The body is our most available, accessible, reliable aid to awakening. It’s always there, just like the breath that keeps it alive. It’s always offering us sensations that reveal how we are whenever we choose to notice. The body has its own innate awareness, and all we have to do is relax and let go of our resistances and tensions in order to contact that awareness and really know how it is to be fully human. The body always tells the truth. Just as the Vajra cuts straight through to the truth of reality, so working with the body cuts through to the truth of being human by short circuiting our thinking mind and habitual defences.
In a way the body is a koan: how can it be that by grounding ourselves fully in the physical body – its flesh & bones and all their sensations - we come to know the groundlessness of our being so fully? But that’s how it is. And that’s lucky, because when we experience the insubstantial, imperfect and impermanent nature of our being we need to be grounded in the comfort and solidity of our earthy bodies that connect us to earth we live on. In just the same way, direct experience of the other elemental qualities of our body helps us to know those same qualities of mind, and helps us be more at ease with those elemental energies of life.
On a more mundane (but no less important!) level, this retreat is also a vibrant exploration and appreciation of our human body in movement and stillness, designed to enhance wellbeing of the whole body-mind and increase ease and delight. There will be: Energy breathwork exercises to enliven, stimulate sensation and enhance the dance of energy in every cell of the body. Slow or energetic Movement and stretches to open and loosen, ease out stiffness of body and mind, help us let go of holding patterns and give us a felt sense of change. Relaxation and grounding techniques to help us be more fully 'here & now' and connect with the solid, kind support of the earth. Fun with an eclectic selection of music and various playful activities. Stillness with meditations & silence to know our experience fully and integrate it.
It’s possible to spend much of our lives in a fairly alienated state - not being fully in touch with the body and living mainly from the neck up ‘in our heads’. That tendency is what this retreat addresses very directly and works to reverse. If we’re fully in touch with the body, experiencing all the changing sensations, feelings & emotions of being fully alive and human, we cannot be alienated. People often say they had no idea how ‘in their heads’ and out of touch they were until they did this retreat.
This certainly is not a traditional meditation retreat. It might be more helpful to think of it as a week-long workshop, because it’s a full programme with a variety of activities. There will be some sitting meditation, but there will also be a variety of meditative and not-so-meditative awareness exercises: energetic breathwork mainly done lying down, slow and energetic movement, walking, looking, touching, writing, and various playful activities. To balance this there is plenty of silence to increase spaciousness (usually about 3 full days).
Opening fully to physical and emotional sensations in these ways can sometimes feel disconcerting or challenging at first, but that only means it is very rewarding, joyful and energising once we get used to it.
Our bodies are great Dharma teachers. All we need to do is turn towards them, open our minds to the awareness they offer us, and let them lead us to depth, delight and awakening.
It is possible to do this retreat if you have some physical or energetic problems, but please check suitability with Dhammagita before booking.