• Dan

What I Learned: Meditation, Poetry and Tai-Chi Retreat

I had the privilege a couple of weeks ago, to attend a poetry, meditation and Tai-Chi retreat, deep in the Scottish Highlands. A lovely place called Dhanakosa, of the Triratna Buddhist Order. (See picture above of Dhanakosa.)

I was blissfully unaware and cut off from the coronavirus chaos. I fell in love with the Loch there, the snowy mountains, the sound of owls at night and birds all day, the sun over the mountains and the incredible and generous people that I met there.

The schedule consisted of writing poetry in the day, complemented with Tai-Chi down by the Loch and plenty of meditation sessions.

My main intention was to escape from modern life for a week and rekindle my spark for my writing practice, having felt pretty exhausted from work at the time.

Thankfully it was a refreshing and creatively stimulating experience. What occurs to me most profoundly from the experience was the friendliness and openness of the space. The charity and goodwill that emanates from the place is next to never experienced in modern society.

Being submerged in nature reminded me that nature is all that matters. Being disconnected from birds, trees, plants and the natural world is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Even daily, we are depriving ourselves of what we need most.

Poetry I wrote:

The poetry I wrote on the retreat, was largely inspired by the vivid dreams I had there, and my love of the beautiful natural surroundings, and some intimate personal problems that cropped up.

The Castle:

I dreamed of my father, He wanted to show me, what I had forgot to know, he needed me to see, What I would not see, Things I could not believe, Things I could not accept. I ran down halls, through rooms in a castle, endless like the rains outside, beating the grasses with a, benign cruelty, a maze of walls halls stairs, lay out before me.
I sensed somehow, far below me, the world turning, turning everything, and something at the heart of all, smiling calmly, as I, kept running down castle halls.

Morning Birdsong:

Reminds me of early, childhood and, misspent dreams, forgotton hopes, something never seen, a vague recollection, of the earthly, and a world, behind and beaneath, my hovering eyes, if something so small, can sing so beautiful, why can I, not find my way?

Retreats are the perfect opportunity for a holiday that is a bit different and might reignite your love or interest in your creative self.

Main Takeaways:

Sharing was hard, but i was glad i did so, I felt better having done so. But still, it was hard. It was perhaps the most significant challenge I faced there, sharing personal and profound creations to strangers.

But it was liberating and proved to be insightful and appreciated by all people of the group, resulting in a welcoming and respectful atmosphere.

If you are to go on one yourself, I would recommend you do the following before you go.

Make time to write and make notes when there.
Look for and use any ideas and sources of inspiration.
Think of how what you want to write and achieve before going.
Enjoy nature, the disconnection from society and open yourself up to the opportunity.

Is isolation good for us? Ultimately i gained an overabundance of inspiration, so much so, that i did not know what to do with it all. It was too stimulating perhaps, and i was not sure how to use that energy which I gained in the first days of the retreat.

But, getting away from the chaos of society allows room for real people, real conversations, open honesty and a supportive environment, which is perfect for developing creativity and inspiration for more considerable change.

There is hope and great people out there. The problem is that society and its complications disconnect and distract us from that and from solving the issues we need to be addressing.

We are increasingly approaching a controlling, demoralising and disempowering dystopia. It is up to all of us to remain mindful each day of what we do in our lives and what is done to us so that we don’t fall into the traps that others are making.

Build your tribe. Have courage in your creativity. Be mindful. Preserve the beauty of the natural world.

Excellent resources from the course:

  • Tai chi:

Dragon Spring Taiji Master Huang’s 5 loosening exercises Master Huangs 20 essential points

  • Writing:

The Poet’s Way & Writing Your Way by Manjusvara

Lapidus International

13 Ways of Making Poetry a Spiritual Practice

  • Meditation:

Online Meditations – a Dharma Toolkit for Uncertain Times

Remember: nature is everything. Stay connected. Be mindful.

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