meditation & nature
Inspired by many paths, buddhist teachings are our main influence, especially the Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah. Both of us are shaped by having lived with the nuns sangha at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries.
Now, there's a spreading out of nuns and ex-nuns around the globe. We delight in a flow and deepening connection with these spiritual sisters.
Simplicity, opening the heart with awareness and learning from nature are keys we both love in the forest tradition. The buddhist teaching of 'non self' can seem theoretical, yet becoming present, rooting in body awareness, and noticing how connected we are in nature can be a beautiful pathway to 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.
We've also both spent time in the Tibetan tradition; Sumedha learning thangka painting, and Noon being part of a centre and relishing the healing visualizations.
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!
Founders of Ekuthuleni
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.
Connecting with curiosity & energy, with a sense of embodying spiritual practice through in depth body grounding meditations are 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.
Spiritual focus & practice
Offering a quiet, safe space to adventure. Radically bringing together awareness of natural resources & meditation in a makeshift community.
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.
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…
The turtle : "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."