42 Acres Winter Retreat, Somerset
On the 4-6th January, I was honoured to assist my mother Gillian on her second yoga retreat at 42 Acres in Somerset. Our first retreat was in Ikaria in Greece in July - and I was struck by how different the energy was when we all gathered in the depths of winter instead. The heat of the Greek Sun and the long summer days by the sea brought out a sense of extraversion in the group and a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse had everyone’s energies and spirits riding high. In contrast, short winter days and the first New Moon of 2019 set a tone of introspection and reflection for us all this time round.
Images by Stanislav Grapatin
Morning meditation was followed by silence and journalling by the fire until sunrise yoga in the yurt. A silent walk through the woods and fields surrounding the property after breakfast. Quiet afternoons gathered around the farmhouse table or curled up with a book under sheepskins. The light had all but faded by the evening class and it was so nourishing to witness all the beings resting on the Earth in the womb-like half-light, gently feeling into their bodies and hearts for a long spinal release and Savasana to the sounds of a crackling fire.
Gillian’s enquiry that she often shares with her students is around what it means to ‘live well’ - to ‘thrive’ rather than just ‘survive’. As part of my offering on this theme, I hosted an 'Introduction to Essential Oils' workshop on the Sunday afternoon. It was a great session and I so enjoyed sharing my passion and knowledge with others.
I have come to view the oils as a powerful means of support for both physical and emotional wellbeing and they are now an essential tool in my self-care toolbox. It was a joy to introduce so many people to them and facilitate the start of their journeys with the oils.
It also gave me great pleasure to offer Tarot readings to many of the participants on the retreat - and this felt like another wonderful tool for encouraging one’s attention inwards rather than outwards. It seemed that many of us were feeling a pull towards change, transitions and new beginnings that were more serving of our growth. I found myself saying to others what I knew I myself also needed to hear at this time (as is so often the case with Tarot readings):
Embrace this current transition you are faced with.
Create time and space for your creative energy to flow freely.
Listen to your body’s needs.
Trust your intuition on the next step to take.
These readings gave me a wonderful opportunity to get to know people a little more and, over the space of an hour, go on a shared journey into the energies of whatever question/situation/challenge they brought to the session. On the Sunday evening, I was facilitating an Intuitive Dance ceremony and often the readings helped us get clear on what they might be ready to shake off or plant deep in the fertile soil of their hearts in that ceremony.
This ceremony coincided with the New Moon in Capricorn and so it presented us with a perfect invitation to set some clear intentions for the year to come. We wrote these down on paper which I invited everyone to plant in the earth either on the land or in their gardens. I also invited everyone to write down what they were ready to release and leave behind in 2018 - and these we threw into the roaring 10ft high bonfire blazing outside the yurt after the dance.
Watching the fire blaze and burn up all our envelopes felt so cathartic. We all stood huddled in pairs or little groups, watching the flames send the sparks of our prayers towards the stars. The fire had started to turn to embers before myself and my partner finally headed back to our little nest of a room.
Driving home from the retreat the next day, I felt a deep sense of contentment and calm with an undercurrent of exhilaration at the events of the weekend. It felt like every one of us had planted an important seed of intention in the quiet winter darkness and as the light returns in the coming weeks, I myself cannot wait to see what shoots begin to grow as the year unfolds…