"Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Gareth, modified 6 Years ago.

"Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 3/2/15 Recent Posts
Hi
I was wondering if anyone had any experience or heard anything about Freely Given Retreats, based in a couple of venues on Dartmoor, Devon, UK
Was looking at either of these two upcoming retreats as a possibility, in all honest as they are close by and the timing would suit my wife taking time off work:
Resting Into Our True Nature - Zohar Lavie
Mind the Heart - Frank Uyttebroeck

There are some at Gaia House which is also not too far from me that are around the same time:
Touching Earth. Insight Meditation Reflection and Ritual -  Catherine McGee, Suvaco Bhikkhu
The Four Immeasurables - Caroline Jones, Zohar Lavie
Dhamma Everywhere - SAYADAW U TEJANIYA
The Wise and Loving Heart - YANAI POSTELNIK, KIRSTEN KRATZ

In case it isn't obvious I am at a very early stage in all this!
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tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: "Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy and welcome!
i saw your lonely thread so thought i'd pretend i know something. so what are your goals gareth?

a lot of us start meditating for some odd reason or to heal ourselves and some, rare ones, to become enlightened or or or..

the focus of this site is attractive to the 'technical meditator' type and I for one can give no direct comment on the courses you mentioned.  that said, is one of them more attractive to you than another?  does one fit your schedule better than another?  there are also goenka courses which are offered on a donation basis and there is always the possibility of doing a self-retreat ( my personal favorite ).

do you feel like you want to learn dharma theory? do you feel you want to dive in with measurable and simple techniques? do you fell like following a peaceful 'path of the heart'?  there are lots of alternatives for every different personality out there.

do you have a current practice? if so what is it?  what's wrong with it? whats right with it?

cheeers
Gareth, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: "Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 3/2/15 Recent Posts
Hi Tom

Really nice of you to reply to my rapidly sinking thread!

I realise this place is primarily inhabited by those following a pragmatic path but I have been keeping an eye on here and the Awake Network forums for a while and I like that it isn't totally focussed on the inctricacies or technicalities of Buddhist doctrine but on technique as well. It is painfully obvious where I am in relation to you all!

Part of the reason for me asking is that I delay decision making as I tell myself I need to know all the facts before coming to a conclusion though the reality is that I just find decision making difficult...

The only response I have had at all is one saying they have heard good things about one of the teachers, Sayadaw U Tejaniya, but unfortunately that retreat is full now anyway. I'm going to take another look over the next few days.

In answer to your questions "do you feel like you want to learn dharma theory? do you feel you want to dive in with measurable and simple techniques? do you fell like following a peaceful 'path of the heart'?" in some ways, yes, yes and yes! Though I think I would benefit more at this stage from techniques. It would be good to feel that I have a good grounding in technique as I feel like I am floundering a little.

My current practice is very very young. I've had so many false starts over the years (I first did a course with FWBO back when I was at university in 1998 and also did my dissetation on Zen art) and I have never managed to get into a regular practice. The present practice has been since the new year, nearly always twice a day and is the longest I have managed to keep going. At the moment it is often following some guided meditation in the morning and then roughly 40 minutes in the early evening, primarily concentrating on the breath, counting and also trying to focus on the sensation (I was sitting with the breath in the morning as well but for some reason I changed, I think I should try again). I have tried to follow Metta and Loving Kindness guided meditations but I really struggle., Similarly with bodyscans. After reading something by Ron Crouch I tried a form of noting after some concentration but I haven't kept that up. I guess as well as feeling I can get somewhere with the concentration (and thus it is the carrot I need to build up a practice) it also feels good to focus. I have been listening to Leigh Brasington recently as well and though he is coming to Gaia House soon (a mere 50 minutes drive from me!) the retreat is for more advanced practitioners.

I have had some good experiences but I have a medical condition that throws pain and fatigue (and mental fogginess) at me and I am also on some new a/d medication which means I am terribly sleepy a lot of the time, this sometimes makes sessions feel wasted as I fail to fight the tiredness/pain. I have tried concentrating on these feelings but it can be overwhelming.... There have been some generally relaxing or uplifting session, a few times I have had strange 'energy' running up my spine and into my head, this is then followed by a feeling of being in deep immeasurable vastness, it was beautiful and I felt so calm afterwards.

Not sure if I really answered your questions and sorry if this turned into a therapy session but I appreciate the reply!
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Steph S, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: "Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Posts: 665 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Hey Gareth,

I'm also not the best person to ask about retreats specifically, but you mention that your more current practice has been concentration.  If you're interested in starting to learn concentration/samadhi before diving into practices along the lines of noting and stuff.... Here's a link to, what is in my opinion, probably the all time best DhO thread that has ever been posted on the topic of concentraion/samadhi/jhana.  (Leigh Brasington is discussed in it too):

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1191517

Steph
Gareth, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: "Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 3/2/15 Recent Posts
thank you so much Steph!
Gareth, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: "Freely Given Retreats" and Gaia House - any info?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 3/2/15 Recent Posts
I had some thoughts...

I struggle to join groups and I struggle with much of the religion side of things - I haven't found a faith, that being said I seem to have a deep seated hole inside that pulls me towards religious/spiritual things, similarly the idea of ritual and ceremony I recognise as important but pomp, circumstance, costumes is something I struggle with. I have poor memory at the moment and my health issue seems to affect cognitive ability as well (foggy brain) so I struggle to read and retain information so I often feel overwhelmed when trying to take stuff in. I'm not a hard-nosed science bod, I'm also not a sandal wearing hippy/new-ager!

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