The retreat activities included learning and practicing sitting, walking & tea-meditation technique, Tai Chi exercises, Dharma Talks and private one-on-one consultations with the Master, Ven Hui Fang. Because for many participants this was their first-time exposure to meditation, on the first day of the retreat, the Retreat Master, Ven Hui Fang, taught them in the tea-meditation session how to be mindful, and how to focus on drinking tea. Tea meditation can train our mind to be mindful & to concentrate, and thus to use these skills in our daily life to be more clear and tranquil, and to improve our effectiveness & ability in observing people & events. According to the Chinese medical science & theories, drinking green tea will improve our physical health and increase & balance our energies. So, this retreat is encouraging people to adopt meditation Tai Chi & green tea drinking in their daily life.
In the last day sharing session every participant was sharing their own experiences and thoughts about how they have been enriched & touched by this Retreat. You can see some of their comments below:
BLIA (Johannesburg Chapter) Chairlady, Ms Yin: 「This was my second retreat. The first time, because of some time constraints, I only participated for 3 days. This time I could stay for the full length of the retreat and found that the retreat was very well structured and the participants were much more self-disciplined, without the need for the Discipline Master to use the Zen Master's stick to enforce a greater discipline」.
Ms Yen One Lin: 「I have been practicing meditation for about 20 years, all alone, without any teacher, and felt very lonely in my practice. Also, recently I experienced much trauma & unhappiness because of my husband's death 15 months ago, which made me very sad & depressed, and I lost my zest for life. Then I heard about this retreat and decided to take the opportunity to join it. Already during the retreat and afterwards I felt my physical, mental & spiritual being was renewed, and my happiness & zest for life returned, for which I am very grateful to Nanhua Temple and the meditation teachers.」
Irina Du Toit: 「I attended this retreat few times before, but every time I found some excuse not to complete the whole course. I am very glad & excited that this time I managed to finish the whole course. I benefited a lot and look forward to joining the next retreat in December 2011.」
Richard Freemantle: 「Firstly, I wish to offer my apologies for any breaking of the retreat rules and for any disturbances I may have unwittingly caused. In my life I have attended many different meditation retreats and each Retreat Master had a different style of teaching. Some would teach you, for example, that if you experience any leg pain during meditation it's because of your mind and not your leg; some will tell you that you must visualize the internal organs of your body so you understand your impurities; and yet some others will tell you that you must contemplate impermanence, so you can understand that everything is impermanent. But in the Dharma talks of this retreat the Meditation Teachers helped me to find my own way. So today I feel clear about the future of my meditation practice, and look forward to going back to work and to putting everything I learned here into practice in my daily life.」
Lee Raath-Brownie: 「I have been practicing meditation for 8 months, but not very seriously, because I experienced a lot of pains in my legs - and also because I didn't know how to face the truth about myself that was trying to reveal itself in my meditations. About 4 months ago I decided to take my meditation practice more seriously, and that's why I decided to join this retreat. Now I feel this was one of the best decisions in my life!」
Joy Thom: 「This is the first time I have been to the 7-day Meditation Retreat at Nanhua. I found that there are so many things I need to learn, but through this retreat I learned how to cope better with my life & my relationships.」
Ms Hui Yun Ching (77 - the oldest participant): 「This is the first time I joined the 7-day Meditation Retreat at Nanhua Temple, ever since I became a Buddhist 10 years ago. This retreat helped me a lot, and I now look forward to the long journey ahead of me.」
Ms Mei Lan Wang: 「Because of Ven Hui Sang's encouragement, I decided to join this retreat. Since I am an active person, I cannot easily sit still and always 『look around' in a meditation session. That's why the first 3 days were very difficult for me to endure, but now I am very happy that I managed to complete the full course.」
Ms Mei Mei Kao: 「For me this retreat was the greatest relief of all my stresses and family trauma I suffered from in the past 10-years. Since 2001 some of my family members passed away and I pushed myself to be brave, but still, I suffered from a lot of pressures in my mind, which this retreat helped me to relieve. I am very grateful for the teaching.」
Ms Ching Tsu Fang: 「I have been attending every one of the past meditation retreats at Nanhua, because I told myself that I am still alive and have the energy, so I must practice meditation. During the retreat I was sharing my accommodation with the oldest participant, Ms Hui Yun Ching, who despite suffering from asthma was always very keen to go to the next session – and thus was a great example to me.」
Mr Philip Chen (Vice-Chairman of BLIA Jhb): 「Because I was very keen to join this meditation retreat, and thought if I lose some weight the sitting in meditation will be less painful for me, I managed to lose about 3 kgs before the retreat by playing tennis. But during the meditation sessions I still felt a lot of pains in my legs & back, so I had to move & change my position frequently, and could not wait for the sound of the wooden fish to end the session. So, from this retreat I realized that I must take some work back home with me, namely to contemplate the question 『Who is it that feels the pain?』」