Rain and Shine Retreat – Aug 2014

First there was one, gently flapping their wings coyly showing their radiant colours and then there was another then another and soon they were everywhere, radiant new beings, flying free in the July sunshine, with no care care for past and future, simply reveling in their glorious expression of the moment.

There is no greater privilege than working as a butterfly farmer. It was an incredible weekend and I loved every second of it. The weather was fantastic and the team were amazing, Brad, Paul, Jason, Barry, Sophie and Paulette were on top form and are pretty amazing butterfly farmers too. But what made the weekend so successful was you, our amazing guests, who by the end of the weekend had broken free and filled the sky with your colourful wings.

Sophie has put up the pictures from the weekend on our flckr pages and Teresa tells me that we still have a few spaces left for our retreat next week. So all you caterpillars out there struggling to live in your own skin come down to Butterfly farm, we’d love to see you

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And so we suspended our judging minds for the weekend and learned how to to delight in the wind and rain and even found the learning contained in the inconvenience. As I explained to our guests, “if you listen to the rain on the roof, it will teach you more about Mindfulness than I can.” Because mindfulness is simply listening to the rain. It’s letting things be with out judgement.

It didn’t rain all weekend. Saturday was mostly glorious sunshine and Sunday afternoon defied the forecast to give us a summer sun and a warm wind to dry the tents off, and that was okay too. The weather was fantastic, it rained and it shone and the wind blew, the weather became our teacher, we used the conditions to teach us surrender and how to appreciate what emerges in the moment without discrimination. Rain or shine it’s all fine if you are mindful.

It was nice to see so many new faces, and to my delight nearly all of our new guests threw themselves into it. And that takes courage, or desperation, but either will do. Like the weather a good storm is all part of it. I love a good storm, don’t you?

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anyway this weekend it really wasn’t an issue, many of our new guest were already dropping into thoughtless awareness on the Friday evening. The rain stopped and the moon shone as we sat round the camp fire, we’d only had the introduction talk but our guests were waking up as they sat there lighting up one by one like the moon through the breaking in the cloud.

Mindfulness techniques and principles can bring you to awareness, but when you are in awareness they are no longer necessary, and if we are not careful they can in fact become an obstacle. This weekend I hadn’t even had the chance to do any teaching and our new guests were already getting it. Just goes to show how unimportant my teaching really is. It also shows how ready our guest are, it takes nothing to wake them up, because the are already waking.

It’s always lovely to see people who we’ve met before on our journey into awareness and this weekend there were some guests who we last saw two years ago when our little project was very much in its infancy. I couldn’t believe how much they’ve grown in awareness in just two years, they’ve all had their ups and downs, but they’ve all reached a place of acceptance and alignment with what is and evolved beyond measure.

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I observed Jackie, with great admiration, mindfully handle a crisis which nearly prevented her from coming on retreat, but she rode the storm, which is the true test of the practice and she discovered the learning contained within. And it would appear that she isn’t the only one who can ride a storm, I overheard someone who two years ago had a life threatening cocaine addiction explain that they only drink herbal tea now because coffee makes them too wired, they’ve cracked it (excuse the pun). They went on to say that they neither judged their addiction as good or bad, they weren’t proud of the suffering they created, but all their pain had brought them to awareness and they could see now that it was all part of it.

It’s easy to see the progress that our guest are making, there is such a dramatic change each time I see them. But it wasn’t until they pointed out how much The Now Project has changed over two years, did I realise that we have made a complete transformation too. Two years ago we were entertaining groups of 12 – 15 people and we only had the tepees and the use of the Holistic centre but thanks to Richards fantastic support for the retreat facilities have been completely transformed in two years.

But what stands out for our returning guests most of all is how each of teach of the team have grown and developed into wonderful expressions of the teaching. I am blessed with the finest bunch of mindful teachers and helpers you could imagine. I know how much work they do on themselves and some of the challenges they’ve faced but they meet each new challenge with non judging acceptance and everything is just falling into place.

Jason has blossomed, he’s used dark depression as his vehicle and has grown into a fantastic teacher, gentle confident and funny he has taken his teaching and turned it into simple fun. I watched amazed as he helped raw beginners into awareness simply by becoming conscious of their body. He made them feel the grass, taste the sun, find their balance and catch a ball without a thought to distract them. He’s taken the mindfulness practice ,“The way of the body”, and turned this powerful portal into awareness into a game. The work of a true master.

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Barry too has worked through some turbulent times and but has used it for growth and is cultivating an unshakable stillness. His presence is enough to calm and reassure anyone who need support in riding the storm. Paulette works harder than anyone and she hasn’t had it easy, but her non judgement of what is just mikes her smile even brighter.

Paul is coming into his own. Directed by awareness he’s been succeeding with things he was afraid to try, he is flowing with the universe and wonderful new expressions of the teaching are emerging. The Sufi dancing and Kundalini yoga are powerful portals to awareness, Paul makes them such a lot of fun and our guest love it.

Sophie is growing by the minute, her mindful drawing workshops are an art in themselves, drawing people into awareness through drawing is simply genius. And to witness her grow and flourish with each new challenge, and to meet difficulty with peaceful acceptance is the greatest testimony to her strength and the power of this work.

Bradley’s ridden a few storms in his time and he knows how it’s done. He’s been teaching mindfulness and pain management for a couple of years now.  He’s master of art of surrender and uses his physical pain as vehicel for transformation.  I can get into a lot of trouble for claiming healing, only mainstream doctors and pharmaceutical companies can claim that. But last year I started getting emails form people Brad had worked with at our retreats. They claimed that he had helped relieve chronic and “incurable conditions, and reported improbable if not impossible improvements in their conditions. This year the pattern has continued and I’ve seen with my own eyes someone unable to get out bed with the pain dancing around like there is nothing wrong with them only a few minutes later. I’ve seen someone who had to drag themselves about with sticks, walking upright like they haven’t done in years, I’ve seen someone with chronic neck pain recover completely in half an hour. I’ve no idea what is happening but it’s happening anyway.

Perhaps hardest of all is to see the change in myself. We’ve been videoing my talks and at some point we’ll put them on the website to help remind you and bring you into awareness. The editing process, requires me to watch these talks a few times. Which is helpful for me because I never know what I’ve said. The teaching comes through me and watching it back has been a real surprise, it’s happening through me and there is a new understanding coming through, way beyond what I’ve taught before.

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There’s a video of us all in the teaching barn and I’m talking about the painbody and exploring how we might integrate that shadow part of ourselves. How we can ride the storm of our emotions and act more consciously in the world without reaction and without spreading more disturbance into the world. Then bang on cue the weather colludes with a clap of thunder to add atmospheric effect, the storm breaks and we all emerged from the barn into bright sunlight.

That’s when the realisation hit me, it’s all coming together because everything is in tune. No one is resisting the weather now, everyone is flowing with what is, the guests, the team, the project, they are all flowing. It is a play of light and dark, rain and shine, this moment whatever it presents is the play of life. You can resist that, but it’s just like resisting the rain, it’s painful and pointless, you’ll block the flow and create suffering. Or you can surrender to now, you can ride the storms without judgement and then you align yourself with what is and the universal intelligence that creates it, you become active part of the play of life and that’s how transformation happens.

Rain or shine it’s all fine

 

 

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