Walking the Camino I often noticed heart shaped creations along the path, pilgrims having carefully placed pebbles in the universally recognised symbol, pointing the Way, both on the outer journey and the one within. I always felt my heart soar open in love and gratitude, my spirit smiling in recognition, the symbol an incentive to keep walking especially on weary days.
Living here in the community of the Findhorn Foundation, I’m often faced with the question can I keep my heart open, even in difficult circumstances? Life here, just as along the Camino or anywhere, is full of joys and challenges and it sometimes feels an intense way of living, sharing in such closeness with others, especially when conflict arises.
I recognise how sensitive I am when communication is less than clear and harmonious and feel a deep pain within. I wonder how to deal with issues of conflict, however small, and value the reminder of the Common Ground, the values we agree to live by as members of the Community. Personal responsibility and integrity are included in the list of 14 points and I need to turn within and learn from each experience and interaction, to begin right here.
As an ‘apprentice’ co-worker in the Foundation, within the ‘Living Education Apprentice Program’ (LEAP) I can more fully than before embrace the idea of Findhorn as a ‘mystery school.’ LEAP feels to me like a ‘rite of passage’ teaching me exactly what I need to learn, however dark or uncomfortable it feels sometimes, for me someone so attached to the light. I’m learning to embrace all aspects of this sometimes imperfect yet ‘perfectly imperfect’ place and each perfectly imperfect person, including myself, being reminded to love what is, to laugh, and balance speaking up and letting go.
Through my work in the garden I’m beginning to blend the ‘first rule of permaculture’, observation, observation, observation, closely followed by listening and learning, with the practice of mindfulness in everyday life. One of my challenges in this lifetime is the art of communication, being clear, expressive and in connection with myself. Conflict, which I always prefer to avoid, is revealing itself as a learning ground, through which I can refine my communication and keep opening the heart.
On my recent visit to the States, to attend the International Holistic Centre’s Gathering, the two questions people most often asked about community life were; how does Findhorn deal with conflict and how does it make decisions? I’m beginning to recognise that my own personal journey with conflict can potentially be a gift, enabling me to share from experience.
The practice of both meditation and attunement contribute to the decision making process in the community and also help minimise conflict. I’d love to say the Foundation is all love and light, and there is much I love about being here, at the moment and I know this will change, I can feel the shadows too, I guess these are the shadows within myself.
I felt drawn to Findhorn twelve months ago, feeling it was the place where I could most learn and contribute. Being here I sometimes describe the place as the ‘University of the Soul.’ The Camino was a facinating journey, one of movement and change, the Community is a fascinating journey, one more of stillness and change, of sitting in the fire, remembering it’s the same flame of the candle light.