Home Retreats

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Home Retreats

Postby Asabandha » Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:42 am

For a couple of months now I have been thinking about re-engaging in silent retreats at home. I live with two very respectful roommates who would certainly accommodate me by limiting noise in the house and taking care of my dog, not that they are noisy in the first place but I mean they would have no issue only listening to music with headphones and they would not bother me. In the past my relationship with my girlfriend and her needs was an obstacle, but we've been taking a break lately to focus our efforts on our individual spiritual practices so that is no longer an obstacle. Everything is in order with house, money, etc. At present time my only commitment is a volunteer job at the local senior center which is currently one day a week on Mondays. The time seems ripe to reinvigorate my practice with retreats.

I have done silent home retreats in the past with mixed results. On the one hand, a series of weekend long meditation retreats where I did not eat or sleep and meditated for literally 48 hours at a time catapulted me into intense states of consciousness which opened the door to new modes of perceiving reality, and ultimately led to my finding Buddhism and Buddhism finding me. These retreats were very spontaneous... Something in me compelled me to meditate even though I had no knowledge. I now know that what I was doing was shamatha. So that was very positive. On the other hand, in the past I have had a tendency to get carried away.

What I am thinking is that I might get the ball rolling with a shamatha retreat on the weekend of the 17th and 18th, but rather than do a crazy 48 hour meditation I will exercise the discipline I have developed over the past couple of years of practice and meditate in two hour blocks with thirty minute breaks to mindfully walk and drink tea. Rather than fast outright I will eat once a day.

This initial retreat may not be super productive at face value. Shamatha has not been a great focus of mine over the past year, which is exactly why I feel I need to do shamatha retreats. I also anticipate that disciplining my eating habits will be difficult for this first retreat, but it is something I would like to tackle head on and carry over into my daily routine.

What I would like to see happen is for me to develop a routine of doing one dedicated weekend shamatha retreat per month, and then start working in dedicated retreats for Sutra practices. I feel like if I can break through my current boredom with shamatha then it can become a larger part of my daily practices, and that by learning to experience the breath as beautiful and empty this will bring a great deal of peace to my person and allow me to be of greater benefit to all beings.

Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on this? I'm sure many here have experience with home retreats... Any input?
Asabandha
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:52 am

Re: Home Retreats

Postby wisdom » Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:47 am

Asabandha wrote:I also anticipate that disciplining my eating habits will be difficult for this first retreat, but it is something I would like to tackle head on and carry over into my daily routine.


If I were you, if you want to get the most out of samatha, focus on samatha and not fasting. Give your body enough food to not have hunger pains or mental distractions for food, but not so much you are weighed down and lethargic. If you want to tackle attachment to food and eating habits, thats something you can tackle in your everyday life.
User avatar
wisdom
 
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:33 am

Re: Home Retreats

Postby maybay » Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:25 pm

Burn the furniture. Everything except Dharma items on the floor and no place for the skeletons to hide.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Home Retreats

Postby Asabandha » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:28 pm

wisdom wrote:
Asabandha wrote:I also anticipate that disciplining my eating habits will be difficult for this first retreat, but it is something I would like to tackle head on and carry over into my daily routine.


If I were you, if you want to get the most out of samatha, focus on samatha and not fasting. Give your body enough food to not have hunger pains or mental distractions for food, but not so much you are weighed down and lethargic. If you want to tackle attachment to food and eating habits, thats something you can tackle in your everyday life.

This seems like sound advice. So I think what I will do is work on the eating habits this week prior to the retreat, because I would like to get to the point where I am not feeling hungry every 4 hours. I find this very distracting for prolonged shamatha sessions. The reason why I have done total fasts on previous weekend retreats is that by the second day the hunger pains go away entirely and the mind/body just accepts that it is not getting food no matter how much it protests. This second day in the absence of craving food is very peaceful for me and promotes concentration.

maybay wrote:Burn the furniture. Everything except Dharma items on the floor and no place for the skeletons to hide.

Love it. Precisely.

:namaste:
Asabandha
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:52 am

Re: Home Retreats

Postby ronnewmexico » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:04 pm

I am no one to give advice. thoughts sure....

Fasting could be a means, I have occasionally employed that as well, it is not unknown nor not utilized in Tibetan and other forms of Buddhism.
It, the state produced, may make this easier for a bit to my experienced.
But to long engaged and it becomes another thing. And it is not a excuse to not doing the regular practice withoui fasting. As a adjunt to it... to assist and provide a variance to it ....I endorse that.

It after the intiial provides a source of particular energy which is not conducive to tupor so it may be conducive at times to being awake.
That is my experience.

Overall this sounds well thought out, and a good plan.
Good luck.

I don't know what your plans are for insight but I approximate they are also as well thought.

To add...to my experience these things are done much easier in retreat houses if one has one near one, and has a bit for the fees.
Other religions also have retreat houses monestaries or such things and will allow buddhists to also be there doing their thing.
Just a idea one may perhaps consider that,it does not have to be a place of buddhist retreat. Any retreat place wil do actually...no phones disturbances it can make this thing very very easy. And many give food of ones choice one does not have to cook :smile:
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
User avatar
ronnewmexico
 
Posts: 1601
Joined: Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: Home Retreats

Postby Asabandha » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:35 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Ron. I'm checking out a nearby retreat center on the 20th of this month for Tsong Khapa Day offerings. My hope is to meet people there and have opportunities to study and go on retreats there in the future. :)
Asabandha
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:52 am

Re: Home Retreats

Postby ronnewmexico » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:44 pm

For simply this practice of focus.... don't discount christian places. They are most cheap and they will accomodate buddhists being not intrusive in their practices.
Many monestaries are almost empty so they need to bring in some income and will accomodate strangers.
Buddhist places may be hard to find, sometimes far away or inconvient, and some a tad expensive.

Of course if one is doing particular things they must be found and utilized but a general thing like this....no.
Depends on where one is I guess.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
User avatar
ronnewmexico
 
Posts: 1601
Joined: Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:17 pm


Return to Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests

>