Mystic Moon rocked gently on her moorings as participants climbed aboard, making one participant a trifle uneasy. But we soon settled down to talk about what really matters with Noo Noo, the cat from next door’s boat, purring blissfully on someone’s lap.
Our conversation began by discussing the difference between Eastern and Western attitudes towards death and dying.
One participant had lived in India and Indonesia for many years and is a practising Buddhist. She has only recently returned to the UK, and now works in pastoral care at a local hospice. ‘I am saddened and shocked by people’s attitudes towards death and dying over here,’ she said. ‘There seems to be such reticence to talk about end of life issues. People seem to be so fearful of speaking about it. In Asia death is accepted as part of life. When someone dies the community comes together to celebrate their life, and it’s normal for members of the community to lay out the body as a mark of respect.’
Eleven of us met up in Cirencester in Jane’s lovely garden lodge, surrounded by nodding daffodils and clusters of primroses.
Right from the start a distinct theme emerged, which focused on preparing for death.
“I would like to know the day and hour of my death,’ said one participant. ‘I like being in control, and knowing this would mean that I could prepare myself.’
‘Yes,’ said someone else, ‘I realise I have a lot of clearing to do. I have far too much stuff. I don’t want to leave a mess behind for my family to cope with. It’s not fair on them. I really need to get on with it.’
We were all in agreement about the importance of clearing out what we no longer need. One participant, who had cared for her terminal ill sister in the last weeks of her life, told us of how her sister prepared for death. ‘She wanted to deal with anything that she felt was stopping her from being at peace. Having terminal cancer really focused her mind, and it was if she ticked things off as she planned how she was going to die. She knew her husband and daughter were trying to ignore what was going on, so she was determined to do it herself.’
Date: Saturday, 08 April 2017
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Costs: £40.00 before end of March. £45 after
Telephone: +44 (0)1242 254321
Office Hours: 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday (and often open until 9.00am-8.00pm weekdays, and 9.00am-1.00pm Saturday and Sunday)
Developing the Sensitive Within: one day workshop
We all possess the ability to be become a Sensitive. It’s about connecting to our innate intuition – the part of us that just knows.
Since Neanderthal times, this inner knowing or sensitivity has warned us of danger, helped us to make choices, and guided us along our path. In short, our sensitivity is an expression of our higher self, which is always working for our spiritual growth and evolution.
There’s no great mystery to becoming a Sensitive. The more we attune to ourselves, the more we trust ourselves. The more we trust ourselves, the more confident we become about who we are. This helps us to develop perception, and even psychic abilities.
This one-day introductory workshop uses creativity, reflection, and group exercises to help develop the skills of the Sensitive. We will also learn how to incorporate these skills into our own healing process, and to use them safely with other people.
Just Passing Through
the spirituality of life and death
Weekend retreat with Sue Brayne
Friday 21st April – Sunday 23rd April
To book a place please contact:
residential: £240/non residential: £160
A couple of days ago I spent an overnight at the wonderful Elephant Village, about 20 kilometres from Luang Prabang, laid-back northern capital of Laos. Fourteen very fortunate females elephants, and two of their babies, live in harmony together – all saved from a miserable existence in logging camps. The Village was set up by a German in 2005, but according to Mr Mack my delightful Laos guide, it is now owned by local Laos people.
Most of the elephants, 40 year old Meaouk (who bore me with such lumbering grace upon her back) included, have been bought from the loggers at the vast cost of $60,000 each. When the Village is unable to come up with a one off payment they actually rent the elephant off the loggers. An ingenious if not highly expensive solution. Thank goodness for the tourist visitors, which makes the work of the Village possible.
It was such a joy to see each elephant and her adoring Mahout (carer) working together in perfect union. The Village excels in its belief that these particular elephant should enjoy 5 star treatment. So the Howdah (heavy wooden riding seat) is banned, and the elephants only work 4 hours a day which consists of ferrying a tourist perched precariously free-style on her neck down a steep dusty track to plod, with much cajoling from the Mahoud, into the River Nam Khan.
Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.
I was really touched by the number of people who signed up to my blog after I posted Loneliness: A spiritual odyssey. It confirmed to me that, set against the backdrop of an increasingly chaotic and fractious world, many of us are struggling to make sense of life and wanting to deepen our spiritual understanding of who we are as human beings.
It sparked off an idea. I realised that I want to set aside time as 2017 unfolds to explore and write about those darker aspects of the human condition which rob us of peace of mind.
This is because once we are aware of our darker aspects we can begin to transform them into spiritual alchemy. This is where ‘the raw materials for waking up reside,’ says Buddhist teacher Pema Chrodon, ‘That’s where you connect with what it is to be human, and that’s where the joy and well-being come from – from the sense of being real and seeing realness in others.’