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


Embodying Presence Retreat

Last weekend, only my second at my new home Bodhi Khaya, found me enjoying a wonderful intimate retreat with the intriguing title, Embodying Presence, led by Dai Heyne and Annika Nicol.

Our retreat manager, David, had told me what great teachers they are. They were both registered clinical psychologists who had spent the last ten odd years abroad training at the Karuna Institute in the UK as well as sitting meditation courses with various teachers.  What impressed me more than their obvious experience was, well, their “presence”.  They are warm, empathetic, and grounded with a wonderful sense of humour which made for a light yet profoundly moving weekend. What I appreciated most was their emphasis on practicality. The way they structure their work ensures that you not only learn great transformative techniques, but also how to apply this learning into real life. The retreat is designed to take you gently from being with yourself to gradually relating  with the world and others while still being aware of what is happening for you in the moment.

It soon became apparent that there would a lot of silence involved, both during the sessions and at meal times.  Not everyone in the group were seasoned meditators or partial to silence, but Dai and Annika made sure that the meditation was comfortable for all concerned. Participation and sharing was invited rather than enforced.  During the sessions, there was regular sharing and checking in, which gave us all the opportunity to learn from both the teachers and others in the group. Dai and Annika engaged with each participant in the most heartfelt, connected way.

For me, one of the most useful techniques was designed to help one allow space between you and your thoughts, feelings and sensations. It was fascinating to realize and experience that it is possible to observe your feelings (and thoughts or body sensations) while at the same time exploring them and describing them. It was an eye-opening experience to be awake and present to what is there without identifying with it, whether it is doubt or anger or simply boredom. The reminder to allow whatever is present, to be, and to just sit with it was powerful in its simplicity. Also the suggestion to describe all feelings, thoughts and sensation as “happening” was really useful.  It may well have appeared and sounded quite absurd to an outsider hearing us all murmur, “thought happening”, “happiness happening” but guess what? It works. Just using this technique creates the space that allows one to explore with detachment.

My other personal favourite was a guided meditation to help us explore and experience our bodies from the inside out! I found it delightful to actually experience and explore being in my body. It makes you wonder where I have been hanging out for most of the 52 years I have spent on the planet…

Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois