Meditation Retreats UK
17th October 2018
Silent Meditation Retreats
Our meditation retreats UK seem to becoming very popular. More and more people seem interested in attending either a meditation day retreat, a weekend meditation retreat or longer, perhaps a seven day mindfulness meditation retreat.
But what is a meditation retreat? Normally our attention in life goes onto the people and things in our life. We have responsibilites; dogs need walking, dinner needs cooking, meetings take place, phone calls to do and so on. In all of thise activity is can be difficult to sense who we are and what we really want in our lives. A meditation retreat is a time and place where we take our attention away from the external responsibilites and to begin to pay attention to ourselves.
When we pay attention to ourselves I don't mean we think about ourselves. I don't mean we analyse ourselves or plan for the future. Nor do I mean we try to become a better person or to match some ideal we have in our head. Meditation is not about self development, not about reaching some spiritual high, not about dwelling in cosmic bliss, but about learning to observe and experience what is going on this very moment.
So a meditation retreat is set up to enable this process. There is a set programme each and every day. We get up perhaps at 6 or 6.30 depending on the programme. We have tea, we then have meditation until a little before breakfast. These are short 25 minute meditations, and interspersed with walking meditation. There is generally free time for a while until more meditation and teaching later in the morning.
Lunch is next followed by free time for a 2/3 hours in the afternoon. This is when people may walk, read, nap, or just sit around doing very little. For some this amount of space is a challenge at first but for others it is heaven. Their everyday lives are so very packed with busy-ness that they cherish this precious time doing very little.
If the mindfulness retreat is residential then we will meditate again in the later afternoon with teaching and mindful walking followed by dinner then an evening activity - a meditation or some chanting for whoever is interested. (I will at some point write about non-residential retreats)
At some point the retreat moves into a silent meditation retreat. For example, if it a seven day retreat we will go into silence after the first full day of being there and up until the last evening. Normally depending on arrival times this will be four full days of silence. It is during the silence that we begin to get serious. Meditation is like a mirror reflecting ourselves back, but when done in a longer silent period the reflecting back becomes clearer and clearer. What I mean is we begin to get a much clearer view of what is going on with ourselves. The mind may quieten, we may feel calmer or not but we are healing our lives. The point of a retreat is of course to have a break, to relax, but the greatest benefit is actually in our daily lives once we return home. There is a lot of melting away of our fixed, habitual beliefs and behaviours. This benefits not just ourselves but our loved ones, friends and colleagues too.
Some people are a little apprehensive about the silence, but invariable people love it. They find it a great relief just to spend time by them selves and not to engage in chatter just for the sake of it. Most don't want the silence to end. However, what is most interesting is that people feel they have got to know each other on a much deeper level that when talking. The silent meditation and slowing down also allows us to notice the world around us; the clouds, the grass and flowers, the wind, the colours and sounds, which we so easily miss in the busy-ness of life.
The programme is the same each day so we don't have to think about what to do. We just put ourselves into the programme and we benefit from it.
We run our longer meditation retreats in the UK, in Italy and in Spain. we run weekend retreats at our venue amid the stunning Charnwood forest in Leicestershire.
I do hope you can join us on a mindfulness retreat in the not too distant future.
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