3-Day Meditation Retreat for College Students
Dharma Drum for Young People (DDYP) hosted a 3-Day Retreat for College Students on April 17 through 19, 2009 at Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, NY. 27 participants from Columbia University, MIT, Penn State University and other colleges, as well as young professionals attended the retreat. Chang Wen Fashi, the current resident teacher at DDRC, and Chang Yu Fashi from Chan Meditation Center, led the retreat.
The main focus of this retreat was on meditation techniques and their applications in daily life. The retreat consisted of several workshops and follow-up Q&A sessions. Practice sessions usually followed the workshops to help participants obtain first-hand experience of practicing the methods introduced in the workshops.
During the first day of the retreat, Chang Wen Fashi adopted a step-by-step approach to introduce the participants to basic meditation techniques, including demonstrations on maintaining a stable sitting posture, the seven checkpoints for relaxing the body, and the method of "experiencing the breath" to settle down the mind. He also introduced several forms of walking meditation and helped participants experience the unification of movement and mind through these exercises.
On the second day of the retreat, participants learned about the progressive stages of meditation-- to observe that the mind is always discriminating and chasing after things, that the mind gradually settles down and is able to concentrate, the experience of the unification of mind with the outer environment, and finally, the experience of "no-self". The advanced meditation method of direct contemplation was introduced in the afternoon workshop and the participants rested beside the lake to practice the method.
At the end of the retreat, participants shared their retreat experiences through group discussions. Many of them did not have any prior meditation or retreat experience. The students spent their weekend attending the retreat, despite demanding school schedules and approaching final exams. The retreat provided them with an alternative way to settle the mind within the "busy-ness" of their daily lives. They seemed happy to have spent a unique weekend at DDRC.