How To Prepare For A Meditation Retreat

If you're really serious about your meditation practice and want to make some solid progress, meditation retreats may be the answer. A daily meditation practice is a good foundation while the retreats add many hours of meditation and intensity to your practice.

In this post we'll take a close look at what you can do to prepare yourself in order to get the most out of every retreat.

No matter whether you're a novice meditator or a seasoned retreatant, the pointers in this article can be applied to any level of experience. Try and see what works best for you...

Let's start out with the very basics. If you have a good foundation, you'll be much better off than someone who only meditates sporadically. So, opt to meditate regularly before retreats. It's much easier to find the motivation to practice when you have a goal, like a retreat.

I do a lot of stretching in the weeks leading up to retreats, to avoid any unnecessary physical discomfort during the intensive practice. Hours of sitting does put a lot of stress on the body, so it's worth every effort to be well prepared.

Stretching is also a natural way to practice mindfulness, which turns it into a form of meditation. Give relaxed attention to every body movement. The slower you move, the easier it is to be mindful.

Moreover, it's important to understand that a restless body makes for a restless mind and vice versa.

Whenever the body is uncomfortable it's harder to concentrate. By stretching prior to and during retreats, you'll be in a much better position to cope with any physical discomfort.

Also make sure you eat and sleep well before setting out on retreats. As always, alcohol and smoking should be avoided at any cost.

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The 5 Hindrances

Before going on retreats it can be helpful to make a commitment. For example, to do your very best no matter what conditions you find yourself in.

In Buddhism they talk about the 5 hindrances to successful meditation practice:

- Thinking about sex and wanting to stimulate the senses. For example, by eating your favorite food.

- Anger and irritation

- Laziness and boredom

- Restlessness

- Doubts about your practice and abilities

Anyone can see that the 5 hindrances could make it almost impossible to stay focused on your meditation practice. So, by making a commitment you're less likely to be caught like a fish in the net.

Everyone has their weak points and most of us know what to work on. It does take a measure of discipline to complete a meditation retreat successfully and the five hindrances nicely sum up what to look out for.

It can be helpful to remind yourself why you're doing the retreat and what you want to get out of it.

Here's a list of retreat no-nos:

- Don't chat up other retreatants

- Don't entertain sexual fantasizes

- Don't give in to laziness and boredom

- Don't get involved in discussions and arguments

Meditation Retreat Tips

If you feel restless, do more walking meditation.

If you have a hard time staying awake, take a short nap.

If you get sick, do your very best to accept it right away. The opposite would be to resist like a child who can't have an ice cream after the corner store has closed. That would only through you off course. Instead, learn to accept every moment as it is.

Don't spend the entire retreat doubting in your abilities. It's better to leave the thinking for when you get back home.

Your attitude matters a lot too. Therefore, view the retreat as a golden opportunity to deepen your meditation practice. Take on a measure of discipline and you'll be just fine.

I often point out to meditators that they shouldn't push themselves. To me, meditation is about giving relaxed attention to the meditation object, without trying too hard which only leads to stiff shoulders and frustration.

Your level of success relies heavily on your ability to cultivate mindfulness throughout the day, so don't engage in unnecessary conversation. Rather, give relaxed attention to everything you do. May it be eating, walking or washing your hands.

Feel free to email me about your personal experiences of meditation retreats.

Best of luck!

Related:   Goenka Meditation Retreats   Intensive Meditation   Self-Retreats

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