DDM SYDNEY HOSTS 4 & 7-DAY RETREAT
Over the 2009 Easter break, DDM Sydney held its first combined ４ and ７ day retreat for the year.
The venue for this retreat was different from other retreats hosted by DDM previously as the venue was a scout hall tucked into the edge of Lane Cove National Park, with bushwalking trails frequented by local suburban residents. It was along easy access of the train line and the main arterial roads, but held an air of calm and spaciousness.
27 Retreatants in total gathered at the venue on 10 April, looking forward to the work ahead of them.
Guo Jun Fashi gave direction on the different types of meditation, breaking down each step of the relaxation body scan (RBS). Each day retreatants would complete an array of active forms of meditation, such as eight-form moving and walking, and even yoga! Retreatants were also taught eating meditation to train awareness of the bodily sensations arising from each mouthful of food being eaten: its appearance, its smell, its taste and texture, chewing, then the sensation of swallowing the food.
A theme which evolved through the retreat was spaciousness. Each evening after dinner, there would be a short meditation session, followed by evening session, then group Q&A, where participants would raise questions they have about their experience with practice in a frank, open forum. Fashi would address each question in detail whilst encouraging everyone to ask more questions. One retreatant even tried to apologise for asking "too many questions" in succession, to which Fashi compassionately replied "I haven’t told you to stop asking."
Guo Jun Fashi elaborated on the need to have a correct attitude towards practice. He revealed that it is very important to have a teacher who can provide guidance on one hand, but it is up to the practitioner to remain self-reliant and responsible for their own practice. It is also important to practice with a sense of humility and gratitude and to not let one’s ego develop when one feels they are practicing well or are making progress.
Retreatants were given a mantra to use when wandering thoughts or pains arise in practice, to develop this "spaciousness". This could be taken home for use in daily life:
"It's okay, no big deal. Relax and let it be."
At the end of the retreat, many participants expressed their gratitude for the questions asked by others in group Q&As, as many of the questions asked were on their minds too. Through others sharing their questions in these group sessions, others were able to benefit from Fashi’s responses.
(by DDM Australia)