Lately, many people have been asking why I do these Kookaburra Creek immersions in a kind of sleep over mode and why we don’t just book the retreat centre down the road and have a comfortable bed to sleep in…
My answer tends to be along the lines of this:
How is it that we had so much fun and were so comfortable with having sleep overs as a child? What gets us so rigid, physically, mentally and emotionally to not be able to rest deeply in the same room with a bunch of other people? “It’s people snoring that gets to me”, some say. Others say, “I just value my sleep and comfy bed too much,” etc. And of course, there are more serious answers to consider, and I really am not being obnoxious with this conversation. I totally get all of the reasons, and I am all for the luxurious retreat, but I also see so many benefits to getting out of our comfort zone and practicing to drop into our inner sanctuary, and our inner silence, even if we’re repulsed by someones loud snoring or something like that. Or there are ear plugs right? These immersions are still pretty cushy though if you ask me.
Think about the lengths and depths yogis would go to to get to the teachings we have available to us today in such abundance. Through psychological and physical initiations they were more able to grow into their fullest potential. They’d fast for days, travel miles on end by foot, sometimes for months, through the desert, through the jungle, and/or through the snowy mountains to get to the teacher. On their journey of course they’d be sleeping on the ground, in trees, in tipis, tents, most definitely without a comfortable bed. I really do think that this kind of intense training does ripen the seeker for the teachings, then they arrive to the teacher ready, open and focused. They then probably sat for days, months, years with the teachings, not just thinking and talking about the teachings, but becoming the teachings. I’m not saying one needs to go to these extremes if it’s not necessary, but I know many of us could at least unplug a little more and drop into the aliveness and mystery of life some more.
Now, with so many luxurious retreat options, so many methods of awakening that are available, there seems to be a common state of confusion and dullness due to students learning, exploring, and doing lots of great things, but without dropping beyond the content, regime and doing of the practice into their actual Being. It’s like we’ve become spiritually spoilt, with so much to choose from, I think it’s easy for the mind to get overwhelmed and just feed our common Western achievement models. Yes, all the happiness is within, yes the true Guru is within, but is your mind and body ready to handle that pulsation of True spiritual happiness? For most of us we actually need to prepare the body and mind (beyond just asana sequences then savasana) to handle the heart of True bliss. Even though these weekend immersions are short, they seem to always end up timelessly deep, allowing for a transcendental yet integrative experience.
You get what I’m saying with all of this? These days in our comfortable western lifestyles it’s common to go through childhood, teenhood, and then go to university, trade school, become ‘adult,’ get a job and all that stuff, but we’re still like immature little kids with no tools to deal with lifes ups and downs. No wonder our culture has drug issues, intimacy issues and all of that insanity. For most, their spiritual teachings are just through life’s suffering, and their only moments of transcendence is while high on drugs or while orgasming during sex.
So, back to why I offer these sleep over like weekend immersions… I know a lot of the regular weekend retreater’s also come on the longer intensives, like the one next year in India, but many of the participants are at a time in their life where they can’t afford the longer retreats, both time wise and financially, so this is a good opportunity to go very deep in a short amount of time. These immersions aren’t really just about kicking back and soaking up the sun. That has it’s time and place.
These immersions are about being in a supportive environment for one to really go deep into the raw immediacy of yoga by unblocking the parts of us that are blocking the flow of Prana and consciousness within, then getting out of our way to embody that new level of aliveness back into our day to day life. Awaken, Unify, Embody… Bringing it all together, then emanating that love, courage and openness into all of our relationships.
Sleeping without your comfortable bed?!.. Our bodies should really be able to sleep all night long even just on a yoga mat, but most of us have conditioned it to only be able to sleep on a comfortable bed. So, people usually bring all kinds of nice cushy bedding to get as comfortable as they do in their normal bed. That’s great. I often do this too. I have found however that sometimes the immersion is so deep and charged that there’s so much prana pulsating in the body that participants may not sleep much even in their own bed for the night of the immersion. This is actually an awesome opportunity to just keep meditating, or keep doing pranayama work. Or go and sit under the stars and connect with the amazingness of the multiverse. People often express that they have the best sleep ever also, so whatever we really need seems to occur. I recall some of the immersions, retreats and teacher trainings I’ve been on, and the ones where I didn’t sleep much at all actually were some of the most revitalising and enlightening moments. When we unblock these channels of our subtle and gross bodies and get prana flowing, we can access a deeper vitality.
So, I often ask people and myself, do you/I just want the temporary sensory gratification of instant comfort, or do you/I really want to wake up to the fullest aliveness of our Being? As we all know, the state of yoga is right here, all the wisdom and love is right here, but often it’s right at our edge and out of our comfort zone where we enter the right conditions for the break through to help us fully be Here. I find these immersions effectively provide the optimum arena for participants make these necessary shifts. The perfect balance of loving discipline to crack us open to the magnificence of life itself.
Stay tuned in for the next exploration.