A Dharma weekend away can help us reset our meditative practice and deepen our experience
We practice Dharma because we want to change: we want to embody qualities that we admire such as self-restraint, patience, and love for others, and we want to free ourselves from our negative mental patterns and our delusions. When we walk out of class in Oak Park or Wicker Park, we feel revitalized and inspired, but before we know it, our old habits of mind once again have us in their grip, we have forgotten our good intentions, and we find ourselves reacting in conventional and ingrained ways.
Buddha offers many strategies to help us break out of familiar thought patterns. If we have the opportunity, something that can be particularly beneficial is to go on a weekend retreat.
A change of external scene can set the stage for inner transformation and a retreat provides the chance to focus more single-pointedly on our objectives because we are removed from our ordinary obligations and distractions.
From one point of view, every meditation session is a little retreat because it is a brief occasion for us to drop our normal concerns and preoccupations and make the happy effort to get in touch with our Buddha nature. But it can be challenging to relinquish normal concerns and give ourselves permission to meditate because we have things to do, people and animals to take care of, etc. Then, when we do settle onto the cushion, the doorbell rings, the cat starts vomiting, or somebody’s car alarm goes off outside. Or perhaps our sessions are mercifully free of distractions, and yet they feel flat or rote and in need of some reinvigoration. A Dharma weekend away can really help us reset our meditative practice and deepen our experience on the cushion. And it can be an opportunity to hear teachers from other centers, as well as to socialize with Sangha members that we don’t normally get to see.
We have an away retreat coming up over Labor Day weekend (9/1 - 9/4) at the beautiful, peaceful Lindenwood Retreat Center in Plymouth, Indiana -- less than a 2-hour drive from Chicago. We hope you can join us!