A retreat at home is, in many ways, just like any other retreat. Anytime you meditate, especially for longer periods, difficult energies will naturally arise. Worry, restlessness, sleepiness, frustration, irritation, doubt are among the most common. Repeating thought patterns and unfinished business of the heart will also arise. These offer some of the very best opportunities for your meditation to deepen, and your wisdom and love to grow. Receiving these with mindful loving awareness and adding compassion for self and others, you can begin to trust your skill of mindfulness and your good heart to hold it all.
But sitting a retreat at home and online is certainly different from coming to a meditation center. Tending to your comfort and giving yourself quiet, private sitting and walking space (if possible, in the environment you are in) will help keep your attention focused and support your practice and learning. Plan to bring as much simplicity and ease to your day as possible. The schedule of the retreat is structured to support your well-being and practice with regular breaks and time for mindful movement.
Some Suggestions for Preparing for your at Home, Online Retreat
As best you can, set up a dedicated space for sitting. • Set up your computer, laptop, iPad or other device in a place where you can sit comfortably and be free from distractions, including interactions with other household members. •
Choose a place for walking meditation. This could be a hallway or room. You may also walk outside.
Be kind! Those you live with may feel abandoned. Please be sensitive to their needs. • Acknowledge that sitting a retreat at home may feel awkward at times – for you and for those you live with. •
Share that you would like to spend the day in noble silence. Set up a way to write notes or to talk once a day if need be. If not possible, don’t be stingy with your talking or feel guilty when you do but please bring attention to wise speech. •
Ask for support in creating a quieter living space in general regarding TV and music. If not possible, be aware of sound as an aspect of your practice. • Post the broad outlines of the retreat schedule i.e. start-lunch-closing. •
If you have children, consider enlisting them as allies. Talk with them about what you are doing and ask for their help.
Please ensure you have enough food available before the retreat begins to keep you nourished. Keep your meals simple. If possible, prepare food ahead of time that can be eaten throughout the retreat. Consider writing yourself a meal plan to cut down on decision-making during the retreat.
Helpful Retreat Guidelines
Join each session of the retreat a few minutes early. This will support the teacher and your fellow retreatants. •
Please maintain noble silence as much as possible for the duration of the retreat; limit conversations with others at home as much as you can. •
Power off your phone for the entire time scheduled for the retreat on each day. Please don’t check your phone during breaks. You might put an “away” message on your email and voicemail and leave your phone out of reach so you are not tempted to check it during your retreat hours. •
Please consider taking a “news fast” for the duration of the retreat. Ask a friend who is not on retreat to let you know if there is any time-sensitive news you need to know. •
Refrain from reading and writing during the entire time scheduled for the retreat. That is, please don’t read during breaks. • Don’t multitask. •
When you can, we would appreciate you keeping your video on during our time together. This supports a sense of connectedness and sangha. However, it’s not a problem to turn it off from time to time if it’s more helpful for you to do so.