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  • Writer's pictureHoly One

No chargers required: what to pack for your first spiritual retreat

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

What you leave behind is more valuable to a retreat than what you bring. It is in the absence of distraction that we can simply be with what is—and discover how much we are fighting it. In the BBC Documentary the Monastery, 5 modern men were chosen to embrace monastic life for 40 days. Each coming from a different background and with wildly different histories of presence and prayer. But the experience of any new "novice" has common themes that anyone who has gone on retreat has experienced. This fascinating made for TV series poses the question: "Does monasticism have anything to offer the modern man?" In taking a break for 40 days and 40 nights from their lives can these (some spiritually inexperienced) men find a place for the presence of God in their busy lives? I watched this series a few years ago when living in a Monastery. It gave us all a laugh and simultaneously a real appreciation for the devotion and presence in our everyday life.

When you LIVE ACIM it is the movement from special to Holy Relationship. Of waiting to be shown Innocence rather than grabbing for specifics to minimize the pain of guilt.

Because of the contrast in the lives of those coming to visit "The Monastery" versus those who live there all the time, you can see the call to hold the space, and the sanctity of relating in this new (less interpersonal) Way. The intimacy is palpably higher and the communication more direct.

Each episode is about an hour so I'd savor each one as a reflection tool. I feel it really does offer a comparative study where we can find our own level of devotion and avoidance of Presence. It doesn't attempt to draw any particular conclusions and firmly allows us our own experience of "The Monastery." I'd love to hear your experience of watching it? ~ in the comments below ~

Here is the 3-part series "The Monastery" BBC 2005 Documentary

Episode 1/3 "The Monastery" BBC Documentary

Episode 2/3 "The Monastery" BBC Documentary

Episode 3/3 "The Monastery" BBC Documentary

In embracing your desire to LIVE ACIM. It is essential to clarify your understanding of A Course in Miracles' metaphysics! Otherwise it becomes a systematic copying of routine and ritual whenever you enter any intentional community or Course group. You may unintentionally take on a culture not just a pathway. This can be as confusing as it is beneficial if with our "beginners mind" if we are not watching intimately and authentically how we feel by staying closely connected with our internal Teacher. Without a clear understanding of the principle's of A Course in Miracles, your previous beliefs and understanding of the world will tag along. What the Course attempts to do over 365 lessons is to restore the mind to it's original settings, or Tabula Rasa. Awareness of the Self can then be restored to this "open and unsealed mind." A Course in Miracles is a non dual path designed to first get the self study student in touch with the Voice for God or Internal Teacher (The Holy Spirit) and secondly to invite a voluntarily embrace of the workbook lessons allowing the student to begin to question their known world in a safe and relaxed, yet intimate way. By doing the lessons (no more than one a day) the Spirit works subliminally with the mind. Your belief in what ACIM shares is not even required! You are simply asked to follow what it says. "You will learn this Course entirely or not at all." The great relief to ACIM students is that it's not personally up to them. The invitation is more a slow unwinding from deeply held defense based opinions into a soft open recognition that only the Truth is true. Acceptance of the Atonement is the focus of the curriculum of the Course. This is the understanding that everything has already been Forgiven and that the world we look upon is maya or illusion. Awareness is restored as it appeared to be lost—in an instant. So you can't mess it up!

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