The new year began with a session of Karma Yoga leading up to Losar in February. It is traditional to clean and clear out before Losar, and this year the week before Losar coincided with half term. We had two gorgeous teenage dakinis present and many of the Kunselling management group, all with good ideas for improving the somewhat untidy and dilapidated look of our beloved retreat centre. We did a lot of tidying and cleaning, put an undercoat of paint on the shrine room, cleaned the rotten wood off the area surrounding the mandala, cleared hallways, corridors and window sills, thoroughly cleaned the kitchen and had much animated discussion about future plans and possibilities. The high spot of our week was the Health and Safety inspection during Losar itself. Two very polite and respectful officials came and drank tea and looked round the place. They later sent a report, which gave us only one star and recommended a higher railing around the mandala, a safety check on the gas cooker, deep cleaning the kitchen and instigation of “Health and Safety protocols” to be carried out by trained staff during retreats. The latter were thoroughly researched by Rose Lewis, who came up with templates that have been tested out at all retreats this year. She also supervised/carried out deep kitchen cleaning during an extra “emergency” karma yoga week in May, aided by Stephie Mulholland, and researched new cleaning products that complied with Health and Safety standards and also the requirements of our septic tank.
Most of the budget and manpower this year at Kunselling has therefore gone on improving the property so that it complies with Health and Safety requirements. A new balustrade was built around the Mandala, a new gas cooker was purchased, as the fumes from the old one were toxic, and there were other smaller expenses to do with the smooth running of the kitchen. Kunselling is looking much brighter, shinier and cleaner as a result of all these efforts and the gakyil would like to thank all the karma yogis, in particular Robin and Colin, who have contributed practical and DIY skills, Mirjana, who has supervised the gardening, Rowan and Phil, our decorators, and Red, who has been at every karma yoga and swept through numerous tasks.
The Kunselling Management group, an informal email group, who make small decisions about the detailed running of Kunselling, have an ongoing wish list for maintaining and improving Kunselling and members are welcome to write in with any suggestions to add to it. We would like to build some nice bookshelves in the shrine room to house the collection of interesting and valuable dharma books and books on Tibetan culture that have been donated over the years, which are at present in cardboard boxes on the floor. We also should like to build some kitchen units in the dining room, to make space for bulk orders of food and retreatants’ personal supplies and provide surfaces for putting out meals and for the tea making area. Other suggestions that have been received are for modernising the bathroom in the house and for installing some kind of green energy sources.
These photographs were taken the day after the month long retreat of the Dakini Mandarava ended. Nina Robinson led this recently at Tsegyelgar West in Baja California, Mexico
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