Sonia Moriceau Sensei, M.F.Phys, M.R.S.S
Sonia met her first meditation teacher, John Garrie Roshi, in 1974 and under his guidance began training in Satipatthana, the Way of Mindfulness. This followed a ten year period as an international table tennis player and French national champion. The experience of body awareness, concentration and commitment gained in that time proved to be an invaluable preparation for her meditation training
In 1982 John Garrie Roshi gave her permission to teach in her own right the Way of Mindfulness. During that time Sonia was also introduced to healing and subsequently to shiatsu.
In 1980 she met Master Ohashi and started her professional shiatsu training under his guidance. After graduating from the Ohashi Institute, Sonia began integrating Mindfulness Meditation and Shiatsu creating a unique approach to touch called Healing-Shiatsu characterised by its non-invasive quality and clarity.
In 1982 she founded the Healing-Shiatsu Education Centre offering a three year professional training, the first of its kind in the UK. Since 1996 Sonia has been focusing on the training of practitioners-graduates and teachers at her centre in the UK and abroad.
In 1997 Sonia met the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche who became a strong influence in her life and attended many of his regular and intensive retreats in Vajrayana Buddhism. In 2001 she did a one year retreat at the Dharma Centre of Canada under his guidance. This was a deeply transformative, enriching and fulfilling year.
Sonia's teaching is characterised by simplicity, humour and clarity, bringing forth her joy and vitality in sharing the gifts of wisdom and compassion she was so generously bestowed by her teachers. She continues to receive teachings from Namkai Norbu Rinpoche and from Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Sonia is a meditation teacher of great clarity and strength and is offering a full meditation teaching programme both at The Orchard and abroad. Nowadays Sonia lives in semi retreat at the Orchard Dharma Centre where she continues to teach and guide students either in person, by letter or email.
Since 1985, with her partner Ad Brugman, Sonia has run The Orchard Dharma Centre which offers conducive and positive conditions for training and retreats in both the healing arts and meditation.
Sonia passed away peacefully on the 11th June at 12.10 midday.
"When we leave the fear behind we come to see that death and impermanence point us to life
and to living each moment with clear awareness and tenderness."
Honouring Sonia can be downloaded by clicking here.
(Please note that different browsers handle pdf files in different ways. It may be that when you click on a link nothing appears to happen in which case when the file is highlighted right click and then use the option of "save as" to download the file to your computer. Or, the file could open in a new browser window (or tab) and you are able to read it online.)
A sharing of the days leading up to and beyond Sonia’s cremation
In the hours and days following Sonia’s passing, hundreds of people connected and joined Ad and the Sangha at The Orchard. Email, letters and phone calls poured in from family, friends, Teachers, colleagues and students. Each connection contained such beautiful acknowledgments and messages. Each one honoured Sonia in deeply profound ways.
The Sangha was strong in its presence and embodiment of the practice. Without hesitation, everyone came together bringing help and support in boundless ways. Quietly and strongly, each person got on with attending to all that needed to be done and did so with such care and openness, grace, poise and ease. That the Sangha did this is such a testament to Sonia and Ad’s teaching.
More than 100 people joined the vigil across the six days from her passing to the time of the cremation. People came here to The Orchard, sitting in the Zendo with Sonia, meditating, praying and saying their own goodbye. There were innumerable sharings of how profound this experience was and of how Sonia’s teaching of the Dharma was present everywhere. It was to be found everywhere. It was omnipresent.
Unable to come to The Orchard, many, many others connected to the vigil from where they were. They joined in with the twice-daily Pujas from their homes and groups also gathered together to share in the practice. These gatherings took place across the world in New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, America, Netherlands and across the UK.
On the morning of the cremation the sun shone through the rolling clouds and the rain that had poured down across these days began to ease away. The tender presence and peacefulness that personifies The Orchard was tangible and clear. The service was a combination of Dharma texts and personal notes and offerings. There was a strong sense of honouring and of ‘walking on’. The experience was profoundly moving and deeply spiritual. After the cremation everyone gathered at The Orchard and there was a beautiful sharing of stories, songs, poems and messages.
If you would like a copy of the order of service from the cremation, it can be downloaded by clicking here. (Please note that different browsers handle pdf files in different ways. It may be that when you click on a link nothing appears to happen in which case when the file is highlighted right click and then use the option of "save as" to download the file to your computer. Or, the file could open in a new browser window (or tab) and you are able to read it online.)
For those of you who need to receive a hard copy, please contact Ad directly.
Over the next few weeks, Sandra Goodfellow will be producing a special, dedicated Sangha newsletter with more photographs, poems and messages. Please contact her if you would like to make a contribution or to receive the newsletter if you are not already in receipt of the Sangha’s regular mailings. Her email address is: email@example.com
Sarah, on behalf of Ad and the Sangha