It’s a good idea to frame in your mind how you’d like to interact with the retreat, and the level of retreat environment you’d like to create. For example, consider if you’d like to maintain silence for the duration or cultivate an attitude of retreat throughout. It can be useful to set boundaries around what you will and will not engage with beforehand, to create continuity and so you can settle more deeply into practice and quiet once the retreat begins.
Make sure you also communicate with whoever you share your space with that this is what you will be doing, and request any cooperation or support you may need from them.
Below are some suggestions of how to cultivate this sense of retreat from home.
- Find a space in your home where you can set up a space for meditation. Ideally where you can be alone, and anything you or others may say (in a group meeting) won’t be overheard.
- Headphones are a good option for this also.
- Before the retreat begins, make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable in sitting, moving and lying. E.g. a meditation cushion, blanket etc.
- It can be nice to light a candle (or something similar) to mark the entrance into retreat space.
- We want to create a space that feels like we are with each other as much as possible. Even though we are not together physically, arriving on time is still important. Settle in and prepare your space and yourself before each session begins.
- Whilst we are online together, don’t multitask. Turn off your other devices and any other programs you have been using. Engage with the session and teachings offered just as you would on a retreat you attend in a retreat centre. Give yourself this time to be present and awake.
- Consider how you are going to use the time between our online sessions and try to keep life as simple and free from distractions as possible.
- It is helpful to avoid watching TV or reading during the retreat.
- Organise the food you’ll need for the five days before the retreat begins so you don’t need to visit shops during this time.
Using Zoom on retreat
- To use Zoom, you will need internet access, a video camera and microphone.
- Ideally use a laptop, desktop or tablet computer, rather than a phone, and have it running off the mains rather than battery. If a phone is the only option, have the charger nearby ready to plug in.
- Please keep your microphone muted (clicking on the microphone picture on the toolbar at the bottom of the Zoom window) unless you are speaking. This avoids background noise.
- Please use the text chat feature very sparingly. If you do use it, please direct questions to the teacher or coordinator rather than to each other or the whole group. This will help maintain a sense of stillness and silence on the retreat.
- You can move between ‘speaker’ and ‘gallery’ view, by using the relevant icon in the top right-hand corner of the Zoom window. If a teacher is talking, the former may be more helpful, whereas if it is a group discussion, you might find the latter better.
- Please help to maintain the retreat environment by not eating or walking in and out during a session, unless necessary. It also supports us all to maintain an engaged presence during the sessions, rather than treating them like a programme we are watching passively.
- It is supportive for your fellow retreatants and teachers if you leave your camera on when you are sitting in front of your computer. This gives a sense of sitting together, instead of simply viewing names on a screen. But if you have need to turn it off due to distractions in your camera view or simply do not want to turn it on, that is also ok.
- Please don’t move the computer around with the video on. If you need to move rooms or step away from the screen, please turn off the video so we are not distracted.
- Likewise, if you find you are interrupted by another being (person or pet), please turn off your video to avoid being a distraction. And turn it back on when things have settled again.
- Please do not do any recording. We will record the instructions and talks we give and can send you links to these.
- If your Zoom connection drops please try re-joining using the same process and link that you originally used to join the meeting. If this doesn’t work, please check your email. If there is a general problem affecting everyone, we will email the whole group.
Should you have any trouble accessing Zoom or any queries relating to your online sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.