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Retreat at the Dead Sea

Over 7 days, we explored 7 different quotes from different teachers and traditions.

Day 1

Let's start with the quote: Happiness depends more on the inward nature of mind than on outward circumstances. - Benjamin Franklin

So instead of engaging with both thoughts and emotions, I simply observe, and gently let go. If this becomes a practice, the mind begins to find ease.

Ease is actually your true nature, and the more you practice letting go and being present, the more you realize how simple it is to tap the peace that lies within.

Also, Yoga is all about attention placement. So ask yourself today, where do I place my attention ? Maybe stay with the breath, breeze, sun or sea. Find something that brings you peace and be with it. Let this moment be full, rest in presence.

Another quote that dropped into my email this morning was:

We cannot know happiness; we can only be it. We cannot be unhappy; we can only know it. - Rupert Spira

In other words, your essence or true nature is happiness. So as I relax, I settle into the peace and happiness of my being. This peace is always available, it's just a matter of tuning in.

On the other hand, you can only know unhappiness, not be it. Unhappiness is simply observed. So unhappiness is only a state that passes, like a could in the sky, and happiness is a way of being, like the sky that contains the cloud, the sky is always present.

Day 2

Today's quote was: The beautiful bird gets caged. - Chinese Proverb

Beautiful bird is the judgmental mind. So once the ego starts to judge reality, resistance finds its way into our being, and we create a cage.

Yoga is about ease, or nonresistance, so once the mind begins to judge, it's always a good idea to step back, and find the breath. Be with the breath and present moment. In presence, resistance dissolves.

But also, you could inquire into the source of resistance. So where did this thought come from ? If you inquire deeply enough you'll realize thought is rooted in emotion. So find that emotion, and explore it, unpeel it. If you do, you'll find the ease of being. Being is ease, there actually no 'finding' to be done.

Finally, yoga means union, union of subject (person/within) and object (world/without). Meaning ... thoughts, breath, sound of the sea and sky all happen within consciousness, this consciousness is a space where all things unite. In this unity, there is everlasting peace. At first this might sound tricky, but the more you contemplate the nature of reality/unity of consciousness, the more apparent it becomes.

Other than that, I would recommend spending sometime in silence during the day. Spend more time with yourself, tune in, and give attention to whatever needs to be attended to.

Day 3

Today we started with: You suffer because things are impermanent and you think they are permanent. - Thich Nhat Hanh

The essence of life is change, the only constant is change. And yet, the mind always attaches itself to objects and expects things to remain as is. The root cause of suffering is this attachment, the attachment to permanence.

So how do we work with change or suffering ? We embrace it, we understand that life will continue to change, forever and ever, and we gently, with a kind heart, let things be.

What's also important is knowing that with letting go, we eventually receive what we need and desire. By surrender, by being present, life will take you in, and offer you an olive branch. An olive branch being a symbol of peace.

So trust life and embrace all change as life wants to see you happy, truly. Every challenge is nothing but an opportunity to grow and find peace.

Day 4

' I close my eyes in order to see '

An old Zen saying, and as you already know, the Zen master is referring to meditation.

To truly see, or to see from the heart, rather than mind, one must sit silence.

In silence, we begin understand our essence, essence being the silent observer or witness that observes the mind.

So as we continue to practice meditation, we begin to realize that most thoughts are a form of illusion, or just another story. And once we see things as they really are, past the illusion, it becomes easier to let go and find presence.

We close our eyes to see the beauty and simplicity of being.

Day 5

'Breathing in, I see myself as still water, breathing out, I reflect things as they are' - Thich Nhat Hanh

Beautiful quote.

As I am present, and as I inhale, I find myself in a space of stillness, just like a morning pond, still, with no ripples.

My inner world is ever-present, silent and still. I am at peace, I am peace.

As I breathe out, 'I' as a manifestation of silence, see the world as it is, pure and unfiltered. I see nothing but the light of consciousness.

And like a spotless mirror, I reflect things as they are. Projecting my inner dynamic onto the world is a thing of the past.

I am still, and I see the world as it, vibrant and full of delight.

Only one feeling remains: I am.

Day 6

'And through all this you may come to understand that the whole drama of life can be viewed as a setup for you to become illuminated.' I know no ones likes to suffer, but also, I know that there's another way to look at suffering. We can look at suffering as an opportunity to grow and evolve.  The drama of life gives us the opportunity to look within, and by looking within, we begin to better understand what causes us to suffer. So do we suffer because reality is harsh ? Or do we suffer because of how the mind interprets reality ? From experience, I would say the answer is the latter, the mind causes suffering, and not the world.  So instead of always expecting things to be a certain way, its best to accept things as they are, and go with the flow. And I don't mean being passive, I mean accepting the things we can't change, and trusting life will lead us in the right direction, given we do the inner work.  Finally, as we begin to better understand our being and spend more time in the present, we'll start to see the mind for what it is, a bunch of old thought patterns that are far from reality, smoke and mirrors as they say, and that's when we find freedom. The beautiful bird leaves the cage. 

Day 7

'Meditation is not something restricted to times of formal seated meditation; it is most fundamentally an attitude of being-a resting in and as being. Once you get the feel of it, you will be able to tune into it more and more often during your daily life. Eventually, in the state of liberation, meditation will simply become your natural condition.' - Adyashanti

Meditation or yoga are ways of being. They begin as a practice, and develop into a lifestyle. So we begin by sitting in silence, and after a while, silence becomes a part of who we are.

How do I develop practice ? Start with ten minutes in the morning. Sit and observe the breath, or use a mantra and focus on it, or use an app, I've heard of two good ones, one called headspace, and the other insight timer, they offer guided meditations, try them, they might work for you.

Meditation is as simple as brushing your teeth, all you have to do is focus your attention on the breath or mantra, and let things be. If thoughts arise, that's fine, just gently shift your attention back to the practice, and always be kind as you transition from thoughts to breath or mantra. The practice is kindness in action. Even if during the day you catch yourself drifting into the dream of mind, bring yourself back to the present, use your breath, mantra or senses to ground yourself in here and now.

And remember, there is no such thing as wrong or bad meditation. Meditation is simply meditation, free of all judgment.

Dead Sea.

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