Just a few weeks ago, 20 YAs gathered at the BMCM retreat center in Northern California for a YA weekend retreat. Several were new to the practice, so they explored how and why passage meditation works in their workshops. Others were long-time meditators, and they focused on developing strategies to deepen their passage meditation practice. Outside of the workshops, all our activities were together, and it only took a few hours before everyone felt like old friends.
After our November YA retreat, we shared some of the more "academic" aspects of the retreat: workshops, book study sessions, and bringing questions to other YAs. After this past retreat, we thought we'd give you an inside look at one of the treasured, long-time traditions of YA weekend retreats – the Saturday night evening program.
The theme of the awesomely fun Saturday night evening program is "right recreation." After so much deep discussion and reflection, it's equally important to figure out how to have fun together and relax. The YA retreats provide a unique opportunity to bond together with fellow YAs through activities that support our spiritual practice.
The February YA retreat always falls on, or near, Valentine's Day. This year, we took it as an opportunity to be extra creative, and asked each YA to make an anonymous mantram valentine. All the valentines were put in a bowl and each YA chose one for themselves. We've seen mantram art before, in Derek's blog post, and these valentines were great examples of that!
The main event of the Saturday evening program has always been the skits. There is zero acting talent or experience required, and there's always a role for YAs who don't want to be center stage, e.g., being a rock/tree/you name it, or a narrator. Each skit is based on a story from one of Easwaran's books. For example, two of the stories from this retreat were "The physicist and his coffee" and "King Dharmaputra and his dog". After the YAs are broken into skit teams, the skits proceed as follows:
Step 1: Read and Analyze. Read through the story together, discuss the story and its thesis. Once you've got a good grasp of the story, you're ready to move on.
Step 2: Scheme & Rehearse. Every good skit is helped out by a good prop. This year featured flashlights, wooden spoons, paper crowns, and plenty of blankets and scarves as costumes.
Step 3: Perform. Now, we're sorry to say that we don't have any photos of the grand performance to show you – we were all too busy watching to take any! Needless to say, performing at a YA weekend retreat means performing for one of the best audiences out there, and it goes without saying they're just waiting to appreciate your performance.
To finish out this behind-the-scenes look at "Right Recreation" at a YA weekend retreat, we thought we'd be remiss not to share some photos of meal times. Meal times are some of the best times for casual conversation with YAs to talk about topics big and small . . . plus the food is delicious!
We'd love to hear from you on the topic of right recreation! In the comments below, share your favorite things to do for right recreation. What has been successful for you?