19 January 2015

Time to retreat?

Need a break? Want to review your priorities, maybe transform your life? This blog focuses on the busyness of modern life and the value of personal retreats, but first

Thought for the Day

Do you have the patience to wait

till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

till the right action arises by itself?

Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching 

Met an old friend recently. How are you I enquired? "Really busy thanks" came the common response, accompanied by a satisfied smile.

It seems that for many people these days being busy has become something of a badge of honour. Certainly there can be great value in being productive and useful, but what of balance? What if the busyness leaves no time for peace, no time for reflection, no time to reassess, reaffirm or redirect our priorities?

For some it seems busyness is actually a modern variation on old-fashioned laziness. These days, the more we have to do, the less we have to think! At least, the less we have time to think about what may be challenging, difficult or even just really important in our lives.

So amidst this busyness, there has never been more need to consider going on retreat. Retreats offer more than a holiday. They are best when they do combine the elements of some R and R along with time for learning, reflection, review and preferably meditation. Simple food, time to be on your own and ideally a spiritual theme or atmosphere. Time to spend time with your self. Time to get to know your self a little better. Time to reappraise priorities and to go forward in life.

So, do you need a break? Feeling stressed? Feeling like the busyness is a bit much and you have lost the plot a little? Feeling like you need to give some time to your self - to regain the balance, to refocus your priorities?

In my view, amidst this busy lifestyle so many of us seem to be caught up in, at least one retreat a year is mandatory. His year, as well as leading several, I will be going on three for myself.

Now I know it is easy to justify why we do not have the time or space to go on a retreat. We are so busy aren’t we? And how will everyone else cope? But if not now, when? If not now, maybe 20 years go by and you wake up one day wondering what was that all about?

Maybe going on retreat is not only good for us, but good for our family, our friends and our work. When we are in balance and have some inner peace and contentment, not only is our physical and psychological health sure to be better, our capacity to work and be helpful will be greatly enhanced. Maybe having the parents being away for a while is actually good for children and helps them with independence and appreciation. Now there is a radical thought.

There are a wide variety of retreats available. Many spiritually focused groups offer them, but so do more secularly aligned places. Ruth and I offer a range of meditation retreats where of course the primary focus is on meditation. We always touch on elements of what makes for a healthy lifestyle and provide time for personal development and reflection, rest and regeneration.

Also, each of our retreats has its own particular theme. This year, Meditation in the Forest will focus on the experience of the deep stillness of meditation – the essence of meditation. Meditation and the Inner Journey will provide instruction in how to access our own inner wisdom and intuition more directly, while Meditation Under the Long White Cloud will delve into the practice of contemplation.

Over the years Ruth and I have see many people transform their lives at these programs. However, while going on retreats with like-minded people is wonderful and has many benefits, some people I know simply take the phone of the hook, do not answer the door and arrange their own home retreat. Or go to a place of their own choosing and create their own retreat atmosphere and conditions.

Given it is the start of another new year, why not make a plan? Give yourself a real treat and go on a retreat! It all starts with the intention.

Ruth and I are currently attending Sogyal Rinpoche's annual retreat. Rinpoche teaches directly for 2 hrs or more each day. Then there are videos of his best recent teachings, along with time for meditation and other practices. 600 people including 120 children with their own specific program. Great company! This year's theme is "The Wisdom of Awareness". Very beneficial.

Full details are on the website, click here


Take time out from the busyness of everyday life; spend time with your self
Slow down, reflect, contemplate – regain perspective, vitality, balance and clarity
Deepen your understanding and experience of mindfulness and meditation

Please note: While these retreats are designed to meet general needs, the programs are well suited to meditation teachers and health professionals seeking personal and professional development. Some health professional organisations may accept these programs for Continuing Professional Development requirements and they can be used by those applying for registration with ATMA. If you need more detail on this aspect of the retreats, please email info@insighthealth.com.au.

Yarra Junction    March 27th to April 2nd  2015

During this meditation retreat, we will be focusing upon the deeper stillness of meditation. We will explore the theory, but moreso, the actual practices that help us to go beyond the activity of the thinking mind into a more direct and profound experience of the still mind.

Deep, natural peace. A calm and clear mind. So many possibilities follow…..

FULL DETAILS Click here 

Yarra Junction   8th – 12th June   2015

This retreat brings together 2 powerful experiences
- the deep natural peace of meditation, and a gentle process of introspection.


Meditation and Contemplation
Mana Retreat Centre, New Zealand   Saturday 24th to Friday 30th October 2015:

This meditation retreat will provide a specific focus on the practice of contemplation. You will learn techniques that reliably help you to think things through more clearly, to overcome confusion, develop clarity and certainty in decision making; and more – how to access insight, intuition and inner wisdom.

Many have found learning these exercises profoundly helpful.

FULL DETAILS Click here 


Public talk with the great Tibetan Lama, Zasep Tulku on Buddha Nature, and including Medicine Buddha mantra transmission. It is next Tuesday evening, 27th January, at Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne. 

Link to details on the Convent website

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