The importance of retreat…

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A couple of weeks ago I had the experience of going on a magnificent qigong retreat with Open Sky Qigong. Surrounded for 5 days by beautiful people in tranquil surroundings, having time to contemplate and cultivate, it was truly a wonderful experience.

The normal modern world in which we reside is extremely mentally stimulating. Actually, I don’t think we have the language to adequately express how much sensory stimulation we are exposed to on a moment by moment basis. The modern marketing machines sole purpose is to infiltrate our consciousness, and with so many competing forces clamouring for our attention we are bathed in an information soup that we are ill-equipped to constantly handle. This is without mentioning the information we choose to ingest from media, TV, internet, games… the list is endless!

Is it any wonder why we have difficulty in deciding what we want to do with our lives, what activities actually resonate with our deeper selves, how we can deepen our brief individual experiences on our planet Earth? Throughout history, spiritual traditions of all cultures have taught techniques to help quiet our inner chatter, through prayer or meditation, conscious movement or simply through present awareness. Through these practices one can undergo a brief mental retreat, allowing precious moments of stillness to punctuate ones everyday existence.

In our busy lives however, such moments may be fleeting, with consistent daily practice often a distant dream. Giving yourself the gift of time away in quiet reflection, time away to concentrate on those things that you know are so important, time away to connect with your deeper self, is profoundly powerful. Many feel unable to do this, fearing that those in their lives will be unable to cope in their absence. While it may be difficult to organise initially, undergoing a period of spiritual incubation will have untold benefits to you, and all those that surround you. You will receive a new perspective on your life and the spiritual strength to make difficult decisions upon your return. The whole world benefits from your time away.

I hope you can give this gift to yourself soon.

Have you gone on retreat? What did you learn? If not, why not? What’s holding you back?

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Showing 6 comments
  • Feather Stone
    Reply

    Hi Simon: Thank you for ‘follow’ of my Twitter, FeatherWrites. I came here to learn more about you and enjoyed the first post I read, above. Yes, I’ve been on several retreats. Some were organized by Dr. Deepak Chopra (meditation), another by a Buddhist nun (silent retreat, meditation), a few with a Shaman teacher. Mostly I take time to visit my mountain home (Jasper, Alberta – home away from home), in a cabin by the Athabasca River. Like you said regarding the impact of our world on our sense, I crave the solitude for a few weeks each year. What I learned? Mostly I came in touch with what is at my core, my passions that I need to honour and devote time to instead of letting others distract me with their needs. Thank you for your post. I will be stopping by often. I invite you to visit my blog at featherstoneauthor.blogspot.com
    Feather

    • Simon
      Reply

      Thank you Feather for your comment. You sound like you have been on some amazing retreats!

  • Paul
    Reply

    I agree that time in retreat is so important. My experience is that after two or three days away from the media and social pressures, the mind naturally settles into pure, silent awareness. I still remember my surprise when I first experienced this quite a few years ago, and I continue to make time for retreats regularly.
    Paul

    • Simon
      Reply

      Glad to hear it Paul! I agree that is in our nature to settle into such a state of peaceful awareness, it is a shame that the modern world we have created for ourselves so often stands in the way of this! Keep enjoying your retreats and thank you for your comment!

  • Andi
    Reply

    Dear Simon,

    Without sounding pityful, I am a hard working single mother with 2 jobs. I just about scraped enough money together to get my Reiki II practitioner’s qualification. I am always reading about these beautiful retreats and believe me I manifest them in my mind where I feel I am there, but I have no idea how people afford these retreats without money! This is by no way an attack on those fortunate to go on these retreats but I think there is a lesson here to be learned. A mother with no money yet I have full abundance of self peace. Self healing every day is deeply spiritual and through mediatation leads me to beautiful places that only one can dream off. I would love love love to afford somewhere warm (especially for my back injury) to lose weight through pilates, gain a more deeper connection with the universe and to be the best I can be in my physical form. So, do we go to tropical, beautiful places just to absorb the sun and be in the moment? or do we fit reality, that at a time, where no money was enough to travel anywhere, we seek our peace and acceptance of fitting where we are without the need to materialise. Love and Light. Andi xxx

  • Toolah
    Reply

    Yes, I have been on retreat several times and each time I have loved it and not wanted to go back.

    In 2009 I happened to come across the website of a Benedictine Community of monks, who reside in Northern Ireland. I immediately knew this was no coincidence and I visited the monastery for the first time at Easter 2010.
    Since then I have been back many times and the monks are now like dear beloved family to me. I simply cannot imagine my life without this beautiful place and it’s lovely people, and in 2011 I became an Oblate of the community.

    I have experienced the most wonderful peace and quiet, great hospitality and delicious meals, opportunities for meeting many of the local people and making new friends. I have found MY spiritual home and a family of brothers I didn’t know I had… I have found God who until that first visit was no more than a distant and abstract figure in my life.
    I give thanks every day for having been given so much and I wish for others that they can be given their own experiences.

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