post-retreat protocol

I’ve learned something really important this year about retreats, which is that for every 2-3 days spent inside, one day of identical conditions (except for being in light during the daytime) is necessary afterward to readjust to light and regular consciousness and to absorb the value of the retreat.

This takes a serious plan. The natural impulse is to blow off all the energy gained in the retreat. This can cause as much harm as the retreat did you good. The organism simply needs time to adjust. The parallel with an old saying about fasting is exact: “Any fool can fast. It takes a wise person to break a fast properly.”

So if you are going to do a six-day retreat, then schedule two more days at the darkroom so you can continue resting in darkness while spending more and more time in daylight. If it is too late or too expensive to schedule this time at the darkroom, then arrange a private, quiet place to go directly afterward where distractions and stimulation can be minimized. Maintain the same diet of fruits and green leaf vegies. No electronics, no visitors or media.

Time in darkness greatly enriches one’s inner life. Relishing it when it is so ripe is one of the points of setting this time aside. After this transition period, move as slowly back into your regular life as possible. Avoid annoyance. Take care to sleep. Take care of yourself.

2012 December 27