To see the schedule of upcoming retreats, click here.
To register for a retreat, click here.
Try this experiment: Can you feel your heart beat?
Modern life moves fast, often too fast. In a world where many of us do too many things and rarely stop to take a breath, with the next thing to do or a judgment or worry about things just done (or ourselves) always occupying our minds, with the iphone/blackberry/your distraction of choice constantly commanding our attention, we can easily lose our mooring. The many demands, responsibilities, even possibilities of life overwhelm us, leaving us with a sense that something is not quite the way it’s supposed to be- not as fulfilling, as alive, as creative, connected, intimate, or inspired as we hoped. We are confronted with the ultimate question, “Ayeka?” Where are you amidst all this? To find the answer, we go on retreat.
What we do on retreat
A retreat is just that, a deliberate removing of ourselves from the routines, the perpetual motion, the constant doing and distractedness which can plague our lives, or, just a gift to ourselves of time to attend to that which is most important. We shift into a quiet space where we engage in the dedicated practice of learning to relate differently to our experience, to live with presence, and to engage the challenges of our lives, both external and internal, with greater clarity, gentleness, and wisdom. In the context of a supportive community and experienced, wise teachers, we find in ourselves the courage to confront difficulties from which we often hide, sitting with fear, uncertainty, anxiety, sadness, pain, or sorrow and to open to the joy, compassion and expansiveness which is our birthright. Stepping out of the busyness of life, we step into the business of living. We learn to engage our experience with the perspective of our neshama tehora, the divine part of us which is far more expansive than any passing challenge, and which enables us to be intimately present with them with confidence, the confidence of knowing ourselves to be fundamentally okay. We access the safety beyond conditions. We learn to let go of suffering and stop fighting that which is beyond our control. As we cultivate mindful awareness, we learn to open to the joy, aliveness, compassion, purpose and sensitivity of our true nature. Our default state begins to shift to a profound gratitude for being alive.
How we do it
Many of our retreats are conducted either totally or partially in social silence. This means that participants refrain from speaking to each other, relieving the great deal of energy that goes into socializing and presenting oneself to others, opening the space for us to settle into a deeper awareness of ourselves, gain insight into our habitual ways of reacting, and explore healthier, more intentional, and more peaceful alternatives. The silence, a new experience for many, can be the most powerful aspect of a retreat, the space which invites an intimacy and evokes an authenticity, an experience of living from a place of depth and meaningfulness, which gives life a richness and grace many have never tasted before. The simple act of eating, when done mindfully in silence, can become a beautiful experience, filling our hearts and souls as well as our stomaches. Walking can become a process of reconnecting, of feeling held, supported, fully embodied, and connected to our surroundings. Prayer, for those who practice, can shift from routine recitation to a deep opening of the heart. Ours is an open, experimental, and non-coercive environment which welcomes people from all backgrounds and traditions.
A day in the life