Of Joyful Risking and Taking Up Space!

Middle November  Dai Heyne and Annika Nicol held another powerful retreat at Bodhi Khaya , called “ Living From The Core” – Introduction to Core Process Psychotherapy-  A Depth Mindfulness Approach.

And depth there certainly was! It was truly amazing how the group  who gathered in the dining room on the Friday evening, quite literally and naturally fell into a deep Silence from the word go!

Annika said something early on about our spiritual practices being meant to bring us closer to our humanity. That grabbed my attention!  This is my personal theme lately – learning to be embodied, to live and experience being truly human with all the joy, pain and messiness of real life. Being present and accepting of whatever shows, using the question learnt at the “Embodying Presence” retreat earlier this year to explore what is going on for me.  Just being with whatever is happening, not denying or judging it – just watching it …thought happening, emotion happening, bodily sensation happening. And, boy oh boy, some days there is sure a lot happening…

Sessions of silence followed by sharing and “checking in” in the group led us gradually ever deeper into our Core. Each sharing seemed to call forth echoes from each of our journeys  binding us closer to the compassionate beings who, just hours before, had been total strangers.

The Silence leads us to our Core, an inner well of wisdom and resources.

Later we processed in pairs, using two questions:   “What is happening for me right now?” followed by “How is this for me?  This second question taking us even deeper into the experience.

The profound healing effect of this work was demonstrated when I had a fifteen minute one-on-one process with Annika in front of the group.  The experience of the process continued long after the fifteen minutes was over… through the night to be exact.  I woke up with waves of emotions, thoughts and sensations passing through me, observed and unhindered. What I carry with me, is the cradle of support and total non- judgemental acceptance I felt from the loving group as I ate breakfast shedding copious tears diluting Nina’s always delicious breakfast.

Back in the group- terror, sharing and laughter happened!  The bottom line  –  no more cardboard cut- out Miss Goodey Two Shoes for me. I am a spiritual being having a very real human experience – not always pretty, not always nice, but authentic   and heartfelt and let’s be honest, hilariously funny at times. How was this for me? This “Living From The Core”.  A profoundly healing experience of connection and  joyful risking… Learning that taking up space is becoming easier for me. The Lost Child is coming home to her own Core and can even, sometimes, chortle with delight at some of her more endearing quirky traits.

My heartfelt gratitude to Dai Heyne and Annika Nicol and the other amazing souls who allowed  the  beautiful Silence to lead each of us to our Core.

Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois

“Shall we become yogis then?”

From 29 October to 6 November 2011 Ken Holmes presented a retreat called: Buddhist Yoga of Body and Mind: the Nangpi Yoga of Kalu Rinpoche, at Bodhi Khaya.

The word yoga conjures images of contortions that stretch the limbs. Buddhist yoga, it turns out, is designed to stretch the mind.

The inimitable – indeed, lovable – Ken Holmes, esteemed director of studies at Samye Ling (the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the West), took his seat in front of the shrine on our first day, rubbed his hands and with a provocative glint in his eye asked: “Shall we become yogis then?”

Those who’ve met Ken will understand when writers, like myself, must first indulge in a physical description. The profusion of hair makes the most indelible impression – a mop of grey the colour of wisdom; curly locks like cornucopias of knowledge; wrathful eyebrows that hint at the role of grand dharma protector. It’s like he skipped reincarnation and just walked straight out of the 19th century.

It was also as if he’d brought a spot of Scottish weather with him, a fitting backdrop for the work at hand. The anachronistic clouds and rain and cold seemed to complement the significance of what we were there to learn, and proved little cause for complaint thanks to the downright cosiness of even Bodhi Khaya’s dorm rooms.

Forest Shrine

The unique series of yogic exercises that we proceeded to learn over the next eight days were devised in Samye Ling by the great Kalu Rinpoche for the special benefit of a Western and lay audience. They are informed by Kalu Rinpoche’s own experience, as well as the non-secret portions of some of the yogas practised on the traditional (and unbelievably intense) four-year retreats. As such, its aspects go from the beginnings to the end of Tibetan Buddhist practice, using body and mind in a way that speaks to both halves of the brain simultaneously. It starts with the basics (itself calling on a big mind, an open heart and a level of compassion that stretches the imagination), builds up through classical compassion exercises (like tonglen) and moves on to channel and chakra work in the inner, visualized body of light.

The mindful movements were relatively unchallenging (except, perhaps, for those who attempted to include the headstand). But each move had its own place within a wider contemplation, and in this way practitioners were able to actually embody some of the insights of the Buddhist view. In the words of Kalu Rinpoche: “Dharma is not like a speech – if you don’t practise it, it remains as it is, just words.”

Our deepest thanks to Ken Holmes, whose devotion to the Kagyu tradition and the purity of authentic dharma is a true inspiration.

Written by Albert Buhr, who is a regular visitor to Bodhi Khaya.