Retreat and quieting the restless outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking mind

Some people asked us, “What are the fun holiday activities we can do during the free time between the yoga and meditation practice sessions in the yoga retreat?”

Many people might be unaware of the yoga practice are being carried out in every moment whether during the yoga practice ‘sessions’ and outside the yoga practice ‘sessions’ during a yoga retreat, or in everyday life.

Not that ‘doing/enjoying some fun holiday activities’ are wrong or bad, but the yoga practice is all about changing the worldly behavior pattern/habitual action and reaction of the mind, filtering/reducing/restricting/limiting the physical and mental activities, to withdraw the outgoing tendency of the mind, to be quieting the restless pleasure/stimulation seeking mind, while freeing the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, to prepare the mind for meditation, to see the truth of things as it is, be free from ignorance and suffering that derived from ignorance.

In a ‘retreat’, this yoga practice of restricting the activities of the body and the mind and quieting the restless modification of the mind is being put into practice, seizing the opportunity of participating in a ‘retreat’ for an extended period of time, to be retreating from all kinds of worldly physical and mental activities that gratify the desire of craving for pleasurable actions, adventures, thrills, achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. Retreat participants should make use of the free time in between the yoga practice ‘sessions’ or other than performing daily task such like tidying/cleaning the living space, taking meals and shower, to ‘take rest’ and ‘be quiet’ physically and mentally, as well as observing the habitual action and reaction and the desire of gross/subtle craving of the mind especially during the time ‘not doing anything particular physically or mentally’ not even doing some kind of physical or mental yoga practice to occupy the mind, or when ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’ starts to manifest in the mind urging the mind to go out there to be doing something to get rid of the ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’.

The untrained mind usually doesn’t like to ‘be quiet physically and mentally’ being in the present moment reducing/limiting/restricting the physical and mental activities or ‘doing nothing particular’ not even some kind of ‘spiritual practice’ or ‘healthy/meaningful activities’ to be occupying the mind with ‘something’, as the mind will get bored and feel meaningless, and hence, it needs to be constantly seeking actions/adventures/thrills/achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. And hence, the restlessness. And yoga practice is to free the mind from this worldly thinking/belief/practice/habit of ‘constantly need to occupy the mind with something to keep it busy/restless so that it doesn’t get bored or feel meaningless’.

We don’t just reduce/restrict/limit/retreat from worldly physical and mental activities during a ‘retreat’ for a few days or weeks, we also practice partial or maximum retreat from worldly social affairs, activities and interactions as much as possible in our everyday life to stop feeding the desire and the outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking tendency of the mind.

Contemplate on this, and find out whether oneself is practicing yoga to free the mind from the habitual worldly behavior pattern, to quiet/silent the restless modification of the mind, by renouncing/retreating from worldly egoistic physical and mental activities that empower egoism and restlessness, or just doing some kinds of ‘yoga practice’ a few hours a day regularly to be gaining some impermanent/momentary physical and mental benefits to gratify the desire of craving and aversion of the mind, to feel good, healthy and meaningful. And there’s nothing wrong either if oneself is not practicing yoga to change the habitual worldly behavior habit of the mind, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, to quiet/silent the modification of the mind. But for those who sincerely want to practice yoga, they can contemplate on this.

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Retreat from the world?

Retreat from the world or renouncing the world is about being kind to one’s mind, to allow the mind to take care of itself.

It’s moving away from the so called ‘normal’ or ‘conventional’ worldly life that is subject to some particular thinking and belief that are influenced deeply by commercial and political ideas, and social or cultural or religious belief and practice. It’s moving the mind away from all kinds of worldly ideas, beliefs, custom, people, affairs, politics, activities, events, movements, objects, social medias, commercials, mingling, socializing, interactions, communications, novel reading, news reading, magazine reading, TV and movies watching, entertainments, talks, debates, gossips, criticism, slander, condemn, story telling, lies, hypocrisy, passions, desires, clinging, craving, ambitions, trends and hypes, and etc, to live a life of seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time.

Worldly activities such like talking, mingling, social interaction and communication, novel and news reading, movies watching, political analysis and debates, ideology discussions, and etc, are the main cause of restlessness of the mind and the fuel that feeds ignorance and egoism.

When the mind is free from ignorance and egoism through taking essential care for this mind, one can mix freely in the world but won’t be influenced by all the names and forms, and be undisturbed by the worldly conditions and situations.

If one truly wants to care for the world, but due to ignorance and egoism, one’s mind is being influenced by all the names and forms, and be disturbed very much by the conditions and situations of the world, then one should try to take care of one’s mind first. Otherwise, how can one help others when one’s mind is as lost and suffer as all the others’.

“You hurt me, and hence, I hurt you too.”
“You are unkind to me, and hence, I am unkind to you too.”
“I want myself to be good. I want the world to be good. I want everyone to be good. I’ll feel disappointed and angry if myself is not good enough, if the world is not good, if everyone is not good enough.”
“I want to contribute to the world. I want to be a hero to save the world. I would do anything to hurt anyone who would get in my way to do what I want to do, to be what I want to be, to achieve the world that I want.”

Be free.

The world is just what it is

The world is just what it is

It’s neither good nor bad

Different minds perceive different reality

It’s neither right nor wrong when different minds perceive the world differently

It’s all the play of mind perception under the influence of ignorance and egoism

And lots of personal and social selfish desires, intentions and expectations

The egos expect and want to make the world to be the way that they like it to be

Different egos expect and want different world

The egos say they love the world, but they don’t love the world as it is

The egos don’t like the world being what it is

“I want my/our world to be like this and not like that”

The egos complain that

There is too much of what they don’t like and don’t want

There is too little of what they like and want

The egos get offended when other egos expect them to behave in the way that other egos want them to behave

And yet, the egos expect other egos to behave in the way that they want other egos to behave

They expect other egos to respect them as they are

And yet, they don’t respect other egos to be what they are

If people

Don’t like to hear this

Don’t agree with this

And feel offended and insulted and disturbed and hurt by this

Then know that that’s the ego’s reaction out of ignorance

Let go of the ego

Silent the mind

The world is just what it is

Do what you think is good for the world

Without attachment

Without expectation

Without identification

But, know that

Different minds have different standard and idea about what is good for the world

Just do your best

If you think it’s too much

If you are going to lose your sanity

If you don’t want to play the games run by the egos

Then

Be kind to yourself

Retreat from the world

Let everyone takes care of themselves

Be free

Unconditional happiness beyond qualities of names and forms

Most people are looking for happiness, or want to be happy. Those who are happy, they don’t need to look for happiness, or desire to be happy. When we think and feel we want to be happy, it’s because we are not happy. We are not happy is because we think we are not free. We think we are not free is because ignorance.

Under the influence of ignorance, we think happiness is coming from freedom of thinking, action and speech, and doing what we like to do, be who we want to be, achieve what we want to achieve, receive love and support from other people, be acknowledged and approved by other people, have good health, good livelihood and good living condition, and being with people whom we loved and who love us. But, all these qualities of names and forms will only give us momentary happy feelings that are impermanent. We fall into great misery and painful sorrow when impermanence strikes, when we lose all the good qualities that we think will make us happy, if we are determined by all these names and forms to be who we are, to be happy, or not. It’s not the unconditional happiness that is beyond all the qualities of names and forms, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

When we seek happiness through certain qualities of names and forms that we like and desire, and we will feel happy when we get what we like and want, it doesn’t mean that we won’t experience unhappiness anymore, or we will be free from impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, feelings of hurt, guilt, regret, fear and worry. By achieving happiness through doing and getting what we like and want doesn’t mean that our surrounding living environment will be free from names and forms that we don’t like and don’t want. And thus our minds are constantly restless being in a mixture state of happiness and unhappiness. There’s no permanent satisfaction. The craving for what we desire and the aversion towards what we don’t desire is what hinders the mind from realizing the unconditional happiness beyond qualities of names and forms.

If we know how to be free from the desire of craving and aversion towards happiness and unhappiness that comes from ignorance and egoism, we will be happy as we are. We do not rely on any qualities of names and forms to be happy, or not. Even when there is restriction or limitation of thinking, action and speech, and we are unable to do what we like to do, unable to be who we want to be and not achieving what we want to achieve, or, we are not receiving love and support from other people, unacknowledged and disapproved by other people, not having good health, good livelihood and good living condition, and not able to be with people whom we loved and who love us, we are still happy as we are. This happiness isn’t determined by or coming from any qualities of names and forms.

Ignorance is not knowing the truth of names and forms.

To free the mind from ignorance, we need to free the mind from impurities. To free the mind from impurities, we need to free the mind from egoism. To free the mind from egoism, we need to free the mind from ignorance, as egoism derives from ignorance. It is a loop that has no beginning or ending.

Due to ignorance and egoism, the ego attached towards the impermanent physical condition and ability, the impermanent states of the mind, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on certain conditional thinking and belief, knowledge, achievements, possessions, and all kinds of relationships, to be identifying as ‘I’. This ‘I’ is constantly disturbed by the craving and aversion towards all these impermanent qualities of names and forms, and being restless and experience suffering when the craving and aversion is not being gratified the way that it likes it to be. The ego is determined by the gratification of its craving and aversion to be happy, or not. There is no possibility for contentment and peace, due to the truth of impermanence in all the names and forms, as well as this ‘I’ is a false understanding and identification. This constant restlessness hinders the mind to be free from ignorance.

That’s why it’s not an easy task to be free. But, it’s possible if we know how to discipline and purify the mind by restricting the mind activities and quieting the mind by moving the mind away from worldly objects of names and forms, to breakdown this loop of ignorance. And hence, retreat for observing silence exists to help to discipline and purify the mind efficiently.

Retreat for the observation of silence is to disconnect with our worldly life connections, family and friends, social interactions, habits, personal or religious and cultural belief and practice. It doesn’t mean that we abandon our life, family and friends, and our personal or religious and cultural belief and practice, but, it’s to allow our minds to have the opportunity to be free from the contact with the objects of names and forms that are directly and indirectly related to restlessness, distractions, cares and anxieties, and allowing the mind to be opened for contemplation on the truth.

It’s normal that people have fear towards letting go certain religious or non-religious thinking and belief that influence the way of life and conduct, self-image and personal identity. There is fear of the unknown consequences of letting go those thinking and belief. There is fear of exile, criticism and condemn from the ‘group’ that we think we belong to. There is fear of being unaccepted by the society. There is fear of non-existence. The ignorant minds constantly seek recognition, agreement, approval, support and acknowledgement from the society to be who we think we are, or who we want to be. This is one of the obstacles that hinders the mind to see the truth of names and forms as it is.

Those who have gone beyond the idea of ‘I’, or the identification with qualities of names and forms to be identifying as ‘I’, they don’t even attach onto their devotion towards the teachings and practice of yoga to identify oneself as ‘yogi’, not to say to attach onto certain conditional worldly thinking and belief. Meanwhile other beings can have the freedom of thinking to refer or label them as ‘yogi’.

Many people who think they love yoga and practice yoga might think and believe that yoga is to connect with all and everything. We think we need to connect with other people or something that we think is not ‘I’, which are separated from ‘I’, is ignorance. Upon the realization of selflessness and non-separateness, there’s no connection with anything that is not ‘I’, as there’s no ‘I’ that generates separateness. Just like when people think they want to make connection with God, it’s because they think they are something separated from God. Oneness is beyond connection that consists of more than one party.

The essential yoga practice of silence, is to retreat and disconnect the mind from the society and all sorts of worldly life connections and social activities. Retreat from worldly life connections and social activities, and isolation from other people including family and friends, help tremendously to turn the mind inward for self-introspection and self-inquiry to see the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance, and thus be free from unhappiness and suffering.

Though freeing the mind from ignorance is the greatest contribution to the society and world peace, the practice of silence in solitude and seclusion might appear to be ‘selfishness’, ‘anti-social’ or ‘abnormal behavior’ by the worldly minded people who attached to worldly life conditioned by certain thinking and beliefs about how human beings should and shouldn’t behave. Most minds would want to runaway after a few days of observing the practice of silence in solitude and seclusion, not to say to be completely cut off from the social world for many years.

In the tradition of yoga, to be isolated from the society and be in seclusion for a long period of time for at least five to six years is a very important observation. One should learn how to be happy and comfortable with oneself in solitude, being isolated from all other beings, before one mixes into the society, or gets involve in any kind of relationships with anyone, without expecting someone or something that is not ‘I’ to make us happy, or give us happiness. Or else we generate so much tension and unhappiness in ourselves and those whom we want to love and be loved.

When one is free from ignorance and egoism, one doesn’t need to be loved, be supported, be acknowledged, be approved, or be connected, to feel meaningful or be happy. One will be free whether being in a relationship, or not. There’s no loneliness. When one knows how to be happy as one is, the society will be benefited tremendously by the existence of this being, without any intention from this being to benefit anyone or anything.

But, many yoga practitioners nowadays who attached strongly to their worldly social life don’t just not interested in observing this traditional practice, but they condemn this practice. And that is their freedom of thinking, action and speech.

Be free.

Busy mind?

As yoga practitioners living among the worldly society, if we notice our mind is becoming too busy with too many things, ideas, or thought activities until we couldn’t sleep or rest well, and we couldn’t control our speech organ that we couldn’t stop talking excessively and randomly about this and that in a social conversation with other people as the mind has too many ideas that need to be expressed, or our mind is easily distracted or pulled away from our main duty and responsibility, and this drains our energy level, then know that we need to retreat our mind from the worldly social activities and objects of names and forms, such like reduce books and news reading, or TV and movies watching, or internet surfing, and minimize mingling and socializing as much as possible.

Unless the mind knows what is non-attachment towards worldly social activities and objects of names and forms, and is not disturbed or affected or influenced by all these worldly inputs, then there’s no need to retreat from worldly social activities and objects of names and forms.

Untrained mind keeps looking for some sorts of entertainment or stimulation, or else it gets bored or agitated and feel meaningless.

Rendering the restless busy outgoing mind to turn inward to be quiet, is what yoga practice is about. It’s quietness with clarity. It’s not the type of ‘dullness’ or ‘cloudiness’ that comes from the effect of taking some mind altering substances.

For those who are not serious in their yoga practice, they don’t have to observe this practice or retreat their outgoing busy minds from worldly social activities and objects. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their minds.

Om shanti.