"There is a depth of transformation that becomes available through extended periods of silence and immersion in the teachings that cannot normally be accessed while spending most of our time in ordinary responsibilities and social interactions. Retreat is a special incubator for deepening your direct experience of the vast field of awareness at the root of your own being, unencumbered by the patterns and roles of life in which we are normally immersed..."
– Reb Brian Yosef
Immersive Hanukkah Retreat and Shabbaton December 27 – January 1 Five Nights
Nestled at the foot of Brandenburg Mountain, Aravaipa Canyon Ranch invites you to a quiet getaway for reflection, healing and spiritual renewal. Miles of secluded, ever-changing terrain in the midst of natural, pristine beauty unfold to the accompaniment of the singing waters of Aravaipa Creek, one of Arizona's all-year-round streams.
This whole place is filled with God's Presence and it is so peaceful and relaxing. You both have done so much to make our stay perfect... -Michele Flores, 2005
Retreat isn't the same without the canyon! We had a wonderful time celebrating the Spring and the beauty of the season. Thank you again for providing the space. -Women's Spring Equinox Retreat March 2010
It was hard for me to leave there. I looked at the mountains again and again and keep the images in my mind. They will be my first images when I wake up everyday. -Chunchieh Bruce Sun
Golden sun, carpets of blue lupine, red cliffs, clean, cool water over pebbles, nesting canyon wrens, and a great big milky bowl of stars at night. -Kathy Stewart, Barry Sweedler, 2004
Animals sighted: 3 Gila monsters, 1 blue heron, 1 Golden Eagle, 1 mountain lion, 1 rattlesnake, many fish, 4 bighorn sheep, 1 turtle, 15 coati (estimated), 1 unidentified mammal, and lots of trees, songbirds (vermillion flycatchers, scarlet tanagers, canyon wrens, goldfinches...Planets viewed: Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and a big Moon. -Tucson Shadowchasers, 2004
חֲנֻכָּה Hanukkah – Festival of Lights
"Hanukkah" means "dedication," and the holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the temple after the ancient Jewish victory over the Syrian Greeks who sought to destroy Jewish practice. According to legend, a days worth of olive oil used to light the sacred temple lamp miraculously burned for eight days, giving time for new oil to be pressed and consecrated, giving rise to the practice of kindling and increasing number of flames for the eight days of the festival.
Our celebration of Hanukkah, in which we will kindle flames together during the first three retreat nights, will be a ritualization of the miraculously ever-increasing potential of consciousness that is possible on retreat, as well as a re-dedication of our practice in each of our lives. We will also engage in deep learning about the holiday during our sessions together.
שְׁתִיקָה Silence, Sh'tikah
Silence creates a space for the ordinary movement of mind to subside, for hidden feelings to be felt, and most importantly, to get to know yourself more deeply as the silent and vast field of awareness within which all experience unfolds. Retreats are held mostly in silence, with the exceptions of chanting, teachings from Reb Brian Yosef and guest instructors, Q&A, hevrute text study (learning in pairs), and some limited periods of ordinary socializing.
תְּפִלָּה Chanting, Tefilah, Davening
Judaism offers the structure of three daily prayer practices: morning, afternoon and evening. This structure underlies our practice sessions on retreat, which will include accessible versions of the daily prayers (those who don't know Hebrew will be able to easily participate), as well as chanting and singing of wordless niggunim, and silent meditation.
(Note: For participants who are practiced at the full traditional prayers and wish to daven traditionally, space can be made for that.)
עיון אין Iyún Ayin – Immersive Spacious Awareness Teachings
Brian's teachings are aimed at awakening an experiential connection with the Eternal dimension of the present moment while connecting and grounding this experience in traditional Jewish texts and practices. These teaching sessions are similar to the weekly live-streamed Iyún Ayin teachings, but are expanded to include Q&A and hevrute text study (learning in pairs). Iyún Ayin happens at least once per full retreat day.
שַּׁבָּֽת Shabbat – Sabbath
In a sense, the entire retreat is a kind of Sabbath, but there are particular rituals, melodies and practices that will make our Shabbat schedule a little different from the other days. The special Shabbat time features include an ecstatic Friday night service, a Saturday afternoon sacred meal with extended singing of special Shabbat melodies (seudah shlisheet), and a festive fire ceremony for the ending Shabbat (Havdallah).
Day 1: Check in will be from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. At 4:00 pm will have a retreat orientation, followed by an ecstatic and meditative Shabbat service and dinner. Daily Activities: Each full day of retreat begins at 7:30 am and ends by 9:00 pm. Full days include three practice periods (including silent meditation, chanting and prayer), Iyún Ayin sessions with Brian (guided meditation, talks and/or dialogues), three breaks for meals and walking/unstructured time. Hannukah candle lighting and meditation on first three days.
Last Day: The retreat officially ends just before lunch. (Lunch is provided but attendance is optional.)
Participants are required to arrive on time for retreat (by check-in on the first day) and plan to stay at the retreat site through the end of the retreat (just before lunch on the last day). Further guidelines regarding how to support the silence and retreat environment will be provided upon arrival.