Is a retreat at home possible? Interview with Andrey Verba

Question: How and in what conditions did you have your first home retreat?

In the early 90s, yoga in Russia was, one might say, in its infancy, there were practically no books. I had a couple of books that said at least something about yoga. I taught twice a day – in the morning and in the evening – five days a week, and I devoted all the rest of my free time to personal practice. Because, reading the books, I understood that yoga can develop the potential of a person, which cannot be activated in any other way. Initially, I had a goal and interest in checking whether there was any deception in these books, which described other subtle worlds; I tried to find out what it was all about.

Question: Did these books describe the subtle worlds?

Similar concepts have been expressed, cautiously. And then for a person who lived, though not very long, about 20 years, in a socialist system, where it was not customary to talk about God or Gods at all and where materialism was strongly promoted, it was something really incredible and exciting. At that time, it was possible to find descriptions of only a few practices: one of pranayamas, asanas, mantras and the study of ancient scriptures, and I began to practice. I even made myself a conditional home retreat, tried to communicate with others to a minimum – then there were no telephones and the Internet – and devoted most of his time to practice. Of course, I was distracted by the classes, but otherwise I did various yoga techniques in cycles. Before going to bed, for example, the practice was very simple – you just had to sit and endure discomfort in your legs. At that time, my goal was to sit in padmasana, and my legs refused, so I sat and endured, tried to loosen up the joints due to the fact that I sat down to read a book in this position.

Question: And how long did you sit like that?

I tried to endure an hour. However, after 10-15 minutes it became very difficult to read, since at that time there was severe discomfort in the legs, the body began to sweat from exertion. But, nevertheless, I happened to go this way, and, of course, I do not set this as an example and do not recommend it to everyone. Knowing myself, I could afford this path, however, we all have different physiology and not everyone needs this and is relevant, so in no case should you blindly copy the austerities that I applied to myself.

Question: What did this retreat give you and in what practice did you get the first meaningful and memorable result?

The very first subtle experience was going out of the body, this was in the early morning during the practice of Apanasati Hinayana (Note: one of the breathing techniques taught by Buddha Shakyamuni). We have on our site Anapanasati Sutta, you can see it, there is nothing supernatural and very complicated. It is necessary to sit and watch your own breathing, abstracting from everything else, from thoughts and games of the mind. And so, after several months of daily training, one fine morning my consciousness left my body, and I felt who I really am and who this body is. I clearly remember this difference, what I saw: consciousness came up from the crown of the head and looked down at the body, then a clear realization came that the body is just a mechanism, a kind of machine that can perform certain actions, which you take care of, and you have a certain symbiosis with him, a mutually beneficial harmony. So at 21, I went through an experience that turned everything upside down in my worldview, primarily due to the fact that I looked in a new way at things that are familiar to everyone.

Accordingly, then I began to practice further and the next experience I got while reading mantras: I saw my body completely different and the energy that was in it. We are accustomed to the parameters of our physical shell that are relatively standard for all, but it turns out that there is another body with a different filling and a different concentration of energy, and when I felt this, I became convinced that the path of yoga is the most valuable and most necessary of everything. that exists.

Question: How long did you stay in this retreat?

About six months. Such immersion in cyclical practices allowed me to understand myself and see the path along which I move from life to life. And if it were not for these efforts, which made it possible to understand who I am, I would hardly have been able to stay in yoga, as a result, many people who have now learned and continue to learn about yoga and self-development, thanks to the efforts of our club, would not have been able to do this. …

Question: That is, you think that it is possible to deeply immerse yourself in the practice and know yourself during a retreat at home?

Yes, in my case it was an ordinary apartment building and a rented apartment.

Question: What was your diet at the time?

In the early 90s, as a vegetarian, I didn’t have much variety. Were available some vegetables, cereals, greens must be consumed. I ate warm food and drank warm water, as cold one spends that valuable energy that you generate drop by drop during practices and austerities on heating the body. That is, I tried to spend energy on external things to a minimum.

Question: In your opinion, is the practitioner’s motivation, his goal, why he wants to know himself important? Do higher forces participate in a person receiving some essential experience?

Most likely, the person himself participates in all this indirectly, that is, his thoughts about why he is doing this are all secondary. At least now, after almost 30 years have passed since that moment, I see absolutely for sure that if I had not had certain experiences and experiences in past lives, if I had not reincarnated on this planet in this particular body with what with a definite goal within the framework of yoga, I would never have been able to endure and survive these six months of patience and exertion. Only due to the fact that conditions were created for me, perhaps by some higher forces that I did not see, but which probably arranged everything so that I was there, this became possible.

I repeat again that you should not copy the scenario of another person’s life, because each of us has it, of course, his own and unique. That’s why online retreat, which we are trying to promote in the club, and manifested itself in this reality, manifested itself as support for those who live far from Moscow and cannot leave and devote 10 full days of their lives to practices. Naturally, in the home retreat mode, the participants will be distracted by some household chores, but they will also have the opportunity to devote 7-8 hours a day to practices, this is possible with a certain desire and effort.

I am sure that during the online retreat, many of these participants get meaningful results, and if you put it off and think that it will happen by itself, there will be no development. If the person is in the material world and the physical body, you can look at the society around and understand what awaits you in the future, what you will become. If you do not want to live like everyone else, but, on the contrary, want to get an excellent result, you need to make efforts in the direction where the driven mass does not go, that is, swim against the stream. There is one wise saying that a dead fish swims with the flow, and a living one is against. That is, it is imperative to make efforts, and then the result will inevitably be.


Thank you for the conversation with Andrey Anastasia Isaeva

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