Dana, by Alison, The Orchard Oct. ‘05
Reflection by Jane Sethi Jan. '09
Meditation, Michelle, NZ, May ‘05,
Reflection on the healing potential of awareness by Lara Cusdin, NZ, Feb.’06
Reflections on Private Retreat, Amarana, Aug. '05
Amarana's reflections, Dec. '07
Dana, by Alison, The Orchard Oct. ‘05
experience of dana as appreciation for the teachings has changed and
deepened and I am sure it will continue to do so.
Often, before a retreat, I try to work out how much money to bring. There is often some fear involved about work being scarce, etc.
Then I come on the retreat and am bowled over by the richness and preciousness of what I have received. It is always beyond what I could have imagined. The fear falls away and I feel able to joyfully offer from an open heart what I truly have to give.
The teaching that Sonia as shared with me has brought me more happiness, healing and freedom than I could ever have imagined. There is no way I can “repay” what I have received, but I can offer what I have.
Two pitfalls I have encountered are holding back through fear or coming from the intention of seeking approval. The way I find the “right” amount to give is to use the feeling in the body and mind. Creating some calm and then feeling into how much to offer. The “right” amount always has a light, happy feeling in the body and mind.
More recently an aspect of dana I have come to appreciate is the feeling of “joining”. That the student and teacher form a partnership which is about growing. That we do it together and also that this support goes out into the world. So all the teaching and support I receive also reaches all the people and situations I am in contact with in my life. By supporting the Teacher, it is helping her to support the many other beings she is offering help to. We are part of a movement towards wholeness."
mudra of generosity
Reflections by Jane Sethi
As I reflect back now nearly three months later on my October retreat, I feel an enormous sense of gratitude – to Sonia for suggesting it, to the Orchard and the Sangha for supporting it, to the practice I’ve done over the years and to the teachings I have received which made it possible.
I was at a point in my life where I was unable to see clearly what the next step was. Sonia advised me that, when we have an important decision to make, it is helpful to go into retreat whilst not searching for an answer during that time. In this way we return to a place of calm and are better placed to ask the question.
And so I embarked on a three-week silent retreat, following the retreatant’s daily programme, practising, taking meals and sleeping alone in my cabin. I received huge support from Sonia who laid out the conditions that would support me and from the sangha who ensured my silence was protected, shopped for me, respected my space and supported my practice. All this enabled me to go deeper quicker into the practice.
Although the programme did not change throughout the three weeks, the focus and the intent did. Initially and as always when at the Orchard, the focus was on mindfulness of the “body in the body”; becoming more settled, more grounded, quieter.
I spent time in nature every day – clear, sunny, warm October days – finding and carving a piece of wood, which would become my staff and close companion. And my activity time importantly always involved something grounding, so I was up trees picking apples or gathering the fallen autumn leaves in the orchard paddock.
After a week, I felt very steady. Wise warrior images came up strongly for me in a specific meditation Sonia had recommended I practised daily on cultivating the strengths. One recurring theme I found I was often working with was the issue of when to be sharper and when to be gentler; how to recognise distracted, unconscious patterns and how to bring myself back home or how to recognise when I felt raw and needed to soften, be more allowing. I also became increasingly curious about what happens at the point we realise we are distracted but still there is a resistance holding us from coming back to the body and from being present. On the other hand, and often in times of confusion and inner conflict, coming back to the body was a relief and a refuge. I felt I was resting on all the practice I had ever done in finding ways to gently encourage myself to come back to the sensations of the direct experience no matter what arose.
Once calm was established in the body, it was a time to go deeper and begin the practice of watching the mind and the activities of mind. Using naming to bring the mind back to the here and now, in this practice I began to find and know the still point of the mind from where I could witness its movements without being swept away. I became increasingly aware that there was an inner posture in the body and in the mind associated with this, which I could then use as a point of reference. It was a time of learning to use the mind more wisely, of allowing thoughts and feelings to just be there, of daring to let myself feel the unpleasant without fear of identification. It was a very simple practice and at times not at all easy, but a training in learning to really trust the practice, of being creative, of connecting with deep aspirations and of opening up to the sheer joy of the practice.
And briefly, although I had not thought about my “life questions” at all during those three weeks, it did become very clear to me what the next step was and included in this was a stronger and clearer commitment to the practice and a strengthening of my motivations and intentions. On a final note, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude once again to Sonia and Ad for their guidance and also to John and to the Sangha for their support.
May all beings be well and happy.
Meditation, Michelle, NZ, May ‘05,
One moment is born, It ripples through me like a constant wave of light
moving four thousand light years away.
I am alive! My body moves,
I unfold to the yielding that is taken place
I am in a moment of bliss,
No separation, no end, No beginning
You have been waiting,
waiting all this life?
With your nothingness
There was nothing said, not a whisper
Only firmness and a knowing,
You a being bathed in light
Oh this bliss that
And you know there was nothing there, only the purity of emptiness,
For it is in this Emptiness that allows all to be just the way that we wish to be,
And in this emptiness
I was filled, I was filled with LOVE Free from suffering
My body no longer aches or breaks. Nothing!
Bliss for this short while”
Reflection on the healing potential of awareness
by Lara Cusdin, NZ, Feb.’06
Tenderness meets Liberation
“It is truly a gift to be fully present for another human being”
is it to be present, for ourselves, for another?
After a 2 day workshop with Sonia Moriceau an accomplished shiatsu and meditation practitioner/teacher, I was truly inspired.
Inspired by the truth, by the true nature of mind which is what Sonia uniquely brings to shiatsu. Forget the techniques, meridian diagnosis and pressure points.. oh they are there but as a shadow to the real healing.
And what is the real healing you ask... what is the only true healing for any imbalance of mind/body/soul ... AWARENESS AWARENESS AWARENESS
beyond words, but if I could describe the experience I had when Sonia laid
her hands on my body, it was her intention of mind, the pure awareness
of mind and direction of Ki that penetrated through my body and out to
the other side (of the universe). I was beyond my own pain and for a brief
moment could see the appendage of what we call this bag of flesh and bones,
it was like cutting through butter. It was as if she were a torch (mind)
and shone into the cave (body) and exposed the cells of my being where
healing needed to take place, and through her as light bearer I was able
to bring my awareness to that cave and through breath cleared away the
cob webs and literally breathed life into it once more. Her Ki became my
Ki became universal Ki and joined together in a dance to awaken the mind/body/spirit
which desires recognition for healing to take place.
So simple, so tender, so deeply profound.
I was touched by greatness.
We must learn to be fully present for ourselves so we can be fully present for another and for the universe, everyday.
I am reminded of another profound quote: “can you awaken to the miracles already present” by Namgyal Rinpoche.
Reflections on Private Retreat,
Amarana, Aug. '05
"After the outbreath a space opened. And the next
inbreath comes out of that space, without any thoughts. When we meet ourselves
in that space we can meet ourselves truly with openness.
The inbreath, if not coming from that wide-open empty space, can be dangerous as it then feeds the thinking mind.
We students are here at The Orchard in order to allow our "ego" - the opinion that we have of ourselves - to dissolve, to free ourselves from it so that the wide-open empty space can show itself to us and we can come to meet everything in a wholesome way.
We students are here at The Orchard to learn, to stand on our own feet, to become "MATURE".
You, Sonia, supports us with your strength and the clarity of knowledge of the liberating wholesome path".
"The earth is a place of loving kindness."
"I sat on the cushion with awareness of the inner posture, watching from a place of being upright – gentle and tender, the movements of the belly as I breathed in and out.
Space upon space began to open up, at the same time in my head there was the feeling of the thinking mind; Not following the contents of the thinking mind, only the feeling of its texture.
At that moment I experienced: The thinking mind thinks. It is its nature, its gift, its movement. Each contact of the senses, each movement of the thinking mind create thousand of new movements in the thinking mind.
It is interesting to watch it from the safe place of resting,
in the space of watching the belly.
Nothing can stop these movements of the thinking mind, it is not even necessary to stop them. With this realisation, at that moment all began to disappear.
Through this emptyness Sonia‘s voice,
asking us to visualize and to feel in the belly the embers and with each outbreath softly and carefully to warm them.
It was the hearing of words themselves, they warmed the belly softly and allowed the warmth to grow through the whole body, in each cell and very strongly in the heart.
From there, the warmth did flow, dancing everywhere, to the people in the room, to the Orchard place, further and further, over lands and mountains, over seas and seas, over the earth over stars and stars, endlessly.
Heart warmth, soft warmth to everything and to everyone.
Then in my being arose the experience:
"The Earth is a place of loving kindness".
Again, Sonia’s voice, asking us to look with our mind’s eyes into our hands.
There was nothing and at the same time there was all. Metta everywhere.
Thank you, Sonia, for having the possilbility to be your student and to learn the way of opening the heart.
by Amarana Spaeti, december ‘08