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Solo (meditation) retreats

Having recently restarted my meditation practice, I decided to use the opportunity of an empty apartment for a short solo meditation retreat. One evening, one day, and one morning. The plan is to do much the same as one would do on a more formal group retreat - lots of seated meditation, some walking and chanting, eating/cooking/work and a dharma talk in the evening.

Seems to me that group retreats are more powerful - more support and enthusiasm - but the solo variant is OK too if one is a bit of a nazi regarding the schedule. 'Cause Once You Pop (with distractions), You Can't Stop!

Do you do solo retreats? How do you spend the time? Thoughts concerning the difference between solo and group retreats?

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    First of all, find an empty apartment you can use as frequently as you want! :D

    Whenever I meditate, I make sure I'm alone, or that I can at least be left alone.

    marcitko
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited August 2016

    @marcitko said:
    Having recently restarted my meditation practice, I decided to use the opportunity of an empty apartment for a short solo meditation retreat. One evening, one day, and one morning. The plan is to do much the same as one would do on a more formal group retreat - lots of seated meditation, some walking and chanting, eating/cooking/work and a dharma talk in the evening.

    Seems to me that group retreats are more powerful - more support and enthusiasm - but the solo variant is OK too if one is a bit of a nazi regarding the schedule. 'Cause Once You Pop (with distractions), You Can't Stop!

    Do you do solo retreats? How do you spend the time? Thoughts concerning the difference between solo and group retreats?

    I've done quite a lot of solitary retreats over the years and would recommend them, it can be a good space for self-reflection and awareness, also deepening practice free from distractions. As with group retreats, longer is generally better, partly because it can take several days to "leave the world behind".

    The longest solitary I did was 2 months, I would have happily extended it. It was on a farm, I stayed in an old caravan in the corner of a cow field. The cows would stick their head in the door for a scratch and a chat, lovely creatures.

    Some structure is useful, but do allow yourself some free time, maybe go for a long walk in the afternoon.

    marcitkonamarupa
  • Do you do solo retreats? How do you spend the time?

    I do.
    Though I have the opposite experience to @genkaku

    I hope you can be sufficiently nazi/disciplined. <3

    What I would suggest is finding what works for you.

    I usually have two baths, morning and evening.
    I do mantra and any chores. I eat if I have to. I take a walk or exercise as @SpinyNorman suggests, trying to be mindful. I may walk to a local Buddhist temple as I have that option. I normally set up a shrine and make offerings. I stare at the sky.

    ... and I meditate. o:)

    Wish you every success, pics and report back welcome. <3

    Swaroopmarcitko
  • @SpinyNorman said:
    As with group retreats, longer is generally better, partly because it can take several > days to "leave the world behind".

    Aye. Partly related, I'm still scratching my head how to "leave behind" pesky friends and family in an age of 24/7 availability, cellphones and facebook. Seems they don't take "on retreat" as sufficient reason not to be available. They get quite angry too if you don't answer! Scary stuff.

    @SpinyNorman said:
    The longest solitary I did was 2 months, I would have happily extended it. It was on > a farm, I stayed in an old caravan in the corner of a cow field.

    Nice. Back to nature. How did you spend the time?

    @lobster said:
    Wish you every success, pics and report back welcome. <3

    Observe - The Great Wall of Dharma! :-)

    Managed to do what I set out do to. Happy about that. Regarding meditation, did all the sessions, but quit just before the end of the last one - decided to do some chanting instead. It's a bad habit which is present in other aspects of my life as well.

    Wondering what would happen if I had more time... Is that the junky mentality? :-)

    lobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited September 2016

    Good to hear it went well, and I hope you will be able to do a longer one at some point. On my long solitary I did some practice, some writing and went for lots of walks, in between chatting to the cows about the price of milk and suchlike. After two months of not talking I lost the ability to string sentences together, which was a little disconcerting.

    Not sure what to advise on the mobile phone front, I don't have one as a I cannae bear the nasty wee things. I seem to spend half my time dodging gormless i-phone smombies when out and about.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @marcitko said:

    @SpinyNorman said:
    As with group retreats, longer is generally better, partly because it can take several days to "leave the world behind".

    Aye. Partly related, I'm still scratching my head how to "leave behind" pesky friends and family in an age of 24/7 availability, cellphones and facebook. Seems they don't take "on retreat" as sufficient reason not to be available. They get quite angry too if you don't answer! Scary stuff.

    True. If a sufficiently long time period passes between their question and my answer, my family start to think that any means to contact me is totally justified. Instead of whatsapp's I start getting phone calls on several devices, for instance. It's quite awkward.

    I've weaned them off expecting immediate answers by sometimes leaving the phone on the charger, and telling them that. And I spend near zero time on Facebook, I have a page but I don't update it or visit it.

    Still I sympathise.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited September 2016

    In the good old days before mobile phones, you could give family and friends a phone number for the retreat centre you were staying at, but it was strictly for emergencies only.
    But with mobiles it seems like everything is an "emergency". :p

  • @marcitko said:

    Wondering what would happen if I had more time... Is that the junky mentality? :-)

    Bravo!
    Inspiring. Given time you might be a Buddha.
    Iz plan. In fact I would go further - Iz Masterplan! B)

    marcitko
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I do them, but I usually leave the distractions behind. Of course, even then they are everywhere, LOL. Every summer I take a solo kayak camping retreat. I leave the phone behind, and take just a minimal amount of stuff I need. I find most of the whole trip to be meditative in nature, the paddling, the fire starting, the sitting, the cooking, the setting up camp. To me, it is just being much more in tune with my rhythm of life. I do plenty of sitting meditation as well but for me the point is more to go inward.

    When my kids are in school, I have a pretty "strict" self-care routine that I do in the hours they are gone. It is extremely helpful to me, especially in the winter months.

    marcitko
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