It is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating them like machines. You would then let fresh air into your mind. Wouldn’t you?
In removing ourselves from our familiar surroundings and busy schedules, retreats afford us the opportunity to see accumulated habits of distraction and begin to soften them. In removing everything we do that is not supportive of living with freshness and wakefulness, practice retreats realign us with our deepest values, helping us discover ways to upgrade how we live our lives on a daily basis. Many of our unskillful choices stem from unconscious patterns of unaware living, shielding us from the inherent simple joy in ordinary moments. On retreats we have the opportunity to slow down our days and see ourselves and everything more clearly. We often uncover not only what habits are destructive and learn how to work skillfully with them, but are also encouraged to attend to that which is pulsing softly within us, under all the noise or numbness. Sufis call this primordial aspect our Hidden Essence, Taoists call it the tranquility at the center of all storms, the Tao, Hindus say the Self or Brahman, Buddhists refer to this as our Buddha nature, while others say inner spirit or God. Skillful dedication to a yogic path of awareness uncovers this intrinsic inner dimension, teaching us about the suffering inherent in our perceived (not actual) disconnection from wholeness. In inner silence and increased stillness, we often glimpse and learn to sustain a truth larger than our self-definitions allow.
The Yogic path is a gradual process involving self-investigation and skillful means. Daily practice helps us become aware of the habits which perpetuate our inner rigidity or chaos, while longer retreats, which emphasize meditation, loving-friendliness, social silence, and continual mindfulness throughout the day teach us how to sustain a simple and kind presence. Removed from our daily activities and responsibilities, we learn to interrupt the habits of our conditioned patterns through compassionate attention, freeing us to live from a larger truth, an authentic clarity of being.
We offer many opportunities to be on retreat through the Insight Yoga Institute. Retreats can be taken independently or as part of a 500-hour Yoga Alliance certification program.