Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by twelph » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:41 pm

SamBodhi wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:...
One thing you might consider is getting together a series of retreat-oriented talks relevant to your particular practice approach, so you can listen to a talk each day, as you might on an organised retreat.
...
:anjali:
Mike
I would second this suggestion.
S.
The more I consider it, I will most definitely be grabbing myself an MP3 player that takes AAA batteries for $25 from office depot and filling it up with retreat material. Going on an extended solo retreat will be tough as it is, but not even hearing the voices of other people might be a whole different adventure. I don't want to convince myself that I'm the only person left in the world :thinking: . I'll also be including some Q&A with students from retreats. What I'm considering so far:
http://dharmaseed.org/retreats/1446/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.audiodharma.org/series/2/talk/3111/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.audiodharma.org/series/2/talk/3142/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Along with a random assortment of talks from Gil Fronsdal, Steve Armstrong, and some of my other favorite teachers and monks on dharmaseed and audiodharma.
dharmagoat wrote:I too am interested to hear how you get on. Will you be keeping any kind of diary?
Most likely not. I prefer to avoid the pitfalls of writing experiences down and possibly giving them more meaning than they deserve. Especially without a teacher present, my plans are to not give any significance to particular experiences.

When moving from one location to the other during my halfway mark, I might find myself some wifi and post an update on this thread just for the curious.

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marc108
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by marc108 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:51 am

are you bringing a cell phone with you (you should)? i think i remember you making a post that you like Taan Geoffs teachings... i believe you should be able to arrange daily or near daily talks with him for a personal retreat. 619-813-8461 between 6 and 7pm pacific.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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James the Giant
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by James the Giant » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:04 am

marc108 wrote:are you bringing a cell phone with you (you should)? i think i remember you making a post that you like Taan Geoffs teachings... i believe you should be able to arrange daily or near daily talks with him for a personal retreat. 619-813-8461 between 6 and 7pm pacific.
Wow, that's a great idea if there's cellphone reception! And that the cellphone stays OFF for the rest of the time!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by twelph » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:39 am

marc108 wrote:are you bringing a cell phone with you (you should)? i think i remember you making a post that you like Taan Geoffs teachings... i believe you should be able to arrange daily or near daily talks with him for a personal retreat. 619-813-8461 between 6 and 7pm pacific.
Dont know if there is cell phone reception out there, but if there is then that would be a good reason to turn it on, good idea.

Slightly related, last year I was backpacking in Cali for 8 months staying at monasteries, and realized I was close to his Monastery when I was visiting Deer Park. Sadly he was filled up for several months, so I got it into my head that I could camp out in a forest over a mile away and walk into the monastery every morning. Needless to say, someone found out and told on me, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu politely asked me to wait till there was a spot available. I guess there is such thing as too much determination :) .

twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by twelph » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:14 am

My retreat was shortened to two weeks for personal reasons, I just finished the last day yesterday. I probably would have made an excuse and stopped after the first two weeks anyways, as having to relocate to a different forest after 14 days would have taken a long time to get re-situated. I had decided to get away from roads and hike out a little ways to immerse myself in the wilderness.

Because of it raining sometimes a couple days at a time, along with small animals harassing my tent while I tried to sleep during the second week, having a set schedule seemed impossible. I have to admit that during a period of intense raining lasting two days I succumbed to desire and drove down the mountain to acquire an internet connection and get myself a meal at a restaurant.

I checked out the forums during that brief time on the internet, and was instantly drawn to the Thanissaro Bhikkhu ; Right Mindfulness thread. Having had my own issues with some of his previous teachings, my mind felt intensely strained and constricted while reading the thread after having just been in a very good place. My own aversion to the subject became fascinating to me, and my solution to studying the process further was to download the book to my e-reader and study it during my retreat. I'll go ahead and post directly in that corresponding thread my thoughts on the book so as not to derail this thread.

All in all I was extremely over-prepared for the trip, and the only difficulties came from the rain, night time critters, and my own discipline. I tried my best to switch constantly between walking, sitting, and studying. I probably averaged about 45 minutes during my sits, never going past an hour except for meditation before bed while waiting to get sleepy. Interestingly there were about a half dozen times where I would feel like I needed a break and would tell myself to "stop meditating". This would be followed by some of the most joyful and insightful moments of the retreat, though it didn't take very long before I would realize it was time to start putting forth some effort again so as not to sacrifice the momentum that was there.

Other than that I'll answer any questions anyone might have if they have ever considered doing something similar. I can't comment on the effectiveness of the retreat, as I don't have much to compare it to besides a few times living at non-retreat monasteries in the states and regular personal practice. I still feel like I'm on retreat, so that's nice :). I will say that the most important thing to consider (and I had realized this before even starting the retreat) is that while being secluded from everyone and everything, if you do not make an extra effort to be friendly to yourself you will not be a happy camper :jumping:

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tiltbillings
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:50 am

twelph wrote:. . .

All in all I was extremely over-prepared for the trip

. . .
Probably not. Before doing a solitary retreat, it probably would do well to do some structured retreats with a teacher.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by twelph » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:
twelph wrote:. . .

All in all I was extremely over-prepared for the trip

. . .
Probably not. Before doing a solitary retreat, it probably would do well to do some structured retreats with a teacher.
Hmmm, all I was talking about were supplies and the actual camping aspect of the trip. I was trying to establish that any difficulties I had were not because I was uncomfortable because I forgot something.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Aug 25, 2012 7:01 am

twelph wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
twelph wrote:. . .

All in all I was extremely over-prepared for the trip

. . .
Probably not. Before doing a solitary retreat, it probably would do well to do some structured retreats with a teacher.
Hmmm, all I was talking about were supplies and the actual camping aspect of the trip. I was trying to establish that any difficulties I had were not because I was uncomfortable because I forgot something.
I know that is what you meant, but I would also say that you were not really prepared for such a serious undertaking, but often the only way to find out is by trying.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Ben
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by Ben » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:I know that is what you meant, but I would also say that you were not really prepared for such a serious undertaking, but often the only way to find out is by trying.
I agree.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

twelph
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by twelph » Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:31 pm

Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I know that is what you meant, but I would also say that you were not really prepared for such a serious undertaking, but often the only way to find out is by trying.
I agree.
kind regards,

Ben
I have (in my own home) been able to dedicate a couple days in a row of no distractions in order to just study and meditate. This felt like a natural extension of that, though near the end of the two weeks I definitely felt like I was pushing my limits. I agree that with a teacher and in a group I would have been able to muster up more discipline and would have probably progressed further, but I have no regrets and look at the experience in an overall positive light.

The only way to judge my progress is to discern whether or not I am clinging to the causes of suffering more or less. It feels like the latter.

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James the Giant
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by James the Giant » Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:02 am

twelph wrote:...I succumbed to desire and drove down the mountain to acquire an internet connection...
I know, I saw you logged in during the time you were supposed to be on retreat!
Well, big ups to you for making two weeks. That's something to be pleased about.
Any plans to do a retreat in more comfortable surroundings, perhaps a meditation centre or monastery?
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Ben
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by Ben » Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:27 am

twelph wrote:
Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I know that is what you meant, but I would also say that you were not really prepared for such a serious undertaking, but often the only way to find out is by trying.
I agree.
kind regards,

Ben
I have (in my own home) been able to dedicate a couple days in a row of no distractions in order to just study and meditate. This felt like a natural extension of that, though near the end of the two weeks I definitely felt like I was pushing my limits. I agree that with a teacher and in a group I would have been able to muster up more discipline and would have probably progressed further, but I have no regrets and look at the experience in an overall positive light.

The only way to judge my progress is to discern whether or not I am clinging to the causes of suffering more or less. It feels like the latter.
Hi Twelph

It sounds like you are making great effort at home, practicing Dhamma in day-to-day life. It is not to be understated how important that is in the long term. The sort of preparation that I would normally recommend for someone wishing to do a month-long silent retreat would be years of sustained practice in daily life and a number of shorter retreats. I would also recommend someone wishing to do a solo retreat to have some experience in attending a number of retreats in a supported setting such as a monastery or meditation centre. The reason being that having developed some depth of experience and experience of the sorts of things that arise and pass away on retreat, you are in a far better prepared for when intense experiences (whether they are intensely pleasurable, painful or delusion-inducing) occur when you are on your own and in the absence of the support of a teacher or guide.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

twelph
Posts: 112
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by twelph » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:52 am

James the Giant wrote:
twelph wrote:...I succumbed to desire and drove down the mountain to acquire an internet connection...
I know, I saw you logged in during the time you were supposed to be on retreat!
Well, big ups to you for making two weeks. That's something to be pleased about.
Any plans to do a retreat in more comfortable surroundings, perhaps a meditation centre or monastery?
Yes, I'll probably do a Goenka retreat or stay at Wat Metta next time. My vacation was moved forward unexpectedly this time, leaving little time for arrangements. Next time will probably be better planned.

Parth
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by Parth » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:25 pm

Hi,

I would also recommend doing a retreat in Goenkaji's tradition. You could find more details on below website :

http://www.dhamma.org/en/bycountry/na/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

These are run purely on a non obligatory donation basis and you could contribute by doing dhamma service after the first 10 day course. The decipline is pretty strong here and teaching logical and lucid with pretty long hours of meditation in a day ie about 10 to 12 hours in a day.

Metta

Parth

Ryuejaku
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Re: Month Long Solitary Meditation Retreat

Post by Ryuejaku » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:58 am

twelph wrote:Due to financial constraints, my aspirations to visit Myanmar for a month to go on a retreat will have to be put on hold. So, next week I will be going camping on public use land in Colorado for a month with the sole purpose of intensive meditation. I have all my supplies ready, and am pretty excited. I've stayed at several monasteries for a month or so, but nothing that can be considered a retreat. Therefore I understand I should be gentle to myself, especially without a teacher present. I don't foresee any huge problems, but who knows. I plan on trying to follow a retreat schedule if possible and refrain from eating past noon. The two books that I will be studying are "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi and "Dhamma Everywhere" by Sayadaw U Tejaniya. I'm already intimately familiar with the latter, but I find re-reading it over and over has helped re-align my meditation habits whenever I develop some sort of obstructive view about how I'm supposed to be practicing.

Anyways, the purpose of this post is to ask if anyone might have any suggestions for me? The stronger the feeling that I have everything figured out, the more usually goes wrong :) .
Good Luck Good Skill Hope all goes cool & you attain/realize Nirvana.
50-70 more not bad in no rush

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