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

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

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.

Walking the fynbos

We had a lovely, quiet time at Bodhi Khaya last weekend after the huge retreat the previous week. I visited our library that Victor loved so much (see last week’s blog). As is so often the case, there was a book that just demanded to be read. It jumped off the shelf.

What a powerful book! At least for me… right now. Definitely part of my personal puzzle. “Eastern Body , Western Mind – Psychology And The Chakra System As A Path To The Self” by Anodea Judith. The introduction and first chapter on Chakra One entitled: “ Reclaiming the Temple of the Body” had me crying my eyes out during the morning meditation. Then curling up on the couch on the stoep outside the meditation hall, processing! Snuggled under a blanket, I drank water, read, wept and slept.

Later, I decided to try out one of the healing strategies recommended: physical activity! A good long walk would be just the thing. I headed off on one of the longer trails that I haven’t explored since this became my home, having confined myself to the shorter circular routes, when I came here for retreats.

The path took me through a forest with magical moss-covered trees and spectacular intricately shaped ancient milkwoods. I ventured along a ridge to a vantage point where I looked back over my beautiful new home: the labyrinth and the green and white buildings. I could also make out the now famous veggie garden where David picks fresh ingredients for our Superfood smoothie every morning.

There were many lovely spots along the hour-long walk.  My firm favourite was the hill right at the end where I could look at Grootbos Nature Reserve next door and out over the sea to Hermanus in the distance. Standing in the fynbos,  I was surrounded by the heady, honey smell of pollen.  All along the way there were still signs of the fire that raged here about six years ago. No wonder David is teaching Chantel and myself to use the fire fighting equipment!

I loved the many beautiful flowers. From huge bushes of vibrant orange Pincushions to the most exquisite tiny, delicate fairy-like blooms in a variety of colours; all shapes and sizes.


The trail seemed so like life with many points of choice. At times broad and easy to navigate and then suddenly steeper or really narrow. As I walked, I found myself still processing. Talking to people in my mind… to ancestors, long lost loved ones and more recent actors in the play that is my life. Returning home to the farmhouse and my chosen family, David and Chantel, I thought of a simple little sentence in the book that got me walking: “Reclaim the right to be here.”
Perdita Van Dijk Du Bois

Ringu Tulku Retreat

Manifestations at Bodhi Khaya

As a hundred people manifested at Bodhi Khaya in early spring 2011 we were met by an abundance of other manifestations equal in splendour.

First wind and cold and rain. Then wind and sun and a one third moon like a slice of pale watermelon drifting through the clouds.

Water singing and seeping down the southwestern valley, and resting in two ponds, where you may also fall asleep in the sun on a wooden deck.

The most engrossing library, where I found a water book (Schwenk and Schwenk, 1989: Water – The Element of Life).  It asked  “Why does water form the very basis of life in all life’s manifestations?” And answered: “Because water embraces everything, is in and all through everything:

  • It occupies a position between life and death;
  • Between gravity and levity: we owe the possibility of thinking to the brain’s water-buoyancy;
  • Between light and darkness: their interaction gives rise to the rainbow, the primal phenomenon of colour;
  • Between base and acid, in a neutral realm, where it mediates all chemical change;
  • Between stillness and movement, whose interplay forms the basis for every rhythm and every pulse beat;
  • Between solid and volatile: in other words, fluid, that is, endowed with an unlimited capacity for form-creation and metamorphosis”  (1989: 59).

A Teaching: “How not to beat yourself up”. “First, since you have already done a million stupid things, one more is not a big deal.”  LOL. “Besides, we don’t learn from punishment, including punishing ourselves.”

“This is what you can do. At the end of the day: Think of all the bad things you’ve done today. Purify them with Vajrasattva. Let them go.  Think of the good things you’ve done today. Rejoice in them. Put together the merit of the purified and the rejoicing in the good, dedicate this to the benefit of all beings. Let them go. Then go to sleep.”

Victor Munnik

Fringe benefits

There are many benefits to living at a retreat centre like Bodhi Khaya. You have the opportunity to live close to nature; drink a raw food smoothie made from the veggies in our organic garden, and participate in wonderful courses. There are so many fringe benefits.

One of the things I love best about my new home is the meditation hall. Every morning I get to sit in silence in a space filled with the energy of years of meditation. It is with reverence that I leave my school shoes outside the door as a gesture of respect when I enter. I had bought the school shoes just before I came here. They are a constant reminder to be open to learning new things, and to learn to live in the moment.

I have learnt so much already. As a newcomer to living in community at a retreat centre, I am amazed and awed by the skillful way David and Chantel are able to sit with situations, thereby allowing them to unfold in the most synchronistic and seemingly effortless fashion. They take action from a place of centredness and calm which is inspiring to behold. And should any one of us experience a slight wobble for whatever reason, the others hold the space. I am most grateful for this feeling of being held while I learn the ropes. And grateful for the fun and lightness that we share during our meals and in our daily tasks.

I have been practising this new way of being in the world. I must be ready to work this way myself, because here I am – at this wonderful place and part of this team.

After morning meditation, as we venture out to greet the day, I bow to this beautiful serene space. I put on my school shoes and surrender to what the day may teach me.

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