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 


Bliss is the balance

Eating breakfast at the Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay this morning, I saw a whale breaching and waves of delicious pleasure rippled through my body. Is this my usual response to the magical delight of a breaching whale?  Only when my heart is open and I am dropped deeply into my undefended self does my body respond with such spontaneous receptivity to the ecstatic energy of the “fathomless body” of a whale.  A weekend of dancing “The bliss-filled body” at Bodhi Khaya, has left me energized, exhilarated, exhausted, elastic, engaged and brimful with Eros.

Seventeen beautiful dancers brought the totality of their beings onto the dance floor.  The music facilitated a deep dropping into presence where the potential held in each precious moment could be fully explored.  I danced into both my agony and my ecstasy, opening to the richness of what was there and feeling it fully in the cells of my body. In the spaces between the cells: relishing my body’s capacity to feel everything – pain, loss, grief, anger, joy, laugher, love & peace.  Touching the face of my desire.  Giving myself permission to follow my bliss.  Exploring the risky edges of intimacy, shaking, shaking, shaking myself to its core – I arrive in the aliveness of this body, this matter that merges with spirit, this drop that is in the ocean and is also the ocean.

On Saturday morning our two and a half dance is in honour of our ancestors.  As I dialogue with my lineage, dancing both the gifts and the wounds I have inherited, I process what no longer serves me well.  I shed my rigid skin and step out of my psychic structure into a more expansive space.  In deep appreciation of those that have gone before me, I and my father become one.

We danced four sessions of varying intensity. Slices of fast & slow; tender and rough, intimacy & aloneness, passion & playfulness, movement & stillness, fullness & emptiness.  Gently reminded that “Bliss is the balance that happens when we fully embrace both our shadow and our light and come to rest in love.”

Dancer - Courtesy of Hendrik

With gratitude to Shakti for her fierce wisdom, for a fabulous & funky playlist and for the limitless possibilities created and contained by her skillful facilitation.

With gratitude to David, Perdita and Chantel for their quiet and gentle but efficient presences.

With gratitude to Nina for taste sensations that explode in your mouth.

With gratitude to Bodhi Khaya for its beauty and for the energy of the place.

With gratitude to the other dancers for daring to be both powerful & vulnerable.

Rhianne Van Der Linde