A kind guest recently described this place as a ‘healing retreat’ which is precisely what I hope it to be for our guests so it was very nice to hear, but I couldn’t help feeling a little envious of the feeling. As this place is my workplace as well as my home and the chores are seemingly never-ending, however lovely it is, it is actually quite exhausting. I therefore decided to take myself off on a retreat somewhere else to see what it feels like and if I could learn some tricks to perhaps appreciate this place in the way others do. So this week found me at The Barn at Sharpham in Devon along with eight other retreatants and the three co-ordinators Patti Dino and Peter.
At the end of my stay as I drove away I turned my phone back on and stopped to ring my husband just to check all was well at home. When he asked me how it had been I said “Amazing” which surprised me as it came out of my mouth, because while I was there I wouldn’t have described it as ‘amazing’ because it was all so, all so ….simple. It wasn’t ‘amazing’ in the way that I would describe a luxurious hotel with a spa and beautiful food amazing, but what made it so wonderful was a group of like-minded strangers coming together and becoming friends just through sharing a time of mindfulness, silence and meditation.
In the cosy barn sitting above the River Dart we each had our own very simple single bedded room and shared the bathrooms (of which there were plenty and there was never a wait or a queue) and we each had our own daily tasks - we weren’t there to be looked after and pampered but nor were our tasks onerous. After the morning wake up call at 6.20 it was my job at 6.45 to ring the bell for the first meditation of the day. We shared a 40 minute meditation in the meditation room and then we all went about our next tasks diligently -continuing the silence that had started at 9pm the night before. I prepared breakfast, in silence, with my breakfast buddie Naomi and somehow through working together in silence each day we became friends.
After 9am there was a house meeting and we went about our outdoor jobs until lunchtime which again was cooked by two of the group each day. In the afternoons we were left to our own mindful practice and we came together again with the ringing of the bell for a teaching meditation around 5pm. These teachings, from the Buddhist tradition, were utterly absorbing and each left me filled with a new hope and excitement for the way my life can be.
Then a DIY supper – sometimes shared, sometimes not, followed by our last meditation of the day after which we chatted or read (or wrote a silly poem –see below!) until 9pm when silence reigned once more.
A few days of simple mindful work and meditation has left me feeling like a new woman! I can’t wait to go forward with my business and my garden here in a more mindful way, maybe punctuated with some calming meditation from time to time. I feel I may now have the secret to enjoying this place as much as my guests do. I’ll keep you posted….Meanwhile … here’s a link to The Barn
……..and here is the silly poem I wrote….
Thank you oats, For making the most, Delicious porridge gently
Than you prunes, And the sun in June, Ripening goodness - juicily
Thank you bees, Happy happy bees, For making this honey - runnily
Thank you berries, For our jams and jellies, Sweetness enjoyed mindfully
And nuts that were made, Hidden in their shades, Sprinkled and crunched now thankfully
Thank you tea, For there is no me, Without your leaves quite honestly
Thank you wheat, Dino’s no cheat, Heavenly bread made manually
(Rice cakes! Dearie me!, I’d not like to be, Allergic to gluten – earnestly
Thank you sweet earth, For the perpetual birth, Of all that we need – generously
What rhymes with banana? Only manana, Well – thanks for tomorrow too – sillyly