Tag Archives: silent retreat

365 Challenge Day 184 – Silent Retreat – Day 2

22 Dec

Day 2 of an 8-day silent meditation retreat

The first dharma talk of the retreat was on the Seven Factors of Awakening.  These are the seven qualities that are developed on the path to Enlightenment. There are three “calming” factors, Tranquility, Steadiness (or Concentration), and Equanimity.  There are three “active” factors, Investigation, Energy, and Joy.  All are held in Mindfulness, the seventh factor.

I have mentioned before that lately I am having trouble connecting with the Insight Meditation practice and/or community.  This is one reason I have been focusing on yoga so much.  This talk really explained everything for me.  I could see what was missing in the practice for me.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the teacher spent the first 35 minutes talking about Mindfulness, went through the rest, ran out of time, and spent two minutes each at the end for Energy and Joy.  This is not a coincidence.  This tradition, as practiced in New England anyway, is very heavy on the Mindfulness, and puts a LOT of emphasis on the CALMING factors, but I listened to the talk and thought, Where is the Energy?  Where is the JOY????

That’s really what’s missing for me.  Joy can be cultivated internally, but, why are there so many external expressions for tranquility and equanimity, but none for energy and joy?  If I do manage to get to a point when I’m bursting with Joy and Energy, am I supposed to just suppress it so I don’t disturb other people’s calm?

I was sitting with this question all week on retreat.

365 Challenge Day 183 – Silent Retreat – Day 1

22 Dec

Day 1 of an 8 day silent meditation retreat

I drove out to the retreat with a new friend, and it was about a two hour drive.  We talked the whole way about juicy relationship stuff which is one of my favorite topics, so that was really fun.  I noticed that the fact that I *don’t* have any aggravating men in my life right now has really improved my general mood!  I thought it would likely make for a fairly calm retreat (boy was I wrong about that!) since everything seemed to going so smoothly in my life.

As soon as we arrived we ran into a mutual friend, and then as I entered the space saw many familiar and happy faces.  I got lots of hugs and hellos which was very nice.  VERY nice.

A few hours later the silence began, and we were in the meditation hall.  My teacher came into the hall and held my hand as a quick and silent greeting as he walked by me in the front row.  I have a really strong connection to this teacher that is very difficult to describe because I had never experienced it before I met him!!  What I can say is every word that comes out of his mouth makes total sense to me, and always feels like he is saying it exactly for my benefit, and expressing things that I feel in my heart but couldn’t have expressed so clearly.

By contrast, the other teacher leading the retreat, I am not as fond of.  It is difficult for me to even pay attention when she speaks, I just start to zone out into my own thoughts because her words are fairly uninteresting to me, and her manner of speaking goes between dull and annoying (to me, I acknowledge that MANY people LOVE her.)

I can’t say I was super excited, but I was fairly happy to be there, and looking forward to a week of practicing gratitude which I thought would be a great use of the time in silence.