Sunday, 11 September 2011

Is Peace a dirty word?

The end of Stott's lane is a rough dirt road, and the sign is at first elusive, however after a brief false start I found my way to Brahma Kumaris in Frankston South. It is set in 20 hectares of bushland, and from arrival the feeling is one of peace. A little bridge leads down to the front door of the building, where visitors are guide by a flag waving gently on a pole. Inside, the foyer is clean and simple, with lots of light entering the building through the large glass windows which are a feature throughout.

I am welcomed and signed in, and guided downstairs to where thick woven wool rugs line the floor, and a Coonara wood heater is warming the room. Balinese style chairs are placed simply around the sides of the room, a piano sits in the corner and coffee tables with paisley-patterned wood grain add to the earthy and clean feel to the place, and potted cyclamen add a touch of colour and life. There is definitely a positive vibration here.

A man named Chris introduces himself and shakes my hand as I make myself a cup of tea in the dining room, which is found down a set of stairs on a lower level, and then I take my cup of tea and a home-made shortbread biscuit up to sit down and wait for the start of the retreat day.

As I sit, I take in the quiet. The chirping of birds and a sweet woody scent is calming and I become aware that I am quite tense inside. Indian-style meditation music begins to play gently. I later learn that the music is played for one minute, every hour, to remind us to be at peace, to just be still, to feel the power of the supreme soul. As I sit, my eyes fall on a tree which leans against the large window, and I notice a bird playing on its branches. Then I see it is tending to a nest - a mother bird tending to its young. Hence all the chirping! The mother bird is joined by another, and I watch the parents tending to their young with care and persistence. This becomes a symbol which returns to me throughout the day.

There are a few married couples here and a few on their own, like me. I wonder if David would come here with me? I would like to photograph the parent birds but know this would be intrusive. I think about David on the plane to China, and send him wishes of safety and peace. I am still feeling that sense of panic that comes with his departure for me, it has always been hard. This is something I want to work on. I need to find my inner strength.

We are directed upstairs into the meditation area, which is a carpeted, simply furnished room, with an amazing painting lit up at the front of the room. It is a spiritual painting, representing the supreme soul, and it becomes a focal point during the meditations we are taught. The retreat is run by women in white clothing - regular pants and fleece vests, but white. Their hair is grey. But there is a colourful, warm feel which embraces us, like a gentle, comforting hug.

From a selection of Virtue cards I am given one which says 'TRUTHFUL - I am straightforward, tactful, genuine and unbiased in all my dealings.'
I reflect on this a while, and feel that is highlighting my need to be more tactful in my communications. I think about how I behaved with David the day before and the emotional games I was playing, based on my own fear of him leaving, the fear of being with myself, the fear that he won't return. I know this fear comes from way back, from examples I learned as a child, from experiences in my life. But it is something I want to address, to move away from co-dependency and instead be confident in being ME.

One analogy used during the day was of the difference between ants and birds - as ants would walk over each other to get to the food, while birds were flying above everything to see the bigger picture, and would work as a collective. I found this to be a strong image and one that I would like to return to in the future. I learned a number of things during the morning. That ten minutes of meditation in the morning becomes your foundation, then during the day making time to be conscious of the higher self continues to 're-charge' our spiritual energies. The phrase 'I am a peaceful soul'.

I am a peaceful soul.
Animals can see the soul of people.
I need to come from my authentic self.
I will let go of attachment to what I thought I was.
We need to come first in our spiritual endeavours - for what do we have to give to others if we have nothing ourselves?

Lunchtime and we are asked to make it a lunch in silence. The food was vegetarian - simple and nourishing, rice, curried vegetables and salad. I was confronted with my anxiety of sitting around a dinner table. This comes from my experience of being criticised at the dinner table as a child and adolescent, on many occasions, from adults. I did have some positive experiences - birthday parties, my grandma's dinner table (smaller and more intimate). I have chosen to have a round table in my house, I feel this removes the 'hierarchy' that can dominate on a rectangular table, and it is more peaceful, mandala-like. I am creating a happier feel in the home in which I live.

After lunch there was half an hour to browse in the bookshop, and I purchased a couple of books and a poster for myself ('Self-empowerment' by Bridget Menezes and 'The Gift of Peace - thoughts for a peaceful world (a Brahma Kumaris publication). The poster is of the Supreme Soul giving light and power to us through the universe. I also purchased a set of Cd's and a book of healing for Mum, which I will send to her for her birthday. She has been very unwell, with terrible, debilitating arthritic pain. I hope this helps.

Once again I removed my shoes and made my way up to the meditation room for the second half of the day. During this half, I got to know some of the other participants more intimately, as we had time for small group discussion. The first quality I chose was purity, and we discussed why we had chosen this and felt attracted to it. We agreed that we each felt innocent, despite any of the wrong-doings we had been involved in. We also felt attracted to the purity of animals, of babies, of goodness itself.

We were then asked to sit near a quality which resonated least with us - most of us went to 'Power'. This was a really good discussion and one in which I felt I learned the most. For me, power does not feel like a natural virtue and the discussion helped me focus on the need for me to be strong, to not lose sight of the power that can come from love, peace, purity, sitting in silence, or speaking out in love. The power that is worshipped in society is not a real power (money, materialism, status). Real power is far quieter, far more peaceful.

The mention of a book called 'Slaying the three dragons - overcoming doubt, worry and fear', reminded me of the book I read when I first had a spiritual experience, a book called 'The dragon doesn't live here anymore.' A connection? Yes, I definitely believe so. I would like to order that book, all in good time.

Seven steps of silence:
Listening
Reflection
concentration - one single thought  'peace' 'love' etc.
connection - with self as soul, spirit and light
absorption - re-claiming my original spiritual inheritance
filling
donation - because I have been filled, I can then give.

Always go back into the peace.
All things depend on him for life.
Body consciousness into soul consciousness.

After the meditation, I drove back Debbie and Lior, two fellow participants, to Frankston, then headed back and started to cleanse my home space, with an inner smile. Renewed!