Frequently asked questions
Select any of the links below for answers.
What happens on Retreat?
The first day of a retreat is an arriving and settling in day.
On arrival you will complete the formal registration required by the retreat center, and also a Pragya Trust registration form (if not already completed) and pay for your retreat.
You will be shown to your room and given a tour of the retreat center, and will have time to rest and meet some of the other retreatants before the retreat and silence commences.
The retreat will officially begin late in the afternoon with the retreat Managers opening talk. This is a practical talk where you are informed of the basic things you need to know for the next ten days. The Teachers then give their opening talks, concluding with a short meditation.
Then it’s time for dinner, which is will be a simple Indian vegetarian meal.
After dinner there will be another meditation then it’s bed time, or if you prefer you can do your own practice.
First full day and subsequent days:
The following morning is the first full day of the retreat and the program will commence before breakfast.
On some retreats there will be yoga followed by meditation, whilst on other retreats there will only be meditation prior to breakfast.
Breakfast is usually a simple Indian breakfast, sometimes with porridge, and usually accompanied with a piece of fruit and chai.
After breakfast on some retreats we have a work period (Seva) which typically lasts for an hour. During the work period everyone performs a simple task which helps the retreat center complete their daily work. Many retreatants find the practical work to be beneficial as a grounding contrast to one’s meditation practice. Typically chores are tasks such as sweeping, cutting vegetables, gardening etc.
The first meditation after breakfast is usually a guided meditation. One of the Teachers leads you into meditation and guides you to a deeper space.
Depending on the retreat schedule there may be walking meditation and more meditation in the hall before lunch, or alternately on some retreats the morning is then left free for one’s own practice.
Lunch is a simple Indian vegetarian meal.
After lunch retreatants have the opportunity to rest, go for a walk, do their washing etc or continue their own meditation practice.
Later in the afternoon one of the Teachers will give a talk, normally with a question and answer component, followed by meditation.
Dinner is a simple Indian vegetarian meal.
After dinner there is meditation and then it’s time for bed or to continue one’s own practice.
- The schedule will continue like this for the remainder of the retreat, with occasional minor alterations such as a group walk or outside meditation.
- On either the last full day or the concluding day there is the opportunity for retreatants to give Dana (make a donation) towards the work of the Teachers and Manager.
The concluding day of the retreat starts with meditation and breakfast.
Following breakfast there is another meditation followed by the Teachers final talk. There is then the opportunity for retreatants to make any concluding remarks. The silence then officially ends and the retreat is over.
Retreatants are free to socialise with other retreatants, and they then leave the retreat center.
What does my retreat fee pay for?
All fees paid go towards the running of the retreat. The money you pay at the start of a retreat pays for your room and for all of your meals, and goes directly to the retreat center. Other costs that your retreat fee pays for are the total retreat expenses for Pragya Trust. So as well as paying for your own bed and meals, all retreatants are collectively covering the costs of running the retreat, including bed, meals, and travel expenses (to and from retreat) of the Teacher and Manager, and some basic miscellaneous costs such as stationery.
In the event that there are any retreat funds left over, these are either donated to the retreat center in which the retreat was held, or used for future retreats. Pragya Trust makes no profit from retreats, and the Teachers and Manager receive no payment for the work they do, but do accept Dana.
What is Dana (Donations)?
Dana is the Sanskrit/Pali word for generosity or giving freely.
The teachings are offered freely and the Teachers and Manager receive no financial compensation for running the retreat. All course fees go toward the cost of accommodations, meals and other operational expenses only.
There is an opportunity to offer contributions to the Teachers and Manager at the end of your retreat. All donations to the work done by the Teachers and Manager are greatly appreciated.
Why are retreats in silence?
For most people, the silence of a retreat creates a space in which they can see themselves more clearly.
Retreat silence has many benefits. Periods of not talking help the mind rest. Silence settles the many emotions that are activated by talking and listening.
Silence allows for a heightened sense of intimacy with the world. In sustained silence our senses become more acute, and both the inner and outer world can appear to us with greater clarity. We may begin to notice the sounds or quieter thoughts we previously failed to hear.
The primary reason for silence on meditation retreats is to support our meditation practice. Silence helps keep our focus on our inner world, which is much easier when we don’t talk or actively interact.
What will I eat?
Meals are simple Indian vegetarian meals. Some spices may be present, but we endeavour to provide sattvic meals.
It is generally not possible for us to cater for retreatants with specific food allergies. You may bring your own food to a retreat, but we do not provide cooking facilities.
If you have any specific concerns please contact us.
When do I arrive at and leave the retreat?
Arrive on the scheduled first day of the retreat, and leave on the last day. You will receive a retreat information email specific to each retreat with suggested arrival and departure times.
It is preferable to arrive with sufficient time to complete all registration procedures, settle into your room, meet other retreatants, and familiarise yourself with the center before the retreat and silence commences.
The meals provided on the first and last day will be listed on the retreat information emails you receive specific to each retreat. Generally breakfast on the first day is not included, so please cater for yourself if you are arriving early.
On the final day we may be able to help with taxis and auto’s for leaving the retreat, but please make all major travel arrangements yourself prior to attending.
How do I register for the retreat?
Contact Pragya Trust firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with the registration information specific to each retreat.
What clothing should I pack?
Our retreats are held in traditional ashrams, and as such we ask all participants in the retreat to be respectful of Indian culture.
As a general guide;
For women: Please wear loose clothing that keeps your legs and shoulders covered. No shorts or singlets.
For men: Please wear clothing that keeps your legs and shoulders covered. No shorts that are above knee length.
What other essential items should I bring?
Please bring sufficient medicines, vitamins, supplements, etc. as you require. If you have an existing medical condition, bring enough of all prescription medicines to last throughout the retreat.
We ask that you anticipate your needs and bring unscented soap, body lotion and other hygiene products with you.
Please bring sufficient funds to pay for the retreat and offer Dana.
What other optional items might I want with me?
The following items are generally useful;
A wool shawl, yoga mat, candles, matches, toilet paper and toiletries, water bottle, laundry washing powder, batteries, torch (flash light), mosquito repellent, mosquito net, rain and sun protection, earplugs, and a padlock, if possible a number lock.
It can become hot during the day so you may need a hat and sunscreen, and if the weather changes (or in the evening and early morning) it can become cool, so please come prepared for varying temperatures and weather conditions.
What should I not bring or use on retreat?
Please don’t bring on retreat any strongly scented hygiene (perfumes/deodorants/aftershave) or laundry products, since these can significantly affect fellow retreatants with chemical sensitivities.
In addition please don’t bring ‘noisy’, rustling clothing.
What about the flu and illness?
With many people living closely together while on retreat it’s important that everyone take some simple steps to minimize the transmission of infectious diseases, such as the flu. We ask your help with the following:
— Please do not come on retreat if you are sick with flu symptoms.
— If you start to experience flu-like symptoms or feel ill while on retreat, please advise the retreat Manager immediately – they will assist with an appropriate course of action.
— While on retreat it is essential that all retreatants, staff and teachers clean their hands frequently and thoroughly, either with soap and water or using the hand sanitizer provided.
— Cover any coughs and sneezes.
— Use only the plates and cutlery issued to you at the start of a retreat.
What about sensitivity to fragrance and chemicals?
Because meditation retreat practice can lead to a heightened sense of awareness, some participants may develop a sensitivity to odors and perfumes, and some are allergic to many chemicals.
Please do not bring or use perfumes or scented shampoos, ointments or lotions, or laundry products containing strong fragrance. We suggest that you bring unscented products with you, if possible.
Is a retreat appropriate for me at this time?
An intensive silent retreat can be a positive and life transforming experience. At the same time, meditation practice can be strenuous and requires some stability of physical and psychological health.
If you have recently experienced considerable trauma, significant depression or anxiety, or are currently experiencing strong PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), a silent retreat may not be appropriate for you at this time in your life. A therapist can help you assess your situation, and whether it’s best to wait a while before attending a retreat. Sometimes daily life practice may be more beneficial.
If you are unsure please contact one of the Pragya teachers to discuss your personal situation.
What if I have a disability or chronic health issue?
Pragya Trust welcomes all who are genuinely interested in meditation and who wish to participate in our programs.
We strive to do our best to meet your needs, but as we are not using our own premises for retreats and have limited staffing we cannot guarantee that your needs will be catered for.
If you have a disability or chronic health issue, it is extremely important to let Pragya Trust know as soon as you are considering registering or applying for a retreat, so that we can discuss how retreat life may impact you, and the level of support that we can realistically offer.
Can I smoke?
Smoking is banned on our retreats and within the retreat centers, but you can go outside the premises to smoke if necessary.
We ask that you do not smoke immediately before any retreat activity, as the scent of smoking can linger for some time.
How do I contact you if I have more questions?
Please email us at email@example.com