Not the kind of yoga retreat that most people expect it to be

We have been running yoga retreats in Langkawi for the past nine years. The retreat evolves over the years as we learn, as well as it changes to adapt the different condition and situation according to the circumstances that exist from time to time which are not in our control.

The main objective of running the retreats here is to allow those who truly want to learn and practice yoga to come here for a few days up to a few weeks to learn and practice yoga and meditation as much as possible, so that they can take away the basic understanding and direct experience of the teachings and practice of yoga, which allowing them to practice yoga and meditation practically and independently when they go home back into their everyday life, wherever they live, under any conditions or situations.

We don’t have intention to create an ‘out of the world’ place with holiday resort environment to pamper the guests with hotel customer service and resort facilities or pleasurable enjoyment and indulgence for the senses, to empower or gratify the egoistic desire of craving and aversion of the mind, to make the minds feel pampered, deserving, satisfied, good and happy momentarily by giving the mind maximum pleasurable enjoyments that it likes and wants.

We do our best to provide a simple, clean and tidy place for performing the yoga and meditation practice, and give maximum guidance to the people who sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation to know what is going on in one’s mind, to transcend suffering, to free the mind from the cause of suffering – ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Non-commercial yoga and meditation practice is not what most people expect it to be. Most of the time, it’s not necessarily comfortable or fun. Instead, there is a lot of persevered ongoing hard work and the purification process is quite challenging for many, that many people would give up easily if they don’t have the basic correct understanding of the teachings of yoga and lack of determination, patience and forbearance to endure or withstand difficulties or discomforts that arise during the purification process to eliminate egoism and impurities, to transcend the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of names and forms.

Most people would think and imagine, or expect and desire ‘yoga practice’ and ‘yoga retreat’ as one kind of pleasurable leisure health and fitness activity and enjoyment, to momentary unwind from stress, exhaustion and burnout, or to escape worldly everyday life and environment that is not necessarily the way that they like it to be, and hence, many of those who provide or conduct ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga retreats’ also make use of the trend/demand of ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ to provide ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ that are being marketed as a ‘pleasurable leisure health and fitness activity and enjoyment in an out of the world environment’ to meet up with the expectation and desire of many people.

Those who expect ‘yoga retreats’ that provide ‘pleasurable leisure health and fitness activity and enjoyment’ in an ‘out of the world’ holiday resort environment with all kinds of convenient service and facilities other than the basic facilities, and expecting to be receiving hotel customer service and indulging in pleasurable enjoyment and indulgence of the senses will be very disappointed when they attend the retreats here. This is definitely not the kind of ‘yoga retreat’ that they expect/desire it to be.

People who attend the retreats here need to ‘work’ on purifying one’s mind, letting go egoism, and to ‘endure’ any challenging discomfortable or undesirable condition or situation that may or may not arise, that is not necessarily the way that they like it to be. In the end, the mind realized that all the disturbance arise in the mind perceiving all kinds of challenging condition and situation is due to the reaction of craving and aversion in the mind itself, it’s nothing to do with the condition and situation being what it is. “I don’t agree with this. I don’t like this. I don’t want this.”

Only those who sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation to know one’s mind, to transcend the mind perception of names and forms will ‘appreciate’ this kind of retreat that guides the mind to go beyond the gratification of the desire of craving and aversion of “only want to enjoy pleasurable indulgence of the senses as much as possible and don’t want to have any difficulties or discomforts”, but ‘working’ diligently to render the mind calm and quiet to allow the mind to see the ignorance, egoism and impurities in one’s mind, while living in the world as we are, dealing with everyday live conditions and situations that are not necessarily the way that we like it to be, that is not in our intention or control of how we like it to be.

We don’t expect everyone would appreciate this kind of yoga retreat or yoga practice. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind, or how they perceive yoga and yoga practice.

This life is impermanent and it’s closer to death every moment. This is the truth of all living beings. Death is not something negative, bad, sad, sorrowful, inauspicious, fearful, or horrible, it doesn’t matter what is the scientific cause of death, or how and when it happens. Whether some die without much prolonged physical/mental painful suffering, while some die after much prolonged physical/mental painful suffering, it’s still death, neither good death nor bad death. The only difference is whether the mind is able to let go in peace, or not, confronting the process or moments of death.

Be happy.

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Take good care of the body and mind?

Learning and practicing yoga actually is also about learning how to take good care of the overall well-being of the body and the mind in everyday life, but without attachment and identification towards the impermanent condition of the body and the mind.

It’s not just about doing some yoga asana and pranayama and meditation practice for a couple of hours a day regularly as a form of taking good care of the body and the mind, but more importantly in the rest of the time in everyday life, when the body and mind are not performing physical postures, breathing exercises, concentration and meditation practice, we need to know how to live in simplicity, how to conserve energy, when to take rest, when to work more, when to work less, when to eat more, when to eat less, how to relax or let go, how to stop generate unnecessary tension into the body and mind, how to stop pushing the body and mind beyond its limitation, and etc, to truly taking good care of the overall well-being of the body and mind.

Out of laziness, or stinginess, or particular obsessive compulsive disorder, or great ambition, or sociable personality, or caring personality, or lack of self-control and self-discipline, or some other issues, people might not rest well, eat well, work well, or relax properly, and the body and mind are either being in a state of lethargic or agitation due to accumulated strain and stress or restlessness, even though people try to do yoga asana and pranayama and meditation practice regularly. It’s like, now we sweep and mop the floor, and then, we bring more dirt and dust onto the floor, and repeat this process again and again.

When the condition of the body and mind be affected by the improper or imbalanced way of living, the mind becomes tired, cloudy, unfocused, short-tempered, depressed, irritated, impatient, aggressive or anxious easily. This will affect the yoga asana and pranayama and meditation practice, as well as the ongoing function of all the support systems in the body, the sleep quality, the mood, the thinking faculty, the clarity of the mind, the physical mobility, the health condition, the energy level, and the relationships with everyone and everything.

Learn how to live a simple yet balanced lifestyle is as important as doing the yoga asana and pranayama and meditation practice regularly. Simple yet balanced lifestyle has nothing to do with the commercial products of branded and trendy hype of ‘luxurious organic living’, or ‘organic clean eating’, or ‘calorie counting eating’, or ‘precise daily consumption limits of different food intake’, or ‘health and fitness products and supplements’, but it’s about incorporating the teachings of yoga of ‘Do our best’, non-attachment, non-identification, desireless, dispassion, right discrimination, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, renunciation, seclusion, solitude, silence, concentration or one-pointedness, contentment, generosity, forgiveness, patience, determination, perseverance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation into everyday life activities, to stop or minimize accumulation of unnecessary tension into the systems.

If one knows how to live a simple yet balanced lifestyle, if one knows how to conserve energy and doesn’t put unnecessary stress or strain into the body and mind, there’s no tension accumulated, and there’s no need to go anywhere or do anything to release tension, as there’s none.

“I am so busy and so stressed and so tired. I have not enough time to eat or sleep properly. I have so many friends and relatives. I need to care for so many people in my life. I have so many personal and social functions I need to attend. There’s so many things I want to do for myself and for everyone. My mind can’t turn-off. I would love a holiday but I will need time and energy for it, as I would be exhausted after coming back from holiday doing all the holiday activities and eating so much. I know I need complete rest. I need to stop doing things, physically and mentally. But then I will feel so guilty and unhappy if I didn’t manage to do my fitness workout everyday, if I didn’t meet up with my friends to stay connect, if I wasn’t there for my friends who need me to listen to their problems and complaints, if I didn’t achieve all my daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. So how?”

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life or how they spend their time and energy.

Be free.

Yoga in life?

Yoga in life is not about doing some yoga exercises or yoga poses anywhere and anytime, beyond the yoga classes/schools/centres/studios/rooms. It’s about whether the mind is able to remain equanimous under any challenging conditions and situations, or not. It’s about whether the mind is open towards (or unattached onto) all the pleasant and unpleasant, agreeable and disagreeable, desirable and undesirable life experiences being free from craving and aversion, or not. It’s about being aware of any impurities in the mind without identification or association with them, without being over-powered by them, without judgment, and allowing them to arise, change and pass away. It’s about taking the responsibility to perform necessary actions and making wise decisions in difficult circumstances under a calm mind reflecting wisdom and compassion without fear, fault finding, blame, guilt or regret, beyond the worldly conditioned thinking, belief, and judgment.

It’s not about setting positive intention or aspiration, hoping that everything in life or the world, to be the way that we like it to be, or the way that we think it should be.

The varieties of yoga practice that exist under certain names and forms which are limited and restricted by time and space, impermanence, conditions, limitations, conveniences, appropriateness, religious or cultural beliefs, are there to help and prepare the mind to be open – unattaching towards any thinking and belief, and respecting all kinds of different names and forms to be what they are.

If one’s mind is not open, then one is not ready yet to receive and practice the teachings of yoga in life. As one’s mind will constantly be disturbed by the judgments towards everything based on the worldly thinking and belief under the influence of the personal likes and dislikes, the subjective agreements and disagreements that influence how the mind reacts towards all the desired and undesired experiences or everything that the mind comes in contact with, of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks.

Just like when the mind is being conditioned to believe in certain thinking and beliefs about what to think and how to behave, and it expects everyone should also think and behave in accordance to those thinking and beliefs, then this mind will always be disturbed by something that it comes in contact with which it thinks and believes as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ and ‘negative’, which it doesn’t want, dislikes and disagrees with. The mind is disturbed by its desires of craving and aversion. It is disturbed when things are not the way that it likes them to be, or, when things are the way that it doesn’t like them to be.

It is the mind’s responsibility on how it perceives, interprets, understands and reacts towards all kinds of life experiences, whether it’s our own experiences or it’s about other people’s experiences. If the mind is not open, the mind will be disturbed and upset by some experiences that the mind perceives, believes and judges as ‘negative’, ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’. It isn’t that the objects that the mind comes in contact with are being ‘negative’, ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ that is causing the disturbance or upset in the mind. It’s how the mind being conditioned to react towards all the perceptions of names and forms based on the desires of craving and aversion, the personal likes and dislikes, the subjective agreements and disagreements conditioned by what the mind thinks and believes what things are, and the expectation of the mind towards everything about how things should be like.

If one wants to know what the teachings of yoga in life is about, then allow the mind to be open, and be free from judgment, expectation, personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. Then one will be able to see that everything in life is teaching us yoga and allowing us to practice and realize yoga. One becomes one’s own teacher.

There are ceaseless happenings in our life and around us, from moment to moment, whether it’s something pleasant or unpleasant, whether it’s something desired or undesired, whether it’s about ourselves or other people, whether it’s someone we know or don’t know and like or don’t like, and whether it’s somewhere near or far away. All that comes to our knowledge or awareness, or all the perceptions of names and forms, is here teaching us yoga and allowing us to practice and realize yoga, to be free from ignorance and realize unconditional peace.

It’s all happening in the mind, unlimited by causation, time and space, the worldly knowledge and experiences, the thinking and beliefs, the worldly self-image and identifications, the states of the mind, the impermanent physical conditions, limitations and abilities, the qualities of names and forms, the lineage of yoga, the yoga poses, the yoga mats, the yoga attires and accessories, the yoga books, the yoga classes, the yoga schools, the yoga teachers, the yoga certifications, and so on.

Be free.