September

Moving

Sept. 7th

This morning the vibrations of a strange mix of a delivery truck in reverse coupled with the gobble gobble of wild turkeys made it to my ears.  The seasonal changes at the ashram included a big move; switching Budda Loka, a building that has been a men’s living quarters for six years, back to a women’s residence.  I am among the women that now call Buddha Loka home.  The building I had been in had its pros and cons.  Dubbed “downtown,” Siva Hall was close enough to the main building to sleep in ‘til 6:44 and still make it to morning hatha for 6:50.  Not that I would recommend that or anything.  Now I live in Budda Loka, with spacious hallways and a common area with two couches.  It’s like switching to a mansion from a little cottage the way Siva Hall was laid out though Buddha Loka certainly has the location of a little cottage.  I have to put back into my schedule the 5 minutes or so it takes to get to Mandala house.  Instead of lingering night-time conversations and the occasionally car leaving the driveway now, outside my bedroom window, I hear the waves of the lake and the moon swiftly moving across the night sky.  I’ve left downtown and am now in cottage country.  There is, of course, the occasional gobble of a clan of wild turkeys and today, the hum of a delivery truck bringing supplies to the shop that is downstairs.

Right now I have the whole place to myself; a spacious building for a spacious day off.  So far there are only four of us in the 10 room building.  I stroll from the bathroom to my room, settling onto my desk.  I leave the door open to allow the fresh September air to flow through from the open window, lifting the sounds of the sitar that emanate from my speakers.  What a delicate lightness I find, here in this place. 

Slowly sipping my tea after breakfast the same sort of lightness is found when I choose to look for it.  I was sitting there in the dining room, staring into my cup, a little white one with green trim, watching the soy milk meld into the chai.  Suddenly it seemed like all there was in this whole world was that little cup of tea.  I used to sit every day after breakfast with a cup of tea, chatting with myself.  My schedule no longer affords that kind of daily dawdling.  Or does it?  Is that only a concept I hold in my mind?  Already by that time this morning I’d been working on blasting through old concepts.

A new guest had arrived, a dancer who runs a children’s story telling business with her husband and friends.  She’d arrived to hatha before me and was warming up.  I feel something rising up within me, something I know myself well enough to identify as jealousy.  There’s this part of me I’m only beginning to understand that wishes I had been enrolled in some sort of dance class when I was a child.  There’s this adjacent part that whispers that it’s too late now to take my own initiative because I’m all grown up.  Here I am, facing my internal competitive nature that places me at odds with women who have things I want.  Namely, dedication to themselves to know what they love and then do it.  Doing it being the important factor here which tugs at my lazy, tamasic nature and really only recently in my life actually wins.  It’s too early to have this stuff come up.

Alright, no it’s not.  What else am I doing here but facing these very parts of me?  This is a pattern I’ve addressed many times before: the knowing that there is enough of everything in this world to go around.  There is enough dedication, there is enough grace, there is enough self-expression, confidence, and freedom.  There is enough.  I’m creating, with my overactive imagination, this flawless life of hers and then scowling in the sidelines, watching.  What a silly thing to do to let my imagination run so wild so early in the day!  She doesn’t have this life I’ve created for her.  She just has the reality has she has created for herself just as I can do for myself.   After savasana, rolling up my mat and folding my blanket, our eyes meet.  Mine smile at hers, shattering the delusionary friction I’d been exploring in the past early-morning hour and shattering these faulty concepts.

Destruction and Creation

What do I create?  Right now I’m creating this incredibly rich life for myself.  I absolutely love what I’m doing here.  I get to move through this community exploring myself and my life. The move to Buddha Loka has had its share of creation and destruction.  My room is mostly settled and my self-assigned task this week is to decorate.  Decorate just the way I want.  There’ll be no one telling me they don’t want this there or that here; it’s all up to me.  For some reason I’ve not really decorated my rooms here to fully describe and express me.  It’d been a number of years since I’ve had the opportunity to really pick out and display anything I wanted and I hadn’t been taking it.  Last Tuesday in class, with the underlying need and desire for something to be passionately dedicated to, I made it my assignment to decorate my room. 

Since then I’ve made a trip up to the costume closet to grab a sari to drape from the ceiling and put up some of my posters.  The most difficult part about this is that I didn’t bring a lot of personal decorative things from Alberta.  What I really need are more cat-related items.  I have this memory of being on the top bunk of the bunk-beds I shared with Isaac and fondly gazing at all the cat paraphernalia I’d lovingly displayed on top of my wardrobe.  I remember counting all the cat things I had.  I realize what my assignment is really getting at: something as simple as a love of cats, a part of me that I had been repressing over the last eight or nine years, is enough of something for me to be passionately dedicated to.  How simple!  I just need to focus on something, anything, even felines are enough.  I did a quick scan of the collage magazines but couldn’t find anything cat-like.  I’m sure something will come by that is just perfect (purrfect?)

Space

I really am enjoying creating space.  The Radha room is one of the classrooms in the main building of the ashram.  I’ve been really appreciating the multiplicity of uses this room holds.  On Tuesday nights I use it to open and explore parts of myself in a supported group setting, facilitated through a process in class with other women who have taken the Yoga Development Course and who I share my days and experiences with.  Swami Samayananda leads me and others gently as firmly showing me ways I can choose to be courageous enough to expand my awareness and continue to update myself.  A few nights later we’ll have a Bhajan night there.  Singing and sharing in joy and devotion with the entire community.  Last week had only Swami Saradananda, Deborah and I providing the music for our voices that blended and carried throughout the entire space.  Being able to offer music to my community is wonderful and playing alongside Swami Saradananda is such a complete treat.

 The next morning could find me making my way to the Radha room bright and early as I prepare the space to teach hatha in the morning or, arriving and rolling out my mat along with the other karma yogis, ready to be guided through an experience of using my body as a spiritual tool as a participant in the morning hatha class.  I think my favourite use of the Radha room is every Tuesday afternoon when I facilitate the class for the individuals who come to the ashram on the Young Adult Program.  Almost a year and a half ago it was me sitting in that first session, nervous and excited, wondering what this place was all about and being led through an introduction to the teachings here.  Now I am part of the rewarding process of watching other young adults explore and understand themselves, held within the space and framework of the practices here at the ashram.  It’s a pretty wonderful process to be a part of and is tied directly to my own.  As I expand and explore my full potential I uncover parts of me that have previous been left latent.  Here, at this stage of my life, I am firming my foundation and exploring the bounds of my own abilities.  With the knowledge that I’m living my life exactly the way I choose now, I know I will do so when I leave here as well.

A Day Out of Time

With the ashram shifting seasons and after a summer of heavy responsibility a group of us were told we could head out for a day, exploring the Ainsworth hotsprings and Nelson.  Long-term karma yogis who have been here a while and are committed to staying even longer piled into one of the Honda’s and we drove first to the relaxing, healing waters of the hotsprings for the morning before an afternoon adventure in Nelson.  At some point during the day, wandering around Baker Street and picking up some items I’ve needed I had this thought that I could simply not go back.  It was such an interesting thought.  It was like those video games where my chosen icon hops on a button or something and seemingly walls disintegrate for a few seconds allowing me to move through and pick up much needed coins.  The thought was the button and the walls were something I didn’t even know what in place.  It is rather interesting living in a spiritual community for an extended length of time.  I am so content with my life and accept any sacrifices I am making but I do enjoy going out for some live music every once in a while.  There is this sort of invisible wall holding me here at the ashram.  A spontaneous (and frivolous) thought such as not going back, leaving all my stuff there and hitting the open road shows me that, if I really wanted to do that, I could.  The truth is that I don’t.  Realizing my freedom makes me acutely aware that I am choosing this life I’ve created, this life I continue to create in every moment.

Naturally I ran into Vanessa despite not having her phone number and was able to spend some quality time with her and Beau which was quite heart-warming.  At the end of the afternoon I joined my ashram friends around a table at the Outer Clove for my usual outside-the-ashram treat, a plate of deep fried French fries.  They were delicious.

This morning’s hatha class seemed as if I entered this strange new world.  That only 24 hours had passed since attending my last class seemed impossible with all the sights, sounds, concrete and traffic I had seen.  I spent the rest of the morning napping, lifting in and out of consciousness, while I recharged.  Being out and about all day is exhausting.

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End of Summer

Beach Dinner

After a cold a rainy Spring it seems like we have been taking full advantage of balmy summer days by having dinner on the beach nearly every Sunday.  It’s usually a spontaneous, special event with little notice until finally announcements are made and requests for help to load the old red truck with food to bring down to the beach.  Signs are put up and, as six o’ clock rolls around, people make their way down to the lake. 

I absolutely love beach dinners.  I love them for so many reasons.  I love them because I get to look out over the water to my favourite mountains; the ones that slope so soft and gently, inviting the sun to rest deeply on its supportive bed of trees.  I love them because I get to engage with my family here, exchanging beach-dinner-type words, laughter and camaraderie.  And I love them for the sense of community they create as I gaze over the scene, enjoying us all being together.  Of course all of these things aren’t exclusive to dinners on the beach: I eat outside on the deck quite often, taking in the sights and sounds of nature, and while silent meals are silent they don’t always exclude communication which is done more with eyes and body language even when speech is present too.  That sense of community I feel really is present in most circumstances here anyway, inherent in a spiritual community.

Really my favourite part of beach dinners is the emptiness of Mandala house.  The main building of the ashram with the bookstore, dining room and two of the classrooms is where I spend approximately 10.5 hours of my day, six days a week.  If I’m not doing hatha I’m eating or on reflection break in the dining room and, more commonly, in the bookstore and office doing karma yoga.  Evenings with dinner on the beach allow me to close the bookstore with no interruptions but with a sense of quite calm.  I can feel the entire building’s stillness as the last of us finish up in order to head outdoors.

Last week Swami Sivananda was locking up the front door as I counted up the cash.  He mentioned to someone in the front room, sitting on the comfy chairs, that they would have to use a different door to leave the building since the usual one was now locked.  It was something I’m used to, being in Mandala house late doing dishes or getting out of Tuesday night class.  He turned around, walking past me and said something like, I don’t need to tell you, “You know your way out.” What a spectacular thought, “I know my way out.  I know my way out of this cycle of birth and rebirth, suffering and joy.  I sure hope so.  I sure hope so.

Walker’s Landing Road

I don’t know what it is about that road that just pulls something out of me.  Lisa, my dear friend and roommate during the YDC calls it the Road of Wisdom and would rarely miss a day of making it to the stop sign and back.  Back home where upon entering the grounds the sign reads: “Yasodhara Ashram Please Slow Down”.  “Please slow down;” what a lovely thought.  It’s easy for me to say that my favourite part about going for a walk along the road is coming back and passing by our nearest neighbour then making it to the last stretch before the ashram.  There’s something magical about that bend in the road.  There’s a slight dip and the air so often seems a little bit cooler; the breeze from the lake must flow through just right.  To the left is this forest that seems like it’s transported out of time.  Bit of sunlight are strewn haphazardly on the floors bed of fallen trees, glancing off of thin cedar and pines that stand reaching up towards the clear blue sky.

Today I saw a deer standing patiently on the road, as curious about me as I was about it.  We stood, staring at each other for quite some time.  Focusing so intently on one thing for so long has this way of stilling every part of me.  Then it was as if my cells were re-set and I felt this aura of energy pulsate through me.  If I can simply be present in nature I can exist on a much simpler vibration.  I can access that healing energy which, as Swami Radha says, is available at all times.  I can allow it to flow through me more smoothly and truly absorb it into my very being.  The deer eventually scampered off, bounding into the mossy forest.

Space

The ashram underwent a major shift this week.  The population went from over 80 people to under 40.  While there were a lot of very dear friends that are now on the next stage of their life and no longer a daily presence in mine, the feeling here is really wonderful.  It’s been a long summer.  Sitting at the front desk, operating as the bridge between guests and their every request has been an extreme testament to my patience and energy levels.  I made it though.  As someone called it, I was the ‘ashram mother’ to them all and I know I am stronger for it.

Suddenly on Tuesday it was as if there was space to breath fully again.  There were no course participants shopping in the bookstore, no long line-ups at meal times, and practically nobody at hatha and satsang.  Plus it was rainy.  The soft inwardness a cloudy drizzle inherently provides came at a most welcome time.  I personally am feeling a deeper sense of camaraderie with those that remain yet at the same time am also feeling under the microscope.  It’s as if my every move is on display even more than usual in this place that’s often described as a glass house: everyone always knows what’s going on with everyone else to some degree.

I’m learning to navigate in this new space that’s been opened up here.  I’m excited about the fall season, excited about harvest and reaping the abundant harvest that is here.  I’m excited about moving through another cycle of this season because it takes emphasis off of last year’s which is a stage in my life I’m happy to re-write, moving beyond  it and not needing to think again of the depressive, anxiety ridden months of last September to December.  I’m letting this feeling of contentment pervade my being so that even in times of process and facing old patterns I can stand tall and not worry about a fall.