C’mon Get Happy: The Happiness Retreat

By Diana Bellofatto

By Diana Bellofatto

I recently went to the Art of Living Retreat Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to experience the Happiness Retreat—a meditation and breathwork retreat that is offered twice a week (mid-week and weekends).

Our teacher, Charlie Baldwin,  lives and works at the Center, organizing and leading a variety of retreats and workshops. Charlie has facilitated programs for hundreds of students at institutions like MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pittsburgh. His kind, intelligent, comforting, patient presence fills the room and allowed for an ease-filled, relaxing experience.

BE HAPPY NOW

In our hectic, fast-paced world, we often find ourselves pulled off center, getting caught up in the past, or racing toward the future—sometimes to the point of exhaustion and utter depletion.

The Happiness Retreat focuses on gently guiding you into the present moment, where distractions and “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s” are left behind and happiness is found. The retreat teaches you how to immerse yourself in the present moment via direct experience, not just by discussion and the use of intellectual concepts.

The practical tools used during the retreat are meditation, breathing techniques, contemplation, interaction with other retreat guests, silence, sounding, and more.

BENEFITS OF THE HAPPINESS RETREAT

Some of the things you’ll take home from a Happiness Retreat are

  • Learning to manage and reduce stress
  • A greater sense of happiness and enthusiasm
  • Relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Sleeping better, longer…I repeat, sleeping better, longer!
  • Less social anxiety
  • More ease in interpersonal relations
  • Rejuvenation and relaxation
  • Tools for resilience
  • Happiness!

POST RETREAT SUPPORT

To offer ongoing support and help bolster your practice, on the last Sunday of each month, you can join in on Zoom for the Happiness Reconnect to review the practice, discuss any challenges, and connect with others who have taken the course.

40 DAYS OF PRACTICE

Charlie suggested we continue the practice we learned at the retreat for forty days in a row upon returning home. Over the course of the forty days that I continued to practice, I noticed that if there were times when I was about to begin the practice and felt tired, tense, or had a headache, the practice definitely alleviated the tension or headache and made me feel refreshed. I have also slept better since I began the practice! Not only have I slept longer, but the quality of my sleep has improved as well. So exciting!

I look forward to the practice because it aids in structuring my day and carves out time and space for me to “come in for a landing”—I can check in with myself to see how I am feeling and come up with solutions for how I can best support myself throughout the day.

“The foundation of our Happiness Program is a unique breathing meditation technique—Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, or SKY.

SUDARSHAN KRIYA YOGA (SKY) BREATH MEDITATION

During the program, you’ll learn the life-transforming breathwork technique called SKY Breath Meditation, which is backed by over 100+ independent studies and has been taught in more than 150 countries! The benefits of SKY cannot be overstated—detoxifying the body, de-stressing, reducing depression and anxiety, improving sleep, and bolstering immunity, just to name a few.

HOW DOES SKY WORK?

Some of the breathwork taught during the retreat is patterned with various counts of inhalation, exhalation, and pauses in the breath. Using patterned breathing helps to change thought patterns. Stuck patterns of negative thinking or constant recycling of the same negative thoughts are a source of suffering. By dissolving negative thoughts, we release ourselves from suffering and experience happiness.

WHO SHOULD COME TO THE HAPPINESS RETREAT?

The Happiness Retreat has something for everyone!
Whether you’ve never meditated before or have a life-long practice, the expert guides at the Art of Living teach you practical techniques that can benefit all areas of your life. You’ll master valuable tools and practices that bring more resiliency, better communication, and ease into your life.

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