It is best to hold your final schedule with a light hand. For example, I have found from experience that it is best for me to sit five or six sittings a day (45-75 minutes each). I try to do a couple of sits early in the morning, another sit mid-morning, another mid-afternoon, and a couple near the end of the day. However, there has never been a day that my intended schedule fit perfectly with my projected notion of what the day or the retreat would look like. While it’s important to have a schedule in mind, it doesn’t have to be adhered to in a rigid way. As a matter of fact, it is right here, at the place where our expectations and our druthers meet the unexpected that a light and flexible attitude becomes the all-important mental skill being examined and developed. (How to adjust to the common interruptions of a Home Retreat will be covered later.)
Sometimes you may discover that doing two hours of formal practice is all you can manage due to conditions, but you are still making Home Retreat your priority for the time you’ve allotted. Other times, you may find you have the time and conditions to do a more formal style retreat at home and can sit five-to-ten hours a day with only infrequent interruptions. The form is not as important as your intention to make vipassanā and/or samatha and sampajañña your focus for this specific period of time. A light normal sitting retreat means more attention to sampajañña, a heavier retreat means more emphasis on vipassanā. This training is to be applied in all activities, not just the sittings and not just during your activities of daily living. By maintaining your focus and commitment you strengthen intention.