Monday, October 27, 2008

Camel-Horse Retreats

Last weekend (Oct 17-19) saw the happy completion of the second Sacred Camel-Horse Retreat here at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. This month's and last month's retreats were attended by some great people, each of whom went home feeling softened, stilled and strengthened in spiritual contemplation and connection . (See testimonials below.)

Prolonged time in the contemplative culture of these large, gentle, animals reveals a new way of looking at and relating to the world. The camels loved the retreat, too. By the end of the weekend they had clearly become more intimate and connected with the group of humans who had come into their home.

During the October retreat Craig Love introduced us to "Contact Care" - for humans and animals. Visiting for two weeks from NZ, Craig worked a lot with the camels and the two horses, Bright and Holy, both of whom are healing and regenerating from years of eventing and competition. The black gelding, Bright, was Craig's partner for the Contact Care demo which was very interesting and useful.

Toward the end of Craig's presentation Carmen May (also a bodyworker) was approached by the white mare, Holy. The horse stood in front of Carmen, gazing into her face... it seemed obvious she wanted some bodywork so Carmen stood up, put her hands on the horse and began... Holy went into a deep meditative trance, and at one point virtually performed a simple piaffe (prancing on the spot) releasing whatever stuck energies began shifting... both horses stood in a daze of pleasure afterwards.

Ongoing Camel-Horse Retreats

These first two Fear-No-More weekend retreats served our planning and preparation for running ongoing monthly retreats starting next April or May.

In the meantime we will continue through the fall and winter months with very simple two or three hour retreats with the camels, where people can just come and drop out into the Contemplative herd culture for a while. Details on these free afternoon retreats are forthcoming. Write us if you're interested.

As these retreats evolve it's conceivable that they'll be variously designed to cater to: weekend group retreats (max 10); personalized weekend retreats (max 3); retreats for young adults; for children and parents; for people interested in our "training" approach; possibly even for corporate or business groups. Some retreats might also be focussed around other non-humans living here, such as the birds, reptiles and trees. And some retreats will host well known guest presenters working in the various areas of positive human-animal relations.

Since arriving here, Bright and Holy have undergone a transformation of their hooves, and have received hours of body work from several body-workers (from Lake County, New Zealand and Santa Rosa). They have also had their teeth realigned and "floated" by an equine dentist from Santa Rosa. As a result they are walking and running better, eating and digesting better, and feeling healthier in body and temperament. And they have come to experience and enjoy humans in a way they had probably given up hoping for a long time ago... They are now enjoying, in body, mind and psyche, increasing relief from years of ignorance by previous owners...

The schedule for 2009's Camel-Horse Retreats will be forthcoming. Check back for dates.

Fear-No-More Zoo

Sacred Camel-Horse Retreat Testimonials:

Fiona Syme: It is strange to try to find the words that best describe the gifts of spending time amongst the integrity of camels and horses because "words" are exactly what you are relieved of experiencing in their company. And yet, one feels surprisingly full and happy... and wordless... and that is the gift -- the gift of being truly content without words....aaaaah!

Susunka Christmann: This was the most delightful and happy thing I have done in a very long time. Being with these extraordinary wide eyed and gentle beings made me remember how to be released into harmony with my environment without the slightest agenda. Doing "nothing" for many hours is doing "something" very important. All of this has a lot to do with egolessness and prior unity of all that arises.

Thanks to Stuart's unobtrusive guidance we entered slowly and more and more deeply into the "Sacred Camel Gardens". These retreats are for those who know Adi Da already and for those who don't yet -- a great opportunity to "meet" Him.

The breath wide, expanded and as effortless as can be - something that seemed to be helped by the camels - all restlessness gone - everything - nature, humans and non-humans were full with life and contemplation was naturally all around and stayed around for the longest time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barack at Four Months

As often as possible I spend long hours sitting with the camels; in their spacious paddock they come and go as they wish. Sometimes I'll sit completely alone for hours. At other times they all surround me, each politely hoping for a carrot piece. Sometimes I put my chair right in the middle of their circle of hay and sit among them as up to nine camels feed and move about. Even when they argue over hay piles they respect my space, making sure not to bump me as they move around. It's a little dangerous but I'm careful. It's also useful for getting to know them.

This morning, after coming and going a few times, young Barack (4 months old), plodded over to
me, sitting there in my plastic chair, and draped her long, lazy, neck over my shoulder. She lifted her front left leg and rested her knee on my lap, sort of perching there. She was, and is, extremely respectful of my space, usually not pushy at all, so I let her do what she wanted.
Unable to get into my chair with me she circled around and sat at my feet where she spent the next twenty minutes pulling on my shoe laces until they were completely undone. Then we sat quietly together for about an hour, meditating and randomly touching and acknowledging one another. The herd went about its usual random routine of wandering the pasture, coming and going as we sat...

This afternoon I found Barack again and went over and sat with her on the ground. Wrapping my arm around her neck, we sat together, side by side, as the sun softened behind tall trees.

When Barack was born it wasn't clear whether she was really coming to stay so a few of us (Ron, Andrea, Shawnee and I) remained with her and her mother for most of the calf's first 48 hours, until she was steady on her feet and suckling confidently. For the first two weeks Barack slept a lot, often with her head on my chest or belly. So we know each other well now and the trust is deep. Working and interacting with her as she matures should be very rewarding and interesting.

As Google Mama (Barack's mother) observes my care and relationship with Barack, her trust and respect of me deepens also. To a lesser degree the same process is occurring with the whole herd. I interact closely with everyone in the herd, including the other calves, and Barack's interactions with me communicate deeply to the others.
When I'm sitting in the paddock, whether the camels interact with me directly or are far away doing their own thing, the same process of bonding and trust-building is taking place. I'm always surprised at how much goes on between us when we're at opposite ends of the pasture. I can still leave at day's end, feeling deeply connected, and part of the herd, even if they never visited with me, though they usually visit a lot!