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Autumn Retreat 2012, Suffolk – Tomoko Mori

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Autumn Retreat 2012 (11-15 Oct) was an intensive yoga residential course, and was directed towards an enjoyable experience of life-style with the essence of Okido Yoga. It aimed to offer an opportunity for participants to reflect upon their daily routines, to become more aware of self-responsiblity both happily and creatively, and to become more harmonious with other people and the environment.

Did we achieve this? From reading the reports and recalling the comments from the participants, I can say ‘Yes, we did’.

Many of us arrived, dragging stress, tiredness, or even emotional crisis from daily life. Stimulated and supported by the fresh sea air and the diverse, well-balanced programme, we went through individual cleansing processes, of course with physical and emotional ups and downs, and were encouraged to go back to face and embrace our individual stages.

Mizue’s lessons on postures in daily life activities offer one to find both lightness and solidness when one comes closer to the best posture by even a millimeter’s difference. It was a powerful message. In asana lessons, I tried to encourage students to be aware of and value both doing and being. Dynamic outdoor exercises as well as beach walking or jogging, and Junko’s dancing session were much appreciated as a necessity for dynamic energy flow, which looked like different approaches, but interlinked with all other lessons. Blessed by the perfect autumn sun was a long walk in beautiful English nature with a picnic lunch. Thank you, to Trish and Anna, for planning and guiding on this wonderful route around Dunwich Hill and Minsmere.

As this year’s 5-day duration retreat allowed us another whole day, we included a two-hour painting session. Led by Michael, we got lost in time and space, united in creativity.

Every evening, there was time for mutual treatment, such as ginger compress, shiatsu, ginger oil massage and chamomile compress. In shiatsu, an experienced person and a less-experienced person paired up. Less-experienced people followed Michael’s guidance on their turn; experienced people expressed their skills more freely. It worked very well for both sides.

sky clouds beach

Opportunities of meditation were offered in all lessons. Helped by the constant sounds of waves, participants received benefits for sitting in silence with no busy thoughts running around in the mind.

Time in-between was filled with talking, sharing, laughing, knitting, writing, reading, embracing time and space alone, washing-up duties…

And cleaning the whole house together. Started by reading Oki-sensei’s 'Cleansing Pledge', the one-hour whole house clean on the last day, meant that we would return our energy to unknown others. It was so powerful working together with a pure spirit.

Despite the full schedule for 5 days, everything and everyone looked very relaxed. The food was meant to be cleansing and nutritious. Guided by Junko’s enthusiasm and excellent talent in this field, well-balanced delicious food was served.

The staff worked with a spirit of openness and honesty. A report said, ‘It was as if all staff members were naturally attuned to each other creating a seamless whole of facilitation. The presence of the team all the time working quietly in the background with ease, and with ease to each other, was very helpful’. Another report mentioned; it was nice that, besides teaching and cooking, the staff could also join some lessons, and stay together with the students to share and talk about miscellaneous things.

The success of the retreat was through cooperation of all participants, based on caring for each other and each other’s space, and on hard work at individual spots. Thank you to all.

Oki-sensei’s Sleeping Pledge starts with: I appreciate the grace of Nature which has enabled me to live and learn today. This hints to me; it is not that ‘I’ do, but that ‘I do’ and, at the same time, ‘I am enabled to do by the grace of Nature’, or by the Life Force working in me and in the universe. At the end of every Okido Yoga course, I notice this and refresh this notice.

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