Day 4 at the Ashram and on the agenda was, for me, a reintroduction to Karma Yoga. My first practice of this type of yoga can be enjoyed in another blog post called “The Karmic Carrot”.
The agenda for each day pops up on a website at 6 pm the previous evening for a reason. It doesn’t give you too much information and whole lot of time to decide if you are going to like doing the task or not. Don’t think too much about it, is the advice given by the yogi. Good advice.
Before we suited up in our winter wear to battle the balmy -9 degrees outside, which is necessary for most activities while we are still in quarantine (I came from Lethbridge which is -32 right now) we were instructed to watch a video by Swami Radhananda. The Swami talks about many things in the video but focuses mostly on Karma Yoga and why the Ashram began to incorporate it as part of their practice over 45 years ago. She muses that people pay to come here and do service in this way. The practice is built on the principles of light, social action, compassion, evolution, health, surrender and love. It’s believed that if “something needs to be done, you should do it!” I especially love the example she gives of no job is too small or insignificant to complete. You pick the berries and wash the plates which leads to something to eat and a vessel to enjoy it. It’s pretty simple right? Another interesting point she makes is around work and what we value. Most of us go to work from 9 to 5 then go home and do our personal work for the rest of our awake hours. Here at the Ashram, you see more of a connection between the work that gets done during the day and the immediate consumption or usefulness of that task.
A trendy label these days is something called “an essential worker”. Everyone at the Ashram is essential to it’s sustainment. We could learn a thing or two about how the world functions and what is actually essential to do and what is not.
Ok, back to the Karma Yoga. After I watched the video I was to come up with an intention to ponder while I practiced being in service. There was a ton of great nuggets to ponder and yet the one that stuck out for me was this “limitations cause us to rethink and change”. The Swami was referring to the necessity to constantly adapt. Not very many people are permanent residence at the Ashram, therefore as beings are switched out, the ecosystem has had to learn to rethink, adapt and change over and over again. Some folks have been invited to stay for a longer term and a few are here to stay. Can you imagine a life where everything changes all time? Practicing non-attachment would be easier I would like to think. The same theme as yesterday came back up today in the video “you learn to trust”. No wonder, in a place where you rely on that next helpful resource to pop up out of nowhere you have to “let go” and “trust”.
There is a desire for action and it’s moving the place toward a strong commitment to a connected community.
The Karma Yoga ended up being putting sand on ice covered trails. Good use of time. I am forever falling on ice and I am amazed that I don’t have a cracked skull or brain damage from hitting my head. Ouch! Normally I would have went off on my own and meticulously covered all the trails I could find with a nice coating of sand. I rethought my actions today and changed up my practice. Another newbie was on a trail and I joined her a few feet apart. We chatted and poured sand. We learned what we had in common and what made us unique. I realized another intentions as we walked. I miss people, other human beings that I can stare into their faces in real life instead of a webcam. It was overwhelming to realize the depth of loneliness that this pandemic and working from home had caused in my existence.
Karma Yoga has migrated me towards a community who are embedded in a shift towards Ideals, Intentions, Goals and Focus and it’s feel wonderful.
“I want to be who I want to be…I want to help”
Namaste Swami Radhananda, may you rest in peace, divine light and love