The winter meditation and wellness retreat was a success from all points of view.  We had the biggest full moon of the year travelling with Mars across the clear night skies and brilliant sunshine during the days.

The crisp cold was offset by the cozy woodstove in the learning centre and the delicious warming food cooked and lovingly served by Cindy, Dean, Kim and Christie.

The heart of the retreat was the openness, willingness and courage of the participants who created an atmosphere where learning and deep healing could take place.  By the end, there was a palpable connection and caring among everyone—more warmth to balance the seasonal chill!

For several people it was their first retreat and it was a true delight to welcome them into the process of inner growth.  Others were seasoned travellers who generously shared their experiences and deepened their paths.  We all agreed it was a perfect mix!

Our teachers were excellent.  Nina from the Yoga and Tea studio in Carp led us in yogic meditation before breakfast, a yoga class before lunch and spiritual music complete with a healing ceremony in the evening.  Her tradition of kundalini yoga is rich and deep and full of tools to help balance mind and body.

Lise Nickerson offered healing services as well as teaching restorative yoga which was enthusiastically received by participants who felt a profound awareness of their bodies during the class.  Lia Pirelli from Lotus Blossom Yoga in Stittsville taught a delicious class of yoga postures for flexibility and centredness and we welcomed her back as one of our favourites.

The retreat was facilitated by Katherine and Father Jack Lau, the spiritual director from Galilee Retreat Centre in Arnprior.  It was the first time Jack has been with us and we were in for a wonderful surprise.  He effortlessly bridges the eastern and Christian traditions of meditation and personally reflects a deep spirituality which is more of a transmission than a teaching.  Participants who had let go of their Christian roots were re-inspired to drink from that well.

Jack’s words were full of compassion for the daily struggles of life and how hard we tend to be on ourselves with encouragement to “be gentle and mindful”.  We received much more than instructions on  how to meditate, we were presented with a true example of the fruits of the spiritual path, no matter how one treads it.  As George, one of the retreaters, put it, “We have a live Oblate here!”

Jack’s Sunday morning meditations and reflections interspersed with Taize music and sacred readings infused a holy energy into the room.  His lecture on how to start or deepen a meditation practice tangibly communicated the blessings of being quiet–in whatever way we can manage.

Katherine shared information about how our unique body types can be balanced to help calm the mind using food, movement, rest and sleep as well as demonstrating how electromagnetic fields disturb our energy—suggesting tools to help protect us from their influence.  (more on that in the next newsletter!)

Her workshop on Saturday afternoon  used meditation, nature and art as ways for connecting with ourselves on a deeper level  and expressing what we find.  The beautiful results will be showcased on our web in a ‘retreat art gallery’!

All in all, we ended with great satisfaction and inspiration to “kindle” our different ways of growing and being silent.

To continue the process with the seasons, our next retreat will be April 23-25/10, focussing on spring cleansing.  Jack has offered to share the spiritual aspect of this topic and we look forward to hosting him again.  If anyone wants to contact him as a spiritual director at Galilee, the number is 613-623-4242.

Below, (and at top of post), some group craft-making fun from the weekend: