Open Dharma’s intention is to help each person find her or his unique path, and to tap into the grace of the deep heart beyond emotions. Silence is the main guru of our retreats and intimacy with nature often enriches the experience. The schedule, silence, supportive atmosphere, and instructions help provide a foundation from which each person can jump into her or his own rhythm, strength, path, and wisdom. Respecting the importance of self-motivation, Open Dharma does not force techniques or other structures on participants. People who come on retreat have the chance to remember why they came, and to meet the opportunity fully and willingly—not because an authority tells them to. An atmosphere of love and honesty, as well as individualized guidance, encourage each person to accept the biggest challenge of all: to be truly human, truly fresh, truly oneself.
~ Deep rest retreats
~ Practical notes
Apart from meetings with facilitators, these retreats are held in silence. There are meetings with facilitators in group interviews, and the opportunity for one-to-one meetings.
Silence is one of the single most important aspects of our retreats.
Participants are expected to stay for the whole retreat.
There can be a temptation to think of retreat--if it is not "hard work"--as simply a break to relieve the stress of our busy lifestyles. To allow this subtle and powerful training to have the greatest impact, it is best to come to the retreat already as rested as possible.
Bring plenty of comfortable mats, blankets, and cushions to lie down on.
Open Dharma facilitators sometimes invite experienced participants to assist with the teachings. For retreats that include art or ecology, we may invite professionals in those fields to collaborate in the teachings.
Please remember that these courses are different from those offered in the Goenka and other traditions. In addition to meditation in the hall, we offer formal walking meditation as well, and we encourage retreatants to experiment with meditation while lying down. Also, we emphasize bringing attention into every activity of the day, including eating, standing and taking care of basic tasks such as cleaning one’s clothes.
We discourage reading and writing on these retreats. Men and women are housed separately but we do not insist upon separating them in the meditation hall or while eating, unless that is a rule in the particular place in which we are teaching. Sittings and walking periods are usually 45 minutes in length. We do not encourage very long sittings to “break through” pain. In general, we tend to avoid striving and struggling to attain goals. We emphasize direct, simple, immediate experience over an intellectual grasp of things, but we also recognize the value of thoughts when used in the service of wisdom. We do not believe the purpose of meditation is to “get rid” of thinking or to “kill” the ego. Our experience tells us that there is no need to get rid of anything in this practice and that the key to freedom and true happiness (which is, after all, why we do this practice) is found in the mind’s relationship to things, rather than in the things themselves. We also believe it is important to do the practice with a light heart and a sense of humor. Remember the laughing Buddha images!