Meditation Retreat: is it worth it?
In light of World Meditation Day coming up on 15 May, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share my experience on a meditation retreat I attended in 2018. As a Reiki practitioner, I understand the importance of looking after my own health and wellbeing to be able to provide the best care for my clients. Last November I was blessed (possibly a strong word but I do feel like it) with the opportunity to be part of a five-day meditation retreat in Northern Thailand.
For a long time I had been thinking about going on a Vipassana meditation retreat. Reiki is Japanese for ‘universal life energy’ and can help bring about an improved sense of wellbeing and a positive feeling of spiritual renewal – of which principles of meditation can be incorporated and be of benefit. There are centres all around the world that offer ten-day long silence meditation programmes focused solely on meditation and allowing no distractions - no writing, no reading, no drawing, no talking. With so many restrictions, I had always felt overwhelmed and was not sure if I could immerse myself into that intense experience….
When I caught sight of a poster for a three-day meditation retreat in Pa Pae, I knew it was a chance not to be missed. This retreat would have one day to be spent in silence with time split between meditation and lectures. I would be meditating for four hours each day and attending lectures on different types of meditation and teachings – all delivered in English by a Thai scholar monk trained in medicine with the experience of living both in the East and the West. Meals and accommodation would be provided, offering an excellent opportunity to concentrate on what is most important – oneself.
However, at the end of November they announced they would be running a special longer retreat to celebrate the New Year and were also arranging their own Full Moon Lantern Festival. This festival would support international peace through meditation and by releasing hundreds of beautiful paper lanterns into the night sky. So I, and a cohort of ten others from around the world, arranged to stay in Pa Pae for five days to attend the retreat and help prepare for the festival – a treat and honour in its own right.
For me personally, this retreat was important in three aspects: I desperately needed ‘a reboot’; I wanted to learn more about the origins of Reiki; and I hoped to find new ways to meditate which could be incorporated into my life and would benefit my coaching and Reiki clients. I learned a lot during this time and since have had time to reflect on my experience – here is a summary of my main findings:
1. Walking meditation is to be done slowly and mindfully, observing and feeling every step, every motion of every step, so that a 50 metre walk might take 20 minutes.
2. Less is more: this principle is relevant in life, work, meditation, relationships, possessions, etc. Less effort, less overthinking, less formalisation will bring more freedom, more calmness, more positive results, more wealth, more health and harmony.
3. Simplicity is key: simple meditation can be more powerful than sophisticated ones. You don’t need to download an app or watch a YouTube video - simple and spontaneous sessions can deliver wonderful results.
4. Set aside time to be away from gadgets: it can make the everyday so much more relaxing, simple, full of quietness and joy. This simple act can help the mind experience more clarity.
We all know how important it is to restart computers from time to time and not just send them into sleep mode. This meditation retreat offered me an opportunity to reboot my whole system, but I hope you can take away some of my findings and incorporate meditation into your daily life through small steps.