This week on the Curiosity & Consciousness podcast, I’m sharing some insights and nuggets from a recent 9 day Silent Retreat that I did.
It was a Vipassana (Insight) and Metta (Lovingkindness) Buddhist retreat. It was certainly a real challenge at times but it was also an incredible experience.
The phrases of the Metta meditation are below. These can also be tailored in any way or made more general by saying, ‘May I be well’. Once we sent some Metta to ourselves, then we can radiate it out to everyone and everything around us.
- May I be happy
- May I be safe
- May I be peaceful
- May I be healthy
- May I take care of myself happily
I loved the Dhamma talks each evening (Dhamma means teachings of the Buddha). The essential teachings of the Buddha are all about learning to cultivate, purify, tame, develop and train our mind to more wholesome thoughts V’s unwholesome thoughts. That’s not to say ‘put on rose tinted glasses’ and pretend everything is great or deny situations that may arise (as another essential teaching of the Buddha is that ‘life is suffering’) but it’s learning to navigate these times in better ways, in a more empowering way for ourselves.
Been able to go on retreat and take time out for ourselves is powerful but the magic is finding these moments of silence throughout our every day lives, among all the hustle and bustle. And the easiest way to do this, is by connecting to our breath and dropping into the present moment! We can do this at a moment’s notice and begin to build from there. Our point of power is always in the now!
Having to be so mindful and present for the entire time and really conscious of what you were doing, wonder and awe filled my senses. It’s incredible the amount of things we take for granted, even ‘basic’ things like dressing, feeding ourselves, walking, opening a door, cleaning up after ourselves, brushing our teeth… None of these things happened automatically. We had to put in conscious effort and consistency to train ourselves to do these things. Now they come as second nature because these patterns or programs are embedded in our subconscious mind.
This process doesn’t stop though. We’re constantly training ourselves and installing new programs, however when not done consciously, we can install programs that actually hurt us, as opposed to help us. This is especially vital when it comes to our mind.
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Dear Karen, I just listened to your podcast. Great sharing! I am glad you found so much benefit in the retreat and were able to share your experience so beautifully and enthusiastically through your podcast. There is so much to be said about the practice and you have put it very well in a nutshell. We can change our life by changing our mind, by changing the quality of our thoughts, feelings and emotions, by being mindful and aware so as to be able to bring about this wholesome change by letting go of the unskillful thoughts and replacing them with the skillful ones. And we can radiate lovingkindness every now and then by thinking those well-wishing thoughts, wishing well for one and all. Thank you, too, for saying all those nice things about me being a good teacher. Now I am blushing and reminding myself to watch my ego, to smile and remember there is no self apart from our idea or mental construction of our selves as selves. I look forward to staying in touch and, who knows, maybe I may see you again for another retreat in Passaddhi next summer.:) There is no end to the mental development and cultivation – it is our life-long work but it is all good, happy and rewarding work.:) Kindest regards, Visu.