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Sharing my experience on a nine-day retreat of DDM

In May, 2015, I had the chance to attend a nine-day Chan meditation retreat of DDM. I never went to any retreats before and just have a couple of months experience in the Chan practice, so when I first arrived I felt quite nervous and had no idea what was waiting for me.

However, this nervousness disappeared quickly after we got introduced to the retreat grounds and rules by the very sympathetic and friendly volunteers and venerable monastics that guided us during these days.

I felt very welcomed and immediately saw that the organizers were very concerned to make this retreat a great and valuable experience for all of us. As an exchange student in Taiwan the monastic lifestyle we lived was very different from what I am used, meaning that it was exhausting in the beginning, as we woke up a 4 am, couldn't talk or have eye contact at all time.

The reason for this is that we should isolate ourselves and not get distracted so much, which was leading to me, realizing my own mind every moment and see how many thoughts actually run through my head all the time, and how much energy I waste on them. In hindsight, all made sense and I gained a lot from sticking to those rules.

The practice and different exercises we did over the day were very good as well and we got professionally guided through every step, so everything was clear to a beginner like me. We did all kind of mind and body exercises, like sitting meditation, yoga or walking meditation.

As the days passed, my mind settled more and more and I could increasingly relax and feel the benefits of practicing so intensively. Only sitting was pretty hard as my legs hurt a lot, but I was told by the venerable monk that this is normal for beginners in my interview with him. (We all got the chance to talk to the venerable monk and asked questions every day, which can be very helpful.)

Apart from that, the food we received was delicious, the help of the assistance committed was amiable; the retreat ground was beautiful and simply perfect to practice Chan.

I have the feeling I learned a lot about my own mind in these days and I was very proud of myself after the retreat. The lessons that Buddhism teaches are all wonderful to me. Since the retreat, I am even more determined to make progress on this path. I believe it will not only benefit my own life, which it already did, but that one day I will be capable of truly helping others.

It was not easy and I reached my limits many times, but I can assuredly recommend a meditation retreat to everyone and especially for westerners that will be a very exciting and unforgettable experience.

Written by Maxime Laurence



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