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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Want to join a yoga retreat?

What does the 'retreat' in yoga retreat mean?

Many people think yoga retreats are for people to enjoy a yoga 'treat' or 're-treat' for oneself, where a group of people who like to do some yoga exercises come together to engage in a social 'yoga' meeting and interaction with some other people, and pampering their body and mind in pleasurable enjoyments.

It's normal for people to think like that as there are many yoga retreats in the world that are not about retreating from worldly social interactions and activities, to turn the outgoing mind inward for self-inquiry. These yoga retreats are not about retreating from the social world to allow the participants to focus on their yoga and meditation practice to quiet the mind, but they are more into engaging in social activities and interactions getting to know some other people, and getting a nice 'treat' to pamper oneself in some pleasurable physical and mental indulgence.

But, retreat is about retreating or renouncing from worldly affairs, objects, ideas, habits, social activities and sensual enjoyments, to quiet the mind, to restrict the mind from going out chasing after the object of the senses, to have a period of time and space to focus on one's yoga and meditation practice, to be with oneself, to observe one's mind, to deal with one's mind impurities, to limit mind inputs and outputs, even when there are some other people might be participating in the same retreat. Everyone should minimize social talking or interactions as much as possible, to turn the outgoing mind inward, and allow the mind to have the opportunity to move away from restlessness and its usual habits of actions and reactions, to calm and quiet the mind to know oneself. It makes no difference whether it is a personal private retreat or it's a group retreat with other participants.

If people are more interested in worldly affairs, objects, activities, ideas, social meeting and interactions than their own personal yoga and meditation practice to conquer their minds through quieting the mind and the elimination of ignorance and egoism, and they expect to be meeting with other people in the 'retreat' to be socializing with one another, they can participate in many other kinds of social activities organized by many different people and organizations around the world. As those who expect to have social interactions in a yoga retreat, they might be disturbing other retreat participants who join the retreat for retreat.

Although yoga retreats are not necessarily including the observation of complete silence, but all participants should try to minimize and restrict their speech, mental and physical activities, to conserve energy for yoga and meditation practice, and allowing the mind to have some moments of quietness to contemplate upon the truth of all the teachings of yoga.

Yoga retreat is not a place for mingling or socializing or interaction, but it's a great opportunity to practice simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation while living among the society, to be by oneself moving away from worldly social interactions and activities to quiet the restless mind, to be reflecting upon the truth of names and forms, to be aware of the modifications of the mind to know thyself, besides looking after one daily's duty and responsibility such as maintaining the tidiness and cleanliness of the accommodation/living environment/practice space and looking after one's daily meals, while dealing with condition and situation that are not necessarily the way that we would like it to be, so that one can perform Yoga Sadhana at home observing simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation while living among the society performing one's duty and responsibility in everyday life. At one stage, Swami Sivananda walked 15 km everyday to the nearby villages for Biksha (obtaining food by alms) besides performing daily Sadhana and selfless service while living a life of renunciation.

Many 'yoga retreats' in the world are not about quieting the restless mind via the practice of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation, but it's about being in an out of the world environment away from dealing with any duty and responsibility in everyday life, indulging in pleasurable enjoyments of the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and visualization/imagination/anticipation/expectation, gratifying the desires of craving and aversion, promoting mingling and socializing, enjoying all kinds of conveniences of hotel facilities and services, which most worldly minds expect what 'yoga retreat' is about. Food is prepared and served by somebody. Cleaning up and laundry are done by somebody. Room tidiness and cleanliness is maintained by somebody. Everyone just needs to enjoy mingling and socializing with the other retreat participants, while indulging in pleasurable yoga activities, spa treatments and all kinds of hotel facilities and services during the retreat.

And this is 'the world of yoga' that is supposed to be about living a life of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation from worldly activities/connections/interactions/enjoyments to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, but many people are unaware of the 'yoga classes' or 'yoga retreats' that they have been attending are not about Yoga Sadhana to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, but it's actually empowering ignorance and egoism instead.

Om shanti.

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Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Be free, be peaceful, be happy.

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