Retreats / About Retreats
Winter Home Retreat 2020 Information
A retreat is a positive escape from our usual habits, which include our daily routine and what goes on in our mind. Leaving those habitual ways of being behind, we can experience ourselves in a more creative and positive way.
We would usually be doing this retreat by going away with like minded people. In these times of limited social interaction, going away together is not possible and so we are doing the next best thing: a retreat together whilst staying in our own homes.
How we are able to engage with the retreat will depend on our living situation and lifestyle. If you are living on your own you may be able to fully commit to a silent period of meditation, reflection, walks and online discussion. If you have a family or live with others it’s still possible to benefit from a home retreat. Hopefully you can create the space to come to the online meditations, talks and discussion.
We have found that for some who cannot usually go away, the online retreats we have developed have been a positive outcome of the current restrictions. If you are needing to work and have social engagements planned for this period, best not come this time and wait until you have a more time free.
We have a programme of led online meditations, talks, discussion groups and free time. We have lots of experience of retreats and so will be able to give plenty of support and help when needed to make the most of the retreat. Although we will be in our own space, it will be a collective practice which, even online, creates its own momentum.
Monday 28 December
7.30 pm Welcome, introductions, dedication
Tuesday 29 December
7am Meditation - two sits with leg stretch
10.30 - 1pm Talk, discussion in groups, meditation
4pm - 5pm Reflection and meditation
7.30pm - 9pm Talk, discussion in groups, short meditation, devotional practice
Wednesday 30 Programme as for Tuesday
Thursday 31 December
10.30 Workshop, discussion in groups
12.20 - 1pm Closing ritual
If you have any further questions, please email the Norwich Buddhist Centre on email@example.com
The team looks forward to welcoming you on the retreat.
Retreat experience: Jane Fagan
Retreats as Precious Opportunities
In November I had the opportunity to engage with the centre's first online retreat and I'm just so grateful I did. I've been on many weekend retreats at the windmill and Red Lion over the years so I'm well versed in retreat life and wanted to see how this would work in my home. For me being on retreat regularly is a way to embed and deepen my practice with a view to integrating it into life outside. I'm confident over the years that I have had made changes to reflect more of how I want to live, for instance living more simply and quietly, making more space for my practice and committing to study. However, sometimes my mundane life still seems to present many challenges and my practice can feel faraway, specifically my meditation practice. I'm also aware of my entrenched habits at home that hinder and distract me from my practice which can be a source of frustration and unhelpful thoughts.
So before the retreat I thought about how I would like my experience to be and what I could do during the breaks in the timetable. I knew I wanted to be on my own so my daughter spent the weekend with her dad and I informed family not to visit, call or message. I planned not to use my tablet and to do as little housework as possible so the day before I got some of this out of the way. During the breaks I thought I could walk the dog, read and cook a new dish. Once the retreat began it was then a matter of observing how this all went.
Friday evening we met for an hour as a way to introduce the retreat in this new format and each other with our home set up. This finished with a simple ritual which set the tone perfectly for the weekend ahead. Both Saturday and Sunday followed a typical retreat structure with meditations, talks, a workshop and small group discussions. As well as engaging with everything on offer it was interesting to see what was going on within me practicing in this way at home.
On the Saturday I noticed I was rigid and strict about keeping to my plan of wanting the weekend to be just like one at the windmill. There was a definite separation between being online and offline. However, on the Sunday there was a different feel about my experience emerging, perhaps because of my awareness of what was happening and the effects of the retreat itself. I started to want something different from my experience, I wanted the retreat to be part of my home life and not distinct and I wanted to do some chores but with more awareness.
Then on Sunday I naturally started to soften. I did put some washing on, after all I'm a mum with a child who needs clean uniform the next day. I did check my messages and I did reply to some. But this was all done with more awareness and thought about what I was doing and why. Was it necessary? Was it overly distracting? Was it mindlessness? I began to settle more and feel more confident about bringing my two worlds together.
I think we're incredibly fortunate to have a centre that is offering so much for our community online and if it wasn't for the current situation I may have never had a retreat experience at home. When we go away on retreat or do courses at the centre we have the conditions we need to be more present and when we go home it can be difficult to recreate this for whatever reason. But practicing this way with others has definitely deepened my connection to my practice and shown me how I can continue to bring the dharma alive in my home. I encourage you all to give it a try and just see what happens. This is a unique experience in a unique time.
Jane Fagan is a member of the Norwich Sangha
Following our last home retreat in November 2020, here are some comments from people who attended;
“A big thank you to everyone involved in organising and running the home retreat. It was my first experience of a retreat weekend and I really enjoyed it.
There was a great variety of talks and activities and I learned a lot, from sharing resources to the Four Efforts and connecting with deeper and higher levels through writing. I can feel that is going to enrich my own practice. And this way of connecting with the sangha again was really enjoyable. We had some good discussions in our small group as well which was really nice.
I really hope that there will be other digital retreats in the future, even when the social distancing will be behind us. It feels like the format works and it would be good to have that option. I certainly would like to attend one again. So a big thank you once again.”
“Thank you for your efforts in making a lovely retreat; it was very beautiful and enjoyable.”
am I well enough to be on retreat?
You may have concerns as to whether coming on a retreat would be suitable for you due to:
• General health issues
• Physical limitations and/or disabilities
• Emotional distress
• Mental Health issues
We hold retreats at two main locations: the Windmill and Castle Acre. Both locations have stairs without wheelchair access, so at the moment we are not able to accept people onto our retreats who cannot maneuveur stairs.
Retreats can be a supportive environment for people who are experiencing some difficulties and emotional distress but meditation may not be appropriate and can even be unhelpful for people with more acute mental health difficulties such as severe depression or psychosis.
On retreat you will be among other people quite intensively and participating in the retreat group program. Team members can of course give some support to individuals but retreats are not therapeutic counselling environments and team time and skills are limited.
Please note, having mental health difficulties does not necessarily mean that a retreat is not suitable for you. In order to try to ensure this would be a safe environment for you to be in we encourage you to contact the Centre if you have any concerns or queries regarding these issues.
What is a Retreat?
A Buddhist retreat gives you a chance to put aside the concerns and demands of your everyday routine. By getting away from the noise and clutter of the city or where ever you come from, you can begin to relax and open up.
Many people who go on Buddhist retreats feel more grounded, calmer and in touch with themselves. Those who go on retreat regularly find these qualities pervading the rest of their lives, and can live more and more from their human potential.
Going on retreat gives you the opportunity to share time, and inspiration with like-minded people from all walks of life. Many people find that a sense of community develops as a retreat progresses, and lasting friendships are born from their experience.
But retreats are not 'holidays'. They are an opportunity to deepen your awareness of yourself, other people, and the world around you. They give you space to clarify what is essential in your life. And as such, a retreat can be a challenging, life changing experience.
The daily programmes vary depending on what type of retreat you book. Most retreats include meditation, periods of silence, and other activities such as talks, workshops, study groups, and sometimes yoga. They also have short work activities and free time.