Why would you leave somewhere when you feel at home there? That’s the question I have contemplated about for weeks at the beginning of this autumn. Because I do feel so at home here, at Dzogchen Beara, Buddhist retreat centre in Ireland. And yet, I made the decision to leave. This week. Back to the Netherlands, as a new starting point for whatever comes next.
So why am I leaving? Because after almost 1 1/2 year here I feel to isolated in this far away part of Beara. I don’t have a car and there is almost no public transport in this area.It was a difficult decision.
I love this place, the work, the people, the cats, the overwhelming nature and the energy. It’s nurturing and challenging at the same time. But by time I realised that there are parts of me that don’t feel nurtured. Like the part of me that wants to be more independent. Which is quite difficult if you even need a lift to get to the nearest supermarket or bus station… I also like to be on my own in a busy place, to observe people, contemplate and write. Sit in the library and go to a museum. And there is a part of me that likes to be with friends: go for a drink, a dance, a walk, a movie. And when I am out and about I would like to go back when it feels right for me, instead of when the person with the car wants to go back.
I arrived as a volunteer in August 2016 and for some reason I felt connected right away. I took my cleaning- and hosteljob serious and grew naturally into doing extra tasks. Felt responsible for things. Had a deep longing to take care of this place. So instead of the usual 2 months, I stayed longer and longer.
My habits and assets fit so well here. For instance: they appreciate that I notice a lot and mention it, even the others managers and directors. An amazing feeling. I had many (voluntary) jobs in live where my awareness wasn’t appreciated. Here it was. Here I was. So I grew and learned and thrived even more. I gave a lot, and I gained a lot.
Started assisting my accommodation manager within a few months. Left here after almost half a year. Tried other things and came back within 2 months, to fill in while my manager had a holiday. Felt deeply that I wanted to stay longer. Got and took more responsibility. Got a part-time paid position in the general office as well as assisting my manager. And when she got sick I ended up as the fulltime accommodation manager. And the last two months I divided my team as manager and in the general office.
I joined so many meditation retreats and lots of guided meditations here, guided by wonderful people. And I had the good fortune to join retreats with these teachers: Sogyal Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Chagdud Khandro Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku en Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche. And all in this beautiful place, with an overwhelming coastal view.
It is quite special to live and work in a Buddhist based environment. And every time I leave this nice bubble, I am so surprised by how the reality can be for others. That so many people react to all their feelings and thoughts, with no awareness (or believe) that there is a choice not to do that. That there is always a choice to be more peaceful and kind.
What I want in live is to learn and grow as a human every day, while trying to be a good person. This is the perfect place for it. An open, confrontational, loving and kind place. With place for humour too! At the end of the world, at the cliffs, so really no place to hide from yourself.
So soon I am going back. Although this going ‘back’ actually feels more challenging then when I left the Netherlands to go on this Ireland adventure. I will have to find my way again, in a world that I knew, while I have changed. Feeling and deciding how I want to live, where I want to live. Because right now I have no idea.
I hope to bring lots of mindfulness and Loving Kindness with me! And plan to live my life in such a way that I can come back here regularly, back to this place where I feel at home, at the end of these cliffs.
– Do have a look at my earlier blogs, where I write about living in the hostel and other experiences.
– And I post pictures on my Instagram.