The Meditation Retreat

I’ve just finished a six-day meditation getaway at the Z-Meditation centre here in McLeod Gang with thirteen other travelers. Needless to say I had an ‘enlightening’ time and am now feeling really happy and chilled out. We had the most lovely couple as teachers; Ajay and Suruchi were the embodiment of peace and love, so warm, friendly, happy and patient. To help you imagine what I’ve actually been up to, here’s the schedule we had most of the time we were there:

6:30am – Wake Up
7:00 – Meditation
8:30 – Active Mindfulness (sitting and learning)
9:30 – Eating Meditation (sitting and eating rice pudding and bread – real slowly)
10:30 – Ablutions (hot shower time)
11:30 – Creative Meditation (drawings, paintings, poems on apt topics)
1:00pm – Eating Meditation (when you’re just thinking about eating you really get into it)
2:00 – Siesta/Study (there were loads of good books there – I read three short ones while I was there)
4:00 – Meditative Yoga (hatha yoga, stretching, sun salutations)
6:00 – Evening Drink (yummy heated healthy drink)
6:30 – Meditation
8:00 – Eating Meditation (great evening meals – but no spices for us)
8:45 – From Great Masters (stories and fables with insightful punchlines)
9:15 – Q & A (since there was no talking allowed you were able to write down questions and put them in box for answers from the teachers in the evenings. I really got into this cause they always gave such great thoughtful responses no matter what the question was about)
9:45 – My life Meditation (they ask you an esoteric yet personal question and you write about. I was amazed at what came out of my pen. Suruchi said she would keep my last “My life Meditation” response and read it to future classes – I rule!)
10:30 – Yogic Sleep (breathe in peace, breathe out love – gets you off to sleep pretty quick!)

It’s surprising how freeing it can be to have your day, your food and everything planned for you – no decisions to make, no worries – it just happens.

The basis of Ajay and Suruchi’s method of teaching is based around their own technique for concentration and discovery called “the inquiry” and simple mantras. The idea is that while meditating and concentrating on your breath you go through a series of mantras or realisable “truths” said to yourself (they’re pre-translated for easy understanding), and if anything enters your mind or distracts you from them you do “the inquiry” which reveals the impermanence and “emptiness” of the object or feeling you had so you can deal with it, clear it from your head and move on. I cannot describe to you at how consistently blown away I am at the effectiveness of this technique. It may not be “pure” in a traditional sense but they made it so easy to relate to and understand, for a beginner like me it was perfect.

I could actually blab on for hours about details of what we learnt and got up to there but they’re probably not as interesting as the results. I wont go into all the details but I can say that on the last night of the course I and many others on the course experienced something pretty special and for me very unexpected. So there we were meditating on the roof of the centre during sunset. I just felt really happy and content going through the mantras one by one. Probably an hour into I was up to the 6th mantra “Pure Joy is Loving Kindness”, it sounds incredible corny and pious I know, but when I was doing it I was living it. I couldn’t help it but I just burst into tears thinking of my family and all the people I care for (and it’s likely that if your reading this you were one of them). It was really emotional and I was quite overwhelmed but I kept going. Soon afterwards, “Pure Joy is Here and Now” and every breath I took just got bigger and deeper and I felt filled with light, almost blinded. I felt so good, so peaceful, ‘high’ even. I found myself repeating to myself “You must be here, you must be here” in astonishment, and what are you? I thought “God you must be here, heaven must be here, my soul must be here”.

And then the bell rang for eating meditation and I jumped out of it, willingly in fact cause it felt a bit scary, but also so good I didn’t want to lose the feeling of my own accord and was glad to have the excuse of something external. So those of you who know me, will know that this isn’t really very like me, but it did happen and I did think it.

The course is over now and you may (or may not) be happy to know I’m still very much the Grant I always was, but am feeling very grateful for those six days. I think I’ve done a good spurt of personal (maybe even spiritual) growth and am totally energised to continue looking into this metaphysical happening that some people call on to gain peace in their everyday life, and others simply devote there lives to. Needless to say I thouroughly recommend the course to anyone and everyone.

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