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Retreats - Fast Track to Freedom - A Guide for Leaders and Practitioners Paperback – Import, 1 Jun 2012
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Yogani covers the beauty of being in a group setting for the duration of a few days and how every individual in the group adds to the field of silence that enhances the experience of silence for every other individual in the room. I love the way he chalks out the experiences of a person who is attending the retreat for the first time. Having lead a few retreats I can attest to the fact that he has the experience down very accurately. It starts off with "not sure" and by the second day leaves people wondering, "How can I be feeling what I am feeling on the inside and toward all these people in the room? I don't even know them and yet I feel a bond, feel closer to them than many people I have known all my life." The best part is, after leaving the retreat we take this unusual feeling of unconditional loving with us... every retreat changes us a little more from the inside and makes us more open and living from inner silence. He covers the kinds of purification experiences we may have and how to handle them, how to talk about them with leaders, and when to self-pace at retreats.
He also has very clear instructions on what needs to happen if we want to organize a retreat. The kind of place, location, rooming, meals, pricing, advertising and how to get help from the AYP support forum.
He has really good advice for the retreat leaders as well on how to have a balanced retreat and what kind of questions normally come up and how to reply to them utilizing the AYP knowledge. He also has instructions on how a leader can guide anyone else interested in becoming a leader so we have more leaders and more retreats can be held.
He has very clear instructions on the retreat schedule, managing the schedule, different kinds of retreats that can be organized beginning with solo retreats that we can do at home, to weekend retreats, to advanced retreats and how the scheduling of these will change and also talks about specialized retreats for advanced practitioners where self-inquiry or samyama or additional kundalini directed practices or kirtans(singing, dancing, chanting to devotional songs) can be introduced.
He talks about how to transition back to normal life after retreats. This can be a challenge for some, but knowing what to do in advance helps get us ready for the real world smoothly after retreats.
All in all, I would say it is amazing how once again, in about 100 pages, Yogani has managed to give us so much that may take many books and years of trial and error to figure out.
An AYP retreat does not have to involve financing, a remote location outside of home, or time off from weekly activities, and can still be part of a time-synchronized group setting, or even solo. Surprisingly, the adaptability of AYP in retreat mode is taken as far as intentional communities, even if only as a casual comment. That is the level of integrity that can be expected when AYP is applied in a group setting and when following the guidelines, be it with the lessons, or learning for the very first time under the supervision of experienced retreat leaders.
Beyond the structure and its flexible, relatively open-format implementation, is also the idea that whatever level individual sitting practices have evolved to, greater potential can be found in group retreats. Even if not yet doing any form of retreat, the effects of group practice will still have an influence, one that can be harnessed and shared with the information provided in this latest addition to the Enlightenment Series.
I didn't think I'd get much out of the book, since experience is often the greatest teacher. However, "Retreats" articulates the causes behind the common experiences that retreat participants have reported. It brings to light the inner dynamics of group practice, how retreats differ from personal practice, as well as the benefits one can expect from a yoga retreat. It also details precautionary measures to ensure balanced progress, and how one can integrate the heightened bliss and ecstasy into home life after the retreat ends.
There is also solid information for retreat organizers and leaders. The book mentions many of the considerations that a retreat organizer must account for: retreat structure, food, lodgings, pricing agreements, advertising, challenges that may arise, etc.
I highly recommend this book for anyone considering participating, in any capacity, in an AYP retreat. It provides an accurate snapshot for anyone who has never attended such a retreat. It's also great for anyone interested in the dynamics of interpersonal spiritual practice, whether in a formal retreat setting or an informal gathering of 2 or more meditators.