Santi Maha Sangha Retreat, November 2016


As the energy of spring was blossoming at Namgyalgar, practitioners gathered together to participate in a nine day Santi Maha Sangha base level practice intensive led by local SMS instructor Arnaud Coquilliard.

The retreat started with a welcome to country ceremony from Aboriginal Elder Allan Parson or “Uncle Allan” as he is affectionately known. He talked about the healing that needed to happen for the planet in general and how happy he is that we are here at Namgyalgar practicing Rinpoche’s teachings together and honouring the land and local energies. We all felt blessed for his participation, positivity and generous spirit. We practiced Sang together with the warm wind spreading the smoke far and wide.

The warm weather continued as we traversed our retreat bringing swarms of butterflies and various bugs. We were also host to the Koel bird which is a type of cuckoo with a very urgent and possibly annoying call, perhaps assisting in helping us to be more present.

The focus for our time together was to develop practitioners’ capacity for personal practice and retreat. We practiced various sessions of meditation connected to ‘The Precious Vase’ as we transversed its chapters. Arnaud stressed the need to be gentle with ourselves and aware of our energy levels and limitations in our practice. Every evening we were lucky enough to learn and practice Khaita with Tsering and Topgyal. We all felt blessed to have their presence at Namgyalgar.

Arnaud guided us through the nine days with care, thoughtfulness, patience, openness, presence and playfulness. We played games connected to deepening our knowledge of the text of ‘The Precious Vase’. We played the game of being present in which we were encouraged to go around the Gar doing whatever we felt like but trying to remain present as Rinpoche is always asking us. As an aid to not being distracted a Tibetan trumpet was sounded from time to time. On he last day we had a treasure hunt around the whole area of the Gar in which “Treasures” – reflections from ‘The Precious Vase’ were hidden all around the grounds and buildings of the Gar, a fun way to wind down from the retreat and incorporate movement.

Everyone was a little sad to leave but happy to go back to their everyday lives with hopefully a little more presence and understanding of our Precious Master’s teaching.

James Bailey


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