Preparing for Retreat

Here is a page that outlines some things you need to know about preparing for the Know Wonder retreat in November. Reading it will significantly improve your retreat experience. You will no longer be getting this level of detail via email. If you’re really not going to read this, at least check out the TL;DR at the end.

When you register, or 6 weeks before retreat, write with the following:

  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have any dietary restrictions? (The menu is vegetarian, if you require meat or fish let me know.)
  • Do you (or might you) have a car available to offer others a ride?
  • Do you need a ride?

Practice between now and then
Don’t treat the retreat as your opportunity to de-stress! The clearer and more present you can be BEFORE you arrive, the better. Retreat is a big commitment of time, energy, and money. This is a significant investment on your part, but what you get out of it will be MUCH greater if you follow the guidelines below.

  • Make your practice firm. Do it daily.
  • Empty your calendar as much as you can to ensure a quiet week before retreat.
  • Try to do nothing at all for a period of time each day. If that really doesn’t work for you, then a quiet walk alone is almost as good.
  • If you’re familiar with Qi Gong, do it daily (3 each of the 8 brocades, that is) after your morning practice. It will help to balance your energy. Here’s a link to George Draffan’s excellent guidebook in PDF.

What to bring

  • Bedding and body towel
  • Your own meditation cushion, if that’s important to you
  • A cushion, pad or blanket for underneath your cushion, if that’s important to you
  • A notebook
  • Flashlight (preferably a dim one)
  • Earplugs, if that’s important to you
  • Water bottle
  • Warm clothing, we’re spending time outside! Also shawl or small blanket of some kind is great.
  • Cool clothing (like t-shirts) as it can get quite warm in the practice room with the sun shining in
  • Slippers (the building is a shoe-free zone)
  • Checkbook and envelope (if you want to make a teaching donation by cheque)

Nobody sleeps well in retreat. If you’re sensitive to snoring, rustling, people talking in their sleep, etc., bring earplugs and prepare to practice patience and compassion.

What not to bring

  • The retreat is a scent-free zone, so please don’t bring any perfumes, colognes, scented toiletries, etc.
  • Harmony Dawn supplies shampoo, conditioner or body wash so no need for that.
  • Harmony Dawn is off the hydro grid (they generate their own power from solar, wind, and a wee bit of diesel) so please consider that if you plan to pack power-consuming items.

Smartphones: Harmony Dawn has a phone and can take emergency calls for you. But you may feel the need for more immediate contact with the outside world: aging elders, work emergencies… Use your own judgment about if, and how, you relate to your smartphone while in retreat.

Payment for food and accommodation is due 3 weeks before retreat, and is paid directly to Harmony Dawn.

Teaching donation
The fee you pay to Harmony Dawn covers expenses only. At the end of the retreat you will have the opportunity to offer a donation directly to the teacher in appreciation for the teaching and the effort that went into making this retreat happen. The amount is optional, and obviously must depend on your ability to pay, among other things; whatever the amount, your generosity is very deeply appreciated. The donation can be made by cheque or interac e-Transfer.

Getting to Harmony Dawn
Please plan to arrive between 4pm and 6pm on Friday. That means leaving Toronto before 2pm. This is important.

Directions to Harmony Dawn
GPS: 800 Baxter Road, Roseneath (or Hastings)

  • Take 401 east from Toronto and exit at Cobourg (Exit 474, about 1 hr from Toronto), taking County Rd 45 north, signposted to Norwood. Go thru Baltimore, Fenella and Roseneath. Roseneath is about 20 mins from 401.
  • Continuing on the 45 after Roseneath for 5.6 km, turn left (west) on Baxter Rd.
  • Travel 2.4 km along Baxter Rd past the first intersection, which is at the bottom of a steep hill. Continue straight another 1.3 km to Harmony Dawn, which is #800 Baxter Road. There is a blue “800” sign on the left side of the road at the entrance to the retreat.
  • Drive up the hill to the building for drop off purposes but please park your car in the parking lot just before the culvert.
  • Call 705-696-2066 if lost

TL;DR in six points

  1. Tell us about allergies or dietary restrictions asap
  2. Need people with cars to offer rides
  3. You’ll find a list of things to bring/not bring above
  4. $ for food and accommodation due 3 weeks before retreat
  5. $ for teaching due at end of retreat
  6. Arrive between 4pm and 6pm on first day