The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: December 2020
Louis leading the medittion
|Image: Lien Duvenage
Recently, Shanil Haricharan offered his marvellous retreat “Deepening and gaining insight into your emotional intelligence through Mindfulness”. I was asked to lead the meditation.
Upon returning to Ixopo after being in lockdown in Durban for almost 8 months, it felt like coming out of a long intensive meditation retreat such as you have in the East where you are completely divorced from your daily crutches and routine....and suddenly there you are again in the world, picking up where you left off.
It felt like I seeing Ixopo with new eyes....but at the same time it felt like a homecoming after a long absence. It was invigorating to see those green hills again and feel the vibrant and reassuring energy of the place and - most importantly - to sit in meditation with a Sangha once again.
Although one can practise meditation virtually anywhere at any time, there is a special power and exquisite connectedness when one is doing a collective meditation with fellow meditators in a space that is tailored to the practice.
Shanil gave a series of inspiring and thought-provoking talks on how we can infuse more intelligence into the way our emotions operate in our daily lives. Usually, we tend to think of our emotions and our intelligence as being mutually exclusive. This retreat was about blending and harmonizing both using Mindfulness meditation as the principle tool to bring this fusion about.
|Image: Chantelle Flores
Our mid-week Sangha continues to grow with many retreatants finding solace and refuge in personal, silent retreating in Ixopo.
The new BRC programme from January to August 2021 has been published on our website. It is an interesting range of retreats with something for everyone, from bird-watching and creative writing to yoga, qigong and tai chi and introspective meditation retreats.
Ian Weinberg will be offering his stimulating retreat “Psychoneuroimmunology” in Ixopo from 11-13 December in which he will explore how positive mind states can promote optimal wellness on a physical, emotional and psychological level. In these uncomfortable times in which we are challenged at every level of our being, Ian’s expertise and insights will provide one with practical tools to explore integrated wellness, and to understand how our thoughts inform our immune system - and how by reframing the way we react to the world around us, we can completely alter our health and quality of life.
The Christmas and New year retreats will be a chance to reflect back on the past and project forward into the new year with hope and optimism. The tranquil Ixopo environment is a nurturing space for you to just be - reflective and introspective. The retreats will be loosely structured with meditation, qigong and walks, and a lantern-lit circumambulation around the Buddha Rupa.
Once a year in December we offer Raku - a feast of earth, fire, air and water - and Sumie - “when the brush dances and the inks sings.” Nina Calder will lead the Raku. The word means ‘elation’ and this is indeed the palpable mood that usually prevails as people gather round to see the unpredictable and beautiful effects of violent heat, sawdust and cold water on the pots they have painted on. The result is Shibuie - accidental beauty. Ingrid Adams will guide us through the fundamental brushstrokes of Sumie which magically bring alive the character and charm of the chrysanthemum, bamboo and plum blossom.
We all need a bit of “Shibuie” in our lives at the moment. Try it!
I enclose Graham Williams’ thoughtful piece on “Re-Imagining The Future”.
Wishing you well,
|Image: Al Nicol
Re-Imagining The Future
Re-imagining the future can take many forms. Ask someone and you’ll get a list of what’s wrong with the current world (economy, society, environment, politics) or their life, a prediction, scenario, solution, vision, forecast, wish, some science fiction …
It’s quite a challenging exercise because:
A man was running for his life to escape a hungry tiger.
Here is my condensed personal response, knowing that everything above applies to it:
Humankind is still on its long journey from being generally ‘combative’ to ‘competitive’, and still has quite a way to go to reach ‘collaboration’. In today's World of separation politics and the continual reinvention task that will be demanded of each of us by an accelerating 4th Industrial (Technological) Revolution, high value DOING activities I’d love to see in the future will be:
And a BEING activity I’d love to see and experience often is being able to be silent, content and together with another or others while in close physical proximity - with no need to speak, discuss, explain
Hopefully this will go some way towards heeding Will Keepin’s call as the World shifts and the future opens up: “We are urgently called to action in two distinct capacities; to serve as hospice workers to a dying culture, and to serve as midwives to an emerging culture”.
|When light shines through
|Image: Andrew Brown
Yes, we are open in Ixopo and it is time to put that spring back into your step
There is no better place to reboot and rejuvenate and to get in touch with nature than in the beautiful, tranquil surroundings and open spaces of the BRC.
All health protocols and Covid-19 regulations are in place - with social distancing, sanitizing and masks - for your safety and well-being.
There are still a few spaces left on the following retreat in November:
Release, Relax And Restore - With Yoga
Given the current stresses and strains, we will turn to the ancient practice of yoga and use this as a base to journey through our subtle chakra system in the search for release, reassurance and vitality.
Using yin yoga, kundalini yoga, trauma release and vinyasa flow, we will slowly unlock, unblock, re-energise and re-connect to each one of these energy centres in our body. The retreat will begin with a Chakra CheckTM so you can discover where you are currently blocked, locked or limited and you will learn techniques to help you shift back to strength, vitality and serenity. We will work in sequence to unlock and expand and we will explore postures with a focus on the vegus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system to assist and support us from the inside-out in these trying times.
This retreat is centred around releasing, relaxing and restoring.
|In the pink
|Image: Angela Shaw
Forthcoming Retreats: December 2020
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. Choose practices such as yoga, qigong and meditation to live with more meaning, purpose and joy. 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.
|Louis sounding the gong
|Image: Angela Shaw
Alex Lister-James and Jeremy Lister-James | Weekend | 4-6 December
Ian Weinberg | Weekend | 11-13 December
Ari Michaeli | 1 day |15 December | 10:30 - 12:30
Ari Michaeli, MSc PT, MCMT, a clinical physiotherapist and lecturer will conduct a demonstration on treating spine pain based on the latest evidence and his 30 years of clinical experience treating back problems.
Although the workshop is designed for the public, professionals like physiotherapists and massage therapists can enrol.
Shibuie: When Beauty Happens Accidentally: Seeing With Deep-Seeing Eyes - Sumie and Raku: Japanese Brush Painting And Pottery
Ingrid Adams and Georgina Calder | 4 days | 17-21 December
Self Retreat | 3 days | 23-26 December
New Year At The BRC
Self Retreat | 4 days | 30 December-3 January 2021
New Year is a good time of the year to take stock and contemplate our moment-to-moment, here-and-now reality in all its fullness. It’s a traditional time for clarifying our motivations, and for starting afresh with new intentions. A time, in other words, to reboot the system. Give yourself the gift of time over this New Year period to focus on gratitude and contentment, to reflect on the past year, and resolve how you can best live your life in the coming year. This will be a loosely structured personal retreat with qigong, daily meditation practice, walks, rest and stillness, culminating with a New Year lantern-lit perambulation around the Buddha to ring out the old year with an ancient Chinese temple gong and welcome the New Year with a Tibetan bell.
|Image: Chantelle Flores
Online Programme: November/December 2020
14 November | Lisa Firer | Donation
Join Lisa for a taster of somatic movement. These gentle and mindful body-based practices help release chronic tension and pain, reduce stress and develop compassionate awareness of your body.
Leave the session with a few movements to take away and join the in-person retreat at the BRC next year to learn more.
Dorian Haarhof | 15 November | R450 to assist the BRC financially. For payment please reference as ZenPen
Looking at your image in a clear stream,
I invite you to a zoom Zen Pen wordshop. Why Zen Pen?
Zen (Chinese chán ‘quietude’) invites us to be present, to live and write simply.
In this wordshop we explore the connection between writing and meditation. Both these states of grace slow us down so we can live in the moment. They increase our awareness and wake us up. We look with new eyes and hear with new ears. We write and meditate on the many changes and transformations we experience as we journey along the river of our lives. We consider how creativity steadies the boat and how writing helps us dip the oars into dark water so we may navigate the river safely.
Transition Online For Women: Would you like to transition beyond current challenges into a better place than you were before?
(maximum 10 participants)
“ If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth, will save you...."
Have you been feeling lost, blocked or stuck?
Transition online is designed to support you through the effects of the emotional and mental challenges you have experienced during 2020 in a way that resolves even age old trauma and transforms not only your present, but also your future.
With this in mind, we are thrilled to bring you TRANSITION ONLINE to deeply and profoundly resolve relevant and related issues.
|Image: Angela Buckland
Up To The Elbows
Dudu Mamela has been part of the BRC family for 26 years, and always transforms the buffets into colourful feasts for the eye and the taste buds. She loves to take classic dishes and add a little sparkle, and has transformed our macaroni cheese into a distinctive and luxurious dish:Mac Is Back. If you would like to buy our recipe books: The Cake The Buddha Ate, Plentiful and Quiet Food we are able to courier the books to your door. Please email: .
|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 tranquility. 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 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 in a variety of ways by contributing Dana, sponsoring their Directors, trainers and visitors' accommodation, and showcasing and promoting their wonderful crafts in the shop such as the sock monkeys, cushions, bags, scarves, beanies and stationery. The Woza Moya Crafters are local women who receive ongoing training and support to enable them to create these unique and charming best sellers. As a result of retreatants' Dana (Generosity) in 2019/20, the BRC was able to donate R 24,000 to Woza Moya to further enable their good work among the community and to help support the 50 children who attend the Woza Moya play school.
Please continue to support the BRC to get back on its Dharma feet 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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