One Breath – a retreat reflection – by Felicity Lowe

Earlier in August, I had what seemed to be a serendipitous opportunity to attend the One Breath retreat at Wangapeka. I had been stuck between three delicious bite-sized weekend retreats that all called to me in different ways, yet when circumstances dictated which was to be the one for me, alas, it was the one that was fully booked!

It seemed I was being punished for my idleness in choosing a direction, until I had an email offering me a waitlist spot! The planets had aligned, and I found myself proceeding up the Wangapeka driveway a few days later, to be welcomed by the wonderful and much needed sign: ‘You have arrived’.

In that moment, I realised how much I needed this opportunity, in such a wonderful space, to return to myself, the present, the thing that is what is without the day-to-day stress and ego chase, as I let out a sigh-cum-sob and recognised how exhausted I felt.

The retreat settled into silence after the opening circle, and I revelled in the peace as we withdrew to our rooms for an early night. Bonni, whom I had heard of only by reputation, had spoken of the simplicity of the one breath and the interaction with the planet around and below us. As I rested, I was reminded of the ‘Breathing with the Green Plants’ exercise that has stuck with me over the years from Tarchin’s “Natural Awakening”.

This meditation stuck with me as the retreat progressed, particularly as the message regarding the Earth’s enduring and constant groundFULLness and nourishment continued into the weekend. I contemplated what a gift it is to have such a nurturing, resilient, forgiving earth, what it is to have such constant and perfect support from an environment that requires no thanks, that is continually disregarded and abused, and at best, taken for granted. And such a little thing, to exhale and mindfully give what little we can to our ultimate support system in return.

The invitation to abstain from reading and writing was unexpectedly wonderful! I realised how easily I can wile away time and the sense of presence, even when intending wholesome activity in supported reading or reflection. This opportunity took away all chances to scurry away time in the hope of avoiding being left by myself, with myself, without distraction or dampening! A terrifying notion!

I found that, eventually, my thoughts subsided, my need to fix or plan eased (as much as I desperately wanted to write lists/plans/research to enable me to ‘fix’ myself thereafter!), and I was able to engage with child mind curiosity in watching the sunrise caress the hedgerows and valley, seeing the dew glisten and balance vicariously on a grass blade. In one magical moment, a wary rabbit even joined me in an alcove – a moment I definitely would not normally have experienced marching down a walking circuit, with the sole objective of completing it and moving to the next thing. I found the time beautifully enriching and restorative, despite erupting with verbal diarrhoea when talking resumed (apologies to all that witnessed this!)

Upon reflection, I am so very grateful to have been able to attend such a wonderful weekend, at a wonderful place, with such a wonderful human for a teacher, and such wonderful companions. Short, sweet, and deliciously nourishing.

Thank you Wangapeka and friends, for welcoming me in again.
With love,

Photo Credit: nine-koepfer-unsplash