Retreats and Benefits
Often people ask me how long should I participate in a retreat. I say “the longer the better”. However, if you are a beginner, it is really best to do a one to three day retreat. This will give you a sense of the retreat process and it likely will encourage you to continue with longer retreats. In time you work your way up to a five or even an eleven day retreat
Many monastics and devoted lay people, of different traditions, take part in a three to four month retreat. In the West, with jobs and family obligations, this may be difficult if not impossible for the lay person.
But think of it this way – everyone gets vacation time from work so doing a ten to eleven day retreat is very feasible. And what a great vacation it is. Think about this – your worries, anxieties, fears are put aside during your retreat time. You dwell in bliss – peaceful bliss.
I have had monks and nuns tell me you do not achieve the benefit of retreat until day five, but I don’t agree. I have done both short and long retreats and found that a one day retreat can give me as many benefits as an eleven day one.
Let me emphasize this. Just doing a retreat one time is not going to do it. It is a practice and with practice we continue to gain the privilege of achieving our goal. What is this goal? Enlightenment, awareness, knowing self.
I suggest that you don’t put pressure on yourself and say it didn’t work – it does with time and commitment. Keep at it.
So what are the benefits?
There are two categories – physical and spiritual
Let s start with physical
- Blood pressure goes down
- Cholesterol levels are reduced
- Aches and pains seem to magically evaporate
- You are more relaxed. Things that bothered you before are now unimportant
- You find that you are more focused on work.
- I rate this on top. Getting to know your true self
- Gaining a sense of peace, direction and increased confidence
- Reducing anger and frustrations
- Improving relationships
- Smiling more and sleeping better
- Attaining an acute sense of your surroundings with appreciation and respect.
Those are just a few.
There are many monasteries and temples that offer retreats- it will cost a lot less than going to Aruba or Jamaica. Besides all that, the food it great and you will find you are really tasting the food, not just shoveling it in. Again a sense of appreciation.
May we all achieve Buddhahood.
Delani, co-founder of the Buddha Center and Satori.