Guidance for the Online Weekend Silent Retreat
Friday, September 10, 2021, through Sunday, September 12, 2021
In a society of continuous input and mental stimulation, there is no greater gift for our peace, happiness, health, and sanity than to unplug and take a break. Because of this constant stimulation and our unconscious addiction to it, it can also be challenging to do.
This Silent Retreat is a gift for you, so you can receive it in any way you want. To get the most benefit from it, these are my recommendations.
Attend and remain in Silence for the whole three days beginning on Friday at 6 pm. If you are new to Silent Retreats, it usually takes three days for thoughts to quiet down enough to experience the blessing of Silence.
No Mental Input
Eliminate mental input for the whole three days.
Except for the specific Zoom sessions for this retreat, turn off the phone, computer, email, radio, television, etc.
Yes, even spiritual books. It’s only three days.
This is an opportunity to get to know yourself on a very deep level. If there are other people in your household, inform them of what you are doing and ask for their cooperation. They will soon realize that this benefits them as much as you.
Buy a very small notebook and only if something very critical comes up over these three days ask them to write it in the notebook and you write the answer in return. This tends to dramatically reduce conversation.
You can also use the notebook for journaling.
You will notice that you have far more thoughts than you ever imagined. You will also begin to notice that most of them are neither important nor beneficial to you. This can be a bit of a shock.
Without the external input you are used to, you become much more aware of your thoughts. This is an important part of the process of waking up. You are beginning to see your thoughts for what they are. Some of this may not be pleasant. Stick with it. It is the doorway to a freedom you cannot yet imagine.
You will experience many insights unavailable to you before. Use the little notebook or a bigger one just for journaling to write them down. It’s not necessary to do this. Many more will come and each one will be a deeper insight than the one before. But it’s fine to write them down. Don’t spend all your time writing. This is not a writing workshop. It’s a time to become familiar with the profound wisdom of Silence.
Buy whatever you need before the Retreat.
Have the notebook, pen, and all the food and water you will need for the three days to reduce the distractions of shopping.
When I used to do this with weeklong silent retreats, I created a large button with the words “Day of Silence” printed on it. If people needed to go to the store or ran into friends, they could simply remain silent and point to the button. That seemed to work. If you would like such a button, here is a link to buy one: https://www.zazzle.com/day_of_silence_pinback_button-145612694586458139
For this three-day Retreat, you should be fine getting everything you need in advance.
It is much easier to do a Silent Retreat at a Retreat Center. Everyone there is also living in silence. Your meals are prepared for you. You are living there and have no access to your phone, computer, radio, television, books, or any other media.
To do a Silent Retreat at home takes a lot of discipline. You have to ask your friends and those you live with to cooperate. All the media you use and may have become addicted to is available to you. The environment is not yet as conducive to silence as it is at a Retreat Center.
It is both harder and also more beneficial to do a Silent Retreat at home. When you develop the discipline to do this in your own home, it is always available to you. You don’t have to wait for me to offer a Silent Retreat on Zoom. You can now do this any time you need to. Silence is now available to be incorporated into your life in many ways. And in a society overwhelmed with constant noise, there may be no greater gift for our health, sanity, happiness, and peace of mind.
A three-day water fast is conducive to a three-day Silent Retreat. It’s both healthy and purifying. But if you are new to both fasting and Silent Retreats, it is probably better to wait until you are more familiar with both.
Preparing and eating food in Silence is a wonderful way to connect with both your food and the wider world. Many of us say Grace before we eat. Eating in Silence allows a type of Grace and Gratitude throughout the entire meal.
Since you will not be physically active during this Silent Retreat, you may want to reduce the amount of food you eat to approximately one-half of what you usually eat.
While reducing the amount of food to less than usual, increase the amount of time it takes to eat and chew your food to twice as long. Take time to really enjoy and savor every bite. Why not? This time is a gift to you. Why not enjoy it?
Stimulants, drugs, alcohol
I know most people drink coffee or some other caffeinated drink. If the retreat is beginning soon, it is probably too late to wean yourself off without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Don’t worry about it. If you have a week or two, try to slowly wean yourself off. Caffeine stimulates the body and the brain. It is also not as healthy as you have been conditioned to believe. It presents an extra difficulty in quieting the mind and there are enough challenges already. Any drugs and even a glass of wine present even more problems. Keep your body and mind as clear and natural as possible.
Since you will be sitting a lot during these three days, it’s helpful to include some time for slow walking meditation. Leave the jogging, running, or any more strenuous exercise for after the Retreat is over. It’s only three days.
If you can, walk in nature like a park. Keep your pace slow and even. Walk by yourself so you are not tempted to engage in conversation. There is a video on walking meditation you may find useful to watch before Friday:
Alone or With Others
I think it is best to do this Retreat alone. There is less temptation to engage in conversation and distraction from Silence. But if others are willing to follow these same guidelines and are equally disciplined, then it becomes more like a Retreat Center and that should be okay too. This may be especially useful and insightful for couples.
What To Do
That’s pretty much it.
I wish you well. And I am very happy to help you offer this Gift of Silence to yourself.
Zoom Sessions for the Silent Retreat
All times are Pacific Time
(If you cannot attend the retreat live due to time zone differences or schedules, the support videos of the August zoom sessions for Friday and Saturday are available here: Zoom session videos
Link to the Zoom sessions:
If you need help signing up for Zoom, information for that is here: Zoom Instructions
Friday Retreat Begins
6:00 pm Zoom
12:00 Facebook Live
2:00 pm Zoom
6:00 pm Zoom
12:00 to 6:00 pm Zoom
There will be 2 hour long Silent Transmissions. At noon and 2:00 pm. In between, the Zoom room will be left open for the entire 6 hours and the transmission will continue even if you don’t see me sitting there.
At 4:00 pm, there will be a Dharma Sharing when you can share your experiences or any questions you might have.
Some people have asked about the cost of the weekend online retreat. The cost is your commitment to love yourself enough to do it. If you feel called to, you may donate through PayPal on the website, but there is no obligation to do so.