‘Retreat’ is a period of special time and space of solitude for us to be with ourselves, to retreat from worldly social interactive activities, to allow the mind to have the opportunity to move away from restlessness and its usual habits, to turn the outgoing mind inwards for introspection, for self-inquiry, to know our-Self, even if there are other people being in the same retreat.
Real (spiritual) retreats are not designed for socializing or mingling. It’s an opportunity for us to practice solitude. As solitude is an important element in conquest of mind or fear. Some people’s mind are fear of being with people, they want to be alone to feel safe. While some people’s mind are fear of being alone, they want to be surrounded by some other people all the time. But both of them also is about fear. Fear derives from ignorance and attachment. There’s no peace in ourselves, always thinking that something bad is going to happen on us, or somebody is going to hurt us, either when we are alone, or when we are being with some other people. We generate so much tension into the environment.
If we are afraid of being with ourselves even just for a few days, and ‘have to’ cling onto other people in the retreat all the time, please be considerate that we still have to respect other people in the retreat centre who purposely coming here to have their own time and space for themselves for some personal spiritual practice. As we are disturbing other people’s precious time and space to be with themselves being in the retreat centre.
But, we cannot expect everyone to be understanding this simple and basic principle about ‘retreat’. As there are many other yoga retreats in the world that are not really about silence the mind for self-inquiry, but more like commercialized luxury pleasurable enjoyment and socializing kind of yoga holidays.
In the end, it’s about compassion. Being compassionate towards those who are influenced by ignorance and whose mind is out of their own control, being over-powered by fear. Spiritual practice are here for beings who have fear, to learn to deal with fear, and to let go of fear. But, most of us refuse to confront with the fear in us, and choose to avoid what we are fear of.
Most important is being compassionate towards ourselves by letting go of fear.