What Brings You Here?
14 – 21 July 2018
Venue: The High Heathercombe Centre
For many of us our path of practice is a mixture of struggles and breakthroughs, and our perception is that it is our endeavour, and we either get it right or wrong. It is a deeply convincing perspective that we are the ones in control.
The Buddha offered another paradigm, the understanding of cause and effect: that given certain causes it is the momentum of greed, aversion and delusion that holds sway over us, or given different causes we move towards and develop wholesome tendencies.
In our practice together this week we will contemplate the Spiritual Faculties of trust (Saddha), interest and engagement (Viriya), attentiveness (Sati), coming home deeply in this moment to the body and mind (Samadhi) and discerning what is here in our field of awareness that gives rise to direct understanding (Panya).
The Spiritual Faculties each have their own nature, and as they gain momentum we begin to recognise how they enhance each other and influence our heart/mind so that we begin to deeply let go into the present moment with clarity and compassion.
In my teaching approach, I like to enable a natural gradual process of settling into an inner connection with whatever experiences of thoughts and their associated feelings, sensations and emotions are arising in our experience in the moment. I offer guidance in steadying and sustaining awareness in the midst of 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 begin to observe causality within the cycles of thoughts, perceptions, mental states and physical reactions. 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 and how it is liberated it from these habitual tendencies.
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.
We anticipate running this retreat will cost us around £160 per person. Thanks to the generosity of those who have attended previous retreats and left donations, you can come along knowing your place will already have been paid for. Amazing! At the end of the retreat we will invite donations – this is an opportunity for you to practise generosity yourself and ensure others in the future can receive the same gift. We truly appreciate, on behalf of these future retreatants, all that you are able to give. (So you know, because all the work putting on these retreats is done by volunteers we have almost no overheads at all – the whole thing is run on generosity and love. That means all your money will go straight into the kitty for future retreats, paying for nothing but absolute essentials.)
We will also invite a separate donation for the teachers. 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 teachers 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 in small groups 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.