James the Giant wrote:On formal retreat, I always follow the teacher's instructions, even if they are difficult, even if I think they are not as good as what I am usually doing.
That's just me. I gots no reason for that.
I agree with following the instructions. The reason is obvious. The teacher has a lot more experience than I do. Furthermore, if I was second-guessing the teacher then that would severely hinder open communication.
However, if I had difficulty following the instructions I would certainly not just spend the whole retreat struggling with them without discussing it with the teacher. It may well be that she/he has helpful advice or alternative strategies that have worked for different students. It's this sort of interaction that is the key advantage of a live teacher.
In my view there are two important things that a retreat can provide that are not otherwise available: (1) Well-organised support so that one can practise continuously; (2) Personalized instruction. Don't pass up the opportunity for the latter. Even on retreats that are quite regimented, such as Goenka retreats, there is still the opportunity to discuss problems with a teacher. After
the retreat is the time to evaluate the alternatives, and decide what to continue with. Thinking about this during the retreat is a distraction that in my experience hinders progress.