Archive for Spiritual Retreats and Courses

Excellent Spiritual Education: Arthur Findlay College

02Want to progress in your spiritual knowledge? Of course you can join a local class or development group, read books on the topic or meditate on the subject. However, if you want to take a big leap in spiritual development, I recommend Arthur Findlay College in Essex, England. Some of my friends have gone there and all highly recommend it. Located in Stansted Hall built in 1871, Mr. Findlay bought it in 1923 and lived there nearly 40 years. After retiring from a business career, he started a college there “for the advancement of psychic science”. He bequeathed the hall to the college upon his death. Fortunately for us, it continues on strongly still today. Here is a quote from the website.

The college is the centre of Spiritual and Psychic Investigation and Instruction in the UK. We are here to teach and help you increase your knowledge in an atmosphere of love and spiritual activity. Spend 7 nights as a student on an all-inclusive Residential Course with full board and excellent tuition (shorter courses are available). Choice of vegetarian or ordinary diet.

What kind of courses can you take?  Here is a sample from the upcoming year: trance mediumship, trance healing, energy management and mediumship, journey of the soul, in service to spirit and a traditional Victorian Christmas at the Arthur Findlay College.  Keep in mind that there are 9 – 15 courses every month, so please survey the website: http://www.arthurfindlaycollege.org   to find out more. There are 44+ instructors (called tutors on the website). Don’t miss the section on  “Choosing the Right Course”. This includes choosing the right level for your abailty as well.

Some Great Places Spending Christmas

 Ice Skating at Christmas Fair in Museumplein

Ice Skating at Christmas Fair in Museumplein

Whether you are a world traveler looking for something new or an armchair traveler who likes to hear about what other people are doing, it’s always a treat to hear about special Christmas places where celebrations are “in the air” so to speak. The first group of resorts are in the northern hemisphere where you can experience the traditional cold weather with a good place to warm up and perhaps a hot drink. Thanks to Bree Sposato for suggesting Amsterdam. As you can see form this photo, the canals become wonderful ice skating rinks, and the 16th and 17th century houses are strung with lights. Why not stay till New Year’s Eve and celebrate with champagne and fireworks?

Here’s a more remote suggestion by Jennifer Coogan: Reykjavik, Iceland. Enjoy the northern lights from the comfort of a thermally heated hotel. There are only 4 hours of daylight, so bring your friends and prepare for an indoor party. Don’t miss the unusual Icelandic food such as smoked puffin and Brennivin (like schnapps). “Statues of the 12 Yule Lads (the Icelandic version of Santa Claus) peer out from every corner shop and window.”  Click here to read the original version

city street in San Miguel de Allende at night. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.There are a lot of “snow birds” from Canada and the northern states who like to frequent San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the hot, dry days and cool nights, the traditional crafts made and sold there as well as the old cobblestone streets and the Spanish architecture. However, Christmas is very special with the procession of Mary and Joseph and everyone else who wants to sing traditional carols. The procession goes from one decorated shop to the next, stopping to sing at each one. The children will enjoy the ritual of breaking pinatas filled with candy and small toys. It’s a special treat to have blooming flowers such as poinsettias and bougainvilleas.

 

 

200911-w-christmas-kaikouraThinking about a warmer place? Try Kaikoura, New Zealand. It will be summer when you visit, so you can enjoy the beach, kyaking or boating to see the whales, dolphins and fur seals. The vegetation and forests are so totally different. It’s like you are visiting another planet. Lee Magill recommends staying at the Kapuku Lodge and Tree Houses with gourmet, natural meals. Make reservations long ahead of time any place in New Zealand over the Christmas holidays. It is after all their summer holiday time.

 Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses is the ne plus ultra of New Zealand’s eco-tourism accommodations: a complex of cedar-covered buildings and six tree houses with views of both the bay and the imperial Kaikoura mountain range. Luxe high design reigns inside and out.

 

Perhaps you are seeking something more spiritual. May I then recommend Shambhala Mountain Center on 600 acres in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado? Here is a deeply established center which accommodates a great variety of practitioners from week-long “learn to meditate” stays to longer, intensives for advanced meditators. The staff also leads spiritual journeys during the year to Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. The rooms are elegant but very simple and comfortable. People who have participated in longer retreats say it is like an immersion vacation, and the effects often stay with the person for many months, even years after. It’s a bit like unpacking your brain or fragmenting your computer. The effect are nearly always calming, relaxing. It’s especially a good choice if you are alone or with a partner rather than a family vacation or a good party celebration.

Let us know what you decide to do this year and how you liked it once you return. I’m always open to new ideas.

 

 

 

An Elegant West Coast Retreat: Gowlland Harbour Resort

homepage-imageLooking for a good retreat for your family, your company conference, your honeymoon or just a few days away for yourself? This resort located on Quadra Island in the Canadian West Coast accommodates all of these groups. Here’s what they advertise: “where wild west coast beauty meets natural elegance”. You can certainly see that in the website pictures, some of which I have posted here. You can see why people say, “Why didn’t we come here sooner?”

The accommodations are hotel rooms with an downstairs lounge and dining room, several guest houses which hold 8 people and their new honeymoon suite. There is a boat moorage, a spa and complimentary WiFi.

What can you do besides relax and read a book, take a walk? Lots of water activities are available such as kayaking, whale watching, canoeing and even golf on the island. There are special events as well. 59 Unfortunately, the website doesn’t let you know much about the owners and staff, but I did meet one of the staff personally – a very nice and enthusiastic young woman. Certainly a phone call could tell you more about the staff, the prices and how to get there. I personally recommend going there by float plane. There are regular flights to Quadra Island and also nearby Campbell River. It’s an experience you won’t forget, and there are endless runways for float planes! More expensive, you say? If you add up the gas and two ferry fees it might be about the same. Flying is certainly faster.     GHR-BH-Honeymoon-2014-sh

 

In closing, I’m going to quote from the website: http://gowllandharbour.com

Ideally situated on the waterfront and perched at the water’s edge of the harbour, this one-bedroom luxury suite is perfect for honeymooners, second honeymooners or for anyone wanting a magnificent escape. Highlights of this romantic hideaway include a thoughtfully equipped gourmet kitchen, living room, dining room, lovely ensuite bathroom with glass walk-in shower and Jacuzzi soaker tub. There’s also an uncompromising water view.

Spirit Skies Retreat Center Reopens

In a past post I have featured this retreat center composed of several close-by locations, Spirit Skies and Spirit Falls. The owner and manager, Bodhi Heart, has now added and renovated Spirit Skies and is offering a opening discount of 30% on all week retreats in July and August and 20% off for retreats in September and October. These are silent retreats in small, personal cabins, not guided or group retreats. It seems that Bodhi has finished his third cabin and plans to sell the Spirit Falls retreat.

Spirit Skies Retreat Center Reopens

SPIRIT FALLS – “How to Find & Buy a Retreat”
Would you like to change your life?  This 4-day, 3-night weekend seminar will show you how easy it can be to create a personal retreat lifestyle in nature.  Through case studies of two retreats that are now for sale– spiritfallsretreat.com and namasteretreat.com –you will see how to find, value, buy, and create your own small retreat center.
Mention this offer when you inquire for the 50% OFF EMAIL SPECIAL – For more info, click: http://www.spiritfallsretreat.com/#!find-retreats-for-sale
SPIRIT SKIES – Grand re-opening with 2 new cabins
Earth Mother and Elk Spirit have been added to Spirit Skies personal retreat, and we are currently having a 30% OFF GRAND RE-OPENING SPECIAL for retreats of one or more weeks.
There is also a new video of our newborn elk (9 calves in 2014) on the website front page.  For more, click: spiritskiesretreat.com.
 Contact Bodhi for more information and to receive your bonus.

Australian Tour Company: Journeys of the Spirit

Here’s another spiritual tour company that is worth checking out. With the internet so easy to access these days and the use in international calling using plans such as Skype, there should be no problem making reservations from North America. Julie Barker is at the center of this company who says, “Her personal interests have always included a commitment to health and wellbeing of mind, body and spirit..”  The trips include some of the usual places such as Bali, Thailand and Machu Picchu. However, there are some other alternatives that look intriguing – Kerala Ayurvedic retreat including an audience with the Dalai Lama, Byron Bay Yoga, Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), and Bhutan (going on right now). There are also “tailor made journeys” available that let you and a small group of friends set up a private journey.  Here are some more details about a trip that is soon to happen to Peru and Chile (9/13 – 10/14). The website state there are only 4 places left.

a621f7ac5209f041570e0fdf83ebd20aWalking in the footsteps of the ancient Incas, we explore the many breathtaking natural wonders of this very sacred land. A soul nourishing and uplifting experience!

Perhaps we will be blessed with the sighting of the rare pink dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon, enjoy a hike to the Chacan Rainbow Temple in Cusco and explore the magical realm of the Andean spirituality. Magnificent, extraordinary, breathtaking – words cannot fully describe what you will receive from our experience at Machu Picchu.

It seems that these trips are very popular. For example, their Kerala Ayurvedic retreat sells out a year ahead of time. The tour guides that Julie hires seem experts in their own fields and worth accompanying just to get to know them.  Here are two examples – Peter Bliss and Cathy Brown. However, these are only two of several more very knowledgeable and colorful guides.

e4342f139049f47fe0c0dd2816c008a3Peter ~ is a dynamic business educator who has a very practical yet holistic approach to business and lifestyle. He has studied, coached and presented through keynotes and seminars throughout the corporate world both in Australia and overseas and combines simple western business intelligence with traditional eastern wisdom. He has experienced and is very aware that stress affects us all in different ways. If unaddressed it can be detrimental to all aspects of our lives and halt our full potential. Peter is passionate about mental wellbeing and has a unique ability to impart techniques with humor and practicality, bringing awareness to support you in creating a more balanced and fulfilled life. He has changed his own life through practicing what he teaches. We are delighted Peter will be guiding our Bhutan journeys 24th October to 6th November, 2014.

581f77ca1e1253171a8323e655fded1dCathy started her healing journey 24 years ago when she was diagnosed with secondary melanoma and was told she had only a couple of months to a couple of years to live and that chemotherapy and radiotherapy wouldn’t work. Her children were only six and eight and she knew she had to find ‘another way’ to heal.

After visiting 3 other doctors and told the same story, Cathy joined Cancer Support WA, which was the first place to give her hope and support. Over the years she has facilitated and instigated Wellness Programs, Support Groups, Women’s Healing Circles, the Gawler Foundation Healing and Wellbeing Program and many other groups. She has also been teaching Reiki for 20 years which has allowed her to develop a deep understanding of the spiritual aspect of life. We are delighted to have CSA Wellness Facilitator, Cathy Brown guide our mid- September’s upcoming Kerala journey.

There are also trips to spiritual places right in Australia such as this trip proposed for 2015 to Karijini, Australia to learn from the Aboriginal elders.

8926352872efd8504f9716d69e842fdeThe magic of the Pilbara is a world in which land, people and culture are intimately linked. One of the last frontiers covering 500,000km, the Pilbara is home to some of the most striking landscapes in Australia ~ ancient rock art, spectacular waterfalls, pristine rock pools and magnificent gorges. Blessed with spectacular red beauty, we will explore the spiritual heart of the Pilbara in Karijini National Park, offering you a truly unique outback experience that you will never forget. We share this mystical area of the world with Aboriginal elders, immersing ourselves within the wisdoms of this sacred land & observing through the focused lens the many landscapes surrounding you. Our breathtaking walks will have you discover the hidden gems of this extraordinary natural wonder.

Have I got you interested? Best to visit their website: http://www.journeysofthespirit.com.au/ and find out for yourself what they have to offer. I found the website to be a refreshing change from North American companies with the Ausie bent on the spiritual world. Julie herself has an interesting story of working in some high profile companies and then returning to Australia to set up her own company. As usual, if you go on one of these trips please send a comment so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Deepak Chopra on Life After Death

Deepak Chopra with his combination of Western and Eastern thinking is a wonderful person to explore this topic of death and the meaning of life. Here in a conversation with Allan Gregg in 2010 he describes his ideas of what happens after death as he has written in his book, Life After Death: The Burden of Proof. Please enjoy this half hour discussion of what will happen once you die.

For those who are not familiar with Deepak Chopra he “is an Indian-American physician and an alternative medicine and New Age guru known for his view that healing is primarily a mental rather than physical process”, according to Wikipedia. He has published over 15 best seller books and founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. He recently spoke at the headquarters of LinkedIn and Google to instil the ideas that we can heal the world. You can purchase his book or just look inside by clicking on the link below:

Spirit Skies Silent Retreat Center Reopens

Red rocks of Sedona, Arizona

Red rocks of Sedona, Arizona

Some readers may remember a past article about the man Bodhi Heart and his retreat center in the high pine forests between Phoenix and Sedona, Arizona. After finishing a third cabin, the retreat center has reopened and is available for a silence, yoga, meditation, writing, planning – anything you want to do away from the bustle of the modern world.

The website suggests that you can also take a side trip to the Grand canyon or to hike near Sedona in the red cliffs. If you are looking for a good place to experience self discovery or relaxation, this is the place for you. You can contact Bodhi Heart by phone or e-mail, both of which are listed on the website.

Here’s what one of the past guests has to say.

“Of all the wonderful retreat places that I have visited, the private hermitage at Spirit Skies is my favorite. The elk are almost a daily treat to see. And the stillness and sounds of nature are sublime.” ~ George M

“I traveled from Ireland to spend 6 weeks. The retreat experience is an open canvas that one can shape in whatever way spirit seeks.” ~ Oonagh C

“I found myself settling easily in to stillness, taking time to meditate, to walk in the nearby National Forest, to do meditative dance and do yoga in the gazebo, and to talk to Bodhi about spirituality.” ~ Emily M

If you tire of silence, Bodhi Heart will gladly talk to you. Here are some comments about his gentle way of helping others.

A gentle guide, an open heart, a place to find spirit and self. Bodhi Heart offers his land, his haven, his being to those who come to find peace in a fractured world. It is exactly what you make it …and it is beautiful.”   ~ Maggie D

Bodhi helped me clarify my intentions and laid the spiritual groundwork for my personal retreat. What started out to be a week of pure solitude ended up being a time when I wished for a gentle connectedness. Bodhi’s friendship was a gift.  I didn’t just stay at Spirit Skies; I brought it home with me.” ~ Dawn D

“Bodhi Heart supported my process and fearless intention with integrity. He mirrored my spirit and helped me to release some fears and illusions and have a deeper experience of my true self and following the heart.”     ~ Grace K

“This retreat was life changing. Time did not seem to exist while I was there. Bodhi gave generously of his time to help guide me in my purpose”       ~ Michelle B

Check the website for availability of the cabins. They do fill up so book one soon and enjoy this unique spiritual journey.

Retreats Online: Directory for Spiritual Journeys

With summer coming on in the Northern Hemisphere many of us are thinking ahead to a vacation time and wanting to find a special place. Here is a great site that might help you find just the place you would love for relaxation, inner guidance, to learn new skills or just to enjoy a part of the world off the tourist trails. The site is Retreats Online and they have organized retreats by location, date or subject. There is everything from a yoga retreat in Croatia to a desert magic retreat in Namibia. Probably the problem you will have is that there are too many enticing choices. Here is one of the descriptions of a weight loss retreat in Cost Rica. birchcreekcr1a

Blended into a landscape of scenic mountains, palm trees and ocean – Birchcreek Costa Rica is located in the scenic seaside town of Playa Carrillo on the Pacific coast. Experience jungle, ocean, adventure tours, healthy eating, juice fasting and fat burning fitness with a structured, results oriented and highly recommended weight loss and wellness program. Your accommodations include your private room with private bath, bath amenities, pool towels, complimentary wifi.. Step outside to stunning views of mountain and beach scenery. Walk 10 minutes to the beach or chill on the pool sundeck and experience the unsurpassed Costa Rica sunset. Pura vida! To read more about this website click here.

How about a summer sanctuary on SaltSpring Island in British Columbia? July 10 – 14 of this year. It promises to have a good balance of Yoga and exploring this very active and interesting island. Here are some details of Paradise Found.

paradise1.jpg-dockEnjoy our lake front slice o’heaven at our most relaxing-vibed retreat. Featuring yoga, aqua-size, chi gong, art play, amazing vegetarian meals and island excursions. You’ll have an opportunity to visit Ganges, listen (and maybe even dance) to live music, kayak*, ride horses*, beach-comb, enjoy a massage*, or just laze in the hammock. This is your opportunity to co-create your Mid-Summer fun. We base our plans and schedule on your requests and suggestions. Because we are a small group, it is relatively easy to give everybody a chance to do something special that they want. So what do you want to do?

This website is a great one to bookmark and explore when you have time or want to go some place new. You can also advertise with Retreats Online with very affordable rates. Like most directories the staff asks for details and testimonials before any listing is approved. The site is very easy to navigate. Contact links abound. I was a bit surprised not to see more social networking, but perhaps I just missed it. Check it out for yourself.

Sacred Journeys: Spiritual and Pilgrimage Travel

There are of course different types of spiritual journeys. Some people head off to explore ancient historical sites or to have an experience with others seeking some sort of spiritual enlightenment. Others are looking for answers or at personal direction. There is another group seeking more knowledge of a certain religion or spiritual path. These are the pilgrimage travellers. Here is a great article about these sites with suggestions about how to best benefit from these journeys as well as some recommended spiritual tour companies. The article, “In Search of Sacred Places: Spiritual and Pilgrimage Travel” is written by Peter Scheer, himself a tour company director, and is posted on the website Travel with a Challenge.

First, let’s look at the suggestions to help the traveller get the most benefit from the journey. First, prepare yourself mentally and physically. Many of these places are not easy to reach and it’s a good idea to do some research about the site as well how best to arrive there. In times past, people fasted for days or even took hallucinagenic herbs before approaching these sites. It’s important to approach with reverence and respect for local customs. They are places that are very important some people.

 In the European Middle Ages, most pilgrims to Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela and other Christian sites went there on foot which allows one plenty of time to prepare mentally. Travel to sacred sites required planning, persistence and often great sacrifices. No wonder arrival created such excitement!

The second suggestion is to leave room in your travel schedule for unexpected events to happen or time to visit with people you meet. This will leave you time also to just stop and soak up the incredible energy of these places that has built up over the centuries. There is not only the energy of the place itself but layered on top is the energy of all the other pilgrims who have come and gone away again over the centuries.

In ancient Greece, sages built an Earth Goddess shrine at Delphi because of the abundance of plenum, an energy they believed bubbled out of the slopes of Mount Parnassus. In the Chinese tradition there is a similar life force called chi. Sufis call it baraka and Hindus know it as prana. If this invisible energy seems fanciful to you, don’t forget that is how people felt about radio waves a mere 100 years ago. Perhaps 21st century establishment scientists will verify earth energies, but regardless of official endorsement, many travelers are creating their vacations around visiting places of power and spirituality.

American folklorist and mythology expert, Joseph Campbell once met a woman going to Greece to discover the spirit of the Goddess. After she showed him her elaborate, highly-detailed itinerary, Campbell said, “Dear lady, I sincerely hope that all does not go as planned.” He explained, “Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter in? The beginning of the adventure of finding yourself is to lose your way.”

Lastly, Mr. Scheer suggests that you decide why you are going. What is your goal? What do you want to find or experience? Of course the answer may change during your journey. Are just looking for a special experience or are you wanting to explore religious connections? People will ask you why you are going and also why you are there, so it’s a good idea to have some answer in mind. It will help you get more out of an experience that can end up being life-changing.

To read the original article and check out the spiritual tour companies listed at the end of the article, click here.

In sum then, it’s best to loosely plan your trip, find out more about the place, don’t cram in too much and be open to whatever happens. Remember that teachers come in all forms. The person living on the street might be one of them.

Red rocks of Sedona, Arizona

Red rocks of Sedona, Arizona

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Mt. Kailash, Tibet. Pilgrimage site for 15,000 years.

Mt. Kailash, Tibet. Pilgrimage site for 15,000 years.

What Happens with Spiritual Awakening?

One_with_the_Universe.72110127_stdFor some decades now people have been talking about “raising your awareness” and “higher vibrations”. However, there are now an increasing number of people who are experiencing physical symptoms that are linked to what is called Spiritual Awakening. Actually, this is nothing new. People throughout history have had religious experiences in which they saw visions, heard voices or at least felt different. What is different now is the number of people who are experiencing these states. Perhaps you are one of them. According to Wikipedia, there have been some common threads to these experiences.

  • Transient — the experience is temporary; the individual soon returns to a “normal” frame of mind. It is outside our normal perception of space and time.

  • Ineffable — the experience cannot be adequately put into words.

  • Noetic — the individual feels that he or she has learned something valuable from the experience. Gives us knowledge that is normally hidden from human understanding.

  • Passive — the experience happens to the individual, largely without conscious control. Although there are activities, such as meditation (see below), that can make religious experience more likely, it is not something that can be turned on and off at will.

Read the original here.

Now let’s jump to the present and look at what people are experiencing in often less clear terms. Arlene Rich has described 10 common “symptoms” of spiritual awakening. While some of them may of course come from other sources, together they do form a nucleus for what people are going through. It’s a kind of human evolutionary process.  Here is part of what Arlene has said.

• An increase in occurrences – (there aren’t any coincidences) An increase in psychic, mediumistic, clairvoyant, and intuitive skills.

• Acute sensitivity to negative energy around specific people or environments.

• A desire to “find yourself”, change your social group, behavior, job etc. Sudden extreme sensitivity to people or crowds. You may find that your once sociable nature suddenly disappears and you simply cannot bear to be with certain friends, family members, colleagues, or coworkers.

• Sudden awareness of recurring patterns or relationships- A noticeable inability to tolerate someone with whom you have had a previously close relationship.

• Sudden inexplicable panic or anxiety attacks occurring at any time with no valid reason. A feeling that something has changed within you.

• Acute sensitivity to shopping malls or crowded environments such as restaurants, clubs, festivals, and so on.

• Extreme sensitivity to mobile and digital phones, laptops, computers, wireless routers, and all microwave technology, as well as certain types of lighting.

• Falling asleep and then waking in the middle of the night at or around the same time, feeling wide awake and needing to be up, and oddly not being tired the next day as expected. (This is a sign of your consciousness adapting to new cycles of activity.)

• Strange electrical energy coursing through the body or body parts like legs or arms. (This is caused by the raised frequencies from the Galactic centre flooding the planet. These energies assist in the process of rewiring the physical and Light-Body in order to carry higher vibrating energies.)

• A whole range of physical experiences caused by detoxification as the body continues to release years of physical, karmic, emotional, and mental toxic waste, producing symptoms including: fatigue and exhaustion;excess thirst; stomach upsets, including cramps, headaches, especially at the base of the skull and migraines with pains over the crown and in one or both eyes; muscle, neck, and shoulder pains.

• Dizziness, balance problems, and feeling spacey (triggered by being in higher states of consciousness).

To read the complete list click here.

If you or someone you know can relate to some of these symptoms or phenomena, you are not alone. I suspect there will be counsellors and support groups  in the future specializing in helping people go through versions of spiritual awakening. It makes places such as retreat centers and monasteries even more valuable as centers to experience spiritual changes without the interference of modern life. And it is important  to remember that the end result of whatever mental and physical changes occur should be better – healthier and happier people and hopefully a more peaceful world.