Guidelines when going away on retreat...
Going away on retreat offers us a unique opportunity! As we enter into the retreat we're encouraged to let go of doing and learn to be present with our moment to moment experience. While this can be wonderful, it can also present its own challenges; especially if we are coming to a retreat setting for the first time. With that in mind, here are some guidelines about what to expect during silent retreats:
A schedule for the days events will be posted in a central location.
A wake up bell will be rung at 6:30am and then at the start of all formal meditation periods and meal times.
Please arrive on time for our formal meditation practices. The morning/evening instructions and Dharma Talks are very important and helps guide our practice as the retreat unfolds.
Please take your shoes off and place them along the wall outside the meditation room.
Please arrive on time. If you're late to the meditation hall, enter mindfully and settle into your space, keeping the noise to a minimum out of respect to your fellow meditators.
Sitting for long periods of time can be uncomfortable, this is normal, especially if you are just starting a meditation practice. At times you may be tempted to lay down, please try your best to sit through the periods of discomfort. Instructions on how to do this will be given at the start of the retreat. **If you have a medical condition that prevents you from sitting and need to make accommodations, that is fine.
For those who are not bringing meditation cushions, chairs will be available towards the back of the room.
You may choose to remain seated during walking periods. It is important that as we transition from sitting to walking we are mindful of maintaining Noble Silence. This helps support the continuity of mindfulness from one moment to the next.
Please refrain from using scented products (antiperspirant, shampoo, perfume, etc.) as some retreatants may be allergic to these. Please bring unscented products.
Retreats are held in Noble Silence. This is meant to help settle the mind and assist us in deepening meditation practice. This guideline is also meant to help us support each other in our practice; it frees us from the pressure to socialize that we normally encounter in daily life.
Meditation is a very intimate process that can bring up many different feelings. Having a "no eye contact" guideline can help us honor each other's experiences. Sometimes during retreat you may feel blissful, other times you may encounter physical or emotional pain. Learning how to meet these experiences without outside pressures or distractions is the gift of this practice. We allow ourselves to feel what we're feeling, without worrying about how it affects others.
Our tendency, when we see other's upset, may be to reach out and comfort or support them. Please know that if you or others are in need of support, we (teachers) are available to help take care of you. If asssistance is required please leave us a written note, including your first and last name and a brief description of your question or request. (We will announce the location of the message board at the beginning of the retreat.)
During free time/rest periods, please refrain from talking to other retreatants, checking emails, making phone calls or any other external forms of communication or entertainment. Again this is meant to help you maintain a continuity of mindfulness.
Please leave cell-phones and other electronic devices in the car.
May you be well...
"Maybe the journey isn't about becoming anything.
Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you,
So you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."
By Mark Osmer
Thank you for supporting each other on this journey!