Winter Newsletter
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End of year ruminations from Sophie

What a year we have had here at Bonhays. Firstly a hearty shout out to the fantastic team who make this place what it is.  Particularly Olivia (multi tasking, Booja loving, welcoming party and queen of all things domestic) Tony (I can fix anything, does fix everything, creative, meditating, book keeping, administrating, web-siting all round lovely person) and Evie (can we eat your food all the time, kitchen alchemist and chef extraordinaire).  Thank you all. 
I have taught many residential retreats and regular evening and day classes here in the UK, taught some Nei Gong in the USA helping Tino and in a tent in a field!  I have studied intensively with my teacher in Bali, Sweden, Portugal and the UK and started training in Ancient Chinese Medicine.  I have learned and am learning a tremendous amount from both my teacher and my students and feel very fortunate to have had such wonderful opportunities, I am so grateful for all I have been given. The retreat centre continues to flourish with next years calendar full already! 
So thank you all for your help, support, sharing and participation.  My teaching dates for 2017 are all here.  Apart from the two on-going meditation programmes we have running, I will be continuing to teach and develop the Nei Gong programme at Bonhays.

I wish everyone at this turn of the year love, and everything wonderful for 2017.

What is Nei Gong?
by Sophie

Those of you who have been coming to Bonhays for some time and studied meditation with me have noticed the complete change to my teaching. I have been immersing myself as deeply as i can in this study of Daoism and can only teach that which I practice. So I decided to write this short piece outlining the basics of what Nei Gong is to hopefully answer some of those questions :)

Nei Gong, coming from the Daoist tradition, manifests the philosophy of Daoism into a systematic process of internal change. Generally translated as ‘internal skill’, Nei Gong is a less known aspect of the internal arts to its counterpart of Qi Gong. The term Nei Gong describes a process of internal change, rather than a set of physical exercises. We use the exercises and forms of Qi Gong and Dao Yin as tools to facilitate this process. In the beginning stages this includes the opening of internal energy movement, release of stagnation within the body and awakening the energy system. Ultimately the practise aims to bring us into the deepest levels of our being beyond the egoic layers of the mind, where truth and freedom become revealed.
Nei gong is a systematic process, beginning with the densest manifestation of creation (the body) and gradually aiming to refine our vibrational makeup towards spiritual cultivation. This process gives the practitioner increased health and prepares the body and energy system for the faster/stronger frequencies connected with spiritual opening. Thereby enabling our human expression to be in balance between Heaven and Earth.
To do this we use various methods such as body conditioning, standing postures, Qi gong and Dao Yin forms. It is the combination of correct alignments, breath work and intention combined with the transmission of the teacher that ‘awakens’ the Nei Gong process inside the body. This sets the practitioner off on a journey of transformation, which is then up to them to continue and cultivate.

One of the key principles of Nei Gong is learning the art of letting go, a lifetime study. The training involves various forms of practice with the body, breath and mind that bring us in one way or another to our edge, so we experience the tension and resistance holding us away from the release into stillness.  This edge is hugely important; as it is only there that real transformation can occur.
Working with the body as the foundation for spiritual cultivation is a classical Daoist process. Our bodies face us with ourselves in a way that some pure consciousness practises do not. The early stages of the Nei Gong process teach us to stay open and release emotional and physical toxins from within our system. We come to see that perhaps we are not so skilled as we think at being spiritual when standing in some uncomfortable position for a long time!  It prepares us for life, which sometimes purely sitting traditions do not. (Although sitting practices are very much part of the system).
Stress and discomfort are part of all of our lives, although we live in a time of comparatively high levels of physical comfort; emotionally most people are at war with themselves and suffering terribly. Learning to relax and release resistance and tensions through the body and mind is an incredibly valuable skill. This, amongst many other things, are some of the benefits of Nei Gong training.
This is particularly relevant for modern spiritual practitioners, practising, and therefore increasing our sensitivity, within modern life. We are practising amongst all the nonsense and difficulty of western daily living rather than the rarefied environment of a monastery/nunnery. The Nei Gong process gives an efficient means of releasing these toxins physical, emotional and mental from our body and mind. Through regular practice our relationship to discomfort and stress transforms, and our capacity to remain open when faced with difficulty increases and becomes embodied, producing resilience of the most enduring kind.

The Nei Gong process I teach at Bonhays is taught in the systematic way I have learned from my teacher Damo Mitchell of Lotus Nei Gong.  A step-by-step learning of inner cultivation. I am teaching beginners and Level one courses for Lotus Nei Gong at Bonhays all of next year. We aim to keep diving deep, learning from each other and having much fun and nonsense along the way! If you are new to Nei Gong details of the next Foundation Retreat at the end of January 2017 can be found here.
For Sophie’s Nei Gong retreats next year please click here.
Or look around Sophie’s website…
Or Lotus Nei Gong website….

Our year here at Bonhays
by Olivia

I can't believe how fast this year has gone and it's now over a year since I've started working and living here at Bonhays. And what a journey it has been for Booja and me!! We were able to experience all the seasons, the family holiday business and many different retreats and both of us have met sooo many lovely people and made new friends.

Working at and for a place like Bonhays makes change unavoidable and many things have changed for me. From a conscious party person I've changed to a more conscious person who found pleasures in many other things than partying the night away. I also never used to like horses but now I happily say hello to the lovely Tem (our beautiful Bonhays mare) and give her the occasional belly rub, I've become more active, more awakened and lost/lowered quite a few fears.

It' has also been an amazing experience to spend a whole year in a caravan and I had some fantastic times in the summer and in the winter when it was cosy with the wood burner but also some unpleasant ones when I got fed up with all the rain and the mud and a crazy springer who managed to get his muddy paws everywhere but I wouldn't miss any of it and see it all as part of the journey.

Some of you might know that I haven't been too well in my first months here at Bonhays but it is truly a healing place and thanks to Sophies help chats and recommondations and her and Tonys patience with me it was also a year of recovery. When I moved in I had no energy or the mind for any Nei Gong practice.... well... this has massively changed and I've recently attended my first (but not last!) Nei Gong retreat. I can tell you it was hard work and I thought of all sorts of excuses to skip some hours but they didn't come through my lips and I carried on and on until the end. I thought I would wake up on Monday morning not being able to move for 5 days but I felt surprisingly great and  wanted more of it and at that moment I've also realised that something massively changed in/with me and a very strict healing diet and and lifestyle change over the last year has paid out.

The other thing I've noticed is that I always had a massive rejection towards China and see it as a horrible, toxic continent and there was no interested at all to get involved with anything to do with it but listening to Sophie and what she told us about Daoism made me think and something in me connected and sparked an interested to know more about it all. It's still early days for me and I'm hoping to get more into the Nei Gong training but I'm def far more open to it all than a year ago and I can highly recommend the practice.

With this Nei Gong journey came also some fantastic times with lovely people. It feels like I've found so many like minded people in one place and I'm happy to say I found some fellow weirdos who totally understand where I'm coming from or what I'm going through. The support has been amazing and I hope I will stay connected for many more years.

I'm not sure yet on what path the new year will take me on but I'm positive I have more strength to cope with whatever gets thrown in my direction may it be positive or negative and as long as it involves many lovely people, naturopathy, conscious living and lots of yummy unprocessed natural foods

Booja and myself would like to thank all of you for making the Bonhays journey such a great experience and we're very happy that we were able to help you on your very own personal path of discovering who you truly are! Keep up the good work and make sure you'll harvest the rewards! 
We wish you all
Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr
a peaceful and magical Christmas time and a very happy, healthy and successful new year

Olivia & Booja 

Christmas cake recipe.
by Evie wonderchef. Gluten and sugar free cake

Make this now and by christmas it will be delicious (especially if you feed it a bit of brandy every four days or so)

This makes quite a big cake my tin is 30 cm but it could make a nice deep smaller one (this will increase cooking time)

200 gr coconut oil
zest of 3 oranges
200 gr sultanas
100 gr apricots
100 gr figs
200 gr chestnuts (cooked and peeled)
5 eggs
2 finely grated carrots
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
200 gr flour (use gluten free if you need to)
apple juice or brandy / whiskey for soaking the sultanas
Put the sultanas in a little pan and add enough apple juice / booze to just cover, bring to boil then turn off and sit overnight or for a few hours until they puff up. Pulse the apricots, figs and chestnuts in a food processor until they are in smallish pieces.  Melt the oil and mix in the eggs. Briefly drain the sultanas of any excess moisture then add everything together and mix. Pour into your oiled and papered cake tin and bake at 180C for around 1 - 1 1/2 hrs until set in the middle. If you can keep this for a while it improves from sitting for a few days, especially if you sprinkle some more alcohol over the top. 
I served this with thick cream and butter icing and grated orange zest on top.
Christmassy and Soltice..y....beautifully!
by Zanna who does all our wonderful flowers for all the Retreats

With this lovely frosty weather I've been feeling distinctly Christmas-y. I love the sculptural shapes and subtlety of the seed heads, berries and foliage around at this time of year. At the moment I am a happy forager from hedgerow, coast, woodland and kind friends' gardens for the making of my Christmas wreaths. As well as cutting stems of berries and other lovely things for Bonhays, I've also been making garlands and other flowery festive decorations.

My specialty is in Dorset flowers and foliage that are either native, or suited to growing outdoors in our cool and rainy climate.  I do not grow in heated greenhouses. Sustainability is key. We don’t run a conveyor belt. We try to re-cycle and keep it green.

We make classic Christmas wreaths with holly, ivy, and red berries. We also make unique wreaths, some of which aren't particularly Christmassy but more Yuletide-y or Winter Solstice-y. It's a time of year for decorating our houses with the lush, scented trees, branches and berries we find outside: time for bringing the outside in.

I'll be selling wreaths from my studio every Saturday in December at:

Studio 54b St Michael’s Trading Estate, St Michael’s Lane, Bridport. 
(Down near the Alleyways Vintage Antiques shops and The Red Brick Cafe)

Plus also I'm holding 3 wreath-making workshops at the studio on:
Sunday 11th Dec 10am-1pm
Tuesday 13th Dec 11am-2pm
Thursday 15th Dec 10am-1pm
£35 including all materials + hot toddy. Wrap up warm. Only 6 places available on each.

Call Zanna on 07789564557 to book.

xx Zanna                    WW-Logo-1000px
Upcoming Classes and Courses

Nei Gong Day - 10am - 5pm, 7th January
More information here

Meditation Class - Half Day 21st January.
More information here.

Foundations of Nei Gong Retreat - 27th - 29th January.
More information here.

Dao Yin / Nei Gong Retreat - 24th - 26th February.
More information here.

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Bonhays Meditation & Retreat Centre, · Bonhays Farm · Witchurch Canonicorum · Bridport, England DT6 6RF · United Kingdom

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