Awareness and Experience
Classical yoga and tantric meditation are amongst the most harmonic and penetrating tools you can use today to live a whole and conscious life. Yoga and meditation can be used to achieve inner balance, making you a master of your own life. Yet we do not see them as sensational miracle methods even though, time and again, you may experience them that way. It is up to you how much you get out of these methods.
There will always be
a lot of reasons for
you really want to do
Each of the many yoga practices we teach has a special effect. Some affect you physically, some raise your energy, with others you go deeper. Working together, they touch all parts of your being. You benefit from the effects not only whilst you do the exercises, but all day long.
When you have been under pressure, you often remain in a tense state long after the pressure has ceased. This habit can be broken when you meditate and practise yoga regularly, making it easier to relax and cope with demanding situations.
Using yoga, you start to release tensions. Through meditation you become aware of their causes. What is it that normally deprives you of your clarity? How do you handle restlessness, illness, obsessive thoughts, depression or lack of self-confidence? This is not about analysis, but about methods where you learn to witness what appears in your mind by itself. Allow it to express itself; everyday thoughts, habitual thoughts, emotional reactions towards your experiences of the day. You experience these things anyway; however, meditation gives you the capacity to choose not to be weighed down by whatever comes your way.
When you are unaware, you react automatically to various situations. By sheer habit, you become tense, get carried away by a mood or adopt a dismissive attitude. During one of the main meditations taught here, you train to gradually see through your emotional reactions and thought patterns. When you cease to regard a situation, a state or an idea as something permanent or crucial, it can no longer bind you.
is the name of the tradition that originally contains the various yoga practices and meditation methods we teach here. It is based on two principles: to expand (tanoti) and to liberate (trayate). To raise and expand your level of awareness liberates you from that which, consciously or unconsciously, influences and inhibits you. In this way, you can achieve vigour and insight.
Tantra also contains sexual rituals, although what is called ‘tantric sex’ today is often so distorted that it has lost its original purpose – which is expansion of consciousness. The processes you experience at Haa reach further than the sexual part of tantric rituals, which we do not teach here.
The Retreat is a Process
The interaction between the different things we do – the combination of physical exercises, relaxation, meditation and other activities – ensures that the course provides you with a more thorough effect, than if you sat at home and did a few exercises on your own, or went to a weekly yoga class.
We call it a process – it keeps you going. It is based on the same principles as the tantric rituals – the variation and effects of what we do inspires you to constantly take part and be present.
During the process you get to learn about yourself; your body, your energy and your mind – and about the way your attitude towards yourself and others may influence your state.
The process of the course, with its carefully planned sequence, aids us in keeping you attentive and increasing your energy. The vitality and the sensitivity you get through this process makes you realise that inhibiting habits of thinking do not have to stand in the way of what you really want to do with your life. You reach a deeper understanding of your different dimensions and abilities; and of yourself as consciousness, of your true identity.
Meeting with an intense situation
you join in
openly, all the way
As teachers, we demand of ourselves that the process be ongoing all the time ‑ and with you as a part of it, so that the intensity is not lost. Everything we do is part of this training situation; to eat, to sleep, to work, the teaching, the walk on the free day, the bed‑time, lectures, silence; yes, everything you do.
Also, you are not exposed to unnecessary disturbances while you are in this ‘greenhouse’. There is no TV or radio, no newspapers, no telephone calls, of course with the exception of vitally important messages (so please deposit your mobile phone with us).
The moment is created
by your presence
the way you experience
tells you something about yourself
You will probably feel both reaction and progress. You may be provoked by authoritarian guidance, inspired by an answer or instruction that touches you especially, or frustrated because you don’t get all the answers immediately. You may become overly enthusiastic. Or you may resort to a critical attitude, thinking everything ought to be different. You may also experience emotions and states that you have felt previously – and gradually you will learn to have a more conscious relationship to them. From this, a new tolerance arises for yourself ‑ and for all the rest of us.
Do you count
on yourself – or –
is there something else
which is more convincing?
Do you think you have to live up to a certain ideal character in order to progress?
Tantra offers many exercises and techniques that you most certainly will want to use and master. You may see the course as an exciting challenge that demands something of you. This is natural. However, behind the way we work there is another attitude; to settle your bad conscience and feeling of inadequacy, often forced upon you when you forget yourself because of ideals. Come as you are!
In the tantric tradition, we do not try to act holy or wait for ideal conditions. Each of us is part of society, neither more nor less, neither better nor worse. But do we feel at home?
An intense situation is
neither right nor wrong
good nor bad
acceptable nor unacceptable ‑
it demands your presence
People are often amazed by the precision and certainty with which this yoga training works. The results you achieve, however, will depend upon how you carry out the exercises, how you communicate and perhaps your willingness to let go of self-centredness and preconceptions. This is particularly so when the situation is intense ‑ therefore personal guidance is important.
Do you count on yourself
that you can accept
a few peculiarities on my part?
All over the earth we find traces of yoga and meditation; there are exact reproductions of yoga poses in sculptures from different continents and a clear knowledge of meditation methods in both written and oral traditions of many cultures.
It is no accident that classical yoga has survived all known civilisations, religions and political systems. It is based upon a knowledge, which has been tested and developed over thousands of years. In every generation, the adept teacher passes it on to the pupil who is ready to receive a thorough training and to experience a greater awareness.
A stable personality is not reached through excessive effort, but through an in‑depth knowledge of yourself and an acceptance of your abilities and characteristics ‑ your own mind. No matter how great a genius you might be, your teacher will test your real identity, and you will learn to prefer experience to theoretical knowledge, dreams and expectations.
To know thoroughly and to have worked independently with yoga and meditation over a long period of time are prerequisites for anyone who is going to teach.
Certainly, this is so for the teachers who lead the courses at Håå Retreat Center. They have undertaken extensive personal training. Their fulltime, residential education has lasted several years, in accordance with the yoga tradition.
Is anything required of me to take part in a retreat?
Our retreats are attended both by those who have never tried yoga and meditation and by those who wish to further their experience. Prior knowledge of yoga is not a necessity. Sometimes it might even be a hindrance. If you have acquired too many ideas through reading, then your encounter with us will probably be different from what you have imagined.
Each course is quite different
from all previous
lie in your ability
However, if you want to prepare yourself for the course, do a few of the easier poses described in the book Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life (choose 2015 or -16 edition) by Swami Janakananda Saraswati, and also available in other languages. These exercises are a good starting point, e.g. those on p. 32 to 43 (or perhaps those from p. 28 to 31). As for meditation methods, the ones in Chapter 11 are fine to begin on your own.
You can visit one of our city schools, or come on a weekend course here at Haa Retreat Center before you attend a longer one. Also enquire if we are running courses in your area. Swami Janakananda occasionally visits England, Australia and the Americas.
People with previous knowledge of yoga or meditation are often amazed at what we offer and at the possibilities present during a course. However, you don’t need previous experience of yoga. Many start from scratch.
Some students feel that one weekend or 10 or 14-day course is enough, others return year after year. Still others go on to the Kriya Yoga course. And then there are those who are inspired to take three months off during winter to undergo more lengthy training under especially favourable conditions (see the description of the 3-Month Sadhana Retreat).
An intense situation
is full of awareness –
what you do and say
what you experience
A Time for Immersion and Perspective
Naturally the course is also a holiday, but from what? After all, this is about you, now and in the long run.
Come if you want to live for period without telephone (or mobile phone), mail, newspapers, TV, CD-player, audio player, radio, computer, internet and shops – and without using your car at all.
Why isolate yourself from work, family, and worries? Because you gain perspective. When you turn all your attention for a period of time to one particular area, your ability to use what you learn increases considerably.
Science clearly shows that classical yoga and meditation have beneficial effects. Our own experience tells us that these methods can be transformational – with increased clarity and energy in body and mind. This will be evident in your general wellbeing, your concentration and growing awareness. For some, this experience happens gradually during the course. For others, only in the very last days and then there are those who discover what they have learned only when they have returned home after the retreat.
When your training here is over, then it is entirely up to you to maintain the level of perspective and vigour you have acquired. Will it affect the decisions you make and your actions ‑ in your personal life and in society? You will take home knowledge of techniques, advice and certain personal experiences. These will take root when you apply them. Maybe you prefer to use a special program every day, or to vary your training by choosing from the methods you have learned.
“In my job as a lawyer, I have a busy day with pressing projects and deadlines that have to be kept. I can easily get stressed if I don’t persistently return to the relaxed state.
I have practised yoga and meditation for a number of years, and feel that it gives me strength and an attitude to my life that makes me able once in a while to lean back, contemplate everything and see things in a wider perspective. In this way, stress and tensions lose their hold and energy returns.
However, some of the best times of my life have been the times I have given myself a break at Haa Retreat Center.
To be able to step out of daily life and into a setting which is arranged so that I can explore and deepen the possibilities of yoga and meditation, feels like a great privilege.
I have just come home from a summer retreat and feel that my daily yoga practice has been given new life.
My stays at Haa have given me the possibility for introspection, which I find difficult at home. I feel inspired and look forward to tackling the tasks in my daily life. At the same time, I know that when the time is right, I can return to a new intensive stay at Haa.”(A. Fossan, Norway)
>>> next: Body, Mind, Energy and Consciousness