Update: Teaching in the UK

Dear Friends,

I recently sent an email to my Practice Discussion Groups in Austin letting them know about my teaching adventures in the UK. I wanted to stay connected and support our shared practice while I was gone I've been encouraged to put this up on the blog so everyone can be part of the update so here it is!

I miss every one of you! I do appreciate the wonderful opportunities I have to teach and work with amazing students in so many places, but, as they say, “There’s no place like home.” I just finished with the first week of teaching here with two more to go, so I thought I would check in with you. Here is my update so far.

I flew to London, leaving Austin the evening of Thursday, April 28 arriving at Heathrow early Friday morning. I was met by one of my senior students, Cesca, who drove me out toward the southern coast, along the English Channel, to an old farmhouse where another of my senior students, David and his wife Sallie, took care of me until I left for “the North” on Tuesday, May 3. I recovered from jet-lag, worked on my teaching plans, walked along the windy shore, through fields of Spring flowers, and began the teaching tour by leading a one-day retreat composed of students from two small sitting groups which meet in the homes of these two senior students. We had just over 30 people and it was a lovely day. We had beginners who had never sat a retreat before and some very experienced students who came down from Sheffield. It was a great start in an entirely new area of the UK for me. Here is a small image from a beach walk. At the end of the one-day we had a small precepts ceremony for two students who had finished their study and practice course, the first such ceremony I’ve done in the UK. It was sweet and more potent than I think the group had anticipated.

When I finished in the South, I took a train back to London to Waterloo Station, then a cab through across to Euston Station, and then a second train to Lancaster in the northwest where the Irish Sea and North Atlantic come together. As I went from station to station in London in the cab I took a quick shot as the crossed the Thames. There was a lot to see in this one view if you look closely (whether walking, biking, or in a cab).

Once in Lancaster, I stayed with two of my other senior students, Josh and Trudy, who, as a couple, lead the "Nothing Missing” Sangha. Josh Gifford will actually be the first Head Student among the UK sangha’s beginning next week. I will say more about that later. The 3-day non-residential retreat was this Wednesday through Friday. We had 26 people and continued the teaching theme on “Embracing Impermanence.” It was a very rich three days with powerful Inquiry at the end. Lancaster is known for its large and ancient castle which served as a prison for many years. It has parts that are Medieval and then other parts added later. Here is a glimpse at the oldest part of the huge structure on the hill.

Today (Saturday) I was driven back to the middle of the country, to Sheffield, where my teaching in the UK started. The “Nothing Special” sangha is the original group here. Tomorrow we will have a special day in celebration of Ginny Bennett, the woman who first organized the Hakomi trainings which brought me here years ago, and who later took on the IFS trainings, and also helped support the sanghas here in the UK and Switzerland. She was an amazing woman who died in February of pancreatic cancer. Monday I will begin another 3-day non-residential retreat here in Sheffield and then on the south again to Devon and the longer residential retreat. I will report on those events later.

I will report back later as the next two retreats unfold.
Please know that I carry you in my heart.

P.S. My student David has a lovely little one-room building where he meditates and studies. It is part of the cluster of buildings at Nunnington Farms and serves as his office as well. Here is the corner where we would sit in the morning. All the stones which make us the walls of the building are flint. Every one of them.