Online Retreats: The Spiritual Renaissance in Your Home

News

“Just as there was a cultural renaissance in the West several centuries ago, the world needs a spiritual renaissance today. Just as there was an industrial revolution two hundred years ago, the world needs a spiritual revolution here and now. And the wonderful feature of a spiritual revolution is that it cannot be accomplished by governments or multilateral corporations. It can be brought about only by little people like us: every man, every woman, every child, changing their personality from selfish to selfless, from human to divine.” 
– Eknath Easwaran


When the BMCM decided to cancel in-person retreats due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Programs Team began to work on how they could support passage meditators from a distance. Easwaran’s lofty vision of the “spiritual renaissance” is at the heart of these new online retreat programs, which offer an at-home opportunity for each of us to strengthen our practice of passage meditation, deepen our connections to Easwaran and each other, and access our deepest inner resources so we can be a source of courage, love and wisdom to everyone around us.

After piloting online retreats in March, the BMCM launched an online retreat schedule offering opportunities to participate in Setu, Weeklong, and Weekend Online retreats, in addition to the long-standing Online Webinars, Workshops, and the six-week In-Depth Introduction to Meditation course. Each of these programs is a grand opportunity for the spiritual renaissance to start flourishing at our own home address.

Now that we’ve experienced a few months of online retreats, we wanted to share some information and reactions from our BMCM team and from retreat participants. Read on to learn more about what it’s like to take an online retreat, and how you can participate in one this year!

Bringing the Retreat Into Your Home

The BMCM has decades of experience holding in-person retreats, and our many visitors to the Tomales retreat house have experienced the deep, slow, warm, and focused environment that supports retreatants as they turn their attention to their spiritual practice and their highest ideals. Through BMCM online retreats, participants now have the opportunity to bring this rich spiritual environment right into their own home, and to build and expand their spiritual practice within their everyday lives.

The retreat curriculum builds in the points of Slowing Down and One-Pointed Attention through a simple retreat schedule with half-day video calls and a half-day of “practicum” during which participants can live out the eight points in their unique home setting. During the video calls, BMCM presenters help create an atmosphere of absorption, in which students join together to drink in Easwaran’s writings, talks, and reading of passages. In this shared quiet focus, Easwaran has an opportunity to speak to each person’s specific spiritual needs. Then during practicum time, participants can apply this personal inner instruction to their home life in new and enriching ways.

These accounts from retreat participants highlight both the flexibility that comes from taking the retreat at home and also the vast potential available to build the spiritual renaissance right from where you are:

Elizabeth from Grand Junction, Colorado:

I participated in the July Online Retreat, and I felt that it was the biggest boost to Eight Point Program practice that is possible in these times of physical distancing.  It was a simplified time of focusing on Easwaran and the eight-point program through workshops in the morning and weaving Putting Others First and the other points into our householder afternoons and evenings. We gained experience every day with transitioning from retreat environment to the householder environment. I did not come away from the retreat with quite as long of a list of goals as I normally do after an in-person retreat; but in truth I usually only accomplish one or two goals from that long list anyways.  I would highly recommend the weeklong online retreats to anyone desiring support and a deepening of practice in these challenging times.

Elizabeth on a walk with her husband

Preethi from San Francisco, California:

After yearning to attend a BMCM retreat again, I was really pleased with the online retreat offering this year.  Although the online format required a bit more self-discipline (i.e. putting away digital devices and other distractions), it was a rewarding and energizing experience. In fact, seeing so many bright smiling faces on my screen every day was a welcome antidote to an otherwise intense year. It was also a great reminder that our meditation practice as well as retreats/satsangs (even virtual ones!) are especially important now, as we all learn to navigate the “new normal” of the world. 

Preethi's meditation corner

Kurt from Cleveland, Ohio:

One of the joys of a weeklong retreat in Tomales is a schedule optimized to dive deep into the eight-point program, with the gentle guidance of the BMCM programs team and the support of a group of dedicated seekers. The online retreat also provides gentle guidance and support, but right in the home environment that Easwaran tells us is perfectly matched to advance our Sadhana. No expense, hassle or carbon footprint of travel. No problem with re-entry ― we’re already here!

During the online retreat, I found it very helpful to dive into meditation with my fellow retreatants right after three hours of satsang together. It was wonderful to have the retreat island of workshops, reflection, and Easwaran’s teachings right in the middle of the currents and waves of my householder life. Because of our focused time together, the mantram seemed more powerful. The retreat helped me to see with new eyes, and practice with new vigor, the householder opportunities to slow down with one-pointedness and to train the senses and put others first. The online retreat shook loose some areas where I’d been stuck in my practice. It’s been a month now, and I still feel the retreat working to help my householder life rub off my many rough edges.

Kurt on a mantram walk

Claire from Toronto, Canada:

This retreat came at the perfect time for me. I had just finished my first year of full-time teaching, whose steep learning curve, long commute, and exhausting workload had made me feel like a camper in a hurricane, trying to keep my little sadhana tent from blowing away. By the end of the retreat, I felt as though a whole team of friends, old and new, had gathered round under Sri Easwaran’s guidance and helped me securely hammer in the tent pegs! My meditation felt steady again, my day-to-day life more focused.

I won’t deny that I missed the experience of being at the retreat house and interacting with presenters and fellow retreatants in person. But I definitely found that participating in a retreat at home offered its own unique benefits. I especially valued the chance to get to work right away, in our own home context, on the habits we were seeking to change in our daily lives. I was seeking to create a new habit of doing my share of household chores promptly, without having to be reminded (my beloved partner had been very patient about this, but she deserves better!), and there was ample chance to work on this habit every day, rather than simply planning strategies for making it a reality after my return home. I am so grateful to the BMCM for making these retreats possible, and I look forward to more!

Claire's meditation corner

Sign Up for a Retreat This Fall 

Several of our online retreats and programs in the fall still have openings. If you would like to participate with us in Easwaran’s vision of the spiritual renaissance we invite you to sign up for one of our upcoming programs.

Fall 2020 Retreat Calendar:

  • September 11–15 Weeklong Online Retreat
  • September 18–21 Setu Half-Week Online Retreat
  • October 2–6 Weeklong Online Retreat
  • October 10-November 20 Indepth Course: Introduction to Meditation
  • October 23–25 Returnee Weekend Online Retreat
  • November 21 Returnee Online Workshop 
BMCM Programs

Learn more and sign up!

We’re grateful for everyone who has helped pioneer these online retreats so far, and we look forward to connecting with more passage meditators around the world in the coming months.

In the midst of these difficult times, each of us has a unique and important role to play in the spiritual renaissance. We joyfully welcome you to join us in helping it to unfold.