Going on a Meditation Retreat is a joy for most people and for so many it proves to be a life-changing experience.
Besides just a lot of sitting you receive good instruction, share time with a good community of like minded people, usually practice some walking meditation and ask questions of the teachers. There’s a lot of time to reflect and it really is a time just for you.
After the retreat is finished you walk out the door, say goodbye to your new friends and teachers, and usually get in your car and start going through the traffic of the busy world. The idea of silence falls away and there is noise and action all around.
When you do get home there are kids, family and friends and all of the work of home life waiting there for you. Also you might have to think about going back to work too.
Continue Meditating After the Retreat
People want to keep the fruits of their learning at the retreat and this can prove to be a big challenge in the busy world.
The folks at Next Step Dharma have found a solution for adjusting after the retreat.
They have made the online program Next Step Dharma which is a combination of Guided Meditations, Dharma talks and readings, videos, discussion forums, social media and live calls all designed to help you bring the fruits of your meditation retreat into your daily life.
They know that people have busy lives and this course is designed to work around that life, so you can really choose how it fits in with your own schedule.
This course focuses on building your awareness and you don’t even have to have attended a retreat to join. The material is so rich that anyone can benefit from it and you can grow with the whole Dharma community that is also in attendance.
What the Course Contains
This course is an online program so when you join you arrive at the Course Curriculum page with the listings of all the six weeks of classes.
First there is the Introduction Section with seven segments which greets you and helps to familiarize you with the course curriculum and community plus has helpful advice about the course.
After the Introduction Section there are the six weeks of classes, each week has 10 – 12 classes with videos, Dharma talks and interviews plus 2 Bonus classes.
The teachers are a man and a woman, Oren and Jaya, who greet you in the Welcome and Introduction video. They are both gracious and lovely people and they share what the course contains.
Overview of the Course
The course will be looking at 3 different areas together:
First: integrating the experiences from your retreat. How do you bring that into your life? What’s the relevance of what happened on your retreat?
Second: Supporting your meditation practice. Really deepening your understanding of meditation and how it applies to ones life.
Third: Is that application really including all of ones life? Our work, our family, our friends, the challenges, making all of that fuel for our meditation practice and bringing it all together.
Within the course each week has a different theme. it will be looking at Mindfulness one week, Loving kindness another week, then Wisdom, Ethics, each week has a theme.
And within each week there are certain core components that will be present in each week. There will be some guided meditations to support your practice, there will be some Dharma talks and readings, and also there is the interactive component which is taking your practice suggestions, writing about them, reflecting on them and interacting with other people in the course so that you can not only reflect on your own experiences but also hear what’s happening for other people. This way you can get to have that mutual support and sharing with one another.
The Benefits of an Online Course
So one of the benefits of it being an online course is that you can pick up this material at a pace that suits you, so you can decide how you view it.
For some you might want to view the material over the weekend and spend the week digesting it, or you might want to chunk it up, watch the first Dharma talk and do a few things to reflect on that for the next couple of days and then pick up the next one. You really can take it at your own pace.
There’s a lot to learn and a lot to share, and the teachers look forward to journeying on this together.
When you are part of this course it is recommended to log in every day, even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Read a segment, view a lecture, or comment in a forum. they’ve specifically designed the length of the talks, interviews, and meditations to fit into a busy schedule.
Still you should take this course in the way that suits you best. There’s a lot of flexibility in how you take this material, so they leave it up to you to find the approach that works best!
Each week of Next Step Dharma contains certain main components:
1). Guided Meditations: Video and audio guided meditations, each about 20-30 minutes.
2). Dharma Talks: Three or more short talks from Oren and Jaya, each about 10 minutes long.
3). Core Integration Practices: Suggestions and instructions to integrate the practice into your daily routine.
4). Interviews & Readings: Articles and conversations with other Insight teachers on leaving retreat and daily life practice.
5). Discussions Forums: Interactive space to share reflections on how it’s going and ask questions about your practice.
Live Q & A’s
You are also invited to join in for live Dharma discussion with Oren and Jaya, your Course Leaders (and other guest teachers from time to time).
These calls are a key way to personalize the mentoring and support for your practice. They happen every 10-11 days, on weekend mornings and weekday evenings. You’ll receive invitations with more information by email.
If the regularly scheduled calls don’t work for you drop them a note and they’ll see what they can do to adjust. Sometimes the sessions are recorded and you can view them later.
“What happens if I fall behind?”
Each week you’ll get an email from them with a reminder to log in and a heads up about the content for the coming week of your program.
Since the pace of things today is busy, it’s pretty common to fall behind. Don’t worry about it, you can take as long as you want to go through the course.
You Might Need Help
If you need tech support just drop them a note at their email address or via the contact form on the website and they’ll do their best to get back to you as soon as possible!
About the Online Community
A key part of the course is connecting with others who are interested in practice, so they offer a range of methods for doing that: weekly discussion forums, an optional Peer Buddy, social media, and live Q&A sessions.
In the weekly forums you can discuss how things are going and ask questions about your practice. One of the course leaders will receive and reply to your posts.
In the forums you can contact others and ask questions, read others comments and interact with people who are also doing the course. The teachers participate in the forums as well.
About Peer Practice Buddy
Connecting with like-minded people and discussing the practice is a key component of the path, so an optional part of the course is having a Peer Practice Buddy to check in with. You can request a buddy in the online community by leaving a message.
Coping with Screentime
In the silence of a meditation retreat, we disengage from our cell phones, email, the news, and so many of the pressures and demands of our ordinary lives. After a retreat the coming back into a fast-moving world can be jarring.
It’s not uncommon for folks to log in to their email, find 100s of messages waiting, and emerge in a daze hours later thinking, “What just happened?”
Without careful attention and deliberate choices, we can easily find ourselves in a mixed up state, pulled into a stream of distraction. People spend a lot of time each day staring at a screen of some kind! Too much screen time can have negative physical, mental and emotional effects, like sleep disturbance or even social isolation.
So how do we fit it together, the retreat with no technology and this taking an online course?
The Aim of this Course
The aim of this course (and the practice in general) is to bring us into the world of presence and embodiment, to provide the tools to bring more awareness to life. This also includes how we relate to and interface with technology.
So taking this course can be seen as a practice in and of itself, using technology and yet being transcendent of it. As we progress in this course, we learn how to use our attention wisely, to counter the inner fragmentation and bring more of a sense of wholeness to our lives.
Each week they’ll offer some suggestions for integrating awareness into your life. You can be mindful as you login to the course and watch the video, treating the time you spend there as practice time.
You can set an intention to pause and breathe each time you login, giving thought and concern to staying focused as you progress.
You can notice the level of connection that you start to feel through the combination of videos, discussion forums, social media and live calls.
After the Retreat
After the retreat, it’s up to each person to take the skills they’ve learned and work with them. This course is very helpful and, while no one can do the practice for you, they can offer the information and encouragement to help keep your practice alive.
The course materials can help you with the teaching, the interviews can be both informative and inspirational, and the discussion forums and live webinars are there to answer your questions.
Remember to Care
Always remember to attend to vital activities like being outdoors, associating with good people, and the simple foundations of a healthy life like adequate rest, food, and exercise.
It might be hard to keep all those pieces flowing together in balance, yet the practice offers us the gift of awareness, which gives us more choice to steer our lives towards real well-being and inner happiness.
Introduction Section: Greets you and helps to familiarize you with the course curriculum and community plus has helpful advice about the course.
Week 1: Everyday Mindfulness theme
Week 2: Cultivating the Heart theme
Week 3: Seeing with Eyes of Wisdom theme
Week 4: A Vehicle for Happiness theme
Week 5: Working with Difficult Emotions theme
Week 6: Community
Closing Section: Contents include: Final Reflections, Falling in Love with Practice, An Interview ‘Words of Advice’, Gratitude and Generosity, and more!
This course Next Step Dharma is a 6 week course that is designed to use after the retreat to save your learning and meditation fruits, bringing them into your life in an integrated way.
The teachers Oren and Jaya are warm, generous and loving and also truly supportive in guiding you through the course, developing your meditation skills and practice.
We hope you have enjoyed this article ‘Meditation After the Retreat’ and we welcome you to leave any questions or suggestions in the comment section down below. We love to hear from you and please follow us on Social Media!
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