What’s The Rush?

Our inner garden needs weeding and refinement as much as our outter one.

The balance between action and refinement

I have been enjoying reading and contemplating the Kundalini philosophy and practices. I strongly believe there is a lot I can learn from action and refinement in this area. The more I explore the more it becomes apparent that action without refinement is something I have mastered. I have always been a “jump in and get started” kind of personality. I believed I could pivot and adjust as I went but it was important to get going before I got side tracked doing something else or lost my motivation to continue down a path. It has served me pretty good in the past with work getting done and the quality being “ok”.

Now? I find myself wanting more quality over quantity. 

I have spent years building my external gardens. My yard is bursting with a variety of plant life and areas of interest. I push the growing season by planting early and extending out harvest as much as the weather will permit. This year was no different and yet it was. In the past, I would have taken the chance that it may or may not snow in my zone at the end of May. Zone 6 is notorious for being unpredictable or predictable in doing the opposite of what you expect. The weather over the past few weeks has been wonderful with highs in the mid twenties even as high as twenty-seven(80 degrees for us old timers) for a few days. Then a hint of cold weather appeared on the horizon and as is common the white stuff appeared out of nowhere. 

So why did I plant early and take the chance that everything might freezeTake the chance that I may have to start over later? I think it’s about taking calculated risks and refining goals as you go. For instance, through the years I have come to understand which plants are more likely to survive a snow fall late in the season and which aren’t. I have researched how to compensate for the low temps by covering plants and providing protection for those vulnerable. I have begun to filter my desire to have a longer growing season with a realistic expectation of what that might entail.

So what’s the rush? This exploration of balance and refinement relates to my desire for making the most of our short growing season (seems Southern Alberta’s growing season is getting shorter and shorter) and finding ways to expand what is possible to accomplish in the time given.

Can we transfer this exploration to our lives? The crystal ball that magically tells us how life will go is flawed. Most often, it doesn’t account for what happens when we are on autopilot. I find myself daily having to reset and find renewed motivation to get projects done or surrender to the knowledge that some things weren’t meant to be. I am working with a mind that has a desire to time travel through the past and leap into the future at any given moment, it takes discipline and resilience to keep it in check. To function from my centre while not giving into the flood of narratives that escape with a variety of emotion is a constant battle of will and surrender of control to a higher power. The garden that dwells within me is still being refined. The habitual paths(patterns) are well worn and maybe too comfortable to keep accessible. As I try to trench out new and healthier routes I become aware that rushing is not the answer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to start and continue to chip away at obstacles that constantly show up to distract us from our goals and purpose. What I am learning though, is refinement and checking in often with my inner guru helps me make sure I am awake and aware . It helps me to find a pace to live my life that keeps me healthy and whole while focused on what’s important for me to see to fruition at any given moment.

Namaste

Emotional Opposites

How many times have you said “I don’t want to know?”

As my ongoing practice develops, I have started to explore the connections between what I am feeling in my body, my state of mind and current energy level. I work on my illusions and what to do about their existence within me.  I have learned a ton about myself through dream yoga. I learn even more through the exploration of the relationship of my subconscious messages being manifested through a feeling of anxiety, gut health and awareness of intentions. 

That’s a lot Vanessa, how do you expect us to understand all that? Lol, well let me try and explain what I mean. I have attachment to certain emotions. I am acutely aware of them entering my realm of feelings. I also observed the effect they are having on me at any given moment. Something happens or someone contacts me with a request or message, it triggers a  feeling and I find myself reverting back to a conditioned response. That response is based on the past and if examined it more closely it has no bearing on the present or future. It’s not logical nor probably true. The old me would have stayed on the concrete stairs (my dream where I just plod up and down the stairs) in a state of mindless self pity, depression, martyrdom or blissful avoidance. 

The new me? I have skills and tools that can help me to navigate the response to the request or message (“red slide response”see my dream post on taking the red path of working with obstacles to push forward). 

In the book, Kundalini-Yoga For The West by Swami Sivananda Radha, there is an exercise in chapter 6. The chapter is working through the Third Cakra-Manipura. This Cakra deals with the root of emotions( among other things). I am sure you have heard of “gut instinct” or “ I have a bad feeling about this”? Have you ever considered that your emotions are getting in the way of seeing situations for what they really are? The saying “I don’t want to know” has become a way for me to cope or coast through many obstacles in life. I can genuinely avoid accountability by saying “I didn’t know”. 

The chapter talks about how to examine your emotions that “cloud” your judgement on what is real or what is imagined. What you are afraid of versus what you choose not to see clearly or validate that which frightens you. Sometimes fear is good. It can keep you alive in certain situations and yet, sometimes it keeps you in a state of emotional paralysis without moving forward.

The exercise in chapter six talks about making a list of your common emotional responses to experiences. Once you have a list, think about the opposite emotion to each.

Here is an example- critical with the opposite being acceptance or frustration with the opposite of satisfied. 

Now you have a couple of examples: how would you change the negative narrative into something positive?

Critical and acceptance- Feedback is neither good nor bad. The source of truth about myself comes from within. All life is precious and deserves compassion. 

Frustration and satisfied- Understanding comes from reflection and a sense of knowing. Knowing leads to satisfaction.

The above is only one of the many exercises in the chapter and the book. It has helped me work through my conditioned responses. Once you open the window to this kind of sight all of the sudden all sorts of doors appear that previously were invisible options. It has taken years to build up these walls. I know they won’t come down just because I can see they exist. I do know, however, that nothing is permanent. Desire, awareness, determination and persistence are part of my being. My emotions that once clouded my judgement or view of what is real versus what is imagined don’t need to define how I move forward now. I have caught on to this scam that was created in my mind and now I have a choice to say “ I don’t know” or to take action based on a desire to understand.

Namaste

Coming Home

Kootenay Lake at sunset

Love surrounds us, peace surrounds us ,anyday, all the time…

I am back home now in Alberta. It was emotional to say “goodbye” to the “humans of the Yasodhara Ashram”. The last couple of days there, I kept getting the question asked “how do you feel?”. I wasn’t sure. The old me would have responded quickly with “I am fine” or “I am good” now?

I am that and I am more.

One of the traditions on your last day is to get up and say a few words at satsang. I don’t recall all I said though I do remember this part. I came as a guest to the ashram. In my interview I stated that I was looking for community. I had no real idea of how much I had missed belonging to a group of some sort. The drum circle hadn’t meant for over a year nor had I attended any meditations. Even work hadn’t had an in-person event for quite some time. Humans are meant to be together. We thrive when we feel like we belong, we matter. I left the ashram with a sense of leaving home. As the karma yogis helped me to pack my stuff into my sisters vehicle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, love and support. 

I take with me the timeless teachings, the tools and the knowledge that I can sustain my practice anywhere and at any time. The wisdom is meant to be used every day, all the time it surrounds us in light.

Would I go back? Yes, no hesitation there. I know I have a life here at home and a husband and family who need me. I also know that, in order to help others, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. 2 months seems like a drop in the bucket for time. It goes by too quickly. You barely start to learn who you have been before you understand who you are.

I intend to stay in contact with those that still live there and continue my karma yoga virtually at home. As someone said to me while I was there “you can check out anytime but you can never leave…lol”

If you are exploring the possibility of this type of experience. Do it! I know we all are hesitant to go anywhere or do anything during this pandemic world we live in now. I also know that we are all craving community and human interactions.

Check out Yasodhara programs at yasodhara.org or email me or comment here if you want to ask me questions about my stay or what I took away from the experience.

Time Machine

Time is a subjective thing. If you are like me, you measure it in milestones and experiences that happen, are happening or will happen in your life. My time at the ashram is coming to conclusion next Friday. As I reflect, I try to stay present without looking to far into the future.

The ashram has a constant ebb and flow of people coming in, existing here and leaving all at once. I can see myself in each situation and marvel at the opportunity to travel with others in time both backward and forward as we navigate our collective and individual journeys.

Traveling Backward

One of the offerings you take part of is to become part of the food delivery service for the “newbies”. It’s an opportunity to welcome them and reassure that they made the right decision to come here. Being isolated with limited contact to those living here can be a source of anxiety and a test of resilience. You emerge from isolation to an active community. It can be quite the adjustment to be bombarded with multiple types of personalities, work ethics and behaviors. You quickly learn how you relate to others and how they relate to you. I recall those early days when the previous group of yogis was delivering food to me. I have a better appreciation for their interactions and willingness to pause in their busy days to reassure me that it’s worth the wait. Living in a dorm with 7 other females has its trials and yet has its wonderful moments too. I have learned that there are a variety of types of mechanisms in which to turn on a shower. Some are well hidden and the secret has to be passed on from one who knows to one who needs to know. Preferably before you are naked in the tub trying to figure it out. Thank you ladies of Buddha Loka for showing me the way. I am grateful to be able to observe the progression of those coming out and compare it to my own experiences as I progress.

Watching the present…

I am in my body and spirit as closely engaged as I can possibly get. Aware of my surroundings, my place and actions and the nuances and moods of others around me. I have never experienced anything like this before. Even living with my family that consisted of 9 of us in a 4 bedroom home, didn’t seem this intimate. I can sense the moods around me here. When some are stressed, content, agitated or distant thinking about other things. I find myself questioning why it’s easier to tune in so deeply here compared to my “other”life? I guess I will find out when I go back to that world.

The sense of accomplishment is mind boggling here. What can be done with limited resources, manpower and funds is amazing. A chicken coop for 50 chickens is being constructed where once stood a big pile of dirt, debrie, rocks and bramble bushes. Trust me, digging out boulders and cutting back thorns isn’t that much fun but seeing the ground being leveled is rewarding. The logs for the outside run were cut, shaved and shaped from trees on the property. The building is made out of wood from other projects. The paint, which is pest resistant, is made from a mixture of limestone and water. It looks like a whitewash. The coop is almost done and the chickens are coming this weekend. I am excited that I will be here to celebrate not only Easter but their arrival after contributing to their new home. I have used my video skills numerous times to create videos of traditional dances, interviews of Humans of the Ashram and documenting the many experiences. It’s been a pleasure to serve here.

The Future

The future is wide open. I like that. I have the basics and I am eager to put the knowledge and practices into play in my life back home. I have been invited to join the local group that will start connecting again in the fall. One lady has mentioned that she has been asking the divine for someone with musical skills. I laughed and replied that she must have some pretty powerful connections as here I am and I am very willing to share anything musical I can. I haven’t quite figured out how to predict what the future will bring and yet, I am more than content to not know what’s around the corner. I have interviewed Karma Yogis as they are leaving the ashram and added their learnings to my index for later processing. I am excited to get my hands dirty in my own gardens and enjoy the coming spring and summer with renewed energy and light. My husband is waiting for my return, I am not sure how that reunion will play out. I am hopeful we can find common ground and mutual understanding of how to “be” together and how to “be” apart. I would encourage anyone who has ever thought to experience the ashram life to “do it!” The accelerated learning about yourself, about what’s important and what you can let go of is one of the most selfless things you can do for you.

Thank you to all of those who have traveled with me through this incredible journey of the past, present and into the future. Thank you to the wonderful beings who reside at Yasodhara Ashram.

Light

W.A.I.T.

There is a badge you can get in the gift shop here at the ashram. It says Speech Awareness on it. Silence and speech awareness are part of the daily practice here. Meals are taken in silence and karma yoga is practiced with limited chatting if possible. At first, I was a bit taken back by not being encouraged to talk while we work. I then started to read the Kundalini writings.

Why do I need to talk? Is there a purpose to my words or am I enamoured with my own voice? Hmmm. The text talks about those that feel the need to fill the silence with chatter and equates the behaviour to being an infant or full of self importance.

Why Am I Talking? W.A.I.T for short. For many years I have got paid to talk it’s a hard habit to break. My daughter and I took a rode trip from Vancouver to Seattle and back one time. On the way back, she told me I talk too much. I love my daughters directness. We drove in silence for a while and then she couldn’t stand it and told me to start talking again.

I have been practicing speech awareness here and to reduce my need to contribute often to the conversation. Its a hard habit to break and yet it feels warranted. Do I really have something worth saying or do I feel the need for attention? Wow, taking a closer look at ones own ego trips is revealing. How many times have I felt the need to add in my own experiences instead of sharing in others with the gift of just listening? The more I make a conscious effort to restrain myself the more I am aware of my speech.

So where do I go from here? Just stop talking? No, I don’t think that is the point. Be comfortable in the offering of silence. Be generous with my ability to listen. Become more present and speech aware. Practice W.A.I.T. when opportunities are available.

W.A.I.T.

The Offering

The halfway mark coming quickly approaching for my time at the ashram. Time is clocked differently here. At times it seems to stand still at others it disappears in seconds. I have learned so much about myself, about co-existing with others, about living in a dorm like dwelling. If I ever was regretting going away to school and living sorority style then I can check that epic moment off my bucket list…lol.

Some mornings the karma yogis get together for chanting and discussion. There, a question or exercise is posed to carry throughout your day. This morning the discussion was around “What is an offering?” Is there a difference between helping and an offering? What defines the difference?

So what is the difference?

When I look back at my life and think of when I have helped others I had to really ponder whether what I was doing was selfless or self-serving. As I pondered the question during my day of cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, then doing dishes I began to get a glimpse of what I think is the true meaning of the words “offering”.

In the past, I have looked for a form of recognition when I help others. A thankyou,  a word or two about being grateful or recognizing that I did something for them. It didn’t matter what it was from borrowing money, to helping them move, or even taking on the task of caring for a parent or relative in life and then in death. All that time I could have alleviated my resentment for any lack of acknowledgment from others that I did something they should take notice of. As I think about it now I can’t believe my behavior. I have had many opportunities to offer up service to others in need in a form of less self and more service. I can now let go of my self-serving attitude towards doing things for others. It opens my heart to genuine kindness and pure light.

Many may call my “ah ha” moment non-attachment. I am starting to get the meaning of this and what a profound difference it has made in my feelings towards compassion and empathy.

If the next half of my stay here is as life changing as the first I am indeed lucky to have made this shift. Change is hard for many of us. Some of us let fear and the pain of potential loss over power the desire for something more. Change happens whether we participate or self medicate with our heads tucked firmly in the dark corners of our minds. I am loving the light. The warm divine light that sustains me here. The muscle memories are finding new poses. I have unlearned almost as much as I have learned.I know it’s a fraction of what the potential for enlightment can hold space for me. My cleared space has expanded and now reached into the cosmos. 

I am sharing this blog with you today as an offering. May you be healthy. May you be whole.

Om

She Who Splits Wood

Fear is something I have had an intimate relationship for most of my life. Fear of not being in control, fear of loss of a loved one, fear of not being employed, fear of not being loved and fear of not being enough.

Surrender and learning how to trust are tools that I have known were available to me but I lacked the courage to put into practice on any regular basis. I have gone out of my way in life to take control of my situation. It gave me a false sense of stability. It was like, if I could control what was happening, plan for most contingencies, then all would be right in my world.

How did that turn out for me? In the moment, it gave me space to breath. A bit of stable ground under my feet. Yesterday, at the ashram, I started the day by striking cuts in the ice on the paths with a blade then filling them with dirt. I was pondering the cuts and thinking about control. The cuts alone wouldn’t help to control people slipping. I had to add another layer of dirt in the cracks to gain some resistance. Even then the theory wasn’t a 100% slip proof there were so many scenarios that could happen where you could still fall. Control is a nefarious beast don’t you think? Can you really ever be in complete control?

I have run myself ragged trying to be everything to everyone. The only person I forgot to include was me.

We did two cords, it felt wonderful to be so physical

The groundskeeper took us through a demonstration on how to use the wood splitter. There were four of us, so I was pretty sure I could slip into a comfortable job of tossing the wood into the trailer. We had a rhythm going and it was working efficiently until he says “switch places”. My heart starts beating quickly as I am next at the control switch. This time I don’t want control. Everyone shifts and I find myself staring at the machine. “Nice and easy now” he says. I take a breath, straighten my big girl panties, lift the lever and push down the throttle. I did it! Yeah big deal, now keep going.

Here’s the thing, it’s not about being in control. It’s about letting go, having the courage to trust in complete strangers that they are there for you. Is that easy? No. Will someone always catch you when you fall? No. Should you keep expecting to trust those around you who don’t show up for you? No.

To me, it’s more about finding my way while I try to establish connections with others who values of give and take match mine. I will still encounter harm, moments of distrust and being alone in my struggle. Life has taught me the hard way that you take a chance when you step up to split the wood. All kinds of things can go awry. Yet all kinds of things can show you that you are stronger than you think. By some miracle, there are still people in this world that are trying just like you to help each other without an agenda. You take a chance when you step up and trust someone else to give you what you need. It’s those times when all goes well that I crave. You lean back and they catch you.

I feel for my friend Sharon. I can see where she is at with the cycle that I just recently completed in the last few years. My sister’s passing, my dad’s dementia,estrangement from his kids and then passing. Being the only relative left to care for him because he had made it impossible to be around him. My mother in-law passed next and then the final chip at the ice came in 2019 when my mom passed away. I thought that I could rely on close family to take up the chisels and make the path stable for us all. That others would gladly fill their buckets with sand and sprinkle the way with support. It didn’t happen. At least it didn’t feel like it to me. Brene Brown talks about “meeting people where they are at”. I have been pondering that aspect of expectations of others. Maybe I have expected too much from those around me. I know that I have never been that great at expressing what I need. One of the messages circulated here at the ashram is that “we aren’t mind readers, you have to say what you need”. They go a bit further and express it’s not only good practice it’s vital to the success of community living.

I hope to get better at saying what I need. Trusting that others will help me to step up to the wood splitter and take my turn. As I look at the fire in the fireplace I am full of gratitude. Knowing, for probably the first time in my life, that I am in a place where others want to help me. I can let go of some of the control and surrender.

Namaste

Mistakes Will Be Made

Day 5 at Yasodhara and time seems to be flying by even though in reality it’s moving the slowest it has ever done for me.

Started the day in meditation, then a good yoga stretch and some homemade yogurt with granola, nuts and fruit. I have never ate so healthy and clean. My body isn’t sure what to do with all that fibre. You can draw your own conclusions as to the outcome there…lol.

As I was eating breakfast I got a message “meet at the Mandala building at 9:00 am for some more Karma Yoga”. It’s a bit colder today so there was an option to stay in if I wanted to. Ah nope, bundle up and let’s go! We got to see a new face today, well half a face, under a mask. Mike has been at the Ashram for 3 weeks and just newly out of quarantine. He has been tasked with showing the newbies what paths to sand and where to fill it back up in the wooden boxes along the paths.

We go on a bit more of a tour first and Mike showed us some of the things we could potentially be doing as we progress. Manual labour is available at every corner when you are in a compound this size. We trudge up a hill and walk towards some stuff covered up with tarps. It turns out to be a wood splitter. Mike is confident that my companion who is 5 foot nothing and about 100 pounds and myself can operate the wood splitter. We don’t test that theory but I do have a private chuckle. At home, I am not allowed to operate the power tools probably for good reasons. Here? We shall see…oh boy this could be fun or this could be a disaster.

We continue on our tour until we get to the back of the property close to the gardens and orchard. Here is where they keep the dirt pile. There is an inside joke to how all instructions are given here. I remember it from before and I have travelled a lot since 2013. The method is to be vague about how to do things or what to exactly be doing. You may get a bit of information, for instance, put sand on the ice. Mike, being a week 3 veteran, volunteers that instructions are ambiguous. He hauled wheelbarrows of sand all around and put it on as many as trail as he could find. At the end he was exhausted and thought he would for sure get all sorts of recognition for his thoroughness. Oh dear, I suspected as he was telling us this that wasn’t the case. Here’s the thing, you can put sand on all of the trails or you can observe where the main arteries are and make sure those ones are covered first. Then if you have time and still lots of energy to burn do more. We chuckled over him sharing this vital piece of his learning with us.

In the afternoon we had a Zoom meeting to be introduced to Satsang and some things to expect in the coming weeks. It was good to see the small but mighty group and to meet more of the yogis and swamis who are in residence. What was unexpected was that one of the swamis recognized my address where I live. She said that her family had rented that very home in the 1960’s. That is crazy. Such a small world. One of the questions they had us ponder was “What makes for a good learning environment?” I have pondered this question many times in my professional career as a learning developer. So I had the corporate answer. I tried very hard to push that response down to the bottom of the pail and then allow something different to surface. I wrote down: trust, open heart, perceptive mind, mutual communication with teacher and student. I also thought about the connection between the exchange that occurs. You observe, listen, understand intent, ask questions, get feedback, then perhaps offer suggestions or introduce new ideas or ways of doing the task that take the learning to the next level.

The girls I have arrived with (I do say girls as they are both early twenties if not younger) have such amazing insight and self awareness. This generation will be the saviors of this world I am convinced. They join the conversation with such wisdom, kindness and care. They hold back just a bit and yet when they do speak up it’s profound. One spoke of “the space to make mistakes” and the other the value of asking questions and experimenting with changes to the method being shown. There is hope for this universe through these wise souls.

Another conversation lead to talk about mantras and meditation ideas. There was some discussion about “non-violence” towards negative thoughts. The practice is known as Ahimsa. The gist is that when you are aware of toxic thoughts revert to active thoughts or movement of compassion. There is more to it than that but I am sure if you are interested you will explore it further.

Final thoughts of the day? I am very ok with making mistakes, I have made many and will probably make many more. What I have started to put into practice is to change my approach after they occur. Today I was very focused on learning the songs in the songbook to have a pretty good idea of the melodies before I come out of quarantine. As I sat inside and played my piano I kept looking out at the lake and the sun moving across the sky trying to entice me to come and enjoy it. My rationale was that I had spent the morning outside shoveling sand so I was good for today. When was there ever a quota to spending time in nature. I am sure I made the mistake of missing a key insights if I would have got out on the trails. I am confident though, since I have made space for mistakes and the universe loves to give me ample “do overs” that I will spot the learning as I venture out tomorrow.

Namaste

The ice along the creek and Kootenay Lake have been breathtaking. It looks like a fairy garden made out of glass.

Dishes and Berries Equal Food On The Plate

Day 4 at the Ashram Karma Yoga

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

Day 3 Set Your Intentions

In yoga it is customary to dedicate or set your intentions for a practice. It helps with focus, purpose and direction. Today at the Ashram we had orientation. We went for a walk through the woods and eventually navigated down to the beach. We formed a circle, more loosely than pre COVID and were asked two questions:

  1. How did it feel when we first arrived at the property? Our first impressions, feelings for day 1 and 2?
  2. What is our intention as we immerse ourselves into Ashram life and practice? What do we want to get out of this experience?

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the responses from the group. As I listened to confessions of being overwhelmed, exhaustion from traveling, relief at getting here. A sense of isolation from the community due to quarantine restrictions. It all rang true and familiar for me also. You know that feeling when you step into a church or a holy/spiritual place? I don’t think it matters whether you believe in a deity or not. There is calm energy there and you find yourself sinking into a warm, liquid comfort. You can’t help but weep a bit. A necessary purge of pent up emotions that can no longer be denied. Surrendering to a higher power? I also felt welcomed and oddly more connected than if I would have been part of a physical group packed into a room.

The second question is an interesting one. I have been to lots of retreats, workshops and meditation groups. We are always asked to set an intention. I recognize that the person walking into the Ashram will be quite different than the one walking out. I can feel the shift even in the very short time I have been here. Physically, I have never ate so healthy…lol. My body is craving the opportunity to get started in Karma Yoga activities. I know, from what some of the guides have said, I may regret that. There is always lots of manual work to do on a self sustaining compound.

So, what is my intention for now?

As I think about it, I can start to almost see it forming in front of me. Memories are coming up of the being I had intended to formulate into the body I currently occupy. What parts of the dream still ring true for me? What parts no longer fit?

I am drawn to the pursuit of divine light. We have enough cynical, cruel, me first people in the world. Consumerism is a drug that I have been guilty of taking. As I let go of all the “stuff” I am feeling lighter and lighter.

For now, my intentions is to dedicate my time here to being present. Noting the changes, opportunities to learn and unlearn, don’t talk so much( some of you will be relieved to hear that one…lol) and learn to listen with my heart and intuition. I think it’s a lofty place to start and who knows as the weeks pass by it may evolve and clarify.

I am making necessary connections that feel right and good for now. Connections aren’t just about interactions with others, they are a recognition of patterns and opportunity to rewire your internal engine.

I had the opportunity to explore the property and shoot some video. Hope you enjoy the view…I know I am.

Namaste