Thursday, June 1, 2017

Retreat

While someone on the path usually has a normal daily sadhana, it can be very useful at times to do a more intensive retreat.    There are many different types of retreats with various points of focus,  so one should have clarity beforehand.   For example, a retreat period may just mean a deepening of one's normal sadhana or it could be specific to a certain practice therein (or something newly included).  Also, the focus of a retreat may be more on meditative practices or aspects of those practices.  Often times, in longer retreat periods, various aspects of the path are focused upon or given emphasis during particular timeframes.    There are several ways to determine retreat periods (i.e. how long it will go for),  with the most obvious being to simply designate a time period (1 week, 3 month, etc.)   Better than simply stating a time frame,  it is more efficient and precise to firstly determine what one wants to do and how long that will take.   Of course, that determination is more effective in sadhana type retreats rather than a retreat focused on cultivating meditative qualities.   However, if one is doing a Deity practice with mantra, then one will have a clearer guideline (which is basically how many mantra total, how many per day, how long will that take).  The best method for those with a lot of experience on the path is to keep the retreat until sign of accomplishment.   This is not an advisable method for most (and not for someone who hasn't already completed several retreats and/or purushcharana), as one of the most important benefits of completing a retreat is the empowerment of one's will, discipline and sankalp (which any "unclear" completion to retreat may veil).    Within the overall structure of the retreat, there is the daily structure which should be maintained for sadhana/meditation periods.    If one can't keep the discipline, then its better not to undertake the work, as one will just loose respect (for themselves) and weaken their word.   To avoid prematurely breaking retreat, it is best to make a program that is well within one's capacity.  The environment for retreat need not be some remote wilderness, as one can do within their own place.  Maybe for some who are too entrenched in the patterns of their life and thoughts, a change of environment could be useful.  However, one can easily create a space both in their environment and in their time to do more intensive practices.  Before embarking, it could be helpful to take stock of how one is using one's time and energy.  While one may be forced to engage in some activities (like work), there may be other things that one can put aside for the retreat period.   Even when one is forced to engage, one should trie to maintain the inner attitude and view of the retreat.  However, when possible, one should try to talk and engage as little as possible.  Do not talk about the sadhana or tell any experiences that arise.   When one does work and doesn't blab about it or seek attention, then one gains power and integrity.   It is not uncommon when dealing with higher levels of energy (like one presumably would be in a sadhana retreat) for emotions to get enflamed, but it is important not to act out or loose one's temper.   In this way,  one gives the energy a chance to settle and assimilate rather than disperse in some show (regardless of if the emotion is called positive or negative).   Likewise, one may feel raw and a bit vulnerable when opening up to new potentials, so during those periods it is best to avoid toxic people and situations.   Finally, if one has a Guru, mentor, or elder friend on the path, it is always wise to take their advice about how best to proceed with a retreat.  

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