Meditation Retreat with the Brahma Kumaris
The last weekend of May, I went on my first proper meditation retreat. While I was in Vietnam, I spent one day in a Buddhist monastery but that was it. Needless to say, I was quite excited!
It was at the Global Retreat Centre near Oxford, and it is run by volunteers from the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.
They have centres and shops everywhere in the world and I had already attended quite a few of their events (talks and meditations) in London. So it made sense for me to apply for their retreat. Besides, considering my next-to-nothing budget, the fact that they don’t charge you a penny was definitely a strong point in its favour!
Their “Inner Peace, Inner Power” retreat (which is aimed at everyone and is also an introduction to Raja Yoga – the yoga of the mind) starts on Friday late afternoon and ends on Sunday after lunch.
We were shown the place on arrival (a gorgeous grade II listed Palladian villa surrounded by a beautiful park) and our en-suite shared bedrooms. Think 5 star hostel and you might have an idea of the place! The first evening was mainly an introduction to the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday were a succession of talks, meditations, meals and tea/coffee breaks, with the highlight for me on Saturday: 4h of silence from late morning until mid-afternoon, which interestingly sparked the creativity of numerous participants. Many of us would have been more than happy to maintain the silent treatment a bit longer!
I had no real expectations when I applied for the retreat, apart from a will to deepen and widen my meditation practice and feed my spiritual curiosity.
I have to say that for a short while, I was worried it would just be a repeat of the talks I had attended back in London. However, even though some main ideas were indeed presented again, it was by different speakers who have their own ways of explaining things, and it was good to be refreshed on some topics and delve in a bit further on others.
Everyone there was so lovely, friendly and approachable that just being around them makes you feel instantly at peace!
It’s hard to believe that it is entirely free when you see the beauty of the place, the lovely Indian style vegetarian food they served us and the time they took to share their knowledge with us! Although donations are more than welcome (after all that’s the only way they can continue to do what they do), Manda Patel, the charismatic director of the retreat centre, made it clear: do not donate as a contribution for your stay – what they share with us has no price. As you can attend this retreat only once, donations are a way to allow
others to benefit from the same experience as we just had.
If you are in a spiritual quest, want to know more about meditation or how to connect with your inner being, I cannot recommend this retreat enough. Don’t be fooled: this is not a relaxation weekend. Energy and concentration are required to follow the programme, but I felt completely re-energised after it. I was light, happy, serene and full of enthusiasm for life! And a few weeks after, I have established a few new positive routines and made some changes; and I still feel the buzz from my weekend!
Who wouldn’t want to share that with the rest of the world?!