Yesterday, May 21, we finished our three day meditation and yoga intensive. We had twelve participants, many of whom were quite new to meditation. This program is tough, even for experienced meditators. It is physically and mentally challenging to sit in meditation for an hour and sometimes two hours. On Saturday we did a total of five and half hours of meditation, 3 hours of kiirtan (a mixture of chanting and a simple spiritual dance) and two plus hours of yoga which is was also pretty demanding. Many found the silence also challenging. On Sunday, however, people were beginning to reap the benefits and some were making breakthroughs. I for one found the two hour early morning extremely empowering, although still very much a challenge. Most very much enjoyed the three hour Kiirtan (Kiirtan done dancing anti-clockwise in a circle). This was a more relaxed program where you are free to dance or meditate or catch some fresh air when you need to. At the closing we heard various positive reports from the participants including making breakthroughs in meditation, enjoying the silence, enjoying the chanting and enjoying the opportunity to have time for oneself and deal with some life questions.
Although we gave a fairly detailed description of the retreat (including the hourly schedule) in the Facebook Event and on our website it was clear that people still did not have a full concept of what they were going in to. So, as organizers, one of the realizations we got from the retreat was the need to provide an even more detailed description of the event and also the need to have a procedure in the registration process where participants say that they have read and agree to all the conditions. In this way participants will be more mentally prepared for the challenges they will face.
We will be organizing two such intensive silent retreats a year – spring and autumn.