Letter from Belize no. 55

26th July 2016

Gradually over time we are developing more activities here at the Retreat. Some are daily, some weekly, some bi-monthly, some annual and some are one offs.

Starting at around 5.30 in the morning we have meditation and some readings from those teachers who are genuine “knowers” of Truth. People who are staying at the Retreat are welcome to join in this but there is no pressure put on them to do so.

Every month on a Saturday morning and a Sunday afternoon we have satsang, a Sanskrit word meaning in the company of Truth. This is for the intrepid few who wish to know more about mediation and to study the teachings of the Masters in some depth and it is a journey of self and Self discovery. We have a few who come on a regular basis and a few who attend when they can.

Then every two months we have a meditation day. This is a much lighter day where people learn about meditation and we usually have a theme like Music or Nature or Love with appropriate readings. One of the best things about it is the contribution from musicians Brad and Christina who are really good at finding news songs or chants to fit in with the theme. They may be Indian, Mayan, Native American, Spanish or English. I must say Christina has to carry the singing somewhat and it would be lovely to have some good singers to join us – not included among Henry’s and my talents.

Click on any of these photos for a larger view.

Our annual fixture is our Open Day which is to promote the Retreat and let people know what we are all about and to show them everything that is here particularly the Maya site. What we do is have stalls selling crafts and home made goods as well as contributions from people with similar interests and passions. This year we were lucky enough to have Retreat directors Chris and David Harris visiting from England. As Chris is a Yoga teacher she offered yoga sessions and we also combined a theme of health and healthy eating and had stands offering advice on nutrition and diabetes and eating disorders. Tours of the Maya site are also on offer and we serve snacks and drinks. These are great days and become both a good occasion to socialise and to network and make useful contacts.

Yoga

Sale of wood carvings, greetings cards and clothes

Listening to music, chatting and trying out wholesome food and smoothies

Viewing the Mounds

The one off days have been a lot of fun. I have run a series of workshops on the Enneagram which is an ancient Sufi method of establishing which of 9 personality types you might most identify with. The true purpose is to realise that in fact you are not the personality but a Divine being but it may be taken at many levels and is a very good tool for understanding ones own reactions and those of others to different situations.

This was our first Enneagram back in 2013

Since then there have been quite a few more workshops and the last one lead to a small group of us continuing to meet on a regular basis to discuss and share all things esoteric or spiritual. We all come from different backgrounds or traditions but all have a very open acceptance of each other’s belief systems. Recently we completed a series of reflections on the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether considering their qualities, their characteristics and how we relate to each element within ourselves

Earth represents in us our “groundedness”, our stability. We used clay dug up in the forest at the Retreat and played with it, feeling it molding it, really getting into its eathiness.

Next up was Water and we chose a spot at the north end of Corozal called mangrove Park, an area that is being preserved and taken care of by a local organization called Focus. We considered all the qualities of water - its fluidity, its power, its potential sluggishness, its ability to flow and adapt and take the shape of its container and how it makes up a large percentage of our own bodies. After the contemplation we do some drawing and painting to depict our connection with that particular element.

Fire took place at the Retreat where we burned a huge pile of cut branches and leaves. Fire represents our warmth, our passions, our intensity.

Here we are in a beautiful airy spot out at Consejo for Air. Of course you cannot see air, you can only feel the effects of it or see how it blows things around. We breath air, it is our life force, it is what animates us. I am always struck by how each of these elements is essential to our lives but each, in its extreme, can be dangerous and destructive too. I think we were particularly mindful of this after last month’s hurricane.

In the Hindu tradition the fifth element is referred to as Ether and in the Tibetan as Space. You will see how the elements become increasingly “ethereal” changing from very solid earth to fluid water, to dancing fire to unseen air to formless space. I don’t have a photo for Space and maybe that is fitting because of its formlessness. Space/ether is the container or receptacle for everything. It is where all things – thoughts and actions alike – are recorded.

This process of working with the elements was taught to me by Edie Irwin of Samye Ling Tibetan Centre and the Venerable Akong Rinpoche

The most recent event was this very week when we had an art workshop. I mentioned in my last newsletter about being so inspired by land artist Andy Goldsworthy so decided to share that inspiration. We discussed drawing and Nature and how Nature can provide the canvas and the materials to make drawings. We offered leaves and twigs and thorns and rocks and branches and everyone made something completely unique. Here are a few – not all as they were difficult to photograph.

Christina’s leaves within a hidey hole in a bush, Rachel’s knotted palm leaves

Sue’s long and winding road, Martha’s ribbon of leaves pinned together with thorns

My best wishes and love to you all
Rose

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