About Bodhi Khaya

Set in the spectacular Overberg region of the Western Cape, Bodhi Khaya is a sanctuary where you can escape the stresses of everyday living and renew your perspectives.

Bye bye Perdy

349_46948492104_5315_nI no longer live at Bodhi Khaya. Ever so slowly I come to grips with what this means for me. I ponder the experiences that were my life at the beautiful Bodhi Khaya. I recall the first blog I wrote there (“Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!”) and the incredible joy it gave me.

Fun was definitely part of living there with David, Chantel, Siobhan and Tom (lately with Georgina and John too). Getting to know and love the staff and colleagues as individuals. Each with their unique way of being.

Learning from Lize, an enduring part of our team – always included when we partied at home or in Baardeskeerdersbos around the pool table. Due to an ill spent youth, a natural pool player I am not! No amount of expert instruction from David and the girls, Chantel and Siobhan, was able to overcome this handicap. I confess I have left BKR as cueless as when I arrived!

Meeting countless visitors who graced us with their presence for weekend retreats or nurturing mid-week breaks was an enriching experience. Also humbling and awe-inspiring. Often I looked up from my work to recognize a familiar face or spotted a name I knew in the e-mails I answered. People from many different phases of my life touching my life again briefly.

Mostly I long for the morning practice David and I loved. Sitting in the meditation hall for half an hour every morning – come rain or shine. Uttering the same solution to a challenge, as we high-fived! Strolling in the garden, as he gathered leaves for the now famous green juice.

My body remembers the countless walks Jan and I enjoyed as we watched Georgina’s pod grow and take shape in its magical location amongst the trees. A picture of Ringu Tulku in his traditional robes, modern branded sweat shirt and jaunty brolley negotiating the wet patches on the path next to the water lily swimming dam, is etched in my memory.

I want to recreate the meditation hall “stoep” with those deep comfortable sofas and chairs. A place to read and be. For the time being also the place I sit in the mornings wrapped in my luscious purple blanket shawl my colleagues gave me as a parting gift.

As I enjoy a leisurely breakfast across the bay I feel Bodhi Khaya in the distance and reflect on previous times I sat there and felt one with, and responsible for, the place I then called home. I no longer physically live or work there, but in my heart, I carry that exceptional place with all its special people and happenings with me. It is now a part of me. I have been gifted with growth, lessons and the opportunity to help create a spiritual home for others. For this I am most grateful.

Thank you Bodhi Khaya and all who lived and worked with me for accepting and loving me. Allowing me to call Bodhi Khaya my home.

Bye bye Perdy's toes

Bye bye Perdy’s toes

Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois

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My Highlight of 2012: a 5-day Silent Retreat at Bodhi Khaya

I was fortunate enough to secure a last-minute space on the long-weekend silent retreat that Sue Cooper facilitated at the beautiful Bodhi Khaya in the run-up to Christmas, and it has got to rank up there as my number one experience of last year.

2012 was a year of huge change and upheaval for me, on many different levels, what with moving house twice, the loss of my very precious Granny, and a number of other personal challenges. So when I read about this retreat, entitled ‘Finding Balance in the Midst of Change’, I leapt at the opportunity to attend – even though it was just a week before it was due to run. Sue very gently let me know that it had been booked out for months already, but assured me that she’d get in touch if there was a cancellation. I can’t recall the last time I put as much energy into willing this to happen as I did that week, and with just days to go, I got the beautiful phone call to tell me that there had indeed been a cancellation, and I’d better pack my bags.

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I’ve attended a semi-silent retreat before, with Cheryl Lancellas of SA Yoga Safaris at the Blue Butterfly Resort in Tulbagh (with my yoga besties, Nicole Shea and Leli Hoch) but never anything as intense as this promised to be, so there was an element of apprehension as the time drew closer, however this was replaced by a huge sense of relief, gratitude and curiosity as the day dawned. As I took the turn-off to Bodhi Khaya, between Gansbaai and Stanford, it struck me that this was exactly the road on which our very special family friends, the Harrods, used to own a farm called Grootbos (next door to what is now a game reserve by the same name), and as I drove into the actual gates of Bodhi Khaya, I realised that this was, indeed, the farm that the Harrods had owned a number of years back. It was an emotional realisation and led to an overwhelming feeling of coming home, of belonging, of being safe, and of being exactly where I was supposed to be. The last time I’d been on the farm was around 1998 or 1999, just before I left to go to London, and yet it felt like yesterday. At the time, I was in the process of getting over a very painful breakup, and I remember how the peace, quiet and beauty of the farm and its surrounds were like a balm to my raw emotions. And here I was again, feeling decidedly delicate, and once again almost felt that my breath was taken away by the natural beauty of the place.

The retreat was the most amazing, uplifting, healing and enlightening experience that I have ever had. The silence was simultaneously challenging and beautiful, and I honestly have never been in a place that appealed to my senses on so many levels and in such an intense manner. The crisp white bed linen, the green of the trees, the flavours and textures of the exquisite food that we were presented with each day, the blue of the sky, the silky feeling of the water in the two mountain ponds, the pinks of the water lilies, the breeze on my skin as we did Chi Kung under the swaying trees, the smell of the incense as we sat down to each of the many meditation sessions that took place each day, the sensation of the grass crunching underfoot as I walked to the horses’ paddock and the roughness of the path as I walked the labyrinth, the feeling of my yoga mat underfoot as I practiced every day, the sound of the chickens clucking as I lay on my back looking up at the clouds in the day and the sound of the night jars as I lay on my back looking up at the stars at night.. perhaps it was the silence that seemed to enhance everything about the long weekend. Whatever the reason, it was a tonic and a privilege to experience.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, of course – being alone with one’s self for such an extended period of time, and without all the usual distractions, means that you have no choice but to sit down with all the different emotions and issues that may arise, look them squarely in the eye, and figure out how it is that you are going to move forward embracing these things rather than trying to push them out of the way or pretend that they don’t exist. It was a safe and nurturing environment in which to do this, and I came away from it with a deep sense of peace and acceptance, as well as forgiveness – for others that I may have been harbouring anger and resentment towards for a long time, but specifically forgiveness for myself, for all the ‘wrong’ decisions and actions that I may have made and done in the past, and that I’m no doubt still going to make and do in the future. The theme may have been ‘finding balance in the midst of change’ but one of the biggest things that I got out of it was a rediscovery of what it feels like to be kind and compassionate towards myself. Sue, wonderful Sue, refers to ‘holding oneself in an embrace of compassionate awareness’, and this is something that I have carried with me every day since I got back.

On the last day, when we were permitted to talk again, I found that I just wasn’t ready for it. The chat seemed so noisy, so superficial, so intrusive. It took me a number of hours before I felt that I was ready to re-enter the ‘normal’ world, and to leave the magical playground of Bodhi Khaya / Grootbos behind, but of course life doesn’t stop – even though it did feel like a period of suspended reality – and now the on-going challenge is to attempt to maintain the same level of awareness, consciousness and mindfulness as I walk through my regular life. I have already signed up to go to Sue’s next silent retreat in the run-up to Christmas this year, and I cannot wait!

by Nicci Cloete

My week at Bodhi Khaya

It was an instant sense of calm after the hurried pace of Cape Town (Yes, Cape Town can be hurried) getting to Bodhi Khaya. Kind faces, a warm fire, a lovely chat and crisp linen on a beautiful bed to rest in, what bliss.

Weaving our trails

I woke up to weaver birds weaving their nests, mastering the craft of weaving nests for future weaver bird families, happily busy, following their sense of purpose and I reflected on what I get busy at, my sense of purpose. How happy I am weaving the life I lead. With that thought we had a delicious breakfast and decided to do the turquoise trail. Veronica, Chanti and I packed a coupla chocolates in our bag, 3 bananas and some water and ambled along the trail. We passed through fields of Ericas found only there in the entire world. We negotiated not stepping in baboon poo and reached the Milkwood trees forest.  Quietly and regally stood the beautiful Milkwood Queen, her branches extending, calling us to give her a hug and climb her branches. And we did. We remembered the friends who would have loved to be there with us and took some pictures for them and continued along, passing springbok spoor, baboon spoor and responding to the calls of the birds along the way. We crossed wooden bridges, walked through streams and arrived at the Grotto, where we were sure we saw tree and forest sprites showing us their forms while we rested by the stream and sat on mossy rocks. Thinking we were now near the end of this beautiful hike we agreed to follow another trail, not realising that it took us uphill. We climbed and what beauty awaited us- beautiful orangey gold pincushions, paving our way with flowery golden sunsets. Happily tired we went back to delicious lunch and a snooze.

Whale watching

Close to Bodhi Khaya is a place where the sea water turns from a turquoise to a deep blue and sometimes shimmers with gold and flecks of green, if you are lucky whales and dolphins come out to play just at the moment you look in the direction of a darker wave. You can stay for hours looking out into the sea, watching for whales, watching the sea change colour and the deep sense of expansiveness from the sea starts to seep into your soul and you know that you are a part of the sea and the sea is a part of you.

Archery

The Bodhi Khaya archery range is an evolving archery range. The haystack targets initially used were eaten up by the errant cows who have decided to go visiting next door. So the targets change and evolve as cows eat them up, or they get blown away. What is constant is that there is a target and there is a bow and an arrow and some great people who patiently and happily allow you to shoot your arrows in the general right direction. With patience, practice and focus, you learn.

by Menaka Jayakody

Cycles and celebrations

It is such a cliché, I know, but it truly feels like yesterday that I arrived at Bodhi Khaya in my old beat-up Mercedes affectionately known as Bertha. I moved into Honeysuckle next to the office exactly a year ago.

Looking back at the year that has passed, I am amazed at all the experiences that have made up this cycle. Living in this magical valley, so close to nature, one is especially aware of the changing seasons and how each time of the year has its own charm. At the moment it is all cosy fires and delicious soups, beanies and dashing woollen scarves when we venture out together as a team to Stanford for a treat.

Just the other day, it was summer and we swam in the dams surrounded by water lilies, chased by the odd turtle and chorused by frogs. Which conjures up the lovely Paul McCartney song, “We all stand together”. It reminds me of how to live in community – a lesson which has been a big part of the past year – and how to be a chosen family in a real and authentic sense. We get to know one another, giving and receiving compassion, both in our own small band and also in the broader circle of groups who visit us.

It is wonderful to recognize and connect with our regular guests as they return to us again and again. It certainly feels as if they are also part of our spiritual family. I sometimes catch myself saying , “Welcome home” when a familiar face greets me as the participants on a weekend retreat arrive in the parking lot. Each new group that arrives begins a new cycle of getting to know the energy and flow that makes them unique. Followed by a welcoming, when they return. As we greet them when they leave, there is often a sense that we will meet again – that they will, almost certainly, find their way back here at some point.

 

It is often through the eyes of the returning visitors that we are reminded of growth, expansion and many reasons to celebrate. Our little shop, now a year old, has grown and flourished under Chantel’s loving care and creativity. It is no longer so little… It has become a bright and bustling space with many beautiful and colourful items ranging from clothes, books, CDs to candles, Zen chairs and other meditation accessories just to name a few. We often find delight in each new item as it arrives, but it is when guests remark on how the shop has grown and changed or how beautiful this or that at Bodhi Khaya is looking that we become aware again that the only constant in life is change. Exciting! Challenging at times, never boring, and with just enough repetition in the cycles to help us find our way and keep our balance.

Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois

The Deepest Acceptance

They came from Canada, USA, Venezuela, Algeria, Netherlands, UK and Czech Republic as well as fromSouth Africa.  Thirty people arrived at Bodhi Khaya in March to attend the first South African retreat held by Jeff Foster. 

Jeff Foster studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. In his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence.

The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: intimate, open, loving and spontaneous.  Jeff was left with a deep understanding of the root illusion behind all human suffering, and a love of the present moment.

During his retreats he points directly to the deep acceptance inherent in the present moment. He helps people discover who they really are, beyond all thoughts and judgments about themselves, even in the midst of the stress and struggle of modern day living and intimate relationships.

Jeff’s teaching style is direct and uncompromising and yet full of humanity, humour and compassion. He believes that freedom is everybody’s birthright. He belongs to no tradition or lineage, and makes his teaching accessible to all.

 Bodhi Khaya offered a home away from home as the guests joyfully tucked themselves into the cosy nooks and crannies of this beautiful centre.  The weather was fine and sunny with a cooling breeze so there was plenty of opportunity to swim in the sea or in one of the lily ponds.

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The theme of Jeff’s retreat was ‘The Deepest Acceptance’ and at this time and in this lovely place, as we got to know each other and warmed to our new found friends from all corners of the globe, it was not hard to accept what is.

 But Jeff took us ever deeper and deeper, to that acceptance which has already happened, and helped us to recognize this despite all that might happen on the outside.  As clarity grew and the group bonded, we had the courage to go ever deeper with Jeff.  To the point where, once the truth of who we really are, is seen it can never be forgotten.

We left with the certain knowledge that our lives can never be the same.   In the realization of this deepest acceptance, even in our darkest hour, we will know that everything is OK.

Supplied by Nicky Vernon

Jeff is planning on visiting Bodhi Khaya again next year.

Busy, Busy In Paradise!

There is hardly a person who visits our beautiful Bodhi Khaya, who doesn’t leave saying how idyllic it seems. How wonderful it must be to live here. I smile when they says this. In my heart I know exactly what they mean. And I feel the echo of agreement.  I remember feeling just that way every time I visited for a retreat.

Make no mistake, it is wonderful to live in this lovely place.  Being a great believer in gratitude, I say thank you as often as I remember to. Which I am sure can never be enough.

I have written more than once too of the wonderful team who share this space. One person who has not featured yet, is young Tom Van Der Poel.  He has been with us for a couple of months now and is a great addition to our merry band. Tom is a mushroom expert, superb cook and has even entertained us with some fire blowing, no less.

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Tom firing on all cylinders

 

He is primarily here to look at making our farm as viable as possible. The garden is flourishing under his loving care. We are even able to offer fresh vegetables and herbs for sale in our shop at the end of some retreats.  A practice which Miranda started and which promises to be an on going and growing project.

He and David also had great fun recently harvesting some of our very own honey. David was a real sight in his beekeeper’s suit loaned from our neighbours , Grootbos. I must admit to being just a wee bit apprehensive as the menfolk blithely ventured forth mumbling phrases like: “ I am sure we can figure it out..”

And they surely did and were inordinately proud to hand Georgina, the owner of Bodhi Khaya, a bottle of the first of our special fynbos nectar.

Tom is truly a multi-talented fella .  Besides experimenting with his beloved mushrooms, getting to know the livestock (and diverse wildlife), he has also been investigating herbs and all sorts of decadent  bath concoctions with a view to eventually stocking some lovely Bodhi Khaya branded natural products in the expanding shop. He makes the most delicious tea – fresh from the garden. My personal favourite is the spearmint.  

It is great to have Tom with us because the last couple of weeks have been really busy.  Back-to-back retreats for almost the whole of March.   A wonderful variety of teachers and retreatants have graced us with their presence. The Walkerbay Fynbos Trail is also taking off . We now have regular hikers visiting and spending a night with us as part of hiking adventures arranged by our neighbours, Sean and Michelle Privett.  A wonderful dream come true.

Yes, indeed, it has been busy, busy in paradise. We are firing on all cylinders.  And more to come in April.

 

Homeward Bound – Walking The Path At Bodhi Khaya

Returning to the national treasure that is Bodhi Khaya, suffuses my Being with a feeling of generous Homecoming..

Whatever my days have been this last while – easy or not-easy – I will be driving the dusty roads to The Khaya in bubbling anticipation. I will have time to notice the spectacular environment all around me – thankfully so free of human noise, congestion and so-called ‘progress’. Infinite blueness of sky above – earth roads below – and the green fynbos stretching down the valleys .

I am in my right place, entering this known and loved place of imposing trees,  whitewashed homesteads and outbuildings.

Breathing surrenders its reticence. Eyes feel soft, kind. Pausing to hear the myriad natural sounds – bird callings, leaf rustlings, taps, scrapes, someone humming near the labyrinth.

This is Home. Home is where I can breathe life – fresh air – immense sky, silence and solitude. Where I can stroll in the sweet companionship of strong, tall trees, blossoms and bees. Where my feet love their sole and roll on cool grass, moist earth; and my legs have respite from the stress and strain of tarmac, tiled shopping malls, and the insane impact of speeding cars and congestion. Coming Home into the deep core of myself. Walking away from the un-Nature-al, un-human-friendly aspects of our consumer, technological Age.

Homeward bound

AH – God – Goddess – Great Spirit of Grace, Abundance – I step through a known and welcoming domain to greet, smile – and feel At Home.

So it has been every time I set foot here on this cosseted place of Mother Earth. And all will again be so when I arrive once more to share ‘The Art of Walking – Walking the Sacred Way’ with March 16-18 weekend Workshop retreatants. What gifts in store as we stroll,  exploring walks and walking in the richness of this environment. What utterly necessary gifts to have the time to re-find the pleasure and peace of Walking without haste, attentively, aware.  Body becoming centred, grounded, light, mobile, free.  Heart and mind falling into sync with such natural, effortless Beingness.

We shall be Walking Bodhi Khaya Together, Friday to Sunday – 16 to18th. Finding our Goddess-given Poise and Balance. Refining and honing our walking skills and patterns, our elegant mobility. Trailing winding paths in quiet attentiveness. Feelings, senses alive and alert – witnessing all. Manifesting the profound relaxedness that comes from every step, every cell, every thought being in harmony. Exploring all that is in this here and now. Discovering the next constructive step – and the next. Expansive, embodied, embedded, Conscious Awareness.

My homing radar is ‘ON!’ I’m coming home! Not only to the sacred space of Bodhi Khaya and its band of caretakers – but home to mySelf, to whom I am when I can drop the masks, the coping, the trying, the habits, demands, conditioning.

Walking the Sacred Way  – in Lightness, Intelligence, Kindness – Marguerite Osler

 ‘Let all movement

Gently yield

Something of

God’

HAFIZ