SILENT MEDITATION RETREAT GUIDELINES
On Day 2,3 & 4 of the training, we will be entering into silence as we dive into a 3-day silent meditation retreat.
You will be asked to hand over all your technical devices ( laptops, phones Ipad etc) to ensure a held container for these 3 days.
We do this to support the deepening of your journey into meditation & silence and to avoid extra pollution entering the mind from social media platforms, texting, emails etc.
We ask that throughout these 3 days that you go into complete silence- no talking or reading. Journalling at certain times may be permitted by the meditation facilitator and there will be times for Q&A throughout the module.
In cases of emergencies, you can come and speak to one of the facilitators or assistance or we ask you to write your questions down on paper if it is not urgent and can be dealt with in this manner.
TIMES & FOOD
For the 3-day retreat, you will be asked to arrive by 7 am if you are a non-residential participant & stay until the end of the day. Everyone is advised to stay onsite for the entire schedule of the day.
You will be provided with breakfast, lunch & dinner for this retreat. (After the retreat we only offer lunch for the remaining of the training and any extra meals, drinks and snacks can be purchased at the vegan restaurant onsite)
Throughout the 21 days we will also have more days of silence where we will be together practicing dance, movement & meditation throughout the day. Please also be prepared to go offline these days as well. If you work remotely via the internet we suggest that you prepare yourself for this training to have as much free time as possible. We will give you 24 hours notice if we go into a silent day ( days maybe 1-2 days of silence in a row sometimes).
In a meditation retreat, we come to enjoy meditation & to explore a meditation practice. But why would one want to enjoy meditation and have a chance to explore a meditation practice?
Because we need support. We need help.
In a meditation retreat, you have healthy food, a lot of free time and space, time to rest, time to be still, time to balance, breathe fresh air and harmonize sleep cycles.
But what happens when you leave the retreat?
What happens when you leave the yoga class, healing session, or wellness workshop?
After you leave, you probably won’t continue to have healthy food prepared for you, at optimal times, with mindfulness and love. Gone is the space to balance, sleep, be still, or breathe fresh air.
We can’t depend on outer conditions to keep us healthy, happy and in harmony.
More severely, we cannot depend on outer conditions for mental clarity, and inner peace.
How do we get unwavering peace of mind - regardless of the circumstances?
We can take meditation home from the retreat. We can take meditation anywhere, and it doesn't need to be in a classical or rigid format. In the end, Meditation is unwavering peace of mind - regardless of the circumstances.
Sitting Meditation & Breaks
This retreat skilfully blends a therapeutic emphasis on caring for the body with the practice of transcending the body, as well as the mind. There are not many strong meditation retreats that also blend 2 yoga practices daily.
We also take breaks between sitting meditation practices to stretch out and either continue the meditation while stretching or laying or to fully break and go for a walk. Sitting meditation is entirely different from laying down due to the vertical or horizontal nature of the spine as well as the vast difference between the Yin and Yang posture.
There are no exceptions during sitting meditation for anyone to be laying down. Disregarding the structure and intention of meditation would be unsupportive for the individual and group in regards to our aim of vigilance and strength to choose Truth and presence over unconscious stories.
Schedule, Sitting Meditation and Other Issues
The evolution of the human mind has lead to the miraculous development of modern-day society. Its nature is to evaluate, judge, improve and plan ahead. The issue nowadays is that our whole identity and experience are lived in hypothetical projections, disconnected from the intimacy, connect and depth of Presence.
During this retreat the nature of the mind to want to improve and judge will become exceedingly and sometimes painfully obvious. Our practice is to detach from the mind.
The mind will still function, however we need not purchase every single story, wish & desire of the mind. What would serve us best, in retreat and in our lives, is to rather find a new, inner position (of acceptance & presence) that is not invested in the minds stories.
The retreat is designed with your best interests at heart. To support all your best qualities to come forth: clarity, strength, compassion, awareness. But also to support the group as a whole so that we all may ride an awesome, collective wave of energy towards new depths of meditation.
Your mind is most likely a wild monkey constantly affirming its own “good ideas” of why it would be beneficial to miss a session, lay down when you start to feel sore, use your phone, or any other disregard of the guidelines. This not only lessons your strength and reduces the effectiveness of this mindful space we have provided you, but also takes away from the energy and support of the group.
It also takes from the retreat facilitators who then need to use time and energy to either police you or bring your energy back into alignment. Please know there are no alterations whatsoever from these guidelines.
This is a fantastic training away from ‘believing’ all the stories of the mind. Following the guidelines of this retreat will bring you the strength to stand up for a deeper Truth when the mind starts to ‘molest you’ outside of the retreat.
You will notice a difference in the sleeping cycles. Generally, Ava advises to sleep less, and to rest more. There will be frequent rest period where it is not advised to aim for a deep sleep or even nap, but rest the body, mind and the need to ‘do anything’.
Take it as a gift and a reprogramming to rise & sleep earlier. Start your day with gratitude well before the first meditation starts. Accept that the body and mind are tired, and this retreat setting might reveal that to you. This is not a problem, nothing is.
It is only an invitation to know and cherish yourself exactly the way you are, and then check in what the next step would be to serve you best.
These 3 days can serve to reset unhealthy habits that we may not have had the willpower to change prior.
Often we stress about sleeping around the clock in conscious and unconscious ways. These stresses impede the sleep process. Avoid planning, worrying or expecting sleep in your normal ways and you’ll see that sleep will come easier and more efficiently without the minds pseudo-control.
It is highly recommended to be as comfortable as possible in the meditation periods. It is imperative in a strong meditation practice to keep the back and spine straight and vertical. However for most people this needs to be balanced with the comfort and acceptance of their body in its current state. We advise use of chairs, cushions , props and supports to keep the back straight and body comfortable.
Questions and concerns can be communicated by notes to the facilitators , and questions about the practice and teachings are recommended and will be answered in a special Q & A session daily.
One of the most powerful thing we can do before any action, and before any self-practice is set an intention. When we initiate the action with a focus of intention, we benefit from an alignment of all our forces & energy - Mind, Body, Emotions, Spirit.
If you’re ever having difficulty come back to this very simple question: “Whats my intention?” Allow the simple present moment intention, or Divine will, to arise within you. Acknowledge it and move forward.
There is a great deal of support being offered during the retreat setting. Half from within, half from without. There is a great deal of support coming from yourself (body/mind), in response to your decision to come and spend these days in stillness. The subconscious forces are rallied and prepared for all the efforts and events you will traverse in these days. Know there is loving support from the leaders and from the group to be there and accept you as you embrace any challenges that may arise. Please contact the leaders through notes if you need help or have questions. Trust in your own capacities, the means of the retreat are well, well within your abilities as a human Being.
There will be plenty of time for ‘individual practice’ during the retreat. This includes: Journalling, stretching, walking, meditation, resting, breathing, contemplation, yoga, tai chi/qi gong, movement or fitness. This is another chance to reset us towards some healthy listening in to what the body needs, rather than what we think we should be doing or are told to do. These burdens may have been placed on us during our normal lives, this is a chance to rest, be free and check in to the bodies healing wisdom.
What is meditation
It has such a broad understanding, we could almost liken it to the term ‘exercise’.
Exercise can be used keep the body healthy, the systems harmonious, blood circulating, lungs expelling. Maybe we want to be beautiful, healthy or fit. Exercise could be used for competitive reasons or to accumulate self-worth.
Or perhaps to cure an illness, or give relief from a disease. Exercise can be used to support pain-management.
Usually exercise refers to making the physical body healthy.
Similarly, meditation serves so many agendas. And it can be defined by what its intended out come is. Why we are doing meditation defines what meditation is more or less.
There are too many to list here. From gross, to subtle. From releasing toxins and stress in the nervous system and disease in the physical body, to relieving stress and disease in the mind. Meditation makes the mind sharp, clear, creative.
Meditation refines our consciousness to be non-reactive, non judgemental (accepting & in flow). Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘flow states’ where human beings can entire into a superior way of functioning (cognitively and physically) by submitting themselves to a high state of consciousness where they are no longer the ‘doer’. This is closer to the ancient use of meditation - a way of revealing the truth of our being, what we really are. Because beyond a fluctuating set of thoughts and beliefs, or body, what are we? Realising the truth beyond an abstract philosophy, has been the ultimate form, or agenda, of meditation across the ages.
Generally, meditation refers to making the mind, emotions and consciousness healthy.
With exercise, while its more profound use is to keep the human being healthy, happy, energised and balanced, it could be used for more superficial reasons - competition, image or ego-power. Similarly with meditation, although it could be used to clear the busy mind, or calm agitated systems, its more profound use is to recognise the absolute freedom that is ever present within us. This freedom and peace of what we are is somehow deeply obscured by conditioning, personal wants and beliefs about what we are.