Retreat by alone?

I went to a retreat and nobody showed up!

That is totally fictitious but that is how I felt when I first got to the Portland Buddhist Priory on Sunday morning. Rev. Clarissa quickly explained that the retreat was going at a cabin the monks had rented out by the coast. If I had been paying attention to my e-mails. I would have known that too. Feeling bold, I stayed. Rev. Clarissa was kind enough to let me and seemed happy to have someone holding down the meditation hall. She did do the Morning Office Ceremony (two times) but that was the only interruption during my retreat by alone.

This was the first time I have ever sat this many sittings by myself and as it happens I am actually kind of glad I was able to do the retreat by alone. I was able to get up and stretch out my legs and do kinhin (so called walking meditation) when the time felt right to stretch my legs and was not worried about maintaining a schedule, or waiting for bells to ring or for clappers to clap. I think that those things would be good too but trying out an all day sitting by alone with no extras is really just what I needed.

Nothing special happened either. My backside was terribly sore from sitting by the end of the day along with my right knee, but other than that just nice and boring Zazen.

I do think I am going to try and do a retreat at least once a month now. Even thought it also seems like it is really boring. Maybe that is exactly why it is so important. I don’t really know, but I kind of think that maybe that that boredom is a good thing.

Be well


gniz said...

Jordan, great job doing the sit regardless, and great idea to do it once a month!

I hope you do it.


Anonymous said...

Good for you!

When you sit alone you can stand when it feels right to stand. You can be more natural about it.

As for boredom. It's only boring because part of you wants to be doing something else.

Have you ever been bored doing something you want to do?

SlowZen said...

Thank you.

I am not so sure about you comment about boredom. I was exactly where I wanted to be, where I planed to be and the situation actually worked out to my benefit. It may be that part of me wanted the comfort of company, but I also knew that other people were doing Zazen too, just somewhere else. And that if they were there I would be on a rigid schedule with bell ringing and walking meditation at someone else's pace.

Then again may be you are right and I just can’t figure it out right now. Most likely it dose not matter either way.


oxeye said...

Jordan - Glad your retreat went so well. I think Mike was probably talking about boredom in general and not so much about yours personally. He nailed it in my case anyway. When I am sitting, my thoughts race back and forth with my zazen almost continually. Every so often I can get to a place where that doesn't happen but it takes me a while to settle in and some days I never get there at all. Maybe that is why it is good to sit to a prescribed time rather than just sitting until you feel uncomfortable. If I know that I am not getting up until the bell rings, my zazen tends to be better even if I set the timer for less time. It is my thinking that bores me and not so much the situation. lately I'm having a hard time even completing a blog comment without stopping from the paralyzing boredom of my own stupid thoughts. Maybe I should set a timer to that and whatever I manage to write in three minutes or so is my daily quota on stupidity. heh

SlowZen said...

Yep, maybe we could race our thoughts!

Actually this morning I kind of just sat like a cabbage, I am not so sure it is preferable to the busyness I was experiencing before. But I really kind of appreciated the boredom. I guess I should have described it differently, but emptiness sounds a little too profound to me right now. And I am not so sure if that is even desirable.

I do appreciate your fellowship,

Anonymous said...

The retreat by alone, sounded like a good experience --- I commend your decision to try a retreat every month.

You inspire me to work a little harder at building up my own practice.



SlowZen said...

I am so happy to inspire,
Thank you

Thanks for looking!