Wow what a weekend, the weather was fantastic, the food great and the company wonderful. Thank you everyone for making the weekend so special This was the largest retreat so far, lots if new faces, and many familiar ones: Rob, Barry, Ketan and Briggitte, all back for more. It was lovely to see so many people who have done our Everyday Mindfulness classes too, they know what it's all about and still chose to come for the weekend, mad fools!
In anticipation of the hot weather I emailed Richard at Retreat farm to see if he had some place on the farm with some shade where we could hold the classes outdoors. He mailed back saying he knew just the spot. On my arrival Friday evening, I discovered that Richard had cut back the grass and carefully arranged 3 huge tree trunks to create a wonderful space under The Great Oak on the path to the river. The Oak is about 500 years old, it has an amazing energy, magical I'd call it. The Great Oak looks out onto wonderful views and an ever changing sky and it was my favourite secret meditation space on the whole farm. The light rolls across the trees in the distance and then fans out over fields and I'm often lost in the spectacle of the light and shadow after my meditation.
With the synchronicity I seem to be developing with Richard it was no surprise to discover that he'd chosen my favourite secret meditation spot for our outdoor classes. It would seem that it is also his favourite meditation spot, so not quite the secret I'd imagined, and now you all know about it I'll need to hide somewhere else. But it's perfect, so best I share it.
Most of our guests arrived on Friday evening, which always helps to get settled, and after only one round of the appreciation game the world out there was forgotten, and all I could hear over the sound of Jasons reggae was laughter. The magic had started and we hadn't gone near the oak yet.
After a day of teaching, mindful eating and some "way of the body" exercises with Jason we all met under the Oak for the final teaching session of Saturday. This is where our meditation practice gets really interesting. It's when I introduce the inner body and we explore chi energy and the sub atomic nature of reality. This is where we leave ordinary reality and enter the vibrational universe understood by both cutting edge physicists and ancient mystics alike.
The egoic mind doesn't like to go near truth on this level, because it is moving beyond the level of form to a more subtle but more profound understanding of reality where the ego with it's attachment to gross form has no authority. Sometimes I meet with resistance at this point as the ego defends, but not Saturday, even the most rational and sceptical of our guests embraced this new possibility and entered whole heatedly into a powerful meditation exercise that can pull you right into energy field, its called the "Tommy Cooper" meditation. If you want to learn the Tommy Cooper meditation you'll need to come on retreat or come to our classes. I haven't got many secrets left!
At the end of this teaching I generally round it all up with a guided meditation that takes you deeply into the body. It's not unusual for even complete beginners to experience the full energy field of their body, and for those who are ready, there is the possibility of going still deeper. Deeper into the energy field, deeper within yourself, to glimpse the nothingness from which everything arises and to touch the source so to speak It was simply blissful under dappled light and shade of the Great Oak. I looked up a couple of times to admire the light projecting through the glorious green canopy and the world sparkled, and when everyone opened their eyes, their minds still deep in meditation. They sat in stunned silence, captivated by natures spectacle before them. Seeing the world as it really is, in its full glory unmolested by mental judgement and they were blown away and that was left was the breeze. I sat there for another 5 minutes, but since all my words were now pointlessness I obeyed my own call of nature and left them all sitting there and let the breeze do the teaching. It was a full 15 minutes before anyone followed me back to the big barn.
Richard gave an impromptu chi kung class at 6.00am on Sunday morning, it was incredible at that time, the sun was still low in the sky and we watched it rise through the morning mist. The glorious colours where the perfect compliment to the chi kung. I'm so pleased that I got up early. My own chi kung class at 9.30 wasn't in the same league but it its a useful introduction to this wonderful practice and it got everyone's chi moving in preparation for the energy work later.
Sunday is the more challenging of the two days. Life is wonderful but it's not always pain free. Emotional pain is part of life and it's our resistance to this inevitability that leads to suffering. My aim is not to wrap you in cotton wool and protect you from pain, I don't want you to stop feeling, my aim is to show you that you do not need to fear your emotions, that they are part of the richness of life and fundamental in gaining a full experience of who you are and what it is to human. This involves feeling and not everyone is ready to take ownership and responsibility for their feelings just yet. We are conditioned to blame "out there" for what is going on in here to and to blame the world and other people for how we feel. But this puts us at the mercy of other people and means that we are condemned to become victims of the world, battered relentlessly by events and the actions and behaviours of others. Sometimes people get very defensive and even angry when they are told that it doesn't have to be like this. It's not uncommon for people to build their entire identity from a victim story of what the world has done to them and to hear otherwise and to realise that in truth they have been doing it to themselves will sometimes trigger an aggressive response from the ego as it defends its attachment to suffering. It is never my intention to cause harm, on the contrary I have devoted the last 11 years of my life to promoting a mindful way of living (at much cost to myself and family) in order to relieve human suffering. I tred lightly in the world and mean no harm to anyone, but if your status quo is one of suffering, then I will upset you, I will try to turn your unhappy reality on its head and shake the foundations of how you perceive the world, and I make no apologies for this, because if this doesn't happen you'll never be free. I confess that I did upset a couple of people but they were soon over it.
Bradley's pain management classes were a great success and I had a message from a lady who suffered from a very painful frozen shoulder for many years, who said since the weekend she has been totally pain free. I have no idea what you did Brad but if it works like this who cares?
Pauls kundalini workshops was very popular too and we'll organise things differently next time so more of you can attend, probably as just before the emotional clearing session on Sunday.
We still have three more retreats arranged for the summer but they are filling up fast, we would love to see you if you'd like to join us. But book soon to avoid disappointment.