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Spaciousness: guided by the elements

Dhanakosa on the shores of Loch Voil

I’m just back from a seven-day retreat with 20 women in the Scottish Highlands. I still feel the connection in my body. There’s connection to myself, connection with the people around me and connection to wilderness. It feels warm and peaceful in my heart, relaxed and content in my stomach and spacious in my chest. There is also a sense of gratitude to Shantigarbha for his support, and to Dhanakosa, the Buddhist retreat centre in The Trossachs, for offering opportunities to experience this kind of journey of self-discovery guided by the elements.

To give you an idea where I was: Dhanakosa is on the shore of Loch Voil. The house is accessible by one road, and surrounded by forested mountains. Streams (burns) run down the slopes and empty into the loch. It’s an amazing place of wild nature and intense weather. It’s wild because is natural and unfixed. We don’t know what to expect when we go out. We don’t know what we will experience ahead.

I was invited to surrender into the unknown and allow myself to learn from my experience. I was invited to use my senses to experience the different qualities of the elements: earth (solidity), water (fluidity), fire (radiation), and air (expansiveness in all directions).

I could feel the soft coldness of the water as I waded out into the loch and the warmth of the sun on my skin as I lay drying off under the trees. I could smell the spicy aroma of the conifers while walking, and taste the wood sorrow while sitting down. I could hear the birds singing as I sat outside the retreat centre observing the landscape.

I learned so much in these days. I learned that by just observing without intervening or doing anything, I got into a place of presence, awareness and acceptance. For example I felt at ease with the weather, it didn’t bother me when it was raining. I could respond to it by staying inside or wearing rain gear. I understood that nothing is fixed. The weather is natural, it’s part of life. I became more open to life brings. My heart opened and I could hear my inner voices more clearly.

I had a sense of spaciousness, supported by silence. I realised that there is a mirror between the inner and outer worlds. What I experienced in the outer world, I also experienced in my inner world. A sense of spaciousness guided by the elements. It’s not just a mental thing. I could feel it in my heart.

In my busy life back home it’s not always easy to find this place of spaciousness. I notice that I need regular time outs in nature to get touch with this part in me, so I can stay grounded and resourced.

Is this true for you too? What strategies do you have for finding a sense of spaciousness? 

Nonviolent Communication invites us to get in touch with our inner voices and underlying needs. By practicing NVC we can also practise presence and awareness. With awareness comes choice. For example going on a seven-day retreat in Scotland. 😊