February 2016 Newsletter

Happy New Year to all our Buddhafield friends!

Though it’s cold outside, it’s time to start thinking about warm times and friendship, so here is a little update on our exciting plans for the coming year!

SacredRing

Buddhafield Festival – Tickets now available
We are very excited to let you know that booking is now open for this year’s Buddhafield Festival! The Festival runs from Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th July, near Taunton, Somerset. The theme for this year’s festival is Courageous Compassion.
Early Bird Tickets have now sold out, but it’s a great time to get in early and bag your festival ticket – at £140 for the whole five-day festival, it’s a steal.

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Festival Workshop Applications – Now Open
We want to let everyone know that applications to offer a workshop, a talk or an independent space at the Buddhafield Festival are open from the 18th January to 28th February 2016.

If you have ever thought that you wanted to share your skills in a workshop, give a talk on your experiences or create a unique space at the festival, here is your chance to offer it. If you know someone who you think would be a great workshop leader, let them know too. Just go to the website for more information or click on Workshop Leaders and tell us all about what you want to do.

We are really looking forward to hearing from you and co-creating another wonderful festival together in 2016.

If you are interested in applying to offer treatments or a therapy, please note that applications for the Healing Garden open on 1 April 2016.

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Volunteering at Buddhafield Festival and Buddhafield Retreats
Buddhafield is supported by a wonderful team of volunteers, whose generosity and warm-heartedness breathes life into all our events. We are looking for volunteers for our Retreats programme and for our Festival.

Volunteering is a wonderful and rewarding way to experience Buddhafield Festival, and we would love to hear from you if you are considering volunteering. We will be looking to put together a set of effective teams, working in a spirit of friendship to put in place everything necessary to make the Buddhafield Festival happen. This will include volunteers for the Festival Cafe, as well as all other practical parts of the festival. Please look at our Festival Volunteers page for further information.

Buddhafield also runs a full programme of retreats through the year, which are an opportunity to take a break from everyday routines and to experience oneself anew in the stillness and beauty of nature. On our retreats we look for inspiration in the Buddha’s teaching and in the natural world, while living simply and kindly in a supportive communal environment, and volunteers are a key part of this. If you would like to volunteer at a retreat please go to our Retreat Support page.

Wishing you many blessings for a wonderful 2016!

The Buddhafield Team

April Newsletter

Just 7 Weeks To Go Until Our Green Earth Awakening Camp!

Thursday 21 — Monday 25 May 2015. More information and booking on the website, but check out the workshop line up so far:

* Jamie Catto * The Mindfulness Exchange * The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research * Landworkers Alliance * The Permaculture Association * Schumacher College * Tinkers Bubble * Landmatters * The RSPB * The Woodland Trust * The Really Wild Forest School.

* Peg Loom Weaving * Wayne’s Woods Spoon Carving * Wood Turning * Blacksmithing * Basket Weaving * Willow Domes * Drop Spindle * Felt Making * Clay Play, Pottery & Pit Firing * Primitive Crafts * Rocket Stoves.

* Earth Dances with Denise Rowe * Contact Improvisation Dance * Qi Gong * Partner Yoga * Rhythms & Body Percussion * Harmony Singing * Mbira * Storytelling * Rumi Poetry * Nature Writing * Focusing.

* Permaculture Design with Aranya * The No-Dig Allotment * Orchard Management * Forest Gardening * Foraging * Planning for Low Impact Development * Harvesting & Preserving * Skills for Setting Up Co-ops, CLTs & Land Projects * Mac Macartney of Embercombe.

* The work That Reconnects * Nature Connection * Growing Self Love * Compassionate Communication * Eco-Feminism * Art and Activism.

Phew! All this in 5 days … plus a daily timetable of meditation, Buddhist teachings, body work and healing area. And don’t forget to unwind in the wood fired sauna, hot tub and hot showers. Oh, and of course there is the fantastic collection of acoustic musicians and storytellers that will be gathered by the fire every evening. And the solar cinema showing inspiring films for our current times. Plus delicious organic food from the Buddhafield Café, The Outer Regions Café and The Peasants Lunch Box Café

Total Immersion: Meditating With The Trees

Paramananda & Maitridevi; Monday 7 September — Saturday 3 October 2015 (first two weeks Monday 7 September — Saturday 19 September). More information and booking.

A retreat for lovers of meditation, and for those who want to learn to love meditation. We invite you to join us in creating a silent meditation community in the magical meadows & woods of Easterbrook, Devon.

This month-long retreat is a unique opportunity to deepen practice intimate with the beauty and teachings of the natural world.

Living a life stripped down to its essentials we become sensitive again to the language of the birds. As our inner chatter falls away, our minds and hearts open to each other.

Paramananda has been leading retreats for thirty years and has a distinctive style that stresses body and heart as keys to opening to the nature of reality. He is the author of several books on meditation.

Maitridevi has spent 20 years living communities & working in team-based right livelihoods She has a love of meditating in nature, and of engaging the imagination through myth & ritual.

Dharmamrta will be teaching Scaravelli yoga. The ethos of this way of working is to soften and open into a greater sense of relaxation and ease.

Women’s Retreat: Eyes Of Love

Dayajoti, Maitridevi & Sukkhasiddhi; Friday 5 June — Friday 12 June 2015. More information and booking.

How we regard ourselves and the world determines what we see. Looking with eyes of love we can live with a sense of connection, openness and clarity. The programme for this retreat will be full of exploration through meditation, ritual, movement, myth and storytelling as we seek to bring the insight of love into our gaze. There will be plenty of silence too.

We will be holding this retreat in the magical woods of Broadhembury, where we will be living, practising, and working together as a community. (This site does need a level of fitness that can cope with uphill walks to the shrine area).

Two New Events In Sussex

Buddhism and the Path of Parenting

Weekend 5 — 7 June, open to adults and children at Spoods Farm, Sussex. With Ketuhridaya, Tejomala and team. More information and booking.

Join us in the beautiful fields and woodland of Sussex for a Buddhafield family weekend retreat. We will explore and celebrate the path of practising Buddhism and parenting. We will engage in Dharma practice, talks, and discussion as well as physical games for all ages, green craft with woodwork and other activities. This gathering offers a real opportunity for us to connect with the beauty of the land and each other practising together with our families.

The Mandala of Deep Purpose

Week 8 — 14 June 2015, open to all adults at Spoods Farm, Sussex. With Indrabodhi, Sagaravajra, Panya and team. More information and booking.

Direct experience leads us to encounter life in its fullness. When experience is filtered through personal ‘stories’ rooted in fear, anxiety and resistance we are no longer alive to the present moment. When our decisions come from an awakened awareness we begin to live a life that aligns with our ‘deep purpose. ’ Come and join us as we turn towards our experience through meditation and a symbolic journey to the centre of our personal mandala, supported by spiritual friends and the healing power of nature.

Interview: Ratnadeva

Ratnadeva was ordained by Kamalashila at Guhyaloka retreat centre, Spain, in the summer of 2013 .

So, the 2014 season is upon us. How’s it going so far?
Well, we’ve got a full retreats programme, ten events, and we’ve also got the exciting Triratna International Retreat. This year we’re collaborating with Adhisthana for the first time. It’ll be fun trying out a new site, having got used to working with Taraloka, which was a delight. It’s also going to be a delight working with Adhisthana because there’s a sense that we’re very much at the centre of Triratna when we collaborate on this event. For us it’s an opportunity to get better known throughout the movement. It’s kind of a shop window for Buddhafield.

ratnadevaFor me, one of the big flavours of the coming year is the word “change”. We’ve got a lot changing within Buddhafield in terms of people involved and we are in the process of reorganising, so as to make the best use of the limited resources. I suppose it’s a challenge and an exciting opportunity this coming year in terms of reorganising, finding a structure and a way of working that means we can put the events on that we have planned and people don’t get worn out. People don’t have to overdo it. And that probably means trying to involve the circles of people that are interested in Buddhafield and have been helping us over the years … I think we need to reach out more. That’s one of the main themes of the coming year, find ways to reach out; tell people that we need them and provide the opportunities for the people out there to get involved. I have this sense, this image in my head, of concentric circles around Buddhafield, of different levels of involvement, it may be hundreds, it may be over a thousand of people that, at some point in the last few years have been involved, been inspired by their involvement with Buddhafield. And that’s a resource, their interest in helping us, their interest in getting involved is what we need to tap into.

What is it that we need to do to keep people involved and motivated?
I think what we put on is inspiring in itself. We don’t really need to go outside of that because it’s already quite versatile. It’s versatile from the point of view of the events themselves; you look at the range we have in any given year. We don’t have a Yatra this year, but for several years now we’ve had a walking retreat; such a different experience to, say, the Total Immersion where we’ve had experienced meditators going deeper over four weeks, in silence. And then a very different event is of course the Family Friendly Village Retreat for up to 260 people, a third of them children, experiencing retreat-like conditions on a beautiful piece of land.

But having said that, there are alternative projects that might also inspire people, a bit leftfield. For example, this year we’re looking at the possibility of a co-housing project. Now that is perhaps an inspiring project that might attract people who otherwise might not try a camping retreat. But essentially I think what we put on is a very attractive package. The concept of getting close to nature, spending time, if you like, with yourself in a beautiful environment, being inspired by the Buddha’s teachings and having time out from your normal routine … experiencing oneself anew. I think that is in itself an incredibly inspiring prospect. And in fact I think that’s the core; for me that’s what inspired me to be involved with Buddhafield in the first place — an organisation that puts that sort of event on. I enjoy all the other events, like the Festival, but as far as I’m concerned they’re in service to putting on retreats. I come form a background where Im trying to get more immersed in nature, because I see that as a key expression of my own spiritual life. And I think it can be a key theme within the Buddhist tradition, breaking down that sense of separateness from the natural world.

It’s very related to your involvement with Druid culture?
Yes. I see it as quite seamless in fact. I think that immersing in nature can teach so much about impermanence. If you walk out on a bed of autumn leaf litter, and if you’re really aware when you’re doing that, that can be a lesson in impermanence. Better than any books about impermanence. If you’re involved with setting up a forest garden, or really into connecting with trees, even if its on a mystical level, that can teach us so much about interconnectedness, which is not that far away from non-self. The book of nature is so central to Buddhist teaching. For a lot of Buddhists who live in urban or sub-urban environments it’s not so much the case and I do think that’s a problem. And that is what Buddhafield is offering par excellence: offering people in those sorts of situations to escape and find a connection with nature that they don’t normally get, even if it’s only for a week.

Abhayajit on The Soul and the Solstice

Monday 16 June—Sunday 22 June 2014 led by Abhayajit and Khemajala

More information and booking on the main Buddhafield website.

This is the latest in a series of retreats led by me along with various friends and following on thematically from previous years’ Land, Body and Soul events. During the Soul and the Solstice, we’ll be doing something a little different from last time, although we’ll be developing themes we touched on last year. The main difference is that we will spend at least a couple of hours each day in a group process facilitated by Khemajala and myself who are both qualified Counsellors. Of course The event will also feature activities familiar to Buddhafield regulars such as meditation and ritual, along with great organic food and a friendly atmosphere.

So I guess some of you are thinking, what’s a group process? Well in this context it will involve led excercises, perhaps involving a combination of Meditation and Visualisation and often culminating in sharing our experiences in small groups — or we might do something completelly different; expect the unexpected! The general point of all the excercises is to bring us into closer contact with our own experience which may at times be challenging, but also I hope fun.

When I realised the dates for this event coincided with the Solstice, it seemed obvious to take the summer light as our inspiration and explore what it really means to feel fully alive and paradoxically the connection of that experience to darkness and death (the moment the summer light and it’s associated energy and abundance peaks, we begin the slow descent into darkness). This is of course a cyclical way of viewing things and from this perspective we can see our own lives as a cycle moving through periods of light and dark much like the seasons. The more linear way of looking at our lives is that of a progression that moves out of the dark and into the light, leaving despair behind us as we move ever upwards towards our goals and dreams. Yet how would it be if we accepted that darkness and the so called dark emotions must always play a part in our lives and if we do not pay them due respect they will pull down the edifices we have built around them.

We come from a society where everything is about change, transformation and self improvement, the youngster experimenting with drugs, the athlete training to their limit or the middle classes moving up the property ladder are all seeking to improve or change their experience and we might wonder about these routes to happiness. Yet in a culture dominated by these transcendent values, do we really need more of the same when we come to making meaning of our lives? Throughout time mankind has been overcoming itself and as valuable and necessary as that has been, the more feminine yet equally important values of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness have often been lost sight of. So the emphasis on this retreat will be less about overcoming the darkness and moving towards the light and more about accepting that both light and darkness, joy and despair will enter into our lives at various times.

So I suppose I am talking about how we learn to accept and make meaning of the uncertainty that impermanance bestows upon us and say yes to all our experience. For many saying yes to the joy of life might be easier than saying yes to the depths of despair! yet at the heart of Buddhist practice lies the practice of equanimity which means being open to all our experience. I guess the key to a lot of this stuff is openess to who we are and that often involves loosening our identities and suspending some of our bigger ideas for a while whilst we start exploring what is really close to us.

As David White says in the first verse of a Poem entitled Start close in:

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

That last line is significant to me as we often resist doing things that invite us to ”start close in“ yet time and time again find that’s where the gold is. So if this appeals you are very welcome to come and join us at Beautiful Broadhembury and ‘start close in’.

Activities will be tailored to allow people to work at a pace that is comfortable for them and there will of course be plenty of time for relaxing in the long and hopefully warm days leading up to the Summer Solstice.

We’ll also have three sessions of led dance during the retreat, which I’m sure will be very pleasurable and help to bring us more into our bodies.

The interactive nature of this event will allow plenty of fun, as well as at times being challenging: it will not suit everyone and if you have concerns (about your mental Health for example) please contact me by email or 01363 772939.

Total Immersion 2014: The Teaching Team

Vajrapriya, Maitridevi and Kamalashila have all worked together before on this retreat in different guises, and it promises to be a lively and substantial team. Introductions to the team below, but there’s  more about the retreat, it’s theme — The Foundations of Mindfulness — and booking on the main Buddhafield website.

Vajrapriya was ordained in 2002 and has lived in Cambridge ever since, but last year he went on retreat for a whole year. He’s been on a number of Total Immersion retreats, finds them elemental, and this time is looking forward to co-leading. That elemental quality suits his meditation style — embodied, direct and non-competitive. He has a very active mind and has to work to incorporate its energy without over-identifying with it.

Talk by Vajrapriya on Vimeo: Living a Meaningful Life

Vajrapriya takes the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path – rebranding it as the Meaningful Eightfold Path – and considers how it’s eight areas contribute to a meaningful life, and how following it eventually eliminates the whole problem of meaninglessness. Second of three talks in the series “Reality and what to do about it”, given at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre in November 2010.

Maitridevi, who co-led last year’s Total Immersion, is presently a homeless spiritual adventurer, having until recently been Finance Director at Windhorse:Evolution in Cambridge. She has a love of meditating in nature, yoga, swimming in rivers and hiding in forests, and her passion is exploring how to engage the imagination in her practice. She responds to exemplification far more than theory.

Talk by Maitridevi on YouTube: The Tender Gravity of Kindness

How to find depth in a superficial world — a talk about love and longing and the way that they pull us deeper into life. Given at Buddhafield Festival 2013 in the Dharma Parlour.

Kamalashila has been leading the Total Immersion retreat every other year. He’s in London nowadays, though for some years he lived as part of the Buddhafield collective in Devon. He enjoys more than anything else communicating his experience of Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness — something he’s done over many years. He has founded Dharma centres in London and Wales, written a best selling book on meditation, and lived four years in Wales as a hermit.

Talk by Kamalashila on YouTube: Mind full of passion

“Shouldn’t you be passionate in all you do? Probably, but how to distinguish between that and self-centred craving? A look at the issue of what we want.” Given at the Buddhafield Festival 2011 in the Dharma Parlour.

Buddhism and the Natural World: Deep Ecology, Deep Dharma

Kamalashila lives in West Hampstead, London, with Dharmacharini Yashobodhi. In 1974 he was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order by Urgyen Sangharakshita who gave him his Dharma name, “Kamalashila” — “He whose conduct (śila, Sanskrit) is like a red lotus (kamala)”. He’s the author of Buddhist Meditation: Tranquillity, Imagination and Insight (Windhorse Publications, 3rd Revised edition edition 2012) and leading this year’s Buddhafield Total Immersion Retreat, a month-long, silent meditation camping retreat in Devon.

He is by temperament rather shy, quiet and thoughtful, but he has been active for forty years teaching meditation, establishing communities, writing and leading Dharma study. In 1976 he founded the West London Buddhist Centre near Earls Court; he moved to Wales in 1979 and became a founder of Vajraloka Meditation Centre and later Vajrakuta, Triratna’s first residential Dharma study centre. He also has longstanding connections with Buddhafield and EcoDharma.

This is a talk he gave to members of the Triratna Buddhist Order (then still known as the Western Buddhist Order) in 2005. Some of the themes he covers are very relevant to Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening Camp (May 16–21 2014).

You can find this and many other talks by Kamalashila on Free Buddhist Audio.

1. Parami: introduction (3:15).

2. Kamalashila: environmentalism in the early days of the FWBO; Vajraloka; reactions in ’80s & ’90s; a contemporary shift (2:47).

3. A personal experience of participation in nature; nature and Buddha Nature; alienation from the natural world (4:52).

4. Deep ecology as a way to insight; changing our sense of identity and ownership; deep ecology and ethics (4:26).

5. Aldo Leopold; owning beings and land as unethical; the experience of being in the countryside; meditation and the “Four Great Elements” — “Mahabhutas”; nature and seeing beyond ego (8:40).

6. Transcending self & other; our limited idea of “all beings” and the experience of other creatures (3:07).

7. Not dismissing non-humans; relative separation from the natural world; anthropocentrism versus ecocentrism; awareness of non-human beings and ethics (5:33).

8. Communal living; single sex; the underside of the development of communities; mixed communities and the benefits of other mixed environments (4:31).

9. Sangharakshita’s book review on DH Lawrence and the Spiritual Community — four principles of spiritual community; sexual relationships and community living (7:17).

10. A personal vision of mixed communities; deep ecology and community living (2:27).

2014 Retreats and Events Programme

Dreaming the New

“Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind, produced by mind.”
The Buddha

Buddhism teaches that all experience originates in the mind and that our skilful intentions lead to positive change. The image of the Buddha itself is a vision of the positive intention to awaken. To find new sustainable models for living, rooted in an ancient relationship with the natural world, we must first envisage the world we wish to see. Together, we must dream the new.

Buddhafield Retreats Programme 2014
Event Dates Venue
Book online through on the website. More about Buddhafield Retreats.
Spring Ashdown Forest Retreat Friday 2nd – Friday 9th May
Long weekend option Friday 2nd – Monday 5th May
Windy Ridge, Ashdown Forest, Sussex
Women’s Retreat Monday 9th – Sunday 15th June Broadhembury, Devon
The Soul and the Solstice Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd June Broadhumbury, Devon
Buddhafield Village Retreat Phase I Saturday 2nd – Thursday 7th August Frog Mill, Devon
Village Retreat Phase 2 Saturday 9th – Saturday 16th August Frog Mill, Devon
Village Retreat Phase 3 Sunday 17th – Friday 22nd August Frog Mill, Devon
Autumn Ashdown Forest Retreat Friday 19th – Friday 26th September, with family friendly option from Friday 19th – Sunday 21st September This event is TBC
The Total Immersion Retreat 2014 Friday 5th September – Friday 3rd October, with a two week option that ends on Friday 19th September Easterbrook, Hittisleigh, Devon
If you are interested in attending either of the team retreats, please contact the manager of the area of Buddhafield with which you are involved
Spring Team Retreat 24th – 30th April Windy Ridge, Ashdown Forest, Sussex
Autumn Team Retreat 7th – 13th October Easterbrook, Devon

Go Confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Summer Events at the EcoDharma Centre

The Eco Dharma Centre is Buddhafield’s cousin project in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Meeting The Wild

29th June to 13th July 2013

This is a retreat with an emphasis on meditatively inhabiting the wild landscape which surrounds the EcoDharma Centre. It is part of our Nature Based Practice and Learning series. It brings meditation and mindfulness into relationship with wilderness immersion.

Our deepest nature is untameable. Yet, spending so much time living in a world constructed in service of a humanity, this can be hard to remember. So step out of the narrow dusty world for a while and meet the wild. Immersing ourselves in direct contact with wild nature, and deepening that connection through meditation, mindfulness, and reflection, can heal the wounds of alienation that are so present in our times. This helps us to re-connect with deeper aspects of ourselves and the world we inhabit – in a way that is enriching, empowering and transformative.

Permaculture & Deep Ecology

20th to 27th July 2013

This course explores both the practical wisdom and the theoretical underpinnings of a shift to a life-sustaining future – set within a framework of nature and dharma based learning. It draws together the practical wisdom of permaculture design, experiential nature-based learning, and the theoretical foundations of deep & radical ecology. It weaves together study, meditation, and hands on learning.

More information, booking details and suggested donations/dana can be found on the EcoDharma website.

Turning the Mind

The Turning of my Mind.

I have been struggling with a slight case of writers block recently and finding my way into writing something for this blog has been proving difficult. I think this has been due to a lack of Dharmic input in my life over the last few months. I have forgotten to keep my eyes open to the beauty that surrounds me every day. I have been in a very introverted space, reflected a lot over my experiences of the last handful of years and have really and truly begun to reflect and more importantly start to accept those things that make me who I am. The process is challenging but innately beautiful once there is respite enough to look back and see how much life has shifted. The explanations of how this works is what I am struggling with at the moment. I either know something intuitively or I know something intellectually and words fail me on both counts! In any case that is not a reason to stop trying to communicate something that has moved me in some way.

I also attended the Women’s Mitra study week – click here for Lulu’s report – and found that it was just what I needed, an injection of Dharma as the spring tries its best to burst into life, battling with the snow; a reminder of things I have already been taught (For anyone interested in listening to the talks on the four mind turning reflections, you can find the talks on Free Buddhist Audio). My attempts at routine haven’t quite manifested after moving to Bristol two months ago so to get immersed into Dharma and supported by Sangha felt like a really positive turning point in my year so far. Just being surrounded by my Sangha, in a different form was incredibly healing, actually seeing and experiencing a continuation, new life after a death, the turning of a wheel helped me to put aside some of the fears that I have had concerning about how Buddhafield will strive forward.

Getting out of the city and standing under the starry, starry skies of Devon also helped to put many things into perspective; that I can imagine pulling Orion’s sword from his belt to battle with delusion is quite magnificent. I have a capacity understand that human life is precious, brief and very rare. I have a body that, for its aches and pains, takes me places, allows me to dance. I have a mind that can imagine the most incredible things, takes in and filters information, forming opinions and allows me to reflect on the fact that I am here on a planet that supports my life, all life and that I have come into contact with a set of teachings that is helping me to see these incredible things more clearly. For some reason I still take this information for granted, I quite flippantly say ‘yeah, I know’ like the stroppy teenager I once was. My mind, or maybe all of me, still wants to cling to the negative, somehow, somewhere along the way the negative became the easier way to live.

But life is also impermanent and things do change, shift, transform and this sucks quite a lot of the time but occasionally and sometimes more than occasionally, the utter joy and relief of seeing something shift is amazing. So what shifted for over this week?

It sounds simple but the fact that I can change my mind, my perspective on how see things. Turning the negative approach into the positive approach. I try to look out for the changes and watch my emotional response to these changes. I find these initial responses fascinating and exploring how to move forward from that initial response is also fascinating!

When life starts to be seen as deeply connected as it is then all the actions that are taken must be taken with, at least, awareness and at most with awareness, kindness and compassion for yourself and for others. I have had to go back to myself, to understand my cravings, my fears and my inspirations and by knowing these things deeply, challenging the things that frighten me, questioning why I crave something, moving towards the things that inspire me I can strive forward and feed into a bigger picture of positive conditions.

Women’s Mitra Study Retreat 2013

I have been asked to write a blog to accompany the photos I sent of the ladies Mitra retreat! Well, I have never written a blog before so here goes…

I have been going on retreat with Buddhafield now for about 6 years and in the last few years I have been doing about 2 a year. I usually have one “for me” and one where I help on the team, this one was for me! I was particularly looking forward to this one as it was in a beautiful medieval farmhouse and had beds! As it turned it the farmhouse was simply amazing! Not only did it have beds but it had a dishwasher too!!! To any hardened camping retreat goer this was an unbelievable luxury that couldn’t quite be taken in!

Women's Study Week

Siddhimala and Lou

Gradually we all started to arrive, 9 wonderful ladies congregated and a community began to form. This was my first “study” retreat and the daily programme was quite full starting with meditation, breakfast, study period, lunch, reflection, led meditation, dinner, study period, evening puja/ritual/meditation. Phew! There were periods of silent reflection amongst this to constructively reflect on the material.

The study material was the four mind turning reflections which are the preciousness of this human life; death and impermanence; karma and its consequences and the defects of samsara. We listened together to the 5 talks by Order members which were an introduction talk and then one on each reflection and then were facilitated in often lively, hilarious discussions about the subject matter. I absolutely loved it! It is a very long time since I have been in a constructive study atmosphere (if ever!) and I found the mental exercise exhilarating, I learned a great deal and each day we had so much to absorb and reflect on. We were all a bit scrambled with overload of information at some stages and Siddhimala (our excellent teacher) was very skilful in directing our thought processes, she was a complete joy to be taught by! Siddhimala was supported by Varabadhri who has a wonderful sense of humour and a keen eye for ritual; she not only supported us all but organised wonderful ritual evenings in true Buddhafield style.

Women's Study Week

The retreatants (minus Lulu!)

After a week I was sad to leave but ready to come home to my busy life. I have brought these daily reflections with me (consciously and sub-consciously) and they have been seeping into my daily practice. The first action for me was to give up Facebook and playing annoyingly addictive computer games. I realised I spent too much of my “precious” time in this life trawling through this medium like a voyeur looking at the lives of others (some I don’t even know!!) and decided this had to stop! I am feeling quite refreshed by this decision and am finding pockets of time already to do things like write this blog which I wouldn’t have had “time” for before.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to the Buddhafield team for this wonderful week in Devon, I so hope it continues next year as I will definitely be coming back, if I am still in this precious life!

Lulu Robertson