Retreats are the main way in which the teachings are shared at the BDA. They create an environment which supports our practice and deepens our experience of cultivation.
Retreats provide an important opportunity for us to step back from the busy lives we lead and to leave behind the normal support systems we use when we are at home. This allows us to be free from the commitments and day-to-day structures that reinforce our conditioned self. When our routines are no longer there, there is space for concepts and habits to drop away. Emptying out is an essential part of being on retreat and allows us to be present with, and open to, whatever arises. A space can arise naturally for us, where nothing needs to be added or taken away. We can begin to appreciate our being on a simple and organic level. This quiet change from doing to being is Daoist cultivation.
Whether it’s a Daoyin retreat or a Tranquil Sitting retreat we always begin with an informal introduction to the daoist view. Based on ancient root texts, these clear and insightful perspectives on the Dao are fundamental to our approach to cultivation.
Gradually we develop a deep appreciation of the inseparability of the two aspects of cultivation, the view and the meditation. The view is like water to a plant – just as a plant can turn dry and lifeless without water, meditation without the view can become a dull space that has no potency.
We try to choose retreat locations with a quiet and simple feel in a country environment where we can go for walks or just sit and observe nature.
Retreats are a good opportunity for new people to begin their practice in a supportive environment with other Daoists who have experience of the cultivation. They also provide an important space for old-timers to refresh the view and clarify the teachings on Tranquil Sitting and to share their understanding of the cultivation with others.
Weekend retreats allow us to go beyond simply learning the movements of daoyin and will help us open up to the meditative quality of this important cultivation.
We will look at how daoyin dissolves restless qi and enhances the sense of tranquility and vitality from which clarity arises and develop a smooth transition between the postures.
Meditation will also be introduced during these retreats, which provides a good foundation for the longer meditation retreats.
These retreats are open to participants who have attended a weekend retreat, (The Dao of Being 7-day retreat, requires participants to have previously attended a week-long retreat).
These longer retreats are an opportunity to immerse ourselves in silence, move through the landscape with quiet walking, enter seated meditation and become more intimate with the gentle flow of daoyin.
Week long retreats allow us to simplify and deepen our practice.