I've served on a number of ten-day courses and longer courses. When you do your Dhamma Service registration, be sure to let the assistant teacher/teacher know that you know some of the people intending to sit the course. It maybe that instead of being in a capacity of being in direct contact with students as the male or female manager, you might be serving in the kitchen instead.wizi wrote::namaste:
It will be the first time that I am serving on a 10 day retreat next month...
Having sat for 2 retreats before.. I am answering a longing to serve fellow students... However, I have a few friends who will be attending the retreat for the first time, I am concerned how I can affect their meditation journey because of our friendships.
Any advice I should heed before I plunge headlong into seva?
When you register to serve you should receive a code of discipline for servers and it should contain information how you should interact with students. Serving, especially in the manager role, is like being thrown in the deep end of the pool. You need to remember that everyone is different and you need to keep that in mind whether you are managing the other dhamma servers or the students. Every evening after final meditation there is a dhamma servers metta session in the meditation hall where you can discuss the days events with the assistant teachers and the other servers. Also, my experience has been that sometimes the managers meet with the assistant teachers just before the 12PM interviews in the hall. The assistant teachers will have had a lot of experience both sitting and serving on courses so they should be able to give you advice on how to deal with different situations as they arise. So, there should be plenty of communication between yourself, your corresponding male or female manager, and the assistant teachers and you need that to support each other in your respective roles.wizi wrote:There are a few things I am concerned about serving in the retreat... the times when a student wants to leave the course prematurely.. or when they are physically sick.. or when other students are complaining about disturbance by another student who may be snoring or whatever... as a server will I get enough briefing on dealing with these interruptions?
It should be in the code of discipline for servers that you'll read before serving but if anyone comes to you and wishes to discuss the technique or emotional issues that are arising as a result of meditation, then you need to direct them to the assistant teacher. And if you have friends on the course who feel that because of their pre-existing relationship with you and because of your role as manager (or server) gives them permission to break noble silence, then you'll need to be diplomatic with them. By serving as a manager, your role is to attend to the physical requirements of students and any questions regarding experiences or regarding the meditation should be directed to the assistant teacher. By doing so you help to ensure that students are not confused by receiving two different messages.wizi wrote:I guess i am slightly nervous before this serving, as a couple of my friends are attending the retreat after hearing from me the benefits of insight meditation in our daily lives. It would have been easier if we all sat in the retreat as participants on 'noble silence', but now I am concerned that I may affect their meditation practice as they would most likely come to me with their emotional past or future ... I guess a good rapport with the assistant teacher would help me to get through such encounters, but I would like to learn more from Ben about always trying to maintain awareness of vedana (sensation) somewhere on the body.
Indeed!wizi wrote:I am slowly cultivating this awareness of sensations in my day-to-day living and interactions. Particularly, when I meet relatives or friends going through troubling times, I have an even more heightened awareness of the sensations coursing through my body and I am aware that my words often aim to reflect the dhamma's law of impermanence. That whatever state we are experiencing now, it's going to obey the law of impermanence.
Remind your friends that everything is temporary. Beyond that, I would try and help them find a practical solution to their current difficulty (if possible).wizi wrote:Sometimes, friends or relatives would ask? "Well, when will this end? When will I be free from it?"
How do you respond to that???
Keep in mind that on retreat, serving as a manager, you are not working as a counsellor. As I said above, any questions regarding the meditation or experiences or emotions that arise as a result of the meditation should be referred to the assistant teacher. By doing so you will assist the student to have a beneficial retreat experience. Serving on a retreat, your volition should be one of selfless service, serving others without expectation of anything in return. Serving on a retreat you get the opportunity to develop your paramitas. Serving on a retreat is actually quite demanding and at times hard work and can be as challenging as sitting on a ten-day course.wizi wrote:In the environment of the retreat, I hope I could attain a breakthrough of being an amateur 'counsellor' so-to-speak...
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