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Buddhadharma : Summer 2011
winter 2005| 62 |buddhadharma and a curiosity to try something new, I headed for a friend’s charming but simple lakefront cabin in northern Vermont. The cabin had no electricity or running water, but it did have a lovely view of a lake and the surrounding hills. During the nine days I was there, I heard many loon calls, but only a few distant human noises. Going solo worked much better this time around. Although I often lost my moment-to- moment focus, I was able to stay on task. I restricted my reading to inspirational dharma books, didn’t linger after meals, and meditated twelve hours a day. There were no dramatic real- izations, but I felt that being on my own allowed me to see some things that I might have missed in a group setting. Afterward, I wondered what had made the dif- ference between my first attempt and the more recent one. Was it simply years logged on the cushion, or were some other factors at play? Did a solitary retreat differ meaningfully from coreyn.m.Kohn When I WAs In my TWenTIes, with a handful of sesshins under my belt, I decided to do a medita- tion retreat on my own. It seemed like a good idea; after all, I had a dedicated daily practice, knew the sesshin schedule by heart, and wanted to save some money. so while my parents took a vacation, I spent seven days alone in the suburban house I had grown up in, ignoring the phone and doorbell, trying to recreate my practice at the monastery. The retreat was a dud. I read and slept more than I wanted and meditated less. I can recall only one insight from those seven days: I’m not ready to do a retreat on my own. About fifteen years and that many group retreats later, I tried again. motivated by sched- uling conflicts with my regular vipassana center Marshall GlickMan is the author of Beyond the Breath: extraordinary Mindfulness throuGh Whole-Body Vipassana Meditation and the puBlisher and editor of the enVironMental quarterly Green liVinG. A solitary retreat offers the opportunity to deepen one’s practice in profound and lasting ways. But it’s not without pitfalls. marshall Glickman reports on the benefits and drawbacks of Going Solo lAuriepeArceBAuer;spiritrocK