The European Elder Gathering In Alicante
August 31 – September 4, 2016
The European Elder Gathering (EEG) in Alicante in Spain was a huge success and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I arrived a day early and was glad I did as it helped me settle in and enjoy a leisurely dinner with MKP brothers Bruno Gobbin (our EEG host) and Norbert Hesslinger, who had also arrived early from Germany.
Alicante had been chosen as the location for the EEG to support Bruno who has been doing an amazing job in leading a men’s circle in Alicante. The intention of the EEG was to help Bruno strengthen the foundations of his vision for an MKP community in Spain. Bruno has been working on this for the last four years and he would be the first to say that it has been challenging.
Bruno, who was initiated in South Africa in June 2006 is also registered as a member of our MKPUK&I Elder Circle. Simon Hinkly knowing of Bruno’s endeavors, proposed Alicante as the location for the EEG to support Bruno and the men in his circle in Spain. Men came to the EEG for Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, America and England.
In reality this whole event should not have worked out as well as it did. There were so many variables that could have caused it to fail. Bruno is the only man in his circle in Spain who has done the NWTA and so there was limited familiarity with MKP language and protocols.
Many of the men is Bruno’s circle are well under the age of 50 and so unfamiliar with being in an elder circle. Two friends of Nester Kornblum, the co-owner of the retreat center, joined us on the second morning.
Neither of these men had been in a men’s group before let alone an MKP circle and yet they fitted in perfectly. Check-ins, presentations and discussions all had to be translated simultaneously into four different languages.
And all these challenges were overcome with patience, tolerance, grace and good humour.
Men opened their hearts to each another, new friendships were formed, existing bonds strengthened, wounds healed and new ideas given birth to. And not just for the Spanish brothers but also for the wider European Elder community.
Despite the comings and goings of men used to a different approach to the concept of time the container expanded and contracted to accommodate all the ebbs and flows of the four days.
And the final and most amazing gift of all was the arrival of 12 year old Jordi Xavier Lara who, at his own request, had asked his father Carlos if he could join the gathering. Not only did Jordi sit in and participate in all the sessions and discussions over the four days – apart from the one on Sexuality- he listened intently, checked-in when his turn came and chatted with everyone with childlike wisdom and enthusiasm.
The final morning began with Bruno giving an elder blessing and then Jordi stepped into the center of the circle, and in both Spanish and English, gave us this blessing. ‘I bless you men for coming from other countries and thank you for coming to us. I did not expect this. thank you
Jordi is I am sure a wise old soul in a young boys’ body, and we were well and truly blessed by his presence.
Below are some of the themes that were presented at the EEG 2016 and the men who led them.
Mindfulness, Heartfelt Meditation, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong,
To start the day there was an offering of one of the above by either Hans Auer, Jean-Claude Bourjalliat, or Bernard Fadda.
Death and Dying : Simon Hinkly, Ken Plattner and Shantamo Kamstra
It began with a death meditation and an opportunity to consider what we would do if we were to know that we had only four months to live. And how we can prepare to live and die well.
Aging with Passion and Purpose: Diarmaid Fitzpatrick and Laughter Coach Francisco Manuel Monferro
An opportunity to become aware of where we are on our journey into elderhood, to let go of old limiting beliefs about aging, step over the threshold into later life with passion and purpose and use laughter to overcome the potential fears and challenges of growing older.
Meeting the Ancestors in the caves at Pla. de Petracos: Peter Benwitz
A visit to nearby ancient caves and a sharing of individual stories about our ancestors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz7ovXshr4s this a link to a video featuring Nestor Kornblum, his wife Michele and a group of friends in the caves on a previous visit.
Sacred healing and Sound experience: Nestor Kornblum
An hour long transformational session of sound healing that touched every molecule and cell in the body. I was still vibrating 24 hours later.
Elder Mission: Simon Hinkly and Ken Plattner
Using meditation and visualization this session helped us create a new elder mission. Mine is, “I co-create a world in which I embrace my eldering with passion and purpose, where elderhood is valued and where I am of service to others, especially those on their journey into elderhood.”
And the much shorter version is ‘Let Go’
The future of MKP in Spain.
This was a group discussion which began with Simon asking our Spanish brothers what they needed to support them in building an MKP Community in Spain.
The sense I had from this discussion was that the Spanish men felt it would be best for them to continue to strengthen the existing circle, building up regular attendance and connections at their meetings with a view to perhaps one or two men from the group attending an NWTA at some time in the future. (As a gesture of support at the end of the EEG we raised 240 Euros to go towards the flight costs of the first man in Bruno’s group to attend a weekend.)
Visiting the ancient trees
We spent time with some beautiful gnarled old olive and almond trees not far from Alcalali. Most of the trees in and around Alcalili are badly in need of water. A river which until a few years ago flowed past Alcalili is now bone dry.
At the same time hundreds of thousands of liters of water are being diverted to places like Benidorm to service the needs of the tourist industry. It was so very sad to see this happening.
Cosmic Identity Elder Conscious: Hans Raimund Aurer
After a short introduction about how our ‘Personal identity’ is formed and how narrow this identity is in relation to the wider world, Hans invited us to choose one of the four elements of Water, Fire (Sun) Air and Earth and take quiet time to reflect on and connect deeply with our chosen element.
I chose water and found it to be a fascinating exercise. It helped me realise the many ways water flows in my life and how much I take it for granted. This exercise left a lasting impression on me.
Elder Blessing: Francis Lemaire
‘When giving an Elder Blessing we need to recognise the divine in ourselves and in everyone else. The blessing comes out of the heart and is done with love. An Elder Blessing is given with complete consciousness, an open heart and without judgement or ego.
Sexuality in Late Life Rolf Jehring
Using the four Archetypes to denote the various stages of life from childhood to elderhood Rolf described the development of his own sexuality during his lifetime. Now is his early 70’s and even with prostate issues Rolf is still enjoying his sexuality.
He pus this down to having a positive attitude towards sex, and in particular learning to let go of the attachment for orgasm and slowing down the process of lovemaking.
Spanish Night Talent Show on final evening
It would take several pages to describe the incredible talent there was in this group of men. This was an evening of outstanding entertainment which included drama, clowning and mime, healing sounds, chanting, a demonstration of Aikido and a very moving piece where Bruno, a Black Belt in Karate, took off his jacket and black belt for the last time, as an indication of his transition into elderhood.
I came home from the EEG feeling inspired and full of joy.