The speed of life
How is it that life continues to move faster as the months and years go by? How can we cultivate the inner equilibrium and peace to enjoy life? Going on retreat is one way to slow things down and renew our appreciation and energy to fully engage with life.
What is a spiritual retreat?
First of all it is a designated time – long or short – to withdraw from worldly activities in an environment that offers quiet and freedom from distraction. It is a time to step back from external stimuli, our job, daily responsibilities, from the news, from planning, projects, from society at large. Retreat provides positive conditions for going inward, for stilling our energies so we can attend to the motions of our deepest being.
Secondly, spiritual retreat offers the opportunity to hear and absorb teachings, to discover new viewpoints. And finally, retreat is the ideal time to practice; each practice session builds on the previous one. There are no distractions to wash away the benefits of each sit or mindful action, as so often happens day after day in the usual course of events.
Stepping out of the usual routine
By stepping away from our routine, retreat affords us the opportunity to feel, notice, and become aware of our present life situation – inner and outer. The perspective we gain may enable us to re-enter life in a way that will more effectively support our practice and values. A lot can happen in a short time during retreat; it is a very focused opportunity for understanding and transformation to arise.
Stillness and silence are very difficult to find during our usual busy weeks, filled with tasks, phones, computers, family, travel, financial concerns, and so on. Retreats are quiet, sometimes even completely silent for several days. The silence enables us to hear our inner voice. Silence, listening, meditation, and mindful activity are deeply nourishing. Retreat enables us to reach deeper and more consistent concentration in our meditation. This in turn supports the arising of wisdom and realization.
The presence of others
Sharing a retreat with others creates unity. Communication often becomes naturally positive and supportive. The sangha is strengthened through retreat. One’s personal relationships are strengthened from the time we spend away on retreat as we clear away the unnecessary and reconnect with the essential.
If we wish to serve others, to improve our own life and to benefit the world, we need retreat. We must continually contact the inner springs of wisdom and compassion within by stepping into the quiet, clearer space of retreat.
Aryaloka offers frequent weekend retreats and periodic weeklong retreats. Expand your horizons; step to a new level. Come on retreat!