There are times when I pause from the day, and look around me as if I had just woken up. Time seems to stop for a moment as I blink and realise, in that suspended moment, that there is magic around me. I breathe, remind myself of my senses, and feel.
I am standing outside. I have my eyes closed. I hear the gentle rustling of the wind through the leaves, as each tree breathes on to the next. I feel the wind whispering across my skin. The grass tickles my feet, but the ground supports me. I feel its strength as it holds me. This is the miracle of nature.
Behind me, the hive that is Alexandros is buzzing with activity. People move quietly through the house, busy with their morning minds. I hear their footsteps on the wood. I hear their hushed laughter. This is the miracle of life.
I open my eyes, and I am stunned.
Written by Anya Owen, Scotland
June in Kalikalos offers several superb workshops for those interested in the development of practical solutions to today’s financial, social and ecological crises.
Last week at Kalikalos Kissos Campus, the delightful Jennifer Hinton presented on flourishing in a Not-for-Profit World. “Co-Creating a Truly Sustainable Economy”, was a week of active, participatory learning about how we can co-create a healthy, sustainable economy.
Co-author of How on Earth and co-director of the Post Growth Institute, Jennifer showed us the fundamental flaws of our current economy, and explored the ideas and practices that have emerged in response to our current crises.
Participants left with a practical set of steps that they can take to co-create a more generative economy in their own communities.
Currently on at Kalikalos Alexandros Campus, the esteemed Thomas H. Greco, Jr is presenting a workshop on monetary theory and how monetary alternatives can empower communities.
While complementary currencies and exchange schemes have sprung up and gained some degree of acceptance and notoriety, many have faded away. One focus of this workshop is on the reasons why none of them has become a significant factor in their community economies. Thomas uncovers the principles of design and implementation that need to be applied to make exchange alternatives more effective, robust, and scalable.
Thomas is widely regarded as a leading authority on monetary and financial innovation, and is a sought-after adviser and speaker at conferences internationally. He has authored four books on monetary theory.
Beginning tomorrow at the Kissos Campus is a workshop presented by Jonathan Dawson, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Schumacher College. The topic is “Mapping the Future Economy”.
We stand at a crossroads, one path leading to oblivion, the other towards the dawning of an Ecological Civilisation. There is no doubt we are in the midst of a profound transformation of our economy and society. Demographic, technological and cultural shifts are opening up seismic shifts that are transforming how we organise our societies. The future of work, enterprise, ownership and social care are likely to change beyond recognition over the next couple of generations.
Jonathan is the principal author of the Gaia Education sustainable economy curriculum that has been adopted by UNESCO as a valuable contribution to the current UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and is former president of the Global Ecovillage Network and long-term resident at the Findhorn ecovillage in Scotland.
10 day Vipassana Light. Theravada Buddhism. Sunrise 6a.m. – 8.30 a.m. Observing silence.
On our knees, bowing, attuning to purity, compassion, wisdom. Then, sitting in meditation. Breathing. Watching the rising and falling of our breath. Watching the ‘thought pump’ and noting, and naming, each awareness.
To domesticate your “mind objects” i.e. patterns, obsessions and mental proliferations, be friendly to yourself, be kind and compassionate. We are taught to observe these patterns of thought as “knowing”.
Walking meditation 45 minutes. Goes like this: Heel up. Lifting. Going. Dropping. Treading. Weight to front leg. Weight to back leg. Pause. Repeat.
Then another 45 minutes sitting.
8.30 a.m. Breakfast.
From 9.15a.m. – 1.30 p.m. the program of alternating 45 minute sessions of sitting and walking continues. A brief interview with our dignified and wise teacher, mathematics professor Henk Barendgrecht, is optional.
1.30 p.m. lunch. Silence ends.
We then break until dinner at 8.00. Alexandros venue offers a cozy fire when raining, and there’s exquisite Plaka beach 3 k’s down the mountain on glory days.
At 9.00 p.m. Henk offers his fascinating Dharma talks. We gained deeper insight into several of the Buddhist principles. For example, understanding Annica (impermanence) can offer us hope. Understanding Dukkha (things are beyond our control/it happens by itself/selflessness) makes us humble and modest. Understanding Anatta (suffering) can bring freedom.
From 10p.m. silence is once again observed.
Venue is Kalikalos Alexandros, a mountainside hotel that is clean and comfortable. Food is abundant and delicious but predominantly grain and pulse based, which I don’t do well with. For the others buffet’s were perfectly fabulous.
For a long time, I’ve dreamed of coming here – and it’s manifested. Deep breath! Our room was stunning, such ultimate views over the Aegean, and what a lovely, special room mate. Blessed for that!
As is the case with life and with any Vipassana retreat there were some gruelling times. This retreat is offered yearly and is called a “light’ retreat, as talking and technology is permitted between lunch and bedtime. This is less restful than my previous experience of doing a full 10 days in silence. The in depth teachings and so much else nevertheless made this a profoundly enriching experience. Thank you Kalikalos.
Rising. Falling. Naming. Noting. Knowing.
Yesterday we left Kalikalos with Ivo. It was 2.45. Ivo is my partner and we were there in this community for 2 weeks, doing a workcamp. I looked at the car clock as we were leaving and I could hardly see it as I was crying. Tears were running down my face as I was leaving Paradise.
Ivo was driving the car and rose petals were falling down as a kind, loving token to see us off . I was crying because I was leaving the sea of LOVE I had been swimming in for the last 2 weeks. As if these 2 weeks were the 9 months before I was due to be born. I felt so happy, safe, appreciated and loved like I had never felt before. I had no idea Kalikalos would turn into that divine oasis for my soul.
When we arrived there on the evening of 20 May ,the mountain Pelio gave us a cold welcome, with fog and tons of rain. I was worried I hadn’t packed enough warm clothes. The room we have been accommodated in was dark, stone –floored, and cold. If I had been there on my own I don’t think I would have stayed. We had paid only for a week so we weren’t sure if we were going to stay for the second one. I slept with my clothes on and was freezing the first night, dreaming of heaters and radiators.
The next morning though when we had our first sharing circle and as each of us was opening his heart and say how he feels, the magic started to happen. We spoke about our reasons to be here and our passions. We were connecting each other on an invisible level. And this is what I encountered in Kalikalos. I met my heart. Or rather, I felt what it means to” live from the heart”. The other people, 13 people from 11 countries, complete strangers in the beginning provided space for this meeting and nourished this sacred place as the days unfolded. My gratitude to all of them is beyond words.
I haven’t seen so kind, loving, open and genuine people gathered together in one spot and sharing their energy so that we all create a better world for a certain time. A dwelling of Paradise here on the Earth. Now, I am out of the community, back in the “ civilized world” somehow, drinking my coffee in a quiet village in Bulgaria and slowly becoming aware of the transformation which has happened inside me. Thank you, Kalikalos.
The earth here is ridiculously generous and abundant. The unlimited supply of water that helps to fertilise the steep slopes come from the fairyland of mountain rivers and streams that source from the melting snows of Pelion mountains each spring season. There are 2 delicious rock pools with waterfalls within walking distance. Our taps offer the purest cool water but I most like to fill my water bottle from the drinking fountain in the ancient village square a mere 2 minute walk from Kalikalos.
There are no water restrictions, meaning our veggie gardens are, after a mere 3 weeks of planting, already full of every kind of herb and budding vegies. It is hard to imagine the variety of fruit trees and vines in the ‘hood. Cherries, pears, plums, kiwi, grapes, apples, quince, apricots, oranges, lemons, chestnuts, walnuts, you name it, not to mention the hundreds of roses. OhmyGod the roses. They bloom 3 times a year, even left unattended. We have jasmine, hydrangeas everywhere, fuchsias, chamomile, geraniums, the list goes on and on. I’ve been properly introduced to and how have a relationship with stinging mettles which grow everywhere. Nettles and nettle tea each day clear heavy metals from the system and are highly nutritious.
Then there is the sea, and the beaches. Say no more. In terms of the beauty, it’s a ‘pinch me’ situation.
Photo of the strawberry picker – Courtesy photographer Carmen Klemmer
My Greek holiday was a beautiful and profound experience. The community of Kalikalos in Kissos where we stayed taught me much about about how an established community works. The different energies of the people who live there and for those seeking an alternative way of life was inspiring and I feel that some of principles could be used here (Ed. meaning at Jules’s own community in Wales).
The scenery was so beautiful and the wild plants were abundant and healthy, they sang a song of serenity and strength. As well as working on the growing beds and composting area, I took time to wander the surrounding local landscape observing the wild plants and trees. My love of wildcrafting encouraged me to gather many wild plants for daily salads and healing infusions for the community. The plants also told me about their contribution to the land and the current energies of the people who were staying there. Mallow with her soothing nature was abundant and was healing the land and trying to communicate a need for quieting the busy mind. Her beautiful pink flowers were dancing and weaving a joyful energy for the people to take when needed.
My time in mountains was probably the most beautiful and memorable as I was able to harvest wild mountain sage which I have brought home to Corn Helyg for teas and smudge sticks.
Love, peace and gratitude to all at Kalikalos
Wow our food is good! The fresh produce and herbs in this part of Greece (Pelion) are too luscious. Breakfast is filter coffee and cleansing mountain tea, fruits, nuts, tahini, honey, creamy yogurt, bread, porridge and muesli.
Lunch is supposed to be snacky but is more a feast – of olives, feta or yellow cheese, cucumber, tomatoes and greens (including vine leaves, nettles and many other of the incredible availability of wild greens that grow so abundantly here on the mountains), copious olive oil (of course), last night’s leftovers and fresh wholewheat breads.
The menu for the evening meal is chosen by that evenings’ ‘focaliser’ and much depends on their nationality. In the mix we’ve had perfection pasta from our Italian beloved, delicious phyllo pastry pies and puds from our UK team, a weekly veg curry and dahl from our American leader Jock. Each eve brings a vegetarian surprise treat of note.
We take turns for mealtime shifts, 2 – 3 people per shift, prepping on 2 gas cookers. Cleanup teams also volunteer on a rota (again 2 -3 per shift) and they get to eat first. It all works smoothly and efficiently. The kitchen here is abundantly stocked with everything any cook could need.
Tuesdays are Taverna nights, which gives us the opportunity to taste authentic Greek cooking and to order any non-vegetarian dish we may desire (10 – 14 euros per person, ordered in advance from the Taverna of choice). On this night, all the participants from the 3 different venues that comprise the Kalikalos network get to meet up, making quite a crowd. There are many restaurants in this little village alone, and many more down at the beach.
Visit http://www.kalikalos.org/all-workshops/ for details of workshops this season that offer food and dietary guidance.
The daily routine at Kalikalos Kissos Centre adopts some of the governing principles of the Findhorn Community in Scotland. The venue is a house in exquisite Kissos village, on the east side of the Pelion mountains, 8 kilometres above the Aegean sea.
Shifts for preparation and cleanup of meals, as well as garden and admin teams, are decided from day to day, with the breakfast team meeting at 7.45 a.m. The bell for breakfast is rung at 8.30 and is served buffet style on the patio.
Afterwards, using a talking stick, we have a sharing circle, where we can express any thoughts, feelings and opinions. Circles are opened and closed with sacred intentions set by the person who has elected to host the circle for that morning.
Why not visit us this summer. Click this link to read about the many wonderful workshops on offer this year 2016:
Our 2016 season has started! Our three workshop centres are offering a packed summer program of holistic workshops, retreats, and alternative holidays along with a community-building experience in beautiful, warm and healing landscape in Pilion, Greece near crystal clear Aegean beaches! Check our programme from here for more information or contact us through our website.
Just click on the link below for more information. Early bird discount is still valid for selected programmes:
Life in Greece is very different from what journalists like you to think.
I am writing from the Alexandros-Kalikalos centre in Pelion, Greece, and I can honestly say that life here is still as idyllic and calm as it has always been – and I have been visiting almost every year for the past seven years. When I ask the locals about their views on the current crisis, the general reaction is a shrug: “Well, as long as we can still grow tomatoes!” they say. Then they take a leisurely drag on their cigarette and ask if you would like some (local, white) wine with that.
Because that is the Truth here. People are living, and they are living quite well: yes, the cash limit in the ATMs make it difficult for the locals (but not the tourists), but that does not stop them from dancing, fishing, and growing tomatoes, olives, lettuce, cucumbers, and so much more! Everything that I have eaten thus far has been grown and bought locally,with only a few exceptions. Greece may be running out of cash, but is certainly not running out of food or sunshine.
There also seems to be this idea that all businesses inGreece are shutting down – which is simply not true. One of the largest industries in Greece is in tourism, and the Kalikalos community network certainly contributes to the area. Every Tuesday, we take turns at dining in different tavernas, and we buy all our vegetables, cheese
and olive oil from local farmers. Snacks and souvenirs can be bought down at the seaside shops, and all at bargain prices – shopping is great here since the British Pound is especially strong against the euro. There are even Kayaking tours around the Pelion Coast, and Quadbikes for hire. ( I actually did take par in the Kayaking tours, which was very exciting. Pics to flow in separate blog.)
I have stayed here for nearly a month so far (one month to go…) and I have enjoyed exceptional beauty every single day. The smell of fresh coffee in the morning, the clear Aegean sea, the warm sunshine, the evening candles, the sea view, the delicious food, the lovely people…. all of these are treasures untouched by the Greek state. Here in
Greece, we are living comfortably, and while the media portrayal of Greece does have truth to it, please know that there is more to discover behind the headlines. Therefore, I would like to invite every single one of you reading this to join me in this paradise. Let us eat dinner under the grapevines, and enjoy the beautiful Aegean waters, and the lovely local wine. You are all invited.
You might want to bring cash, though.
Written by Anya Owen, Scotland
All photo credits to Rose Owen