What to Choose, Intensive Workshops and Retreats or Gradual Growth
By Remez Sasson
Do you think that self improvement and success skills can be attained immediately or within a few days?
Do you often hear about techniques, workshops or books that promise you instant improvement of your life?
Do you believe that you can improve you concentration skills, develop self-discipline, gain peace of mind or change your habits, quickly and with no effort at all?
Do you think that a few days of intensive practice at a workshop can change your entire life?
Anything worth having requires some work and effort, and is seldom gained instantly. You can prepare a cup of coffee instantly, but can you change your habits and develop new skills instantly?
You don't learn to speak a foreign language fluently within two weeks.
You don't become a sports championship after only a few weeks of training?
You don't become an engineer, a pilot or a medical doctor within a few days or weeks.
You don't become a skilled carpenter, sculptor or painter only through reading or participating in a workshop.
A few days of intensive of training can introduce you to certain topics, but will not make you an expert. A few days of intensive workshop will not solve all of your problems and make you a new person, nor will intensive meditation retreats bring you enlightenment and spiritual awakening.
Things, more than often, happen in gradual way. An average, untrained person, cannot lift one hundred pounds, but after proper and gradual training, he might be able to do so. So it is with self improvement and developing success skills.
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True and lasting inner development cannot be attained through drugs, pills, or forcing the mind to be quiet through artificial or external means. There must be a gradual transformation. Everything in nature works in this manner.
People are different from one another in their mental and emotional makeup, so that what is good and beneficial for one person is not necessarily good for another. What might work for one, might not work for another. What might take for someone to accomplish in three months, might take for another, three years.
If people, who are not emotionally and mentally ready, participate in intensive self-improvement retreats or workshops, they might sometimes harm themselves. This might create a bad name for personal and spiritual growth techniques. However these methods do work, but they have to be applied correctly and gradually, and tailored a bit differently for each person.
Would you consider lifting 100 pounds, if you did not train yourself with weight lifting first, fly a plane, without learning and training first, or climb the Everest Mountain, before getting enough physical training and mountain climbing practice?
What would happen, if you attempt any of above-mentioned activities, without training? It would be disastrous. The same goes for participating in intensive inner development programs, without getting ready first.
Let's take an example of a silence retreat.
Can the average person sit quietly for a dew minutes and silence his mind?
Can such a person plunge into such silence and inactivity for a whole week or more? Of course not!
Such a retreat would nevertheless be useful, but without continued daily practice after the retreat, the results would probably not stay for long. Some people would benefit from this retreat, however, for others, it might only aggravate matters, creating disturbing thoughts and emotions and even stress.
I have nothing against participating in such programs, but you need to be ready for them, and they need not be too intensive.
Meditation Retreats and Workshops
Meditation and silence retreats have become quite popular. If you participate in them, it is advisable that you first learn to sit quietly at home, without movements, attempting not to think of anything in particular. Without this prior training, it would be more difficult to participate.
The truth is that if you can manage to reach 20 or 30 minutes of such meditation, at home, even if it takes you months, that's a great accomplishment. That is gradual progress, and that's better than an intensive workshop.
Participating in a silence retreat for a week or more, without being ready for it, might be a great toll or your nerves. In the long run, you will get more, by practicing for a short time each day, then practicing intensively for one week or more.
Please note that I have used the example of a meditation retreat, but the same applies to every other method of inner training.
Real results are attained if you practice daily, not intensively for a few days, away from your familiar life and circumstances. Sudden emotional and mental elation, sudden rise of inner strength, courage, happiness or inner peace, don't mean that they are going to stay. You have train yourself daily, in your usual and daily situations and circumstances, in order to have lasting results.
The purpose of the article is not to discourage you, but to encourage you to use more common sense and judgment, to understand that real and lasting results need time, effort and practice. Open your eyes and mind to new ideas, techniques and methods, and don't reject the new. On the other hand, do not accept everything without thinking and learning the facts and details.
There are retreats and workshops that are helpful and useful. Many of them introduce you to certain subjects, teach you methods and techniques, give you useful tools, and teach you how deal with certain situations.
However, you need to be careful, if you decide to participate in intensive retreats or workshops, where you are supposed to plunge deeply into unfamiliar situations, and practice certain methods in an intensive manner. This might bring out the hidden contents of your subconscious mind, without the supervision of expert and professional people.
The subconscious mind stores too many repressed memories, thoughts and emotions, which can hurt you, if let them out in an uncontrolled manner. Gradual release is much better, leading to stable and real inner growth, enabling you to deal more comfortably with all of the repressed stuff in your subconscious mind, clear them away, and gain real inner strength and peace.