The AEL course was Maria Cooper’s first introduction to the Findhorn community and ecovillage and she says it was through learning about its ecological, social and spiritual practices, that she deepened her relationship with herself and what she really wants to do with her life.
“I felt the course gave me the tools to recognise my inner intuition and expression of purpose. And even more, it somehow opened up the space for me to learn how to act on these feelings in a way that makes sense in a contemporary world that has very little patience with or room for intuition and inner listening.
“But most of all, I loved the embodied and practical approach to spirituality that permeated the course, and the amount of time that was spent learning by doing, whether it be permaculture gardening, fermenting winter vegetables, or looking at waste water treatment. It made it very tangible and real for me. The AEL programme was also a stepping stone for me to join the community, and since the start I have felt welcomed to Findhorn as my home.
“Craig Gibsone, to me, holds much of the identity of Findhorn in his own way of being. During the course I was amazed at the ease and grace with which he opened up his home, heart and life to complete strangers. Much of the learning took place in the house that he has built, drinking ginger tea out of cups that he has made, or eating delicious food from the garden that he tends. The authenticity and vulnerability that comes with sharing his life so intimately struck me from the start. Somehow, by just being himself with such wholeheartedness and presence, he manages to communicate that which cannot be said in words. I don’t think I have met anyone who hasn’t felt welcomed and nurtured in that space.
“As I have got to know Craig better in the months that I have lived in the community, I see him constantly welcoming in new people and energies, pointing them in a fruitful direction, and inviting them to thrive. Despite his Australian directness and sharp judgement, his touch on other people’s lives is often so soft that it seemingly just integrates into the natural enfoldment of whatever is supposed to happen.
The course showed me how to express my beliefs and values in how I choose to live…
“I get a lot of inspiration from seeing how he is walking his talk with such joy and fulfilment that he doesn’t seem to need any recognition from others that that is what he is doing. It is a refreshing outlook on life, and very deep in its simplicity. Every day he still chops wood, feeds the chickens, makes pots, meets people, practices meditation … all the while being open and expecting to learn something new – which is probably what makes me trust and respect him most of all.”
She says many participants seem to have life-changing realisations. “I certainly felt a lot calmer in my approach to myself and my role in the world, and more certain of how and where to focus my energy. I guess my mindset changed in that I stopped and really thought about which of all the stories in this crazy world I want to engage with, and I realised that I also carry a story inside me which is just as important as all the others.
“The course showed me how to express my beliefs and values in how I choose to live, and now I am in a fortunate situation where I can grow my own food, make my own preserves, remedies and wine, earn my pay in local currency, have nourishing personal relationships and take care of myself so that I have enough energy to engage in the social issues I care about. I can hold the complexities and difficulties of the world without feeling completely overwhelmed.”
* Read more about the Applied Ecovillage Living course here.