Mumukshu got news for you: I am very excited about moving to Spain next year to join the community looking after Akashavana, the women’s ordination retreat centre. I spent three months there on the team for the 2013 Ordination retreat and loved it so much and felt so inspired by the beauty and wildness of the place that I began to think about how to support this project. I felt very moved by the obvious effect of spending three months in such auspicious conditions had on the women being ordained. Watching any stress and anxiety melt away, and an open friendliness and mutual support developing, a loosening of fixed selves and a dropping of the barriers that help that fixing. It is such an ideal place, cut off from the world, in which to explore spiritual death particularly, but also all aspects of the mandala of practices.
I was also very moved by the dedication and commitment of the two community members, Acalavajri and Manigarbha who have been out there on their own for the last three years, achieving so much and working hard to make it a sustainable and rewarding way of life for themselves while constantly welcoming in a stream of volunteers and retreatants, making all feel safe and so well cared for. I really want to help, to join them and lighten the load a bit. I have just been there again for 7 weeks and feel even more inspired.
At the time of my three month retreat I was still part of the original Buddhafield, based mainly in Devon, but I was taking a much needed break in search of inspiration and perspective. I had been fully committed for 17 years, running the café, cooking on, supporting and co-leading retreats and also as Mitra Convenor, and it was probably time for change of some sort. The clear spacious air of Akashavana soon gave me the perspective I needed to see it was just the right time to move on and give others space to grow, even though it would mean leaving Buddhafield with no full time Dhamacharini, a difficult decision to make. I had loved it all so much, the hard work and intensity of doing everything out doors and in temporary structures, being out in the elements and practising in nature, I could barely imagine leaving. But there were also unhelpful habits that developed over such a long period, around always needing to respond to the never ending tasks, feeling over responsible, and not giving enough time for parts of my being that needed to be explored and expressed. The laziness of keeping busy! I hope I have learned some lessons that will be valuable up the mountain too.
So next May I go to live in Spain! I like the idea of spending a few years in another culture and learning another language. I love the food too which helps! I am looking forward to deepening my friendships with Manigarbha, Acalavajri and Vikasini who is also joining us, all being well. I am looking forward to meeting the many experienced Dharmacarinis leading retreats, brand new and would-be Dharmacharinis, and hanging out with friends who visit too.