What things do I need to go on retreat?
- Comfortable clothing; layers to adjust to the temperature in the dharma hall. Sometimes a light shawl or blanket is useful. Clothing that doesn’t rustle. Outerwear for walking periods outdoors.
- Something to sit on. Your options are a chair (usually supplied); a zafu (a firm, round, meditation cushion) which is usually set on a firm mat or folded blanket; or a meditation bench, which also is set on a mat or folded blanket. Most bring their own zafu or bench but if you’re just starting a practice you might want to experiment before you invest. At most retreats there will be some extra benches and zafus for you to try.
- Unscented personal products (soap, shampoo, body lotion, etc.) out of consideration for persons with allergies.
What don’t I need?
You can leave books, journals, pens, drawing tools, portable audio devices, cell phones, PDAs, Blackberry, etc. at home. You support the inner journey when you minimize your usual outward distractions.
Anything else I should know about retreats?
Yes. It helps to know retreat etiquette.
- Keep Noble Silence: this includes avoiding unnecessary direct eye contact, signals and notes except to the manager and teacher. It’s useful practice to keep your mind to yourself. You’ll find it’s a full-time job.
- As best you can, undo velcro, zippers and noisy snaps, outside the dharma hall.
- Be on time: out of respect for the practice, your fellow retreatants and yourself, be settled in your place when the sitting starts and stay until after the sitting has ended.
- Wait until the teacher has left before getting up from the sitting.
- Unless you’re not well, (in which case, you let the teacher know) keep to the schedule: it’s designed to support your inner process.
- Learn the vipassana sneeze and cough: into the inside of your bent elbow, or upper arm - not into the hand.