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When I was in my twenties, with a handful of sesshins under my belt, I decided to do a meditation retreat on my own. It seemed like a good idea; after all, I had a dedicated daily practice, knew the sesshin schedule by heart, and wanted to save some money. So while my parents took a vacation, I spent seven days alone in the suburban house I had grown up in, ignoring the phone and doorbell, trying to recreate our practice at the monastery.

The retreat was a dud. I read and slept more than I wanted and meditated less. I can recall only one insight from those seven days: I’m not ready to do a retreat on my own.

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