Sunny Solstice Retreat – June 2014

Thank you to all our guests old and new. It’s always great to see old faces, Ketan, James, Simon, Martin, Olly and a special thanks to a regular guest Steve because he brought his mum with him this time. Everyone needs a mindful mum.  It’s lovely to see you all again and a joy to witness your awareness growing between each time we meet. You are all shining examples of what is possible.

Most of our guest have never been to one of our events before and many had no previous experience of mindfulness at all, which is great, because with no preconceptions anything becomes possible.  You were all fantastic and by the end of the weekend you were shining as bright as the sunshine, which is quite an achievement because the sun shone all day long  and it was the longest day of the year, so that's a lot of sunshine.

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he new facilities were finished bang on time and worked without a hitch, apart from the gas tea urn which doubled as a blast furnace and one collapsing camp bed, type of hitch.  The new star shaped marquee was a magnificent addition, it provides lovely shaded living space to eat and chill out and it will also keep us dry if we get rain. We rolled the sides up to let the cool breeze through and at night it was lit with a thousand fairy lights.

It’s nice that nearly everyone was able to arrive on Friday because it gave us all a chance to get properly acquainted and clear our minds of distraction and plug into the beautiful place around us.  Dinner was great as always. Tonia s food was sensational. I'm not going to even attempt to describe it you'll have experience it for yourself. All I can say is that's it’s an all-round sensory experience and even the flower decorations are edible. For breakfast on Sunday morning I had wholemeal porridge with kiwi fruit, which shouldn't work but was staggeringly good; clearly the invention of an insane genius. Tonia you are without question an insane genius.

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I'm surrounded by insane genuis's you know.  I'm blessed with the most conscious team you could hope for. They are extra ordinary in their ordinariness. The most unlikely mindful bunch you could meet. A carpenter, a roofer, a city trader, graphic designer, fathers mothers, real authentic people who don't need to pretend anymore.  But they are the real deal, they live like this every day of their lives, they would never chose to live another way. They aim to model mindfulness in every interaction and are developing into unique expressions of the teaching.   There were eight of us in the team,  there's lots of work to do running an event like this, but, the team's main job is help our guests to maintain a mindful state of awareness for much of the retreat as possible. Being immersed in nature really helps and if we can keep your attention present for a long period then the learning happens all on its own. The team are an embodiment of the practice and they are a joy to be around.  By bed time on Friday many of our guests were already well in the zone.

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The morning meditation or chi gong classes are optional and some people prefer a lay in, but I was excited to see everyone up and ready eager to learn.  Richards’s chi gong session is my favourite start to the day, he demonstrated the key standing chi gong meditations and helped each guest with the subtleties of the body. For those preferring something more sedate, but no less intense, Paul lead a simple breathing meditation in the school of meditation. And so the pump was primed.

My teaching in the barn was pretty damn good too. I've got a watchful eye on that ego, but the truth is it was good. We've videoed some of it and by popular request we'll add extracts to the website over the next few weeks so you can judge for yourself.  The Zen hens were vocal in their attempt to get in on the act and the cameo appearances of two pairs of swallows during the morning teaching in the barn was a special treat. My teaching was good, but the swallows really know how to teach mindfulness!

The purpose of these retreats is to give you a direct experience of awareness, yes the teaching is interesting, but, it’s the practice that is important. We want to hold you in awareness for the whole weekend and the expressions of mindfulness workshops were a great success in doing this.

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Jason’s Way of The Body class is very popular. He helps the class literally get out of their minds and into their body, and teaches how to experience wakefulness through balance movement and body awareness. Jason makes you laugh at yourself and the ego dissolve.

Brad’s mindful pain management and reconceive healing classes are a must for anyone with pain issues. He also did several one to one reconnected healing sessions over the weekend. Bradley "over did it", as always, and he’ll have to spend some time working on himself now, but that’s Brad, he always gives all he has.

Paul’s school of meditation got some rave reviews too. You Kundalini yoga addicts need to understand that it’s not about chasing the high, but then again, maybe you need to discover that for yourselves. But if you can incorporate some formal meditation into your practice you’ll find it really helps you to be more mindful.  Having some simple meditation techniques in your armory is a really good idea and Paul shared some powerful Indian techniques with his class, I’d recommend Paul's school of meditation to everyone, these meditation techniques really work, but don’t believe me, go to the class, take the meditations away, practice and see for yourself.

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Sophie’s mindful drawing workshop is a bit like porridge with kiwi fruit. It’s a lot of fun and everyone really enjoyed it, but it is also rather good for you. Sophie has an art of drawing people into awareness through drawing, she teaches mindful concentration and awake observation. She got our guests to really look and see, to ignore their inner dialogue and flow with now.  Teaching the art of mindfulness through art, now tell me that isn’t the work of insane genius.

The weekend flowed with a few happy accidents but no real hitches and by the close of the retreat our guest were anchored in awareness.  It worked. It really worked. Thank you everyone for your kind comments, I’ll start to put these up on the website testimonials widget this week. But the best way is to come along and find out for yourself.

ade teachug in big bell tent

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