“By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn”.
~ Latin Proverb ~

Happy 2019 to everyone I have not yet seen, and Tashi Delek! Last was Losar, the start of the Tibetan New Year! In the Tibetan/Chinese calendar, we are just stepping into the year of the Earth Pig. This is a time to indulge a little, to have fun and find a healthy balance between the material and the spiritual.

I was thoroughly indulgent in January, and hosted three consecutive retreats. The first was a profound learning journey into the African Wisdom Traditions. Although I have read about these beliefs and practices in the past, I have never been able to learn through direct transmission from sangomas and arts-based practitioners. My focus over the last ten years has been to learn from the Eastern Wisdom Traditions, particularly yoga and Buddhism, yet there is so much deep wisdom in Africa that was sent underground during colonialism and apartheid. Through a Mind and Life Think Tank grant, I had the privilege of conceptualizing and convening a Research Retreat on African Contemplative Practices (ACP) so that we can benefit from these arts-based, community-oriented, movement meditation traditions, which bring a deep sense of connection and joy. It feels so important, with such qualities in short supply, in our modern screen-centred and divided world.

I want to thank the six ACP facilitators deeply for what they shared: Gogo Moyo, Zola Xashimba, Nhlanhla Mahlangu, Bandile Seleme, Nonkululeko Busika and Moeketsi Kgotle. We were also supported by Ruth Levin-Vorster, a neuroscientist, Warren Nebe, skilled facilitator, Geshe Lobsang Dhundup from the Office of Tibet and a research team, Caryn Green and Tonia Rall. The beautiful photos that you may have seen on Facebook were taken by Eric Thoka, and he is currently edit some films of the work.

There was so much I learned that links into what I have been offering around Intentions over the last ten years. In Sanskrit the word is svardharma; in Japanese, ikigai; while bantu languages use the term ubizo. This is our calling, our purpose, the work that gives meaning to our lives. These are the talents and gifts that we were born with, and which we must deliver to the world in order to feel aligned and complete. When we live consciously, with our purpose in mind, it is much easier to make decisions, and to reach out for opportunities that align with our authentic self.

After the ACP retreat was over, I travelled down to Ixopo to connect with participants at the Buddhist Retreat Centre and then back to the Tara Rokpa Centre for another New Year Intentions Retreat, These were opportunities to reconnect – or to discover – our ubizo, and make practical plans for the year based on our foundational values.

  • What is your calling?

  • What gives meaning to your life and guides you moment by moment?

  • What are you birthing in 2019?

This time away with inspiring individuals also gave me the chance to reconnect with my own ubizo – to learn and to share. When the two happen together, I feel a replenishing cycle of receiving and giving.

Lucy Draper Clarke, Feb 2019