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How would you schedule a 'Monk' Weekend?

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How would you schedule a spiritual weekend?  Kind of a weekend in Monk mode, from say Friday night to Sunday?  From the standpoint of mind/body/spirit what meditations, food and other exercises would you include? 

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Haven't taken ordination vows before so can't directly relate to your question, but have attended a few retreats with durations ranging from 1 year to 3 months to weekends. Pertinent to the OP, the weekend retreats tend to be scheduled as follows: 


4 am - 2 hours of preliminary practice

6 am - 1 hour break (for breakfast and shower)

7 am - Dharma talk with Q&A session

8 am - Group discussion on topic of the day as given during the Dharma talk

9.30 am - Half hour break 

10 am - Sitting meditation

11.30 am - Lunch break (everyone volunteers for lunch duties so it takes a bit of time)

2 pm - Walking meditation

3 pm - Prelims practice

5 pm - Sitting meditation (optional)

6 pm - Supper 

7 pm - Walking meditation

8 pm - Feedback and discussion on the day's practice interspersed with short 10 min sitting meditations

9 pm - End 


Past 9pm, the group usually hangs out in the dorm (hostel) chilling out over tea and biscuits, chats, music sessions, readings, discussions, evening drives to the village for those who want to watch a bit of TV or have a pint, or some just remain in the meditation hall to continue with personal practice. 


Bed time's up to the individual, but usually everyone's in bed by 11pm. 


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for me, looks something like this..


weekend away. remote location set apart from other humans.

most likely in the mountains. 

silence is a must. no electronics or electricity.

open fire. rise with the sun, rest with the moon.

there would be no set agenda and nothing to do or accomplish.

x2-3 one hour blocks of meditation which would consist of nothing but being open to the moment.

mantra/kirtan would be the only utterance of sound scattered throughout the day.
qigong would surely happen along with spontaneous movement/flow.

exploring the terrain would take place: daily hike, bathe in the river, and/or swim in the lake.

would bring one book that expounded on the plants and animals found in the area to reference and explore.

food would be minimal and something easily prepared.

at night i'd surely lay on my back and look up at the stars.

natural and simple.


EDIT: not necessarily 'monk' like but seemed to fit non-the-less.

Edited by Rishi Das
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"Dad are they a group of monks doing good works"

"No son that is a gang of skin heads readying themselves for mischievous."

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My experience, how monks do it in northern Thailand. Times may vary a bit but generally speaking they stick to that:


1. 4-6am Meditation practice. Seated.

2. 6 breakfast-lunch. Most important meal of the day.

3. 6:30 walking meditation to digest lunch better. About 1 h

4. 7:30 to 10:30/11 Seated meditation. Some seat in one go others sit/walk 50/50

5. 10:30/11 Light lunch/fruit juices/sweets. Some monks stick to the Vinaya and eat only 1 meal a day as per Buddha's advice. Others don't.

5. 11:30-5pm Same routine as above

6. 5-7pm Chanting

7. 7-10 Meditation. Dharma talk. It varies from monastery to monastery.

8. Bed time or keep meditation all through the night. Here it's an open routine. 


Wandering and forest monks have different schedules altogether. I don't know them, sorry.


Rain retreats: things change a lot, Never been to one as I'm not a monk plus never been in SE Asia during that time. All I know is that practice changes as monks stay on one location during this time and there is no alms round and wandering around. 


More info about a Vipassana retrat in a Burmese monastery:


Good luck! :)

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If there's a view of the sunrise, get up early enough to face it as it goes from dark to light...otherwise, 7am or wake up with the sun.

Some breath work, meditation, some light movement to get the muscles warmed up and qi flowing, tongue scraping and oil pulling, and bathing...feel fully cleansed after all of it.

Breakfast at 8am. Soaked rolled oats, with flax meal, blueberries and a little bit of walnuts, as an example...for all meals, chew until liquified. 10 minute slow relaxing walk after (helps digestion).

Relax time for 1 hour or so...spend some of it sunbathing on clear days...but it's a time to do whatever feels good and just chill.

Exercise some time during 9:30 to 10:30, lasting until 10:30 to 11:30 (about an hour). Running is good, but anything equally physical. Strength building, too. The body needs it!

Get clean after exercise.

Meditation time for like half an hour.

Lunch at about noon-1, then a 10 minute slow relaxing walk. Lunch should be a fresh salad with whatever else, unless it's winter (a time too cold for fresh salads).

Relax until 3pm, stay in the shade, do something enjoyable.

Do something productive from 3 to 4:30...actual work. Clean and organize things if nothing else.

4:30 meditation time.

5-6pm dinner. Smaller portions, warmer simpler foods...10 minute slow relaxing walk after.
Freedom for the rest of the day (a waking day should be 16 hours...a natural way of living is doing things only to 70%, so 11 hours should be spent scheduled for the day, and the rest should be unscheduled...if the desire for more spiritual study is present, then you're free to do it. Nice to not have such a long day of a rigid schedule...naturalness is best for body mind spirit health)

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Lots of great ideas here already.


How you spend your monk weekend very much depends on what kind of monk you are.  I`m on the lazy side so I prefer a monk-lite experience.  Advanced practitioners might benefit from sunrise prostrations and a rigorous meditation schedule, but there`s a transformational magic that comes from making small easy shifts too.


Some ideas...


* A weekend without motorized transportation.  Stay home or walk everywhere you go.


* A weekend without TaoBums.  Or for the really daring, without any screens.  No TV, no computer.


* Wanna dial it up a notch?  Ditch the phone


* Still not extreme enough for you? Do the weekend in silence.  Can be a planned silence with other people.  I`ve been at so-called silent retreats where talking was allowed for the purpose of daily chores.  For a more complete silent experience, solitude is best.


* Consider the location.  Nature is good.  You could rent a house in the beach or mountains.  If that`s too upscale, there`s always tent camping.


* Decide how you feel about books, writing.  When I was doing my silent retreat reading was forbidden.  The idea, I think, was that it would distract from meditative focus.  I get how that cound be, and also think reading and writing might make a nice focus for a monk-lite retreat.  It all depends what kind of monk you want to be.


* Most monks do without alcohol and pot.  (Hey, don`t look at me -- I didn`t make the rules.)


* On the other hand, I can imagine a couples monk-weekend with some planned sex, massage, etc.  That`s probably not the kind of weekend you had in mind, but just sayin`.


* A monk weekend might be a good time to kickstart a special healthy diet.  Opinions vary on what makes a healthy diet, let alone a spiritual one, so I won`t advise on particulars.  If there`s a particular food, or type of food, that you regularly eat and would like to experiment with doing out, now`s the time.


* Give some thought to "reentry."  How do you want to bring your monk experience back into your normal life.  Are there aspects of what you did during the weekend that you`d like to make a regular part of your routine?  Could you schedule a monk-fifteen minutes daily?  What insights did you have during the weekend that you want to take with you when you go?

Edited by liminal_luke
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Some further thoughts on the Monk-Lite approach....


Monk-lite is not for ascetics.  It`s important to balance austerity with indulgence, to consider how to nourish the five senses with pleasurable experiences.  You could get a massage, soak in a jacuzzi, float in an isolation tank.  Retreatants might spend time at a museum looking in a particularly contemplative way at favorite works of art.  You might eat foods that are not only healthy but also delicious.


This is in stark contrast to the usual no-pain, no-gain way of the weekend (spiritual) warrior.  Our culture tends to be big on achievement; we`re all trying to "improve" and become more than we are.  It`s easy to bring this competitive mentality to our spiritual pursuits.  The monk-lite approach is all about harnessing the power of gentleness, being kind to ourselves, in order to do something radically different.  Monk-lite retreats might sound like wimpy versions of the more hardcore meditation retreats, but they can be just as powerfully transformative, and sometimes more so.  There is great potency in letting go of our more-is-better compulsivity and settling into something easy and appropriate to where we are in the moment.

Edited by liminal_luke
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As I'm not a monk, I will not plan a 'monk's weekend' but rather, a spiritual retreat based on the observance of the 8-Buddhist precepts which can be done within the confines of the home.  My retreat will be:

5 am Wake, wash and shower

5:30  Take a drink of warm water, and a session of exercise (internal and external martial arts, etc)

7:30   Rest, prepare and take breakfast (either one: cereal + hot drink/bread+eggs+hot drink/ hot soup noodle +hot drink)

8:00   Morning puja

8:20   Walking meditation

8:30   Sitting meditation

8:40   Select and read a sutta and its commentary

10:40  Chant a sutta, and commit to memory of its verses

11:40  Prepare vegetarian lunch and mid-day puja

12:30 pm  Mid-day puja

1 pm  Lunch and wash up the dishes etc

2:30   Walking meditation

3:00   Sitting meditation

3:30   Clean the premises

4:00  Tea and a short study of comparative religions

6:00  Prepare dinner and evening puja

7:00  Evening puja

7:30  Dinner and wash up dishes etc

8:00  Walking meditation

8:20  Sitting meditation

8:40  End day with a chant of a sutta

9:00 pm Day ends

Edited by Sudhamma
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Grab a bucket of popcorn (no butter) and marathon a season of game of thrones, and think about the impermanence of life while I'm at it

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3 minutes ago, 子泰 said:

Grab a bucket of popcorn (no butter) and marathon a season of game of thrones, and think about the impermanence of life while I'm at it


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What is the essence of a true monk?


it is dedication to intentional suffering.


the intentional suffering of examining oneself and working toward a greater Self - the emergence of Presence and the loss of self.


the external vow is nothing more than an official declaration - an institutional way of letting parents and friends know - I'm out of general circulation - and a commitment of sorts to an institution / lineage / belief(dogma) / practice. The internal vow is as fleeting or not as marriage vows - with the exception that you can often move from one monastery to another if things are nagging at you and you don't need to change spouses. (Obviously it is all very serious and also somewhat glorious at the time of the vow taking - this is also true at many weddings).


in essence - one can be a monk at home everyday. While generally monks don't have sex, and so don't have kids, in reality this has nothing to do with the essence of being a monk.



But in the theme of having a Monk Weekend - and let's say you are an older wiser monk who has already put in lots of time "doing" the work of keeping the grounds well kept and preparing lunches and sitting in talks - then I would submit the following:


Wake up at 3:30 am and do 2-3 hours of sitting meditation (at least 2 and as many more as you wish).

Then if you wish you may go back to sleep for as many hours as you like.


If you wish, when you wake you can sit in bed and read or write - (spiritual matters - poetry...)


When you do get out of bed - and you need not get out of bed for hours - then shower and shave and greet the day in mindfulness.


Qi Gong or Tai Chi or Yoga Postures would be excellent at this time - at least 40 minutes


A good meal - most monks of eastern bent are either vegan, veganish or vegetarian.


A contemplative walk or sit outs, perhaps a row in a boat or a paddle on a SUP (stand up paddle board).

A walk in an orchard or vineyard or on a mountain top.


at about 5:30 another meditation sitting of at least one hour.


food if you like - could be big or small - make it with mindfulness and eat it with actually tasting and chewing it.

non-stimulant tea or drink (though green tea is fine). Make a special effort to be Very Monkish and say a prayer before eating - if you would rather not do this - then say it out loud and clearly without muttering and possibly with beads and a chant - monks generally thank the universe / God / etc prior to eating and it is a good way of setting the tone that you are having a Monks weekend.


another walk or aesthetically pleasing time to contemplate, enjoy presence and say hello to the you found in everything.


Sitting prior to sleep for at least 1/2 hour (to 3 hours).





Zero electronics on this special monk weekend - no noise (newspapers, magazines, TV, pads, podcasts, judgement inducing position taking intellectual head zoo stuff). Zero alcohol, drugs. sex.



Edited by Spotless
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In a Monk's weekend you schedule for yourself - you are not trying to create a great retreat for a group of people of all levels of practice - it will be your weekend. It is all about you and not a group getting the most of their $500.


For many, waking at 3am and meditating for 2-3 hours will have very real and wonderful consequences - one of which is that you may wish to sit in bed for the next 8-10 hours and that is possibly exactly what would be extremely Monkish if you were a wise old monk and suddenly felt overwhelmingly like putting off your chores - which in most monastaries is completely acceptable now and then - and just Being with the happening of you - and for some unknown reason sleeping all day.


Since this is not an everyday experience for you - on the first day of a non-group Monk weekend - you may wish to start with gumption and glide a bit on that into the later part of the day. The main part of it being a Monk's Weekend is gratitude, participation in stillness and a general participation in the "corny" side of openly being lighter and more in tune with the inclusiveness of "your" life with all of life.


It will be an oddly selfish / un-selfish weekend.



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