On Retreat at Glenbarr

I spent the weekend (16-18th April 2021) on a meditation retreat held at a beautiful old homestead in Strathalbyn, about an hour’s drive from Adelaide. I’ve done several retreats over the last ten years or so, including a ten day Vipassana retreat in Battambang, Cambodia, and various 2-5 day retreats in South Australia. This one was run by Anna Markey, of Coast and City Sangha, at Glenbarr homestead. I met Anna before Covid when she and Ken Golding ran a climate change themed retreat in Victor Harbor. I liked her approach and sporadically attended her sessions in Adelaide until Covid forced a halt. Her approach is unlike others I’ve experienced, in that she does not recommend trying to avoid or ignore your thoughts during meditation — rather, she espouses recollective awareness, whereby you allow your thoughts to occur, and briefly journal them at the end of the meditation. In this way, over time, you become aware of your predominant patterns of thinking. The weekend was mostly spent in silence (apart from dharma related discussions), and without any electronic distractions. There were multiple meditations each day, mostly forty-five minutes long plus a short journaling session after each meditation.

I haven’t been writing much since the start of Covid, so this period of quiet isolation was an opportunity to get back to poetry of some kind, however basic. As part of my post meditation journaling I wrote a haiku-like (not all strictly haiku format) poem related to either the meditation or the discussion.

Glenbarr Homestead was built in 1842. It has a huge personality of its own, and is home to a range of very active wildlife. On the first evening, for instance, a bat came into the meditation hall and swooped over our heads for several minutes before being enticed outside by turning all the lights off except for an external lamp. A huge flock of correllas made regular flights over the property, and there were numerous unidentified animals to be heard running around and over the roof.




Meditation One:

what is the sound

of one bat flapping?


The Heritage Wall:

Its sounds are impervious

to our passing thoughts


Meditation Three:

The roof is alive

to the sound of footsteps


Even your own mug

can teach you a life lesson

about attachment


A meat-eater’s tee-shirt:

how can a vegan respond

in a skilful way?


Need a more Buddhist

response to the barking dog

than “Shut the Fuck Up”


Scott Morrison’s path

is less of The Middle Way

more The Muddle Way 


Sounds of the Sangha

Throat clearing, yawns and snoring

test my compassion


He was too far out

all his life, not sleeping

but meditating


The discussion group

wanders off the eightfold path,

falls over a cliff


St. Leonard Cohen

let me burn the fuel

of my agitation


May I witness the

causes and conditions

of my grumpiness


Each chattering thought

is like a corella’s squawk

saying “Look at me”


__________________________________
Copyright Mike Hopkins 2021

5 thoughts on “On Retreat at Glenbarr

  1. love to see you back again, Mike; the meditation retreat is attractive; read your haiku through a few times now; not all work but there’s three or four stand-out ones! really enjoyed reading this 🙂

  2. Enjoyed that.

    Like Julie, my favourite was:
    Each chattering thought
    is like a corella’s squawk
    saying “Look at me”

    But
    The discussion group
    wanders off the eightfold path,
    falls over a cliff
    made me laugh.

Please tell me what you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s