Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre, Ireland
The yoga retreat centre was founded in 1999 by yoga teacher Dave Brocklebank who also runs the yoga retreat centre on the west coast of Ireland and also looks after this website.
My background and aspirations
I came from an academic background of studying psychology with a very strong motivation to help people to reach their potential. I received a B.A. and an M.A. in pure psychology in 1984 and began working with people who had breakdowns in their life and helping them to ease back into normal daily living within the community.
After working in the field of psychology for a couple of years, i began to feel the draining effects of working with people who had mental difficulties, and i decided to leave this area of work as my own energies are very open and i pick up energies from others very easily. I retrained in computers and worked in this field for about 16 years.
While working in IT, i continued to attend many workshops, trainings, and courses continuing to search for the ‘best therapies and techniques’ to help people to improve their lives and to empower them to reach towards their potential.
Finally after many years the penny finally dropped that ‘meditation and yoga had been the most powerful and influential things i had found in my own life’, so why not teach these techniques to others, and let others transform their own lives through the benefit of these practices.
About the same time in 1996, my own yoga teachers suggested that i consider taking up teaching yoga and meditation, and i undertook the two year teaching training course with Swami Chetanmurti and Swami Shraddhamurti who had devoted their lives to teaching yoga.
Inspirational teachers over the years
I began the practice of TM Meditation at the ripe age of 19 in 1978, and kept this up over the next 16 years until i changed my meditation practice for a combined Yoga and Buddhist practice which still continues today.
I moved to Galway in 1988 and felt drawn to take up yoga as i knew ‘it had something to do with meditation’. Luckily i was drawn to take up a form of yoga which honours the traditional roots of yoga where meditation has always been the cornerstone of all the practices, and the teachings involve the complete 8 limbs of yoga.
After practicing yoga for about 8 years, my own yoga teachers suggested that i consider taking up teaching yoga and meditation, and i undertook the two year teaching training course with Swami Chetanmurti and Swami Shraddhamurti who had devoted their lives to teaching yoga.
About 1990 i came across an inspiration Tibetan Buddhist Lama who has escaped from Tibet called Panchen Otrul Rinpoche and began to attend his teachings on Buddhism in the Jampa Ling buddhist centre in Co. Cavan.
I attended retreats at many yoga centres and buddhist retreat centres, and integrated yoga into my already exisiting daily meditation practice.
I was fortunate to be able to attend a 10 day teaching with the Dalai Lama in 1994 and the notes i have taken on that course still inspire me today.
Over the years i began to recognise that Buddhism had developed within the larger melting pot of yoga and meditation within India about 2,500 years ago, and that the teachings of both Buddhism and Yoga were mutually supportive and integrated very well together.
Both call for a process of self exploration and self discovery rather than the modern religious tenets of blindly following what one is told by those in authority, and not questioning their authority or what they tell their followers to do or believe.
This process of self discovery led me to meet many great teachers and i have been fortunate to have been on retreat and studied with
- Swami Chetanmurti (Satyananda yoga)
- Swami Shraddhamurti (Satyananda yoga)
- Panchen Otrul Rinpoche (Buddhist teaching)
- Swami Nishchalananda (Satyananda Yoga)
- Orla Punch (Iyengar yoga)
- Elizabeth Connolly (Iyengar Yoga)
- Dalai Lama (Buddhist teaching)
- John Scott (Ashtanga yoga)
- Granville Cousins (Ashtanga yoga)
- Danny Paradise (Ashtanga yoga)
- Graeme Northfield (Ashtanga yoga)
- Swami Vedanta (Satyananda yoga)
- Swami Satyananda (Satyananda yoga)
- Swami Janakananda (Satyananda yoga)
- Kevin Gardiner (Iyengar yoga)
- Richard Spahn (Ashtanga yoga)
- Khenpo Karpo (Buddhist teaching)
- David Muehsam (Ashtanga, Iyengar & Satyananda)
- Sotantar (Kundalini yoga)
- Ringu Tulku (Buddhist teaching)
- Garchen Rinpoche (Buddhist teaching)
Now in my 50’s, and after over 30 years of being on this path, i realize that i am only scratching the surface compared to the depths that are left to develop and grow. And that is one of the inspirational aspects of yoga and meditation in that one’s perspective and view point grows over the years and there is always more areas to develop as one grows through this life time.
And the deeper teachings of yoga and Buddhist teachings would say that we grow over successive lifetimes.
I try to do my bit, by hand picking the best yoga and meditation teachers, and organizing the yoga and meditation retreats in a fun and inspirational way, leading the daily guided outings myself to show our visitors some special and very often hidden locations within the Burren during our Eco Yoga Retreats on the west coast of Ireland.
Being drawn to The Burren
In 1996 i was living in Galway and decided that i would like to find a place to live in the countryside to be more closer with nature and to get away from the concrete of the city, and the noise and never ending movement of cars, industry and rushing to and fro.
Each evening after work and on the weekends i used to drive around looking for nice places to live and looking at houses for sale. At this stage i was not thinking of setting up a retreat centre, but simply looking for a place to live and where i could teach yoga and meditation from my own home.
After 4 weeks, i suddenly realized that i seemed to be spending most of my time driving around the area surrounding Kinvara and The Burren. Something in this area was unconsciously drawing me here on my search.
After this realization, i intensified my search in The Burren, and eventually found the piece of land where the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre is located. Some of the coincidences involved in how i found the piece of land and how the idea that i could build a yoga and meditation retreat centre can be seen at listening to one’s inner being.
It was only after seeing the Burren for the first time that i realized this was the same place i had seen in a dream many years ago.
The Burren is the most inspirational and ideal place to build a yoga and meditation retreat centre, as there are very little houses or cars in the area, and when one goes for walks in the hills or by the sea, all one hears is the sound of the birds or the waves in this wonderful unspoilt countryside.
After finding the piece of land for sale where the centre is now, a coming together of different aspirations i had had for many years magically came together.
Since my teenage years i had always had a dream in the back of my mind that i would like to setup a retreat centre in Ireland if i ever won ‘the pools’…. which were the 1960’s predecessor of the Lottery.
Also since my teens i had this ‘burning urge’ to help empower others to work towards their potential.
Idea was born to build a yoga and meditation retreat centre
And just before i found the site, my own teachers had helped me realize that i wanted to teach yoga and meditation, but more importantly to facilitate others to learn and deepen their practice in what ever way i could help them.
And all these apparently unrelated motivations came together as i looked at the site and an idea was born whether i could actually design and build a yoga centre instead of just simply teaching yoga myself.
Building of the yoga retreat centre began in 1998 and the centre was completed by May 1999.
Connections with amazing people
I attribute a lot of the success of the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre to the contributions provided by many amazing people that i have been drawn to and that also have been drawn to the centre.
While building the yoga centre the love and energy that Johnny Ray has put into all the beautiful hand carved furniture and beds and kitchen table, counters and shelves goes well beyond the usual work of a craftsman. For me his work has been embedded with love for his craft and for the very timber itself that he works with, and his touches and inspiration can been seen on the hand carved furniture in every room.
Paddi the chef used to run Seventh Heaven restaurant for over 12 years before she began work fulltime at the Burren Yoga Centre over 10 years ago. After Paddi had been working here for over 6 months, we discovered that i knew her son Jason for a few years but did not realize he was a son of Paddi.
Paddi wrote her own vegetarian cooking book which was released in 2009, and it is easy to see the love and care that she puts into preparing the food in an apparently effortless way as she moves about the kitchen. She prepares special diets if required for vegan, wheat intolerant, dairy free, special allergies and even fruitarians. And Paddi’s husband Mattie grows much of the organic vegetables and salads that Paddi prepares for her vegetarian feasts.
And no matter how good and amazing the yoga teachers are, people always sing the praises of Paddi the cook 😉
When i explained to Panchen Otrul Rinpoche in 1998 that i was going to build a yoga and meditation centre, although i already knew in my heart and soul that was where i was going to put my life’s energies….. somehow by telling Rinpoche who has escaped from Tibet in 1959 and had devoted his life to Buddhist practice and teaching….. this made my resolve even more unwavering.
Attending retreat centres
The time i spent with Swami Nishchalananda in Balgalore in India was very precious, and i love when i can get the time to take a retreat in his own ashram in Wales. It is one spiritual retreat place i go where one feels heightened activity in ajna chakra straight away.
I attended a 10 day teaching course given by the Dalai Lama in 1994 in Barcelona, and the notes i took at that course still inspire me today.
I attended a 7 day retreat with Garchen Rinpoche in Munich, Germany at a buddhist retreat centre, where the windows were blacked out and we chanted 18 hours per day with only two separate periods of 3 hours of sleep each day. At that time Garchen Rinpoche was about 72 years old, and almost always when i went for my 3 hours of sleep he was sitting there chanting, and when i came back he was usually still there. To see a man of those years with the vigour and resolve to sit for more than 18 hours per day with possibly a couple of hours of sleep is truly inspiring.
I attended a 1 month course of Kriya yoga in Sweden at the Haa Yoga Centre with Swami Janakananda where we had 21 days of silence during the retreat as we were working with very subtle but also quite intense inner practices. I belive that this was the most transformational course i had ever undertaken and the change in my energies following that retreat were huge.
I feel honoured and privileged to have met such inspirational people and teachers and i hope that i can enable the retreats at Burren Yoga to live up to these inspirations, and the time our visitors will spend here will inspire them in turn to work towards their own potential and to leave behind those things which are holding them back in life.
The current Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre
Although i have mentioned many inspiring people i have met and some of them may have devoted their whole lives to their own practice and teaching, i have purposely setup the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre to cater for all levels.
The atmosphere is light, relaxed and friendly and the sound you will hear most often is laughter.
We do have respect and have reverence for the yoga room where we do our practice and which has been blessed by a couple of Tibetan lamas over the years, but our retreats are intentionally relaxed with plenty of time spent in Nature, getting to know the other people on the course, eating good food and discovering that we can still have good fun, continue to enjoy our lives while also building in some yoga and meditation practice each day.
More a holiday retreat centre than a yoga ashram
I have tried to bring together the genuine yoga environment and woven it together with fun and refreshing activities and time spend in Nature to create an ideal yoga retreat holiday atmosphere.
My intention is to provide this haven of retreat for those who need it at any time during the year. And to pick the best inspirational yoga and meditation teachers to teach the classes during the eco yoga retreats.
And that we all have a good time and good fun on the retreat and see the eco yoga retreats as a deepening point in our lives so that we can bring some of the techniques and practices away with us to practice at home.
I met my now current wife Eri in 2006 and we currently live in a mobile home on the grounds of the yoga centre with our daughter Shanti who was born in 2011, and our son Cian who was born in 2014.
Through running this retreat centre for over 12 years, i have learned to realize that many people who come here for a retreat holiday are more interested in having a good time, enjoying good food and meeting like minded people than going into some of the practices on a serious level.
I guess i have grown a lot through having to meet and live with so many different types of people over the years, and i have a greater flexibility and understanding of how different we all are from each other.
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