When you can’t get away for a spiritual vacation to India, try a DIY silent meditation retreat at home.
I used to feel crappy because I could never afford a meditation retreat. But then I made the clever decision to turn my own home into my meditation retreat. And let me tell you: it’s the best thing ever.
Look at it this way: you can go on a meditation retreat for a week, and afterwards you’re back home in exactly the same space, feeling the same way you used to.
Or you can do a DIY meditation retreat at home. You can turn your home into a meditation space, and by meditating at home you train your mind to be relaxed and focused in your own home.
An at-home silent meditation retreat is the perfect way to learn the practice. And of course, it is utterly relaxing.
Whether you’re interested in Buddhist methods like Vipassana, Samatha, or Anapanasati; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Yoga meditations like Bhakti and Dhyana, or other forms, spending a weekend meditating at home gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the practice.
Plus you’ll have the time to read your favourite Thich Nhat Hanh or Pema Chodron books, listen to audio dhamma talks like those by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, or take online courses.
Why Do A Silent Meditation Retreat At Home?
With a silent retreat at home, you can:
- Learn meditation
- Live mindfully
- Spend time alone
- Spend time in a community, if you’re doing a group meditation retreat.
Supplies you’ll need for a silent retreat at home:
- Meditation chair / cushion / zafu
- Altar table or shrine
- A relaxing space to do it in
- Singing bowl
- Books for studying
- Meal plan
How To Do A Silent Meditation Retreat At Home
1. Preparation: Find the time
You’re going to want to set an entire weekend aside to do your DIY meditation retreat.
When you enter your home meditation retreat you want to be able to relax and meditate without worrying about what’s going on with the family, your job, and with all those other responsibilities.
Your silent meditation retreat is entirely about you.
For this reason, you’re going to need to prepare for it. Choose a weekend and make sure that you get anything on your mind out of the way before beginning the retreat.
The last thing you want is to have chores or responsibilities on your mind when you enter your sacred space. Make sure there are no distractions when you go into it.
2: Clean ready for your home meditation retreat
You want to do your silent meditation retreat in a relaxing space. This will help you to relax and reduce stress.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, mess is one of the leading causes of stress.
Sherry Bourg Carter tells THE DAILY MEDITATION:
“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”
Time to clean up the mess.
To help you prepare for your meditation retreat it’s important that your home is clean and tidy.
Create a space that is conducive to inner peace. Tidy up, clean, and make sure your home is in the right state for meditation.
Make sure you tidy up mindfully. Buddhist monks use chores as a mindful activity (this is called Samu). Whatever you do, do it mindfully. Plus, this way you can begin your meditation retreat early because you will already be meditating.
3: Get a room ready at home
When you’re doing a silent retreat at home you will want to decorate at least one room of your home.
Remember, you don’t have the luxury of being whisked away on a spiritual vacation here. Your home is your temple. And the more beautiful and cathartic you can make your home, the more you will relax.
Depending on your taste, this room might just be extremely clean, or it might contain specific objects. You might want to get some Buddhist art, perhaps a water feature, maybe a statue of your deity and any other objects that you associate with spirituality, inner peace, and meditation.
But how are you going to design your meditation space? That’s an important question. That’s why I wrote a guide to creating a meditation room.
3. Tell People
Your friends and family might wonder what you’re up to when they don’t see you for a weekend. Unless, of course, you are doing a group retreat with family and friends, which, by the way, is a wonderful idea.
Tell people beforehand what you are going to be doing so they don’t distract you.
4. Gather materials
You’ve already put together your cushion, mala, statue and other decorative items for your room. But you’re going to want some form of mindful-entertainment and perhaps educational materials too.
Remember, this is your weekend away to indulge in spiritual relaxation. You don’t know when you will get this opportunity again. So, you want to get the most out of it.
Make sure that you have books, DVD, CDs and other learning materials and entertainment. After all, you might not be literally meditating the entire time you’re on retreat. For part of the time, you might like to just put some music on or learn about different meditation techniques.
5. What to do in a meditation retreat at home
So now you are ready for your meditation retreat at home. Great. Just one question. What are you actually going to do while you are on your meditation retreat?
“Meditate” you say. But which kind of meditation specifically?
Try these techniques:
Breathing: Whenever I begin a long period of meditation I start with breathing. Breathing meditations are perfect for general relaxation and for getting into a relaxed state.
Chakra: Chakra meditation is a powerful technique for general health. As you are doing a complete silent retreat you have the time to do a proper meditation on each chakra.
Vipassana / Insight: You’ve now got the time to do a good spot of insightful meditation. Personally, when I practice Vipassana meditation I like to do it for at least one hour. That gives me the time to go deep with the meditation.
Loving Kindness: Your retreat shouldn’t focus entirely on yourself. During the weekend you’re going to be giving yourself the time to reflect. You will be reflecting on other people, family, and friends. Take time to incorporate at least one hour’s worth of loving kindness meditation.
Zen: Ah, Zen, truly one of the most beautiful words ever spoken. “Zen”. It means contemplation. And that’s what your meditation retreat is all about. It’s an opportunity for you to contemplate. Well, and to get away from the dishes. So why not try Zen meditation and find some inner peace while you’re on retreat?
Eat mindfully: here’s a guide to mindful eating
Schedule For A Silent Retreat At Home
- 6:30 Get of to bed
- 7:00 A.M – Morning meditation on gratitude
- 8:00 A.M – Mindful Breakfast
- 9:00 A.M – Mindful chores (Samu in Zen) (1 hour)
- 10:00 A.M. – Meditative breathing (Anapanasati)
- 11:00 A.M Vipassana
- 12:00 A.M – Mindful Lunch (1 hour)
- 1:-00 A.M – Samatha
- 200 P.M. – Relax and unwind without meditating (1 hour)
- 2:00 P.M. – Afternoon meditation techniques, perhaps loving kindness (45 minutes sitting, followed by 15 minutes of Kinhin (Zen Walking)
- 3:00 P.M. – Listening to dhamma talks or other audio talks (2 hours)
- 5:00 P.M. – Mindful exercise (tai chi / yoga)
- 6:00 P.M. – Prepare and eat dinner mindfully (1 hour)
- 7:00 P.M. – Relaxing meditation for the evening (45 minutes sitting, 15 minutes walking)
- 8:30 P.M. – Time to get an early night
- 7am: Mindful stretching in bed, followed by a relaxing breathing meditation. Afterwards, set your intention to be mindful for the rest of the day
- 8:00 A.M – Mindful Breakfast
- 9:00 A.M – Mindful chores (Samu in Zen)(1 hour)
- 10:00 A.M. – Meditative breathing (2 hours)
- 12:00 A.M – Eat lunch mindfully (1 hour)
- 100 P.M. – Loving Kindness (Metta Bhavana) (1 hour)
You can inject some mindful group activities into this schedule if you’re doing a group meditation retreat.
At some point in the retreat, you might think spending a whole day meditating is excessive. But remember that this is a spiritual practice and should be deep.
So, now you know how to do a meditation retreat at home. I recommend making your retreat last for 48 hours. This will mean that you need to make preparations in terms of deciding what you’ll be eating, when you will be meditating, when you will be exercising and doing yoga etc.
And by the way. This would be the perfect time to book an online meditation lesson with me.