Peter Mallard retires from The Barn
Peter Mallard, manager at The Barn, retired this September, after six years in the post - overseeing perhaps 3,000 retreatants and their journeys.
Peter's wisdom and clarity, his teaching and compassion will be sorely missed here and we at Sharpham wish him the very best for the next chapter in his life.
Julian Carnell, Sharpham Trust Director, said: "A massive thank-you from the extended Sharpham family. Fortunately Pete will be continuing his involvement with The Barn through occasional teaching slots and offering us the benefit of his wisdom and advice. A happy retirement, Pete, from us all."
Here Pete shares some of the learning he's gained from being Barn Manager from 2010 to 2016:
What a tremendous privilege to spend time with so many wonderful and caring people… our lovely co-ordinators who give such great and selfless service to The Barn, the vibrant and supportive staff and trustees at Sharpham House, and the thousands of retreatants.
I have really enjoyed seeing so many people release themselves from the clutter of daily busy-ness: the bouncing from one experience to the next, continually leaning forward, looking out for something better (all of which helps us avoid any existential consideration). The Barn - by contrast - gives us all time to consider, recognise and connect with a more purposeful, deeper meaning. I believe it is this process and the emerging wisdom that makes The Barn so magical.
My time at The Barn has been invaluable. I have learnt so much, and the following lessons, supported by mindfulness practice, are carrying me well through the next phase of my life:
1) Living with purpose, but without continual urgency: Walking slowly through The Barn gardens, in rain and shine, we learn to engage with nature and to appreciate the world as it is in the moment. I continue to do this at home, or anywhere, for example walking upstairs with a focused, steady awareness of what’s actually happening right now, rather than slipping into my default personal soap opera of planning, or remembering, or just drifting into a pointless dream world (where I forget what I was going upstairs for!).
2) Engaging with generosity: Submitting to the simple structure of daily life at The Barn, and removing ourselves from the expectations of a comparing and competing society, we are able to notice and relate to others more easily. We find we have time for them, and they too for us. We notice the little actions of care: from others, and from ourselves. Most importantly, we appreciate this, enjoy it, and make this awareness more central in our lives.
3) Enabling compassion: I notice compassion arises naturally as a result of the above two. With moment-to-moment awareness we can recognise and step back from our own habitual craving. This creates space for the awareness of a subtle, deeper connectivity with the world. Then recognising and receiving the ubiquitous and natural care of others induces us to appreciate them, and so inevitably to care for them.
Recently I was talking to my own teacher about the great care and generosity of others to me since a difficult health diagnosis. She said, 'They were probably always like that. You just hadn’t noticed.'
And what is the next phase of my life? Not quite as I’d expected!
It was to be a selection of retreats, voluntary service, some seriously long walks, and to see what else emerged. However, what did emerge was a surprising cancer diagnosis – a tumour in my colon that had been growing for up to ten years!
As is often the case for people in this situation I find it has sharpened my appreciation of life in the moment. Beyond that, and the adjustment to my holiday plans, not much is really different. I know I’m going to die one day, and it’s sometime in the future. In the meantime, I enjoy each day, the care of my partner, family and friends, and I appreciate the wonderful gift of life.
Most importantly, I am extremely grateful for what I have learned at The Barn: love and kindness are transformational and healing. All we need to do is recognise them, and allow them to flow.
May you all be filled with love and kindness,
May you be well,
May you be peaceful, and at ease,
May you be happy.
With much love and gratitude to all who have brought their open-ness and reflective enquiry to The Barn,