Good Commons

Silent Yoga & Meditation Retreat with Lora Ksieniewicz

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Silent Yoga & Meditation Retreat with Lora Ksieniewicz

February 27 - March 1

Traditionally the Buddha and his students would take a retreat during the 3 months of the rainy season. Normally mendicant wanderers, they would gather in buildings and eventually temples to study, practice, and reinforce their commitment to the dharma (teachings of Buddha). After the Buddha’s death, this tradition continued as a way to reaffirm their practice and deepen their understanding. Called Vassa, named after the rainy season itself, this period of extended meditation is still practiced today by monks and serious students.

Repeat Good Commons host Lora Ksieniewicz of Yoga on the Vine Martha’s Vineyard started her own practice of silent meditation with a retreat at age 16. Clearly new to the concept of the Middle Way, (she has always favored extremes) Lora signed up for a 12 day silent meditation retreat at IMS in Barre Massachusetts without ever having meditated before. What came from this experience was life-changing. After an extended period of struggle with her own mind, where she could have abandoned ship and never meditated again given the choice to go turn on the tv, see friends or distract… Lora had the most complete sense of peace and stillness that she has ever known. Her natural anxiousness relaxed into a deep clarity, a full-bodied knowing of the ineffable. And while this has fostered a lifelong practice of mindfulness, Lora always comes back to the format of silent retreat as the place where this experience is most fruitful, most readily accessible.

Why silent retreat? In our culture, we are used to living with a lot of urgency and tension. We may sustain this pace for long stretches, sometimes decades, but we show the strains in the enduring health of our bodies and minds. A silent retreat is an opportunity to deeply re-set, connect inwards, and to stay a while with your own experience. You will find that the days are very full, but in none of the ways you may be used to. We will have a consistent and fairly continuous schedule each day of meditation, self-guided yoga practice, teacher-guided yoga practice, meals, and dharma talks.

The yoga presented this weekend will be both Yin and some Yang to keep the body stimulated and in balance. Dharma talks will deeply explore the teaching Buddhism, the dharma, the practices of mindfulness, and their application to our daily lives, in a way that is not possible in any other format where the mind is still engaged in social interaction and maximum sensory input. Your group will peel back the layers of our own habits, mechanisms of mind, holdings and unresolved healings, in order to deeply digest that which still needs processing. The schedule is designed to be quite full, to give a strong backbone to the experience so that you do not have to wonder about where to go or what to do next, but can instead drop that part of your brain that weighs options, decides, and schedules your time.

There will also be an opportunity for a 1:1 check-in. This is not mandatory, but on offer if it will support your experience. As you will be able to dive so much deeper to the heart of things on silent retreat than in any other workshop, training or retreat that Lora has offered before, she will welcome the opportunity to answer your questions, help navigate struggles, or otherwise support your experience through the retreat in these 1:1s.

Arrival is on Thursday, Feb 27th. Check-in is between 4-6pm with dinner and orientation Thursday night. You will have the chance to settle in, meet others, and negotiate shared room/shared bathroom logistics if relevant. After a restorative practice after dinner, the group will drop into silence. While Lora will be speaking, of course, to guide your practice, dharma talks, and coordinate, we ask that you hold noble silence in the common spaces, and in your private or shared rooms as well.

This meditation retreat is also an opportunity to take a journey away from one’s daily responsibilities, preoccupations and worldly events. With this in mind, we require everyone to turn off their computers and phones for the duration of the retreat in order to genuinely connect with oneself in a less distracted inner and outer environment. This will undoubtedly deepen everyone’s experience. We feel unplugging from technology in retreat life is essential and will benefit all the attendees. There will be an emergency contact provided for students to give loved ones.

Silence will continue through the end of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, when the group will break silence in the evening. Lora has found that it is essential to have time to ease back into interaction. There will be an intentional and supported journey back from our practice of deep introspection, and we will talk about the ways we may or may not want to share our journey with others.

We will leave Good Commons by noon on Sunday.

Note: You must plan on attending the entirety of the retreat. Exception needs to be requested to Lora in writing, and will be decided on a case by case basis, as the cohesion of the group dynamic as we move in and out of silence will be the highest priority.

Note: If you have had the experience of going on a much-needed vacation and promptly getting sick, you’ll recognize that we can carry what we do not have time to process till body and mind see an opportunity. Our bodies may have been battling that sickness for months, just waiting for a moment we weren’t racing from point A to B for it to fully manifest. Similarly, in the deep stillness of a silent retreat, you may find yourself finally digesting even long gone experiences; grief, deep joy, sadness can all be vividly present. This is normal, and welcome, for you to feel and experience deeply. However, if you are under the care of a therapist or mental health professional we ask that you consult them prior to attending. We believe in the benefits of this practice for everyone, but just as we would not advise a physical practice with an acute injury, we do not advise a deep mental practice with acute “injury” or level of distress.

Mary Camilleri
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    Lora Ksieniewicz


    Good Commons
    4771 Vermont 100A
    Plymouth, VT 05056 United States
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