What Is Rosemary?
We are on a tropical island in Southern Brazil, affectionately dubbed “the island of magic” by locals, and what goes on here is nothing short of magic.
Welcome to Rosemary, a project that is a challenge to explain with the mere use of words, but a feat I will try accomplish over the next few pages.
What is Rosemary?
Simply put, it is an empowerment centre that aims to equip people with tools to create the life they want. But this definition really doesn’t do it justice.
It’s more than a place; it’s a way of life. In this modern-day chaos many of us find ourselves, it’s easy to lose sight of the simple things; taking care of one’s body, finding ways to control the power of our minds, building meaningful relationships with people. Ironically, the more populated a place, like a city, the less human connection exists. People will go out of their way to avoid eye contact on the street; people will not return your greeting, assuming you want something from them.
Rosemary brings us back to our truth. It teaches us to step back, and re-evaluate things from an objective point of view to see what is working, and what needs to be changed.
This change happens on three levels; on the physical level, we learn to love our bodies again, to respect them with clean food and exercise. On the mental side, we learn to really use our minds, and not just let them run wild with compulsive thinking, but to really harness the power through meditation and self-discipline. And on the emotional side we learn how to love unconditionally, to live in a warm, nurturing community where hugs and words of praise are a daily occurrence.
My name is Dana, I am a 23 year old filmmaker from South Africa. Almost a year ago, I embarked on a journey to South America. My first stop was Rosemary. I had gone through some difficult experiences before deciding to travel. These experiences sparked a journey of self-development and I felt very drawn to Rosemary’s description on a work-exchange site I stumbled upon; “WAKE UP, it’s time to make a change”.
I skyped many times with Cormoran, one of the two founders of the project, and the plan was in place for me to join the volunteer team. His personality shone through the screen, a warm, magnetic, high-energy individual with lots of crazy ideas that seemed to come from a place of profound innocence. I don’t mean innocence in the sense of naivety or lack of experience; I mean innocence in the sense that he always assumed things would work out for the best if one has pure intentions. It was so refreshing to meet someone like this. Having lived in cities my whole life, I was feeling more and more a sense of disconnect and a feeling of lack I couldn’t quite identify.
When I arrived at Rosemary, I felt like I had arrived home. A group of strangers hugged me like I was their long-lost sister. I hadn’t felt that love and connection in a very long time. The next two months of my experience at Rosemary were the most transformative and nurturing two months of my life. I improved my relationship with people, with nature, and most of all, with myself. Living in a community teaches you to stand up for yourself and use your voice. If you don’t say something, people will think you have nothing to say. But above all, the most profound lesson I learnt was that everything I needed, I had already; it was just a matter of integrating it into my life through certain practises. This is what Rosemary does for people.
I left the project to travel around South America for 10 months. The more communities I volunteered in, the more I realised how very special Rosemary is. It was like nothing else I ever experienced on my travels or in my life. That environment of unconditional love and support is so rare in this world.
Now, I am back at Rosemary. The project has expanded exponentially; all the structures and plans that were mere visions have all been built, and it’s beautiful. Every detail has been thought of and everything has come from a place of pure love. They now run two empowerment programs; HEART ATTACK, a one-month program filled with crazy activities like spending an entire week in a forest without any contact from the outside world, and WAKE UP, a shorter weekend program to introduce people to this way of life.
I feel this is the physical manifestation of what you can achieve when you live life the Rosemary way; a life of integrity, tenacity, responsibility, positivity, and, above all, a life of love.
Written by Dana Toerien
Rosemary Volunteer 2016 / 2017