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Airplane retreat

Airplane retreat
7/1/16 10:37 PM
So I'm planning on taking a 9.5 hour flight and thought rather than drink red wine and try to sleep I would make a better use of the time and have a small personal retreat. I have not yet plotted out a schedule to follow. 

Does anyone have any suggestions, advice, any one tried this before? Or tried to do a personal retreat in a different somewhat busy, potentially obnoxious and claustrophobic space?

As a side also if anyone has any advice for dealing with jet lag, please do share. 
Thanks for reading and much love.


RE: Airplane retreat
7/2/16 3:41 AM as a reply to Scott P.
Oh yes. One of my favourite topics, practicing in weird places emoticon Planes and airports are wonderful for this. Often airport chairs are strangely designed so I make sure I have something handy to sit on/put under my butt when travelling. Long flights (especially with connecting flights) when you spend more than 12 hours or up to full day (or more) travelling, when you can't get normal rest, are wonderful for practice. You know, make it a little bit challenging to usual.

Speaking of claustrophobic spaces. At one point over a decade ago, I lived for a few months in an old electricity closet without windows. It was 3 x 6 feet and was located in the back of a yoga studio. That was great for a retreat. And every evening I'd have dozens of pretty girls in tights doing yoga in my "living room". That wasn't bad at all emoticon

Oh so many fantastic memories from over the years...

RE: Airplane retreat
7/2/16 9:29 AM as a reply to Scott P.
I often fit some cushion/dharma time in on flights. Short and long. What’s worked best is to be relaxed about it. There are times when it just doesn’t happen – circumstances, me, whatever. That is ok too.

For a mini retreat –
Try fairly non directed meditation or inquiry as opposed to trying for deep concentration.
Try focusing in the moment on the sensation of the moment – this can work even when there is turbulence or screaming kids.
Take an ipod or something with a dharma talk and possibly a guided meditation to listen to for part of the time.
Maybe take something to read.
Be flexible.

On jet lag. Get some rest on the plane even if it is just sitting in quiet meditation. Drink water – lots of it during the flight. Once you are there, get out into daylight. Stay awake at least until after ‘dinner time’ if not ‘bedtime’. Walking or sitting someplace outdoors where you can’t easily sleep is helpful. Be cautions of caffeine (or avoid it) especially as the day progresses and you get even more tired. Be cautious of / avoid alcohol at least for the first few days. When you do go to bed stay there resting in darkness until morning even if awake. Then get out into daylight again.

RE: Airplane retreat
7/4/16 3:27 PM as a reply to Scott P.
....ditto.  fill up your noise cancelling mp3 player with your favorite talker from and alternate an hour of listening with an hour of practice.

works every time

RE: Airplane retreat
7/5/16 8:49 AM as a reply to Scott P.
re: Scott P (7/1/16 10:37 PM)

"Does anyone have any suggestions, advice, any one tried this before?"

Don't completely count-out deep concentration, that is, if you have a penchant for it.

The reknowned German electronic music composer Karlheinz Stockhausen recounted how he came upon a phase of his compositional development that he called "moments" (e.g. a composition by that name, by the German title "Momente"). He was at the time (1960's) constantly flying around the globe giving concerts and teaching. During air-travel he apparently discovered a sort of trance experience, with the constant droning of the engines, sound of air rushing by outside, the seemingly motionless vistas of, for instance, ocean-scape from 30,000 feet up seen out the windows, etc. Given his rather intense level of awareness and intelligence, "trance" is perhaps not the right word; perhaps better "absorption", or even "jhana" (which has been called a trance state, but only by people who have never experienced it).

The musical "moments" idea was basically a sort-of anicca exercise (playing with the perception of permanence / impermannce), with the emphasis on the sustaining aspect of a phenomenon between the arising and the passing-away.* Karlheinz described the musical issue as playing with the perception of when and how a musical event was sustained as a unitary state, and when and how it shifted enough to induce the perception of a change of essential state, change to another "moment" of experience. (One can check this out – the composition Momente is available, as are most of his great pieces, on youtube.)

* Theravada Suttanta (as well as MCTB ) focuses a lot on the arising-passing, I think just occasionally mentioning a middle, sustaining phase. In the abhidhamma and commentarial writings the three-phase idea, and attention to the nature of the sustaining phase, was worked out in more detail.

That was back 1967-1968 I heard Stockhausen speak of these things, when I was studying music history at UC Berkeley, and he was spending half-a-year teaching composition at UC Davis (about 50 miles from Berkeley (California)).

An important contextual parameter to add was that this was the time of the "psychodelic revolution"– especially in Berkeley/San Francisco, especially in 1967 – the "Summer of Love", of "Flower Children" – everyone taking LSD, mescaline, etc. (that was before the introduction of the nasty hard drugs a year or two later when things turned ugly) -- the summer when Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album came out, and the Beatles' "Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", etc. (Anyone else here old enough to remember such things?)

Stockhausen notably reacted to all this (his students by and large taken-up with such trip-drugs), by strongly cautioning against relying on trip-drugs. His position was that the same experiences could be gained by disciplined hard work (compositional study and practice), and via this route the mental capabilities were then mastered, controlled, and serving higher goals. – Just like, as I see it now, in Theravada, jhana's function is not the enjoyment for itself, but for honing and refreshing the mind to better gain the fruit and release of penetrating insight.

Analogously, at the time there was a story floating around that the Beatles (or someone similar) gave the then prominent teacher Maharishi (or someone similar) a tab of LSD to try. The master downed the drug, sat there a while, and remarked something like "So what?"

"As a side also if anyone has any advice for dealing with jet lag, please do share."
There's no magic cure for jet-lag I know of, but things one can attend to for managing the situation. In addition to the good points elizabeth (7/2/16 9:29 AM as a reply to Scott P) mentioned, pay attention to stabilizing respiratory and digestve functions. I.e. take care to avoid catching cold (vs the shock of temperature changes between locations, and often chilly cabin-air in long flights, not to mention the likelihood of being trapped in a closed air-space with other people sneezing and coughing,…), and eat simple nourishing foods, small amounts more often (vs the shock airport and in-flight snack food, and cuisine changes in especially international travel).

If one can't breath well, or digest well, the basic bodily qi-machine a (concept from classical Chinese medicine) doesn't get the basic inputs to support function – especially when functionality is stressed by the time and daily-routine changes. Air and food – just like an automobile engine running on air-intake and gasoline/petrol – in both cases oxygen and carbohydrate – the staples of earth-bound machines.