Suryavana, Castellón, Spain,
Greetings from a rainy evening in mid-December. The fire is up and darkness all around. We are having a busy run of activities in the retreat centre, which is great for the harrowed bank accounts. We are slowly crawling out of the hole left by the pandemic, slower than everyone anticipated but there is progress.
I have been developing a routine of set-up and set-down for retreats and events which mostly happen on weekends. I do the shop (for food) a day or two before and a local woman Clara, cleans the main house, top to bottom. The cook team arrive, Pedro and Carlos the last few weeks, coming up Friday afternoon from Valencia by train. I clear up the flat that then becomes the main shrine room. In theory I can then leave the guys to it and head out for the weekend. In fact I end up getting involved in the weekends. On Sunday back to clear up, empty the bins, pack the washing to launder and literally and metaphorically close the front door til the following event. Usually there is a round of maintenance jobs to sort out. This week leaky cisterns! All very humdrum. And frustrating at times.
For me it is pregnant with significance as I see Suryavana as a “Guesthouse”, receiving all kinds of people, letting the place and the courses do their magic, them leaving transformed.
Lately and in conversation with others I am beginning to see the work is a devotional practice. Suryavana, its infrastructure and gardens presents endless opportunities and challenges. I just have to surrender to it. The more subtle and necessary work is separating out me and the project which is challenging when almost my whole life revolves around being here. It does help that the property is not me, not mine! I wouldn't recommend owning a house with eleven WC´s! The last few days I have been battling with leaky battered siphons and have been dismantling and replacing with new parts. For now its a desired devotional practice and I can see that for us, the kids, my partner and I are all benefiting from being here. Suryavana flourishes and shines with the ongoing continuous attention.
We just came to the end of doing two months of intensive teaching; in October, a residential Yoga teacher training with Sadhita here in Suryavana, in November, an Online therapeutic yoga teacher training. Then I led a Yin yoga workshop here in Suryavana and finally a Thai massage workshop in the new Buddhist Centre in Valencia at the end of November. I love teaching but it has been good to take off the teachers hat.
Since then, the highlight has been a change roles (and hats) and become a student again, working through the second Kurukulle retreat led by Kamalashila. I did the retreat more as a course, not live. Its been thoroughly engaging and really satisfying working through the videos at my own pace during free slots in the day (& night). Going downstairs from our living space and Meditating, doing Puja and conjuring the Dakini, in her red and bright burning splendour in the “Cool White Cave" below (the second shrine room). It has been a year since I took up the practice after my friend Sinhendra encouraged me to do the first Kurukulle retreat (December 2021). I am terribly grateful and feel very fortunate that Kamalashila has made this material available. The “psychedelic” even crazy aspects of this Sadhana seems so helpful given the humdrum nature of my life as father to young kids, husband, and caretaker, of Suryavana.
To support the Sadhana practice I have started reading the “Dakini’s Warm Breath” Judith Simmer Brown which is wonderfully academic and exacting yet written by a devoted practitioner.
Next up is a hideaway to the village while the Valencia Buddhist Centre and Respiravida/Breathworks run their end of year retreats. In the village I really do "let go" as it's essentially been a getaway place for me and the family since I met my partner nine years ago. I am not looking at a list of “things to do or that could be done” like when I am in the retreat centre. All the best and Happy New Year.