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<aside> 💡 During the time of this online retreat, the more we can replicate a silent residential retreat, the more benefit we will all receive from our participation on it.
To support the best possibilities we ask you to do your best to not use mobile phones or the internet, and to keep communication with other people at the minimum for the duration of the retreat. Just like we would do on a silent retreat.
Good enough is good enough–don't get too stressed about it. Yet think what this could be for you!
We know it isn't possible to recreate in our home life all of the conditions we can rest into on a retreat: we will all need to be more involved in preparing food; some of us will be sharing our space with non-retreat or non-silent fellow beings; some of us may need to make other non-retreat interactions.
This should make it possible for us to shop (before the retreat starts) for enough food to last us through the whole retreat. We have designed the daily rhythm to allow for preparation of home cooked meals, and cleaning up after them.
What we also do is (calmly) cook a few meals in advance and then we only need to reheat them on the day–this gains us a lot more meditation time.
A general guideline will be to do as few non-retreat (non-meditative) activities as possible. We can support deepening into stillness and presence by arranging our life to support our retreat as fully as possible.
When you are needing to do something not very aligned with the retreat, try to do it with a clear intention:
Know what you're doing and why; and how long it will take. If we act with a slow relaxed pace, and clear mindful presence, the impact on us (and on the retreat) as a whole will be minimal.
A clear commitment to the retreat will be so important in a general sense too: we all feel petty desires or aversions come up in the meditations (and often we can deal with them because our mindfulness is on), but we'll be even more sensitive to their calling as we move around our homes in informal meditation time. If we're not clear about prioritising the retreat at these times we may not be able to resist being called to do things that don't support our deeper wishes.
An online retreat seems to run counter to the usual benefit of a digital detox. Yet with sensitive intelligence we can still get a lot of this benefit from doing less and being more mindful with the technology we do use.
Maybe you have to use your phone to participate in the Zoom meetings of the retreat. If not just let people know you will be turning it off for the time of the retreat. If you do please consider deleting the apps or muting notifications for all social media, email, and chat applications on your device. It won't be difficult to download them again or turn back on notifications if after the retreat you decide you would enjoy having them on again. Please check now if you know how to turn off notifications for email, and apps.
If you are going to need to use your phone: some of you will have elderly parents, or children you need to speak to. Please arrange clear times in advance when you will call them, or arrange to exchange texts (SMS) at a specific time. Please do not arrange to contact them via the internet, like WhatsApp. It will be very difficult to control the amount of (distracting) notifications that will come in. If you wish to use other functions of your phone, like alarms and time-piece, now is a good time to find out if you know how to turn off mobile data and WiFi on your smartphone.
Some of the benefits of retreat come from practical aspects other than meditation, introspection, and skilful fabrication. For example: