Community resident, Ian Rippon, shares his 12-week journey into the heart of the Findhorn community through the Foundation Programme…
What a gift this programme is – such a rich, full 12-week period. It’s run by two very experienced focalisers, who not only focalise the programme, but participate in it, so it is their journey as well. There were 14 participants on the programme I was on, and I realised I could only reach my full potential in the programme with input from the rest of the group. It was such an honour to hear their stories, and to realise there was part of their story in my story – I sometimes felt I didn’t actually need to say anything because it had already been said by the others. When feedback was asked for, the feedback given was honest and open and straight from the heart.
The education modules were presented by very experienced people in the Foundation for whom I already had a lot of respect, and this grew as I went through the sessions with them.
It is very much a personal programme and, as is the case with many things, you get out what you put in based on how deep you are willing to dive into this mystery school that is the Findhorn Foundation. The key learnings for me were in learning how to find my divine connection at will – and I’m still getting better at that, as I walk what is becoming a well trodden path. I have found an inner anchor to call on if I need it. It’s strange to think that some things that started out as part of the mystery school of the Foundation, for example meditation and environmental awareness, are now widely accepted everywhere; but the work attunements, direct connection with the divine and co-creation with nature are still special to the Foundation.
I learnt about leading mediations and focalising groups which I am already using. We did some work on the anger connection that was pivotal for me. I realised I was responsible for my own physical expression anger – and on the flip side that I was also responsible for my own physical expression of love; I realised it is safe to be me. We did some work on rank, and I found that I had been totally unaware of my own rank, and I need to both celebrate it and use it wisely. I realised that I need to listen to people, and really hear them – it has been a pattern of mine learnt from my work environment to multi-task, and only give people the attention that I feel they need, rather than really listening to them. I also had some insights into my relationship with my partner that were deep and positive, and helped me to see the degree to which I love her.
We had a 5-day silent retreat which I realised gave me a chance to unpack my unconscious and see if there was anything in there that needed to be brought out. I also realised, through the silence, that I am a talker and a singer, and like to use my voice; deep down I was still holding an image of myself as a 12 year old who, much of the time, was a loner and didn’t feel included in conversations – and that is gone now. I was sick for a few days during the programme, and found I was really being forced to learn to receive, rather than give. As we moved deeper, I found there were a couple of people on the programme who really triggered me, but I learnt so much from them when I looked into why I was triggered; in the end I really had to thank them for bringing these aspects up. Throughout the programme I felt blessed by loving feedback and the wonderful opportunity to see myself through others’ eyes. The last big thing for me was to see the links between the work I do and the ecology movement, which I had not realised before (I work for a major oil company); now I know I am in the right place, doing a task that is mine to do. We had a week on the Isle of Erraid towards the end of the programme, which was such a wonderful place to be, and for me a time of being with the land, rest and completion.
I went away from the programme with a set of next steps that will allow this work to continue. As I read through them now, I realise that back in the ‘real world’ I have not consistently followed the path I planned – I tend to wander off track every now and again, but little my little, I find this new way of being working its way into all aspects of my life. I also have found great joy in the relationships built up over the programme and I am lucky that I can continue to have time with these people.
Three months after the end of the programme, three participants from my group are living the wider community, three are on the current LESP programme (with others returning to join the LESP programme that starts in the new year) and two have started long term programmes on Erraid. Most of the others I know will be back at some time, and if not, I’ll go and visit them around the world.
To find out more about the Foundation Programme
Photographer: Mark Anderson