“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.