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!
Posted on Tue, May 29, 2012
by Rev. Dr. Arvid Straube filed under