Imagine being completely at peace with yourself no matter the turbulence in your life or the world. This is what Buddhist meditators revealed in experiments when they were subjected to stressful images, they remained calm and their brainwave patterns didn’t change like they did compared to those who didn’t meditate. Calm remained regardless of the stress.

A flower shines even in dry soil

I reflected on this as I looked out over the mountains. It’s so easy to be calm here, my everyday life has so many pulls. I notice Joy sitting at the table, the sun bright on her face as she cracks open the walnuts, there’s a whole pile of them. She looks radiant. She smiles as I walk up to her. She has lost weight and is feeling so much better in herself. “I hadn’t realised I was feeling so bad and let myself go” she said. I asked her what her intentions were coming on this retreat. To take care of myself, lose weight and stop drinking. To find myself again.

Intention plays a really big role in our life, it’s a commitment to oneself. I recall reading in some books how some play with intention, but it needs energy behind it, just saying I want this or that simply doesn’t work. There needs to be another force, emotion and the stronger the emotion the more likely the intention manifests. Gurdjieff in his work describes the force as a shock that helps us change direction otherwise we would just carry on and on. That can come internally from awareness or externally from an experience.

Often we don’t intend to change unless there is some sort of desire to. I once heard to find happiness is not to turn away from unhappiness but to turn towards it, bringing awareness to the moment because happiness resides there too. Being in the moment and looking within has given me so much. There’s a whole universe that resides in us and access to it becomes much more open to me through such practices of awareness, silence, daily meditation, yoga, conscious eating and community.

The evening breeze is warm and in the distance the sun is setting. There will be another beautiful sunset. Coming back from silence as we sit around the table, we begin to speak acknowledging our journey and sharing our stories. We loved the reflective practice, the greater sensitivity to our surrounding and ourselves yet also acknowledging how we missed communicating with each other. It was a celebration.