Meditation is Watching Nature Happening
16 – 22 August 2016
Venue: Eden Rise
‘Meditation is Watching Nature Happening’ rather than judging and trying to fix our minds.
In my teaching approach, I like to enable a natural gradual process of settling into a meditative state and inner connection. Being in silence naturally supports us to come closer to ourselves, and the practice of the precepts supports a sense of trust. In terms of guidance, I begin with a few key ingredients for Vipassana practice: firstly to recollect and contemplate every experience as nature happening, even seemingly subjective experiences of thoughts about ourselves and others, and their associated feelings, sensations and emotions; everything that we usually take to be personal. Alongside this recollection, I offer guidance in steadying and sustaining relaxed open awareness. The intention is to open to the experiences that are arising in order to know them more fully. The Buddha used a beautiful metaphor to illustrate the kind of effort this takes.
He said, “I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, and without staying in place.”
This is like finding one’s balance in the current of the mental and emotional activity; opening and relaxing, yet also being steadfast in staying attuned and present with whatever is here in our mind and body. Then it becomes possible to observe the cycles of thoughts, perceptions, mental states and physical reactions- being with them, without being lost in them. By not judging or rejecting or being drawn into this cycle, we begin to experience how discerning awareness enables a direct understanding of the nature of our mind.
During the retreat there will be meditation instructions, teachings and opportunities to meet in small groups with the teacher. Outside of these times, the retreat will remain in silence.
The retreat is offered freely as the organisers intend to fundraise in advance to cover all costs (we anticipate these will be about £140 per person). Donations will be invited at the end of the retreat and these will be used to fund retreats in the future. This gives retreatants the opportunity to practice generosity by making it possible for future retreats to also be offered freely.
We will also invite a separate donation for the teacher. Teachers do not receive a fee for leading retreats, whilst giving enormously of their time and energy. Dharma teachings are considered priceless and therefore teachers offer their understanding freely. The livelihood of most Insight Meditation teachers depends wholly, or to a large extent, on voluntary contributions from retreatants who value their guidance and wish to support the ongoing teachings of the Dharma. Your generosity to the teacher is greatly appreciated.
Coming on retreat can be an invaluable boost for your practice whether you’re only just beginning with meditation or have been practising for decades. Everything is set up specifically to help you feel supported and to foster the calmness of mind necessary for meditative insight.
One of the conditions that we find particularly helpful to offer retreatants is an opportunity for shared silence. We agree as a group not to converse with each other for the duration of the retreat*, we turn off our phones and gadgets, we disconnect from social media, and we put down our books.
Why do we do this? Because silence provides the opportunity to develop a new relationship with ourselves and the world, rather than simply being a gap to be filled. Free from the usual distractions that stimulate the mind, we begin to experience an altogether different and sublime dimension to life, one that was hiding there all along. And as silence starts to reveal its irresistible and profound beauty we allow the possibility of our innate wisdom to show itself.
* During the week there will be talks, meditation instructions and opportunities to meet either in small groups or individually with the teacher. Outside of these times the retreat will remain in silence but the coordinators are always present and can be communicated with via notes if any problems arise.