Self Development Retreats: Part Two – Insight Dialogue

Self Development Retreats: Insight Dialogue – Amber’s Experience

Retreat, Forest HallWe were just hitting the golden hour as our feet shuffled along the path between pond and rice field… a pebbled trail to the New Life mud brick meditation hall.  Once inside, we were instructed to sit in a circle; which settled into more of a lopsided noggin’ with a protruding bump on the side.  There was an awkward pause there. Where sensitive reflection – meditation space – and social discord – bringing “others” into it – met.

This, in some ways, was a perfect introduction to the world of Insight Dialogue; a place where, “We can practice letting go of interpersonal entanglements in the same way we got entangled—inter-personally”.  Over the four day retreat, led by Sukhacitto Bikkhu from Amaravati Monastery in the UK, we were invited to hold space – in each present moment – where we could take the time to speak and listen from the heart and practice awareness in the internal/external shifts with each of our meditation partners.

We went in. Deep.  Topics would vary, some appeared to be quite surface -at the start- while others would get right to the root.  Regardless of the path, each conversation provided the opportunity to look beyond and question ideas of the self, our roles, our patterns, our own definitions, struggles and processes.  Our own suffering.  And each of my meditation partners provided just the right context in which to reflect, be it through contrast or mirroring.

I have long been intrigued by the spaces between extremes and whatever encapsulates them both.  The intensity of openly sharing one’s own experience and translation of the world, without the attachments involved in knowing someone else’s “story”, provided a new kind of open terrain for voicing my own truths.  A trust without attachment.

This is not to say this open terrain felt an easy place to reside.  No, quite the contrary, in fact it felt quite unstable staring deep into the eyes of the unknown.  But after sitting in the silent space of unsure, I was constantly surprised to find kindness on the other side.

A few hours before sun down, on the last day of the retreat, my bare feet on the mud floor of the meditation hall… I took a seat and in quiet reflection of my fellow retreat attendees.  I looked into each of them.  And we were all a little bit different.  Our circle was wide, spacious, and lump free.  Somewhere in there, from that initial pause we had learned to relax.  As Sukhacitto Bikkhu often referenced, “…relax heals what pause reveals…”.  For me, I have learned of the kindness that resides there.   Kindness for “myself”.  Kindness for the “other”.  And kindness for that place that encapsulates us both.

Thank you New Life Foundation for yet another light-shedding retreat!

Upcoming retreats at New Life Foundation include:

Change Your Mind, Change Your World: A Mindful Yoga Retreat with Kim Roberts, 13-17 February 2013

The Hungry Ghost Retreat: Putting the Buddha Back Into Mindfulness with Vince Cullen, 11-15 March 2013

For more details see the Retreats page of the website or email retreats[at]

* Many thanks to Amber for sharing her experience with us and to Tomoko for this guest post

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