Reflections on the Mindfulness in the Outback Retreat
Our recent ‘Mindfulness in the Outback Retreat’ was a truly remarkable experience. I’d like to share with you some moments, some highlights
Morning Wake-Up Walk:
The soft sound of the Zen bell had woken us early and as the land began to stir and as the sun started to rise a sleepy group of meditators set out for the daily morning walk. In silence, we let our bodies find a comfortable pace to wake and begin to feel energised for the day ahead. In the first few days of the retreat the ears and mind and maybe the whole being, so used to noise, busyness and demand, couldn’t quite believe the space and silence of the desert country. But slowly, as timelessness unfolded, there were more and more moments of settling into the rhythm of a life with few demands and room to just be.
Aboriginal Rock Art:
on Day 5 of our Mindfulness Retreat we travelled to Mulgowan (Yapa) Aboriginal Art site in our trusted minibus. A carefully (and clearly lovingly) laid path allowed the 20 minute walk to the art site to be an easy and very enjoyable experience. To get to the Art site we needed to cross the dry creek bed of Mulgowan creek where huge red boulders lined our path. No wonder the local Aboriginal people are called the Stone Country People. After spending some time taking in the paintings we meditated in the shade of a gumtree, reflecting on the wonder of the ancient rock paintings that were painted by generations of local people as a way of passing on knowledge and sharing stories.
During the Mindfulness in the Outback retreat there were many opportunities to practice mindfulness, formally and informally. Throughout the day we moved in and out of sitting and walking meditation, paying attention to ourselves and the community of people we were living within.Tired bodies could rest deeply in the care of support offered.The silence of the land and the vast space around us allowed the mind to become more spacious and somehow moved things into perspective. Each evening we finished our day with a sunset meditation, being still while the light changed moment to moment until night fell.
We had the good fortune to have Karo cook her delicious vegan meals for us throughout the retreat. Each day she offered new delights to a group of hungry meditators. It felt really good to eat wholesome, vegan, organic food prepared with love and care throughout the week. My favourite? Probably the freshly baked bread, still warm, with some homemade jam.
Most nights we lit the camp fire and for some hours sat, talked, laughed and finally fell silent. The evenings were beautiful and warm; billions of stars couldn’t quite compete with the ever filling moon for brightness but did their best not to be outshone. A couple of nights we had visitors, people from the National Parks Service who came to tell us some of the local yarns. Joe gave us an account of the history of European settlement while Steve shared with us his knowledge of aboriginal life in the area. It was interesting to hear that Mount Gundabooka is as sacred to the local aboriginal people as Uluru is to the Anangu people of Central Australia. As Gundabooka is a fairly new park new discoveries of rock paintings, water holes and wildlife are being made regularly.