We are often asked the question by our guests and clients, “Why did you choose the name Present Moment Retreat?” In answering this, I am compelled to break the question up into two parts: First, Why Present Moment? And second, Why Retreat?
Why Present Moment?
The name Present Moment was drawn from many of the teachings concepts and philosophies that Tom and I have studied over the years. From teachers such as Thich Naht Hahn, Jon Kabat-Zin, Pema Chodron, Osho and Eckhart Toole we recognized a common underlying theme. The fundamental principle we understood was that the present moment is the only moment there is. It is the only moment we ever have; the only moment in which to be alive. There is no time other than NOW.
It is in this present moment awareness that we begin to acknowledge, if not fully accept things exactly as they are – not clinging to the way we think things ought to be, not trying to change, force or manipulate anything. We realize there is nothing to do or undo; there is nothing to want or to need, there is nothing missing. This moment is all there is…and it is perfect…exactly as it is meant to be. They say that the best way to prepare for the future is being fully present in this moment. In this moment we can come in touch with our own wholeness, our beauty beyond form and our oneness with all that is. Here and only here is where we find peace. From this place of inner peace and ease we can most effectively contribute our wisdom, energies and love to the world and to humanity.
It is seemingly such a simple and self-apparent concept, but it is actually quite a lot to fully take it in to the depths of our being…to drop down into our psyche, our souls and our hearts. To understand that wherever we go, whatever we do, whatever is happening, whatever time it is, or whatever day it is on the calendar, we always have only this moment to live. This seems to me to be a good incentive to live life in a wakeful state of mind, loving life and “choosing joy” as my mom would say. Knowing that this moment is all there is can inspire us to act with integrity and presence in all of our decisions and conversations. It can encourage us to express kindness for ourselves and others…NOW…in this very moment and in this moment…and in this moment…and in this moment.
Through our life experiences and lessons, the magnitude of this concept was fully realized, and we felt the desire to share the importance of these teaching with others. “Present Moment” needed a home. We knew it deserved a sanctuary, a sacred space in which people could awaken to the concept of simply being. Initially, we thought of calling it a resort, a B&B or even a hotel, but all of these felt like places you go, get to, or inhabit. A “retreat”, on the other hand, is not about going or getting anywhere. It is about the journey…the journey of Being. It is not a ‘place’, but rather a time and a space…a ‘time’ apart for solitude and contemplation. And a ‘space’ in which you consciously withdraw temporarily from the world in order to experience a return to yourself.
It is fascinating to see that more and more people are going on retreat than ever before. Undoubtedly, the noise and pace of contemporary life contributes to the current interest in retreats, but there seems to be a more fundamental reason for the rise in their popularity. People who go on retreats today come from all backgrounds and religions and tend to share a common desire for solitude, silence and reflection. Part of the reason we go on retreat is to find a sanctuary, a place where we are shielded from distraction of our everyday lives. It seems as though places like Present Moment are needed now more than ever. People arrive with a variety of different intentions: to write, to read, to rest, to grieve, to reflect, to quiet the mind, to find clarity, to learn, to practice, and for many other reasons they may not even be aware of until after the retreat is over. One thing is certain, as I have seen with virtually every guest at Present Moment, some form of transformation does occur when people have time and space to simply be. It is magical and powerful.
The concept of retreat has always been connected to a spiritual discipline, and was often viewed as an escape from an evil world. Today, it is more about finding ways to rejuvenate and empower ourselves to fulfill our spiritual value and bring it back with us into the context of our daily lives. To go on retreat is to make the decision to set time apart from everyday distractions; to gather your own attention for a period of time; to commune with nature, and to be with what is. The very idea and atmosphere of a retreat is designed so that we can focus our attention in one place, being present to the moment at hand. This is one of the most enlivening and enriching things we can do, and is the essence of mindfulness and present moment awareness.
We come to retreat for different reasons, but innate in the human condition is a desire for a more intimate relationship with our higher self. Through mindfulness, attention, awareness, remembering, and presence, we experience this connection and transformation. Ultimately, we go on retreat to remember to live in the present moment. Therefore, the name…Present Moment Retreat.