Every day we have a lot of different thoughts. By day we think about the essential things, like earning money, our next meal, buying a gift to a friend. By night we are addicted to the Internet, TV and sorting the household matters. In addition, we always need to maintain relationships in society: to communicate with colleagues, pay attention to relatives, resolve conflicts and misunderstandings with loved ones. It takes a tremendous amount of our time and effort. We do not maintain resources to understand ourselves and to put our lives in order. How can we listen to ourselves when our attention is constantly focused on the things around us? Retreat would solve this problem.
Retreat means a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax. In yoga, this term is used to refer to spiritual practice with complete immersion. A retreat can be either solitary or with a group of like-minded people. Practitioners get together in uninhabited places, outdoors or indoors, and immerse themselves in a practice.
The time frame for such practices is very extensive. There are 4-hour or 6-hour retreats. Also, there are retreats for several days or even months, which makes it possible to experience a different mode of life. If we decide to visit the declared retreat, then the organizers would set its date, length and location. If we go to a solitary retreat, then we decide on these parameters for ourselves.
Is retreat a new trend or an ancient tradition?
There always has been, is and will be the need for retreat. Since antiquity, people wanted to find something more valuable and important in their lives than the usual daily routine. There are always people who are looking for the meaning of life and seek for spiritual development. Therefore, retreat practices have existed for a very long time. Regardless of how the name of this practice has changed from era to era, its essence and purpose remains the same. Perhaps, they were called differently, but the essence was the same. Solitude is necessary in order to achieve greater concentration on personal practice, moving away from the numerous distracting factors of everyday life.
Retreat and responsibility to others
Yoga teaches us that we have a duty to those people who once helped us by expanding our freedom. Our duty is above all! It is advisable to warn the relatives of our intention to retreat. Besides, if these people are currently critically in need of our help, then perhaps a retreat should be planned for another time. A retreat should not become an escape from debt! When we are planning to retreat, it is important to take care of all responsibilities in advance. Our absence should not be an overwhelming circumstance for anyone.
Dive in retreat
We are approaching our natural conditions when we are going into retreat. We become part of the universe, observing ourselves, as if from the outside, without statuses and labels. At that moment we are no moms and dads, no wives and husbands, no executives and unemployed. There is nothing of the kind. We have the opportunity to extract the most secret desires from the depths of the soul, to answer unresolved questions. We do a lot of self-help work. Due to the absence of distractions, we can better track our thoughts, emotions and the state as a whole. Removing the external factors, we free our mind from excessive stress. If you include physical practice in a retreat, it will increase the mental abilities and the strength of the body. Not getting involved in the thoughts works for some people: they let the thoughts exist in the head, but don’t dwell on them, isolate them. Martin Luther said, «You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.»
Unpleasant thoughts that take away our energy are like these birds. Let them fly by. Thoughts come and go. We don’t drive these thoughts into the subcortex of the brain, but at the same time, we do not force the mind to work excessively. Thus, we release a lot of energy in the body and free space in the head.
The result from practice is different for everyone
Yoga is a system of self-knowledge that allows us to know who we are. A retreat is needed in order to dive deeper into the practice of yoga. We are all different, with our own tasks in this world, and our own questions for the Universe. Therefore, we also get different answers. Practitioners’ results and feelings can be diametrically opposed. After a retreat, some of us will look at the events of our life in a new way and understand that many problems are not problems at all. Somebody may have an emotional outburst and emotional uplift, others will experience a sense of calm. We rely only on our own feelings and personal experience in yoga.
A retreat is a very necessary and highly effective practice, that is relevant at all times. This is not an escape from ourselves and our life problems! The practice of solitude is a powerful work on oneself and helps to find the right solutions in life situations. A retreat helps to stop the fuss of body movements and thoughts. We will be able to meet with ourselves. We will be able to see ourselves outside the patterns, the real ourselves, as the Creator. We will be able to create our future beautiful life. Retreat is a breakthrough! The breakthrough in awareness, a breakthrough in practice, a breakthrough to a true self!
Discover new horizons in your yoga practice!
Author: Julia Namrata
Translator: Catharina Way
Photo: from archive IOYU
Project Curator: Kerigona