On a meditation retreat, typically you will be meditating a lot more than when at home. On some retreats it’s not unusual to practice for 6-7 hours a day. Don’t be put off by this, it isn’t hard! Notice the use of the word ‘practice’, it is a journey that takes time. Here are some of the benefits of attending a meditation retreat and some useful tips to help you get the most out of your visit, with the use of your Kindseat.
What is a Meditational retreat?
A retreat primarily for meditation emphasizes a specific period of time an individual commits to practicing meditation, usually in a calming location away from their day-to-day life. This leads to minimizing outside distractions, and separates mediators from everyday awareness. It is common for retreats to install certain rules, schedule frequent meditational practices and control the environment for those attending. Retreats commonly generate opportunities for individuals to develop habits which promote better wellbeing.
What are the benefits?
The isolation of a retreat has been found to result in full relaxation, self–development and rejuvenation of health and wellbeing. The benefits are reportedly worth the effort in bettering the mind, body and spirit. One body of research found that after completing a retreat, 63% of attendees experienced deeper connection to their emotions, making better sense of natural incidents and feelings (such grief, anger and loss). Moreover, 51% found their concentration improved. Further research suggests that meditation retreats can also better self-discipline and social cohesiveness.
How can I get the most out of my retreat?
The Kindseat is a perfect tool to help you on your retreat since it’s lightweight and very travel friendly. With the help of your Kindseat, here are a few tips and tricks to reach your fullest potential whilst enjoying your retreat.
1. Start gently
Whilst excitement is to be expected, easing in gently rather than rushing will allow your body and psyches their needed time to adjust. Allow yourself to arrive on the retreat and let go of any mental baggage. An Arabic saying explains “The Soul invariably travels at the speed of a camel”; grant your mind and spirit time to catch up with your body by taking each day slowly. Similarly, our bodies need adjusting to the new sleeping patterns, food and environment the retreat provides.
If the opportunity arises and the space you are meditating in is empty, find the spot that suits you best and set your Kindseat up. Take time to choose the surroundings that work best for your practice and alter the height and tilt of your Kindseat too. You may need a different form of support from your meditation bench in this new environment. If additional tools such as a mat, blanket or small pillow improve your comfort, experiment with setting these up in your space too.
Sit quietly for a while, taking in your surroundings. This will make it easier to give your full attention when retreat leaders are talking and offering you support.
Whilst stillness is an important part of meditation, doing a gentle warm up and lightly stretching before sitting will improve blood flow and prevent stiffness. It’s a way of letting your body know that you are taking care of it and reduces the desire to fidget during mediation sessions. Stretching also helps you to ‘inhabit’ the body, so that you are meditating with your body, and not simply staying in your mind.
For some simple yoga stretches, read our article on multiple beneficial poses that can be done from the comfort of your Kindseat. If you wish for a larger range of stretches, including standing and lying down, follow this Piece of Peace Meditation article.
When meditating for longer periods of time, which is very applicable to retreats, your practice doesn’t have to center around sitting only. Whilst your Kindseat’s support allows for long meditations to be experienced with ease, keeping your body moving will allow your mind to stay stimulated throughout your retreat and reduce the chance of distraction and boredom. Walking meditation is an excellent counterpart to formal sitting and works well when alternated with sitting.
For a greater understanding of the benefits of walking meditation, see this Healthline article. If you wish to experience a short walking meditation yourself, try following this Goodful 15-minute video:
As mentioned, numerous times in multiple other articles on our website, posture is a key element in every meditation. The Kindseat allows you to find the position that works best for you, both in height and in tilt for your pelvis. To further understand the importance of posture, read this article on posture guidelines.
Having one repeated posture helps with muscle memory, and creates a strong association with your own meditative state of peace. This is easily sustained with the Kindseat since it’s responsive, meaning it remembers what position it was last set up in (even after being dissembled and placed easily into its travel case). However, during a retreat it is common to experience change in both your body and mind, which, in turn, can affect your posture.
If you find yourself getting restless, alternating between kneeling and sitting in cross-legged positions on your Kindseat can help to find your most comfortable spot again. If that doesn’t improve, you can also re-alter the height and tilt. Keeping alert during meditation is as important as staying relaxed, which can be helped through occasionally switching position if it feels right. Throughout your retreat, asking for support from your meditation leader to assess your posture and position can help better your practice. Sometimes we get into strange postural habits that we are unaware of. If you wish to prepare for multiple different positions and see the effects of these on your posture, try altering your Kindseat at home before your trip to understand what feels right for you.
If a meditation retreat is something you wish to explore further, and potentially take part in, this Very Well Mind article compares seven of the best for you to consider. Happy traveling!