In this article we talk about Meditation Retreats and how you might consider attending one. They can offer good benefits to your spiritual growth.
- Considering a Meditation Retreat
- What is a Meditation Retreat?
- What To Look For in a Meditation Retreat
- What’s Included at a Meditation Retreat
- The Meals at a Retreat
- Viewing The Retreat Schedule
- A Retreat Has A Lot of Sitting
- The Benefits of a Meditation Retreat
- What is Giving Dana?
With most people leading a busy life there’s more and more talk about the benefits of practicing meditation. With its offer of peace and calm it looks like an offer that’s hard to refuse.
It’s a great way to start your day and can make the difference between a ho hum morning or being off to a good start. Sometimes, though, finding time to meditate can be a daunting task so some people choose the option of a meditation retreat.
Considering a Meditation Retreat
Trying meditation and liking it is easy to understand and often people think that they should meditate more. When you see its benefits then it only makes sense to want more.
If you decide to try a meditation retreat then the main thing there is meditation and you have a lot of time for you. Besides being able to calm your mind and enjoy the peace you can think things over and choose what you want to focus and work on.
With friends and teachers there there’s a lot of support.
What is a Meditation Retreat?
When you think of a meditation retreat many things come to mind. For some it is a form of adventure travel, heading out to a distant place for some days to sit with a bunch of loving meditation friends in peace and harmony.
There is a large selection of meditation retreats and just about all of them are in beautiful places. If the air is right and the setting is good then we have almost no choice but to want to jump right in.
The teachers are usually good and the attendees are eager so you can more or less count on a good setting.
So that just leaves the task of choosing the retreat that is right for you.
What To Look For in a Meditation Retreat
As we mention 2 of the big things at a retreat are the company and the setting.
For company you will have good teachers that give instruction and are good listeners, usually warm and friendly, and the other attendees often times turn out to become your friends.
People who comment on retreats say they have met friends that they stay in touch with for a long time after the retreat.
Things to think about at a Meditation Retreat:
- why consider a meditation retreat
- what is a meditation retreat
- reasons to go to a meditation retreat
- benefits of a meditation retreat
Deciding to attend a retreat and selecting the one that’s right depends on seeing what options are available.
What’s Included at a Meditation Retreat
One of the first things that comes to mind about a retreat is the accomodations. Most have options like dormitory, shared room, double room, family room or single room. The dormitory is usually the cheapest but more luxurious rooms are often just a small amount more.
A lot of accommodations offer private bathroom and just about all include clean linens and bath towels. Other things that are common are free Wi-Fi and TV.
The Meals at a Retreat
Probably every retreat comes with 3 meals a day, and it usually is vegetarian. They will listen to special requests and you would have to work that out with the staff.
The meals are usually group meals and so all of the attendees would eat together. Most retreats practice silence so you could expect that at the mealtime as well.
The eating is often about the whole eating process or experience – being mindful of eating and sharing the meal with others. It can be a rich experience eating together and an opportunity for growth as a group.
Viewing The Retreat Schedule
All retreats have a schedule of activities which lists the events you will be offered for each day.
For most retreats the day begins between 5 and 7 a.m. and runs through a full day of activities, usually until around 9 p.m.
The days are usually full so at night most people retire for a good nights sleep. You don’t have to attend all the events if you don’t want to.
Many retreats include complementary pursuits like:
- yoga or ayurveda
- walking meditation
- visits to town
Some retreats might offer the group activity of chanting or singing of songs and it could be possible the mention of a higher power. These are added benefits and prove to be delightful additions to the list of events at the retreat.
A Retreat Has A Lot of Sitting
Since a retreat is about meditation then the biggest activity is sitting, often times for 30-40 minutes at a time.
Sitting a lot for some days can be trying for everyone, even a seasoned meditator. Usually retreats have you covered on this and there is room for sitting in a chair, going for additional walks or even lying down. There’s nothing wrong with lying down and meditating, just try not to fall asleep.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially for first timers, is that it might be challenging to spend several days alone with your thoughts. That’s what retreats are about and you should be prepared for it.
It’s great that the people there are loving and supportive and the teachers can instruct you if you have any questions.
The Benefits of a Meditation Retreat
A retreat offers a world of fun things to do and even if there are challenges there are also the benefits. These include rewards you find within yourself and veterans often find a reason to return for another retreat.
Besides sitting and meals another great activity on retreat is the walking meditation, usually done once or twice a day. A lot of retreats balance the sitting by following it with walking meditation.
These are a series of nature walks with focus on mindfulness and it proves to be a good companion with the sitting meditation. After sitting for a long time walking meditations are a welcome friend for the attendee.
Benefits of a retreat include:
- It has a schedule
- Everything is included
- We find good company
- It’s a breath of fresh air
- A retreat has a lot of time for you
When you are at home you try to fit a time to meditate in your day but sometimes get too busy to actually do it. At a retreat meditation is your main focus so the rewards you get from several days or more of meditation time really get noticed.
When you have all accommodations and a loving group of fellow meditators it really is a lot of time for you!
What is Giving Dana?
At the end of a retreat, it is traditional to offer dana (generosity) to the meditation teacher, usually in the form of funds. It’s up to you how much dana is given.
Giving (dana) is considered an offering and expresses the gratitude you develop towards the meditation teacher. With his teaching instruction, kindness and good listening it is customary to grow fond of him.
It is said that, like all good deeds, an act of giving will bring us happiness in the future, in accordance with the kammic law of cause and effect, taught by the Buddha. Dana is customary at retreats.
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