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Soon to begin a six month solitary retreat

I've been blessed with a set of circumstances that means I can, more or less, be in solitude retreat for six months. I've done silent retreats for a week or so a few times in the past where circumstances have allowed, but obviously this is something else. Any advice or guidance that anyone can offer as I prepare? It will begin at the start of October. Thanks.

elcra1goBunks

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    How solitary will you be? I assume you'll still need to do a trip to the supermarket occasionally? What about distractions? Will you be on the internet? Television?

    I look forward to hearing how it goes.

    In the monastery I stay at occasionally, the monks, nuns and lay residents recently undertook a two week solitary retreat where they don't leave their rooms or have any human interaction for that period.

    Last time I went up there I noticed a young man who was supposed to be doing it wasn't around. Apparently the thought of it freaked him out and he left and went back home. I wasn't surprised. When I first met him I asked him about the monastery and I got the impression the main reason he was there was because it was free accomodation!

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Awesome. <3

    Don't go mad. Stay grounded. Look after your body. Dharma books if available are good company. There is much potential in such a situation BUT we must not harm ourselves, for in so doing, we may inadvertently harm others.

    In others words, stay safe. Prepare.

    What is the plan?

    herberto
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited September 1

    @mindatrisk said:
    I've been blessed with a set of circumstances that means I can, more or less, be in solitude retreat for six months. I've done silent retreats for a week or so a few times in the past where circumstances have allowed, but obviously this is something else. Any advice or guidance that anyone can offer as I prepare? It will begin at the start of October. Thanks.

    Plan things out so that you can "relax" into the solitude. It's good to draw up a daily "retreat" schedule, but do leave plenty of free time for long walks and such-like. Do explain to family/friends/neighbours/cats what you are doing so they won't worry about you. Keep an open mind, 6 months is a long time and you might want to reassess things after a month or two.
    I once did a 2-month solitary and really enjoyed it. I forgot how to speak, I couldn't form a proper sentence when I first returned to "civilisation". The strange thing is that I didn't want to come back, there was a great contentment and simplicity to the solitude...

    lobsterherbertoeleKannon
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited September 1

    Six months is a long time. Prepare properly, know your limits. And I agree with @SpinyNorman, don't be afraid to reassess after a few months, it won't suit everyone.

    ele
  • As someone who has done this kinda thing, be prepared for the fallout...

    I am talking metaphorically, but if you are really going on a long retreat, but find silence and emptiness hard to deal with, please bring back to this sangha the revelations of the experiences (you will need to take pen (pencil) and paper, if you can)...

    BunkslobsterherbertoGreywolf
  • @satcittananda said:
    As someone who has done this kinda thing, be prepared for the fallout...

    I am talking metaphorically, but if you are really going on a long retreat, but find silence and emptiness hard to deal with, please bring back to this sangha the revelations of the experiences (you will need to take pen (pencil) and paper, if you can)...

    Sorry, explain a bit more...

    I don't find silence and emptiness hard (all be it, I haven't done six months of it), but what is the fall-out?

    I don't have a sangha. I'm a lone wolf / puppy dog.

  • 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

    Solitary confinement is used as a punishment in gaols and long-term High-security prisons.
    A self-imposed confinement may be beneficial to you, in many ways (as it's out of personal choice) but that will not eliminate any possible negative side-effects you are neither expecting, nor have planned for.

    ManKind is a gregarious animal. It gathers in groups (this is why we have over-populated cities and wide expanses of uninhabited countryside, right?) so a self-imposed separation is all very well, in many ways.
    In other ways it CAN drive you potty.

    Be prepared for such situations.

    Kerome
  • @federica said:
    Solitary confinement is used as a punishment in gaols and long-term High-security prisons.
    A self-imposed confinement may be beneficial to you, in many ways (as it's out of personal choice) but that will not eliminate any possible negative side-effects you are neither expecting, nor have planned for.

    ManKind is a gregarious animal. It gathers in groups (this is why we have over-populated cities and wide expanses of uninhabited countryside, right?) so a self-imposed separation is all very well, in many ways.
    In other ways it CAN drive you potty.

    Be prepared for such situations.

    Yeah good points. I always envied people in solitary confinement and wondered if unwittingly any spiritual development occurred. I feel as ready as I can be. I've built up to this for years and wished for it for longer, so just going to trust that it's the right time for me. I'm not stubborn, however, so more than happy to adapt and change and end if it feels right.

    BunkslobsterGreywolf
  • @mindatrisk said:
    I've been blessed with a set of circumstances that means I can, more or less, be in solitude retreat for six months. I've done silent retreats for a week or so a few times in the past where circumstances have allowed, but obviously this is something else. Any advice or guidance that anyone can offer as I prepare? It will begin at the start of October. Thanks.

    I am burning with envy. I wish you success.

    Metta

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @mindatrisk said: I always envied people in solitary confinement and wondered if unwittingly any spiritual development occurred. I feel as ready as I can be. I've built up to this for years and wished for it for longer, so just going to trust that it's the right time for me. I'm not stubborn, however, so more than happy to adapt and change and end if it feels right.

    The suttas do talk quite a bit about the ( spiritual ) benefits of seclusion. Apart from anything else I think it's a good way of getting to know yourself.

    Greywolf
  • Question?

    What do you really know about yourself that you can share?

  • @satcittananda said:
    Question?

    What do you really know about yourself that you can share?

    I can question. o:)

    namarupa
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    If I could be in your shoes I'd be sure to have along plenty of exclusively nonfiction books/ebooks and bar all movies, television, and internet while in "isolation" periods.

    But I'd have no idea of what to do when my mind started wandering. Assuming you'll have some planned reading regimen, what else will you do, besides meditation, to keep the mind active and away from sleep? Are you still young? Please fill us in.

  • techietechie India Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:

    @federica said:
    Solitary confinement is used as a punishment in gaols and long-term High-security prisons.
    A self-imposed confinement may be beneficial to you, in many ways (as it's out of personal choice) but that will not eliminate any possible negative side-effects you are neither expecting, nor have planned for.

    ManKind is a gregarious animal. It gathers in groups (this is why we have over-populated cities and wide expanses of uninhabited countryside, right?) so a self-imposed separation is all very well, in many ways.
    In other ways it CAN drive you potty.

    Be prepared for such situations.

    Yeah good points. **I always envied people in solitary confinement **and wondered if unwittingly any spiritual development occurred. I feel as ready as I can be. I've built up to this for years and wished for it for longer, so just going to trust that it's the right time for me. I'm not stubborn, however, so more than happy to adapt and change and end if it feels right.

    People in solitary confinement are kept there against their will. They go through hell. They suffer intolerable agony. Read stories where some prisoner banged his head against the wall so he could bleed ... because for him even the pain from the bleeding seemed a lot better than the pain from isolation. It is a horrible thing, this confinement. Envy them? Please. You ought to pity them. No spiritual insights can be gained through torture.

    Kannon
  • @mindatrisk said:
    Sorry, explain a bit more...

    I don't find silence and emptiness hard (all be it, I haven't done six months of it), but what is the fall-out?

    I don't have a sangha. I'm a lone wolf / puppy dog.

    Then is it a retreat? In other words if this is your usual habit, you are reinforcing it. Have you considered a retreat into social activity for the future, perhaps supporting a sangha?

    I feel a journal is useful. You choose not to have a teachers support, when that may be grounding. I feel you are committed to this course and if focussed on study, you at least have a form of dharmic companionship from good resources ...

    Good luck. <3

    Kerome
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @lobster said:> Then is it a retreat? In other words if this is your usual habit, you are reinforcing it. Have you considered a retreat into social activity for the future, perhaps supporting a sangha?

    Good point. I used to enjoy silent retreats myself, it's a great relief to be around people without having to talk. Also you can appreciate people in a deeper way when conversation is removed.

  • @Nirvana said:
    If I could be in your shoes I'd be sure to have along plenty of exclusively nonfiction books/ebooks and bar all movies, television, and internet while in "isolation" periods.

    But I'd have no idea of what to do when my mind started wandering. Assuming you'll have some planned reading regimen, what else will you do, besides meditation, to keep the mind active and away from sleep? Are you still young? Please fill us in.

    When my mind starts to wander I will bring it back to the breath! I really hope to limit distractions. I've done small periods of silence and solitude before sans films / music / books etc. I'd like to extend that as much as possible. I will probably create a daily routine - I think this will be helpful. It could include some exercise, some walking, some chores, maybe some writing, as well as meditation, reflection etc. However, it is likely to change throughout the six month period. I am 35. It's the oldest I've ever been.

    NirvanaKannon
  • @techie said:

    @mindatrisk said:

    @federica said:
    Solitary confinement is used as a punishment in gaols and long-term High-security prisons.
    A self-imposed confinement may be beneficial to you, in many ways (as it's out of personal choice) but that will not eliminate any possible negative side-effects you are neither expecting, nor have planned for.

    ManKind is a gregarious animal. It gathers in groups (this is why we have over-populated cities and wide expanses of uninhabited countryside, right?) so a self-imposed separation is all very well, in many ways.
    In other ways it CAN drive you potty.

    Be prepared for such situations.

    Yeah good points. **I always envied people in solitary confinement **and wondered if unwittingly any spiritual development occurred. I feel as ready as I can be. I've built up to this for years and wished for it for longer, so just going to trust that it's the right time for me. I'm not stubborn, however, so more than happy to adapt and change and end if it feels right.

    People in solitary confinement are kept there against their will. They go through hell. They suffer intolerable agony. Read stories where some prisoner banged his head against the wall so he could bleed ... because for him even the pain from the bleeding seemed a lot better than the pain from isolation. It is a horrible thing, this confinement. Envy them? Please. You ought to pity them. No spiritual insights can be gained through torture.

    My point was more a wondering if someone in solitary confinement stumbled across any awareness of the benefits of solitude and silence. I'm not saying that their situation is good, just that it has potential, and whether that potential was realised ever.

    Greywolf
  • @lobster said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    Sorry, explain a bit more...

    I don't find silence and emptiness hard (all be it, I haven't done six months of it), but what is the fall-out?

    I don't have a sangha. I'm a lone wolf / puppy dog.

    Then is it a retreat? In other words if this is your usual habit, you are reinforcing it. Have you considered a retreat into social activity for the future, perhaps supporting a sangha?

    I feel a journal is useful. You choose not to have a teachers support, when that may be grounding. I feel you are committed to this course and if focussed on study, you at least have a form of dharmic companionship from good resources ...

    Good luck. <3

    Thanks. It is a retreat. I've never been a journal keeper, but it is a good idea. I tend to experience a lot of insight and inspiration as my mind settles and becomes clearer in retreat.

    I've never found a sangha (or had one find me) where I felt I fitted.

  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:

    My point was more a wondering if someone in solitary confinement stumbled across any awareness of the benefits of solitude and silence. I'm not saying that their situation is good, just that it has potential, and whether that potential was realised ever.

    Nelson Mandela stands out as one in our own time who fits this bill.

    ShoshinKannonGreywolf
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:> My point was more a wondering if someone in solitary confinement stumbled across any awareness of the benefits of solitude and silence. I'm not saying that their situation is good, just that it has potential, and whether that potential was realised ever.

    It's an interesting question, I wonder if any studies have been done?

    Kannon
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