I have received many fascinating responses to the post on retreat. There are many quotes on the importance of retreat time. One of the simplest, shortest personal retreats can be summed up in this quote: “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”…Etty Hillesum. Some horse clients commented that the time on their horse is their retreat time. They go into such a state of peace when they are on their horse. Winston Churchill once stated that “Their is no wasted time when in a saddle”. Other clients felt that the time grooming their horse was a mini-retreat, while others felt the time mucking the horse stall was a meditative retreat. I actually used to call mucking the stall “muck therapy” as over and over again I heard how meditative and peaceful different people found it.
My dog clients responded saying that the time they walk their dog is like a mini-retreat in their day and cat clients commented that the time grooming and petting their cat was their retreat time. One can see that time with our kindred spirits can indeed quiet our minds and nourish our souls. When we do not have enough time to take an extended retreat, these quiet moments in our day are essential for quieting the busy mind traffic and creating mini-retreats, momentary retreats. It is true too that each breath can be a retreat.
One of my meditation teachers, Mingyur Rinpoche has just chosen a more extended retreat, three years! This is a very traditional Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I just received an email from his monastery with the letter he just wrote to his students regarding his choice of his extended retreat. Mingyur Rinpoche decided to set off on a personal retreat, with just the clothes on his back, a small pack and wander through the Himalaya’s for three years. Rather than going into a more traditional meditation retreat cave in the Himalayas, he took off wandering and meditating, without any destination. Wow! I thought, how remarkable that is for someone of his stature and with thousands of followers worldwide to just take off like that in the middle of the night. Sogyal Rinpoche, one of my favorite teachers and author of the “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” and “Glimpse after Glimpse” commented in this Sogyal Rinpoche on Mingyur Rinpoche Retreat on Mingyur Rinpoche’s choice to go on a wandering solitary retreat like in the old days, yet in todays modern world, letting go of email, facebook, twitter and all other forms of communication as well as all other modern conveniences.
I cherish my own personal retreat time, whether it be one deep breath, a silent moment between seeing patients, my morning meditation, a one day of weekly retreat or six months of retreat. Each retreat time allows me different levels of depth into inner peace and awareness.
How do you retreat? What have been your experiences?