Our world today is teeming with information and demands, both real and self-imposed, on our mental and emotional resources. Everyday life can feel like trying to catch water from a firehose with a teaspoon. A retreat is meant to offer a time away from our everyday habits, of seclusion in both body (kaya-viveka) and mind (citta-viveka) so that we can connect more deeply with ourselves and the world.
But while meditation practice is ultimately a solitary undertaking, an opportunity to explore our own inner relationship to clinging, suffering and letting go, we’re not meant to be alone on the path. The Buddha offered many teachings on the importance of being around wise and dedicated people as a way for practitioners to be uplifted and inspired. The past couple of years have brought a mixed blessing to those yearning for this kind of spiritual friendship (kalyana mitta). Wonderful opportunities sprung up around the country – even the world – for live Zoom classes and retreats, enabling those not living near a meditation center or teacher to fully engage. And at the same time, opportunities to be in-person, feeling the tangible energy of a still meditation hall and the supportive rhythm of a collective aspiration (literally and figuratively), all but disappeared. Happily, IMCW has joined other centers around the country in reinstating a wide array of hybrid retreat options coming up this year, as we’ve adjusted to a new way of being together that includes everyone while maintaining an emphasis on safety.
The schedule of a residential retreat allows you to turn off clocks and alarms, and surrender to the flow of the day. The loving container held by the teachers, managers, and retreat center staff is a rare gift, a time for “being alone together” in which to touch inner stillness and hone compassion and concentration. Living the practice in such a continuous way over a week or long weekend often has the added benefit of helping participants recommit with more vigor to daily practice when they return home. One retreatant commented,
“Practicing at home for 30 or so minutes at a time when I can is great, but on retreat, I’m really able to drop in much more deeply. And the peace generated stays with me for a long time.”
Another benefit of residential retreat – whether you choose the in-person or at-home option – is the opportunity to learn from and practice with teachers you might not otherwise be exposed to. Though you might already be familiar with a certain practice or teaching, different teachers bring their own life experiences and wisdom to their sharing. Our IMCW retreat teachers have diverse backgrounds and perspectives that are sure to bring the practice to life for you in a new way.
Whether you’re new to retreat or an experienced veteran, we hope you’ll join us for one of our upcoming hybrid (in-person or Zoom) weekend or weeklong retreats. Our community welcomes you just as you are, and we look forward to dropping into the stillness together.
“Apply yourself to solitude. One who does so will see things as they are.” (S.III15)