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Returning From A Silent Retreat

For well over 20 years now, my main spiritual practice has been attending silent meditation retreats of 7-10 days.  These retreats are led by teachers of the Mindfulness Buddhist tradition.  I just returned Sunday, May 27, from a retreat with Shinzen Young, whom I have studied with for many years; www.shinzen.org. These retreats are conducted in silence, with the opportunity to consult with teachers and to meditate for up to 10 and a half hours a day.  I great deal of spiritual growth happens for me at these retreats and I try to attend at least one per year. 

The best way to explain the growth that happens is it accelerates my ability to focus with clarity and calm on my moment to moment experience.  It allows me to gradually be more present in my daily activities without being as distracted by anxieties about the future or mental stories about the past.  I've often preached on the benefits of meditation.  A daily practice is essential and research has shown that even as little as 20 minutes a day will literally remodel the brain to be less emotionally reactive and more calm and clear.  But I find that a retreat accelerates these effects many fold.

While one strives in these retreats to be aware only of the experience of the moment without being lost in thoughts, I find that some of this distracted "monkey mind", as Buddhist call it, can be creative.  I bring a notebook along to capture ideas that arise for sermon topics and illustrations, classes and blogs! 

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Uaewal wrote:
Yes I think they are of great value. Last year I made some great spiritual prgroess and this year I actually got to help others who are going through the things I went through. It's not just fellowshipping with others, although that is important, it is fellowshipping with people who know what you are going through in your life and know how to help you. It is also used for some like a sabbath. If it is a weekend retreat then it is a weekend of sabbath(rest and worship in the Lord). Life gets very stressful sometimes and people need a weekend that is peaceful. Not everyone likes them but if you haven't been to one I suggest you try it and see if you like it. I, personally, find it refreshing both in worldly and spiritual terms.

Thu, August 30, 2012 @ 12:04 PM

2. Syifa wrote:
Retreats are a means to look within overeluss in stillness and silence, to locate what may be missing in our lives, but to also appreciate what has always been there. They require that we set aside only the deadlines and obligations that besiege our daily lives and find solace and sustenance in comforting quiet and simple routines.The world is too much with us; late and soon,Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:Little we see in Nature that is ours William Wordsworth: Ultimately, the attraction is in the subtraction.

Tue, October 2, 2012 @ 10:48 PM

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