Maitri Retreats and Hamid Ebadi – An extraordinary journey of ‘coming home’

A review of Maitri Retreats and my meditation ‘sesshin’ with Hamid Ebadi, a most extraordinary man

Photos from our ‘sesshin’ here on Hamid’s Facebook page.

Maitri Retreats’ Facebook page.

Hiyati Yoga on Instagram by Miri.


…something happened to me over the summer. I feel less defensive, more at peace. I would say I have developed more resilience. A layer of old grief has been stripped off. I know where to find peace in myself. That is my ‘coming home’.

“Meditation is a bodily practice.” I will never ever forget these words from Hamid as we prepared to start our meditation practice in Monchique, Portugal in a region called the Algarve. I had never been to Portugal and there I excitedly found myself with nine other practitioners (ahem…students…most of us hugely interested dabblers who had not yet developed a consistent practice). Also with us was Miri, our yoga teacher who was the other leader of this retreat, also a participant. That made twelve of us in total, with Hamid. I sat in a rectangular formation with my fellow learners and listened carefully.

Here was the man I had spoken to via Skype prior to deciding to come. He had first intrigued me with a long and very obviously well thought out and personalized letter answering my questions about this retreat. Continue reading Maitri Retreats and Hamid Ebadi — An extraordinary journey of ‘coming home’

Suffering

Tonight, I will meditate and pray for all of the people on this planet suffering. A dear friend of mine reminded me many years ago after I returned from trekking in Nepal, shocked by the extreme poverty I witnessed…small children begging just for a pen, shoeless in the hills…”suffering is relative”. I thought then: surely not! But twenty years have taught me that suffering is relative and the feeling is one and of the same.

If we are cut, we all bleed. Continue reading Suffering

Manchester

This is Manchester. This is my chosen home. I may be abroad, but I am one with that city and this image drives home everything I love about it…its spirit, its faith in hard times, its commitment to the ideals we all aspire to live by.

I hear Manchester is having vigils across the city, in mosques, in houses of every faith, in the streets, in homes, online, over the phone. I love you, Manchester. May this solidarity support the poor people today who are fighting for their lives in hospital, those who have lost their loved ones at a pop concert, of all things, and those who are injured in any way.

I sit here in a darkened room with candles by my side, reading, thinking, feeling you, Mancunians, and it makes me feel good that the world is all eyes on you now, for this is how we remind ourselves that humans are better than what one lost individual did last night. We can demonize him and we will, but somewhere something really sick and broken let this happen.

Manchester, you are cups of tea in tragic moments and hands held and hugs and Samaritans. You are social to the core and this is your roar. Manchester, the beautiful, stay together. Show the country that’s what we’re all made of.

Hey, UK English teachers…you don’t need to settle. Move on.

I used to work 60-70 hours a week. It made me absolutely miserable. I was an English teacher in England teaching English to students who hated English. Every six weeks they had to do a ‘controlled assessment’, which was an essay exam with strict perimeters, and over my week off for the half term I had to mark the papers. It took days to get through 120 papers; it was no way to live. Continue reading Hey, UK English teachers…you don’t need to settle. Move on.

My Spiritual Mentor: Dr. Sue Rubin

My spiritual mentor, Dr. Sue Rubin

My spiritual mentor, the wonderful and effervescent Sue Rubin – Dr. Sue Rubin – of Truth Tidbits (her website and a nod to the most remarkable stories of people she meets at Starbucks and the lessons to be taken from these encounters, now shared on Facebook) has just turned 89. She is a beautiful soul, still going strong. As I look at her in this recent video, the thought “ageless, timeless” comes to mind.

Our Sue (as they say in the UK, where ‘home’ is when I am not in Saudi or Canada) is as she always was: curious, vibrant, wise, a master storyteller, respectful of all faiths, compassionate, uplifting, glamorous, dignified, down to earth, self-disciplined (to an unbelievable degree), generous with her time and so much more. People flock to her for good reason.  Continue reading My Spiritual Mentor: Dr. Sue Rubin

Suicide

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write today: a friend took his life this week. It left me reeling and so concerned for his partner and their children. How…why…what…?

Though I have worked in suicide prevention as a ‘listener’ for the past three years, nothing makes this easier…really. It’s the saddest, most shocking thing. Then you talk to people and find out how many people have lost someone to depression. It makes me want to write about it here. Some general understandings about suicide… Continue reading Suicide

Ask for help. Watch what happens.

It’s interesting. Building a business. Teaching students. There’s an illusion that we should present ourselves as the experts, as if we know it all, or people will not have faith in us.

But then there is another school of thought that recognises we are all on a learning curve, and asking for help is, in fact, an act of bravery. 

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I’ve waffled back and forth between these two views, and suddenly had an epiphany. It was a moment of truth that came after watching a friend die this summer.

:'(

Life’s too short. 

Let me explain. Continue reading Ask for help. Watch what happens.

Filipino Jeepney Art – Soon to be Extinct?

I have a fascination with these share taxis called ‘jeepneys’ in the Philippines. They’re leftover jeeps that have been sold to the Filipinos and decorated and dressed up by the owners and drivers. No smog protection, but cozy.

Warmups – Breaking the Ice

I am attending a drama teachers’ professional development conference – part of the EARCOS Teachers Conference in Manila, Philippines. Incredible way to end the day. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘reach out and touch someone’.

On Paris and Beirut

The news in Paris is grotesque and unfathomable. My heart goes out to that nation and to those directly affected by the terrorist attacks where at least 8 suicide bombers shot and then 7 blew themselves up in densely populated areas of the city on a buzzing Friday night. And where the story of this, the events, are still unfolding. This is not over. The world we live in…I cannot begin to finish that sentence. It is too big. It is much too big.

:/

The news has not reached the world in the same way, but there was a Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist attack yesterday in Beirut, Lebanon also Continue reading On Paris and Beirut

everything you want is on the other side of fear. jfdi. live to love. lead as you would follow. shoot for the stars.