience here for those wishing to do the same. I was surprised that in my research I could not find any self-retreat info on the DO discussion forums (perhaps I am using different terminology).  I would be interested in the experiences of others doing similar.

I was originally hoping for an 8-day retreat, but the time off from work only coincided with a 3-day option with my nearest retreat centre. Thus I ended up doing 4 days at home (followed by a day of travel and then a further 3 days at the retreat centre). 

BASICS: 
- 4 full days, 5 nights (starting the evening before, ending the morning after the last day)
- Schedule was approx 12h of meditation per day, similar to here: http://www.saddhamma.org/html/daily-retreat-schedule.shtml. Waking early was good for minimising noise disruptions. 
-  This was a Samadhi retreat. I scheduled one guided meditation / day and one dharma talk in the evening. Rob Burbea’s Samadhi retreat was perfect - and I strongly recommend this for anyone wanting to deepen samadhi practice. His mp3s are a free download from dhammaseed.

LOGISTICS: 
- Meals: I cooked breakfast each morning. Lunch was a pre-prepared curry, cooked in batch prior to the retreat alongside rice in a rice cooker. Plenty of water. 
- Having noise-cancelling headphones (I recommend Bose) or earplugs very helpful as I am in an apartment with neighbours who get noisy at different times. I used these rarely, and perhaps could have done without them.
- The schedule was taped on the wall. Used my smartphone which has a dedicated meditation timer app replete with the appropriate bell noises. No particular advantage here other than it logs total hours sat. Used a separate alarm clock for timing of breaks. 

PROS: 
- No travel saves dollars and time
- No potential disruptive co-meditators
- Can adjust schedule to suit needs (eg. I prefer a 90min break with showering in the morning and a 60min lunch break). 
- Can choose different meditation styles as available online

CONS: 
- Availability dependent on access to a free residence, with no one else around
- No collegial atmosphere / Sangha
- Noisy neighbours; less serene than the average retreat centre
- Keeping active timing breaks and sits can be a distraction
- Being in familiar surroundings can be distracting.

OUTCOME: 
- All in all, a very productive time. I would not recommend a home self-retreat for anyone who has not done a few retreats at a dedicated centre, as it is good to have a “feel” for the timing and discipline involved, and to have the availability of a teacher for questions early in the piece. 
- A good option for anyone short on time / travel but with the convenience of an appropriate residence. 
Oochdd, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Home Self-Retreat

Posts: 102 Join Date: 12/16/14 Recent Posts
Hej, thanks for the report! 

My biggest problem with a home retreat would probably be discipline and distractions. Did you have any problems sticking to the schedule?
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Phineas, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Home Self-Retreat

Posts: 9 Join Date: 11/6/15 Recent Posts
Oochdd:
Hej, thanks for the report! 

My biggest problem with a home retreat would probably be discipline and distractions. Did you have any problems sticking to the schedule?
Hey Oochdd

No problems with the schedule, although I was flexible with the timetable by 1h. This meant if I had good momentum in a given sit, I could delay a meal break and press on with the practice. I think my discipline would really be tested for a longer self-retreat, and for that I would store away more personal belongings and generally make the apartment as bland as possible prior to starting. As far as this rather short retreat went, I didn't even notice books on the shelves / guitar in the corner etc. until I was finished the next day. I remember the brightly coloured apps on the iPhone (in flight mode of course) being tempting for a flicker of a moment on one occasion, so for a longer self-retreat I might change this to a standalone stopwatch.
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Home Self-Retreat

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
hey phineas,
excellent.  i have posted a couple of times about self-retreats and am a big fan for all of the reasons you mention in your 'pro' list.

i have a little house in a remote place which requires no preparation.  i just shut off the satellit feed for the duration to minimize temptation.  i too have used dharma talks from dharmaseed as an evening pep talk but the last two self-retreats i have done were completely free of any conceptual diversions.

the list of reminders on the wall / fridge whatever is a good one and some basic suggestions and other great tips can be gleaned from Tarin Greco's post 'A slacker's guide...'.

food prep in advance is a great thing and one can minimize the impact / disturbance with a bit of foresight and planning.

a timer is good as is an alternating walking / sitting shedule for vipassana whereas for samadhi i'm not sure how i would approach it.  i've never done a strict concentration retreat.  hmmm.  food for thought.

breaking your retreat up in the middle to travel must have been a bit disruptive no?  this i would try to avoid.

what were your experiences and results? under 'outcome' you have some suggestions but did you have any breakthrough experiences or insights?

whirled peas

tom
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Phineas, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Home Self-Retreat

Posts: 9 Join Date: 11/6/15 Recent Posts
tom moylan:
hey phineas,
excellent.  i have posted a couple of times about self-retreats and am a big fan for all of the reasons you mention in your 'pro' list.

i have a little house in a remote place which requires no preparation.  i just shut off the satellit feed for the duration to minimize temptation.  i too have used dharma talks from dharmaseed as an evening pep talk but the last two self-retreats i have done were completely free of any conceptual diversions.

the list of reminders on the wall / fridge whatever is a good one and some basic suggestions and other great tips can be gleaned from Tarin Greco's post 'A slacker's guide...'.

food prep in advance is a great thing and one can minimize the impact / disturbance with a bit of foresight and planning.

a timer is good as is an alternating walking / sitting shedule for vipassana whereas for samadhi i'm not sure how i would approach it.  i've never done a strict concentration retreat.  hmmm.  food for thought.

breaking your retreat up in the middle to travel must have been a bit disruptive no?  this i would try to avoid.

what were your experiences and results? under 'outcome' you have some suggestions but did you have any breakthrough experiences or insights?

whirled peas
[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Hi Tom

Thanks for sharing your experience; that little house sound idyllic :)

Yes, the break between the 4-day and 3-day mini-retreats was not ideal, but I didn't want to commit to a full 8 days at home having not done it  previously (if the 4 days failed miserably, the 3-day retreat at the
centre would allow me to cut some losses).

As far as results go, I was working on Samadhi alone, which has been a big sticking point of mine in working with the Goenka technique (have done 20 days of retreat
in this style the last 6-8 months). Rob Burbea's teachings were quite different, being from the Thai forest tradition, and I found them useful
and incredibly inspiring. Effectively, I had hour sits with only 1-2 interruptions which has been the longest for me (I suspect this is slow
progress?), and had more convincing and sustained states of rapture lasting up to 20mins approx, which I believe coincide with the first
Jhana, although I'm not certain of this.

It was very interesting returning to a Goenka Vipassana mini-retreat with an improved and more
nuanced samadhi skillset; I am still very much a beginner as far as Vipassana goes. [/font]
Stuie Charles Law, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Home Self-Retreat

Posts: 94 Join Date: 3/19/15 Recent Posts
Three and a half months, noisey home and street conditions, Achieved High Equanimity, best ever life experience..........Never been the same since.

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