I keep track of time by the days of the week. Not only in an obvious sort of way like today is Wednesday which means yesterday was Tuesday or anything like that. This is more like a childish wonder at how that illusive being manages to slip through my awareness unbeknownst to me and fly on by. I notice days of the week and am brought back to the reality that time passes. Time passes quickly. By Friday (which is really my Monday, returning from my reflection day) I can’t believe it’s the weekend (which doesn’t really affect many people here as most only get Sunday off anyways) and then by Monday (which I can’t believe is here again already) it’s practically my reflection day already with days like Tuesday and Wednesday ahead, jam-packed as they are with meetings etc.
Without this artificial division of a week I would hardly know other artificial divisions like months and years which I already have enough trouble keeping track of already. This kind of accelerated time warp that enfolds the ashram is one of the reasons I’ve decided to stay on longer. I remember walking down the road at some point during the beginning of my YDC and this knowing came to me that I wanted to stay here until April to support the next YDC. Well, April turned into September which has now turned into April again. April 2013, that is. I’m really excited to stay and be a part of this place in such a tangible way for another 14 months.
An announcement was made at dinner. A tree had fallen over, dismantling the sections of the boardwalks it crashed onto and ripping branches from its neighbour tree friends. My mind immediately went to the tree pose – can you tell I’ve lived at an ashram for a year and a half – and what it would mean to fall over in the pose. I imagine myself lifting my arms to the Light, balancing on one foot with the sole of one foot placed on the inside of the opposite thigh. What would it be like to fall? My arms would instinctively move to brace myself if my lifted leg didn’t reach the ground to prevent the fall soon enough. But what about a tree? It doesn’t have such freedom of movement in its branches. It would fall, perhaps braced by any branches and trees beside it, but ultimately reach the ground and, in this case, the boardwalk right near the bridge over the creek with a loud crash.
I go out to investigate after dinner. A dinner I’ve learned to eat slowly and intently, cultivating simultaneously my sense of taste, imagination and desire. Does the food really taste the way I imagine it to? Use my senses. Is it so good I’m already planning on going up for seconds? Why not just pause and savour what I’m eating now; no need to think about getting more when I still have some in my plate. Enjoy the present moment. I make my way outside, pulling on my gumboots that protect me from the wet Spring emerging out of winter. The winds are coming, winds of the change of seasons with the power to change the skyline. There it is, a full-sized tree, lying oddly vertical and blocking my path. I pause, feeling some sort of ceremony is due. Gratitude spontaneously wells up out of me and I murmur words of honour for this being. It smells wonderful, fresh and green. I enjoy the irregularity of the moment and then take a detour home; stepping in puddles yet protected by my tall, rubber boots.
Someone who lives in the area and is connected with the ashram went travelling for a couple of months and advertised renting her place out while she’s away. Someone from my YDC took the opportunity to rent the cozy cabin in the woods for a month and come down for Karma Yoga and meals at the ashram. Having a YDC alumni around is always pretty wonderful. Memories flood back of tears and laughter and all the small groups we shared.
Swami Samayananda thought it would be a great idea for the freshly expanded YDC class of 2011 who were at the ashram to then offer Satsang one night. I absolutely love offering satsang and take it as an extra special honour to offer on a Sunday. As the YDC unfolds satsang is split into two groups in the smaller prayer rooms and the current YDC offers the nightly gatherings. Weekends is when we come together in the big group once more and, though the carpets in the temple are currently being cleaned so we’re in the Radha room, a classroom of the main building lately, we also generally hold it in the temple. While I love offering satsang the prospect of co-ordinating with five other people had me drawing in my enthusiasm. In fact, what I really felt when told of the next day’s plans was tension and apprehension somewhere in my solar plexus.
When asked last month to offer with one other fellow karma yogi and friend there was enough wrangling and planning in order to synchronize our two personalities. This time I knew there would be discussions and plans made all day to attempt to bring us all into some sort of cohesion and I simply did not want to spend the energy. I was right. And different ideas were brought forward, contradicting each other, throughout the day. What I also knew was that everything would come together harmoniously in the end. There, I was also right. Even though not all of us were in the same room together at the same time until we were sitting up there, flanking the altar adorned with Siva, the destroyer of obstacles, and even though the decision of who started what opening prayer we would start with changed mid-opening remarks, it all went wonderfully. Not that I would expect anything less from a genuine, authentic bunch of souls.