November

Saraswati

In cleaning up my room and putting away some sheet music in my guitar case I notice the symbolic placement of it in this four-walled haven I call my own.  Upon entering the door of my room, looking just to the left will find a bookshelf with the middle shelf holding many things which are dear to me in the form of books and the top shelf holding my even dearer altar.  I’ve situated the shelf at a distance away from the corner so that there is a triangle of space behind it.  That triangle of space holds, when I’ve not forgotten in Mandala House after band practice, my guitar. 

It’s no coincidence that I’ve found my spiritual home in a place that traces its lineage to the Goddess Saraswati.  In ancient India a long-dried up river was the Divine manifestation of this Goddess of music, the arts, and wisdom.  This fluid, dynamic embodiment of the Divine represented the Goddess who rides a swan and plays, with two of her arms, the Veena, an instrument whose emanations correspond to each of the chakras.  Of the ten lineages in India Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh is part of this one, with Swami Radha and now Swami Radhananda continuing in that tradition.

Saraswati: the Goddess of music and the arts.  How fitting that I would house my guitar just behind my altar, nestled in with other sacred objects, other manifestations of the Divine. 

Movement
 
I’ve been creating a victory board recently.  It’s me keeping track of my accomplishments and otherwise noting tangible ways I show transformation.  Singing in public is one of them.  It’s hard to remember exactly when I became confident enough to sing in public but somewhere along the way I got over my shyness enough to share my joy in music with people through my voice.  So I tracked it on my little victory chart, a sun with words and phrases for its rays, another creative expression.  Oh Saraswati, you really are everywhere. 

I haven’t been feeling particularly confident lately, though.  In music yes, but in other ways old fears and judgments sprung up with a vengeance last weekend for some reason.  I seem to get so far in building my confidence and then to fall back into old patterns, forgetting the movement I’ve made on this front.  Even in my language now there is inherent judgment that I attain a certain level of confidence and then not falter from it. 

All movement has cyclical ebbs and flows.  My victory board, with its shining emanating light and colourful, manifestations of my own light reminds me that I’m actually pretty fabulous.  Plus I get another excuse to be creative.

Infinity

It would be impossible to count the amount of times I stood in the downstairs bathroom of Judy and Perry’s house looking into the two mirrors that faced one another.  I have so many memories of staring into the successively smaller and smaller images of myself as they bounced back and forth between those two mirrors.  Intellectually I knew that they went on into infinity.  Infinity being a concept explained to me presumably by my brothers and particularly used to one-up each other in childhood: “I want the cake infinity more times than you!” “Well I want it infinity times infinity times more than you!” “Well, I want it infinity times infinity infinity times more than you!” etc.  There I would stand, moving my arms and watching infinite replications of me make the same movement.  It was fascinating.  It was unexplainable.  It was infinity.

Tonight I walked into the Temple corridor and flipped on the lights.  I love having the honour of being one of the first to enter the Temple and walk through that corridor, opening the lotus doors and standing in the vast and, at this time of year, dark empty/fullness of the Temple.  Playing in the band every weekend offers me this moment whenever I’m early for pre-Satsang practice but tonight I didn’t bring my guitar, preferring instead the stirring vibrations of mantra to accompany my offering of satsang.

As I walked through that corridor I stopped as I often do and was struck with a memory of standing in Judy’s basement bathroom.  I gazed into the soft, warm eyes of the large portrait of Swami Radha.  Turning, I gave a silent acknowledgment to the equally large picture of her guru, Swami Sivananda.  These two spiritual teachers face one another, charging the air between them for all who enter the Temple.  It reminded me of those mirrors.  Like something magical and divine was being passed between them.  Two manifestations of one who has tapped into the true Infinity were depicted there and that energy was somehow being bounced back and forth between them.  An opportunity to experience infinity lay present in their eyes.  I walked through and knew it was as if infinite replications of me made the same movement.

In the Meadow You Can Build a Snowman
 
It snowed last week.  The first real, accumulating snow-fall.  Or was it only a few days ago?  I can’t really keep track of that crazy time thing.  All I know is that there has been a layer on top of the ground that reached up into my socks before the paths became trodden over.  This marks the commencement of one of my most favourite winter traditions, now in its second year: running down Water-Fall Road.  This spectacular track boasts sharp turns, steep grades, and drainage ditches which can be really shocking when a thick enough layer of snow hides them from view.  I won’t exactly call it a reckless forest adventure but my goodness running down a hill of snow sure is fun.  This year a new accessory brings a higher level of confidence: rubber slip guards that stretch over my shoes with metal points sticking out of them.  They were a July boutique find that got me pretty excited, I’ve been saving them for this very moment ever since I laid eyes on them in the summer.

The snow did its usual Kootenay thing of melting into a slight rain and evaporating much of itself in the warm sun.  There’s still a good amount of snow on the ground though.  The sudden turn from green to white was utterly shocking.  I was under this delusion that winter was some far off occurrence and even the advancing snow line on the mountains couldn’t convince me otherwise.  That faulty theory had to fail eventually and now it’s officially Winter.  I even put on my winter jacket for the first time tonight.

I’m in the mood to curl up on the couch with a good book, sipping warm beverages and to enjoy the soft glow of candles and acoustic music, live or otherwise.  Hibernation has its allure.  I’ve also been feeling a lack of willingness to help.  There was a 7-Day Yoga course this week and I still haven’t mastered the art of being helpful without it taking anything from me.   Especially with longer courses I find people get more familiar with being here and want to therefore know even more.  I love sharing but I’m still trying to find the balance between sharing and letting information flow through me rather than out of me.  It’s really a blessing to sit at the front desk and be able to interact with people that come through, for however long be it half an hour or their entire lives.  It seems all paths converge at the office ad bookstore.

Advertisements

November So Far

Sunlight and Shadow

The days are getting shorter and shorter making mornings thicker and thicker with the strange sort of subtle energy they hold.  I take in the grainy sights of the falling leaves and the mountains over the lake every morning.  The very same mountains that seem as though someone grabbed hold of them, tipped them upside-down, and smushed their tops into icing sugar before righting them again.  The trees act like wire bristles, holding the snow that has found a permanent home now with the weather impersonating winters I’ve experienced in the past.  There’s a distinct line where the snow holds.  I’m still well below that line though the first snow came today.  I watched it from my window falling peacefully in large clumps as wave after wave of sad news came today.  An empty desk across from mine greeted me as I learned someone’s grandmother had died.  A dear friend’s father who’d had a heart attack a couple of days ago died.  A Swami, currently in Spokane had a mini-stroke.  Another Swami received an unexpectedly serious diagnosis.  I sat alone in my office, hearing these pieces of information and watching the snow fall. 

The day wasn’t all sad and heavy.  I also got to witness the love of a mother and daughter with a silent comforting language weaving between their eyes as they replaced the batteries in a medical device.  Reassurance that all was well or, at least, as well as it could be given the circumstances of her serious condition and her sister’s death a few days ago. 

How do I find the Light and space in days and situations like these?  How do I make sure I see it?  It’s in there somewhere; that I know.  But only if I take the time to really notice it will I be spared from the heart-wrenching ache I feel in times like this.  Death.  The great equalizer.  It really puts things into perspective.  The petty drama caused by a few unexpected departures cause a stir but is it really worth using our energy discussing when there are greater things at hand?  I choose to feel this denseness and then, when all has been expressed and passed through, lift up my heart and face another moment. 

Thoughts on death have been churning in my mind but even before all this I had a dream someone had committed suicide.  A bullet to the head.  I wasn’t really that concerned despite being directly confronted with the gory details.  What in me has died?  I walk into my room the next evening and glance on the floor; a gun I had drawn on my Life Seal, the symbol representing violence – something I dislike-had fallen to the floor.  A kind of internal, self-violence has certainly died.  The more I get to know people here who have dedicated their lives to their spiritual work the more I feel gratitude for their love.  It’s not shown in culturally specific ways, it’s shown in complete acceptance of me.  I take that example and apply it to myself, offering myself my own love, gratitude and acceptance.  The violence of judgment and wanting to force myself to change can be over as I replace my internal habits and patterns with new things, with Light.  And so it goes.  Dark symbols can appear as shadows but turning once I see the cause of the shadow is Light.

Feeling Meditative

I’ve done a sort of shifting of my focus lately.  I want to be more active in creating my own inner strength and less concerned with the goings-on of others.  Even just placing that intention into the ether makes it so. 

I’ve been reading Swami Sivananda’s “Concentration and Meditation”.  It’s been wonderful in both his straight, directive way of saying things as well as the more subtle messages it holds for me.  Subsequently I’ve been spending more time meditating or, at least, what I have come to know as meditation according to Pantanjali: having one-pointedness of mind.  Somewhere in my past was this idea that meditation is having no thoughts in my mind.  But how would that even be possible?  What would be going on?  I have one experience in my entire life of that kind of meditation.  I was in Petra, “On Top of the World” as the handmade sign had said, scrawled in messy writing leading me to this awesome view.  I was alone and thought it might be some ploy to bring me away from the masses of tourists and to someone’s shop.  Turns out it really was to the top of the world.  I rounded the corner of a high cliff, a few more metres after hiking up three kilometres to the ancient monastery really wasn’t that much.  The vista opened up and I found a spot to sit as I began to look.  I simply looked.  I don’t think I even remembered to breathe.  I know I’ve mentioned this experience before as it had such an impact on me.  My eyes scanned the mountains across from me and reached out to the desert behind an opening between them.  There was simply not a thought in my head.  I ‘came to’ shortly after and wondered what had happened; I’d never had that kind of experience before.  Attempts to recreate it have not had results. 

In a recent meditation I was ruminating over the meaning of my life and what it is that I want to do with it.  A vision and a feeling flashed into my awareness of me sitting and taking in a vast expanse of mountains.  That’s what I want to do; I want to enjoy the splendour of nature.  That’s what I already do as I pause and look out across Kootenay Lake or the full moon shining brightly in the sky.  All I want is to be present in the moments I am able to commune with nature.  This simply request is easily fulfilled by the life I am choosing to live right now and for that I am grateful.