International Volunteers At KFR

- By Antoinette Kass

17 March 2013 - 6:29am 1 Comment

My name is Antoinette Kass, and I’m from Luxemburg, Europe. I am an occupational therapist and a Feldenkrais Practitioner. I got to know Kechara through the teachings of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche, which I found online. This is my third visit and stay at Kechara – my first was in December 2011, the second in October 2012 and now March 2013.

My first visit to Kechara Forest Retreat was in October 2012. Now, I’m back in KFR after only a few months and so much has already been built! Now there are roads which allow us to reach Kechara Village and the Enchanted Forest without sinking in the mud as it was during my first visit.

Antoinette Kass and H.E. Tsem Rinpoche

The Enchanted Forest is stunning; everything is so bright and clear. With windows all around, it is like being in the middle of nature – in a beautiful garden with flowers and trees behind and all around the building. Trees are even growing inside the building! Nature is very much integrated into the Enchanted Forest. And at night with the lights on, it is amazing. In the garden, there are a lot of flowers that I only have inside my house. But this is Malaysia, at 32 degrees, and not winter!

I joined the Green Team and try to help them as much as I can. I have been spending time weeding around the ladyfingers in the Organic Garden, watering and weeding around the beautiful trees and flowers and climbing up and down Manjushri Hill. It is quite steep (and I’m not a climber) but Li Kheng guided me and taught me to have faith in my Guru and said that it would be fine.

Li Kheng and Julia are very warm and welcoming. They introduced me to the place and the work with much care. Although it is really hot, I like being in nature and taking care of plants, and by wearing a big sombrero and gloves, I am fine. I got myself a strong sunscreen lotion (50SPF!) but I got a tan anyway. Being surrounded by the sounds of nature, birds, butterflies and ladybirds flying around, the sun shining on me is so good. And, for a break, I can always go back to cabin area to find a cool place, a cold drink and a snack.

Antoinette, weeding away at KFR!

I also got to know the little village, Chamang, which is close to KFR, where we go to have lunch or to buy supplies in a shop or on the market. I am very pleased to be able to present the Feldenkrais method here to the hardworking people in KFR. Rinpoche asked me to come and reduce the effects of the strenuous work.

This learning method is about self-organization, self-perception and self-image. In the FK-lessons, one starts to expand one’s own abilities so that one grows out of the habitual. Moshé Feldenkrais wrote in his booklet “Learn to learn”: “I do not intend to “teach” you, but to enable you to learn at your own rate of understanding and doing.”

Antoinette giving the Feldenkrais class on top of Manjushri Hill

I think his method fits the holistic vision of KFR very well. Around 6:30 pm, when it was a bit cooler, we started a Feldenkrais ATM (awareness through movement) class, under the open sky on Manjushri Hill.

This is by far the coolest place I have ever taught at or did a Feldenkrais lesson. With the sounds of nature in the background, we experienced a variety of movements and checked the differences before and after the one-hour lesson. KFR is where I feel at home and happy.

This place is the vision of my Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche, and I want to give something back for the tremendous benefit I have received from His teachings, His hard work and His care. It is such a privilege to stay in such an auspicious environment, especially with all the loving and caring people who work hard to manifest KFR and with the flora and fauna of the Malaysian Jungle around us (OK I don’t feel the need to get closer to these 3 cm long ants or to the wild pigs). KFR is well planned and even though it is a work in progress at the moment, everything is provided for our well-being and for the well-being of everybody who comes to KFR.

I can imagine myself staying here, away from the city and all its distractions, working in the garden, giving Feldenkrais lessons or whatever else I can do to help.

- By Antoinette Kass

Antoinette at KFR – the place she loves

One Response to International Volunteers At KFR

  1. So wonderful to hear your story of giving to support the reduction f suffering through support of a dharma centre. S good to hear we can give what skills we have whatever they are.
    I wish to do this like you one day soon.
    Annie Garrety
    Gold Coast