Monday, February 7, 2011

The Phenomenology of Retreats

Activities such as retreats are not considered as a spiritual journey. It is a way to re-assess ourselves. To figure out what we really want in life, what we have done and what can we do to achieve our goals. I have experienced being in retreats because it was “mandatory” especially because catholic schools make it their mission to give the students an opportunity to “spiritually” reflect, ask for advices on their woes and so on. For the most part I have really enjoyed it and I thought it was really life changing. Of course, I could not escape the occasional thoughts about why I should do this, or why does catholic schools urges us to do this. I wondered if it had something to do with religion. Do I really need this or was I just required because I was brought up as a Catholic? Did the other kids in other religions get these retreats as often as I did, were they even allowed or was it simply against their principles? These were the seemingly simple things I want to know and I am very determined to find out.

Retreats have ways on how they can reach your inner thoughts and emotions. It can be in the form of indoor and outdoor activities such as singing, dancing, writing, acting and etc., that can be done individually or by group. It intends to hone the skills of the participants and to deepen their understanding on the simple things they do. They also try to do exercises that incorporate certain types of music to rekindle the feeling and details of an important event in someone’s life to make them rethink and get rid of all the negative energy that these experiences have caused them, in order to let go of anything that burdens them. Retreats can be associated with the phenomenological method of transcendental reduction, which deals with how we can become aware of our own consciousness, our perspective on things that is happening around us and how we can transform ourselves to better beings. For instance, during my retreat when I was in senior year in high school, we had this activity where in the facilitator acted like a helpless victim. Everyone was moved even though we weren’t in that “victim’s” position, which made me realize that I could sympathize with other peoples suffering even if I have never experienced the same thing. That if my shell of bravery and ignorance were removed, there would reveal this unexplored side of me that I may show mercy and compassion for others. These were the parts that I loved about retreats. It helped me discover the things that I never thought I had, my potentials and other people’s uniqueness. For the record, Retreats may appear spiritual and related to practices of Christianity but I do believe that it has nothing to do with religion. Anyone could go to this exhilarating practice. Everyone has the right to discover themselves and if they may have any negative feedback on themselves specifically those who are in deep depression, they may find themselves in a new and positive light. We can utilize the same methods in the comfort of their friends or even by themselves, and in their own homes.

Anton Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan and the author of the Satanic Bible once said, “Positive thinking and action add up to results.” If we cooperate and put our best foot forward in finding our worth or purpose, we would eventually have a grasp of what we are trying to acquire. But in the event that we close all our doors and opportunities to grow and change, the results we have secretly been waiting for would be more intangible than ever before. We make our own decisions, no other person or entity can change the way that we see things, they may influence but never provoke you fully until you let them. So it is best to know your power as an individual with the free will to think and act as he/she desires. Remember that everyone is different. What may be important to you may not matter to the other, so no opinion is ever the same as another. This is the true essence of retreats. To see yourself as what you really are, and to envision yourself to the person you should be or can become.

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