Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Being on retreat

Learning dance moves on the lawn in front of Plas Glansevin
Last week I was on retreat in mid Wales.  If I ever mention to people that I am going on retreat they always say things like “Oh how wonderful – that must be so relaxing.”  Hmm... well... yes retreats are enjoyable, inspiring... and also quite exhausting.

I am not a morning person and I find the early start to the day challenging.  Even if I have had sufficient sleep the night before I am still not at my best in the early morning.  Retreats also involve a lot of sitting and listening, with a need to be present and alert, and this is quite tiring.  Then we have short bursts of intense activity such as practising sKu mNyé (Tibetan Yoga).  On this retreat we were learning cham (dance).  As I get older I find retreats more and more physically demanding and am usually pretty tired the week afterwards.

So retreats are not exactly relaxing – are not like a holiday.  There is however the sense of the mind relaxing into the spacious warmth of a retreat.  It is wonderful to be among a group of tantrikas for a whole week.  They are an extraordinary group of people with great integrity, commitment and energy – Vajrayana warriors.  We laugh a lot.  It is good to have the opportunity to meditate for two hours at a stretch every morning and to work with others to further interesting projects in the afternoons.

This was also a special retreat because we had an ordination and a wedding.  The last day was full of celebration.  We usually have two retreats a year with the Lineage Lamas but there will not be another one this year as we are having a pilgrimage to Nepal instead.  More on that in the weeks ahead.

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