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Mound House offers rest and relaxation

December 20, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Kayaking quietly through the mangroves. Drumming in the sunset. Practicing tai chi by the bay.

Does that sound like the break you need after the holidays?

The Mound House is offering a three-day retreat Friday, Jan. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 28. This invigorating weekend only has 10 spots left and is $150 per person.

Article Photos

The new retreat includes some of the activities from the 2014 retreat, such as kayaking. Courtesy photo.

The retreat focuses around Joyful Living by Amy Leigh Mercree, a self-help book dedicated to mindfulness and stress reduction.

"Joyful Living is about taking in your surroundings and enjoying the world in all its beauty," said Penny Jarrett, education coordinator at the Mound House.

The idea of a retreat isn't a new concept for the historic site; another was held three years ago and was successful.

"We decided to carve out some time to make it happen and we added some elements," Jarrett said.

This retreat includes a number of instructors and demonstrations. Susan Carter and Sondra Dansby will lead yoga and tai chi; Jarrett will lead a seminar about native flora and fauna; Lisa Grinter will do a painting demonstration and George Benjamin will teach participants how to hand drum.

The retreat begins Friday night with a introduction to meditation and a yoga session, followed by a group dinner. Saturday Jarrett said was busy - but with relaxing activities, including kayaking in the morning, lunch, a painting demonstration by islander Lisa Grinter, a native Florida gardening program and yoga, with a hand-drumming 101 session at sunset. Sunday is a beach walk and tai chi at the Mound House before the wrap up. Activities from Joyful Living will be sprinkled in throughout the weekend.

"I hope it's a nice day so we can do the tai chi outside," said Sondra Dansby, the instructor.

Dansby, 79, is a tai chi instructor at The Holistic Center in Fort Myers. She said she teaches a modified form of "yang" tai chi, one of the more popular methods taught in the United States, and uses eight forms.

"I think the most important thing about tai chi is it gives you three things, concentration, coordination and balance," Dansby said. "Yoga gives you flexibility and balance, but tai chi gives you better balance because of the weight shifting. You almost always have one leg with more weight on it."

Dansby visited The Mound House with Susan Carter, the yoga instructor for the retreat, and said it was an interesting visit, and her first time there.

The different activities fluctuate between the Mound House and Newton Beach Park's cottage.

George Benjamin will be teaching participants the community-building art of drumming. He'll be using a djembe, which he said is a word meaning "peaceful gathering" or "I come in peace." Benjamin has been drumming for almost 10 years, is a member of the Fort Myers Drum Circle, teaches drum classes to special needs students, and works with Creative Connections, which brings drumming to retirement communities and rehab facilities.

For new people, Benjamin shows them how to hold the drum, then teaches the six basic sounds that can be produced on the djembe. Then he moves into teaching rhythms and patterns, sometimes accompanied by songs and chants.

"For the Mound House event, I intend to show how drumming can be used for fun, relaxation and exercise," Benjamin said in an email. "In addition, it fosters a sense of community, well being and competence even with first-timers."

The registration cost includes all the activities, snacks and drinks and Saturday's lunch and dinner. Attendees will be responsible for their own lodging if they don't live on the beach and Friday night's dinner on their own.

"I think the benefit is that it is a beautiful setting," Jarrett said. Many activities will occur either along the bay at the Mound House or by the quiet beach in front of Newton Beach Park.

Registration or a holiday gift certificate for the retreat can be purchased by calling the Mound House at 765-0865.



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