mokurai

What to bring on Retreat

For those who have not been on retreat before, here are some heplful tips about what to bring and/or consider in preparation:

Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
It is important not to restrict circulation while sitting; some clothing becomes uncomfortable after an extended period of sitting. For example, the heavy denim fabric of blue jeans bunches around the knees, and tight-waisted jeans or other pants can restrict the movement of the abdomen for deep breathing.

Sweatpants, sweatshirts, joga pants, and loose-fitting clothing in general, perhaps with elasticized or drawcord waists, are good for sitting meditation.

If possible, please try to wear subdued colors without (or minimal) logos or sayings, to minimize visual distraction for other participants.

Warmth
In the winter you may find the zendo to be cool, especially since we don't wear shoes in the zendo. You may want to wear socks, have an extra layer, or a shawl. Blankets and shawls are available at the zendo, but if you prefer your own feel free to bring it.

In the summer, or even at other times, you may be warm. Some people find this especially to be true as meditation can trigger the relaxation response, opening blood vessels and increasing blood flood to the skin, causing you to feel warm. In general, therefore, you may want to have layers to enable you to add/remove as necessary to stay comfortable.

Scents
Please avoid strong perfumes or scented shampoos, etc. These can be distracting for the person next to you.

Cell phones / electronics
The purpose of retreat is to minimize external distraction, for yourself and for others. We ask that you minimize the number of times you check your phone (we realize that folks may need to stay in touch with family or work) for your own benefit, and also that you remember to mute your phone for the benefit of others.

Dietary restrictions
Retreatants generally don't leave the zen center for meals, all retreatants eat the same meal together. Therefore, it is important to let the retreat organizer know of any dietary restrictions in advance, to ensure your needs are prepared for.

Bedding
The Atlanta Soto Zen Center has bunk beds and linens, but sometimes we have more attendees than bunks. Overflow is accomodated with foam mattress pads and even the benches/zabutons in the zendo, if necessary. Therefore, it is helpful if attendees bring sleeping bags, in case needed.

Toiletries / towels
During retreat many people are sharing the bathroom / shower facilities.  You should bring your own toiletries and also be aware that due to the highly structured schedule shower times are limited; many people follow the traditional practice of limited bathing during retreat.  Towels are availalbe, but you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer.

Cushion / bench
The zendo is well stocked with a variety of cushions (zafus and zabutons), benches, chairs, and blankets; therefore you can come without your own and expect to be able to find a comfortable seat.  However, you are welcome to bring your own cushion/bench as well.

Valuables
The zendo is open to the public, so you should be careful with your keys, wallet/purse, and other valuables.  Either lock them in your car, keep them hidden,  or keep them on your person.
 
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