A very warm welcome!

Thanks for visiting this, my second blog! You can visit Heart and Soil to see what I get up to on our 40 odd acres of land in Exmoor, basketry, crafts and general things and stuff.

I thought I would start this blog off by doing a day by day diary of my 2008 solitary retreat. You can find my posts on the preparation for this retreat over at Heart and Soil on this link:

Many people have said to me that they wish they could do a solitary retreat, because 'they really need one'. That's why I decided to share one of my retreat experiences, to hopefully make going on retreat alone, a bit less mysterious and a bit more 'doable'.

Offered with much love for your continued happiness!

Solitary Retreat Diary

Please remember that in order for the diary section of this blog to make sense you should start from Day 1 and work your way through. At the moment the best way to do this is by using the labels list on the right.

I will compile a links list to make this easier when I have posted the last day... and when I have a minute!


Friday, 5 December 2008

Day 6 - Ping! Metta Bhavana

Here I am!

That's better. I woke up feeling all warm and happy. Even though it's raining again. I'm up for it today! Was contemplating... erm.. never mind, I forgot. A bit achy today I am.

Today is a Metta Bhavana day. I'm going to crack it, if I have to sit all day!

The Metta Bhavana - The Cultivation of Universal Love.

There are 5 stages to the Metta Bhavana meditation. After we ground ourselves with a short breathing meditation...

1) We develop love towards ourselves

I conjure in my mind a moment when I have felt deeply happy and tune into that feeling, letting it fill me. I then seek out the aspects of myself that I find positive and uplifting, sitting with this experience for as long as possible.

2) We develop love towards a near and dear friend

I think about my friend, all the positive aspects, getting a real sense of her. I sit with the feeling, as before.

3) We develop love towards a neutral person

I now apply the feelings generated in 1 and 2 to someone like the postman or busdriver, someone neutral to me that I can see in my mind.

4) We develop love towards someone we dislike

"We deliberately leave our hearts open to them. Resisting the urge to dramatise our feelings of dislike to them. You're not trying to condone their behaviour, just develop a fundamental care for their welfare."

WITD Sangharakshita

5) We direct this feeling of love towards all beings and non-beings, everywhere

In my mind I bring together all of us, me, my friend, the bus driver and the person I dislike and I cultivate the feeling of love for all of them, including me. I then think about my closest family members and envelop them in the feeling of compassion and love. This is then emanated out to my neighbours, all beings and non-beings in my country, in the Earth, in the Universe and beyond.

More Diary

Just had a visit form the farmer. A really lovely guy. Been chatting for ages about farming and land. He invited me to the agricultural show on Saturday and said there was a dance in the evening. 'Hundreds of people' he said! I asked him not to tell anyone I'm up here on my own!

Not sure how I feel about visitors. On the one hand it's really nice. On the other hand it's a bit of a distraction from the solitude (obviously). Now I don't feel like I'm secluded, so I can't do some of things I wanted to do. Practice naked outdoors mainly. Doing walking meditation out the front might be a bit distracted, don't know, I'll see.

The illusion of seclusion is so easily burst. We are never truly alone, ever.

I think for my next solitary retreat I need 'proper' seclusion. Somewhere no one is going to come. The Buddha is quoted as saying...

"A forest dwelling monk must delight in a secluded forest and live in it. Kashyapa, a secluded place is a place where there are no loud noises and no deer, no tigers, wolves, flying birds, robbers, cowherds or shepherds. Such a place is suitable for a sramana's Dharma practice. Therefore such a monk should devote himself to Dharma practice in a secluded place".

Maharatnakuta Sutra.

THAT is what I crave. Whether the Buddha was being esoteric there or not, I crave that kind of seclusion. The jets flying over head are very distracting and painfully noisy. I can ignore them to the point where they are rattling the conservatory.

"If you fully realise that pain for our World is proof of our interconnectedness - that it can open us to the knowledge of the web of life - then you will be able to stay rounded in the midst of emotional turbulence"

CBtL pg67

The walk up the hill to the north is lovely. Buzzards, Red Kite, Crows, Hawks all floating on the thermals above the valley.

"The notion that one must find enlightenment, undergo transformation, or get ones head straight first, before dealing with social despair, keeps many otherwise intelligent people in a state of moral infantilism"

CBtL pg67

Found a few magic mushrooms on my journey. Tempting, they'd really give me an experience! Shame I've spent the past few years saying I'll abstain from intoxicants!


I thought this was a puffball at first when I saw it growing all over the place in giant balls. Then I found this one and wasn't sure anymore. Most of the mushrooms I found on the hill were edible, but I didn't have my identification book with me to help me confirm - I was not going to take the risk!

Lycoperdon foetidum

Vermillion Waxcap

Scarlet Waxcap

Butter Waxcap

Don't know what this one is. I remember hearing about a mushroom that is like bread. That's what this one was like.

It's decided... I'm going to knit a hat with the purple wool I brought with me.

What a beautiful evening. A lovely sit - Metta Bhavana of course. Then a really lovely walk up the hill to watch the sunset. Maybe later if I'm feeling brave, I'll go out and see the stars! Actually I think I'll just look out the upstairs window... ahem...this fear has got to go.

Crescent moon
mountain roots
setting sun


Anonymous said...

This was a very beautiful post. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into your solitary life, which shows though that we are not so solitary after all. I usually go into seclusion by conducting research on isolated islands or I hike long distance trails, but that's when we really learn you can never be really alone. It's just nice to get away from all of the insanity of the human race, but I believe anything that follows a circle and repeats the same thing over and over again is insane. So I guess one secret is to see the beauty in all of the chaos of the world. Then, I think we can just laugh and chuckle at everything we see when we re-emerge into the heart of society. It's quite the wild and strange world we live in. Lets see what we can create with it.

Carrie said...

I hear what you're saying about seclusion. I just did a sugar detox at my family's lake house in Alabama (USA) and the neighbors kept dropping by. I was annoyed but I didn't want to be rude! I crave alone time and I'm enjoying reading your experience.

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