Our primary intention at True North Insight is to provide supportive conditions for the cultivation and development of tranquility, wisdom, kindness and compassion. Our retreats are based on Insight Meditation, emphasizing the application of mindfulness, meditative inquiry and other supportive practices. TNI offers teacher-guided retreats suitable for both new and experienced meditators.
Schedule The daily rhythm of TNI retreats varies slightly from one teacher to another. A typical daily schedule begins at about 6:00 am and ends about 9:30 pm. The day consists of alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation using a variety of forms, including mindfulness of the breath, of body sensations and of mind, and the cultivation of metta, or friendliness. Teacher guidance is provided through instructions, guided meditations, daily dhamma (dharma) talks, and interviews that may be in small groups or individual.
Silence Our retreats are held in silence, offering the experience of solitude within the support of a group. Not intentionally communicating with others through speaking, notes, telephone or other forms of contact allows oneself and others to more readily settle into the flow of the retreat, and supports the arising of tranquility and insight. Within the silence there will be opportunity to meet with the teacher(s) and ask questions. The teachers and the retreat manager are available for your support when needed. Silence is usually broken near the end of the retreat to allow for a sharing of experience and to facilitate connection with others on retreat.
Noble silence fosters a sense of solitude and helps to provide a space for quieting the body-mind. It provides an atmosphere that supports and facilitates the inner unfolding of insight and the deepening of meditation. As a support for the inner and outer silence of all, retreatants must agree to refrain from reading, writing, listening to music, using cell phones or other electronic devices, or other forms of communication during the retreat, which includes communication with other retreatants, either by notes, eye contact or body language. This will allow you to be in community with others in a supportive, respectful way. Retreatants may communicate with teachers and manager when it is necessary. Individual teachers
might modify these instructions about maintaining silence at the retreat.
Ethical guidelines Retreatants are asked to practice the five traditional guidelines, or precepts, for the period of the retreat:
- I undertake the training to refrain from taking life.
- I undertake the training to refrain from taking anything that is not freely offered.
- I undertake the training to refrain from sexual activity.
- I undertake the training to refrain from telling lies.
- I undertake the training to refrain from using alcohol or any substances that lead to carelessness.
Meals are nutritious vegetarian with some dairy. The main meals of the day are breakfast and lunch, with a light offering in the evening. Galilee is able to accommodate sensitivities to gluten and dairy only. For those who have other food restrictions, the cook will provide a plain, non-gluten grain, a plain vegetarian source of protein (beans, lentils, etc.), and a plain vegetable.
What to bring Meditation cushion or bench (chairs are available at the centre), a blanket or mat for under your knees. Most retreat centres provide bedding (sheets, towels, blankets, pillows, and pillow cases). Bring your toiletries, necessary medicines, indoor shoes or slippers, alarm clock.
Clothing We recommend that you come well prepared with clothing selected for comfort rather than style. Please do not bring clothing made of “noisy” fabrics such as nylon.
What not to bring As a support for inner calmness and silence, participants are encouraged not to read. It is therefore suggested you avoid temptation by not bringing any books, as well as no cell phones, beeper watches, candles, or incense.
As some people are particularly sensitive to odors and chemicals, you are asked not to bring or use any perfumes or scented toiletries.
Participation in TNI Retreats A teacher may ask someone to not participate in a retreat or to leave a retreat that has begun if, in the teacher's judgment, a person's participation or continuation in the retreat would not be in the best interests of that person or of the other participants.