In our hectic daily life we lack the calm and stillness conducive to maintaining a peaceful and happy state of mind. To regain a balance people are drawn to peaceful and quiet places where they can withdraw for a short time and renew their energy – in short, they go on retreat. Here we devote our time to meditation and contemplation – it is a time to acquaint our minds with positive and meaningful thoughts.
On retreat we stop all forms of business and extraneous activities so as to emphasize a particular spiritual practice. There are three types of retreat: physical, verbal, and mental. We engage in physical retreat when with a spiritual motivation we isolate ourself from other people, activities and noise, and disengage from extraneous and meaningless actions. We engage in verbal retreat when with a spiritual motivation we refrain from meaningless talk and periodically keep silence. We engage in mental retreat by preventing distractions and strong delusions such as attachment, anger, jealousy and strong self-grasping from arising, and by maintaining mindfulness and conscientiousness.
If we remain in physical and verbal retreat but fail to observe mental retreat, our retreat will have little power. Such a retreat may be relaxing, but if we do not prevent strong delusions from arising, our mind will not be at peace, even on retreat. However, keeping physical and verbal retreat will help us to keep mental retreat. In order to engage in retreat, one should withdraw for a given period of time to a qualified place and attend at least four meditation sessions a day in order to concentrate on a given meditation practice.
Doing a retreat with us – group or solitary
At IRC Kailash there are two different ways to do a retreat. Either, in a group, or in solitude. Our group retreats are all led by qualified teachers from the New Kadampa Tradition. The group gathers daily according to schedule in the meditation room to recite prayers and to meditate. Certain sessions are reserved for teachings and discussions. In a group retreat every participant assumes some household task so that the retreat can progress smoothly. Most retreats are conducted in silence, during which time there is no talking.
Solitary retreats are arranged with the guidance of a spiritual teacher, whereby a particular practice and appropriate meditations are emphasized. At Kailash IRC solitary retreat sessions are conducted in single rooms.