I listen to my grown kids talk about their professions these days and wonder… will they ever find a profession they are passionate about? Is that even a thing anymore? You hear lots of stats that say we will change professions at least 4-5 times or more. I chatted a-bit with my daughter. She is thinking about making a change. After so much education involved in professions are we brave enough to walk away from the money and security to pursue something different? Do we owe it to ourselves to try? She said she is thinking about stopping renting her “self” out for labour. Hah, what a great way to put it. We all got to make a living but do we all get to make the most out of life? Someone mentioned universal income to me the other day. Should we have a society that pays us not to work when we chose not too? The world is such a different place these days. Maybe this is part of the shift and trend in thought? Time will tell.
As a parent, I have changed my views of traditional work theories for my kids. I have changed. Don’t just put your head down and do what pays your bills. Find something that gives you a sense of moving forward. Be brave and able to pivot even if you feel that you owe your profession something of yourself. You don’t, in fact the more the shift and change the more valuable you become to any company worth exploring.
What makes a house a home? Listen in to get our version of being comfortable in your space.
Sharon is moved into her new home, Selena has purchased her first home less than a couple of years ago and me? I have been in my current home for over 35 years. What makes a space feel like home? As always our chats are unfiltered, genuine and can get a bit off topic so grab your favorite beverage or plan your walk and let’s dive in.
I have been home for a few days now and trying to settle. If I am honest, which I think is a good thing to be, I am a little freaked out and worried. I feel pressure to make sure I don’t lose all the progress I have gained from being at the ashram. Friends and family are looking at me. I can see them assessing if they notice any changes. Physically, I have lost about 20 pounds, mentally? I feel I have lost extra baggage that no longer is helpful in my life. It’s easier being in a place where your meals are prepared for you, you go to a board and it has the day planned for you. Not much stress about thinking how to make the most of your day. You are contributing to the welfare of the community, have chores, yoga first thing in the morning, opportunities to chant with others or meditate alone. Now, I am the program director and the days contributions are up to me to decide. I can see why many people just put their head down and go to work. In a lot of ways it’s easier. You have many distractions to keep you from delving too deeply into your psyche. I am finding that patience with myself will be key to making this work outside of the “box”.
I had a dream a couple of days before I left Yasodhara. There was a little blonde haired girl trudging up and down the concrete stairwells of a big stadium. I followed her and asked if I could help? She said she lost her parents and was looking for them. I followed her up and down the stairs. She told me that she didn’t trust me to keep her safe. I protested that I was an adult and more than capable to keep us both safe. She said I didn’t know the dangers out there. She didn’t have confidence in me. We tried a couple of off shoots from the stairs but ended up back on the stairs going up and down. I woke up with no resolution in the dream.
I wondered what had gone on that I missed? When I tried the dream yoga method I had learned at the ashram I started to understand. I picked 3 symbols from the dream. The little girl, the stairwell and the absent parents.
The little girl. Well she is me or at least she is my “inner child” and my desire to hold onto what I have learned. She is young, maybe a bit naive and yet aware enough to know that I can get distracted enough to lose my way sometimes. She is beautiful inside and out and glows with inner light. When I looked at her I was saddened that any parent would leave her there alone.
The absent parents. Where are they and why have they not come to claim the child? I can see myself here also and my parents. Getting busy and caught up in other things, other interests or other desires. Opportunities to nurture and maintain all that I have gained comes with discipline and constant awareness. I mourn for the loss of those moments where I could have been there for myself, for my children or for anyone who needed a parent with unconditional love. I could easily blame my parents for being absent most of my life. They were physically there often but very emotionally absent. I understand how it can happen. My compassionate unconscious is warning me that I need to stay diligent in guarding that child or I will lose that aspect of me that is very precious.
I reflect on the stairwell and what it could symbolize. I think back to the dream. Did I miss the signs that were usually so clearly displayed in stairwells? Where was the exit sign? The directions to seating areas or the stage? I know I was looking down lots or at the back of the child’s figure. Why didn’t I look up and read the signs? Do I do that in life? Miss the signs, get lost because I am too stubborn to watch for help or ask for directions when I need them? I am guilty of this for sure. The child saying she doesn’t trust me hits home. If I can’t trust others to help lead me out of my self induced wanderings, can I be trusted with the safety of this child?
The dream packed a good wallop for me to ensure I understand that I am a “work in progress”. That’s ok, the child in me knows that already. I am hoping she will have patience and empathy for me. She did stay with me as we wandered up and down, so that’s a good “sign”. I know I can lead us out of the stadium If I look up and read the directions. I have the map, I have the desire and I have the responsibility of caring for this little girl and her well being.
If you are interested in learning more about dream yoga, the Yasodhara ashram has virtual life classes being offered on the website. I am finding this type of inner work very beneficial.
It doesn’t take long to become conditioned to a routine. At 6pm every night, I check a website to find out what I will be doing tomorrow. I knew that today was probably going to be my last day of isolation so I had a mixed of anxiety and excitement to see what the website would tell me was planned for me, my last day of quaratine. I checked at 6:05pm, nothing, 8:00pm still nothing hmmm. My night was restless knowing that I was the last to arrive in my cycle of Karma Yogis so I would be the last one out of quarantine. I didn’t sleep well. The wind howled all night, it rained and the hill side gushed with water towards the lake all through the dark hours. I woke up at 4:00am and tried to go back to sleep. I drifted in and out and then finally got up at 5:30am. I decided to recite my new mantra and then meditate for a while. I felt better after and eased into a morning yoga flow. I like the idea of setting an intention for the day. I decided that “Patience” was going to be needed. So patience it was. I got a call at 9:30am wondering why I hadn’t shown up for karma yoga…lol. I had been waiting with patience for further instructions. Now I put my jacket on and hiked up the hill to help with more wood cutting and stacking.
Transitions make us ansy, even for someone like me who likes change, changing bunkhouses, assigned duties, new group of people takes a few minutes to adjust. Luckily, the ashram gives you a day to move, understand the new pace and rest before you begin, again. The girl staying in the side house of the cabin moved yesterday. You can tell when someone has done this before. They gave her a day to move and she took the whole day. I asked her whether there was a time she needed to be done by through the closed door. She said she just needed to sleep in her new place, other than that there wasn’t a specific hour. Now there was patience. Squeezing every moment of peace and solitude that comes from having your own space and not giving up a second of it.
I shake my head at myself. I mopped the floors yesterday and cleaned up the kitchen. Today I sorted my laundry and organized what I was going to wear tomorrow. I am so used to deadlines whether at work or when traveling that the organizing starts a day or two before my vacation is over. Why do we robbed ourselves of those final hours of bliss before we need to immerse back into the chaos?
Patience. Tomorrow I will slowly make my way over to my new lodgings. Maybe take a few things and go check it out after breakfast. I have one of the only tubs that is available at the ashram. The other bathrooms are showers only. So I plan to take a bubblebath before doing the final cleaning. I have a few pages left of my book to read and some contemplations to record in my diary. Maybe even sit and soak in this wonderful little cabin of paradise for one more day. I hope I remember this if travel ever becomes a resonable option again as we all could use a little patience.
The above sandscript translates into english as: praise to Tara who removes all fear and grants all successes.
I am writing this blog Sunday morning as I sit at the cabin kitchen table. I ponder synchronicity and timing of things. As I struggle with what is the right thing to do in my life I know I have been given a gift by being here in the right moment with the right opportunity. I am aware of this place, stretch of time and state of desire to explore an alternative path.
Every day, my vision is clearing. My space is becoming infinite. A focus that magnifies aspects of my life, existence and behavior. The first day of arrival I saw a lake and shoreline across the water. The third day I saw a lake, shoreline, road and powerline. By the 5th day I saw a lake, shoreline, signs of life across the water, waves changing colors from white, grey and shades of blue. On the second week I experienced a shift of perspective. I still saw all of those signs of life and more. Everyday I am able to split through a little bit more of the outer layers of my view to start to understand what is really there for me to see.
Sight is an interesting one of the senses. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and determination to clear many years of conditioning. We learned at a young age to trust what we see. The challenge is, what do you really see and do you trust it?
I chanted the mantra “Om Tara Tuttare Ture Soha” for a moment this morning to give me the words. I opened my eyes and an eagle flew by, swerved and headed back out onto the lake. It’s been snowing this morning so the view is a bit muted against the clouds. When I saw the eagle I stopped writing, grabbed my coat and went outside. I wandered down towards the cliffs and stood out on the summer house balcony below me. Searching for the direction the eagle had gone. It was nowhere to be seen. Sigh, am I so easily distracted? Is this another test of my undisciplined mind?
The heart of the message, in this blog entry, is about discipline, practice and trust in a process. As I learn more about mantras, chanting, symbolism, life seals and life strategy it all comes to nothing if I don’t take the tools and apply them to my healing. Apply them to stripping away the layers of my life experiences. I am starting to feel like those memories have been learned for me and yet they aren’t my now. The mantras and chanting can help me to channel new thought patterns.
In a class we talked about some of the main Gods that the Yasodhara ashram studies such as Shiva, Krishna, Tara and Radha. We went through a mantra that is attached to each and then were asked to work with one that resonated with us.
I chose Tara. More research on the deity provided me with some intuitive reasons why this one was standing out for me. Green Tara ( apparently there are many versions and colors) the goddess of healing energy that brings awareness and relief from negativity, fear and ignorance. She embodies bounty in nature and the energy of growth and regeneration. Sounds like a good goddess to start practicing with don’t you think?
I have a couple more days in quarantine before I will be relocated to the general population. I am excited and nervous. The solitude has been exactly what I needed to gain footing before I join the chaos.
The snow has stopped and I see a patch of blue sky starting to widen. I won’t go chase the eagle as I know it’s moved on. It only wanted me to know, it’s there when I need it. I may, though, find a secluded spot to chant my newly learned mantra and give thanks to Tara and my many blessings that have come to me through the divine light.
PS as I proof read the blog post the eagle is back…sigh. My discipline is a work in progress for sure.
I have always been a fan of walking meditations. They are used in silent meditation workshops I have attended to help break up sitting for hours and hours. You walk with purpose. Usually in a small space in any pattern you choose. The point is to focus on the breath and the senses. Some points I have been given in the past are to try walking with your eyes partially closed in order for the other sense to become more tuned in.
The meditation assignment today has added a new twist. It asks to compare the motion of walking to your life and see what comes up for you.
When you stand still you feel balanced, weight evenly distributed and your equilibrium is solid. Think of your life. You are perhaps standing still, it feels solid and balanced on the surface. Trouble is, it probably isn’t possible to stand in one place forever. You get stiff, get bored, maybe grow roots that become hard to pull up or weeds grow to impair your view of what’s really going on. Your body is meant to be in motion and your body and soul want to grow outward.
Life is motion,development and change.
In order to move, you need to decide to upset the equilibrium. Change your situation. Change your life. That can be frightening and cause unbalance. When you shift your weight or change your direction, you become off balanced. Take another step and what do you observe? Your weight shifts, balance reestablishes itself. In that moment between two steps is an opportunity to once again find equilibrium. Moments between two steps, between two events and between two thoughts are all opportunity to connect with present. Recognize the moments exists and use them as opportunities to rest and renew.
The key is in the recognition of the moments. They can help you to unlock the door to your life. The path on the other side leads to freedom.
In the words of a great band called Shinedown, “The first step is the one you believe in. The second one might be profound”
I have loosely adapted the above from the writings of Yoga Path to Awareness. I hope you find it as meaningful and useful as I do.
Happy Valentines Day! Let’s celebrate by loving ourselves.
Today is a day of rest and reflection at the ashram. We have been given some homework for review next week. Since next week is looking more like addition of integration into everyday life as quarantine comes to a close, I figured I would do the homework today while I had the time and energy.
The assignment reads “to embark on a journey of finding out more about yourself, where you are now and where you want to be we are going to explore the strategies for getting there”.
Exercise 1- You need crayons, scissors, tape and timer and trust in the process.
Draw a symbol for your 5 senses. You have 15 minutes don’t think too much about it and use only the crayons that have been provided. Ok, I can think of 4 of the senses-taste, touch, sound, sight hmmm what am I missing? I don’t want to cheat so I don’t google it. I think about what I rely on for senses. Intuition comes up. Ok I have at least 5. Now draw them.
2 strengths and 2 weaknesses. You have 12 minutes. Wait, wait…do I draw these or just think about them? Write it down? Doesn’t say so I draw them
Draw a symbol for you Mind Chant. You have 5 minutes. Right away a symbol comes to mind. That one was surprisingly easy as the symbol has popped up in many shamanic journeys and meditations.
Draw a symbol of your Essence Chant. You have 5 minutes. Hmmm this one is harder I have an idea and start to draw it. My fingers fight me and draw something completely different. Ok must be right.
Cut out all the drawings and arrange them on the big canvas provided. This ends up being quite interesting and not what I expected. My unconscious mind/will has created a pattern I wasn’t aware of.
I arrange the symbols on the big sheet of brown paper provided and stand back. Adjust the order until it feels right. I had assumed that the order would stay in the same sequence as the exercises. It didn’t. As I contemplated each piece and it’s placement I realized many things. The universe was trying to tell me bits of the puzzle I had been missing. Information about myself. How I had relied on my senses, my mind and my lack of checking in with my essence to confirm my direction.
I hesitate at this point to show you and describe my outcomes just in case you decide to try this yourself. I have decided to go ahead though because part of my journey is to share my insights as they are given to me in this community. So, if you want to try this exercise stop reading now and go for it.
Stop here if you want to try the exercises…If not proceed…
For those that chose to continue here are my insights about Life Seals and Life Strategies. There is a caveat though, I haven’t been through part two of this exercise yet. That will come on Wednesday next week when the group gets together to discuss it and gain any clarity that is needed.
The exercise, for me, lead to a lighted path pretty much down the middle of the canvas. One, I noticed quite quickly, I could step onto and walk/meditate on each symbol or step that I had created. I was excited and decided to try them out.
In the direct route of the path,which ended up in bright colors subconsciously, was the Mind symbol first, then Intuition(sense), Essence symbol then finally at the top Resilience(as a strength). Those stood out as being vital to my Life Strategy.
In the meandering path the colors were black, browns and yellow and weave back and forth from the main artery. Need to control (weakness) was to the right of Mind, Taste to the left, Sound to the right, then centered back to Intuition. Next came Trust ( weakness). I was curious about my choice of symbols here. I chose a cross, why? I am not religious. I believe in energy and surrender to the universe but not necessarily a god. Yet, blind faith kept popping up in my mind. My Essence symbol is centered here with Determination (strength) to the left guided by touch and sight. At the top I decided to put Resilience(strength).
I closed my eyes and walked the labyrinth a few times to test it out and see how it felt. I am confident I could do it again in meditation also. Which I am excited to try.
I encourage anyone reading this to try it and see what comes up for you. It took an hour and a half to put together. I feel changed by honoring it’s process. I would love to hear from some of you what comes up out of your unconscious mind.
We will learn on Wednesday whether the intent was anywhere near my experience. Either way it was time well spent.
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.
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.
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.
The ice along the creek and Kootenay Lake have been breathtaking. It looks like a fairy garden made out of glass.
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:
How did it feel when we first arrived at the property? Our first impressions, feelings for day 1 and 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.