Retreat Culture & Etiquette

Noble Silence

During the retreat, we will maintain silence to allow ourselves to focus on our inner experience
and to see more clearly the movements of our minds and hearts. After the retreat starts, silence is
observed except in the following circumstances:

1. Teacher-led question and answer times.
2. Teacher Interviews: This is a chance to talk about your experience with one
of our facilitators. Interviews are relaxed, low-key ways to check in with each other and share
experiences. They are designed to be helpful, supportive, and informative. Depending on the
retreat, interviews may occur individually or within a small group setting.
3. Necessary communications, like “please pass the salt”, said quietly.
4. Requests made to the retreat manager. These can often be made by note. However, if your
request is a bit complicated, just quietly take the manager aside and tell him/her what you
need.

When maintaining silence we also try to avoid making eye contact with others. This may feel
unfriendly but it is actually a gift that each person is offering to both themselves and others. It
allows us to maintain our focus internally during the retreat.

Meditation Hall Etiquette

1. Please remove your shoes before entering the Meditation Hall.
2. Bells are rung to call you to a sitting about 5 minutes before each meditation.
We do this to allow you ample time to arrive promptly for sittings. Please do not
enter or leave the Hall when a sitting is already in progress, except in an emergency.
3. Please do not sleep, take naps or lie down in the Meditation Hall. If you have a
back problem that requires meditating while lying down, please advise the
teachers and the retreat manager.
4. Feel free to experiment with your sitting arrangements. We try to have some meditation
cushions and benches for use during the retreat. There will also be chairs in the Hall for you to
use. Please don’t feel that you have to be stoical and sit in a style that might not be
comfortable. For some people it takes a while to discover a style of sitting that feels right.
Listen to your body.
5. No food or drink, except water in bottles, is allowed in the Meditation Hall.
6. Please do not bring extra items into the Hall. Plastic bags, jackets, rain
coats or other items that produce noise may be left outside the Meditation Hall.
7. Please turn all pagers and cell phones off and turn your watches off of “beep” mode.

Walking Meditation

Please only walk in the areas indicated by the retreat manager. This will help us avoid conflicts with non-retreatants who may be at the retreat site.

General Retreat Etiquette

1. Please assist those with allergies and chemical sensitivities by not using perfumes, scented lotions, scented aftershave or other strongly aromatic products during the retreat.
2. Please do not leave notes or speak to any other retreatants unless it is an emergency. Keeping silence is one of the most important ways that we contact our deepest experiences. It is a rare and amazing opportunity to have a period of silence in one’s life.
3. If you need anything during the retreat, please remember to bring it to the attention of Mid America Dharma’s Retreat Manager. The employees at the retreat site are not responsible for Mid America Dharma retreats or its retreatants.
4. Smoking, if allowed by the retreat site, is only allowed outside. There are no exceptions to this
rule.

Tea Table

All items on the tea table are free and are provided by Mid America Dharma for your comfort.

Message Board

A message board has been provided for necessary communications. It will be located in the tea
room. Please leave notes only for the teacher or retreat manager.

If You Fall Ill

Retreatants with contagious illnesses create unnecessary risks for themselves, their fellow
retreatants and staff. If you fall ill prior to the retreat, do not attend unless you have been free of major symptoms for at least a full day. By this we mean no fever, chills, sweats, serious coughing, nausea or diarrhea, etc. Note that your temperature must be normal without the use of fever reducing medicines
(e.g., no aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen). As soon as you decide not to attend, please notify
the registrar. We will make every effort to refund the registration fee.

If you become ill while on retreat, we may ask you to go home. If traveling is unfeasible, we may ask that you stay separated from other retreatants to prevent spreading illness.

In any event, please cover all coughs and sneezes. If you may need to leave public areas suddenly, please sit near an exit so you can leave and return with a minimum of disruption.

If you have other questions about silent retreats, contact us.