Thursday, 30 June 2016

Silence ... Spaciousness ... Safety

I haven't written on my blog in about a year (more of that later) and I saw this draft in the draft that had been saved.  This retreat was over a year ago and I have since been to the BRC since then, on another beautiful retreat which I will share sometime soon, but I felt it was important to share this.  So from a year ago ...

I spent this past long weekend on a silent retreat with Sue Cooper at the Buddhist Retreat Centre (BRC) in Ixopo.  It was really profound. There were thirty two participants which at first threw me a bit as I found that quite a large number and I was sure it would impact the retreat as there were just too many of us.  However, I was pleasantly surprised at how it all just flowed with such ease and magnificence.

There was a lot of opportunity for meditation, from sitting meditation, to walking meditation, Chi-kung movement meditation, "mindful" tea and of course everything in silence was a like a meditation on its own.  Once a day we had what Sue terms a "talking" meditation, which in essence is circle sharing, where everyone has a turn to share where they are at and what they are experiencing.  Only Sue responds to each person.  I always find circle sharing very powerful and the more we delved into the silence and meditation and the more we opened our hearts, the more real and deep and from the heart the sharing become.  I absolutely loved it.  It takes huge courage to be vulnerable and the resistance can be huge, but the release and the power in that is amazing.

One of my my Core Desired Feelings (Daniele LaPorte's "The Desire Map") is Spaciousness and that was definitely something I fully experienced at the BRC in those beautiful surroundings among the hills in Ixopo.  Silence for four days plays a huge role in creating space in the mind and in the heart too and my whole being was moved by all this immense spaciousness.  It was beautiful.

Sue shared many things with us this weekend including this beautiful poem which really spoke to me and on reflection,  helped find a sense of safety within my own heart ...

Having loved enough and lost enough,
I am no longer searching,
just opening.
No longer trying to make sense of pain,
but trying to be a soft and sturdy home
in which real things can land.
Mark Nepo

If you can do one of Sue's silent retreats, Sue CooperI strongly urge you to gift yourself with one of these.  They are profound. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Voice Of The Rain - Poem by Walt Whitman

I came across this poem today and thought it was beautiful. I particularly like the last line of the poem.  I have included a short translation.  Enjoy

And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated: I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain, Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea, Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form'd, altogether changed, and yet the same, I descend to lave the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe, And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn; And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin, and make pure and beautify it; (For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering, Reck'd or unreck'd, duly with love returns.) 

Hearing this, the poet compares it to a song, which rises from its birthplace (the heart) roams around for a bit, and, whether heard and enjoyed or not, returns back to the heart and settles there when he stops singing, remaining a happy memory.

In this poem, the poet asks the rain shower who it is, and the shower replies that it's the poem of the rises from the land and seas in the form of untouchable mist, in a form that's physically very different from its true self but otherwise just the same, to the sky. from there, it goes back down, and quenches the thirst of everything, right down to small dust particles. It also gives life to seeds and helps them grow into thriving plants. Thus, it gives back what it takes, life, to the earth, and also makes it pure and beautiful.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

An exciting discovery

In December I had coffee with a colleague I haven't seen in a few years and she told about the Emerging Women Company and I have to say that I am really inspired by this.  From the moment I saw their slogan "Live the truth of who you are," I was hooked.  I love the concept and I love what they do.  I was also really excited to read about their power circles. 

Here is the write up on their website page 

'Emerging Women exists to support and inspire women to express themselves authentically through the work that they do. We strive to provide the tools, knowledge, and network to help women lead, start and grow businesses in a way that integrates feminine values such as connection, collaboration and heart. It is our desire that women have a strong voice in the shaping of our world's future.'

I am hoping to go to their Emerging Women Live Conference in San Francisco in October (I'm putting it out there) as Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown are the main speakers.  What a team!  Check it out. 

I hope you find some podcasts, blog posts, insights and videos that will inspire you too.

Monday, 9 February 2015

A Moving Farewell

Just over a week ago, my cousin Daniel from The Netherlands, died after a two year long battle with stomach cancer.  His funeral was this past Wednesday and luckily with advanced technology we were able to watch it via a live-stream webcast.  Amazing!

The farewell was phenomenally moving and what blew me away was that he planned the entire proceedings to the very last detail.  I think it takes huge strength of character, at age 37, to face the reality of your impending death with such maturity.  The woman who conducted the farewell service had been his cancer support counselor and she led the service beautifully.  She read out his words and wishes with such passion, respect, understanding and love.  I was moved by how he and his long standing girlfriend Dominique made the decision, when they realised they could not surmount this wall of cancer they kept bumping into, that they would enjoy the fruits that were offered on this side of the wall and came to accept that the other side was just not meant for them. I think it takes a huge amount of maturity to work at that level of acceptance and to make the most of it. I also appreciated him sharing what his counselor had discussed with him around his and his family's anger.  She said that underneath their anger was a lot of deep grief and this resonates with what Brene Brown talks about when she says that anger is just a bodyguard for sadness.  I am hoping that with time my uncle can get passed his anger and allow himself to grieve deeply for his huge, devastating loss.

I was also amazed at how he had the service begin with a little mini-meditation where everyone was led to become aware of their in and out breath and then to find an image of him that they loved and then to welcome love and friendship into their hearts.  For my very traditional Dutch family, I thought that was wonderful and very brave.  But I guess when you are facing your imminent death, you drop the need to please and worry what others will think and you just become more and more real.

So here's to an amazing young man, my cousin Daniel.  It was a privilege to be present at his farewell service.  Thank you for sharing so much with us. May you rest in peace.

Myself, my cousin Sandra and Daniel on a trip to Cape Town 20 years ago

Friday, 6 February 2015

A Reflective Read

I recently finished reading "Walking Home" by Sonia Choquette.

It the story of her 34 day walk of the ancient 800km pilgrimage path across Spain; the Camino de Santiago.  I love traveling; I love Spain; I love walking; I love the idea of the Camino and I really enjoyed one of Sonia Choquette's books and so for me this was a definite read! 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and loved how she wrote it in a diary format. Being a spiritual teacher and intuitive guide, her book is not just about her grueling journey but also a deeply inward reflection of where she was at in her life and how she got there.  She reflects on a number of her personal relationships and her behaviour and role in them.  While reading this, it inspired me to look at some of my relationships, especially one I find particularly challenging and whose company I was in at the time. It was a wonderful exercise for me and helped me to reflect on where I was at in this particular relationship and why my buttons were being pushed and that they could only really be buttons because they were my issues.  I went on daily walks along the beach and felt like I was doing a tiny little Camino walk myself everyday. It was wonderful.

I also really liked the option she chose of having 2 back packs and only carrying the smaller one with the other one being transported for her to her accommodation each night.  Also her accommodation was slightly upmarket from the pilgrims' albergues that most people traditionally stay in.  Initially my thoughts were along the lines of 'is that not cheating or opting for the easy route?' However, when I really sat with it, I realised that we don't need to be martyrs and that just doing the Camino itself requires huge guts and determination and everyone must find their own journey and work with what suits them best.  I had to laugh when she spoke about bumping into a busload of tourists who walked little stretches of the Camino and then hopped onto the bus that whisked them off to the next little stretch. Now to me that feels like cheating, but to some of those on the bus, it is probably what they can realistically manage and if that works for them, who am I to judge.

The Camino is on my bucket list and I am hoping to do it when my girls are a bit older and I can get away for such a long stretch of time.

If the Camino is something that interests you, I would definitely recommend reading it and if you enjoy Sonia Choquette's work, then it is lovely to get to know her a bit better.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


It has been ages since I have written on my blog and I am not entirely sure why.  There are some definite logical reasons, but there also seems to be a deeper one.  I think I have needed to do a bit of hibernating and after a body talk session, Clare Tucker, who I go to for body talk said, "I only want to see you again in January. Your body's telling me it just wants to be entertained."  Well with that permission, I have been doing exactly that.  I've been getting lost in a whole lot of fiction books and just watching movies.  It has been blissful and I think I really needed it.  I have come out my hibernation for a little bit while to sort out a whole lot of things for the Christmas holidays but am reveling in the fact that I have another month of just playing!  I ordered the following off Amazon and intend to immerse myself in them in the next few weeks.

During this hibernation, I also attended a process art workshop with Michelle McClunan in Hillcrest, and I absolutely loved it.  Our project for the day was "Me as a tree" and before we started on the painting, we did a bit of clay work which I found hugely pleasurable and beneficial.  Michelle shared with us the benefit of playing with clay when you are angry or sad and how when you are done with it you can just release that clay with all your stuff, back into the earth to be washed away with the next rains. I think that is a magical idea and a great way to teach children to deal with their anger too.  So I am off to get some sculpting clay soon.  I highly recommend it!

The process art was an amazing experience for me too and I had to learn let go of the outcome and work with the idea that it is about the process and not what it looks like when you are done. I had arrived with all these ideas in my head of creating a magnificent looking tree and was resistant and disappointed with the idea at first.  However, in reflecting at the end of the class, I realise my process was all about finding MY voice.  It was very powerful for me and I will be doing some more next year for sure!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Oh My Soul Is On The Run, Overland ... I Am Flying

I absolutely love long, empty, beautiful roads and here are a few we traveled along whilst in Namibia in July this year. They remind me of the song from the old motion picture, "Caravans." The one by Barbara Dickson that goes something along the lines of, "Caravan, oh my soul is on the run overland, I am flying ...."   Caravan Song