Upon arrival, or collection at the train station you are greeted with a big hug and an open, kind-hearted face. Di, the coordinator is a lovely woman who, from her attitude and spiritedness in life, you would never place at almost 70 years old!
The centre itself is situated not far fro Swanson, about an hour by train from Auckland, south Island and is hidden away amongst a multitude of plant-life. It is surrounded by bushland, which means forest, trees as far as the eye can see, total lushness! At first the weather was wet wet wet, this area is rainforest after all and catches most of the water supply for the whole of Auckland, but eve in the downpours there is something magical about this place.
The air is clear, there is a feeling of freedom, of letting go of the restraints of civilization as we know it, you are getting back to nature, partaking in activities specifically designed to help you reach inner peace, a higher place inside yourself. It is a place for self discover and self improvement and of course, it is fun. The people you meet here are all incredibly open minded and positive, you can literally feel the positivity radiating from the walls themselves.
The bedrooms are cosy, there is a big communal kitchen, dining area, sitting room and big relaxation room along with a little sanctuary in the meadow and a hot tub and sauna. It is very cosy and, although I am not a person suited to living communally in the long-run due to my need for lots of personal space and alone times, I still saw and felt the benefits of having interesting people around the place, the wealth of experiences and information was incredible and I have already learned a lot from my stay here. The whole place has a very welcoming, homely, cosy feel to it.
And then the sun comes out and a whole new lease of life is bestowed upon you. Although there are places to explore and a certain fondness does arise for getting out there in all weather, it is an altogether enchanting experience to be here when its sunny.
All doors and windows are open, the only sounds you hear coming in is from the animals, the birds, frogs and bees, it is tranquil, peaceful and beautiful. The light glints off the plants and flowers showing their true lushness, you can almost feel the life, the nature and the power resting in the natural world just slipping in around you on the lazy breeze. The great thing is there is nothing really here to sting, bite or prick you (apart from mosquitoes) so you can walk barefoot through the forest, feel the earth beneath your feet, get to grips with nature and you know, its incredibly enlightening!
To be working here is a blessing, although it can be tiring chopping veg and washing up after guests, its not so bad and particularly at the moment there are no guests, the place is quiet, the work consists of a little gardening, washing, tidying up ready for the next guests later in the week, there is so much time for exploring, walking, swimming in the river, or just sitting about with a good book.
For me one of the best parts is the knowledge here, I am learning more about yoga and meditation here than I could have hoped for, not only from guests but fro the library of books on everything from meditation, self discovery, and fasts to faith, tarrot cards, runes and everything else in between! There is so much to learn, and all of great interest.
The centre itself often hosts events such as group fasting for 3 or 10 days, meditations for long weekends and a multitude of seminars as well as anyone wanting a few days at the retreat to unwind, relax and get centred.
Of course there are a few points which are not so positive, maybe you read my last blog, ref the German exhibitionist, but they are minimal in the grand scheme of things.
Below are pictures from my time here so far: