Rory McCadden. Gyreum Ecolodge. Pen on Paper. 2016
Experience Silence Retreat
22 – 26 January 2016
Gyreum Ecolodge is nestled in the Sligo hills overlooking a green valley.
It takes the form of the cairns and melds into its surroundings to become a secret safe haven for those who seek it. It is home for four days on silent retreat.
Gyreum means ‘the round place’.
The circular building has three layers.
The outer circumference soft stonewalls segregate it into rooms off the open plan central hall; the male and female dorms, 2 bathrooms, a hot shower room and kitchen where the volunteer cook makes delicious vegetarian food.
The middle central hall is a large open plan space, lined by sofas on one side and enclosed singe bed dorms on the other. A long dark wooden table runs outside them. Pillows and armchairs make out the meditation space on the earth stone floor beyond it. A serene incandescent light slips in through windows at the four points of a compass. Their low position cast a stable glow from dawn to dusk. The consistency of the heat, light and pace creates a secure interior that aids a mood of calm and belonging.
The inner circular space is sunken into the earth and home for the giant stove that heats the house. A step down from the central hall brings you into the heart of the house, smoked wood beans frame a sitting area where people talk or read, relax in silence and stroke the cat’s ash filled fur coat.
‘I experienced the beautiful views of Corlisheen while being enlightened with a semi silent meditation experience.’
‘The eco lodge was in a beautiful location and the atmosphere within the lodge was very peaceful and enjoyable.’
‘I had a beautiful peaceful experience at the retreat in the Gyreum, lead by Chitta. From the moment I entered the building there was a sense of love, tranquility and connectedness. Oh and the Food was only out of this world!’
20 people come together in the search for a stable inner core unaffected by the external buzz.
The mixed group has men, women, scientists, artists, younger and older. Everyone is respected, valued and treated equally. The group meditate together, go on walks or orb around one another in communal solitude.
This is a special situation where the thing shared is the apartness from outside and deep intention to foster a sacred space of contemplation. You feel both one and at one with others, a solid individual and intrinsically linked to the group.
‘The diversity in terms of age, background and culture created an interesting mix of people who bonded and worked as a team resulting in some good craic as well as offering support. I definitely feel I made some new friends!’
‘I had such an amazing experience where I learned so much and met some lovely people.’
‘Weekend filled with incredible people sharing a similar interest, of peace and inner balance.’
Chitta’s guides the group with daily readings and teachings.
Each day has it’s own rhythms that flow around the stable framework of the sessions.
7-9am: Breakfast. Self-service
9-10am: Session 1
11-12pm: Session 2
4-5pm: Session 3
8-9pm: Session 4
The hour-long sessions consist of:
10-minute prayer songs
5-minute dedication prayer song
You come to know and rest into a routine. The retreat day mixes structured meditation time with down time. You are free to fill it how you please: walk, read, write, draw, exercise, cook, rest or stroke smoke off the cat’s fur coat.
‘The retreat offered a range of learning about the Kadampa Buddhist teachings and meaningful guided meditations, with the benefits of periods of silence to make the most of the contemplations.
‘I loved Chitta’s presence, discourses and guided meditations. She presented deep complex knowledge in an easy to understand fashion injected with sprinklings of humour.’
‘I found the meditations extremely beneficial and now I have a better understanding of the Buddhist religion.’
‘Chitta is an inspirational teacher who guides with humility and clarity without forcing the principles.’
You find out that silence is not the hard part, but it’s end. The return to ‘the real world’ is like slipping between modes. You made space in your time to occupy this sacred space and now you carry it within. You have the intention to keep the secret serenity in the outside world but this is where the teachings matter, they fall or form through your daily challenges.
The retreat is the beginning, your practice is the central hall that leads own to a sunken warm and light inner space.
‘The relaxed environment along with the delicious healthy vegetarian food topped it off to make for a stress relieving break.’
‘I had a rest, learned new things including about myself, was more mindful as well as motivated to be more reflective and practice meditation.’
The experience silence retreat teaches us different ways to relate to others and oneself, it gives deep teachings on Buddhism, develops meditation practice and shows the importance of silent contemplation. It relaxes, teaches, inspires, balances, connects and strengthens. I am grateful for my time there.
‘I gained an over welling practice of awareness within my own thoughts which I want to embrace again.’
‘I am really looking forward to the next retreat and I have been recommending it to everyone.’
Book for our next retreat here