In general, attendance at the jhāna retreats requires prior silent retreat experience, substantial self-reliance and self-discipline, and some skill in working with the hindrances. Specific requirements will be provided in the registration information. Students who attend Shaila’s local programs may be exempt from these pre-requisites and may approach these retreats as a first taste of silent retreat. If you do not have prior experience with residential retreats, speak to Shaila at a local event, or contact the retreat registrar to request an exemption, describing your daily practice and intention for the retreat.
Jhāna practice can be a suitable approach for both beginners and advanced practitioners, but there are practical reasons why Shaila generally requires prior retreat experience. First, skill in working with the hindrances is a necessary basis for entering jhāna. Because the instruction periods in the jhāna retreat are used for teaching concentration skills, a general mindfulness-based retreat may provide a better foundation for the beginning meditator who wants to learn basic mindfulness practices and tips for working with the hindrances.
Second, the jhāna retreat includes self-scheduled periods in which participants are expected to be able to practice diligently and understand how to benefit from a silent retreat environment.
Students who wish to train in jhāna practices are expected to have read Focused and Fearless prior to attending this retreat.