I wanted to share my experience with a recent online retreat. Retreats are a great way to devote some time to your meditation or spiritual practice. This particular retreat helped me delve more into my spiritual side. It was given by a popular teacher called Adyashanti. He has been teaching for over 20 years and studied in the Zen tradition. Adyashanti teachings are not affiliated with any particular religion or tradition. His approach is direct and relatively simple. I had been listening to him for quite some time on YouTube and read some of his books. His teachings resonated with me. This retreat lasted for three months, which consisted of bi-weekly live broadcasts, meditations, and written work. At times this retreat was intense and brought up a lot of emotions, fears, and feelings that I usually try and avoid. I was able to face them with the support of the retreat community and an experienced teacher.
Online Spiritual Retreat
I was very excited to start this retreat. The past few years have been challenging and filled with sorrow. I lost my mother to an aneurysm, and then a few years later, my twin sister died of cancer. To top it all off, we had to put down our dog of 12 years. So it’s been a tough few years, and I have been questioning a lot of things in life. Meditation has helped me get through most of it and has opened up more of my spiritual side that I wanted to explore. I felt drawn to the idea of an online retreat.
What is Involved
I don’t want to give away too much of the teachings of the retreat and respect their requests. The first week consisted of a two-hour live broadcast. It was a nice feeling to know that others were watching along with me. I felt a sense of community. The retreat was very well attended, with thousands of people from all over the world watching and participating. Adyashanti teachings are generally easy to understand. This retreat was a bit more challenging. He talked about more detailed aspects of the self and psyche. The live stream was smooth, with no buffering issues. I was able to watch it easily by logging into their website and watching it on my iPad. You can view each broadcast on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
Every other week Adyashanti would give a two-hour live broadcast followed by daily guided meditations, daily awareness practices, and written exercises. During some of the live broadcasts, Adyashanti would take live questions by phone. The live broadcasts were on west coast time. If you could not watch the live broadcast, it was available to view the next day on demand.
I enjoyed the daily, guided meditations. Every other week there was a new guided meditation that would coincide with his live broadcast. Each meditation was about 20 minutes long and given by Adyashanti. These meditations were mostly geared to opening up your awareness to the present moment. I particularly liked the meditations that helped ground your being and opened up the awareness in and around the heart. In addition to the guided meditations, we were encouraged to spend some time in stillness each day.
There were also daily awareness exercises that you could practice throughout your day. It helped you stay more present and see how random and transient life can be. Each of these daily awareness practices was different every other week. They were a great way to remind you to look at your world differently, not through the screen of the mind, but your ground of being, consciousness, or awareness.
Each new broadcast also came with written work. These exercises and questions reinforce the teachings. It did help to write things out on paper. I kept a journal for each session. It was helpful to look back at the end of the retreat and review some of the feelings and thoughts I was going through.
Another nice feature was called impact reports. This area allowed you to post your experiences with the group and Adyashanti. All of the posts are anonymous. This was one of my favorite parts because I could see what others were experiencing during the retreat. I could relate to their posts. This retreat brought out a lot of feelings and emotions that I would usually try to avoid. Many of the meditations evoked some repressed feelings that came to the surface. It was nice to express what I was going through with people in the impact forum. Numerous people were dealing with the same issues.
There was also an area to ask Adyashanti direct questions about the broadcasts, coursework, and meditations. This was a very informative area and great to get advice directly from the teacher.
Registration and Access
You don’t have to be technical to participate in an online retreat. This retreat offered a simple way to register. The website and user interface was easy to access through a laptop, tablet, or phone. The live broadcast, guided meditations, and retreat materials were readily available.
All of the course materials were available to download as audio files and .pdf. Each of the live broadcasts could be viewed the next day on demand. This was a great option to listen to at a later time. I often relistened to the audio of the broadcast on my iPhone during my daily walks. I downloaded all of the audio and course material to my laptop to review after the retreat was over.
If you can not physically make it to a destination retreat, then an online retreat is an excellent alternative. I highly enjoyed this retreat with Adyashanti. It was challenging and enlightening. If you are serious about finding out your essential nature and the illusion of the self and ego, then a spiritual retreat can give you a greater understanding of the mind and its conditioned behavior. To honestly look at oneself is a complicated process, and it may be a hard experience for many. I would caution those who are not ready to experience the emotions that delving into the psyche can evoke. I am looking forward to the next online retreat with Adyashanti and continuing my spiritual practice.