‘happiness is here and now’

Have you ever considered how life would be like in a spiritual community? Since my first visit to a Buddhist monastery many years ago I was intrigued by this way of life.

To shave my head and wear a nun’s robe feels like a step too far, but there must be a middle way. One of the first things I did when we embarked on this journey was to visit the monastery again. Somehow I always feel drawn to this simple but meaningful and joyful lifestyle. Along our journey I always look for new opportunities to visit a community. This time I’m in France at an amazing place where people have been living together for many years.

In case you follow my Instagram stories you have already seen many pictures from this place. It’s a beautiful old castle, located in the French countryside. There is a forest, a lake, many gardens, fruit trees, permaculture, mud houses, cows, lots of sunshine and kindness. Every morning at 4:30 am there is a ceremony at the temple and afterwards you can watch the sunrise above the rose garden. It’s a great experience to get up so early, wear a sari, watch the stars in the night sky, sing and dance at the temple and see the first daylight.

During the day I work together with my new friends at the garden, the guesthouse or wherever our help is needed. The gardens are beautiful and I love working there. An abundance of flowers is growing in these gardens, which we use daily to make flower garlands. Making flower garlands feels like creating a piece of art. I enjoy choosing all the different colors and shapes, and arranging them on a thread while sitting under a tree and chatting with my new friends. Thank you Tulsi, Camilla, Eva, Arianna, Diana and Lieneke. I’m so grateful that I’ve met you and I hope to see you again soon!

Oh, and let’s talk about the food. It’s authentic Indian food as this spiritual community is based on Hinduism and the practice of Bhakti yoga. There is even a place called “Little India” in the forest. Anyway, I eat rice and chapati for breakfast, and I eat rice, chapati, dhal and veggies for lunch, every single day, and I love it. Every evening just after we finish our work, there is another ceremony at the temple. This ceremony includes a lot of singing and dancing which is slowly building up in pace and intensity. The first time I felt overwhelmed by this energy and it was a great experience. Afterwards I went outside and sat down on the lawn behind the castle. The sun was still shining, the air was warm and I could hear more chanting from the temple. Right there in that moment I felt so full of joy from all the dancing and singing and at the same time I felt so calm and at peace. I was sitting there for a long time enjoying this tranquil feeling.

For me there is so much to learn here and I enjoy it very much, so many new impressions, a different belief, new skills and so many kindhearted lovely people. Especially after the social distancing it feels great to be surrounded by people, to work and live together. And finally I’m also able to teach yoga again. Several times a week I teach an early morning yoga class. So, life is really good here, I absolutely enjoy the community lifestyle.

Meanwhile Boris is in the South of France at the Vegan Surf Camp where he is following his dream of learning how to surf. The other day when we spoke on the phone, he said that he should have done this already 20 years ago. The most beautiful moment was on the very last evening when he went surfing at sunset, watching the sun go down and catching some good waves. His days were filled with delicious food, great company of his new friends and of course many hours on his surf board.

For about one month we are following our own pursuit and then we meet again and continue our journey together. We don’t know yet what the next destination will be. But you can follow me on Instagram, check the stories, to see what’s going on. For sure we will be in the Netherlands in September and October for our yoga weekends. The retreats are almost fully booked and you can also subscribe for the waiting list. We might be able to offer more spots if there are any changes in the regulations. I’m very much looking forward to seeing you soon!

Lots of love and sunshine!
Sophie & Boris

France, July 2020