Surprisingly, yes, but not always. We have had many total beginners enjoy attending this retreat, but not everybody had a positive experience. Normally, people would not attend a week-long retreat as their first step in learning meditation. Ideally, one would do a few day-long or weekend retreats first, building up to something longer. However, our retreat on Star Island is designed to be gentler than many traditional meditation retreats, making it more manageable for beginners who want to dive straight into the deep end.
Here are some key points for beginners to consider before registering:
- Formality — We sit still, quiet and upright together in formal sessions. When you sit by yourself, you start and stop at will; when you sit in a group, everybody starts and stops at a predetermined time. And in a formal group there is a certain “peer pressure” to support one another by staying put for the entire period. See our schedule.
- Group Practice — A spirit of mutual support and cooperation is key to making it a successful retreat for everybody. See our group sitting page for more.
- Discomfort — Retreats push you through periods of discomfort in a way that usually only happens on retreat. At some point, you will want to quit, and then you will have to go through a process of finding a spirit of endurance — like a long distance runner.
- Posture issues — Many imbalanced and unstable postures can suffice if you are only meditating for an hour or two. On retreat, however, unstable posture tends to break down, and you need to learn on-the-fly how to adjust and find something more optimal that suits your body type.
In general it’s important to realize that meditation retreats aren’t all peaceful and mellow. At times, everybody in the group will go through difficult stretches. But don’t let that scare you away! Part of what makes retreats so powerful is the way they take you into new areas — sometimes pushing you, sometimes carrying you.
Retreat leader David Scheuneman and the rest of the group are there to help you along the way.
For some valuable orientation, see the recommended reading on our links page.