Hridaya Retreat – Introduction
The Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat is a unique immersion experience which focuses on accessing our real and essential nature, the supreme and divine Self, atman, through an artful integration of meditation and yoga techniques. During the retreat, we address broad aspects of the Spiritual Heart, from a variety of traditions including esoteric Christian, Sufi, and Kashmir Shaivism. The atmosphere will be one of agape and strong spiritual support.
The Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat was created specifically to comprehensively and intimately understand what meditation is and to feel the amazing inner transformations which it brings.
The program aims to create an experience resembling a solitary retreat (such as in a cave) in order to provide an opportunity to reach deep states of consciousness, intense aspiration for the Divine, and highly focused interiorization for the awakening and blossoming of the soul, jivatman. This method is a unique integration of Advaita Vedanta, Sufism, Tantra, and Dzogchen.
In the advanced stages of practice, all paths of authentic spiritual traditions meet harmoniously and merge into the same ineffable Reality. During the Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat, practitioners will be skillfully guided to this penetrating understanding where the search for meaning ends in surrender to the domain of revelation. No previous meditation or yoga experience is necessary as this retreat is designed for beginner and advanced meditators alike.
This method is crafted to cultivate the following attitudes:
1. An inner awareness of all sensory perceptions and emotions which will gradually become, through sublimation, an awareness of the Spiritual Heart;
2. The calming down of the mind (a state of peace of mind);
3. The polarization between the individual soul, jivatman, and the divine Self, atman, that is experienced as a state of very strong and profound aspiration and longing for God;
4. The evocation of death of the physical body as a way of transcending desires and egotistical tendencies;
5.The act of powerfully evoking and experiencing the mystery of God’s presence inside our Spiritual Heart.
Methods, Techniques and Teachings
This retreat includes advice for guided meditation, lectures, and practical methods such as:
- Ramana Maharshi’s method of introspection (Self-enquiry, atma vicara,using the question “Who Am I?”)
- Techniques of stilling the mind using breath awareness
- Study of the symbolism of the Spiritual Heart
- Methods of Self-centering in everyday life
- Advice for maintaining awareness of the Spiritual Heart, in the tradition of the Fathers of the Desert (from Christianity )
- The Christian method of the Prayer of the Heart
- A proper understanding of Advaita Vedanta’s fundamental principles
- Methods of passing from individual consciousness to Cosmic Consciousness
- The four fundamental aspects of the ineffable process of Revealing the Spiritual Heart
- Daily special meditations on themes connected with Self-Revelation
- Yogic methods that approach the issue of the Spiritual Heart
- Hatha Yoga sessions
What are the purposes of this Retreat?
During the retreat, our aim is to inform you about methods for meditation encompassing, but not limited to, the unity of consciousness and Advaita Vedanta, thus leading to self-discovery of the Spiritual Heart. The system of meditation will focus on the methods developed by Ramana Maharshi, that of atma vicara, or more popularly known as the inquiry “Who Am I?”, as well as other complementary meditations and prayers.
We aim to inform you about the practical and theoretical aspects of this methodology, allowing ample opportunities to directly put it into practice. In doing so, we hope that you will understand the underlying principles and value the purpose of meditation, thus reaping immediate benefits, and coming to love meditation as an essential part of your life.
You will learn some direct methods to pacify your mind and even to transcend it. When your mind is truly still and without any thoughts, and you transcend your ego, and you arrive at a place where you have no name, no social status, no relationships, no past, no future, no country, no spiritual attainment, and no lack of spiritual attainment. It is simply a presence of being. If a movement or a thought appears in this stillness, it is enveloped into the stillness, thus becoming stillness itself. It is as if your life becomes full and saturated with this peace and sacredness.
- You will also learn a way which comprises a vision, a spiritual understanding and a method of transforming yourselves. We hope most of you will learn to love meditation as a means for discovering Divine Reality, otherwise referred to as God, although these methods are beyond any specific ideas of religion or any theoretical concepts about God.
- We hope most of you will have some peak experiences about Supreme Reality, some special states of consciousness about cosmic love, eternity or the unity of everything, which can be evoked afterwards in daily life. This will help you in your quest to understand the reason for your existence.
- Our aim is for you to realize the importance of fully incorporating the Spiritual Heart in your life, beyond concepts, theory and philosophy. The path to the Spiritual Heart journeys through your soul, and therefore, an opening and intimacy of the soul will naturally occur from this. During this retreat, we will have the chance to venture deeper than the emotional psychic level of the Heart, into the Divine Reality which represents the most profound aspect of the Spiritual Heart. Ultimately, you will be compelled to love at a level which your ego usually prevents you from accessing through blockages such as attachments, ignorance, and other negative emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. To access this level of universal love, the obstacles challenging your personality and your ego must be transcended through accessing the Spiritual Heart.
- Our ultimate goal is for you to gain a profound understanding about the real nature of your existence and the nature of manifestation of Life and the Universe. More specifically, you will eventually achieve a coherent vision of Divine Unity, Advaita, and nonduality, which is the main revolutionary power, the main transforming idea of Jnana Yoga, and Advaita Vedanta, Taoism, Dzogchen, and Zen.
Purification Effects from the Retreat
When we venture deeper than the surface of our egos into the realm of the Spiritual Heart, it is common that some purification on the physical, mental, or emotional level can occur. This is merely our bodies’ way of releasing old blockages, traumas, and negative emotions in order to access the deeper levels of the soul. Do not be afraid. Do not avoid the purification. However, don’t dramatize; don’t accord them too much importance. When those transformations eventually synthesize, meditation ceases to be boring, painful, or just a passing experience, and truly becomes a deep, joyful, and blissful experience. Depending on the individual’s level of practice and awareness, these transformations can be immediate or can take a longer time to process. However, change is inevitable and this transformation can be very stable and profound and can transform your life dramatically.
So, what expectations do we need to have from the Retreat? None! Because of the ineffability of what we really are, of what Divine Reality is, this change is a natural progression that comes from stillness, surrender, and, ultimately, from within our true selves.
The aim is to create the best conditions in which the Divine Reality will be revealed in our Heart. From doing this, we will experience some profound effects from these meditations. Many make the mistake of becoming attached to these effects and realizations.
However, do not cling to them. In the openness of our being, much more than this is happening, and we will learn to accept, surrender and be open to the ebb and flow of these realizations.
The Spiritual Heart, Our Real Home
Ultimately, the most important outcome of this retreat is for us to start becoming accustomed to centering in the Spiritual Heart. This means to get used and be aware of that quiet, peaceful, infinite, and eternal foundation of our being which cannot be perceived by the rational mind, but is the source of all inspiration, love, beauty, and spiritual life. Many sages have said that Spiritual Heart is our real home. So abandon yourselves, trust and enjoy this centering. The Spiritual Heart is your axis, your hub.
During this retreat, be at home, be present and integrate this practice fully for an intimate, meaningful experience.
The Spiritual Heart is the “meeting place” for those who wish to relate to life in a sacred manner.
To support the retreat, complete mauna (silence) must be maintained by all attendees. An atmosphere full of love and aspiration will be created in which participants can surrender to their real and essential nature.
We wish to advise you to be patient and open. If you decide to join this retreat we strongly advise you to make a commitment to yourself that you will stay for the entire 10 days and not leave until the retreat is over (with exception for genuine emergencies). With such a commitment and patience, even beginners will find the strength to overcome minor difficulties and obtain great benefits from the retreat. A retreat can help you understand the mind and life. This is a very valuable and rare opportunity for you, a special gift to yourself….
For some participants, the first several days can be full of restlessness, muscular fever and aches, physical and mental purification, or various spiritual tests. We invite you to commit yourself fully to this retreat, to stay fi rm and double your resolve in the face of such challenges. Try to make this event a very special opportunity for your spiritual transformation.
We are delighted that you can join us and we welcome you to this exceptional retreat!
Read also: The Retreat guidelines