Am I ready for such a retreat ?

There is a big difference between wanting to do such a retreat and being able to do it. It might seem like a good idea to be able to devote the whole day to Dharma practice, but unless we have some prior experience of regular meditation and its formal practice, we may find that we underestimate our own resistances to spiritual change and transformation.

Some experience of having participated in an organised group retreat in a Dharma Centre, or of having done some personal retreat where you have successfully managed to keep to a disciplined daily schedule will give you an indication of whether you are ready for retreat or not.

During the retreat there might be moments when you would rather be doing something else.
In everyday life, we can do what we like, and if we don't like what we are doing, we can do something else or find some distraction to take our mind off what we don't want to do. This is not possible in retreat. Everyone in retreat must keep to the daily schedule, there is no adapting it to "personal needs". You may not leave the retreat enclosure to go for a walk. In retreat, there are no distractions: you may not bring into retreat music, books, computers, cameras, phones, MP3 players or anything of a similar kind. Any difficulties or resistances can and have to be faced. Can you deal with that?

Of course, you are not alone. The advantage of doing a group retreat is that there are probably other people in the same group going through similar things so it's easy to share experiences and find ways through together. And the retreat teachers are on hand to pinpoint the teachings that will be the most useful to you and advise you how to apply them to your situation.

Even though you may feel ready for retreat, what about your family and friends? How will they react to not being able to contact you easily? The post is brought into the retreat centres twice a week, and you can write letters which will be sent out also twice a week. Apart from this, there is no other direct form of communication during the retreat (no telephones, email facilities and so on.) We will however provide you with a telephone number that your family and friends can use to leave a message in an emergency. It's important that you discuss your plans with those close to you and get their support before applying for retreat.