The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: June 2021
African harrier hawk
|Image: Andrew Brown
Words Have Wings
Sue Cooper shared this stirring poem in a Dharma talk on Compassion and Self-Care during her profound “Grief and Gratitude” Easter Retreat.
The Cure For It All - Julia Fehrenbacher
Go gently today, don't hurry
Praise fresh air
|The disappearing storm
|Image: Andrew Brown
We are thrilled to announce that Choden, a South African born Buddhist monk, will offer “Mindfulness Skills For Challenging Times” to help us navigate these times of insecurity, turbulence and uncertainty. He will draw on the Tibetan Mahamudra teachings as a context for his teachings. There will be a three-fold focus on Embodiment, Acceptance and Self-kindness. Choden will introduce some simple yet profound methods; we will practice them together and share any insights. He will strike a balance between teaching, guided practice, sharing and inquiry, along with some periods of silent sitting and walking meditation.
Choden (aka Sean Mc Govern) completed a three-year, three-month retreat in 1997 and has been a practising Buddhist since 1985. He is originally from South Africa where he trained as a lawyer and learned meditation under the guidance of Rob Nairn, an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher. He is now involved in developing secular mindfulness and compassion programmes drawing upon the wisdom and methods of the Buddhist tradition, as well as contemporary insights from psychology and neuroscience. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Aberdeen and teaches on their Postgraduate Study Programme in Mindfulness (MSc) that is the first of its kind to include compassion in its curriculum. He co-wrote a book with Paul Gilbert in 2013, entitled Mindful Compassion that explores the interface between Buddhist and Evolutionary approaches to compassion training. He is also the co-author of two other books: Mindfulness Based Living Course (2018) and From Mindfulness to Insight (2019). In 2016 he completed a one-year retreat focused on the foundation practices of Tibetan Buddhism.
Don’t miss this opportunity. Book early.
Dates: 4-6 July 2021
|Step by step
|Image: Gavin Naicker
Now And Zen: Reboot, Replenish, Recharge And Retreat In Ixopo
There is no better place to reboot and get in touch with nature than in the beautiful, tranquil spaces of the BRC. We have a selection of retreats for May and June to support you in your well-being.
All health protocols and Covid-19 regulations are in place - with social distancing, sanitizing and masks - for your safety and well-being.
|Still waters run deep
|Image: Andrew Brown
There are still a few spaces left on the following May retreat:
Come As You Are: Secular Buddhism, Existential Philosophy And Psychotherapy. Can Buddhism Effectively Treat The Struggles We Face In Life?
Jason Ross | 4 days | 21-25 May
Did You Know That The Brain Is Actually Plastic?: Transcending With Conscious Awareness
|Winter zen garden
|Image: Angela Buckland
Kerri Martinaglia and Carey Would | Weekend | 4-6 June
Mindfulness is defined as knowing what is happening, while it is happening, with an attitude of kindness and curiosity. In the beginning, we notice how our attention is like a butterfly flitting from one thought to the next. So we start by slowing down and settling our mind. We then introduce practices that ground us, allowing our attention to drop out of our heads and into the sensory awareness of the body. We learn to rest in the present moment getting used to disengaging from our habits of compulsive doing. During the retreat we will be “coming home” to our body, heart and mind; applying curiosity and compassion to whatever we notice. This attitude of openness, kindness and acceptance to whatever is there helps us to live with greater clarity and resilience. The weekend will be experiential and is designed as a helpful first step in developing your own personal Mindfulness practice or as a way of refreshing your existing practice.
Radical Acceptance - Exploring The First Fetter In The Buddha's Teaching: Personality Or Identity View
Chandasara | Weekend | 11-13 June
The less personality you carry, the more presence you have. All practice is towards this – to dissolve the personality and enhance the presence of life in you - Sadhguru
In this meditation retreat, we will explore some of the ways that we identify with various facets of our experience. We can take our body, our feelings, our perceptions, our thoughts to be who we are. The Buddha called this “I-making, mine-making”. So what happens when we drop this identification and let go of these constructions of our self? How do we relax into a radical acceptance of the sufficiency of pure presence? We will explore these questions in the light of the Buddha’s teaching on untying this first fetter that keeps us bound in a state of agitation. In this deeply uncertain time, through these teachings, we can find a refuge - an island in the midst of the storm.
Writing To Move On: An Experiential Writing Workshop For Those In Need Of New Ways Of Being, Seeing And Doing
Elana Bregin | Weekend | 18-20 June
You can’t go back and change the beginning
This is not a writing course in the usual sense, but an experiment in using the insights and creative techniques of narrative-writing to bring into being a new and more fulfilling story for ourselves. For many of us, the Covid winds of 2020 have left us feeling shaken, stirred and vulnerable - exposing the faultlines and dissatisfactions in our lives as never before. But with the doors of possibility standing wide open, there has never been a better time to detach from old discomfort zones, and set sail for the life that is waiting. Most of us carry our stories of trauma, loss and heartache in one form or another, for that is the human story. As much as we would like to leave the past in the past, moving on from habitual thinking patterns and stuck places can be challenging.
The retreat aims to offer the space, guidance and support that will allow us to vacate our place in the chair of old sorrow and move on to the future that is waiting. With the help of our creative mojo, and using the dynamic energy of story writing, we will reach for new insights on where we are, where we want to be, and explore ways of inventing for ourselves the next chapter in the novel of our lives.
Judy Farah | Weekend | 25-27 June
The upsurge of interest in the ancient practice of yoga attests to its proven physiological and psychological benefits. Our sedentary, western lifestyle has stiffened our limbs and spine to such an extent that many people find the yoga asanas (poses) difficult to perform. Iyengar yoga evolved to deal with this problem - safely, without forcing the body into harmful contortions. Iyengar yoga uses simple, but carefully calibrated props and other supports to achieve postures that would otherwise be unattainable except after years of practice. This retreat is suitable for beginners and for those who may have practised other forms of yoga. It is an introduction to the Iyengar method. For those who wish to consolidate their practice to a deeper level, the additional 5-day retreat is strongly recommended (28 June to 2 July).
Judy Farah | 5 days | 27 June-2 July
For those who wish to consolidate and deepen their yoga practice, this 5-day intensive retreat is highly recommended. Apart from increased levels of fitness and vitality, you will reap the benefits of being in the tranquil, natural environment of Ixopo. You will leave feeling stretched, relaxed and fit for life.
People often yearn for an opportunity to recalibrate their lives and to spend some time in quiet reflection among like-minded people. The BRC provides such a refuge - where silence is a precious commodity. Treat yourself to a personal retreat where you can wake up to bird song, walk in the morning mist, rake the sand garden, listen to the wind chimes and meditate in the company of the mossy Buddha.
| From Plentiful: Tea time
|Images: Angela Shaw
To Chai For
With the onset of cooler weather, there is nothing more warming than a good cup of Chai. So many people love our Chai with its delicate flavours of spices and ginger and ask for the recipe all the time. Lungi Mbona “spills the tea” on how to make it. Here it is - simple and delicious. Add some cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, grated ginger, a clove, rooibos teabags and sugar to taste to a cup of water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer to allow the spices to infuse. Add 2 cups of milk, stir and strain and enjoy the flavour and fragrance!
If you cannot visit us for one of our retreats, you can - with our recipe books - get the flavour of the place. We are able to courier the books to your door. Please email: . if you would like to order our recipe books: The Cake The Buddha Ate, Plentiful and Quiet Food.
|A meditation on tea
|Image: Angela Shaw
About the BRC
Perched on a ridge at the head of a valley in the Umkomaas river system in KwaZulu-Natal, the Buddhist Retreat Centre looks out on a vista of indigenous valleys, forests and rolling hills receding like waves in the blue distance. Here, for thirty-nine years, people of all religions and none have come to experience peace and tranquillity. It is a gentle, sympathetic space where one can be still and get in touch with oneself and reflect on the things that crowd one's life.
The BRC was voted by CNN as one of the ten best meditation centres in the world.
CNN Travel awarded another feather in the BRC’s cap by voting it as one of the ten best spiritual centres in South Africa, recently.
The BRC was awarded Natural Heritage status in 1995 under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Affairs and received a certificate to that effect signed by President Nelson Mandela for turning an eroded farm into the natural paradise it has become - thousands of indigenous trees were planted by retreatants under the supervision of Mervyn Croft - with 160 species of birds, including the Blue Swallow, otter, deer, antbear and indigenous forests. The Centre was also given the special status of “Custodian of the Blue Swallow” for its work in preserving the breeding areas of this endangered bird.
The BRC facilitated the founding of Woza Moya, the community-based NGO, located in Ufafa Valley, twenty-one years ago, on the estate. Their vision is for all people in the community to be healthy and .productive, to live in a safe and clean environment, with good access to services and social justice. The Centre continues to support the organisation by showcasing their crafts in the shop. The Woza Moya Crafters are local women who receive ongoing training and support to enable them to create these unique and charming best sellers.
Please continue to support the BRC by becoming a friend of the Buddhist Retreat Centre (a non-profit organisation) and find out more about the BRC's Paid-Up-Yogi and Sangha Friends’ projects.
We have been very touched by your appreciative letters, emails, support and friendship towards the BRC - your spiritual home from home.
Visit our website for further information, directions, image gallery etc.
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