A Do-It-Yourself Meditation Retreat | The Hugger Mugger Yoga Blog

This entry was posted on July 31, 2020 by Charlotte Bell.

Woman Meditating

Each July since 2014, my life associate and I’ve attended an 18-day metta/perception meditation retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. We signed up once more final February, however effectively, everyone knows what occurred in March 2020.

Like so many traditions, together with my annual journey to the Telluride Bluegrass Competition, the meditation retreat was to not be. The retreat has develop into a touchstone for my associate and me. It’s a time to take a vacation from our each day routines and to take a much-needed pc and information break. However there may be merely no means Spirit Rock might assure security for the same old 100-plus attendees.

After the cancellation, I spent a number of weeks in disappointment. Then my associate had an thought. Why don’t we do our personal retreat at dwelling?

Why not? Effectively, first I questioned whether or not we might be capable to preserve to the rigorous each day schedule—eight sitting practices alternating with seven strolling classes—with out the inducement of training with a gaggle. Additionally, we wouldn’t have an opportunity to speak with lecturers if we hit a snag. However nonetheless, the thought was intriguing. So we made a dedication to do an 11-day silent meditation retreat, collectively, utilizing my lounge because the meditation house.

We moved some furnishings and arrange our meditation cushions, the place we left them for the length. We picked our “biggest hits” of meditation directions and dharma talks from previous retreats to hearken to morning and night. And I made an in depth plan for a considerable noon meal every day. We have been on our personal for the opposite meals.


How’s a Self Meditation Retreat Completely different?

As with all the pieces, there have been advantages to training at dwelling, together with issues that have been more difficult. Some points had a little bit of each. Listed here are among the issues I discovered:

  • The entry and exit have been smoother. Making ready to go away dwelling for a longish retreat is not any small activity. It’s a must to anticipate all life’s particulars which have potential to trigger psychological drama in your apply. For instance, I pay payments upfront, line up cat sitters, be certain my backyard will be capable to survive the July warmth, line up a good friend to toss the vast majority of my incoming emails, get means forward on my writing and enhancing jobs, and so on. Inevitably, the weeks earlier than leaving are frenzied. That frenzy could be very obvious in my physique within the early days of a retreat. As a result of my prep duties have been a lot much less this time round, I didn’t expertise the same old bodily restlessness. Additionally, on the finish, I didn’t have to barter a crowded airport. I used to be already dwelling.
  • I actually take pleasure in cooking, however I additionally REALLY recognize when others carry that psychological workload. However the psychological power I wanted to expend—determining what to do when, which meditations I’d need to miss or reduce quick, and so on.—made me so grateful for all of the work that will get accomplished behind the scenes on the heart. Strolling into the eating corridor and having fun with a scrumptious, wholesome meal that I didn’t need to plan is a pleasure. Nonetheless, incorporating meal-making right into a meditation retreat was an invite to apply aware residing.
  • Simply sooner or later of meditation makes a distinction. Marcel Proust wrote, “The actual voyage of discovery consists, not in in search of new landscapes, however in having new eyes.” On the second day of our retreat, I took my traditional brisk stroll by way of my neighborhood. Even after a single day of stable apply, the acquainted panorama of my each day route appeared extra vivid and magical. Once I go away on retreat, it’s simple to suppose that nothing is going on, that you simply’re probably not altering. It’s because the settling course of is gradual, and also you’re in unfamiliar environment. However my each day stroll confirmed me simply how a lot had shifted for me in a single day.
  • I had no hassle conserving the schedule. Regardless of my apprehensions, I felt no compulsion to “cheat.”
  • Meditating with cats was a deal with. When you would possibly suppose {that a} cat in your lap when you’re sitting may very well be a distraction, it actually wasn’t. More often than not, they only wished to be within the room with us, however often they wished lap time. It was a stunning reminder to understand their light affections.
  • Operating errands was really enjoyable. I knew on the outset that I’d need to make a visit to the grocery retailer. A number of the contemporary produce I wanted for later meals wasn’t going to final per week within the fridge. Plus, my fridge simply isn’t large enough to carry 11 days price of meals. I deliberate the journey for the fifth day. Little did I do know that I’d additionally need to make two different journeys. On day three I observed my yard kale was being destroyed by aphids. The subsequent day, I bought some ladybugs. Then one among my irrigation hoses developed a foot-long gash. So off to the backyard retailer I went. Whereas one would possibly suppose these mundane errands would really feel like an disagreeable diversion, they really identified to me how a lot equanimity I had developed in the course of the earlier days of meditation.
  • You don’t have to go away to search out the peace of a meditation retreat. In idea, I knew this in fact. However experiencing it for myself was yet one more affirmation of the dedication I made to this apply greater than 30 years in the past. The stillness and equanimity I’ve skilled at dwelling aren’t any much less profound.
  • One specific highly effective realization wouldn’t have occurred anyplace else. My mom was a nationally acknowledged watercolorist. Her work line the partitions of my dwelling. Sooner or later, whereas I used to be strolling and training metta indoors, I stored encountering one among her work that was at one finish of my strolling path. I ended to have a look at it, mindfully and within the house of lovingkindness. Whereas my mom handed in 2009, a sense of connection and profound appreciation and love arose in me that impressed me to look deeply in any respect her work in my dwelling. I took in each affected person and expert brushstroke, and have become awash in her depth of knowledge, light humor and unflagging integrity. These work are my mom’s essence. So long as I’m of their presence, I’m additionally in hers.

Meditation Altar


If COVID is underneath management by subsequent summer season, I’ll undoubtedly signal as much as retreat in California once more. Would I do one other self meditation retreat? Completely. I’m already serious about scheduling common shorter ones. Now that I’ve seen the worth of an prolonged dwelling meditation retreat, I sit up for extra meditative staycations.


About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced educating in 1986. Charlotte is the creator of Conscious Yoga, Conscious Life: A Information for On a regular basis Follow, revealed by Rodmell Press. Her second ebook, Yoga for Meditators (Rodmell Press) was revealed in Could 2012. She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to colleges and to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and people sextet Purple Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.

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