Joanne Broatch retreat at Goward House on the 12th and 13th of November 2011. The sits and talks follow. The sitting with guidance talks have been shortened to approximately half an hour for convenience. The talks from each day run for about an hour but are well worth the time.
Talk #1: With Our Thoughts We Make the World
In this talk, Joanne explores the nature of thinking: where thoughts begin, what causes them to proliferate, and how they colour our experience. Quieting the mind, Joanne explains, does not mean ridding ourselves of thought. Instead, it means becoming acquainted with the detrimental habits of mind that cloud our thinking. Habits of mind include worrying, remembering, planning, judging and verbalizing experience in an inner monologue. Joanne encourages us to become aware of our thought patterns and to cultivate the ability to pay undivided attention to the moment, focusing on direct sense experience.
Habits of mind are tinted by manifestations of greed, including pride, avarice, lust and gluttony; of hatred, including anger, envy and ill-will; and of delusion, including sloth, non-involvement and excessive self-interest. To become acquainted with thought patterns, Joanne recommends briefly noting the thoughts as they arise and without undue thinking, paying attention to the moment just before that. In and of themselves, thoughts are not the problem. It is the meaning we give them that causes unskilful action.
Talk #2: Contents of Mind: Working with Thoughts and Emotions.
Drawing on stories and personal experiences, Joanne guides retreat participants in working with thoughts and emotions. Thoughts alone are insubstantial. The power they have is the power we give them when we become entangled in them.
To work skilfully with the mind, Joanne suggests that we separate the thought from the emotion. When thoughts and emotions arise, focus with curiosity on the physical sensations in the body. It is important not to cultivate the emotion by bringing on a torrent of thoughts, as this only enflames the emotions and obscures our ability to see clearly. Instead, Joanne suggests exploring emotions with interest, recognizing that they will arise, manifest, and pass away. Don’t identify with them; instead, consider how you relate to emotions as they arise. Emotions are a manifestation of energy.
Through this practice, we are invited to develop confidence in our own inner wisdom and to cultivate a way of being that is not subject to patterns of habitual thinking.