Retreat Recap: Dec 2023.

This weekend we had the honor of attending the inaugural Introduction to TWIM weekend retreat at Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center. David and Kirsten worked hard to put together a compressed curriculum covering the practice of TWIM and Forgiveness meditation, the basics of Buddhism rooted in the Pali Canon Suttas and the experience of being on an extended retreat.

I never remember to take photos until half an hour before it’s time to leave.

After arriving we had a dinner of lentil soup and received an introductory briefing on retreat basics, then we had an introduction to Pali Canon Buddhism from David, followed by the standard TWIM retreat introductory video from Bhante Vimalaramsi, then a guided meditation. The cabins were all very toasty, I had to turn my space heater off the first night.

The second day we started with a guided meditation, then had breakfast followed by several hours to practice sitting and walking meditation. After lunch and naptime we did a “metta circle” meditation and then resumed sitting and walking meditation. After tea time we watched a dhamma talk from Bhante Vimalaramsi covering the Upakilesa sutta (MN 128) discussing the hindrances and how to deal with them.

Sukha the cat

The next day we started with a guided meditation, then had breakfast and open meditation practice time. After lunch retreatants had individual interviews with David and Kirsten to discuss their meditation progress. After tea time we watched a dhamma talk from Delson Armstrong on the sutta One by One as They Appear (MN 111), covering jhanas and jhana factors.

On Sunday the sun came out and people spent a lot more time doing walking meditation. We started with a guided meditation , then had breakfast and open practice time. After lunch we had interviews and open meditation. After tea time Kirsten presented an excellent introduction to forgiveness meditation, along with a brief guided meditation. David then gave a brief presentation on Transcendental Dependent Origination, (from the Upanisa Sutta, SN 12.23). After the dhamma talk we returned to the dining hall for an ice cream social (technically not a solid food) to celebrate the end of retreat.

Breakfast on Monday morning.

On Monday morning David spoke briefly about the precepts and we meditated for 45 minutes before eating breakfast, cleaning out our cabins and driving home.

OVERALL IMRPESSIONS: An impressive amount of material packed into just four days, with ample opportunity to meditate. The one-on-one meditation instruction is always helpful. The food was excellent (thanks Rose) and the cabins and dhamma hall were very toasty. The valley that Dhamma Sukha is in is a little stark in the winter but still very beautiful. Talking to other meditators it seems the retreat was very useful and David and Kirsten are already planning a second one for the Spring. We’ll let you know when registration opens!

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