The Teen Retreat: “A Combination of Everything I Love” – Insight Meditation Society

The Teen Retreat: “A Combination of Everything I Love” – Insight Meditation Society

A Q&A with Teen Retreat Co-Leader Cara Lai

IMS Teen Retreat
June 25 – 30, 2024
Learn extra in regards to the Teen Retreat right here.

As a teen, IMS teacher Cara Lai felt a number of stress from the grownup world to pursue happiness in a selected manner: to get good grades, go to faculty, and make residing. She didn’t get many probabilities to discover how she needed to dwell. She did discover, although, that many adults didn’t appear blissful. She tried to keep away from that destiny by going to artwork faculty quite than following an instructional path, however that landed her in a desk job in animation. Cool because it was, she says now, it was nonetheless a desk job. Then she was launched to meditation. She quickly started to have profound experiences in her observe and really feel current in a brand new manner, free from social anxiousness and fear. That led her to IMS in her mid-20s and to changing into a Teen Retreat mentor in 2014. Ten years later, she’s co-leader of the summer time retreat with 50 to 100 teenagers ages 15-19.

“This retreat is a mix of every part I like,” she says, “meditating, being with younger individuals, being playful, being in neighborhood. Working with individuals for what appears like an necessary, worthy trigger is enlivening.”

When she’s not on the Teen Retreat or working towards metta together with her 17-month-old son, Cara teaches her personal programs in meditation and parenting on-line and leads retreats for IMS, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and Ten Percent Happier. To be a part of a retreat or class with Cara, please go to her web site. Here, Cara discusses a number of the advantages of the five-night Teen Retreat because it heads into its thirty fourth 12 months.

Why would a teen need to be a part of IMS’s Teen Retreat?

Lots of the teenagers come again 12 months after 12 months due to the neighborhood and the friendships they’ve. It’s a extremely secure group, and folks be happy to completely be their bizarre selves. That doesn’t occur in highschool. There’s plenty of love and embrace for all genders and sexualities, and every part individuals say and do is met with assist. It’s releasing to stroll into an atmosphere like that and be met with love and really feel seen and meet likeminded individuals, so individuals kind a number of the deepest connections they’ve ever had.

Some teenagers love the meditation and being quiet, too. Lots of teenagers are blissful to not be utilizing their telephones and to be round friends who aren’t utilizing their telephones.

They get to dwell in a world that doesn’t exist for some time. Half of them dread giving up their telephones entering into. Most teenagers have a love-hate relationship with expertise. But a number of them discover by the top of the retreat that they love not having it.

What do teenagers do there? What’s a mean day like?

They get up at 7 a.m., do a pre-breakfast meditation, eat breakfast in silence, and keep in silence virtually all morning.

They go into the corridor, get meditation directions, do a sitting meditation and a strolling meditation, after which proper earlier than lunch, they get right into a small group that meets twice a day—eight teenagers and two mentors—they usually share about what’s occurring for them—of their lives, of their observe, or perhaps they only play video games. It can get foolish or critical. It’s designed to be an intimate expertise for the group. Then there’s lunch, after they can discuss to one another. After that, we do a yoga session collectively after which they go into one in every of about six workshops led by the mentors. The workshop may very well be on aware Frisbee or writing poetry or dialogue teams about what it’s wish to be a lady on the planet as we speak—regardless of the mentors determine to supply.

Then teenagers have free time, after they can discuss. Following that, there’s a metta session, after which dinner. After dinner, there’s a dharma discuss, one other assembly of the small teams, a meditation, and mattress.

They spend half the day in silence. The remainder of the time, all people talks.

What do you take into account the excessive level of the retreat, the juiciest half?

One factor that’s positively value describing is that on the final night time, there’s a neighborhood share, and in the event that they need to, the teenagers can share one thing. It doesn’t should be spectacular. That’s after we get to see the fruits of unconditional optimistic regard.

I’ve seen some issues which have actually impressed me.. The most unassuming teen who appeared quiet and didn’t actually say a lot earlier than the final night time. I’d by no means have identified that he was this masterful spoken phrase artist. He spouted stunning poetry at lightning velocity about love and ache and what was taking place within the retreat. It was a free movement of gorgeous self-expression that he made up on the spot.

Then there’s super-hilarious goofball stuff, like this child who learn a passage from a e book whereas different teenagers had been spooning yogurt into his mouth.

And you get stuff that melts your coronary heart, too. I keep in mind this one younger girl who wanted to precise her voice extra. We had been all like, “Yeah, go, do one thing for Community Share!” You might inform she was actually nervous. And at
the top, she stated, “I didn’t like how I did it, and I need to do it once more.” But she was simply as nervous the second time! So, she stated, “I need to do it yet another time” —and we had been all sitting there for half an hour whereas this went on. In some other context it will have been humiliating, however all people’s interior awkward individual might relate to it, and it was so endearing. It made us all be happy to calm down and be ourselves.

But finally, the excessive level of the retreat is witnessing teenagers be taught and perceive the Dharma for the primary time and be reworked by it. I’d have given something to know this from a younger age. What occurs at Community Share is only a style of the liberty and self-expression that unfolds over the course of their lives on account of their encounter with the Dharma on this retreat.

Some really feel it’s necessary to make the Dharma accessible to younger individuals. Do you agree? If so, why is it necessary?

Lots of causes. So many people wished we had encountered the Dharma at a younger age and know the way a lot we’d have benefitted from it. Those of us with children in our lives have a stake on this youthful technology’s psychological well being and mindfulness, and actually we form of all have a stake in it if we care in regards to the world and our fellow people. The world as we speak may be very intense. How can we set the subsequent technology up with the instruments they should inherit the world within the state it’s in? How can we give them what they should survive and thrive? As
practitioners, it’s our reward to offer and our accountability to offer it. What else would we do with the love we’ve got practiced however go it on to those that want it most?


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