What is a «retreat» or «is it worth crawling back into the egg?»
There are different kinds of retreats. They can be «light» and «dark», «one-day-in-an-apartment» and «long-term-away-from-society”, individual and group retreats, silent and filled with communication, religious and non-religious… They are different!
However, all of them are trying to solve one global problem — the lack of knowledge of ourselves and our inner world. Including the relationship between ourselves and everything that surrounds us. Here we will talk about the retreats that are held in «Givin School». The main goals of our retreats are the awakening and the establishment of the Path.
Sometimes people ask: «What is the meaning of life in your understanding?». It’s not about understanding… Have you ever seen a chicken trying to get back into the egg?! That’s the difference between life and a «dream», even the most comfortable one.
It’s not as easy as it seems…
Before we reveal the topic of the retreat, we need a better understanding of why people want to participate in it. What brings them to this decision? Surely they won’t be spending two weeks of their time completely detached from the usual way of life, from work and family, just out of curiosity. Some will even arrive from another continent, which is not cheap and includes headaches with visas! And the retreat itself is not a very cheap event. People go to the retreats not to have some rest but on the contrary — to work on themselves and to practice from early morning till late evening. This is not an easy task! There is a tight schedule for the group and individual classes with two half-hour breaks for food.
Most importantly, it’s hard to get into the retreat. You need to be approved! We don’t take everyone who wants to go! To get the permission to attend, you have to go through several interviews and a course of preparatory classes which teaches a variety of physical, breathing and meditation exercises. We want you to come prepared and not to waste any time learning these things during the retreat. You need to listen to a series of audio lectures about basic theory and participate in various school activities, including communication with other people. All of this will give you a completely new experience and a new taste of life.
At the preparatory stage, there are already a vast majority of applicants who significantly improve the quality of their lives: their problems are getting solved, health is improved, and they often experience a state of happiness… and for some people, this is enough, they don’t need anything more. So this is a great way for people to check themselves, how much do they really want to go further. How much do they care about the Path that we offer.
We can also send someone home for any violations in the middle of the retreat without any compensation. The discipline requirements are very high! But we also have amazing results! We have more than four dozen «awakened» people at this moment.
«There is no progress without retreats!»
One of the Buddhists said that we can’t reach enlightenment without meditational retreats.
Our main task is not to just «wake up» or to get enlightened (although this is a very serious level) but to completely get out of the «matrix» or the «wheel of Samsara» during one lifetime! In the East, this «exit» is called «Full Realization» or «Liberation from Rebirth».
The movement toward this realization is called the «Path».
«So what makes a person take this step!?”
One day we will all have to ask ourselves: «Who am I and what am I doing here?» Everyone will have to answer this question! It’s just a matter of when! It can happen when we’re young or old, in this life or in next life. But we will still have to answer – our soul will not allow us to brush it off. There are many people right now who are already very concerned about the meaning of their existence.
Most of them are fed up with the struggles for money, power, and fame. They’ve already traveled, they’ve seen and experienced a lot, but they haven’t found a stable, lasting happiness, and got very disappointed. They are questioning a reason why do they wake up in the morning… WHAT IS IT ALL FOR?
There is some inner emptiness which like acid burns us from the inside and does not let us live in peace. There’s no getting away from it. Those who have faced it once, understand these feelings. We are forced to look for ways to change it. There are no other options.
There are some people who had a chance to experience wonderful states that lasted only a few minutes or maybe even a few years. But they still ended up falling back to their everyday state. These states can come and go. A man can’t hold them. But even these few minutes often leave such a deep trace that a person is ready to give up everything – ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING to experience it again.
There are also some who have experienced an unspeakable longing for «Home», and now they pray to God not to lose this feeling! It is now their guiding thread, their compass of all their actions. They’re looking for ways to get there faster. To finally get «Home». AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!
«Nothing like that will happen in my absence!»
Upon arrival at the retreat, everyone has to hand over their mobile phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, books, magazines and put them in the «storage room»… We give up everything that can somehow connect us with the outside world or give us the opportunity to «run away» from the internal work or to distract us from the main task.
It is one hundred percent justified! Imagine that someone got the news that something happened at his workplace, at home or in his family. His mind will immediately begin to paint apocalyptic pictures of the terrible consequences if he doesn’t get involved! A person will now worry about what happened or will happen until the end of the retreat. His entire mind will be occupied with these thoughts and the practice time will be wasted. There is a similar situation with books, even with the spiritual ones. Instead of developing awareness and constant presence in the moment, a person will be interested to be present in the story of a book.
It should be taken into account that the whole group depends on each member. That’s why in order not to disrupt the rhythm of training, the violators will go home.
«A full belly is deaf to the teachings!»
The food is an important part of the retreat! All participants have to follow a pure vegan food and about a third of them generally eat raw food. It’s done so to allow the body to be less distracted by the digestion and to cleanse itself. With light and moderate food, the mind also remains quiet and clear!
The vast majority of participants of the retreat note that they want to eat much less than usual! They feel that the body is getting the energy not only from food but also from the spiritual practices. In everyday life, we quite often eat out of habit.
None of the students want to lose the effectiveness of the retreat by overeating. Some people, in agreement with the instructors, can even fast for a few days! By doing that people can experience the rise of inner joy.
One of the most important components of the retreat is silence.
It is difficult to overestimate the factor of silence! When we stop talking, we remove one of the main sources of distraction.
All conditions and all components of the retreat are aimed at calming the mind. Silence plays an important role in this. It helps to keep our privacy and to train internal discipline. When the mind is quiet then the degree of awareness is higher!
In the hustle of our daily lives, we simply do not realize its transience. We do not have time to stop and think about who we are and why we came into this world. We don’t see the nature of our mind in this rush. We cannot meet ourselves! We are SLEEPING! And we need to WAKE UP!
The retreat creates the perfect conditions and offers practical solutions to solve these problems!
It is better to teach a hundred people once than one person a hundred times!
People often ask: «If the retreat is so private then how does it relate to the fact that you have groups of 100-150 people? Where’s the privacy? Why do you need so many people in one place at the same time?”
Group classes have a distinct value in many respects. Here is an extended list of our answers to these questions:
- Solitude is an escape from society with all its temptations. At the retreat, there are both group and individual mandatory classes.
- Actually, it is possible to conduct training in groups of three hundred people or even more but there’s a problem of finding a base for such a retreat. It must have walking areas, halls, kitchen, availability of beds, and much more.
- When people share their experiences during discussions, it is very exciting and motivating for everyone else! Everyone feels that the techniques work.
- When someone asks a question about the exercises or the practical elements, then the answer can be useful to many other people because they might have the same or similar question, or they can get a clarification on something they weren’t even aware of.
- Mutual support of the group is very important for those who face some serious changes in health and are ready to give up! It can happen to everyone and it’s impossible to overestimate this support.
- When members of the group are interacting, there are always some negative moments that pop up between people. Here we learn to overcome such «disadvantages» by solving them with the heart warmth and love. In this way, we build a strong and friendly team and create an amazing environment!
- There is a mutual connection between people who strive towards the same goal and help each other on the way! This is a very deep experience that is hard to find in everyday life.
- The depth of the “Present moment” is completely different when there is a group of people.
- There’s also an estimation of effectiveness — when one person is learning, there is one unit of effectiveness. When two are involved, the effectiveness of a lesson grows seven times. When three — 49 times!
Now imagine how many times higher is the effectiveness of training when there are a hundred and fifty people practicing together from morning till evening for two weeks! Imagine how far in the practice can you get within this time!? Therefore, the experience of such a retreat cannot be obtained in individual lessons even if you are practicing your whole life.
The retreat and the Path…
The determining factor is the goal!
If the retreat is seen as an opportunity to be in solitude, detached from everything external, to remove the accumulated stress and fatigue, then it is limited only to «blowing off the steam». Of course, due to the meditative practices and asanas, vegan food and restrictions in communication, a person will have some insights about himself, the world around him, and his reactions to it. Life will flow much easier and lighter for a while. But that’s about it. And unfortunately, this pleasant state very often fades away once a person returns to his normal life.
However, if the goal is to understand the meaning of life then the retreats in combination with regular practical exercises become key to human development. In other words, they are the “accelerators» of his way «Home».
The inner work is often rewarded with various blissful states and experiences. Such as awakening, samadhi, vivid awareness, the deep present moment and a completely different perception of reality. They act as reminders of how important the inner work is, and what awaits us if we decide to take this journey.