Welcome to our online retreat! We very much look forward to practising with you. To make the most of this precious opportunity, we encourage you to read this information in advance about how to prepare for a retreat using Zoom.
Preparing for the retreat
We suggest that you have in mind your plan for the days of our retreat. For example, will you be:
- Maintaining silence?
- Continuing with/doing additional sitting and walking meditation?
- Cultivating an attitude of retreat throughout?
If so, be sure to set up conditions that support you, including discussing with those you share your space at home with.
It would be helpful to plan in advance, using the guidelines below, to simplify as much as you can and set boundaries around what you will and will not engage with. These are skilful ways of creating continuity and settling more deeply into practice and quiet.
- Shop groceries before the retreat if you can, so that you don’t have to do this during the retreat. Planning or preparing meals in advance may also be helpful.
- Think about disengaging from unnecessary conversations and interactions: explain to any other people in your household what you will be doing and discuss how they can support you.
- Think about where you might go to practice any walking meditation.
Creating a retreat environment
- Choose a quiet, secluded environment and spend these days in silence with minimal outside contacts or commitments. If possible, avoid making medical appointments etc. during these days and give yourself the space and time you would also have during a presence retreat.
- We recommend that you plan a daily schedule similar to a group retreat. You can adjust the provided suggested daily schedule to individual needs and circumstances.
- Prepare and tidy up your retreat space so as to make it feel inviting and supporting.
- For your meditation place please choose a suitable spot where you have a good internet connection and a good view of the screen. Some might find headphones useful to be better able to listen to the teachings. Please turn off all programs that you don’t need.
- Please plan your days so that you can turn off all technical devices except for the one needed for the online teaching sessions.
- Use the largest monitor possible in your household: a desktop computer or even a tablet is preferable to a smartphone, since the screen-size allows you to feel more connected and have easier access to shared screen content; it will also let you feel more connected to others when you can see more of them in gallery view and during small-group sessions.
- Arrange your computer or device so you can see and hear well.
- Make sure you have easy access to the schedule and Zoom links for all the sessions you attend.
- If you have to miss any sessions, please check the noticeboard to access recordings of the missed sessions.
Some Zoom etiquette
- 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.
- It is helpful for us all if we all approach the sessions as if we are entering a meditation hall: This means we don’t drink or eat or walk in and out during a session. It supports us all to maintain an engaged presence during the sessions, rather than treating them like a programme we are watching passively. Although we are online, the presence we each bring will support us.
- Please keep your microphone muted (we will help with that), unless we invite you to unmute it. This helps eliminate background noise that will be heard by everyone.
- We invite you to leave your camera on when you are sitting in front of your computer as it is supportive for your fellow retreatants and teachers and creates a sense of community. But if you need to turn it off due to distractions in your camera view, are meditating away from your screen, or simply do not want to turn it on, that is also ok.
- Whilst we are online together, please 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 presence retreat. Give yourself this time to be present and awake.
- 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. It is less distracting and allows us collectively to have a more settled feel.
- 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.
We wish you a very enjoyable and inspiring retreat.