So let’s start by closing our eyes. And here we go again – seven days of sitting, looking in – how exciting – a week of doing this. That’s what a retreat is about – a retreat from your normal everyday life. A lot can happen in seven days. And none of you will leave here the same person. You’ll be less of a person when you leave, and of course that’s what you want, but that’s what you’re most scared of. What you think you want is to cling onto this person. But what you want more is to let go of this person that you’ve created over your life, over years. You’ve been encouraged to create this person. It doesn’t really matter how or why. But it is possible to once again become authentic – as authentic as you were when you were born. And we’re all born.
We’ve all been babies – innocent, beautiful babies. And it’s possible to be an innocent, beautiful adult. That’s what this is all about, and that’s what you all want.
You don’t want to be scared. You want to be able to trust that everything will be okay, whatever happens. You want to be able to accept whatever happens, whatever it is.
So take a few deep breaths into the belly – and know that we’re all here for the same reason. All of us, each of us, whether we know it or not – we’re here to become once again authentic, to let go of this person we’ve created.
There’s no fault here. There’s no blame. That’s what true independence is – not blaming anyone or anything for how you’re feeling right now, for how you are.
Over the next seven days we’ll be looking deeply into who we are – who is this person we’ve created? The person we’ve created is based on fear. And the fear is the fear of the death of this person.
The important thing is that you’re sitting here – your body is sitting here in this room right now. It’s nowhere else. You might think you want to be somewhere else, doing something else. That will come up again and again during this retreat. But the thing is, you feel strongly enough about this to be here. And some of you have come a long way.
You’re here because you want to be here. Your mind of course does not want you to be here. And it will do anything it can to stop you being here.
This practice is so simple. Not easy – but simple – simple and direct. I know that’s what attracted me to it to start with, and still attracts me to it – because it’s still simple. It’s about using the senses in your body to keep coming back to where you are, which is simply here.
Thinking is a movement away from here. It’s an avoidance of being here. You can’t think and be here at the same time. But thinking can be very attractive. What happens in this practice is that being here becomes more attractive than thinking.
So each time you realize you’ve been seduced into thinking – and it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about – that’s irrelevant – bring the attention back to the body, primarily the rise and the fall of the abdomen with the breath. Don’t focus on the breath exclusively – use any strong sensation in the body to remind yourself, to reaffirm that you’re here in your body.
That is the basic practice. Of course a lot happens within that but there’s no need for theory. You don’t need to learn anything. You don’t need to remember anything. You’ve got all you need sitting here on that cushion or chair. You’re all here because you have a body, and that’s all you need to be free, to realize eternity – because you can only realize eternity in your body. And it is possible – if you want it enough.
So sit and watch. And keep coming back to your breath. Use your breath as an anchor – your body’s body anchor – your body’s mantra.
Excerpt from opening talk at Kallara 7-day retreat, March, 2017