– Diary of a Solitary Retreat –
may 5th, 2019 to 18th
The decision has been made long ago, but since three days a certain nervousness has been running deep, triggering even dizziness, anxiety, hollowness of stomach…. It took me a while until I realized that I was afraid, kina, of this retreat.
After I had got it I just let the fear come down like avalanches, brrrrmph! – and down it is, again and again, as much as needed. –
The weather was brilliant today, though as soon as the sun hides temperature drops to below 10 Celsius.
Tried to maneuver the car into the horse stable yard, but failed utterly after much effort; then drove it reverse up the end of the ‘sendero local’, which ends at ‘our’ cortijo, at the back entrance gate to be exact, where next to it the chicken room locates, where I have settled myself in for the coming weeks – with straw on the ground, a blanket covered over it and on top three ‘zabuton’ plus slate slabs all around, even a little table has been arranged….
After having prepared and eaten veggie salad, with bread and goat cheese, boiled water for some herbal tea on the open fire outside ‘kitchen stove’ I had built I finally tested the underground dome temperature – literally as well as for the atmosphere. The latter was good and so the retreat practice got actually started. The cool air, making the breath visible in the spare light entering through the entrance started creeping up the spine after a while. After a first session moving outside into the sun and continuing under the giant cherry tree at the foot of the cortijo; blaring sheep and noise from workers in the valley notwithstanding.
So, it seems/feels we got started. Let’s see what words will drop, if any….
5 a’clock: the stars still fabulous, Cassiopeia and Big Bear already disappearing but still a demanding sight over the Northern mountain ridge. Some birds already trying a song, but when I get to the dome it’s stillness all over again.
Beautiful weather. Making fire for the outside cooking, both in the early morning and evening – easy since there is still glowing coal from the previous day.
The exercise turns to be as hard as expected and after the 4th and 5th rounds I’m so tired, that a break is needed.
But thanks again to the brilliant day, rounds 6th and 7th in the nature are dominated by the sounds and scents of spring with the last round before dinner taking place at the bottom of the land on ridge’s edge opposite a resounding waterfall coming down across the gorge from the other side of cliffs.
“next door where we want to go’
The good weather is competing with itself….
After early morning sessions I liquidate the ‘car turned cupboard’ (since the key ran out of battery!) and arrange all my stuff inside the paint stained and dusty cortijo building on spread out garbage bags; anyway, it’s cooler here.
For breakfast once more fried green asparagus with eggs is served, today with ‘Zwieback’ since neighbor’s dog mugged the giant piece of bread from under the outside table while I was on practice yesterday…
Today I’m starting to dismantle my natural stone floor put inside the dome last year and rearrange the slabs in the shape of low side altars along three symmetrical stretches of the walls; going to look good. (The stone floor is to be replaced by a naturally prepared earthen floor.)
Late afternoon: potato salad with seaweed; escaping the fiery sun by squeezing into the narrow shadow of one of the young cypresses in the yard. …
Today pain started to press where my vertebrae is missing, But it can be controlled and overcome. Nothing new that pain has benefits; can have them. This one, same as when the legs start hurting with fresh practitioners, just should be a challenge to be taken. Take it as a ‘ladder to the window’, a window self-prepared….. enlightment window…., let’s see.
Looks like rain: clouds, multilevel, towering, fabulous….. Wind, wind still, sun, the big cloud eater, hungry, devours it all.
More pain, as expected; take it along, bending – and stretching again.
The last before the last session again at the edge down there, next to the cliff where another beautiful cherry marks the end of land and underneath which, in the shadow of the flowering tree, a giant rock lays upon which to sit – here then, the pain did not succeed.
In the evening the wind freshens up to stormy sculls, only to die down again. In any case, fixing everything up….
The Italian red, ‘imperial’ rice smells and looks marvelous. When weeding the flower and vegetable bed a flowering weed turns out to carry a stout red beet; and yes, the wild peppermint tea tastes wonderful.,,,,
9th of May seems to be the bird’s day: since the early morning and especially then, more than ever these days, and everywhere; and one guy is permanently on the ‘Balz’ – almost annoyingly noisy.
Developing an exercise to remedy the spine while sitting; helps, though it is still tough:
- Peace – distraction – pain – recognition of distraction – more pain – beyond pain – identification awareness as long as it lasts….. (to be ctd.) –
Singspeak (Ohm, Amen, etc.) helps as well, especially when hitting what must be the base frequency of the dome.
Finish the rearrangement of the stones into three low side altars with candle on. Only my seat in the middle is left on a stone bedding.
Wonderful breakfast this morning with fresh mangold from the garden and fried rice topped with cheese. Afternoon diet consists of a great salad with kumato, peppers, the funny beet and so on. Occasionally must remember why I’m here….
Keeping the outside stove more or less permanently on…..
pain can be neutralized by
thought- will- mindfulness;
it then quasi equals joy – but it takes enormous, exhaustive energy to stay upright while leaving the simple body behind.
… an aspect of making ‘the two in one’. (pain and joy)
Tomorrow is a resting day (Day 7).
(Louis paid a short visit)
Day Seven saw one of the most beautiful hikes up unmarked mountain tracks (if one still can call them that) following the upper Rio Gondolfeo, and, when that became impossible because of the terrain, ascending to the mountain ridge through a light pine forest as of about 2500 m . – Probably THE and certainly one of the most beautiful yet still vastly wild places of Europe.
On the way back jumped into one of the river pools under a waterfall – dried up doing a naked sitting above the rushing waters on a huge, sun-warmed rock with undulating patterns washed out by the glacier – what else?
The birds start to know me it seems; the cats (two) anyway; so does the shepherd since my arrival. He comes through this territory every Sunday with at least 500 impressive healthy sheep, rams and goats, not to forget his delicate Schimmel with the colorful saddle, she is a beauty. He rarely is riding but mostly just walks with the horse just grazing somewhere and looking after the flock….
A nice, though unplanned hike after early sittings and breakfast: 9km down to just before Berchules so as to get a signal and bring a promised sign of life out. Then 9km back up kina walking meditation.
The effect of holding the hands across each other over more or less the belly button is rather amazing – it MAKES meditating….
Some three hours later back up and after the sheep seemed to have gone another round in the dome.
Evening sitting in the long shadows of the tall cherry trees had to be broken up since the returning herd almost run me over.
Beautiful day, the cloud eater didn’t get anything to munch though.
It’s exhausting in between – the pain ditching game is no fun; but I’m on treasures ground. The Pure Land is reached through grace only, yes, but the ground for it wants to be tilled…..
In the evening the Shepard (invisible in the distance) but recognizable by his horse, is roaming down the vast slope from the hilltop towards the North-west with his enormous flock spread over a kilometer or so, looking like white ants dotting the mountain; then they move into the pine grove half down the hill with the Schimmel making sure that no last lamb is lost and then, disappeared they are.
Must discover more shadowy sitting places outside the Cortijo. Found one today with a nice overview in a ‘cat watches mouse’ position.
I started with a New Moon and now the luna is so bright that it outshines the phantastic stars – everything is visible in the night.
After a very smooth pre-dawn sitting change of program since the stomach seemingly has not digested the pain game too well.
Almost whole day day-dreaming meditation down in the gorge next to the torrent upon the rocks.
‘Find it inside you and outside’. So, today it is outside.
Allocate five majestic rocks for sittings down there; and across the on the other side a ‘flat like a shield’ upward rock face, but at an angle that one still can find spots to sit on.
To come down here is a small exercise in itself if you are not used to the mountains….
In the evening everywhere these noisy and then sweet sounds of the ‘Balz’-guys – and now I catch a pair by surprise: quails! They flatter off even noisier with anger at the disturbance. I apologize.
The other day I saw two mountain goats coming down the rocks towards the water; today I’m watching some ten coming up from it with a ricke(?) and her little one leading most of the family. When she is getting wind from my side the ascent becomes faster and faster until they disappear.
- You can try to force it and you may or may not get somewhere; likely you get nowhere or worse, –
Dschrrrrrrtscht!, Dschrrrrrrtscht! – Duedt, Duedt, Duedt, Dueueue. ( German pronounciation of quails’ courting and conquering sounds.) Rather a bit plumb these guys. Effortless and elegant are most around here though.
the unwritten poem
passes by and
dissolves in the sun
The ‘reconquista of the spine’ is under way – sophisticated and fascinating. The issue, at times at least, seems to be minute tensions, almost or even totally undetectable at first go.
Give the cumulus under which the dome is hiding a bit of a characteristic backside while hiding the ugly ventilation outlet simultaneously.
Some Cyrus clouds are around, but no sign of rain; yesterday evening enormous clouds were invading from all four directions, so had packed up everything tight – but this morning, absolutely no sign of anything like that, just stars and then the blue sky.
And again: dschrrrrt, dschrrrt, dtue dtue dtue dtueue…. The place seems to be THE quails land honey moon destination.
They fought like none
Different as day and night; –
But full became the moon
Without a sigh
The two in one
Days 13 & 14
The night from the 12th to 13th day saw the first full moon and I could not fall asleep. When finally fallen – Baeaeng! fell a storm from the sky flinging open my little shed’s door again and again and until I somehow managed to fix it almost had become 5 – however, felt amazingly well rested and started the last regular day of this retreat (the seventh of each week, i.e., day fourteen tomorrow, being a resting day).
It went well in the first place and was to become better even.
The storm had somewhat abated, but it was still too windy to think of lighting a fire so I started the petrol burner in one of the most protected corners of the place. Apart from the wind the weather was cold and in general looked dreadful: I would have sworn that rain was around the corner and to fall any minute.
The three hours of sitting and walking meditation after morning work, which is the hardest stretch of the day always, developed into a unique experience: the spine issue got better controlled by the hour and during the final hour there came three stages, interconnected, of sublime transcendence; the result of which was utter joy. –
When exciting the dome and seeing the awful weather again, decided to end the exercise half a day early, packed up started the car and came down the mountain to Alqueria de Morayma. The following day went back though, finished some work which had been left over and took photos for the blog.