The retreat I'm going on is not on the Bodhyanga's, as in the photo, but on Anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing. Twelve years ago I went on a Brahma Vihara retreat, and it blew my mind. I've missed the anapanasati retreats that came through for one reason or other.
Metta and Mindfulness of Breathing are the building blocks of the system of meditation. To go deeper into them yields a richness.
As someone who has practiced for 12 years, I don't need a new practice. I'm not interested in collecting new meditation practices that I don't have time to practice. I need to keep banging away at these two practices, mindfulness of breathing and the metta bhavana. And yet I look forward to the novelty of this retreat.
I've taken the next step into the 6 Element practice and my life wasn't supportive enough to build that one up. I don't do the 4 brahma vihara's, even though I love them. I just alternate Metta and MOB.
Still, going on retreat is lovely in so many ways, and deepening my appreciation of anapanasati is important, feels like completing the circle of learning.
With children, I always have a conflict of leaving them. Some of my buddhist friends without children see that as pathological attachment. My non-Buddhist friends wonder how I could leave my family, they see it as selfish to go on retreat. You can't please everyone. My true friends support me and don't try to change my course with their own agendas.
My retreat experience is very challenging. It's not relaxing and I work very hard. I don't skip things and I make the most of it, because frankly you never know if you'll ever get back on one again. And sitting in meditation lots of things come up that I distract my mind away from, and I have to deal with my backlog of pushed away negative stuff. It can also be blissful, I can get into deep meditative states that are very pleasant. And it feels very healthy to be around the spiritual community.
I'm very much looking forward to it.