Hi all

I imagine this has been asked before so please feel free to direct me to older threads dealing with the same topic.

My kids are away with their mother for a week in August (at a Theravadin family camp incidentally) and I would like to take the time to do a five day (probably) at home Sesshin. I have done at home retreats before but not Sesshin which will be different. I have also never attended a Sesshin before whereas I know the format of other retreat types. I want to sit as much as I can but due to my chronic illness have to balance what I would like to do with what is physically possible/sensible. A 4.30 start is not feasible and an afternoon nap might have to be scheduled in.

So, questions:

1. From what I summise, Sesshin seems to largely consist of 40-50 minutes of Zazen followed by 10-20 minutes kinhin which is repeated between mealtimes with a short break after meals. Is this pretty much so?

2. Previously on at home retreats I have listened to one predetermined dharma talk each day as part of the practice. Is this a good idea or is it best to leave the mind with as little mental stimuli as possible?

3. I have previously journalled at the end of each day about practice, how I was feeling etc for future reference. Again, I have heard this be both recommended and not. Any thoughts?

4. Regarding food - is it good to have pretty much the same thing each day and plan this in advance? I know this is usually done in a ritualised way during Sesshin. How best to incorporate this?

5. Any other advice concerning conditions around the Sesshin? I will be leaving most electronic devices off (laptop, tv, radio etc) but have to have the cell phone on in case of my ex-wife or mother needing to contact me. I will not be reading dharma or other material. Contact with other people will not be sought but I might have to talk to the postman or someone knocking at the door!

Thank you in advance