Have a Specific Objective When You Go on Retreat
The first thing you need to do in order to experience spiritual awakening during a retreat is to have a specific objective as you go into this kind of activity. It does not matter whether you are herded into a retreat by your manager or human relations officer or you undertake this on your own, get a specific objective as you plan to make a retreat.
The objective does not have to be a big one, like changing your life for the better. This has been the general objective. But to get a better experience out of a retreat, have a specific objective. For example, you can put as your objective the making of a resolution not to smoke anymore. Or your objective can be the complete reading of one of the Gospels during the course of the retreat. Or it can be the resolution to be quiet at home. Whatever it is, make it specific.
Make the Retreat a Time for Talking with Your God
Secondly, as you proceed with the retreat determine that this will be a time for talking with your God, whoever or whatever you conceive him to be.
Usually a retreat has a series of talks by the retreat master or facilitator and reflections for the participants. Even during the talk of the retreat master discuss this over with your God. For example, while you are listening to the talk, you can say to your God, “Make me listen attentively to this talk so that I get some benefit from it.”
I say “your God” because each one of us have a different concept of God, even if we are all Christians or Muslims. The Buddhists do not have a specific concept of God as the Christians and Muslims do. The atheists or non-believers have actually a concept of God which they deny. You cannot deny nothing. There is some concept of God you deny. It is with this God that you talk things over during the retreat.
Then during the time for reflection, talk with your God about anything that comes to your mind. In this way you begin to contact powers beyond yourself, if you have not yet done so, and the retreat becomes an occasion of spiritual awakening for you.
Write a Record of Your Reflections
Thirdly, write a record of your reflections in a good notebook. I notice that many during the retreat do not write anything. They listen to the speaker and do the exercises they are led through like singing and doing posture exercises but they do not write.
Not to write your reflections means that you do not have a record of these and there is no easy way of bringing back these reflections to your mind later on. Whereas if you write them you can read them later and see how your life has progressed since the retreat. In this way you can see how your life has improved since then. And if you see no improvement, you can make the necessary adjustment to move forward again in the journey to eternity. In this way you can discover whether you have wakened up spiritually or not yet, or whether your spiritual horizons have broadened if you have already experienced spiritual awakening.
These are the ways to make use of retreats effectively so that you can be awakened spiritually: Have a specific objective, talk with your God throughout the retreat, write down your reflections. Good luck to your retreat!
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