First retreat

Wendie reports on her experience of the Spring Sangha Retreat 2020

This retreat at Vajrasana was my first Buddhist retreat. I was full of anticipation as I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I found was a modern retreat centre set in beautiful open countryside full of spring-time flowers. Right then I switched off my mobile phone, I wanted to enjoy every minute with no outside distractions.

Our room was comfortable and all the facilities were clean and easily accessible. The first get-together was dinner, and the atmosphere was joyous. Laughter, chatter and clinking  cutlery filled the room. After dinner we moved to the very inviting community room, and then on to the magnificent shrine room to honour the retreat and meditate. The evening sunshine poured in and it felt so powerful, all the Sangha together, meditating in this truly magical place.

Rising early the next morning we all went to mediate at 7am! Silence prevailed from the evening before. Quiet time is essential on retreat, as it gives time for self-reflection. But at breakfast we all enjoyed chatting and bonding together. Then we were treated to a talk by two of the Order Members, one of them the President of our Centre, Arthapriya, who had joined us on retreat. The rest of the day was filled with learning about The Buddha and doing our allocated tasks. After all, this was a Sangha retreat and so we all pitched in. There was also plenty of free time to read, walk in the grounds, chat with friends or just simply sit and be peaceful.

 

Akshophya

On Saturday evening we enjoyed a Puja (Buddhist ceremony), in the shrine room where we were able to make an offering to the Buddha, the Sangha and the Dharma . This was an experience I shall never forget. After this, I sat at the poolside contemplating the beautiful rupa of Akshobhya and feeling totally at peace with the world.

The whole weekend went far too quickly. When we stood around the stupa at the close, and chanted together the Transference of Merits, it felt as though nobody really wanted to leave. I could have stayed another week. The food was great, the company even better and the retreat centre felt like a haven from the excesses of normal life. I will definitely be going again, as soon as possible.