A journalist interviewed us with this question recently – What do the guests gain from attending our yoga retreats?
Firstly – Yoga is not about gain and loss, but it’s going beyond gain and loss. It’s performing all actions without attachment and renouncing the fruit of actions. There’s neither gain nor loss.
Secondly – Commercialized yoga retreats are mostly about selling yoga and spa treatment packages targeting for self-pampering in physical and mental indulgence, such like – “Pampering getaway to cleanse, de-stress, rejuvenate and revitalize.” Though there’s nothing wrong with that, but a retreat is not about pampering one’s body and mind through receiving pleasurable physical and mental enjoyments.
Thirdly – Everyone has different personality and mentality, and each has different speed of learning and level of understanding towards the teachings and practice of yoga. It depends on each individual on how, what and where they are looking in a yoga retreat. In most yoga retreats that are available in the world, it’s about looking out at the appearance of the retreat centre, the management and professionalism of the people running the retreat centre and programs, the facilities and services provided, the surrounding environment, social interaction and activities to make the clients feel good, satisfy and happy. In traditional yoga and meditation practice, it’s about looking within one’s mind, find out and eliminate the cause of unhappiness or suffering, be free from ignorance and egoism, and realize unconditional love and peace that is beyond qualities of names and forms, and it’s not about looking out in search for some qualities of names and forms that will make them feel good, satisfy and happy.
Yoga retreats run by Yoga Now Malaysia are catering for those who want to learn about yoga and to have the opportunity to immerse into traditional yoga and meditation practice while retreating or moving away from worldly habitual behavior, senses inputs and social activities. It’s about purifying and quieting the mind to perform self-inquiry to know about the mind and the cause of suffering, to go beyond names and forms, and be free from all sorts of mind impurities that derived from egoism, ignorance, attachment, identification, and desires of craving and aversion.
One learns about one’s mind and takes responsibility for one’s mind reactions towards all the names and forms that they like and dislike, agree and disagree with, want and don’t want.
One learns to be the teacher of oneself by developing self-awareness, self-reliance, self-control and self-discipline. It’s allowing one to realize the greatest teacher from within and seeing the teachers in all and everything that one’s mind comes in contact with, learning from one’s mind behavior and from everyone and everything that one comes in contact with. Everyone and everything has no intention to teach anyone anything, but one learns from everyone and everything once one becomes one’s own teacher.
One learns to go beyond conditioned worldly thinking and beliefs that generate duality of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and unhappiness, right and wrong, success and failure, gain and loss, praise and condemn. One learns to see the truth of names and forms as it is.
One learns about patience, forbearance, tolerance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation.
One learns to love and be kind to oneself and others not through gratifying the desires of craving and aversion of oneself or others, but through disciplining and purifying one’s mind, be free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires and all sorts of impurities, stop hurting oneself and others under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities.
It’s not about gratifying the worldly desires of craving and aversion by pampering oneself in worldly indulgence of the senses, or getting some pleasurable physical and mental inputs and enjoyments. But, it’s limiting and restricting the desires of craving and aversion towards all the perceptions of names and forms of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts.
It’s not about expecting to receive different types of spa treatment or energy healing from some other people, to feel good by escaping what they don’t like and don’t want, and getting something that they like and want. But, it’s learning how to deal with the impurities in their own minds by knowing what is the real cause of all kinds of tension, unhappiness and suffering, and through one’s self-realization one goes beyond all kinds of names and forms, and stop generating or accumulating tension or unhappiness in one’s body and mind.
It’s not just about performing yoga exercises to relax the body and mind, or to release physical and mental tension, but it’s to learn how to stop generating or accumulating tension or unhappiness in one’s body and mind in the first place by practicing letting go of the ego, attachment, identification, and the desires of craving and aversion. There’s no need to relax or release any tension as there is minimal or no tension building up, when one knows about the truth of one’s mind and the cause of suffering.
It’s not about gaining or improving one’s physical condition and ability of strength and flexibility through the yoga asana practice, but it’s allowing the effects of the practice to be there as they are. It’s accepting the present physical condition and ability as it is, while being aware of the impermanent changes in the body and the mind and allowing the changes to be what they are, as they are, without attachment or identification with the physical body or the mind to be who ‘I’ am.
It’s not about getting high or pleasant sensations from meditation practice or doing some yoga stretches and poses, but it’s to learn how to not attach or associate with the impermanent physical conditions and abilities, the states of mind and thought activities. The calming and centering effect of the yoga asana practice is to prepare the mind for meditation, to reflect upon the truth or the nature of names and forms. It’s not about getting some benefits or good feelings.
It’s not about expecting the environment to be pleasant and all good to make us feel good and happy by expecting the world or the environment to be the way that we like it to be, but it’s learning how to maintain equanimous, stay calm and be in peace under any circumstances, conditions and situations.
It’s not about performing actions and expect something in return the way that we think it should be, but it’s about performing all actions, duties and responsibilities, and allow the result to be what it is, as it is.
It’s not about running away or pushing away the reality that we don’t like or don’t want, but it’s learning how to be undisturbed or undetermined by the reality that the mind likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want. One learns to be aware of the reality and allowing the reality to be what it is, while knowing that it’s impermanent. One learns to stop generate craving towards the reality that is the way that we like it to be, and stop generate aversion towards the reality that is not the way that we like it to be.
It’s not about creating a pleasant condition for one to feel most comfortable and enjoyable physically and mentally, but it’s allowing one to learn how not to rely on pleasant condition, or physical and mental comforts and enjoyment to feel good about oneself and life existence, or to be happy.
There’s no guarantee that everyone will be learning or experiencing the same thing. One might not learn anything at all. It’s is up to each individual of their own will, effort and practice.
If people want to join a yoga retreat but they don’t want to learn and practice yoga and meditation, but they are more interested in worldly social interaction and self-pampering treatments and enjoyments, then there are many other yoga retreats around the world that will deliver or serve them with what they want.