I happen to disagree with the idea that it should be done in retreat, but it might be that Adamantine did the most in retreat and I did the most outside of retreat. I completed the ngondro about 7 years ago, and continue to do prostrations every morning along with my other practices.
Prostrations are a great way to start the day. You take refuge, do the bodhisattva promise, and get your body flowing and energized for the day. It gets me on the right track to feeling confident and useful in the world.
In my experience, when I did practices in retreat, I came out with really strong purifications and blessings, and when I did it on a daily basis in life, I still had purifcations and blessings. Possibly they were a little more concentrated when I came out of retreat because I accomplished more in larger doses, but the smaller doses would add up just the same.
I also want to add, that I really enjoyed what an other person said, which is to "push through it." Our other practices can be with the mindset of a precious moment, but ngondro is really about getting a lot of work done.
Thanks for listening!
I've spent plenty of time doing ngondro also day-to-day, outside of retreat.... years of this vs. just weeks of solitary retreat in total. So I probably have more experience outside of retreat than inside. I think it is very important to sustain this practice, and momentum, no matter what the external circumstances are-- and this has it's own power to it. The blessings of ngondro are profound and will enter in even if one is doing a short session once a day. However, it can feel quite overwhelming, hopeless, and disorienting if once is doing a tiny number each day and getting hung up on how long it will take to complete, anxiety about numbers, if it is "working", etc. etc. I believe that when the mind is already in a state of stress or distraction because of an overwhelming worldly job and responsibilities, then it can be hard at first to not integrate those negative states into the ngondro, rather than integrating the blessings of ngondro into daily life. In other words, the stress about ngondro can masquerade as just another worldly concern. In my own
personal experience, the opportunity to take this practice into the retreat setting offers a unique possibility--> to completely dive into the practice continuously without other concerns bleeding into it, and this builds momentum in the visualization, the blessings, and faith in the guru and lineage... it also creates a vessel enabling one to achieve states of samadhi in the practice that would not be easy to accomplish in a mere short daily session. So I can not recommend enough making the effort to take this time out of ordinary routine, to create a sacred boundary and jump completely into the practice. Then, when one comes out of the retreat, it will profoundly re-energize one's daily practice. If this is not possible due to circumstances, then that is fine--- the blessings can be accessed either way...but if there is some discouragement with progress, then take the leap into a short retreat/// even if it's just a weekend retreat, 2-3 days..it will still bring benefit and "progress". That's my opinion anyway!