A poem by Hafiz

November 23, 2009


Is a cruel ruler

Who is always imposing Curfews


Stillness and quiet

Break open the vintage


Awake the real


‘Curfew’ by Hafiz – from The Gift

For deepening your practice I’d recommend looking at the possibility of taking your self on retreat, for a week or weekend. There are all kinds – led and silent – in some beautiful places throughout the country, including urban retreat centres. Browse possibilities on the Retreat Association or the Good Retreat Guide websites. It was through these organisations that I discovered a place called Gaia House in Devon. I’ve now been there a number of times on retreat and couldn’t recommend it more. Have a look at their website for a 2010 programme. All retreats are silent, the focus being the teaching and deepening of meditation practice, exploring how meditation integrates with our everyday lives to wake us up to a greater reality. This December I’m going there for a whole month on a work retreat…Christmas and New Year! I’ll post some reflections on what is bound to be a rich, delightful and challenging experience in the New Year.

Last night I went to a talk at the Garden Museum near Lambeth Bridge, once obscure, now an eco-icon to the history and future of gardening and our human connection with the land. The event was called ‘Landscape and Belonging’ and the speaker was Professor John Rodwell, a research fellow who has been setting up something called The Belonging and Heimat Project. Analysis in to belonging can be middle class and nauseating, but this wasn’t. The professor was saying that the problem with our retail parks and shopping centres and modern houses is that we have lost a sense of distinction and risk in the spaces we occupy. Everything is designed for consumption and comfort. He mentioned the importance of the ruin as well as the home part of our understanding of landscape and belonging. This the same with the body – there is an element of risk as we experience and listen to the body in yoga, but the practice grounds us and inspires us to let go into our efforts. As I recently heard someone say, ‘Belonging is not an idea or a moral. It’s an event.’ We are invited to belong in every moment and movement of our lives.