Today was hooky Friday. After a mad cleaning frenzy this morning I headed off to the coast to meet up with some friends. We met in Mana which is just up the road from Pauatahanui (pronounced power-tan-oo-ee). This is a charming spot close to Wellington and over the hill for us. There is a small residential area call Whitby overlooking this area – unsurprisingly is a popular place for ex-pats to live.
I would love to have lived here but land around Pauatahanui is very expensive (twice the price of the Hutt Valley). This is because it is both a beautiful spot but also very close to Wellington itself. You can be in the big smoke in about 20 minutes from there.
I always love the drive around the inlet – you snake along the water and whatever the weather there is always a calm and magical atmosphere there.
I’m sure the magic of New Zealand is a lot to do with the light. It reminds me in so many ways of the light you get in Tuscany and Umbria in Italy. It’s a light largely unpoluted allowing the best of what nature has to shine through. Even on a cloudy day you can see the light peaking through here on the Pauatahanui Hills.
Even through the mists you can see the undulating hills. Once upon a time all those hills would have been covered in native bush. They’ll have been de-forested by the pioneer settlers to create farming land. Land that is now being sectioned off and sold to people who have about $600,000-800,000 to spend. Thankfully the minimum size of land section in the rural area is 10 acres so it’s not going to turn into a high density residential area. Well not yet at least and hopefully not in years to come.
Talking of the peace and tranquility of the hills reminds me that one of my friends is going to undertake a 10 day Vipassana Meditation retreat. This means that she’ll not speak for 10 days. No meat, alcohol or any other stimulants. That means no books, papers, music or other communications technology. Anyway, you’ll be too busy meditating 11 hours a day. I feel exhausted just thinking about the effort it would take to keep quiet for that long.
I’m actually coaching someone who is into meditation and did a similar retreat. They are now building up their stamina to try one for 30 days. Can you imagine, 30 days without speaking and having to concentrate for 11 hours a day. By all accounts these retreats can help you cleanse the mind and soul. I’m sure that the body gets a good wash out too as there’s a simple vegetarian diet the whole time.
I admire people who can do this sort of thing. The courage and discipline it takes to wipe out the realities of day to day life and focus on creating a new sense of purpose and spirituality.
Maybe if I could take the bassets with me for a bit of quiet company I might give it a go. I don’t however think that Fortnum could keep his barking under control and Little Basset would certainly be unimpressed with getting up for a 0400 start in the morning. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’d be able to hack the programme as it requires you to meditate until 2100 which is not far off my bedtime normally and with such an early start I’d be falling asleep when I should be meditating.
No, on balance I think I’ll skip the retreat and just head for the hills to get my dose of tranquility and capture some inner peace. It is altogether less exhausting!