Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Meditation Retreats - what they can offer

In the second half of 2012 I had the opportunity to experience 2 extended meditation retreats. One was 21 days & the other 14 days.

·        The 21 day silent retreat, with a small group of Enneagramers as participants. This was held at Andelaine in the Numinbah Valley, Qld & was lead by David Burke. The retreat was structured according to the Christian Contemplative tradition with 7 meditations sessions a day - every 3 hrs between 3am &  9pm. This retreat was in silence.

·        The 14 day meditation intensive was at the Pranic Healing Arhatic Ashram, near Pune, India over the Christmas/New Year period. The structure of this program was a spiritual practice in 3 blocks of time with 2 meals each day. The sessions began 7am & finished by 10pm with an inner reflection/siesta break between 1pm & 3pm. There were 45 participants from around the world.

Meditation allows me to create a space & a possibility to observe not only the passions but also the calmness & stillness that inhabit my inner world.
The passions (as described by the enneagram) create the chaos & havoc in my life.
This chaos & havoc distracts me from the experience of love.
How can I know what love is?
The enneagram gives me a description of the fruits or manifestations of love in my day to day life.
The fruits or manifestations of love are called virtues.
The virtues, of course, are tolerance, humility, authenticity, gratitude, generosity, courage, patience, moderation & right action.

Diving deeper into my inner world (through the structured mediation retreats) brings up the issues of obedience and discipline & so tests my ability to follow simple instructions.
Such environments are magnificent opportunities to push the boundaries of my usual practice (& non practice).
I get to build momentum & capacity to experience love (the Divine) & to develop a more healthy & happy life.
What are the consequences of these activities for me?
·        Peace & inner calmness become deeper
·        Motivation is increased to continue a spiritual practice each day.
·        I am reminded of the importance & value of regular inner reflection. 
·        Character defects are more visible. Allowing me a better chance to become more aware & conscious of what I am creating.
·        An inner quiet is increasingly accessible.

A discipline recommended to build your meditation practice is to:
Set aside time once or twice each day for meditation
Set aside one day a month for 3-5 sessions of meditation
Set aside 1-2 weeks a year for a meditation retreat.

The inner world is such a rich place to rest & as De Mello says ‘the world is only right when you are right’