White Blood Cells

May’s theme is to “Follow Your Dreams”

Laying in Savasana (Corpse Pose)

There is a body. It’s laying on a carpet of green grass in what appears to be a room in a house. It’s face up, hands with palms up and at its side. I can’t see the face clearly.The cavity of the body is open and I can see the internal organs. On the right mid abdomen side I see what I think is the kidneys but it is made up of white milky egg-like objects. They are translucent and bunched together like grapes.

The view shifts and I am in another room talking to someone. I am frustrated and angry that I had to go pick up the body from somewhere else. The person says that the body has lost its memory. I don’t understand the comment as I saw the white egg-like objects. I understood that they were its memories.

I woke up at that moment confused. I wanted more dreams and here is a doozy. Not really clear as usual but interesting enough to want to pick apart.

I just happen to still be my dream yoga class. Yesterday, we used the Kundalini system to analyze our latest dream edition.Using the method the first thing I did was write down as much as I could remember of the dream, date it and sign it. The next step is to describe what was going on prior to having the dream.

A couple of things have been coming up for me lately. One, I have been thinking about my relationship with my dad. It wasn’t a great one. He was loud and a lot of the time it was embarrassing to be with him in public. You tended to try and distance yourself and hide when you were with him. He put himself first most of the time. That made it difficult to grow any feelings of being supported or safe when you were with him. Since I had rescued him several times throughout the years I could easily understand if the corpse was his and I resented having to go get it. 

I have also been struggling with getting the COVID vaccine. I do want to travel, I want this pandemic to go away and I want some sense of being free to connect with others to return. The type of vaccine available for someone like me in my area is controversial. There have been some reported cases of people dying from getting it. I am reluctant to put myself in that scenario.I am not an expert here. I can only make decision on the type of vaccine for me and no one else.

Conscious Concerns- The body is frozen in place at the moment, corpse like in pose. The memory of something seems to be missing. The lack of “motion” has become “emotional”.I have been worried about getting the wrong type of vaccine and having negative consequences. Being pressured into it and regretting the outcome. I have been frozen in fear,reluctance and lack of trust.

Picking of three symbols- Memory loss, White Cells, The Corpse Pose

Memory Loss-

What had I forgotten? During the class exercises it hit me clear as day. For the first 4 years of my life I was isolated in doors. I was born with low white blood cells and had low immunity to childhood diseases. I haven’t had any normal childhood infections like chicken pox or measles. I have lived this type of pandemic existence before as a child. I had forgotten. I required outside medical intervention to grow more white blood cells and increase my ability to be immune. Being closed off from others had triggered this experience to come up for me.

White Cells

Through the class I started to understand what the white milky like eggs were. White Blood Cells are essential to fighting off bacteria and infections. They rush in to help fight off illness. The dream reminded me that I have had a history of needing help to fight off infections in the past and that this time was no different. Whoa right?

The Corpse

If you are a yoga type you know this pose and enjoy the Savasanas. What I have been missing is the connection to the pose and what it does for you. Lying in corpse pose and practicing savasanas helps to calm you. Induces relaxation and peace to help distance yourself from your emotions. Think about the circumstances in a clear and rational way. The body wasn’t my dads, it was mine. I should know this by now as every time I am more than one person in the dream I can’t make out faces or gender of the “mystery person”.

Putting it into action

It’s ok to be frightened and cautious of the type of vaccine you get. Do your homework and decide what is best for you by yourself. Be informed and choose what feels right. Remember you have tools and practices that have become life changing. My husband mentioned to me that I have started to chant or hum in my sleep. My inner guru must be working overtime to keep me on the right track. I was bummed that he didn’t recognize the melody or that he didn’t tape it. I said next time to please record it as I would love to know which mantra is being repeated when I am unconscious. 

Surrender control and trust that you are making the right choice by getting vaccinated. You will be able to reduce isolation sooner and start building the community you crave. I want to stay open and willing. I have been given the opportunity before. I am a walking example of being born without immunity and by the gift of science and medicine being given a second chance.

My dreams have become essential gifts of wisdom and knowledge. I eagerly await the opportunities to learn and grow from them. We, at midlifearieses.ca have dedicated the month of May to following our dreams. I hope you will join us in this adventure!

Namaste.

Begin Where You Are

Not where you think you should be…

I have been home from the ashram now for about a month. I knew it would be a struggle to keep up with all my new found practices. Everyday I am determined to make the habits stick. I have been trying to connect in with the ashram to keep volunteering but meetings get cancelled or rescheduled as everyone is planning what’s next. I have kept busy with yard work, creating sacred spaces in my house and doing some paintings. I have a list of things that need to be done and things that I want to do. I have kept up with morning chants, yoga and stretching. I eat in silence for breakfast and lunch at regular times. So, yes, some of the habits have stuck.

What I have realized is this…I am not doing everything I thought I would when I left the ashram. I have had to take stock of this fact and come to terms with what it means. The little girl in my dream about the stairwell is shaking her head and looking at me like “I told you so”. I could chastise myself and agree with her then make a new list and try harder to make it fit or I could surrender and accept that I am not there yet. I may never be there. 

Acceptance takes courage. It takes being honest with yourself, what’s important to you and how you manage your time.

Some of the practices I have kept doing daily is reading the books I brought back with me.  In the Kundalini For The West, Swami Radha talks about liberation from all limitations. Beginning your journey where you are at instead of where you think you should be. Unclear thoughts and expectations can become focused if you change your thought patterns. Instead of me adopting the narrative of reasons why I am not keeping up on all I thought I would, I can focus on what I am doing and go from there. Instead of trying to swallow the elephant in one bite, take a breath, then a step and see how that feels. A breath and a step everyday is a path to acceptance. Being kind to yourself isn’t weak. It takes bravery to move forward.Knowing that things happen for a reason is reassuring. I am a firm believer in serendipity as I have seen it unfold in my life over and over again. I wouldn’t have gone to the ashram at all if I hadn’t got a Facebook reminder of my first blog about my experience there several years ago. Now, I am grateful for that reminder of steps taken without conscious effort. My unconscious “Inner Guru” is always 3 steps ahead of me carving out the path before I even know what’s what. All I need to do is take a breath then a step. Acknowledge where I am and give myself space to grow my inner garden perhaps slower than I thought was necessary in the past. Each breath and step moves me forward and I am “ok” with that approach.

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

Food For Thought

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful…

One of the habits that was practiced at the ashram was to eat your food in silence. When you are not distracted by talking, it’s an opportunity to concentrate on what and how you are feeding your body. Along with silence, the regular times of eating three meals a day, less meat more vegetables, fruit and alternate sources of protein were followed. My body responded well to the routines and I have tried to keep them up now that I am home. I have noticed that when I don’t eat on time, my stomache lets me know. I consider that great progress for me.

Another ritual I, and others, noticed is how individuals approach the act of eating or better yet, what you do before you eat. We were all pretty curious in regards to this and asked each other at one group gathering if they had a ritual or practice they followed before they ate? Some responded that they pray over their food, some say a mantra or chant, some make a sign over the food like a blessing and others, like me, just start eating. I didn’t want to change my habits, in this regard, while I was there as I felt it wouldn’t be genuine. I was, however, curious as to those that had a ritual or prayer what did it entail?

I remember, as a kid, my dad having a prayer he said “for what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly grateful. May it nourish and strenghthen our bodies. Amen”. I know there are numerous versions of this traditional prayer on the internet. This is the version I heard as a child. It was said in a monotone voice and I never considered it to be anything more than habit that lacked any true sincerity. I think that’s the key in the having this kind of ritual. The belief behind the act. I think I understand the mechanics. It’s an opportunity to focus in, become aware that you are about to intake a substance into your body. To your body you want it to pay attention to the offering and make the most of it. Set an intention as to what to do with the resource. How best to distribute it to the various areas of the human system. I know this all happens automatically without any intervention and yet, does it make a difference if our conscious takes part in what our subconscious does? Verbal communication from the sound of your voice, brain and body has been studied in depth with remarkable connections. Since this ritual would happen at least, three times a day, it has the opportunity to be impactful to changes in habit and consumption.

Those that had a pre-consumption practice at the ashram varied. When they shared the details I was intrigued. One had a prayer they had created. It recognized the source of the food, it asked that the food help the person to use the energy in the best possible way to honor it’s sacrifice. It blessed those that had prepared the food and set the intention that the person eating the contribution would pay it forward in their actions. I like that. Someone else meditated with the food a few minutes before consuming. They manifested how it would help them, how it would serve their body, mind and spirit.

I didn’t choose a ritual to adapt while I was there. I am, though, more aware what is going into my system and my intended use of that energy. If you are like me, in the past I ate while watching TV, reading a book or text, scrolling social media, working, bathing ( yep even the tub had no boundaries). Mindless consumption of anything I put before me. I am aware of the behavior now and can see it trying to needle its way back into my efforts to change. To help me combat that I eat my breakfast and lunch in a quiet room with no distractions. I do, silently, give thanks for the nourishment. I ask my body to make the most of the offering. I am more aware of the chatter inside my head that goes on while I eat. “To do” lists for the day, things I want to explore and other distractions. I treat eating like a meditation and call back the attention to the task as I would call back my attention to my breath. The intention to help make me stronger, healthier and bring a sense of gratitude helps me to focus. Gratitude, that for me and my family, food is plentiful and available. We are privileged to choose from a wide variety and even grow much of our own vegetables if we desire.

Do you have any rituals related to food? Comment If you do as I would love to know what others think of this topic.

Namaste

Community

Beach at Yasodhara ashram.

Community Support

What’s next for me? I have been thinking about what I want to do and how I plan to contribute. 

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day. His thinking is that you contribute to society by going to work,don’t complain to outsiders, pay your taxes, obey the rules and mind your own business if you can. He isn’t wrong. 

I have had a chance in my life to see a variety of communities as I travel, work, live in and explore different cultures. I would be curious to see how this pandemic has influenced the communities I adored.

What does it mean to be part of a community? What does it mean to support or be supported by those within a community? Where are you going with this you might be asking?

Here are two examples to help me explain what I mean:

Scenario One:

You have many projects on the go and numerous obligations/commitments that you are currently juggling.Your mom passes away. You are devastated. You contact work and they agree to let you take a couple of weeks off. You are reminded that there are services available to help you and even are sent a link to conveniently take advantage of them. You are also reminded to input your time off in the HR system and if you can make notes on your current projects so that someone else can pick them up if time permits. Sorry for your loss, we are here for you. We have noticed a slip in your productivity lately but we can talk about that when you come back. 

Scenario Two:

I have just come out of a class at the ashram and looked at my phone. My husband texted me that he has been admitted to the hospital with COVID and shows an image of his wrist with a hospital band on it. I don’t have a vehicle with me and no means of leaving the ashram. I am upset. The teacher of the class comes out of the building at that moment and sees me upset. She asked what’s wrong and I told her. She insisted we sit on the steps. She asked me if I have phoned the hospital yet? I haven’t so I do that first. The hospital says my husband was discharged earlier. I phoned home and got no answer. The whole time the teacher is silently sitting beside me with her hand on my shoulder. I turn to her and say that I will be “ok” and she can go. She insists that she will stay until we have a resolution. After contacting my kids and relatives that can go check on my husband, I find out that he was admitted but not for COVID. He had cut himself while trimming a tree and got stitches. I finally got of hold of him and he apologized for the joke. He was making a joke. During the whole ordeal I was experiencing I felt supported by the teacher. She didn’t leave and kept prompting me as to what to do next. Offering encouragement and suggestions and even reminding that even If I did have a means of transportation I couldn’t see him as he would be isolated. She helped me to realize and work through the situation. I had two weeks left in my stay which was good. At home, I would have been isolated from my husband for 14 days. She followed up later and texted me the next day to make sure I was still ok. She let others know that I needed extra support and connected me with them. I was in crisis mode not able to help myself or think through the most practical ways to cope with the stress. I didn’t need to as I had community support to help me.

I realized for the first time in my life what community support entails. I am very independent to a fault and asked very little of others to help me. It’s a learned behavior which has really not been very helpful to say the least. Can you see the difference in what it means to be supported by a community here? I know the scenarios are not the same. Work is work and you really shouldn’t expect anyone to offer that kind of experience in a professional setting. I am curious then, why do we have slogans like “We are in this together?” We are a company that supports mental health? Our foundation is built on trust, empathy and compassion. Hmmmmmmm.

My mother was the 5th person to die in my life in under 4 years. The trauma built up in my mind, body and spirit was overwhelming. Some days it still is. How long does it take to stop griefing? How much time should one take off of work to work through the pain? There isn’t a right answer here. What I have noticed is that it takes time. The more you try to suppress your grief the more time it will take to unravel the impact. You can store it in dark places or “cracks” in your foundation. Just know that It won’t go away permanently. It will probably reappear when you least want it to.

I find myself gathering pockets of community support now that I understand the value it can offer me. I can find it by staying connected to the ashram. I can find it by reaching out to friends and family. I find it often in this community of bloggers, the wonderful ladies I blog with and comments from strangers that I have helped them in some way.  It doesn’t have to be work related though I would challenge you to question the next co-worker or leader that says to you “ I/we am/are here for you”. What do they mean by “here”?

I am reminded of day 2 in quarantine at the ashram. I was told “You have to learn how to trust” and with that “You have to ask for what you need”. Words of wisdom when it comes to understanding of community and being immersed in warmth of genuine support. I don’t blame the corporation for not understanding my state of mental health nor have any expectations of companys to build a genuine state of community support. It would be hard to juggle productivity, profits and being human feelings.

PS. It has taken 7 months to get this far in unravelling my emotions and how much the death of loved ones has contributed to my “coma” state of existence over the last several years. We live in a society of instant resolution to our pain. We numb up with substances and mindless stimulation. It takes courage and discipline to feel raw emotions and work through them until they no longer paralyze you. It’s worth it though. The work is worth it and community support is worth finding and cultivating.

Namaste

Can You Read The Signs?

Photo of night sky at Yasodhara ashram

Dream Yoga

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.

The stairwell.

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.

Namaste

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.

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