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Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat - Dhamma Wheel

Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
twelph
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Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:10 am

Due to financial constraints, my aspirations to visit Myanmar for a month to go on a retreat will have to be put on hold. So, next week I will be going camping on public use land in Colorado for a month with the sole purpose of intensive meditation. I have all my supplies ready, and am pretty excited. I've stayed at several monasteries for a month or so, but nothing that can be considered a retreat. Therefore I understand I should be gentle to myself, especially without a teacher present. I don't foresee any huge problems, but who knows. I plan on trying to follow a retreat schedule if possible and refrain from eating past noon. The two books that I will be studying are "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi and "Dhamma Everywhere" by Sayadaw U Tejaniya. I'm already intimately familiar with the latter, but I find re-reading it over and over has helped re-align my meditation habits whenever I develop some sort of obstructive view about how I'm supposed to be practicing.

Anyways, the purpose of this post is to ask if anyone might have any suggestions for me? The stronger the feeling that I have everything figured out, the more usually goes wrong :) .

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Ben
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:32 am

Hi Twelfth,

Have you had any experience attending meditation retreats? If not, then you may wish to develop a timetable and stick to it.
And watch out for bears!
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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mikenz66
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:45 am

Hi Twelph,

Good luck with the retreat!

One thing you might consider is getting together a series of retreat-oriented talks relevant to your particular practice approach, so you can listen to a talk each day, as you might on an organised retreat.

For example, if you look on http://dharmaseed.org/teachers/ then for some teachers there are series of talks given on retreats. As an example, if you look at Steve Armstrong's talks http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/170/ or U Vivekananda's talks http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/186/ you'll see some sets that have clearly been given sequentially at a retreat. The same will apply to many posts there.

:anjali:
Mike

twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:53 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:58 am

Greetings,

I'm just curious as to why you've decided to go "solo" than to do it at a monastery?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:28 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:50 am

Greetings,

Thanks for sharing your reasons. I have no drama with them... I was just interested in how you came to the decision.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

twelph
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:00 am

Last edited by twelph on Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:01 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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marc108
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby marc108 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:07 am

this is awesome. may your retreat be productive :anjali:
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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James the Giant
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby James the Giant » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:26 pm

Good luck!
Personally, I would not attempt a month-long solo retreat. Camping in the woods sure, or hiking, but meditating by oneself, with no support for feedback and supervision, no thanks.
A teacher or sayadaw is very useful to ask what's happening when the weird stuff starts happening.

Also, I seem to require a group of others to motivate me... I get lax and am overcome by one or other of the hindrances unless there's someone else there who will notice me being lazy or agitated or whatever. The other people don't need to say anything, or even notice, but my sense of "hiri" (moral shame) is usefully activated when there are others around.

I did a 3-day solo retreat, and even by day three I noticed some slackening of discipline in myself.
Maybe you're different, but don't beat yourself up if you can't manage the whole 30 days.
A month is a long time.

But don't let my words dissuade you, just be ready for Mara to come gunning for you.
What a great opportunity you have!

Can you describe what you are taking in terms of camping gear, food, etc? What will the weather be like?
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

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Ben
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:48 pm

Nice post by James.
Like James I would hesitate to do a month long solo retreat - and that is after 27 years of regular yearly retreats of ten days up to one month.
In the event that you haven't considered it - have you thought about doing ten-day retreats in the Goenka 'tradition'? They are almost completely silent and are run on a non-obligatory dana basis. Many 'students' attend retreats back-to-back for months at a time, alternating between attending as a 'student' and as a 'server'. There are over 100 centres worldwide and there could be one relatively close to you.
http://www.dhamma.org
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

twelph
Posts: 112
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:34 pm


SamBodhi
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby SamBodhi » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:19 pm

"An inward-staying
unentangled knowing,
All outward-going knowing
cast aside."
--Upasika Kee Nanayon

dharmagoat
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Location: Gone Bush

Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:41 pm

I too am interested to hear how you get on. Will you be keeping any kind of diary?

twelph
Posts: 112
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:41 pm


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marc108
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby marc108 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:51 am

are you bringing a cell phone with you (you should)? i think i remember you making a post that you like Taan Geoffs teachings... i believe you should be able to arrange daily or near daily talks with him for a personal retreat. 619-813-8461 between 6 and 7pm pacific.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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James the Giant
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby James the Giant » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:04 am

Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

twelph
Posts: 112
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:39 am


twelph
Posts: 112
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Postby twelph » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:14 am

My retreat was shortened to two weeks for personal reasons, I just finished the last day yesterday. I probably would have made an excuse and stopped after the first two weeks anyways, as having to relocate to a different forest after 14 days would have taken a long time to get re-situated. I had decided to get away from roads and hike out a little ways to immerse myself in the wilderness.

Because of it raining sometimes a couple days at a time, along with small animals harassing my tent while I tried to sleep during the second week, having a set schedule seemed impossible. I have to admit that during a period of intense raining lasting two days I succumbed to desire and drove down the mountain to acquire an internet connection and get myself a meal at a restaurant.

I checked out the forums during that brief time on the internet, and was instantly drawn to the Thanissaro Bhikkhu ; Right Mindfulness thread. Having had my own issues with some of his previous teachings, my mind felt intensely strained and constricted while reading the thread after having just been in a very good place. My own aversion to the subject became fascinating to me, and my solution to studying the process further was to download the book to my e-reader and study it during my retreat. I'll go ahead and post directly in that corresponding thread my thoughts on the book so as not to derail this thread.

All in all I was extremely over-prepared for the trip, and the only difficulties came from the rain, night time critters, and my own discipline. I tried my best to switch constantly between walking, sitting, and studying. I probably averaged about 45 minutes during my sits, never going past an hour except for meditation before bed while waiting to get sleepy. Interestingly there were about a half dozen times where I would feel like I needed a break and would tell myself to "stop meditating". This would be followed by some of the most joyful and insightful moments of the retreat, though it didn't take very long before I would realize it was time to start putting forth some effort again so as not to sacrifice the momentum that was there.

Other than that I'll answer any questions anyone might have if they have ever considered doing something similar. I can't comment on the effectiveness of the retreat, as I don't have much to compare it to besides a few times living at non-retreat monasteries in the states and regular personal practice. I still feel like I'm on retreat, so that's nice :). I will say that the most important thing to consider (and I had realized this before even starting the retreat) is that while being secluded from everyone and everything, if you do not make an extra effort to be friendly to yourself you will not be a happy camper :jumping:


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