20 April 2011

A cynic meets zen

A stressed-out urban cynic goes on a four-day meditation retreat. Olivia Rose-Innes spares us nothing.

In a moment of foolhardy vulnerability brought on by off-the-chart stress levels, I allowed a psychologist friend to book me and himself into a four-day Buddhist meditation retreat. Normally I’d turn my nose up at anything with the merest whiff of new age or alternative medicine about it, but we’re talking dire straits here.

This is how I found myself way out of my comfort zone and two hours outside Cape Town, stuck at the Kagyu Cape Mountain Retreat near Villiersdorp, admittedly a beautiful spot which, with its early spring fynbos flowers and snow-speckled blue mountains, reminded our meditation teacher a lot of Tibet. His name was Clive and he came across more like a daffy English country parson than the mysterious guru of eastern persuasion I’d been imagining, but I reminded myself sternly it was just that kind of un-zen judgemental attitude that had landed me here in the first place.


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