July 29th – August 6th
By Louis Vaughan
On the 29th of August, 26 of us gathered at Kunselling in Wales to practice, and receive teachings on the view and meditation. We were a diverse group – Italy, France, Czech Republic, and many more countries were represented. In fact, the UK practitioners were a minority!
It was a pleasure for the UK community to have this opportunity to connect and practice with Vajra siblings from all across the world, and there was a very strong feeling of affection, community, and support throughout the 9 day retreat. Igor Berkhin led us in a program that integrated sitting practice, stories, rushens, hikes in the beautiful Welsh countryside to integrate with the elements, and of course, many extremely innocent jokes, with the essential points of Rinpoche’s teaching. All of this was delivered in Igor’s characteristically clear and down to earth style, and with great compassion. We were encouraged to share our experiences as practitioners, and appreciate the difference, as well as the commonality of all of our manifestations. Igor also reminded us of the benefits of taking responsibility for our own practice – of organizing in small groups of four or five, to study and practice together in quiet retreat for a few days at a time, without needing to rely on the presence of an authorized instructor.
We also discussed our local community, how it was carrying out its functions, and brainstormed areas we could work to improve, as well as new initiatives we felt could be helpful – always keeping in mind the principles of collaboration, and awareness.
During the week there was instruction on the Dance of the Three Vajra with Lorraine Gaultier each lunch time, as well as a practice of Yantra Yoga in the morning led by Alessandra Policreti. Many new members of the community were thus able to learn these wonderful practices. We are all tremendously grateful to these teachers for sharing their knowledge – as well as to Inna Ossinkina, Rajan Darbar, Red Lau, Alexander Studholme, and Barry Patterson, for kindly putting time and energy into organizing the retreat. Red in particular deserves special mention for her inimitable cooking, aided every day by Robin Russell and Rowan Wylie. Thanks also to Caroline Martin, for her supply runs and her work ensuring that Kunselling is ready for our next retreat, and to each and every member of the sangha who travelled to be here and pitched in.
Finally, we are grateful beyond measure to Igor himself for all his time and effort in travelling here, and in spending these days giving us the opportunity to deepen our knowledge of these profound teachings.
We finished our retreat with a very joyful party, suggested and DJ’d by Alessandra’s daughter Rosa, and the following day had a sunlit lunch before saying farewells and setting off on our various journeys home. With immense love for all the members of the Dzogchen Community, wherever they may be, we hope that the opportunities for such retreats only develop and grow, and that all of you have the opportunity to join us here at Kunselling at some time or another.