Autumn retreat review

 

Back from retreat.

We’re really starting to get somewhere I think. On the movement front, we upgraded the jungle gym to new levels of awesomeness, with massive logs between big trees at all angles so you can balance and climb and swing and crawl all over the place and never have to do the same thing twice. Little by little we are going ever-deeper into the segmental spinal movements, and linking them with all of the fundamental animal movement patterns externally, and linking them with the inner movements of the abdomen and the thorax, the ability to direct breath into specific segments of the spine and central axis, repatterning the lifetime of associations tangled up with body and breath using the beginning stages of the Buddha’s anapanasati – mindfulness based on the breath.

Wrestling, contact improv, acrobatics, natural style tumbling, gymnastics strength, whole-body three dimensional mobility, capoeira angola, exploratory dance and butoh, feldenkrais/bodymind centering explorations of the inner tube from mouth to anus, pranayama foundations and Wim Hof breathing, cold water immersion and soaking in the hot fire baths, Hun Yuan qigong as nature worship.

People brought along some freshly killed animals found by the side of the road, so there was some skinning and hide tanning of kangaroos and foxes, bone broths, roo tail cooked on the fire the traditional way and smoking of kangaroo meat to make jerky in a big smoker made of tree bark. We ate eels caught in the river, practiced stalking and tracked roos wallabies pigs foxes dogs and wombats in the rain, made string and rope out of stringy bark, dyed fibres and wove baskets, practiced making fire with hand drills, carved wood, foraged edible and medicinal plants, and learned about fermenting foods. We told stories around the fire and talked about myths and initiation and traditional ways of life still practiced in communities in Arnhem land. On the last day we had a show and tell of things we’d made, and there was a big spread of baskets, hats, shoes and moccasins, bows and spears and special sticks, spoons, plant-dyed scarves and clothes, jewelry, pottery and other stuff. It really felt like with a bit more time and practice we could actually become a functional community of competent human beings, living in relationship with the land and able to feed ourselves and make the things we’d need to live directly out of our environments. What a crazy thought.

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