Soul soothing at Corfu’s hippy boot camp

“Let us all om”.
On the command 130 people move their arms serenely outwards and aloft. Then they begin. The room fills with a low rumble.
My arms are half in, half out and only half-heartedly raised. My sound is more erm than om. I am self-conscious and well outside my comfort zone.
Then a brief panic. Should my eyes be closed while oming? In my uncertainty I half close them and sneak a crafty peek at my neighbours as they carry om and om. The evidence is mixed.
Om, or Aum, is the chant you hear at yoga, in Buddhism or Hinduism. It is supposed to be the sound of the universe or divinity. At least that’s what I was told.
Tonight it marks the beginning of a concert at Buddha Hall in Magoulades, a small village on the Greek island of Corfu.
It’s the venue for something called Light of Love 2, a week-long “healing world of mantras, songs and circle dances.” Each morning participants undertake two hours of “ecstatic chanting”. Apparently it’s extremely popular and people come from all over the world.
Sounds to me like boot camp for hippies.image
Not quite what I envisaged when I arrived in Corfu, one of Europe’s top beach holiday destinations. I’d pictured beautiful mountains lined with cypress trees and beaches packed with bronzed gods and goddesses.
This spiritual “thing” has never really been “my thing”. I am admittedly a one-dimensional, born, live, die, The End, kind of guy. In other words an atheist and also rather short on spirituality. But on my travels I’ve set myself the goal of opening my mind to experiences.
Whenever I’d seen the Light Of Lovers around town I’d been struck by how happy they all seemed. So when I heard about the concert I decided to see what dancing in circles could do for people.
My early prejudices are perfectly met. The flower power generation appears to have been transported from California to 21st century Corfu. There’s a fair amount of long hair, although most is now grey. There are also lots of flowery clothes, just a little more tailored these days. But there is no sign of the free love that so shocked the 60s. I think for some of the older members love now costs. The price being a little purple pill. But I have to admit they do seem genuinely happy.
This being the Buddha Hall they are all sat on the floor. In the middle of the room are Miten, Deva Premal and Manose. They lead us through the next couple of hours. Mostly it’s gentle songs of love, respect and god, not the Christian version but something more individual and universal, I think.
Two hours later my night comes to an end. As I head for home I am struck by feelings of calm and peacefulness. I have really enjoyed the experience. Oh hell. I think my hippy sneer might be on the slide.
The following weekend there’s confirmation.
It’s Miten’s birthday bash. A morning of songs is to be held in an olive grove. All invited. Two rules, arrive quietly and dressed in red and white. I rock up a little late as my motorbike has decided it only works midweek hours.
imageI am appropriately dressed in pink shirt and faded white, three-quarter length, jungle trousers. Not normally a great look but here I blend in perfectly.
What is immediately clear is a tangible feeling of goodwill. A genuine warmth. The sun shines brightly and the olive grove has a very earthy and welcoming air. The music wafts softly through the ancient trees. Gentleness is all around.
I am feeling the love. Then comes a beautiful and tender rendition of the Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. I sing along and feel contentment in every fibre of my body.
The music seeps into the souls of the gathering and people begin to stand, raise their arms skywards and start to sway.
I too find myself standing. It all feels quite blissful and soothing.
But that’s where it ends for me.
I am still self-conscious and my arms stay firmly down by my side. Deep within me I know this is still not really my thing.
The best I can say is that my prejudices have been shifted. These people don’t dress like me, don’t think like me. But I understand they are searching for something and on the way to finding it they are enjoying the moment. I no longer dismiss them as hippies. Perhaps this morning, here in the olive grove, happies is a better word.
It is good to prise my shuttered mind open slightly to let in just a few rays of the Light Of Love.

Categories: Greece, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Soul soothing at Corfu’s hippy boot camp

  1. Marie

    Hi Arthur
    I am so happy you enjoyed this experience! Now you will fit very well in Bali !!!xxxx

    • Hi

      How lovely to hear from you again. It’s been quite a while.
      Agreed, I think Corfu could be a training camp for all the spiritual experiences of Bali.
      Hope life is treating you very well and the sun is shining on you.


  2. Glad you “got ” a little bit of it. You’ll fit right in in Byron now 🙂 Rosemary still raving on about your visit…and the fact that my hair wasn’t brushed when we Skyped xx

    • Actually, you don’t know how right you are. Apart from holding Light of Love in Corfu they also come to Australia every year and of course the location is BYRON!
      Small world eh?
      Rosemary was great host and loved learning how to video Skype so I wouldn’t worry about the hair.

  3. Roger Riley

    Nice one Arthur, any of those purple pills floating around
    . Joan used to Ooooooooooooooooooom in Thai Chi classes.
    , very soothing

  4. Suellen

    A day as Hindu and now a day as an ageing happy! I hope you don’t get caught up in any strange practices involving white hoods while in the States.

    • I’m up for a lot of different experiences on this trip but there’s a line to be drawn somewhere and that would be it.
      The wild experience here would be getting to a government museum, historic site or monument and not finding it closed in the government shutdown. Now that would be something.

  5. Satomi

    Reminds me of NYE last year…hippy thoughts make me happy because of the lovely memory… but no time to om for me, now everything is shifted I need to tackle garage….maybe I should om and get into trance before I do that. Xx

  6. Ceri

    Hi Uncle Arthur, I’ve been waiting patiently for your next blog, and really enjoyed the content. Love the fact you’ve been soul searching with the ‘happies’. Hope you’re well. Speak soon xx

    • Hi Ceri

      Great to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the blog. Sorry for the delay. I am about six weeks behind. Now in Philadelphia. I hope the baby is fine and all three of you are thriving. It was lovely to see you. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I come back.

      • Vaughan and Trish Rostron

        Nice to hear from you mate. I’m not an ommmmmmm person, wasn’t in the 60 s and not now either; but I do understand where the feelings of peace, happiness and contentment come from with prayer and reflection, regardless of the religion. An interesting experience for you. Looking forward to the next chapter in your travels.

        • Really good to hear from you. Hope all is well and you’re both fine.
          It was a really interesting experience. Everybody I spoke to seemed to have been rejuvenated by their course.
          I just hope they have a sense of humour having called it a boot camp for hippies. Very tongue in cheek of course.

          • Hi Arthur…boot camp for hippies…far from that for me!! Loved meeting you….we will be back next year in that beautiful , peaceful part of the world…remember Arillas…let’s keep it as it should be…special…we don’t need another Byron!!

            • Dear anonymous
              Thanks for the comment…….whoever you are.
              Agreed, Arillas is a special place. I really enjoyed it and meeting so many people from Light of Love. It did open my eyes in a good way.
              Best wishes

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