During November 2019 a group of residents and retreat guests came together to practice the Amitabha Sadhana, guided by Lama Chris and Drubla Michi. We had consecutive two week retreat periods, with many participants taking part during the whole month.
During annual courses over the last few years we had received the necessary explanations, so this year we could focus on deepening our practice. We combined the benefits of private retreat and group retreat by meditating on our own for most of the day and gathering every afternoon to perform the group ritual and to clarify our questions. Between these formal sessions we trained further in making tormas, using the musical instruments and so on.
At the start of the month Lamas Walli and Chris reminded us in their introductory lecturs that there is actually a lot of experience to be made between formal practice sessions. By staying mindful we don’t get cut off from our practice in the breaks, especially if we stay mindful of our speech. We can try to speak meaningfully instead of being so demanding of the attention of others. That way we prolong our meditation and at the same time “install a new program” that will benefit us in our daily lives when we get home.
Practicing like this we created a steady retreat atmosphere that was at the same time intense and easy-going. All participants found these retreats a valuable opportunity for practice which we hope to be able to enjoy again in the future.
While the retreat went on the hillsides around Marfond slowly turned golden and we were blessed with many rainy days – perfect for staying on our meditation seats! Everything came together in the spirit of Lama Walli’s advice: “This kind of practice can be quite elaborate, but it’s not difficult or complicated. Stick with the simplicity. Just get back into it again… and again… and again.”