Art of Living Retreat Centre in the Black Forest

June  17 24


Blog by Lynne Pearl (Susie Bedford)

These were mountains but not like any I had ever seen before, not really, there was no bareness, no loftiness, nothing ethereal, but a warmth, a density of foliage like nothing before or since.  As you get near there is the sense of something warm and effortless, an encircling as it were.  As we drove in it was like diving into a warm sea full of sea weed.  Have you ever swum in the sea when it is full, just full of sea-weed.  Sometimes after a storm we get a beach full of sea weed and the water is stiff but moving full of seaweed and it’s dark too.  But it is rich in something, a growth of richness.

Well this abundance of trees on what must be rocky mountains underneath is like that.  Trees everywhere you look.  There’s trees on mountain tops, there’s trees on mountainsides, there’s trees in the valley.  In fact, I have never seen such a dense forest of trees.  They are tall, very tall and quite strong but not stout like an oak.  They are a kind of fir tree that is hardy for winter.  They must look lovely with snow blown everywhere in the winter.  The whiteness of snow with the dark, dark green of the trees.  Not leaves but pine needles.  The spikiness, the tallness everywhere you look.

There is occasionally a house in a clearing on the mountainside or here the Art of Living Meditation and Yoga retreat centre, an old spa originally to take the medicinal waters that flow in the many streams around about.  But now people come for the silence, the meditation, the peace on the mountain top.  It is very nearly on the mountain top, certainly the top of this particular mountain, though there are other mountains nearby that surround it and tower over it, a little protectively.  The road up climbs gradually up the side of this one particular mountain and then there it is, an old spa with life breathed into it, by new clients singing and meditating amongst the peaks so that the valleys resound with their songs, joyous to the world.

The undergrowth is the same as in the West country in England, the same flowers, the same grasses but much smaller.  The Queen Anne’s lace (as we call it) is only one foot or so tall whereas I have seen it six feet high in lanes, byways and footpaths in the West.

The streams are like the ones on Dartmoor but here they rush downhill with a wonderful noise and fullness, clear and wonderful like nothing else.  Its as if they are singing themselves down the mountainside, they are flowing so fast and exuberantly.  It reminds one of the ‘the Sound of Music’ and ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music.’  Literally they are. Here.

There are houses here, a few, it must be hard during the winter with heavy snow.  I wonder how much the road is ploughed, do they manage to get in and out to get food and for work in the winter or do they get snowed in? 

There are a few animals, they also must be adapted to this terrain and this climate here, so close to Switzerland and mountain ranges.  There used to be cows that liked this environment, but now one doesn’t see the cows, they are gone.  Perhaps the farmers have left, I don’t know.  But there were goats, the prettiest goats.  I am reminded of the wild goats at the Valley of the Rocks, that spill over into the nearby town, eating gardens.  But these are domesticated goats, bred for milk I suppose, they are brown and white goats, eating in a corner of the hillside and occasionally fighting with one another.  There was a herd of them, caged in next to a home.  I can hear their sounds now, far away though I am.