Springhead Retreat Oct 2022

Springhead Retreat Oct 2022

The Joy and Depth of Springhead 

Autumn Retreat 2022

Thanks to Caroline and Gill for their write-ups and to Richard for the photos

Thoughts from Caroline Purkhardt, Lauvitel Lodge:


What a delight!  Like bathing in warm light.  

This year’s retreat was perhaps the most profoundly resourcing for me, bringing me home to centre after a challenging summer:  Home to my own centre, to my deep connection with nature and to this wonderful t’ai chi community.  This retreat is where I can be entirely myself, enjoy being with others and learn and grow all at the same time.  

Sue McAlpine led this weekend with incredible dexterity and seniority. Her depth of knowledge and desire to share the 10 paramis was felt by everyone and held a strong line of intent.  At the same time she created a heart filled space that invited others to bring their expertise to the group, enriching everyone’s experience.  Whilst Jos Hadfield was not able to join us, her wisdom was present, in the planning and structuring of the weekend with Sue.  

For the first time, I found myself in true relationship with the 10 paramis.  Supported by the calm energy of the mill house, the skilful weave of meditation, poetry, chanting, repeating the explanation of each of the paramis and really exploring their interpretation, all opened up a new way of being with myself and with others.  A very rich moment for many of us was the opportunity to share in small groups the presence and impact of one of the paramis in our personal lives.  

This in turn, enriched our practice outside on the Springhead lawn, whilst overlooking the waters of the Springhead lake in glimmering sunlight and lifting our eyes to the hills beyond. 

We found ourselves dancing with their qualities in the chi kung practice and the different movements of the birds – I loved this practice! And working with the T’ai Chi Chuan to unravel and reform what has been held within us too long, expressed, released and reformed to offer clarity and pure connection.

And then there is the simple pleasure of sitting around a table with old friends and new faces, sharing food, helping the flow of the kitchen and finding someone to share a hot cup of something.  For each of us there, we find our way to reconnect with ourselves, with others and with the bountiful and beautiful nature: camping by the lake, walking barefoot, wandering amongst the flowerbeds ….. For me it is swimming in the cool spring waters and standing with the magnificent copper beech at the end of the garden.  


Thoughts from Gill Jacobs:


The Springhead Retreat this year, on the weekend 14/16 October with Sue McAlpine, was eagerly anticipated by those who have been many times before.

Sue was going to be assisted by Joss, who lives in Cornwall and in past times has hosted retreats there. But she had to stay home nursing her Covid. We all missed Joss of course, but in fact Sue was an inspiring teacher, ably helped by others on the course with their own special inputs. 

It all ended up being a wonderful mix of talents, skills and sensitivity.

Springhead is 120 miles from London in deepest Dorset. As the label on the tin says its at the head of a spring, which has been funnelled into a lake and then  into a waterwheel beside the house, with the river running underneath and  flowing to the village, dissecting the pub, with a glass bridge enclosing it again.

So flow was very much a theme on the weekend, as our energies were unblocked and our creativity allowed expression in the exercises we did with each other.

We were a small group of about 15, which was good for a change, as we all interactedwith ease, enjoying time outside of qigong as well.

Springhead is a thatched row of cottages, with the water mill added on providing a catering kitchen, dining room and an upstairs meditation room, which also doubled as a qigong room in bad weather.

Mostly we preferred to work (and play) outside by the lake, starting off the day with Qigong and Taichi, followed by a slow walk around the grounds before breakfast.

Our patch by the lake overlooks quacking ducks, hills and flowing clouds, with, this time, plenty of warming sun. 

One of the exercises was about how honest we are with ourselves. I realised that I am often ’dishonest’ when I announce that I am ‘writing a book’ when in fact I procrastinate and don’t get down to finishing it. Caroline overheard me and offered to keep an eye on me to keep me at it! Great result! Thank you Sprinted.

Thank you Sue for your teaching and your experience. I look forward to the next retreat in the magical Springhead.