You don’t know what light is until you’ve experienced the dark. A dark retreat may refer to advanced practices in the Taoism, Dzogchen lineages of the Nyingmapa, Bönpo, other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, but is a practice common to many of the ancient and contemporary spiritual traditions across the world.
From the monks and lamas in Tibet, to the Kogi Mamos in Colombia; the ancient Egyptians and the mystics of 15th Century France, Dark Retreats have provided revelation and illumination to countless practitioners who have sought the light within.
By Jessi Luna
Lying in savasana, finding the beautiful balance between stillness of the body and movement of the breath, you close your two eyes to the external world. In that moment, inner awareness increases and connectivity to your inner being opens. Maybe without realizing it, you've just begun to activate your Third Eye.
By Randi Schiffman
“Yoga is the blending of movement and stillness”- Dennis Hill
Patanjali says yoga is the restraint of thoughts in the mind. No thoughts = no mind. Easier said then done right?
One can sit down to meditate everyday and try and cultivate this stillness through being still… Sitting, watching. That’s what Patanjali would prescribe in order to obtain enlightenment.
By Coby Hadas
“On some level, sometimes gross and sometimes subtle, we all carry impurities. Your parents have toxins within their bodies, minds and spirits, as did their parents, and their parent’s parents. Since the times of the Ancients, we have been passing on our filth, from one generation to the next. Since you were born, your parents have done their best to raise you and while they may have passed on much light, they also, unknowingly, passed on the shadow programming that their parents had gifted them. And so it goes, from one generation to the next, passing on our light and our shadows. Nor is it just your parents, our society is a collective of impurity, and we are a product of the collective shadow. The chain of darkness goes back to the beginning of time, when the only way to survive was through greed, lust and violence. With the beginning of civilization, decency developed and violence diminished, but the primal Ego has never left.”
“So, is a baby pure?” I asked.
“Babies are our greatest teachers, for they are the cleanest of us all,” she said, clearly delighted by the thought of babies. But then her face dropped and she continued, “But no, babies are not enlightened beings. They too have their work, they too must walk the path of cleansing. When two impure beings come together and make a baby, the baby was not made with perfect awareness, was not made with perfect intention. These impurities are passed to the baby on the level of the DNA. We must cleanse ourselves so deeply that we even purify the contamination that has been passed to us on a genetic level.”
By Jiya Julia Randall
The cottonwood drifts. The river dances. I stare at the surface of the water, quietly moving with a deep purpose, as if nothing could ever stop it from reaching the sea.
This water has condensed from the sky and filtered from the land for miles around, running along rocks and gullies, sliding down the trunks of trees and through the soil of the earth. It gathers here, swirling and foaming, full of life force, still moving. As I watch, it just keeps going, seeking out more and more of itself. It will grow until it returns to the sea.
I feel the river that I am, the conjunction of so many paths, so many incoming currents and outgoing flows. I think of the flow I am in right now, this bubbling pool of so many different and coinciding situations, the result of all the rivers that run in myself and the people around me.
It gets me thinking. How many billions of raindrop moments is this day a product of? Perhaps a shower of life-giving raindrops are falling into my being right now from unknown sources. How many more rivers of wisdom and people and knowledge and experience will flow into me in this life? How many more seeds will I help to grow?
Somehow I know how it feels to merge back with the sea. I think back to times before, when the winter storms washed me out. And to times when my inner world seemed dry. How could we, as flowing rivers of life, ever become disconnected from our source? We are the sea.
But to be human is to be complex. We are also a blend of all we have ever experienced. The echo of past shadows is always there, reverberating behind the current moment, shifting and warping what we see into what we understand. The truth is, within every soul-river there is a layer of life-compost. We all have our ways of clouding our true nature.
Sometimes the biggest hurdles in life are the boundaries we put around ourselves. The choices we tell ourselves we need to make. The things we tell ourselves we need to achieve. The repetition of statements, like mantra, - "I can't do this. I'm not enough" - that confine our beautiful being into something smaller. The inner voice worms into every action and tries to direct our winding and free paths down the straight and narrow, the easily controlled. If we listen fully, this voice has the power to bury us.
But the truth is, we're a river, a source of life. Deep in this compost of our souls, there are seeds. Through our thoughts, our words, and our actions, we allow seeds to grow into beautiful things. And even when they seem buried in the suffocating soil of our minds, these seeds are firm, and solid, and real, fed on rich experience and rained on by our love. Not only are we flowing rivers of life, but we support a flowering oasis of creation all along our paths.
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