Self Discovery

7-Day Solo Meditation Retreat Report

11 posts in this topic

So, a little back story: At the beginning of 2018 I made the conscious decision to attend a meditation retreat. I was planning on attending a Vipassana retreat but was unable to because of of my life situation. So, I decided to set up my own backyard solo retreat for 7 full days to immerse myself into consciousness work. I knew this would be a challenge, because theres a lot of distraction available where i live. I've also heard people advise against making your first meditation retreat solo, so that put some doubts in my head of whether or not I will be able to complete it. However, I was ready to give it my best and see what happens. Also for the record, I didn't plan the structure of my schedule beforehand, other than the practices that I will use as well as the commitment to to put in a minimum of 9-10 hours of formal practices each day. 

I spent most of the retreat in my backyard cottage, which is small but fits a chair and my mattress. I cooked in my main house. 

 

Practices I used:

  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Do-nothing
  • Labeling
  • Feeling the body
  • Self-inquiry / Contemplation
  • Concentration practice
  • Kriya Yoga
  • Holotropic breathing

The goal was to also remain mindful throughout mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning.

Heres what my typical day looked like:

  • 10min concentration
  • 60min do-nothing
  • 15min concentration
  • 60min self-inquiry
  • 30min Kriya Yoga
  • 60min Self-inquiry
  • 10min Concentration
  • 70min labeling
  • 10min concentration 
  • 75min do-nothing
  • 60min holotropic breathwork
  • 10min relaxation meditation
  • 30min labeling
  • 30min Self inquiry
  • 10min concentration

 

Day 1

The first day was tough. Lots of strong emotions came up and I really didn't feel like myself. I was aware that this was not going to be a cake walk. Meditations were quite unfocused, but I did have a few points of access concentration. This was the day I realized on a deeper level what it means to practice & apply spirituality.

I felt restless, uneasy and quite melancholic. I felt many doubts of my purpose and of the retreat itself. I knew however, that I will do everything it takes to get this done.

 

Insights of the day:

  • Love people for who they are, rather than constantly projecting my opinion of what they should be more like.
  • Compassion and understanding for others is deeply important. All this craziness and neurosis that we see everywhere is understandable, and this becomes deeply apparent on these retreats. I began to see how my mind has all those qualities too, and I saw how difficult it can be to channel that energy to something that raises our awareness.

 

Day 2

Day 2 was easier than expected. Although I faced some boredom, my meditations were generally enjoyable. My monkey mind is still quite strong, especially in the morning, but calmed down a bit since yesterday. I also got a verification from myself that the purpose I've chosen for myself is the right one. All the doubting i had was basically just fear in disguise.

 

Insights of the day:

  • technology, entertainment and the media, all fuck up your ability to think for yourself. This became very apparent to me because I realized how much of my mind was filled with the media I had consumed prior to the retreat.
    • This really opened my eyes to consider minimizing technology and media consumption after I leave the retreat.
  • Trust your hearts deepest motive (as cliche as that sounds.)

 

 

 

Day 3

Overall, this day was gruelling. So much boredom, mixed with addictions faced. It feels like I'm at war with my own mind. At the end of today however, I became certain that I will undoubtedly complete this retreat, because if I can withstand this, I can withstand it all. Thoughts about sex and money came up today. Thoughts like "maybe I should pursue more sex instead. This spirituality seems kinda boring, and its not what i thought it was."

 

Insights of the day:

 

  • The new refined concepts about what you are (Awareness, reality, God, the present) are all concepts still just concepts and none of them are any more superior self concepts than any of those former, less spiritual ones. You need to learn to transcend this in order to actually experience Truth.
  • Less is more. Simplify your life. Do 5 tasks per day at the most, and do them deliberately. I've been overworking and trying to complete too many things each day.
  • Distractions are created to hide the fact that you are limiting yourself. It was never the external causing any chaos, it was the internal - my mind.
  • I got a deeper understanding of why people are addicted today. The mind is a tricky thing, and its infinitely deceptive.
  • I really don't know anything about spirituality.

 

 

Day 4

Another hard day. My monkey mind has been extremely severe for the first half of the day. Some life problems were on my mind, and i saw my mind strategizing and trying to solve those problems. My mind was also constantly looking into the future and creating new ideas, stories and goals to keep myself occupied and excited.

However, after about 6pm I suddenly went into a deep state of focus in my self inquiry session and was able to maintain it for 2 hours. This was the deepest I had ever gone with self-inquiry/meditation on a sober mind. After this, my concentration slowly dissolved.

I then decided to do a session of holotropic breathing, which went well.

 

Insights of the day:

  • You have not done real consciousness work until you've been to one of these retreats. This is where the embodiment process takes place.
  • Lots of addictions, fears and unconscious aggressions come up on these retreats. Basically all the things you've been hiding in your subconscious mind - the shadow aspects of yourself bubble right up. This is therapeutic and healing, but it's painful. Its all the stuff you keep distracting yourself from with all the technology, socializing, work, sex, media, food, entertainment etc.
  • Stop trying to "become everything" in existence. That concept you have of enlightenment needs to be chucked away. It isn't it. Stop clinging to it.
  • If what you are is no thing, then mind will never ever be able to grasp it. Thats why you aren't enlightened yet. You're waiting for Mind to derive the answer, which is impossible.
  • Notice how quickly you create stories about yourself and of life. Stop believing in them. Discipline yourself to the point where you see through the whole illusion.

 

 

Day 5

Today was a good day in terms of meditation focus. I felt like I got great insights in terms of how self inquiry & meditation work. I also did 60min of holotropic breathing. At the end of the day I got a very deep vision of my mission on earth. I wrote it down and I fell asleep inspired & motivated.

 

Insights of the day:

 

  • Next time you get a negative thought/emotion about yourself; reflect on it. Don't push it away. Look directly into it and meet it with love and understanding, like it were your only child.
  • To master yourself and spirituality you must face boredom head on. Boredom is the roadblock that keeps you from peace of mind.
  • Stop judging friends and family for not being spiritual. This goes against what you're going after with this whole transformation process. Everyone is exactly where they personally need to be in their life.
  • Enlightenment literally means you are everything. You are the exact thing that is happening right now. Nothing less.
  • Compassion & real authentic empathy are key to positive relationships.
  • These retreats are effective at showing what you value and what kind of life you want to live.

 

DAY 6

Inspiring day. In the morning, I was feeling genuinely good about meditating, and felt really sure about my practice. But towards the evening I started experiencing feelings boredom & cravings. I decided to do another 60 minute session of holotropic breathing. During the session I felt no significant strong emotions, or feeling sensations other than the typical tingling sensations around various parts of the body & a weird strong rising up feeling in heart chakra for a split second. But after finishing the session, after going back to meditation, I started getting deep memories from my childhood, many of which came with a strong emotional charge. Memories of my family splitting as well as some embarrassing moments from my childhood. These feelings felt like they were bubbling up from the unconscious mind, and I took a positive attitude towards them, facing them head on and accepting them. I felt that all these emotions came up for me to let them go and so I did. After that i felt great.

 

 

Insights of the day:

  • Retreats will bring you closer to the sense of wonder, lightheartedness and playful attitude towards life that you felt when you were a kid.
  • To be an extraordinary human being, you must think, act, talk, eat and create like one. Start doing this right now and it will become a reality. Sounds like some new-agey stuff but it works.
  • Perfectionism is something I struggle with. I need to work on that.
  • Mood is mood. Don't identify with it. Let it be there and accept it with all your heart. This is emotional mastery.

 

 

DAY 7

Woke up feeling unmotivated to do the practices. Heaps of thoughts about what I will do when I leave the retreat. The last day was the hardest in terms of focus ability. I really got a close look at all the addictions that i have. Many of which I was not even aware of before. I even felt like playing video games - something I haven't felt like doing much for nearly 5 years. Ego also got really dramatic today. Towards the end of the day I got fed up with formal practices and decided to take a mindful walk. I walked down my street and started observing ants on the sidewalk. Ended up spending a good 20min just observing a group of these little guys devouring a decent sized earth worm. Fascinating stuff.

 

Insights:

  • A solid retreat like this will show you where you are at in terms of addictions. If you think you're not addicted, and have never been to one of these retreats, I urge you to complete one and then we can talk again.
  • Theory is important in terms of meditation/ non-duality. Self-deception will otherwise take over completely, which will greatly hinder your ability to transcend your Self.
  • Rude awakening: I thought concentration and focus will have exponential growth as the retreat progresses. For me it turned out to be quite the opposite. 

 Here are two grapths to show you what I mean:

My expectation:

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 17.58.31.png

 

The reality:

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 18.01.24.png

 

End of retreat:

I felt excited to leave the retreat, but equally melancholic. There is something beautiful about living in solitary silence, immersing yourself in spirituality. In a sense, it feels like home, since it brings you back to what it felt like to be a kid. These retreats will also be effective at deepening your vision for your life, and what it means to have a life purpose.

When I came out of this retreat, after a couple days of afterglow, I started to feel quite sad and depressed. This shocked me quite a bit. I started feeling insecure and I felt my ego wanting to kick back (something to watch out for after one of these retreats or a psychedelic trip.) After a week, I'm still not fully out of this rut, but hearing various perspectives on it from this forum has helped me tremendously. Also just the simple reminder that these kinds of reactions are normal can be enough to lift you up from that little aftershock that you may feel after one of these retreats. 

 

 

Tips for people who want to do a solo retreat:

  • Make sure to do a pre-mortem for your solo retreat if you plan to do one. Watch Leo's pre-mortem video for details on how to make one.
  • Decide strictly on how many days you will do and commit to it with all your heart.
  • Shut off all technology, close all the books and put it all away into a closet. Commit to not using any of it throughout the retreat. One exception is the Kriya workbook if you are using it.
  • Don't get discouraged by monkey mind. There will be a lot of it. Push through.
  • Writing down insights can be a good idea, but don't use it as a distraction from doing the formal practices. 
  • Watch out for subtle distractions, like cleaning the place constantly, fixing things that don't really need fixing, taking "mindful walks" & snacking all the time etc. 
  • Long-term thinking will motivate you to finish the whole retreat. Many benefits will come from doing one of these retreats. 

 

 

 

Edited by Self Discovery

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Very nice! I may do an at-home retreat in the future. But how....the...hell....did you do 60 mins of holotropic breathing? I did ~40 minutes of it once and felt ready for the morgue afterward, including the next day.

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@PsiloPutty Work up to it. I started off with 30min and slowly week by week worked up to 60min. It really isn't that hard once you get used to it. Maybe you should start with just 20min or even 15min.

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I can't really shut off technology because I have to review Anki cards everyday. If I didn't review Anki cards everyday, there would be Anki avalanche.

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@Self Discovery This was good. Thank you for sharing beneficial information!


"Every culture that's ever existed has operated under the illusion that it understood 95% of reality and that the other 5% would be delivered in the next 18 months, and from Egypt forward they've been running around believing they had a perfect grip on things and yet we look back at every society that preceded us with great smugness at how naive they all were. Well, it never occurs to us, then, that maybe we're whistling in the dark too!" -- Terence McKenna

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Great report. I also love to do retreats at home. They are tough, but they do help deepening your consciousness. 

The part you talked about in the end, about being depressed afterwards, is very common. I've read it happening to so many people after retreats. Why do you think it happened to you? 

I've also noticed that the ability to concentrate does not improve with long practices, or practicing the whole day. For me, it worked better by doing short 30min practices twice a day. 

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This really makes me wonder, what are we really after by doing this sort of things ?  I came to the understanding that I am looking to get into a singularity of consciousness, a realization that will settle me for the rest of eternity. To me drug induced experiences, vantage points or insights are worth nothing because on the moment they seem like that's it but then life and the grinding and struggle continues. One is still in the samsara after those basically. To sustain an experience one would have to relearn how to do everything, that would only be doable for a fixed way of life like that of a monk. But even that is not it, this experience needs to be worth sustaining and so worth that it doesn't contain any doubt or boredom or impurity that would lead to it going back to samsara, an eternally stable state of consciousness basically. But how to get there and why can't I get there right here right now I am missing something...

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