I first met Sonia as a 21 year old, on a 6 day Shiatsu and meditation retreat, at Aiowera retreat centre near Auckland. The retreat included 3 days of silence. Sonia’s teachings touched my core and something woke up.
A few years later, having graduated with a Shiatsu diploma, my teacher Maggie encouraged me to study further with Sonia. I lived at Taliaris in Wales, the former retreat centre of Sonia’s teacher John Garrie Roshi. During this time I would travel to the Orchard to study a post-grad Shiatsu diploma with Sonia and I attended a month meditation retreat.
Back in New Zealand, settled in Nelson, and teaching Shiatsu myself, I invited Sonia to come and teach Shiatsu/meditation at the Wangapeka. She loved being at Wangapeka, in nature and connected to the spirit of Namgyal Rinpoche. Sonia came three times to teach.
Sonia was a small person but that body carried huge mana. She taught me how to be with my body, heart and mind with greater kindness. Sonia encouraged me to stop pushing so hard and to just be present with a gentle attitude. Her body awareness work and meditation was permeated with qualities of letting go and disengagement from grasping.
Over the years of working with Sonia I noticed she became externally softer in her teachings and energy, but more deeply penetrating. It was like when she put her hand on your hara (belly), you felt like she held your whole being. Her teachings were like that, clearly here in the now and at the same time connected to the universe… so present, so loving. The combination of the mindfulness teachings and body work from John Garrie Roshi, with her body awareness, hara based movement and five-element work from Shiatsu seamlessly blended with the powerful influences of Vajrayana and Namgyal Rinpoche. It was rich work. Always new, subtle and yet deep.
The last time Sonia came, she was already experiencing a lot of pain, in her arm especially. She never complained and just kept teaching and practising with that same compassionate determination. On that last trip she went on a walk to bush line hut at Nelson Lakes with Roger and I. Even though we could tell it was a challenge for her, it was also magical. She loved being in the wilderness. Even on that final trip Sonia was talking about coming back. But it was not to be. She was embarking on a journey of more letting go.
In the year after Sonia’s passing, her husband Ad came to stay at Wangapeka. We scattered some of Sonia’s ashes. Ad also came with our family to a bach near Blenheim. It was a special time with a dear man.
Dear Sonia, you have blessed so many in many ways. May you be well and happy.