Meditative Retreats vs. Psychic Retreats

Pindastha dhyaana in Jain meditation by Amitjain80, Creative Commons
Pindastha dhyaana in Jain meditation by Amitjain80, Creative Commons

It seems to me that there are two types of psychic retreats: one type leads to deeper awareness of the eternal Self and the other away from the Self.

The first type of psychic retreat is the simple act of quietly being with one’s Self.  To sit with one’s Self, and find stillness within the flow of intensities, allows for one to retreat from the insistent nature of ones own thoughts. This process can provide stillness within the dynamic play of creation. This is the practice of meditation, of finding time to simply be with oneself.  Setting aside time in ones daily routine for meditation can offer a time of ‘psychic retreat’. With consistency what begins as a ‘psychic retreat’ can broadens leading the way to Self-realization and enlightenment. Meditation is an essential practice in knowing the eternal truth of the Self.

The second type of psychic retreat is that of fantasy. Sometimes people barrow from the imaginative potential of mind to pursue a fantasy place in which to reside. This inner space becomes a ‘psychic retreat’: a place in the mind in which to fantasize about an ideal place or person, or it can even involve an idealized image of the self. This space is unique to each individual, but there are shared qualities in terms of the our inclinations to use these psychic retreats. These fantasy retreats are often frozen outside of time, deep places within our psyches where we mentally travel. These psychic retreat brings pleasure through its fixation onto the image of the idealized self, other or place. For example one might dwell on images of self as successful, wealthy, powerful. These retreats are by nature transcendent: they attempt to climb out of life-it-is, to transcend the moment. Thus these fantasies may appear to provide pleasure, but only take us away from the truth of the self.

Both of these types of psychic retreats are quite natural. The first type, meditation, grounds us within our self. By making contact with the quietness and stillness of the Self, we know who we are beyond object attachments. The second type of psychic retreat is not meditation. Instead, it amplifies our object attachment, fusing the self-representations with object-representation, as images of wealth, power, beauty, success.