Your First Retreat & Your experience.

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Your First Retreat & Your experience.

Postby lobster » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:51 am

I would like to hear how other people's first experience at a retreat was. :D I want to know whether it was easy for you or was it difficult your first time.

It was very easy.
However . . . some people are not really sure they want to be on retreat . . .
I remember a weekend retreat I went on. Someone was at the gates which were locked. She tugged at them and said, 'The gate is locked. No bell. I think the retreat is canceled!' and began to walk away . . .
I turned the handle and pushed. The gate was open. :oops:
So she had made the initial effort but looked rather disappointed the gate was in fact open . . .

As for the chanting and walking and sitting meditation. I consider that a holiday. I have never had a difficulty having a holiday . . . :smile:
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Re: Your First Retreat & Your experience.

Postby Zenda » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:37 pm

My first retreat was a 5-day solo Vipassana retreat. Now that I look back, I think it was a little nuts to do it that way because it required a lot of discipline and I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. I broke the day into sessions and sat for 2-3 hours at a time wih a break in the afternoon to walk. (It was at a small retreat center and we each had our own little hut. Food was brought to us by the caretaker and no talking was permitted.)

I kind of lost it on day 3 and wanted to ditch the whole thing, but I remember that a Tibetan monk who was practicing at the hut next door joined me for dinner that night and, without saying anything, really helped me. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life over something as mundane as trying to pass the salt without talking. I have no idea who he was but I'm deeply grateful to this day for his company and assistance. I finished the retreat and was irrevocably hooked on continuing to practice.
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Re: Your First Retreat & Your experience.

Postby Punya » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:10 pm

Paliut wrote:I would like to hear how other people's first experience at a retreat was. :D I want to know whether it was easy for you or was it difficult your first time.


Thank you for this topic Paliut. I hope it benefits all who read it.

My first retreat was a silent shamatha/vipassana retreat for 5 days. It involved sitting and walking meditation (apparently an idea Chogyam Trungpa developed for western students) so a little bit easier on the body.

I thought I would find not speaking fairly easy as I'm a bit of a loner but it was actually quite hard. Weirdly, what was really difficult was my perception that I was not being polite by not greeting people, saying please and thank you etc.

The emotional highs and lows were challenging but I did come to the rather useful conclusion that the highs were just as problematic as the lows. Something I now tend be more mindful of in daily life.

After the retreat some of my work colleagues asked me what it was like. I shared this article with them which, being in a Christian context, they could better relate to but still seemed to be quite a good description of a retreat situation.
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