Silent Meditation Retreats. Why do them and Where is a good place?
I’m just coming out of a silent retreat and have vowed to do one every year if not more. They are very hard to go through, but the benefits are immense and multi layered in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self.
Meditation is a tool to help you find lasting happiness. Like proper, deep, glowing, true happiness. Total Liberation. Liberating you from your own inner self-made cages.
Meditation brings you to see the Truth. To see the difference between what is Real and what is Unreal. Reality and Truth are ever lasting. Meditation helps you reconnect to that part of you that is always there and has always been there. Your Truth. The world around you is always changing and you cannot cling to any of it because this will fade. If you take the material world as your truth i.e. attachment to things that do not last, you will be in suffering.
We have so many conditionnings, so many memories, so many unhealed traumas, all lingering in our subconscious, that affect the way we behave, think and react to the outer world. We think happiness and satisfaction come from security, relationships, stuff, power… whatever.. until we get all that and still feel unsatisfied.
Our world is a reflection of what is unfolding within us.
A peaceful mind attracts peaceful people.
A happy mind awakens happiness in others.
Inner harmony brings mother nature’s forces into balance.
- Ramananda Mayi
So what is it we are looking for?
What will set us free?
By meditating over long periods, you enable the body to settle. DEEPLY settle. No distractions, no movement, no noise. You begin to enter deep parts of your unconscious that are left unattended to while your run around like a headless chicken trying to be someone in this world. So the first few days are going to be quite painful as all the old crap you were just pushing down comes pouring out. And you might wonder why you are doing this.
After some days, you start to touch upon, if only for some moments your Real Self. That part of you that is always there. When you were small, Now, when you will be old. When you are sad, when you are happy, when you are disoriented. There is a part of you that is totally stable and just watching, it is just there. And its essence is calm and pure lightness and joy. This is your truth.
In many hours and days of meditation it is possible to touch upon this Truth, your Soul, that lies in the present moment, perhaps only a few minutes, or a few seconds. Longer is you are a superNinjaEnlightened Yogi. And with practice and time, it will become easier and quicker to tune into this state. Pure Bliss.
My recommendations for Silent Meditation Retreat Centers and Masters –
(Not Goengka centers) but places where the teacher is still alive and leading the teachings.
BHUDDIST CENTERS :
Sri Lanka : Nilambe
I recommend to take the course with Monk UPUL, the main founder.
Beautiful Buddhist meditation retreat tucked away in the mountains near Kandy. Breathtaking views, very modest accommodation. Early rise. Includes working mediation, yoga and chanting along with the silent meditations that are seated and walking. So the activities are varied and can be good for a beginner who would like different approaches to meditation.
Thailand : Wat Chom Tong
Very advanced and difficult silent retreat lasting 21 days. Followed by one monk throughout with very minimal talking. Dharma explanation is not really there, just a few leaflets with some information. I did this one as my first and would probably think twice before doing it again. I highly recommend it, just take it one moment at a time and prepare to get in touch with deep suffering, and great liberation. I cried when I had to leave. Seated and walking meditation only.
SRI VEDIA TRADITION :
Bali : lead by Ramananda Mayi and Lilly - @ Blooming Lotus
One of the rare free spiritual things to do in Bali! I highly recommend these two teachers and this retreat which is very comfortable and easy to get through as the schedule is not too rigorous. Still 6 hours of mediation a day spread throughout the day, but also includes a yoga class, two dharma talks (that are amazing!!!) and awesome food, beautiful pool. A retreat with a bit of glam!
If you can’t afford their accommodation (which is very luxurious with private pools) stay down the road at Ashraya Guest house.