There's something going on right here...
I know I wrote loads about the retreat, but I didn't actually write anything about meditating. It seems that wherever I go all roads lead to the same place. People are reading lots of different self-help books (like 'The Power of Now' and 'Stillness Speaks') which all are pretty much saying the same thing as Theravada Buddhism. Often they do this in a much less idiosyncratic and certainly more secular way, but they do seem to be saying the same thing. It's all about the moment, the present, stop worrying about what you did and what you're going to do and live in the moment as often as you can. You can dress it up in a huge number of ways and use inumerable techniques for achieving this, mindfulness with breathing is not the only way and nor does it claim to be. But, it's been a succesful technique for over 2000 years, so it works and is therefore worth trying. The new techniques and versions are much more easy to take on board but only time will tell if they are as effective for everybody and not just the author and a few other people. The Power of Now has sold millions of copies because Oprah has adopted it as her pet project. But, even if millions of people think the book is great and correct, that doesn't mean that they are now able to practice what it proposes. As I said before an intellectual understanding is not worth much, you can read all the books you want, but if you don't experience it then it won't help you.
For me, the retreat was a chance to get back to some places I've been before. It took me 9 days to achieve what I achieved in 3 days this time (achieve is SO the wrong word, but I know you know what I mean). Finding moments of stillness in every day will help everybody immensely, of this much I'm convinced. I think the methods you use are up to you really: mantras, beads, dancing, eyes open, eyes shut...whatever, it's just about shutting up that part of your brain that's forever causing you stress. Some people call it the masculine brain, the ego centre, Buddhists like the 'monkey mind' analogy. Me I like to simply call it the 'left brain'. It's reductive though, modern neuroscience has shown that the striaght divisions of brain function are nowhere near as simple as we think, but frankly it doesn't really matter because it's a 'mind' issue not a 'brain' issue and so abstracted from biology that it's almost always talked about through the use of analogy because many of the concept are non-verbal and therefore impossible to unpick without some sort of analogy.