“Without spending some time alone with yourself, looking at your own mind, going through the withdrawal process of whatever habits you are most addicted to, and facing some level of pain in that withdrawal process, gaining strength and clarity in the end, there’s no way you can become a fully developed, mature, spiritual person.”
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
This quote nicely sums up the value of taking time out for meditation retreats. In fact, our three day meditation retreat at Bethany Hills provided an ideal time to slow down, open our hearts and experience what is always with us but frequently overlooked. With our everyday distractions far removed, it was a perfect time to see our minds more clearly and glimpse our true nature. Or even spend significant time fully awake in it.
Nine of the people attending were on their first residential meditation retreat. To most, it required an adjustment initially — many of them discovered that engaging in sitting and walking meditation all day was more challenging than expected. But by Saturday as I scanned the circle, I often saw a settled and deeply peaceful look on everyone’s faces. By Sunday morning most people reported having an important breakthrough or two into their practice. Sitting for three days with sincerity and commitment almost always yields this fruit.
It’s been two and a half years since I organized and led a weekend residential retreat in the Nashville area. The facilities we used in the past aren’t quite up to what we need now and it took a while to find a suitable location. I was very fortunate to have found Bethany Hills, which is set in a beautiful private area in Kingston Springs. The lodge has a large room perfectly suited to meditation, surrounded by windows and and a big wrap around deck. When the windows were open we were deeply immersed in the natural world, with the birds and frogs providing a beautiful, sometimes comical symphony. (When four or five bullfrogs call out in harmony, their ungainly croaking is simultaneously lovely and amusing.)
Saturday evening I led a contemplation and guided meditation on “emptiness of the breath” which I recorded and plan to post soon. Stay tuned for information about upcoming One Dharma meditation retreats.
Photo of Bethany Hills lake by John Young