🧘 What guidance can you offer on doing a home meditation retreat?

While each person will have different inclinations and will set up a schedule that fits their unique personality and retreat goals, there are several suggestions that usually hold true for most home retreats.

We suggest that during your retreat you will want to be alone. It’s best not to see or talk with anyone, or engage in distractions — using the internet, listening to the radio, etc. Try to maintain silence during the retreat. If possible, do the retreat in a place where you won’t hear people talking a lot.

You might want to plan your meals ahead of time, and maybe even prepare them beforehand so you don’t have to think too much about shopping or cooking while you are on retreat. It’s nice to have a set schedule of sitting and walking meditation, with one or two hours at each meal for time to prepare, eat, clean up, and rest.

We recommend that most of the day be spent meditating, with a little time allotted for reading and contemplation and mindful movement, if you’d like. You could have a book on hand for study and contemplation. In general, your reading should support and inspire your practice. Reading and study are not meant to be the focus of a meditation retreat.

On the first morning, take a few minutes to reflect on your aspiration for the retreat. You might contemplate the qualities that you would like to emphasize, or what you would like to learn from the retreat. During the breaks you could spend time reading and contemplating. You could also choose to do something physical to stay fresh, such as stretching, yoga, or Tai Chi. If you’re in an isolated place, you could practice walking meditation.

Generally, you should feel relaxed and supported on retreat, but a somewhat rigorous schedule can help build confidence in meeting your goals. You might consider going just a little bit out of your comfort zone, but not so much that you feel worried that you won’t be able to follow the schedule that you have set. Think about waking up just a little earlier than usual, or changing your usual routine in some other way. This helps the mind stay fresh and interested, and experience retreat as a different situation than normal.

By setting a clear container for retreat, we can create the circumstances for more settling, insight, and well-being to arise during and after our retreat experience.