The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: October 2021
Starry starry stupa night | Image: Andrew Brown
From Doing To Being
Most of us live in a state of perpetual doing. Our sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive and cortisol charges through our body and mind. No wonder we cannot calm down and relax! There is an upward rush of energy perpetually stirring up our thoughts like a furious wind causing a windmill to spin out of control.
Through mindfulness meditation we activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Instead of the energy going up into the head it goes down into the body. We slow down, feel more present in our bodies and connect to life around us.
We do this though slowing and deepening our breathing, letting our attention flow with the rhythm of our breathing and feeling the weight of our bodies on the Earth beneath us. It is a simple as that. This helps us to access the being mode.
Now, it is not that we stay in the being mode all the time. We learn to shift from being to doing as and when necessary. It is like driving a car. We do not stay in high gear all the time – otherwise the gear box will burn out – we learn to shift up and down the gears. Similarly, we learn to move between the being mode of embodied calm to the doing mode of energetic focus and activity. This brings balance to our lives.
|Snow covered chalets
|Image: Fiona Robinson
Recently, the BRC was transformed into a winter wonderland when snow white-washed the Ixopo hills and valleys.
It reminded me of the time in 1988 during the Children’s Retreat which I was leading. I remember waking up to excited shouts from the children and their parents as they woke up to snow. Naturally, all planned activities were cancelled for the day as we all went about enjoying the magical snowscape - building snow Buddhas. We can forget about teaching meditation and philosophy when you can throw yourself into joyous moments like those!
This was not about “Going with the flow” but indulging in the snow.
Now And Zen: Reboot, 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 October to support you.
All health protocols and Covid-19 regulations are in place - with social distancing, sanitizing and masks - for your safety and well-being.
|Indulging in the snow
|Image: Fiona Robinson
There are still a few spaces left on the following September retreats:
Dorian Haarhoff | 3 days | 23-26 September
In this retreat we explore the connection between writing and meditation. 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.
The Rough Writing Road: Keeping A Journal
Journals inform and support all genres - as a think book, as a non-think one, a plan book or an open-hearted one. Instants of inspiration. A home for the imagination, the cauldron of creativity. Moments of synchronicity. As William Blake says ‘kissing the moment as it flies’. So, come and kiss the moment.
|Image: Andrew Brown
Conducted Retreats October 2021
Deepening Your Emotional Intelligence Through Mindfulness: Gaining Insights Into Your Emotional Intelligence For Resonant Relationship
Shanil Haricharan | Weekend | 1-3 October
Despina Forbes | Weekend | 8-10 October
Paul Dorrian | 3 days | 12-15 October
The Myth Of Writer’s Block: Exploring The Relationship Between Negative Thought Patterns And Creative Flow
Natasha Freeman | Weekend | 15-17 October
Stephen Coan | Weekend | 22-24 October
Georgie Carter | 3 days | 26-29 October
Dawn Garisch | Weekend | 29-31 October
I want to share an approach to poetry
This course will help you to connect with themes and images that need expression and exploration. Learning to condense or distil your inquiry can help with insight and clarity. Working with rhythm and rhyme, off-and-half-rhymes, and with antonyms and synonyms, can break open meaning in new and unexpected ways. Please bring a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary if you have one. I will bring mine to share.
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, meditate in garden of the Bamboo Grove.
| Spring is in the air
Wholesome Almond Tart
Prudence Maksanya joined our team at beginning of this year and has introduced some delicious new recipes. Her Whole Almond Tart is sensational and her recipe is in much demand, so we thought we would share it with you for those special treat days. To make the crust mix 120g butter, 200g white flour and 60g castor sugar and sprinkle 150g whole almonds over the base. Make the filling by melting in a pan 90g brown sugar, 100ml syrup, 25g butter and 50g flour. Whisk 2 eggs into this mixture and pour over the almonds. Bake for 25 minutes at 170º. If you can’t attend one of our retreats, you can in your own home - 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.
|Wholesome almond tart
|Image: Lien Duvenage
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.
Recently, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife granted the BRC “Private Nature Reserve” for the conservation of the rare Blue Swallow and Mistbelt Grassland.
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 and sponsoring their trainers and consultants. 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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