Last weekend, I went on a different kind of spiritual retreat, the Brahma Kumaris (BK) three-day retreat on “Inner Peace, Inner Power”. I was looking for an out-of-town retreat to get away from the chaos of the city and this was what came up on Google. I learned from a quick web research that Brahma Kumaris is non-sectarian and they welcome people from all walks of life, religion, race or creed. So I signed up, not quite knowing what to expect.
An atmosphere of peace
As soon as you step into the blue doors of the white, three-storey retreat house of Brahma Kumaris in Tagaytay City, you immediately feel a sense of serenity. I was greeted by a lady dressed in all white, bearing the same peaceful countenance. The physical surroundings of the retreat house, with its cozy interiors, wise quotes on the wall, enveloping garden and the cool Tagaytay breeze make it conducive for meditating, which was also one of the key things we learned during the retreat. This was not just any kind of meditation but Raja Yoga Meditation or “open eye” meditation. All of us were beginners at this so it was not easy. We had to learn to quiet the mind, to detach from our worries and concerns, and to just let go. Once this kind of inner stillness is mastered, one can meditate anywhere and anytime, without the need for the proper ambience or circumstance.
The BK sisters taught us simple techniques to train our intellect to be the master of our mind and ‘sanskaras’ (old habits, imprinted patterns or ways of thinking). For someone like me who is a self-confessed expert at overthinking, I know I have a long way to go at silencing my mind. But I am excited to practice being still, banishing any wasteful, unnecessary and negative thoughts and focusing on more positive, peaceful thoughts in meditation.
“Through the power of silence, you will find your answers.”
“Real meditation is beyond thought. It is simply experiencing peace.”
Oftentimes the way we talk to God is one-sided, with us doing most (if not all) of the talking, telling Him about all our concerns and anxieties, asking Him for help and special favours. As we mature, talking to God becomes more for thanksgiving and praying not just for our ourselves but also for others. But not many of us have reached a level of communicating with God in a state of complete detachment from our self and from the stories of our lives, of being totally receptive to His grace, of actively listening, and of truly experiencing Him as He is, the Supreme Being and the Source of all Peace and Goodness. I have experienced this powerful feeling once years ago, a meditative state where I was flooded with a kind of peace that surpasses understanding. Attending this retreat made me realise that this kind of connection with God is not just meant to be one-off, but is something that all of us are meant to experience daily and often.
“I know I am connecting with God when I keep my mind simple.”
Stepping inward to be able to step outward
It’s been said that you cannot give what you do not have. You cannot give peace to others if deep inside you are troubled. The journey to peace, therefore, begins with the self.
I had a restful sleep on the last night of our retreat. I felt lighter and my mind was less cluttered. One of the BK sisters said, “If only we could take a before-and-after picture of each one of you – of your auras”. But they really didn’t have to. We all radiated that sense of peace at the end of our three-day retreat. You could see it in our smiles, in our eyes. This sense of peace is something we now hold dear and what we hope to cultivate as we step out once again into our busy, busy lives. This retreat has taught us that we can find peace wherever we may be, even in the busiest and most troubling of circumstances, for attaining a state of peace is something that is within us, it is within our inner power. ### +D.O.G.