Find and follow your golden thread…
The idea is simple but the effect can be profound. You take a week of your ordinary life (living at home, going to work, whatever) BUT you live it with the kind of intention and awareness you’d have if you were going away on retreat. It’s a bit like being on retreat ‘in secret’ – outwardly it might not look much different, inwardly we’re following more consciously staying in touch with that ‘golden thread’ of practice that started in our lives at the moment we first thought to practise the Dharma. It’s like ‘upgrading’ our Dharma practice for a week and seeing what the effect is. And it’s open to anyone who’s done one of our Introductory Courses.
The retreat involves one day at the Buddhist Centre on Saturday 18th January and an afternoon on Sat 25th. On the first day there will be an introduction to Urban Retreat and workshops and support to help you ‘design your own retreat’ – everyone’s urban retreat is different because everyone’s life is different. You might decide to meditate more, watch telly less, switch off your phone (for an hour a day – or entirely!)… you might recite the dedication ceremony each morning to remind yourself of your purpose, do yoga, meet up with Sangha friends to talk the Dharma. There will the option to come to the Centre for early morning meditations each day and to buddy up with someone else taking part in the Urban Retreat, if you wish. We’ll also have a special puja night on the Friday.
The theme for the retreat is the Golden Thread and there’s a poem by American Poet William Stafford which conveys the heart of the image (which came originally from William Blake):
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
We haven’t done Urban Retreats for a while in Bristol, but our history with them goes back to 2006, when Taranita led the first one, and we’ve done several since then. In 2007 Satyalila co-led one and wrote a short account of the experience for ‘The Spark’ magazine: “Cold, dark January mornings and I wind my way up the Gloucester Road on my bike to arrive by 7 and sit before lighted candles and smoking incense at the foot of the Buddha. Five of us are spending a week on “Urban Retreat”… not far away in the mountains, but here in the heart of Bristol. We meet together for a day, plan and dedicate our week, set some aims..(meditate more… surf the internet less, in my case). I hang golden stars on my PC monitor and in the toilet at work to remind me I’m on retreat… creating sacred space within time. I read poems and reflect on following a golden thread through the dark: Blake, the Buddha, the American poet, Stafford, are my guides. I walk an ancient, sacred path through Bristol in midwinter.”.
Sheffield Buddhist Centre website said of ‘Urban Retreat’: “This is for some a turning point in their lives. You decide what you want to do to make the coming week a focus for practice while going about your usual routine. Particularly for those who find it difficult to get away on retreat, and who want to make their every day life a crucible for change.”
Attached below is a link for the ‘user guide’ from previous Urban Retreats – it is from our archive but most of the information is still useful and relevant.
Urban Retreat Guide