Why the Difference?

by Anna

I feel tired from the world’s hectic upward spiral, always achieving, increasing, improving (you get it) and yearn for some time out. Last year I spent a week at Plum Village, a Buddhist Community (read all about it here). Now I am looking for something similar closer to where I live.

This does prove to be difficult, since different groups have arisen that have different ideas about the Buddha’s teachings. Surely, one man, one message? Right? Sadly no, as you can also observe in many other religions, who essentially follow the same message but have given their “God” or practice a different name.

The arising confusion is understandable, yet frustrating, when all one wants is a safe place to retreat to for a long weekend away from every day’s stressors. “No, we can’t allow you to our Mindfulness Retreat since you haven’t got any experience with our type of Buddhism.”

Blimey, my daily meditation practice, my mindful approach to life, my interest in the essential Buddhist sutras all in vain, or so it seems, since no begging is getting me any closer to attending this desired retreat. Okay, they suggested the introductory retreat to me, but do I want to be introduced to a system that in turn won’t let me in anywhere else? What is this?

Now I’m feeling insecure in approaching other retreats, not sure what to expect, or even what is expected of me. Surely, thoughts like that shouldn’t precede the attendance of a retreat.

Things like that is what separates the world from itself. A phrase from the recent “Walter Mitty” movie won’t leave my head: “TO SEE THE WORLD, THINGS DANGEROUS TO COME TO, TO SEE BEHIND WALLS, TO DRAW CLOSER, TO FIND EACH OTHER AND TO FEEL. THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE.”

Walter Mitty2

It actually left such an impression on me that I made it this year’s New Year’s Resolution. To travel, have adventures, be inquisitive, learn something new, meet new people, re-connect with old friends and to be present with all my heart. What more of a purpose could our life possibly have?

When we had set up the Awareness Spa Mini Retreats last year (www.awarenessspa.co.uk), we welcomed everyone, and still do, to come and join us for a day of mindfulness and relaxation, to simply take the time off and let go. This can be tricky to do in your own home (there is always the dishes to wash or to hoover and by the way, the windows really need cleaning, and oh, it’s time to prepare dinner…).

Despite leading this day retreat and it feeling like being on a retreat myself, so it is nonetheless hard work, which is why we have slowed down a little bit in terms of content. And oh how I wished someone else would offer something similar for me to attend, without the organisational aspect.

I won’t give up that easily on my search for a retreat, even if I simply set off on my own again into the unknown, as I have done numerous times before (as you can also read here).

Happy discovery 😉