‘Seamark’, a holiday house on the Suffolk coast, opened once again at 7pm on 13 October (Thursday) for an Okido Yoga residential course. We have been doing it there since 1987. After a light supper was served, self-introduction circulated, followed by an explanation of the course’s purpose and guidelines.
Then, the first gathering was for ginger compress, 8:45-10:15pm. Pairs were made in order to exchange ginger compress. There is no need to be unconfident in non-experience. It is not technique, but respect and a caring mind, openly and humbly asking your partner if what you are doing for him or her is alright. At the end, all together thanking the grace of Nature for the day, a day of long journey was over.
The second day (Friday) started at 7:15 am with a wake-up call, a bell ringing gently several time, but no urging human voice or alarm clock at your bedside. We made a late start, considering on importance of good rest after the week's hard work. 7:45-8:30am, morning exercises and chanting. 8:30-9:00am, walking or jogging followed by a shower. 10:00am, breakfast. 11:00am-12:45pm, asana. 1:00-3:30pm, lunch and a break. 3:30-5:00pm, a lesson on posture. 5:45-6:45pm, pranayama and meditation. 7:00-8:15pm, supper and a break. 8:15-9:15pm, natural movement, and a sleeping pledge.
On the third day (Saturday), the waking-up bell rang at 6:30am. 7:00-8:30am, morning exercises.8:30am, shower and fresh air. 9:00am, breakfast. When I inquird their condition, nearly everybody had ups and downs by then since arrival. Well, it was almost inevitable because we were, in a sense, in a detoxification process. Some helpful drinks were suggested. These are purely natural food such as daikon radish drink, ume-sho-bancha, warm diluted apple juice, to be taken after trying differnt ones as listening to your inner voice by life force. 10:00am, preparation for a long walk and cleaning the dojo and blankets. 11:00am, starting a long walk to Snape, carrying packed lunches, tea, water, and first-aid kits. We followed the footpath about 7 miles in the beautiful English countryside. Marianne and Sonia, whose physical conditions didn’t allow such a distance, were driven by me to the best spot and, at a slower pace, still enjoyed the country walk in a small loop.
After a couple of unexpected happenings, both groups joined together at Snape Maltings on River Alde. 2pm, time for awaited lunch, on the river side on a very lucky sunny day. All the food was healthy and filling, and made people genuinely grateful for Nature's gifts. Maria’s unique pear tart was said by Trish as divine, the highest-ranked praising word! We naturally enjoyed and relaxed there till 3.30pm, then drove back. ‘Thanks’ to Anna, Kiran and Trish, who made an earlier car trip with me to leave their cars prepared for the return journey.
Back at Seamark, after resting, 4:45-6:45pm, there was a yoga lesson with a lot of stretching, corrective exercises, exercises with partners we had never worked with before, and pranayama. 7:00pm, supper. 8:30-10:00pm, ginger compress for the second time, and a sleeping pledge.
The last day, Sunday 16 Ocober, started earlier at 6:15am. 6:45-9:00am, morning exercises, longer chanting, silent walking on the beach or jogging and a shower. 9:15am, breakfast. It seemed as though Thursday evening was far-off in the past. Everybody’s face looked like they were ‘shining with new-born skin’, and laughing voices were heard everywhere. 10:25-11:20am, Q & A for the staff to sit in a panel discussion style. 11:30am-12:45pm, asana and meditation. 1:30-2:30pm, lunch and socializing. 2:30-3:30pm, whole house cleaning, in order to return our good thoughts through positive action, starting with a cleaning pledge. 3:30pm, final gathering. Just in 70 hours, participants, both students and teachers, achieved to experience fundamental joy and appreciation of being healthy, or I mean 'healthier', and a basic happiness of living and sharing a simpler life with other people, even with somebody we had never met before. I hope we will practice some learned lessons, even a small part, whatever and however, when we are back in our normal life.
Okido Yoga is a karma yoga, discipline through daily life activities. This intensive yoga residential course was directed towards an enjoyable experience of life-style with the essence of Okido Yoga, offering opportunities for participants to reflect upon their daily routine, whether physical or mental, to become self-responsible both happily and creatively, and to become more harmonious with other people as well as the environment. Participants were expected to attend all programmes including taking in only the food that was served, or otherwise to inform staff of needed rest, or discuss about difficulties for a solution. This brings awareness to listen to one's inner wisdom given by life force. Meals were prepared with sugar-free organic vegan ingredients as well as responding to individual allergy problems, and menus were carefully planned to help cleansing at the beginning and build up towards the end. At each meal time, we did a pledge to absorb the nutrients. The staff members were Mizue Tamaki, Hans Jeunhomme, Junko Maria Furugori, and myself.
Just over a week ago I arrived at Seamark in Thorpeness to attend the three day Okido yoga retreat. I am quite new to Okido yoga, not having followed classes at all, except for last year’s Autumn Retreat. I arrived, feeling quite frazzled by the last minute rush to ensure I would arrive in time. My back did not feel right on arrival. The ginger compress we applied to each other, combined with an excellent massage helped me to relax that evening. However, I started the next day feeling in considerable pain, feeling vulnerable and anxious about my physical and emotional state and loss of ‘familiar state’ of being. A large muscle in my back had gone into a severe spasm. I had been looking forwards to this weekend to 'have 'time out' which I hoped would allow me to surrender deeper into the seasonal energies and rest. In autumn the energies make a U-turn by moving down, back into the earth, to gather into their core root system. Looking back, and reflecting, I realise how well I succeeded in doing just that.
The consistent gentle attentiveness in which all the classes were run, the delicious food prepared with so much care and consideration, encouraged and supported me to have that same approach to my well-being. This meant that I listened carefully to what I needed: I sometimes left a class to take a hot bath as that felt better. I sat in silence in the sun, or I did not join the group for the full walk, but meandered back in my own pace. In a nutshell I explored ‘the road less travelled’. The result was that by the end of the retreat, besides my back feeling healthy, I felt a much stronger sense of what it means for me to go about myself and life ‘in ease’. And how achieving that then percolates into a more profound feeling of inner peace and joy! Thank you, Tomoko, Maria, Mizue and Hans.
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