Out in nature and unplugged! A different sort of getaway.
I'm often asked by my mindfulness course participants, "what's it like to go on a retreat?" and "Why go on a retreat?"
I started going on meditation retreats about 8 years ago, starting with a weekend stay where beginners were welcome. This first retreat set me on my mindfulness journey and I haven't looked back. I've been going on retreat twice a year ever since.
Typically a retreat includes periods of silence, vegetarian food (no caffeine, no grog, no sugary foods) in a restful country or seaside setting. There is no TV or internet and mobile phones are for emergency contact only. The days start and finish early and include lots of mindfulness practice and talks on meditation practice from an experienced meditation teacher.
The retreat experience is so peaceful, slowing down and cutting out the overload of constant stimulation of modern life. In the process you feel yourself come alive again - to savour the surroundings, the nourishing food and good quality sleep. The things you thought you couldn't do without are simply forgotten.
You leave the retreat grateful for the time-out, grateful for the many good things in life, refreshed and recommitted to your practice and the importance it plays in living well.
My favourite retreat spots are:
The Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Centre (BMIMC) Medlow Bath, Blue Mountains, NSW
The Yarra Valley Living Centre (The Gawler Cancer Foundation) Yarra Valley, Vic
Whether going on a retreat or not the opportunity to choose a peaceful spot in nature or in your house where you will be able to practice undisturbed makes all the difference in developing your practice and training the mind to be still.