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

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

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

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