Land of Beautiful Vision
I’m off soon on a 2 week solitary retreat up to Easter in the Abhaya hut. I have done solitary retreats before, but none longer than a week, so I am looking forward for a 2 week one and I have been making some plans.
The main thing I am planning is more meditation. I will try to develop and maintain mindfulness during the whole day, and watch how my mental states change. On a solitary my mind can become much quieter and totally different from what it is usually like. But of course there are also sure to be a large assortment of cravings, sadness, and fear (on previous retreats I’ve always locked the doors at night – can you be absolutely sure there is no mad man with an axe wandering around in the bush).
I’ll do some yoga each day. Unfortunately I have hurt my wrist, but I am hoping it will be better not too long into the retreat – otherwise I can’t do downward dogs.
Another plan is to read through some sutras, reading for about half and hour or an hour each day. This retreat I am planning to read through the Sutta Nipata, and the Bodhicaryavtara. On previous solitaries I have read the Udana, which I enjoy, and I will take it with again this retreat, along with the Dharmapada and perhaps the Majjhima Nikaya.
I’m looking forward to a walk each day– I enjoy the bush at Sudarshanaloka, and a walk keeps me in a good happy sate of mind.
Then there are rituals - I will do a puja each evening, but I wonder whether to do more ritual. Should I do the visualisation and prostration practice I learnt on the GfR retreat? Maybe. There is a full moon while I am on retreat and that seems to call for some sort of ritual.
I keep a diary, and write down any dreams I can remember from the night. And I will bring some drawing materials although I don’t usually do much drawing on retreat.
But one thing I like about a solitary is that I am able to change my plans whenever I wish. And you never know how things will turn out. Perhaps I’ll change all my plans, and do something totally different.
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