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A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Dharma Express => Topic started by: moSh on February 18, 2018, 11:23:36 am

Title: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: moSh on February 18, 2018, 11:23:36 am
Hi everyone, hope you're all healthy and well.

Ever since my first and only retreat at Tushita in India almost two years ago, I've toyed with the idea of having a personal retreat over a weekend to reconnect in a small way to what was the most incredible experience of my life. Firstly, does anyone have any suggestions or tips in doing so? I'm relatively experienced (though don't always keep up a hugely regular practice), and was thinking of planning three light, vegan meals each day, shutting off all electrical equipment (apart from something to play music on) and alternating my time between meditation and Buddhist reading. If there are any other activities you could recommend, or ideas on how to go about it all, I'm open to them! I'll be in an empty house on the river, with a park across the road which I may go running in.

Secondly, I noticed that on that weekend there are three significant Buddhist days (Sangha Day, Magha Puja and Chotrul Duchem), all on the 2nd of March (according to the link below). Does anyone have any knowledge of/experience with these? Are they the same thing but for different practices? I feel like I should honour at least one of them, so it'd be great to get some ideas on how to do this. I've read that Chotrul Duchem involves the burning of butter lamps, which incidentally is how we ended the final day of my group retreat--to this day the best experience of my life.

http://www.hollydays.info/celebrations/buddhism/2018/ (http://www.hollydays.info/celebrations/buddhism/2018/)

Any and all suggestions welcome :)


EDIT: I've found some things recommended for Chotrul Duchem outlined by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, I think taking the eight mahayana precepts is a good one:

https://fpmt.org/teachers/zopa/advice/sakadawa/ (https://fpmt.org/teachers/zopa/advice/sakadawa/)
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: IdleChater on February 18, 2018, 04:12:12 pm
Any retreat experience should be great, but I'd like to suggest getting more time to spend in retreat if possible.

It's been my retreat experience that it take at least a couple days to really get into "retreat mode" with your practice, so if you could arrange more time to really get into it, it would be good.
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: moSh on February 26, 2018, 05:46:30 am
I realise that, and perhaps in the future I'll take more days off work to have a longer retreat, but I thought I'd start small first. More importantly though, I've chosen these three days in particular as I can use my parents' house while they're away (I definitely wouldn't be able to do it at my own house with the noise my housemates make!)

Have you done a personal retreat? Do you have any specific tips or suggestions? Perhaps even just some reading/listening materials for when I'm not meditating?
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: IdleChater on February 26, 2018, 01:14:41 pm
I realise that, and perhaps in the future I'll take more days off work to have a longer retreat, but I thought I'd start small first. More importantly though, I've chosen these three days in particular as I can use my parents' house while they're away (I definitely wouldn't be able to do it at my own house with the noise my housemates make!)

Have you done a personal retreat? Do you have any specific tips or suggestions? Perhaps even just some reading/listening materials for when I'm not meditating?

I've done several solo retreats.  They were "supported" in that there was a resident monastic on hand for counseling, if needed.  This is helpful, in that a meditation retreat can get a little intense and some people freak out a little.

TIPS:  go with a purpose.  Set some sort of reachable goal for the retreat.  In my first retreat I chose to read through and practice in line with a teaching my Guru gave on the Four Foundations of Mindfullness.  This worked well.  I was able to get all the way through and deepend my practice considerably.  Set a scedule and stick to it.  Where I went on my retreats there is a daily shedule you can follow.  This included both personal and group practice, mealtimes, cleanup duty, etc..  Think about structuring your retreat the same way.  I'd pick a short book.  The Dalai Lama's book on the Heart Sutra is one that might suit your needs.  Read a bit, meditate a bit and so on.

Hope that helps
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: moSh on February 26, 2018, 02:48:18 pm
I've done a 10-day silent group retreat, so I'm at least a somewhat prepared for the intensity of it! If it all gets too much, my dog will be on hand to provide some comfort.

Your suggestion of going with purpose is actually really useful. I've been meaning to gather materials and plan meditation topics in the next couple of days, but you've made me want to focus in particular on compassion meditations. For years I've been meditating for the good of my own psychological development, while somewhat neglecting compassion in my practice, and it has occurred to me on many occasions that this needs to change.

Would you recommend any particular texts, or perhaps even guided meditations, relating to developing compassion?
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: IdleChater on February 26, 2018, 05:28:08 pm
I've done a 10-day silent group retreat, so I'm at least a somewhat prepared for the intensity of it! If it all gets too much, my dog will be on hand to provide some comfort.

Your suggestion of going with purpose is actually really useful. I've been meaning to gather materials and plan meditation topics in the next couple of days, but you've made me want to focus in particular on compassion meditations. For years I've been meditating for the good of my own psychological development, while somewhat neglecting compassion in my practice, and it has occurred to me on many occasions that this needs to change.

Would you recommend any particular texts, or perhaps even guided meditations, relating to developing compassion?

If you're interested in building compassion in your practice, I recommend Tonglen meditation.  This is a common practice in the Kagyu and Shambhala communities.

Pema Chodron is a popular teacher of this practice.

See one of her teachings here:

https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-tonglen/ (https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-tonglen/)
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: moSh on February 27, 2018, 04:35:49 pm
Thanks very much for your suggestion. I've dug out some Tonglen audio recordings from my retreat at Tushita, researched some lectures by Pema Chodron, and now almost completely filled my three-day schedule. You've been a great help!

All that's left is literature for some restful reading, an idea of what to have for lunch each day (I'm thinking vegan salad, but wondering what to have in it to fill me up sufficiently), and an audio lecture to fill an hour on Sunday afternoon.

Very excited for this!
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: IdleChater on February 27, 2018, 05:08:51 pm
Thanks very much for your suggestion. I've dug out some Tonglen audio recordings from my retreat at Tushita, researched some lectures by Pema Chodron, and now almost completely filled my three-day schedule. You've been a great help!

All that's left is literature for some restful reading, an idea of what to have for lunch each day (I'm thinking vegan salad, but wondering what to have in it to fill me up sufficiently), and an audio lecture to fill an hour on Sunday afternoon.

Very excited for this!

Sounds like a plan!

Be carefull about eating.  If you eat something too heavy, you'll start nodding out on the cushion. 
Title: Re: Personal Meditation Retreat & Chotrul Duchem
Post by: moSh on February 28, 2018, 07:04:16 am
I'll bear that in mind!

Thanks again for all your suggestions, they've been of great help to my preparation.
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