Friday, March 9, 2012


One of the precious aspects of living a Portuguese rural life, is the opportunity, away from the noise and energy of city life, to allow for more contemplation. I’m not sure it is simply just having more time to think. It’s more to do with being in this stone terraced valley, in the midst of wilderness. The place itself somehow invites contemplation. “A Simplified Life” by Verena Schiller first introduced me to the notion of a place being liminal.

The view from our windows is always forest.  Green, dancing in the wind, pine tree forest. Remote or desert places, as many hermits like Verena and others will attest, often provide a fascinating mirror to the human condition. The power of planet earth to create, constantly, and provide habitats for creatures to thrive and die, is a continual reminder that we as humans, are part and parcel of the whole. Part of the natural universe that we see with our eyes, and in some way, part of the other dimensional realities we don't so readily see.

Many concepts exist in the plethora of human cultures that attempt to describe or illustrate this otherness. Spirit world. Heaven. The stream we enter through meditation. Consciousness.  The list is long.  It fascinates me to consider the possibility that an actual physical place and the space it holds, can be a threshold ‘between’  these worlds.

Liminality was first introduced to the vernacular in 1909 by the anthropologist Arnold van Gennep as a way of explaining the threshold moment that occurs in the middle of a cultural rite of passage. And neurological psychologists use the word to depict the metaphysical subjective state, conscious or otherwise, of being on the threshold of, or between, two different existential planes.

As we begin our new yoga retreat season for 2012, it will be interesting to observe how our guests from all over the globe will once again interact with this liminal valley at Moses. As we invite our bodies in yoga to relax a little more, the quieting of our minds may just allow a glimpse of an altogether different perception of the place we are in. 

I am so looking forward to it.   

liminal adj. 
1. of or pertaining to a limen, especially a sensory threshold. 
2. marginally perceptible

limen n.
a threshold, especially the point where a psychological or physiological effect begins to occur

Peace and all good things



Sariane Leigh said...

Love love love this outlook on taking a mental retreat. Usually we operate within the space of the "liminal" before we realize it is time to stop and reflect.

I certainly hope to join you in the 2012 season.

The Winters said...

that is indeed true Sariane. i think a peaceful environment, especially a remote one like where we live, somehow encourages us, prompts us even, to stop and think and reflect. I am not sure how wilderness does that, but it does. Memphis.