Shamatha is the Tibetan term for single pointed meditation. This can involve concentrating on one thing such as one's breath, a picture of a deity, or traditionally a blue flower. The purpose is to increase our ability to concentrate and focus. Without this ability, we cannot deepen our practice or gain the deepest understanding of key Buddhist teachings.
The Shamatha retreat is all about rejuvenation and many people have benefited from the experience in the past. Being eight days long, this retreat gives time to establish spiritual foundations strong enough to benefit us for the rest of the year, indeed the rest of our lives.
Khenpo thoroughly explains how meditation can help in everyday life and also improve your practice, whatever that may be. You have time to talk to your teacher and ask questions. By the end of the retreat you will be refreshed and stress free. It is a rare opportunity and a great gift to yourself to sit in such a beautiful place to just study and meditate with your teacher. Khenpo welcomes everyone, from beginners to advanced practitioners.
I found my mind was very busy when I first arrived at the Shamatha retreat – thinking about lots of different things at the same time. But after a few days, the routine of concentrating on practice or teachings nearly every minute of the day, seems to somehow slow down the thoughts. I get to a stiller place and feel relieved to have only one direction in which to focus. The benefits are not only during the retreat, because I find I still reflect on the teachings Khenpo-la gave over this period and I find myself going back to them in widely varying situations throughout the year.
Teachings and practices
Daily practices during the Shamatha retreat are Shamatha (single pointed meditation), Green Tara puja and Vajrasattva practice.
Each year, Khenpo gives teachings on various topics or different texts, leads guided meditations to provide opportunity for contemplation, and conducts question and answer sessions. There is also plenty of opportunity for individual contemplation, meditation and practice - all the components of the traditional Buddhist learning experience.
The dharma is a lifeline, I had a strong experience of how much grasping and suffering I had in my life when not practising and this showed me how much I need to practise the dharma to keep my mind focused on positive things rather than the negative. I understood how lucky we are to be able to listen to these precious teachings and how lucky we are that we live in a time when the Buddha turned the wheel of dharma and these teachings exist. Not only that, but we have such a kind and compassionate teacher to teach us authentically and continue the lineage that goes all the way back to the Buddha himself. And also a wonderful community of practitioners to support each other in our most important activities of practising right thought, right speech and right action. I can't say enough how much this retreat has showed me how to turn every experience in life into the practice of the dharma and not to dwell on things that are negative and unimportant. I am truly blessed to have been a part of this retreat and to receive such precious teachings on the 7 point mind training which is so useful, relevant and practical in every aspect of daily life. Thank you Khenpo-la and to everyone who made the retreat possible and such a success.