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If the pandemic has you isolating yourself, consider a Covid retreat.

Buddhists like to go on retreats. This is obviously something of a luxury, but a retreat is a great opportunity to work on your practice. A quiet, or silent, at least for participants, period in which everyone who is on retreat will only meditate and maybe hear talks by Buddhist teachers. There are any number of facilities, in the United States and all over the world, where people go for retreats.

But you can also have what some call a “self retreat” at home. Obviously, the viability of a retreat at home will depend on a number of factors, especially the number of people you share your domicile with, if any.

But, if you have a quiet space to call your own and a sufficient food supply, you can set aside any number of days specifically for meditation practice and little or nothing else. A place for walking meditation between periods of sitting meditation is a great thing.

It’s pretty simple. As with all things Buddhist, don’t overcomplicate. Set a schedule. Get up early. The early morning is a good time to meditate. Meditate before breakfast. Then have a simple, light breakfast, and meditate again for as long as you can. Then walk for a while. Then sit for a while.

A rule for Buddhist monks from the days of the Buddha himself is that monks do not eat after noon, so lunch is usually the last meal of the day. If that’s not possible for you, don’t worry. You’re not a monk (I assume — if you are, you’re not going to let this column supersede the rules at your monastery, of course). Buddhists also tend to like the rule that you should not stuff yourself at any meal. Eat roughly eighty percent of what you want.

As your practice gets more advanced, you’ll find it easier to ignore your hunger, but if you’re a beginner, better to eat a light dinner if hunger distracts you.

The main point is to make meditation the primary activity for the day, all day, every day of your retreat.

If you have a lot of time on your hands during the quarantine, shelter in place, safer at home, or whatever you’re calling it during the Covid pandemic, a meditation retreat is a great way to make the most of that time.

Get Covid quiet.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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