Tag Archives: safe space

Sediba – A sense of ease

13 Sep

I spent ten days on retreat at http://www.sedibamountainretreat.co.za and I miss it just a day later.

I miss the sense of ease. The Sense of ease not sense of easy.

It was not easy, on day 3 &4, my body decided to revolt. My sinuses seem to prefer Soweto pollution. The Hartbeestpoort swamp gases caused my sinuses to dry up painfully.

In meditation, I would often find myself out of pose, holding my head in my hands as shameful and painful moments flooded my mind.

I walked for hours on end. Each day different muscles and/or joints would complain but I persevered.

However, all this took place in an environment of ease, of low egos and of acknowledgement of personal space. It was a safe space – or at least the closest to the concept that I have experienced.

My only caveat would be that I fear snakes. I did not see any during my stay but I know they are out there and walking up the hill one night, I scared myself silly.

Safe Space
The safe space, a space for contemplation and meditation is what in many ways, the Catholic priest {Prashant/Anthofer) who founded the place was aiming for.
Hence, the number of guests is limited to about 7. Each guest sleeps alone in their own rather cool hut.

Noble Silence is practiced lightly as opposed to Buddhist retreats I have heard of but if one wanted to practice a strict version, the priest and guests would accommodate the request.

The sleeping arrangements and Noble Silence go a long way towards preventing the poisoning of the atmosphere by the sort of sexism on conferences that @nthabynooe wrote about recently. https://nthabynooe.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/the-leadership-territory-whose-community-is-it-anyway/

Most importantly, it is a self-directed retreat. No-one will force you to sit cross-legged for hours while every pore itches incessantly.

Willingness and self-discipline are encouraged.

A Catholic yet safe space? Seriously?
The founder was clear that this was a space for contemplation and meditation and not dogmatic rectitude.

Anyone on a spiritual or secular quest that requires some solitude is welcome. That welcome is extended regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or non-religion, and any of the churches other dogmatic frictions like divorcees and women who have had abortions.

From a Catholic perspective, it is a space that uses solitude to create room for the grace of God to enter.
From a secular perspective, it is a mindfulness practice. There is now a lot of work on mindfulness from psychology, neuroscience and other cognitive sciences.

Meditation as a Christian practice
Prashant spent over six years learning meditation in India under the guidance of a Hindu guru.

It seems Jesus may have meditated too. Jesus definitely did go on the ancient version of a retreat – spending 40 days and nights in the desert. He must have spent some time in prayer and/or in contemplation and meditation.

In Catholicism, there is a tradition of contemplation sometimes referred to as Christian mysticism. They will often talk about the Mystery. Contemplating the Mystery is similar to many of the Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices.

Why I went?
I struggle with anxiety, depression and exhibit traits of attention deficit disorder. I have been on medication but have stopped. I am trying to find alternatives.

On a more existential basis, my life is a clusterfuck. An ever deepening crisis of senseless wandering. A nicer way to put it maybe is that I am undergoing a midlfe crisis.

In summary, I have a lot of baggage.

Sense of Ease

So it is surprising that looking back, a day later, the mind is clear – ease was present and it asks simply for more.

It asks how can the sense of ease be present in daily life in non-safe spaces like those we call home, work, university and church.