A Retirement Village That Promotes Community Living, Wellbeing, Health And Happiness
by Lee Sok Lian｜李淑莲
Some of the most blissful and memorable days of my life have been spent in the company of fellow participants while on retreat.
[left photo: With meditation teachers Ajay Kapoor and Suruchi Dayal in Z Meditation Centre, Dharamsala, India]
These retreats in particular have made a huge impact on my life:
- The 5-Day Health Retreat in Borneo Highlands Resort.
- Meditation Retreat in Plum Village, France.
- The 10-Day Vipassana Retreat in Kuantan, Malaysia.
- The Deep Deconditioning Inquiry Silent Meditation Retreat in Z Meditation Centre, Dharamsala, India.
What do all these retreats have in common?
- A warm and inviting environment conducive to living the purpose-driven life. We are with like-minded people who are more or less like us, all looking for the same support and solutions. When we are with people who share more or less similar interests, like the spiritual life, we have a lot in common. We find it easier to connect with each other, even though we have come from diverse backgrounds and have experiences, beliefs and worldviews that may not be the same.
- A retreat environment, usually in a rural or remote location, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There is a lot of time for quiet contemplation; we can choose to be alone with our own thoughts whenever we crave solitude. Although we are constantly with the group – be it 7, 70, or 700 strong – we are also in solitude for a large part of the day. Freeing ourselves from the stresses of modern-day living and the constant chatter – or white noise -- preserves sanity.
- We learn to do everything with mindfulness, with a community made up of people who have chosen to take the same path as us. We practice mindfulness throughout every moment of the day and not just in the meditation hall, but also in the compounds, the dining hall, kitchen, the toilet, in our rooms and on the walkways and paths leading from one place to another. When we are on the same path, being mindful becomes a way of life.
Z Meditation Centre in Dharamsala, India, offers the perfect retreat environment
Surroundings that quiet the mind and open the heart…
- At retreats where simple living is emphasized, we learn to live simply, eschewing luxury and indulgence. When we start to live simply, we begin to understand what it means to be satisfied with what we have rather than what we want. We reduce our possessions and increase in self-sufficiency; we learn to show care and consideration for those around us as well as our environment. We grow in spirituality. On our journey, all of us are pillars of support for each other, being there for each other every step of the way and reminding each other of what we need to do. We gain health and happiness while reducing our personal ecological footprint and stress. There is strength from doing this together, as a community.
Health-conscious participants at a health retreat in Borneo Highlands Resort
- At certain retreats with time blocked off for sharing or exchange, participants may get together for an afternoon of fun and learning. In Plum Village, on the designated day of rest known as Lazy Day, participants practice being rather than doing. It is a day aside for us to nourish ourselves with silence, nature, rest, journaling, reading, exercise or perhaps music. Depending on our specialties, we could choose to conduct personal enrichment or recreational sessions for fun, laughter and joy, for example, singing, arts and crafts, and so on, subject to the approval of the monks and nuns in charge of Lazy Day. (I led the sangha in laughter yoga two winters ago in Plum Village in France.)
In the Health Retreat in Borneo Highlands Resort, course participants enjoyed sharing sessions led by teachers and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and various healing modalities, qigong, yoga and laughter yoga. Such exchange energises and enriches everyone while promoting personal and spiritual growth.
I take away not just invaluable knowledge but also many life lessons from retreats, whether they are just five days or forty-five. In the retirement village of my dreams, I hope to replicate some of the most essential elements that make for happy and purposeful living – especially useful and meaningful in the final stages of our journey.