I have just returned from 9 days of animistic retreat in the high Andes of Peru.
Animistic cosmology suggests that a luminous intelligence infuses everything. It invites us to enter into sacred relationship with both the world of form and the realm of formlessness. To listen, receive and respond in all directions, guided by the song of the pure heart; by the benevolence of the collective symphony. We sing, nudge, trigger, embrace and dance each other home.
The sun, moon, water, fire, wind, earth, mountain spirits, earth spirits, animals, plants, you and I - all shining our unique light, glowing with and growing into Love’s rainbow reflection. Like an infinite variety of waves emerging from and returning to the great ocean of Love. Like an infinite variety of flowers blooming from and composting into the resplendent garden of Love.
Like this breath, now, arising and falling, receiving a great mystery and giving it back, with love.
Most of us are more familiar with a smaller dance than this. We have been raised in a fear-based trance of individualism. Terrified that the individual flower might not be enough or safe, we were encouraged to stand on the heads of others as we climbed higher, encouraged to become the one all turned their faces towards. Don’t concern yourself with the devastation around, darling. Don’t look down.
It’s possible to fall too far into the collective, also, perhaps. Some may worship the garden yet forget that they, too, are flowers within it. When we dampen our potential we dampen Love’s potential too. We are neither custodians nor servants of Love. We are Love. This - all this - is Love’s expansion.
The question which came to me when I set foot on the sacred land of the high Andes was: how to embody the simple truth that we are flowers in this garden of Love?
And remembering that I am not alone, that everything arises in the sweetness of reciprocal relationship, the question became a request: please help me to know myself as a flower of this garden.
I have found that whenever I ask to know what is already true, what I am shown are the ways that I deny or avoid this truth. You might have noticed this too? It can be no other way. Truth simply reveals itself as we recognise and embrace the barriers and veils that we place around it.
So when I asked, please help me to know myself as a flower of this garden, first I was shown the tendency to look elsewhere. To look for another flower to stand beside or behind. Holding these habits with the gentleness of love allows them to relax. When I did so, it was as if a powerful root exhaled into the ground.
Next I was shown old patterns of shame. When we forget who we are, we act with a violence and tender hearts will of course hide from this pain. Yet holding shame with forgiveness allows it to be seen in the light of love. When I did so, it was as if a vibrant shoot inhaled towards the sky.
Then came fear from the shadows: afraid to be naked and exposed, afraid of the times it was unsafe to shine. But giving this fear a stable home between Earth and Sky allows it to breathe. When I did so, it was as if a bud swelled from the tip of the shoot, filled with pregnant promise.
Everything is an unfolding: in the Andes they say all is en proceso - in process. For me, even as a simplicity of being here began to emerge, humble yet radiant in the garden of Love, I watched my mind attempting to recreate more familiar landscapes of separation. Erecting walls of Me vs You, Good vs Bad, Right vs Wrong. Boxes to climb inside; something to grasp and defend.
But in the vastness of that pristine space, the safety of separation felt too suffocating and small to inhabit for long. Each time I chose to climb back out into that same vastness resonant inside me, a new bud burst into flower, softened into blossom, relaxed into radiance. This, I recognised. This, I knew. Home.
And now, as I land back into London life, the vastness of mountain sky still alive inside me, I sit in wonder at a truth of reality I have glimpsed, of worlds both seen and unseen. The benevolence of spirit still surrounds me: the warm, forgiving guidance of the mountain spirit Apus; the generous embrace of Earth mother Pachamama.
I know these relationships are mine to cultivate, as they inevitably dim in the density of city and complexity of daily life. But a seed of a remembrance has been planted within me. We never left Love. We are all flowers in its garden. It’s true.
There’s a profound relaxation in that knowing, which I so hope to be able to share with you in person, too.
On Saturday afternoon (April 29th) I’m teaching a workshop in London. With a long, slow practice of yoga and meditation, my hope is that we’ll experience this truth in a direct and embodied way. The truth that we’re flowers in the garden of Love. The truth that we’re already whole.
And at the end of May I’m teaching a 5 day (6 night) retreat in Devon. We’ll be held by the powerful land of Sharpham House estate, the winding tidal river Dart, daily practices of yoga, meditation and ceremony, a depth of silence and the sweetness of meaningful sharing. We’ll be held by Love. And held in this way, I hope that you, too, will know the simplicity and grace of simply being the flower that you are.
A flower in the garden of Love.
The next workshop at Love Supreme Projects is Saturday April 29th from 1.30-4.30pm: Already Whole.
With a long, slow yoga and meditation practice, we will connect to a field of sacredness through the body, breath, heart and consciousness itself. We will experience directly that we’re not alone and inseparably connected to the web of Love. We will experience that we are already whole: flowers in the garden of Love.
Feedback from previous workshops: "You have a remarkable ability to create an environment where huge shifts can happen." ~ "It was pure magic. I couldn’t believe that 3 hours had passed when the session finished, I felt like we had entered a different reality" ~ "Brought me back to life" ~ "I love the guided meditation with yoga mix. I felt so deeply nourished, grounded, open and in Love" ~ "Exquisite, loving, life affirming, resetting" ~ "Extraordinary and brilliant!" ~ "Thank you for the magic, I can still feel it this morning in the air we are breathing together" ~ "So much more than I hoped for"
The next retreats are May 20-26 in Devon, and October 9-15 in France.
Join us for a magical dive into deep homecoming, remembrance and return for 5 full days of yoga, meditation, ceremony, contemplation, intimacy and celebration in the extraordinary retreat centres of Sharpham House and Le Moulin de Chaves. This is where real transformation happens. Retreats feed and nourish us for the rest of the year.
More information and booking here.
Assisted places are available on request; my hope is that no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. Please contact me for more details.
Feedback from retreats: "Thank you for the beautiful gift of this retreat. Words can't translate what this week has been for me. Thank you hardly seems enough to encompass the gratitude I feel for creating and holding this safe space, which you have done so effortlessly and with pure love... As I think of returning back to the routine of life I am conscious not to fall back into old habits that do not serve me. I know the path is long but I also know that there is a part of me, hidden in the depths of muddy waters, that knows, believes and feels I am worthy of love. Of loving myself... Thank you for helping me find her." ~ "I’m bursting with love and joy and gratitude. I feel so blessed to have been there" ~ "My retreat with you came at a time of great turmoil in my life. Spending the week with you, listening to your teaching and being allowed the space and time to reflect on my situation, listen to my body and understand what I needed was invaluable. I can only thank you because here I am a year later happier, healthier and stronger both in mind and body and very much looking forward to another wonderful week with you."
Beautiful, Ayala. I felt myself soften just reading your words. They also brought to mind that beautiful Rumi quote, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ❤️