Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ojai Foundation, California

This week I found inspiration and beauty at a retreat at The Ojai Foundation in Ojai, California.

According to the Ojai Foundation website, the 40-acre educational sanctuary in Ojai has been inspiring, transforming, and nurturing all who visit for 30 years. "The Land" serves as a living experiment for sustainable practices and an incubator for personal and collective information.

The Land has hosted elders and teachers from indigenous cultures, wisdom traditions, and new sciences, gathering students to soak up knowledge. And we were so honored to have it host us.

Staying on the Land was a deeply spiritual experience for me, and I drew much from communing with this place that holds such deep history. We stayed in yurts, ate beautiful vegetarian meals in the community kitchen, and relished the sisterhood.

Days began with a mediation at 7:30 am, which seemed not only fitting, but perfect. Gathering together with others staying on the Land and beginning our days with this time of mindfulness left me feeling so strengthened, and so immensely blessed.

My time at Ojai Foundation was one of renewal and such deep relaxation, I missed my flight home, because I was so wound up in enjoying the last impeccably quiet morning that I didn't leave for reality nearly early enough! (No worries, I was able to catch one two hours later, and the experience only cost me an extra $50.)
We couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous place to spend our days, learning in circle together. The Council House is a majestic meeting space.

With this sort of view to wake up to, it was impossible to be stressed.
The facility has two kivas, one covered and one open air. They were both gorgeous places to gather around a fire and share. There is just something so special about a fire, and the way it draws people together, makes them feel connected and deepens relationships. It was so reminiscent of camp as a kid!

The family atmosphere was unmistakable and ever-present. Children were a part of so much of the ceremony and celebration of our time in Ojai.

The week was full of many first for me (and a lot of us), one of which was a ceremonial sweat in the domed sweat lodge on the property. I'm not sure words can even touch on what the experience was like, aside from purifying and deeply spiritual. I would definitely take the opportunity to be part of the ritual again. Of all the activities of the six days we spent at Ojai, I would say this one was the most bonding.

If ever you have the opportunity to spend time at the Ojai Foundation, I would highly recommend it. Here is a lovely You Tube video I found, with a tour of the facilities.

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