The Elemental Body
Where can we directly experience the 6 elements - the flow of matter & energy that forms us and the universe? Right here - in our very own elemental body.
By working very directly with the body in a variety of physical ways we both increase sensation and our awareness of it. By continually directing our attention to the changing sensations of body, breath, and feeling-tone, we can have a real felt sense of the elements of body-mind that form us and drive us - the elements that are common to all life, and are experienced by our individual human formations.
By doing this we expose our habits and resistances and reveal the delights & difficulties of being human. By becoming more intimate with how the elements manifest in us from moment to moment, we can recognise attachments to their unhelpful aspects, and begin to cherish their helpful energies while we still have them in our living being. We can engage with the energies we need to loosen up what restricts us, find a more authentic way of living beyond our small ego-selves, become more at ease with the waves of life that flow through us, and have direct experience of everything from stasis to freedom,
This retreat is a synthesis of meditation, movement, energy work, sensitivity exercises and the arts, and works as an effective sideways approach to awareness, which can take us surprisingly deep in a short time by bypassing our habitual ego defences. It also works as a vibrant exploration and appreciation of the human body in movement and stillness, and is designed to enhance wellbeing of the whole body-mind and increase ease and delight.
There will be a variety of meditative and more active awareness exercises: Energy-breathwork to enliven, stimulate sensation and enhance the dance of life in every cell of the body. Energetic & slow movement and stretches to open, loosen and ease out stiffness of body and mind, help us let go of holding patterns and give us a felt sense of change. Grounding techniques to help us be more fully 'here & now' and connect with the solid, kind support of the earth. Walking, looking, touching, writing, and various playful activities, with an eclectic selection of music. Stillness with meditations & silence to know our experience fully and integrate it.
Many of us spend much of our lives in a fairly alienated state - not being fully in touch with the body and living mainly from the neck up ‘in our heads’. This retreat addresses that tendency very directly and works to reverse it. If we’re fully in touch with the body, experiencing all the changing sensations, feelings & emotions of being fully alive and human, we cannot be alienated.
Opening fully to physical and emotional sensations in these ways can feel disconcerting or challenging at first, but that only means it is really rewarding, joyful and energising once we allow ourselves to fully turn towards our experience, whether its flavour is it sweet, sour or bland in that moment.
Our bodies are great Dharma teachers. All we need to do is turn towards them, open our minds to the awareness they offer us, and let them lead us to depth, delight and awakening.
This is obviously not a traditional-style retreat. It feels more like a week-long workshop, because it’s a full programme with a variety of activities, moving quite quickly from one thing to another. To balance this there is plenty of silence (with 3 full days) to increase spaciousness. It does need commitment and willingness to go with it & try something different
NB: It is possible to do this retreat if you have some physical or energetic problems, but please check suitability with Dhammagita before booking.
Dhammagita focuses on the development of awareness through the body. She has been teaching and leading retreats for 18 years. Her background of shiatsu practitioner and other bodywork trainings, art, drama, and training in the USA with Reginald Ray, all feed into her approach to teaching. She loves helping people to open up to insights and delights, is passionate about truth, teaches with humour, and brings an eclectic mix of life experience and interests to her retreats. She firmly believes that depth and delight can, and must, co-exist.
Her inspirations: her body, Buzz Lightyear, life, the universe and everything.
Hridayagita is an avid meditator with the body and loves exploring the qualities of the six elements in the body. She teaches Tai Chi Shibashi and loves the element of play in movement meditation and the breathing body.
Her inspirations: Dhammagita :), singing and dancing, breathing, being alive...