Three year retreat
It's said meditating helps you better understand your mind, but for one Tibetan Buddhist student, who has now completed the first ever three year, three month and three day retreat in Australia, she is still working on what she describes as, "her chaotic mind".
For nearly 1190 days Christina from the Channon, in the northern rivers of NSW, has been rising at 4am to meditate for up to 12 hours a day. She says one of the hardest things about the retreat is the constant practice "....it's been relentless, you don't have a day off. You can't go to a movie...."
Asked if she would do it again, "not right away, no...maybe for a shorter period of time."
What is the significance of a retreat for three years, three months and three days?
And three years is just another kind of a symbol because it's believed that the most important thing in our life is what we call three doors, which is basically body, speech and mind....and to tame, to transform, to purify these three doors of body speech and mind there has been a tradition in Tibet especially.
Despite teaching goal-oriented westerners, Rinpoche says he wants his students to achieve nothing by completing the retreat "ultimately they are not supposed to have any goal. This is a journey without a goal, and that's the biggest goal."
Buddhist students paid between 32 and 43 thousand dollars for the entire three and a half years depending on type of accommodation.
"It was shocking, I was two years into the retreat...if you have a health issue or something that's life threatening then it's within the boundary to go out. I had to go out for five series of chemotherapy, surgery and tests and what not."
Pat had a mastectomy and had 17 lymph nodes taken out, she was in hospital for nine days.
We call it equanimity, just looking at things as they are...coming and going.
And I actually feel fine, so it's not a tragic horrible thing."
At midday the students were free to leave when the Rinpoche said "That's it, let's go."
And then there was a wedding.
One year in, he received a letter from his girlfriend of 7 years, Laura.
With a glass of champagne in his hand, Shelly said "Technically I'm not a retreatant anymore, I'm just a husband so I can get as sloshed as I want!"