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This mostly silent retreat tailored to your needs, proficiency, and progress to learn meditation as a means to enjoy good health and a happy life. You will develop concentration with Taoist longevity breathing and awareness of the subtle anatomy - specifically, the central channel and the dai mai extraordinary meridien. You will also be introduced to Dharmata meditation on intrinsic or objectless awareness. This retreat is suitable for all levels of experience.
Tourné is a fine maison de maitre in the Artillac valley, built by the Vicomte de Bellissens in 1858, reputedly for his maitre d’affaires. Hence, it is a genuine maison de maitre-built by a noble for his right-hand man. The house has large spacious rooms with en-suite bathrooms and views over the surrounding valley and river.
With extensive gardens, woodland and river access, the house has three floors with large adjoining activity studios. The valley is an area of protected environment in the heart of the Parc naturel régional des Pyrénées ariégeoises.
In the park, there is virtually no industry (1%); the population is sparse - 1 person for every 2 kilometers and consequently minimal traffic, with very few cars passing the house. There are many walks, for all levels of fitness, of astounding beauty that can be made directly from the house. Beautiful wildflowers in spring, stunning walks in summer cooled by the forest. The voie verte is a recently opened 42-kilometer route reserved for cyclists and walkers running from St Girons and Foix accessed at Castelnau Durban and is wonderful at all times of the year.
In the house, you will find guides and maps with local attractions and walks. With no pollution, the river runs clear and the night sky bright for stargazers. Many local activities and historic sites are under 30 minutes' drive. There are lots to see and do in the area, and the House provides a very calm and tranquil base for a gentle calm retreat.
On this Tao teaching program, participants will swiftly experience how the method efficiently quietens the mind and releases accumulated stress, negative emotions, and blocked energy. Participants with experience of other traditions and methods will quickly recognize the elements in this approach that are germane to all the great meditation traditions. All sessions will take place in the dojo at the retreat center at Tourné. You will have the chance to walk, rest, and practice.
One of the unique methods of Ram’s approach is the use of the ‘Three Sages’. These are three energies or modes of the teachings and the practitioner’s response to them. This threefold approach recognizes that your response and amenability to aspects of the practice changes according to mood, energy, and receptivity. The Three Sages variously deploy discipline when discipline is appropriate and necessary; artistry and abandon.
There will be up to seven daily sitting meditation sessions, divided between timed sessions, guided sessions, and personal practice sessions. Full instructions will be given in Taoist longevity breathing. The meditation method will lay the foundations for the Golden Flower meditation, directing eventually attention to the source of awareness. The foundation stages include:
The sessions begin at 06:30 in the morning and finishes at around 21:00. There will be one or two daily sessions of Qigong or Tao yoga - a basic muscle change and eight brocades workout to keep chi moving and lively, to support a release of stagnant energy. There will also daily walk with prescribed exercises to deepen and relax your meditation.
This year’s retreat will again introduce Tao longevity breathing. Many participants already booked on the retreat have learned this method, so it will provide an opportunity to develop expertise and to extend breath. Full instructions will be given to beginners. Longevity breathing is a doorway to regulating the breath, the nervous system and the energy systems of the body.
It enhances performance and staying power through gently extending the breath and developing awareness of the central channel and subsidiary elements of the body’s subtle anatomy. A Taoist method, it is nevertheless founded upon general principles that are germane to Zen and Dzogchen methods.
Special instructions will be given on Dharmata or intrinsic awareness where the practice is without concepts or objects. It is a supreme healer of mind, body, and emotions. Under different names, it has been recognized and practiced in India, Tibet, China, and Japan where it was closely aligned with Zen and the art of Samurai swordsmanship. In that latter practice, the formula adopted was based on the link between mind, chi, and form. It’s a formula that makes very clear how “no mind” is the key to harmony and healing.
In addition and very much in the same healing vein, participants will be introduced to Five Winds rejuvenation breathing practice. This is a simple and easy-to-learn practice that takes no more than 20 minutes to undertake. It draws upon Tibetan practices but uses a formula that is believed to have been taken to China by Padampa Sangye who was considered by some Tibetans to be Bodhidharma.
Each part of the program will be gradually delivered over ten days to ensure that participants have sufficient time and opportunity to experience the benefits of how the practices, when combined, generate well-being and rejuvenation and support the release of habit patterns that cause stress. By recognizing the inherent purity of intrinsic awareness the tendency towards grasping and rejecting is effortlessly and naturally purified.
Ram is an expert teacher of Tao yoga, Tai Chi, Bagua (eight trigrams circle walking), Qigong, and meditation with over 30 years experience. He has been certified by Master B.K. Frantzis as a teacher of various Qigong forms, breathing, and Bagua circle walking for health and meditation. His other teachers include Dadi Janki, Sepa Dorjé Rinpoche, Lama Lena Yeshe Katyub, and Victor Sanchez. He has students worldwide and is an inspiring teacher with vast practical knowledge and a unique approach to the universal methods of Tao. He has trained extensively in Buddhist, Yogic, and Taoist tradition.
This retreat will take place in Tourné, set in a secluded river valley in the foothills of the Ariège Pyrénées Mountains, France. Enjoy the totally natural forest and river environment on your doorstep and breath the clean mountain forest air. No night-time light pollution - excellent for stargazing. The location has an abundant wildlife including deer, boar, ibex, lynx and many breeds of raptor.
Numerous local activities like skiing, walking, lake bathing, cycling, paragliding, horse riding, and whitewater canoeing are available for you. The area is surrounded by many historic sites, as well. The area is a favorite with serious cyclists many of whom have chosen Tourné as a base within easy reach of challenging Tour de France climbs. The nearest village to Tourné is Castelnau Durban which is on the edge of the Forêt de Bellissens where one can walk for days without meeting a soul.
Tourné is situated 90 minutes drive or train south of Toulouse. Driving, you will find Tourné is 3 kilometers from the D117 which is the main road between Biarritz and Perpignan that runs along the chain of the mountains.
All food is prepared in-house with organic produce from the vegetable garden. You will be served a wide variety of vegetarian food with lighter evening meals to support your practice.
Transfer not provided
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS). Travel from Toulouse to the retreat center will take on average 90 minutes by car or 150 minutes (includes time waiting for connections) if using public transport. Car hire varies from about 35 EUR per day; a public transport journey from Toulouse to Tourné will cost between 20 EUR and 50 EUR depending on your choice of travel (bus or taxi).
Dependant on the availability of Tao Meditation's support drivers, they can arrange a pick-up from Foix or Toulouse with a cost between 30 EUR and 120 EUR. Tao Meditation recommends arriving at Toulouse no later than midday on your arrival day.
You can also fly to Carcassonne Airport (CCF) where car hire is recommended to shorten the next leg of the journey to Tourné.
Foix is the nearest local train station, about 60 minutes by road or 85 minutes by train from Toulouse. We will provide more detailed travel information once you have booked.