support our work:meet the team!
Some of you might have wondered what the team here have been doing since the lockdown began, given that our purpose for living here is to maintain the retreat centre and service the retreats, and with no retreats happening yet we have had a lot more free time. There is no normal day, but I thought I’d offer you a glimpse into our life at Akashavana at the moment.
We only keep a rough structure to our week, with a business meeting on Monday mornings, which was going over our 5 year plan for a while, but now is generally looking at the week and anything that needs to be done, such as MOTs for the cars, trips to the bank and shopping or some maintenance issues. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we split into pairs and have a Spanish lesson…Mumukshu and Satyamuni receive work from our teacher, but she seems to have forsaken me and Bodhipakshini (we’re at a lower level), so we either use the workbook we have or read the local paper, which is full of news about fiestas cancelled or local facilities gradually reopening. Then on Thursday evening we have a community night/Chapter and we also have regular phone dates with friends or family. We enjoy participating in the Order bodhicitta practice on Sunday mornings and occasionally the Spanish language one on Monday evenings. Other than that the week is loosely planned.
However, we do start the day by meditating together at 8am in our wee shrine room, with Shakyamuni on the main shrine of old wooden planks and Dhardo Rimpoche’s ashes on a smaller shrine beside it, awaiting the time we build a stupa to house them, which we hope will be late next year. We start the meditation by chanting the positive precepts in Spanish, which helps to both remind us of our desire to live by ethics and also that we are indeed in Spain, which isn’t always that obvious unless we leave the mountain. Some of the community are usually up a couple of hours before meditation, but others are later risers, so there’s time to drink tea and read some Dharma beforehand. Then the day unfolds…some people go for a short walk, or make a phone call, or have breakfast. Then there’s either a meeting or people head off to town to shop or go to the retreat centre to do some work, or stay here to keep going with the pizza oven project. One of our ‘projects’ has been to wash all the old blankets from the retreat centre, which took a while as we can only wash two at a time and only when the sun is out enough to ensure there’s solar power for the machine. It’s been very satisfying getting them done. And then there are more phone calls to friends, usually in the UK. Occasionally we have a practice day together up at the retreat centre or we all go for a longer walk around here, which we are very lucky to be able to do during this time of restrictions.
We eat together about 3pm, taking turns to cook each day. It’s quite Spanish to eat the main meal about then, but we choose to do this mainly as we all feel it’s better for our digestion not to eat later, although some people might also snack and of course copious amounts of tea and coffee are consumed throughout the day. One of the knock on effects of the lockdown is that normally one or two of us would have visited the UK by now and brought back lots of decent tea, but we’re slowly running out, although Bodhipakshini has just received a gift of two packets of lapsang suchong, so we’ll eke it out! Three of the community are keen cooks, hence the pizza oven project, so we eat well and the lockdown hasn’t adversely affected what foods we can buy…it’s only recently that the decent toilet roll has started to vanish even!
After our meal another walk might be taken or more maintenance work and phone calls, or you might find Satyamuni dozing on the sun lounger, Amritamati plugged into a podcast sitting on the depósito, Mumukshu spinning wool in her room or Bodhipakshini listening to a course on story telling. The evenings are generally spent reading, writing, watching films or listening to podcasts…and more phone calls.
During the lockdown each one of us has taken the opportunity to have a more solitary time, mainly up at the retreat centre, but Mumukshu has chosen to have a ‘soliday’ at a wee house by the reservoir. We all signed up to do Vajradarshini’s wabisabi/lakshanas retreat and two of the community are starting Kamalashila’s retreat soon, so it’s been great to have some Dharma input from far away, as it helps a feeling of connection with our wider movement. Listening to talks and joining an occasional online meditation also makes a difference, so while we might be quite physically isolated here we definitely feel connected in other ways. What a different experience this would have been 10 or 20 years ago with less online activity. We’re very grateful to the team at thebuddhistcentre for helping us all stay in communication as a sangha.
Stay well and healthy everyone.