Write a Retreat Schedule, Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center, Vermont

Write a Retreat Schedule

Write a Retreat Schedule

Whether its your first solitary retreat or you consider yourself an old hand, it’s important to have clarity about your intentions on retreat.

Shastri Alexander deVaron, who just completed a 108-day retreat last week, encourages retreatants to establish a vision of what they want to do each day in retreat.

“In a way, it’s like a macrocosm of Trungpa Rinpoche’s instructions: Decide how long you want to sit for; don’t sit for longer and don’t sit for shorter. Make it very clean.”

Solitary retreat is similar to this, but on a larger scale.

Before arriving at retreat, write down a schedule. Make it realistic — especially if you are new to solitary retreat. Share it with you meditation instructor or a seasoned fellow practitioner. Make sure you are being kind to yourself. Unrealistic expectations can unravel a retreat.

“Keeping a schedule is very important on retreat because it’s forcing you to let go of all your ideas of what you should be doing. All these concepts we have about ourselves — who we are and what we think we need to do? — well, on retreat that’s got to go” Shastri deVaron said.

Once you get into the cabin, you may find your schedule is under siege — by ego. You left your electronics with the retreats master. You’ve only brought two books with you. And sitting is … boring and repetitive.

“It’s challenging ego. Ego has all these tricks for how to maintain itself, and ideas about doing other fun and delightful things. And you’re saying, ‘No, ego, right now this is what we’re going to do.’”

New retreatants might schedule five or six hours of meditation into the whole day. Add time on the cushion progressively, with successive retreats, and see how it goes. Talk about the retreat with your meditation instructor or the retreats master when you return.

If you’ve sat for a dathün at Karme Choling, you know how repetitive and predictable the day can be.

“The heart of a dathün is the schedule,” said Shastri deVaron, who once trained dathün leaders at Karme Choling. “A dathün is not about pearls of wisdom from the dathün leader. Dathün is about the schedule, and maintaining the forms within the schedule.”

Here’s a sample solitary retreat schedule newer retreatants might consider. We hope to see you soon to support your next solitary retreat.

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