People are asked to arrive no later than 7:30 pm. Getting there a little early is helpful, especially if you are new. Usually, one of the regulars will be available to help answer any questions you might have, but if you are ever in doubt, just follow what everyone else is doing.
The schedule of each sitting is simple:
1.) We get something to sit on and find a place to sit. There are blankets, bolsters, some cushions, chairs and other supports that will make your sitting comfortable.
2.) We simply try to quiet down while you wait for Michael to enter and give a quick introductory talk.
3.) We meditate for around thirty minutes.
4.) We listen to Michael’s talk.
5.) We have a question and answer session until 9:00pm.
It’s a Sanskrit word that means something like “group.” This can be a small sitting group like ours or as big as the global community. Regardless, it’s all sangha.
We are a group that has formed around Michael McAlister’s teachings. To the extent that Michael’s training involved Buddhist monastic stays in Thailand, Nepal, and here in the US, you could easily say that we follow a Buddhist approach. On the other hand, much of Michael’s communication of these teachings integrates the wisdom of many different traditions. This often makes things easier for those of us raised in the West to understand, but it can also make things harder to categorize and label. Just know this: regardless of your tradition, Michael’s teaching will afford you the opportunity to deepen your relationship to whatever you consider sacred.
The idea behind the silence is to make a space where everyone can enjoy and uncover the peace underneath all of the stress they might feel during their day. It can sometimes feel a little weird since many of us are used to chatting during any type of social gathering. But over time, we hope that you will find that the silence usually becomes a welcome container for our sittings.
No, but some sitters like having their own so they purchase one. It’s really a personal choice.
No worries. Just sit quietly and wait for the bell to ring. The idea of meditation is not to be in pain but to be alert and relaxed. Do your best to be in that space of alert relaxation for as long as possible.
Because the schedule is a vital part of the retreat container, if you cannot arrive on time and plan to stay through the end, you should not attend the retreat. This shared commitment supports the group as a whole to experience the depth of our time together.
Day 1: Check-in is 3-5 PM. After check-in, there is a dinner break followed by a retreat orientation and a short dharma talk.
Daily Activities: Each full day of retreat begins at 6:00 AM and ends at 9:30 PM. Each day includes several periods of meditation, 2 dharma talks followed by a Q & A session, and 3 meal breaks.
Last Day: The retreat officially ends just before lunch.