I’ve noticed a change in my teeth-brushing. This shift goes deeper than the amount of times in a day I press the bristles to my teeth, though doubling that amount is a change in and of itself. I’d discovered a pattern. I would spend an inordinate amount of time brushing the inside of my bottom row and the outside of my top row but not very much time at all on the opposite. The outside of my bottom row and the inside of my top row were practically neglected altogether except for a cursory swipe along them, just enough to get that fresh feeling in my mouth. This pattern of brushing my teeth had been going on for who knows how many years, almost two decades in fact, at what age did I begin brushing my own teeth? First the inside of my bottom row, starting on the left, moving to the right, then the outside of my top row, starting on the right and moving to the left. What a non-sensical thing to do. How interesting that I would pick up this. How many other patterns in my life do I perform without even consciously thinking about them? My intention behind brushing my teeth is to get them, and my mouth, clean. If I simply fall into a pattern that minimally accomplishes this feat I’m brushing my teeth as if in a daze, my intention isn’t coming forth at all. I am like a sleep-walker. Recognizing this pattern allows me to change it and to wake up. This, my friends, is yoga.
On June 25th the Ashram opened its doors for the 16th annual strawberry social. There is a used book sale (hotly anticipated in the communities of the East Shore), free strawberries and whipped cream, Ashram tea, music and tours of the Ashram. Last year I was completely overwhelmed. I’d been here almost two months and developed an affinity for the peace and quiet Ashram life naturally affords. Suddenly there were people walking all over my house…with their outdoor shoes on! And I was serving them strawberries! This year I was much more mentally prepared. My position was in the bookstore and so I interacted with a lot of people that day as they milled around the merchandise, purchasing some and looking at a lot more. I wandered around the place for a bit, darting through crowds at the used book sale in the atrium and headed into the dining room. The music was blaring, people were bustling around and strawberries were being eaten. No matter how prepared I was this was too much! Someone I hadn’t seen in a while, Ben an employee who had worked here but recently switched jobs, asked how I was. “IamcreatedbyDivineLightIamsustainedbyDivineLightIamprotectedbyDivineLight…” The Diving Light mantra that had been running through my head came tumbling out, albeit slightly jokingly, through my lips too. It is a nice community event though. The public is always welcome to come and visit the ashram but when there is an organized event going on it makes it a lot easier for people to step over the threshold.
The absolute best part was seeing two friends! Vanessa et al came out – I got to meet little Beau – as well as Carrie. It was fabulous to connect with people I know and to see them wandering about. Remember people, my friends and family can come here anytime…..!! Would be lovely to have some visitors.
We watched a movie afterwards, eating way too much popcorn, which added to the general hungover demeanour of most people around the ashram the next day. Sugar and energy is enough for me to feel like I’d been drinking all night, that’s for sure.
In High School we took band trips in grades 11 and 12 to play in a Vancouver music festival. I don’t remember anymore if we spent every night in hotels or some with the families of bands out there but some were spent in hotels. Band trips were basically the highlight of the year. I realized as I aged that one reason I loved them so much was because of the community atmosphere that developed during them. Spending literally every moment of the day in such small living spaces as the back of a bus or a hotel room with three other girls is bound to get people close. Even closer than before. I distinctly remember one night in Vancouver. Most of the people were swimming in the hotel pool but I’d had enough of that and was in the hotel room enjoying a rare moment alone. I made my way out to the balcony. I stood there, in the cool spring Vancouver air resting my hands on the rail and watched. I didn’t watch anything in particular; we were right across from an equally tall and imposing apartment building with each window being an opening to some arbitrary life. I just stood and took it all in, blissful in my solitude and blissful in my observing. After a while someone came back into the room, startled when I came out of the sliding door, not realizing I was there and my time on the balcony ended.
I offered satsang early last week and arrived quite early to do my own practice and create the space. It had been a sunny day so the windows that surround the entire temple had been allowing the light in all day making the room a bit too warm and stuffy for my liking. I opened one of the eight doors, one leading out onto the balcony. I wonder now which one it represented. Perhaps Buddhism or Ba’hai? Maybe Christianity or Islam? The temple’s eight doors, each representing one the world’s major religions apparently have a symbol imprinted in the structure of the temple near each door. Somewhere out of sight but nevertheless existing, reminding me that all are welcome here. I stepped onto the balcony to hook the door, preventing it from banging in the wind and prepared to go back in, reaching to slide the screen door shut after me. I stopped and looked out over the balcony stepping back I rested my hands on the rail, placing one foot on top of the other. I just stood and watched. Watching nothing in particular; the magnificent mountain view and the way the lake glistened back at me. Looking out at the peace that reflected back at me the peace I have inside, content in my solitude.
I was staying in a room here alone and had my own balcony. It branched off of Krishna Kutir, the building I lived and reached out into the forest. I would love to just walk outside and be in my own little private outdoor space. Resting my hands on the rail and placing one foot on top of the other as is my tendency I would stand and, of course, simply watch. The birds chirped and bee buzzed. Life happened and I had a balcony view of it.
It reminded me of me of that winter I spent dreadfully depressed living on the fourth floor of the apartment building. The only thing that kept me going were night-time excursions with Danny on the frozen lake and, of course, the balcony. Having a view of the mountains and the ability to wander outside and look, just look, whenever I wanted was pretty spectacular.
A few days ago I moved rooms. I now live in Siva Hall where there’s no chance of me having a roommate as there is only one bed in each room. It’s a long-term female building that can have six women total but usually only has five. The first night I was feeling an apprehension that is foreign to me here at the ashram. I felt new even though I’ve lived here over six months now. I’m all unpacked now and settled in. It’s really quite a lovely room which came with a spider plant and everything –I’d been planning on getting one. Best of all it has this amazingly cute little balcony. I can picture myself now, sipping tea and watching the sunset nestled into my little room by the chimney. I just get this feeling of something I connected with years ago on those band trips, some peace and solace that balcony’s bring me, chance to see things with a different perspective. To just stand and look.
The destroyer of obstacles Siva dances in a ring of fire as Nataraj on my altar. My room is more compact now. Part of the roof angles and the ceiling is too low for me to do a Light with my arms completely outstretched. What does this mean symbolically? I’m moving into a denser place within me. My core, my heart centre, the essence of who I am is where I am inhabiting more and more. Each successive move makes my room smaller and smaller as I distil a more concentrated version of who I am and who I want to be.
I offered satsang last night and spoke a bit of my time this week camping with my family. It was such a treat to be able to hang out with everyone especially when the trailer Jim and Peggy bought was getting moved onto their land. I really felt like I was part of something because of course I am always part of the family but living in a different province I don’t always get to experience that belonging feeling first hand.
I spoke of this story of Swami Radha that I love to think about because it challenges my past actions and habits. Before she became a Swami and was married some friends came over to her house and she could tell her husband was in a foul mood. After they left she was struggling to reach a vase to put some flowers in. Her husband asked her why she didn’t ask him to help her and she replied that since he was not treating his friends very well she figured he was not in a good mood and didn’t want to bother him. He replied that those were just his friends so it didn’t matter as much if he treated them not so kindly one day, they would forgive him. She, on the other hand, needs to be treated well all of the time because of the close relationship they had in order to not take her for granted.
So often it seems that those we see the most get taken for granted the most and mistreated. It was a wonderful treat for me to see my family out of the context of seeing them regularly and be able to appreciate them for the human beings they are.
Love and Light ‘til next time