RETREAT!

Retreat is happening again! Summer, Saturday January 28 through to the following Sunday February 4th. Everyone is welcome to come for whichever days they are able, for at least two nights (sorry, no single-day visits! Too much coming and going disrupts the flow with all of the hellos and goodbyes).

As usual there will be no fixed program or schedule but over the nine days we’ll get up to all sorts of things:

Many kinds of movement practice: jungle gym training, parkour basics, dance and acrobatics, contact improvisation, capoeira, wrestling, many kinds of martial arts, deep explorations of the anatomy and the many physical skills which come from it, animal mimicry, natural strength training and rehabilitative exercise.

Meditation or sensory awareness practices: from Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, European and various Indigenous traditions and modern methods, and –

Things from the broad field of “bushcraft”, “primitive skills”, “rewilding” and “nature connection”: things like basketry, making fire with friction, flint knapping, rope making, pottery, hide tanning and leatherworking, learning edible and medicinal plants and plant identification generally, bird language, animal tracking and stalking, natural camouflage, traditional cooking methods, spear throwing, and archery.

A good amount of chilling out! Cooking around the fire, exploring the beautiful bush, swimming in the river, soaking in the fire bath, reading books from the retreat library, hanging out and having the time for long in depth conversations with wonderful interesting people. Everyone is invited to share their skills and knowledge, and to teach things that they may have only just learned, so we have a strong culture of sharing and mentoring and constant “mini-workshops” happening spontaneously each day.

The cost is $150 per day, with concessions and payment plans available for anyone who requires them – it is important to us that these retreats stay accessible to all kinds of people, so if it feels like the price is outside your range but you would still really love to come, please get in touch.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, send me an email at simon.thakur@gmail.com or call or text (I’m out of range a lot of the time these days) to 0431 166 737.

Check the RETREATS AND WORKSHOPS page for more information and contact details, the PHOTOS page, for photos, or check out the Facebook event HERE

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A small update

Well it’s been crazy times since I last made an update. Just off the top of my head, I’ve been to a primitive survival skills camp (with A.S.I); a 5 day retreat with Wim Hof AKA “the iceman”; a 6 day alchemy retreat with some very interesting recluses in Victoria; a fantastic course called “Nature One” with some friends up near Coffs Harbour (“Nature Philosophy”); a 9 day retreat called “Seven Levels of Quest” with a guy called Malcolm Ringwalt from Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School in the USA (we had Jon Young visit last year, this was this year’s equivalent I guess? It was basically a crash course in the philosophy of the Upanishads, with experiential exercises derived from indigenous North American vision quest traditions. Not what I’d expected, but great); and then out of nowhere my partner Janet and I got invited to sit a four day vision quest while a bunch of our friends from the previous course did their “vision quest protector” training. So about a week ago I found myself putting off yet again my increasingly desperate need for some downtime and sat in a circle on a big rock under a beautiful tree overlooking a spectacular eucalypt forest for four days and four nights, fasting “from all things familiar” (except water). I guess it was downtime actually, no one to talk to, nothing to do, all the time in the world to watch the sun inching its way across the sky.

All of these were incredible experiences. Amazing courses taught by amazing teachers in beautiful places, and all on top of a non-stop schedule of my own retreats and workshops and helping out on my good friends Lee and Gina (from Bluegum Bushcraft)’s kids’ rewilding camps.

(more photos of retreats can be found HERE and there are more coming very soon)

Retreats are getting better and better! I can hardly believe it, the amount of stuff we’re doing now, going ever deeper into the movement and meditation work, rehabilitation and nature connection, primitive skills and rewilding, dance and parkour, building the jungle gym to even more epic levels, acquiring a fire bath…last time we had Rafe Kelley (Evolve Move Play) come all the way from Seattle to be our guest teacher, and in recent retreats we’ve had my friends Stuart Gadenne (Tengeri Natural Fitness and Cave Foods) and Ei Yang (Renourish Rewild) teaching us things about movement, awareness, hunting and foraging, traditional food preparation (using all parts of the animal), and hide tanning; and Janet Ranken (Wandering Earth) has been teaching basketry, natural dyeing of fabrics using foraged plants, bush tucker and primitive skills.

Our next retreat is happening soon – starting Saturday January 28th and finishing the following Sunday February 5th. The facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1691565781158157/ and signup page will go up on this website just as soon as I have more than half an hour of internet time. There has already been a lot of interest and is likely to fill up so if you’re keen to secure a spot get in touch ASAP – I have already started collecting deposits from people.

Finally, I’ve moved to Mullumbimby! And am living in a little shack deep in the rainforest (upper Wilson’s Creek, for those in the know), working on a property with my old friend Lex and turning it into a place where we can host retreats and workshops and things. It’s ridiculously beautiful up here, but yep: no internet, no phone. We have to drive into town to use these newfangled computer gadgets so I don’t get to check or update as much as I once did.

The great thing is though that in the last year I’ve gone from working up to living in the bush about half the time, to actually living in the bush all the time. Dealing with snakes and ticks and leeches and rain and wind and all of that gets a bit tiring at times, but honestly I could just spend my whole life sitting and watching the rain fall on the forest – if there wasn’t so much work to be done hacking the jungle back with machetes.

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Some new videos

Filmed in a spare moment on the autumn retreat in Araluen.

First one is of a few movements based on the “Hun Yuan Gong Fa” of Feng Zhi Qiang (Chen style Hun Yuan Taijiquan), but with the emphasis on “washing” peaceful, powerful, joyful, energised awareness through the different parts of the body and out into the space around the body. I’m not actually doing the full set, just demonstrating some of the movements that we practiced on the retreat during which it was filmed.

This practice is a very simple but very powerful, gradual changing of the body maps and spatial maps in the brain, and rewiring their connections with the deeper emotional centres and autonomic centres in the brainstem. Slowly but surely changing the sense of self and of three dimensional space on a neurological level, gaining more conscious influence over the activities of the endocrine and immune systems, and improving our ability to change the focus of awareness from the very small details inside the body to the infinitely large outside world.

For more information about the body maps in the brain, neuroplasticity and consciously changing the sense of self, you might like to read or re-read some of my earlier musings in this (still not finished) series on the topic: Body Maps: changing the bodies in our headsBody maps and sensorimotor amnesiaBodymaps, spinal awareness and interoceptionBodymaps, interoception and the heart; and learn all about using the brain to treat pain from one of the world’s leading experts on the topic, David Butler, featured in the video in this post: David Butler on using the brain to treat pain.

Next up, some Baguazhang foundation exercises for developing strength and flexibility through the hips, legs, back and torso, and for gradually developing coordination and whole body connected power while changing heights, twisting and bending through three planes of motion. Filmed at our retreat spot in Araluen valley, NSW (Australia), in May 2016.

And if you’d like to read and think more about spiral anatomy (which is a big part of the point of training the above exercises), here are some recent posts about that: Spiral anatomySpiral anatomy and movement, continuedSpiral anatomy continued, again, and an older one: Spiral movement.

All of the above videos and many more can be found here on the VIDEOS page, and here on the Ancestral Movement Youtube Channel, and many more photos and a couple of videos from retreat will be uploaded in the coming weeks.

 

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