Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about mindfulness retreats with Per and Marion
Here are some questions we commonly get asked by people preparing to attend our courses and retreats. Let us know if you require any other information.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means awareness. It is a basic human quality and involves learning to focus and pay wise attention to what’s going on inside your mind and body, and in the outside world.
Our minds are easily distracted, often unhelpfully going over past events in our head and trying to anticipate the future. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing more clearly whatever is happening in our lives. At first, paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and sensations in the body may not sound like a very helpful thing to do. But research consistently shows that learning to do this in a particular way can have a measurably positive impact on our lives.
Mindfulness will not eliminate life’s pressures. But it can help each of us to respond in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, our body and our head. It helps us to recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. To notice our typical reactions to life’s events, and make better choices about how we respond. To feel more in control and have a greater sense of connection to our life.
Mindfulness is a practice, and provides us with a scientifically researched, systematic approach to cultivating clarity, insight and understanding. Contact us for more information and to book a place.
What to wear when meditating, will I get cold/hot?
Comfortable clothes and footwear. We will be meditating and also doing yoga and qigong (as per ability) so bring clothes both for sitting and for gentle movement/exercise. Check the weather forecast to get an idea of the temperature to expect. The weather is changeable but mostly warm and sunny. We advice to bring thin layers that you can peel off/put on as the temperature dictates. Likewise, if you are prone to feel the cold when sitting still, bring a set of warmer jumpers and trousers as well as some warm socks.
Do I need to hire a car to get to the retreat?
No, there is no need to have a car. The retreat is located twenty five minutes taxi ride from Faro airport and five minutes taxi ride from Loule train station. During the retreat you will be staying at QV Norrgren (unless other arrangements have been agreed and made) and all teachings will be held here as well.
I am allowed to leave the retreat centre during the course/retreat?
We encourage our students to remain on the premises during the course/retreat to maximize the benefits.
Why is the retreat seven days long?
We find that a seven days is a comfortable time for a retreat. It provides an essential introduction and foundation to the technique for the less experienced practitioners. Experience has shown that taught over seven days, the beginner student gets a sufficient experiential grasp of the technique to continue practice after the retreat. For the more experienced practitioner the seven days is enough time for the mind to settle down and work deeply with the mind-body phenomenon.
How many hours a day will I be meditating during the course/retreat?
See the sample schedule on the course/retreat information page.
I want to combine my trip to Portugal with some holiday before/after the course/retreat, where can I stay?
There are many good hotels/B&Bs in the Algarve. It all depends on your budget and interests (mountain/sea/rural/town/etc.). Let us know and we will try to help you to find a suitable accommodation for your extended stay. We also run B&B at certain times during the year and it might be possible to extend the stay with us after the retreat. Ask for details and availability.
Can I take a day off during the course/retreat for some local exploring?
Taking time off from the course for holidaying is not advisable and not something we endorse or allow. There is an element of transition time both in and out of the course/retreat that is un-avoidable and as such you will not get the benefit from the course/retreat if you suddenly take time out in the middle of course/retreat for other activities. If you feel you need a short break from the teachings during the course/retreat, that is fine and we will do our best in supporting your need/wish for some quiet time to your self at the retreat centre.
What language is used in the course/retreat?
The teaching is given in English.
How much does the retreat/course cost?
See the pricing on the course/retreat information page.
I use a special cushion/chair/stool to meditate, it is ok for me to bring this, please?
Yes, of course. It is important that you are comfortable when meditating, so bring what you normally use and know. Whilst we have some mats/stools/chairs/cushions, it is never the same as the favorite.
How are teachers paid to conduct courses/retreats?
Our teachers receive payment directly from inMindSight so therefore no donations or other material benefits are expected from our participants. A small tip directly to the staff at QV Norrgren to our cook and to our cleaner at the end of ten days is optional but always very welcome if you are happy with their service.
I can’t sit cross legged. Can I meditate?
Certainly. Chairs are provided for those unable to sit comfortably on the floor because of age or a physical problem.
I’m on a special diet. Can I bring my own food?
If your doctor has prescribed a special diet, let us know and we will see whether we can provide what you need. If the diet is too specialized or would interfere with meditation, we might have to ask you to wait until you can be more flexible. We’re sorry but students are required to choose from the food provided to them, rather than bring food for themselves. Most people find the vegetarian choices ample and they enjoy the food provided.
Can pregnant women attend courses/retreats? Are there any special arrangements or instructions for them?
Pregnant women may certainly attend, and many women come specifically during pregnancy to take advantage of the opportunity to work deeply and in silence during this special time. We ask pregnant women to ensure they are confident that their pregnancy is stable before applying. We provide the extra food they need and ask them to work in a relaxed way.
Why is part of the course/retreat conducted in silence?
All students attending the course/retreat observe our silent periods. We invite you to include in these periods the silence of body, speech and mind. Our students agree to refrain from communicating with their co-meditators during these periods. However, students are free to contact the management about their material needs, and to speak with the instructor. Continuity of practice is the secret of success in these courses/retreats; silence is an essential component in maintaining this continuity.
How can I be sure I am capable of doing the meditation?
For a person in reasonable physical and mental health who is genuinely interested and willing to make a sincere effort, meditation (including silent periods) is not difficult. If you are able to follow the instructions patiently and diligently, you can be sure of tangible results. Though it may appear daunting, the day’s schedule is neither too severe nor too relaxed. Moreover, the presence of other students practicing conscientiously in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere lends tremendous support to one’s efforts.
Is there anyone who should not participate in a course?
Obviously someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. The same is true of someone suffering from psychiatric problems, or someone undergoing emotional upheaval. Through a process of questions and answers, we will be able to help you decide clearly beforehand whether you are in a position to benefit fully from a course. In some cases applicants are asked to get approval from their doctor before they can be accepted. Let us know if you have further questions on this.
Can mindfulness cure physical or mental diseases?
Many diseases are caused by our inner agitation. If the agitation is removed, the disease may be alleviated or disappear. But learning mindfulness with the aim of curing a disease is a mistake that never works. People who try to do this waste their time because they are focusing on the wrong goal. They may even harm themselves. They will neither understand the meditation properly nor succeed in getting rid of the disease.
How about depression? Does mindfulness cure that?
Again, the purpose of mindfulness meditation is not to cure diseases. Someone who really practices mindfulness meditation might find that happiness and calm emerges from within and thus leads to balance in all circumstances. But a person with a history of severe depression may not be able to apply the technique properly and may not get the desired results. The best thing for such a person is to work with a health professional. Mindfulness meditation teachers are meditation experts and experts in teaching meditation, not psychotherapists.
Can mindfulness meditation make people mentally unbalanced?
No. mindfulness meditation teaches you to be aware and equanimous, that is, balanced, despite all the ups and downs of life. But if someone comes to a course/retreat concealing serious emotional problems, that person may be unable to understand the technique or to apply it properly to achieve the desired results. This is why it is important to let us know your past history so that we can judge whether you will benefit from a course.
Do I have to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness meditation?
People from many religions and no religion have found the meditation course/retreat helpful and beneficial. Mindfulness meditation is a set of mind exercises / meditation practices that if practiced diligently can lead to a new way of living and a new way of life. While it has its roots in the essence of Yogic and Buddhist meditation practice, it is not a religion or a religious practice.
Why do I have to stay for the entire seven days?
Mindfulness meditation is taught step by step, with a new step added each day to the end of the course. If you leave early, you do not learn the full teaching and do not give the technique a chance to work for you. Also, by meditating intensively, a course participant initiates a process that reaches fulfillment with the completion of the course. Interrupting the process before completion is not advisable.
Is it dangerous to leave a course early?
The point is that leaving early is shortchanging yourself. You don’t give yourself a chance to learn the full technique and so you won’t be able to apply it successfully in daily life. You also interrupt the process in the middle rather than letting it come to the proper conclusion. To get home a day or two early, you waste all the time you have invested.
How about the seventh day, when there are no silent periods and serious meditation stops? Can I leave then?
The seventh day is a very important transition back to ordinary life. No one is permitted to leave before the formal end of the course. If you can not commit to the full course schedule, let us know and we can work with you to find an alternative course date where you can fully participate and get the full benefits.