Once you’ve decided the length and dates of your Home Retreat, the next step is to begin the process of creating your daily schedule. First, decide how many hours of sitting, walking and formal study you will do each day. Next, set a formal sitting/walking/study schedule for yourself: when you’ll sit, when you’ll walk, when you’ll study. Then plan when you’ll do your activities of daily living such as your work-related activities of commuting, electronic and face-to-face communications, work projects. Also, consider and plan for family and community commitments and responsibilities such as meals, chores, errands, exercise, sleep, etc. If you’ll give yourself entertainment, decide when, what kind and for how long. However, make the retreat your priority! And, within the retreat, make sitting your priority! Even a person with a busy schedule can do a Home Retreat; it’ s a matter of whether or not you can make the retreat the filter for your life or not.
First, prioritize a daily schedule that emphasizes continuous sati-sampajañña in all activities by introducing a heightened focus towards the simplicity of sense restraint, second schedule as much formal meditation as one’s daily responsibilities permit and third, bring a refocused intensity to your meditative goals by practicing wise reflection through applied sampajañña.
After establishing a schedule in your mind, write it down, post it or have it where you will see it. Read it frequently and share it with a spiritual friend (kalyānamitta). Combining these activities, the mental factor of intention is strengthened and you make yourself accountable to a greater willingness to follow through. This is critical because intention, which is part of Right View (sammā-ditthi) and Right Effort (samā-vāyāma) is necessary for the success of a Home Retreat. After reviewing the schedule, make an internal commitment to it and share it with your retreat friend or someone who you respect in practice.
Right Intention (sammā-sankappa): The Noble Eightfold Path. Bhikkhu Bodhi. Chapter Three.
Munindraji: 1. Was an Indian lay teacher most often associated in the West as being Joseph Goldstein’s and Dipama’s teacher. His impact on how Theravada Buddhism is understood in the West cannot be overstated. In the book Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, 2010, by Mirka Knaster the reader is given a most extraordinary example of how to live a Home Retreat as a layperson. allan cooper.
Vikāla-bhojanā veramanī sikkhāpadam samādhiyāmi’, I undertake the Precept to refrain from eating at the forbidden time (i.e., afternoon till the sun rises the next day). I will eat with an attention towards sustenance with applied mindfulness and clear comprehension during all drinking and eating.
Sati-sampajañña: 1. Sati and sampajañña are two terms combined to mean one thing. Sati is the function of the mind that can bring meditative focus on any conscious object and get to know it without self-referencing or preference. Sampajañña is the wholesome attempt to understand what an object is. Without sampajañña sati is simply a function of the mind without understanding. Sampajañña without sati is speculation. Combined these mental functions can de-condition and reorient the mind towards freedom from unwholesome patterns of mind, speech and action. allan cooper 2. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. MN:10.
Sampajañña: Clear Comprehension: 1. Attending to four categories of attention: Purpose, Suitability, Domain, and Reality. allan cooper. 2. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, Nyanaponika Thera. 3. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. MN:10.
Spiritual friend (kalyānamitta): 1. SN 45:2 Upaddha Sutta. 2. Access to Insight, Admirable Friendship: kalyanamitta. 3. In common usage ‘a spiritual friend.’ In a traditional sense it means a teacher or a knower of the way. allan cooper
Right View (sammā-ditthi): 1. The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering, Chapter Two. Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Abbreviations in footnotes: AN: Aṅguttara Nikāya, DN: Dingha Nikāya, MN: Majjhima Nikāya, SN: Saṃyutta Nikāya