The enjoyment is exactly in the search, not at the end of it.
“Bridge Fellowship” was my first retreat aTwo years ago I tried meditation using the book written by Victor Davich. I read and tried different techniques which he offered. It was like an introduction, the first meeting but then I gave up… Meditation didn`t turn into my daily habit that time.
Then I found some information about retreat programs 10 months ago. Now it becomes more and more popular in the world. You can find many different offers on the Internet. Of course, it`s a good trend that people think more about their inner harmony, meaning of life and try to change their lives for the better. But such programs are really expensive and that`s why are not available for everybody. It`s way of earning money for their organizers, a kind of business. Fortunately, Peace Revolution gives everyone who is really ready to change himself (and 42-days online program is like a check and preparation) such a unique opportunity.
My friend gave me a link to the Bridge Fellowship and I decided to try. It was a challenge to keep on meditation for 42 days, fill my online diary and follow the rules. I did it day by day, some things were clear and sometimes I had some doubts. Anyway, I went on.
I didn`t realize when some changes began. I was always a positive and open-minded girl trying to smile despite whatever is happening around. That`s why Peace Revolution philosophy was obvious and acceptable for me. But it was not the same for everybody. I live in Russia where it`s normal to drink alcohol and smoke a cigarette when you are very happy or upset. And I was not an exception: parties with intoxicants were a part of my life. Surprisingly, these New Year holidays were different: I didn`t feel like drinking at all. I had a traditional glass of champagne on New Year`s Eve and didn`t need more.
“When you are going in the direction of your fear, you are on the right way…”
When the 42-online program was nearly over I thought what was most important – to end this program or to take part in the fellowship? During online program you are at home and manage your time as it’s convenient for you. If you are a participant of the retreat you trust your life to a few unknown people abroad. My feelings were so complicated like a mixture of desire and fear. Only after two weeks of organizer`s silence after the skype interview I realized how strong was my wish to become a part of the Fellowship in spite of all the doubts.
Luckily, my dream turned into reality. I trusted the Universe. In fact, I had no concrete expectations from the retreat. Vice versa, it was like an adventurous experiment, will I manage to follow this strict time-table, to meditate four times a day, to eat less and to communicate with Thai monks (what does it feel like talking to them?).
This spring in Georgia all my fears disappeared. Let’s take a look. Did you have the same fears?
- Isn’t this a religious sect?
That was the most important question terrified each of us. Even my mom couldn’t understand why some organization spends money to organize a fellowship, what is their objective.
Peace Revolution is only one of the projects of World Peace Initiative Foundation. They promote peaceful values and positive thinking all around the world. Nobody has asked for my money. Not once. Furthermore, I got partial flight reimbursement.
The monks are Buddhist but they didn`t advertise or promote their religion. Sometimes we asked about some principles or views of the Buddhism. This way of living is unusual for us, so it was interesting to know more. But this topic was not the most popular.
- Strict agenda
I wasn’t sure if I could manage to wake at 5 a.m. (4 a.m. Russian time!) and have four meditation sessions a day. The first day it was difficult but then I got used to follow this timetable. Morning yoga was a pleasant award after the first meditation.
Participants did not have a lot of personal time. I didn’t feel dissatisfied about it because I consider meditation as my personal time.
Normally I have about five meals a day including a full dinner. I supposed I would suffer without food in Georgia.
In fact, it wasn`t a problem. Breakfast and lunch were delicious with lots of fruit and vegetables, Georgian cheese suluguni and famous khachapuri! The menu included not only vegetarian dishes! Meat and poultry were available.
The last meal – refreshment – was at 5.30 p.m. We could drink juice, tea or coffee, milk or yoghurt. Surprisingly, I felt alright! We didn’t spend much energy and that`s why we didn`t need much food!
- No electronic devices
It was real freedom and happiness! I missed my books, not my cell phone. We lived here and now: breathed, ate, meditated, practiced yoga, shared our thoughts and smiled without any distractions from the digital world!
- People around
Bridge Fellowship is an unusual program with unusual participants. I was afraid they would differ from me. It was partially true. Some people needed this retreat more than me: they had a great number of questions to the monks, they were very serious and concentrated on the program.
Indeed I met nice and positive guys with open hearts from different countries with the same values and dreams. It`s happiness to find such people. When the plane crushed in my native city, the first messages were sent to me by my friends from Kazakhstan and Armenia. We treasure our friendship and believe to see each other again.
Just go on
Bridge Fellowship gave me a chance to speak with Thai monks a lot. I have never met them before. They chose such a way of living after more than twenty years of ordinary life. They understand our needs and worries and can advice really useful things. We spoke a lot all together and then everyone had an opportunity to ask a monk a private question.
The most important thing was said by the monk during the last day of our Fellowship: “Our retreat ends but in fact your own self-development program starts today. It`s up to you if you are going to continue or not”. We spent only 3,5 days together in beautiful Georgia with wise monks and then everybody needs to come back in his or her own real life.
In my opinion, every participant has changed a little bit after this program. For instance, I used to go to bed late and it was always a problem to wake up early in the morning. Now it`s only about ten but I need to sleep in order to attend a yoga class tomorrow morning! I`ve changed my usual agenda to a healthier one after the fellowship. It`s a small but a really significant victory! And like the monk, I believe it’s only a beginning of a long journey…
P.S: Previously I didn’t understand the title of our retreat. Now the meaning is clear. We started to build a bridge between our own peace center and the outer world. We started our Self-Evolution process and maybe one day it will turn into the World Peace Revolution.
Written by Elen Tkacheva, Russia