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The Masochism of Attending Retreats

Almost a year ago I was co-facilitating, together with Robert Gonzales, one of our Awakening to Life Intensive retreats, that time in Arizona. As I was sitting in the room full of people that were doing the process, and witnessing them experiencing deep levels of love, intimacy, connection, peace, bliss, joy, inner spaciousness…, I realized how masochistic this can all become.

It hit me that if we keep visiting retreats on personal evolution and spirituality and we don’t, every single time after the retreat is over, make bold steps in our lives, even radical changes if needed, in order to align our lives much better with the deeper reality we have just experienced, then we are influencing our experience of human existence in at least two life-alienating and discouraging ways.

Firstly, we are just prolonging the time in which we don’t live our lives to the fullest, in which we don’t reach for what we have been longing for in our hearts, in which we don’t serve our hearts entirely. We keep hanging on in life that is only semi-fulfilling, waiting for some sort of a big bang to happen that will magically change it all… So we may end up spending most of our lives in a way that will cause much mourning and regret once we will be lying on our death bed. Like they say: “…if you keep thinking very long before making a step, you may end up spending most of your life standing on one leg…” You know, like a heron.

And furthermore we seem to be doing something that may be even more painful. On these retreats we keep experiencing heart opening, meaning, depth, connection, beauty, fullness and while this may be immensely fulfilling at the retreat itself, there is this aspect to it of self-inflicting pain. Namely, it seems like, again and again, reminding ourselves of what is possible and then not reaching for it. Opening the wound again and again, and then not healing it.

It becomes a bit like a pendulum of drug addiction. When life becomes unbearably painful and stressful and lonely, I don’t take a shot of heroin to forget it all for some time and find some pleasure, but I go to a retreat. Well, to forget it all and to find some pleasure.

How about taking our lives in our hands, with full responsibility, and making them into such an incredible experiences of flow and meaning and love, that we will never need a retreat from them?

As this human life time is a rather short affair, I encourage us all to take every minute of it with the all attentiveness and care we have.