Breakthrough to Zen by Hermione Russell

I had a fantastic experience at the Breakthrough to Zen retreat in Wales this February. I found the process and teaching absolutely incredible and experienced perspective shifts that have changed how I experience life. It was very intense, some moments deeply confronting, some utterly blissful. Overall I found it a very beautiful experience and the group aspect of the retreat profoundly moving. 

I came to Nodffa for my first BZR last February and the experience really kick started my practice, so it felt wonderful to come back for another. 

On reflection, the process of the Breakthrough to Zen retreat feels to me like it helps us practice awareness and presence intensively, and that this practice itself can help us to see who/what we are. Using the questions and our intention to know, to take us on the hero’s journey, it feels like an awareness bootcamp of sorts, that trains us to keep coming back to being here. This intensive practice in the retreat’s particular partner/group setting, from my experience, can lead to perspective shifts that can help us see who/what we are.

This retreat came at a time when my daily routine had changed a lot. The amount I was working had changed because of circumstances in my industry and I had been struggling with this. What I learned about myself on the BZR has helped immensely with this.

I think zazen feeds the work we do during a BZR because it is a way we continue our practice. I think daily zazen after a retreat has allowed for anything I’ve experienced or that has come up from the BZR to have space. It has also helped me not to cling to the retreat experience and to practice beginners’ mind each time I sit. It can also be a place to continue koan practice, even continuing to work with questions from the retreat. 

I would say if you have an inkling that this is something you might like to do, don’t hesitate to try it for yourself. You’re in great hands and if you just go with the process, from my experience, you can discover things I’ve found to be life changing. I am so deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the breakthrough to zen retreats myself and would encourage anyone who has the urge to go for it!

I would also say that there is a wonderful community at Zenways that can be a fantastic place to continue your practice after a retreat. I found my first retreat was really just the beginning and it’s been wonderful to have a community and such incredible teachers to practice with afterwards.