Journal. Absolutely essential as a vent for anxieties or for whatever comes to mind (to-do lists, to-become lists).
Flashlight. For night travel down unfamiliar hallways. Also comes in handy on night walks in the woods.
Reading Material. This is the time to get to those thought-provoking books that are hard to concentrate on at home. Come prepared; you'll have lots of time for silent activities. Possibilities include Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea (reissue, Pantheon, 1991); Mark Epstein's Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart (Broadway Books, 1999); The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron (Shambhala, 2001); and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield (Bantam Doubleday, 2001).
Recorded Material. Check out The Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Grief Process by Stephen and Ondrea Levine, and Caroline Myss' Advanced Energy Anatomy (on tape and CD), all available at www.soundstrue.com.
Extra Pillow. For added comfort, propping up in bed to read, write, or contemplate.
Headphones. Important if you plan to bring your CD player for listening to music or inspirational recordings.
What NOT to bring
A Friend. This is not the time to catch up with an old college buddy. To get the most of your retreat, it's best to come alone.
Anything Form-fitting. Be comfortable. Besides, these getaways attract a sweatpants and baggy-shirt crowd.
Makeup or Jewelry. This is one vacation where you will have no use for either.
Perfume. Some retreats, such as Kripalu, ask that you leave at home anything scented, even deodorant, shampoos or soaps.
Vices. Do not bring alcohol, cigarettes, or electronic tools such as cell phones or laptops.
Tap Shoes. Think library when you are on retreat: Walk softly, whisper and go out of your way to stay out of the way of your fellow visitors.