REtreat ~ Reflections in the Still Water
While preparing for this REtreat, so called because our original Cederberg retreat had to be deferred due to a big Cape storm moving through this past weekend and the venue, while lovely, was not suited to wet weather, water just kept welling up…first intuitively in the playlist, followed closely by my thoughts & feelings.
|Happy Smiling Hearts|
Vlei is Afrikaans for a shallow lake, usually of a seasonal or intermittent nature, and a dam is a man-made water gatherer. Here we have the intersection between natural water that gathers as and when it will and human intervention designating where (if not always when…we are yet to control the weather) catchment should take place.
|Luminous Vleidam |
“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Of the original Cederberg group, 8 decided to bear with me as I sought out an alternative venue.
This gorgeous farm at the foot of Koringberg in the wheatlands provided luxurious comfort in four cosy cottages with fireplaces and baths to warm us into the first of our Winter weather.
“It really boils
down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an
inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the element of Water is connected to the Kidneys and Bladder, along with this Winter season. The emotion of Fear can sometimes get stuck in our urinary system and the balance comes in with Gentleness.
“We all are so deeply interconnected; we have no option but
to love all. Be kind and do good for any one and that will be reflected. The
ripples of the kind heart are the highest blessings of the Universe.”
― Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style
|Our Zen Master - the best gifts in life come through Grace |
The thing I hear most often from participants in my Flow workshops and retreats is that they feel safe & well held. That the space is conducive to heart-opening. This gentleness is the thing I most strongly believe leads to our healing and unfolding into that which we truly are ~ Love.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but
connected in the deep.”
― William James
We came together as the light shone across the wheat fields and baby lambs. We enjoyed a little shake and shimmy to the healing Alexa Sunshine Rose number “Created by Sound,” kindly shared with me by one of our beautiful circle, Kosma.
A little free movement, which is Dance in its essence, leads us towards effortless being.
Shaking is so simple and yet so powerful in helping us surrender. We can give up trying to control everything just by shaking our sillies out. Watching the trembling newborn lambs as they took their first steps was such an inspiration to trust & hold each newborn breath, each moment, more tenderly.
“Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize
that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this
knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”
― Albert Schweitzer
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of
life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
― Thomas Merton, Love and Living
After a guided relaxation and visualisation we enjoyed free writing, or writing as meditation, where the ego gets out of the way (even for a moment) and allows us to act as a channel for the Divine Word to be made manifest through us. The pen moving as the breath moves, effortlessly, without our interference or the Great Mistake of thinking we KNOW.
This then leads to an intuitive discovery of our Intention for the Weekend.
I believe that living intentionally is important to making meaning. We are so powerful, but we are also so much a part of everyone and everything else. This is the deep understanding we can come to of our “place in the family of things.”
We explored the ancient Malay poetic form of the pantoum.
Sharing in Deep Listening pairs brought us to speaking our Intention into the Circle and breathing into the collective holding & releasing of our individual and collective intentions. We vowed to support one another in setting these sacred intentions.
A supper of warming butternut sweet potato soup and some natural nut butter chocolate cups, then our evening meditation. Sitting together in a circle to breathe, pay attention and melt into our hearts and the collective great heart is truly one of life’s great joys.
We used Ajahn Brahm's "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" as a departure point:
The Buddha said “a meditator who makes letting go the main object easily achieves samadhi.”
We discussed the importance of Present Moment Awareness ~
“You abandon all past experiences by showing no interest in them at all. During meditation you become some-one who has no history. You do not think about where you live, where you were born, who your parents were, or what your upbringing was like. All of that history you renounce. In this way, if you are meditating with others, everyone becomes equal—just a meditator. It becomes un-important whether you are an old hand at meditation or just a beginner. If we abandon all that history, we are equal and free.”
As Gangaji says “drop the story.”
“Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments. If you do, you weigh yourself down with heavy burdens that do not really belong to you.”
“When you anticipate the future by thinking, 'How many more minutes until the bell rings?' you torture yourself. So be very careful not to pick up the heavy burden of 'How many more minutes to go?' or 'What should I do next?' If that is what you are thinking, you are not paying attention to what is happening now. You are asking for trouble. You are not doing the meditation.”
Tara Brach’s acronym
RAIN can be a useful tool to apply during meditation:
Recognize what is happening;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Then the gift of Silence ~
“Sometimes we assume it is through the inner commentary that we know the world. Actually, that inner speech does not know the world at all. It is the inner speech that spins the delusions that cause suffering.”
“Another useful technique for developing inner silence is recognizing the space between thoughts, or between periods of inner chatter.”
After a discussion on the 5 Hindrances to Meditation using the Buddha's imagery of Water, We chanted 108 rounds of the Medicine Buddha mantra in the beautiful candlelight and enjoyed sitting in the powerful healing vibration. We then stepped into Noble Silence.
After a divine night's rest in this pastoral idyll, we met with the
sunrise for silent meditation.
A lovely breakfast on the stoep provided by Kosma followed by an Alexander Technique Walking Practice guided by Hella.
I just love it when everyone’s gifts are shared so effortlessly and provide genuine support for the subtle yet transformative inner work. Do not hesitate to book a one-on-one session with Hella. Her many years of experience and deep intuition, fostered by a strong Zen meditation practice, are exceptional gifts.
|Hella at work|
Our creative play, a therapeutic art process, revealed our story as discovered, constructed, deconstructed, taken away & given - thank you for sharing your haiku dear Muriel, one of the fruits of surrendering to the divine creative flow:
A delicious tapas lunch was shared by Mary & Muriel. Thank you darlings.
“Our ability to connect with others is innate, wired into
our nervous systems, and we need connection as much as we need physical
― Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection
Our afternoon was spent walking the wheat fields and the Koringberg.Taking in the gorgeous colours and vistas of the Swartberge.
On return we enjoyed a gentle yin yoga practice on the lawn to promote intuitive movement and support our bodies through Change, that inevitability of Life, and allow for the eternal letting go.
We wrapped up with another Alexander Technique session with Hella, this one a gorgeous lying down process.
Andrea provided a delicious dinner of fragrant veggie stew which we enjoyed as the the sun set over this tranquil landscape.
We danced around the fire. Open-heartedly. Wildly. Tenderly. Life is a dance.
Stargazing and listening to Ram Dass "I am Loving Awareness" brought the day to a perfect end.
Sunday morning’s Inner Smile meditation followed by the Qi Gong form of the 6 Healing Breaths led to our closing circle. Another turn on this spiral way.
|Qi Gong at Sunrise|
We wrote ourselves a Love Letter promising to water at least one of the seeds planted this beautiful weekend.
Metta meditation brought our practice to a close.
Our farewell brunch was provided by dear Mel, even though she herself was fasting and on a special keto detox. Bless you.
|Such yummy food & connection|
And after some delightful nattering -- these casual in between chats are often when the greatest insights blossom -- we were on our way again.
Please join me for a Winter Warmer Retreat 1 - 4 July 2021 at the gorgeous Guinevere Guest Farm near Tulbagh.
Only 7 private en-suite rooms. R 3500 secures your room for 3 nights, all inclusive of food & facilitation.
There are a couple of rooms for those who would like to share.
R2500 each for 2 sharing a room with en-suite bathroom all inclusive.
Maximum 12 people.
Please book soonest so that I can secure this dreamy venue.
Mid-July 2021 I’ll be holding a retreat in Plettenberg Bay.
Please let me know if you’re available to join us.
And be so kind as to spread the word. I rely entirely on word of mouth.
To get a sense of some of the other Retreats I've facilitated:
Many thanks, till we meet in a circle.
“We need to bridge our sense of loneliness and disconnection
with a sense of community and continuity.”
― Julia Cameron, God is No Laughing Matter