We are well into the “heat” now but been blessed by quite a bit of summer storms and cloud which have calmed the atmosphere and nourished the greenery. Even so, a mid-afternoon dip in the pool is welcome. I just had my 53rd birthday. Well into Glorious Middle Age! The inevitable revision of what I am doing (with my life) happens. I’d say I am where I want to be. Doing what I want to be doing. With the people I want to be with. And mostly enjoying it. “Su”. Happy. Content.
We are “on a roll” of activities here. Summer time in Suryavana. Everyone wants to be here in Summer! Triratna Sangha and friends, yoga groups, fashionable coaches from Barcelona running weekend workshops. We had a bicycle and yoga group come through for a night last month. “Full-on”. I am balancing work life and family life trying to aim for the “golden mean” and looking for a sustainable “flow”. Work on my irritability. Endeavouring to balance effort. The effort though is good for me. For now. Keeps me on my toes. My energy stimulated. Gets me up and moving in the morning.
We get cook teams (I aim to invite Mitras in the Ordination process) to help run events. I do the preparation; the shopping, some cleaning, make the beds, mow the lawns and get the pool up to spec, secure basic resources; Water, sluiced off from the irrigation channels. Drinking water ordered in from our local spring, Bejis. Electricity. Monitoring the batteries and solar panels. Propane Gas deliveries. Machines needing attending too. It mounts up to a lot of details. Not always a straightforward task as there are so many unpredictable variables in our sprawling and aging Centre. It becomes a continuous ongoing awareness. I see it like a meditation or Mindfulness practice.
The Guest House opens its doors again. A new group of people come in. This is the myth for me. The Guest House. “Every morning a new arrival……. Welcome and entertain them all!……. treat each guest honorably.” After each event, I ritually gather up the bed sheets to be laundered, empty the bins and close the front doors. Suryavana drops back into relative stillness. Awaiting the next Guest(s).
However, I am doing this with my wife and kids and at our best, we do this dance. Some events we arrange to stay here and dance around the visitors. Other, bigger events, we head over to a nearby village, to a wee flat and let the retreatants do their thing. The dynamics of family life not always chiming with the retreat life of calm and silent contemplation! So far so good. It’s been more three years. Why do I do it? Probably I am a little crazy. Too much giving? I care about the “project”. It resonates with many of my aspirations. And ideals. Why do the kids and my partner do it? Well. We do keep talking about that. The kids would like to live in the village where they go to school so they can hang out with their mates after hours. My partner loves living in the countryside. She loves the space and quiet. And she wants to support me and Suryavana. So for now here we are….here we go.
I also love teaching…yoga, meditation, Thai massage. We just had the opportunity to run a Bodhiyoga retreat here which was fantastic. It felt like a “return to form“ for Sadhita and I we explored a new format of retreat showcasing all our approaches to yoga; “classical”, Yin, therapeutic and to mindfulness and meditation and brought in a ritual element. Lots of practice. The Pandemic caused a three year hiatus in our retreat teaching schedule. Not all bad, a creative outcome has been to move partially Online. Combining that with a substantial Residential component, our teacher training course has just got even better! I collaborated with an old contact from Valencia city the other day. It was such a joy to run a Thai massage workshop for a group of yogis downtown!
Having said all that, we can say life is going ok, I have been reflecting on Dukkha. It’s not all happy, happy! There is a whole dark side to living out here that shows up from time to time. The poverty, limited resources and prospects for anyone who grows up in the Wild West of Castellón. The conservative ways of rural life. The drug and alcohol use. It surprises. The rural idyll punctured by a kind of misery and curiously, a claustrophobia. My mother always said she went running from the little village in Essex where she grew up in the 1950’s.
All the best Suḍāka