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Retreat in Alentejo/Retiro no Alentejo

At the Green Gathering/Encontro Verde over Easter I led a meditation and showed a DVD called “Humanity Ascending”. Then I received an invitation from Isabel to do the same thing at a yoga retreat that she was organizing in the Serra da Mamede near Portalegre, Alentejo. I was really happy the event at the Green Gathering had sparked some more interest, so was happy to make the trip.

What has stayed with me the most about this weekend was the experience of being with these Portuguese people. A group of about 20 people of various ages and from various walks of life in Coimbra, they were all so warm, open and cheerful, it was simply a delight to be in their company! The retreat was a loosely organized affair in a rented house which nonetheless flowed seamlessly. We did meditation with a Portuguese Zen monk, Manuel, and yoga with a sweet fellow called Luis who, although I couldn’t understand what he was saying, had a wonderfully hypnotic voice as he led us through the movements. There was plenty of time for hanging out over meals and going for walks amongst the surrounding farms. It struck me that there is sweetness about the Portuguese because they are not egoically driven to “stand out” and make an impression. As a result there is an experience of simple harmony and cooperation which is probably second nature to them but struck me as quite unusual.

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On Saturday night I invited everyone to take a journey into the two deepest questions in life: Who am I and why are we here? The “Humanity Ascending” film by Barbara Marx Hubbard is a powerfully visual voyage into the story of our evolutionary origins and destiny.
Charting our story from the mystery that initiated the Big Bang of cosmic creation all the way to our current unprecedented global crisis, Barbara shows how we are now getting the signal from the Life process: Evolve or Die. She presents compelling evidence that we are now on the cusp of a quantum leap in our evolution into a universal humanity IF we wake up and become conscious participants in this process.

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On Sunday I was happy to hear that many had been impacted by the film. I had many conversations throughout the day that stretched my Portuguese into new directions as we explored what this leap into a deeper and higher consciousness as human beings might mean. If there is one quality I appreciate about the young Portuguese it is their innocence. I don’t mean naiveté; I mean that there is an openness and interest in new ideas that is refreshingly free from the jaded cynicism and narcissism that one tends to find in America and Northern Europe.

In the afternoon we travelled in car convoy to a nearby celtic standing stone, the oldest in Portugal dating back 6000 years. We sat in a circle around the stone and I led a meditation (amazingly in Portuguese, I dont quite know how I managed that!) which was a powerful experience of conscious communion. At the end we spontaneously joined hands and sang a long OOOMMMMM to the mystery of the universe. Then we sat back down and slices of honey bread were passed around the circle in a sacrament of smiles! Then I headed home with a smile on my face!

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During the day a number of people expressed interest in showing the film and starting a regular meditation and conscious evolution group in Coimbra which is very exciting and so it will be interested to see what happens. Also I had a very strong feeling that the Project we are developing here was also for these people and others from Coimbra, and that I would love make our place available for people to do similar retreats here sometime.

So thank you Isabel and thank you Manuel, Antonio, Rita, Candida, Luis and all the other new Portuguese friends that I so enjoyed spending time with in the beautiful valley of Rodam. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Love Pete

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