After a cold a rainy Spring it seems like we have been taking full advantage of balmy summer days by having dinner on the beach nearly every Sunday. It’s usually a spontaneous, special event with little notice until finally announcements are made and requests for help to load the old red truck with food to bring down to the beach. Signs are put up and, as six o’ clock rolls around, people make their way down to the lake.
I absolutely love beach dinners. I love them for so many reasons. I love them because I get to look out over the water to my favourite mountains; the ones that slope so soft and gently, inviting the sun to rest deeply on its supportive bed of trees. I love them because I get to engage with my family here, exchanging beach-dinner-type words, laughter and camaraderie. And I love them for the sense of community they create as I gaze over the scene, enjoying us all being together. Of course all of these things aren’t exclusive to dinners on the beach: I eat outside on the deck quite often, taking in the sights and sounds of nature, and while silent meals are silent they don’t always exclude communication which is done more with eyes and body language even when speech is present too. That sense of community I feel really is present in most circumstances here anyway, inherent in a spiritual community.
Really my favourite part of beach dinners is the emptiness of Mandala house. The main building of the ashram with the bookstore, dining room and two of the classrooms is where I spend approximately 10.5 hours of my day, six days a week. If I’m not doing hatha I’m eating or on reflection break in the dining room and, more commonly, in the bookstore and office doing karma yoga. Evenings with dinner on the beach allow me to close the bookstore with no interruptions but with a sense of quite calm. I can feel the entire building’s stillness as the last of us finish up in order to head outdoors.
Last week Swami Sivananda was locking up the front door as I counted up the cash. He mentioned to someone in the front room, sitting on the comfy chairs, that they would have to use a different door to leave the building since the usual one was now locked. It was something I’m used to, being in Mandala house late doing dishes or getting out of Tuesday night class. He turned around, walking past me and said something like, I don’t need to tell you, “You know your way out.” What a spectacular thought, “I know my way out. I know my way out of this cycle of birth and rebirth, suffering and joy. I sure hope so. I sure hope so.
Walker’s Landing Road
I don’t know what it is about that road that just pulls something out of me. Lisa, my dear friend and roommate during the YDC calls it the Road of Wisdom and would rarely miss a day of making it to the stop sign and back. Back home where upon entering the grounds the sign reads: “Yasodhara Ashram Please Slow Down”. “Please slow down;” what a lovely thought. It’s easy for me to say that my favourite part about going for a walk along the road is coming back and passing by our nearest neighbour then making it to the last stretch before the ashram. There’s something magical about that bend in the road. There’s a slight dip and the air so often seems a little bit cooler; the breeze from the lake must flow through just right. To the left is this forest that seems like it’s transported out of time. Bit of sunlight are strewn haphazardly on the floors bed of fallen trees, glancing off of thin cedar and pines that stand reaching up towards the clear blue sky.
Today I saw a deer standing patiently on the road, as curious about me as I was about it. We stood, staring at each other for quite some time. Focusing so intently on one thing for so long has this way of stilling every part of me. Then it was as if my cells were re-set and I felt this aura of energy pulsate through me. If I can simply be present in nature I can exist on a much simpler vibration. I can access that healing energy which, as Swami Radha says, is available at all times. I can allow it to flow through me more smoothly and truly absorb it into my very being. The deer eventually scampered off, bounding into the mossy forest.
The ashram underwent a major shift this week. The population went from over 80 people to under 40. While there were a lot of very dear friends that are now on the next stage of their life and no longer a daily presence in mine, the feeling here is really wonderful. It’s been a long summer. Sitting at the front desk, operating as the bridge between guests and their every request has been an extreme testament to my patience and energy levels. I made it though. As someone called it, I was the ‘ashram mother’ to them all and I know I am stronger for it.
Suddenly on Tuesday it was as if there was space to breath fully again. There were no course participants shopping in the bookstore, no long line-ups at meal times, and practically nobody at hatha and satsang. Plus it was rainy. The soft inwardness a cloudy drizzle inherently provides came at a most welcome time. I personally am feeling a deeper sense of camaraderie with those that remain yet at the same time am also feeling under the microscope. It’s as if my every move is on display even more than usual in this place that’s often described as a glass house: everyone always knows what’s going on with everyone else to some degree.
I’m learning to navigate in this new space that’s been opened up here. I’m excited about the fall season, excited about harvest and reaping the abundant harvest that is here. I’m excited about moving through another cycle of this season because it takes emphasis off of last year’s which is a stage in my life I’m happy to re-write, moving beyond it and not needing to think again of the depressive, anxiety ridden months of last September to December. I’m letting this feeling of contentment pervade my being so that even in times of process and facing old patterns I can stand tall and not worry about a fall.