Planning your retreat

personal responsibility

An important emphasis at Liberation Park is that mature practitioners take charge of their own practice. Group retreats with schedules, bells, and peer pressure are important ways that we develop and deepen a meditation practice. If you have not yet experienced such retreats, especially of a week's duration or more, we strongly advise you to try one. At some point, however, many of us outgrow such an approach and rely on it less. This is why Dhamma refuges such as Liberation Park, as well as some of the smaller forest monasteries, offer something different.

Personal assessment: Where are you in your meditation practice and study of Dhamma? What are your strengths (well-developed spiritual qualities & skills) and weaknesses (under-developed spiritual qualities & skills)?

Retreat aspirations: What areas would you like to strengthen (focus on) during your retreat? Which activities would foster these?

Role of study: Is your knowledge, both experiential & theoretical sufficient for working on your aspirations? How might you incorporate relevant study into your retreat?

Connecting with a teacher/guide: Santikaro is available about 2/3rds of the year; Jo Marie is available much of the year for spiritual direction and retreat check-ins. We are happy to assist or guide in any way we are able. Please give some thought to how we might support you.

Don't kopy-kat: Be creative. Please don't assume that what you need to do is the same as what's happened during group retreats you've joined. Those are effective in their circumstances and are based on a generalized average of what works for the majority who attend such retreats. Now, it's just you and your mind and your habits and your wisdom. What do you need to do now and here?

Realistic daily schedule: How will you organize your day in service of the above? Keep in mind that you will be preparing your own meals, doing your own dishes, etc. Also remember that the schedule you keep will depend solely upon your own discipline. Please don't be unrealistically ambitious or strict. You can always tighten things up if your beginning schedule turns out to be to loose.

Incorporating Nature & solitude into the retreat: You have the opportunity to be intimate with nature, to take walks in the woods, to meditate beside a bubbling brook, and to watch the suns & moons rise & set. Be creative in making the most of this Dhamma refuge.

Be kind & have fun: None of this gets very far without deepening compassion for the human conditon, including the version you are living. Enjoy what's possible, be open to surprises, surrender to Dhamma, "the way things are."

Consult with Santikaro or Jo Marie: You decide on most of the above. Nevertheless, you will need to have a pre-retreat interview with one of us, usually by phone, to make sure your ideas & plans are realistic at Liberation Park. We will ask you questions to sharpen your thinking and may make suggestions. This will also be an opportunity to arrange how often you will meet with whichever of us you wish.