About the Samadhi Center
The Samadhi Center, located about half way between Toronto and Ottawa, has been a place for people to practice meditation and engage in deep self inquiry over the last 5 years. Meditation retreats have been happening on the property for over 15 years. The Center is located in a beautiful pine forest setting near near Bancroft, Ontario.
Our retreats are for those truly interested in becoming free of their conditioning and the pathological thinking that we have inherited from the past.
Come to the Samadhi Center to “die before you die”.
The Samadhi Center is open to everyone regardless of experience, background and religion. At the Samadhi Center we teach both meditation and self inquiry, or you could say the long path (traditional meditation and clearing of sankaras or energy patterns) and the short path (realization of the ever-present awareness). Practicing meditation alone may reduce suffering in one’s life, but may never lead to realization of the immanent self (Atman or soul) beyond name and form. And self inquiry on it’s own may bring a recognition of one’s true self, but if the habit patterns of the mind have not been cleaned and purified, then one usually loses the experience and falls back into conditioned behaviors. Practising both simultaneously is a way to clean and purify the human vessel to house the awakened self permanently. The Samadhi that comes and goes is not the true Samadhi. For more detailed understanding of our approach, check out the article “Awakening and Enlightenment: Always Being Buddha, Always Becoming Buddha”
Samadhi is an ancient Sanskrit word for which there is no modern equivalent. It was chosen as the name for this center because it honors the spirit of the traditions which have helped connect people to their true nature for thousands of years. To realize Samadhi is to learn to die before you die. Within different traditions the word Samadhi has many different meanings, which can lead to much confusion. Rather than trying to define it, we guide participants towards a direct realization of it. It is not something to be understood with the mind, because it is ultimately a cessation of identification with the limited mind, and eventually a relaxing of the egoic mind’s control over one’s life. However it is extremely beneficial to study and shape the mind into a tool that will support Samadhi, as opposed to hindering it. To the limited mind Samadhi must must remain a mystery, while prajna or wisdom is the realization of our true nature. Samadhi is realized directly through pure forms of deep meditation, prayer and self-inquiry, as well as working with and merging with the inner world and inner energy. It flowers into its full expression as the wisdom attained in meditation is integrated into every day life, and as levels of self are realized, purified, and come into alignment with the immanent Self.
A meditation retreat is an opportunity to move out of the endless patterns of doing to experience simply being; to become a true human-being as opposed to a human-doing. It is not an escape from your life, nor is it a holiday or time for relaxation, but rather it can be likened to doing deep surgery on one’s entire being. Intensive meditation helps one to become free from the conditioned patterns that cause suffering. Rather than an escape from life, it is actually the way to engage more fully with life, to cultivate greater equanimity and presence in every facet of one’s existence. It is now becoming well-known that practicing meditation provides many benefits such as improved heath, stress reduction, improved productivity, improved mental focus, emotional stability and improvements in overall well-being. These are all valuable benefits to one’s life, yet the true gift of meditation is to realize Samadhi, which is immeasurably greater than anything that could be conveyed in mere words. Samadhi is the 8th and final part of the Buddha’s noble eightfold path, and the 8th limb of Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga, and is described as a “union” or collapse of duality which is unfathomable to the dualistic mind.
Rather than following one particular tradition, we borrow from many traditions freely. It is our understanding that there is one perennial truth or transcendent reality which is reflected in the many world spiritual traditions, and it is our intention to convey our unique expression of it using all available means. Those who are familiar with Vipassana retreats or the Zen Sesshin format will find a similar level of structure and opportunity for deep meditation practice. In our retreats we incorporate (but are not limited to) facets of the Zen sesshin, elements from the Vipassana traditions, as well as Christian mysticism, the yogic traditions, Vedanta, Samkhya, and non-dualism and others. All traditions and teachings are merely pointers to the unfathomable inner source which is beyond the limited egoic mind. The facilitators, provide instructions and teachings as needed throughout the retreats, as well as private consultation. .
The Zen term “sesshin” means something like “gathering the heart-mind”, and this phrase reflects the essence of our meditation retreats. The sesshin is a period of intensive practice, during which all efforts and energies are focused or “gathered” for the purpose of awakening out of one’s conditioned or unconscious patterns and recognizing a new level of consciousness; a consciousness in which the egoic mind becomes a servant to the heart. Likewise, Vipassana, one of the world’s oldest meditation techniques taught 2500 years ago by the Buddha, is a process of deep self inquiry and purification. In the same way the 8 limbs of yoga are aimed at purifying oneself through deep concentration and surrender in order to reach Samadhi. Regardless of which teachings one is familiar with, it is our intention to allow participants to explore the experiential truth that comes through single-pointed concentration and inner non-resistance. Through meditation practice we are able to observe and purify the self structure, which is the cause of all suffering, and to awaken the spiritual heart which is beyond name and form. The spiritual heart has gone by many names throughout history and is also known as the true self, the selfless self, Atman (soul), Anatta or “no self”, Buddha nature, and Christ Consciousness.
At the Samadhi Center many effective techniques may be offered and explored to assist you on your inner journey. As one moves toward inner stillness, one lets go of any technique or anything that is held in the mind. We simply allow reality to be as it is, which means a surrender, inner letting go and eventual cessation of the egoic mind structures, including techniques. At the beginning one uses techniques to cultivate the capacity for unwavering concentration on the meditation object. Like two wings of a bird the two aspects of duality, Shakti and Shiva, surrender and presence, yin and yang, carry one to Samadhi. Check out the core guided meditations here.
The self inquiry method we use at the Samadhi Center is our own modification of the Charles Berner technique, which combines the ancient self inquiry, ‘Who Am I,’ with a Western psychology technique developed by Ava Berner called the relating dyad. Working in partners, one person witnesses while the other engages in the inner investigation of who they are. The result is a quickening of the awakening of the primordial self or one’s true nature.
At each retreat there is a breath work component. The system used is called “Elemental Breathing”, and is designed to facilitate a deep letting go and healing of past experiences. It is facilitated by John Cross who is trained in this system.
Other Tools and Modalities
Each day there is “group process” where participants check in with the facilitators, share experiences and ask questions. Techniques are offered to help participants move beyond the hindrances that come up in meditation, and it is generally a time to share what we have learned on the path of awakening.
Yaza is a Zen/Japanese Buddhist term which means “extra” meditation, and has also taken on the meaning of “night meditation”. At our retreats we offer participants the opportunity to meditate through the night. While yaza is optional, sitting at night can allow for a profound deepening of meditative states, and the possibility for exploration of the immaterial jhanas.
Participants will have the opportunity to stay connected to their inner energy and oriented inward towards awareness itself by maintaining silence throughout the retreat. Although there is no talking, gesturing or writing between participants, the silence is held in a way that can foster a deep connection to each other; a compassionate contribution to the group’s practice. There will be opportunities for questions and discussion during the daily group process, and in working with the facilitators. At times it may be necessary to communicate verbally in order to complete certain work, in which case speaking is allowed for that purpose only. We want to avoid chatting and activation of the mind so that we can come to a place of inner peace and stillness. “Be still and know.
The ancient spiritual teachers taught “nada Brahma”; the universe is vibration (emptiness dancing).
Sound has been used for healing and transformation for thousands of years in cultures around the world. Everything in the universe is vibrating in a cosmic symphony. At the Samadhi Center a variety of instruments may be used during sound meditations. In particular we feel that the gong is a special instrument that can be used as powerful meditation tool. We have 6 Paiste gongs, including an incredible custom 55″ gong which produces a unique sound experience. During sound meditation people can be sitting, lying down, or moving in response to the vibration. We encourage people to experience the transcendent effects of the gongs through their inner energy rather than through the mind, to realize aspects of the inner world which may otherwise be hidden.
Each day there is a sound journey using gongs, singing bowls and other instruments to connect you deeply to the inner worlds and to help move stuck energies. In addition the group will do a type of free vocalizing or sounding that allows the voice to be expressed unmediated by the conditioned mind. This process helps one to get themselves out of the way and to find their authentic voice.