Five-Day Chan Retreat 2022 (Anonymous)

Thank you so much for holding such an endlessly impactful and life-changing retreat. I came in with the intention of learning to deepen my practice and to address my phone addiction habits, and ended up leaving with so much more. Apologies if my reflection comes out a bit rambly, but here are the main points I ended up taking away from the retreat:

  • Allowing yourself to be heard fully, and without judgement, is the best gift you can ever give to yourself. A lot of self help books and teachers tell you to simply “love yourself”, but don’t usually elaborate much. For someone who does not know themselves, this advice can feel a bit hopeless to hear. Both in the talks, and in our interviews, you helped me to realize that I have not been letting myself be heard, felt, and experienced fully, and my inner child is yearning to be seen. Although I have just begun on this journey of seeing myself fully, I already feel so much more loved and connected. I spent much of my life so far looking outside of myself for validation, and blaming other people and situations when I didn’t feel the fulfillment I desired, but the source of love and connection really can be all within me. 
  • It is important to not only view yourself as ever changing, but also people in your life. The practice is incredibly helpful in allowing one to know themselves fully, and then use that same loving compassion and empathy to view others fully as well. 
  • The mind is tricky and can distort the present moment to fit certain narratives. The practice helps us to have the awareness required to recognize those habits and not give into them as redilly. 
  • When trying to avoid being like our parents, we can sometimes become like them in a different way. 
  • Blocking out certain thoughts, because we feel twinges of pain, guilt, or fear, can make them seem scarier and scarier and end up causing us a lot of suffering. Each time we block it away, it will come back stronger and stronger. If we simply allow the thought to be heard and seen fully, chances are it is not as scary as we may think. There is usually far more complexity to an issue than the first glance at it, and there is value in investigating the issue further and observing what comes up. 

This retreat really brought clarity to the importance of regular practice. I am happy to say that I have been practicing at least 20 minutes a day, since we left the retreat. I hope to continue to practice daily, and build upon the habit when I am ready. 

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