ABOUT THE SILENT RETREAT
Read here for details on the shorter and longer retreats
The meditation retreat is a sacred time in our lives where we deal with the most profound issues in our life, and even in our existence, in an experiential way that transforms our being. The purification of consciousness, the deep realisation of reality and the emergence of our inner pure nature is not possible in the midst of our ordinary life.
Since time immemorial, therefore, people have temporarily withdrawn from their ordinary lives and engaged in intense practice. This is reinforced by group retreats where much stronger spaces emerge than when one tries to do it alone. The teacher leads us, she has meditated a great deal and has a lot of experience and energetic fields. She has passed through the stages and sufferings that the beginner goes through.
These retreats are 30, 20 or 10-day meditation practices in the Theravada tradition. This is an intense Buddhist silent meditation practice in the original tradition. It is about 10-12 hours of practicing insight each day, in total silence.
In the Buddhist tradition, the teacher is not considered a guru and is not endowed with a magical expectation of redemption. The point of the teaching is that even if we receive an impulse and guidance from the teacher, we ourselves must accomplish the clearing of our mind and awakening. The rules of our retreat are in harmony with tradition, nothing has been added or taken away. We live according to the rules of the Buddhist monasteries and maintain their purity.
The condition of registration is that the applicant accepts these rules (see below) and observe them fully and strictly. To transgress these rules is a selfish act that not only destroys one's own meditation, but can also seriously disrupt that of others. All the rules listed below have been practiced and observed in the same way for 2500 years in the living lineage meditation tradition since the Buddha. There is not a single rule during the retreat that the teacher or course organiser has put in place arbitrarily.
The following vows are to be taken and observed for the duration of the retreat:
1. Abstaining from killing
2. Abstaining from stealing
3. Abstaining from telling lies
4. Abstaining from sexual activity*
5. Abstaining from intoxicating drinks and drugs*
6. Abstaining from eating after noon*
7. Abstaining from entertainment and beautifying the body*
8. Abstaining from using luxurious furniture*
Explanation for the precepts marked by an *
4. During the course you are not allowed to have sexual intercourse with others or perform masturbation.
5. The use of drugs (marijuana, etc.), alcohol and smoking are not allowed during the retreat.
6. Two vegetarian meals are eaten twice a day: in the morning and for lunch. Lunch must be finished by 12 noon; no eating in the afternoon and evening until the next morning.
7. Sensory pleasures includes listening to music, dancing (in our times watching movies), etc. Bodily adornment means no make-up or perfume. Perfumes are particularly disturbing because the senses are sharpened and purified during meditation, and the smell of perfumes, deodorants and shampoos in common spaces is an especially disturbing experience. Perfumes are expressly prohibited, and in the case of soaps, deodorants and shampoos, it is recommended that fragrance-free products be purchased before the retreat.
8. The retreat has simple but "normal" beds. The rule is to avoid extra comfort beds, not self-mortification.
The silence during the retreat is called "noble silence". It means no talking and complete silence, i.e. no talking to meditating companions or staff (cook and other workers). The reason for this, on the positive side, is that silence ennobles, opens up perception, shuts down many relational patterns immediately and gives space for the heart to emerge, for inner processes to transform. On the negative side: the slightest speech disturbs the gradually building depth and clarity of meditation to such an extent that the person who speaks or to whom it is spoken can often take hours or even a day or two to return to where they were before. Noble silence is such an important foundation for retreat that anyone who breaks this rule can be sent home. You can talk to the teacher at the times indicated (for questions about inner states, experience and meditation) or to the retreat manager (for logistical and organisational questions). Although it may feel strange for beginners, it is actually a blessing for participants to finally have silence. To be yourself, you need to be quiet.
On the last day, the teacher breaks the noble silence and speech is allowed again, settling back into everyday life and preparing to go home. On arrival, one is still allowed to talk, to make loving acquaintance with the meditating companions, as well as during registration, accommodation, introduction to the rules, undertaking volunteer work. The noble silence begins on the morning of Day 1 during the first joint exercise.
Cessation of Extrinsic Mental Activities
Mobile phones, laptops, reading material should be left at home, as they are intense external mental activities and prevent meditation from developing. If the person does bring such devices with themselves, they must be deposited at registration and will be returned at the end of the course. We come here to transcend the whole mental activity (mind, image, thoughts, emotions), which we have no chance of doing in life, because not a day goes by without us driving the mental process by speaking, writing, reading, communicating. We learn to observe, to sit through, and let go of our deepest suffering and most exciting realisations.
Retreat: no contact with the outside world
No contact is allowed with the outside world, i.e. no phone calls, chats, emails or visitors. The retreat manager keeps in touch with the outside world in case of need, the family can be given the number of the retreat manager so that they can reach someone ONLY in an emergency.
Adhering to the Timetable
The applicant agrees to adhere to the agenda, participate in the required common programme parts and follow the instructions of the teacher.
Staying for the Entire Length of the Registered Period
The applicant agrees to arrive on the day the retreat starts, to stay for the entire duration of the retreat and not return home. He/she may only leave if he/she has special permission from the teacher.
Staying within the Premises
The participant must remain in the area designated by the teacher during the retreat and may not leave it.
Suspension of Physical Contact
Avoid physical contact (handshakes, hugs, etc.) during the course. Avoid physical contact with the teacher before and after the course.
Agenda of the Retreat
This is a general agenda. The agenda can be updated by the teacher at the retreat, the current agenda is always posted at the retreat.
05:30 - 06:00 Wake up
06:00 - 06:40 Group meditation (mandatory)
06:40 - 07:00 Sutra (recommended)
07:00 - 07:30 Breakfast
08:00 - 09:00 Group interview
09:00 - 11:00 Individual practice (personal interviews)
11:30 - 13:00 Rest/individual practice
11:00 - 11:30 Lunch
13:00 - 14:00 Group meditation (mandatory)
14:00 - 16:00 Individual practice (personal interviews)
16:00 - 17:00 Group meditation (recommended)
17:00 - 19:00 Individual practice (personal interviews)
19:00 - 20:00 Group meditation (recommended)
20:00 - 21:00 Questions and answers
22:00 Lights out (mandatory)
Anuttara's Teaching: personal and group interviews, evening Q&A, metta list
During the individual and group interviews, practitioners have the opportunity to discuss any questions with the teacher. Anuttara teaches each person individually, helping them to choose, support and deepen the meditation technique that best suits them. Of course, you can bring your own meditation practice. Individual interviews are available every other day for 15 minutes. There is also a daily group interview in the morning for one hour where you can ask the teacher questions about your own practice. The group interviews are open to everyone, you can participate without any questions.
It is also possible to ask questions in writing that the teacher will answer in the evening question-and-answer session. In addition, there is a list of names of those for whom we send metta—well wishes-, and mudita—sharing joy, at the end of the day.