Retreating in Devon and following your dreams
Wow, what a beautiful full moon last night, so clear and bright, full of energy. In fact as we build up to the end of the year, it seems there is a huge amount of energy out there, unleashed on the East coast of America over the night. No doubt we too will soon experience the tail winds, blowing away yet more cobwebs and creating yet more unsettled weather...reflecting, I feel, the general unsettled feeling many of us are currently experiencing.
I just spent the last few days in wonderful Devon. I am sure I am not the only one who feels the weight lift the minute I step onto UK soil. As much as I love Guernsey, I find the energy can become rather claustrophobic and heavy at times and the speed of life is sometimes far too quick - creating a disharmony with the natural rhythm of life. So it was with some relief that we landed in Exeter, not least because our flight was delayed by 4 hours and that was after prying myself from my warm bed at an early hour!!!
Due to said delay our time in Totnes with our friends was somewhat limited, but it did give me a taste for that wonderful alternative living, albeit trust fund hippies, all those wonderful organic fresh food shops, lovely vegetarian cafes and enlightening crystal shops. Yes, I must admit I could not walk past said shop without purchasing a few crystals to add to the collection - tree agate and moss agate and some Amber resin!
So while E went off to spend the weekend with his best friend, his best friend's girlfriend, Vicki, and I headed off on retreat. On the way to Rill Estate, the rural get away, we laughed a little about the contrast in our weekends ahead, Vicki and I going inwards and enjoying mornings of silence and the boys enjoying a more tamastic experience!
The retreat was wonderful, although dare I say that having now experienced two retreats in the UK, for those of us based in Guernsey, the Herm retreat really does offer the most wonderful environment and timetable for retreat. While admittedly it was wonderful to be in the UK and be treated to a real rural experience, with all those green fields spreading as far as the eye can see, the travelling time does drain one a little of energy.
The retreat began on the Friday tea time and we got straight into the practice, 2.5 hours so we had plenty of time for a lovely relaxation. We were fed lovely vegan meals, that evening was a vegetable stew with potato wedges and kale, followed by chai and home made oat biscuits. Then it was bed! The rooms were located around a courtyard with access from outside, not particularly large but thankfully lovely underfloor heating because it got rather cold over the weekend!
Saturday morning was a shock to the system with a 6.20am wake up call, the clanging of the bells, not a gentle awakening as I would normally encourage on a Saturday morning. Still the stars were shining brightly overhead as I walked to class and it was rather lovely to stay in silence until breakfast, and in fact I would have stayed in silence until lunchtime as there is something rather special about being silent.
We sat and meditated before stretching and doing some standing kriyas, which I have not experienced like that before, and another relaxation. Breakfast was a help yourself affair of porridge, cereals, fruit, breads and cheese. As class was following shortly afterwards I kept this light! So the next class followed at 10.30am and this was a further 2 hours or so of practice and another relaxation. I think this is often the most powerful part of these weekend retreats, the fact that you do end up relaxing more than you would do normally - proper relaxing too, none of this tv watching!
Vicki and I wandered around the estate that afternoon, taking in the views and the wonderful sunshine, oh how wonderful to feel so free and to dream about owning a centre like this one day!! The afternoon class was more of a workshop with an opportunity for questions before some Qi Gong and massaging your partner!! Evening dinner of a lovely light vegetarian curry with rice and dahl followed by raw chocolate, eaten with caution for it has the ability to wire for the whole evening!
That evening we enjoyed some Kirtan, where we sat together in a circle in the Yoga studio and were led by a visiting kirtan man in some chanting of bhajans and mantra. I was tired and the energy lacked something, but it was wonderful to chant with others, even if the Gayatri mantra was a little overlooked. Bed was welcomed!
Sunday morning we gained an hour with the clocks changing, not that it felt like it, after having such a late night the one before. Still the sun was rising when I walked to class for another meditation session, asana practice and some more standing kriyas. Phew! Breakfast and reading before the final class, a further 2 hour asana practice, rather hardcore so that I was aching yesterday! Lunch of a wonderful butternut squash, carrot, orange and ginger soup and home made hummus and salads and breads. Yum! And the time to go home.
During the retreat I re-read Paulo Coelho's book the Alchemist. Funny actually as it has been catching my attention in my book shelf recently and someone mentioned on facebook that they had recently re-read it and found it incredibly inspiring, so I read it again and am so pleased I did. I would highly recommend that anyone who has a desire to live their dreams, reads it too. There are many wonderful quotes, but one I really love is, "Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time".
E and I spent the night and the next morning in Exeter. I have many memories of being here when I was a child as my parents often led Duke of Edinburgh trips to Dartmoor and we would be come along with them. It was my dream to go to Exeter University to study geography but sadly they didn't offer me a place - I will never forget that experience for it was the first time I was confronted with a "no" in terms of living one's dream. And I found it interesting how much I have carried that with me over the years.
I guess the effect of the reflection on the weekend and the fact I was reading the Alchemist meant I did give some thought to how one's life is shaped. The opportunities presented to us and the decisions we make and how these shape our lives and our experience of it. What would have happened, I wonder, if I had carried through with the PhD, or gone and followed through with the place I finally gained to do a PGCE at Exeter, or if I had followed through with the law course I initially committed. It is funny isn't it, all those branches taking me somewhere, but none of them felt as right as the decision did to do my Yoga teacher training, even though that is the least conforming and "status" of the other options.
Dreams, they are funny things. I have lots of them and I sometimes get frustrated when I feel that I am not realising them. And the Alchemist reminded me that everything happens when it is ready to happen, and it is God's will rather than our own will that makes dreams come true. Sometimes we just have to get out the way. Have the dream, make your own vision board putting the dream into pictures, remain focused, keep the energy high, be open to receiving (how often we don't feel we are worthy of receiving, but please be assured that the Universe is endless in abundance, you will never be taking from anyone else) and follow your heart.
Sounds so easy right?! Actually it is incredible the energy that accompanies all this. Ask and it is given...just not always in the way you may have imagined!!
In any event, being back in Exeter did make me think. A lovely city with so many beautiful trees. We manged a few hours of charity shopping, so much fun, I even found a Yoga book with some lovely vegetarian recipes. I enjoyed an organic chai and the opportunity to visit yet another crystal shop investing in Calcite, Amazonite and some Australian jasper. Such a joy, especially as I was able to pop them out in the garden and allow them to cleanse under the full moon's energy last night!
So now back to the reality of daily life with additional clarity and a renewed sense of being put back in my place, simplicity of life and not getting sucked into the energy of always wanting more, of running around in circles and remembering that we are all one and all part of the oneness of the Universe's soul.
With so much gratitude and thanks to the Devon school of Yoga and Nige and Vicki and all those who made the weekend so special.