Recently, SIBA Retreat Centre hosted the 21st annual 10 Day Calm Abiding Meditation retreat. Here is a short piece on the experience of that very special time, written by Amelia. Enjoy!
Last Sunday marked the end of the 21st Annual Calm Abiding retreat, where I and 60 other enthusiastic retreat goers passed 10 days diligently sitting, opening our ears and minds to ancient wisdom and casting the eye inward in contemplation and meditation.
As a relatively new meditator, this was my first Calm Abiding retreat. From the moment of arrival at SIBA there is a gentle hum in the air, as us newcomers and seasoned retreatants alike find their place and settle in for an exciting, challenging and transformative 10 days of growth. What a pleasure it was to spend that time in group of like-minded, warm and welcoming people. Being in this space I truly have the feeling of coming home. It is safe to let go, let the goings on of the outside world dissolve and just sit in quietude.
After the initial bodily aches and pains subside and distracting thoughts soften, the nature of the mind begins to surface. One day of bliss gives way to another of agitation and frustration, which eventually transforms again, occasionally even yielding moments of serene clarity. As our insightful teacher jovially reminds us, we are all only ever beginners! Artfully balanced with profundity and humour, the teachings of Lama Choedak Rinpoche were cause for great delight, inquisition and introspection - not to mention stimulating dinner-time conversation as both new and experienced practitioners shared their understandings and insights.
It was particularly helpful to receive both formal teachings and personal advice from the senior dharma students, who were indispensable in clearing confusion and offering support through all the excitements and the struggles that arise on this journey.
The magnitude of the event is truly inspiring. From all the participants who have
meticulously organised their schedule to be able to attend, those who have travelled many hours - some days! - to arrive at this special location, to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly, diligently and quietly in the background to make this experience possible - not to mention comfortable and delicious! I was so impressed by the support and generosity of the sangha.
It was particularly touching to honour the efforts of Phil Heang and everyone at Tharlam Ling Buddhist Centre in Townsville who successfully raised $3000 to contribute to the construction of the Stupa Temple of Peace (STOP), the exciting project for an authentic Tibetan Buddhist temple to be built in Canberra.
We are so fortunate to have a place like SIBA, where people from all walks of life can gather in good company, with a good purpose and a beautifully conducive place in which to learn and grow. It is very exciting that we will soon have yet another dedicated space in which many other wonderful retreats, classes and events may take place and where the growing community can connect and thrive.
The 10 day calm abiding retreat not only engages you in a deeply personal journey, it also immerses you in a greater community atmosphere, one that is respectful, supportive and above all else, full of warmth. I made some wonderful new friends during these 10 days and I look forward to seeing many of their happy faces again at the next retreat.
Endless thanks goes to everyone involved!
Amelia, 10 Day Retreatant, 2017.