Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

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Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 1:48 am

Greetings,

In just over a week, I'm going to be staying at a Theravada vihara from the Friday night, through until early Monday afternoon. I'll be staying in the meditation hut, and there will be the abbot there at the vihara too... but I'm not sure if there are any other resident bhikkhus there. The abbot says that a lunch meal will be provided (presumably by the Sri Lankan lay followers, when he eats before noon) and that I should take some warm, comfortable clothes and a sleeping bag. My goal for the trip is simply to work on the Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration aspects of my practice, so as to hopefully develop some wisdom, erode some defilements and help increase my 'mindfulness habits'.

So, I wanted to get some input from people, based on their experiences, on what I should take, what should I do by way of formalities (request refuge etc.), and what should I do by way of daily timetable, and meditation?

My "plan of attack" would be to arrive on the Friday night, discuss arrangements with the abbot, find out what his upcoming daily schedule is like so I can work around that. I also plan to give dana at some stage before I'm gone (should I do that straight away?). He only eats one meal a day, so in readiness for the morning, I'll take some 'breakfast bars' because although I intend to keep to the eight precepts whilst I'm there, I don't think I can do a single meal a day.

By way of meditation subjects, on the Saturday I'd like to start with anapanasati until maybe early-afternoon and then kick off into satipatthana. On Sunday, maybe just an hour of anapanasati, before heading off into satipatthana territory. Then on Monday, satipatthana only, until my family comes to pick me up around 2 o'clock.

Some of the satipatthana will involve walking meditation as I doubt my ability to sit for extended periods of time exceeding a few hours.

Anyway, that's it... just thought I'd throw that all out there, and see if anyone had any ideas or suggestions to contribute. I'm sure it will all be fine, it's just that I don't get the opportunity to go on retreat very often, so I want to maximise the benefit from it. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu May 14, 2009 1:59 am

Dear Retro,

Though I don't have any advice for you, I'm happy for you that you have this opportunity.
I have heard though, that when you meet privately with the abbot you can lay a plain envelope with dana in it on a desk or anyplace in the office area (as opposed to handing it directly to him).

I hope it goes well!

:anjali:
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 2:02 am

Greetings Drolma,

Yep, the dana will be in an envelope... I've given him cash in an envelope before.

He seems OK about accepting the envelope... particularly if he needs to write out a tax receipt for it.

Thanks for the well wishes!

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu May 14, 2009 2:16 am

Dear Retro,

Cool! For me, when I once requested a private refuge ceremony from a Geshe I gave some extra dana for his trouble, too.

I'll be making dedications for your efforts!

:buddha2:
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby zavk » Thu May 14, 2009 2:30 am

Hi Retro,

Good on you! I hope the retreat goes well.

As for the daily schedule, wouldn't the abbot give you some instructions? If not, perhaps you could follow the schedules used by other Dhamma/retreat centres. You should be able to find some on Google. I've seen some that include both sitting and walking. (And don't forget you need rest periods as well!)

I'd reckon the best time to give dana is towards the end of your retreat--after you have spent some time clearing the space in your heart-mind to give with the best volition.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 3:43 am

Greetings,

Received from venerable Appicchato via PM, shared with permission on the basis it may be of interest to others.

Venerable Appicchato wrote:Hi Paul,

Good for you...I'll be thinking of you...

Your 'plan' sounds copacetic to me...what comes to mind at the moment is:

No books, ipods, or the like...a phone is all right for an alarm (or meditation timer), and in case your family needs to get a hold of you...but no calls...

When you arrive and go to see the abbot, bow to the Buddha first, and then the abbot...when done talking with him bow to him first and then the Buddha last...

Request taking refuge and the eight precepts...

Depending on what your giving as Dana, if it's possible split it...something when you first meet, and something when you leave...not a big deal though...either way...

You've previously noted that you don't meditate all that much...I wouldn't push it too hard...there's a lot to said for just being quiet, contemplative, and mindful...enjoy those aspects as well...

Could be just me, but I wouldn't concern myself too much with 'maximum benefit'...you're setting yourself up for disappointment if it doesn't go according to your 'plan'...just relax, and enjoy the experience...that's where the 'benefit' will be...

Remember that this is just my take...some of the more 'hard core' might not agree...

Fare well friend...

A


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 3:47 am

Greetings bhante,

Thank you for the excellent advice.

No need for any concern on the "maximum benefit" side... I just want to do the right thing, practice correctly, and let the fruits of practice take care of themselves. I will not be practicing with any end in mind. If I start thinking along those lines, I'll gently bring mindfulness back to where it should be. Or to quote Sayadaw U Tejaniya...

Don’t have any expectations,
don’t want anything,
don’t be anxious, because
if these attitudes are in your mind,
it becomes difficult to meditate.

http://sayadawutejaniya.org/teachings/

As for bows to the abbot, should they be of a slight tilt :anjali: , or full head at the feet, or somewhere inbetween? I want to be respectful, but don't want it to seem false and forced and therefore interpreted as insincere.

Metta,
Paul. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 3:49 am

Greetings zavk,

zavk wrote:As for the daily schedule, wouldn't the abbot give you some instructions?


I assume not, but if he gives recommendations I'll be prepared to take them on board.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby phalanyani » Thu May 14, 2009 4:20 am

Hi Retro,

as for the bows: depends on where you meet him. anjali and a nod deep enough that the forehead touches your thumbs is adequate when you meet him somewhere around in the temple. For report or occasions when you meet with him in the Buddhahall or for eating, the full 5 point prostration with hands, elbows and forehead to the ground.

for the dana, maybe he has an attendent who takes care about money affairs, ask, if he doesn't have one, give him a chance to tell you in vage words where to put the money, but don't just put it somewhere thinking he may take it later.

there is nothing to add to what appicchato said. Maybe this: Good to have strict plans but give them up when they become a hindrance.
May you have some deep insights to the true nature of things, be mindful
phalanyani
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 14, 2009 4:27 am

If you get sluggish, do long walking meditations, or "sit" standing up with your eyes wide open
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 14, 2009 4:44 am

Hi Retro,

You already have some great advice, especially from Venerable Appicchato, and I can't think of anything to add, so I'll just wish you a good retreat. :anjali:

Metta
Mike
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby Jechbi » Thu May 14, 2009 4:58 am

Hello Retro,

Best wishes for a successful retreat! :anjali:

Sounds like you know what you're doing. I'd suggest this: Don't go in with expectations, do smile, don't worry. fwiw.

Metta
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Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 14, 2009 5:10 am

Thanks everyone!

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby Ben » Thu May 14, 2009 7:07 am

All the best with your retreat, Retro!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby Cittasanto » Thu May 14, 2009 9:18 am

Hi retro,
good luck.

the one meal a day is surprisingly easy, but as for your timetable try looking on the various forest sangha monestaries websites they tend to show an aproximate timetable, also there is one on Buddha net in the meditation section which you may like to have a look at? I have found alternating walking and sitting practice from the start is best for me due to my knee.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri May 15, 2009 3:33 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Retro,

You already have some great advice, especially from Venerable Appicchato, and I can't think of anything to add, so I'll just wish you a good retreat. :anjali:

Metta
Mike

:clap: ditto
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri May 15, 2009 3:50 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Don’t have any expectations,
don’t want anything,
don’t be anxious, because
if these attitudes are in your mind,
it becomes difficult to meditate.

http://sayadawutejaniya.org/teachings/

:thumbsup:

Good luck with the retreat, it sounds like a great venture!
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby salmon » Fri May 15, 2009 6:24 am

Hijacking this thread for a bit...

Bhante, why do we bow to the monk THEN the Buddha statue on the way out? I was taught to always bow to the Buddha then the sangha. Did I learn wrong?

Good luck with the retreat Retro...may mindfulness be your constant companion :anjali:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby appicchato » Fri May 15, 2009 8:54 am

salmon wrote:Hijacking this thread for a bit...

Bhante, why do we bow to the monk THEN the Buddha statue on the way out? I was taught to always bow to the Buddha then the sangha. Did I learn wrong?

Hi salmon,

In Thailand, when entering, the Buddha first, then the Sangha (abbot/monk)...exiting, the Sangha first, then the Buddha...why?...couldn't tell you...but that's the MO here...and seemingly (to me) more respectful...

A
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Re: Preparing for a short self-guided meditation retreat

Postby salmon » Fri May 15, 2009 9:39 am

appicchato wrote:
salmon wrote:Hijacking this thread for a bit...

Bhante, why do we bow to the monk THEN the Buddha statue on the way out? I was taught to always bow to the Buddha then the sangha. Did I learn wrong?

Hi salmon,

In Thailand, when entering, the Buddha first, then the Sangha (abbot/monk)...exiting, the Sangha first, then the Buddha...why?...couldn't tell you...but that's the MO here...and seemingly (to me) more respectful...

A


Namasakan Bhante,

It was a thai monk who taught us "Always Buddha First, Then Monks"...hence my confusion. :shrug:

Sorry for the :offtopic:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
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