The first time I went on a meditation retreat, I could not for the life of me imagine how I could find the time for it. Between teaching, running my yoga studio, and doing my own yoga practice, it was never going to happen.
Then it dawned on me. I could just take out my diary (this was well before google calendars) and mark out the required days. So, I did. I drew a line through the ten days that the vipassana retreat was scheduled for and made a mental fence around those dates. Subsequently, everything fell into place. I recruited help for looking after the studio and got cover for my classes. That first retreat was an unforgettable experience–one in which I came home to myself. The first few days of the retreat were a bumpy ride…the boredom for one thing! But, as my focus improved and I became more present, the meditation periods became interesting.
Benefits of retreating
Over the course of several years, I’d forgotten how valuable the experience of going on retreat is, that is, until I recently did an eight-day course. This particular retreat was partly in silence, so it seemed like the volume level of my busy mind was turned up. Once I became more acutely tuned into my thinking, it was possible to put a little wedge in there, an interruption, that gave space for choice. Did I want to be thinking these thoughts, or would I rather be listening to sounds, or seeing the fresh greenness of spring?
Another benefit I discovered was a kind of outpouring of creativity. Because I was out of my normal home/work environment, I felt like I had some perspective on the direction my life was going. I asked myself if everything I was doing was really what I wanted or needed to do? That’s a really powerful question and led to wondering, ‘What is it that I do want in my life?’
When my mind was quiet, in the quiet of the Australian bush, with few distractions, it came to me: the bottom line is I want to receive and express love. So simple. I’m blessed in that I have the perfect vehicle for giving and receiving love–yoga teaching. So, outwardly perhaps nothing’s changed, except the sharpness of my focus. And, that is everything!
A yoga retreat for you?
By the way, I’m happy to be announce that I will be teaching a weekend retreat in a beautiful bushland setting south of Sydney October 31-November 2. There will be sessions on asanas, pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra. This is the IYTA’s (International Yoga Teachers’ Association) annual retreat, so the participants will all be teachers. Non-members of the Association are welcome, as well. For more information and/or to book for this event, check out the IYTA events page.