My Reasons for Attending Young Adult Retreats

By Isaac

Stories From Meditators

Isaac is a young adult (YA) living in San Diego, California. He shares how YA weekend retreats inspire his meditation practice.

I was going to write about living a balanced lifestyle and how an active YA life can be beneficial for meditation. However, currently I am not leading a very balanced life and as a result my practice has been suffering. I have been working too much, not dropping work at the end of the day, doing too many things, and staying up too late. As a result, I have been having a hard time getting up early enough to meditate before work, and not meditating every day as I strive to. So, instead of writing about how a balanced lifestyle can benefit meditation, which I have experienced and know to be true, I will write about how I get re-inspired and reinvigorate my practice – thus getting back to a balanced, active lifestyle that is integrated with the eight-point program.

The number one way for me to get a boost of enthusiasm and deepen my commitment and practice is to attend a BMCM retreat. There are lots of strategies that I use to help refresh and renew my practice, but when I’m having a particularly tough time, like right now, there is nothing like attending a retreat. There is nothing as effective as spending time with other YAs who are also striving to meditate regularly and follow Eknath Easwaran’s eight-point program in the midst of our multi-tasking, faster-the-better, technology-soaked culture.

Isaac at a young adult weekend retreat.

It is a refreshing and unfortunately unique experience to work on slowing down and one-pointedness amongst others who are also trying to do the same. Talking to other meditators, I frequently pick up tips and tricks that help me get over roadblocks. For example, I struggle with continuing to memorize new passages, but have received many helpful hints, tips and tricks from others at meditation retreats who have come up against the same wall.  Many of these tips, tricks and strategies have turned into faithful tools that I now use to systematically chip away at my unwanted habits. When I feel like I’m not making any progress, even though I’m trying, and even when it feels sometimes like I’m moving backwards, I think of what Gandhi said: “I know the path: it is straight and narrow. It is like the edge of a sword. I rejoice to walk on it. I weep when I slip. God's word is: ‘He who strives never perishes.’ I have implicit faith in that promise. Though, therefore, from my weakness I fail a thousand times, I shall not lose faith.”

During a volleyball game at the retreat.

The progress that I make in re-dedicating and deepening my practice during a retreat helps me to be at my best when I go back to work and everyone is running at light speed and expects me to keep up.  As Easwaran says, we need to learn to swim against the current, but in order to do this we must become strong swimmers. I like to swim and I am a good strong swimmer, but swimming laps can become boring and mechanical, so every once in a while I need the boost of some good coaching, some tips to help me improve and get over plateaus. That is exactly what attending a retreat does for me. I get a shot of enthusiasm, and drive a little deeper the instructions I know so well but sometimes let become too mechanical. I come away knowing that there is no hurdle in meditation that I can’t tackle and with the reassurance that there are many other young meditators out there that have many of the same challenges I face, but also all have endless potential. After each retreat I see this potential more in myself and in everyone around me.

Isaac's meditation corner at home.