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5-Day Mindfulness Retreat April 4, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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I recently returned from a 5-day Mindfulness meditation retreat organized through a nearby sangha. The overall experience was amazing, and worth every minute. I’m so grateful that I was able to take the time off my studies and work to go. I returned home feeling refreshed, renewed, energized, and completely fulfilled.

Nevertheless, I did have my difficulties during the retreat. I had only ever attended weekend retreats before, which would amount to two full days (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon). This was my first 5-day retreat, and I had been wanting to attend a longer retreat for some time now. I noticed on the recent weekend retreats that I felt like I was just getting into the practice before I had to go home.

There were about 30 people on the retreat, and most people were quite young, in their 30’s or 40’s, although there were some younger people in their 20’s there as well. I think I was the youngest attendee there, which was a unique experience for me. I really enjoyed the presence of all of the practitioners on the retreat, I think it was one of the most valuable benefits I got out of it.

I currently practice with an Insight meditation group that is mostly middle-aged people or older. Additionally, the group I practice with currently doesn’t have dharma sharing or discussion as part of the weekly group meeting, so I really feel like I lack a sort of emotional connection to the other people there.

It was great to be around amazing people and rely on the support of their collective wisdom and experience. As always, I came home feeling so inspired and supported in the practice, knowing there were so many people that were incorporating the practice into their daily lives.

Five days was a long time to be maintaining mindfulness, although it was quite an easy-going schedule and arranged to be not too intense. I noticed that by about the second day, a lot of difficult emotions and memories were arising, and it took a lot of effort to stay composed and deal with them skilfully. By the end of the retreat, I felt a bit drained by the mental effort to stay mindful and aware, and it took quite a bit of effort to stay in the present moment.

Another part of the retreat that I appreciated so much was having a wonderful teacher there. I had a one-on-one consultation with the teacher, which I have never used before on retreats, and it was so great to ask a question that pertained to my own personal practice. I really valued the personalized response I got.

I gained so many valuable insights on the retreat, but as always, I’ll just have to wait and see how many of them will last once I return home. There was so much to take in I don’t see how I can retain all of it in my memory. Instead I am just trying to relax into it, let things go, and just see whatever skills and insights will come up when I need them the most. I took some notes from the dharma talks and from my own reflection, but not very much, and I’m not going to spend time reading them for a little while.

I am trying to take it easy since I returned home. I feel quite sensitive since I got back, and it seems like taking too much on in my usual everyday life might be overstimulating. I noticed a lot of fears that were brought up on retreat that haven’t quite been resolved, and I’m still dealing with them several days later. I’m just trying to take it slow, one day at a time, and not make a big story out of them.

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