The New Year is a wonderful time to touch sacred presence and deepen our roots in our life's aspirations. This retreat is a chance to set new or reaffirm existing pathways that open our hearts and minds through practices that help shape a more beautiful mind. In the words of David Whyte... this is "Asking questions that help us re-imagine ourselves, our world and our part in it, working to reshape our identities and become larger, more generous and more courageous as we grow and mature". In this opening to the new within ourselves, we open the doorway to fresh and energising states of being that lay waiting for us.
Rather than setting New Years resolutions, we'll be exploring the nature of Vows. It can be freeing to understand that the vows we unconsciously took at an earlier stage of our life, possibly as far back as childhood can be consciously changed, modified or let go of.
A vow is a promise to your future self. It is a contract with yourself. A vow is an aspiration to give life to a spiritual path, a project, a relationship or anything that comes from the core of your being. It is part of your life’s purpose. A vow serves as a channel for your life’s energy, so it is not scattered or frittered away.
"A vow is a deep commitment to see something through no matter the obstacles. A vow is different from a new year’s resolution. Resolutions have the air of self-improvement while vows speak to something larger. Vows ask us to continually return over and over again to our deepest intentions. They help us orient our life to what is most beneficial. And vows emerge from our own unique life and circumstances." From Zendust.org
This is an Insight Meditation retreat where we will offer teachings in the service of meditative ease and grace. Along with encouraging mindful and loving presence, we will do so with a curiosity about "What are your habits of awareness?" and in line with Buddhist teachings, what else might you include to broaden and claim other aspects of your being?
There will be meditation instructions and guided meditations, Dharma talks and inquiry, question and answer sessions and also opportunities for personal interviews if you wish. Along with sitting and walking meditation, we encourage you to experiment with meditation, and at times try lying down for meditation. Deep rest turns out to be surprisingly and delightfully, undemanding and rewarding. As the mind and body become deeply rested, a natural meditative awareness emerges where awareness becomes bright and clear.
We emphasise the importance of tuning in closely to your unique path, of falling in love with your own awakening, including all its joys and challenges. Along with our own awakening, we encourage an awareness of connections with others and rather than looking for short lived meditative spiritual highs, we cultivate long-term friendships. We also continually experiment with different formats for teachings and retreats with the aim of bringing love and wisdom into life.
Friendship is the foundation of the spiritual path and on this retreat we'll take some time to explore what this may mean for you. Freeing up old habits of connection can allow us to offer deep support, encouragement and wisdom beyond words. Some aspects of this are
Loving Presence: Looking for the good in others while holding a kind and present-centred state of being while relating. If someone has a large or small energy we can learn skills to be with that in ways that don't dominate or surrender our will.
Bringing forward our capacity for bright, clear awareness. Cultivating a continuity of awareness is central to the path of Buddhist practice.
Noticing and exploring our internal world and the influence it is having on how we engage. Without knowing it, we may have some habits that sabotage our good intentions and aspirations. With a light curiosity we can start to know and change these and give our meditation a much more solid basis to be a support for our well-being.
Developing our capacity for being truly present for others by recognising and responding with skill, care and humour. When we look for the good in others, we start to see that everyone wants to be happy. It can be a great joy to let go our ideas of how this might happen.
This retreat is suitable for beginner or experienced meditators.
Gilwell Park is located near Gembrook in the east of the Dandenong Ranges, about 60 minutes from Melbourne CBD. It can also be easily reached from the south and east (23km from Pakenham), or from the north (20km from Launching Place). Gilwell Park has been the venue for many hundreds of events ranging from Scout camps, Outdoor Education programs for schools, getaways for corporate groups and conferences..
Arrival: 4pm on Dec 27th, 2022 Departure: 11.30am on Jan 2nd, 2023
This is a fully residential retreat. Due to the nature of Gilwell Park, we only have shared accommodation and camping. Rooms are allocated on a same gender basis only. Even though there are bunk beds, no-one will be sleeping above you and there will be 2-3 people at most in each room. See images below.
Gilwell Park provides a single mattress only. There is no bedding provided, you must bring your own sheets, blankets/doona and pillow.
This retreat will be held in alternating periods of silence, conversation and guided group practices. For beginners, please note that noble silence does not exclude common sense communication in times of emergency or at times when communication is needed to clarify meditation or work period instructions or questions you may have about anything you need to clarify.
Mobile Phones and Computers
Please finish your communications before coming to the retreat. We will ask you to turn off all electronic devices during the retreat so we can respectfully engage with the meditation teachings together. Mobile reception is limited and is not guaranteed and there is no wifi.
Giving of service or Karma yoga ~ Insight meditation retreats are run on a non-profit basis, so in this way we are able to keep the costs down. Therefore In the same spirit we ask that everyone who comes to our retreats contributes one hour of their time each day towards the running of the retreat. This may be anything from washing up, veggie chopping, cleaning or something else connected with running the retreat. We thank you in advance.
Drugs and Alcohol
This retreat is a drug and alcohol free zone. We have no judgement about these things but this is not a place for alcohol or recreational drugs of any description. If you're after that then we recommend you find another event or venue that might suit your needs.
Please note: If you are in the midst of a life trauma, emotional upheaval or instability that might require individual support beyond our scheduled meetings with teachers, this retreat format may not be a good match at this time. Should you have any questions about this, please contact us via email
Do you have other questions? First read the FAQ's below
Food: To help you make the most of the retreat, we will provide 3 nutritious vegetarian (includes dairy) meals each day and this is included in the cost. Vegan, Gluten Free & Dairy Free can also be catered for and you can indicate this in the booking process. Please note we don't and can't cater for individual preference eg. I would like 2 eggs fried with spinach and sourdough!
Question: I have very specific dietary needs, (eg Fodmaps) can you cater for special diets? Answer: We can offer a simplified diet that often satisfies most special needs, including Fodmaps. If in doubt, please send us an email to clarify before booking.
Question: I snore and there are only share rooms available... what to do? Answer: Please don't go ahead and book a twin share and potentially put the other person in a situation where their retreat may be compromised. Thanks for your care about this. On this retreat camping is an option. You will need to bring your own camping equipment.
Question: Do I have to bring all my bedding? Answer: Yes
Question: With meditation, do I have to sit on the floor on a meditation cushion? Answer: There will be more than enough chairs to sit on. We encourage you to find a posture in meditation that allows you to be comfortable and easy.
Question: Will there be sitting cushions and mats provided. Answer: There will be some meditation mats and cushions available. You will need to bring your own yoga mat.
Question: I've never meditated before & I'm worried it will be too much. Can anyone come along? Answer: Yes ... Meditation instructions are the same for everyone. We can assist with things from finding the right posture for you, through to clarifying the meditation instructions.
Question: Can I do just part of the retreat or I would like to arrive late. Answer: No, for all sorts of reasons. Your respect for this is deeply appreciated as late arrivals puts pressure onto the retreat staff and teachers. If you are planning on coming to the retreat, please plan on arriving on time and staying for the whole retreat. If you can't do this please wait for a future retreat.
Question: I'm coming to the retreat with my partner, can we share a room? Answer: No. On this Insight Meditation retreat, as with most, we don't allow partners to share a room. We do this so that each of you can have their own experience and their own retreat, without fitting into the usual patterns of relating, communication and thinking that are part of being together. Also on retreat we have precepts that we follow and one of those is to abstain from having any sexual relations with ourselves or others. Being in separate rooms is a simple, helpful way to support meditative awareness and freshness of experience.
Question: Do I have to do the yoga? Answer: No, the yoga is optional. If you do choose to join the yoga/movement class, you are always encouraged to find your own pace with whatever is being offered. If you don't do the movement class, you are encouraged to do some other form of movement to give the body the exercise we all need.
Question: Do you have a rideshare option to get to the retreat and back home again? Answer: We do and while we don't guarantee a ride, it usually works out somehow. It all depends on where you are coming from and where the other lifts are leaving from. When you sign up for the retreat, you can put yourself on the "ride needed list" and we'll do our best to put you in touch with someone who is willing to take an extra. If in doubt, please be in touch and we'll see what's available.