Meditation and Spiritual Retreats
By Tanis Helliwell
“Activity and reflection should ideally complement and support each other. Action by itself is blind, reflection impotent”. –Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Through meditation you increase your ability to access the spiritual realm both of the soul and of the Creator. This process is cumulative and leads to a quantum change in understanding and consciousness. Most meditation techniques have one thing in common: they calm the mind. Like a good spring cleaning, they get rid of habitual clutter while restoring a harmonious vibration to all the bodies.
Some meditation practices engage the body in the spiritual journey in order to create a strong physical vessel to house the soul. Examples of this practice are Tai Chi and Chi Gong. These more active kinds of meditations might be helpful either if you have difficulty sitting still or if you need to re-establish your connection to the earth under your feet and the energy moving through your body.
Another kind of meditation is a sitting meditation, like Vipassana, where the goal is to see reality clearly. This involves sitting in silence in a state of open and choiceless awareness of the arising and passing away of experience. Another example of sitting meditation is Transcendental Meditation (TM), where you chant a mantra – a Sanskrit word – and allow thoughts to surface. Practicing these types of meditations for half an hour to an hour every morning before breakfast and/or before dinner helps many individuals hear the soul. Dr. Herbert Benson, author of The Relaxation Response and originally skeptical of TM, studied its benefits and found that it lowered blood pressure and heart beats per minute. As well, meditators entered a restful state that was deeper than sleep, in which their brain patterns were more coherent and integrated than during the waking state.
Some of us need more meditation time than we can find in daily routines and find annual retreats helpful. Most retreats emphasize silence and prayer, although often a spiritual advisor assists us-either personally or through group talks-to focus our meditation. Retreats can be days, weeks or even years in duration, and could have a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or non-religious focus. Some retreats focus on the denial of the bodies and we might be deprived of sleep, food, interaction with others or any external stimulation that distracts us from higher consciousness. Buddha taught that our attachment to these things is the cause of our pain and misery and that letting go of our attachment is the path to enlightenment. Jesus also taught a path of non-attachment as he said, “Be in the world but not of it.” Both Buddha and Jesus were active participants in the world. Their lives are examples of how we can use the three kinds of meditation practice as well as retreats on our journey to conscious life and work.
Tanis Helliwell, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions. Tanis is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which offers programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world.