Posted in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism

The Solo Householder Retreat

What I learned:

  • Get family out of the house.
  • Get pets out of the house, or practice fluid acceptance as your schedule changes.
  • Turn off the phone.  Let people know beforehand that you won’t be available.
  • Turn off the computer.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Plan meals.  Do the shopping ahead of time.  Try to “fix” rather than “cook.”  Remember to be mindful when preparing food.  Don’t try anything new for the first time; stick to what you know is good for you.
  • Do chores before the start of the retreat.  Get the laundry and shopping done for the week to come so it’s not a distraction.  You’ll have enough to think about.  Trust me.
  • Don’t bother to check the mail.
  • Stay indoors or in enclosed outdoor areas as much as possible.  Avoid people.
  • If you do encounter others, like neighbors, let your practice be compassion.  They probably won’t understand noble silence, and you won’t want to be rude.
  • Make a schedule long before you start.  Then use it as a guideline, not a rulebook.
  • Forgive yourself when you get off track.  Then get back on track.
  • Experiment.  Now is a good opportunity to try varying your meditation practice or sitting position.
  • Be realistic.  You will need time to transition from one activity to another.
  • Consider whether you will exercise.  Exercising may increase your energy more than you wish, but you may feel off balance if you skip a regular session.  Listen to your inner wisdom.  You can always change your mind.
  • You may fall asleep.  If that happens, engage in nap practice!
  • Allow an hour or two after the end of the retreat before planning interactions with others.  Give yourself time to ease back up to speed.

May all beings benefit!


Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

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