After a Virtual Retreat
The essence of the mindfulness practice can be described simply as learning how to be complete with each life experience, big or small. Being complete means being fully present from beginning to end of the experience. Thus, how one does the retreat – being on time at the beginning and staying through the talking circle at the end –exemplifies the essence of what is being cultivated at the retreat.
It sometimes happens that a student feels that s/he should leave the retreat early. There may be times when this is appropriate. However, please first arrange a private interview with Shinzen to discuss this rather than just disappear from the retreat. There are several reasons for this: You may need some orientation as to how to “re-enter” ordinary life. Also, it is good to clarify the forces that are causing you to feel the need to leave. Sometimes, after this clarification, students decide that they don’t really need to leave right away and are grateful for the sense of empowerment and self-worth this brings.
Furthermore, a teacher feels a personal investment in each retreatant. It is psychologically difficult on a teacher if someone simply disappears and the teacher has no knowledge of what they are going through. If after talking to the teacher, it still seems appropriate to leave, please inform the retreat manager so they aren’t wondering where you are.
Retreats end with a talking circle, a custom adopted from the Native Americans/American Indians. This is done in the virtual Zendo. If possible, please try to attend as this is a wonderful opportunity to share with the group ideas and feelings that arise from the retreat. It is also an opportunity to practice maintaining meditative awareness within the intensely personal realm of human communication. It isn't mandatory to participate by speaking, but if you choose to share, you have an ideal forum to “fully manifest yourself” by allowing your sense of self to expand and contract without interference.
While you are listening to others speak, you may adopt any number of meditation strategies. Some may practice radiating loving-kindness toward each person as they speak. Others may practice expanding their identity by merging with each person as they speak. Others may simply do Vipassana on whatever comes up. This is an eyes open meditation period.
Instruction on how to conduct the Talking Circle will be given. People speak spontaneously and in any order until the allotted time is complete. We will use the ‘raised hand’ offered in the zoom format to indicate you’d like to speak and when you have been recognized to do so, turn on your video, unmute yourself to speak, then remute yourself when finished and/or turn off your video. When you are done, please indicate so by bowing or saying something like “All My Relations” or “Mitako Yasin” (same meaning in Sioux) or “Namaste.” Speaking in the talking circle is optional. Be mindful of the amount of time you speak so that everyone has a chance to speak before the lunch break.
Teacher(s) are supported by dana – voluntary contributions from retreatants. They receive no other payment for the work they do. According to the traditional Buddhist view, dana is a kind of connection with and participation in the activity of spreading the Path. It is a powerful practice in its own right (the “dana paramita”) when done in the spirit of generosity and selfless letting go. There is no suggested amount for dana. Each person gives the teacher(s) what, upon reflection, they feel is an appropriate offering. Shinzen shares a percentage of dana with the Co-Teacher.
During this pandemic environment, we are encouraging dana using various electronic methods and all information will be provided at the end of each retreat, including any dana for Community for Mindful Living if desired.
Your feedback has been the basis of changes at all retreats - virtual or residential. A link to Survey Monkey will be provided at the end of the retreat. We really value your ratings and comments anonymously offered and appreciate your time in completing the short and quick survey.