Category Archives: Reflections
Some reflections on our recent Kirsten Kratz weekend retreat from Louise:
“The two day retreat facilitated by Kirsten Kratz was a welcome opportunity to refresh practice in a comfortable and welcoming setting at the Community Hall at Seaton Sluice. Kirsten guided the group through a range of meditations and consistently drew on the intrinsic interaction of mind and body through the breath alongside the dynamic process of loving kindness. The repeated emphasis on being grounded was a welcome reminder of the inner strength that we have available to us at all times.Kirsten presented in a warm and unassuming way, and l appreciated her peaceful, gentle style. Thanks also to Walter Young for his part in organising and running the event, and to all those others who took part “.
The group met recently for our Metta focussed meditation weekend retreat in the beautiful Upper Coquet valley in rural Northumberland. A small group included a retreatant who had travelled from Sheffield to join us, so a welcoming conversation over dinner on friday evening was enjoyed by all. The arrangements for the retreat were planned collaboratively, followed by the establishment of silence for the remainder of the retreat. The programme over the weekend included dhamma talks from both Sharon Salzberg and Donald Rothberg, which explored metta from a led metta meditation through to ways to realise metta in everyday life. This was interspersed with periods of sitting and walking meditation, as well as the opportunity for a longer nature walk in the beautiful, quiet Cheviot countryside right from the doorstep of the bunkhouse.
The weather wasn’t always kind to us, but the roaring log fire stove in the bunkhouse kept things warm and toasty for everyone. Overall the weekend was appreciated by all who attended both for the opportunity to explore and meditate for a more extended period than possible outside of a formal retreat situation, and for the conducive peace, solitude and beauty of the retreat location. At the end of the weekend the drive out from the bunkhouse offered a wonderful opportunity for reflection on the messages and themes of the retreat and slow return back to the concerns of everyday life.
The group met for a silent practice day at the quiet and atmospheric Village Hall in Cresswell, located at the southern end of Druridge Bay. With an early morning mist hanging over the countryside, and the tide lapping in-shore, it felt as remote as spot as it could be, and perfect for our day of sustained practice. A slightly extended group of 6 soon made the hall comfortable and conducive to practice, with candles and incense, and a shared sense of right effort and intention. A format was agreed for the day, mixing sitting with walking meditation sessions, and at 10am we settled into silence, which would remain unbroken until the end of the day at 3pm when the group reflected on their experiences and thoughts.
The day opened with a 45 minute sit, followed by 30 minutes of walking meditation or yoga as preferred, and then a further session of 45 minutes sitting before a break for lunch. A number of the group took the opportunity to walk outside on the beach at lunch, exploring the dunes and shoreline in quiet, contemplative thought. We reconvened at 1pm for another 45 minutes sitting session, breaking again for walking meditation or yoga for 30 minutes before ending the day’s silent practice with a final 45 minute session of sitting. Afterwards, we shared our experiences, reflecting in part on the differences of each of our practices, which ebbed and flowed like the tide from one session to the next, but all agreeing that the practice had been both valuable and fulfilling. A short yogi-job session to clean the hall before we left gave us all the chance to come back to the “real world” and break our silence with jovial chat and friendship before we left for home (not before the little ones had time for an ice cream!).