Founders of Ekuthuleni
Spiritual focus & practice
Offering a quiet, safe space to adventure. Radically bringing together awareness of natural resources & meditation in a community of retreatants coming at different times.
Inviting all of us, curious & wonderful human beings to explore the links between opening our hearts & tapping into the sensitivity of nature's own gifts....meeting our shared roots.
A doorway to question & delve into meditation, sustainable ways of being & low-impact living.
meditation & nature
Inspired by many paths, buddhist teachings are our main influence, especially the Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah. We are shaped by having lived with the nuns sangha at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries
Simplicity, opening the heart with awareness and learning from nature are keys we both love in the forest tradition. Finding perspective on personal habits, on ‘self’. It can help us to become freer and to let go of what is harmful to others, the planet or ourselves.
So nature itself, living closely and respectfully with the nourishment and challenges offered is another vital influence. As is the current climate situation – bringing urgency to sharing and encouraging this sensitivity.
Though the goal of spiritual practice is richer without too many labels...these threads of simplicity, awareness, opening and connection flow through. Exploring meditation, on and off the cushion, runs through all our activities. And we soak up, soak in some chanting and sacred poetry, especially when the clouds are grey!
See below personal bios about us all, teachers, community members, & other volunteers at Ekuthuleni
Ekuthuleni, a movement and a place, surrounded by trees, sky and birdsong.
After many years of living and serving in Dharma communities and monasteries, in 2010 we both spent a year as managers of Dharmagiri Hermitage in South Africa.
Whilst there the wish to make a place like Ekuthuleni was formed and this spark then picked up its own momentum…
Noon Baldwin is an ex circus artist & street performer who retired from the circus in 2004 to dedicate his life to spiritual practice, living in dhamma centers (France & south Africa) & Amaravati monastery, (UK).
Noon co-created Ekuthuleni rustic retreat place with Sumedha (Hannah) Bagshaw. Ekuthuleni is a back to basics meditation center in the foothills of the french Pyrenees. The emphasis is on meditation & ecological awareness, & bringing these two together. Noon's main influence is the buddhist tradition of Ajahn Chah , with an interest in all spiritualities, (following retreats & courses with Jaya Ashmore from Open Dharma since 2008).
He enjoys how the traditional & open spirituality practices meet as one in his heart. Noon's varied life experience brings a listening with vibrancy,an alive practice he loves to share. Noon participated in a two year course at "London Focussing Institut", Eugene Gendlin's way from 2020 to 2022. He hopes to pay for the certification soon when/if some dana arrives...
Connecting with curiosity & energy, with a sense of embodying spiritual practice through in depth body grounding meditations are some of Noon's fields of exploration. He is transgendered....a two spirit person all in one.
Interests and practice
Sumedha enjoys discovering the connections between awareness and nature, and how to bring our inner understandings into daily life.
She loves living close to nature; most especially she loves sharing laughter & spirituality with people.
Her early childhood on the wild beaches of the outer Hebrides, Scotland, helped her find peace in challenging times and a faith in this healing in nature, as well as a certain hardiness in the face of adversity!
She's spent time painting Tibetan thangkas and has participated in many courses learning the traditional methods of Christian icon painting.
Sumedha's early encounter with the Ajahn Chah tradition led her to ordain at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in her late twenties.
She’d studied comparative religion at Manchester University, and after graduating with flying colours, realised she wanted to explore spirituality from the inside.
After 12 years she left the monastery: following the natural progression of her practice, exploring how to bring awareness to our hearts, environment & each other.
After a moment co-managing Dharmagiri Hermitage with Noon in South Africa, her journey made her want to co-create a place of meditation and connection with nature - the adventure called Ekuthuleni.
"Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a moustache.
You won't be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, it will come & look for you."
Rachel Sever (she/her)
I lived and co-managed at Ekuthuleni in 2018, and have lived here as a community member since 2020. I'm a polyvagal-informed, awareness-oriented bodyworker, specialized in Somatic Integration. I'm certified in Structural Integration, hold a BA degree in Deconstructing the Status Quo, and am currently training in Neuroaffective Touch, a somatic modality that addresses early developmental traumas. I previously worked for years in social services in the field of mental health with adults and kids.
I'm into endlessly continuing to learn about somatics and neuroscience, meditation, poetry, music with soul, dancing with soul, getting muddy while working in gardens, endlessly continuing to dig also into oneself, funky weird people, excess garlic, and exploring and challenging ideas of social norms and conditioning. I grew up among the redwood trees on the West Coast of the US, and have a deep sense that being in nature supports healing and finding compassion for self and others beings. I have co-led several retreats and workshops on embodied exploration. I am queer and neurodivergent, and speak English, German, and French. www.heartembodied.com
I come from Germany. Studied social pedagogy & psychology. Living near Canigo mountain near the Pyrennees, and working in a Scoop Biocoop, an organic supermarket ran by the workers. I'm a painter, Reiki master. Enjoy hiking, swimming in the Mediterranean, reading, cooking, preferably with some friends. I love Ekuthuleni as a great retreat place in the middle of nature , ecological, open minded. I love my friends who run the center. Giving my advice & experience for the accounts is my way to give support to Ekuthuleni.
Walts, president of the association Ekuthuleni, with much experience as former main organiser of the Dharma Yatra. Walts brings much advice from his vast experiences and offers us many helpful practical tips!
Simon Brown is treasurer of the association, longterm friend of Ekuthuleni, works as a care nurse in an old persons home.
The head of the communications agency creationsbynina, Nina is a freelance graphic designer and English/German/French translator. Consultant in marketing and digital communication. Yoga teacher. Nina creates and develops all kinds of projects in the various sectors of culture and the arts. Her sources of inspiration are music, the different cultures of the world, art and sustainable living.