Inside Yoga 292 (3/2/2020)
There are times when we just need a break from everything, when all we want is a moment to retreat from the demands the world, and most of the time, the idea of a running off to a far-off place though the most appealing option is the least practical and unlikely to happen… especially if we need this retreat now.
This is why it is important to understand that the idea of retreat in yogic and Buddhist terms does not have to mean going away for a week in a retreat centre or holiday resort, but it is an opportunity to find a quiet safe place to be even if it is for a brief moment in time, whether it is half hour or a few hours, a retreat is closer to home that we might think.
The principle and practice of retreat is an important part of spiritual practices such as yoga and Buddhism. If we are to regain a sense balance in ourselves, or perhaps we just want to get rid of unwanted anger or anxiety, or regain our ability to think straight, we need to establish the best conditions for this to happen. In the same sense that a gardener needs to prepare the ground for a flower to grow, we also need to find the best place to help us.
This can mean going to quiet room or a walk in the countryside or park, as long as it is a place where we can reduce distractions. Similarly, going to a yoga or meditation class serves this purpose, because it is a place where the conditions are in place to help us go within, and heal ourselves, to regain clarity and a sense of being back in charge.
Our weekly yoga classes serve as a retreat where we can rebalance and reset ourselves ready for the world beyond; and importantly, our practice helps us to be ready for our errant minds which do their best to unsettle us with unwanted thoughts and feelings.
Yoga with its physical exercise and seated meditation chip away at those unwanted thoughts and feelings, leaving us lighter and free to cope with daily life. And of course, stuff keeps happening, so that is why it is important to keep this practice of retreat going, whether it is regular classes, home practice, or walks in the country/park, or a run, we have multiple ways of redressing our balance.
Longer periods of practice helps to get rid of more, and deepen the positive benefits of yoga practice, which is why I run periodic sessions which are three hours long, giving us more time to go deeper and get rid of more unwanted stuff. Next session is Saturday, March 14th (see link… https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/workshops/)
Doing little retreats regularly is a good way of keeping us going, and shedding our unwanted thoughts and feelings, whether it is done daily and weekly, it all helps and is manageable for all of us; but if we are fortunate enough to get away on retreat for a few days or weeks this is a great way of practising.
The important message here is that we can retreat within ourselves, helped by finding a physical place which supports us, even if it’s for a short period of time, and we can do this regularly, without the need to book and plan an escape.
I wrote an article about our “base” which relates to this topic, see https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2019/09/30/yoga-offers-us-base/
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