Green Juice Anyone?

A morning ritual… everyone has one! Whether it is putting on your socks left foot first, combing your hair in a particular way or opening the paper to your favourite section, we all partake in habitual practices that make up our daily lives.

Our mornings at Bodhi Khaya are no different. Meditation is at 7:30 followed by breakfast. However, there is something really special that accompanies our morning nosh and any visitor is well aware of this daily indulgence. This is our green juice –  courtesy of our beloved retreat manager, David Francisco.  A delightful concoction that not only vitalizes our stomachs, but our morning repertoire as well –  handpicked in our beautiful veggie garden immediately before its consumption.  Nothing gets more local, fresh, or more wholesome than this glass of green liquid.

Most days it elicits smiles all around. However, on other occasions, it has been known to make faces pucker, nostrils flare and eyes wince. Nonetheless, we all consume, whether it is just a polite sip, half a glass or gulping down the whole offered glass.  We do indeed look forward to our morning green creation (almost as much as Perdita does her double-cream Greek yogurt!).

A man that prefers a blender over a juicer, David’s daily trip to the garden to procure the day’s juice ingredients is a ritual we have all come to love. Ingredients usually include spinach, beetroot greens, carrots, apple and sometimes nasturtiums. He has even been known to slip thistle, broccoli leaves and elderflowers into his blended concoctions. Or, if truth be told, pretty much anything else that meets his fancy. The benefits of this daily beverage include:  adding to our physical as well as mental wellbeing; our sense of community as well as acting as a connecting force to the land that we are fortunate enough to live on where we grow our daily sustenance.  For me nothing is more satisfying and ultimately more refreshing than gulping down or feeding oneself with a glass of self-produced and pesticide-free nourishment. This is definitely food for the soul and keeps us going in our pursuit of taking care of Bodhi Khaya and maintaining its beauty.

So next time you find yourself at Bodhi Khaya amongst the beautiful fynbos, fresh air and golden light make sure to partake in this morning ritual of ours. Call on the master himself (sometimes playfully called the Green Hulk because of his love of the character as well as his unique green juice) to whip you up this tasty treat, fresh from the garden.  I say we should all have such a healthy morning practice. Whether it is merely reflecting on one’s wellbeing or actively consuming a green breakfast – engaging in such a healthy, sustainable daily practice bodes well not only for oneself, but for the planet as well.

 I’ll toast to that!

Miranda Whist spent some time here at Bodhi Khaya. She loved  the veggie garden and wowed us with her lovely culinary delights.


What better place to study the Heart Sutra?

Leaving Stanford ,meandering along the narrow Walker Bay coast road, the complexity and intricacy of daily life falls away behind you.

 The drive to Bodhi Khaya is dazzling.  The dirt road through the milk wood forest and fynbos is winding, undulating -urging you to slow down.  The strong smell of Cape fynbos and the sour odour of milk woods is thick in the air.  You ‘drop down’ onto Bodhi Khaya almost unexpectedly; a sudden dip down in the road and there it is, below you.   Very green and secluded, Bodhi Khaya is a beautiful old farm dating back to 1791.  Now converted to a retreat centre, it is a sanctuary, a peaceful haven to rest and reflect.

 What better place to study the Heart Sutra?

What better place?

Buddhist monk, Gen Kelsang Sangdak, who is the Resident Teacher at Mahasiddha Kadampa Buddhist Centre in Durban and the National Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition in South Africa lead the retreat.

The Buddhist text , the Heart Sutra,  is the distillation of all teachings on Emptiness. “Form is empty, emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness”

 Understanding the fundamental truth of the Buddhist teachings on emptiness is an incredibly profound subject.   There are no forms (things) that are not empty; and there is no emptiness that exists in and of itself.

 The word “emptiness” is a Buddhist philosophical term that in this context has nothing to do with “nothingness”, but is a way of describing how things exist from an ultimate point of view, to find their true nature or ultimate way of existing.

The challenge is always how to use teachings in daily life.  To understand the Heart Sutra is  wonderful -to know fully that no thing, including us, our mind or our existence, has any solid substance  or permanence, that nothing in this world is independent but rather interconnected – in a constant state of change.  But how to maintain the concentration on emptiness?

After thinking about the Heart Sutra and how to use it whilst preparing this blog, I came to a personal realization that our mind should not only be grounded in emptiness but also in compassion.

 We all try so hard to achieve a perfect life, practicing  the Heart Sutra, getting the kids to school in time, cooking perfect scrambled eggs, making important decisions, focusing on compassion.  Sometimes we get it right, sometimes it all goes wrong!  Accepting ourselves we can also see that, even when something goes wrong and we know what we have done is wrong, if we have the right intention and some understanding of the true nature of things, a ‘wrong’ can also just be a fleeting moment  with no permanent nor independent existence.  Accepting ourselves in those ‘wrong’ moments, it will be so much easier to have love and compassion for others.

Gen Sangdak has returned to Durban. Those interested, have the opportunity to continue learning with resident teacher, Gen Pagpa.

Maja Heynecke

Homeward Bound At Bodhi Khaya

I follow the path beside the lily ponds. A grey heron, disturbed, lifts off in silent flight. The sun is warm, still casting long shadows. I round the corner of the “Farm Loop”  and hear a cough. a solitary bark, it’s very close. I wait, expecting the clatter and chatter of baboons but nothing stirs. An image, a recollection of a ‘spoor’ on yesterday’s walk, which I had pondered. Could it be? Yes, it could. A leopard, master of stealth and camouflage, watching me. I stand in awe then quietly take my leave. Dressed in sage green I hope I look like a helichrysum blowing up the hill.

 A watery, bubbling call from the shallow ravine. A ‘Transvaal’ sound before the rain, a “bottle bird”, the Burchell’s coucal, flutters into view and perches on a naked branch. It calls more stridently and is answered from below. A conversation continues. The Cape sugar bird loops in and out of the proteas trailing its long wispy tail, a cisticola ‘zits and tseeps’ beside me and the swallows swoop above.

The road is bright with flowers. Scabiosa in their gentle violet-blue, the colour of my grandmother’s eyes, magenta lachenalia, pelargoniums delicate and white, and tiny wild lobelia.

Pincushions make a fiery splash amongst the mountain’s grays and yellows and greens. I feel sad that they get picked and isolated in a vase, their majesty and drama lost, like a thread pulled from a tapestry and set aside.

 I see the sea, the coast, the dunes, beneath a vast expanse of sky.

 Onward and upward. White rocks tossed and strewn by some great force.

Then in the stillness, a tiny steenbok heads towards me, nibbling fresh shoots, oblivious of my presence. But now she stops and sniffs the air. I stand stock still and hope she won’t turn tail and bolt.

Ears twitch, she knows I’m there, she looks, and looks again, and slowly  walks away.

 The ‘Fynbos Trail’ is beckoning me…just one more corner, another view, but I am not equiped to walk all day.

 I’m ‘homeward bound’, down into the valley to the containment  of the white walled buildings, the centre of gentle activity and generosity of spirit. It’s a welcome place to come back to.

 Thank you, Bodhi Khaya and all who live and work there.

 Di Steward visited Bodhi Khaya for a self-retreat during November 2011

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.

Time flies when you are having fun!

It seems like yesterday I washed my first set of dishes in the staff kitchen and encountered the unique and baffling cold water tap. I am ashamed to admit that at the ripe (or is it gloriously mature and elegant!) age of 52 that little sucker (which opens the “wrong” way), was a perfect projection of the insecurity I felt in that moment!

Nearly three months later, any insecurity I feel , is more likely to be related to my personal challenges and inevitable “stuff” than to any of the plumbing!  In fact, I can truly say…time flies when you are having fun.

What kind of fun, I hear you ask?  Well… for a start David has this wonderful sound system, a portable MP3 player with docking station, which he uses for teaching Chi Kung. When in chef- mode, he sometimes brings it to the kitchen.  He plays classical (and other!) music while whipping up a culinary masterpiece.  Sometimes he dances around the kitchen singing loudly too.  Although Chantel is the real chef of the team, of course! Yummy dishes appear miraculously within a couple of minutes.  Many of them oriental thanks to her two year teaching stint in Japan.

Our family has been bigger for the last month with a special visitor from Ireland, no less.  Even when in Dublin, Siobhan is really part of the family, because she helps us with a lot of our graphic design work.  The beautiful banners advertising our retreats are her creations. She had fun with at least two very special projects whilst visiting.

She designed some playful labels for the honey we hope to be selling in the shop one of these days. We recently had a whole lot of extra beehives installed.  We now have a whole colony that is sure to produce some exquisite, divine nectar infused with fynbos . David, for one, can’t wait.  He often rubs his tummy and murmurs like a certain wellknown lovable bear: ”When is the honey coming?”

Chantel, Siobhan and I also did some exploring of our various walking trails so that Siobhan could make us a lovely new map of all the routes one can enjoy here. With her animation background, she produced a great map with fine detail – a delight to behold. Another special friend, Karl , also spent some time exploring a possible new route right up to the top of the mountain and built a stone cairn to mark the beginning of the mountain pilgrimage path.

Swimming in one of the dams is also a favourite pastime during the summer months.  I loved my first swim amongst the water lilies!  The annual appearance of these blossoms at Bodhi Khaya is a celebrated event. There was amazing surround-sound with a choir of frogs toning so vigorously that I felt compelled to sit in the purifying sound.  Small wonder then, I often find myself processing personal stuff  – in between the bouts of fun, of course!

Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois

Diving Deep, Flying High

“I guarantee you will meet your edge,” said Dan Brulé, failing to allay our fears over what to expect from the four-day breath work and tantra retreat held from 7-11 October at Bodhi Khaya. “When you learn to relax deeper than you ever have before, at some point you can expect the mind to rebel. Fear, grief, anything can come to the surface, and if you meet it with resistance you’re only setting yourself up for a rough ride.”

Brulé’s brand of spirituality is decidedly no-nonsense. His intuitive understanding of the breath – especially as a tool for delving into the unconscious – is truly impressive. There’s little structure, and not much theory, just a spontaneous engagement with the organic unfolding of the moment.

Having dedicated himself to breath mastery for over four decades, training top sports professionals and martial artists and working under such luminaries as Stanislav Grof, Dan is undoubtedly the real deal. So is his co-facilitator: the inimitable Shakti Malan. “Both breathwork and tantra pose this question: how much bliss can you stand?” Shakti explained during this first talk. “The more we open to whatever feelings and sensations are present in this moment – the more we become willing to dive deeply into what is here right now – the higher we can fly into the bliss of undivided presence.”

The retreat proceeded to take 12 of us to our edges, and if that meant falling apart, we felt assured that the container was safe enough to allow it, and strong enough to withstand the (imagined) fallout. Yet, by facing the darkness and moving into uncharted territory within a gentle, non-judgmental space, what we found collectively, beyond the dissolution and tears, was joy, laughter, delightful dancing and the deep opening of hearts. With a light touch and an approach that’s thoroughly inductive (as opposed to deductive and conceptual), we were allowed to relinquish much of the weight of our psycho-physical armour that binds so much of our natural energy into contraction. When the defences drop away, energy becomes available and new potentials are felt. An open heart is seen to be its own satisfaction. We are granted a lingering taste of an entirely different way of being. Above all, we slowly learn to abide the intensity of the present moment.

The particulars of such a retreat become almost irrelevant next to the inner journey, and the expanded vision we were able to take away with us. All I can say is that the facilitation was truly authentic, the work deep and accelerated, the food fantastic, and the gorgeous venue a true blessing.

For more on Dan Brulé, holotropic breathwork, rebirthing and tantric practice, check out:

Albert Buhr