RETREAT follows thirty-five Westerners as they attempt an intense, eight-week, silent, meditation retreat in Thailand led by the American Buddhist teacher, B. Alan Wallace. Some are experienced mediators, some are beginners. The practice they’re learning is shamatha, or calm abiding, stilling the mind with sustained, one-pointed, concentration…simple enough sounding, but extremely difficult to master…and considered to be an essential step on the path to full enlightenment. Alan Wallace teaches it through a Buddhist understanding of the nature of consciousness and contrasts that with the prevailing materialist paradigm of modern neuroscience. The film follows the retreat from start to finish. We see it through Alan’s eyes and through the difficulties experienced by four of the retreatants recorded on video diaries. Tension builds when one retreatant has a sustained psychotic episode and things threaten to come apart. Afterward they come together in surprising and touching ways.
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation in general see here: Meditation Collections: Meditation is the PRACTICE of learning to PAY ATTENTION. That is all.