Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat Guidelines
Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat Guidelines
Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat Guidelines
In order to create the preliminary conditions that facilitate our access to deep inner states, mental peace, and aspiration toward the Divine, it is necessary that certain rules be strictly followed for the duration of the retreat. These rules aim to create certain conditions that would resemble those a yogi experiences in solitude, for instance in a cave retreat. The retreat atmosphere has been evaluated carefully as to how it can best support the attendees’ spiritual efforts. The rules are part of this support. All hopeful participants must agree to abide by these guidelines and the consequences of noncompliance.
A meditation retreat is an extraordinary situation (although meditation is actually perfectly normal). A large group of people must live together in very simple conditions while relating to each other in a completely new way. Here, we relate through the common experience of meditation, with all its pains and joys, discoveries and frustrations.
For 3, 5 or 10 days, our lifestyle is built around a common purpose rather than more selfish purposes promoted by the world today.
To accomplish this in harmony, we must agree on certain conventions. The most important are mindful silence, giving way to others, sticking to the schedule, and following guidelines.
This retreat is arranged as a beautiful opportunity for serious aspirants who wish for a very special and exclusive retreat experience. Please approach these guidelines with this frame of mind, with an openness toward protecting and supporting this atmosphere through your own agreement and cooperation. If, at first glance, you feel that the guidelines are too strict or too difficult for you, first consider your own state of readiness to participate. If you do indeed feel ready, then inspire yourself with the understanding that this retreat lasts just a few days in the big picture of life!
Mauna (noble silence)
Mauna is compulsory. The period of mauna will begin on the first morning, with the consecration of the retreat, and will end after the last meditation on the last day of the retreat. Absolutely no talking by participants will be allowed. For any real necessities, please inform the Retreat Coordinator in writing of administrative problems.
Much energy and ego go into our speech. We say things that don’t need to be said, are silly, gossipy, or even harmful. This not only makes the world noisy, it makes our own mind noisy. If there is nobody to talk to we just chatter away to ourselves. In meditation, this can be an annoying hindrance.
So we keep silent by not speaking or passing notes to each other during the retreat, in order to quiet our mind and maintain a calm, peaceful environment for everyone. This can be difficult at times, but most people find it a powerful and wonderful experience. We respect each other by maintaining the silence with mindfulness and wisdom. Even training ourselves to walk, move, and do things quietly, leads to a calm and graceful experience.
It is also important not to judge or project opinions onto others. Developing self-discipline and a compassionate understanding of all things is part of the training.
No Use of Any Electronics or Media
Retreat participants are asked not to use electronic devices like music players, the Internet, smartphones or computers for the duration of the retreat. Thus, there is to be no listening to the news or music, doing email, watching movies, etc.
Do not use mobile phones during the retreat. They should ideally be left off for the retreat’s duration. If you think that it can be supportive for you, you can leave them, along with other electronics, with the retreat coordinator. Participants should make a firm commitment not to use the phone for conversations or internet for the duration of the retreat.
Please, abstain from reading, not even books of a spiritual nature. Please agree not to read during this retreat. Through the retreat practice, we aim to focus inward as much as possible, and reading can lead us away from strong interiorization, diffusing our efforts and experience in the process.
Keeping silent includes putting away books you’ve brought along or keeping them closed throughout the retreat. You will get plenty of information while you are on the retreat. Reading will be a distraction, possibly confusing, possibly taking you away from the purpose of this retreat. You will have all the time you want to read when you leave. We also request that you stop writing, except for notes taken during talks and impressions of meditative experiences that you may record in your retreat journal. Letter writing and creative writing will take the mind away from our purpose here.
Sexual abstinence is mandatory. This really means celibacy and not Tantric continence! This point is obviously non-enforceable (we cannot check on you, of course), but is insisted upon to reinforce the atmosphere resembling solitude that we are attempting to create for participants.
If you wish to join the retreat, please agree to abide by this requirement for the duration of the retreat.
Recommendation about Fasting
Fasting is not recommended for the entire duration of the retreat (although your own tapas of a weekly fasting day is OK), in order to maintain a high level of vitality and energy for meditation.
An Attitude of Solitude
It is recommended that you aim to cultivate a state of experience resembling solitude by agreeing not to: look at others, touch, hug, kiss, say hello (even nonverbally), smile at each other, etc. This can at times feel alienating and lonely for people who are very sociable and miss such simple human contact, but it will drastically help your experience of interiorization. In addition, the opening of the soul will offer you the opportunity to communicate in a much subtler way, through the language of Love. Your friends will still love you at the end of the retreat, maybe even more...
Participants should try to avoid attention to their own vanity and the desire to attract others. The way in which both women and men dress should be in accordance with common sense. Additionally, please do not wear perfume, since it can be uncomfortable for other retreat participants.
The dress recommendation is not meant to stifle your creativity, free expression, etc. It is meant to form part of the atmosphere of consideration and mutual support we aim to cultivate during retreats. People could take the view that it is someone’s own personal problem if he or she is distracted from meditation by glances at other people, etc. However, this does not include an opportunity for a contribution of personal responsibility to this atmosphere through innocuous and simple behaviors we can all follow to help our fellow retreat attendees.
Please limit your looking at photographs to those of spiritual masters and gurus only. Do not gaze upon photos of your friends, family, etc. in order to help yourself concentrate on transcendental states rather than worldly thoughts.
Smoking, alcohol, mind altering sustances
It is not allowed to smoke during this retreat. Please commit to not smoking for the duration of the retreat. Please avoid using alcohol, drugs and other mind altering sustances.
Participants can choose to record their meditative and daily experiences in a notebook. This retreat journal can help you not only to push through any challenging moments but can serve to inspire you and provide a point of reference for your growth during the retreat period. A meditation notebook helps us to objectify our experiences and what we understand during meditation. It can bring inspiration to us even after the retreat. Reading it afterwards can be a powerful support in daily life.
Following the Schedule
The schedule we follow is very moderate compared to some meditation retreats which start the day before dawn. The day includes approximately 6-6.5 hours of meditation, 1.5-1.75 hours of Hatha Yoga practice, and 2-2.25 hours of inspiring spiritual talks or Q&A.
Please agree to join all sessions and activities of the retreat if you sign up for it.
Everyone must be on time for all sessions, as lateness is very disruptive and latecomers will not be allowed to join until the next meditation session. Please plan accordingly.
If you find yourself late for a meditation session, please do not sneak into the hall in the hopes that you will not be noticed or will not disturb others. Instead, please be considerate and wait without any undue noise, meditating outside the hall during the session and entering only during the next break.
Notes/ Warnings / Expulsion from the Retreat
Participants who are talking, entering late, using mobile phones, disregarding segregated areas, moving about, or being generally disruptive will be noted by retreat leaders who may make suggestions to participants for better practice or may remind attendees of various rules and guidelines.
Please be advised that certain actions constitute grounds for expulsion from the retreat. The following actions will constitute grounds for a warning:
Absence from a retreat session
Being late to a retreat session
Falling asleep during meditations
Talking, making other sounds, or being generally disruptive
Listening to music, news, sending messages, or talking on the phone
Disregard for any other of the above-mentioned rules
We would like to re-emphasize that the retreat guidelines must be followed, for the benefit of all participants. Consider carefully before joining whether you truly accept the parameters of the retreat and its rules. Be aware that you can be asked to leave after a warning if your behavior is highly disruptive for other retreat participants. No refunds will be given for those who choose to leave or are asked to leave.
In exceptional cases, a very disruptive participant failing to abide by the rules and requirements may be told to leave without the benefit of several warnings. In such cases, when the participant is willing to follow the rules, he or she may be welcome to return. Such decisions will be made solely at the discretion of the Retreat Leader and are non-negotiable.
Cave of the Heart does everything within its power to provide retreat attendees with a peaceful and undisturbed meditation environment during events. We appreciate your help and cooperation to achieve an ideally supportive atmosphere.
Participants are asked not to disturb the peace of mind of their colleagues in any way during the retreat. We ask that participants not make sudden movements, produce sharp noises, hyperventilate, or perform other disturbing bodily actions. Participants are asked not to move about, or conduct any other activities during meditation sessions with the exception of the discreet rearrangement of the position of one’s limbs. Stretching, using the toilet, drinking water, writing things down, etc. should be reserved for break times between meditation sessions.
Please be considerate about the use of products with strong odors (perfumes, mosquito repellent, tiger balm, etc.). A retreat atmosphere is one in which people are in close proximity for long periods. Some people have sensitivities to fragrances or find strong odors intolerable and very distracting.
Please make fair use of the mats, pillows, and chairs during the retreat. If you feel like creating special conditions of comfort for yourself, use your own resources (for example, by bringing extra pillows from home) and do not disfavor others.
This retreat experience aims to create an atmosphere resembling solitude as much as possible—a cave retreat of your own—where there is no one but yourself to answer your questions. Try to persevere through the process of the retreat, quieting the mind and allowing the meditations themselves to give you answers.
However, you may ask questions related directly to the practice at any time by sending your written questions to the Retreat Leader. The answers will be given during the evening Q&A session. On the last day of the retreat, participants are also invited to share their experiences.
We welcome you to this exceptional retreat and hope you will choose to be patient and open. The first several days, as anyone who has done a meditation retreat knows, can be full of restlessness, muscular fever and aches, physical and mental purification, and various spiritual tests. We invite you to commit yourself fully to this retreat, to stay firm and double your resolve in the face of such challenges. Try to make this event a very special opportunity for your spiritual evolution!
May the Sacred Tremor of the Heart enlighten our lives!
Upcoming Retreats and Courses
- Wed, Apr 17MonchiqueApr 17, 2024, 2:30 PM – Apr 21, 2024, 11:00 AMMonchique, Centro Retiros Karuna, Apartado 1, 8550-000, Portugal
- Tue, May 07Portugal - SerVivoMay 07, 2024, 2:30 PM – May 13, 2024, 10:00 AMPortugal - SerVivo, Estrada do Vale dos Barris, 2950 Palmela, Portugal