A retreat is not a heavenly experience where one escapes from the world to chill. On the contrary, a retreat is to come back to what one keeps running away from and to face whatever fear that kept one at bay. In truth, retreat is facing the world again, the world within that has never left us.
Internal experiences become more obvious when one is in retreat. Triggers become obvious and little attachments made magnified, only if one takes notice of it, instead of the already always way of shunning it by giving it a meaning. Not that a retreat is a place for ego or defilements to grow, but rather, with no other outlets for the mind to escape, what was not obvious before comes out into the open.
Your only escape is to sleep, but even that is not a solution as what is being resisted will appear in dreams as nightmares or unpleasant experiences. What’s the point then of a retreat if one is not ready to face what one’s purpose of coming to a retreat for?
A retreat is like a coliseum where your entertainment is your very mind. Not a pleasant entertainment though if you have in the past with mindlessness, kept running away from it. But if one has been trained to watch the mind, giving it a priority instead of the outer world, a retreat will be an opportunity to deepen the skills. A retreat then will only be an extension of what has already been a daily practise in life. In fact, this is the correct attitude towards the approach of going into a retreat as it is not a place for escapism but a place to sharpen one’s skill in meeting the challenges the mind offers.
Hence your idea or ideal of a retreat makes your criteria of attending it. What is sure about a retreat is that it is not a place where you can chill unless and until you learn to face what is already in the mind. Facing one’s own mind is voluntary and cannot be coaxed. But it will be a matter of time when one takes the initiative to embark on this journey as each our threshold of pain has its limit and there will come a time where we just know for ourselves that there is a better way out to handle ourselves. It is this time that one will realise that it is through understanding the workings of the mind where and when one takes the resolution to explore what one has not understood – to realize that there is something much more than what one thinks life is all about.
A retreat, to begin with, is a space of courage, where one takes the readiness to face what comes up in him. Hence, the beginning journey, as always, is pretty difficult and arduous – not that it is painful, but certainly unpleasant, as we are no longer subjected to what the mind draw us to do, but to observe with much impartiality how addicted we are to the ego’s need. Hence to have adequate right information of handling the mind is necessary as how you address the mind is how you define your practice. You can either see the mind as a threat or as an opportunity to learn its nature. Both have different flavour of practice and somehow either idea will define how you address your life as they define your attitude.
Welcome to what is truly purposeful in your life!