I haven’t had a break this whole year, which is why I was looking forward to my weekend in Port Dickson. It was a silent retreat, organised by Sahabat Ruah, with Father Sebastian from Kerala, India, leading the reflections on Meister Eckhart, entitled, “The Divine Beyond God”.
It has been years since I have been on a silent retreat and I felt perhaps it was time to go for one again. And also, of course, I desperately needed a break. The retreat was at Golden Sands Baptist Assembly at Teluk Kemang, Port Dickson. It was really a quiet stretch and perhaps somewhere I have never been to before (I have been to Port Dickson so many times as a child, it is a bit hard for me to say whether or not I have been somewhere there!).
Okay, I will be honest with you. The getaway was more important than the retreat. But I did go there with an open mind. It was also partially my fault for having misread the brochure because I was under the misapprehension that we were going to reflect on the Upanishads and the Gospels. But anyway…
The reflections were nice, and reminded me a lot of the first few weeks of yoga teacher training that I had done several years ago. The interesting aspect was how Eckhart, a Western European, had come to this wisdom that the East had practised for centuries beforehand, even though he apparently had never been to the East or was exposed to eastern culture or wisdom.
Two points came across to me during the retreat. One was about God and nature, that the whole nature is a sacred ambience. Of course, I already knew this (again, from understanding and immersing in yoga philosophy), but the way it was phrased was a nice reminder.
Another point that I liked was that we need to also focus on the body. Father Sebastian said, “God came to us through the body, should we not go to God in and through the body?”. This was interesting because everybody, from those who hold “Raja Yoga” higher than anything else, to those who are religious, whatever their religion may be, rarely consider the body to be important (and I may snidely add, the brain as well).
This is why Father Sebastian insisted we practise a meditative form of surya namaskar every morning. It was super slow, 25 minutes to finish one round and also very restive. After the first morning, I opted for Ashtanga self practice in my room (I meant to practice outdoors but it had rained really heavily the night before).
Okay, so I skipped sessions a lot (the first day – which was a half day – saw me sitting for four 20 minute sessions of meditation!) and went for walks and journaled and read Hercule Poirot. In this sense, it was good and reflective. In fact, I came to realise how important the last batch of songs I did with Garageband were and why they were important to me.
The area we were in was also quite nice. It was very quiet, surrounded by Sime Darby bungalows, with very quite and inaccessible beaches. Compared to our last beach experience at Pangkor, this was really quite serene and tranquil. The beaches themselves were not that busy (although apparently quite dirty with rubbish and other human refuse) and the surrounding roads had barely a car in half an hour. Walks along the roads and paths were restful.
On two occasions, we sneaked out after dinner for a drive down to Port Dickson town. The township has really developed and yet it was quite orderly. What’s more, hardly a pot-hole or unintentional road bump anywhere along the roads. In addition, the place is comparatively clean. What’s up with Selangor!?
Saying that, it was a refreshing weekend for me. I would have preferred more time to drive around and spend more time adventuring in Port Dickson. No matter, the silent retreat was also good and I really needed the time away.
What about you? When was the last time you went to Port Dickson? Have you ever experienced a silent retreat?