The golden silence at Gaia House

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Retreats | 3 comments

I went for a walk last week. I was making my way along a country lane and I took my phone out of my pocket. I turned it on and started typing a reply to a text. I wrote a couple of words and realised I’d taken a handful of steps without noticing. I put my phone back in my pocket and carried on walking.

Where was I? I was on a five-day silent meditation retreat at Gaia House in Devon. I had gone to spend time sitting, moving and learning with Martin and Gail Aylward.

This ‘noticing’ is really what Gaia House is all about. Everything you do there is set up to cultivate awareness.

Every day we practiced walking meditation. There’s a large room with creaky wooden floorboards and a huge bay window containing houseplants that were just as huge. In a marble fireplace sat a skeleton reminding us of our immortality. I slowly walked back and forth noticing what arose in the space between bones and leaves – the dead and the living.

But it was the outside walking practice that I enjoyed the most. You chose a space in the beautiful grounds and you paid attention to your every step:

I noticed

the way my feet made contact with the ground

the golden hues of early autumn leaves

the restriction in my left big toe joint due to an old sprain

a plane soaring overhead

a softening of shoulders

the occasional weed sprouting for victory

exhaling breath on top lip

the heat in hands from clasping a mug of peppermint tea

the cacophony of cawing crows

sash windows with wobbly panes of glass catching the light unevenly

the warm sun on face

the subtle smell of peppermint

the inhaling expansion of rib cage.

 

It’s often said – I believe – that women are brilliant multi-taskers. I’m sure many men would disagree. But is multi-tasking such a great thing? Trying to do ten things at once?

I’d rather do one thing very well.

At Gaia House, everyone spends an hour every day doing seva or karma yoga - an act of generosity. For those washing up everyone's plates and cutlery after meal times, these words sat above the sink.

At Gaia House, everyone spends an hour every day doing seva or karma yoga – an act of generosity. For those washing up everyone’s plates and cutlery after meal times, these words sat above the sink.

3 Comments

  1. You do lots of things very well, Clare!

    Love, Peace and Harmony,

    Hari Om

    Conor

    • Thank you Conor Vishnu. I hope you’re well. Sending you lots of love x

      • Thank you Cathy! Xx

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