Monte da Vida is a place for maximising our experience of life, through developing a grounded and harmonious relationship with the earth, and by supporting the letting go of limiting beliefs and ideas that prevent us from experiencing more joy and freedom.
Some of the core themes we are exploring include:
— Taking full responsibility as an individual.
— Awareness in relationships and all of life
— Honesty. How to be present and speak from a place of truth.
— Male – female balance.
This process is supported with group work. We also practise and teach a range of Taoist practices including Chi Gung, Tai chi and Taoist meditation.
The Monte da Vida project is about being fully alive. So all activities are focused around finding ways to support all of us being more alive, rather than being more dead.
This means living fully to our highest potential as human beings, as well as increasing the life in the soils and the ecosystem of the land itself.
We seek to encourage and support members of the community to be responsible for discovering their passions, and finding the expression of these passions in practical ways.
In this context the term “passion” refers to that which feels most natural to us, that which expresses our true nature, and is the most joyful. The unique gift that each individual has to bring to the world.
It is the role of the community to support this expression in all individuals, provided it does no harm to others.
Being More Alive
Being ‘more alive’ means developing a felt awareness of one’s own body and all it is connected to. This is very different to many common themes of western culture that encourage mental abstraction, numbness and avoidance of the physical being.
This understanding is a fundamental principle in Taoist practice, (Taoism being China’s original nature-based spirituality). Bodily experience lets you know as a ‘felt truth’ rather than an idea, that you are not living in a mental fantasy, and leads to a deeper connection with the self as well the living understanding that the ecosystem we are part of, is also a part of us.
Being more alive can be experienced on many levels and can be supported in many ways. Regular training in the Taoist arts including Tai Chi, Chi Gung and Meditation is all geared around increasing ones aliveness or amount of ‘chi’ (the oriental world for the bodies life energy).
We see these practices, as well as physical training such as martial arts or yoga, as great ways to use our bodies to their fullest. Working on the land, close to nature, is another way to support a physical groundedness in our bodies, and intimate connection with the earth.
A healthy diet, and a balanced lifestyle also support physical well-being and health, as well as mental, emotional and energetic clarity. For this reason, we have a policy of no habitual drug-use in the community, which includes alcohol and tobacco usage.
Honesty with ourselves and others is fundamental to how we relate to each other, as it forms the underlying basis for the health of the community as a whole. We encourage the freedom to discover the truth in all relationships, and challenge ourselves to let go of conditioned beliefs and ideas around love and sexuality that cause shame, jealousy, judgement of oneself or others.
On the emotional level, being more alive means not suppressing or avoiding emotions, or using them to manipulate.
We run regular groups focusing on meditation, presence practices and honest sharing to help reveal what may lie hidden to us and provide a practical forum for us to connect more deeply with each other.
We share a common approach to life that can be described as meditation based.
This approach is characterised by a mindfulness to holding a positive open attitude to whatever life brings, being prepared to respond and transform with that, without compromise to what is true for each individual.
We see this process as a continual exposing and discovery of one’s true nature, and believe that this process is greatly enhanced by the support of the community. Hence at Monte da Vida we see ourselves as fundamentally a meditation community and expect others who wish to share time with us to share a similar view, embracing the culture we have created around this.
We meet regularly in groups to honestly share whatever is relevant in the moment. Often we may start with some Taoist presence practices to bring everyone in, and we may end in a group meditation.
These groups provide the space to clear the energy between people, as well as allow for the possibility to discover a deeper intimacy and level of truth within oneself and with others.
We ask all members and temporary visitors to take part in our groups, and to be open to this discovery.
The Groups page gives you more information about how these work.
We will often practice on the land and everyone is welcome to practice together or at their own times. Practicing together can build a powerful supportive field but it does not mean these are teaching sessions, so each person may be doing their own thing.
We will often teach and support people who stay at Monte da Vida to develop their own self practice. But we believe that it is the individual’s responsibility to take their own practice seriously and develop it for themselves, this very much includes when, where and how much to practice.
Silence and going inward
There is a great silence that can be accessed on the land and it can provide a powerful holding space for deep meditation practice. To enable us all to access and use this in the best possible way to deepen our practice, we use the natural cycles of the earth as our key dates and set them aside for silence. Taoists believe these points of ‘changing cycle’ in the earth’s rhythms allow us to access deeper energies of change and transformation, similar to how the change point between the in and the out breath also allow a deeper penetration into the mind.
Full moons and new moons at least do silence from 6pm onward for going deep with practice.
Solstices and equinoxes we do a full day of silence.
Calming, breathing, centering or presence practices that help you relax and be present are often called meditation, and this often includes many varied disciplines such as dance, Tai Chi and Chi Gong. Our understanding of meditation is that these practices (calming/presence etc) form the groundwork for meditation, but are not meditation in and of themselves.
Meditation for us is the ‘trained ability to enter and transform blocked and fixated places in the body-mind, and to release them so they are permanently gone’.
Relaxation is great, but run the trigger and it can agitate again. Removing for good what gets triggered, in a systematic way that can be learned and transferred as a skill, is meditation.