Retreats & Reminders

Thursday 19 April, 2018

Assuming there is a desire to learn in the way addressed in the previous post, what can we do? How might we create the learning pressure and supportive prompting which proved so effective for us in our early years? The answer can be found in retreats and reminders, two things which are designed to provide us with the environment to be able to practise our chosen way of being, and the cues to return there when we forget.

And we can forget in seconds. Therefore, the more the often we can be reminded, and the more focused the retreat experience, the greater the chance of creating more favourable habits. Here is a passage from the introduction to my book which explains further:

Some people, when I speak to them about the experiences recorded here, express concern regarding the demanding nature of the development work I did in those early years. I explain it to them in this way:

When we raise children, there are times when we need to be tough with them. We have to set boundaries and teach them discipline; and sometimes we have to force them to do things they don’t want to do because we know it is good for them. Even when they throw tantrums, stamp their feet, and cry uncontrollably, we persist, because it is our duty as parents to act in the best interests of our children.

However, there are many people for whom this did not happen when they were growing up. There were no boundaries, no discipline, and none of the tough love which is sometimes necessary to raise a well-rounded, well-equipped child. This means that any bad habits they picked up during their childhood – such as manipulation, game-playing, emotional outbursts – will persist into adulthood and affect the course of their lives and their relationships.

If, later in life, the individual chooses to address such shortcomings, then the approach is no different: tough love, discipline, boundaries, explanations, understanding, practice, and learning. Naturally, the work is harder for adults than it is for children because established habits and patterns need to be overturned; an undertaking which is further complicated because adults generally have sufficient intellect and experience to make the process unnecessarily difficult for themselves. They are more inclined to resist, than surrender. Everything that happened to me during the four years detailed here, had to happen because there was a lack of it when I was growing up, and because I was determined to sort myself out.

That training can be seen as a 4-year retreat, during which I could focus fully on my development; limiting the influence of the external world while I did so. As a result, I was able to isolate elements of my behaviour, see them clearly, and explore alternative strategies for life. I also learnt from others who were doing the same, and I emerged far better equipped to flourish than when I began. And the book from whence that introduction comes, contains the reminders I need to remain on my chosen path.

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